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But your love is epic.  Those were Celena’s words.

Jeremy nearly laughed at that, but it was not a moment to be humorous – she had taken the news of Landry and Jeremy’s break-up hard.

It all started when Jeremy had declined an invite to her graduation.  She had sent a text asking why and Jeremy realized that Landry had not told her. So he decided to be honest with her sending her the message: We broke up.  She called right away.  At that moment, Jeremy hated Landry for putting him in the position – to have to explain what happened.

“Don’t you love him anymore?” she had asked.  At Jeremy’s silence, she had continued, “So, you still love him.”

“Sometimes some things are not meant to be, I guess” Jeremy had explained.  “I know it’s a cliché, but he was not ready.”

“I’m going to knock some sense into my stupid brother when he gets home,” Celena decided.

After some convincing, Jeremy finally made her promise not to tell Landry anything. This was after all between him and Landry.  It would be unfair if Cee got dragged into it.

***

Jeremy went through his usual work-out paces – just him and the basketball, up and down the court – the movements ingrained in him.  This is Jeremy’s moment of Zen.  He can tune everything out during his warm-ups.  Well, almost everything… he thought.

Cee had sent him a message yesterday – on her graduation day: He has a blond GIRL with him! I don’t get it!  Jeremy had not sent her any replies.

It hurt, of course.  A girl?  Part of him would not believe it – because it would feel like a slap in the face.  He told himself that he was done trying to understand what was happening with Landry – and done with explaining.

When Jeremy suddenly lost control of the ball, he let it go.  He hung his head and told himself to get a grip.

“You need to concentrate, butterfingers,” a voice said, making Jeremy look up.

David Lee approached -the basketball in his hands.

Jeremy smiled and gave David a hug.  “You’re late,” Jeremy pointed out.

“No.  You are way too early,” David countered. “It’s the off-season and you’re in Cali – you don’t need to be so obsessive about training.”

“I know… but I need it.  I gained weight during my recuperation and my body practically squeaks of rust,” Jeremy explained.

“I think you look great,” David said while giving Jeremy a look-see before he put the ball into Jeremy’s hands.

“So, let’s see what you learned in the Big Apple.”

David and he had done this before when they had played together for Golden State Warriors.  He had taken Jeremy under his wing during Jeremy’s rookie year – he is both a mentor and friend.  They kept in touch despite living on opposite sides of the country.  Jeremy had been sub-letting David’s apartment in New York since the onset of Linsanity.

As he had told Jared, David had been like a big brother for him then.  They had trained a lot together – against and with each other.  David knew how to challenge Jeremy without going too far.

“I can see you need a lot of work,” David commented after an hour.

They sat beside each other on the floor and leaned against the wall, drinking some Gatorade.

“I need all the conditioning I can get,” Jeremy said in between heavy breaths.  It had been a great work-out- hard as usual, Jeremy thought, but hard work created results.

“Remember to pace yourself,” David answered.

He looked at Jeremy; concern was visible on his face.  “You okay, Jer?”

Jeremy looked up and nodded.

“No.  I mean  – are you okay?  You’re not drowning yourself in training are you?” David asked.

Jeremy shrugged “What else can I do, David?”  He leaned his head backwards.  The pain is back, Jeremy thought.  He could usually push it – somewhere else – but at times like these, when he’s not working, the feelings come back.  They did not feel as overwhelming as they used to, but they were still there.

He’s dating.” Jeremy said in a flat voice.

“I know,” David affirmed.  At Jeremy’s glance, he said “Instagram” with a shrug.
Jeremy looked at David – a silent question hung in the air.  David shook his head.  “No.  You do not need to torture yourself.  You do not need to look at her.”

Jeremy took a deep breath.  “I feel like what we were was a joke.”

“If he could not appreciate what he had, then he did not deserve you,” David protested.

Jeremy buried his head between his knees.  “I want to move on – but I can’t.”

David nudged Jeremy’s shoulder and said “You will – at one point.”

Jeremy sat quietly for a few minutes – David knew him well enough to let him think.

He looked sideways at Jeremy.  A drop of sweat rested on Jeremy’s upper lip – those pouty lips, David thought, I’ve always wanted to taste them.  He reached out with his left hand to wipe the drop away and grazed Jeremy’s lips with his thumb.

Jeremy was transfixed – he could feel a tug in his gut.  He can’t really understand what’s happening.  David?  he asked himself.

David was looking intently at him.  When he leaned to kiss Jeremy, part surprise and curiosity stopped Jeremy from protesting.  The kiss was soft – it wasn’t bad – David wasn’t bad. 

It just felt – different, Jeremy thought.

As David softly explored his lips, Jeremy found himself comparing this kiss to Landry’s, remembering the feel of Landry’s full lips, the small lip bites he liked to take and the sensations Jeremy felt with those kisses.

David broke the kiss off slowly.  He sighed and said “”I don’t think you should go on a rebound, but you need to look at what else is here – just in front of you.”

“I never thought you felt that way,” Jeremy said.

“I thought I missed you because you were like my little brother.  Well, I felt more for you than that. I definitely did not kiss you like a little brother,” he ended.

“I honestly do not know what to say,” Jeremy said honestly.  “It’s too soon…”
“Of course,” David interrupted.  “Knowing your stubborn head, it will take a while to kick the other guy out from there.”

Jeremy smiled.

“Why don’t we take it slow?  David suggested.   He tugged at Jeremy’s hand, so they both came up to stand.  “What do you have on the calendar today?”
“I have training at Sparta in a few hours, but my evening is free,” Jeremy answered.

“Dinner tonight?”  David suggested.

“Sure.  My treat – Asian cuisine, okay?  I’ll pick you up at six. ”
David had a smile on his face and said “I do love Asian.”

As they walked out of the gym, they looked like they normally did – two friends.  Jeremy was quite aware, though, that something had changed between them.  Something new, something different…

 

 

Jump to Chapter 15: Not letting go