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    Parker Owens
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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.

A to Z - 42. Chapter 42 Believe

Believe

No special warnings for this chapter.

Questions and issues raised in this chapter or any other chapter can be discussed at the A to Z story thread here: http://www.gayauthors.org/forums/topic/40860-a-to-z/

January was the month from hell. At least, the last half of it was. Mom and dad harped on how these were the crucial exams in an important year. Colleges would scrutinize my junior year grades. Coach pushed us brutally in swim practices. We were going to be a top ranked team in the region. Exams, classes, swim meets, driving test, all that. And Mary Ellen Schmidt hanging on my elbow. The best part of each and every day was seeing you at lunch. I looked forward to getting through February. Maybe after that there would be time for me to get to know you better.

 

January 29

It has been a week. Exam week. Boring and exhausting all at once. I’ve studied my brains out, worked hard on every test, and finally had enough. I think – no, I know – I aced the Trig exam. I think I did all right on the Physics exam, but the questions were so tricky, it’s hard to say. English was mostly a matter of writing and writing and more writing – and as long as a person had done the reading carefully, that was that. US History, I’m not so certain. Like Physics, the questions were kind of tricky.

Zander was a nervous wreck on Tuesday – English exam, swim meet, and the day of his big driver’s license road test. I wished him luck and felt a little envious, too. I can manage a big Allis tractor, and I bet I could manage a car, too. But nobody knows that about me, either. On Wednesday, Zander was all smiles. He’d passed the test with flying colors. He showed off his temporary license papers, and I congratulated him. He apparently has limitations on when he can drive and how many passengers he can have in the car until he turns eighteen. He’d wanted to drive to school, but his parents each needed their cars, so no go. I wonder if Zander will try to buy a car for himself, next.

On the plus side, Mary Ellen and Zander have not been together much – at least, not at lunch, where I might see them – so my jealousy has been under control, for the most part. I can’t believe Zander had a swim meet this week during exams. That seemed cruel, to me, but he didn’t seem to mind. I went to see it and sat with Zander’s mom who was there. I didn’t see Mary Ellen, which was no cross to bear, either.

No snow to shovel this week, hooray for that. The weather warmed up so that nearly everything melted. I doubt it’s time for spring, though. The hard part is that without shoveling, I have to go back to my cash stash to eat again. I’m going to have to be both frugal and hungry to make it to lawn mowing season in the spring.

 

February 5

Well, the snow came back, big time. We got a little snow on Monday, a few more inches on Tuesday, and then a great big whopper of a storm on Friday. They actually cancelled school a day in advance. Amazing. Of course, I got to shovel Tuesday, Wednesday morning, and then again Saturday morning.

Saturday was seriously cold, but clear, at least. It took nearly all morning to dig out the Abbott’s and Mrs. M. I kept eyeing the garage at Mrs. Marjorie’s, wishing I could use that snow blower in there. The snow was deep enough, but I knew that Mrs. Marjorie just hated the noise of it.

Around noon, I walked back through town on my way to the grocery. I passed St. James’ Church and saw someone shoveling out around the steps. Now that was a chore and a half. There was a lot of sidewalk around the building and a lot of driveway, too.

The man shoveling paused and waved at me. He was a cheerful, round faced man with a greying moustache and wire rimmed glasses. I recognized him as the minister who’d been there at Christmas. “Morning!” greeted me, puffing a bit. “It’s a tough job today!”

I stopped. “Looks like it,” I agreed. “How come you’re the one shoveling?”

“Oh, the sexton fell and broke his wrist, and the snow blower broke. I just hope I won’t have to do this forever,” he smiled and puffed.

I got an idea. “Do you have a couple of boards and a pickup truck?”

“No, but I know someone who does, why?”

“I think I can get you a snow blower to borrow,” I said.

The reverend looked interested.

“Now that would be a blessing,” he returned.

“Can I borrow a phone?”

And that was how, that afternoon, I found myself loading Mrs. Marjorie’s monster snow blower into the back of a large pickup truck and actually getting the old beast to function again. It took a few adjustments, but the machine did a pretty good job clearing away the lion’s share of the snow. It really ate up the snowdrifts on the sides of the church. However, my ears rang from the noise it made, so I guess Mrs. M had a point.

Early on in the proceedings, the reverend retired to his house to do some chore or other and left me to it. I found a shovel inside the back door of the church and went to work tidying up the details. This was a church, and one that, however imperfectly, had housed me for over a week. The least I could do was help them out properly. I figured the church and I were even when I finished.

I was putting the shovel back when I ran into the reverend again.

