Damaged Goods

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Amateur

For about the twentieth time, I seriously considered getting up and running away while I still had the chance. The only thing that stopped me from escaping the restaurant was the fact that if I did, I would be blowing this Scott guy off.

I didn’t even want to be on this blind date, but everything happened so fast. Kaleb, one of the men working with me at Cormac, the engineering company where I’d been interning, just slipped “by the way, are you gay, Parker?” into what had been a totally normal conversation.

I was so flustered that he had to reassure me before I could even reply.

“I’m not trying to be mean, I’m just curious. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”

Kaleb was a nice guy, probably my only real quasi-friend at my job. I had no reason to believe he had bad intentions.

My pale ginger skin turned red.

“I…yes,” I muttered.

He nodded. “Okay. I had suspicions, but I wanted to be sure. Would you be interested in going on a date?”

I gaped at him. Kaleb was straight as a pin! He talked about his wife all the time!

He read my expression and chuckled. “Not with me, obviously. My best friend Scott is one of the shop monkeys downstairs. He’s bi, and you’d be just his type.”

Perfect. I was scared enough around the old guys and geeks in the offices, and Kaleb was trying to set me up with one of those burly gorillas.

I felt myself redden even further.

“I don’t…I don’t know if I’d be interested in…dating right now…”

“Well, you’ll never know if you don’t try, right? You could just think of it as you doing me a favor.”

What I wanted more than anything was the conversation to be finished, so without any regards to the consequences I just said “sure,” which I regretted almost instantly.

He grinned. “Thanks, man! I’ll tell Scott about it. You don’t have to worry, he’s a great guy.”

Even if that was true, I still wanted to crawl away and hide.

I’m a pushover. I’ve just always been timid and afraid of confrontation. I think this is mostly because I’m uncommonly short at 5’3″ and probably wouldn’t weigh 100 pounds soaking wet. It had always been an insecurity, and the bullying I got over it in middle and high school didn’t help matters. My shyness was what stopped me from dating, and ever since that 4th of July after my eighteenth birthday I was terrified of the mere idea of being intimate with a man.

Even so, here I was, waiting at a table for some guy I had never met before. I wished I could just disappear.

“Hiya, you must be Parker Lindbeck.”

I almost jumped out of my chair. I turned to see a man holding his hands up cautiously.

“Whoops, sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you.”

I didn’t want to be rude and act so uncomfortable, so I forced a smile.

“No, it’s fine.”

He held out his hand and we shook. “I’m Scott Ballard. It’s nice to meet you finally.”

Scott wasn’t anywhere near how I had pictured him. He was sort of tall, probably 5’11”, but not the big rough beast I was scared he would be, more lanky and wiry. He wasn’t fat or thin, he wasn’t attractive or ugly. He looked thoroughly average. All things considered, it was the best I could have hoped for. This combination worked the best to keep my nerves down.

His blue eyes twinkled when he looked at me and he smiled.

“Wow, Parker. You’re beautiful.”

I wanted to laugh. Beautiful? Was he kidding? I was a baby-faced little pipsqueak who couldn’t even grow a beard! Still, I made myself accept the compliment.

“Thanks.”

He sat down.

“How old are you?” He asked.

“I’m twenty.”

“Huh, I wouldn’t have guessed that, since—”

You look like a baby, I finished his sentence in my head.

“—Kaleb talks so highly of you. According to him, you’re one of the best interns he’s worked with.”

I blinked a few times. This conversation was not going the way I was expecting it to.

Don’t assume the worst in him! You’re being a dick! I scolded myself.

“I’m twenty-six, in case you were wondering,” he continued. “I’ve been working at Cormac for three years now.”

To my surprise, the conversation flowed well through dinner. He was nice, funny, and laid back. I was starting to feel bad about myself for assuming that I wouldn’t have a good time tonight. Kaleb was right; Scott really was a great guy.

Maybe it was time to stop hiding and actually put myself out there. I didn’t mind the idea of Scott being my boyfriend. I didn’t mind that at all. A second date seemed like a good idea.

After dinner, we went to the parking lot to go to our respective cars.

“I had a wonderful time tonight,” I told him, and I meant it.

“Likewise. I need to thank Kaleb later for setting this up. Hot, nice, and smart. I can’t believe my luck!”

