“Say what?” Jett asked, unsure of what he was hearing.
April looked guiltily away but only for a moment. His big beautiful eyes returned to Jett. “It was on a Friday night, and it was so hot outside, sweltering hot, although it was already after ten pm, and you just said you wanted it. But you didn’t know what to get, and I told you it should be a sextant because I had only read about it and you just said ‘yes’ and then asked me why, and I said,” he took one deep breath, “um, ‘If you wear it with you all the time, you’ll never lose your way’.”
Jett remained silent throughout April’s cascade of words, stuttered, broken at times, and his world tilted for a second time that evening. There was just one person in the world who knew that. He had never told all this, not word by word, not even in passing, not even to Zane, let alone another living soul.
Yet, April just stood there, and he was speaking Theo’s words from that time as if he knew them by heart. His jaw set hard. He blinked and blinked, his eyes moving all over the room, not daring to stop at April.
April? Theo? What the hell? “What the fuck are you trying to tell me?”
April linked his hands together and squeezed them so hard that his knuckles turned white. “From that summer. I am that boy. Theo. The one on the body pillow that Zane --”
“You’re kidding me, right? You just thought to pull some fucking prank on me, yeah? April, speak the fuck up!”
April didn’t budge from his place, but his eyes were begging. “I should have told you.”
Jett shook his head and blinked. What the hell? Then all this time … had he been with Theo? Theo, who had kissed him and then disappeared? Theo, who had told him all those things he hadn’t even know existed? Theo? Of all the people in the world, Theo?
But it made sense. All the details, all the things he had just thought imagined and not real, they all made sense now. As his surprise faded, his anger grew. And also something else that he tried to push down.
“You should have, yeah,” Jett replied. There was a dam opening inside him, flooding. Was he really going to cry now? He hadn’t done that when talking to his dad earlier. But this was too damned much.
“I’ve been an idiot,” April said softly. “I think it was partly because I didn’t want to remember everything about that summer. But it’s not like you can forget stuff like that. That my mom died. That yours, too --”
No, he wouldn’t think of THAT right now.
“April fucking Summer, I don’t want to look at you right now!” Jett stood up and turned his back. “How could you lie to my face like that?” Anger was good. Anger was better.
“Just get the fuck out!”
Whether he was angered and wanted to protect himself, or he simply didn’t want April to see his tears, Jett didn’t know at this point. All that he knew what that he couldn’t bear the thought of anyone seeing him like that.
April was Theo, and he had lied about it. Maybe that summer hadn’t meant anything for him, but for Jett, it had sure as hell meant everything, a reason to keep going, to know that he could still be happy.
Behind him, April moved. Jett squeezed his eyes shut to keep the tears from falling.
“We’ll talk later,” April said softly. “I get it … that you’re upset. I’ll just go now.”
Jett didn’t reply. He didn’t want April to leave, but he couldn’t endure another moment, so he was thankful when he heard the door opening and closing. Then, and only then, he could break down for real.
“Where are you going?” his dad asked the moment he was in the hallway.
April wiped his eyes quickly. “Just outside for a bit. Jett didn’t take it well, my big revelation. He’s pissed as hell at me right now. I think I just need to let him,” he made a small gesture, “go through it on his own time.”
“It’s late,” his dad said. “And Jett won’t be upset forever.”
“I can only hope so,” April replied. “Look, dad, I won’t be out much. I just want a bit of fresh air. And it’s not like I’m a kid. I’ll just walk a little. It’s a safe neighborhood.”
“All right,” his dad said, although he didn’t seem convinced. “Just make sure to come to see me when you get back from your walk. I won’t be able to go back to sleep. You know what? I should get my coat and come with you.”
“Dad!” April stopped. “I just want to be alone for a bit. It’s, um, it’s just something I need.”
His dad was clearly disappointed.
“You should keep Tom company. Soon enough, he will have to go back to his base, right? So, don’t waste another moment,” April said cheerfully.
