Lance tapped the beat of A Chorus Line’s “What I Did for Love” on Allie’s bedroom door. “Hi, it’s me!”
“Come in, you!” She opened the door in a jean skirt, adjusting her bra. Ambushed by her cleavage, Lance slapped a hand over his eyes.
“Oh, come on!” she giggled, holding up a tie-dyed T-shirt. “Help me decide! Should I go with the—”
He peeked through his fingers and cut her off: “No way!”
She lifted a zebra-stripe blouse. “How about the—”
“Okay”—she held up a pink Lycra top—“I’ll go with the—”
“Good!” He checked the time on his cell, eager to go meet the boy he’d friended online that week. “You think he’ll like me?”
“He’s going to go wild over you,” she replied while pulling her blouse on.
“Wild is good.” He put his arm around her and she snuggled up beside him in front of the mirror.
She’d always thought Lance was hot. At swim meets, when he strutted around the pool deck nearly naked, she’d often thought: If he were straightor if I were a gay guy, I’d be all over him.
“Feel something?” She planted a playful kiss on his cheek. “Anything?”
“Sorry.” He began to hum a show tune, a nervous habit.
“From My Fair Lady,” Allie said. “Right? What is it?”
He blushed, realizing what it was. “Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?”
“Meanie!” She pulled away. “Shoes?”
“Your rose-color pointy pumps,” he said, dabbing his blond hair with some of her gel.
“So, what did you say this guy’s name is?” Allie asked as they climbed into Lance’s car.
“Sergio,” Lance said, pronouncing the G with an H sound. “He’s Mexican. Hot and spicy!” Lance considered himself an equal opportunity dater, attracted to all types of guys—Latino, white, black, Asian. . . . He’d been attracted to Sergio’s cafÉ latte–color skin, thick black hair gelled into spikes, eyes dark as night. And although his nose seemed kind of big, even that was cute. “He’s a cousin of Penelope’s from Drama Club.”
The boys had gotten to know each other a little bit over the phone and Messenger. They were both seventeen. Sergio lived in a neighboring suburb and went to Liberty High.
“Home of the roaches,” he’d joked. “Ew, yuck, right?”
Lance went to the Academy, a local private school. “But I’m not a big preppy or anything. I’m pretty down-to-earth.”
“Good,” Sergio replied. “Me too.”
Sergio had an older sister in college; Lance was an only child. Sergio had a guinea pig named Elton; Lance had an Irish setter named Rufus.
“Help me think up stuff to talk about,” he asked Allie as they drove toward the mall.
“Have you asked him what kind of movies he likes?” Allie suggested. “And what kind of music?”
“That’s good,” Lance said. “My main worry is the bi thing.”
Sergio’s “friend page” identified him as bisexual.
“I guess that means he’s still coming out,” Lance said to Allie. “Like in the saying: bi now, gay later? I just hope he’s not another closet case.”
He didn’t want a repeat of Darrell, his one and only ex, who had been afraid to admit to being gay.
When Lance and Allie got to the mall, he hurried her toward the food court fountain and anxiously searched the crowd.
“Are you sure I look all right?”
“You look fab,” Allie assured him, taking a seat on the fountain’s rim. “So, who is the friend he’s bringing?”
When setting up the meeting, Sergio had suggested they make it a friend thing. “You know, to take the pressure off?”
“She’s his best chick friend,” Lance said, taking a seat beside Allie. “Her name is . . . Kimiko or something like that.”
“Kimiko? Really? That’s Japanese!” Allie was totally into anything Japanese.
It had been Kimiko who had given Sergio the initial kick in the butt to answer Lance’s online friend request.
“Why wouldn’t you friend him?” she’d asked Sergio when he showed her Lance’s photos. “He looks gay-guy-adorable.”
“Prezactly,” Sergio had replied. “I’m not ready to get dumped again.” He was still brokenhearted over Zelda; the girl who’d ditched him only three months earlier.
“You haven’t even met the guy yet,” Kimiko said, “and you’re already worried about getting dumped?”
“Yeah, he’s got that look: like someone who could be my future ex.”
“Here’s a thought.” Kimiko bopped Sergio on the head. “Maybe he won’t dump you.”
“He won’t if I don’t meet him. He he he.” Nonetheless, Sergio had replied to Lance’s friend request. And he’d enjoyed chatting with him.
“But what if there’s no in-person chemistry?” Sergio now said as Kimiko prodded him through the food court toward the meeting. “Maybe he and I should just stick to communicating through electronic devices.”
But when he saw Lance, there was chemistry, all right—both with Lance and his chick friend. HE’s a babe, one part of Sergio thought while another part of him said, Yeah, but SHE’S hot too!
Luckily, he wasn’t into tall girls—nor were they usually into him—whereas tall skinny guys like Lance juiced him up: broad swimmer shoulders, sweet smile, teacup-handle ears, and he loved the freckles.
