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He woke up with a boner.

Jeremy groaned into his pillow, rubbing his lower body  against the sheets, his mind fleeting to last night,  to Landry’s lips, the way he tasted, the memory of how Landry ran his hands on his hair and how Landry’s hard thighs felt under Jeremy’s hands.

When he lay gasping after release, his only thought was what are you doing, Jeremy?

Landry wanted to talk last night, but Jeremy just wanted to put some distance between them, to get some space to think and process what actually happened.  He could easily have ignored the silliness and giddiness Landry was exhibiting on the way to the restrooms – he was drunk.  But the words he uttered could not be ignored; I LOVE you – so much it hurts. THEN his best friend kissed him – his best male friend.

Jeremy’s mind and gut were churning.  He was so conflicted.

He pushed himself to get up.  Landry and Jeremy were working out together this morning.  Today of all days, he could do without what Landry called the “JLin pre-work-out work-out”.  Jeremy smiled, Landry had  always busted his ass about being a workaholic.  So what if he liked warming up on the court an hour before everyone else?  He loved the quiet and the solitude.

But he hadn’t been alone for a while now. Landry had been joining him for pre-work-out work-out since Jeremy started with the Knicks.  He’s a talker and a joker, yet Jeremy did not consider his presence intrusive.

***

But Landry wasn’t there this morning, Jeremy realized with a heavy heart, staring at the empty basketball court.

He might be hung-over or just over-slept…  

Instead of mulling over his disappointment, Jeremy went to work with his usual dose of warm-up exercises.  At least this way, he can focus on something productive, he thought.  He dribbled, ran, and walked – slowly but surely put his body through the usual paces. After about 30 minutes his muscles were practically humming from the exertion.

Sweat trickled from his face, a drop tickling his upper lip.  Jeremy suddenly remembered how Landry nibbled at his upper lip and how it felt. Whoa! He lost control of the ball and saw it roll towards the other end of the court – where Landry was standing.

His heart was beating fast – from the warm-up, he told himself – and not from seeing Landry.

Jeremy was, of course, already on the court – like Swiss clockwork. He liked to warm-up alone, an hour before everyone else walked through the gym doors.   Landry was the only Knick he’d ever asked to join him. Today, Landry decided to give Jeremy some time on his own and was content with just observing from the other end of the court.  He had always admired Jeremy’s work ethic.  No one did work-out like him.  He’d be there every morning, no matter the state of his mind and body the night before.  He’d go through his exercises with such seriousness and determination etched on his face, that when he finally broke out in a laugh or smile afterwards, you couldn’t help but be infected by it and know that he just loved the game.  Landry loved watching him practice – be it 3’s, lay-ups or free throws.

He loves Jeremy – and now Jeremy knows.

When Jeremy lost control of the ball, it rolled towards Landry.  Landry bent to pick it up – straightening up to find himself merely a foot from Jeremy, who had gone after the ball.  No one said anything.  Damn it, Landry, say something.

Landry cleared his throat “Good morning.”  Jeremy just looked at him for a moment, until he answered “Hey.”   Cue crickets in the background, Landry thought.

“I thought you’d join me for work-out,” he heard Jeremy say.

“Uh, I thought after last night, you’d want some time off from me,” Landry replied, deciding to take the bull by the horns.  Jeremy looked away, discomfort showing on his face.

“No worries,” he answered with a shrug. “You had a little too much to drink, that’s all.”

Landry’s ears were ringing. He thought, No worries?  But I kissed you!

“Let’s just get going with warm-ups before the others come in,” Jeremy continued, walking towards the center of the court.

Landry stood for a moment and looked at Jeremy walk away.  So that’s how we’re playing it, he thought.  Like what happened was a fluke?  He had a burning ache in his chest.  Part of him wanted to shake Jeremy into showing anger – anything but that it-does-not-matter attitude.   Landry walked towards Jeremy, who was already at his usual spot when they play one-on-one.  He had a smile on his face at Landry’s approach.

Landry’s mind went blank, his stomach feeling like someone gave him a gut-punch.  I can’t live without that smile, Landry admitted to himself. He couldn’t live without Jeremy.

 

So he decided to “play along” – for now.

More to come…

Jump to Chapter 3: Absence makes