“Thank you so much for all your help. It was a miracle, really. My back can’t handle too much of that kind of work anymore.”

“Well, I don’t know much about miracles, sir,” I replied.

“They happen every day. Don’t you forget it.”

I must have looked skeptical. I didn’t recall too many in my life.

“You just have to concentrate and look for them. You’ll recognize one when you see it.” He winked. “Anyway, thanks for arranging to borrow the machine.”

“No problem. Just trying to be a good neighbor.”

“Aah. Good on your parables, then,” he laughed. “I’ll call Mrs. McDowell to arrange returning that machine to her tomorrow.”

I waved, grabbed my pack from its snowbank, and finally made my way into the grocery store as dark was falling. I can’t believe I’d spent the afternoon on that project. I hadn’t been paid a dime for it, but I felt good about what I’d done. Watching the big machine that I’d fixed actually doing its job felt good. And so did helping someone else. It just seemed right to do it. Go figure.

Some other things seemed better this week. Mary Ellen wasn’t at the table for lunch on Monday. It wasn’t until Wednesday that I noticed she was sitting with Bruce Mack, the hunky blond swimmer. I guess she finally lost interest in Zander.

Funny, but he doesn’t seem very depressed about getting dumped. Kaz ribbed him about it a little, but that was pretty much that. I haven’t got any experience with being jettisoned for someone else, but I would think it would hurt more than Zander is letting on. Maybe he’s just good at hiding it.

 

February 9

So yesterday, I sat down at lunch and was greeted by an excited Terry.

“Got any big weekend plans, Andy?”

I shook my head. I never have plans.

“Good, because you’re coming with us on Saturday to see Zander swim.”

I looked up at her. “I am?”

She was beaming from ear to ear. Kaz smiled, too. I remembered Zander saying something about a big meet this weekend, but I knew it was someplace out of town.

“Yup,” she nodded, “You are. No excuses, unless you’re deathly ill. And even then, you’d have to call me to let me know.”

“But…if I called you, then you would … have my number, right?” I said, smiling.

“Damn! You figured me out!” she laughed.

Of course, I still hadn’t given her my number. There wasn’t one to give. But that didn’t stop her from pretending and joking about it every once in a while.

“How are we getting there?” I asked.

“Zander’s parents are picking us up around seven in the morning on Saturday. The meet is up at Madison College, which is about two hours away from here. Things start at eight, and we’ll get there in time to cheer our boy on. When it’s all over, they’ll bring us home. Easy.”

“Does Zander know about this?”

“Well, maybe he does and maybe he doesn’t,” she replied evasively. “He’s going to be on the team bus, anyhow, so I asked his parents if we could tag along.”

At that moment, Zander appeared, and the conversation abruptly shifted to other things.

So now, I was nervous, too. I don’t think I’ve taken a car trip that long – at least, not that I can remember. And would Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson rehash the whole thing about being found in the barn? I don’t think Kaz and Terry got that whole story, and I’m not sure I want them to know. I was hoping everyone would forget about that.

 

February 12

The past two days have been the most gut wrenching, emotional, roller-coaster ride.

Incredible highs, deep, dark lows, and all the while my stomach tied in knots. I’m not sure I can describe it all, but I’m going to try. The reverend at St. James’ told me I would have to work at finding miracles, but I think I encountered more than a few right out in the open in the last forty eight hours.

Saturday was an awesome day. No better word for it. I asked Terry to have the Stevensons pick me up at the school – something about it being easier for my dad made a good excuse – and so I was the first into the car. Knowing Kaz and Terry would want to sit together, I took my pack and climbed all the way into the far back seat in the 4Runner after it pulled up.

“Good morning, Andy! I’m so glad you could come with us.” Mrs. Stevenson was pretty chipper for so early in the morning; she’d already delivered Zander to this same spot about an hour earlier.

“Thanks for letting me come.”

“Well, I suppose you can thank Terry for organizing things,” Mr. Stevenson chimed in. “Did you have breakfast, Andy? I brought some doughnuts in case you might be hungry.”

Hunger and pride fought a battle, briefly. Pride subdued hunger, at least for now.

“I’m fine, thanks.”

When we picked up Terry and Kaz up at Kaz’s house, I had no need to make much in the way of conversation. Terry did most of that, for almost two hours. Besides, I was in the far back and couldn’t quite make out what was being said.

The Madison College pool was a good deal bigger than Blackburn’s. I was impressed. The stands were filled, too, which was also pretty remarkable. The pool area was packed with swimmers from around the western half of the state who had been invited to compete.

