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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. 

The Empty Spaces Between Us - 21. Chapter 21

It was dark by the time Andy parked his truck in the driveway. He shut the engine off and sat there for a moment, letting himself recover from this new turn to his life. The idea of going to a support group had never been a favorite of his, but Brian had let him know that it was that or an argument with all of them that he would lose, so he went to the support group. The experience had been a little helpful once he realized he accepted the fact that he was not the only person who felt the way he did. Or acted the way he did.

He let out a breath, reminding himself that he was home, everything was okay, and got out of the truck to head inside. “New year, new me,” he thought to himself. Once he was inside and shut the door behind him, he clearly heard footsteps heading his way. Andy stood there and waited as one side of his face lifted in a smirk as he looked around his new home he loved so much. But that love was mostly because of who was heading in his direction.

Brian came into view as he came up the steps from the family room on the floor below. His smile and hopeful eyes caused the little spark of hope to grow and his heart settled as he felt Brian’s arms around him. “How did it go,” Brian asked him as he held him.

“It went,” he replied. He laid his head on Brian’s shoulder and closed his eyes. The feeling of fatigue was there inside him after spending two hours talking and listening to other veterans give voice to their experiences. But he was glad to be home. “It felt… easier to talk,” he added in a quiet voice.

Brian squeezed him a little tighter. He wasn’t going to give voice to the fear he felt deep inside that he could lose Andy if things didn’t improve. Stories about veterans who ultimately give up and end their own lives weren’t common but not unknown. “Good. That was the point.”

Andy opened his eyes and looked behind Brian seeing David standing there expectantly. “Oh. Hi.” He let go of Brian and smiled a little. “I didn’t expect you would be here.”

David stepped up and hugged him. “I wanted to see you. Make sure you were okay.”

Andy sighed and gave himself over to that familiar sense of safety he still felt when David hugged him. “I’m fine. It’s just getting started. It’ll be awhile before things really improve.”

“I understand,” he said before letting him go. “I told Sam to lay off of you for awhile. He said he’d call and check on you before Spring to see how you’re doing.”

Andy nodded out of habit but inside, he felt uncomfortable. He didn’t want everyone making a big deal out of this. Just because he went a little nuts didn’t mean he was crazy. He still felt embarrassed about telling them all about Brandon and Mason… and the others. “I’ll be fine by Spring. No reason to worry.”


David shook his head with a smile. “Doesn’t matter if you’re thirteen or thirty, I’m always going to worry a little bit about you.”

“Thirty-one for another six months,” he remarked.

“And Blake will be four in two weeks,” David added. “Better get ready.”

“Where are my boys?”

“Downstairs,” Brian said. “Tanner’s playing with my old tablet and Blake is playing Legos.”

Andy started to walk that way. “I’m gonna go see them before bedtime.”

“Aren’t you hungry or anything,” Brian asked.

“No,” he replied as he headed down the steps. “I ate after the meeting.”

Brian exchanged looks with David. “Do you believe him,” he asked once Andy was out of earshot.

David nodded. “Yes. He said he went. He wouldn’t lie to you or me. And even if he did, I’d know.”

“You gonna stay or go home?”

David chortled. “Go home. He needs some time with his boys, and I’ve got taxes to get started on.” He leaned down and gave Brian a peck on his head before he went to the door. “Call me if you need me.”

Brian smiled a little as David departed and hoped things were moving in the right direction.

Andy stepped into the back room of the basement and smiled with not a small amount of pride. He’d done a good job on this. Put down carpet with a dewatering system to keep it dry. A couple little tables and an old beat up couch on one side of the room, all for his boys where they can play or sit or do whatever they wanted without anyone yelling or interrupting them. He figured in about ten years he’d have to upgrade it for teenagers but for now, it was a good space for his boys to just be boys.

Tanner looked up from his spot on the sofa with the tablet in his hands and instantly dropped it onto the cushions and rushed over to Andy. “Dad!”

Andy knelt and wrapped his son in his arms, feeling Tanner latch onto him. “Hey,” he said with a chuckle. “Missed you too. But I wasn’t gone that long.”

Tanner released his grip on Andy and turned to look at him with a worried expression. “Brian said you were meeting with other marines.”

He nodded. “And guys from the army and the navy too.”

Tanner looked uncertain and slightly embarrassed as he mumbled. “So, you’re not going to leave?”