“How do I look?” Sergio asked Kimiko. “No boogies hanging out my nose or anything?”
“You look good, dude.” She tucked his flipped-up shirt tag into his collar and gazed toward Allie. “That’s his friend?”
“Yeah, I guess so. She’s a fox, huh?” Sergio knew that girlie-girls were totally Kimiko’s type, even though she’d never actually been in a relationship.
“So . . . is she gay?” Kimiko asked—not that it made any difference; she had both gay and nongay friends. But she was curious.
“I don’t know.” Sergio gave her a mischievous grin. “I guess you get to find out.”
“Well, do I look all right?” Kimiko asked, glancing down at her baggy boy’s jeans and black leather motorcycle jacket.
“Major league handsome.” Sergio spun her Harley baseball cap backward and took hold of her hand. “Come on!”
“There he is!” Lance told Allie on spotting him. “Curtain up!”
“Break a leg!” Allie whispered, standing beside him.
“What up, man? I’m Sergio. And this is Kimiko, my handler.”
Everybody laughed and Lance asked, “Do you guys want to get smoothies?”
As they walked to the counter, he stealthily checked out Sergio. He was shorter than he had looked in his pictures—nice compact bod, hunky but not too buff, which was good. Excessive buffness intimidated Lance. He liked those pecs, though.
At the smoothie stand, he got his usual Hearty Apple. Sergio ordered a Mango Madness, took a sip—“Mmm”—and extended his cup to Lance. “Want a taste?”
“Um, okay.” Lance stared at the straw that had touched Sergio’s lips. “I’ve never tried mango before. I’m pretty plain-Jane. You want to try mine?”
“Sure.” Sergio exchanged cups, watched Lance take a sip, and thought: Damn, his freckles are hot!
“Wow, that’s really good.” Lance handed the cup back, still tasting the sweet mango slush.
The girls led the way to a table while talking about mangas and other Japanese stuff. Allie sat beside Kimiko and Lance sat next to Sergio.
“So, um . . .” Lance began to ask the questions he’d rehearsed with Allie. “What kind of movies do you like?”
“Action!” Sergio replied, his hands slicing the air in a ninja move. “Hooah! . . . And fantasy-type stuff. How about you?”
“Disney ’toons . . . and chick flicks—nah, just kidding. Well, okay, sometimes. I admit it.”
“Ditto!” Sergio high-fived him, glad that Lance was free of the straight-acting BS that so many other guys had.
“So, um, what kind of music do you like?” Lance continued.
“Different types,” Sergio answered. “Trance . . . hiphop . . . Tejano . . . How about you?”
“I’m huge on show tunes. Like I’ve got this kind of obnoxious habit of humming and singing showstoppers anytime, anywhere.” He shuffled his feet. “Gotta sing! Gotta dance!”
“Glad you warned me.” Sergio pretended to cover his ears, though in fact he liked Lance’s voice: strong, smooth, sexy.
“Actually,” Lance continued, “I’m a better singer than dancer.”
“I’m just the opposite,” Sergio said. “My singing sucks, but my dancing is pretty good—especially Latin stuff. I’m president of my school’s Dance Club. Do you salsa? I can teach you.”
“Cool!” Lance exclaimed. He’d always dreamed of dancing with a guy—holding him in his arms, moving together. . . . But first he needed to slow down, get back to the present. “So, um . . .” He moved to the next question on his list. “Are you out at school?”
“I’m out as bi,” Sergio said, a little cautiously. Although girls usually accepted his bi-ness, with guys it sometimes seemed like the kiss of death.
The word bi prompted Allie to turn from her conversation with Kimiko and nod encouragingly to Lance.
“Well, um . . .” he stirred the slush in his smoothie cup and asked Sergio, “. . . what exactly do you mean when you say bi?”
“You know,” Sergio said. “It means I’m turned on by both guys and chicks.”
“But you admit you’re attracted to guys?” Lance asked, trying not to come off as confrontational.
“Yeah . . . ,” Sergio said. “But I’m also attracted to girls.”
Lance chewed on his straw. At least Sergio was admitting he liked guys. That was a move up from Darrell. But why didn’t he just take the next step and say he was gay? Maybe he wasn’t as mature as Lance had hoped.
“Are you out at school?” Sergio asked, sipping his smoothie.
“Yeah. The Academy is pretty progressive. Allie and I started a GSA—you know—a Gay-Straight Alliance? I’ve never really gotten any flak. Have you?”
“Nothing major.” Sergio shrugged. “I get called fag sometimes, but hey, doesn’t everybody?”
“True,” Lance agreed. He decided to drop the bi issue for now. Maybe I’m making too big a deal of it. He liked Sergio—his confidence, his coolness, and how his Adam’s apple jutted out from his throat in a way that was ridiculously sexy. Plus, he noticed that Allie and Kimiko were getting along. It would be awesome for them to become friends, he thought, so the four of us could do stuff . . . if Sergio and I became a couple.
