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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 - 48. Chapter 48 Scars

Scars

Warnings for this chapter include disturbing flashbacks, descriptions of sexual assault.

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/

March 3

A letter from the school came to the Stevenson’s house yesterday, addressed to the ‘Parent or Guardian of Andrew Stevenson.’ Monica made a big deal of getting it, like it was some big milestone in my childhood. I felt really apprehensive. Letters home from the school were never a good thing in Carlsberg. They almost always pissed Dad off.

This time, the news wasn’t good at all, either.

The letter notified us that for the next ten days starting Monday, my gym class will be in the pool. Swimming. I was directed to bring appropriate swim stuff, and so on. When Zander heard about it, he looked really happy – at least, until he saw the sick look on my face. He stopped talking about how I’d soon be doing laps with him and stuff like that, and the conversation around the dinner table went quiet. Now everyone looked at me.

Shit.

“What’s the matter, Andy?” Monica asked, concerned.

“I don’t want to do it,” I said, shortly. “I hate swimming.”

“Why not?” asked Zander, looking perhaps a little hurt.

I tried to explain. When I thought about it later, I was amazed at how I could talk about this with everyone there. “Sorry, Zander. I’m really bad at swimming. I can barely keep my head above water. And I really, really don’t like people to see me. I don’t want people to see my back. The scars, you know?”

“Oh,” he said in a small voice. Then he looked thoughtful.

“Couldn’t you go in the pool wearing a t-shirt or something?” Monica asked.

“No,” Zander responded quickly. “They won’t let you do that. Something about dyes or soap in the cloth, I think. Anyway, I know people who tried and were told not to.”

“Well, I think we ought to be able to work around the problem,” Mr. Stevenson spoke up, looking at me. “I can call the principal tomorrow, and ask her to let you out of the requirement.”

But I could tell Zander had something else in mind, though he wasn’t saying anything.

I thought that I was getting enough exercise without swimming lessons. Kaz has been making me try to run sprints between periods of slower running in the mornings. He wants to see how long I can go my fastest before my lungs and legs give out. I won’t say that I’m not grateful for his coaching and encouragement, because I am. I know I’m getting stronger, but it makes me so tired.

Dr. O’Shea also gave me a workout this week. Not like the running Kaz is making me do. But she stopped letting me slide so easily when we hit on something that made me uncomfortable. Okay, it’s honesty time. She made me talk about Dad and Uncle Ray. I’d had another really bad dream about them on Monday night, my first in a while. Although Zander had been there for comfort, it was still a rotten nightmare, and I hated waking up with my heart pounding.

It did not feel good to talk about Dad and Uncle Ray. I tensed up the instant she brought them up.

“You told me that you dream about your Uncle Ray and your Dad. Can you talk some more about those dreams?”

I made the mistake of shrugging, instead of just flat out refusing to talk.

“There’s a reason you keep having those dreams. Why do you think that is?”

I shrugged again.

“What happened when your mother left? Can you describe for me what went on?”

This was safer, at least a little. I gave her as much as I could recall about the fighting, yelling, the breaking of dishes and furniture; the sounds of all-out parental warfare going on outside my bedroom door. Dad always blamed this on me, telling me the arguments were all my fault, that I was the one who caused them. But he never told me exactly what the fights were about. I described the eerie silence of the house the day after mom left. Dad wasn’t just grumpy. His temper was on a hair trigger, and he didn’t hesitate to hit me hard to let me know when I’d crossed whatever line he’d drawn. And very soon, he was always drunk.

I was a little boy. I was petrified. I didn’t know where mom had gone, but Dad made sure I knew that I’d sent her away.

My monologue got harder and harder to sustain when I described the time that came a month or two after mom disappeared. Dr. O’Shea just sat there in her chair, listening intently. She gave me very little encouragement. She just waited through the silences, expecting me to go on.

“And then Uncle Ray came to stay with us for a while,” I said, ending one of these pauses.

“Where did he stay? In what room?” she probed.

“In the guest room. The room next to mine.” I was getting very tense about this.

“What did he do while he stayed with you and your father?”

That was a poser. I went to school, trying to pretend that nothing was amiss, not wanting to go back to my tyrant of a father or his creepy brother. And what did he do while I was gone?

“I don’t know.”

“And when you came home from school, what did your uncle do with you? Was he there to watch you while your father was at work?”

Oh boy. “Yeah, he watched me. Like a cat watching a mouse it’s about to eat.” Too late, I realized I’d spoken aloud.

“Were you afraid of him?”

I nodded.

“Did your uncle molest you?”

I stared into space. No words could come. A great black chasm, swirling with fear and misery and shame opened up before me. Memories of terrible black nights, shadows stealing across my bedroom, and the stink of lust and fear eddied up out of the hole in my mind. Echoes of the pain I experienced sounded in its depths; Uncle Ray’s evil whispers and threats added their notes to the onrushing cacophony. Vainly, I tried to push all that back into its hole.

