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    C James
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

In Memory of Ed Wooton

For the Love - 9. Full Circle

I woke up late that Sunday afternoon, to find Steve sound asleep in my arms. He was gorgeous, even while he slept. He stirred, rolled into me, draping his arm around me, and went back to sleep. I knew in that moment that this was the way I wanted to wake up for the rest of my life.

I lay there, just watching Steve sleep, and feeling more complete than ever before. The night had been long and wild, and we had finally fallen asleep, exhausted, as the sun came up. I never knew it was possible to do it six times in one night, but we had, and I'd drifted off to sleep feeling truly drained, in every sense of the word.

Eventually, Steve stirred a little again as he began to wake up. Opening his eyes, he looked at me as I stared into his deep blue eyes. Life was just about perfect, as far as I was concerned. At least, until there came a knock on the door.

I watched as Steve rolled away from me, and struggle to stand, still half asleep. He wrapped a towel around himself, and went to answer the door.

Mr. Williams strode in, looking agitated, as I made sure the sheet covered me below the waist. I don't think he would have noticed anyway, because he was waving his arms around, clutching a piece of paper, as he was ranting, "I found these stuck under the windshield wiper of every car in the police department parking lot when I left after my shift. They were on cars all up and down Main Street. NOW we know what the hell was up with those Piedmont Cops!"

He handed both Steve and I a copy, and my eyes widened as I read,

Our town is being subverted, and our children are in danger. Our Reverend has discovered that Sodomites are not only in our town, but have been aided and abetted in their blasphemous ways by one of Lonesome Valley's own law enforcement professionals.

Leviticus 20:13 states: "If a man lies with a mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they should surely be put to death."

The Living Bible says it plainer still: LB: (Living Bible)Leviticus 20:13 : "The penalty for homosexual acts is death to both parties. They have brought it upon themselves."

The Bible is clear, and the very souls of our community are at stake! Come join us, and for the sake of our children take back our town from the evil that now dwells amongst us!

The Lonesome Valley Southern Baptist Church, Sunday night, 6pm, emergency action meeting. Rev. Thaddeus J. Emoe, pastor.

The face staring out at me from the flyer looked familiar, but before I could place it, Steve hollered, "What the hell is this?"

Mr. Williams became even more agitated, "That pastor is the brother-in-law of the Piedmont County Sheriff."

Finally, I remembered that face on the flyer, and gasped out, "That's him, that's one of the guys who was sitting behind us in the Diner in Piedmont yesterday, right before we caught Eric!"

"Could he have overheard anything?" Mr. Williams asked.

I nodded, "Yeah, maybe. We were talking to Veronica, and he could have overheard us talking. Shit!"

"He could just as easily have heard it from the Piedmont Sheriff's department, because I told them the whole story, outing the two of you. I fucking forgot that their Sheriff was the brother-in-law of this creep." Steve's dad fumed.

Steve paced back and forth for a few moments, "What the hell is going on here? Why are they doing this?"

Mr. Williams shook his head, "I wish I knew. We need to find out, though. Let me make a few phone calls, then we can put our heads together over dinner."

After his father left, Steve glared at the flyer in his hands for a while, until he calmed down enough to say, "This is an open invitation to a public meeting, right? So, why don't we see who we can find to go?"

Steve used my phone to call Veronica, and asked her to call around and see if she could get some of her friends to attend the meeting, and report back. Steve also called Rob and Joe and filled them in on what was going on.

As soon as Steve had hung up the phone, we were startled by another knock on the door. Steve opened it, and Dex strode in, his normally expressionless face looking almost excited. He planted himself at our table, and gushed, "I had a look at that flash drive again today. I was right; there is some data in the unused clusters."

"What does that mean?" Steve and I asked at the same time.

Dex looked blank for a few seconds, then in his normal, expressionless voice continued, "Let me try and explain. Data is stored in clusters, and the actual file currently on the drive is taking up about a fourth of its capacity. But, when a file is deleted, the data is still there, and all that really happens is that the space is marked available by deleting the first character of the filename in the file allocation table. What happened here is that there was data on the drive, then it was deleted, and then the new file was placed on it, but most of the old data remains."

Steve and I shared a puzzled look, and Steve asked, "Ok, but why is that important?"