“What? No!” Andy looked at him with a mix of concern and confusion. “Where did you get that idea?”

“I thought…” Tanner sounded almost tearful as he gave voice to his fears. “If you were going to meet more marines like you, then you’d go back to fighting.”

Andy sighed, starting to think going to these meetings was a horrible idea. “No, sweetheart. I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying right here, okay? I’m gonna be going to a meeting every week for awhile, so one night a week I’m not going to be here. But I will always, always, always come home. Okay?” He gave the boy another reassuring hug and kissed his blonde hair before letting him go. Andy turned his attention to Blake who was still on the floor, looking at him with such a forlorn expression it brought an ache in his heart. Instead of making Blake come to him, he decided to crawl across the floor over to him. “Hey, Little Man.”

Blake’s little green eyes darted around as he asked in a tiny voice, “are you still sad, daddy?”

Andy smirked and pulled his little red-headed boy into his arms. “I can’t be sad,” he whispered. “I have you. Nothing makes me happier than to see you smile.”

A cautious but no less sincere smile lifted Blake’s lips. “Do you wanna play Legos with me?”

He chuckled and kissed his little cheek. “No. It’s late. Time for little red-headed devils to get in the bathtub.” When Blake whined his disappointment he added, “and after that, then Tanner gets his and then I’m reading you a story and then you’ll be asleep.”

After a few more half-hearted protests Andy got the boys upstairs and within an hour had them clean, in bed and asleep. One of the better blessings of being a parent he’s found is the bond that grows over time with them. The sense of being able to tell what they’re thinking when he watches their eyes move around. Most importantly, he’s found they are his lifeline away from the memories of his past. Tanner was barely two when he left for his third and final deployment and Blake wasn’t even a concept at the time. Together, the two of them have kept him partially grounded.

He always thought that would be enough. But the dreams still return. The unwanted memories still surface over time when he hears things. What frustrated him sometimes was how debilitating it felt, even as he pushed through it. He heard from other vets about their own bouts of insomnia, paranoia, and depression. They shared their stories, but each knew they were all holding things back. Things too painful, too intimate to share with just anyone.

He finished with Blake, kissed him goodnight and then quietly went back downstairs, finding Brian on the couch, quietly reading. Bypassing Brian, he went into the kitchen to get a bottle of water out of the fridge before quietly joining him on the couch, leaning up against him. “Hey.”

Brian closed his book and set it off to the side and he put an arm around his lover. “Hey. Have fun with your little boys?”

“Yeah,” he said with a soft smile. “They sounded confused when I first got back.”

“That’s on me,” Brian said with a little contriteness. “I wasn’t sure what to say or how to say it.”

“It’s okay,” Andy assured him. “I probably wouldn’t’ve done much better.”

Brian waited a moment before asking the question he still couldn’t get out of his head. “So, how was it really?”

Andy was quiet for a moment before he said with a shrug, “it was group therapy, hun. We… talked about stuff.”

Brian looked over at him sadly. “Is there… I mean, is there anything you want to tell me?”

Andy stared at the floor. “I’m not sure I should. Did the others tell you what I told them?”

Brian nodded. “I… It didn’t surprise me. I mean, I know, or I should expect that if you’re in a warzone you’re going to end up killing someone. I knew that. It didn’t shock me.”

He ran his hand through is hair and sighed. “It’s more than that, though.”

“What else is there? Tell me.”

His voice took on a slight sullen tone. “I don’t want too.”

“Why not?”


Brian rolled his eyes. “Because, why?”

Andy finally turned his gaze to him and said, “because I don’t want to ever look in your eyes and see fear.”

“I’m not afraid of you.”

“Only because you don’t know the things I’ve done.”

Brian hesitated. His eyebrows furrowed. “There’s nothing you could say or do that would make me afraid of you, Andrew.”

Andy desperately wanted to believe that. But he knew better. He’d heard the stories from others about broken marriages and relationships. Of men who came back half dead whose families couldn’t understand them anymore and ended up giving up on them. He couldn’t live without his sons or Brian. It was too big of a risk to take now. “All the same, I’m not quite ready to talk about any of that with you.”

Brian leaned in and kissed him tenderly. “It’s alright. I’m not going anywhere.”

Andy’s smile returned, though it looked tired. “That’s a relief.”

Brian grinned, hoping to see a real smile from him soon. “I have something else I want to discuss with you. About Tanner.”

“Uh, oh. What did he do?”

