Brian Goes To College

by Nick Brady

Chapter 6

Copyright © 2015-2016 by Nick Brady, all rights reserved.

"I saw the counselor at Tulsa Community College and took some tests," Noah told Brian on Monday as they were unpacking a shipment of new bicycles.

"What tests were those?"

"Something called a Briggs-Myers test and something else called a MAPP test. They are supposed to tell me what sort of things I might be good at."

"Right, I took those at the start of my senior year. That's one of the things that made me think about medical school. How did that turn out?"

"It was kind of interesting. They said I would fit in best with people who do technical things like computer programming. I guess I'm not much of a people person."

"Did that come as a surprise to you?"

Noah shrugged, "Not really. I know I'm kind of shy around a lot of people and sort of a loner. I told you that before."

"I'm no career counselor, but that seems right to me. You like to build things and that's basically what a programmer does. Does that sound interesting to you?"

"Well it does actually, but I didn't even finish high school. I might not be able to learn how to be a programmer even if I wanted to."

Brian sat back and looked at Noah, "I don't know about that. You said you got your GED, and you know how to do a lot of technical things. You understand all about these bikes, and can do anything with the little bike computers that you sell here."

"But I would have to quit my job and start off all over again in college. It would take forever and I don't have the money."

"I think you're trying to talk yourself out of this," Brian laughed. "Doesn't TCC offer a 2 year course in programming? You could do it while you work here. You wouldn't have to quit your job or anything."

"I know you're right but I'm just not sure I can do it. I was never great with school," Noah frowned, "I'm afraid I couldn't cut it."

Brian smiled at his friend, "Maybe that's really the problem Noah, you're afraid to fail. If you don't even try, I guess you can't fail."

Noah looked at Brian and frowned again, "You know, I really hate it when you're right. Even if my situation is crappy, I hate to change anything so I just stay in the same old rut."

"Well, you never know unless you try. You could fall off your bike or get run over by a truck anytime you start out on a ride, but you still go out. What's the difference?"

"But I ride all the time. I sort of know how that's going to turn out."

"Right, but it's like when a kid tries to ride without training wheels for the first time, it's kind of scary. Some kids are so afraid they never learn to ride. But when they realize they can do it, they find out that it's fun and ride longer each time. Maybe you need to lose the training wheels."

"OK, I guess you're right," Noah admitted. "Let me think about it."

That night Brian tagged along when Marco took the twins to the scout meeting. After the meeting started he asked Marco if they could step outside for a chat.

"What's on your mind?" Marco asked.

"It's about this girl Louisa, she and her mother sort of roped me into going to the senior prom with her and her friends."

"Oh yeah? How did that happen?"

"I don't really know," Brian shook his head. "They just started talking about the prom and I found myself agreeing to go with her."

"You got snookered," Marco laughed. "Is this a date or what?"

"Well, I guess so. I think the idea is that we will go with a group of her friends. It was hard to say no."

"You know you don't have to do this Brian. You could say no, that you have other plans or something."

"I know," Brian sighed, "but the way they talked about it there just wasn't much wiggle room. I guess it will be alright. I'm just kind of nervous about the way this is going."

Marco smiled, "If you're asking for my advice, I would say to go and enjoy it. It will probably be a nice dance and if you relax and go with the flow it should be OK. Just remember that you don't have to do anything you don't want to. It's all about boundaries and doing what's right for you. Louisa sounds like a nice person, just enjoy it for what it is."

"But what if she wants to do more than just go to the prom? I don't really know the other kids we are going with. I have sat with them for lunch at school is all."

"Then if there is some party after the prom you can just tell her you need to get on home and thank you for a nice evening, something like that."

Brian thought about his conversation with Noah earlier in the day. "I guess you're right. I won't know unless I try."

"Are you riding with this group or will you have your Santa Fe?"

"I don't know. We didn't get into details. I just said I would think about going."

"In that case, you might suggest that you drive her to the prom in your car. If she wants to do something after the dance she can go with her friends, right?"

"I guess that's kind of a compromise between going along with everything and not going at all," Brian smiled, "At least it let's me make a quick getaway."

"Well it does, but if Louisa is as nice a person as you think she is, she won't push you into an uncomfortable situation."

Brian took a deep breath then blew it out. "I'm sure you're right Marco. I'm probably making a lot more out of this than I need to. You've been right about a lot of things."