Sid didn’t appear to be fully convinced. “All right.” He sighed. “I guess you’re old enough, and I should stop pestering you so much.”
“Feel free to pester me as much as you want when I get back,” April said. “I won’t be long, I promise.”
“Okay, son, but take care.”
He stole one last look at the closed kitchen door on his way out. It hadn’t been a mistake to tell Jett; it had only been a mistake to keep it a secret for so long. What could he have expected? For Jett to just brush it off like it was nothing?
The air outside was calm, even if a little chilly. April shuddered and pulled his jacket tightly around himself. What was he going to do if Jett didn’t want to have anything to do with him ever again?
No, his dad would tell him not to dwell on the negative. No, he would tell Jett he loved him, and he was sorry until he was blue in the face. He should have started with that. Now, there was no do-over, and he needed to live with the consequences. But, first, Jett needed his time by himself, and April had to respect that.
He walked on the sidewalk, oblivious to the world around him. Why had he been such an idiot? All right, so, at first, he had thought Jett hated him. And then, there had been all sorts of conflicting details about Jett and what he thought of Theo, the boy from that time.
But then Jett had begun to prove his affection more and more. And what had he, April, done in return? He had just chosen to keep this big secret, knowing fully well that it would explode in his face sooner or later. Now that moment had come, and it hurt like hell.
April pushed away the tears running down his cheeks. Maybe he didn’t deserve to be happy, after all, because he was such a coward and a jerk. His dad would tell him to stop thinking like that, but he had refused his help just earlier tonight because he didn’t deserve to be comforted. No, if he wanted to be a real man, he needed to deal with the consequences of his own mistakes.
How long would Jett refuse to look at him? Could it be more than half an hour? A day? Maybe that was the kind of time and space he needed. Maybe April needed to pack up and leave. But no, his dad would tell him that would be nothing short of running. And what would Jett think then? He would just think April didn’t care about apologizing and that he didn’t care about their relationship at all.
And that wasn’t true, April revolted. He loved Jett with all his heart, and he needed to prove himself. He needed to tell Jett all about it, and he needed to make him happy. Jett was shocked and angered for now, because who wouldn’t be in his place? April debated with himself, as he began to walk faster and faster.
The houses were silent on both sides of the street, as people must have gone to bed already, seeing how a new workweek started in the morning.
For how long had he walked? April looked around, confused. He couldn’t really say how far from Jett’s house he was. All right, his stupidity aside, he needed to go back, especially since the temperature was also starting to drop, and his jacket wasn’t exactly suitable for the chill he had begun to feel.
A dark car rolled by his side of the road coming from the same direction as him. The vehicle moved slowly. Maybe the people inside it just wanted to park. It had to be someone getting back from a fun weekend, April thought. But somehow, dark cars didn’t appear to have anything to do with fun.
Especially when there was no light inside so that people outside could see the driver. What April noticed, though, was the red tip of a cigarette being flicked out the window.
The car stopped, and April stopped, as well. But, as the car door opened, an ominous feeling washed over him, making him begin walking again, and even speed up. He was now going even farther from Jett’s place, but his instincts were telling him to run.
“April Summer?” a gruff voice called from behind.
All right, it was really time to run. April sprinted, and a loud curse followed his action. Next, heavy steps on the sidewalk fell in synch with his.
That was bad. April didn’t have any idea what the hell it was, but it had to be bad. Men with gruff voices climbing out of dark vehicles and knowing him by name, although he didn’t know them, had to be bad.
“Stop, you punk!”
Like hell he would, April thought to himself and began to search frantically for an escape. The houses with their dark windows seemed haunted in the streetlight. He veered right, hoping to make a run through the houses, and lose himself in one of the many backyards. If anyone had a security system in place, a blasting alarm was just what he needed.
Something blunt hit him in the back, and he lost his balance. He rolled down on a manicured lawn, and then he realized that he could just scream and wake up the entire neighborhood.
