Parley was driving as he and his friends listened to the radio and talked happily about returning to the lake. It was summer and they were all on break from their college classes. They had grown up together in one of those small towns that consisted of maybe five hundred people and they had spent nearly all their summers at the same lake. It was mostly for lack of anything better to do but they had made amazing memories there all the same. All four boys had had their first kisses there, they had retreated there when their parents were being unfair they had wasted entire weeks just splashing around in that body of water.
It was a bit cold for summer but they had been planning this nearly the entire school year and they weren’t backing out of it. “what’re you going to do when you see Amy Parley?”
“probably say I’m sorry about two hundred more times” His friend James patted him on the back “hey, she forgave you and understood”
“It was bad enough I was lieing to myself. I should have never dated her”
“Shoulda woulda coulda man” Amy was his one and only girlfriend when he lived at home. He had suspected he was gay a long time but ignored it, pushed it away as best he could. When Amy had asked her out he selfishly said yes and he wound up breaking up with her a few months later and he told her then the rest of their town the news. She was hurt but she took it well. However that didn’t change how guilty he had felt.
“Who is that?” Curtis said as they came around the corner where the trees parted and exposed the lake.
“Who?” James asked.
“That guy on the dock.” He pointed as he slowed.
Parley moved closer to James’s side of the car, looking out the window. He looked on in confusion at the person standing at the edge of the dock in nothing but a pair of swim shorts. He was staring at the water, hands on his hips as if he was contemplating something. He seemed to snap out of it because he dove into the water, soon resurfacing and swimming across its surface. “What’s he thinking, it’s cold as hell today?” James asked.
“Man, I thought for sure we would be the only ones out here.”
“It’s a lake guys, it looks like he’s running laps.” Parley said.
“He’s super fast, look at how he’s cutting through the water.” Denny said from the front passenger seat. “It’s like a hot knife through butter. I’m thinking swim team.”
“I’ve never seen him.” Curtis said as they got closer.
“New guy then?”
“Just be nice.” Parley added.
When they finally pulled up to their usual spot, the man was halfway back across the lake. He spotted them as he touched the dock and hauled himself out of the water and grabbed his towel. Parley followed his friends out, knowing they would be curious about the stranger. “Hey.” James said as he waved at the guy who was making his way up the dock. “Haven’t seen you here before.”
“Hello, I’ve only been here a few days and I’ve never been here before that. A lot of people have been surprised by me but I have gathered this town isn’t used to strangers”
“Not at all, we’re so small there isn’t much reason for people to come here. I mean hell there’s only two fast food joints in the whole town. I have loved being away at college and actually having options if I want to go out to eat” James said in response. The stranger chuckled “well I’m Mahlon, it’s nice to meet you men”
“It’s not as strange where I’m from. I’m named after my father”
“ah, well I’m James, and these guys are Parley, Denny and Curties. Look at this Parley, someone with a name as strange as yours” Parley blushed and Mahlon spoke again “It’s nice to have a unique name, isn’t it Parley?”
“yeah, I suppose” He didn’t understand why he was so nervous around this man. He was incredibly attractive sure but his heart wasn’t used to going this fast under someones gaze.
“So what brought you here?” Parley asked.
“Life back home, I needed to get away from it.”
He smiled, looking all the more charming. “Something like that. My father and I didn’t exactly see eye to eye so I packed up and came here. I really like the quiet.”
“And you’re a swimmer?”
“It’s a good way to think and blow off some steam.”
“Well, Parley, we’re going to unpack, you can keep the new guy company.” James said.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, might as well give him the down low on small town life.”
Parley felt nerves creep in when they were alone but he powered through it, talking happily with this handsome stranger. “Is it me or is it getting colder?”
“No, it is. Cold doesn’t bother me though” he seemed to smile near constantly, it was something Parley enjoyed as they conversed. When Parley let Mahlon know that he needed to head back up to the cabin with his friends he walked him there, boldly taking a hug before saying “it was nice to meet you Parley. I’m glad you happened upon me today”
“same” with another one of his smiles Mahlon waved and was soon out of sight. Inside his friends teased him relentlessly but were happy he had seemed to hit it off with the man.
“I bet he’ll be back for you tomorrow.” James said.
