High school sophomore Ryan Miyashi doesn’t know what to think—he’s completely taken with a handsome, strapping transfer student from Texas named Tanner. Ryan is a long way from the self-confidant adult we know from the Growing Lad series. His problem is that despite being a gifted student, he’s painfully shy and he hasn’t told anyone but his brother that he likes boys. Ryan is secretly crushing on Tanner big time, and watching the way Tanner effortlessly makes friends with everyone including gay students ties his heart up in knots. Ryan starts to hope that maybe they have something in common, but Tanner is erratic and moody and is driving Ryan crazy.
“What are you looking at?”
I’d been caught gawking, and my stomach did a little flip-flop.
“Oh, uh, did you notice the vending machines over there?”
Elaine gave a little smile. I was in deep shit.
“What about them?” She glanced over in the direction of the machines against the administration building. Right where that new guy was standing.
“They have Flamin’ Hot Cheetos now,” I said unconvincingly. “The question, again?” Elaine’s smile became a smirk. She paused just long enough to make me really uncomfortable.
“I’m going to ask Daddy for a car when I turn sixteen next month, and wanted to know if I should hold out for something sportier than a Prius.”
“Ask him for a Ferrari!” Thomas blurted. I was grateful for outburst—it diverted Elaine’s attention from my discomfort.
Being a girl, Elaine was of course was the most mature among us. In the last couple of years, she’d developed a nice figure, and I thought she could snag a pretty nice boyfriend if she tried. She had red hair and freckles that I thought were kind of cute, too. When she was younger, she looked just like the character at Wendy’s. These days, she’d gotten contacts and stopped wearing her hair in pigtails and had morphed into an attractive young woman. It sometimes made me wonder why she still hung out with the likes of us. Make no mistake, I was grateful—but it still boggled my mind. It was a long time later I came to realize it was simply because she was kind and loving and didn’t give up on old friends because of new ones.
“Don’t be a dork,” Serge said. “They’re not that rich.”
“Who said we were rich?”
“Are you kidding?” Thomas asked earnestly. “Look at the car her dad drives!”
If Elaine was the most mature, Thomas was the least—physically and emotionally. He was the only fourteen-year-old I knew that still wore pajamas with feet. He had his D&D action figures and he was good to go. His round little face and thick glasses completed the picture. He was always wound-up and interrupting.
“You’re an idiot,” Serge replied. Lanky and tall, at least when he stood up straight, Serge was already shaving every day and could probably pass for a senior. I guess it was his Armenian ancestry.
“I was thinking more like a Lexus,” Elaine said.
“See? What did I tell you?” Thomas retorted.
“Not a new one, stupid. Daddy wouldn’t go for that. Something a couple of years old. Gently used.”
As the discussion went on, my eye was irresistibly drawn back to the new hunk. He was tall and blond and perfect—at least six feet. He was wearing jeans and a plain red t-shirt that showed off his athletic build. He had a thick neck, broad shoulders and thick, vein-covered forearms with just the lightest dusting of blond hair.
And he had guns. The sleeves of his shirt rode up on the most beautifully shaped biceps I’d ever seen (up to that time—sorry, Alex). They were perfectly proportioned, with a broad, sweeping arc that peaked deliciously when he bent his arm. When it straightened out, the vein that ran its length popped dramatically into view.
Below the waist, he was no less beautiful. His slim-cut blue jeans clung to his muscular ass. His pant-legs seemed barely able to contain powerful thighs that were like tightly-wound springs, ready to instantly release massive energy on command. His calves likewise called out a ready willingness to serve their godly master.
Everything seemed to slow down as I beheld this angel incarnate. The chatter and chaos of the schoolyard receded from my consciousness as I watched those powerful, masculine hands put coins in the slot of the soda machine. He withdrew his purchase and straightened up and I drew in a sharp breath as he absent-mindedly reached down with his other hand and adjusted his crotch. Someone—I couldn’t be sure who, as my brain could no longer register the image of anything else—must have spoken to this vision of male beauty, because he turned his head. And then…
He smiled. The vision was suddenly too intense. Had I been standing, I would have fainted dead away. As it was, my head swam and my vision clouded. I was…I was…
The sights and sounds of the school yard crashed down on me like an avalanche.