Efren sat rather quietly in Marc’s kitchen and watched as the man explained Pearl the bits of sex, all flustered up like a father, whose only information on the subject had come from bad parenting sites. He wasn’t taking part of the conversation, too far away in his own thoughts, but he did keep an eye on them both.
Marc hadn’t furnished the small apartment himself. The yellow walls and salmon pinks all screamed of woman’s touch and were a nice, warm reminder of his late wife. It wasn’t much, carrying pretty much same era furniture as he had in his old apartment, but they all seemed so much lighter and fitting here, where large windows let the sun rays bathe everything, including the dying plants he’d been keeping alive. He knew this wasn’t his job, but Marc wasn’t born with green fingers and otherwise they’d die out. He was kinda hoping Pearl could take over the job after a while, but so far they’d done it together each time he came for a visit. Marc wasn’t a slob and had done everything he could for his little daughter and as far as Efren was concerned, had managed to create a miracle.
He was pulled out of his world by spurt of giggles coming from Pearl and he pressed down his own laughter. There was no doubt she wasn’t already aware of it all given she was already young adult in her own way and he was sure he’d seen a young mother, who was few years senior in her school. But he had promised and he wasn’t backing out of it, especially if it got him out of the house. Although, it did feel weird to sit next to a kid, who wasn’t his own and listen in on what was to be very private conversation.
He felt Marc’s leg nudge his knee under the table. He looked lost, his monologue on the most basic education finished and now lost what he should do next. He sure wasn’t gonna show her how to put on a condom. Or, at least Efren hoped he wasn’t, because then he sure as hell wouldn’t be able to keep to his promise. Why was Marc so bent to pull him into educating Pearl? Sure they’d become friends, but still, he wasn’t that sort of friend. At least he didn’t think he was. Marc was straight. He was not. And that was it. He turned his gaze below the table. Marc’s knee wasn’t there by accident. It was searching connection and after it found it, the knee neatly parked next to his, pressing closer, followed by jeans covered calf and sock. The toes in the sock contracted and started slowly rubbing his ankle.
This was the point, where he should pull away, he thought, but his body didn’t follow. It kept his leg where it was. He raised his head and found Pearl staring at him with way too knowing eyes. Was she a mind reader? Efren shrugged lightly – he was as lost with this as she was – before they both turned their attention at Marc, who seemed oblivious of his own doings. Pearl’s face embraced the feline lines, suddenly looking very much like the kitty sleeping on the back of the sofa and she watched her dad’s predicament, waiting patiently, dead silent. Efren tried to keep his attention in place, but it crawled lower, where Marc’s foot was still engaged to his. He didn’t have to look to know what it did to him and he couldn’t decide if he was angry on his best friend for coaching up his hopes in ways he didn’t need right now or happy that he was having such feelings in the first place. One thing was sure – the guy was hot like the buns he made and that warmth was now climbing up his leg like wildfire.
“What?” Marc asked, confused. “Do you have some questions?”
Pearl’s catsmile dragged wider.
“Why are you holding Mr. Efren’s leg under the table?” she asked innocently and watched with huge grin how his father colored exquisitely deep red and the warmth was gone the fracture of a second later.
He jumped up, knocking over the chair he had sat on and backing off as fast as he could. Then he spun around and began cleaning his lips as if he’d been kissed instead of touching the leg.
Pearl looked upset and Efren realized he was in the same boat. For a moment his heart had jolted from joy, in mere hope of something he hadn’t even thought about being possible, and now it was squirming inside him like a cornered animal ready to run and hide back into the darkness he’d kept it in.
He had to cool him down, was what he felt going through his mind. Fast, before Marc seriously lost it and banished him from his life. So much of them being grownups. He wasn’t ready for giving them up and he sure as hell wasn’t jumping for hope where there was none. If Marc was acting as if he’d realized something he hadn’t known about himself and would want to explore, he was willing to do that. But as it was now, there was no way he was ready for that rocky ride and, being honest, neither was he. So despite feeling it, hoping and wanting it, he knew what he had to do.
Another sex pep talk, this time – grownup version.
“Marc,” he started, pressing on his best commanding tone he sometimes used at his work, hoping his professionalized tone would come to his aid, “sit down.”
He sighed. “Sit. Down.” He repeated, feeling his heart pull a loud thud each second he saw Marc’s scared face.
Pearl still looked shell-shocked and he doubted it was because it was her first close encounter with gays. She looked more shocked by her father’s actions than anything else.
“Sit down, please.” He tried again and waited.