“This isn’t necessarily like a regular season event,” explained Kaz as we sat down. “There will be a bunch of heats to determine the finalists, and then they compete to see who wins each event.”

A ‘heat’ is some kind of trial run, I gathered.

Zander was entered in four events, seemingly: three freestyle events, and one butterfly event.

Things moved along pretty efficiently, I have to say. With all those swimmers and all those events, I guess they would have to. Even so, it was about half an hour before Zander’s first heat in a middle-distance freestyle event. At first, I was really nervous for Zander, but he won his first heat easily. We clapped and cheered when the results were official.

Zander glanced in our direction. He looked incredible, all skin and muscle and confidence. He saw his mom and dad and waved, then recognized Terry, Kaz and me. He waved again, more vigorously, and smiled.

When he got to the final of that event, the competition was considerably tougher. Zander swam as well as he ever did, looking just as fast as ever, but it turned out that two other swimmers had touched before him by fractions of a second.

It took a longer time for his next event to occur. We whiled away the time watching other races, other swimmers, and commenting on them. I listened respectfully, because Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson really did know what they were talking about, and I had no clue. Terry excused herself to use the ladies’ room, and Kaz came around to sit next to me.

“See, you could be training for something like this. But running is better,” he grinned conspiratorially into my ear.

“Save it, Kaz. I’m never going to be able to catch you,” I said.

“Don’t be too sure, buddy. Your 5K times have fallen every week now. You’re down to twenty fifty two, and who knows what you’ll do if you keep at it?”

I shrugged, but I smiled at the encouragement. At my other side, Mrs. Stevenson held out a brown paper bag.

“Sure you won’t have a doughnut boys? Finish up the bag?”

“Well, if you insist…” grinned Kaz, as he reached across me.

This time, hunger beat pride hands down.

“Thank you very much,” I said politely, as I took the last doughnut from the bag. The explosion of sticky sweetness in my mouth was almost too much. Still, I somehow managed to get it all down. I felt thirsty afterwards.

In Zander’s next event, a freestyle sprint, he again won his heat, and soon after came in second to a tall, lanky African American guy, a senior at a high school out of our region. Zander and he seemed to know each other, because they traded congratulations with each other after they left the pool.

Jealousy reared its ugly head again; for an instant, I wanted to be the one in the pool with Zander, next to him, close to him, able to touch him. Ugh. ‘Gotta stop crushing on Zander,’ I repeated inwardly. I reminded myself how much of a fantasy swimming with Zander was – no way would I ever show my back or reveal my scars to anyone, let alone swim in front of a big crowd. And besides, I suck at swimming, too.

In the fly event, Zander made the final, but came in a close fourth. I was amazed at how fast some of the other swimmers were.

By late afternoon, we’d burned through lunch – Mr. Stevenson insisted on treating us – and we were waiting for Zander’s last event, which also happened to be the last event of the day. It was a long-distance freestyle event. I was amazed that Zander could do anything like this. I’d have been completely spent by the time things got around to the longest race of the day.

Swimmers were supposed to stay in the pool area, away from spectators and such, but I managed to catch Zander’s eye a couple of times. Each time, he waved and smiled, and I gave him a thumbs-up.

I saw that he sat a few times with the tall chocolate colored boy who’d beaten him in the sprint earlier. I don’t know what they talked about, but they were deep in conversation more than once. I knew then that I was going to have to work on my jealousy thing.

The two of them competed in separate heats in the last event, but it was clear that they were going to face each other in the final. At the end, I couldn’t just sit on the edge of my seat. I had to stand up. I was so nervous for Zander. On the other hand, he seemed as loose and ready as he ever did as he stepped up to the block.

Zander seemed to get off to a slow start, swimming with the middle of the pack, as his long-limbed nemesis took a clear lead. At first, for a couple of lengths, I was thought this was just not going to be his race. But then, I saw Zander slowly gaining, as I had seen him do before. He turned incredibly quickly, even faster than the long, lean leader. A couple of lengths later, and it was clearly going to be a two man race. And a real race, too. I sensed, rather than saw, Terry and Kaz on their feet next to me. Zander’s mom and dad were up and cheering, too. One length to go, Zander gaining, the dark boy desperately trying to keep his lead. Each one strained for the last fraction of an inch.

And then it was done. The two leaders waited, exhausted, in the pool to learn the official result. This time, it was Zander’s turn to come in first – a tiny fraction of a second. His arms went up in joy when the result was announced, but his next action was to congratulate the boy he’d beaten. I figured they’d meet again someday – this race wasn’t going to be the last word. Of course, we all cheered and clapped and all that. Kaz can make an ear-splitting whistle. I was elated for Zander.

