A Taste of Blue

an excerpt

Chapter 1

It was barely six in the morning, and the few people out on the gray streets of downtown Boston hurried along with their heads down, eyes on their phones. No one glanced at Sean Keenan as he hitched his backpack higher on his shoulders and broke into a run, crossing the street at an angle and heading for the bus terminal. No one noticed that his hands were shaking, or that he shoved them deep in the pockets of his hoodie, as if hiding them might make the trembling stop. It didn't. Sean's heart was still racing, his stomach looping, and in his agitation he yanked open the heavy glass-and-brass doors of South Station with such force that a woman exiting the terminal looked over at him, her eyebrows raised in mild alarm. Sean tried a smile, failed, and held the door for her as she passed through.

He took a deep breath and tried to calm down. He had a plan. He was going to get on a bus and ride it a thousand miles away to a place he'd never been and start a brand new life. It was the right thing to do, the thing he'd been planning for months. This nagging urge to turn around and go home was ridiculous. There wasn't anyone to go home to, not really. Especially not after last night.

You knew it was going to end, he reminded himself for perhaps the twentieth time in the last two hours. But he'd never thought it would end in such disaster.

Last night had started out fine. He and Jonathan had picked up a pizza and gone over to Jonathan's place about nine. Jonathan had even bought a bottle of cheap champagne-- "To celebrate starting a new chapter of your life, kid." They hadn't drunk more than a few sips, though. While Sean was definitely not picky when it came to food or drink, even he knew that André Brut tasted lousy with an extra-large sausage and green pepper special. But the fact that Jonathan had thought to get champagne made Sean happy. Joining the Marines was a big deal, yet Jonathan had taken Sean's enlistment very much in stride. The presence of champagne had seemed like an acknowledgement--finally! --that Jonathan recognized the importance of what Sean was about to do. And it would make their last night together seem special, at least a little bit.

They'd been seeing each other for four months, ever since the day after Sean's nineteenth birthday when he'd finally gotten up the courage to actually send a message to someone on the dating app he'd been lurking on. He'd picked Jonathan, a guy who lived just one bus ride away, which was close for a town like Shearston. A guy ten years older than Sean, good-looking in a stay-up-all-night-tending-bar-and-doing-shots kind of way. A guy with sharp hazel eyes that were just beginning to be lined at the edges, and a lopsided smile that did things to Sean's insides. A guy who knew the ropes, and, most important, a guy who could host, since Sean still lived at home with his grandmother. Just a few hours after messaging Jonathan, Sean had found himself taking the bus into Lawrence to the bar Jonathan had mentioned. They hadn't even finished their beers before Jonathan had given him that smile and suggested they take a ride back to his place.

And that had been that. Four months of meeting in Jonathan's apartment for pizza or Chinese, followed by marathon sex sessions. Sean would happily have spent even more time over there if Jonathan had wanted him around. But they both had to work after all, and as Jonathan pointed out, it wouldn't do for Sean's grandmother to get suspicious about why he was so rarely home. Shearston wasn't exactly the South End, and Sean's grandmother wasn't exactly the progressive kind of Catholic. Besides, Jonathan pointed out, they saw each other plenty given that it wasn't anything serious between them.

And he should have remembered that, Sean thought as he stood in the middle of the Greyhound bus terminal. But he'd gone ahead and made a big deal out of it, at least in his own head. He'd even lied to his grandmother and told her he was spending his last night as a civilian with his old high school buddies, just so he could have one more night in Jonathan's bed. Well, he should have spent the time with his buddies, or even stayed home with her--maybe then he wouldn't be here all alone at the ass-crack of dawn with no one to see him off, with his guts churning and his hands shaking, feeling like a first-class idiot and still not even sure where he'd gone wrong.

In Jonathan's apartment they'd made it through two slices of pizza before getting down to business. A couple of messy handjobs on the couch, a break to finish the pizza, and then on into the bedroom, where they'd actually taken the time to shed their clothes. Then Jonathan leaned back against the headboard and motioned that Sean should come and sit between his legs.