I teetered on the brink of panic and despair. I’d been there before, but never confronted it so plainly. I trembled. But even as my mind tried to deal with an undeniable reality, I felt another reality anchoring me to solid ground. Zander loved me. Why, I couldn’t guess, but he said he loved me, and remembering that one thing, and hanging onto it, made it possible to hold onto the present while looking at my past.

Finally, I said in a whisper, eyes still locked on the carpet, “Yes. He did that.”

There. I said it. I admitted it. It hadn’t been a dream. It hadn’t been a terrible vision or a nightmare. It had happened.

“What did he do to you?” Dr. O’Shea pushed a little more.

Deep breath. Face the abyss. I was still safe. “He…forced…he…he stuck his thing in me.”

Silence. “You mean he raped you?”

More silence. “He…held me down…he tore off my pants…and then he rammed it up into me…” Suddenly, I realized there were tears on my face. My nose was clogged, and I had to sniff.

Dr. O’Shea didn’t offer empty, soothing words. She waited.

I gathered myself together again. “It hurt. God, it hurt so bad,” I said, remembering the searing, nearly blinding pain of getting torn open. There had been blood, afterwards. I’d been so ashamed. “When I tried to get out from under him, he hit me; when I tried to scream, he shoved my face down into the pillow until I couldn’t breathe…and when he was done…when he finished, he told me that he’d slice open my throat if I said anything to anyone.”

“Did your father suspect anything?” She didn’t let up at all.

“I don’t know,” I said, dully, “he was usually drunk by the time supper was over. I doubt he knew anything while it was going on.”

“What does ‘while it was going on’ mean? Did your uncle attack you more than once?”

I did not want to remember this. But she had asked, and I didn’t want to lie or duck it, either. I nodded. “He was at our house for a month. Uncle Ray…came to my room…a lot of times. For a month.” I paused to breathe again. “Once I tried to lock my door, but he just jimmied it open somehow. Another time, I tried blocking the door with a chair or something, but Uncle Ray just busted the door in. He cut his hand open on a splinter of wood, I remember. That really pissed him off. But whenever I did something like that, or tried to put up a fight, he’d just make sure to hurt me worse after.”

“Did you ever tell your father what was happening?” Again, the questioning, flat, without emotion.

“Once. Only once. When I tried, Dad blew up at me, called me a shitty little liar, and whipped me so bad I didn’t go to school the next day. I didn’t say anything after that.”

Dr. O’Shea’s professional mask dropped a little. “Oh, Andy,” she said simply, “I’m so sorry.” I looked up to find her handing me a box of tissues. I guess I was kind of a mess. She gave me a long time to recover.

“I can’t imagine how you must have felt,” she went on, “but maybe you can tell me what you feel now. Today.”

“I feel like shit,” I said sharply, “what do you expect me to feel?”

“Just that? Only shitty?” she asked in that tone I had learned meant that she was suggesting I needed to think a little more.

I managed to stop sniffling and tried to think about what she was asking. Moments passed, and Dr. O’Shea waited patiently, as she always did when I wanted to chew over an answer. I’d had a long time to think about this. Eight years. All summer, all pretty much on my own. “When I think about it, I feel…empty inside. Sometimes I feel dirty, like I’ll never be clean. Sometimes I feel like I’m broken, and I can’t be fixed. I feel completely alone. Totally helpless. And scared. Really scared.”

I was on a roll. Suddenly, I could tell someone about it. About how it was like to be me.

“Do you feel like that all the time?” She wouldn’t stop asking questions.

“I used to. I felt like that all the time. Every day. Even when I knew Dad was dead, and I was on the road. But not anymore. Not since…” I stopped, and I actually smiled. “Not since walking into Blackburn. Not since…Zander.”

“How does Zander make you feel?”

I didn’t hesitate to answer. “He makes me feel loved. Like I finally belong. With him, I feel like there’s really a place for me in the world. He and his family have been so good to me. They give me so much, and…and I…” I faltered. “…and I don’t deserve it.”

“What don’t you deserve?”

That line of discussion went on for a long time. How do I know I don’t deserve to be loved? Who told me so? Whose choice is it to love? To give? To receive? Basically, Dr. O’Shea wore me down. By the end our time, I was exhausted.

But the funny thing is, even though I felt drained at the end of our session, I also felt a lot better when I got into the car. Like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. But I needed time to think.

Zander noticed how quiet I was for past few days, and he didn’t push. Have I mentioned how wonderful a boyfriend he is? Thursday’s meeting Dr. O’Shea’s office was nearly as tough. She went right back to the deserving question and made me think hard about my answers. Why don’t I deserve Zander? What do I deserve instead if I don’t? Did I deserve to be raped? To be beaten by a drunken father? To live homeless, and on the run? To be cared for? To be accepted? To be loved? What parts of my life were mine to choose? Which parts weren’t? What choices do I have now? I’m still dizzy with all the questions, even a whole day after.

But maybe, I’m beginning to see some of the point of all this talk. Do I really have a choice to be happy? I wonder.

 

March 5

I took Zander out on a real date Saturday night. Okay, it was a pretty tame outing, but I still smile, thinking about it. I still have some cash from my summer stash, so I asked him out to eat at the diner downtown. I wanted to do something nice with him, and maybe give Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson some time to themselves, too.