Marco put his hand on Brian's shoulder. "Think about it this way. Louisa and her family clearly think well of you. Louisa doesn't have a steady boyfriend or she would be going with him. You are an attractive, personable guy and she feels safe going to the prom with you. If she was boy crazy she would already have a date. I think maybe she just wants a presentable escort to the prom and you looked like a safe bet, OK? Now let's go back in the meeting and check on the boys."

When they got back into the church hall, the scouts were wrapping up the meeting with a game of capture the flag. On one end of the room were Sam, Ben and Austin with half the boys in the troop, on the opposite end was the other half with Tyron and Bobby. Paul Marshall the scoutmaster stood to one side and threw a knotted white handkerchief into the center, then a boy from each side ran out and tried to grab the 'flag' and beat it back to his side without being touched by a boy from the other side.

Some were tagged and had to return the flag to the center, some twisted and sprawled out on the floor while trying to avoid being touched, and a few made it back safely while the boys on both sides shouted their encouragement. Being quick and agile, Samuel and Benjamin did rather better than many of the other boys, but no one seemed to be keeping score. This was just good noisy fun.

When they looked over to the other side they saw Father Hoover standing with his arms folded across his chest smiling broadly. The walked over to speak to him.

"Hello, nice to see you gentlemen," he said, "Do you know that back in the dark ages I was in the Boy Scouts? I never made it past First Class but remember it as great fun. I was more interested in the games and campouts than in advancement. I was a lazy boy."

"No, I didn't know you were ever in scouting," Marco admitted. "Is it nice to have a troop in your church?

"Oh yes, very much so. I have wished we could sponsor a troop for a good while, but it was never quite the right time. I'm so glad that you needed a new home and we were available. These seem like a nice bunch."

"They are. You know that the troop goes camping once a month. We might find a tent for you," Brian suggested.

The priest laughed, "I think my old bones are not suited for sleeping on the ground any more. I might drop by for a visit sometime if you are not camped too far away."

"We would like that," Marco told him. "I will let you know."

The meeting was over and they went out to Brian's Santa Fe to ride home. Sam and Ben were still pumped up after the game. "Did you see Bobby when he spun around and fell on his butt?" Ben laughed.

"Yeah, and Tyron is so quick, he hardly ever got touched," Sam giggled.

"You guys did good too. You got some captures," Brian bragged on them.

"That was really fun. I like those guys, can we invite them over for a sleepover some weekend?" Ben begged. "We haven't done that for a long time."

"What, the whole troop?" Marco asked.

"No, just Tyrone, Bobby and Austin. They are our special friends," Ben said.

"I don't know, maybe," Marco replied. "I'll see what Marty thinks."

For the twins, a maybe was almost as good as a yes and they grinned at each other.

Brian had the prom on his mind and he considered Marco's advice. The next day at school he sat with Louisa and her friends at lunch.

As they ate he spoke to the girl with the lovely smile. "I've been thinking about the prom," he told her.

"Yes, and what do you think?"

"I think you're right, it should be a lot of fun. How about if I pick you up in my car and we can meet your friends when we get there," he suggested.

"That sounds great," she smiled, "I think you would be sorry if you missed it. They say the senior prom is sort of a rite of passage, and they will have a nice band and everything."

"That's this weekend, right? Saturday night?"

"Yes and I have a new dress and everything. It's sort of a dress up occasion."

"Really? Should I rent a tux or what?"

No, not that dress up. I guess you could if you wanted to but a suit and tie would be fine. My dress is yellow," her brown eyes twinkled.

"Yellow? OK, that sounds nice," he was not sure how to respond.

"Oh this will be fun," Louisa smiled again and patted his arm, "Thanks for asking me."

The die was cast.

When he got home from work that evening he told Marco, "Well, I asked Louisa to go with me to the prom. I will pick her up and take my car then we will sort of join up with her friends."

"Hey, you're brave. Good for you Brian, I think you'll enjoy it."

"I guess. Louisa is really sweet. I don't know why I am so nervous about this."

"Well, you are pretty conflicted about dating and for good reason. Going to a dance as a group is probably going to be easier for you. Just relax and let yourself enjoy it."

"Yeah, you're probably right. I'm just being a wuss I guess."

"So is this formal or what?" Marco asked him.

"She told me she was wearing a new yellow dress but she said a suit and tie would be fine for me."

Marty was listening from the kitchen and suggested, "You should wear a yellow necktie."

"You think? I don't have a yellow tie. I only have two neckties."

"I have plenty of ties and I can loan you one. I have a really nice new yellow silk necktie that will go with her dress, and it will look good with your navy blue suit."

"That's fortunate, I only have one suit," Brian chuckled. "What else do I need to know? This is all new to me."

