1st Love

by Gray Rose

26 Mar 2024 4140 readers Score 9.3 (99 votes) PDF Mobi ePub Txt


“Don’t leave me in all this pain. Don’t leave me out in the rain. Come back and bring back my smile. Come and take the tears away.”
-Toni Braxton (Un-Break My Heart)


January 2026

Noah Montgomery splashed cold water on his face. The book tour was starting to get the best of him. He had been on the road for a couple of months, and it had taken him to all the major cities. He would stay for a few days in each town, mingle with the fans, and do a few local interviews.

He hadn’t expected the tour to be so popular, and he didn’t expect the book to become a New York Times bestseller. Noah had only sought to write down his feelings about tragically losing the love of his life. Everything else that came after was just an unexpected blessing and curse.

He dried his handsome face and analyzed his appearance in the mirror. Long gone were the days of his youthful appearance. No, no, now carried years of worry and depression in his face. He could no longer boast the saying, “Black don’t crack.” His appearance was cracking. He had a salt and pepper goatee, large bags under his hazel brown eyes, and strands of grey intertwined with his curly black hair that hung just past his earlobes.

Someone knocked at the bathroom door. The door opened, and a man peeked his head in, “They’re ready for you, Mr. Montgomery.”

The bookstore was packed with Noah’s admirers and fans. The atmosphere was warm and inviting. Outside, heavy snow was falling. By morning, every street in Boston would be buried under a few feet of snow.

The moment Noah stepped onto the stage, the audience cheered; Noah took in the applause momentarily. The love he felt from the fans always made it easier somehow. The table was set up perfectly with stacks of his novels. He sat, picked up the book, and posed for pictures.

Noah cleared his throat, “First Love. A novel by Noah Montgomery. This novel is personal to me. It tells the story of how I met the love of my life and how we lost each other. Typically, I read a few pages from the book. I want to do something different tonight. This is the tour’s last stop, so I hope you will indulge me. I want to tell you about one of my favorite memories of Mateo.”

November 2004

It was a warm Alabama day and the first day for Noah at his new high school. His dad had died a couple of months ago. The hurt was too much for his mother, so they moved back to her hometown of Birmingham, AL, from Orlando, FL, to be near family.

17-year-old Noah stood outside the gates of Royal Brook High School feeling a mix of emotions. The campus looked like an Ivy League college. The school bell rang, and he let his feet carry him.

The day was full of the everyday things that happen when you’re new. In each class, he stood up and introduced himself. People stared at him and whispered a little to each other. It wasn’t until he was in his third-period chemistry class that things turned around. The teacher wanted everyone to have a lab partner. He assigned Noah to work with Matthew Colby.

Matthew raised his hand. He was sitting in the back of the class, and Noah could only see the high yellow hand in the air. Noah slowly walked toward the back of the room. By his third step, Matthew came into view.

Noah was instantly transported somewhere else by Matthew’s beauty. Matthew was biracial. His hair was long and curly and hung past his shoulders. His eyes were a smoldering grey, and his lips were bright red. They almost looked colored on. Matthew was an exotic jock. He was perfect.

He sat at the desk by himself as if he was too cool for anyone to be near him. Matthew was dreading having a lab partner. He had always worked by himself, except for when it came to playing lacrosse. He was the captain of the team. Though he was quiet and reserved, he was confident, and he demanded respect.

Matthew locked eyes with Noah. For some reason not entirely known to him, he immediately liked Noah. Noah gave off a calm and relaxing energy. Matthew had gone through a rough patch the previous year and was still trying to come to terms with a lot. Noah took a seat next to Matthew.

“I’m Noah Montgomery,” Noah said as he extended his hand.

Matthew shook his hand, “Matthew Colby. So, you moved from Orlando? I thought my life sucked.”

Noah exhaled, “My mom wanted to be close to family. My dad died a couple of months ago. So…yeah…my life sucks.”

The two young men looked at each other. They could see the hurt in each other, and their brokenness shined in each other. Both had lost their fathers.

“My dad died last year. If you ever need to talk, I’d be happy to listen. I’m not Oprah, but I know how it feels.”

“Does the hurt ever go away?”

“Not really, but it gets easier as time goes on.”

Noah pulled out his notebook. Forgetting that it held all his secrets, he opened it. The first thing plastered inside was a massive rainbow with LGBTQ written in bold letters under it. As soon as Noah saw it, he gasped and shut the notebook. Fear ran through his body. He was proud of his sexuality, but he wasn’t ready to out himself to the world just yet. He secretly hoped Matthew had not seen it.

Matthew leaned over subtly, “It’s cool. I don’t judge.”