We ended up walking into town, slowly, and then eating and talking and eating some more for a long time. We talked about music over our giant hamburgers; I’m just getting used to the idea that I can listen to music that I choose – that I like. There wasn’t any music in the house in Carlsberg and very little to speak of at the Whitley farm, either. At first, Zander tried to get me to listen to his stuff, but I’m beginning to prefer some of the country tunes I’ve found. We finished our fries arguing about whether country music is all just a formula for sad songs, or something like that.

I noticed my plate was completely empty.

“Hey you want this?” Zander held out a long quartered pickle that had come as part of our orders. I’d eaten mine a long time ago.

I took it from him and inserted it in my mouth, savoring the salty, sour flavor. There were times last summer that I would have killed for the chance to eat something like that – hell, anything at all.

“There’s something I have to tell you,” Zander said, changing the subject. His face suddenly looked really serious. “There was this guy at the last meet. You probably saw him at regionals. Tall, thin, African American. Really good. Well, he was flirting with me for almost the whole time I was there last week.”

I felt sick. What was he telling me? Was Zander telling me that we were all done? That he wanted someone else? I realized he was still speaking.

“He actually hit on me practically from the minute I got to the pool. I think he was trying to distract me or something. Nothing I said could make him go away.” He paused. “I got so mad that I kind of outed myself to the guy. I told him to stop ‘cause my boyfriend wouldn’t like it.” He grinned.

I got really quiet – I didn’t like the idea of anyone flirting with Zander.

“You okay? You’re not saying anything,” he prompted.

“I just wish I could have been there with you, Zander.” I sighed. “Maybe I’m jealous of the other guy, what’s his name, Greg? Isn’t he the big competition from last month’s meet? He’s hot.” I thought about Zander together with the big dark boy. They’d look good together. A great couple. I glanced up at Zander sadly. “You weren’t really interested, were you?”

Zander reached across the table and covered my hand with his. The gesture was perfectly natural, but I was so aware of his hand on mine at that moment. “Are you kidding, Andy? The only boy who interests me is sitting right here at this table.”

I blushed. I love it when he says things like that. “I’m sorry, Zander. I know I’m just jealous and insecure.”

He snorted. “Wait until some guy hits on you. I’ll show you jealousy.”

Someone hitting on me? Like that would ever happen.

I insisted on paying – Zander wanted to split the bill, but I wasn’t going to let him get anywhere near the little piece of paper with the total on it – and we walked out into the chilly dark Saturday night. We wandered vaguely in the direction of the ice rink; Zander said it would be open for skating still. Our feet strayed into the riverside park, and we followed the darkened, icy road that wandered through the deserted picnic shelters and swing sets. The bright lights from the skating rink glared distantly through the bare tree branches.

Suddenly, Zander stopped.

“It was here,” he said.

I looked around in the darkness, curious.

“Right here, I think,” he repeated, “that’s where I saw you for the first time. You were sitting on a tree branch over the creek,” he continued, pointing toward the silent, icy waters, “and the morning sun was shining on your hair and shoulders.” He stopped.

I remembered that morning.

“You were the most beautiful boy I’d ever seen, and I wanted you from the moment I saw you,” Zander spoke quietly. He took my hand, and turned me toward him and kissed me softly, gently. I couldn’t think of anything else but kissing him back. The kiss deepened rapidly. We got lost in each other. Nothing mattered – not the cold, not the stray snowflakes blowing around – nothing except the fantastic feeling of Zander’s mouth on mine, his lips open to my tongue, and mine to his.

And when we finally had to stop in order to breathe, Zander pulled me close. “I’m yours, completely. You know that, don’t you? Don’t ever worry that I’ll fall for some other guy. Because that’s not going to happen.”

We wound up skating for a little while and walking the long walk home, happily being together. It was a wonderful first date.

We got home and talked with Monica and Mr. Stevenson – it’s going to be impossible to call him ‘Garrett’ – for a little while, and then went up to bed.

We’ve been spending most nights in my bedroom, but tonight, I wanted to stay in Zander’s.

“Sure thing,” he said casually when I asked him about it, “and I have something for you, anyway.” I looked at him, puzzled. “It’s a surprise. A good one, I hope.”

A few minutes later, dressed in my old basketball shorts and t-shirt, I joined Zander in his room. He handed me a pair of brightly colored shorts. “Board shorts,” he said briefly, “I got them for you when we went clothes shopping. You’ll need them for swimming on Monday.”

“But I thought they’d let me out of that,” I just about whined.

Zander grinned. “I thought of something better. You know how we get to the gym early when we run?”

I nodded.

“Well, I convinced coach to come in early and let me teach you swimming privately. Just you and me.”

My jaw dropped. Zander must have thought I was angry, because he hurried to explain.

“I mean, coach comes in early, anyway, and besides I have my Water Safety Instructor’s certificate, and I teach swimming and lifeguard all summer, and…”

“You want to teach me to swim? One on one?” I asked him, interrupting.

“Yeah,” he said sheepishly, “I thought maybe you wouldn’t mind so much…if it were me. Coach will be nearby, but he won’t be, you know, right there.”