Wait…he was talking about me? I blushed, thankful it was getting dark.

“Well…I try to be nice and smart, but I’m not so sure about hot…”

“What are you talking about, Parker? You’re gorgeous!”

He casino şirketleri reached out a hand to cup my cheek. “May I kiss you?”

I was a little nervous, but that was overtaken by how excited the prospect was to me.

“Sure, Scott.”

He held my face and brought his lips to mine. It felt so hot. It felt so good! The kiss deepened and it felt like my entire body was tingling. I had no clue a kiss could make me feel so happy.

He pulled away, a little too soon if you ask me, and even in the low light I could see him grinning ear to ear.

“We need to do this again sometime.”

“Absolutely,” I agreed.

He wrapped his arms around me in a big hug. He was so much bigger than me that it felt like I was swallowed whole.

For a heartbeat, I enjoyed the affection, but one heart beat later, the sensation brought something to mind.

You love being a good little bitch, don’t you?

I wanted out. I needed out right now.

“Let me go. Let go, Scott. Please, let go of me!” I was talking fast and desperately.

He released me within a second.

“What’s wrong, Parker? Are you alright? Did I do something?”

I felt like I was going to vomit. I wanted to get away.

“No, you didn’t do anything wrong. I just…I just don’t like being held like that,” I lied.

Scott looked so concerned.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

“You have nothing to be sorry for. I’ll see you later.” I fast-walked to my car. Tears welling up in my eyes, I started the engine and left.

*****

I watched Parker speed away, scratching my head in confusion.

What the hell was that about?

Both of us were having a great time. The date was awesome, the kiss was fantastic, I thoroughly enjoyed the hug, and for a second, it seemed like Parker was enjoying it, too. Then he started freaking out.

I was kicking myself, going in like that. Not everybody was like I was. If it were up to me, there would be no stigma to getting all touchy-feely right out the gate, but apparently Parker wasn’t that way at all. It was a shame. The guy was so small and cute and just so damn huggable, but it wouldn’t even come close to being a deal breaker. Besides, I could show affection in other ways.

I smiled. I really needed to thank Kaleb properly. Parker was amazing: sweet, clever, funny, and not to mention the most beautiful little thing I had ever laid eyes on. He was short and soft, just how I like it. He had wonderful auburn hair and some incredible green eyes. He had tons of freckles, not just on his face, but on his arms as well. I wondered where else on his body they were. When I felt him up, I didn’t feel any hair on his face or exposed arms. Maybe he was just naturally hairless. I hoped I would have the opportunity to conduct a thorough investigation of his body at a later date. To sum up, Parker lined up with my tastes perfectly.

“Small and cute” had always been my type. For all of high school and about half of college, I saw that in girls around me. Most guys nowadays go for the long legs, big butts, and huge tits, but my ideal girl was tiny and flat-chested. My girlfriend for much of senior year was 4’11”, and looking at her had me drooling. She also let me know that I was the sweetest guy she had ever been with. We only broke up because we were going to colleges on opposite sides of the country.

It was at college that I met Kaleb Black, my freshman roommate who would quickly become my best friend. We got wasted together, pulled all-nighters together, and grew to become like brothers. We had the same major, and were even lucky enough to end up working at the same company.

Kaleb was the first person I told about the developments in my sexuality. I had noticed that on more than one occasion, I would be checking out a girl from behind, and I’d be loving it, but when they’d turn around, they’d reveal themselves to be short, androgynous boys. However, instead of getting turned off, my fascination continued without hinderance. It took a little step into the world of pornography for me to learn that small cute boys turned me on just as much as small cute girls did. I was attracted to femininity, but not in the form of pussies and boobs. I loved the curves, the softness, the cuteness, and that femininity is not exclusive to women. Having sex with my first boy was a truly eye-opening experience.

I told my best friend about it and he accepted it without batting an eye.

“Okay. Now I know for damn sure we’ll never be after the same people.”

I laughed. Kaleb’s tastes were more traditional, and the girl he met not long after, Annie, was a knockout. She was also a wonderful person, and when he told me that he thought he had found the woman he wanted to marry a few months later, I was happy for him. I was their best man and am still good friends with both of them.

Kaleb and I were out for beers a few nights ago when he brought up a new subject.

“By the way, we got a new intern. He’s a good worker. Nice, too.”

