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33 A Little More Kick Ass

About GabrielCaldwell

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  1. 1. Show A Genuine Interest A good mentor gets to know and understand the interests and skills of the person they are mentoring. It is only by showing a genuine interest in the individual that they will be able to offer meaningful advice and counsel. — Employee Handbook: Mentoring Boston The second time I saw him was at a company meeting. All of the major divisions of our company hold All-Staff meetings every three or four months. They are a chance to update everyone on what is being done, what is coming up, and to recognize the good work being done by the people of the division. These events also give everyone a chance to ask questions; either by standing up and asking them, or by emailing the questions anonymously before the meeting. There is also a tradition of asking new staff to stand up and introduce themselves. If there aren’t too many of them—or we have plenty of time—we’ll give them a chance to talk a little about their interest or hobbies. That part of the meeting is very free form and informal. If you just say your name and what department you are in, that is okay too. That day it had been a full—and a bit rushed—meeting, and I was just about to wrap it up when Peter called out to me that we hadn’t done introductions. The meeting had started late, and in the rush I had forgotten about it. I surveyed the approximately 200 people in the large conference room, trying to gauge their mood. Sometimes you can tell that your audience is done with the meeting, and it is better to just let them go, than to drag it out any further. Today they seemed happy and relaxed. Maybe it was the spring weather that had put everyone in a good mood. “Oh right,” I said, standing at the podium in the front of the room. “Well, in case you hadn’t worked it out after two hours,”—there was a light ripple of laughter—“I’m Brian Chaffe, Senior VP of IS, and Peter,” and I pointed to him, “do you want to introduce yourself?” and with that, the rest of the senior leaders in the division each stood up and introduced themselves. “How are we doing for time?” I said, glancing at my phone on the podium. “A few minutes. Okay, I’d like to ask everyone who’s joined the company since our last meeting to stand up, and then if you’d tell us your name, what department you’re in, what your job is, and…” and I glanced at the group that had stood up. It was less than ten people. “How about something interesting about yourself?” And then I pointed at the woman who was standing in the front row. “Hi. Would you like to start?” I asked her, and she nodded rather quickly—she was clearly a little nervous. And with that, we went around the room, each new employee introducing themselves. It’s interesting how these things go; usually, the first or second person sets the tone. If they talk about a previous job, then most of the people that follow will talk about where they came from, or an unusual past role. If one of the first people talks about a hobby or a vacation, then the people following will usually do the same. Today the first person talked about how they liked to garden, and the second person spoke about being an avid cyclist, so the introductions turned into activity reports. I was half listening—trying to appear to be paying attention—even though I was also checking the time, and thinking about my next meeting. I also was mentally reminding myself that I needed to move a meeting that had been scheduled for the afternoon to a different time. The second to last person was way in the back, and I couldn’t really see him because he was standing behind another new employee standing in the row in front. “Jonah Harris, I just started last week, so I still can’t find my way around the building,” he said, and there was a small ripple of laughter. The voice sounded sort of familiar, and then he added, “I’m in the database group, software engineer, and I’m not a very good guitarist, but I keep trying.” New Orleans — two weeks earlier The restaurant had been packed, and they said it would be at least twenty minutes for a table. However, they’d offered me a seat at the bar immediately, and since I was alone, I decided to take it. It wasn’t like I planned to soak up the ambiance. While the restaurant featured architectural details from earlier periods, the place was obviously of recent construction. I didn’t care. I was going to have something to eat, and then I planned to go to a bar down the street where I’d been told they had great music. I was dressed casually, but in what some people would probably call ‘wealthy casual.’ In other words, I was wearing ridiculously expensive designer jeans and a light pink designer t-shirt. The chain around my neck and earring were just enough to let women know I wasn’t interested in them, and maybe let some men know that I might be interested in them. Not that I was really looking for sex that night. I’d come to New Orleans on business and decided to spend a few extra days there just as a chance to get away. A change of scenery and a chance to rest and relax. Somehow, anonymous hookups have never been my idea of relaxation. They fulfill a need, but they aren’t relaxing. The pleasant young woman that greeted me at the door of the restaurant had shown me to two empty stools at the bar, and let me choose either one. I sat down at the one closest to the window, and the bartender came up and gave me a menu, and asked me what I’d like to drink. I ordered a light beer. The menu was a large plasticized sheet of card, and I had just read through the appetizer section when I realized that someone was about to sit down next to me. I looked up briefly, just to see what was going on; in case the person had some bag or other item they might accidentally hit me with. The person sitting down was a young man, maybe in his mid-twenties. He was short, with dark hair that was long on the top but shaved slightly at the sides. What looked like a small cross hung on a short chain from one ear. He wore faded blue jean cutoffs that were almost skin tight, while the off-white t-shirt was covered in splashes of paint. It was also sleeveless and exposed much of the side of his chest. He looked like he was dressed for a gay parade—or for street walking—and some of the restaurants in Boston I frequented wouldn’t have let him in the door dressed that way. He noticed that I’d turned to look at him, and he smiled and nodded. His lips were full, and a little pouty, and I wondered what they’d feel like; and how much they’d cost me. I nodded back at him and turned back to the menu. I wasn’t interested in a hooker. “Anything look good?” he asked me, catching me off guard. “Uh, I don’t know yet,” I said, trying to be pleasant, but not friendly. “I’m Jonah,” he said, and he held out his hand. “I’m Brian,” I said, shaking his. I wasn’t going to be rude—yet. “You here for business, or pleasure?” he asked, the last part of the sentence pitched lower in tone, as though conspiratorially. “Ah, vacation mostly,” I said. “What about you?” “Just a vacation. What do you do?” he asked me. God, it seemed he was a talkative one. I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to chat with him, as it occurred to me that he might be trying to pick me up. But I didn’t want to be rude; maybe he was just a lonely person that wanted to chat? “Well, don’t tell anyone, but I work for a pharmaceutical company,” I joked. “Yeah? Which one?” “Mayer-Martin,” I said, and he gave a nod of recognition. “No one likes pharmaceutical companies,” I continued. “Even the people that work there,” I joked, and raised my beer, and he grinned and raised his glass of water, and we clinked the glasses together in a mock toast. “So what do you do there?” he asked. “You make the drugs?” “No, no. IS department. We keep the place running. What about yourself?” “Just graduated,” he said. “Oh, wow,” I said, meaning; oh fuck, you’re younger than I’d thought. “Congratulations. What are you going to do?” “I’m starting a job when I get back.” “Yeah? Doing what?” He screwed up his face in semi-embarrassment. “IT,” he said, and his mouth turned into a shy grin. “Oh, great. That’s exciting,” I said. “So is this a graduation present?” I asked him, meaning the trip. “Oh, no,” he shook his head. “Honeymoon.” I leaned back in shock. “This is your honeymoon? Wow,” and I held up my beer again. “Congratulations,” I said, but he didn’t hold up his glass. Instead, he shook his head. “It was supposed to be the honeymoon. The wedding was canceled.” “Oh shit,” I said. “I’m sorry.” “That’s okay, it was canceled months ago," he said. All sorts of thoughts went through my head, like what happened? And why? But it would be prying into his business to ask. “So you couldn’t cancel the trip?” I asked instead, trying to sound as sympathetic as possible. “We bought non-refundable tickets, and I’d been looking forward to coming to New Orleans…” he shrugged. “And I know someone that lives here, so I’ve been crashing on their couch.” I nodded slowly. “But it doesn’t…” I began and then thought better of it. “Doesn’t what?” he asked. “Sorry, I shouldn’t be…” “That’s okay,” he said. “It doesn’t what?” “I dunno, I just thought it would remind you of why you’re here. If it was me, I’d want to do something completely different.” He looked thoughtful for a moment, and then he shrugged again. “I didn’t have tickets to anywhere else,” he said simply. “Good point,” I agreed. “You’re into music?” I asked him, noticing a small musical-note tattoo on his arm. He grinned. “I love music,” he said. “Do you play?” I asked. He shrugged. “I’m not a very good guitarist, but I keep trying.” Boston As the crowd made a dash for the exits—no doubt relieved that the meeting was finally over—I tried to get a better view of the person that had spoken. It couldn’t be the same guy I’d met in New Orleans, I told myself. What would the odds of that be? A million to one? What he’d said was just a turn of phrase. Many people would say something similar in the same situation. Especially young men, But the same first name? That seemed to lower the odds significantly. “How was the trip to New Orleans?” asked Peter. “What?” I said, so lost in my thoughts I didn’t really hear his question. “Have you already forgotten? Didn’t you go to New Orleans a couple of weeks ago?” he joked at me. Peter had been on vacation last week, and this was really the first time we’d spoken to each other since I’d gotten back. Peter is a great guy. My right-hand man. He is about twenty years older than me—in his late fifties—and is already talking about retirement, even though he assures me that it is at least five years away. Peter joined the company after me—I’d hired him from a competitor—and he has a wealth of experience. He is the person I most like to bounce ideas off. Peter always sees the holes in things—or can foresee possible problems or issues. As he likes to tell me; ‘I’ve already made all the mistakes, you can learn from mine.’ “Oh, yeah, it was good.” I said, not really interested in chit-chat, but not wanting to be rude either. We exchanged a few more words, and he reminded me about an issue with the budget. I promised to get some time on the books to discuss it later in the week. Fortunately, my assistant was right there, so I could ask her to do that, and not have to remember to do it later myself. Frankly, in my current state, I wasn’t going to remember much that we talked about ten minutes from now. I was kind of obsessing about the guy in the meeting. It couldn’t have been him. I excused myself and walked off to my next meeting, which was scheduled to run through lunch, followed by another meeting after that. With all the meetings, it was mid-afternoon before I got back to my desk and could use my computer. It’s a laptop, but I don’t drag it around all the time. When I got there, I brought up the company directory and typed in his name. I couldn’t remember his last name—wasn’t even sure he’d mentioned it—but there were only two Jonah’s in the directory, and one was in a different division, so I didn’t need to look at that one. Jonah Harris was listed as being in IS, under the database division. It must have been the guy that had been in today’s meeting. My hand wasn’t exactly shaking, but it took me a good minute to actually click on the name to see his photo. Oh crap. There was no earring, and he was wearing a dress shirt, but the face that stared back at me was definitely the same Jonah I’d met in New Orleans. New Orleans The food had been good, and though the restaurant was crowded, it wasn’t so noisy that we couldn’t talk easily. And much to my surprise, I’d enjoying chatting with him. I’d asked him what he’d studied in school, and it had been interesting to hear his stories of courses and classes, and what he’d enjoyed and hated. And then we’d talked a bit about what we each hoped to see in New Orleans. It turned out neither of us really had any clear plans other than to wander around and to listen to music. “Well, I’m sorry about your honeymoon,” I said. “But I hope you have a good time anyway.” “Thanks,” he smiled, but then the smile sort of slid off his face, and I felt bad about bringing it up again. “Are you going to get dessert?” I asked him, trying to change the subject as quickly as possible and not being able to come up with anything else. “Ah, probably not,” he said. I wondered if he was short of money. He’d just graduated and was staying on a friends couch. I’d noticed that he’d studied the menu prices closely, and only bought one beer. “Dinners on me,” I said. “Why don’t you get something?” He smiled and blushed a little. “You don’t have to do that,” he said. “I want to,” I said. “I’d been expecting to have a boring meal, and you’ve made it much more interesting and pleasant.” And I could feel good about doing something for someone, and getting him to smile again would make me feel a lot better. He grinned. “Are you on a non-honeymoon too?” he asked me suspiciously. I laughed. “No, I was here on business and decided to stay an extra couple of days,” I said. He stared at me for a moment, and then he nodded. “What are you doing after this?” he asked me. “I’m going to a bar down the street. They are supposed to have great music.” “Sounds fun,” he said. “Would it be okay if I tagged along?” I looked at him and our eyes locked for a second, and I wasn’t sure what the message was. Was he just interested in listening to music, or was he trying to be picked up? He was handsome in a sort of quirky way. He would never have been a model, but there was something about his eyes and smile that were captivating. “Sure,” I said. Nothing was going to happen with him romantically or sexually, I told myself, and I had even started to doubt that he was looking to get money from me; though it was obvious, he was short of money. We both ended up getting a dessert. I got one mainly because I thought that if I did, then he would. He got something obscenely large and covered in caramel and vanilla ice cream, and consumed it all, while I got a small cake and ate only half of it. And I suspected I was the only one that would gain any weight. Oh to have the metabolism of a twenty-something. It was only when we stood up to go that I realized how much shorter he was. The top of his head barely came up to my chin. It isn’t that I have a thing against short guys, but I’ve never dated someone who is more than a couple of inches shorter than me. Which—when put that way—makes it sound like I do have a thing against short guys. I don’t know why I was even thinking about it. It’s funny what your mind does as it wanders over different ideas and possibilities, immediately discarding most of them. The bar we went to was crowded, and we ended up jammed together at a small table. Jonah’s thighs and shoulders seemed to be continually rubbing and moving against mine. I paid for drinks, and we both got a little inebriated—but we weren’t drunk. I didn’t want to get drunk. I didn’t really think I’d be having sex with him, but if something did happen, I wanted to remember it. And maybe I didn’t want to get so drunk that I made a fool of myself by making a sloppy pass at him. We had talked a little—mainly about the music—and then Jonah casually leaned over and whispered; “He’s hot,” when a new singer came onstage with his band. I glanced at Jonah and realized that this was my chance to confirm that I was gay. He’d opened up to me, it was only fair that I be open with him. I leaned over and whispered. “Yeah. Those pants are almost painted on.” Jonah laughed. “Can you tell if he’s circumcised?” he asked. “No, but he’s hung,” I said, and we both grinned at each other. It wasn’t my imagination; he leaned into me more after that. It was almost 1, and one band had ended, and another was about to start, and it seemed like a good time to make a move. “I’m probably going to go back to the hotel now,” I said to Jonah, just to see what the reaction was. “Yeah,” he nodded. “I should probably go too.” We stumbled out onto the street, and though it wasn’t really any cooler outside, the clean air was bracing; it made you feel like you had just woken up. And he was standing close to me. “How far do