Troy made his way carefully down the stairs to the basement. He could feel Trixie brushing his leg as he took one step at a time. He was carrying a tray with Jayden’s lunch. Once he reached the bottom, he grabbed the golden retriever’s collar as she led him across the recreation room to Jayden’s bedroom.
Trixie had somehow instinctively sensed that her beloved master was having difficulty seeing. She had never been trained as a guide dog, but she obediently stayed beside Troy as he made his way along the house. She was also picking up Troy’s commands on where he wanted to go. “Jayden,” was a command which was becoming very familiar to her.
She led him across the room and nudged the door open with her nose. “Can I come in?” He waited until he heard Jayden sit up in bed.
“Yeah.” He couldn’t see the smile on Jayden’s face. “Come on in.” Troy carried the tray over and held it in front of Jayden. “What’s this?” he asked as he took the tray and examined it.
Troy replied, “Chicken noodle soup.”
He sat on the side of the bed as Jayden laughed. “Chicken noodle soup? I thought you gave that to people who had a cold?”
“It was the only thing I could find,” Troy replied. Jayden laughed again as his face reddened. “I had to open three cans until I found it. I don’t think you’d have liked the others.”
“What were they?” Jayden again laughed as he pictured Troy in the kitchen opening cans from the cupboard. Since his parents had both returned to work, and Penny had gone back to school, they were left alone during the day. The doctor had ordered Jayden to stay home from school for a week until his shoulder had time to completely heal.
No decision had yet been made what to do when Jayden returned to school, and Troy would be left alone during the day. Mrs. Neal was insisting on hiring a maid so Troy wouldn’t be alone, but he had objected strongly. “All you want is a damned baby sitter for me!” he shouted the last time the subject came up.
“Refried beans, I think,” laughed Troy. “And I’m not sure what the other can was. It could have been Trixie’s dog food.” Jayden again started laughing.
“I could have gotten up and fixed us something for lunch,” he said.
“It’s only been three days,” Troy replied worriedly. “You heard the doctor. He didn’t want you doing anything for at least five days.”
“I feel fine,” he assured Troy. “Really.” He pulled back his shirt and examined the wound. It was still red and puffy, but it seemed to be healing quickly. As he looked at it, he realized just how lucky he had been. If Tyrone had been using a higher caliber gun, he might not have been sitting beside Troy holding a bowl of steaming chicken noodle soup.
He quietly sipped at the soup as he watched Troy, who appeared deep in thought. “What?” he finally asked.
“What, what?” Troy asked innocently.
“I can tell when something is bothering you.” He placed the tray on the table beside the bed.
“Nothing is wrong with me,” Troy insisted as he rose from the bed and reached for Trixie’s collar. “Piano, Trixie!” he ordered harshly as she started to lead him from the room.
Jayden got out of bed and dressed as he listened to Troy playing the piano. The music was slow and sorrowful, almost like a dirge. He walked barefooted into the room, leaned against the door and watched as Troy ran his fingers masterfully over the keys.
After listening for a minute, he quietly tiptoed over to the bench and stood behind Troy. Troy tilted his head, but continued playing. His body stiffened when Jayden placed his hands on his shoulders.
“That’s beautiful,” Jayden said as he gently caressed his shoulders. “What is it?”
“Something by Wagner,” Troy responded as he leaned forward to indicate he didn’t want Jayden to touch him.
When Jayden sat down beside him, he scooted so that their bodies weren’t touching. “Penny said you were playing the piano almost before you could walk.”
“Yeah,” he replied as he dropped his hands down on the keys. “It’s about the only thing I can do anymore.” He started playing the piece he had been playing earlier.
Jayden started to laugh. “Can’t you play something a little more...um...” he paused briefly, “cheerful?”
“How’s this, then,” Troy responded sarcastically. He started singing, “The sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there will be sunshine.” He suddenly stopped and then began banging the keys on the piano. When he started to get up, Jayden grabbed his arm.
“Don’t go,” he pleaded as he pulled Troy back. He then put his arm around him and held him. Troy rested his head on Jayden’s shoulder and began to cry softly.
“Why, Jayden?” he asked mournfully. “Why?”
“I don’t know,” Jayden said soothingly as he rubbed Troy’s back. “Maybe someday you’ll have an answer for why this happened to you.” Troy lifted his head and looked tearfully in Jayden’s direction.
“I’m not talking about me,” he cried. He threw his arms around Jayden and clutched him tightly. “I’m talking about you.”
Jayden hugged Troy tightly and then lifted his head. He wiped the tears from Troy’s face and then leaned in and kissed him gently. He expected Troy to pull away, but he pressed his lips firmly to Jayden’s and kissed him passionately.