Brian chuckled. “He didn’t do anything. Your ex-wife screwed him over. I want to get him caught up so next year we can skip second grade and go straight to third.”

Andy smirked. “You got a plan for that?”

“I do,” he said with a little bit of pride. “I’m going to tutor him from now until the next school year and make sure we can get him advanced up to where he needs to be. And while I’m at it, I should give Blake a head-start too.”

“Alright then,” Andy said with a nod. “You’d know more about how to get that done than I would. Take care of it.”

Brian gave him a dubious frowned and looked around. “You’re gonna entrust your child’s future to me?”

Andy chuckled. “Despite what’s going on in my head, I still have every intention of marrying you. That kind of means you’re gonna be neck deep in the child raising in the house. You may as well get your hands dirty now.”

Brian relaxed a little, feeling a little better about the changes in their lives. “Do you know when you’d wanna do that?”

He gave it some thought and shrugged. “Not really. I think we should wait a bit and figure out how we’re gonna… you know… live with this.”

“Okay,” he said with a gentle smile.

Not long after that, the two of them went upstairs to bed. Andy pulled the thick blankets up over them to keep them warm through the cold Winter night. He let out a slow breath and did his best to settle in and relax. Eventually, after some time had passed, and he could hear Brian’s steady breathing, he let his guard down and let himself fall asleep.




Tyler stared at the wall, doing his best to ignore Alex’s tirade. His yelling had started once Tyler finally told him he needed to pay his half of the rent. Alex had been avoiding him and giving him excuses since the first of the year. It felt like every time Tyler was trying to do the responsible thing or the important things in his life it was angering Alex more and more. Alex had wanted Tyler to give him his half of the rent so he could pay it, but Tyler’s instincts told him that it would be a bad idea to do that. So far, he’d seen very little coming from Alex as far as paying for the monthly bills in the house. He was reliable when it came to paying for the internet and his phone bill when those came due. But groceries, electric bills, rent and all the other smaller expenses were hard for Tyler to rely too much on him.

But it wasn’t just money that was their problem. Their relationship had started to cool over the last month. Tyler found he couldn’t trust him, and their sex life had all but stopped. A couple times around Christmas, Alex had been drunk and tried to get him in bed, but Tyler couldn’t stop thinking about what he had heard. He hadn’t had an opportunity to bring it up, but he suspected Alex had some kind of excuse prepared for when he did finally say something. Over time, Tyler was spending more and more time sleeping on the couch and his nerves were starting to fray.

A part of him wished he could just leave. End the relationship and move on. But he couldn’t deny the fact that he genuinely loved Alex. When things were good, they were great. They would have memorable moments laughing, talking and sex that made him feel as good as he felt that night on the dancefloor. He could see and feel how Alex loved him when they were having those moments together. And he knew they could have those moments again, if he could somehow manage to get through the tough times.

“I’ve been giving you money since the day I moved in here,” Alex yelled as he glared at him. “How come all of a sudden your awesome job isn’t paying you enough to meet your end of things around here?”

“Well, first off,” Tyler replied in a calm voice, trying not to escalate things, “you’ve barely paid any rent in the four months you’ve lived here. I don’t care what you claim to be true, I can show you my bank statements and show you how much I’ve paid and how much I have not gotten from you. As for my job, it’s Winter, if you didn’t notice. There isn’t much building to be done right now. I get a job maybe twice a week and that’s it. I’m doing the best I can on what I saved up through the year.”

“Then you’re not doing a good job saving then and you should be working another job to make up for the other days you don’t work.” Alex completely sidestepped his own responsibility and attacked Tyler’s abilities instead. “And I find it hard to believe a trailer-trash kid knows how to save money. Maybe I should look at your bank records and show you where you fucked up.”

Tyler’s lips pressed together as his eyes welled up. He wasn’t going to give Alex the satisfaction of knowing being called trash hurt. “It comes down to this; You either have the money or you don’t. Which is it?”

“I’d say, ‘fuck you,’ but lately you haven’t seemed interested.”

Tyler glared back at him as he rose to his feet. “Oh, well, I just assumed you had someone else taking care of that for you.”

Alex stared at him. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I mean, I know what you’ve been doing. I’ve known about it since the day my dad died.”

“You don’t know shit,” he replied in a heated voice.