you have to go?” he asked. “I’m just four blocks from here, it’s a short walk,” I said. “Where’s your friend's couch?” “It’s over in Hammond.” “Hammond? Where’s that?” “It’s about an hour by car.” “That’s a way to go, isn’t it?” I asked. “Yeah,” he said, glancing around and looking unsure, as he ran his hand through his hair, his armpit just in front of me. I wanted to lick it. “I have an extra bed,” I said a little nervously. “If you want to crash.” “Yeah?” he said, and he turned and grinned at me. He seemed genuinely interested in the offer. “If you want,” I offered. He was gay, but he appeared to be very casual about my offer. I figured there was a 50% chance something might happen. I wasn’t even that concerned if it didn’t. Just having him hang out with me would make the evening more interesting than going back to a hotel room alone. “Okay. That would be great. Thanks,” he said. We walked back to the hotel talking about the musicians we’d seen, which ones were the best, and how good that singers ass had looked in those pants. The conversation continued easily—with no lull or awkwardness—as we took the elevator up to the floor, walked down the hallway, and then I opened the door with my card, and we walked in. It was only as I reached for the light that I felt him put his arms around me. I stopped what I was doing, frozen as the door closed automatically, and we were enveloped in darkness. And then he was pulling my head down, and my lips touched his cheek. He turned his head, and my mouth was on his, and that was all the permission I needed. I put my hands up, cradling his head in my hands as our tongues swirled around each other. The kissing continued as we began pulling at each other’s clothes. The shirts came off quickly, but I had more than a little trouble unzipping his pants; his erection was jammed hard against the zip, and I didn’t want to injure him. Sliding his pants down was even more of a problem because they were so damn tight, while he’d already got my pants and boxers to my ankles. Finally, I had my fingers wrapped around his erection. He may have been almost a foot shorter, but his cock was at least as thick as mine, and maybe a fraction longer. For a second, I thought it was unfair that he might be a little bigger than me, and the next second, I just wanted him in my mouth. I literally dragged him to the bed. As he fell back, my hands slid down his legs to his knees where his pants were still bunched up, and I pulled them down, having to pause to take off his sneakers and socks before pulling off his pants and underwear. I let go of his legs and quickly took off my own shoes and socks and pants, and then climbed onto the bed, finding his naked body lying there. His hands were on my head, pulling me to him, and I kissed his mouth, and I felt his penis poking me in the stomach. I continued kissing his lips, kissing slowly down to his chin and then down his neck, down his chest to his stomach, and finally to his cock, taking it into my mouth, and tasting his precum as I gently cupped his testicles with my hands. I felt him squirming beneath me as he moved to get around to suck me, and I rolled my body so that we could lie against each other. I felt his mouth on me, and I tried to remember when I had last been this turned on, this sexually excited. I was probably going to cum like a virgin. I pulled off his cock. “I want to fuck you,” I whispered, sitting up and pulling him up to me, and kissing his mouth. “Okay,” he muttered. “You’ve got me so hard, if I don’t do it now, I’m gonna cum all over you,” I whispered urgently, and he laughed softly. “I’ll get a condom,” I added, and in the dim light I saw him nod. I jumped out of bed and stumbled over to the bathroom. I had a few condoms in my toiletry bag I’d brought just in case. There was also a tube of lubricant that I grabbed before stumbling back to the bed. “I’ve got some lubricant,” I said, grabbing him in my arms, taking him to me and kissing him. “You’ll have to loosen me up,” he said. I was so hard. I was worried I was going to cum just putting on the condom. Jonah rolled over onto his stomach, and I gently trailed the fingers of one hand down his back to his butt. I wanted to turn on the light to get a better view of his beautiful ass, but I could see just enough to slide my fingers into him. Opening the lubricant, I smeared a generous amount on my finger and then slowly worked the finger around his ring before pushing gently inside him, sliding it slowly in and out as his butt began to rise and fall around my finger. “Two,” he whispered, his voice sounding horse, and I put my middle and first finger together and gently pushed them into him, and his butt pushed up to meet my fingers as they disappeared inside him. It was so fucking hot fingering him. I reached down, and my cock was oozing precum. Picking up the condom with the other hand I had to make a decision, and gently pulled my finger out of him and quickly tore open the packet. A little fumbling and I managed to get it onto the head of my cock, working it down, then putting some extra lubricant on it. Then I clambered on top of him, and he turned his head, and I kissed him on the mouth. “You ready?” I whispered. “Yeah, fuck me,” he almost purred, pushing his butt up against me. I reached down with my right hand to my cock and then felt around for his anus. He had a hand back pulling his cheeks apart. I took a couple of tries, not quite getting it, and then his hand was on my cock, pulling it towards his entrance, and I let him lead me as I pushed gently and felt it slide in just a bit. I stopped as he groaned. I breathed in, kissing the top of his head. He took a breath, and I pushed again, and he gave out another small groan as his ass relaxed, and I slid inside him, and suddenly I could feel his warmth and the tightness around me, and I froze for a few seconds because I knew if I moved at all, I’d cum. I hung there, all my senses on edge, on the precipice of orgasm, until the moment started to pass. “Are you okay?” he whispered. “You’re so fucking tight, I’m trying not to cum,” I whispered, and I felt and heard him laugh, and then I slowly pulled out and slid back into him, and his laughter turned to a sexual purr. I started pumping slowly, trying not to get into a rhythm that would make me cum too soon, but try as I might I couldn’t contain myself and it may have only been a couple of minutes later I was pounding into him in a frenzy and cumming like my whole body was trying to force its way through my cock. It took me a minute or two to recover, and I realized I was just lying on top of him. I gently rolled over, pulling him with me so that we were lying on our sides, my cock still buried in his ass, and I reached down and grabbed his erection. He was hard, and the precum ran over my fingers, as I slowly started to stroke him, my other arm around his chest, trying to pull him back against me. I realized that I couldn’t quite kiss his mouth in this position, but I could feel him moving against me, and I just wanted him to cum, and then suddenly he moaned, and his cock was spurting warm liquid, and the slapping of my hand became louder and wetter, and he was shaking against me. And then he really was quivering against me like I was tickling him. I let go of his cock, and he calmed down. “Sorry,” he muttered, “it gets really sensitive sometimes, afterward.” I rolled him over and pulled him up to me, wanting to get my mouth on his. “That’s okay,” I said, and I kissed him, and we traded tongues and ran our hands over each other. “I’ve never cum so fast, or so hard,” I whispered. I could feel him smile around me. “That’s okay,” he said, pulling just a little away from me. “You can always do it again.” “Yeah,” I said, leaning in and kissing and chewing on his neck and the chain hanging around it. “I want to.” To be continued…
  2. Brian, a successful VP of Technology, meets a young man during a vacation in New Orleans. After a brief affair, Brian returns to Boston, only to discover that the young man now has an entry-level position at his company. which makes things very complicated.
  3. “She knew,” he whispered. Milo had just hung up from speaking with his mother, and he seemed happy, but he was hanging on to me tightly. “She knew?” I asked, not sure what it was that she knew. “That I’m gay.” “Oh. How’d she know? Did your father tell her?” I asked, surprised. I didn’t think his father talked to his mother, and I wondered if my mother had told her. Or Emily Hill. Milo pulled back a little and stared at me intently. “Juanita. I guess Juanita has been keeping her up on what’s going on.” “She knew your dad was sending you to another school?!” I asked indignantly. “No, she didn’t know about that,” he said quickly. “Oh.” “She’s coming out to talk to my dad. She’s going to get here tomorrow. Your mother said she can stay here.” That sounded very much like something my mother would say. “That’s okay? Right?” I asked carefully. “She’s okay…okay that you’re gay?” “Yeah, yeah. She’s fine with it. She said she loved me and she’d talk sense into Dad, and she wants to meet you!” and now he really smiled for the first time since he’d taken the call. That was a shock to me. Now I felt nervous. I hadn’t planned on meeting a parent. Not a parent that actually wanted to find out what I was like, and whether I was good enough for her son! I was more nervous about meeting her than I’d ever been around Mr. Thompson Trust. But Milo was hugging me again, and he seemed really happy, and for the moment, that was the most important thing. Milo took some time to wipe the tears from his face while I assured him that he looked okay, even though his eyes were red, and you could tell he’d been crying. I was pretty sure my mom and dad wouldn’t say anything. Once he’d gotten himself together, we went back to the kitchen, where we found Mom and Dad chatting. They stopped talking as we entered and looked up expectantly. I could see Mom was almost biting her tongue, wanting to ask what happened, and Dad looked just as curious, but they waited for Milo to share his news. I suspected Mom had already told Dad most of it. After Milo finished explaining that his mother was going to come out and talk to his father and that she was going to stay here, a thought occurred to me. “So if his mother is going to stay for a few days…Milo will have to sleep in my room,” I pointed out, maybe grinning a bit too much. My mother was unimpressed with that idea. “Your brother isn’t using his room,” she replied. “Mom!” I whined. “Milo’s underage. Tonight we are going to be checking he’s in bed in the guest room before we go to bed, and he better be there when we get up in the morning. Once his mother gets here…well, where Milo sleeps will be her concern, not ours.” “Okay Mom,” I said, glancing at Milo and grinning. “Is it okay if we go and hang out in my room for a while?” My mother sighed, but she glanced at my dad, who nodded reluctantly, and then she turned back to face us. “Okay,” she said. I grabbed Milo’s hand and pulled him along with me. “Leave the door open!” my mother called after us, but we both ignored her. “So what does that mean?” he whispered. “It means that once they go to bed, you can come visit. We just have to remember to set the alarm.” Milo smirked at me. It was sometime after midnight, and we’d been lying together in bed, sort of trying to sleep, but somehow not managing to. I was wide awake, and I was pretty sure Milo was awake too. Earlier that evening, after we’d hung out in my room for a while, we’d gone back upstairs and had ice cream with my parents. After dessert we’d all sat in the family room, with the television on, not really watching. But no one seemed in the mood to talk, or maybe everyone was worried about starting a conversation and saying the wrong thing accidentally. And then, fairly early, Mom and Dad said that they were going to bed and we all stood up, Milo and I a bit awkwardly. Dad said goodnight to Milo and patted him on the shoulder as he went past him, and then he gave me a hug. My mother walked up to Milo and hugged him, and kissed him on the cheek. He looked surprised, as she came over and kissed me and told me not to stay up too late. I said we were probably going to go to bed soon, and my mother didn’t even give me a second glance. When I’d told Milo earlier that he could sneak down after my parents had gone to bed, I had imagined that we’d be going through some act of Milo going to bed in the guest bedroom and then—once the lights were out—he’d sneak down to my room. Instead, we just turned the lights out, and he followed me downstairs, and it was almost anti-climactic. Sneaking around makes things much more exciting. And now we were lying in bed together, so from my perspective, things were pretty good. Though maybe our minds were now on things other than sex. “Are you okay?” I whispered. “Yeah,” Milo whispered back, but he was tense and clearly seemed nervous or worried. “It’s going to be okay,” I told him. You have to say that, even when you don’t really know. You have to have hope. “You think?” he asked. “I hope.” “Yeah,” he said, though I wasn’t sure he actually agreed with me. “You mad? That your mother knew?” I asked him. “No. No. Why?” “I don’t know,” I said, though in truth if I were in his position, I would have been annoyed about it. But then his relationship with his parents was so different from mine, I had to keep reminding myself to stop comparing them. “I don’t really think about my mother much,” he finally said. That surprised me. I decided against asking why. “Did she say what custody she has?” I asked, changing the subject. “She said joint,” he said, though he didn’t sound excited. “Well, that’s good, right?” There was a long pause, and then Milo sighed and put his arm over his forehead. “If she does,” he finally said, sounding bitter. “You think she’s lying?” “I think she might not know, and she’s just saying what she thinks I want to hear. Then she’ll not turn up, and buy me a car…or something.” I grinned, and then I realized that he wasn’t joking. “I’m sorry,” I said. “Not your fault.” “I know…I just…” I decided to change the subject. “What do you think will happen tomorrow?” “No fucking idea.” A little before seven I was awoken by my father's voice from the top of the stairs. “Nelson! I’m getting up in ten minutes!” “Okay, Dad,” I laughed, as I gently shook my very cute bed partner awake. “You have to get up,” I whispered. ‘I don’t want to get up,” Milo mumbled. “Come on, we can shower together.” Milo’s eyes flashed open. “I thought you said you showered in the evenings,” said Milo slowly, as though he was considering the question carefully. And then he yawned. “I usually do, but I don’t want to meet your mother with the smell of your…of you all over me.” Milo snickered. “If we shower now, there should be enough hot water for Mom and Dad later. They aren’t going out today, so they should be okay with it. It’s the weekend, anyway.” “Just don’t tell them the reason we had a shower was to get the smell of each other off us,” Milo suggested, and he smirked at me. “No, I’ll tell them we did it so we could jerk each other off in the shower,” I smirked. And we did. Breakfast was a slow and quiet affair, the four of us sitting at the table, Mom and Dad trying to make small talk, me trying to be interested, and Milo staring off into space. Mom said she’d told Chad and Leanna not to come by today—even though they had wanted to—as she thought it might be a bit too much. I was pretty sure she was right. Milo was so lost in his own little world that he probably didn’t even hear what we were talking about. The conversation kept grinding to a halt. My mother would stare at Milo as he aimlessly moved his spoon through the bowl of cereal, and then she’d stare at me and make a motion with her head like I should do something. I’d prompt Milo, and he’d shake himself awake, eat half a spoonful of cereal, and then go back to staring off into space, and the cycle would repeat. Frankly, I was relieved when my mother gave up and suggested that since we were clearly finished, I should take Milo downstairs and ‘do something to take his mind off things.’ My father almost choked on his coffee again. Milo followed me downstairs, but all we did was sit on my bed. He leaned into me, and I held him close, my arm around him. “I don’t know if this is going to do any good,” Milo whispered, and for a moment I thought he meant that my holding him wasn’t comforting him, but then I realized he was talking about his mother visiting. “Give her a chance,” I said, because I couldn’t think of anything else to say. And we just sat there. Holding each other. At least we didn’t have to take another shower before his mother arrived. Just before noon, there was someone at the front door, ringing the doorbell. We knew it wasn’t Milo's mother; her plane wasn’t arriving for another hour. Milo looked startled, and for a moment I think we both thought it was his father. “Nelson?” I heard my mother call. “It’s Caleb!” I let out the breath I was holding, and Milo settled back into the slouch he’d been assuming before the bell rang. I turned to Milo. “You stay here. I’ll just go up and say hi, and hopefully, he won’t stay long. Okay?” “Sure. But I can come up.” “No,” I said holding up my hands to stop him, and Milo looked puzzled. “I trust Caleb,” I explained. “But I don’t want him to have to lie for us…more than necessary.” Milo nodded in understanding, and I got up and went out of my room, pulling the door closed behind me. Caleb was waiting at the top of the stairs, chatting to my mother, and he looked like he was expecting to come down to my bedroom, but instead, I invited him into the kitchen for a drink. ‘How you doin Nels?” asked Caleb. “Okay,” I said. “I heard about Milo running away.” “You did?” I asked, both surprised and a little embarrassed. I hadn’t let Caleb know what was going on. And then I realized that it had only been Thursday afternoon that Milo’s dad had arrived at our door with the note from Milo. So much seemed to have happened in a day and a half. But Caleb was standing there staring at me, and I wondered if I was acting weird and whether he realized it. “Yeah, Haily told me,” Caleb said, looking just a little suspicious. “Haily?” I asked, puzzled. “She heard from Jerry. I guess Milo’s dad called all his friends wanting to know if they knew where Milo is. Jerry’s parents were on his case about it.” “Wow. They thought Jerry would know?” “They knew he helped us smuggle Milo into your bedroom,” Caleb grinned. “Oh.” When did that happen? I couldn’t be sure. That seemed so long ago now. “His dad was here you know?” I said. “Who?” Caleb asked. “Milo’s dad.” “What?!” “Yeah. He thought I knew where Milo is. I told him I didn’t, but he didn’t believe me, and he was going to make me go with him to look for Milo.” “Seriously?” Caleb gasped, actually looking shocked. “Yeah. But my parents turned up, and he left,” I shrugged. “He hasn’t been back since.” “Huh,” said Caleb, and that mix of suspicion and curiosity was back on his face. “You know I told Haily to tell you about Jerry, but she said she didn’t want to.” “What? Why not?” Caleb grinned, as though he was giving away a big secret. “Cause she figures you know where Milo is, and she doesn’t want you telling her, because then she might tell Jerry and he’d have to lie to his parents and to Milo’s dad, and she doesn’t want to put him in that position.” “Huh,” I said. So we were all avoiding each other, so that we didn’t have to share information? It was like we were running some top secret program. “She must really like Jerry,” I observed. “Yeah, I think she does,” Caleb nodded. There was a long pause, and then he very meaningfully said: “So do you?” “Do I what?” I asked him slowly. Caleb grinned at me, but he didn’t push it. “You need any help?” he asked. I thought about it. Did I? It was great that my best friend was here, offering to help. That was probably all the help I needed at the moment. “Thanks, man, I’m good right now.” Caleb nodded slowly, and then he gave me a confident grin. “If you need anything, you call me,” he said. “Yeah, yeah. I will.” “And tell Milo I hope it works out for him.” I stared at Caleb. Coming from him that was really something. Caleb didn’t like most people, and he’d been very cold towards Milo at first. Even as Caleb had tried to help me with my Milo problems, I knew it was because he cared about me; he still hadn’t liked Milo. And here he was acting almost caring towards Milo. That counted as a win. I grinned. “Thanks, Caleb.” He nodded. “I’ll…I’m gonna get out of here,” and then he hugged me quickly and thumped my back. My mother walked in. “Are you hungry Caleb, we’re just about to have lunch?” “Oh thank you Mrs. Larmont. I already ate.” I didn’t know if Caleb had eaten yet, but this was about the only time he’d ever turned down food. I patted Caleb on the back and followed him to the door. “Thanks, Caleb,” I repeated. “Yeah, no trouble. You coming to school on Monday?” “Uh…” I began, I hadn’t even thought about what was going to happen tomorrow. “Let me know.” “I will,” I promised. “Can you let Haily know I’m okay? And she probably shouldn’t call me for the next few days,” and I grinned at him. Caleb smiled knowingly. “‘Course I will. Though maybe I’ll not tell her the last part,” and he winked. It was around 3 that we heard another car pull up, and then a short moment later, the sound of the doorbell. Milo and I were in my bedroom, not doing anything more than hugging and exchanging a few kisses now and again. I’d even dug out some sketchbooks, and the two of us had spent some time drawing. But at the sound of the car, Milo glanced at me nervously, and I smiled encouragingly. And then I had another thought. “I’ll go up and check. You stay here, just in case…” and I left unsaid ‘in case it’s your father.’ I climbed the stairs warily, but I could already tell from the sound of my mother’s voice that whoever was there was not an unwelcome visitor. Just inside the entrance way I found my mother talking to a woman of about average height, with long yellow-blondish hair, and I thought at first she looked nothing like Milo, and then she turned and faced me, and I saw those same emerald eyes. Milo has his mother’s eyes. How very Harry Potter-ish of him. It was probably not a good idea to say that to him, but I couldn’t help grinning at her, and now Mom was introducing me. I didn’t really hear what she was saying, or what Milo’s mom was saying, but I said “nice to meet you,” and then my mom was asking where Milo was. I said that I’d go get him, and turned, only to find myself staring into Milo’s emerald eyes. I almost laughed, and I must have looked a little goofy because Milo flashed a curious expression before stepping around me to go to his mother. I watched Milo as he went up to his mother. He looked stiff and awkward as they embraced. As she hugged him, he looked a lot like Chad looked when relatives would kiss and hug him. Like he really didn’t want them to. But then my mother was grabbing my arm and pulling me into the kitchen as she told Milo to show his mother to the guest bedroom, and added that they should “take your time.” I wanted to object. I wanted to stay and hear what they said, and I didn’t want them to take their time. Milo even glanced at me like he wanted me to stay too, but my mother was insistent. I reluctantly went into the kitchen and spent a frustrating hour sitting with my parents, wondering what was happening. It felt like I had spent more time sitting with my parents over the last week than I had in the last year. The only thing was, we never seemed to be talking about anything. I was lost in my thoughts, and my parents were talking about the work that would need to be done to clean up the field before the summer, when I heard a noise and turned to see Milo and his mother coming into the kitchen. I only had eyes for Milo, and I could tell that he looked more relaxed and maybe even happy, though he still moved as though he was uncomfortable—but perhaps that was because my parents and I were there. “Hey, uh…” Milo nervously began and then stopped. “Pamela, thank you so much for everything you’ve done for Milo,” his mother piped up. “You’re both welcome Erica,” replied my mother, who then introduced my dad and invited them both to sit with us. Milo almost scrambled over to sit in the empty chair next to me, and I saw his mother glance at him with a wry smile as she took a seat next to my mother. My mother began making fresh coffee, and before I could ask what was going to happen, Mom was asking Milo’s mother about the work she did. How could Mom act like she didn’t want to know what Milo and his mother had talked about?! There followed a long explanation about photography and travel, and all I wanted to ask was whether she had joint legal custody of Milo, and could she get him out of his current problems and away from his father? I might have even rudely interrupted, but as soon as he sat down, Milo had taken my hand in his and gently rubbed his thumb along the back of my hand, and when I glanced at him he smiled happily, so I thought it was good news, but I wasn’t sure, and I wanted to be sure. “…when Milo was eight I…” his mother was saying, and she glanced at Milo, and I wasn’t sure, but was that guilt I saw in her face? Suddenly I was very attentive to what they were talking about. “…things had not been happy between Thom and I for a while, and I had a job offer that would involve so much traveling, and I really thought Milo would be happier with his father. It would be more stable. I really thought his dad…” She was saying this to Milo now more than to us, and Milo was nervously glancing between her and me. “Milo hated that I left, I knew that, and then he was a teenager, and he went from angry to distant, and I understood that. But I really thought you were doing okay. And Juanita always let me know what was going on. I know things had gotten worse lately, but I thought that was just teenage rebellion. I didn’t realize Thom was being…” and she trailed off. “When did Juanita tell you I was gay?” Milo asked softly, letting go of my hand and rubbing his other hand across his forehead. “Oh,” she smiled to herself. “That had to be a couple of years ago.” “Two years?!” Milo exclaimed. “When she first suggested it. She wasn’t really sure. I think I’d asked her if you’d started dating, and she said you had a little, but she added something like, ‘I don’t think Milo really likes girls.’” I smirked at that and Milo elbowed me. “And that was sort of our code,” his mother continued. “And then the last time I talked to her she said “Milo has a new special friend, a boy,” and I knew what that meant,” and then his mother looked at me and I felt myself turning red. “You never told Dad?” Milo asked, curious. “Well…we don’t talk a lot, I’m sorry. That is probably a mistake. But no, I never would have told your father that. I wasn’t sure, and anyway, I wasn’t going to out you to anyone. I thought that you needed to be the one to tell one of us, and I knew Juanita would not say anything to him, she loves you like a son.” Milo nodded slowly, but I saw tears welling in his eyes again. “Dad hates me,” said Milo quietly. “He doesn’t hate you, sweetheart.” “He does,” Milo said stubbornly. His mother stared at him for a long moment, and then pursed her lips. “I’m sorry Milo. I really am,” she paused. “You know you have nothing to be ashamed of, don’t you?” Milo sat there, staring at his mother, but he seemed unsure of what to say, and he just blushed and chewed his bottom lip. “You don’t honey, you understand that? I love you just the same. Juanita loves you just the same. You can’t change who you’re attracted to, your dad is just…misguided.” Milo nodded slowly, and he wiped one eye with the back of his hand, and I could tell he was embarrassed. “Neither of you has anything to be embarrassed about,” said my mother. “Just so long as you keep the door closed,” said my dad, making a joke. “Dad!” I complained, but he got up and came around and hugged me quickly and kissed the top of my head, and he patted Milo’s shoulder. Now I was blushing terribly, and I wondered if Dad had done it to take the attention away from Milo. “Anyway,” said Milo’s mother, “we’ll have to do something about this,” and Milo grinned shyly. I reached out and grabbed Milo’s hand again under the table, and squeezed gently. “Do you have joint custody?” my father asked casually as he moved back to his chair. Finally! Someone getting to the point. Milo’s mother smiled. “To be honest, when you called last night, I wasn’t one hundred percent certain,” she began. Milo looked like he was going to say something, but she hurried on. “I was pretty sure, but I had to call my lawyer to check. He faxed me this,” she added, pulling out a set of pages. “It’s the divorce agreement, and we do have joint legal custody.” She paused. “When we separated, it wasn’t easy. I actually had a lawyer do all the negotiations, that’s why I wasn’t certain. But he’s a very good lawyer, and I was pretty confident he wouldn’t have…” and she trailed off. “So what does it mean?” I asked. “I think it means,” said his mother more brightly, “that when it comes to major things like school, we have to agree. And if we don’t, and we can’t agree, then as my lawyer put it, it can get complicated. It could require mediation, or court if we’re willing to, ah…his words, ‘go to the mattresses.’ I think what he meant was, it could take months, and Milo is going to be 18 in less than half a year. But I really don’t think Thom will want to drag this out.” “He might, just to torment me,” said Milo bitterly. “Milo,” his mother almost scolded, but Milo didn’t look inclined to take it back. After some more talk, Milo’s mother suggested that she was going to call his father and ask him around to ‘have a discussion,’ and then she turned to my mother to see if that was okay. “That’s fine, you’re welcome to do it here,” said my mother. “But then he’ll know where Milo is,” I pointed out. “Don’t worry,” said my mother. “I’m going to call Ray and let him know that Milo and his mother are here and that his mother has joint legal custody and he has her permission to stay here. So Ray won’t do anything just because Milo’s dad calls him and yells at him.” I smirked at Milo, and he rolled his eyes at me. “Though, it’s getting late in the day, Erica. Do you want to wait until tomorrow?” my mother suggested. “I know you’ve traveled a long way today. Maybe you want to rest first and…well, what’s your schedule?” Milo’s mother glanced at him, another guilty look. “I have to be in Germany Wednesday,” she said, “but I was hoping to stay until Tuesday if that’s alright.” “You’re both welcome,” my mother said. “So why don’t you take this evening to rest and catch up with Milo, and then you can talk to his father tomorrow.” “That’s probably a good idea. I’ll call him in the morning then, is that okay?” she asked, and my mother nodded. And with that decided, suddenly everyone was being ordered to do things. Or at least, Milo and I were. My mom and Milo’s mom sat at the table chatting, while Milo and I worked at the counter peeling and cutting up vegetables. My father had made a hasty escape to check on some business stuff. At least, that’s what he claimed. “So how did you two boys meet?” I heard Milo’s mother ask, and I wasn’t sure who the question was directed at. I glanced at Milo who was standing at the sink, staring at a potato like it might explode in his hands, and he turned and gave me a look that seemed to say ‘you can answer that.’ And then my mother chipped in, “I’ve only heard bits of this story.” “Uh,” I stumbled, very unsure of where to start. “He liked a painting of mine, and we had the same class,” Milo piped up, and I glanced at him. Were we going to skip over the altercation and the public service we had to perform? On the one hand, it didn’t cast me in a good light, but on the other, his father knew some of that story and was bound to mention it to his mother at some point. “And we kind of got into an altercation,” I added, and I saw Milo give me an annoyed look, and I shrugged at him and gave him my best ‘we have to be honest about this,’ look. Milo sucked in his lips as though thinking, and then nodded slowly. And then I heard a small laugh from behind us, and I turned, and our mothers were looking at us and smiling. “What?” I asked, puzzled about what they found so funny. “It’s nothing,” said my mother, clearly trying not to laugh, but I got the distinct impression they were laughing at us. “Go on,” his mother insisted. I glanced back at Milo, who just rolled his eyes again, and then I reluctantly continued. “And the rest of his paintings were damaged, and I really felt bad about that…” and I explained about how we had to perform community service together, but that Milo hated me. “I didn’t hate you,” Milo chipped in, and I snorted. Then I explained how Milo turned up in parenting class, and Milo felt he had to add that he didn’t even want to take a parenting class. “And he sat next to me,” I continued. “I’m Nelson,” said Milo in a sing-song voice. “And I like the way you paint.” “I do!” I said. Milo glanced at me, and said quietly “I know,” and then he smiled at me and I just wanted to hug and kiss him, but then I remembered that my mother, and his, were behind us. “Are they always like this?” I heard his mother ask my mother, and they both laughed again. “Mom!” Milo whined, and I felt myself blushing, and I could see that he was too, and I couldn’t hear what my mother was whispering to his. We all sat down to dinner together, and our parents did most of the talking, mainly about unimportant things, but Milo and I were happy not to be the center of attention for a while. After dinner, Milo and his mother went and talked some more in the guest bedroom, while I tried to keep myself busy. My parents suggested another movie, but I wasn’t interested, and we just sat in the family room while they watched a TV movie, and Mom kept telling me it was going to be okay. Then Milo came into the room. “Uh, Mom’s decided to have an early night,” he said to my mother. “Oh good,” said my mother, and then she got up. “I’ll just go see if she needs anything,” and she left the room, and Milo came over and sat next to me on the couch. A good couple of feet away from me. I glanced at him, and he was staring at the TV as if it was the most interesting program he’d ever seen. I slid over so that my leg, hip, and