Sean crawled across the tangled sheets and leaned against Jonathan's chest, resting and listening to his heartbeat. It felt so good to be there. Perfect, really. He found himself wondering, and not for the first time, if he'd made a mistake by enlisting. Yes, he wanted to get out of Shearston, get some job training, maybe even travel. He sure as hell didn't want to spend the next decade working at Friendly's and living with his grandmother. The problem was that just at that moment, what he wanted most in the world was exactly what he had right here. To be lying naked in another man's arms just like this, floating together in the easy haze that followed getting off.

It felt so good that it was a few minutes before he realized that Jonathan was doing something on his phone.

"Hey," Sean said, turning around to look. "Who are you texting? It's almost midnight."

"Hang on a sec." Jonathan's thumbs tapped at the screen a moment longer, then he dropped the phone face-down on the bed and turned his attention back to Sean, running his hands lightly over Sean's buzz cut. Sean felt a shiver of pleasure go through him.

"You had such beautiful curly hair," Jonathan said. "Too bad none of those jarheads down south will ever get to see it."

The words sent another shiver through Sean. Not arousal, exactly, but something just as full of longing. For a moment he let himself fall into the fantasy, the one he'd been trying not to let himself get lost in. Suppose Jonathan asked him not to go after all? Asked him to stay here, and to...to move in with him, even? No, he knew that was ridiculous.

Still, he turned all the way around in Jonathan's arms so he could look up at him. "Should I have saved you a lock of my hair to remember me by when I shaved it off?" he asked, and then immediately wished he hadn't because Jonathan was rolling his eyes. "Just kidding," he added quickly.

"Don't go getting all sentimental on me," Jonathan said. "Come on, you wanna go again?"

Of course Sean did. He always wanted to, with Jonathan. And Jonathan wanted to with him. And being wanted like that--well, it was almost as good as the sex itself. Almost.

"Yeah," he said, glad the focus of the conversation had shifted away from talking about how he was feeling. "You know I do. Just lemme get a drink of water."

"Got water right here for you," Jonathan said. "Lie down." Sean allowed himself to be rolled onto his back on the bed, watching as Jonathan rummaged on the cluttered night table. From behind a couple of empty beer bottles, a box of tissues, a cell phone docking station, and several unopened condom packets, he retrieved a pint glass half-full of tap water. Jonathan lifted the glass out of the mess and held it over Sean's chest, grinning that off-center grin that always made Sean's cock stir. Jonathan knew it, the bastard. Throwing one leg over Sean, he pinned his arms to his sides, straddling him as if they were wrestling.

"Give me that water," Sean ordered, struggling to pull his arms free from Jonathan's squeezing thighs.

Jonathan tipped the glass, threatening to spill the water over Sean's bare chest. Sean made a lunge upward, yanking his arm free, and Jonathan appeared to reconsider, righting the glass and taking a sip himself instead. Holding it in his mouth, he lowered his head toward Sean.

Then Sean understood. He lay back again, opening his mouth as Jonathan's lips met his. The water flowed from Jonathan's mouth to Sean's, warm and slippery and perfect as it poured over his tongue.

Sean swallowed, then moaned as Jonathan set the glass aside and began touching him again, fingers playing down the length of Sean's bare thighs. Sean's hips rocked up in pleasure as his eyes fluttered closed.

"You like me on top of you?" Jonathan asked. The overhead light in the bedroom had no shade, and when Sean looked up at him, the brightness made him squint, sending Jonathan's handsome face into glare-backed shadows.

"You know I like it."

"And you like this?" Jonathan's fingers tweaking his nipple.

"Ah, fuck you, you know I--fuck. Yes."

"Look at you," Jonathan said softly, his hands playing in Sean's sparse chest hair as he ground himself against Sean's cock. "Hard again already. Doesn't take you long, does it?" He tweaked both nipples now, twisting them in his fingers and holding them like that. Sean gasped at the sensation arcing between his nipples and his cock, and his eyes flew open again. Jonathan laughed.

"Eager, aren't we?"

Sean gave Jonathan's chest a little shove--half playful, half impatient. "Let me up and I'll show you who's eager."