We had to wait around for a while afterwards for the medal ceremonies. This took some time, because there were men’s and women’s events, and the various medalists all had to be announced and so on. This gave us another chance to cheer, of course, which was fine by me. Once the final awards were made, we could go down to the pool area and congratulate Zander ourselves.

We waded through the crowd in his direction. There were people everywhere, shaking hands, snapping photographs, and so on. At one point, I got just about blinded when a flash went off not far from my face. I hadn’t really noticed what was going on. Zander’s mom and dad got to him first, of course, and he gave them a big damp hug. Then the rest of us got a turn. Zander put an arm around me and Terry and another around Kaz and squeezed us tight.

“I can’t believe you all came up. You spent the whole day,” he cried.

“Of course, we did,” replied Terry, muffled in the group hug.

“Wouldn’t have missed it at all, buddy,” Kaz grinned.

I just smiled. I couldn’t say anything.

In the end, we waited while Zander showered and dressed. Mr. Stevenson arranged with Zander’s coach so that he could ride home with us in the car. It was long after sundown by the time we stopped for supper. Again, Mr. Stevenson paid for everyone. I figured I owed him big time. I thought I’d ordered too much food – a cheeseburger and fries and a drink to match - but Zander just ate, and ate, and ate some more. I made sure to give him some of my fries. Turned out he hadn’t eaten much of anything since breakfast.

When we got back to the car, I climbed all the way to the back again, and this time, Zander joined me, leaving the middle row seat for Kaz and Terry.

Mr. Stevenson pulled on the road again and pointed us towards Blackburn. Zander fidgeted a little, almost like I do when I’m feeling shy. “Thanks for coming, Andy,” he said softly – so quietly that I almost didn’t hear.

“I’m glad I got invited. I had fun watching you.”

Zander grinned and shook his head.

“You were amazing today, Zander,” I insisted.

“I did all right today,” he admitted. “But Greg, he’s the guy I beat in the last race, he’s the best swimmer out there.”

“But you won,” I protested.

“This time, yeah. But he’s good. Damn good. We’ll see how it goes next time.”

“When is the next time?”

“I don’t know,” Zander said, stretching and yawning. “March, maybe. Man, am I tired.”

That I could understand. Zander went quiet. We stared out the windows. The miles went by, and lights of cars and buildings flashed past. A little while later, I became aware of a weight on my shoulder. I glanced over and saw that Zander had fallen asleep, his head resting on me. I held my breath. I wasn’t going to move or disturb him for anything. I tried hard to savor that moment. I knew I’d want to remember it forever. And so, for a little over an hour, I enjoyed his closeness, reveled in the warmth of him leaning on me.

Unfortunately, it couldn’t last. The car slowed down as we entered Blackburn, and something about the change in motion woke Zander up. He sat up quickly, startled.

“Shit, Andy, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…”

“No problem,” I assured him. “You only drooled a little.”

“Get out!” he snorted, giving me a playful shove.

Soon, we were dropping Kaz and Terry off, and then it was my turn. Where were they supposed to drop me?

“Just let me out at the school. Dad is supposed to meet me there.”

Zander looked oddly at me, and I got a similarly strange look from Mrs. Stevenson. Of course, the school parking lot was deserted. Nobody was going to be coming for me, but they didn’t have to know that. I was just going to slip back around to the door I’d left open, and that would be that.

“Are you sure you don’t want us to wait? It’s cold,” Mrs. Stevenson asked worriedly.

“I’ll be fine," I said, confidently. “See you Monday, Zander. Thanks for letting me come.” And with that, I escaped the car and watched them drive off.

It took all of ten minutes for me to realize I’d been a fool. Somehow, the door I’d jammed open was now stuck firmly shut. I was locked out again. This time, I didn’t waste a minute wandering about town. I started walking out to the Stevenson’s place, the snow crunchy in the cold under my feet, where a red barn and a pile of hay waited for me. At least, I would remember to bury myself properly this time.

The lights were off when I arrived about a half hour later. I was sure everyone was tired. Carelessly, I just walked up the driveway, opened the barn door, and shut it behind me. I gave my eyes some time to adjust to the darkness. The smell of hay and animals made me think of warm summer nights in the hayloft at the Whitley farm. In the dark, I moved over to the hay pile, and set my backpack down. I began to scoop out a bed for myself in the hay.

Suddenly, the door behind me opened, and the light flashed on, brilliantly.

“All right, buster, just what do you think…"

It was Mrs. Stevenson, dressed in a work jacket, pajama pants, and barn boots. She also happened to hold an aluminum baseball bat, which she brandished menacingly.