“How progressive of you, Alabama,” Noah uttered with a simple yet beautiful smile. It was the first time he had smiled since his dad’s death.

Matthew and Noah quickly became friends. They shared a hurt that others around them couldn’t understand, and it bonded them. Matthew never made Noah feel any way for being gay. They spent time playing video games and watching television together. Noah ate Thanksgiving dinner with Matthew’s family. Matthew ate Christmas dinner with Noah’s family.

Noah found himself becoming friends with many of the females. They wanted to befriend Noah to get closer to Matthew. Every girl in the school wanted to date Matthew, and Noah couldn’t blame them. The boy was absolutely beautiful, and he could make anyone feel seen.

Beyond all of that, Matthew was also caring, sensitive, and intelligent. Noah got to see all those layers of him. The day Noah was outed was intense. It was an accident that shook Noah’s newfound safety.

It was the middle of March when it happened. A girl had found Noah attractive, and Noah was beautiful. He had flawless dark chocolate skin and long hair braided to the back. Those hazel brown eyes were large and bright, and his lips were perfect.

Noah tried to let the young girl down easily. She demanded an explanation. He was single and never with a girl. It looked strange to everyone. Noah decided against his better judgment to tell the girl he was gay. She was shocked by the information and screamed it out loud. It spread through the school like a wildfire.

Noah was at his locker when a few guys walked up to him. They each surrounded him. Noah had his back against his locker, and he had no way of escaping. They taunted him for what felt like forever. One of the guys raised a fist to strike him.

Matthew walked up and grabbed the guy’s fist, “You think it’s cool to fuck with people who are smaller than you? Try me on for size and see how well you do.”

The guy snatched his hand from Matthew’s grip. Matthew looked around at everyone who was around. He didn’t say a word, but his eyes said it all. Everyone knew not to mess with Noah.

“In case anybody needs reminding, Noah is my friend. Don’t fuck with him.”

Matthew turned to Noah, “You good?”

Noah nodded his head as tears slowly fell from his eyes. He quickly walked away and ran into the boy’s bathroom. He stood at the sink and dried his eyes. His hands were shaking the entire time.

The opening of the door scared him. It was just Matthew coming to check on him. Matthew walked over and hugged him. Noah sobbed in the comfort of his arms.

“I got you. No one is going to mess with you. We are going to take some kickboxing classes, though. You have to be able to defend yourself when I’m not around.”

“Thank you for being my friend.”

Matthew stepped back. He gasped and placed his hand over his heart in fake shock, “Friend? I’m your best friend, and you’re mine.”

“Best friends?”

“Have I been reading this whole thing wrong? We get each other better than anyone ever can. You’re my best friend.”

“You are so lame.” Noah laughed.

The two young men shared a smile. At that moment, they solidified their friendship. As the months faded, their bond grew stronger. Noah found himself developing feelings for Matthew. He knew Matthew was straight. Matthew felt strongly for Noah. He couldn’t explain it, but something about Noah made him protective. He wanted Noah around all the time. Things just seemed to fit or connect whenever Noah was around him.

May 2005

The end of the school year was days away. Matthew and his family were going to be doing a lot of traveling. Noah was planning on spending his summer doing volunteer work.

The two boys were in Matthew’s room. Noah was lying in Matthew’s bed watching “Never Been Kissed.” Matthew was sitting at his desk on his computer. Noah was staring at him from behind. His feelings for his friend were increasing.

Matthew spun around in the computer chair, “I’m thinking about cutting my hair off.”

Noah sat up in the bed, “Don’t you dare!”

Matthew chuckled, “So you like me with hair?”

Noah rolled his eyes at the stud, “I like you no matter what.”

Matthew got out of the chair. When he stood up, Noah’s eyes looked over his body. Matthew was practically naked. He was only wearing a pair of tight-fitted black boxer briefs. Noah’s eyes gazed upon his bulge quickly. Matthew climbed into the bed and lay next to Noah.

Matthew picked up the remote, “You love this movie. Ugh!”

Matthew turned the channel.

“I was watching that,” Noah declared.

Matthew smiled wickedly and continued flipping the channels. He landed on VH1 when he saw Toni Braxton’s “Un-Break My Heart” video playing. The music played softly in the background.

They both were silent and staring at the ceiling. Quietness swallowed the room. Noah briefly looked at Matthew. Matthew turned and briefly looked at Noah. Neither one caught the other looking, but they felt it. They could always feel one another stealing glances.

“I’ve been thinking,” Noah said, breaking the silence. “I don’t like calling you Matthew or Mat or Matty.”

“Wow, you don’t like my name. Okay.”