“I was here,” Tyler said, suddenly finding his voice. “I pulled up outside and saw another guy’s car parked in my spot. A guy whose car I know because he works with me!” He let out some of his anger and hurt over that feeling of betrayal. “I walked up to the door and heard the two of you going at it, so I turned around and left. I’d already lost my dad and then I had to find out my boyfriend was fucking someone behind my back in my own fucking bed!”

Alex grin maliciously as he stepped closer to him. “You didn’t see shit,” he sneered. “You just thought you did.” He got closer still as his voice lowered and the words felt like a sharp knife cutting into his soul. “What do you think happened? You think I just snapped my fingers and he came right in and started sucking on my cock? You think you’re so fucking smart and you’re the dumbest bitch in town. If I did have some guy over, I would’ve told him how he was such a better fuck than my boyfriend because he can never keep up with me. How he got laid by one guy and now he thinks he’s the best stud in town. If I was cheating on you, it would be your own fucking fault because you never do the shit I wanna do in bed and you’re always too wrapped up in getting your own cum shooting that you barely give me a chance to show you what I got.”

Tyler steeled himself, with no intention of letting Alex see any kind of reaction from him. “Fine. I suck. Whatever. Now, the rent is due at the end of the month. I can’t pay all of it, so you will have to come up with your half of it by then. If you don’t, then I guess we just can’t live together anymore.”

“Oh, no,” Alex said with a malicious chuckle. “You’re not backing down from this. You just accused me of cheating on you. What, did your little friend tell you all about it too?”

“I haven’t said anything to him,” Tyler said, feeling like he was losing this argument somehow.

“So, you’re just going by what you supposedly heard.”

Tyler froze. Alex seemed to confident and sure of himself. Did he really hear and see what he thought? “What about why he was here?”

“I know some loser came by that afternoon looking for you,” Alex said. “He was here for a few minutes and then left since you never answered my text messages or my calls.”

Tyler was dumbfounded. He had been so sure about what he heard. He saw Dex’s car and saw the footprints in the snow that led from his car up to the house. “I… I don’t want to talk about this.”

“You’re the one who brought it up,” Alex countered. “Hope it makes you feel better because you’re sleeping on the couch tonight because of it.”

Tyler wanted to stand up for himself, but he didn’t know what to say. “I’m not sleeping on the couch.”

“So, you think you shouldn’t have to pay a price for flinging around an accusation and not have anything to back it up.” Alex folding his arms across his chest and looked at him pitifully. “God damn. You talk about me not caring about your feelings. I guess I should’ve guessed you were really just covering for yourself.”

Tyler was dumbstruck. “That’s not true.”

“Keep telling yourself that,” Alex replied in a dry tone. “I guess, if you want, I’ll leave. Seems like you never seem to care what happens to me most of the time. I keep trying to make this work between us, but you keep fucking it up and I gotta swallow my pride and pretend that my feelings don’t matter. This is why your friends are barely friends at all to you. They’ve all got real lives and don’t have time for you. Me, I’m just stuck here because you talked me into moving in with you and I’m trying to make the best of things, but you keep screwing up.”

Tyler had to put effort into holding back his tears. Maybe that’s why all his friends from high school never stayed connected with him. Andy has Brian and Jacob has Kyle now. They didn’t need him anymore. He hadn’t heard from Drake in months and couldn’t understand why. He wanted to text them, but he felt like he was just getting in the way and didn’t want to bother them. But none of them had seemed all that interested in checking up on him either. “Shut up.”

Alex nodded patiently. “The rest of them are all like Sean. The second they don’t need you anymore, they just tossed you out of their lives. Oh, I’m sure if you texted one of them right now, they’d probably either not bother to reply or would just come up with some excuse. Go ahead. Try it.”

“I’m not going too.” Tyler started to walk away, intending to go to the kitchen to get a glass of water.

Alex reached out and grabbed his shoulder and looked down at him. “Because you know I’m right. I’m all you got.”

Tyler said nothing and pulled away from Alex’s grasp. He headed into the kitchen to get the water and then turned and headed into the empty bedroom so he could be alone. The rest of the night, he remained secluded ignoring Alex’s occasional remarks from the other side of the door until Tyler heard him go in the bedroom and shut the door behind him.

He tentatively cracked the door open and found only darkness outside the room. Alex had turned off all the lights in the house and left him alone in the dark. When he returned the glass to the kitchen, he found a pillow and a blanket sitting on the couch. With no other option left to him, he laid down on the couch and silently cried until he fell asleep.




