IS THIS DESIRE?
AN ONLY IF NOVEL
COVER DESIGN: Jay Aheer/Simply Defined Art
COVER MODEL: Nick Byrne
RELEASE DATE: 08.29.16
“Please don’t try to hold me in your arms.”
“Is This Desire?” documents the continuing story of a flourishing love as it grows at an increasing speed. As Robert faces Mitch’s demons, Mitch himself must reclaim his independence and sanity if they are ever to be together.
The moment had passed, the passion burned out, and the high of a first love was left lingering.
How quickly can one fall in love?
How quickly can one fall out of love?
Devastated by the realization of Mitch’s misgivings, Robert has cast himself aside unable to process his current reality. Exposed to a love that was debilitating but also rewarding, he must now face the consequences of secrets, addiction, and desire if he is to continue forward with his heart while disregarding his doubts.
Now, it was happening again.
Sooner or later, Mitch reappears in Robert’s life unable to break away from what he feels deep within as he questions the connection between them both. It is a consuming bond that could break at any moment by the forces meaning to keep them apart no matter what.
What else was Mitch hiding from him and was an attempt at reintroducing those feelings again the safest bet against Robert’s sanity?
He said, “Never stop.”
I said, “Never will.”
“You have cornered me. Is that what you were going for?”
“No,” he implored.
“I don’t know what to make of this, dude. You are throwing me off, Mitch,” I explained with haste.
“I’m not trying to.”
“Then what, Mitch? This is getting a little exhausting between all of you. I’m not one to be playing games after the last go around. What do you want?” Part of me was beating the horse dead. Still, there was no reason I should be putting up with this. I knew the whole time I was standing here. There was an irrational part of me that wanted him to scoop me up in his arms. I wanted that for brief moments, and it sickened me. That was not the case this time.
“I have missed you.”
“I love—“ The words slipped from him, and it was painful to hear once more. The first two words seared into the recesses of my heart.
“Go fuck yourself, Mitch. How dare you? You are self-righteous. Do you realize how far this has gotten and how fucked up all of this has become? When will this end, huh? Will it ever? I don’t think it actually will.” There were no boundaries at this time, so it went farther than I expected it to when I first got here just thinking I was coming here to settle things with Deb. Now I was a hound of hell, and I didn’t think being taken advantage by anyone, whether it be Deb or Mitch himself was worth it.
For a moment I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Was it Deb trying to escape the confinements of her room? Was it her trying to leave the apartment? Leaving me alone here with Mitch was something I wouldn’t put past her right now. I glanced over quickly and still saw light trickling out from all sides of the door to her room. Shadows moved around that light assuring me that she didn’t successfully escape her self-imprisonment.
Mitch was rigid and unwavering; his hands shoved deep into his pockets. I could see the veins in this arm throb and pulse in quick succession. Although I had a pretty good idea at the time of this arranged meeting, I knew what I would say. Now I wasn’t too sure what else I could say to him to make him realize that there was nothing to gain out of this.
I looked up and stared straight at him. Not just into his soul, but his vitality. I needed to see what he was feeling right now for me to understand his words and explanations of not letting this go. I was searching for some unspoken confession from him. To truly look into someone’s eyes that you once loved and not see the hope and happiness from before is frightening. It was the complete opposite, and that was daunting. I saw pain and the possibility of regret. The concept that regret was something that he created between us forced me even farther away from his embrace in the past. It was particular moments like these that, yes, my mind me to places.
Places of “only if’s” and the “might have been’s.”
What road should I have taken? What path was the right?
What was down that particular road and was there anything worthwhile of a cause at the end of it?
I felt no resolution or firmness. Only the inconclusiveness of the present.
Each word from each our lips paved the way for a troubled path, something that had the possibility of being unfixed. The problem here was not only did I not know what to say once again but more forces were working against the cause in fixing it all. Certain individuals that were intimate friendships I had developed over the last several months. Friends that I thought I could trust. With each passing moment, there was more evidence contributing to this theory. It was proving hard for Deb to keep things separate like business and pleasure. I was afraid. Eventually, there would be no one else to turn to when I was in need.
Who was I kidding, excluding Phil almost all the friends I had made since coming to Buffalo for graduate school were my coworkers at Cafe Virginia. The ones I was keeping compared to the ones I was losing was soon to be outweighed by the other. Maybe it was my actions that were slowly contributing to the slow death of my small group of acquaintances. I just might have cleared things up with Janet after speaking to her about the meaning behind the kiss between her and Mitch that evening. Lucy was on the sidelines and not involved and I was thankful for at least that. Now I was becoming unaware of what Deb was thinking and what she was capable of. Even though one would think her actions weren’t malicious, believing she thought it was smart to get involved in one’s personal matters without consulting was alarming.
There was Mitch, untouched, stubborn, the statue in front of me. He was the incendiary of my thoughts that were seeking a straight path going forward.
His lips parted.
“I know that my actions have hurt a lot of people. People that I love dearly.”
I said nothing.
“I know you think I should probably just leave you alone for good.”
I closed my eyes tightly and still said nothing.