After a minute, Jayden pulled away and looked into Troy’s face. “I love you,” he whispered softly before kissing him gently again. Troy returned the kiss and then rested his head on Jayden’s shoulder and sighed.
“I can’t say it yet, Jayden,” he responded sadly. “Give me some time, okay?” Jayden kissed him again.
“Take as much time as you need,” he smiled, knowing Troy couldn’t see it. He was just happy that he was beginning to respond to him. “Just get used to me saying it.” Troy nodded and returned the kiss.
It felt good to be held again. When he began a relationship with Will a few months earlier, it had taken him a few weeks to begin to enjoy Will’s affectionate behavior. It was one of the things he had been missing. As with Will, he still wasn’t sure if it was love he was feeling or just his overactive teenage glands.
But for now, he had decided that he was going to give Jayden a chance and see if it did lead somewhere. He was tired of walking down the dark path alone. If Jayden was willing to walk with him, then he knew he had to try.
Jayden was still kissing him when he felt a hand slip inside his shirt. He jumped when Jayden started to lightly squeeze his nipple. His cock immediately became erect.
“Oh, God,” he moaned when Jayden lifted his shirt and began licking his erect pink nipple. He grabbed Jayden’s hand when he started to squeeze his hard cock through the material of the thin shorts he was wearing.
“No,” he insisted as he pulled Jayden’s hand away. Jayden leaned in and kissed him again, slowing slipping his tongue inside Troy’s mouth.
“Why?” Jayden moaned as he once again reached down and began rubbing Troy’s erection. He started laughing into Troy’s mouth when Trixie rose from the floor and nudged his hand.
“I just can’t,” Troy insisted.
“Why?” Jayden asked, once again squeezing Troy’s cock.
“I can’t tell you,” Troy replied like a young child. Jayden sat back and laughed.
“Are you a virgin?” He laughed louder when Troy’s face brightened. “I thought that you and Will were dating?”
“We were,” replied Troy. “Just because we dated didn’t mean we were having sex.”
“Why not?” Jayden asked. “You never played around?”
“Well, yeah,” Troy admitted. “We would feel each other, but we never really had actual sex.”
“If I tell you, you’ll laugh,” Troy responded with a childish voice.
“No, I won’t.” Jayden insisted.
“I know you will,” replied Troy, “but I’ll tell you anyway. I wanted to wait until I graduated. I wanted to give myself to Will as a graduation present.”
Jayden leaned in and kissed Troy. “I think that is the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard anyone say.”
Troy pulled away. “Really?”
“Of course,” responded Jayden. “Will would have been a lucky guy.”
“Yeah, well,” replied Troy sadly before he once again felt Jayden’s lips pressing his.
“Let’s not talk about Will,” Jayden said softly. “Let’s talk about us.” Troy moaned when Jayden once again offered his tongue inside his mouth. He opened it and began sucking his eager tongue. He didn’t jump when Jayden grabbed his cock and started to stroke it through the material.
He felt Jayden playing with the zipper, eventually unfastening it and opening his shorts. He felt his cock spring up and emerge through the front of his boxer shorts. Jayden wrapped his hand around it and slowly stroked it.
“Jayden,” he grabbed his hand, but he didn’t attempt to remove it from his swollen cock. “We should stop.”
“I don’t want to,” moaned Jayden as he took Troy’s hand and placed it against his erect cock. “I want you.” He leaned in and kissed him as he kept Troy’s hand against his hard cock. He laughed when Trixie rose and started smelling his crotch.
“Come on.” He pulled Troy to his feet. He looked down at Trixie and ordered her to stay. He then led Troy into his bedroom. He sat him on the side of the bed and then resumed kissing him.
Troy gently pushed him away. “I really think we should wait.”
“For what?” Jayden asked. “You said you weren’t going to attend graduation, so why can’t we do something now.”
Troy sighed. “It was always my dream to give up my virginity on graduation night. I know it sounds silly, but it was what I really wanted.”
Jayden reached down and grabbed his hand. “Then you’ll have to attend graduation.”
Troy gasped, “I can’t do that. Look at me, I’m blind.”
“So? That shouldn’t stop you from getting the diploma you earned.” Jayden kissed his nose. “Besides, I’ll be there too.”
Troy sighed deeply. “Let me think about it, all right?”
Jayden laughed, and then took Troy’s hand and placed it against his hard cock. He then reached down and squeezed Troy’s. “What are we going to do about these?” He felt reassured when Troy playfully squeezed his.
“You said you and Will played around some?” Troy nodded his head. “I’ve already seen you jack off, so why don’t we just do it together?”
“I don’t know,” Troy responded as he gripped Jayden’s cock tighter. Jayden rose from the bed and began stripping off his clothes.
