What Jordan Wants | Chapter 4 | 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 4

Caleb

“No. Shit. That didn’t come out right.” Jordan squeezed his eyes shut and when they snapped open again, he looked wild. “I’m a homebody, you’re not. I like when things are subdued and comfortable and contained. I find it soothing to listen to you putter around the house while I’m doing something else. That kind of companionable silence makes me feel like I’m still connected to you even though I’ve of retreated into my own head. But I know that bores you and that’s where we hit a snag.”

“You misunderstand.” A snag? What they hit was a wall, and then they exploded into a million painful pieces. “Companionable silence is when Malik and I are destroying each other in Call of Duty and you’re curled up next to me with one eye on your book and the other on our antics. It’s us being present and aware of each other even if we’re doing two different things. Retreating is when you lock me out of your thoughts, shutter your expression, and plot your exit. Shockingly enough, I don’t find either boring, I just haven’t figured out how to keep the first without veering into the second.”

Caleb didn’t know why the difference was so hard for Jordan to understand or why he looked surprised. Like Caleb was a stranger he quite figure out and maybe that was true. Maybe they were strangers who only thought they knew each other.

“I love watching you guys play video games,” Jordan finally whispered.

“I know.” It might seem like the least important part of what he said, but Caleb never saw Jordan smile as much as when he was watching them. “But I shouldn’t have interrupted. Please continue. I really want to understand.”

“Maybe you should go first.” Caleb shook his head before Jordan could finish. He’d have a turn, but if he let Jordan stop now, they would never fix this. “No, right, um, okay, yes, they are two different things. I get that. The problem is they have the same outcome. You like to have wild experiences and surround yourself with cool, equally fun people, and that’s not me. Crowds freak me out. Loud noises, bright lights, everyone pushing and shoving—” Jordan shivered. “I’m sorry, but that will never be me.”

“Why are you sorry? I don’t want you to do something that causes you anxiety just because you think it’ll make me happy. That’s why I never push.” Ask, yes. He always asked because he did want Jordan there and he thought it was important for Jordan to know that. More often than not the answer was no and while he wasn’t thrilled to go without Jordan, Caleb would never push him.

“Except when you ask, there are only two answers. No, which means I’m left behind to wonder what I’m missing and think about how much I’ve disappointed you. If I say yes, then I get to be with you, but I’m left feeling like the greatest invisible idiot because I don’t know how to join the fun.” Jordan groaned and covered his face. “Crazy, right?”

“No, it’s…” Caleb forced himself to pause and replay the words. Jordan thought he was missing out. Jordan didn’t know how to have fun. Jordan loved watching him and Malik goof off, but was quick to refuse when they tried to include him. Catchphrases like ‘this is your time’ or ‘that’s not really my thing’ rolled off his tongue with ease. But were they the truth or knee-jerk reactions that were covering something else? “Jordan, you know you’re allowed to have fun, right?”

“I… Yes, I mean, sure. What did you ask that? Of course, I’m allowed. I’m a grown man. It’s not… I’m not fun. That’s the problem. I’m boring and plain and disappointing and…”

“I don’t understand how you came to that conclusion. Jordy, baby, you are smart and funny and sexy as hell and yes, you’re quiet and sturdy and dependable too. But boring? No. Absolutely not and if someone told you that, they lied.”

Jordan didn’t agree or disagree—he just stood there, shoulders slumped, head low, as if he were giving up and Caleb couldn’t take it.

“You said I like to have wild experiences, right? I jumped off a bridge with only a bungee cord around my waist, entered a cage that was submerged in a shark tank, and went to hang gliding in the Grand Canyon. I did each of those things exactly once, and yet I keep coming back to you. Reaching for you. Begging for another chance. How can you not know that I think you’re the most exciting experience of my life?”

“Me? But I’m not…”

“You, because you’re everything.” When Jordan just gaped at him, Caleb demanded, “You know what I like more than companionable silence?”

Looking unreasonably trapped by the question, the only sound in the room was Jordan’s ragged breathing. As usual, Caleb didn’t know what was going on in that thick skull, but he was done with space. This was their last chance and if it meant pushing Jordan out of his comfort zone, Caleb would do everything to ensure he was there to pick up the pieces.