Dex smiled, "Because it looks to me like whoever used it the last time used it for the same thing, but when they decoded the data, the computer they were on used the flash drive as its work space. The deleted file, much of which I think I can recover, is the unencoded text from the last use. That should tell us a lot about whatever this is."

I nodded along, rapidly becoming lost in the techno babble, and Dex must have noticed our confused looks, "Ok, guys, let me try this again: The file currently on the drive is encrypted. I viewed the code, and did a hash check, and it looks like a public-private key code, but way beyond 128 bit, which is the current standard in encryption. It was created by a program that I've never seen before, and that makes it a custom program, a very sophisticated one at that. There is no way this could be decoded without the key. Even regular 128 bit encoding would take hundreds of hours on a supercomputer, plus some skilled work, to crack." Dex paused, and then smiled, "but, one Achilles heel of any code is if any part of the plain text, the text before it's encoded, is available. Then, you can more easily figure out the rest of it. So, that is why I checked for old data, just in case there was something I could use. If there is part of the plain text on there, I can probably crack this thing. Maybe. But without it, I probably never could. What I am trying to tell you guys is that I can probably crack this thing, but it will be a while. I have to wait until I'm in California to use their gear to recover all the old clusters that weren't over-written, and then it will probably take me a while to figure it out, but I think I can do this."

Something wasn't making sense, so I asked, "How come you can tell what is on the unused parts, but you have to wait until you get to California to get it?"

Dex sighed, as if talking to a kid, "I can read the clusters just fine. What I can't do is re-create the file allocation table, because it has changed. I need the gear in California to figure out the right sequence. Otherwise, what we have is thousands of little bits, and no way to figure out what order they should be in. What the file allocation table does is keep track of where everything is on the drive and in what order the pieces are to be reassembled."

Steve beat me to the obvious question, "How did Eric do this? He's good with computers, but not that good."

Dex shook his head, "No way in hell is this Eric's work. This thing is excessively sophisticated. Whoever wrote the encryption program is a pro, but whoever used it screwed up and didn't follow procedure, and left the scrap data behind. That happens more often than you would think, and that's why I always look at the deleted files first when I'm hired to investigate something. You would be amazed how many people think stuff is gone when they hit the delete key."

"Any idea what the hell it is, and what Eric would be doing with it?" I asked.

Dex shrugged, "No clue. But I hate mysteries, and this is a big one. I'll do whatever I can on this, count on it."

Without another word, Dex departed, back again to his normal brusque style.

It was by then close to dinnertime. Sunday Dinner was a tradition at the Williams household, a tradition in which I had been pleased to be included, since shortly after I moved in.

Steve and I showered, with me again cursing the fact that my shower was too small for the both of us. Steve borrowed a clean pair of shorts from me, and he even put on a shirt.

We finished getting dressed, and went to join Steve's parents for dinner. As we walked in the door, the smell of cornbread hit me full force, making my mouth water. The sizzle and smell of fried chicken just added to my appetite, and I eagerly took my usual seat as Mrs.' Williams finished up in the kitchen.

During dinner, we filled Steve's parents in on the remaining details of what had happened with the Piedmont cops, and their bizarre behavior.

Looking as angry as I had ever seen him, Mr. Williams said, "That flyer, in my opinion, constitutes a death threat. The problem as I see it is that they are, so far, just quoting the bible. But, they quoted two translations, something fundies normally would never do, to make their point. I don't know if much can be done, but I'm going to see the District Attorney tomorrow, and see if we can put some pressure on these hate mongers and make them back off. I'm not sure how the Piedmont Sheriff's Department, some of it at least, is tied up in all this yet, but the Piedmont Sheriff is that Reverend's brother in law. So, I want the two of you to stay the hell out of Piedmont, no matter what. Don't go near it, under any circumstances, got that?"

We both nodded, and we all ate in silence for a while, as there really wasn't much more that could be said.

After the silence grew too long, Mr. Williams informed us that although Eric had withdrawn four hundred dollars from the ATM, he had it on him when he was arrested, and Mr. Williams had first frozen the account, and then closed it. He then handed me an envelope. I peered inside to see ten one-hundred dollar bills, which was a great relief to me. I'd worked hard for my money, and had thought I'd never see it again.

I counted out five hundred, and placed it in front of Steve. Steve shoved it back, but I stopped him, "Steve, he got us both. That's yours. I can wait until the money is recovered for the rest."

