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Nick (Sequel to JP)
The Great Divide
|Coach Graves blew the whistle, sending Nick and Brandon racing up the ropes. The rest of the wrestling team cheered the two superjocks on from ground level. But to Nick, who was already halfway to the rafters, all he could hear was the sound of his own grunting. Sweat poured down every crevice of his body as he pulled his 215-pound body up the rope, hand over hand, with breathtaking speed. His shoulders burned, his triceps ached, but he knew he was strong; he knew he was powerful. Finally, Nick lurched his right arm up and slapped the metal beam. His teammates went wild far below.
�Yeah, Nick,� Brandon called from the next rope over. Nick glanced down at him, though he was only a few feet from the top himself. He was huffing, sweat covering his entire body from head to toe, the skin of his bare torso glistening in the dim light of the wrestling room. Nick felt his balls begin to tingle and he immediately looked away. He was only wearing a jockstrap and gym shorts; he could not get a hard-on with the whole team watching.
�Great job, boys!� Graves congratulated the two as they shimmied down the ropes side by side. �You nearly beat Kyle�s record!� Nick grinned and shrugged his cannonball shoulders.
�Hey, if I was about a hundred pounds lighter, I would�ve smashed it,� he joked. He looked over at a beaming Kyle and thrust his chin at him. Kyle laughed.
�Is that a challenge?� the 112-pounder taunted. He bounced his little, striated pecs and flexed his shredded abs in rhythm with a growl. �Watch the power of these babies,� he sneered comically, pumping his ripped arms up and down, his tennis ball-sized biceps popping up and down underneath his paper-thin skin. The other guys roared with laughter.
�You call that power?� Nick returned with a mock-smirk. �Getta load of this!� He flexed his own mountains of muscle; they hovered around 19 inches when pumped � which they were right now. The other wrestlers hooted; they were proud of their freshman boy wonder. No wrestler in the district had the body he did. It was simply miraculous. No doubt, they could only imagine how big and strong he�d get by his senior year! Graves shook his head in amazement; he was lucky to have the athletes he did.
�That�s nothing!� Kyle snarled, trying to keep from breaking into laughter himself.
�Well, then,� Nick beckoned him, �what you waitin� for, little boy!� With a roar from their teammates, the two ran at each other. The scene was hilarious � Nick was practically twice the size of Kyle and although Kyle was blindingly quick, he couldn�t even come close to matching Nick in strength. Oof! Upon impact, Kyle bounced off of Nick�s massive chest and flew backwards almost ten feet, landing in a spectacular somersault on the mat. He rolled onto his back, laughing uncontrollably, his tight six-pack tensing with each exhale�but Nick wasn�t done with him yet. He stomped over to Kyle, a goofy Godzilla-esque look on his face, bent down to pick him up. Then, with one easy motion, he hoisted him high into the air�and proceeded to military press him no fewer than ten times! His teammates gasped in awe. Nick was so strong, nothing � no one � could get in his way. Nick gave a broad grin; he loved testing himself, seeing how far he could push his own body. And Kyle felt light. Am I getting stronger, Nick thought.
�Alright, guys!� Graves finally broke it up, smiling amusedly. �Enough fooling around.� Nick stopped, holding Kyle in mid-air, and turned his head toward his coach. Then, he shrugged and � as if what he had just done was the easiest thing in the world � dropped Kyle to the mat again. Kyle collapsed to his butt and rolled backwards, popping up to his feet, his chiseled thighs flexing efficiently to keep his balance.
�Dude, that was awesome!� he exclaimed. Nick blushed and headed for the locker room to change, but as he neared the door, Brandon caught his attention again. The other boy glanced nervously down at the floor, biting his lip. They had been keeping away from each other as much as possible. The feelings Nick got whenever he looked at him made him feel guilty�and he knew Brandon felt it, too. �Nick, we have to talk,� Brandon muttered. Nick gazed at him forlornly; he knew what this was going to be about. They stole away to a corner of the room, far from the post-practice bustle of the other wrestlers. �We can�t keep doing this,� Brandon began, �avoiding each other. We�re teammates.�
�Then we have to stop doing what we�ve been doing,� Nick answered in a hushed voice, �before we go too far.� Every time they looked at each other, they wanted to wrap their arms around each other and make out; they wanted to let themselves go in each other�s embrace. Sometimes when they were alone, they couldn�t hold back � their lips, their tongues, would touch and neither could pull away until they had exhausted each other�s energy. Brandon�s eyes peered at Nick with longing. He felt his heart beating rapidly inside his chest; those sky blue eyes, those full, red lips, that golden blond hair � why couldn�t have met Brandon in another time, another place?