“And does coach know why you want to do this?” I was okay with my secrets being out to Zander and the family, and maybe even to Kaz and Terry, but outside of that tight little circle, I would feel really exposed.

“Kind of. He knows you have a physical problem that makes it really embarrassing for you to do swimming with everyone else,” Zander said quickly. “But if dad had gone to the principal asking for you to get out of swimming, he would have known that, anyhow,” he reasoned. “Besides, this way, you get credit for the unit, and you keep up with the class.”

“Oh. I didn’t think of it that way.” I held the shorts in my hand.

Zander got into bed, while I stood there, uncertainly. I realized that Zander had made a good plan. He’d been looking out for me, again. I was going to have to keep working on trust. If I really trusted Zander, I wouldn’t be worried about this. If I really trusted Zander with who I am, and what I am, then this shouldn’t be a big deal. If the kisses we shared meant anything, I know I should be able to trust him. Hell, we sleep in each other’s beds every night, why should I care if I have to go swimming with him?

Zander lay there in bed, waiting for me, looking a little confused. I decided it was time. Time to be more open to him, more trusting. I set the board shorts down. It was time for another barrier to fall. In the little pool of light thrown by the bedside lamp, I pulled off my t-shirt and dropped it at my feet.

Zander’s eyes went wide. “What are you doing?” he whispered.

I got into bed with him and faced him. “I’m trusting you. Trusting you with what my body looks like. With me,” I said, looking deep into his eyes. “If I have to do it Monday, I want to start now, so the sight of me doesn’t make you sick.”

“Make me sick? Is that what you think?” Zander asked, wonderingly. His eyes went all soft, somehow. Slowly, hesitantly, he reached out a hand. He ran his fingers slowly down my arm, and I shivered at the delicate touch. I held my breath when they moved back up along the curve of my bicep and along the outline of my collarbone. When his fingers traced the line down the center of my chest, I had to close my eyes.

“You’re beautiful. Incredible,” I heard Zander whisper. His touch lingered just below my belly button, hesitating at my waistband. I realized that maybe - maybe - I wasn’t afraid of what Zander might do. If he wanted it, maybe I could let him go anywhere he chose. If it happened, I wouldn’t stop him. My cock quivered, and my heart thudded loudly inside my ribcage. “So beautiful,” he repeated.

And then Zander closed the distance between us and gave me another mind-blowing kiss. I felt his arms encircle me and draw me in closer. I felt his fingers run over my naked back, caressing every scar, every mark, every bump left over from a life I’d left behind.

My skin tingled with the new sensation his long, artist’s fingers made on my flesh. I shivered at his gentle caress, an electricity running the length of my body. I couldn’t help curving my body into him. My response to his kisses became hotter, more urgent. We kissed feverishly, my fingers running through his hair, his hands all over my shoulders and spine. But when Zander’s touch strayed close to my waistline again, he stopped and pulled back. Both of us panted a little from the intensity of our kissing.

“You just don’t know how seriously good-looking you are,” he whispered hoarsely, brushing a stray hair back away from my face. His eyes were almost black, his face serious. “No matter what you say, no matter what happened, I’m always going to tell you that. Because it’s a fact.”

Hearing Zander say it with such conviction made me believe it. Almost.

He tugged a little on my shoulder. “Roll onto your stomach a second, okay?”

I lay flat, cradling my head on my arms. I didn’t have long to wonder what Zander was doing. He climbed on top of me, straddling my thighs. I felt his fingers trail down my spine again. Then I felt his lips touch my left shoulder. Then he planted another kiss a little farther down. Then another over to the right.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Kissing your scars,” Zander replied softly. “They’re part of you. That makes them part of me, too.” He kept kissing my back, lower and lower. He went on, “And I love you. All of you – including every mark on your back.” Zander punctuated each word with a kiss. I felt him trace a long scar over my lower back with his right thumb. He shifted down and kissed that, too. And when he breathed on the hollow of my spine where it disappeared into my shorts, my whole frame trembled.

He sat up. I heard the rustling of cloth. Zander lay back down and stretched out his full length on top of me. He’d taken off his shirt. Now I could feel the warmth of his silken skin on mine. And I could feel his shaft through my shorts, hard as stone, lying perfectly in my cleft. While it made me tremble, I didn't want him to move, either.

“You’re beautiful, Andy, and I love you,” Zander breathed into my ear. “I know you’re not ready for more than this, and…and maybe I’m not, either. But this feels so good and right…”

I twisted my head around and kissed him slowly, intensely. I reached an arm back to hold him to me, to let the heat of our skin meld us together. Zander was right. This was good. Perfect. We kissed like that for a while – softly, sensuously, almost delicately. Afraid to disturb the pure peace of that moment.

I think we dozed that way, eventually. But when I woke, we were again in our familiar, warm tangle, with Zander spooned up behind me, and his arms around me. But this time, his lips brushed my bare shoulder, and his hand slumbered idly on my bare chest.

Today might be Sunday, but last night had to be heaven.

Craftingmom was the editor for this and every chapter. Her insight and wisdom were essential, and I am most grateful for her kindness.

