Exclusive Excerpt from Ace in the Picture
by Jude Tresswell
“You’re not gay, are you?” Raith suddenly said. “And I don’t think you’re straight, either, or bi, and I think you must be ace.”
“Sorry,” said Phil, embarrassed by Raith’s bluntness. “Sometimes Raith says things that most people wouldn’t.”
“So they think it,” Raith said, with a shrug. “What’s the difference in thinking it and saying it?”
“Well—” Phil began.
“It’s okay, Phil,” Nick said. He stared at his coffee mug. He had never discussed being ace with anybody in real life. On internet forums, yes. Often. They’d kept him sane. Real life, no. Why? he asked himself. And here was a man who was openly gay—openly polyamorous!—confronting him with his own well-guarded secret. Why couldn’t he, like Raith and Phil and Ross and Mike say, This is me. Like it or leave it. I don’t care a toss?
Here was a chance to say it. Take it, he told himself.
“Yes, I’m ace,” he said, and immediately wished he hadn’t. Of all the people to come out to, he’d chosen two men who surely wouldn’t understand at all! Men who knew the taste of other men’s saliva and spunk and body sweat, and who doubtless inserted more than fingers and tongues into each other’s orifices. Regularly. Not even with just a single other. There were four of them, for goodness sake.
“Oh,” said Raith. “I thought you might be. See, I was right,” he said to Phil. “I’ll go and do the dishes and make some cocoa.”
So that was it? That was the big confession? What an anti-climax. Nick could have cried. And they’d obviously been discussing him in his absence!
“I can’t imagine it,” said Phil gently, aware of Nick’s discomfort. “I mean, I fuck the hell out of two sassy men—but if you want to talk about it, I’m a very good listener. I don’t reckon it’s easy to be asexual in a world that seems to revolve around sex.”
“What do you think it revolves around?” asked Nick, relieved, in a way, to turn the conversation from himself.
“For me, it’s love, but love, for me, is different from sex. I love Ross. If anything happened to him, I’d be distraught, but I don’t find him sexy. The attachment is emotional, deeply emotional, but not sexual.”
“I’ve sometimes felt like that about people,” said Nick, drawn into a sort of confession by Phil’s quiet, thoughtful manner, “but it hasn’t worked out. I’ve not wanted to… do anything in bed, and they’ve misunderstood, and we’ve gone our separate ways. At first, I thought I might be gay, but I know I’m not. I can like men, but not sexually.”
“I can like women, but not sexually,” Phil said with a laugh.
“Could you kiss one?”
“On the cheek, I could. On the lips—a big sloppy one—ugh! No!”
“Me neither. Ugh! No! The problem is I couldn’t do it to a man either.”
Phil nodded his understanding.
“There’s nothing wrong with my libido,” Nick started saying.
“There’s nothing wrong at all,” said Phil.
“Thanks. What I mean is, being ace doesn’t mean that I never feel horny. I do. It just means that I’d rather…”
“Slake your own thirst?” Phil finished for him. “That’s how Mike would put it anyway.”