What Jordan Wants | Chapter 3 | A Blog Serial by Jessie G

© 2018/2019 Jessie G Books, Inc. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. https://jessiegbooks.com

Chapter 3

Jordan

Jordan knew he had a longer than average list of things he would never do. Anything to do with extreme heights was out. Swimming pools were okay, but the ocean was a no-go. Driving over the speed limit wasn’t out of the question, but only if the situation was an emergency. Basically, if it could maim or kill him, then he wasn’t interested.

This, what he was doing today, had all the potential to hurt, but it wouldn’t maim or kill him. Yet, somehow, taking a personal day to have a long overdue conversation with his ex felt like the riskiest thing he’d ever done. Which was probably why he was standing on the wrong side of Caleb’s door, fists clenched at his sides as the mid-morning sun beat against his neck.

Every time they came together, they swore it would be different and every time they broke apart, they knew it wasn’t the end. Crazy as it sounds, the break-ups were as much a part of their relationship as the make-ups and six painful failures weren’t enough to kill the hope that maybe, someday, they’d get it right.

Except, this time Caleb issued an ultimatum. The beginning of forever or a final goodbye. To get the first, Jordan was going to have to find a way to answer the hardest question he’d ever been asked: what did he want?

In the past, he would say what he thought the person wanted to hear. Not just Caleb, but everyone in his life. When it came to making plans, he agreed with the consensus because he never wanted to be the one to put a damper on the fun. At least half the time, he employed one of his ready excuses at the last minute anyway and they all ended with ‘but hey, you guys should still go.’ Then he’d sit on pins and needles hoping they would move forward without him instead of trying to reschedule—which would obligate him to attend the second attempt.

No excuses.

The twist was that he might have enjoyed himself the first time, but being pressured because everyone else had to rearrange their time to accommodate him ruined the whole experience. He would feel terrible for inconveniencing them, worse if he actually lied—even if they didn’t know—and that would make him less communicative and more awkward than usual. Knowing all this didn’t stop the cycle, just like breaking up with Caleb wasn’t the end.

But this time, Caleb wanted the truth, not just what he thought he should say, and Jordan didn’t know how to put those words together much less speak them out loud. Caleb gave him two days, which seemed unreasonable considering he hadn’t been able to do it in all their years together, but that was probably for the best. Coasting as they were, he had no reason to figure it out because he knew—no matter how much time they spent apart—Caleb would always take him back.

Until now.

Terrified of that final goodbye, Jordan finally lifted a hand but instead of knocking, he placed it flat against the solid surface of the bright red door. Bold and vibrant, this stupid piece of wood standing between him and everything he wanted had more personality than he ever would. That could be said of just about everyone and everything, and yet… Caleb kept coming back for him.

He still didn’t know why, but if Caleb was willing to take him as is, Jordan could step up and find the words
Resolve squared his shoulders, but before he could knock, the door swung open and Caleb was there. Bare feet, solid thighs, wet speedo clinging in all the right places, stray drops clinging to coarse chest hair, towel slung around his neck… Jordan cataloged each detail before he reached Caleb’s face. There was surprise there and a flash of pleasure that quickly turned to wariness.

“Jordy, shit, I’m sorry, man. I was in the pool and didn’t hear you knock. Were you waiting long?”

It would be easy to say that he just got there, but he wanted to start this conversation right so, though it pained him to admit, Jordan said, “Yeah, a little while, but I didn’t knock. I was just…”

Standing there like a lemming trying to find a kernel of nerve.

“I see.” Caleb sighed softly and ran a hand through his wet hair, sending more drops flying. Such a normal gesture shouldn’t be sexy, but he was out of his mind for this man. “Do you need more time?”

Saying yes would be unfair and a few more minutes on the porch wasn’t going to be enough. Unless Caleb was offering to take back the ultimatum—and Jordan really didn’t want him too—then it was time.

“No. I mean, if you’re not busy, I’d like to…” Christ, this was painful. “Can we talk?”

Caleb stepped back and held the door wider, the invitation clear. He didn’t say anything as Jordan hovered on the threshold and braced himself. Jordan’s house felt like home, always had. The inside was as vibrant as the front door, as comfortable as his favorite pair of sweats, and came complete with his two favorite Butlers. Lived in, loved in, and so much more welcoming than his cookie cutter condo. That’s how it was three years ago and even if Caleb renovated the whole thing, Jordan knew it would only be to make it better.

“I’m really glad you’re here.”

Caleb could have kept quiet, forcing him to take the steps on his own, or he could have struck out with a direct ‘I didn’t think you would come.’ Instead, he went with gratitude and that was enough encouragement to propel Jordan forward.

“Me too.” That was always true no matter what else he might be feeling.

He was proud of himself for not jumping when the door swung shut and Caleb flipped the lock, closing them in together. Once upon a time, Jordan would have walked over to the shoe cubby and added his loafers to the assortment spilling out from the squares. This morning, he just stood in uncertainty and waited for direction. Caleb came around and looked him over, eyes narrowed as if he could see the turmoil raging inside.

“Let’s go back to the kitchen.” Caleb didn’t wait for him to answer, just turned to lead the way and Jordan followed, peaking around as they went to see if anything changed.

There was a formal dining room to the right of the entrance, Caleb’s office to the left, and a picture-lined hallway that led to the stairs and the back of the house. Acting as a record of Malik and Caleb’s life together, there were baby pictures, vacation collages, and annual school photos. There was a whole section dedicated to Malik’s sports accomplishments, another for family gatherings, and more than a few with him.

Seeing that they hadn’t erased him from their memories eased some of the tension Jordan had been carrying since Caleb made his demand. By the time the hallway opened up to the heart of the house, he was feeling pretty good and seeing that his favorite space remained largely untouched finished the job.