"You should get her a corsage. That's sort of traditional as I recall."

"A corsage? Like a flower kind of thing?" Brian looked uncertain.

Marty laughed, "Let me take care of that for you. It's the least I can do. When is the prom?"

"It's this coming Saturday night. I think I am supposed to pick her up about eight o'clock."

Sam and Ben were listening in with interest. "Brian's got a girlfriend," Sam chanted.

"Now don't start that, It's just a school dance," Brian protested, but felt pleased. Despite his nervousness this whole thing seemed, well, normal.

He worked at the bike shop on Saturday but didn't say anything to Noah about the prom. He didn't want to get into a discussion about it. He got off at two and stopped at a car wash to shine up the Santa Fe then went home to shower and scrub his hands carefully to get any grease out of his fingernails. He pressed his good white shirt and brushed off his suit. He even polished his one pair of black leather shoes. In spite of his reservations he was getting a little excited about this. As he spruced up his clothes his mind was racing and imagining various scenarios for the evening.

He imagined that he would make a fool out of himself on the dance floor. Here he was a senior in high school getting ready to go to the senior prom and he had never danced with a girl before. He had seen couples dancing on TV and wondered if he was supposed to know some of those fancy things like waltzes and tangos. Probably the band would play rock and roll and he would be expected to know how to do some moves like the kids on TV. Maybe Louisa would expect him to be clever and he wouldn't be able to think of anything to say. Maybe her friends would think he was a dweeb and would make fun of him.

He tried to focus on polishing his shoes. Maybe she would want to go off after the prom and make out in the car. Then she would know he was queer and make fun of him. Maybe he would do something really stupid. He imagined his Santa Fe rolling into the lake with Louisa and her new yellow dress. He set the shoes aside and went back to scrub the black polish off his hands and brushed on his suit some more. He took a deep breath and told himself that he was being stupid, that Marco was right and it would be fine. He went in the bathroom and took another nervous tinkle into the pot.

His reveries was interrupted by Marty tapping on his door. "Got a minute?"

"Sure, the doors open."

"Look here at these neckties. I have three yellow ties. Want to pick one?"

Brian looked at the neckties that Marty had draped over his arm. They were all nice, but one was more gold than yellow, and the other had some little stripes running across it. Brian picked up the one that had little fleur-de-lis on it and laid it against his suit coat. "What do you think?" he asked.

"Good choice. That's the new one and it looks great with the suit. You will be a knockout kiddo."

"Thanks Marty. I guess I'm kind of nervous about this."

"You'll be OK. I dated some in high school. It never went anywhere but I never had a girl bite me. Some of them were pretty good friends, actually."

Brian had to laugh. "I'll make it. Thanks."

By seven thirty Brian was ready. He had dressed and tried three times to tie the necktie then gone in and asked Marty for help. Marty stood behind him facing the mirror and reached around to tie the necktie.

"This is the only way I can do it," he explained. My mother could tie it facing me but I never learned to do that."

Brian looked at the tie in the mirror and adjusted it so that it fit snugly up into the collar of his white shirt. "It looks great, thanks." He looked around to see Marco, Sam and Ben all sitting in a row on the sofa watching him intently.

"What are you guys looking at?" he chuckled.

"You clean up real good," Marco said with an affected drawl. "Really Brian, you look nice. Louisa will be pleased.

Marty took two small white boxes out of the refrigerator and handed them to him. "Here you go, Romeo. Your flowers."

Brian peeked into the boxes. One was a pink and white orchid corsage, in the other was a white carnation for his lapel. "Wow, these are nice. How do I, you know, pin them on?"

"Louisa will know," Marty smiled. "Get out of here before you're late."

Brian drove off as the family watched him from the door. Marty muttered to Marco under his breath, "Damn fine looking boy. I hope he doesn't get raped."

Marco laughed, "He'll be fine. Get in the house boys, the show's over."

Brian pulled up in front of Louisa's house and took a deep breath, then went to knock on the door. Louisa answered wearing a yellow silk sheath dress that came to just below her knee. It fit smoothly but not too tight. She looked stunning, and invited him in. Her mom and dad were sitting in the living room trying to look casual as they looked him over.

"Hello," he addressed them.

"Hi Brian," Cathy said, "You look very nice."

"Thank you, uh, here these are for you," he said and handed the little white boxes to Louisa.

"Oh, flowers, how sweet." She took out the corsage and boutonnière and pinned the orchid to her dress then fastened the carnation to Brian's lapel. He was grateful that he was not required to engineer this. Louisa turned and stepped next to Brian to face her parents. "How do we look?"

