Trace Petrucco pushed long bangs away from his forehead in the hot Southern California sun. While watching the men’s singles tennis match, he decided that transferring to a small, conservative Christian college was a rotten idea for two reasons. First off, players were forbidden to discard their shirts on the courts for fear of tempting any ladies in attendance. Trace was sure that collegiate girls could view a male torso without becoming harlots and heading straight to Hell. And secondly, “stalking” the school’s tennis star was frowned upon at Christ the Redeemer College, especially when the stalker was another male.
As an example, Trace eyed Coach Stevens conferring with the president’s advisor, who was jabbing her finger at the bleachers in Trace’s direction. He’d been caught hanging out courtside yet again after several warnings. One more could get him kicked out. Before Virginia “Miss Ginny” Thomason could march over to shoo Trace off the court, he slunk down behind the bleachers and snuck off down a grassy knoll to the gymnasium. He could not face another council with the administration, and dreaded his parents being informed for the fourth and possibly last time that he was stalking tennis captain Jeremy King. After all, he wasn’t really stalking the tennis player. He was just following him around wherever he went. Everyone noticed, though. Trace was hard to mistake, with his distinctive hair and different colored eyes.
During the first few weeks of October, Jeremy’s teammates ridiculed their captain regarding the “long-haired girl with the mismatched blue and brown eyes,” who shadowed him like an obsessed puppy dog. When hotshot tennis player Georgie Chisholm found out from his girlfriend that the “long-haired girl with the mismatched blue and brown eyes” wasn’t a female at all, but a sophomore transfer student from Bellingham, Washington, who lived in an all-male dormitory, the shit not only hit the fan, but the entire university as well. Trace was shunned by fearful, repressed classmates, and questioned by his resident advisor before being pawned off to more official higher-ups, like Miss Ginny. And all because he spoke the truth.
We have been receiving disturbing reports from several students about you. Please explain what you are doing following Jeremy King, he was asked.
Looking at him, he would answer.
Looking at him? Why?
Because I’m in love with him.
According to Miss Ginny, that was not the correct answer to give at a religious institution founded by traditionalists on the bedrock of high moral standards.
Once through the double doors of the gym, and into the hallway that smelled of Pine Sol and feet, Trace passed a basketball game playing in the main court. He was accompanied by squeaking sneakers and frustrated hollers before making his way to the men’s locker room for air conditioning and cool water from the tap. After drying his face with a scratchy brown paper towel, he caught his reflection in the mirror. Two multi-hued eyes stared back at him, framed by delicate eyelashes and curtains of blond hair that fell down his back. The mirror did not expose the steely resolve beneath the girlish features or the hardness he had learned to cultivate, nor did it reflect the hardness that currently packed his tennis shorts (the same brand and style that Jeremy King preferred on the courts, naturally). A crooked grin lit his face when the trunks displayed an erection building to the right, long and lean like his tanned legs.
Jeremy, he thought, I wish you could see this, what I’ve made for you. Mere seconds later, two disembodied voices carried through the locker room toward Trace, the deep voice of one leaving no doubt as to who was approaching—Jeremy King. In a flash, Trace knelt down and checked that there were no pairs of feet occupying any of the toilets. The bathroom was empty. Slipping into the farthest stall, Trace locked himself in, sat down on the thankfully clean seat, and peered out through the narrow crack of the door […]
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