Jonathan pushed back, attempting to pin Sean's arms to the bed again, but it was no contest. Jonathan might be a few inches taller, but Sean was stronger and heavier, the weight all muscle. He rolled sideways, rocking Jonathan backward onto the bed. Then he scrambled to his knees and threw himself on top of Jonathan. He'd been training for three months in preparation for boot camp, and when he felt how easy it was to wrestle Jonathan off him, he felt a flush of pride at how much stronger he'd become since they first met.

"Say it," he commanded.

"You win," Jonathan said at once, and Sean scooted off him to kneel between Jonathan's open thighs, taking in the sight of Jonathan's hard-on.

"Tell me what you want," Jonathan purred.

Sean felt his cheeks flush. He wasn't good at dirty talk, even though he loved it when Jonathan did it. Maybe it was because he was so new to all of this, only just beginning to figure out what he liked, what he wanted; it was too much to actually have to ask for it out loud as well.

"Wanna hear you say it," Jonathan urged. "Tell me where you want my cock."

Instead of answering, Sean showed him. He moved lower down the bed, opening his mouth and letting his lips slide slowly around the smooth, hot skin of the glans. It was like nothing else, having a man in his mouth, a man inside him. He began using his tongue, drawing the tip of it slowly up Jonathan's shaft. Each sound of pleasure Jonathan made seemed to spike through Sean just the way Jonathan's fingers on his nipples had spiked through him--with a twinge of desire so strong it was just this side of painful.

But then Jonathan's hands were on Sean's head again, this time pushing him back, pushing him off.

"Stop," he panted, face flushed. "Sean. Stop if you...fuck, I wanna come. But I want...gonna give you what you want."

Sean raised his head, mouth wet, chin rubbed red, and felt his cheeks flush hot as he met Jonathan's eyes.

"You want me to?" Jonathan asked.

Sean nodded, and getting to his hands and knees, he turned around facing the headboard.

Then Jonathan's hand was on his ass, stroking him, caressing him, and then gone as he reached for one of the plastic packets on the nightstand.

"Tell me what you want," Jonathan said again.

"You know," Sean mumbled, his cheeks flaming hotter.

"Wanna hear you say it." Jonathan made another light pass over his cock, while at the same time slipping one finger into the crack of his ass, sliding one finger down to the pucker of sensitive flesh, pressing gently.

Another moan filled the air then, and Sean belatedly recognized his own voice.

"I'm good, hunh?" Jonathan murmured.

"Yeah. Fuck, Jonathan. Come on."

The rustle of the condom wrapper, the snap of the lube cap. And then Jonathan's fingers were back, slippery and cool.

"You like opening up for me?"

Sean tried to form words out of all the heat lightning flashing through him. Another yeah was all he managed. When Jonathan fucked him, it made him want to say things he knew he probably shouldn't say. Not dirty things. Emotional ones. He arched back toward Jonathan, seeking more contact, more skin.

"Gonna think about this at night in your bunk, Sean?" Jonathan was teasing him now, stroking Sean's crack with the head of his cock. "Gonna think about me after you've spent the day crawling through the mud, playing war with the other little boys? Gonna jack off in the dark thinking about how lucky you were when you had my cock in your ass?"

"Yeah. Come on, fuck me."

"Wait." Jonathan dropped forward, his chest coming to rest against Sean's back. "You want something to remember me by, kid?" His breath was hot in Sean's ear, and something inside Sean's chest opened like a mouth, warm and hungry.

"Yeah," he said. "Of course I do."

Jonathan flicked his tongue against the outer fold of Sean's ear. "How about I make you a little video for you? You can watch it when you're lonely in your bunk."

"Of us, you mean?"

"Yeah. I could watch it when I'm lonely for you, too."

Fuck, yes. He wanted that. The idea made him completely fucking hard, actually. Well, all right, then. He wasmore of a perv than he'd thought.

"Do it," Sean said, and dropped to his elbows on the bed, his heart hammering with nervous excitement. He wanted Jonathan to miss him. Maybe he even wanted Jonathan to ask him not to go. Maybe, if Jonathan asked him to stay, maybe he would. "Do it," he said again, and watched as Jonathan found his phone, fiddled with it a moment, then propped it up against one of the empty beer bottles on the night table.