Steve started to argue, and Mr. Williams cut us off, "Guys, it's already taken care of. That cash is just your rent refund, and don't try to argue with me on this, Chris, you won't win! That's your refund and I ain't budging on the issue. I made a deposit of five thousand to your account today, and you will find the receipt in the envelope. Steve, I put two thousand in yours, so that should take care of the blackmail. Let me know what the damage is to your car, Chris, and I'll take care of it."

I was deeply grateful to Mr. Williams. I knew he had taken a lot of the money from his own pocket to cover the difference between what Eric had taken and the account balance, over two thousand dollars. My heart also went out to him, as I knew he must have felt a lot of pain and embarrassment from Eric's behavior.

A jolt of pain from my shin made me yelp and shove my chair back, glancing down, to find a furry face staring up at me. It was Beelzebub, who had his own Sunday tradition: using my legs as a scratching post. Bad in jeans, worse in shorts. I was in a forgiving mood, so I fed Beelzebub a piece of chicken while the Williams family laughed.

We all avoided the subject of Eric for the rest of the dinner. We did however discuss the ‘emergency action meeting' that was going on that night. Steve told his parents that some friends of Veronica's would be attending, and fill us in on what they found out.

After dinner, Steve and I went to his room, and shared a quick kiss before sitting down. I began to laugh, "Steve, do you realize that it has been only 48 hours since I came in here, a total wreck, and came out to you? Damn, in 48 hours we have uncovered a blackmailer, been on a car chase, been interviewed by the police, and now we are the new pet project of a bunch of fundamentalist whack jobs. But on the plus side, we finally got together, and last night was something so incredible that I can't even put it into words."

Steve laughed, "Yeah, it sure has been some weekend, hasn't it? What are we going to do tomorrow at our schools when people ask ‘how was your weekend?'" A serious look crossed his face, "Chris, with this church crap, we are going to be totally outed. I was pretty much out until you got here and Eric started spinning his lies, so I'll be fine. How about you? Will you be OK?"

I nodded, "Yeah, the only person I was really worried about being outed to was you, and my college seems pretty accepting. I just hope that damn Reverend doesn't stir up too much trouble for us. Hey, I noticed that you didn't tell your Dad about that data stick?"

"I thought about it, but it would put him in a bad position. It's evidence tampering," Steve shrugged. "Technically, we broke the law, and he would be required to turn the data stick over to the Piedmont cops. I don't think he would, but why put him in a bad position? If anyone can crack that thing, it's Dex." Steve replied.

"Yeah, agreed there. But, what the hell could be on it? Dex said it is very complex and couldn't be Eric's work. What was he doing with it? I was wondering what he was up to, taking off like that. He must have had it hidden in his room. We also don't know where he was planning on going after he left the bank. All we know is that he didn't want that data stick on him, but he didn't seem to care about those credit cards the cops found. Something just doesn't add up here."

A rustling of paper sounded as Steve dug in his desk drawer, before returning with a notebook and pencil, "We need to make notes. You are right, we are missing something. I don't want to ask Dad because we would need to tell him about the data stick, but we might have to eventually. I just hope Dex can crack the thing and find out what is on it." Steve was about to say more, when his phone rang. I thought it might be Dex, but it was soon clear that it wasn't. I couldn't hear the other person, but it was a girl's voice, and Steve looked decidedly unhappy.

After he hung up, Steve told me, "That was one of Veronica's friends, the one she asked to go to that damn church meeting. She said that Reverend Thaddeus gave a fire and brimstone sermon, denouncing the abomination of homosexuality. He listed us both by name, and then warned the audience that we had the support of my Dad, who is a cop, and that we were a risk to the town and everyone in it. Oh, and get this: we are putting my innocent kid brother at risk, and he's in fear of his life. She said that a lot of the audience ate it up, and that she wouldn't want to be us right now. She said that the Reverend is going to make this a weekly event, and has pledged the full power of his ministry to purging this town of the abominations, meaning us. He's making this the centerpiece of his Restore our morals campaign, which he also announced tonight."

Steve, looking crushed, left his room to fill his folks in on the news. When he returned, he looked a little better, "Mom and Dad said that this should blow over eventually, but that we should get to our schools early tomorrow, and start feeling people out. Sound OK to you?"

