A Stone Heart: Chapter Eight
Huey is about to experience something brand new to him, and he’s intent on taking full advantage.
I was rung out for two days after my session with Lake. I could barely stand. Huey, gods bless him, kept me in bed and fed me vegan chicken soup with loads of health-boosting vegetables. The first day, I couldn’t even lift my arms. Huey propped me up in bed and fed me. I couldn’t remember ever being so run down in my life. Lake stopped by to see how I was doing, but Huey refused to let him in, saying I needed my rest. The other guys called, and Huey told them I couldn’t talk right now.
What a mother hen. When I told him I needed to go to the bathroom, he tried to carry me. I drew the line at that. I might be dead on my feet, but no way in hell was I going to have Huey standing there while I….um…anyway. On the third day, I found a bit of strength and ran a hand over some of the plants in the place and it made me feel a lot better.
“The color is back in your cheeks,” Huey said as he rubbed a thumb over one of them.
I might have pressed into his hand, I can’t be sure. If he said anything, I’d blame it on the dizziness. It was weird how weak I felt before, but when Huey touched me, energy suffused me.
He grinned. “Good. I’m glad to hear that. I take it this means I don’t get to feed you today?”
He’d done his best to care for me, and here I was being an ungrateful brat. “I’m sorry, I should say thank you for—”
“No. You never need to thank me for anything. Taking care of you is a pleasure, believe me.” He pressed the thumb against my cheek. “Maybe you need to find someone to do it on a more permanent basis.”
My stomach roiled. “What do you mean?”
“After you’re done here, what’s to stop you from going out and finally finding a boyfriend?”
Red hot lava rushed through my veins. “What the fuck does that mean?”
He gave me an indulgent smile. “Dex, I know you’re lonely. I see it all the time and—”
I stabbed a finger into his chest, surprised I didn’t break it from the hard as rock muscle. “You don’t know a fucking thing!” I clenched my hands into fists, afraid I might lash out. “If I wanted a boyfriend, I’d go out and get one. If I just wanted to be fucked, I’d go do that too.” My stomach churned. “Where the hell do you get off—”
“Let me know when you’re done with your tantrum,” Huey said, as he turned and strode to the kitchen.
My tantrum? He was the one who threw my supposed loneliness in my face. If he thought I was going to let it go, he was so damned wrong. I stormed after him and found him standing at the stove. From a cursory glance, I noticed he already had tofu pressed and crumbled into a bowl, and had measured out some vegan cheese and vegetables. He was intending on making a scramble? That was my favorite food.
“What did you want for breakfast?” He waved a hand toward the things he’d prepared. “I was going to make you something, but should have asked if you wanted it, or if something else had—”
“I’m not lonely.”
His shoulders rose and fell as he sighed. He turned and leaned against the cabinet, his arms crossed over his chest.
“Then what do you call it? Seeing you with the guys was the first time I’d seen you interact with anyone after we graduated.”
“That’s not true! I interact with you all the time.”
“I don’t count, and you know it. I can’t be what you need.”
“Do you really know what I need? Deep down, in your heart of hearts, can you honestly say you know?”
His face scrunched up. “You need to not be alone.”
“Man, and I tell people you’re the smart one.” I went over to where he stood and put a hand on his arm. His skin was warm, his eyes were bright. Never in all the time I’d known him had I wanted to kiss him so bad. “I get more from you in an hour than I get from most people their entire lives. When I’m with you, I never feel alone in my head or in my heart.”
I had to dial it back. I was so close to telling him the truth.
“What’s the saying? Why go out for milk when I have the cow at home?”
His frown lessened slightly. “So you’re comparing me to a bovine?”
“If the hoof fits, sure.” I reached for the bowl of tofu. “Do you know anyone who’d make me a scramble, just because it’s my favorite? Even if they did, they’d probably buy one of those salt-laden powders. You’re using the turmeric, garlic powder, and other spices. You have cheese out too. This isn’t a meal you’re preparing, it’s a feast. Now tell me, why are you making it?”
He averted his gaze. “Because you like it.”
“Listen to yourself. You did this for me because I like it. My parents have been married for hundreds of years, and I promise you, she doesn’t make him breakfasts like this. I think between the two of them, they keep the diner in business. I have a home, Huey. It’s not the four walls of our apartment, it’s you. I like doing things with you—for you—and love it when you do stuff like make breakfast for me if, for no other reason, than you know something is my favorite. I don’t need a boyfriend, not when I have a best friend.”
