Jesse is tired of being handicap, and desperately wants his independence. But his well-meaning, meddlesome older brother, Caleb, has other ideas. Their relationship gets even rockier when Jesse starts dating an old schoolmate of Caleb’s who used to bully and torment Caleb’s friends.
This story was published as a part of the Being Me anthology.
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Publisher: Independently Published
Heat Level: 2
Romantic Content: 3
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 3 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Coming of Age, Families/Raising Kids, Hurt / Comfort, Smartass Twinks, Wide-Eyed Innocence
Word Count: 7460
Languages Available: English
Caleb’s hands gently probed his ankle. “Does this hurt?” Jesse sighed. It was clear he was frustrated. “Jesse?” “No. Nothing hurts, big brother.”
“Good.” Caleb studied him, before his attention drew to his brother’s thick, messy brown locks. He weaved his fingers through Jesse’s hair, combing it out, until he snagged in the knots.
“Jesus! That hurts!” Jesse swatted his hands away. He liked the chaotic feel of his hair, and he thought it was cool. An I-don’t-give-a-fuck look. At least that’s what he was going for. “Stop Caleb, I want it like this!”
“Like a mop in a broom closet?”
Jesse grumbled. “I think it looks cool.”
“Well, let me tell you right now that it doesn’t. If you are so intent on being an adult, how about changing your hairdo to not look like a high schooler who just rolled out of bed.”
“That’s just ‘cause you’re not stylish, big brother.”READ MORE
“Be that as it may—” The doorbell chimed. Jesse loved the little extra jingle it made at the end when it paused against the back. It was little things that made Jesse a part of his world. Sure, he couldn’t see. Something Caleb was always reminding him of, saying he needed to be careful of this and that, etc. But in a lot of ways Jesse saw the store better than anyone.
Caleb muttered under his breath, frustration in his sigh. “What the hell does he want coming in here again?” There was only one person on the receiving end of his big brother’s wrath. The smell of his cologne confirmed Jesse’s theory.
“Dale!” Jesse’s features lit up. Getting up from his stool, he went to answer the door. Bristly, his walking cane felt out the corners as he walked— it was second nature now.
“Jesse, where do you think you’re going? You still have to man the counter. Ally and I have a lot to get off the truck.”
“Well go and get it, I’m seeing to a customer.”
“Jesus, Jesse!” Caleb’s tone rose, “slow down before you fall and hurt yourself.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Jesse waved it off. He heard Dale approaching by the crunch of carpet under the sneakers Dale wore. Dale liked to do that, wear a Gucci suit and then match it with designer sneakers. Jesse smiled. Dale was fashionable— something Caleb had no understanding of at all. Ally’s annoyed voice came from outside the door.
“Caleb, stop grumbling and give me a hand already. After all, you denied me Jesse, so where’s my compensation, huh?”
“See?” Jesse spoke in their direction. His sightless, beautiful eyes stared off into nowhere. “Ally agrees with me! I’m the one who should be helping out. Big brother should be manning the counter.”
“I will in a moment, Ally,” Caleb approached Dale. “I thought I told you we don’t want your business. Do you want me to call the cops and have you escorted out?”
“No Caleb, stop!” Jesse barely contained a yell. “I invited him here.”
“You did?” Betrayal lined Caleb’s tone. “Why? I thought I told you to stay away from him. This guy’s low life scum. And there is no way I’m having him in my store. Let alone talk to my younger brother.”
“Well, I’m not just your younger brother. I’m my own person and I can make decisions about who I talk to and who I don’t. I’m nineteen, not some little kid.”
“Look, the past is the past, Caleb.” Dale’s calm tone sounded out of place amid Caleb’s anger. “I can only say I’m sorry so many times.”
“That’s ‘cause I don’t want your apology. I want you out of my store.”
“All right.” Dale’s cologne came closer. He rested a hand on Jesse’s shoulder. “When is your lunch break? I gotta be in front of the board at two, so I’ve got some time.”
Jesse smiled wide. “Hello to you too.”
Dale’s hand rested on Jesse’s head before ruffling his hair. Jesse wanted to see him, reaching up, he padded Dale’s face with probing fingers.
“The fuck?” Caleb’s tone grew with barely contained rage. “Take your fucking hands off my brother or I’ll break them.” He scoffed. “What time is he getting off work? That’s not your concern. Now get the hell out of my store.”
Originally published in the Being Me anthology, which is no longer in print.