I nodded, while glancing at the glowing red digits of Steve's alarm clock, which told me that it was after ten already, "I guess we better get to bed soon. Wanna sleep at my place again?" I said with a wink. Sleep was indeed on my agenda, but I had other ideas first.

Steve laughed, and began to strip, "My bed is closer. Let's sleep in here tonight."

He was already down to his underwear before I could reply, "I, uhhhh, thought we could fool around for a while if we went to my place?"

Shaking his head, Steve began pulling my clothes off, "Chris, you have slept in my room before. Why so shy now?" That familiar grin returned to his face, stripping away the very last of my clothes as he spoke.

Once we were both naked, Steve pulled me into his bed, his hands roaming all over me, his intentions becoming very clear.

"Mmmph", I mumbled, "What about your parents?" I asked.

"Dude, relax. They know, and they are open-minded about sex. They will kill me if they ever find out I told you, but mom was kind of a flower child type in college. So was Dad. They both would have been at home in the 60's, I guess, but they were born too late for that. Anyway, that's how they met. I asked ‘em, just to be sure, if it was OK for you to stay over tonight, and they both said fine, as long as we got to sleep early. And remember, my shower is bigger than yours, plenty of room for both of us in the morning." Steve said, and then began nibbling on my neck.

I sat upright, "They know what we are doing right now?" I gasped.

Steve pulled me back down, "Yep. So what? They would know the same thing if we went to your place."

I had to admit, he had a point, and by that time, I wasn't interested in talking very much, as I had more pressing things at hand.

We did get to sleep - eventually.

The next day, the beeping of Steve's alarm woke us up, barely in time to throw on some clothes and dash out the door. The shower would have to wait, damn it. I went to my college and Steve to his high school, and planned to meet, as we almost always did, for lunch.

My morning went far better than I'd expected. A few friends kidded me about my new "Fundi Fan Club", but nothing bad was said. I did notice a few nasty glances from some guys who I knew to be some of the addled-minded sheep of that congregation, but other than that, everything was normal, just another Monday morning.

At lunch, I drove over to meet Steve at our usual place, Guido's, a local Pizza joint. He was already inside, and told me that he'd already ordered our usual Pepperoni Calzones. Having missed breakfast, I was starved, and the smell of the Pizzas made my stomach growl.

I was dying to know how his morning had gone, so I glanced around, and then asked in a low voice, "Everything went great at school for me. What about you?"

"Not too bad. A lot of people knew about me already, so it wasn't much of a surprise. Mainly, I got questions about why we were the targets of that Church Meeting. It's not as if we are the only known gay guys in town. Rob and Joe are known to a lot of people. I mean, hell, how dumb do you have to be to miss the fact that they live and work together, don't date, and are basically attached at the hip?" Steve asked, trying a little too hard to sound nonchalant.

"Yeah, you have a point. That's almost as bad as shoving two big, mean guys back into the closet while ignoring the advice of every one of your friends, all based on your oh-so-trustworthy brother saying that I was a homophobe?" I said, while struggling not to crack up.

Steve shrugged, "Well, yeah, you could say that. But, you forget, I'm entitled."

Arching an eyebrow in his direction, "Entitled?" I asked.

Reaching up to twirl a lock of his hair, he smirked, "I'm blond, aren't I? I'm entitled to a few blond moments."

We both laughed, and I thought we both felt relieved that the morning had gone as well as it had, until Steve said, "The only problem for me today was a few of the guys on the track team. I was already out to the swim team and my coach, who also coaches the football team, so I don't think there will be much trouble."

I was not happy with the sound of that, not at all. But, given the choice, I'd rather have to fight a guy from the track team than one of the football players, so things could have been worse. Steve wasn't into martial arts, nor was I, but I'd heard that he was a pretty decent fighter, so I wasn't too worried.

The Calzones arrived, smelling great and tasting better. We ate, shooting the breeze about less serious things until it was time to go. Steve had classes, then swim practice, and I had one more class, then I had my job at the bookstore.

I arrived at the bookstore after my last class, and opened it up as usual for a Monday. Betty, the owner, didn't usually come in on Mondays, so I worked there alone most Mondays, from mid afternoon until closing up at 7pm. I made a mental note to tell Betty about Steve and I, because I knew that, as a Lesbian, she would be the one person that I could count on to have a good response. She had been nagging me to come out to Steve, so I was sure that she would be happy for us.