I blinked at her in the bright light.

She recovered first but didn’t lower the bat.

“Andrew Stevenson, what in God’s name are you doing here?”

She was not happy to see me. In fact, she was pissed.

“I…I…I got locked out again,” I said lamely.

“Oh, no. That’s not good enough. Out with it. I want the truth.”

But it was the truth. At least, that was as much of the truth as I was prepared to tell. I just stood there, mute. The tears started welling in my eyes. I’d been caught, finally. Everything was going to go to hell. And she still had that bat. I wondered how bad it would hurt when she hit me.

We stood there a long time. She let out a big sigh, as if some of the air was going out of her. She lowered the weapon. Finally, I moved, picking up my pack.

“It’s okay. I’ll just go.”

“Oh, no you don’t, Andrew,” she said less threateningly, “you’re not going anywhere, but upstairs to bed. I don’t understand what the hell is going on with you and your father, but I intend to find out. Tomorrow morning, when I’m not so damned tired."

She motioned for me to follow her out the door. "Come on,” she directed.

I followed her back to the house, my head down. In the kitchen, she watched me in silence as I took off my coat and hat and unlaced my boots and put them on the mat.

“You were supposed to knock on the door when you got into trouble, weren’t you?” Mrs. Stevenson inquired sternly.

I nodded, unable to look at her.

“Go on up, you know where it is. The bed is still made. And in the morning, I’m going to want the truth. All of it, understand?”

I nodded again and then crept upstairs. I silently shut the bedroom door behind me. I climbed into bed in my underwear and my flannel button down. It just seemed softer, and I needed that. The bed was just as warm and comfortable as before, but I couldn’t sleep. I stared out into the dark room. How could I have asked to stay over when I knew I’d have to lie about my so-called father? When I’d have to start the whole chain of falsehoods all over again? I hadn’t wanted that, so I’d tried to hide in the hay again. But this time, I got caught.

In the morning, I’d have to tell them everything. Then social services would be called. They’d contact the police. And in a few days, I’d be back in Carlsberg, sitting in a cell, awaiting trial. Alone.

Or, I could sneak out of the house. Maybe. Find a bush to creep under. To freeze under. Better to die that way, instead of in a prison somewhere, I thought, right? I couldn’t go back to school on Monday. Word would get back to Zander’s parents, and then they’d come for me there. Or maybe I could make it to the school to grab my stuff, hitchhike out of town, and find another place to start over. I fretted about this for a long time, before, somehow, sleep overcame me.

But it wasn’t a good sleep. Dad and Uncle Ray came to visit me again. In the dream, I was in my bedroom in Carlsberg again. I sensed the evil in Uncle Ray and knew real fear before I ever saw him in the dream. He was coming. I knew it, and I couldn’t stop it. This was the way it always was in these dreams. I turned away, burying my face in the pillow. He was in my bedroom, pulling down the covers. Pinning me down, his arm across my neck. He weight made it hard to breathe. I could smell the stink of his breath. I could feel his hand all over me, on my bottom, pulling down my pajamas. Cool air on my bare skin made me shiver.

In the dream, I could hear him growl into my ear: “Mama isn’t here to protect you now, little boy. Not this time.” His nasty chuckle echoed in my brain. I felt his fingers probe my ass, touch my hole. “Shhhh, be quiet! We’re going to have a real nice time…”

“No! No! Stop it!” I tried to call out. But who ever hears you in a dream?

And then I could feel Ray’s giant tool at my entrance. In the dream, I tried to struggle. Really. But he was so much bigger than me. A huge man, compared to me, small and weak again. He tried to push in, but my body wasn’t letting him. Pain seared through me; I felt the assault about to happen.

“No! Please, no! Please! Mommy! I’ll be good!”

And then it was different. A new voice. Not Ray. Not Dad. Not my mother.

“Andy? Andy. Andy, wake up.” Zander. Zander’s voice, piercing the terror and the hurt.

The dream suddenly fell away, and I was awake again. I sat up, my heart racing. And in an instant, I was enveloped in a warm hug. Zander. I could still smell the faint scent of chlorine in his hair.

“Andy. Andy, what are you doing here?”

I couldn’t say anything. I just wrapped my arms around him and held onto him for a long time.

“Zander? What happened?” I finally asked in a small voice.

“I had to get up to take a pee, and I heard something in this room. You scared the crap out of me, Andy. When I heard you cry out, I knew it was you. It sounded like someone was hurting you.” He paused. “Was it a bad dream?”

I nodded into his chest. “A nightmare. I get them.” I told him.