A heavy-framed man was on top of him just as he opened his mouth. A rough hand, gloved in leather, covered it. “Don’t you even dare, you little shit.”
Jett rubbed his eyes and then splashed some water in his face. So April was Theo? Fuck, to think that he had been so blind. No, he hadn’t been blind, he argued with himself; he had thought he knew April from somewhere, but April had chosen to lie.
Could he really blame him completely? That summer had hurt all over. And Theo, no, April, had been a true friend, like no one else could be or wanted to be. Other kids couldn’t understand, but April had understood, even without words, and Jett had fallen in love with him for it.
And then April had had to kiss him, and Jett had been scared shitless, so he had pushed him away and called him names. And suddenly, he had disappeared only to appear in his life again, like through frigging magic.
For all that he had cried for some time now, Jett felt like laughing. It was fucking magic. All his life, he had hoped to see Theo again, and then April had shown up. If that wasn’t a sign that someone up there loved him, what could it be? Jett shook his head. Of course, there was someone up there who loved him. Theo, no, April, had told him as much that time.
At thirteen, he had had no idea what to think of such words that seemed so wise for another kid his age. And April had sounded like he was reciting the words from a book; he had always been bookish, it seemed. Only that it hadn’t mattered how clumsily the words had been spoken; they had put balm on his soul, and that was what had mattered the most.
Now, he really needed to confront April about his lying. Jett still felt pissed, but he felt lightweight, now. After all, that meant that all things were well. Oh, he would make sure that April would suffer for his lie, but not too much. After all, Jett knew that he had been a complete jerk to push April away after that kiss.
April would just have to kiss him a lot and confess to him, and that would make everything okay. With that newly-formed decision in mind, Jett walked out of the kitchen.
He found his dad and Sid on the sofa, which was kind of inconvenient since that was the sofa where he hoped he would kiss and make up with April. “What are you two doing up so late? Dad has a bugle,” he added as he turned toward Sid.
It appeared that his sense of humor wasn’t appreciated this time around.
His dad replied. “We’re waiting for April to return. He has been out for a while now, and we’re starting to get worried.”
Sid wore a deep frown on his face. “What happened between you two?”
Jett swallowed nervously. He didn’t want to share that kind of details with the parents. “Stuff,” he said vaguely. “April lied to me about something.”
His dad sighed. “We know about that Theo thing.”
“You know?” Jett frowned. “So he told you before telling me?”
Sid and Tom exchanged a look. “I’ve always known,” Sid said. “April doesn’t keep many things from me.”
Except that he has a crypto mining rig he paid for with money taken from shady people. As soon as the thought formed in his mind, an unpleasant sensation curled in his gut. Jett tried to push it away. “Where did he go?” he asked, hoping his voice didn’t give him away.
“He said he just wanted to have a bit of fresh air, but it has already been forty minutes,” Sid replied, as he looked at his watch and pursed his lips. “That’s a bit too long for a walk.”
Jett felt his gut roiling. No, he was just paranoid. April was probably upset, too, because Jett had told him to get away from him. He was just venting off by walking or something.
Jett took out his phone. No one seemed to be picking up on the other side.
“We also tried to call his phone,” his father explained. “Just five minutes ago.”
Without a word, Jett went to grab his jacket and put on his shoes.
“Where are you going?” His dad wanted to know.
“I’m going to look for him.”
“I’m coming with you.”
There was a sort of finality in his dad’s voice.
“Why? You should just stay here and go to sleep or something.”
“You look worried like hell, son.”
Sid was on his feet, too. Wasn’t it enough that he was worried? Did the dads really need to look as concerned as him? Jett had a grim premonition. And he could check April’s phone, to see where it was, using the tracking app he had used before.
“He’s a bit far from here,” Jett said with a frown, instead of replying. “But still in the suburbs. I should just go and bring him home. You two should stay here. We, me and April I mean, have stuff to talk about anyway.”