And it surprised me how much I meant those words.
I swallowed the lump that rose in my throat. When I told Dex he needed to find someone, I wished the ground would open up and swallow me whole for lying so much. I couldn’t understand why the thought of Dex with another person caused an ache in my stomach, like someone pummeling me with a sledgehammer. Still, I wanted what was best for Dex, even if seeing him go off with another person would have pretty much killed me.
After all, he was my best friend.
I sat and watched as he stuffed his mouth full of the scramble. I enjoyed watching Dex eat. He threw his whole heart and soul into the process, just like he did with everything. It wasn’t food, it was an experience. From a simple scramble to a gourmet meal, Dex loved it all the same. What would that be like?
“Why are you staring at me?” he asked around a mouthful of food.
“I like watching you eat. There’s so much concentration there, like you need to give it your entire focus.”
He snorted indignantly. “I’ll have you know that my taste buds separate every single flavor and my brain blends them all together. I can tell you used 1710 flakes of pepper, 621 crystals of salt, exactly thirteen ounces of vegan cheese, plus how much spinach, mushroom, and onion is in here.”
That I didn’t know. “Wow, I had no idea.”
He choked when he burst out laughing. “I’m kidding. I concentrate on my food, because I enjoy it so much. The fact that even if you were annoyed with me, you still want to make sure I’m okay and that I eat.”
“Because you never think about it yourself.”
“I don’t need to eat. I told you that. I get my nourishment from the air, the ground, the trees. If I’m hungry, I can take off my shoes and walk through the grass. That’s akin to a gourmet five-course meal for me. The fact you’re cooking for me, though? That makes it something I want to enjoy with all my heart.”
A strange warmth suffused my chest. Many times over the years that I knew Dex, he’d make a comment about me and it would cause a flutter in my stomach, but never something like this.
“You okay? You look like you swallowed something weird.”
“I’m fine.” The truth was, I wasn’t. The feeling persisted, spreading through my body, reaching my extremities. It wasn’t an unpleasant feeling at all, and I found myself wishing it wouldn’t stop. “I wish my parents had known you.”
“I wish I could have known them. I’d love to meet the people who gave the world such an amazing man.”
I didn’t remember my parents. Not even vague memories. There were no pictures of them, no stories from my childhood. I recall my adoptive parents, but again, it’s fuzzy. My only memories that I’m certain of involved Dex. From the moment I tousled his hair until now, Dex has been my sole focus in life.
And I never minded it a bit.
He put a hand atop mine. “You sure you’re okay?”
I stared at where we’d connected. If it was possible, I could feel energy flowing between us.
“Yeah, I’m good.”
He withdrew his hand, and I wanted to reach for it and put it back in mine. Since last night’s episode, something was different. I’d always enjoyed Dex’s touch, but that wasn’t it. Now I longed for it. I sought it out. Why? What changed?
I peered into his eyes, and saw something I’d never noticed before. I’d never noticed the green flecks, like the color of new blades of grass. I’d thought Dex had taken me to some of the most amazing things on earth—the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Mendenhall Glacier Caves in Alaska, Oneonta Gorge in Oregon—and my breath was taken away by the splendor.
Dex’s eyes blew them all away. I was captivated by them. I’d never seen the combination of sky blue and gentle green anywhere we’d ever gone. I realized I could stare at them all day, watch as the colors shifted, becoming brighter when he smiled, and darker when he was upset, and I would be totally happy.
“Dude, you’re freaking me out. Say something.”
“I—I—” What? I had no idea what to say. I couldn’t explain what I was feeling, even if I wanted to, because I had no idea what it all meant.
“C’mon, let’s go.” He grabbed my hand and yanked me out of the chair. “I had a dream last night, and I want to try something.”
He dragged me behind him, not unwillingly of course. We got out onto the quad and headed for a gnarled tree that looked as though it had been hit by repeated jolts of lightning. I felt bad, wondering how the poor thing was still standing.
“What are we doing?”
“You’ll see. I’m not sure it’ll work, but I want to try.”
He glanced around, but there wasn’t anyone else up. Then, before I could say anything, he slipped through the bark and into the tree, his clothes falling off as he phased. I grinned as I gathered up his garments. I’d seen it before, and it never ceased to amaze me how one second he was there, and the next he was part of the—I gawped.
