While gathering little excerpts to read at Birdie's Cafe on Thursday, I came across this little bit. It is when Rob suspects something is going on between Ellis and Cole.
Over breakfast (Rob) carefully observed Ellis. He was quieter than usual, like he was nervous. His eyes darted to everyone as if waiting for them to do something uncharacteristic, except it was Ellis who was acting out of character. And he kept looking at Cole with a bemused expression glued in place. Why?
And then the Madonna song came on and Ellis turned ghost-white, even before Russ’ comment. Ellis was seriously upset and embarrassed beyond anything when Rob outted him to Cole about his virginity. Why would he care? The guys always ragged on Ellis and Rob about it. It was like a quest they had to get the two of them laid. Ellis never caved to pier pressure, which was one thing Rob admired about him. What was it about Cole that got him shaking on what used to be solid ground?
When they left the restaurant, Rob started gathering the clues.
Rob went to class like usual, but instead of hitting the library with Russ, he thought he’d shoot over to Ellis’. He rang the doorbell and waited.
Cole answered the door and his eyebrow arched up. “Ellis isn’t here.”
Rob got straight to the point. “Alright. Can I come in and wait? He’s probably still at practice.”
“I suppose asking you to wait in the corridor would be uncouth.” Cole opened the door wider. “Hold on, you’re not a vampire are you? If I don’t invite you in, are you forced to remain outside?”
“No.” He couldn’t think of anything else to say. Cole never joked with him before and the vampire comment threw him.
“Then I guess I’m obligated to bid you enter.” He swept his arm wide. “And wipe your feet please.”
Rob walked in and felt an unexpected chill. Either Cole was hiding something or he was Satan incarnate. (Rob leaned on the secretive side since he doubted Cole was Satan.) He wanted to feel him out, but had to think of what to talk about first. “So, Cole, are you going to watch Ellis’ game on Tuesday? It’s a home game.”
“Ah, I guess.” He sounded uncertain. “Ellis didn’t invite me.”
Rob wanted to laugh but didn’t. “Ellis doesn’t have to invite you, it’s open to the public. Five bucks to get in for students.”
“But what if Ellis doesn’t want me there?” Cole asked, as the door opened behind them.
“Doesn’t want you where?” Ellis asked.
“Oh hey, El.” Rob greeted him with a cheery wave. He wished Ellis was a little slower to return home, but oh well.
“Hey.” Ellis nodded, walking right up to Cole. “Want you where?” he asked again.
“At your game,” Cole said.
“Oh,” Ellis answered solemnly.
Rob could swear Ellis looked like he’d been put on the spot about some dire decision. What was the big deal? It was only a soccer game. And Cole seemed nervous. Why? Cole was Ellis’ friend, right, why wouldn’t he want him to come?
“I assumed he knew. Sorry,” Rob apologized to Ellis.
Ellis’ eyes flicked over to Rob. “No, it’s fine. You can come,” he said to Cole.
Rob clapped his hands together. “Great! It’s settled. Soccer and the pizza here after you win.”
Ellis grinned. “Don’t be so confident. We play against the best team in our division.” Ellis placed his gym bag on the floor by his bedroom door and headed to the kitchen. Rob followed him.
“So?” Rob shrugged. “You’re awesome. I’ve never seen a striker with as good of footwork as you. Plus, when you pass, the ball falls right in front of the wing—that guy doesn’t even need to look up!” Rob pointed to Ellis as he addressed Cole, who had followed them into the kitchen. “I’m telling you, this guy could play professionally. He rocks!”
“Stop.” Ellis blushed. Rob didn’t think he’d ever seen Ellis blush.
After the game, Rob and Russ went back to Ellis’ place with Cole. They waited for him to get back before ordering a pizza. Once Ellis lumbered in, he disappeared into the bathroom for a shower with less than two grunts at his friends.
“I told you this was a bad idea,” Cole grumbled. “I’m a walking black-cloud of negative energy, I could have told you he’d lose.”
“No, it wasn’t you.” Rob disagreed. “Ellis said they were good. And this is just what he needs after a loss like that; friends, fun and pizza. It’ll be here in thirty minutes. In the meantime we can play Uno® or Yahtzee?” Rob offered, ever striving to be a peacekeeper, he prided himself on knowing what would cheer his friends up.
“Yahtzee?” Russ questioned. “No one plays Yahtzee. Phase 10, Rummycube, or Chicken Foot is where it’s at.”
“Are you a middle-aged housewife now?” Rob joked. “Rummycube?” he scoffed.
Russ punched his arm. “Hey! I’ll have you know these games are fun. I play them all the time with my mom.”
Rob nodded and looked at Cole. “Who is a middle aged housewife.”
Cole snickered. “I actually have Phase 10 in my room.”
“See!” Russ excitedly pointed.