Sid and Tom didn’t look too convinced.
“So how do you know where April is?” Sid questioned.
Jett just pointed at his phone. “It’s just an app that does this stuff.”
Sid nodded, although he appeared a bit puzzled. Tom crossed his arms over his chest. “Are you spying on your boyfriend, son?”
Jett grimaced. “It comes in handy now, doesn’t it? And I’m not spying on him; I just need to know where he is.”
“Why?” Sid asked, looking more intrigued now.
Jett couldn’t outright go and say why. First, it had been because he needed to make sure April wouldn’t bail on him; then, because the Z brothers could be a problem. None of that was the kind of info he could share with the dads.
“It’s just something everyone does today,” Jett said promptly. “April knows how to track my phone, too,” he added.
Tom frowned. “We’re coming with you, son. There’s something you’re not telling.”
“Oh, damn,” Jett complained. “I need to make up with April. I sure as hell don’t need you around when I do that. And will you both leave Carina here alone, with Jay?”
“Like you and April did for the entire weekend? I thought she was a big girl or something. And they are both asleep anyway. We’ll lock the door on our way out.”
Jett groaned, but then he shrugged. “Fine. Everyone, in the car. I suppose you want to come, too?” he directed the question at Sid.
Sid nodded, and now they were all out the door and soon in Jett’s car.
“I wish you would be more honest with me,” his dad started as Jett put his hands on the wheel. “Why are you worried?”
“I’m not worried, just pissed,” Jett replied. “April is Theo. I mean, you don’t know who Theo is --”
“I do know.”
“Ah, right, April spilled his guts to you, too,” Jett said, feeling his annoyance growing. “If he also told Carina, I am so going to kick his --”
“You’re not going to do anything like that,” his dad interrupted him. “Keep your eyes on the road.”
“Don’t tell me how to drive.”
“Folks, please,” Sid intervened. “Emotions seem to be flying high tonight, so let’s just calm down. Let’s bring April home, and then we might organize something so that everyone can yell at everyone.”
“Not everyone,” Jett said with a snort. “I mean, I might yell at April, and my dad is already yelling at me, but you? You’re not going to yell, right?”
“Funny thing, I feel much in the mood to yell at my son, too, right now. He wasn’t supposed to give me a scare tonight or ever.”
Jett fell silent. What would Sid think of April’s shady loan taken from the Z brothers? Nothing good, that was for sure. He checked his phone from time to time, trying to call a few more times.
They got all out of the car the moment they reached the point where April was supposed to be. There was no one in sight, and Jett called April’s phone again. He felt ice in his veins when the chirpy sound came from the grass, only a few feet away from him. Jett rushed to it and took it.
Sid and Tom rushed by his side. “Is that April’s phone?” Sid asked, alarmed. “Why would he drop it here? That boy is glued to his phone.”
Tom crouched and checked something on the ground. “Someone rolled down here.”
“Rolled down?” Sid’s voice was more and more alarmed.
“That must be how April dropped his phone.”
“But why? If he got sick or --”
Jett closed his hands into fists. “He didn’t get sick.”
“What?” Tom asked. “What do you mean by that, Jett?”
It was impossible to keep it a secret now. Any attempts to throw the dads off course would cost him time, time he didn’t have if he wanted to reach April as soon as he could possibly could. So the words came from his mouth like a cascade, about how he had used to do for a living, about April’s mining rig, and his debts, and how they came to meet again, after so much time.
Sid exploded first. “Loan sharks? For what? A damned mining rig? I can’t believe April would do something like this!”
“And I knew you were a punk, but beating people up?” Tom followed with his own tirade.
Jett stared around and then just began walking toward the car. There was not one moment to waste if that was what had happened to April.
“Where are you going now?”
“To save April,” Jett said with determination.
“We’re coming with you,” Tom replied.
“Of course we are,” Sid added.