shoulders were touching his. Milo glanced at me, giving me a ‘stop it’ glare, and then he glanced at my dad, and back at me meaningfully. If Milo wanted me to stop, he was going to have to be more explicit, and I smiled at him and put my arm around his shoulder. Milo looked as though he was about to move away, but I squeezed his shoulder. “It’s okay,” I said, and then I nodded at my father. “He knows we’ve been sleeping together.” My dad looked over at us with a chagrined expression on his face. “I’ll tell you what I told Chad once,” he said. “Dad!” I complained. “I said,” he continued, ignoring my objection. “You can do anything in public you want, as long as you don’t mind seeing your mother and I doing it!” and he grinned at us. “Dad!” I complained again, but Milo snorted. He clearly thought my father was hilarious. I turned to Milo, and then, because he looked so cute, and innocent, I quickly leaned over and kissed him on the lips. Milo pulled back, looking startled. At least that had wiped the grin off his face. “What?” I said, “they are always doing that!” Milo frowned and then nodded, but I decided not to push my luck, and I just sat there with my arm around him, and Milo relaxed a little, but he still didn’t seem completely comfortable. My mother came back about ten minutes later, and I figured it would be more fun in my bedroom. I got up and said goodnight to my parents, and then I turned to face Milo, who looked like he was just going to sit there. His face turned a little red, and he glanced from me to my parents, and I really thought he wasn’t going to move. But then he hastily stood up. “Ah, I’m going to…” Milo began and then paused. My mother looked up from the magazine she’d been reading. “Good night Milo,” she said, smiling, and then she looked back at the magazine. My dad smiled and quietly said “Goodnight” and turned back to the TV and we rather awkwardly walked out of the room and down to my room. And no one said anything about where Milo should be sleeping. Not that either of us had asked. When we got downstairs, Milo unrolled my sleeping bag next to my bed, while I watched him curiously. “In case my mom asks,” he explained, grinning, before stripping down and climbing into bed next to me. My boyfriend was in his underwear and sleeping in my bed; things had definitely turned around from a couple of days ago. “Your mother seems nice,” I said carefully. We were lying in bed, trying to sleep, but we had been failing miserably. I was wide awake, and I could tell Milo was also not sleeping. “You mean compared to my father?” Milo asked, his voice soft. “No. I just meant she seems nice.” “You didn’t think she would be?” he asked defensively, rolling over to face me, and very clearly awake. I took a moment to think, and then I hugged him close to me. At first, he was rigid—maybe he thought I was trying to initiate sex—but then he relaxed, and I kissed him. “Are you trying to pick a fight?” I asked him softly. “No,” he said, though he wouldn’t look at me. “I just thought your mother seemed nice, in an I-only-just-met-her kind of way, but she seemed nice. And I didn’t mean anything about your dad or you.” There was a long pause, and then he said: “I know.” “What’s the matter?” “I dunno,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. Sometime’s I wish I’d just left on the boat.” “I’m glad you didn’t.” “I know.” “She wasn’t what I expected,” I said. “Why not?” he asked, puzzled. “I dunno…” and I tried to think what I’d thought, and what I should say. I thought she might have been more like Milo. His dad was so loud and obnoxious, and Milo was quiet and introverted, so I thought he might have gotten that from his mother. His mother wasn’t obnoxious like his dad, but she was no introvert. “I thought she’d have dark hair,” I finally said, deciding that was the safest answer, “and I thought she’d be like some nature photographer with a vest and stuff. She just seems kind of normal,” I said. Milo grinned. “I’m not sure if I should take offense,” he said. “Normal is good, right?” “Oh Yeah,” I agreed. “Normal is great,” and he grinned. “Did it go okay, talking to her?” I asked. “Yeah.” “What do you think will happen tomorrow?” “No idea. Mom talked about some different things though.” “Like?” “She has a sister I could stay with.” “Really?” I asked, shocked. “We talked about a lot of different things. We’re kind of waiting to see what Dad says before we pick between the other options.” “Where’s your aunt live?” “Let’s not talk about it, it probably won’t happen,” said Milo quickly, which to me sounded like it very well could. I wanted to object, but Milo was starting to look upset. “I love you,” I said, pulling him close. He grinned. “I know,” he said, and he kissed me. Breakfast the next morning was a little more relaxed. Milo seemed much more comfortable now with his mother than he had been the day before. He had told me they’d talked a lot the evening before about his father, and about being gay, and they had even talked more about our initial dating story, and sort of bonded over that. But his mother seemed to have more questions about how we’d met, and at breakfast, it was almost like we had to retell the whole thing again. When I reluctantly explained how Joe’s car had run over Milo’s paintings, and how Milo had hit me, Milo had interrupted and claimed that he didn’t really hit me and that I went down because I was drunk. I thought that was hilarious because when we’d first talked at the police station, he’d gone to great lengths to claim he had knocked me down. Then I’d explained how I tried to become friends with Milo, mainly because I really liked his work, and also because I thought he was cute, and how resistant he was to becoming friends. And then we went through my whole coming-out-to-him story, and how badly that had gone. “Why did you come out to Milo?” my mother asked. She knew the story, and I suspected she’d asked for his mother’s benefit. I glanced at Milo, and I saw that he was looking guilty. “I guess…” I began slowly, “I just had, like, a feeling he might be gay. Milo rolled his eyes. “He saw a painting I’d done of him.” I felt myself redden. “He kept trying to give me back the damn painting of the hangman…” Milo continued. “I felt bad.” “I told you to keep it,” he said softly. “I know, I still felt bad.” “So he’d come over to give it back to me, and I wasn’t there, and Juanita told him he could put it in my bedroom, and I had some other paintings, and he saw one I’d done of him…” “Yeah…I figured you can’t hate me if you wanted to paint me,” I interrupted, not really wanting him to mention that in the painting I was nude and with a massive erection. Milo raised one eyebrow, and I thought he was going to deny it, but then he grinned. “And he was naked in the painting,” Milo added, and as he said it, he visibly reddened, and I could feel myself blushing, and our mothers were laughing again. As embarrassing as it was to retell the story, it had actually been fun to hear Milo tell his side of the story. I’d definitely heard bits of it, but getting the whole story was…illuminating. He’d been attracted to me—not a surprise—but he really had been confused about why I was being friendly with him, and he hadn’t thought for a minute that I was actually gay. Milo thought I was being friendly because of his last name, or because I was trying to annoy Jame. I remembered him saying something about whether I was apologizing because of his name, but I couldn’t believe he thought I’d go to the trouble of trying to be his friend just to annoy Jame! At that point, Milo’s mother complained that he never showed her any of his work, so I went and got the picture of the hangman from my room, and the painting of the field, and took them in to show her. I also brought some of his sketches I’d collected, including the one he’d drawn of me in class, leaning back in my seat and yawning, looking like I’d just gotten out of bed. When my mother saw that one she almost shrieked with laughter, which I thought was entirely inappropriate, and Milo grumbled: “You showed them that one?” I honestly hadn’t given it a second thought when I’d picked it up. I liked it, though on second thoughts, maybe it wasn’t the best thing to show them. His mother looked at Milo searchingly, while I nervously tugged at the stud in my right ear. “It’s okay honey,” his mother said to him, “I know you love him.” Milo rolled his eyes in embarrassment. My mother smiled, “Well Nelson…” “Mom!” I interrupted. I didn’t want her blurting out things like that, and we were both already bright pink. Both our mothers were laughing, and then Milo’s mother was praising his work, and telling him how he had to keep doing it, and Milo was his usual depreciating self. “They’re lovely sweetheart. You really are so talented,” she said. “I told you, you were,” I whispered to him, and he elbowed me gently in the chest. After breakfast, Milo’s mom called his father. I didn’t hear the call, and she didn’t say anything about it, other than he’d be here at 1pm. From what Milo later told me, his father had been very surprised to hear from her, and he was floored when she told him where she wanted to meet. I was starting to dread the whole thing. This past week had been a roller coaster of emotions. One minute Milo was going away, then he wasn’t, and then he was, and when his mother came, I thought it was going to be all fixed. But after Milo talked about his aunt, I was starting to think there was a real possibility that he might end up going away anyway. One o’clock was still a long way away, which meant we had a lot of time to fill in. Milo and I ended up going out into the field and feeding the goat and taking a walk. We figured his father knew where Milo was now, so there was no need to hide out. I thought about calling Caleb or Haily, but decided against it. We were both so wound up, we probably wouldn’t be very good company. “Do you think you could go with your mother?” I asked him. Milo looked at me for a long moment and then shrugged. “We talked about that,” was all he said. “And?” “Well, kind of hard to finish school, but she said we could do some kind of home school-tutored thing. But it would mean moving to New York.” “New York?” “That’s where she lives when she’s not traveling, and she has a boyfriend, and she travels all the time and…it’s just…complicated.” When Milo’s father arrived, there was no polite preliminary chatting. His mother took his father into the kitchen, while the rest of us scattered. For the first few minutes, we could hear some bits of what was being said. Things like “He’s not gay!” and “You don’t know your own son!” floated through the air, and I grabbed Milo’s hand and dragged him down to my bedroom, and then I got out paper and pens and colored pencils, and we started drawing together. About an hour later there was a light knock on my door. The door didn’t open, so I guessed it wasn’t one of my parents. “Come in!” I yelled out. The door opened, and Milo’s mother was standing there. She smiled at us, looking a little nervous. “You want to come up and talk with your dad and me sweetheart?” Milo glanced at me for a long moment, and then he turned back to his mother. “It’s okay,” she assured him. Milo slowly nodded his head, and then he stood up awkwardly, and I wanted to go with him, but I knew it wasn’t my place. “I’ll be right back,” he said to me, and I nodded, and he followed his mother upstairs. “You awake?” I heard Milo whisper. “Yeah.” I was lying on my bed, trying to think of nothing—thinking of everything. I glanced at my watch. It was almost five. It was four hours since his father arrived. Three since Milo had said, “I’ll be right back.” I thought it had been a long time, I hadn’t realized how long. After Milo had disappeared upstairs I’d tried to keep busy—I’d even attempted some homework. I’d thought it wouldn’t take them long, but I had been mistaken. It had taken them forever. At least I’d finished most of my homework. And now he was back. Milo came in and gently climbed onto the bed and lay down next to me. “What happened?” I asked him. “Only good things,” he said. “Yeah?” “Yeah.” “What?” “Well, I went up and talked with Mom and Dad. That was a lot of fun.” “Yeah?” “It started off with Dad telling me I was ruining my life, and I’d change my mind in a couple of years and regret it.” “Really?” I asked, shocked, and he nodded. “What did your mother say?” Milo grinned. “She told him he was being stupid, and then it was like he just gave up. He basically agreed to what Mom said,” and Milo smiled at that. “And then he left. After Dad left, Mom and I talked some more, and then Mom talked to your parents, and then I talked to your parents…” “And no one talked to me,” I said, a little annoyed, though I was curious what they were talking to my parents about. Was it whether we could still see each other? Whether I could go visit him in New York? I was getting no say in what was happening to my boyfriend, and it wasn’t okay by me. “Sorry it took so long, but there was a lot of…stuff,” and Milo casually stretched and made himself comfortable. “Yeah. So…?” “Oh,” said Milo innocently, as though it hadn’t occurred to him I was dying to know what had been decided. I nudged him in the chest, and he grinned. “Well, I’m staying, and I can go back to Hellver,” he said finally. “You’re staying?” I confirmed, and I couldn’t help grinning. “Yep,” and he smirked at me. “You don’t want to stay at Stratford?” I asked. “Nah,” he said. “They don’t have a parenting class.” I nudged him softly, and he grinned at me. “And that’s the only reason?” I asked. “There are other reasons,” he said, smirking. “And what about your dad?” Milo shrugged. “He agreed to it. Eventually. And I can stay at his place, and he’s going to ‘try’ and be more understanding.” Milo said the last part of the sentence in a sarcastic tone, as though he didn’t really believe it. “Huh!” I exclaimed. I found it almost impossible to believe. I worried that as soon as his mother was gone, he’d be back to yelling at Milo and grounding him. And I wouldn’t be welcome there. “What if your dad won’t let me come to your house, or you come here?” Milo didn’t seem perturbed by the question. It was as though he hadn’t even considered it. “Well, Dad’s agreed we can keep seeing each other, and Mom’s going to talk to your uncle and let him know…” I wasn’t convinced that it was going to do much good, but Milo was still talking. “…and Mom said I can stay here whenever I want.” It took about a second for that to sink in. Milo could stay here any time he wanted?! “Here?” I said, patting the bed for emphasis. “Yep,” he grinned. “You can stay here, like overnight?” “Yep,” he nodded, the grin getting wider. “Your dad agreed to that?” I asked, still digesting it. I wondered what my parents would think about that. “Well…eventually, yep. And your mom said I was welcome to stay here anytime, as much as I want. I guess she’d spoken to my mom about it being an option yesterday. Oh, and your mom said that I could have the guest bedroom,” and Milo almost giggled. “Huh!” I laughed. “Yeah. Though when your mother was telling me that, my mother said, ‘you really think that’s where he’ll be?’ and then they both laughed,” and Milo pouted, but then he grinned. “Mother’s are cruel,” I said, pulling him to me and kissing him. “Yeah,” he agreed. “Though if one of us was a girl, they probably wouldn’t be so casual about it.” That shocked me. I hadn’t thought of that. If Milo were a girl my parents probably would have been a lot more difficult about us sleeping together. They had been a bit that way when Chad first started dating Leanna. Maybe there were advantages to being gay I hadn’t considered. Or to being the second child. But that was something to think about at another time. I didn’t want to think anymore right now. I knew Milo was going to be staying, and all I wanted to do was to kiss him again. Milo’s mother did stay until Tuesday, and Milo spent most of that time with her; though I did go to dinner with just the two of them on Monday night. It was a little nerve-wracking, but she seemed really nice, even though Milo was a bit distant. I couldn’t tell if it was because we were out in public, or because we were with his mother, Maybe it was a bit of both. I had complained that everything had been decided without me, but as it turned out, I ended up having a rather awkward discussion with my parents about the details relating to Milo staying with us. It happened after dinner, and Milo and his mother were also there. I saw it as a formality, but there was one thing Mom and Dad wanted to get across to both of us, and it wasn’t whether Milo would sleep in the guest bedroom. It was; what happens if Milo and I break up? At first, I was insulted. It was as if they weren’t taking our relationship seriously by suggesting that we might break up. But much to my reluctance, Mom and Dad insisted we talk about it, and then they patiently explained that if we broke up before Milo graduated high school he was still going to be welcome to stay with us, and they wanted to know if I would be able to deal with that? Milo then interrupted to say that it wasn’t going to happen, and if it did he’d…and then he’d trailed off. I don’t think he’d really thought through what