It had to be the most torturous day of Tyler’s life. When he’d been called to do a flooring job, he took it without hesitation. Sam had gotten a last minute floor installation request and the client was willing to pay extra for it to be done in one day. Tyler was asked to oversee the work which meant it would have been a good payday for him. He got up early and got to the office as soon as he could to make sure the ordered wood for the flooring was there. It couldn’t fit in his truck, but he could use the bigger truck the company has for those kinds of jobs. In his mind, he was calculating how much this could net him and was feeling good about the numbers that he was figuring.

What he hadn’t counted on was that the other two guys who were going to be working with him were Neal and Dex.

They were as enthusiastic as he was. Neither of them had left at the end of the last season since they were too young to think about leaving town for months to go work in the south, and they were eager to get a chance to get a nice paycheck from this deal. When Tyler saw Dex sitting there in the break room, waiting to go, Tyler felt like he wanted to vomit. He’d matured a little over the summer and had come out of his shell a little bit with his coworkers. Last Fall Tyler thought Dex was kind of cute in a simple way. Now, he wondered if something or someone had spurred him out of his shell.

Tyler knew he couldn’t turn down the deal. It would raise more questions than he wanted to answer, and it would be totally unprofessional of him to leave Sam in a lurch like that. After everything the man had done for him, the least Tyler could do was swallow his pride and deal with it the entire day. Thankfully, swallowing his pride was something he had gotten used to doing in the last few months.

The worst part was that since it was an indoor job, the client was usually present the entire time they were working. That meant that Tyler had to keep a pleasant smile and attitude and answer any questions they might have. Any resentment or animosity he may feel towards Dex he had to keep under wraps, no matter how much he wanted to fling a hammer at his head.

Unsure if it was the feelings shifting and roiling around inside him or the careful and exacting nature the flooring job demanded, the day went by slowly. Tyler would occasionally say something to Neal but generally ignored Dex unless he said something specifically to him. When that happened, he would answer as if nothing was amiss. What galled him the most was that Dex seemed to act as if he was oblivious to Tyler’s cold attitude. Or that he hadn’t slept with his boyfriend.

He did his best to ignore it but towards the end of the day, when they were finishing putting down the last of the flooring, Tyler knew he was going to have to confront him. If he didn’t, he’d never stop thinking about it. It wasn’t something he wanted to do. He had to do it. He had to face this and find out what really happened so that he could better decide how to proceed with Alex.

Tyler was pretty much done with Alex romantically by now. The only reason he didn’t totally break up with him and get him out of the house was because he was still paying for enough that it was making it easier getting through these lean months at work. There was also the fact that suddenly shoving him out the door would likely end with Alex being homeless. He didn’t have a problem with getting rid of him but leaving him with nowhere to go made him feel he was the bad one for being so heartless.

Maybe the worst part was that a part of him still loved Alex. While the better moments of their time together were getting fewer and farther between, he still held onto the hope that Alex would see that and try to make things work between them. He could take the insults and the mean spirited comments. They hurt but he could get over it if Alex would just see how much he meant to him.

Hours later, the three of them finished the work and Tyler made sure the client was pleased with it. He answered their questions and gave them the companies card along with the receipt. They seemed very happy with him and his demeanor, so he felt he did a good job hiding what was going on inside him. He got Neal to help him get the equipment back in the big truck and started back to the office. The closer he got the more Tyler knew what he was going to say to Dex. It could be a disaster and he was effectively outing himself at work. Something he had actively avoided.

They got back to the office and spent the next half hour getting everything out of the truck. Tyler rechecked everything to make sure all the equipment was unloaded before he went inside to finish up his paperwork for the day. He glanced up at Dex who was hanging out and looking at something on his phone. It was now or never.

“Hey, Dex,” Tyler said to get his attention. When the younger man looked up from his phone, Tyler knew there was no turning back now. “Do you know a guy named Alex?”

Dex’s face was blank for a second before he got a worried look in his eyes as they shifted around the room. “Uh. Maybe. I think so.”

“Tall? Short blonde hair? Nice body?” He could feel his heart start to pound a little louder in his chest, but he pressed on. Dex’s face paled slightly. “You know he lives with me, right?”

The younger man got a nervous expression and seemed to be at a loss for words at first. “Well. Yeah. I guess. I’ve seen a guy like that before.”

