When New York-based memoirist Aaron Wilkinson gathers with his high school friends to marry off two of their own, he is forced to spend a week with Nik, the boy who broke his heart.
As they settle into the Texas beach house where the nuptials will be performed, Nik quickly makes his intentions clear: he wants Aaron back. “He’s coming hard, baby,” a friend warns, setting the tone for a week of transition where Aaron and Nik must decide if they are playing for keeps.
This story started out really confusing and awkward. You get thrown in the deep end of a huge group of friends without much of an introduction to most of them. You’ve got to glean enough information from context to continue. I was afraid I’d get overwhelmed and give up before the story got going. But I kept reading and I am ever so glad that I did. Aaron and Nik’s love for each other is beautiful to watch. Their closest friends are the biggest support for them getting back together. Aaron is eager, yet tentative when it comes to Nik. And you can tell from how Aaron perceives Nik’s actions that Nik had the same hesitancy. You can tell very quickly that these two men are supposed to be together and were kept apart by young naivety and not truly listening to each other. But the time apart was good for them to grow and realize what the had was as good and beautiful and perfect as they thought it was. The epilogue is my favorite because you see how they truly did make it long term even if you don’t see the minutiae of how they got there.
With any coming of age type of story, you have to try to remember your own struggles when you think you’re an adult but still aren’t old enough to really know what the world is about. You have to get past the jaded view as someone that’s older of “were we ever really that young?” Because the truth is yes, we were and it’s amazing to see how these two men find each other and truly build a life together when they haven’t quite got it all figured out yet.
Four and a half
I asked Nik and Aaron to join me today to tell us what’s in store for them now. Turned out Aaron was busy, but Nik was more than happy to stop by. Read and enjoy!
Nik here – Aaron got to tell almost the entire story the first time around, and he’s busy with revisions for school anyway, so I get to do this.
So I’m in New York now! It’s everything I thought it might be, and even if a part of me is never going to stop being sorry that I didn’t get here sooner, I’m so glad to be here now. Aaron is enjoying grad school, even if he would never put it that way, because Aaron has never met a brick wall he wasn’t delighted to run into 100 times. I’m having my own kind of fun – school right now is all classes and no contact with students, but that’s kind of relaxing after the last year.
I was worried that we wouldn’t see each other very much, and in some ways I was right – the city is pretty small, but it really does take a long time to get anywhere. I miss my car, and sometimes I miss Aaron and when I do that’s a couple of hours of committed time to get to him and back. It’s good too, though – it’s been a long time since we were joined at the hip, and it’s probably good for us to have some time to each do our own thing while we figure out exactly how this is going to work.
That makes it sound like it’s hard. It’s really not; being back with Aaron makes everything about my life here make a little more sense. I told him the other night that being with him makes me feel more like myself and he got this little frown line right between his eyebrows. He’s so independent – this is a thing I still can’t quite make him understand, and maybe he never really will. As well as I know him, there’s a piece of Aaron that is still very self-contained, and that piece of him doesn’t need anybody or anything else. It’s something I’ve always liked and admired about him – he loves people just fine, but he’s so himself, no matter where he is or who else is around. And that’s fine for him, but I’m not like that – I like letting people in, letting them get right up close to who I am, letting them make me just a little bit theirs. It’s a way we’re different, and he doesn’t get it yet, but I think it’s part of what makes us work as well as we always have, even when we weren’t, not exactly.
I know Aaron. Aaron thinks that things need to be fair – he thinks that if I let him make me more myself, I’m going to expect him to let me in the same way. He wouldn’t put it like that, but he’s like that – his sort of kindness is about his own version of justice, so what he receives he tries to give back. That’s never what I’ve been looking for, and it’s never been what I wanted from Aaron. What I want from Aaron is to be close to him, to watch him be Aaron, because he’s breathtaking when he’s being himself; he’s just so beautiful. That’s always going to be enough.
And besides that, Aaron’s sense of self means that there’s always going to be plenty of space for me to do my own thing, and that’s good for me. I know it’s good for me – I know how lost I could get in him if he would let me. I know how great it would be, and I know it’s not what either of us need.
So things are good. We’re still figuring out our time – I sleep there on Fridays and Saturdays, and he stays with me on Monday and Wednesday nights because his Tuesdays and Thursdays are more clear than mine.
So yeah. I love him. He loves me. I understand him, and he’s still trying to figure me out. It’s okay – he’ll get there. And now we have time.
Aaron finishes the song and Stephanie snatches the mic out of his hand, crooks her finger at Nik and launches them into a reprise of their performance of “Dancing on My Own” from the homecoming weekend they all spent here at the house back in senior year. Stephanie still has questionable rhythm and tragic pitch—she loves to sing, which is why they have a karaoke machine in this house, but it’s one thing she will admit she doesn’t have much of a gift for—but there’s a reason Nik majored in music at The University of Texas, and his voice has come a long way.
Somehow, this deliberate throwback to a memory that was never anything but happy seems different than what Aaron has just done. He sits on the sofa, flanked by Alex and Jasmine, hating them both a little for participating in it even while he smiles. Nik dances—how can you not, with this song—but he still watches Aaron, gives him a little head-tilt during the chorus, and it’s charming and devastating and infuriating.
Jasmine leans to murmur, “Oh, I see how it is.”
“Oh, shut up.”
“You might not be desperate, but I’m not sure about him. He’s coming hard, baby.”
Mila McWarren grew up in Texas, but has happily made her home on the East Coast for the last decade. In her day job she works as a social scientist and has spent the last 10 years developing her fiction writing online. She lives with her husband and their two kids. When she isn’t using working, writing, or hanging out with her family, she likes knitting and watching television, because they go together like peanut butter and chocolate, two of her other great loves.
7-Jul: Prism Book Alliance, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Foxylutely Book Reviews
8-Jul: Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Nic Starr, Hearts on Fire
9-Jul: MM Good Book Reviews, Mikky’s World of Books, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
10-Jul: Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance, Inked Rainbow Reads
13-Jul: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Bike Book Reviews
14-Jul: Happily Ever Chapter, Amanda C. Stone
15-Jul: Bayou Book Junkie, BFD Book Blog
16-Jul: Velvet Panic, Chris McHart, Love Bytes
17-Jul: Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, My Fiction Nook, Full Moon Dreaming
20-Jul: Molly Lolly, Multitasking Mommas, Divine Magazine, Rainbow Gold Reviews
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