�But I don�t want to,� Brandon whispered, reaching out his hand to touch Nick�s fingers. Nick squeezed his eyes shut, trying to quell the temptation of lust that was raging in his mind. Brandon had to know how much this was killing him. A long pause grew between them, their breathing the only sound they made.
�Look, we�ll figure something out,� Nick finally said. Then, he gave Brandon�s hand a little squeeze before turning away. Erin was waiting for him outside.
�NICK!� Erin yelled as soon as she saw her boyfriend�s figure turn the corner from the locker room. His body was unmistakable, silhouetted against the late afternoon sun that streamed through the hallway doors � his mile-wide shoulders and impossibly narrow waist, his gigantic thighs and insanely built arms. He was wearing his long-sleeved Spartan Wrestling shirt and jeans, but nothing could hide the size of his muscles; they shifted and flexed underneath the fabric with every move � even the slightest twitch � that he made. And then his face came into view�and Erin was left speechless. His hypnotic hazel eyes peered down at her, putting her into a deep trance. His boyish dimples were not quite hidden by the shadow of facial hair that had grown over the course of the day. Nick was so sexy, no girl could stand to resist him. And he�s all mine, Erin thought.
�Hey, babe,� he greeted her, his deep voice instantly soothing her. He bent down to kiss her gently on the lips and Erin felt as if she was floating in midair. Her breasts pressed against his steel-hard pecs as his huge arms wrapped around her entire body. She cupped her hands around his biceps; they felt warm and pumped, pulsing with blood.
�I think your arms are getting bigger,� Erin observed dreamily.
�Are they?� Nick answered. His eyes gazed at her sadly, but there was a hint of solace almost, as if he was relieved to be with her again. She almost forgot why she had been so excited to see him.
�I have good news for you,� she sang.
�What?� he asked, still smiling, still looking directly into her eyes. Erin leaned closer.
�You got the lead in the musical,� she whispered. Nick blinked, his mouth slightly ajar. He turned his head like he hadn�t heard her correctly.
�You�re kidding, right?� he said. Erin shook her head.
�No, really. I�ll show you.� She pulled him around the corner to the bulletin board outside the choir room. Sure enough, at the top of the cast list was Nick�s name next to Joe, the male lead in Damn Yankees.
�Holy shit!� Nick blurted. Erin giggled with glee.
�And I�m gonna be Lola. You know, the one who seduces Joe?� She peered up at him, her tongue curled over her top teeth. She could practically sense his cock already growing in his pants. �And whatever Lola wants, Lola gets,� she added. Nick smirked � she knew what was going on in his head. Wrapping one arm around her waist, he pulled her into him tightly.
�Well I know exactly what you want right now,� he crooned. Erin groaned as she reached her hand around to grab hold of her boyfriend�s sexy bubble butt. And then without another word, the two lovers snuck into the nearest bathroom.
�Ryan, you haven�t spoken in a while. How have you been doing?� Ryan jerked his head toward Gus, the moderator. Ever since he came out of the hospital almost a year ago, Ryan had been meeting with other former bulimics in a support group. He was surprised over how many other guys were like him out there � most of them athletes, all of them having hit rock bottom. He couldn�t believe that he wasn�t alone. Frankly, just realizing that had made him feel better about it all. �Ryan?� Gus asked again.
�I�m fine,� he answered. �Classes are going well, my relationship with my brother is the best it�s been in years�� He trailed off. Gus waited patiently, sensing that there was something more. Ryan didn�t really want to talk about it openly�but he knew he needed to let it out. �Actually, there is one thing,� he added, shifting uncomfortably in his seat.
�For the last six months,� Ryan began, �I�ve been dating this girl. She�s�perfect. It�s like we fit together so well.� He sighed, thinking of Ashley and how much he missed her. �But lately, she�s been kinda distant. It�s like there�s this�divide between us. She won�t even talk to me anymore. I don�t know if it was something I said or something I did, but�I just don�t get it.� Gus smiled graciously.