Tyler suppressed his anger as he said with a dark frown, “I’m sure you have. I saw your car outside my house when I got back from New Jersey last month. I went up to the door, but I heard Alex, who happens to be my boyfriend, and someone else having sex so I left. He says he wasn’t cheating on me but I’m not stupid.”

Had he been paying attention Tyler would have seen Neal return from the locker room and been more discrete while he was speaking. Neal stopped, staring at Tyler incredulously. “Oh, shit. Did you say you had a boyfriend?!”

Tyler stood up as he looked over at Neal. He hadn’t anticipated him coming back for some reason. Now he was out and there was no going back. “Yeah. So?”

Neal looked back and forth between them as a disturbed look slowly appeared on his face. “Are you gay too?”

Dex panicked and got up to leave. “No. No way, dude.” Before anything else was said, he was out the door and gone.

Tyler’s stance shifted, showing more confidence than he felt in that moment. “It’s not a big deal,” he said, attempting to diffuse the situation.

Neal’s face started to go from disturbed to disgusted as he said, “yeah, right. Whatever.” He walked out through the back door and was gone leaving Tyler standing there feeling like he’d just lost everything.

Tyler sat back down heavily and examined what just happened. He confronted Dex and got as close to a confirmation as he was probably going to get. But it had cost him. Neal didn’t take the news that well and Dex fled so he could claim they were just talking and Tyler being gay had nothing to do with himself. He also knew Neal wasn’t known to keep gossip to himself so by the end of the week he was reasonably sure that everyone else at work would know about him.

Tyler sighed, feeling so low. Whatever the next step was, he couldn’t tell. He didn’t want to go back home and deal with Alex again. He just wanted to get away. The paperwork was done so he put it all in a file and dropped it off in Troy’s office. He hadn’t been in the office for months since his wife gave birth. It would likely be another two or three months before he saw him again. Andy seemed to be taking the winter off this time for whatever reason and hadn’t responded to his texts in awhile.

After he exited the office, he got back in his truck and decided to make one more try to contact Drake. He pulled out his phone and sent the text message, “I could really use a friend right now.” He sent it and sat there waiting.

A few minutes later, his phone alerted him to a text message. At first, he felt relief until he saw it was from Alex. “Why aren’t you home yet?”

Tyler sighed. He waited another minute for Drake to reply before he responded to Alex. “I’m almost done at work.”

A few seconds later, Alex replied. “Come home so we can spend some time together.”

He sat there for another minute. Drake still hadn’t replied. Maybe Alex was right, and Drake and Andy had better things to do than spend time with him. “I’m on my way,” he texted back to Alex. With a sigh, Tyler started up his truck and slowly headed home, hoping it might be a better day with Alex than usual.




Drake was sitting at his house, quietly watching TV and trying not to think of all the possible reasons why Tyler hadn’t responded to any of his text messages. It wouldn’t be the first time he lost a friend to a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Things happen and peoples’ lives change over time. What struck him odd about it was that it wasn’t in Tyler’s nature to just ignore someone. Or at least it hadn’t seemed to be.

He tried texting and he tried calling, but both of those failed to get through. He left messages on his voice mail and he asked the other bartenders if they’d seen him. When that failed, he finally went over to his house and had an encounter with his boyfriend, Alex.

“Hey, ah, is Tyler been around,” he had asked the stoic looking man who stood in the doorway.

Alex had a cautious look on his face and seemed almost defensive. “He’s working right now. Who’re you?”

Drake frowned at the question. “I’m Drake. A friend of his.”

“He never mentioned you,” came the reply which almost sounded like the guy didn’t think much of him.

Drake pushed that aside. “Could you tell him I dropped by? I’ve been trying to call him but haven’t managed to get through to him.”

The corners of Alex’s lips lifted a fraction. It gave him a cold look that made Drake uncomfortable. “I’ll pass on the message. Not sure if he’ll call you back or not, though.”

That had been weeks ago and still no reply. Drake was starting to think it was time to admit that Tyler might be out of his life. Wouldn’t be the first time someone just drifted away like that and it probably wouldn’t be the last either. But it still hurt a little. He’d been a good friend. And he’ll never know if he stopped talking to him because of something he said or did. Maybe he pushed him too hard to embrace the world more.

Whatever may come, he hoped Tyler was happy. If anyone deserves some happiness, it was him. After he realized he wasn’t even paying attention to what was on the screen, Drake shut it off and went to bed.