"Now," Jonathan said. "Where were we?"

Jonathan's cock stroking his hole was where they were.

"So beautiful," Jonathan purred. "So ready for me. You sure I'm your first, Seanny boy?"

"Fuck, Jonathan--"

"Maybe I'm not your first. Maybe you're out there every night, offering yourself to anyone who asks, is that it?"

"I--yeah. Fuck. That's hot." The idea of it, of guys wanting him, and of being able to say yes-- "Come on, just-- Oh."

Jonathan was inside him now, tight and slick and moving.

"You like that idea." Jonathan's voice in his ear, all hiss and tongue. "Giving yourself up to anyone. Because you love cock so much you can't help yourself."

"Yeah," Sean husked. Jonathan's hips were right against his ass now, his cock all the way inside him, fucking him slow and hard.

"Such a good boy," Jonathan said, his voice low and rough, punctuated by breaths as he thrust. "Nice Catholic boy. Lives with his grandma. Brings her tea in the morning. Does all the chores. Then sneaks off to take it up the ass from me. Is that right?"

Fuck yes, that was right. That was exactly what Sean did.

"Gonna fuck your way right through boot camp, aren't you, Sean? Gonna spend your days in the mud and your nights on your knees blowing the whole platoon."

"Oh, fuck. Yeah. Fuck, touch me--"

"I don't have to touch you. You could come just picturing it, couldn't you? Hold your head up, Sean, so I can see your face later, and tell the camera how much you love the thought of sucking off guy after guy."

"Love cock," Sean heard himself say. He was gone then, gone to that place Jonathan could always take him to. "Love being fucked."

He'd just said that out loud. And it was true. He did love it. And then Jonathan's hand was on his cock at last, stroking him right up to the edge.

"You'll get fucked by every Marine on Parris Island," Jonathan said, and that made Sean's cock even harder, made him ache and tremble with the need to shoot.

"Wanna get fucked by all of them," he heard himself say, and it was easy to say the words now that he was so close. "Wanna take it for all of them--want you to watch me take it--wanna take it for you, Jonathan--oh fuck, fuck, gonna come--"

With Jonathan's cock inside him, fucking him so hard, so right. Everything tightened, everything inside him was on the edge and then he was coming, hard and sharp, shooting over his lover's hand, Jonathan fucking him with that relentless pace, pounding his orgasm out of him. Then Jonathan's hips stuttered and he was coming, too, falling hard against Sean's back, holding him as his cock jerked inside him. Because of how good Sean had made him feel.

Sean collapsed onto his stomach, Jonathan on top of him. He felt boneless, drunk. This was what sex was; this was what all the fuss was about. Now that he'd been with a guy, he understood. Then Jonathan pulled out, and the pressure of his lover's chest against his back was gone. Sean listened, in his altered, euphoric state, to the sounds. Rustle of bedclothes, snap of Jonathan tying off the condom, sound of him taking a sip of water. Reaching over and picking up his phone.

Sean had actually let himself be fucked on camera. He'd agreed to that. He buried his face in the pillow. How was it possible to feel so embarrassed about something that only a minute before you'd thought was wicked hot?

He waited for Jonathan to curl up against him again, to stroke his back and tell him how good it was. A long minute passed, and then another. Finally, Sean raised his head to see what Jonathan was doing.

He was sitting on the edge of the bed with his phone in his hand, texting; Sean could see the little gray bubbles bouncing back and forth on the screen.

Jonathan: Or we can meet at my place

Private Number: Can u tonight?

Jonathan: Busy right now can u hook up in the morning

Private Number: How soon

Jonathan: Any time after 5 am

An icy trickle slid down Sean's spine and settled in his stomach. "What are you doing?" he asked.

"Just texting a friend."

"What friend?"

Jonathan blinked at him as if Sean had suddenly started speaking a foreign language. Then he shrugged and began scrolling backward through the text bubbles, of which there were many.

"Mike," Jonathan said. "His name's Mike."

"You're texting a guy whose name you can't even remember," Sean said slowly.