“And what are you doing in the guestroom again? I thought we left you at the school.”

I finally got control of myself. I released Zander and sat back a little. I could see the bathroom light was on, spilling enough light to see in the darkness. He was dressed in a t-shirt and boxer briefs. When he started asking questions, I knew that the truth would have to come out in the morning. But there was another truth, a more important truth, which I had to tell him right away. I tried to pull myself together.

“Zander, I have a confession to make. OK, there are a whole bunch of confessions I have to make. You’ll get the long version in the morning, but I’m…” I faltered. Another breath. “I’m here because I was locked out again. Your mom caught me in the barn tonight. That’s not the whole story, but the whole story is too long. Don’t ask me why, please?”

He looked at me questioningly, but nodded.

I took a deep breath. I could feel my heart beating hard in my chest.

“Thank you,” I started simply. “Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for teaching me to skate, and to laugh, and to be a person again. You’re the best friend anyone could want.”

Now he looked really confused. I went on, quickly. I had to get this out, and I was making a mess of it. I was in a sweat and practically vibrating.

“But Zander, I’ve been hiding something from you. Something huge. From everyone…”

Silence. Now or never.

“Zander, I like guys. I’m gay. I’m gay, and I’m in love with you. I’m sorry, because I know that you’re straight, and I’m sorry about Mary Ellen, and I must be disgusting to you, and I’ve lied to you all this time. I should have told you. But I can’t lie anymore. I’m gay, and I love you, and I can’t help it, and I’m sorry.”

I stopped. I was out of breath. Zander stared at me, wide eyed. Seconds ticked by.

“Zander? Say something. Say…”

And then Zander lifted up his hand and tenderly put his index finger on my lips for a moment. I tried to read his deep, warm, dark eyes. What was it I saw? Not hate, not at all. And then he leaned forward, and closed his eyes, and kissed me.

It was just a gentle, warm pressure of his lips on mine. Comforting. Reassuring.

He pulled back, his eyes locked onto mine again. Surprise met astonishment. The boy I’d yearned for kissed me. Kissed. Me. A heartbeat passed, maybe two. And then, without thinking, I reached behind his head and pulled him to me. This time, I kissed him back, firmly. Within seconds, I felt his tongue sweep across my lips, asking for entrance. I opened for him, and for the first time, we tasted each other, explored each other.

This wasn’t fantasy. This was real. This wasn’t a hallucination; it was the fulfillment of every good dream I’ve ever had.

I was hungry for him, and I pulled him down on top of me in the bed. I wanted more of him. More Zander. We kissed like that for a few more seconds, but he let me go, just long enough to pull back the covers and slide into bed with me.

And with him in the bed, I rolled over on top of him and went back to kissing him again. It might have been minutes or seconds or an eternity. I didn’t care. I could not get enough of him. I concentrated on the feel of his lips, the shape of his mouth, and the lovely sensation of his tongue exploring mine. His hands were all over my back and sides, his fingers, in my hair. I felt him arch up into me, and I answered by grinding down on him.

I heard Zander moan a little then.

He pushed back against me and the delicious sensation made me want more. I thrust down on him and started kissing all over his face. His nose, his cheek, down his cheek to his jaw, to his neck, to that sexy spot where his neck and shoulder meet; I wanted to kiss it all, and kiss him everywhere, right now.

And then his hands slipped under my waistband and touched my ass. Touched me where Uncle Ray… Suddenly, the dream was back. The voice, pain, the fear. I froze. I couldn’t help it. I just tensed up and froze. Instantly, Zander removed his hands, and he pulled back. I’d ruined it. I’d had my fantasy, and now I’d ruined it.

“What?” he asked, looking at me, confused.

I buried my face in his neck, trying to keep the panic from rising. “I’m sorry, please don’t…touch me there. I…I'm just not…I can’t let you do that.”

“Okay.” I felt him nod against my face. “It’s okay.” I felt his breathing slow. He held me a little tighter. Zander caressed me, gently, tenderly, as if I was something fragile. He wasn’t letting go.

“It’s okay. I love you, Andy,” he murmured into my ear, “I love you. I’ve loved you since the day we met and didn’t have the guts to say it.” He sounded almost ashamed. “I’m the one who should be confessing to you. It’s okay.”

He loved me. Zander said he loved me. I could breathe again. I loved him, and he loved me. I slid off to the side and snuggled into him.

“I’m sorry. It’s just that these dreams I get, they’re…”

“Shhh, it’s all good,” Zander said, “you don’t have to tell me right now. Doesn’t matter. I’m sorry I kinda got carried away. What’s important is that you love me, too. That’s it.”