Copyright © 2019 Jdonley75; All Rights Reserved.
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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. 
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31 minutes ago, spyke said:

😠  The only way I'm sleeping on the couch in my own home is if someone has the flu or is recovering from surgery. Not happening otherwise. I'd have grabbed Alex by his scruffy neck and tossed his ass out the front door. I'm really rooting for Tyler, but he needs to grow a set and grow them quickly. 

It goes to show what a talented writer you are @Jdonley75 when you can elicit such a reaction from one of your readers. 

Just to drop the facade for a moment of playing "devil's advocate," Tyler is reaching a point where he's running out of options and the walls are closing in.  He's feeling alone and isolated and doesn't know where to turn.

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27 minutes ago, scolvert said:

OMG! !!  Alex needs to get caught in these bad acts soon!

No one gets away with anything...

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18 minutes ago, Fitzhugh said:

Ugh, the exchange between Tyler and dipshit Alex was difficult to read. It kind of makes me want to not continue to read the story.

Please have a piano or an anvil fall on Tyler’s head. 

Hm..  None of the characters involved have any musical talent.  And while Jacob is a skilled carpenter, I don't think he's done any serious metal-crafting.  

But, Alex is a dipshit, that much is certain.


Get happy though.  Next chapter, Kyle is back.


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Tyler and his love life distresses me greatly....at least there were Andy and Brian moments in this chapter, sobering and sweet.

*Team Drake* (yes, still)

Edited by FanLit
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1 hour ago, Jdonley75 said:


  Hide contents

Get happy though.  Next chapter, Kyle is back.


*Smiling and rubbing hands together*

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It's time @Jdonley75 -- get him out of the picture and get things to a better (even if just a little better) spot for Tyler...........he is really, really, really pissing me off.......

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52 minutes ago, FanLit said:


Tyler and his love life distresses me greatly....at least there were Andy and Brian moments in this chapter, sobering and sweet.

*Team Drake* (yes, still)

Keep on keeping on with that Team Drake.  

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50 minutes ago, FanLit said:

*Smiling and rubbing hands together*

That's how I felt writing it. :) 

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42 minutes ago, JayA said:


It's time @Jdonley75 -- get him out of the picture and get things to a better (even if just a little better) spot for Tyler...........he is really, really, really pissing me off.......

There's still a piece missing.  Don't worry.  It's on its way now. :yes:

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38 minutes ago, Peterlefun said:

Damn how stupid is Tyler.  His self esteem cant’t possibly be so low that he doesn’t see how evil Alex is???  I really loathe Alex and hope he does become homeless - karma is a bitch!   Glad to see Andy get some help.

Stupid and being in love frequently look the same to observers. ;) 

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There’s a few things about what Alex is doing that aren’t quite adding up to me.  Meaning that while he certainly has changed Tyler’s contacts, he couldn’t have changed anyone else’s, so how is he preventing Drake or Andy from getting through to Tyler?  Either way, eventually Andy will see Tyler in person and ask why he hasn’t been responding to any of his messages.  

As frustrating as all this is, and as much as I agree I can’t stand this relationship, it’s all extremely realistic.  Abusers somehow always manage to isolate their prey from their loved ones just as Alex is doing.  As I’ve said before, this is all escalation.  It’s what happens.  If Tyler doesn’t take a stand it’s only going to get worse.  But I think if it got too bad Andy would quite literally kill Alex, and so I’m hoping something will give before that, for Andy’s sake.

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22 minutes ago, spikey582 said:

There’s a few things about what Alex is doing that aren’t quite adding up to me.  Meaning that while he certainly has changed Tyler’s contacts, he couldn’t have changed anyone else’s, so how is he preventing Drake or Andy from getting through to Tyler?  Either way, eventually Andy will see Tyler in person and ask why he hasn’t been responding to any of his messages.  

As frustrating as all this is, and as much as I agree I can’t stand this relationship, it’s all extremely realistic.  Abusers somehow always manage to isolate their prey from their loved ones just as Alex is doing.  As I’ve said before, this is all escalation.  It’s what happens.  If Tyler doesn’t take a stand it’s only going to get worse.  But I think if it got too bad Andy would quite literally kill Alex, and so I’m hoping something will give before that, for Andy’s sake.

Wonderful observations.  I spent a couple weeks researching emotional abusers for this to get the cadence and their little nuances down.  I wanted to make him look innocent at first and then just show how dark he is for the readers to see.  I dare say it worked out pretty well.

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