How was Miguel coping after what he'd been put through? Did he blame me for being part of it? And worst of all, how would Josh react when I saw him? The thought of hurting him scared me as much as the thought of him not caring. I didn't want him to take it in his stride and tell me I did the right thing. I wanted him raging with jealousy. Yet I didn't. Knowing I'd hurt Josh so much would tear me apart.
Josh was back in the gym when I arrived, tentatively working his arms. His dislocated shoulder had been set right, but the sight of the bruising made me stop in my tracks. Deep purple islands spotted a landscape of black that ran from his bicep to his neck and down his chest to his pec.
Josh dropped the dumbbell and crossed over to me, seeing the look on my face.
"Harry!" he smiled, and embraced me. I hugged him back and my eyes flickered once more to Miguel, who glanced once more in our direction then looked away again.
"Josh!" I sighed, relieved to find him in good spirits.
"It looks worse than it is," he assured me, anticipating my concerns. He led me to a bench and we sat. "It's still tender, but it's healing fast. Bruising always makes things look worse. I'll be back to normal in a week, if not sooner."
I nodded, unable to look at him.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
I lost my voice and Jacob hugged me tightly.
"I worry about you every day," Jacob said, kissing the top of my head and without thinking I turned my face up to him and kissed him on the lips with every ounce of guilt I felt pouring out into that one passionate moment.
I expected him to pull away but Josh grabbed my face and held our mouths together, returning the kiss with equal passion. It was the moment I'd longed for: when we burst through the formalities of his job and any reservations we held to reveal what we really felt. I'd dreamed about this moment from the beginning, but it was me who pulled away. I burst into tears, turning my back on him.
Josh wrapped his arms around me and slid in close.
"Hey hey," he soothed. "Let it out. I can't even imagine what you're going through up there, but you're doing well. You're stronger than you think."
I couldn't speak. I just sobbed like a baby, hating myself.
"You know, Miguel told me what you did for him in the erotic ring," he said. I tensed. "…how you interrupted the fight and talked him through the fear."
"Really?" I asked, voice shaking.
"Yeah. So you see - you're stronger than you think! You put your own situation aside and talked him through his. He's a new man. He's over there now, working up for his next fight. He's going to be okay, thanks to you."
I gaped at the partial story Josh told, glad that he couldn't see my face.
"It was your advice," I said feebly.
"But you remembered it," Josh insisted. "You remembered it and you used it. You had to act on it yourself before you could do what you did for Miguel. You're a hero, Harry. If it wasn't for you Jacob would have destroyed him up there, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. You pulled him through it."
Yes, I did, I thought, as memories of Miguel's cock in my hand flashed through my mind.
"I can't imagine what it must have been like," I said. "I mean, having to do that when you're straight. He'll be scared for life."
Josh chucked and hugged me tighter. "Miguel's not straight," he said. "He's just inexperienced. He's spent his whole adult life trying to compensate for being bullied as a kid."
"You mean, he's never…"
"I don't think so," Josh answered. "He's never said as much, but yeah, I don't think he's ever had a boyfriend."
"Wow…" I mulled over that revelation then asked, "Can I speak to him?"
Josh laughed. "Of course!"
The guard had, typically, wandered off after delivering me to my destination so I walked over to Miguel and waited for him to stop pounding the boxing bag.
"What do you want?" he asked, refusing to look at me.
"Miguel, I'm sorry," I said, not knowing what else to say. "What happened…"
"I didn't tell him, if that's what you want to know."
"I know! I just… I mean… I don't…"
"Listen!" Miguel said, finally turning to face me. "What happened, happened. It's not your fault. I don't blame you, if that's what you're worried about. But you're Josh's guy, okay?! I didn't tell him, and I won't. That's between you and me. Let's leave it at that."
He resumed his boxing with a new ferocity. I opened my mouth to respond, but had nothing to say. I wasn't sure I fully understood what he'd just said. "Josh's guy"? What did he mean?
I turned around and saw Josh watching us with a frown. For someone who had supposedly saved Miguel's sanity, it must have been obvious that my visit was unwelcomed.