“I do. I love you, Zander,” I smiled at him, kissing him gently.

We kissed, softly, tenderly, a little while longer. But after a few minutes, I sensed that he was tired. He had every right to be. What a day we’d had, both of us. I was feeling wrung out, too. But I had one more thing to ask of him.

“Zander? Will you stay with me? Will you hold me? Just hold me, please?”

“Yeah, of course," he smiled. "Don't want to be anywhere else."

I used his shoulder for a pillow. I felt his arms surround me, and the whole of my length connect with his. He kissed my head.

“Good night, Andy. I love you,” he murmured, already sounding sleepy.

He loved me. I snuggled in closer, if that was possible. I listened to his breathing become more regular, his heartbeat slowing. In the morning, he'd have to learn everything. He'd know the truth. All of it. But maybe, just maybe it would be all right.

Because he loves me. He’s incredible, this boy I love.

My deep appreciation and thanks go to Craftingmom for her editing and encouragement in this and every chapter.

Please leave a review. Knowing what you think and how you feel is important, and all comments are valued.

Copyright © 2016 Parker Owens; 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.
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Chapter Comments



Ohhh... I'm all teary-eyed. Finally, the dam broke. Here's where all of the good karma that Andy's been storing up finally comes back to him. Hopefully, Zander's parents won't scare Andy too much when they find Zander in Andy's bed tomorrow morning. What a great chapter to be going into Christmas for; now I won't have to worry about Andy; he's in good hands. Thank you, Parker.

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Finally! But I'm surprised that Zander didn't feel the welts on Andy's back when they were kissing. Or maybe he did but it didn't register because he was feeling the elation of first love. Thanks again for writing such a beautiful story.

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Thanks for the Christmas present Parker!

 

An eventful and satisfying chapter. Just think, they found each other exactly in time for Valentine's Day. :heart: Perfect.

 

We're all happy that Zander's father is a lawyer. Andy's gonna need one now. ;)

 

thanks again for this!

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On 12/24/2015 12:52 AM, skinnydragon said:

Thanks for the Christmas present Parker!

 

An eventful and satisfying chapter. Just think, they found each other exactly in time for Valentine's Day. :heart: Perfect.

 

We're all happy that Zander's father is a lawyer. Andy's gonna need one now. ;)

 

thanks again for this!

I am very happy you unwrapped your present and liked it.

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Big events this chapter. I was a little blindsided by it, cause I didn't think Andy was in that place yet. I guess after he decided to stay he just couldn't lie anymore. I'm still shocked he told Zander how he felt but somebody had to. Where did he ever find the courage for that? When he decided last to tell the whole truth that kid doesn't hold back.

 

Seriously sweet moments though Parker. Andy NEEDS to feel safe and that poor kid needs affection more than anything. Zander is a total sweetie and a perfect fit for Andy I think.

 

Can't wait for what comes next.

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*squeal* :D Finally it happened - so cute! I love it! :2thumbs:
poor Stephen, it is so stressful for him, but I have faith that things Are to going to turn around for him now. Can't wait for the next chapter :read:

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I wanted to say I am loving this story of yours. The writing is very good and I really appreciate how the protagonist's problems don't get a magic fix. All the time till he arrived here, all the ups and downs of wondering: will it be this person who helps him, who saves him... And how long it all has been taking to build, it really gave me the most accurate impression I have read of the desperation he feels. So I wanted to thank you so much for sharing this story here so I can read it and hope you keep on doing it so I can see if he will find a bit of peace.

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Of all the times to run out of likes! And I'm about to run out of tissues too. There really isn't much I can add to what's been said. I'm relieved that Andy is going to finally free himself and share the burden of what he's been carrying. I am absolutely thrilled about him and Zander.

 

A perfect Christmas present Parker.. Thank you!

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Finally!! It looks like his journey has finally found a new beginning. This is the chapter in Andy's life that I have been hoping for. Now I know his future looks a lot brighter. Thank you for this amazing heartfelt story. Hopefully we will get the next chapter before Christmas.

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Thank you for yet another wonderfully written chapter! Once more, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

 

I am relieved that I won't spend Christmas worried about Andy; it's good to know he is safe for now.

 

I too was surprised by Andy's sudden burst of courageous honesty! Finally, the much anticipated New Year's kiss has graced Andy's journal, albeit with a small delay ;). Best of all, Andy received his Christmas miracle.

 

Thankfully, I have been spared a nerve racking cliff hanger. Yet I know things are about to get profoundly interesting. Mrs. Stevenson wants the truth and I suspect she will get it! I eagerly await the next installment.