"Oh honey, you both look absolutely fabulous. Wait just a second," Cathy took a camera and told them to stand in front of the fireplace. "I need a picture of this," she said, and took several before lowering the camera and giving her daughter a hug. Ethan sat on the sofa and smiled approvingly.

"Have fun and don't be too late," Ethan said as he and his wife walked them to the door to wave them goodbye and watch them drive away.

"Nice looking couple," Cathy sighed.

"Yes they are," he agreed as they went back inside and closed the door.

"This is a beautiful car, is it yours?" Louisa asked.

"Yes it is," Brian replied, glad that he had taken the time to clean it up and police the empty pop cans from the floor.

He pulled up to the high school gymnasium and tried to find a place to park. They ended up a block away. "Maybe we should have come earlier," Brian wondered.

"No, we're fine. It's not cool to be early for this sort of thing," she assured him.

Brian really had no experience with such things. Officially, this was the Junior-Senior prom although the role of the junior class was primarily to decorate the gym. There was a committee of some sort that had done a nice job of converting the gymnasium into a ballroom. Brian had not been part of this and in fact this was the first dance he had ever attended. He offered Louisa his arm and they strode in to a wall of loud music.

There was already a good crowd. Brian saw a few people he recognized from his classes, but no one he really knew. Louisa spotted her friends and waved at Melissa. "There they are," she shouted over the music.

They walked over to where Lanny, Melissa, Keith and Francine had secured a table. "Hi you guys, Thanks for the table. How did you stake this out? It's really crowded in here," Louisa asked.

"Lanny got here early and growled at anybody who got close to it," Melissa shouted. "One of us has to stay here all the time. It we leave it for a minute we will lose it."

Lanny laughed, "Shuffle your feet and you lose your seat. Sit down, we saved you two chairs."

"You guys all know Brian, don't you?"

"Sure, you eat lunch with us sometimes, and you're in my English class," Lanny said.

"Right," Brian shouted back, "Mrs. Kunkle."

The band stopped playing for a minute and the silence was deafening. "Wow, they're good but they're loud," Keith said in a normal tone. "We were looking for you Louisa. We are about ready for something else to drink, can we get you something?"

"That sounds good, what do they have over there?"

"Lots of soft drinks and some kind of punch."

"What's in the punch?" Louisa asked suspiciously.

Keith laughed, "Nothing alcoholic, at least not right now. I can't vouch for it later in the evening."

"I think I'll stick to some kind of diet cola, whatever they have," Louisa said.

"Sit tight, we'll go get us something. You want to help me carry them?" he looked at Lanny and Brian.

Before they could answer the band started up again. The three boys just laughed and got up to make a raid on the refreshment table.

Brian followed the other two, feeling included and somewhat more comfortable.

"Good to see you Brian," Lanny shouted as they walked over, "Are you and Louisa going out?"

"Not really," Brian shouted back, "Her dad is advising me on medical school. Louisa and I are just friends."

"That's cool. She's really a sweet girl."

"Yes, yes she is," Brian replied.

Keith was just out of earshot and looked over and shrugged, "Good band!"

At the long table were tubs of Coke, Sprite and Dr. pepper with a few diet sodas mixed in. They picked up two cans apiece and juggled some chips and pretzels onto paper plates then made their way back to the girls.

"Thank you," Louisa smiled at him. "How are you doing Brian?"

"Oh I'm fine. This is nice really. Why do you ask?"

Louisa leaned in close so he could hear above the loud music. "I don't know, you looked a little uncomfortable when we first came in."

"I'm OK, I guess I haven't been to many big parties like this is all."

"You should get out more," she smiled.

Brian looked back and returned her smile, "Yeah, I should. I just don't have much time right now."

Louisa was bobbing her head to the music when the other couple excused themselves and got up to dance. "We have to guard the table," Louisa told him. "When they get back it will be our turn."

Brian frowned, "Louisa, I dance even worse than I play tennis. I don't think I will be much of a dance partner."

She smiled at him. "I bet I can teach you." She was keeping time to the music with her hands, tapping on the table.

After several songs, the band paused and their friends came beck to the table and dived into the soda and chips. "Got to keep our strength up," Keith laughed.

Melissa and Francine were chatting conspiratorially when the music started again. Louisa took Brian's hand and stood up. "Our turn," she shouted, "Come on."

Brian reluctantly followed her out to the dance floor and looked at her helplessly. "What do I do?"