he’d do. Like me, I think he still wasn’t certain that he would go back to living at his father's house. “I can live on my boat,” he finally said. “Darling,” said his mother, “I’m not giving you permission to do that.” “I’ll probably be 18,” he replied confidently. “I still don’t want you living on that boat,” his mother said. “You gave me the boat,” Milo reminded her. “Yes. I’m not taking it away or anything. It’s yours. I’m just saying, I don’t want you living there. You need to finish school.” “What if I finish school?” “College,” his mother clarified. “College?” “Once you finish college, if you must, you can live on the boat,” she paused. “Maybe.” “Maybe?” Milo repeated, annoyed. “Honey, I do worry about you. I know I might not have shown it the way I should, but I worry about you, just as Nelson’s mother worries about him.” “Well, you said I could still stay at Dad’s,” said Milo, offering another option. “Of course,” his mother agreed, though she seemed unsure. “Well,” said my mother, addressing Milo, “we just wanted you to know that as far as we’re concerned, you will still be welcome to stay here as long as you need to. Whether you and Nelson are dating or not. Even if it’s just to…you take a break from each other.” When it had come to how I felt about him staying if we broke up, my response was “Sure, no problem” because I knew we wouldn’t break up. Later I heard my mother and his mother laughing together, and I think I heard his mother say something like “they’re young,” and I suspected they felt we were naive. And then, almost too quickly, we were taking his mother to the airport, and Milo hugged and kissed her, and she hugged me and told me “to keep drawing.” The drive back from the airport felt a bit strange. Like we were going back to something I wasn’t really sure of. What would normal be like now? Oh god, we had to go back to school! At least, I figured, we’d got over the nonsense of my parents thinking that Milo and I would break up. But Mom was persistent, and a couple of days later there was another meeting with Milo and me. Mom and Dad talked about all kinds of things, including where Milo was going to be sleeping (officially the guest bedroom) and what rules he had to follow. At least he’d be under the same rules as I was, but he had to also let them know where he was sleeping if he wasn't going to be sleeping at our house. And they repeated that Milo was welcome to stay, no matter what happened between the two of us, and we grudgingly agreed. Milo complained—briefly—to me that he was going to be under more scrutiny than with his father, but he seemed to get over it. After a while, I think he was secretly happy that they took an active interest in what he was doing, and encouraging him in his painting and even just for doing well in class. Fortunately, the bedroom rule was lax, and could pretty much be summed up as ‘we better not catch the two of you in bed together.’ But they always gave us plenty of warning before coming down to my room. Epilogue Juanita opened the door and ushered me in, and I greeted her quickly before running up to Milo’s room. Since the ‘Battle of the Parents’ as Milo liked to refer to it, Milo had been dividing his time between my place and his fathers. Well, that wasn’t strictly true. For the first three weeks, Milo had stayed at our place exclusively, not wanting to see his father. His mother would call every few days, and my parents started treating him like a third son. Then one evening his father had turned up at the door and asked to speak to ‘Milo.’ My mother had checked that Milo wanted to talk to his father, and Milo had reluctantly agreed. They’d talked in the kitchen, while Mom was making dinner. She didn’t let me stay, but Milo told me all about it afterward. Milo’s dad actually sort of apologized and said he was still welcome to stay at his place, and that he missed him. So the next day, after school, we’d gone to his father’s house, and we’d had dinner, and it was a very awkward dinner, because his father didn’t say much at all to me, and he barely spoke to Milo. But after that Milo started spending some evenings at his fathers. He’d come home with me Friday night’s and stay until Monday morning, pretending he was sleeping in the guest bedroom, and he’d often stay over one or two nights during the week as well, though he claimed it was easier to do his homework if he went ‘home.’ I wasn’t sure if I should be upset about that, or not. Fewer distractions he claimed, though he’d also started referring to our place as home, so whenever Milo said he was going home, I had to double check which home he meant. And I wasn’t really annoyed, because now he had as many clothes in my bedroom as I did, and my room smelt faintly of sandalwood. Half the guest bedroom had been turned into his studio, and I got more homework done on the nights he wasn’t there too. I didn’t sleep over at Milo’s. Even Milo felt that would be pushing things too far, though we did often make out there. Milo says he doesn’t talk to his father a lot, but they aren’t fighting anymore, just being distant with each other. He does talk to his mother much more. She usually calls to ‘check up on him’ every couple of weeks, and his mother talks to my mom as well, much to Milo’s chagrin. The two of us are going to fly out to New York sometime in the summer and stay with his mom for a few days. I had encountered his father once or twice without Milo, and he hadn’t said a word to me, though he didn’t look at me like I was something he’d accidentally stepped in either, and I actually counted that as a step forward. On entering Milo’s room, I saw that he was lying face down on his bed, studying his laptop, which was open in front of him. His maroon t-shirt had ridden up past the belt line of his jeans, which perfectly covered his ass. Just a wisp of pale skin was visible, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to touch first. I wanted to reach out and rub my hands all over him. “Close the door if you’re staying,” Milo’s voice floated over to me, though he didn’t look away from what he was doing. “What are you doing?” I asked him, feeling a little guilty that I’d been staring at him like that. “Looking at colleges,” Milo replied casually. “What?” I asked, startled. “Colleges. You know. Places of higher education,” he turned on his side and regarded me skeptically. “You haven’t done anything about college yet, have you?” “Ah…not really.” “I thought not,” he sighed, and he sat up and handed me a sheet of paper as I sat down beside him. “What’s this?” “It’s the list of college’s we are thinking of applying to,” he said smugly. “Maybe you should show that to your parents.” “We?” “Yes,” and he turned back to the computer. I nudged his leg a couple of times until he looked back at me. “What?” he asked innocently. “Don’t I get a choice?” “Sure, you can pick any of these that you get into, as long as I get into it as well,” and Milo grinned at me. “Really?” “That’s the plan.” I glanced at the list. “And you picked these how?” “Well, I figured you’d want to study writing and cartooning…” “Cartooning?” “Yeah, you’re good.” “I was thinking of doing business, like my Dad,” I objected. Milo rolled his eyes. “I thought you might say that. You can take business classes as well at all of these if you want to be dull and boring.” “I’m boring, am I?” I teased him. Milo rolled his eyes again at me. “What about you?” I asked. “What are you going to be studying?” “Well, so that my Dad will be happy and pay for it, I’m going to take a dual major of business and art. Probably.” “Oh.” “With as little business as possible,” he added, and he made a face, and I laughed. “And these schools seemed good choices for all that,” he added. “So there’s two safeties, two neutral, and two reach schools.” “You’re applying to six schools?!” “We are,” Milo corrected. “We need to both get into at least one. And if you want to bother to spend some time actually looking at colleges, you’re welcome to add to the list.” “And apply to more than six!” “Maybe,” he shrugged. “Or we can replace one on the list.” “So this is how we’re picking a school?” I asked him, waving the paper in my hand, my voice sounding skeptical, even if I was really just surprised he’d already put so much thought into it. “Yep,” he said. “I’ll have to talk this over with Mom and Dad,” I said, because though they’d talked about me going to college, we hadn’t discussed it in any detail. Maybe because I wanted to keep putting it off. Now I had a reason to get serious about the process. “Sure,” said Milo, turning back to his computer, and he was so casual about it that I got suspicious. “Have you…you’ve talked to them about it already, haven’t you?” Milo turned and looked at me, and I could tell he was guilty about something. “Uhhh…no?” he said, the uncertainty evident in his voice. “That’s a yes then?” I asked. Milo looked thoughtful. “Just a bit,” he said slowly. “A bit?” “Mom asked me the other day if I’d thought about college and I said I was looking at them, and we talked a bit about it, and about you and…things…” and he trailed off. It took me a moment to realize that when he’d said ‘Mom,’ he’d actually meant my mom, and not his. It was something he’d done a couple of times, as a slip of the tongue really, but it still threw me. Not that I disliked it, or even pointed it out to him. “Well, I guess I’ll show them this,” I said, pointing at the piece of paper. In a way, it was a relief. “Sure,” he nodded. “Or were you planning on going somewhere without me?” I looked at him and pretended to think about the idea and then smiled. “Nah,” I said. “Anyway, you’d just follow me in your boat,” I kidded him. “Huh,” he snorted. As my father had suggested—a few times—we’d both taken an introductory sailing class, and though we weren’t quite yet confident enough to sail Milo’s boat ourselves, we’d motored his boat out a couple of times, and practiced putting up and taking down the sails. We were going to help crew a similar boat in a couple of weeks, and then maybe we’d take his boat out and try and sail it. My mother wasn’t very excited about the whole thing, but my father had come with us a couple of times when we were practicing with the sails, and he said he’d come out with us the first few times we took it out, just to keep an eye on us. Privately he told me it was entirely for my mother’s peace of mind; he claimed he’d forgotten so much he’d be of no help if we got into any trouble. Dad did pay for our sailing class though. “I wish your Mom had told them they couldn’t use the field for their marriage,” Milo said, a sudden change of topic. It was something Milo had brought up several times, first in annoyance and frustration, and now it was more wistfulness. The marriage between his father and Emily was back on, and now I don’t think Milo was against it. Well, he usually said the person he felt sorriest for was Emily. Emily Hill had come back about a month after Milo started staying over at his father's. I guess Mr. Trust figured out he’d also screwed it up with her, and had spent a lot of time getting her back. But Milo still didn’t like the idea of them getting married at my—our—house. “You should have said something to Mom,” I pointed out. “She knows,” he said, still sounding annoyed. He was right, my mother did know. I’d brought it up many times myself. “Yeah,” I agreed. “She didn’t do it to annoy you,” I said. “I know.” I gently ran my fingers through his hair. Tomorrow was Friday, and there was a 110% chance that Milo would be hanging out with me at my house and sleeping in my bed that night. Mom had already told me that the two of us were expected to be home for dinner tomorrow because Chad and Leanna were coming over. Caleb complained to me endlessly that his mother would never let his girlfriend sleep over. It didn’t stop him from trying, but I think Caleb was a bit in awe of the fact that somehow Milo and I had managed to get every teenagers dream; and my lame attempt to claim that they’d forced him to sleep in the guest bedroom until he turned 18 didn’t hold much water with Caleb. He knew better than to believe it. It was also hard to believe that Milo, who had been so shy and nervous when he’d first stopped by my house, had now settled into the family, and it really was like he was one of the kids. The four of us, and often Chad and Leanna, would have breakfast together in the kitchen, talking and joking, and while Milo was a little quieter than the rest of us, he happily joined in the conversation, made hilarious asides, and seemed to be entirely at ease. He had also become the parrot’s favorite person. And our relationship had only become stronger. Well, there was one huge screaming fight that we had a couple of weeks after we’d gone to his fathers. Milo had slept over at his father’s place a couple of times after that, and I think I was panicking that his father would turn him against me, and he was stressed by the whole thing. That day I’d asked him if he was staying over and he’d said he probably wouldn’t, and then I’d said something stupid, and he’d said something back, and the next thing we were screaming at each other and then he stormed out of my bedroom. It was just so stupid. A minute or so later, after I’d calmed down, I ran upstairs to go chase Milo to his house and apologize, but as I started to open the front door, I heard his voice in the kitchen. Luckily for me, Mom had intercepted Milo as he was leaving. He was sitting talking to Mom, and he still looked upset. I went into the kitchen and Mom looked at me like I’d done something foolish. I had!—but then, so had he! “I’m sorry I say stupid things sometimes,” I apologized. He waited for several seconds. “Yeah you do,” he said quietly, though there was no anger in it. Fortunately, despite occasional disagreements, that was our only big fight, and it hardly lasted more than five minutes. Milo was now her third son, and Mom would do almost anything for him, but she wasn’t going to tell Emily she couldn’t get married in our field. She wouldn’t do it for me, and she wasn’t going to do it for him, and I think Milo understood. And since he didn’t loath Emily anymore, he didn’t begrudge his dad getting married, so there really was no reason for Milo to be against it. But at the same time, it was something he couldn’t seem to completely let go of. Maybe it was just a habit. “Look on the bright side,” I said. “What?” “We can skip the reception and have sex in my bedroom. Just the thought of it might actually drive your dad crazy.” Milo snorted and grinned a little, but I knew he wasn’t going to let me get near him while his father was on our property. “Oh, Mom wants to know what you’d like to have for dinner tomorrow night. Roast chicken, steak or meatloaf?” Milo screwed up his face in thought. “Chicken,” he finally said, grinning, and then adding: “With roast vegetables and gravy?” I rolled my eyes. “I’ll pass the message along.” “Thanks,” he smirked. “She told me the two of us should pick it out,” I said, just to deflate his ego. He frowned. “But they’re my favorite too,” I added, “so she’ll make it for us,” I said, emphasizing the ‘us.’ “And here I thought I was special,” Milo said, and then he grinned at me. I reached out and gently pushed his shoulder, and he laughed. “Oh, hey,” I said. “You’ll like this.” “What?” he asked, serious again. “I was talking to Christina Randelle yesterday.” Milo rolled his eyes. He had mixed feelings about Christina, and I wasn’t sure if it was because she was the first person at school he’d outed himself to, or it was something else. Milo’s return to Hellver, and our being a couple, hadn’t exactly gone unnoticed at school. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as when I’d been outed; it was mostly just staring. And even that eventually stopped, since Milo never wanted to do anything affectionate in front of people—even holding hands—so they soon grew bored of us. “Yeah?” he finally said, as if asking a question, though he turned back to the computer, obviously losing interest in the topic of conversation. “And she wanted to know whether the reason the two of us had taken the parenting class was because we were planning on having a family.” Milo’s mouth fell open, and he turned towards me. “What’d you say?” he asked. “I said we were thinking of using a surrogate.” Milo sighed. He knew I was joking, though he may not have figured out I was also kidding about having actually said that to her. “It’s gonna be all around school,” he sighed. “Yep,” I agreed. “Told her we’d picked out names already, too.” Milo’s eyes closed slightly, and then, when he saw the slight curve of my mouth as I tried so hard not to burst into laughter, he closed the computer, and then he turned back and threw himself at me, pushing me flat onto the bed. “Hey!” I grumbled. “You are such a pain in the ass,” Milo challenged, grabbing and holding onto my wrists, and we struggled until his lips met mine, and then I relaxed and let him kiss me. “But you like me,” I smirked at him when he lifted his mouth away from mine. “What did you really say to her?” “I told her you couldn’t stand me when we started the class…” Milo began to relax. “But we really bonded over the baby,” and then I snickered as Milo nipped at my neck. THE END