 

I hope you have a warm and joyous holiday Parker!

 

Happy holidays to all ...

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Wow! This is the best story ever. It always makes my day to wake up and see that a new chapter has been posted. You are a genius, Parker Owens. Thank you!

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Yay! *doing a happy dance*

 

Finally they are honest and open. So sweet! Together, they'll handle everything else. Zander won't let his parents send Andy away. Great chapter!

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On 12/24/2015 12:32 AM, Lily Asteia said:

Thank you for this perfect Christmas gift.

You are most welcome. I hope you don't mind that I didn't put a bow or a tag on it. This was a chapter I liked writing enormously, though it took a long time to complete. Have a wonderful Christmas. Thank you for reading.

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On 12/24/2015 12:47 AM, xleroc said:

Ohhh... I'm all teary-eyed. Finally, the dam broke. Here's where all of the good karma that Andy's been storing up finally comes back to him. Hopefully, Zander's parents won't scare Andy too much when they find Zander in Andy's bed tomorrow morning. What a great chapter to be going into Christmas for; now I won't have to worry about Andy; he's in good hands. Thank you, Parker.

Yes, the dam finally washed away. It took a single serious misstep on Andy's part for it to happen. I hope this chapter makes your Christmas brighter. For the moment, Andy could not be in better hands. Thank you so much for reading Andy's story, and for your review, A happy Christmas to you!

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On 12/24/2015 12:50 AM, Ozymandias said:

Finally! But I'm surprised that Zander didn't feel the welts on Andy's back when they were kissing. Or maybe he did but it didn't register because he was feeling the elation of first love. Thanks again for writing such a beautiful story.

I am glad you felt the 'finally' as I did when I wrote this. For now, Andy could not be in better hands - or arms - than Zander's. Have a lovely, happy Christmas, Thank you for reading and for your review.

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On 12/24/2015 06:09 AM, Puppilull said:

Yay! *doing a happy dance*

 

Finally they are honest and open. So sweet! Together, they'll handle everything else. Zander won't let his parents send Andy away. Great chapter!

So glad this chapter made you happy. It made me glad to write it. God Jul, and we'll see Andy and Zander again in a few days. Thanks so much for reading and for your comments.

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On 12/24/2015 01:52 AM, spikey582 said:

Big events this chapter. I was a little blindsided by it, cause I didn't think Andy was in that place yet. I guess after he decided to stay he just couldn't lie anymore. I'm still shocked he told Zander how he felt but somebody had to. Where did he ever find the courage for that? When he decided last to tell the whole truth that kid doesn't hold back.

 

Seriously sweet moments though Parker. Andy NEEDS to feel safe and that poor kid needs affection more than anything. Zander is a total sweetie and a perfect fit for Andy I think.

 

Can't wait for what comes next.

Andy was blindsided, too. But he knew Zander's mother would be waiting - will still be waiting for a full explanation in the morning. And we know she's not going to buy any 'my father this or that' nonsense. So does Andy. In the end, the courage to confess to Zander was there all along. Hope your Christmas is a happy one. Many thanks for your reading and for your reviews.

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I want the next chapter now!!!! It's good that Andy finally came clean. Or will come clean. Hopefully he'll have a home now with the Stevensons and can get his legal matters settled so he can start to heal and live his life in peace. You portrayed the reaction of an abuse victim perfectly when Zander tried to touch him. It's going to take a long time for Andy to come to terms with it. Great chapter!

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On 12/24/2015 03:21 AM, Kjamieson said:

Love it :-) I'm so glad Andy found some happiness. Can't wait to see what happens in the morning!

Andy finally just gave in and told Zander the truth. For the few hours left to him before morning, everything is all right. No doubt, he will worry about what happens next when he wakes, which will be after Christmas for the likes of you and me. Thanks for reading Andy's story and for your reviews..

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On 12/24/2015 03:35 AM, ninecila said:

*squeal* :D Finally it happened - so cute! I love it! :2thumbs:

poor Stephen, it is so stressful for him, but I have faith that things Are to going to turn around for him now. Can't wait for the next chapter :read:

Glad you are happy; writing to chapter made me happy, too. Thanks for reading so far into the story, and for your reviews, Perhaps the clouds on the horizon of Andy's life will clear a bit. Happy Christmas!

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WOW, WOW, WOW!
This is the break I have been longing for since the beginning of this story and has kept me coming back!
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
Andy FINALLY gets the break in life that he didn't even know he deserved. He finally has the ray of hope in his life that I, and I think all of your readers, have been hoping for 'ad nauseum' since the first chapter.
Merry Christmas!

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