“Whatever, we just met, it’s not like we really know each other.” Parley replied as he started pulling things out to cook. On their trips they always insisted he cooked since he was better at it.
“James is right, he had that look about him.” Curtis added.
“The I’m totally gonna eat him look.”
Parley rolled his eyes. “I think you guys are reading way to into things. He’s new here and friendly, that’s all. He probably already has a girlfriend, he’s good looking enough.”
“And you’re cute. He kept grinning at you.” Denny said.
“If you don’t stop teasing me, I’m not going to cook.”
That shut them up quickly just as Parley thought it would. They were all starving and the only places to eat here closed pretty early. Over dinner that evening the men decided chill or not they were all swimming for old times sake and way more than necessary jokes were made about Mahlon warming Parley up afterward. “Guys I’m going to stick my spatula up your asses if you don’t stop”
“oh hoh, don’t go making Mahlon jealous now” Curtis cackled and Parley shook his head. He knew they were just trying to encourage him though. They were all good friends with amazing hearts and he didn’t know if he could make it through the struggles of college without them. After dinner they all did their part to clean up then decided to go ahead and turn in. It was such a long drive and they all felt exhausted.
Parley woke before the others the next morning. He was always the earliest riser, even when they were on break, it was habit and it generally meant he got a jump start on breakfast. He yawned as he left the room he shared with Curtis and headed into the kitchen. He got a pot of coffee going and it was only as he was passing the window to go to the fridge that he noticed someone standing on the dock. He took him a moment to realize it was Mahlon. He felt his heart skip a beat as he slid the window open, the sound catching his attention so he turned, smiling and waving. He started up the dock and Parley knew he was coming up to the cabin and that he couldn’t just pretend he hadn’t seen him. He took a deep breath, knowing he looked a mess, but not wanting to be rude. He was at the front door and pulling it open as he stepped onto the front porch.
“Well good morning.” He said with that same charming smile.
“What are you doing here so early?”
“I like the lake this time of day, it’s all foggy and mysterious.”
“Oh, I…I see. Well um, do you want to come in, it’s chilly.”
“Not for me, remember.”
“That’s right, you’re not even wearing a sweater, but I’m cold so come in.”
Mahlon chuckled and came inside. Parley couldn’t understand this man not being cold in the slightest but he didn’t question it further. “I was making breakfast. Do you want anything?”
“whatever you were already planning to make is fine with me, thank you” Parley could feel Mahlon watching him intently as he cooked and he also before long heard his friends come in “did we interrupt?”
“No, he’s just having breakfast with us”
“but how long has he been here?” Mahlon laughed “snuck in the window last night. You’ve caught us, we had wild gay sex all over the cabin”
Parley had never blushed so hard. “Th…that’s a lie. He was out there staring creepily at the lake, I bet that’s where he hides the bodies.”
“Looks like my secret’s been exposed, I’m a serial killer who changed my name and moved to a small town and you’re my next victim.”
“Wow Parley, a real life serial killer.” James said. “Lucky.”
“I only kill the cute ones.”
“And he thinks you’re cute.”
“I can’t believe you guys, I should just eat all the food and let you starve.”
“Come on, you wouldn’t do that, you love us too much.” Denny said, batting his eyelashes.
“And you’re lucky or I’d totally do it.”
Mahlon chuckled. “You really are quite adorable, especially with that messy bed head.” Parley went red from head to toe. “And seriously, I moved here because of family drama. I needed some space to be my own man. It’s hard when you have a dad who doesn’t know what to think of his gay son. But what about our bloodline? He said.”
“Why would your bloodline matter?” Parley asked.
Mahlon huffed out a laugh. “It just does. It’s a boring story and one that ended with me telling my parents to have another kid if they were so worried. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my dad so pissed, his face was beet red. I’m sure once he’s cooled off, he’ll be more open to discussion.”
“I hope so, I’m sorry man.” Curtis said and Parley felt lucky again everybody, including the girl he had been selfish enough to date had been so incredibly understanding when he came out. “were your parents okay when you came out Parley?” Mahlon asked, breaking up Parley’s thoughts. “They were incredibly accepting, everyone was. These guys have been my best friends for a long time, long before I came out.”