�Ryan, have you ever stopped to think that perhaps it wasn�t something you said or did, but something someone else did.� Ryan looked at the man. His kind eyes peered back at him tenderly. Gus had a way with people that instantly soothed them the moment he spoke. He leaned back in his chair and began speaking to the whole group. �People with our experience sometimes find it hard not to blame everything on themselves. Many times, that�s how an eating disorder begins in the first place. They say, �I�m not a good enough father or brother or son. I�m not a good enough athlete,� and they begin that downward spiral.� He turned back to Ryan and lowered his voice slightly. �Ryan, don�t be quick to fault yourself of this�this divide, as you describe it. Perhaps, instead of thinking of yourself as the problem, think of yourself as part of the solution.� Ryan stared in revelation at Gus. The man is right, Ryan thought to himself, I�ve been blaming myself for everything my whole life. He felt he had never lived up to his father�s expectations, he grew jealous when JP began to surpass him athletically, and he found himself struggling to reach the level of perfection that the modeling agency desired.
�Maybe you�re right,� Ryan replied. �Maybe I�m being too hard on myself.� The only way to find out for sure what was bothering Ashley was to ask her himself.
�What were you and Nick talking about after wrestling practice?� Billy asked Brandon as they locked their bikes up outside Five Guys, the burger joint frequented by the local teenagers. A strange look flashed in Brandon�s eyes before he grinned nonchalantly.
�Oh, I was just giving him hell for beating me on the rope climb again.� But Billy had a feeling that that was a fib. He had seen the two talking together and there was definitely something else bothering them, something much bigger than a silly wrestling exercise. But he decided to drop it; it was none of his business anyway. He felt his stomach grumbling.
�Damn, I�m starving,� he remarked. Brandon laughed.
�So what else is new?� Billy was always hungry, but then again, he didn�t grow to be a 6�2�, 245-pound mountain of beef by doing nothing. People couldn�t believe how much food he could down in one sitting. And he turned it all into size in the gym, working out religiously every day. How many 14-year-olds out there have 20-inch arms and can bench nearly 500 pounds? Billy Freeman was a beast and everyone knew it. His barrel chest and thick mid-section drew attention wherever he went. Almost every head in the restaurant turned as he lumbered through the door � his upper body twisting slightly to avoid hitting the posts with his massive arms.
�I�ll have four GigaBurgers,� he told the server behind the counter. The kid nodded wide-eyed and filled the order immediately. Billy had to laugh to himself. Most people would take one look at him and do exactly as he said for fear of getting clobbered by him if they didn�t. Little did they know how kind he really was if they just gave him the chance.
�You�re not goin� for five this time?� Brandon wondered out loud. Billy shrugged his gargantuan shoulders. He was still bulking for track, but he was putting on weight faster then he had planned. He didn�t want to be too big�at least not yet. �When are you gonna go for Tyler�s record?� Brandon asked.
�Soon,� Billy smiled. He always said that. Tyler Backton held the record for most GigaBurgers, the largest size the place offered, eaten at one time � eight. Everyone knew Billy would one day break it. Brandon ordered �only� one GigaBurger � he had to mind his weight for wrestling and once the food came, the two jocks sat down � Billy filling an entire side of the booth � to begin their afternoon snack. Brandon stared in amazement as Billy devoured the four burgers as if they were merely an appetizer. If you want to get big, Tyler had always told him, you have to eat big. And Tyler was 275 pounds, so he knew what he was talking about.
�So what did you wanna ask me?� Brandon spoke up after Billy finished his last bite. Billy wiped the last morsel of ketchup from his mouth with a napkin and glanced nervously at the floor.
�I kind of have this�this crush on� well, it�s not really a crush more than�I don�t know, maybe an interest?�
�You want to ask Trish out, right?� Brandon shot right to the point. Billy froze and nodded. The smaller boy smiled. Trish was the head of the JV cheerleading team and Billy had had his eye on her for quite some time. She was pretty, with bright red hair and freckles all over her face. And she looked at him every time he passed by her. �Why don�t you just ask her?� Brandon continued.
�I don�t know how,� Billy admitted, his eyebrows rising timidly. Brandon let out a puff of air that moved the blond bangs hanging over his forehead.
�Oh, come on, Billy Boy,� he said. �I told you. It�s easy. Just be yourself. She already has a thing for you anyway. She�s gonna say yes.�
�Of course,� Brandon nodded. �And if you have any questions, you just bring �em on over to me.� He grinned broadly. He was right; what was Billy so afraid of? Brandon was a natural with girls and he�d help him through anything.