“No, you aren’t. It’s my mess, and I’m going to clean it.”
Tom and Sid climbed in the back the same time he got behind the wheel.
“Don’t try to make it just your own; April has a lot to answer for,” Sid said. “I thought I raised that kid better than this!”
“I don’t care that you two are all grown up and that I promised not to interfere with your life, Jett,” his dad added. “For this, you will be grounded until you’re twenty-five.”
“April, too. This can’t be happening. Shouldn’t we call the police?”
“No,” Jett said grimly. “If I go, I can negotiate with these fuckers, because I know them. They catch whiff the police are coming, they can make him disappear.”
Tom and Sid were both talking, making his head spin.
“Dads, please, just shut the f--, I mean shut up so I can drive!”
There was a short moment of silence, but they started again, this time more worried.
“I still think we should call the police,” Sid said.
“And I think while they’re there, they could bust both me and April, too,” Jett retorted.
His dad grunted. “The little punk has a point. Jesus, Jett, I can’t believe you. Was it about money? Don’t I send you enough?”
“I never touched that money,” Jett said aggressively.
“Let’s calm down,” Sid intervened again. “And, Jett, slow down a bit. Do you even know where you’re taking us all? They could hold April anywhere.”
“Yeah, but these scumbags are usually at their headquarters. At least, when they have business.”
“I don’t understand. You said that you paid April’s debt in full. What more could they want with him?” Sid asked.
“They think he’s some hacker,” Jett replied.
Sid sputtered, “My son, a hacker? Wait, is he? I don’t seem to know my own child at all these days!”
“He’s not a hacker,” Jett said quickly. “They just thought he was because he studies computers and stuff. And it’s some girl’s dad who wants him for some shady stuff. At least, that’s what we think.”
An idea came to Jett at that moment. He reached for his phone.
“Son, leave the phone alone while you’re driving,” his dad scolded him.
“I need to call Zane,” Jett explained.
The moment Zane picked up, Jett began talking fast. A good thing with Zane was that he didn’t need many explanations.
“Yeah, Dan can find this girl, I think,” Zane said. “He’s right here, so you can talk to him.”
That was no wonder. In only a minute, Jett already had a plan in place. Maybe it was something else going on, with that fucker DeLouise and everything, but he wanted to have all the cards.
“Can you believe this boy? I raised a gangster,” his dad commented, as soon as he was off the phone. “I have plans for you, Jett. Don’t think I’ll let you run around like this, doing this kind of stuff anymore.”
“I quitted already, dad, didn’t I tell you?”
His dad seemed to suffer from a sudden case of selective hearing. “You’re going back to school, that’s what you will do.”
Jett groaned. “Why? I can earn my keep already.”
“Doing what? Being a frigging gangster? There is no way I can allow that.”
“I’m not a gangster!” Jett grabbed the wheel tightly. “And I have a child, and April to care about now, so I won’t do that stuff anymore! Isn’t that enough?”
“You’re going back to school, and that’s final!”
“I’m not going to be an army man like you!”
“I’ll let you pick the school you want, study whatever you want!”
“It’s funny how you two still yell at each other while you reach an agreement,” Sid commented.
Tom snorted. Jett bit his lips not to laugh. Now it wasn’t the moment for funny stuff. He had a boyfriend to rescue.
“What do you want from me?” April demanded to know as soon as he was inside the warehouse.
Henry Zabinski was busy petting his enormous cat, as usual.
The goon who had brought him in pushed him forward. April had a mind to resist, but he thought against acting too rebellious for the moment.
“Nice disguise, Summer. Do you think we’re fools or something?” Peter Zabinski emerged from the shadows like a creepy character.
“It worked for a while,” April commented. “What does that make you?”
The goon slapped him upside the head.
“Don’t be a smartass,” Peter warned him.
“My debt is paid. I have nothing else to do with you,” April said.