“I keep trying to deny what I have been feeling since day one. I have these feelings for you. I know that I am one stupid motherfucker and that I must be driving you crazy, kiddo. I cannot distinguish what exactly I am feeling now or what the difference is between right and wrong. Ignoring them isn’t helping me, either way, to come up with a solution to this mess.”
I finally had to say something.
“Is there anything to solve, though? Is there some huge decision that needs to be made? At this point, Mitch, I don’t think so.”
His eyebrows both raised up at the same time. He really shouldn’t be surprised at my answers and how I am reacting towards his responses.
“I think so,” he said. “I believe there is a lot that we both need to discuss. We haven’t spoken to each other since Deb’s party.”
I continued. “That was the point, wasn’t it? You being in my presence wasn’t something I was looking forward to, Mitch. You kind of threw the wrench in that not thinking before you act.”
“I understand your frustration, Robbie.”
There it was again. Robbie, he was using that nickname of mine that made my heart hurt because all it kept doing was pushing me back again into a corner. There it was, deep inside wrapped up in empathy, my inability to feel contempt and hatred one hundred percent for this man. It was his words of my name falling from his lips which lead me to believe there was something more to be said. I had to remember it was those lips that lied and sent me running after being pulled in hypnotically.
“Please, Mitch. My name is Robert. You don’t get to call me Robbie anymore,” I protested trying to make my way past him in the hallway.
As I walked past him, there was only just a brief moment of contact between us. So subtle that I don’t think I would have noticed on any other day but today I was hyper aware of my surroundings especially his ubiquity. It was all too stimulating and being sensitive to his touch only more of that touch. His knuckles ended up grazing my hip bone as I attempted to move past him swiftly as possible. Again, there it was deep inside some part of me. The sudden gush forth of the past desire that was once there between us. Why was my subliminal self not letting go of things that once were? The masochistic tendencies of love would continue tormenting me like this. This love was tremendous, and sentiments were running high.
I was thinking of running again. I had to get out of this apartment. I moved past Mitch quicker than I figured. Passing Deb’s closed bedroom, I expected that maybe she would have peeked out once she heard me moving around. Maybe she would have said goodbye to me now that she knew I was threatening to leave without resolution between her and I. Unfortunately I was wrong, the door remained closed, and there was nothing to make out beside the dead reticence behind the door. No common decency. The light still flickered, and I still couldn’t make out any of her movements. This occurrence was the potentiality in seeing the end of my friendship with Deb before my eyes. I had no idea even though all I knew was that I was going to have to see her at work eventually. There was no way I was going to quit working at Cafe Virginia. I needed the money.
My hands made a direct line for the door knob as I made the effort to escape. Mitch’s presence only got closer. I could feel him inching closer up behind me. Just then I froze on the spot not being able to move, it was like the will to move was pulled out from underneath me. It was not until I felt his touch that everything went black. His hand slid up the back of my neck making every single hair on my body stood on its’ end. These emotions created the same sensation I would feel on a first date, the same butterflies filling my stomach. For a moment I wasn’t feeling the fear of collapsing but felt ready to let go completely in his presence.
His hands moved over the arches of both of my shoulders back and forth in a massaging motion while squeezing them gently. I knew where this would end up going if I let this go on anymore. I spun around tearing his hands from me and faced him. This was the closest I had been to him since we last kissed at the party and I went back to that night mentally. I wasn’t thinking straight. I could just end up throwing myself willingly into his arms and lose myself.
No, that was not possible and could end up being a very foolish thing I could do to myself. Not only would I end up hating the things I’ve done and feeling a sense of remorse but I would end up dealing with more consequences than before. That would have to be something I was willing to sacrifice. There was a lot of things at risk especially my free will when it came to listening to my heart versus my mind.
He kept glaring over at me. I had to liberate from this point in time. I couldn’t think straight with him drilling blind into me. His breath and musk were intoxicating and stronger than ever after being deprived of it for some time. These were more than powerful suggestions as the raw attraction I had for him began to rise again.
“I have to go,” I declared. This deep-seated hold Mitch had over me was washing over me, and it was hard to fight against it. I wanted to give up and just kiss this man as much as I was kicking and screaming against its’ dynamic hold.
“You don’t have to.” His voice was pleading to me.
“No, that is where you are wrong. I do have to go. I am sorry, Mitch.”
I didn’t want to say goodbye because that would imply continuation, a future and that was something I wasn’t ready for. I needed some time to think away from Mitch’s intoxicating presence.
All I heard behind me was an exaggerated sigh as I shut the door behind me. Everything that just happened confirmed that this wasn’t over yet, and that frightened me.
I had to be brave.
R. Paone is the author of LGBT fiction, coming of age, and contemporary romance including the ongoing “ONLY IF…” Series. Writing is his passion as his stories stem from real life experiences and real moments of love. A writer for the last fifteen years, he started working on his first full length novel in June, 2014. That novel slowly transformed into “Love is Found,” Part One in the “ONLY IF…” Series. He currently resides in New York City. When he isn’t writing, you can find him getting lost in bookstores, a movie theater, or jamming out to music of the 90’s.