Closing time drew near, and I took advantage of a lack of customers to do some dusting of the bookshelves. The tingle of the brass bell attached to the door told me that I had company, and I turned, expecting to see Steve.

What I saw instead was Betty, storming in, looking like a freight train heading in my direction. I backpedaled until I bumped into the counter, and she stopped inches from me, fire in her eyes, and then rammed her finger into my chest, yelling, "Give me one reason why I shouldn't fire your ass!"

I began to stammer, but Betty cut me off, jabbing me again, "I've been trying to get you to come out for weeks, and now I hear it, from my Pastor, that you two are Boyfriends? What the fuck? Why didn't you tell me?"

My jaw dropped in shock, and I mumbled, "Pastor? Reverend Thaddeus is your pastor?"

I felt the finger jabbing me in the pec press harder, "No, you idiot! I'm not likely to be a member of a church that claims I'm a walking abomination, now am I? I'm a member of the Unitarian church down on Front Street. They had a function today, and everyone was all abuzz over that nut job Thaddeus and his anti-homosexuals campaign, and thinking up ways to counter him before he drags this town back to the 1950's!" Betty jabbed me again with her finger, "So, they know I'm Queer, and they all start asking me my advice, and asked my why I hadn't brought up the issue before. I told them that I didn't hear a thing about it until I got there, and had no idea who the outed couple was, because I said I didn't know of any teenage gay couples in Lonesome Valley. Imagine my surprise to hear that one of them was my own employee, and his boyfriend was the guy he's been freaking out to me about for weeks. So, you got some explaining to do, babycakes. Start talking."

Betty calmed down a lot when I told here that I'd only come out to Steve on Friday, and then I told her the whole story about Eric, except for the Data stick, and the Piedmont cops.

Finally, she nodded, "Ok, Ok, I get it. OK, you are off the hook, but you should have called me when this crap hit. You gotta fight this, or they will steamroller you, and the rest of us along with you. You two have an invite to our Alternate Friday night meeting. Not everyone in the congregation is totally gay accepting, but most are, so I think you can count on some good support from them.

The clatter of the bell sounded again, as Steve strode in, smiling. Betty turned to face him, "OK, you. I just finished chewing out your lover boy here for not talking to me sooner, now it's your turn. I guess I'll spare you the lecture, seeing as I've only met you a few times, but you two have a friend here, don't forget it. You may have some more, too, because you two are invited to my Church meeting a week from Friday. I don't know what that fundi preacher is trying to pull this time, but it ain't good, and you two aren't alone. Bring friends if you can, too."

The rest of the week passed without many new developments. Steve and I alternated our nights between his room and my apartment, never sleeping alone. So much had changed between us, but so much remained the same. We have long had feelings for one another, but now, we were free to express them. I fell more in love with him, each and every day.

Eric was arraigned, and Mr. Williams paid him a visit, but his mood, upon his return, did not invite inquiries, so we never asked what had transpired. Finally, the weekend arrived, and Steve and I spent most of it in my apartment, studying for the mid-terms we both had coming up. At least, we tried to study, but we spent most of the time in bed. We were in no danger whatsoever of failing a male anatomy class.

By the middle of the following week, we knew that the campaign against us was indeed a recurring theme, and things became a bit tenser for Steve at school. I don't think he wanted to worry me, because he talked about school less and less. I was worried though, and could feel that something was going wrong. Steve's practices ran late twice that week, and I'd worry about him until I set eyes on him. When he did show up after those late practices, he just wasn't himself, and clearly didn't want to talk about it.

On Wednesday, two days before the meeting at Betty's Church, I didn't have to work so I went home in the early afternoon, intending to make some phone calls and see who I could talk into going to the meeting. Per our usual routine, I went to Steve's room, dug my phone number list out of my backpack, and sat down to make phone calls.

I'd succeeded in recruiting quite a few people, friends from school mainly and of course Rob and Joe, plus Veronica and Chad. My throat felt dry, so I went to the kitchen in search of a soda. I found a bottle of coke in the fridge, poured myself a glass, and returned to Steve's room to phone Dex. I knew he would go to the meeting, and I was hopeful for some more info about the data stick.

Dex and I talked for a while, and he said he would be at the meeting. He didn't have anything new on the Data stick, except its make and model number, and a request that we get him one to experiment on in California, before he attempted to access Eric's. There was even some bad news: his trip to California had been delayed by a few weeks. I knew Eric wouldn't get released anytime soon, though, so it wasn't a major concern.