“And your encouragement will only insure he never leaves your house. You know that, right? Russ already likes your company.”
Cole winced. “It there an antidote to counter the effects?”
Rob grinned. Cole’s sense of humor was unusual and often dry; but Rob liked his style, even if he came off gruff and unpersonable at times. “You mean a sure-fire way to keep his Russness at bay?”
“Hey!” Russ was offended.
“Put ketchup on his hotdog and he’ll never grace your presence again.”
Russ huffed at Rob. “If he does that, I’m never talking to you again! I mean it!”
Cole ignored Russ and kept talking to Rob. “Is he allergic to ketchup?”
“No, he’s a Condimentaphobiac.” (I just love that word!)
Cole’s voice went up in perplexity. “A whaaat?”
“A person who’s afraid of condiments.” Rob explained.
“I’ve never heard of such a thing and I’ve memorized a long list of phobias.”
“Wave a bottle of mustard in front of him and see what happens.”
Russ placed both hands on his hips and scowled at the Rob and Cole. “You think you’re funny don’t you? I’ll have you know that hotdogs are perfect just the way they are, plain, the way God created them! They don’t need sauces or spicy mixtures to hide their doggy goodness.”
“God didn’t create the hotdog, Russ. It was some German guy in the 1800’s who sold them on the streets of St. Louis.”
“Whatever! You don’t always have to correct me, Rob.”
“I know, but it’s fun.” Rob blew off Russ’ irritation. Just then, Ellis joined them in the living room. None too happy, Ellis’ shoulders slumped and disappointment exuded from him. “Hey El, you want to play Phase 10?”
He shook his head. “Not really.” He slowly walked to the kitchen. Cole jumped up to follow him which interested Rob immensely. Something was going on and Rob was determined to find out.
“I’ll be right back,” he told Russ.
“Get me a Coke while you’re up.”
Rob cringed at Russ’s loud voice. “Okay,” he said, trying to appease his friend but internally hoping he didn’t ask for anything else. He slinked across the room while Russ was fiddling with the television and attempted to eavesdrop on Ellis and Cole. He knew it was wrong, but curiosity was wriggling in his stomach like crazy.
“I told you I shouldn’t have gone.” Cole said, as soft as a caress. “Everyone says how terrific you are. I go and you lose for the first time.”
“It’s not your fault. I’m glad you came. I’m only sorry I didn’t invite you sooner. I should have. I liked knowing you were watching, even if I sucked.” Rob couldn’t see Ellis, but his voice was… different.
Rob peeked around the corner carefully and caught a glimpse of Cole tenderly stroking Ellis’ shoulder blade. Then his hand dared to finger the strands of Ellis’ wet hair. Guys don’t do that! He and Russ were very friendly at times but something in the way Cole touched Ellis went way beyond the open affection he and Russ shared. It was… tender.
Rob couldn’t see Ellis’ face but he did notice Ellis move his hand to rest on top of Cole’s where they stood by the sink. His thumb made little circles on the back of Cole’s hand just before Cole cleared his throat and Ellis pulled his hand away. Rob knew he’d been spotted. He walked into the kitchen boldly, swinging his arms to clasp his hands behind his back. “So,” he spoke casually, “is it going to be Yahtzee or Xbox?”
Ellis replied, “I think Russ should choose since you gave away his condiment phobia.” Ellis acted as he typically would, but Rob didn’t think the touching he secretly witnessed was normal at all.
“Ah! Really?” Rob moaned, throwing his head back in defeat. “Alright.” He wanted to say something about their behavior, but if he pushed, then he might end up alienating his friends. Rob couldn’t handle that. He’d wait and let things play out as the may.
Still, he couldn’t resist the urge to meddle. “Hey Cole. Do you like camping? There’s a group of us going next weekend if you’re up for it. Ellis is going.”
Cole looked puzzled. “Camping?”
Rob apologized. “I know—squirrel moment—but I was just thinking about how fun it’s going to be and I thought you might like to come.”
Cole seemed unsure how to answer. “I guess.” His eyes darted to Ellis and then back to Rob. “If you want me to.”
“Of course!” Rob confirmed. “It’ll be great! You’ll see. Right, El?” He slapped his buddy on the back.
Ellis looked ill briefly, but managed a thin smile. “Yeah, great.”Rob congratulated himself. Of course he’d allow things to “play out as they may”, but giving a little nudge wasn’t unheard of. If something was going on between Ellis and Cole, he was sure a weekend together would bring it to the surface.
So, comment and let me know what you think ? :) I think I could probably read ALL of JOCK and be fine with it. There are so many fun excerpts to read. Soon, I will post a excerpt of my WIP, which is the sequel to My Roommate's A Jock? Well, Crap!, titled: No! Jocks Don't Date Guys. It is officially "novel length" but not complete.
Catch you all another day!