  4. Thanks. I hope you like it. The next (and final) chapter should be posted by early next week.
  5. I've posted the first part of my fanfiction conclusion to With Trust, a story originally written and posted by DomLuka. I think With Trust is one of my favorite pieces of gay fiction; I've read it several times, and I was disappointed that it was never concluded. Not that I blame the author for not doing so - I have stories that I've not completed, I know what that's like. But I still wondered what happened to Nelson and Milo. The idea of running away to the boat at the end of the last chapter was tantalizing. But what kind of boat was it? A sail boat or a motor boat? For a long time I imagined that it was a sail boat, and they attempted to sail it away, maybe down to Florida; though in truth, I could never even work out where Heywell was; Google Maps hasn't heard of it. I began writing the story for my own amusement, and I started with the sail boat, and then things just fell into place as I wrote it. With Trust - A Conclusion is in two parts. The second part should be posted in about a week.
  6. In the comments in the original story you'll see many people asking. Someone who claimed to know Dom posted that he had decided to stop writing, but as far as I know there's been no official word from Dom.
  7. I’d just hung up from talking to Milo when my bedroom door opened and I spun around, half expecting it would be Mr Trust demanding to know where I’d hidden his son. But it wasn’t Mr Trust, and after my phone call, it was someone I wanted to talk to even less than Milo’s father. “Are you alright Nelson?” my mother asked. “Yeah, Mom. I’m okay,” I said, hastily pushing the phone into my pants pocket. I saw my mom’s eyes fall to my hand, then turn back to my face, and I worried about the next question. “He’s gone,” she said. “Who has?” I asked, completely startled. Did she mean Milo? “Milo’s father.” “Oh,” I nodded, even more surprised that Milo’s father would just leave like that. He didn’t seem the type to give up easily. “Yes,” confirmed my mother. There was a pause, and then she smiled tightly and continued. “He left when I started dialing Ray’s number.” My mother paused again, perhaps trying to think of the best way to say whatever it was she was going to say next. “He’s clearly upset…” “Because he’s not getting his way,” I interrupted. My mother didn’t look impressed by my outburst. “I think he does care about Milo,” she said slowly. “He seems worried.” I was going to argue. All Mr Trust cared about was image; he didn’t care one bit about his son. Milo had told me that, and everything I’d seen his father do only illustrated Milo’s statements. But I knew there was no point in getting into an argument with my mother. I decided just to shrug. It seemed that all we did was argue about Mr Trust and how he treated his son, and I was getting tired of it. And anyway, I had plans. Or so I thought. “Do you know where Milo is?” my mother asked. There it was. A direct question. And unlike when his father had asked me ten minutes earlier, now I did know where Milo was. I had to think carefully how I answered. “I haven’t seen Milo since he went on the trip with his father,” I said—which was true—“and I told Mr Trust I didn’t know where Milo is,”—also true. Now I just had to thread the needle. “I don’t…” I paused, trying to put as much angst as possible into the pause that followed those two words. “…want him to run away.” My mother stared at me for a long moment, her face a mixture of suspicion and curiosity, and then she brightened a little. “Alright, you better come up.” “Come up?” “Family meeting. We need to figure out what we do next.” “Uhh…” I said, not sure what to say. I already knew what I was going to do next, and it wasn’t a family meeting. But my mother was determined, and she practically herded me upstairs. The family meeting—which was just my parents and me—accomplished exactly what I thought it would; nothing. Well, maybe we all calmed down a bit after the excitement of Mr Trust’s visit, and his attempted abduction of me. My parents actually discussed whether they should call uncle Ray, and file a complaint. My mother was all for it, while my father thought it would just escalate the tensions, and not accomplish anything. I had no strong opinion. I didn’t think it would do any good, and anyway it didn’t really matter because I was going to go and meet Milo. If I could just get out of this meeting. Eventually my parents decided to leave things as they were, and then they told me I wasn’t to go near Milo’s house. That was okay with me because I knew Milo wasn’t there. The rest of the discussion seemed to involve a lot of my mother and father telling me that it was a ‘difficult situation,’ and telling me how Milo wasn’t making things easier by taking off like this. “Maybe he’s just gone to a movie or something, and couldn’t be bothered telling his dad,” I suggested. My mother raised one eye-brow. “The note he left suggested something more than that,” she said, and I realized that they knew about the note. Clearly Mr Trust had told them a few things. But I didn’t really care; I just needed to get out of there. An early night seemed like a good idea. I’d tell them I was tired and that I was going to bed early, and then I could slip out my window and go find Milo and his boat. The only problem with that plan was that before I could pitch it, my parents started talking about watching a movie together—meaning with me—and they didn’t seem to want to take ‘how about another time?’ for an answer. Hadn’t they just come back from a movie? But when I asked, my mother said that they hadn’t gone to a movie after all. They had ended up just having dinner, and if I was hungry there were some leftovers I could heat up. At this point I got the distinct impression that they suspected I was planning on sneaking out, and they were being entirely intentional in their actions. Maybe it was guilt on my part, but I couldn’t genuinely fake annoyance—or come up with a convincing excuse that got me out of it—so I ended up watching Iron Man, while eating reheated chicken parm. I consoled myself with the thought that it just meant I’d go find Milo later in the evening. Or so I thought. My concern that they were on to me was only confirmed when—just after I acted out a huge yawn and said I was going to bed—Mom asked me for my car keys. “What?!” I asked, shocked. They’d never taken my keys before. My mother stared at me, that one eyebrow slightly raised again. She seemed to be looking at me with that expression a lot lately. “You’re not going out looking for Milo,” she said patiently. “I’m not going to go looking for him!” I responded indignantly, turning to my father for support. Strictly speaking I wasn’t going out to ‘look’ for him; I was going to ‘meet’ him. Dad just appeared uncomfortable, and I could tell he wasn’t going to be on my side. “Then you won’t need your keys,” my mother responded evenly. I tried my most sullen look, but she wasn’t impressed. “You can give me the keys—both sets—or I can ask you again if you know where Milo is, and this time you can give me a direct answer.” I glowered. My mother looked at me with that frustrated/worried look she’d been giving me a lot lately, and then her face softened. “Is he safe where he is?” she asked, her tone much quieter. I was so shocked by the speed with which the conversation had changed that I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on. Was my mother actually angry with me, or supporting me? Did she want me to help Milo…or not? “Uh…” “Should we be concerned about his safety?” my father asked. He definitely seemed more worried than angry. “Uh…he’s okay,” I said, then I paused. “He’s safe…I think.” “You’re sure?” my mother questioned. “Um, yeah,” I nodded, hoping I wasn’t giving too much away. What if they asked me again where he was? What did I do then? “Tell him…” my mother said, “if he comes here, we’ll do everything we can to help…” “What can you do?…We just agreed there’s not much,” I said bitterly. “We won’t tell his father he’s here,” my mother tried. “You won’t?” I gasped. “Not voluntarily. If Ray turns up asking for him we’d have to turn him over, but I don’t think it’ll come to that.” I wasn’t so sure, but I just nodded again, and then—because I didn’t know what else to do—I reluctantly went and got my keys. My dad was waiting at the top of the stairs when I brought the second set up from my bedroom. I held them out, and he brought his arm up and I dropped the keys in to his out-stretched hand, and I was immediately turning to go back downstairs, but he grabbed my arm gently with his other hand. “Nelson,” he said softly. “What?” I asked, annoyed, as I stood stopped at the top of the stairs, not willing to turn back to face him. “If you’re worried about Milo, I’ll come with you and we can go get him…” “I don’t know where he is…” I lied, still not turning to face him, but my dad was pulling my arm gently and I slowly turned to face him. “Nelson, we don’t want anything to happen to Milo or you. We want you both to be safe.” “He’s safe,” I said, not exactly sure that he was. “Alright,” he said. “If you change your mind, let me know. He can stay with us while he works this out with his father.” “It won’t do any good,” I said, angry at his father, not mine. My dad nodded slowly. “Okay,” he said. “Promise me you’re not going to go out tonight looking for him?” I nodded slowly, still frustrated, and then my dad was pulling me into a hug, which almost surprised me more than this conversation. “Get some rest,” said my dad. “Maybe things will seem better in the morning.” “Okay,” I sighed, and he released me from the hug. “And think about what I said. We can go get him any time if you change your mind.” “Okay.” Dad kissed me on the cheek and then I walked slowly back down to my bedroom. Back in my room I called Milo’s number, and he answered on the first ring. “Hey,” I said. “Hey. Are you here?” he asked hopefully. “No, sorry.” “Oh,” he said slowly, and I could tell he was disappointed. “My folks took my car keys,” I explained. “Really?” “Yeah?” “Fuck.” “Are you…are you safe where you are?” I asked him. “Ah, yeah. Yeah.” “You’re sure?” I persisted. “Yeah. I can lock the hatch, and no one can get in. Not that there’s anyone here. Why?” “Just…want to make sure you’re safe,” I said. “Oh…okay,” Milo replied, and I could hear the smile in his voice. “Listen, my mom and dad said, if you come here, you can stay here and they won’t tell your dad.” I left out the part about having to turn him over if they had to. “That’s…that’s nice of them,” Milo said quietly. “But I can’t…I don’t want to get them involved.” “Okay.” There was a long pause, and I thought I could hear him breathing. “So they know…you know where I am?” he asked. “Yeah, kind of. They know I know, but I haven’t told them where you are, and they didn’t ask.” He sighed. “Okay. Well I’m going to be…” “I’m still coming down,” I interrupted him. “Yeah?” he said, the hopefulness clear in his voice, “Yeah, tomorrow when they give me my keys back. Or I’ll get Caleb to drive me. I’ll be down there. Just wait for me, okay?” “Yeah, I’ll wait. Well, at least for tomorrow.” “I’ll be there tomorrow,” I assured him. “You better,” he said, a soft laugh in his voice, but I could hear the worry too. “I’ll be there.” The next morning I was almost surprised to find my keys on the kitchen table. I’d already planned out what I’d do if my parents didn’t give me the keys back; I’d call Caleb and tell him I needed a ride to ‘school.’ But it seemed I wasn’t going to need to do that. I guess my parents were going to trust me to drive to school. For a moment, I thought about calling Caleb and asking him to come with me, but I didn’t know what was going to happen, and I didn’t want to get him into more trouble. Milo and I were making enough trouble as it was. At least it was Friday. The end of one of the most worrying weeks I’d ever had. My mom didn’t say anything about our conversation the night before, or about the keys. She asked me how my classes were going, and I had to spend a minute actually thinking about school work; something that I’d been virtually ignoring. And then, just like a regular school day, I kissed her goodbye and she told me to have a good day. Mom did ask me if I was coming home right after school, and I said ‘sure,’ and I couldn’t help thinking there was an ulterior motive to that question. Maybe I should have felt guilty about lying, but somehow I couldn’t. In truth, I was really confused about what my parents thought I should do. Did they really think I’d bring Milo home? And so I set out for school; via a two hour drive to the marina that Milo had given me directions to. Once I got out of town, most of the trip was highway driving. It was probably the longest trip I’d ever driven on my own, and though it was a pretty simple trip, I was still nervous. The highway part was easy; I just had to drive forever and not miss the exit, and then I needed to make one turn to get to the marina. It was the not-missing-the-exit part that worried me. I didn’t have a map, and if I missed the exit—or the turn—I wasn’t sure what I would do. The only person I could call was Milo, and I didn’t know that he would be much help if I got seriously lost. So I spent most of the time closely reading the road signs and worrying. Fortunately, the exit turned out to be easy to find, and a couple of miles later I saw the turn for the marina; just after the gas station that Milo had told me about in his instructions. It was lightly raining for the last couple of miles, and the soft squeak and thump of the wipers kept distracting me as I tried to keep my eyes peeled for the marina entrance. The marina itself turned out to be impossible to miss—with a large sign and lots of boats visible on trailers—and I was more than elated when I turned into the practically deserted parking lot and parked. I shut off the engine and just sat there for a minute, shaking off the trip. And then I grabbed my jacket and climbed out of the car, pulling the jacket on as I pushed the door closed. All I had to do now was find Milo, which should be easy. It was still winter and many of the boats were out of the water or well sealed up. But there were still dozens of boats tied up to a series of jetties, and even though Milo had given me the name of the boat—Sandpiper—I figured it could take me a while to find him. I pulled out the phone and pressed the recall key, and when he answered I told him I was there. A few seconds later I saw Milo about two hundred yards away, standing on a little boat waving to me. I felt so happy to see him, I almost ran to the boat. “Are you okay?” I asked, coming to a stop on the edge of the dock. Milo was standing on the back end of a small yacht, and as I watched, he carefully stepped onto the dock, and then I was grabbing him into a hug, and he was laughing and obviously as happy to see me as I was to see him. “Yeah, I’m okay now,” he said, and we kissed, and I just wanted to stand there holding him, but he pulled away, smiling. “It’s wet,” he grinned, and I noticed how damp his hair was, and I wondered if he’d been waiting in the rain for me. Before I could ask him, he waved me onto the little yacht. “Come on below,” he said, but I waited for him to go first, and then I followed him onto the back of the boat, and down inside the small cabin. Once we were inside Milo pushed the top hatch cover closed to keep some of the rain out. There was still an opening at the back of the cabin, and he snapped a canvas cover over that opening. It didn’t look very secure and I must have looked surprised. “There’s a wooden sort of door,” he explained, “but it’s more trouble to attach, so I only do it at night.” “Ah,” I nodded. I glanced around. The small yacht must