Despite the two smiling young men, there was an awkward silence filling the swimmer’s bedroom.
After deciding to postpone celebrating the beginning of relationship as boyfriends to focus on the competition today, they sat with some distance between them.
This is awkward, Cris thought, pressing his lips to hide his strange smile. Since we were just kissing, all the sexual tension is still in the air… I can still feel my nipples tingling where he sucked me… The boy’s face became an alarming shade of red as he remembered.
Nelson glanced at him, blushed and averted his gaze when their eyes met. Only to do the same thing a few seconds later, always without saying anything.
The manager’s action only added to the sexual tension. Cris sat on the bed while hugging his legs. When his eyes met Nelson’s, he buried his red face on his knees. Even so, he still caught the swimmer’s cute smile, making his heart thump even faster.
Why the hell am I behaving like this? It’s not like I haven’t fallen in love with a guy who loved me back, Cris thought, glancing at Nelson through the corner of his eyes.
But, as he looked at the swimmer, he felt his cheeks growing hotter and buried his face on the knees again. Ah, damn… I’m acting like a thirteen years old boy who fell in love for the first time…
Despite his embarrassment, Cris didn’t hate the feeling at all. He couldn’t stop smiling, even though he pressed his lips. But no matter how much he tried, the smile kept forcing itself on his face.
The awkward silence was only broken by two distinct alarms ringing at the same time.
The swimmer and the manager picked up their respective smartphones. They looked at their devices, then at each other. With awkward smiles, they showed the screens to each other.
“The tournament,” they said at the same time.
There was another moment of silence. And then they laughed together.
“You first,” Cris said, gesturing to the swimmer.
“I set the alarm to warn me to get ready for the tournament,” Nelson said, putting the phone away.
Cris chuckled and flashed a sly smile.
“At this time? How much time do you need to get ready? Even when I dress as a girl, I don’t need this much time to get ready.”
Nelson showed an embarrassed smiled as he scratched his head. “You don’t need that much time to look cute,” he said, his cheeks red.
Cris covered his smile with a hand. Damn… he’s too cute… but even so, I can see through him…
“What are you hiding from me?” the manager asked, his voice midway between teasing and suspicion.
“I have… a few pre-tournament rituals,” Nelson said, so low Cris had trouble hearing.
“A few pre-tournament rituals?” Cris repeated in a loud voice, making the swimmer avert his eyes. “Like what? Not crossing black cats and not stepping on cracks?”
“It’s not like Friday thirteenth,” the athlete said, his cheeks a shade of red.
Cris chuckled as his smile widened. “Sorry, sorry. I know some swimmers have weird superstitions. Like not shaking peoples hand to avoid tiring their arms. Or move their legs and arms in synchronism for balance or something like that.”
“Hey, I don’t do anything weird like that,” Nelson said defensively.
“Then what do you do? What are your pre-tournament rituals?” Cris tried, but it was impossible to get the teasing out of his voice.
“I… would rather not say…” Nelson blushed and averted his eyes. “You’re gonna make fun of me…”
That only makes me more curious. Especially if you make a cute face like that, Cris thought, his heart pounding faster. He pressed his lips to hide his grin and did his best to quell down his instinct of teasing the guy he liked. But it was getting harder and harder. Wait… Nelson doesn’t need that… not today… But I’m not letting him off the hook in the future.
“Are those rituals something you always do before a tournament?”
“Yeah… every time before there’s some important event ahead.”
“Some important event, huh? Cris repeated. The next second, he lost to his urge to tease, the sly smile stamped on his face. “Then are you gonna do those rituals before our celebration later?”
Damn… I was trying so hard not teasing him now… but it’s bigger than me seeing that cute face red and embarrassed… It’s all your fault, Nelson, for being so cute and making me fall in love with a swimmer again!
A second later, Nelson blushed, just as he thought.
The swimmer widened his eyes and looked at everywhere but at Cris.
His expressions are the best! The manager couldn’t hold it anymore and laughed.
“Sorry for teasing you before an important event,” he said, moving on the bed to hug Nelson. “I just can’t help it… you make me wanna tease you so much.”
“I’m so glad this won’t change now that we’re…” Nelson was too embarrassed to finish the sentence.