The old elm was probably on its last roots. It had seen plenty of tough times, judging by the chunks of bark that were missing, and the insects that buzzed around it. The charred, mostly barren branches drooped in a sad tableau. It was so close to dead, I was surprised they hadn’t cut it up already.
“Lake told me he pretty much killed this tree when he got here. I’m going to see if I can undo what he did.”
As I watched, though, the damage that had been done was slowly and methodically repaired. New patches of crust covered the bare spots, and buds appeared on the previously dead branches.
“How are you doing this?” I whispered, uncertain if he could hear me.
“Is it working?”
Dex had never talked to me when he was communing. He told me once it took all his concentration to maintain the connection between him and the tree.
“It’s remarkable. The tree is coming back to life.”
His mirthful chuckle made me smile. “I had this dream last night, and it was so vivid. Mom used to talk about how she protected her forest, and I wondered if I had that kind of magic too. When I was growing up, I always wondered whose magic I would have. Mom’s or Dad’s. I have a strong affinity for nature, and I want to explore that.”
This was different from the way he’d talked before. “What changed?”
He sighed. “As much as I hate to admit it, the sessions with Lake. Even though I’m blindfolded, they’re opening my eyes. They make me want to know what I am—who I am. In this dream, I could hear the tree calling to me. It begged me to let it die, but I thought ‘what if I could save it’? So that’s what I wanted to try.”
The tree now stood tall, its branches reaching toward the sun. Though I knew it wasn’t possible, I swore I could hear a sigh of relief.
“It’s amazing,” I uttered, even though the words were wholly inaccurate for what I had just witnessed.
A moment later, Dex slipped out of the tree. He appeared exhausted, and I chided myself because he’d just got over being sick.
“That was foolish,” I said as I handed him his stuff. I tried not to look at his naked form, but I found myself cataloging things about him. There was a small freckle over the top of his right nipple. A few wisps of hair that caressed his body. His skin, so pale, had flushed slightly. I dragged my gaze away, because it caused an uncomfortable tightness in my own pants. It took a moment before I realized I had an erection. It was weird, because I’d never had one before. I was surprised at how restricted everything felt.
Once Dex finished dressing, he huffed a breath and slumped against the tree. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” I whispered.
“You okay? You seem awfully pale.”
“I need to go back to the room,” I muttered, turning so Dex wouldn’t see the state I was in.
“Okay, let’s go.”
“No, you… You should go talk to Proctor Lake, let him know about your dream. It could be important.”
“All right,” Dex said, but his voice told me he wasn’t convinced. “Are you sure—”
“Yes, very sure. Go. I’ll meet you back at the place later.” I swallowed. “And take your time. Make sure he knows how it all went.”
Dex made a face of contempt for my suggestion, but he turned and headed toward the Proctor’s office. I practically flew back to the room. As soon as I entered the tiny apartment, I stripped. Once I was naked, I stood in front of the mirror and stared at the appendage between my legs. Why did I get my first erection now? Again, what had changed in my life? Regardless, curiosity got the better of me. I turned the water on and stepped into the shower. I shivered until the water warmed, but my erection never flagged. I slid a hand down my stomach until I encountered the burgeoning thing between my legs. I slid a finger over the shaft and shivered at how good it felt. Then, deciding to grab the bull by the horn—so to speak—I wrapped my hand around it.
Oh by all that was good and decent. How had I never known this felt so incredible? I slid my hand up and down, groaning as tiny shocks went through my body. If I had discovered this earlier, I probably never would have left my bedroom. The sensations dragged a moan from my very depths. I wanted more. I went faster, and the pleasure increased. Soon my hand was a blur of motion, and every stroke left me panting harder.
The tingle in my testicles concerned me, but not enough to stop. I never wanted this sensation to end. Just as I thought I could die a happy man from pleasure, an image of Dex came into my mind. I gasped when my ballsack drew up and a viscous white fluid erupted from the tip of my penis. I thought I’d broken something, but in all honesty, it felt far too good for me to care.
After the fluid stopped squirting from my dick, it got sensitive. I had to stop—grudgingly—because it tickled too much. I had no idea what I’d just done, and I didn’t care. I did know I intended to do it again.