Chapter Ten

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When Trace said all we would do was make out a little, he meant it, and I appreciated that. The evening wasn't so bad and Trace didn't try to ask me about my low self esteem or my brother or even about the results of the baking competition interview. Of all things, he asked me about what I crocheted and when I had started all of that.

I skipped some details about how exactly I got started. "Well, I liked the idea of making things with my hands and I guess that's part of it. Crocheting was how I started but I can knit and sew as well."

"Holy shit, are you serious? Do you make stuff?" Trace sounded a little too surprised.

We had migrated to the kitchen, Trace watching me as I cooked a meal for us.

I laughed while stirring the thick curry mixture on the stovetop. The meal was simple; some brown garlic rice, steamed vegetables and a curry stew with pork and vegetable. Secretly, I was glad Trace wasn't vegan or vegetarian and didn't have any allergies. I could just cook without worrying about all that "Not really, " I continued, "just baby clothes for my nephew, sometimes accessories for myself." I said while I chopped, diced, steamed, and cooked. It was different while I was cooking. I didn't stutter as much and I didn't get so nervous.

The curry was nearly done cooking and the rice was just starting. We were sitting at my kitchen table and Trace sat beside me, playing with the fingers on my left hand. He seemed to love touching me and he traced out shapes on my palm while listening. Trace looked at me like I mattered and like he really wanted to get to know me. So when he asked about me and basketball, I gave him an honest answer.

"No one wants to hear it, but I was this close to being in the NBA." I said softly.

Trace's eyes widened. "Really?"

"Yeah, my brother and I were blessed with good genes. Tall, quick, lean, athletic, and we both build muscle easily. My brother was doing well in the NCAA as a sophomore and I was just finishing up high school. My brother's agent was everywhere, always over at our house, filling my brother's ears with promises of what it would be like in the NBA. That he needed to declare for the draft while he was doing so well. But my parents were adamant that he finish university."

Trace nodded. "That's understandable."

"I think so, too. Growing up here, so many people have ideas about what it's like to black, and to be the children of immigrants and how that changes when you're the child of African immigrants. It's different. My parents respect what my brother does, but they also wish he had a degree." I laughed, lulled into a sense of security by Trace's touch. He was still sliding the pads of his fingers across my palm and tracing some tattoos on my forearm.

"Cyrus doesn't care about any of that." I continued. "He just wants to play basketball, that's what he's about. And I respect that drive and determination. But I know it's about the money, too. I know he likes being repped by Nike, appearing on screen, living the life. And he's good. Averaged a double double just last season and he's a consistent starter."

"Hmm, but are you close, really?" Trace asked skeptically."

I shrugged. "We text and call. Whenever he comes back home we always hang out. The paparazzi isn't so bad in Toronto. He's just away a lot. If anything, I see his family more." I couldn't help the smile in my voice. "His wife sucks but I love his kid. Everyone in our family adores that little guy."

"How is it with you being gay? Is your brother—"

I wasn't sure if I wanted to tell him, but he was making me feel so comfortable I didn't see how I couldn't. "He doesn't care who I'm into, but he thinks I should have hidden it so I could be in the NBA. Cyrus just doesn't understand. I'm not exactly 'obviously gay' ...whatever that means, but I wouldn't want to hide anything. In a perfect world being gay shouldn't bear as much significance as it does."

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