Louisa laughed, "Wiggle your butt, that's about all there is to it."

She began to gyrate to the beat of the music and Brian gamely tried to follow her example. The music had a good beat and he found himself doing better than he expected. Maybe this was not so bad after all.

Louisa was a good dancer. She was slender and moved easily to the music. She was stepping in time to the beat and turning this way and that. It made Brian think about the twins when they danced to the beat of the drum. Maybe he could do this. They stayed out for the next number then when the music stopped again Louisa laughed. "Let's sit down. I'm thirsty."

Back at the table, the others got up to take their turn at dancing and left Brian and Louisa to the soda and pretzels. "You did OK," She told him. "I thought you couldn't dance."

"Well, I had a good teacher."

Louisa reached over and patted his hand. "You're a good sport Brian. I know this isn't your thing."

Brian shrugged, "I'm having a good time, really." And in fact, he was.

The evening went by and Brian found himself chatting with all of Louisa's friends. He began to feel like maybe they were his friends too, and started to relax and joke around. He really was having a nice time in spite of himself.

Toward the end of the evening the band dropped their volume a little and began to play some slower songs. Louisa wanted to dance again. "How do I do this?" he asked.

"Oh, just relax and follow me," she smiled that beautiful smile.

He took her in his arms and they began to sway to the music. He felt her close to him and noticed that her hair smelled very nice. He was standing close enough that he was looking over her shoulder and he could feel her slender body against his. He noticed that some of the couples were holding each other very closely and his feeling of anxiety returned a little. But Louisa was not trying to hold him all that closely so he relaxed a little. Why did this bother him? She was very pretty and sweet. Why did this make him uncomfortable? He was a little confused but told himself to just relax and try not to be such a wuss. If Louisa was aware of his nervousness she didn't show it.

"They sat back down and the girls excused themselves. "We have to powder our noses," Louisa explained with a smile and the three of them went off to the ladies room.

"Why is it that girls can't go to the bathroom by themselves?" Lanny joked. Keith just shrugged.

By eleven thirty the crowd was beginning to thin down and Lanny and Melissa started to make motions like they were ready to go. Once they decided to leave so were Keith and Francine. "This is suppose to be over by midnight," Melissa told them. "I think we want to avoid the parking lot rush."

"There will be an after party over at Lanny's place," Keith reminded them. "You coming?" He looked at Louisa who in turn looked expectantly at Brian.

"Uh, I really need to be getting back home. I have an early day tomorrow," Brian made excuses.

Louisa smiled but didn't respond. "You can go on with your friends if you like," he told her.

"That's OK. Mother always told me to leave with the one that brought me," she laughed and smiled again. "It's late and I'm kind of tired. I'm ready to go home."

They said goodnight and went out of the gym where a number of kids were hanging out in the parking lot smoking cigarettes. A group of not too nice looking boys ogled Louisa in her yellow dress. She took Brian's arm and moved a little closer as they walked the block back to Brian's car.

"I'm sorry, I bet you would have liked to join your friends for the after party. I hope I'm not cramping your style," he said apologetically.

Louisa held his arm as they walked together. "You aren't doing any such thing. If I really wanted to go to the after party I would just go. I'm not really a big party girl."

Brian opened the door for her than went around to his side and started the car. "I really had a nice time," he told her. "You were awfully patient with me."

Louisa looked over at him, "I did too, I had a very nice time. I don't know why you feel like you are such a burden. I don't do anything I don't want to do, or say anything I don't mean. I had a very nice time. You brought me flowers and were very sweet. Thank you for a lovely evening."

Brian was not sure what to say. After a few blocks they were near her house. "Well, do you think maybe we could have another tennis lesson tomorrow afternoon?"

"Oh sure, I'm counting on it. Daddy will be looking forward to some doubles."

He pulled in front of the house and stopped. The porch light was on and bright. He walked her to her door and turned, unsure just what to do next.

Louisa turned and gave him a hug, then kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks Brian. See you tomorrow." Then she opened the front door and let herself inside. Just before she closed the door she turned and gave him a last smile.

Brian drove home, thinking over the evening. He could still smell her cologne in the car. She was a very sweet girl and he liked her a lot, but something was missing.

He let himself into a quiet house. Marco was curled up on the sofa watching a movie with the sound turned down low. He looked up at Brian as he turned to lock the door behind himself.

"How was the prom?" Marco asked.

"Hang on," Brian told him and went into the bathroom to empty his bladder. He rinsed off his hands and came back into the living room, loosening his necktie to sit down on the sofa.