“Yeah. Well, it’s not about that. There’s a little favor we want from you,” Henry said, putting his cat down. “It’s not much. We can pay you for it.”
“We can?” Peter asked, a bit surprised. “We didn’t talk about this.”
“Carrot and stick, my dear brother, carrot and stick.”
“And if I do you this little favor,” April asked, “then I’m free to go?”
“Sure,” Henry said brightly. “Why not?”
There was a small exchange between the two brothers that April didn’t like. What the hell did they want from him? To break into a bank? He didn’t know anything about such things, and it was stupid of them to assume that, even if he did study computers.
“Here is what we want you to work on.” Henry took something out of his pocket and put it on the table.
April walked closer. His eyes grew wide. He knew that phone. He had held it in his hand only a few days before. That bright shade of pink was not that hard to forget. “What’s this?” he asked, hoping his voice was as neutral as possible.
“A phone,” the goon talked into his ear like he was hard of hearing or in the head.
“I know,” April said back in the same tone and exchanged a look with the goon. “I’m not a time traveler from the nineteenth century.”
It took the goon a little time to figure out April’s joke.
“Whose phone is this, and what do you want me to do with it?”
“Unlock it,” Peter said shortly.
April crossed his arms over his chest. “And how am I supposed to do that?”
“You’re the smartass. You should know how.”
“Pete, Pete,” Henry hurried to appease his brother, “let me talk to him. Summer,” he turned toward April, “it’s a matter of life and death. A little girl could be in danger right as we speak if you don’t get inside this phone.”
“A little girl? What kind of danger?” April questioned. He had an idea about what kind of danger was involved, and it could only be Sabrina’s dad wanting to break into his daughter’s phone to see who she was dating.
“How long is this going to take?” an irritated voice belonging to another person intervened.
April stared at Mr. DeLouise coming out the same way as Peter Zabinski. Mr. DeLouise narrowed his eyes as he looked at him. “Hey, I’ve seen you before. You’re that college kid who told me he didn’t see April Summer in school for a while.”
“See?” April turned toward Henry. “You got the wrong guy.” He tried to appear as candid as he could while saying that.
Peter gestured at April and addressed his brother. “Do you still want to use the carrot with this little shit?”
Henry sighed. “I guess not. Okay.” He made a sign for the goon to step forward. “Convince him.”
April yelped as the goon grabbed his arm and twisted it at his back. “If you’re breaking my arm, how am I going to break into the phone?”
DeLouise shouted, “Leave him alone right now! Jesus, you people only know violence. Here.” He reached into his pocket and took a stack of money. He threw the cash on Henry’s desk. “Do this for me, son, and you’ll walk out of here unharmed and with some pocket change, too.”
April had a mind of telling Mr. DeLouise he wasn’t his son. He already had two dads, as far as he knew, and he didn’t really need a third. He was about to protest when the doors to the warehouse opened with a loud noise.
“Don’t you dare do anything to Wednesday, dad!” Sabrina came running, followed by a crowd, by what April could see.
His face lit up with a smile. With Sabrina, he could also see Jett, Zane, Dan, and both dads, and he couldn’t recall ever feeling so relieved.
“Who the fuck is Wednesday?” Peter Zabinski yelled.
Everyone stopped, feeling very much confused. The goon, in particular, was puzzled and scratching his head.
“We’re here for April! Who’s Wednesday?” Jett asked, too.
The question echoed through the room. Sabrina blinked and pointed at April.
There was no other thing to do but to admit. April put one hand up. “That would be me.”
And, as some of you have predicted before, April's multiple nicknames were bound to catch up with him eventually. There wasn't a better moment than this one. Next time, you will learn about the faithful summer when Jett and Theo/April became friends and shared their first kiss. I hope that conclusion will make everything clear. And, beyond the next chapter, there's only the epilogue left, so thank you for being with me on this long journey! It was awesome having you all onboard!
Until next time,
Hugs and kisses,
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