I decided to add the make and model number of the data stick to the notes that Steve had started to keep the previous week, so we could find one on the internet and order it for Dex.

I dug through Steve's desk drawer, searching for the notebook. I knew it was yellow, and finally saw a flash of yellow in the detritus and debris. I pulled it out, and on top was a note to me, from Steve, so I flipped to the next page, which was full of his notes, and added the make and model number of the data stick to the page. I thanked Dex and hung up, flipping back to the front page to read Steve's note to me.

I smiled as I read the first words,

Heya Hot Stuff;

I can't get yesterday out of my head. That was just so awesome, I thought I'd explode. Damn, I did explode, we both did. I never knew sex could be so hot and intense. Whoa. I can't wait to do it again. I guess I'm a sex addict now. I just wish we could be open about this, tell someone, instead of sneaking around. But you know my situation, I can't. Not yet anyway. Maybe one day, maybe soon. But yesterday, blowing each other in the back seat of my Charger, was something I'll never forget. We gotta do that again, like soon.

I'm hot for you.


I felt my throat tighten when I read Steve's words about having to sneak around. When I read the part about the back seat of his Charger, I stood up, my glass still in hand, staring at the notebook sitting on the desk, as I felt the walls close in around me. Steve and I had never had sex in his car. Ever.

Unbidden, I heard Veronica's voice in my head, her alcohol loosened tongue mouthing her last words to Steve as we left the pool party,

"Don't fuck it up this time, Blondie."

In slow motion, I watched the glass slip from my hand, pirouetting in the air, the liquid almost magically staying within the glass as it fell, the light glinting off the glass, each flash slowly flickering out, fading into oblivion, as the glass fell further and further away. For such a long time, I watched it fall, twisting, turning, so fragile, such a fleeting thing.

Time returned as the glass hit the floor, a loud crack rent the air as the glass struck the floor and shattered, breaking into a myriad of pieces, as had my heart, just moments before.

©Copyright 2007 C James; All Rights Reserved.
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Please let me know what you think; good, bad, or indifferent.  The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"

Many thanks to Conner for editing, support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions on this chapter.
Many thanks also to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions (and for thinking up a title!).

Thanks also to Shadowgod, for beta reading and advice, and for putting up with me.
Any remaining errors are mine alone.

Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

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It’s not as if Chris is a virgin himself but I can understand him being upset at the note he found as it is shows Steve once had strong feelings for someone else. Of course there’s the flashback to what Veronica said that makes it sound like the guy dumbed Steve so he could potentially still have feelings for his guy. Then there’s the fact he never told Chris about a previous relationship along with the fact he’s kept the note he wrote the guy after all this time which isn’t something you typically do when you’re over someone. Chris may even have the wrong impression that it’s a ongoing relationship and that Steve is cheating on him since he found the note on the front page of a notebook that Steve is still currently using. The drama never stops coming and Chris is going to feel heartbroken until he talks to Steve as this is his first love. He still may feel upset he was left in the dark but overall he’ll begin to calm down once he knows the facts rather than coming to conclusions on his own.

Edited by NimirRaj
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I agree with all of the comments. First, because Chris and Steve have just found out about each other, and have been distracted by all the events surrounding Eric.  Second, because you just don't start out telling someone you have fallen in love with about your last relationship before you have sex.  Chris needs to realise that there is nothing going on now.  If there was, Steve would go missing from time to time.  I doubt that Eric would refrain from telling Chris that little fact if it were true. Steve and Chris do need to communicate and be very honest with each other about their emotions.  

That said, there were some strange things going on in the chapter.  We know that the Rev is a homophobe and hateful bigot.  His message was threatening all gays in the community, but targeting Steve and Chris.  However, he singled out Eric as being a victim and possibly in danger.  How does he know Eric?  That brings up the point about Eric spending time in Juvie for his past crimes.  I wonder who might have counselled him in Juvie?  Could it be a Christian outreach by a local homophobe minister taking advantage of a trouble child who may be struggling with his own sexually after learning about an older gay sibling?   I am very cheered by the support Chris and Steve have from friends and family, but feel they are in danger.  I do wish Dex would find out what is on that danged data stick.

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