have been about 25 feet long, but the cabin was small and sparsely decorated. There was a bench running along one side of the cabin for sitting or sleeping on. On the other side there was a small table with two small bench seats, and there was another benched area at the front of the boat. All of the benches had thick blue cushions on them, but they didn’t look exactly dreamy-soft. Better than the bare bench, but not much. On the long bench Milo had arranged a sleeping bag, while at the front of the boat there were two bags of what looked like clothes. A paper bag from a supermarket sat on one of the benches next to the table and I could just see the top of a bag of potato chips inside. With the hatch closed we were both hunched over, as there wasn’t much headroom. “It’s not much,” Milo said defensively, but it was actually more than I had expected. I was thinking of something no bigger than a row boat. “Wow, your mother bought you this?” I asked. “It was used,” he pointed out. “Still. Can you sail it?” I asked him. “Not really,” he admitted guiltily. “But it has a small outboard motor, so I can move it around places.” “And you’re planning to live here for the next five months?” I wondered aloud. It was small, and there seemed to be no bathroom, so I wondered what he was using for a bathroom. “Well,” he admitted. “I don’t think I can stay here,” and he waved for me to sit down on the bench with the sleeping bag. I sat down at the end closest to the hatch as he pushed the sleeping bag to the front end of the boat, and then he sat down beside me. It was much more comfortable sitting than crouching. “No?” I asked. “Not at this marina.” “Why not?” I asked, puzzled. “My dad will probably look here at some point. I’m gonna maybe sail around to…” “I thought you can’t sail,” I interrupted. Milo raised an eyebrow and half shrugged. “I’ll use the outboard and I’ll go down to the Keys.” “Milo…” “What?” he said, defensively. “This is…crazy.” “No it’s not,” he said stubbornly. “I’m not going back.” “And if you do this, I won’t get to see you.” Milo looked thoughtful. “You would, if you came with me,” he said shyly. I stared at him shocked. Even though he’d dropped hints before, up until now I’d been panicking that Milo was going to sail away and leave me, and now he was…what? Suggesting I run away to sea with him? I hadn’t brought clothes or anything. Milo obviously saw my hesitation. “I’m not expecting you to,” he added hastily. “Uhh…,” I said, still digesting it all. “I don’t want to loose you,” I said slowly. “I don’t want you to go away.” “I don’t want to loose you either,” he replied, and he reached out his hand and I took it in mine and squeezed it gently. “How do you keep warm?” I asked him. “The sleeping bag is warm enough, and if I go south it’ll be warmer…” “Milo,” I interrupted, still gently holding his hand so he’d know I was worried about him, not upset with him. “What?” “I just…” “Oh shit!” Milo interrupted, dropping my hand and turning around quickly. “What?” I asked, startled. “There’s someone out there!” “Fuck!” I gasped, now noticing the shadow of a figure through one of the small windows on the side of the cabin, and then I felt the boat move and heard the sound of feet on the hull, and we both froze when we heard a familiar voice. “Nelson?” Only it wasn’t the voice of his father, it was my dad calling me. I glanced at Milo, who looked as surprised as I felt, and then I got up and went and slid back the top hatch, while Milo remained sitting on the bench. “Dad?” “Nelson,” said my dad casually, smiling at me as though he’d just come to visit. “Is Milo here?” “Yeah, I’m here Mr. Larmont,” said Milo, getting up to stand beside me. My dad glanced around the boat. “Nice boat Milo. This a 20 footer?” “Twenty-two,” said Milo as he unsnapped the canvas cover and climbed out of the cabin to stand beside my father. I reluctantly followed. “It’s great. Your fathers?” he asked casually, though I couldn’t help thinking he was checking to see if boat theft had been added to our list of crimes. “It’s mine,” said Milo shortly. My father just nodded. “Nice,” he repeated. “How’d you find us?” I asked him. “Followed you,” said Dad, and he actually grinned at that. “You followed me!” “Nelson, we knew…well we strongly suspected that you knew where Milo was…and we were pretty sure that you’d…” and he trailed off, but then he looked at me and smiled. It was like he was proud that they’d managed to trick me. “So you followed me so you could, what? Take Milo back to his dad?!” I demanded. My dad looked at me as though I was being stupid. “No, we followed you because we were worried about you. Worried that you might do something reckless. And we didn’t want anything happening to Milo either.” And then something he said caught my attention. “We?” I asked curiously, glancing around. “Your mother’s in the car,” my dad said calmly. “Mom? Fuck!” I repeated weakly. “I thought it probably best that the both of us didn’t ambush you,” he said, and then he winked at Milo and Milo turned to look at me, and Milo seemed as puzzled as I was. I just shrugged, I had no idea what was going on either. I couldn’t understand why my dad seemed to be acting so casual about it all. I was expecting a lot more anger and annoyance. “I’m not going back to my father’s,” said Milo hotly, turning back to face my father, and crossing his arms defiantly. My dad just looked at him with an odd grin on his face. “No, you’re not,” he said, which seemed to deflate Milo just a little, before my dad added. “You’re coming back to our place, and then we are going to figure out a solution.” “My father won’t listen to you,” Milo insisted, frowning. “Maybe,” said Dad, still smiling at Milo, and then he clapped his hand on Milo’s shoulder briefly. “Don’t give up yet Milo!” Then he took his hand off Milo’s shoulder and reached out and patted me on the shoulder as well. “Now, come on you two, get your stuff. Do you want to ride with me or your mother?” and he gave my shoulder a gentle squeeze and then dropped his hand. “What?” I blurted out. “I’m going to drive your car back, and your mother is driving back ours. Who do you want to go with?” “We’ll drive mine,” I suggested, “and you can follow us.” “Good try,” said my father, smiling. “Come on. You come with me. I’m going to let your mother know we’re heading back. I assume I can trust you two not to do anything silly?” he said looking at us with a more serious expression. We exchanged glances and then both nodded slowly. “Okay,” said my father. “No hurry,” and he climbed off the boat and started walking back towards the parking lot. I turned to face Milo, who looked dejected. “Fuck,” was all he said. “I’m sorry Milo.” He shrugged. “It’s not your fault,” he finally said. “I feel like it’s all my fault,” I said. “If I hadn’t…” “Don’t be stupid!” Milo said, and he grabbed my hand and squeezed it briefly, and then he dropped it and glanced around. “It’ll take a few minutes to pack up my stuff and lock up the boat.” “I’ll help,” I offered. The first half hour of the drive back was awkwardly quiet. My dad didn’t say anything much, and we weren’t exactly in the mood to talk. When we’d got to the parking lot, I saw Mom in my parent’s car, parked a couple of empty spots from mine. My dad was casually leaning against my car. I waved at Mom guiltily, and I was relieved she didn’t get out of the car and come over and tell us how stupid we’d been. I figured that was going to happen later. Dad took the keys that I held out to him and got into the drivers seat, while Milo climbed into the back seat behind my father, and I got into the front passenger’s seat. As we drove, I kept glancing back at Milo, trying to get his attention, but Milo didn’t seem to want to make eye contact with me. He looked miserable—lost in his thoughts—and I didn’t know what to say to make him feel better. I knew he dreaded going back to his father, and—like me—he didn’t believe that my parents could do anything to stop it. I also didn’t know how much trouble I was in with my parents. It seemed like lately I was always screwing things up and not doing what they told me to, but that was the least of my worries. I was now sure that Milo was going to be sent away. We might as well drive him to the airport. “That’s a nice boat Milo,” said my father suddenly. “You sail much?” “No,” Milo admitted, and then after a long pause he continued, “I haven’t really taken it out.” “You haven’t?” Dad asked, surprised. “I only got it last year, and we did take it out once last summer, but my father hated it. I think because he had no clue what to do. We just untied from the dock and used the outboard to go out a little way and then went back. He almost fell in trying to tie it up.” My father laughed when Milo said that, and even Milo grinned a little, though when he’d said it, I don’t think he’d meant it to be funny. “Why’d your father buy the boat?” my dad asked, obviously curious. “He didn’t. My mother did.” “Oh,” said my father. There was a long pause, and then my father added. “Yachts are fun. I sailed a little in college.” “You did?” I asked, surprised. He’d never talked about sailing before, though I guess it wasn’t something that might have come up in everyday conversation. “Nothing big,” my dad explained. “It was a little dinghy really, with a single sail. Fun though, and a good way to learn the basics of sailing. You boys should take some sailing classes.” Milo let his breath out in a puff, which suggested he thought it was highly unlikely we would get the opportunity anytime soon to take sailing classes. Dad must have thought that Milo was worried about the cost, because he added. “It probably isn’t that expensive either.” Milo gave a small smile, but then turned and continued to stare out the window. I kept glancing at him, hoping he’d face me, but he just stared out of the window, and even though I could only see a bit of his profile, he looked miserable. “Where is your mother, Milo?” my dad asked, and when I glanced at Dad, even he appeared embarrassed by what he had asked. “I mean,” he added nervously, “I hadn’t heard your mother mentioned before…” “Oh, she travels a lot. I don’t see her much.” “Ah,” my father nodded. “But she bought you the boat?” “They buy me things because they feel guilty about not spending time with me,” Milo said, his voice bitter, though he was still starring out of the window. He clearly didn’t want to make conversation, but his basic politeness wouldn’t allow him to say so. I could tell that Milo was getting more upset by the questions, and I just wanted my dad to stop talking, but I didn’t know what to say to get him to do so. He was probably just trying to distract Milo, or make him feel comfortable. The only problem was, it was having the opposite effect. “Does your dad have sole custody of you?” my dad asked, a question that seemed to have nothing to do with the boat, and I was about to ask him to stop, but Milo looked around, obviously puzzled. “What?” he asked, glancing at me, and then back at my dad. “I just wondered what the custody arrangement was. Does your father have full legal custody, or is it joint?” Milo was still puzzled by the question, and I wondered if he even knew the difference. I only knew the difference because uncle Ray had talked about it once when there was some court case he had to provide evidence for, and Mom had once talked about how my Dad was now my legal Dad. I hadn’t really paid a lot of attention to it at the time. This happened years after he’d married my Mom and by that time Dad was Dad, and the legal stuff wasn’t of any interest to me. “Ahh…I don’t know,” Milo finally said. “What would it mean if he does, or doesn’t?” I asked. “Well,” said my dad, “if it’s joint legal custody, then Milo’s mom would have a say in things like what school he went to.” I glanced back at Milo, who actually looked curious. “Could you find out?” my dad asked him, still sounding casual. “Ah…I can’t ask my dad,” he said slowly. “You can’t call your mother?” I asked. “I guess…I’m not sure how to reach her. Most of the time she doesn’t get messages for weeks and we only have an emergency number for her,” said Milo, seeming to dismiss the idea. “Her son running away, that probably qualifies as an emergency, don’t you think?” said Dad. I glanced at my dad and he grinned at me. I wondered if he had always intended to ask about Milo’s mother, or whether it was just something that came to him. But now all I was thinking about was what custody arrangement they had, and whether Milo’s mom could stop his father from sending him away. And for the first time that day, I actually felt better. A little hopeful. Maybe there were other solutions. I turned back to Milo, who was looking thoughtful. “But I don’t have the number,” he said slowly. “Who would?” Dad prompted him. “My father. Ah…Juanita.” “Can you call Juanita?” I asked Milo. “Only by calling home, and she never answers so…” “Well, we’ll figure something out,” said my dad casually. “You boys hungry?” he asked—another sudden change of topic—as he pulled off the interstate and turned the car into a Burger King drive through. “Dad?” I asked, puzzled. I’d thought we were in huge trouble, but Dad was being casual and relaxed, and now it looked like he was treating us to lunch. “What?” replied my dad, acting like it was a perfectly natural thing to do, and I guess it was. “You have to eat,” he pointed out as he pulled up to the drive-through window. “What do you want Milo?” And then I realized that it was lunch time, and I was really hungry, and even Milo, who was his usual shy and reluctant self when my father asked him what he wanted, decided to get a shake. My dad ordered for the three of us, getting Milo a burger and fries as well as the shake, and even though Milo pouted when I handed them to him, he inhaled the food. The whole experience was starting to feel surreal, especially as I could see Mom following us through the drive-through in the other car. I think we both felt better after eating, and my dad didn’t ask Milo any more difficult questions after that. We managed to idly chat the rest of the way back. Milo even managed a couple of small grins at me while my dad talked about business, and the problems he had been having getting one of the ovens repaired. My father asked Milo how he’d gotten down to the boat—a question that hadn’t even occurred to me—and Milo revealed that he’d taken a bus part of the way, and hitchhiked the rest. Dad didn’t say anything at the time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Milo got a lecture about that later. Growing up, my mother was always warning Chad and I not to hitchhike, and she’d even had uncle Ray once give us a lecture on the dangers of hitchhiking. By the time we got home I think we’d both calmed down a lot. It was such an odd trip; I think because I kept expecting Dad to tell me that I shouldn’t have gone to see Milo, and to tell Milo that he shouldn’t have taken off like that, but he didn’t. He didn’t even mention it. Back at home things rapidly turned awkward again as we climbed out of the car. Mom pulled up behind my car, and then she got out and came up to us, her face serious. I couldn’t tell if she was worried or if she was just angry. I was expecting some kind of rebuke, but instead all she did was hug me tightly, and then—without a word to me—she turned to Milo. “Come on Milo, you can put your things in the guest room. Nelson, help him bring his stuff in,” and then she and Dad walked into the house together, leaving us standing in the driveway. Milo glanced at me nervously. “They’re just leaving us out here?” he asked sheepishly. I shrugged. “Dad took the keys,” I pointed out. Milo nodded. “You’re staying, right?” I asked him. “I didn’t think I had a choice,” he said. “You have a choice. We’re not making you stay,” I