�Thanks,� Billy murmured.
�Nick, I heard the news!� Chrissy greeted her little brother the second he walked through the front door, wrapping her arms around his wide shoulders and hugging him tightly.
�You did?� he said, taken aback. �How?� She looked up at him proudly.
�Erin told JP and JP called me,� she answered. �I�m so proud of you. I knew I wasn�t the only one with musical talent in our family.� Chrissy had played trumpet in the band � that�s where she met JP and Matt � and now Nick had earned the lead in the musical.
�Nicolas!� his mom called from the kitchen � the smell of lamb hitting his nose. �Where is my little singing Hercules?� She came down the hall, her apron still around her waist.
�Hi, mom,� he replied as she reached up to kiss him on the cheek. He blushed; never had he expected such a reaction from his family. They had always been excited over his athletic achievements, but it was as if they were assumed. His vocal talent seemed to come as a surprise. Well, it was a surprise to him, too; he never thought his voice was that good.
�I made you lamb to celebrate,� she beamed, �your favorite.�
�Thanks, mom,� Nick said, rubbing his rumbling stomach and making his way into the kitchen. There, his dad was sitting at the table, pouring himself a cup of tea.
�Nico, my boy,� he smiled roughly, his moustache quivering with excitement. He came forward and took his son�s head in his hands. �I know you would take after my family, but never this.� He grinned. Mr. Angelakis, a sizeable man himself, had been a boxer back in his native Greece and had come from a long line of accomplished athletes.
�He obviously got it from my side,� Nick�s mom chimed, passing the two men on her way back to the food. She looked at her son over her husband�s shoulder. �Your Uncle Andonis had a beautiful voice.� Nick grinned; his parents always told him stories of his family members, many of whom he had never met. The four sat down to eat with Chrissy urging her brother to tell them the story of how he auditioned and they listened intently. After dinner, as the women cleaned up, Nick�s dad took him into the living room and sat him on the sofa.
�Nico,� he began, �I am very proud of what kind of a man you are becoming. Never in my memory could I have wished to have a son as well-rounded and wonderful as you.� Nick almost saw a tear begin to form in his father�s eye. �You are very responsible and I think it�s time that we talk about you driving.� Nick immediately sat up in his seat. But he was only a freshman! He wouldn�t even be able to get a permit until he turned 15 in two months.
�I�m not old enough to get a car yet, dad,� he offered. His dad smiled warmly and leaned closer.
�I know, but you must start thinking about one. With sports and now the musical, your mother and I might not be able to drive you back and forth to school.�
�But what about my bike?� Nick reminded him. �I�ve been using that mostly.�
�I know,� the man said, �but a star athlete deserves more than a bicycle to get around.� He clicked his teeth a couple of times. �Your mother and I were wondering if you�d like to start saving up for a car of your own.� Nick�s eyes grew wide. His own car?! He had always assumed he�d eventually get Chrissy�s car when he was old enough to drive. But then, he looked into his father�s eyes � there was a catch�as usual.
�What is the deal?� he asked hopefully.
�Nico, you can have any car you would like,� he proposed, �as long as you pay for it yourself. Of course, we�ll help you with the insurance, but the rest is your responsibility. You can get a job � you are old enough now � and it can be anything. We decided to give you plenty of time so that by the time you turn 16 and have your license, you can have your car.� Nick thought for a moment. In his mind, it was a fair deal. He knew his parents were teaching him not to rely on them for everything � they were big on that. �Do we have a deal?� his dad asked.
�Yes,� Nick answered.
Ryan walked up to Ashley�s front door, breathing deeply before he knocked. He had to talk to her; he had to find out why she was staying away from him. He needed to know that it wasn�t he. He knocked on the door. Seconds later, she opened it. Instantly, she looked at him with scared eyes.
�You can�t be here,� she whispered. �Not now.�
�Ashley, please,� Ryan pleaded. �I have to talk to you. I miss you so much.� She looked down at the floor; she obviously still loved him � he could feel it � but something was making her afraid. �I love you,� he added. She looked back up at him, a single tear rolling down her cheek.
�I know,� she replied so softly, almost no sound came out. �I love you, too.�
�Then why�� he started to ask, but just then, the door swung back fully. Standing there was the one person he least imagined would be in his girlfriend�s apartment.
�Long time, no see, Ryan,� Brionna said.
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