Please leave a review. I value your comments and remarks, and they are all welcome.

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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Nice chapter, parts difficult to read, cuz of old memories, and scars I can't let pple see. I still hide them.

 

I have issues with teen stories and I have them with this one but I cope by making them older in my head. But I thought the part with the therapist to be good, and their date.

 

Thanks Parker

 

tim

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On 01/12/2016 10:58 PM, mayday said:

Great chapter again. How does Zander know what to do? He always seems to get it right. And progress, too, in therapy - it is so good to read after all the dark chapters in the beginning that Andy is finding himself and peeling off the layers of dirt and pain, even though he still has no idea how deserving and loveable he is - you show that beautifully

Thank you for your writing

Zander must be listening to Andy with more than his ears. Andy finally admitting out loud what happened - what has been haunting him - exposed his deepest wound, but now it can heal better, maybe. And Andy really is loveable, isn't he? Thank you so much for reading Andy's journal and for your review.

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On 01/12/2016 10:48 PM, Mikiesboy said:

Nice chapter, parts difficult to read, cuz of old memories, and scars I can't let pple see. I still hide them.

 

I have issues with teen stories and I have them with this one but I cope by making them older in my head. But I thought the part with the therapist to be good, and their date.

 

Thanks Parker

 

tim

Thanks Tim, for your constant reading and support. Thanks too for your honest responses and appraisal. I am glad the thearapist's scene rang true to you. The date was really fun to watch roll off the page. I wish everything flew off my fingers that easily. - P

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Well of course.
Andy couldn't move any degree forward without his 'confession' to the therapist. He's been hiding, running, avoiding and shrugging. Finally he's confronting.

 

His controlling the 'date' and developing new skills under Kaz reveals the spark in him we always knew was there.
How did I just know they would revisit the spot Zander's first observed Andy?

 

Poor Zander. I think we overlook how frustrating it must be for him to be so close to the object of his love each night, with his hormones surging, and keep it all in. Poor Zander. He is a saint, not just because he seems to know how to solve each of Andy's little dilemmas.

 

Another insightful and rewarding chapter Parker! Thanks for sharing.

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On 01/13/2016 01:34 AM, skinnydragon said:

Well of course.

Andy couldn't move any degree forward without his 'confession' to the therapist. He's been hiding, running, avoiding and shrugging. Finally he's confronting.

 

His controlling the 'date' and developing new skills under Kaz reveals the spark in him we always knew was there.

How did I just know they would revisit the spot Zander's first observed Andy?

 

Poor Zander. I think we overlook how frustrating it must be for him to be so close to the object of his love each night, with his hormones surging, and keep it all in. Poor Zander. He is a saint, not just because he seems to know how to solve each of Andy's little dilemmas.

 

Another insightful and rewarding chapter Parker! Thanks for sharing.

For Andy, Dr. O'Shea seemed relentless. But maybe it was just unravelling so many threads all at once that it needed to happen. The 'date' was such fun to write, it came off my fingers without any apparent effort on my part. Zander has been so good to Andy; he must be channeling his need for Andy into kindness. He appears to be listening to Andy with more than his ears. Thank you for continuing to read this story and for your insights. I really appreciate them.

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Andy is starting to heal, thanks to the counselor and Zander. He still has a long road ahead of him, but he's on the right path now. The ending was so sweet. Another great chapter. :)

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WOW! Thank you Parker. This chapter is both deeply interesting and poignantly beautiful.

 

I appreciate that Andy's inner strength has been slowly ascending toward the surface. That Zander's love served as the anchor Andy needed to weather the emotional storm invoked by the thearpist intertwined strength and love wonderfully. While I did not expect Andy to be capable of allowing his darkest memories and emotions so near the surface so soon, he surprised me again. It felt real, believably real. Excellent!

 

I do have one criticism. It still strikes me as odd, or slightly out of character, when Andy makes strong statements about trust. "I was going to have to keep working on trust. If I really trusted Zander ..." Trust is so emotionally and intellectually complex. It permeates every aspect of our lives. "Work on trust" sounds like simplistic pop psychology rather than a genuine inner thought. 'What will he think if .... ?', seems more genuine.

 

"Did someone say romance?" ... "Read the story info, Genre: Adventure,Romance" ... "Oh yeah, I forgot." ;)

 

Andy initiates his first real date! Andy enjoys food without shame! Andy insists he pay the tab! Who is this kid?

 

Zander reminds Andy of thier first glimpses of one another. Ice skating again. Board shorts. Andy takes his shirt off ... kisses ... so sweet ... each scar kissed lovingly, tenderly. While certainly not kisses worthy of Danielle Steele's imagination, they are fantastically romantic.

 

Simply beautiful!

 

Damn, I might have to read this chapter again ;) .

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Another fantastic chapter Parker! It is good to see Andy finally being able to peel away painful actions of his past. When he gets that out in the open, then maybe his trust levels will rise. It was a heartfelt feeling when Zander came up with a plan to spare Andy the pain of taking swimming with the rest of his peers. Now that Andy has spoken to his Dr. O'Shea about the abuse he suffered from his Uncle Andy, He can eventually be dealt with by the law.. I guess that all remains in the rest of the story. Again, Great chapter.

