Passages, Book 1
Holiday, Gay, Romance, New Adult
Date Published: December 01, 2023
Publisher: Changeling Press
Is it possible to be both a good Jew and a gay man? Jonah Dillon doesn’t think so. He can’t reconcile his faith with his attraction to men so he turns his back on Judaism. Away at college for the holidays, he plans to lose his virginity to Christian, the blue-eyed, blond, goy of his dreams.
But fate intervenes when Jonah meets Aaron Beck, an observant Jew, and they end up celebrating Hanukkah together. Aaron tells Jonah they're beschert—meant to be. Jonah’s not sure he believes it, but he's lonely and welcomes Aaron's company even if he has to celebrate Hanukkah to get it.
Can Aaron bridge the gap and convince Jonah to take a leap of faith? Or will they have to give up their desire for a future together?
Copyright ©2023 Gale Stanley
The man’s image in the mirror, framed by small twinkling lights and swags of spruce and holly, appeared to be just the sort of ornament Jonah had been looking for all his life -- or at least the part of his life that spanned the years since puberty. The phrase “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear” came to mind, making him smile. I should be so lucky.
Unfortunately, Jonah’s plan to remain on campus for the holidays and lose his virginity to a non-Jew, a goy, wasn’t going according to plan, although he’d gone to great lengths to make it happen.
The worst part had to be when he told his parents that he wouldn’t be coming home for Hanukkah. None of the excuses he came up with felt right and he procrastinated for a long time.
Finally, he could wait no longer. Working up the courage, he called his mother and blurted out the dreaded words, before he lost his nerve. “I’ll be staying on campus for the holidays.”
Dead silence followed his announcement, followed by a worried, “Why?”
Jonah had never been good at lying. He struggled to sound believable. “I have so much to do. The workload in grad school is much heavier and the holidays are the best time to catch up.”
“Bring your work home.”
Also not good at asserting himself, Jonah hemmed and hawed. “I’d be way too busy. No time to interact.”
Unfortunately, his mother was way too good at guilt-tripping him.
Her voice wavered, and she sounded on the verge of tears. “We just want to see you. We don’t ask for much. And we’ve always spent Hanukkah together. I’m making your favorites, latkes and sweet kugel.”
A knife pierced his heart, but Jonah thought fast and stayed firm. “One of my friends is stuck on campus, too, and I promised him we would study together.” Another lie.
“Bring him home.”
“I can’t, Mom, He’s… it’s just that…”
“He’s a girl, isn’t he? Well, if it doesn’t work out, you can always change your mind and come home.”
“Sorry, Mom. I’ll talk to you soon.”
Jonah hung up before his mom could ask any more questions. Damn, she sounded like her world had come to an end. If only he wasn’t an only child. If he had a sibling to pick up the slack, it would make his life a whole lot easier. Taking a few deep breaths, he calmed himself. There would be other holidays.
Now, sitting alone at a bar, he wondered if all the grief he’d caused his mother had been for nothing. Not many students or professors had remained on campus, so Jonah had ventured off campus to find a hook-up. Happy Hour at a bar seemed the best option, but Jonah didn’t have an ounce of gaydar in his body, and gay guys didn’t go around wearing sexual ID tags. Luckily, he’d found a gay watering hole in the small college town. The rainbow flag flying out front had been a dead giveaway, and the name, The Rainbow Room. Could it be any gayer? When he first saw it, he wanted to take off like a scared rabbit, but he’d been doing that for far too long.
Jonah had forced himself to open the door and go inside. It was a gay bar, so what? Nothing remarkable, nothing to be scared of, just a neighborhood bar, a place where a guy could have a conversation without screaming over loud dance music. Actually, there was no dance floor, and that was all good too. Jonah Dillon didn’t dance, especially with other men. The only thing that differentiated The Rainbow Room from any other corner dive was the fact that it was devoid of women.