Together? Dating? Boyfriend? Cris tried to finish the sentence in his head. Either one of those answers made his heart thump louder and faster, his face a shade of red. But I have to put my feelings aside for now. I need to become a staff member of the Prado Maranhão club. Taking deep breaths, the manager managed to stop his urge to tease the man he loved.
“I wanna hear the rest of that sentence later,” he whispered and then beamed at the swimmer. “Right now, let’s focus on the tournament. I set my alarm so early just to help you get ready, by the way.”
“Thanks,” the swimmer mumbled and smiled, his face still red.
“Since you won’t tell me what you do for this so call ritual, at least tell me what you need,” Cris said, getting out of bed and clapping his hands energetically.
The manager grabbed the bag the club had issued to Nelson and opened the zipper. Then he put it on the table and turned to the swimmer with an eager face.
“Thanks again, but I don’t need anything special for that,” Nelson said.
“Well, then let me pack what you might need for today.”
Cris went to the closet, picked out a few things and tossed everything on the bed. Then went to the bathroom and came back with a few toiletries, also dumping on the bed.
“Why all this?” Nelson asked as he stared at the mess his manager had made where he slept. “I don’t need all this…”
“Ah, but you do.” Cris began folding and packing.
“Why would I need two towels?” the swimmer asked, picking up on of the towel with the club’s emblem on it.
“You told me you like to shower before and after a tournament.”
“You remember that…?”
“Of course,” he said, showing his gentle smile to the swimmer. “So one towel is for before. The second is for later. Or you’d rather dry yourself with a wet towel?”
Nelson smiled too and folded the second towel before putting it in on top of the first. Then he picked up one of the toiletries Cris had taken from the bathroom. “There’s no need for sunscreen…”
“Of course there is. There’s no way I’m letting you ruin that skin of yours. Especially when I’m gonna be the one seeing the most in the near future,” Cris said in an as-a-matter-of-fact voice.
The swimmer blushed and said nothing as he tossed the sunscreen on the bag. In a few moments, the bag was full, and Nelson couldn’t come up with a reason to take anything off.
“Wow… that’s… way more than I usually bring,” he said, scratching his cheek.
“You’ll need most. And if you don’t, there’s no harm. Then you can thank me later,” Cris said, smiling.
“Don’t worry. There’s no way I’d ever forget that.”
Cris grinned and closed the bag before handing to Nelson.
“Now go, my swimmer. Win this tournament so we can celebrate a lot later,” he said in his teasing voice.
But it didn’t work this time. Instead of red, Nelson seemed trouble with the idea.
“Wait. You’re not coming?”
Cris looked in the eyes.
“There’s no way I’m missing your comeback tournament,” he said in a gentle voice. “But I need to eat something before going to the pool. You know how much I like bananas, but that’s not enough to fill a boy.”
“Okay… I’ll see you there then…” Nelson blushed and pressed his lips. There was an awkward moment of silence again. “Bye…”
The swimmer leaned down to kiss the manager on the cheek.
I wanted more than just that, Cris thought as he watched Nelson walked towards the door.
The swimmer was about to leave the bedroom when he halted, took a deep breath and turned to face his manager.
“I know I’m always saying, but I’m serious. Thanks for everything you did for me. If not for you, there’s no way I’d’ have gotten this far. Thanks for coming into my life!”
Nelson’s face was an alarming shade of red.
So was Cris’.
The manager opened and closed his mouth without any idea what to say. His heart thumped so loud he was afraid Nelson would hear. Damn it… when he’s so straightforward like this, I don’t know how to react…
Despite his embarrassment, once again Cris couldn’t stop smiling.
There was another moment of silence and then the swimmer left.
Ah… I’m really just like a little boy falling in love for the first time, Cris thought as he fell backward on the bed. I can’t believe how much I love that swimmer…
Suddenly the door opened again. Nelson was back.
Cris stood up with a confused face.
“What’s wrong? Did you forget anything?”
Without a word and with a determined face, Nelson crossed the room. Then he grabbed and kissed his manager. A kiss full of passion.
When their lips parted, Cris was out of air. His mind was a haze as he tried to think. What…?
With his entire face red, Nelson looked at Cris and then left his bedroom again.
It took a moment, but then Cris felt his entire body burning. I really fell for him, he thought, smiling from the bottom of his heart.