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Great chapter. It's good that Andy is finally dealing with his past abuse. He needs to come to terms with it before he can really move forward. And the support he's getting from Zander and family is terrific and just as important. Andy will need the increased inner strength and support for whatever comes from Carlsberg. I'm extremely curious about what's to come from that whole situation and I've come up with about a dozen ways it could go. I'm driving myself a bit crazy!

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On 01/13/2016 05:45 AM, avidreadr said:

Great chapter. It's good that Andy is finally dealing with his past abuse. He needs to come to terms with it before he can really move forward. And the support he's getting from Zander and family is terrific and just as important. Andy will need the increased inner strength and support for whatever comes from Carlsberg. I'm extremely curious about what's to come from that whole situation and I've come up with about a dozen ways it could go. I'm driving myself a bit crazy!

Don't go crazy, not yet. Andy can finally face what happened to him, thanks to the persistence of Dr. O'Shea and to the love he has for Zander. Monica and Garrett have been very good to him, and Zander has been fantastic. Thanks for reading with Andy, and for your review.

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On 01/13/2016 05:01 AM, slapshot said:

Another fantastic chapter Parker! It is good to see Andy finally being able to peel away painful actions of his past. When he gets that out in the open, then maybe his trust levels will rise. It was a heartfelt feeling when Zander came up with a plan to spare Andy the pain of taking swimming with the rest of his peers. Now that Andy has spoken to his Dr. O'Shea about the abuse he suffered from his Uncle Andy, He can eventually be dealt with by the law.. I guess that all remains in the rest of the story. Again, Great chapter.

Thanks for your review, and for reading further into the story. Zander was really thoughtful, and must have made a good plea to his coach to make the private swim lessons happen. Thanks to Dr. O'Shea for persistence, thanks to Zander for love and care - we got to see Andy start to heal.

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On 01/13/2016 02:30 AM, Valkyrie said:

Andy is starting to heal, thanks to the counselor and Zander. He still has a long road ahead of him, but he's on the right path now. The ending was so sweet. Another great chapter. :)

I am glad you thought the ending was sweet; hopefully not too saccharine. This marks a big turn in Andy's life. Healing takes time, but he's stripped bare the scars of his life, and now they can start to fade. Thanks for reading this chapter and for your kind review.

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On 01/13/2016 04:39 AM, said:

WOW! Thank you Parker. This chapter is both deeply interesting and poignantly beautiful.

 

I appreciate that Andy's inner strength has been slowly ascending toward the surface. That Zander's love served as the anchor Andy needed to weather the emotional storm invoked by the thearpist intertwined strength and love wonderfully. While I did not expect Andy to be capable of allowing his darkest memories and emotions so near the surface so soon, he surprised me again. It felt real, believably real. Excellent!

 

I do have one criticism. It still strikes me as odd, or slightly out of character, when Andy makes strong statements about trust. "I was going to have to keep working on trust. If I really trusted Zander ..." Trust is so emotionally and intellectually complex. It permeates every aspect of our lives. "Work on trust" sounds like simplistic pop psychology rather than a genuine inner thought. 'What will he think if .... ?', seems more genuine.

 

"Did someone say romance?" ... "Read the story info, Genre: Adventure,Romance" ... "Oh yeah, I forgot." ;)

 

Andy initiates his first real date! Andy enjoys food without shame! Andy insists he pay the tab! Who is this kid?

 

Zander reminds Andy of thier first glimpses of one another. Ice skating again. Board shorts. Andy takes his shirt off ... kisses ... so sweet ... each scar kissed lovingly, tenderly. While certainly not kisses worthy of Danielle Steele's imagination, they are fantastically romantic.

 

Simply beautiful!

 

Damn, I might have to read this chapter again ;) .

I am glad you found this chapter so engrossing. While trust is developed slowly and internally, I'd also say that kids language about that might also develop slowly. In the meantime, it's possible for them to borrow language from other sources. I loved writing the 'date' portion of it especially. Andy beginning to develop his own taste in music is a real milestone in helping him with his own identity. That he can argue about it with Zander on friendly terms is huge. No, it's not Danielle Steele, but they're memorable kisses, just the same.

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Ok this was probably my favorite chapter yet. I'm a sucker for romance, so I've been trying to patiently wait for Andy and Zander to get to this point in their relationship. Andy continues to astound me with how thoughful he is to those whom he loves (and who also love him consequently). It's like this kid has been waiting to do this all his life, and he just needed to find people worthwhile enough to share all his love with. Also, reading about Zander kissing his scars made me tear up a little. I seriously never cry and yet you've gotten me a little teary eyed so many times in this story.

 

It was for sure hard to read about Andy's sexual abuse, probably one of the rougher chapters of the story just for that description, but you handled that incredibly well. I was glad though that he was talking about it with Dr. O'Shea as opposed to going through it, that softened the blow somewhat. Not nearly as hard to read as the early chapters were.

 

As usual you've got me riveted. I, like a couple others, am apprehensive about what he left behind catching up with him, but Andy has already grown so much in such a short time. I have a feeling he'll be able to get through it.