Wooden stools butted up against a foot rail at the bar and the mirrored wall behind the bar threw back his reflection. A bearded bartender, sleeves rolled up over hairy forearms, filled orders. Holiday decorations were minimal. Other than the lights around the mirror, there weren’t any, and that was okay because he’d been born and raised Jewish, and a man assimilated a lot of attitudes and beliefs in twenty-one years. Ridding himself of them would take a lifetime. At least.
Having to stare at a Christmas tree or a Nativity scene while flirting with a blond goy would have made him feel even guiltier. Ironic, that the thought of sucking an uncut cock didn’t inspire quite the same guilt. Or maybe he was just too fucking horny to care anymore. Lost in thought, Jonah wondered if he was normal. Between waking up with morning wood and masturbating before bed, it seemed like he was always thinking about sex.
When he got to college, he’d settled for hurried blowjobs with other students. It took the edge off, but Jonah wanted more. It was time to let someone put their dick in his ass so he could lose his anal virginity. Finding a willing partner who made him feel comfortable was primary. One thing he was sure of, he wouldn’t be comfortable having sex with another Jew.
So here he was, trying to fit in with the goyim, to the point of actually shopping for one of those ugly red and green Christmas sweaters with prancing deer. Seeing himself in the dressing room mirror shocked the hell out of him, but he bought it anyway, and ran out of the shop before he could change his mind. He wore it like a costume, thinking it would make him feel less inhibited and able to take some risks.
But as Jonah discovered, the sweater didn’t help him blend in. His appearance in the bar had triggered a few snickers, and after glancing around at the jeans-and-sweatshirt crowd, he’d regretted his choice.
His inner voice told him he was trying too hard and he looked like an asshole. At the time, it’d seemed like a good idea. Now, he just felt dumb, but he forgave himself for not getting it right and toughed it out. Fuck it.
Jonah ordered a beer. The bartender set down a mug wet with condensation, and a bowl of peanuts. Jonah took a few and cracked them out of their shells. He tried to look like he belonged, but nobody looked like him and everybody seemed to be with friends. Ignoring the conversations around him, he glanced at his watch every so often, as if he were waiting for someone. It made him feel less alone. Pathetic.
What would his mother say if she could see him now? Come home, boychik. You don’t belong there. Thank goodness, she was miles away and oblivious. He’d never told his parents he was gay. Hell, it had taken years to admit it to himself.
He concentrated on today’s goal -- find a guy to have sex with. How hard could it be? Pretty damn hard, even in a place that was user friendly.
Jonah took another swallow of his beer. God, he hated this time of the year. The holidays always made him feel more alone than ever. His back was to the room, but he could still see the crowd in the mirror -- guys of all shapes and sizes, pairing up like animals ready to board Noah’s Ark, while he was mooning over a stranger. It was damn depressing.
Finishing his beer, he scanned the mirror for the blond. Yep, still there, but focused on the two men who framed him like bookends.
Hooking up with the man in the mirror didn’t seem likely. Jonah would not, could not, make the first move, and for sure he didn’t expect the hot blond to hit on him. Why would he? Jonah was a man who didn’t stand out in a crowd, unless it was for all the wrong reasons. After a lifetime of doing stupid shit, he’d become an expert at sabotaging himself. Too bad State College didn’t offer a course in How Not to Embarrass Yourself.
The hot blond was exactly the type of man he could see himself with. He had the sun-kissed good looks of a surfer dude -- blond, blue-eyed, and cherub-cheeked -- a nice contrast to Jonah’s dark brown hair, hazel eyes, and stubbled jaw. The nerdy guy and the goy. Pitiful. More than the width of the bar separated them.
But looking couldn’t hurt.
About the Author
Gale Stanley grew up in Philadelphia PA. She was the kid who always had her nose in a book, her head in the clouds, and her hands on a pad and pencil.
Some things never change.
X (Twitter): @GaleStanley
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