“I want a name that only I can call you. I’m going to call you Mateo.”

“Mateo? Why would you call me that?

“It’s beautiful, and so are you. Duh!”

As soon as the words left Noah’s mouth, he regretted it. The last thing he wanted to do was scare Matthew away.

Nervously, Noah said, “I-I-I didn’t mean it in a gay way.”

“I know what you meant. I think it’s cool. Only you can ever call me Mateo. Just don’t tell my mom you hate my name.”

“Your mother loves me. She wouldn’t be upset.”

Matthew laughed, “You’re right. She loves you, Monty.”

Noah turned over in the bed and faced Matthew, “Monty?”

Matthew turned and faced him, “You gave me a name. I will give you one. Got it from your last name.”

Matthew smiled a big, stupid smile. He loved getting under Noah’s skin and knew calling him Monty would do just that. It wasn’t a cute name, but it worked.

They stared into each other’s eyes. Noah slowly reached out and brushed Matthew’s hair out of his face.

With a soft smile, Matthew asked, “What are you doing, Monty?’

“Brushing your hair out of your face. Tell me a secret. Something I don’t already know about you.”

“A secret? Let’s see. Well, you know you’re my best friend, but what you don’t know is you’re my favorite person in the world. When you’re around, everything is better. I don’t care how bad or mad I am when you come around; I’m instantly better. I always want you around, Monty. It's your turn."

“You’re my favorite person as well. But my secret is that I’ve never been kissed before. It kinda breaks my heart that I’m basically a senior now, and I’ve never had a boy kiss me.”

“Oh, that’s horrible. You have to change that.”

Noah hit Matthew with a pillow and said, “Oh, and you’re an expert on love and going all the way?”

“Well, not all the way yet, but I have kissed a lot of girls.” Matthew hit Noah back with a pillow.

“Well, congrats Mateo. You’re a big macho jock.”

Matthew ran his fingers along Noah’s jawline and said, “You can kiss me.”

Noah looked at Matthew, expecting him to laugh. He figured Matthew was joking, but the punchline never came.

“Are you serious?”

“You’re my best friend. You should have your first kiss before our senior year starts. Kiss me.”

Noah moved closer to Matthew. His heart started beating faster. Emotions he had never felt before ran through his body. He closed his eyes, and very quickly, he kissed Matthew. It was fast, but it was a kiss.

“There I did it. I kissed you. That was weird. I’m sorry.”

Matthew grabbed Noah and pulled him into a beautiful kiss. It was magical for them both. The kiss started sweet and quickly evolved into steamy. After a moment, it ended. Both were panting, and their foreheads rested together.

“Now, you’ve been kissed.”

“Damn right.”

At that moment, Noah realized he had fallen in love with his best friend.

January 2026

Everyone in the bookstore applauded. There wasn’t a dry eye in the building. Noah had never told a single person how he first met Mateo/Matthew, nor had he shared his favorite memory before. Fear always kept him from telling the story. That was the most pure and innocent exchange that had ever occurred between the two men.

Noah stood up, “At this time, I would like to open the floor up to the audience for a quick Q&A, and then I will sign some books.”

Just as Noah stood at the edge of the stage, “Un-Break My Heart” started to play on the overhead system. Noah looked around. He was amazed to hear the song after mentioning it in his story. The irony was not lost on the crowd, who started laughing.

“I see my story made someone a Toni Braxton fan. I’m never going to be mad at Toni getting her flowers. So, any questions?”

In the back of the room, someone asked, “Have you ever released a photo of Mateo?”

The voice rocked Noah to his core. It was so deep yet familiar and comforting. His eyes watered. He knew it was impossible, but he needed to see the person who asked the question and know who this person was.

With a shaky voice, he asked, “Who said that? Where are you?”

The voice replied, “I did.”

Noah anxiously scanned the room. The crowd suddenly parted like the Red Sea for the children of Israel. Standing there dressed casually yet beautifully was someone he hadn’t expected.

His face was rounder, but his lips were still red. Those long curls were gone, and his hair was cut low and slick. Despite all of the changes and the fact that it had been ten years since they had last seen one another, There was no mistaking who it was.

Tears filled Noah’s eyes. His hands started to shake, and he dropped the mic. Could it be a ghost, or was this real? It had to be accurate. He was back, but how? He was supposed to be dead.

Just above a whisper, he said, “Mateo?”

The crowd gasped at the revelation. Noah’s brain couldn’t handle it. It was too much to process. Just as he called out to Mateo, he passed out on the stage!

 TO BE CONTINUED 


© Grayson Rose 2024. All rights reserved.

by Gray Rose

Email: [email protected]

Copyright 2024