Where the front of the house was divided up, the back was completely open and big sliders created the perfect indoor/outdoor living. On the inside, there was an eat-in nook with atrium windows, a family room filled with overstuffed furniture and all the entertainment a man and his teenage son could want. Outside, there was a shaded gathering space, a fire pit, and a pool. Overall, the house wasn’t too big or too small but seemed just right for a family to spread out, entertain, and make memories.

There was only one big change and it made him smile. “You finally got that Wolf side-by-side range you wanted.”

Caleb looked over and beamed. “Yeah, with the infrared griddle and the charbroiler. The kid thought I was crazy for saving up for it, but now it’s his new favorite toy.”

“Malik cooks?” Jordan asked, finding it hard to believe that the boy who would only eat chicken fingers, hamburgers, and pizza had decided to branch out.

“Malik had a crush on a girl who was taking a cooking class at some restaurant downtown and thought it would be his ‘in.’ They never quite hit it off, but he discovered there’s more to life than finger foods.”

“Wait…he’s dating?” That was worse than eating like an adult. “When did he grow up?”

“I ask myself that all the time.” Caleb sighed and gestured toward the large soapstone island. “Belly up while I put the coffee on. It’s almost time for that mid-morning infusion, right?”

Was it ridiculous to be pleased that Caleb remembered his coffee routine? “Just about.”

He eased onto the first stool and tried not to stare as Caleb moved around his kitchen. It wasn’t easy considering all the clothes he wasn’t wearing, but only a fool would ask him to cover up. “Thursday’s are still your day off, right?”

“As long as Malik is playing football, yeah. Once he’s off to college, I may try to switch to Saturday or Sunday so I can have at least part of the weekend free.”

Being a doctor came with some crazy hours, but they hadn’t been a bone of contention between them because Jordan was genuinely happy with his quiet time. His wild weekends consisted of house cleaning, laundry, tending his little garden, and preparing for the upcoming school week. If he went out, it was usually to his parents or, after much prodding, dinner with the few friends who respected his desire for low-key places. All things that would be better with Caleb by his side, but Jordan knew he would find that kind of routine boring.

“Want to share those brooding thoughts with the rest of the class?”

Jordan blinked and realized Caleb was standing right across the island from him, one steaming cup of coffee held out in his direction. “Sorry, I was… My brain goes a million miles an hour.”

“I remember.” The less-than-enthusiastic tone caught him by surprise.

“Did it bother you?” Jordan quickly rifled through his Caleb memories and came up blank.

Caleb didn’t say anything as he walked back to the coffee station to finish making his own cup. Since he wasn’t one who normally weighed his words, the lack of an immediate answer seemed pretty terrifying and that was enough to keep Jordan quiet.

“Think before you speak, isn’t that what we’re taught?” Caleb finally said, his back still turned. “I’m not always capable, but you… You only think before you speak. Think and work it around until you come to some decision and at least half the time, you don’t share it. At least, not with me.”

When Caleb turned, his expression was pinched. “I never knew which of those decisions made you leave or if I could have said or done something that might have changed your mind. I never knew because you didn’t trust me enough to tell me. So, yeah, I guess it bothered me.”

“That’s not why I didn’t share.”

“Okay, then tell me why. Make me understand.”

Most of the time, he kept quiet because his rambling thoughts rarely made sense. Irrational, fearful, sometimes paranoid and always without any basis in reality. He was the oldest son in a stable, loving family, had never been bullied as a kid or hurt as an adult, had the career he wanted and a condo of his own. If asked, he could readily list his career accomplishments with pride, sometimes even conceit. There was no traumatic reason for his panic attacks or poor perception of himself, so how could he explain what he didn’t understand?

“There we go. I asked a question and you had a whole mental conversation that you have no intention of sharing.” Frustration made Caleb’s movements jerky when he walked over to the sink and dumped three-quarters of a cup of coffee. The ceramic hitting the farmhouse sink made Jordan jump and Caleb closed his eyes in defeat. “Why did you bother to come, Jordan?”

Afraid that he messed up already, Jordan blurted out the first thing in his head. “Because it can’t be goodbye, Caleb. It can’t. I know I’m not good at talking or sharing or being your partner, but everything I want lives in this house. I want you and Malik to be my family, to help me figure out how to be the family you need.”

The words came out in a jumble, thoughts tripping over one another haphazardly and Jordan just hoped Caleb understand. “Mine is great. I should be able to offer you what they gave me and I don’t know why it’s not working that way. Nothing bad has ever happened to me, yet I’m constantly afraid. Life is good, but I’m always looking for ways it could go wrong. Then the fear just builds until I make the thing I’m most afraid of come true.”

“And then you break up with me?” Caleb asked. “Because that’s what I’m most afraid of.”

“Yes, exactly. When things are going great, I worry that I’m going to screw it up, and then I do. That’s how fucked up my head is.” And he didn’t know how to break the cycle. “I love you, Caleb, have since you tried to take the last bunch of unripened bananas right out from under my hand, but I don’t know how to keep you.”

Caleb put his hands on the counter and leaned forward, expression tender and fierce. “There’s only one way to keep me. You stay and you talk and you trust me to work that shit out with you. Whatever it is, you stay. Whenever you want to run, you stay. No matter what, you stay.”

“How can it be that simple?”

“Why does it have to be complicated?”

Stumped, Jordan could only stare and repeat, “It can’t be goodbye, Caleb.”

“I hope it’s not, but I need to know something before we go on. Just blurt out the answer without thinking, okay? Can you do that?”

When Jordan shrugged, not entirely sure he was capable but willing to try, Caleb asked, “Did I really make you feel like you were holding me back?”

“Yes.”


Come Back in August for Chapter 4

© 2018/2019 Jessie G Books, Inc. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. https://jessiegbooks.com

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