“I think we all sort of knew to begin with. Nothing could change how we feel about Par” James tussled Parleys hair “hygiene, I’m cooking” Parley chastised.” Mahlon laughed again :I think some pervs online would pay for your hair to be in their food”
“I like this guy” Denny said with a chuckle.
“That’s because you’re a freak.” He pulled plates down and served everyone before making his own plate and sitting down. His friends had intentionally left the seat next to Mahlon empty so he was forced to sit there or look rude for not wanting to.
“So, Parley, I know you’re here with your friends, but would it be too much if I wanted to hang out here during the day? I don’t have much going on in town.”
“You must have a job.”
“Are you trying to avoid me?”
“No, it’s just, well you have to be busy, I’m sure you don’t spend all your time staring out over the lake and acting all mysterious.”
“Come on Parley, the more the merrier. Visit as much as you like, we’ll give you the real cabin experience.” Denny said.
Parley was nervous but he did like the fact Mahlon would be a part of this trip, he was handsome and seemingly fun. He seemed to fit right in among his friends and if he was going to fit in with anybody he knew he was glad it was his three closest friends from childhood. After breakfast they decided they might put it off all day if they didn’t go ahead and go swimming so they changed and ran down to the lake. Parley might have been mistaken for sun burnt by how badly he was blushing. Mahlons eyes traveled him more than once, unashamed and obviously attracted.
Parley pulled himself onto the dock after swimming around with his friends and Mahlon swam over, resting his arms on the dock and staring up at him. “So um do you always wear your trunks?” Parley asked. He knew it was a stupid question, but he couldn’t think of anything else.
“Well, I was planning on swimming today anyway, but I wanted to wait until everyone was awake so I wouldn’t freak you out. I’m happy I got to see you first thing.”
“Because you’re cute and shy and I like seeing you flustered when your friends tease you.” He chuckled “You’re so adorable.”
“Should we leave you two alone?” Denny asked. “We could go hiking or something if you want some time to bond.”
“That would be perfect! Thank you” Mahlon answered and Parley filled with butterflies. His friends laughed, loving how blunt and forthright Mahlon was. They hoped the two would hit it off since Parley hadn’t been with anybody since Amy. Parley almost wanted to yell for his friends to come back but he wouldn’t be a pansy. Mahlon pulled himself out of the water and sat close to Parley, taking his hand “what’re you doing?” Parley asked nervously “where I come from it’s called holding hands while we talk. Is that cool? I know my bluntness and just going for what I want can sometimes be taken as pushy so I want you to know you just have to let me know that I’m doing something you don;t want me to do and I’ll stop.”
“It’s not that you’re pushy, it’s just…” he sighed. “Well I don’t know what to do. I’m so nervous.”
“Hey now, don’t make that face, frowning doesn’t suit you at all.” He reached up and stroked Parley’s cheek, sending a tingle through him. “I really like you.”
“Because I’m drawn to you.”
“You mean because I’m cute?”
“Not just that, it’s just you in general. Something clicked in me when I saw you.”
Parley could see that he meant it “I..I think that I felt it too..” Mahlon’s smile grew wider “good” he gently stroked the side of Parleys face which gave him goosebumps. Mahlon chuckled happily “don’t be mean” Parley said and Mahlon answered “I wasn’t trying to be. You’re just so cute.”
“I’ll…I’ll show you cute” he pushed Mahlon back into the water then ran. Mahlon came right back out, near instantly and chased him. He had Parley off his feet and in his arms in mere moments leaving Parley wondering how he was so fast. Mahlon kissed him, throwing Parley completely off guard. It was a short kiss and when Mahlon pulled back he said “That just made me like you more” They went back inside and Parley really didn’t know what to expect.
Mahlon’s lips were against his again and Parley let out a sound somewhere between a moan and a whine as he clung to him. “You’re too good at that.” Parley said as Mahlon carried him to the bathroom. “What are we doing?”
“Getting warm.” He lowered Parley’s feet to the floor then turned and switched on the water, adjusting it before starting the shower.
“But…I…we…” He was blushing again, nervous now at the prospect of showering with Mahlon.
“You don’t want too?”
“It’s just we hardly know each other and I’ve never actually showered with anyone.”
Mahlon pulled him close, let his lips brush over Parley’s so he shivered. “Let me warm you, I won’t do anything you don’t want me too.”