While we were employed by casino firmaları the same company, we didn’t really see much of each other during the work day. Kaleb was upstairs in the office part of the building. That was where the designing and prototyping and fine detail work would happen. I worked downstairs in the workshop, welding, milling, testing, all the hands-on stuff. The two of us liked to tease each other about it sometimes. I’d say his department was full of wimps and nerds who don’t want to get their hands dirty. He’d joke that I was one of the brainless meatheads who were only good for grunt work.

He and I were friends, but we didn’t feel the need to keep each other up to date in all the events happening at work, so I wasn’t really sure why he was telling me about some intern.

I gave him a dubious look. “O…kay…”

“I’m only bringing this up because he looks like your perfect fantasy boy. He’s the tiniest man I’ve ever seen and is more feminine than half of the women at Cormac. I’m also pretty sure he’s gay.”

Now he had my complete attention. I hadn’t been in a relationship in months and had been feeling lonely as of late.

“Ooh, I better get on that, then. What’s his name?”

“Slow down, man. He’s pretty high strung. You’d probably just scare the kid if you came in, guns blazing. I’ll be a middle man.”

It seemed that the stars had aligned, and I just finished the best first date I had ever been on.

At the very beginning, he seemed tense, almost scared of me, but he loosened up in no time. We worked off each other well, had several common interests, and that kiss was mind-blowing. I felt like it went perfectly…except for the very end.

The more I thought about it, the more I was sure that he wasn’t being entirely truthful in his explanation. He seemed like he had liked the hug, at least at first, then thought about something that freaked him out. Maybe he had had a bad experience.

Either way, it wasn’t any of my business. If he wanted to talk about it, he would talk about it. Personally, I’m an open book. When I’m feeling a certain way, I’ll show it. If I had a concern, I’d let it be known. I think it is mostly because I’m so annoyed by people who act passive aggressive or insincere. But Parker likely wasn’t that way. The first signs were looking really good. I was more attracted to him than I had been to anyone in a long time. I really wanted to get this right. Things would have to happen at their own pace.

I chuckled, realizing that I had walked to my car and had been sitting there for who knew how long, going down memory lane and psychoanalyzing something that probably wasn’t that big a deal. I told myself to calm down. There was no reason to believe that I had scared Parker away, or even came close to it. I took a deep breath in and out before starting up my car and beginning the drive home.

*****

I was crying gently the whole drive back to my apartment, trying to keep myself from losing control.

Idiot! You’re a fucking idiot!

What the hell was the matter with me? I was having a great time. We were having a great time, and I went and ruined everything just like that! He was hugging me, showing tender affection, and I flipped out. I might as well have a label tattooed on my forehead: WARNING! DAMAGED GOODS! DO NOT TOUCH!

I was able to unlock my door and get inside before I started crying for real. I called out the name of the person I needed the most at that moment.

“M-M-Matt? A-are you home?”

My brother walked in, his eyes widening when he saw me.

“Oh my God! Parker, what happened? No, come here first!”

I ran to him and buried my face in his chest, wailing. Matt held me and stroked my back gently as I let it all out. I hated being such a crybaby. Here I was, inconveniencing yet another person because I didn’t know how to be a human being.

I reminded myself that Matt would never think that way. He loved me. If I was sure of any one thing in the world, it was that.

“Everything will be alright, Parker. I’ve got you.” My big brother murmured into my ear.

I calmed down after a bit. He brought me to the den and turned on the lights. He sat down next to me, face lined with worry.

“What happened to you? Tonight was your date, right? Did that guy hurt you?” I could see him start to get pissed off on my behalf already.

“No, he didn’t do anything.”

He tilted his head slightly. “Then what’s wrong?”

I took a deep breath. “The date went really well, much better than I expected. Scott seems like such a great guy. We even kissed, but…then he hugged me. After a second, it made me think of…” I couldn’t say it.

Matt nodded, knowing what I meant.

“I freaked out. I told him to let go of me, like I was scared of him, then ran away as fast as I could. He barely had time to apologize. But it wasn’t his fault, it was mine.”

He put a hand on my shoulder. “It’s not your fault, either. These things just happen sometimes.”

I leaned into him. “I don’t get güvenilir casino it. You hug me and hold me all the time. Why did I freak out when he did it?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s because you don’t know him very well?”