“Us. Anywhere. Together. Sure, it’s nice to know you’re in my office grading papers while I’m cooking or working in the yard. Cooking together would be better. Pulling weeds together would totally rock my world. Then we can shower together and cuddle together and tease Malik about his latest crush together and then…then we can go upstairs and make love together.” That right there sounded like the perfect way to spend his time. After a long day at the hospital, the last thing he wanted to do was party all night, but it was better than being alone.

“Caleb.” The strangled word was barely a sound. Luckily for Jordan, he wasn’t close to done.

“And yes, sometimes I need a change of scenery. Something to get the blood pumping. But you know what would be awesome after jumping off a bridge? You, waiting for me at the bottom, book in one hand, pursed lips ready with a kiss cause you’re glad I’m alive and a curse for scaring the hell out of you. And then we can go back to our hotel and make love together.”

“Do you really think I could read a book while you were jumping off anything with only a rubber band around your waist?” Jordan’s tone was full of reproach and it was perfect. Really, he could have said anything because it meant he was still engaged and not already halfway out the door.

“Sure, why not? It’d be like extreme companionable silence. The two of us present and aware in the same space, while enjoying our individual pursuits.”

Throwing his hands up, Jordan declared, “I don’t even know what to say to that.”

“Then keep listening because I’m not done. You, of all people, know why I live the way I do. Why I can’t handle the silence or retreat into my head. That’s where the ones I lost live. Filling my time with friends, crazy adventures, even sex is just a stop gap and none of it has brought the same contentment as you.” More often than not, Jordan knew just by looking at him if it was a bad day at the hospital, and he always made it better. That he seemed so surprised now worried Caleb. “That’s what we did backward. You kept pushing me out the door and I thought it was because you wanted to be alone. Now you’re saying you didn’t want to hold me back?”

“We can’t be that stupid, Caleb. We’ve broken up—” Jordan paused dramatically “—six times!”

“Yeah, we did.” Caleb didn’t point out that they’d never had a conversation like this before because he honestly wasn’t sure it would have been possible at any other stage in their relationship. “So, how do we fix it?”

“You’re asking me?” Jordan actually laughed. “Didn’t we just agree that I screwed us up?”

“No, we most certainly did not. It takes two people to make or break a relationship, and holding me up on some pedestal while putting yourself down is part of the problem.” Caleb came around the island and cupped Jordan’s face, holding him still so he couldn’t look away. “We screwed up because we didn’t communicate and instead of fighting for each other, we acted like it was noble to let go. Unless you tell me that you don’t want me, I’m not making that mistake again.”

“I would never say that, but I don’t want to stop you from living your life. There’s going to come a time when you want to go out—”

“—and a time when you want to be alone.” Caleb countered, more than a little annoyed that Jordan was looking for excuses. “What about when Malik needs me or your family needs you? How about when you want to curl up with the next big novel or the guys call me to watch the game at the pub? Or when my board fundraiser is scheduled for the same night as your faculty meeting? Relationships are about compromise.”

Jordan leaned in, pressing their foreheads together, and laughed softly. “Then we’re screwed because if there’s anything we suck at more than communication is compromise.”

Caleb wasn’t sure that was true since they never actually tried. “Last I checked you were head of the math department at a prestigious private school and I’m no slouch as a doctor. Between the two of us, we might actually be able to learn how to do this.”

“What if we get it wrong again?”

“We’re human, Jordan, we’re bound to screw up, disagree, and disappoint one another. What matters is what we do next. Talk, make up and move forward together or walk away? That’s the difference between forever and a final goodbye.”

“Can it be that simple?”

“I’m not sure why you think it should be hard.” It had taken almost a decade of starts and stops to get Jordan to open up tonight. His assertion that he had no reason for the anxiety that plagued him didn’t feel right and Caleb knew it was something they were going to have to work on. But he was ready to go all in, eyes wide open and fully aware that those issues would never completely disappear. “Are you willing to try?”

“Why haven’t you given up on me?”

There were so many reasons and only one that mattered. “Cause you stole my heart in the produce aisle and I’ve decided I don’t want it back.”

They stood there for a long time, brows touching, breath mingling, and it was the most peaceful moment he’d had in over three years. Even without an answer. Jordan did that to him and Caleb wished he knew how to give it back.
“You asked me what I wanted.”

When Jordan’s lips curved up like that, Caleb wanted so badly to believe it wasn’t too late to get it right. “Are you ready to tell me?”

“Yes.”


© 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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