"I only met him tonight," Jonathan said.

"Online, you mean?"

Jonathan scowled. "What are you, my mother?"

"No, but...." Sean sat up. He felt sick, all of a sudden. "I mean, we just fucked and you're already planning a new hookup?"

"What do you care?" Jonathan looked genuinely baffled. "You're leaving. It's not like we were exclusive. I don't ask you what you do when you're not with me."

"I know, but...I mean, I don't make plans to hook up with someone else while I'm still in bed with you!"

Jonathan tossed the phone onto the pillow. "Sean, what the hell's wrong with you? You're leaving to catch a bus to South Carolina in just a few hours. You're walking out of my life forever to go whoring around in the Marines, so what do you care if I--"

"I'm not going whoring around in the Marines!"

Jonathan rolled his eyes. "Come off it, kid. You'll be on your knees sucking off the whole platoon before the week's out, so spare me your judgements. I heard what you were moaning just now."

"Jonathan, that was just talk. We were just playing. You started it!"

"'Wanna take it for all of them,' wasn't that it?"

"Fuck you." Sean got up off the bed and began searching the floor for his discarded clothes. He pulled on his T-shirt and briefs. His hands were shaking, he saw, but the observation seemed distant, as if it were someone else's hands he was observing.

"I'm enlisting to try to get a fucking life," he said, yanking up his jeans. "Which is more than I can say for you. I'm not gonna be stuck in this town when I'm your age."

If the jab stung, Jonathan's face didn't show it. He leaned back on the pillow and picked up his phone again. "Spare me the 'I'm only nineteen but I know everything' routine," he muttered. And began tapping at the screen again.

Sean shoved one foot in his sneaker, his face burning. How could he have been so stupid as to think that Jonathan might want him to stick around? To ever think that Jonathan might want him for more than an endless supply of easy fucks?

"Don't bother waiting until morning," he said, jamming the second sneaker on. "You can tell your friend Mike you'll be ready in five minutes, because I'm leaving now."

Jonathan looked up then. "Hey, take it easy. Don't be like that."

Sean ignored him.

"Come on," Jonathan said. "Look, I suck at goodbyes. I just don't want to be lonely after you leave. You can understand that, can't you?"

Sean pulled on his hoodie. He couldn't really understand anything right at that moment. There was a weird sound in his ears, like the sound he heard when he held that big seashell his grandmother kept on her dresser up to his ear. A faint roar. The sound of something vast and powerful, but very far away.

"I gotta go," he said. He grabbed his backpack and went down the stairs so fast he almost fell. His heart was beating too hard and his hands were trembling, and he didn't even know why. It was true, what Jonathan had said--they'd never been exclusive, and Sean didn't even care if they were or not. It wasn't that.

It was just that he'd thought he meant more to Jonathan. To the man who'd been his first boyfriend--at least that was how Sean had thought of it. The man who'd confirmed for him what he'd only ever imagined in his fantasies, that it felt so right to be with a man. And Jonathan had made him feel how very right that could be, night after night, for four months.

But there he was, standing on the front stoop of Jonathan's apartment building at ass o'clock in the morning like a fucking loser. He kicked at the crumbling cement steps and glanced up at the door, still hoping in spite of himself that Jonathan would come after him.

But the front door stayed closed. Another minute passed. Well, Sean sure as hell didn't want to be caught lingering on the doorstep when Jonathan's new trick showed up. There was nothing to do but leave.

And now here he was alone in a Greyhound bus station at six a.m., with his hands shaking and his stomach lurching like he might be sick. Getting ready to board a bus for boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, and not a soul to see him off. How stupid could you get? He should have been out with his buddies last night, or even home with his grandmother--even that would have been better than this. He never should have planned to spend his final night with Jonathan, who had never promised anything more than what he'd offered in his online profile--good times and a hot fuck.

If only he'd known earlier how badly he'd be wishing right now that he had someone here with him. Someone to hug him and wish him good luck and stand there watching as he climbed the bus steps and found his seat and the bus pulled out of the station. Someone who, if Sean looked out through the scratched and dirty window, would still be there, looking after him and waving.