“I guess. But now I feel like I pushed him away. I ruined everything before we could even really get started!”

“That’s not true, Parker,” he said firmly. “If he’s really interested this wouldn’t scare him off. If this really does make him run, then good riddance. You’re too good for him, anyway.”

I smiled weakly. “Thanks, Matt.”

He ruffled my hair. “Any time, little bro.”

We sat in comfortable silence for a minute or two.

“I still feel bad,” I said. “That was a horrible way to thank him for treating me so well.”

“Well, text him and clear the air.”

“I don’t want to bother him like that.”

He folded his arms and gave me a stern look. “Parker, when has the mindset of your feelings being a burden on other people ever benefited you? You need to stop it. You’re a human. Humans have feelings. Communicate.”

I felt my cheeks heat up. Sheepishly, I looked away and pulled out my phone.

I spent a few minutes making sure my text didn’t say too much or too little. I eventually settled on I’m sorry for freaking out like that. I had a great time, really. I’ll talk to you later. Not long after, I got a message back.

It’s not a problem. We can meet during lunch break tomorrow if you want.

I felt so relieved, and Matt was happy when I showed him.

“See? Everything is fine. Isn’t it incredible what a few words can do?”

I nodded. He was right, communication had always been a problem for me.

Later that night, I looked at him unwinding and watching something on his laptop. He and I did look quite a bit alike. We had similar faces and voices. It was easy to tell from looking at us that we were family. The differences came from the fact that he took more after our father and I took more after our mother. He had more masculine features and a beard while I was feminine in shape and smooth pretty much everywhere. The biggest difference was the height. Our parents were both short, our father 5’6″ and our mother 5’2″. By some twisted joke he avoided those genes and ended up 5’9″. I must have gotten them full blast.

I really did owe him a lot. Our parents were very distant and detached from us. Being well off financially, they did a lot of travelling during our childhood, leaving us alone for weeks or months at a time. Matt asked them for a loan to get an apartment for him and me when he was 18 and they let us leave without batting an eye. We moved from Miami to Orlando to go to college and it had just been the two of us since then. He had done more to raise me than they ever did. Coming out to him was completely painless. He was only four years my senior, but he was so much more mature than I was. I loved him, and was happy that he was there to protect me, but I couldn’t rely on Matt forever. It wouldn’t be fair to him. I wanted to be able to stand on my own two feet, or at least depend on other people sometimes. Maybe getting a boyfriend would be a good first step.

“Hey, Matt?”

He looked up from his screen. “Yeah, bro?”

“How was your day? I want to know how you’re doing, too.”

He smiled. “It was fine. Being an accountant isn’t exactly exciting, but you’re starting to get a taste of office life yourself, so I don’t think I need to tell you that.”

I chuckled. Matt majored in economics and managed to get a job not long after college, working to pay back our debts to our parents. I wanted to help, and was lucky enough to get a paid internship that summer.

“How’s your love life?” I asked. “Any girls you’re interested in?”

“Maybe…Rachel is pretty cool.”

“Well, I think it’s time for Mr. Communication to practice what he preaches. Ask her out!”

He sighed. “Fine, I promise I’ll ask her out soon, but you have to promise me something first.”

I raised an eyebrow. “What?”

“Have some more faith in yourself. You made one little mistake today and you were ready to throw everything out the window. That’s not a good thing, Parker.”

I looked down. “I’m sorry.”

Matt leaned forward a bit in his chair.

“You know, it’s kind of impressive how often ‘I’m sorry’ can be replaced with ‘thank you.’ It’s a way to substitute something negative with something positive. I’ve been trying it, and you should, too.”

I furrowed my brow.

“Let’s rewind a little. You’re too hard on yourself. Don’t sell yourself short, Parker. You’re a great guy, and any man would be lucky to have you.”

I adjusted my reply. “Thank you for believing in me, Matt.”

He reached over and ruffled my hair again. “No problem.”

I smiled.

*****

Parker looked around my house. “Nice place you’ve got here.”

I grinned. After the awkwardness at the end of our first date and the few minutes after we met the second time, things had been going smoothly between us. We got together for lunch most of the time for the following days, and had started dating, going out occasionally for about two weeks by then. He gladly agreed when I asked if he wanted to come over to my place and watch a movie.

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