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On 01/13/2016 08:37 AM, spikey582 said:

Ok this was probably my favorite chapter yet. I'm a sucker for romance, so I've been trying to patiently wait for Andy and Zander to get to this point in their relationship. Andy continues to astound me with how thoughful he is to those whom he loves (and who also love him consequently). It's like this kid has been waiting to do this all his life, and he just needed to find people worthwhile enough to share all his love with. Also, reading about Zander kissing his scars made me tear up a little. I seriously never cry and yet you've gotten me a little teary eyed so many times in this story.

 

It was for sure hard to read about Andy's sexual abuse, probably one of the rougher chapters of the story just for that description, but you handled that incredibly well. I was glad though that he was talking about it with Dr. O'Shea as opposed to going through it, that softened the blow somewhat. Not nearly as hard to read as the early chapters were.

 

As usual you've got me riveted. I, like a couple others, am apprehensive about what he left behind catching up with him, but Andy has already grown so much in such a short time. I have a feeling he'll be able to get through it.

Confession time: I am a hopeless romantic. I really liked the way this chapter came together, though the early part was very hard to get the way I wanted. The date description, by contrast, just flowed off my fingers. Andy's just soaking up being loved, and instinctively loves back in return. This might mean he actually believes in it. I am glad the recollection of his abuse at the hands of Uncle Ray wasn't as rough for you as the beginning; I know the beginning put some people right off the story. Thanks for your patient reading of the story and for your many insightful remarks.

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Andy has nightmares again. Possibly his mind telling him it's time to deal with things. I think the therapist is doing a great job and Andy is very brave to dare look at these ugly events in his past.

 

Beautiful ending to it, with Zander showing how mature he is. And how much he loves Andy.

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On 01/13/2016 09:23 AM, Puppilull said:

Andy has nightmares again. Possibly his mind telling him it's time to deal with things. I think the therapist is doing a great job and Andy is very brave to dare look at these ugly events in his past.

 

Beautiful ending to it, with Zander showing how mature he is. And how much he loves Andy.

"And how much he loves Andy." You said it all right there. Zander has become more than just Andy's lifeline to something better; he is that something. Thanks for your. Many encouraging reviews and kind words.

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My favorite part of this chapter is Andy taking off his shirt, and Zander kissing his scars. Trust and love, all in those simple acts. Zander's plan was brilliant. I also thought it sweet Zander pointed out their first 'meet'.
The date was lovely. The Andy we know was hidden underneath that beaten down boy is emerging. It is heartwarming to see. Glad that he finally opening up to the doc, and hopefully this means he will be able to move past some of his emotional and physical roadblocks.

 

A beautiful chapter Parker, thank you..

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Such a beautiful balance you managed to achieve with this chapter!

 

I've been seeing various therapists weekly for about 7 years now (they're all interns, so they leave after about a year). Because I've had so many different ones, I've had experience with many different styles of therapists and therapies. Dr O'Shea feels real to me. I've had similar questions directed at me, but my issue is anxiety. I'm an expert on going off on tangents to avoid confronting things that make me uncomfortable and anxious. I've had therapists redirect me or cut off my attempt to change the subject. I've had therapists go quiet to force me to talk in preference to the stress of the silence.

 

I've also had several different psychiatrist (because county health departments have trouble recruiting and keeping them due to relatively low pay). They also have differing styles, but I don't see them as frequently and the focus is more on how the meds are working.

 

I had been wondering how long Andy would get away with shrugs and other forms of deflection. I don't think that Andy has completely discussed all the abuse he suffered yet. But his walls have been breached and further revelations will be easier for him.

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On 01/14/2016 12:26 AM, droughtquake said:

Such a beautiful balance you managed to achieve with this chapter!

 

I've been seeing various therapists weekly for about 7 years now (they're all interns, so they leave after about a year). Because I've had so many different ones, I've had experience with many different styles of therapists and therapies. Dr O'Shea feels real to me. I've had similar questions directed at me, but my issue is anxiety. I'm an expert on going off on tangents to avoid confronting things that make me uncomfortable and anxious. I've had therapists redirect me or cut off my attempt to change the subject. I've had therapists go quiet to force me to talk in preference to the stress of the silence.

 

I've also had several different psychiatrist (because county health departments have trouble recruiting and keeping them due to relatively low pay). They also have differing styles, but I don't see them as frequently and the focus is more on how the meds are working.

 

I had been wondering how long Andy would get away with shrugs and other forms of deflection. I don't think that Andy has completely discussed all the abuse he suffered yet. But his walls have been breached and further revelations will be easier for him.

Andy's stout defense crumbled in the face of Dr. O'Shea's patient questions and his own growing need to heal. His love for Zander (and Zander's love for him) made it feel safe to surrender his secrets. At least, that's how I saw it. I am very glad that this chapter seemed real to you. Andy and Dr. O'Shea can move toward some healing.

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On 01/13/2016 03:35 PM, Defiance19 said:

My favorite part of this chapter is Andy taking off his shirt, and Zander kissing his scars. Trust and love, all in those simple acts. Zander's plan was brilliant. I also thought it sweet Zander pointed out their first 'meet'.