said, even though the ‘we’ was me, and I wasn’t sure my parents felt the same way. Probably they didn’t. Milo rolled his eyes at me—clearly he thought I was talking shit—and slung one of the bags over his shoulder. I reached out and took the other bag from his hand, while he carried his sleeping bag. “Come on,” I said. Entering the house we got the next surprise when we heard my mother’s voice, talking to someone on the phone. “Hello Emily, it’s Pamela…” I glanced at Milo, and it was clear he’d heard the name too, and he looked like he wanted to go hear what was being said, but I gently guided him towards the guest bedroom. After a moment’s hesitation, he reluctantly went where I steered him. “So this is the famous guest bedroom?” said Milo, as we dropped the bags on the floor. “Yep,” I agreed, putting my arms around him and hugging him to me. For a moment he just stood there stiffly, glancing at the open door behind us. I dropped my arms, turned and walked over and gently closed the door, and then I turned around and walked back to Milo; who hadn’t moved a muscle as he stood there watching me. I stepped up to him and gently put my arms around him again, and then it was like he melted into me as he put his own arms around me, and put his head on my shoulder, and sighed. We just stood there holding each other. “Come on,” I finally said, “we better go see what they’re planning.” “I spoke to Emily and she’s going to contact Juanita and let us know,” said my mother. The four of us were sitting in the kitchen, and my father had made us coffee. Milo—as he often seemed to do at my house—was holding his mug and swirling it slowly in his hands, but he seemed to show no interest in actually drinking from it. When my mother finished speaking he looked up from the coffee he’d been studying and sighed. “If my mother’s traveling it could take a while to reach her,” Milo said quietly. “What happens to Milo until then?” I asked my mother. “For the moment he stays here. Hopefully we’ll hear something soon.” I guess I should have been excited about Milo staying at my place, but I knew it wouldn’t last. I was already worried that Milo’s dad would turn up at the door and drag Milo away. “But what happens if we don’t?” I asked plaintively. “I don’t know Nelson. Calm down,” said my mother, and I felt Milo’s hand grabbing mine and squeezing it. But I was upset, and I didn’t like this idea of just sitting around. For all we knew his father could be on the way over right now. “At the moment his father doesn’t think he’s here,” my mother continued. “And no one is planning to tell him.” “What about Emily Hill?” asked Milo. “She won’t tell him Milo,” my mother tried to sooth him, but Milo looked unimpressed. He was never impressed by Emily Hill. “This means Milo has to stay here,” my father cautioned. “He won’t be able to go to school, and you can’t tell your friends he’s here. And if you guys go out…” he trailed off. “No school? Lucky me!” said Milo, softly smiling. “So we just hide him here for the next five months?” I asked. “It’s not going to be like that, hopefully just a few days” said my mother. “I think we all need to be patient and wait while things are sorted out.” I didn’t like the sound of that. But before I could open my mouth to complain some more, my mother added “Why don’t you two go and get some rest? You must be tired.” “I’m not tired,” I said, sounding very much like a cranky five-year old. My mother raised an eyebrow, looking unimpressed. “So you two don’t want to go and make out?” she said flatly. I think Milo’s eyes grew three sizes when my mother said that, and my Dad almost choked on his coffee. “Are we encouraging them?” asked my dad curiously. “Just as long as you keep your pants on,” said my mom to me. Milo had now gone a hot pink color, and I was worried what the next thing out of my mother’s mouth would be. I decided that retreat was the best idea. Also, I’d just been given permission to take my boyfriend to my room and do things with him. I grabbed Milo’s hand and pulled him gently after me down to my bedroom. “So you want to make out huh?” asked Milo, almost giggling, as we entered the room and I pushed the door closed. “With you? Always,” I whispered. “Your mother said we had to keep our pants on,” he pointed out. I leaned over and whispered in his ear “She didn’t say anything about them being up.” “What do you think your mother will say?” I asked Milo. We were lying in bed, holding each other. The sweat on Milo’s forehead had dried, and I could feel the soft hairs of his skin as I ran my hand slowly along his bare arm, and up and over his bare shoulder. I slowly trailed my hand down his chest, as his emerald eyes stared at me intently; doing their best not to glance down and see where my hand was going. “I don’t know,” he finally said. “She doesn’t know I’m gay.” “No?” I asked, gently squeeing his soft penis. “Nope,” he said, giggling a little and pulling back. I reached around and gently slapped his ass before pulling him slowly towards me, his genitals rubbing against mine. “Are you going to tell her?” I sighed. Milo looked unsure, and then I saw small tears forming in his eyes, and thoughts of more sex dissolved from my brain. I just wanted to hold him and make him feel better. “It’s okay,” I said gently, running my hand up to his back. “I don’t know what she’ll think,” he whispered shakily. “She may want to send me away too if she finds out…” “Really?” “I don’t know! I don’t really know her!” “She won’t,” I lied. I had no idea, but I didn’t want him to lose hope. “You know,” I said slowly, “I could call Caleb.” “Call Caleb? Why?” he asked puzzled. “He could come pick you up. Take you back to the boat if you want to try…” I trailed off. I didn’t want him to go, but it was up to him. Milo looked thoughtful, and then he shook his head. “I’m gonna wait and see what my mother says.” “You’re sure?” “Yeah. Your parents are being really nice to me and, well, I don’t want them to get mad at me.” “They won’t get mad at you,” I assured him. He shrugged. “You said it yourself. In five months I can come visit you, so I want to keep on their good side.” I was still not convinced. “And anyway, I’m tired of running,” he said, like some life-time criminal, and then Milo grinned and I realized he was joking. Milo glanced around my room, an odd expression on his face, and then he tuned back to me. “Why do you think your parents are letting us do this?” he asked. “Do what?” I asked, not sure what he meant. They hadn’t let him run away, what did he mean? “Make out in your bedroom,” he clarified. “Oh,” I said, not sure. “I think they probably think we’re….” and I trailed off. I’d been about to say ‘making out,’ but then it occurred to me that they probably assumed we were doing more than that. “Uh…” I began, and then I shrugged. I didn’t know why my parents had sort of turned a blind eye to the possibility that I was having sex with my boyfriend in my bedroom. I was pretty sure they wouldn’t have let Chad do this with a girlfriend. Not until he was in college. “I think they know whatever happens, we’re probably not going to see each other for a while,” said Milo quietly. I felt my stomach drop when he said that. “No,” I said. “No, I don’t think that’s going to…” Milo turned and now he was very close to me. “What’s the best that can happen?” he began. “I go live with my mother?” “No…you could…” and then I paused. What was the best—or even an acceptable—solution? It seemed impossible to imagine Milo going back to his father now; if nothing else because it was clear his dad would never allow us to see each other. “Maybe your parents will let us visit each other?” he offered hopefully. I smiled at him, trying to be as positive as possible. “I’m sure they’ll be okay with that,” I said, and I kissed him on the lips, and then I reached down and pulled my white comforter up to cover us both, tucking it around Milo. Milo watched my arm moving and then snuggled close to me. “Cozy?” I asked him, and he smiled and nodded. “You know,” I said, “I could get used to this.” “Yeah?” he grinned. “Yeah. Maybe I’ll hide you under my bed.” “For five months?” he asked skeptically. “It’s just a thought,” I grinned. “I’d like that too…” he said hugging me, and he leaned forward and gently kissed my lips. Then he pulled back slightly and looked into my eyes. “I’m not sorry,” he said. “Sorry about what?” “About coming out. Even about my dad going mental. I’m just glad I got to…” and he pursed his lips. I leaned forward and kissed him. Milo looked at me, a curious expression on his face, and then he seemed to relax, as though he’d made some decision. “I love you,” he said softly. Eventually, Milo and I fell asleep, holding each other. It was around six when Milo gently shook me awake. “Huh?” I grumbled. “Your Dad says that dinner will be ready in ten minutes,” he whispered softly. “Okay,” I said, staring at him groggily. “Did he come down here?” “Yep,” said Milo, and then I realized I should have known the answer to that question. Milo’s neck and face were noticeably redder than his bare chest. He was blushing. We were both under the covers, but it would have been obvious that we didn’t have shirts on, and maybe little else. Somehow we hadn’t even managed to follow the ‘keep your pants on part of your body’ rule, though I was pretty sure my foot was touching some article of clothing scrunched at the bottom of the bed. “He say anything else?” I asked. “Not really,” said Milo. “Not really?” “He sort of raised an eyebrow,” explained Milo, and then he grinned bashfully and I snorted. “We should get up there promptly,” I said. “Hopefully nothing will be said.” And when we went up to dinner, nothing was said. And it was so clearly not said, that it was obvious my father had told my mother that he’d found us naked in bed, sleeping together, and they’d decided not to say anything. For the moment. That was probably going to come back and bite me in the ass later. Dinner was meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy and peas, which is usually one of my favorites, but my appetite wasn’t great. I blame the two burgers I had for lunch. Milo wasn’t hungry either. He pushed the meatloaf around—much like he did the meal we’d had at Thanksgiving—until my mother told him that unless he ate some of it he wouldn’t get any dessert. Milo actually looked chastened by this, though my mother smiled and reached out and briefly patted his hand to let him know she wasn’t really angry with him. Milo turned to me, and I raised my eyebrows to comfort him, and let him know that she was just kidding him, but he did actually start eating a little. “Did Emily say when she’d call?” I asked, maybe for the third time. My mother looked up from her own plate and sighed. “She said she’d get in touch with Juanita one way or another and get the number,” Mom said, as though explaining it to one of her students. “She know’s we don’t want his father to know. Be patient Nelson.” “And what if she doesn’t?” “Then we’ll figure out something else,” said my father. Milo sighed, and I looked at him and he dropped his eyes, and I realized that he probably wanted me to stop going on about it as much as my parents did. We all went back to our own thoughts. And then the phone rang, and it sounded so loud. It sounded louder than I’d ever heard it before. Maybe it was because we’d been so quiet through the meal. We all froze for a moment. There was a brief silence and then the bell rang a second time, and if anything, it sounded louder. Finally my mother got up and answered it, while we all watched her; wondering who it might be. “Hello?” my mother said. There was a long pause as she listened to whoever it was. My mother listened closely, and then said “Oh yes, just a moment,” her expression remaining neutral, and then she took the phone handset and walked out of the room. I glanced at my dad. “Probably one her student’s parents,” he suggested. I wanted to go and remind Mom to not make it long, as we were expecting a phone call, but I didn’t want her to accuse me of over-reacting. But she seemed to be gone forever, though maybe it was only ten minutes before my mother came back in, holding one hand over the mouth piece of the cordless phone. “Milo?” she called out gently. Milo looked up, surprised. “It’s your mother,” said my mom, holding out the phone towards him. Milo looked shocked. He just sat there for a moment, and then he gathered himself together and slowly stood. “You can take it to the bedroom if you like,” suggested my mother. Milo nodded, but he was still just standing at the table, and then he turned to me. “Will you come with me?” he whispered. “Sure,” I said, getting up quickly and following him to the guest bedroom. Milo was standing in the middle of the bedroom, the phone in one hand, held to his ear, while with his other hand he held on tightly to my hand. I was a step away from him, trying to give him some measure of privacy, even though I could hear every word he said. I just couldn’t hear what was being said to him. “Hi, hi, Mom?” he’d said faintly when he’d first put the phone to his ear. There had been a really long pause, and then he whispered “I’m okay…” and then there was another long pause. “I dunno….not so good.” Another long pause. “Yeah, I just…it’s been really bad…” and there was another long pause. “Mom…what custody…do you have joint custody of me?” another long pause. “I just…Dad hates me…he does…I’m always fighting with him, and he wants to send me away to this school, and there’s no reason. I’m doing fine in school.” There was another long pause. Milo was hunched over and I could see tears rolling down his face. I squeezed his hand, and I knew he felt it, as he held my hand tighter, but he didn’t otherwise acknowledge me. “No, I just…its not fair,” he continued. “I don’t want to go and he’s just…” I could feel Milo shaking and the tears were flowing freely down his face, and he was almost gulping air. “I’m okay…” he said. “I’m okay,” though he sounded nothing like it. At least not to me. I had no idea what this woman on the other end of the phone was saying or thinking. Couldn’t she understand he was upset? “I just…Mom….I’m….Mom I’m….I’m…” and then he finally whispered “gay.” And I thought he was going to completely break down. “He hates me because I’m gay,” he whispered, the words coming out in a rush. I couldn’t take it any more, and I put my other arm around his shoulder and pulled him to me, and he sort of curled down under my chin as he leaned against my chest, still clutching the phone to his ear and softly crying. I ran my free hand up and down his back, trying to comfort him. “Yeah?” I heard him mumble, squeezing my hand quickly, and he suddenly straightened up. He was still in my embrace, but I could see his face, and though it was red and tear streaked, now he looked almost startled. “Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked—almost demanded—though he seemed much happier. There was another long pause as he stood there, listening intently, and nodding his head every now and again. “Okay…yeah…I know, I know…yeah. Um, okay. Yeah…Bye.” And he hung up, and I stood there, looking at him, feeling horribly confused, but Milo was hugging me now and it was clear he was happy. To be continued...
  8. I have long enjoyed the writings of DomLuka. His two stories, Desert Droppings and With Trust are two of my favorite gay, coming of age stories. Unfortunately, Dom never posted an ending to With Trust, which disappointed me tremendously, because I always wanted to know if Nelson got his painter. So here’s my fanfiction ending to With Trust; it won’t make any sense unless you have read the original story, so go read that first. If anyone else wants to write an alternative ending, I’d love to read that too!
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