“What about your parents?” Sergio asked. “Do they know?”
“They knew before me!” Lance laughed and Sergio laughed too, relieved that they’d gotten over the bi bump.
“What about your family?” Lance asked. “Do they know about you?”
“Yeah. My blabbermouth older sis outed me. But my old man pretends like he doesn’t know, and my mom prays I’ll grow out of it. She lights novena candles, all that Latino Catholic mama drama.”
Lance slurped the last of his smoothie, trying to recall what else he’d planned to ask. “So, um”—his voice went up—“are you seeing anyone?” Even though Sergio had said he was single on his page, Lance wanted to be sure.
“Nope,” Sergio replied. “Not at the moment. Are you?”
“Um, no,” Lance said, and glanced into his empty smoothie cup. He realized the only question he had remaining was the Big One: asking if Sergio wanted to go on a real date.
Sergio realized it too. Should he be the one to ask Lance out? It would be his first time to ask anyone out since Zelda. Was he ready to risk rejection again? Maybe he should wait, see if Lance asked. But what if Lance didn’t ask?
He liked Lance. The dude was undeniably a hottie, even with his sticky-outy ears; he clearly had a mind; he wasn’t stuck-up, despite going to private school; and it felt so refreshing to meet a guy his own age who was comfortable being out.
“So . . . ,” Sergio ventured, “ . . . do you want to go out sometime?”
Lance blinked. He hadn’t expected Sergio to be the one to ask. He took a hard swallow, suddenly having second thoughts. Was he jumping into this too fast?
Across the table, Allie nodded for him to say yes.
“Sure,” he told Sergio. “That would be great.”
“Great,” Sergio echoed and took a breath, both excited and nervous.
They returned to talking about simple stuff like favorite foods and books, each trying to relax, until Allie announced she needed to go—meaning that Lance had to go too.
Outside on the sidewalk, they all said good-bye and Allie took hold of Lance’s arm as they walked back to his car.
“Look at you!” she whispered. “Mr. Got-Asked-for- a-Date-by-Hot-Sweet-Guy.”
Lance forced a smile. It definitely had felt good to get asked out, but . . .
“Uh-oh,” Allie said worriedly. “What’s with the face?”
“The bi thing,” Lance said as they climbed into his car. “I don’t get it. He says he’s attracted to guys; he’s out at school; he asks me out on a date. And my state-of-theart gaydar is ringing, ding-ding-ding! Jackpot, he’s gay! So why can’t he just say it?”
“I don’t know.” Allie stared across the car seat. “Maybe his parents are phobes and he’s afraid they’ll find out?”
“No, he said they know. His sister outed him.”
“Then maybe he really is bi.”
Lance frowned. “So where does that leave me?”
“Going out with a bi guy?” Allie replied.
“Lucky me,” Lance mumbled and started the engine.
“But you were so excited,” Allie said sadly.
“I know, I know! Let’s see if he calls.”
“You can call too,” she encouraged him.
He backed out of the parking space, changing the subject. “Kimiko seems really cool. At first I wasn’t sure if she was a girl or a guy—she’s such a dude-chick with her cap and clothes. It seemed like you two got along great.”
“Yeah, I’m so psyched she’s Japanese. I wish we could’ve hung out longer.”
From the sidewalk outside the mall, Kimiko watched Allie and Lance drive away, wishing they could’ve hung out longer too.
“Way to go, dude!” She turned to Sergio and fist-bumped him. “I overheard you ask him out.”
Sergio bumped her fist in return. “So, what do you think of him?”
“I think he’s the most perfecto guy in the world for you. He’s your age, cute, gentle, nice. . . . What do youthink of him?”
“I like him. I’m just not sure he gets the bi thing.”
Kimiko’s mouth drooped into a pout. “But you two seem good together.”
“Yeah . . . Let’s see if he calls. If not, I’ll call him . . . in a couple of days.”
“What are you afraid of?” Kimiko asked.
“I’m not afraid. That’s just the rule with guys. Wait two days. . . . Otherwise I’ll seem too easy.”
Kimiko rolled her eyes; she’d heard his goofy theories and rules before.
“Now, as for you, girl—” he rested his arm on her shoulder “—you should phone Allie ASAP. I could feel the mojo between you two all the way across the table.”
“Dude, she’s got a boyfriend.”
“So?” Sergio persisted. “Maybe she’s bi-curious.”
“Even if she were . . .” Kimiko let out wistful breath. “She’s out of my league.”
“What’re you afraid of?” Sergio asked, mimicking her.
“Shush!” Kimiko said and play-punched his arm.
© 2011 Alex Sanchez
Excerpted from Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.