The date was lovely. The Andy we know was hidden underneath that beaten down boy is emerging. It is heartwarming to see. Glad that he finally opening up to the doc, and hopefully this means he will be able to move past some of his emotional and physical roadblocks.

 

A beautiful chapter Parker, thank you..

There was both beauty and pain in this chapter; in the end, love overcame hurt, and it was beautiful. This is the fun part: seeing Andy as he really ought to be, without the need to hide, or fight, or just cower in the corner, licking his wounds. Thanks for your review - even more thanks for reading!

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I can't believe I'm practically caught up! :( I don't wanna be caught up! lol I love this story too much to have to wait for chapters. lol

 

As all your other reviewers stated, this was a beautiful chapter. I loved Andy initiating his and Zander's first date, eating everything on his plate with no remorse, paying for the dinner -- it was wonderful! :)

 

The most beautiful part was at the end when Andy took his shirt off and Zander lovingly kissed every scar on his back. That had me in tears it was so sweet and poignant.

 

I'm thrilled Andy's opening up more to Dr. O'Shea (she does sound a little gruff to me; I'd most likely be in tears hearing Andy's story, but that I suppose wouldn't be too professional, huh? lol). Andy needs to face his demons before he'll be able to move on. Maybe there will be justice for Andy, and that scumbag pedo "Uncle" Ray will finally be in the big house, being Big Bubba's bitch. :P

 

I also applaud Monica; she handled the sex subject with finesse, even if it was embarrassing for both her and Andy. :)

 

I read this chapter late last night, so forgive me if I'm getting it mixed up with the previous chapter, but I laughed when Andy was thinking now that he's actually ALLOWED to listen to music, the music he likes is country, but others thought country music is always sad music. Nuh-uh. Today's country is nuthin' like your mama's country! lol Have you heard Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Chris Young (ok, one song isn't sad! lol), Randy Houser...I could go on and on, so I'll shut up now. But you get my point. lol

 

Anyway, one more chapter to go and I'll be all caught up. Boo hiss.

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On 01/18/2016 04:42 AM, Lisa said:

I can't believe I'm practically caught up! :( I don't wanna be caught up! lol I love this story too much to have to wait for chapters. lol

 

As all your other reviewers stated, this was a beautiful chapter. I loved Andy initiating his and Zander's first date, eating everything on his plate with no remorse, paying for the dinner -- it was wonderful! :)

 

The most beautiful part was at the end when Andy took his shirt off and Zander lovingly kissed every scar on his back. That had me in tears it was so sweet and poignant.

 

I'm thrilled Andy's opening up more to Dr. O'Shea (she does sound a little gruff to me; I'd most likely be in tears hearing Andy's story, but that I suppose wouldn't be too professional, huh? lol). Andy needs to face his demons before he'll be able to move on. Maybe there will be justice for Andy, and that scumbag pedo "Uncle" Ray will finally be in the big house, being Big Bubba's bitch. :P

 

I also applaud Monica; she handled the sex subject with finesse, even if it was embarrassing for both her and Andy. :)

 

I read this chapter late last night, so forgive me if I'm getting it mixed up with the previous chapter, but I laughed when Andy was thinking now that he's actually ALLOWED to listen to music, the music he likes is country, but others thought country music is always sad music. Nuh-uh. Today's country is nuthin' like your mama's country! lol Have you heard Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Chris Young (ok, one song isn't sad! lol), Randy Houser...I could go on and on, so I'll shut up now. But you get my point. lol

 

Anyway, one more chapter to go and I'll be all caught up. Boo hiss.

Thanks, Lisa, for your thoughtful, thorough and encouraging reviews. Dr. O'Shea is professionally in a tough place. I bet her heart is breaking, but she knows she needs to bite her tongue and let Andy fill the silences with his own feelings, his own conclusions and his own descriptions. She is forcing Andy to face the demons and talk them out of his life. Andy trusting Zander - and Zander being careful and yet tender with Andy - made a very deep statement of mutual love and faith in my thinking. Monica having to do the sex talk with Andy must have been very hard to do - at least as hard as one might find it with one's own children. Thanks for the quick tutorial on current country music; clearly Zander needs an update, or to get over his own preconceptions. But Andy's reflection is just another instance of how his understanding of normal life doesn't completely match with the reality of living with the Stevensons. Thank you for reading A to Z, and I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I did writing it.

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On 1/17/2016 at 9:42 AM, Lisa said:

I'm thrilled Andy's opening up more to Dr. O'Shea (she does sound a little gruff to me; I'd most likely be in tears hearing Andy's story, but that I suppose wouldn't be too professional, huh? lol).

 

On 1/17/2016 at 6:43 PM, Parker Owens said:

Dr. O'Shea is professionally in a tough place. I bet her heart is breaking, but she knows she needs to bite her tongue and let Andy fill the silences with his own feelings, his own conclusions and his own descriptions.

Psychology therapists see their own therapists. I’m sure Dr O’Shea is pouring out her emotions when she sees her therapist.

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