What was the opposite of yes? He couldn’t even think of the word now. Mahlon was just too irresistible. On top of that something within him know Mahlon was trustworthy. He truly meant that he wouldn’t do anything Parley didn’t want him to so he gave in to him and soon the two men were in the heat of the shower. Mahlon wanted to feel Parley but did his best to do it slowly to be mindful of Parley getting uncomfortable. Parley just seemed to enjoy it so Mahlon let himself enjoy the feel of his skin. Mahlon kissed Parleys shoulder then placed a few kisses on his neck. Barely moving away Mahlon checked “do you like this?”
“It’s..I..I do” he admitted. The shower didn’t go beyond feeling and kissing. Mahlon knew without even asking Parley wasn’t quite ready for more. They dried and sat together on the bed “I’m growing more and more attracted to you Parley.”
“I…I have college to go back to”
“Is there some law that says I can’t follow you?”
“well..well no but..um…you…you’d want to?”
It’s not as if I have anything here.” He stroked Parley’s cheek, let his fingers run through his hair. “Do you have any idea how much I want you?”
Parley’s heart skipped a beat. “How can you already be so infatuated?”
“I wouldn’t call it that, I’d say I’m just falling for you, that I desire you more than anything.” He gave Parley a gentle kiss then pressed their foreheads together. “There is something I need to tell you. I want to start this relationship out on an honest note.”
“Did I do something wrong?”
“No, you’ve been wonderful. This is about me, about who and what I am.”
“I’m not human” Parley moved back out of confusion, his face told Mahlon that so he said “I can show you if that will help it sink in.”
“show me? Are you like a werewolf or something” Mahlon smiled “sort of I suppose. I’m a polar bear, sort of the same concept”
“I’m not calling you a liar but it’s a bit hard to believe”
“Can I show you?”
“okay” Mahlon got up and moved to a more open spot of the room and shifted. Parley just stared a few moments while Mahlon waited patiently. However Mahlon realized just how much tension was sitting on his shoulders when Parley finally stood and approached him. He was actually nervous about Parley not accepting him.Parley stroked Mahlons fur. At first he was cautious but then Mahlon could tell he just liked how he felt. “this is real” He said in a still confused voice. Mahlon stayed in this form until Parley asked him to change back. “Is this okay with you?”
“How? I just don’t understand. I mean it is okay with me…I just…I didn’t think” Mahlon pulled Parley into a hug and they just talked about Mahlons life and family, about others like him and by the end Parley said “Thank you for telling me, for showing me”
‘I’m an honest man. I’ll always be honest with you, even when it’s hard to be”
“I don’t think I could ask for a better partner then if you’re serious about following me”
“I would like my friends to know about you when you’re ready to show them, they’re very important to me and I don’t like lying to them.”
“I’ll show them whenever you want me to, I want you happy.”
“You…you’re so perfect and I don’t even deserve you. I made a mistake, I dated this girl because I thought…well I’m sure you know and I hurt her. I shouldn’t even be allowed to date someone as sweet as you.”
“Did you apologize?”
“Yeah and she said she forgives me, but I still feel so terrible.”
“I say let it go. I’m sure it hurt her, but I’m also sure she gets it. Sometimes being gay and coming out is hard. Trust em when I say I’ve been there. My father disagrees with my “lifestyle”, but this is me. I tried dating women, I really did. We always want to make our parents happy so I did my best, but I couldn’t do it. So I started dating men and at one point my father decided to call it a phase, said I would grow out of it and find a female mate and have cubs. We finally had the argument to end all arguments, we both said some pretty mean stuff and I moved here. So believe me, I know how hard it is and sometimes with shifters it can be even harder. You get a father like mine who is adamant about continuing the line, it’s irritating.”
Mahlon smiled, pushed their foreheads together. “Don’t be, I got you so I’m happy.”
When Parleys friends returned to the cabin they all sat in the living room where Mahlon shifted for them. “That’s pretty fucking epic”James said, the first friend to react. They talked excitedly about it, seeming to accept he was a polar bear even faster than Parley did. When Mahlon shifted back he quickly redressed and they just enjoyed the rest of their vacation together. As planned, when it was time to return to college Mahlon followed Parley and his friends. Neither were sure what their future would bring but they both knew all they cared about was eachother being in it.
~ The End