"It was really nice. I guess I was worried about nothing. It went great."

"No wild parties after the prom?"

Brian shrugged, "If there were we missed them. We sat with Louisa's friends, the same ones we sit with at lunch sometimes. I think they had other plans, but I passed and she was ready to go too. I took her home and that was that."

"Well good, I'm glad you had a nice time. Do you think you will see her again?"

Brian smiled, "We're going to play tennis tomorrow."

Marco nodded his head. "Keep your options open kiddo. I'm going to bed."

And they said goodnight.

Brian undressed and got in bed. He was tired but felt restless. The loud music was still ringing in his ears as he thought back over the evening. He had enjoyed Louisa's friends. Where they to be his friends now? They seemed to accept him because he was with Louisa. Clearly she was a popular girl. Lanny had asked if they were going out and confirmed that he thought she was very sweet. She could have gone to the prom with any number of cool guys, but she had conned him into asking her to the dance. Why did she set this up so that she was with him? What did she want? Was she really attracted to him or was just trying to be kind to someone she saw as lonely.

After an hour of tossing and turning, Brian went into the bathroom to relieve himself and rinse his hands and face with cool water. He toweled his face dry and stared into the mirror over the sink. He saw a pleasant face looking back at him. The blond hair was tousled and the arms and shoulders were muscular and firm. He looked OK he thought. Maybe Louisa hoped he would go for her with a little encouragement.

He wondered if their friends were still partying somewhere without them. What if he had gone with them? Probably there would be some drinking, more dancing, some making out or more. She must have been disappointed but was gracious enough not to show it. He sighed. Maybe she was onto him. Maybe somehow she suspected he was gay, or at least that he would not try to make any moves on her. Maybe that was why she picked him. Maybe she figured he was safe, that she would be safe with him. He didn't think he looked gay, at least he hoped it didn't show. He didn't actually identify as gay, he just preferred males as sexual partners.

He went back to bed and tried again to sleep. What would she be like tomorrow when he went over for tennis? Would she be different now that her plan to seduce him had failed? No, she really was a very nice girl. That would have been somewhat crude and it didn't fit with what he knew about her. If she was cooler towards him, if that lovely smile faded, he would know that she no longer found him interesting. With a pang he realized if that were the case he would not be going back for more tennis lessons. He would excuse himself for some reason and that would be the end of it. But in that case he would miss her pleasant family, the encouragement from her father. He would miss Louisa. What he felt for her was not lust, but he did like her a lot. He wondered if they could just be friends. He wondered what she wanted. He wondered who he was.

He rolled over and pounded on the pillow as if he could shape it into something more comfortable so he could forget all confusion and go to sleep. He thought about her friends at the party. It would be nice if they were his friends too. They seemed to like him, to accept him. But maybe that was just because he was with Louisa.

He tried to think who his friends were. Really, he didn't have any. Marco, Marty and the twins were his friends, but they were family, and that wasn't quite the same. He had a few friends in scouts, Luke was his friend although he hardly ever saw him any more. At school he knew some people in his classes, but they were classmates, not really friends. Outside of class he never saw them or did anything with them. He was quiet at school, went straight to work, then came home to the security of this house and the people who were in it.

He rolled over on his back and stared up at the ceiling. Louisa was about the only person who had really tried to make friends with him, and he had failed her. Even though he did not feel any sexual attraction for her, he would hate to lose her as a friend. His mind went back to the few guys he had been sexual with. There was never anybody that he could say he was in love with. Noah would like for them to become lovers, but Noah wasn't the one. No, what he felt for them was purely sexual desire, not love. But that desire was so strong, overwhelming at the time. None of that was there for Louisa, and he knew she deserved better. He liked Louisa and he had tried to take Marco's advice to see if there was something there, but it just was not. As attractive as she was, the chemistry just wasn't there. The experiment had been a failure.

He decided that he should find some excuse to bail out of the tennis lessons. Her family was very nice, but maybe they were just helping Louisa to corral a boyfriend that she thought was interesting. Probably they didn't really care for him at all.

He would call everything off, stop going for tennis, stop seeing her. But wouldn't that hurt her feelings? She was too nice to deserve that. He should come clean with her. If she knew for sure he was gay then she would understand. But how to do that? He was quiet and strong and no one suspected what was inside him, maybe no one but Noah. What if she laughed at him and then told her friends he was queer. It would be all over school and he would be ridiculed. But then, graduation was the next weekend and after that it wouldn't matter.

He made his decision and fell asleep.

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