“Come on, Troy, get naked.” Seconds later, he was standing nude before him. He wished that Troy could see his naked body. “Come on,” he said as he climbed on the bed and pulled Troy’s shirt over his head. “It’s just a little harmless fun. Besides, I’ve already watched you jerk off.” He grabbed the end of Troy’s shorts and boxers, and in one quick tug, Troy was lying naked on the bed.
Troy asked worriedly, “What about your shoulder?”
“Don’t worry,” Jayden assured him. He looked at the wound on his shoulder. “With the medication the doctor gave me, I hardly feel anything.” He then leaned down and licked Troy’s erect nipple. Their hard cocks rubbed against each other. Troy reached down and began stroking his. Jayden bent forward and kissed him. Troy wiggled excitedly under him.
“Wait,” Troy pleaded as he grabbed Jayden’s shoulders and gently pushed him away. “Lay back. I want to feel your body.” Jayden lay back and threw the pillow over his head to stifle a loud moan as Troy ran his hands gingerly over his body. He started at his neck and stopped when he got to the wound on his shoulder. He examined it before running his hand gently down Jayden’s body until he reached his hard cock.
“Nice,” Troy remarked as he started to stroke it. Jayden removed the pillow. He could see that Troy was enjoying what they were doing. Troy’s face was close to his cock as he continued to rapidly stroke him. After several minutes, he felt that he could no longer hold back the rapidly rising orgasm.
“I’m going to cum,” he moaned. Troy put his hand over the head of his cock so he could feel when Jayden exploded. Within seconds, his hand was coated with white cream.
“Holy crap,” Jayden moaned. He had had numerous sexual encounters the past few years, but none had been as satisfying as the one he had just received from Troy. Troy lay down beside him and nestled his head against his chest.
“I can hear your heart beating,” he said softly. He remained for several minutes listening to Jayden breathe.
Jayden rose and rolled Troy onto his back. “Your turn,” he said as he kissed him. He then ran his tongue down his chin and neck before licking Troy’s nipple. From Troy’s earlier reaction, he knew he enjoyed the sensation. Troy grabbed his head and giggled.
“Stop,” he begged breathlessly. “You’re going to make me cum.”
“That’s the point,” Jayden replied lustfully as he ran his tongue down Troy’s body and nibbled the soft brown hair surrounding his cock. Troy gasped when he ran his tongue up his erection and quickly engulfed his cock.
“No, Jayden!” He pulled his head off his reddened cock. “I want to wait until graduation night. All right?”
“Promise?” Jayden watched Troy nod his head.
“I promise.” Jayden wetted his hand and then placed it around Troy’s hard cock. After about twenty strokes, Troy arched his back, and cum erupted onto his chest.
‘Unnggghhhh!” He shouted as Jayden continued to milk the last drops out. He threw his head back and gasped for air.
Jayden scooted beside him and kissed him on his lips. “Feel good?”
Troy smiled. “Hell, yeah,” he moaned.
“Sure you want to wait until May?” Jayden licked his finger and applied it to Troy’s pink nipple. “I can make you feel even better.” Troy moaned and grabbed Jayden’s hand.
“Yeah, I’m sure,” he laughed. “Graduation night.” He moaned again when Jayden leaned in and ran his tongue over his nipple. Jayden could taste some of the cum that had splattered earlier on Troy’s chest.
“Damn,” Jayden moaned. Troy laughed and then felt for Jayden’s face. Jayden leaned forward and they kissed passionately for several minutes. Troy was the first to break the kiss.
“Thanks,” he said as he buried his head into Jayden’s shoulder.
“No problem,” Jayden laughed. “Anytime...” Troy placed his finger against Jayden’s lips.
“No, not just for what we did,” he said. “Thanks for accepting me as I am.” This time it was Jayden who put his finger to Troy’s lips.
“It’s about loving you.” He leaned in and kissed Troy. “Not accepting you as you are.” He kissed him more passionately. Troy rolled his body on top of Jayden and they kissed for several more minutes.
They were startled when Trixie nudged the door open and ran barking into the room. Before they could pull away, they heard Claire’s voice.
“Hey guys!” she shouted as she walked through the open bedroom door. Seconds later, they heard a shrieking scream and then footsteps running up the stairs. Both boys fell back on the bed and began laughing uproariously.
“I guess she caught us having quality time,” Jayden laughed.
“What?” Troy had a puzzled look on his face.
Jayden leaned in and gave him a quick kiss. “I’ll explain later.”
Troy was nervous as he entered the large auditorium where graduation was being held. He gripped the sleeve of Jayden’s graduation gown tightly. Even though he had attended the graduation practices, he still felt uneasy knowing that he was going to be the center of attention.
He felt someone grab him around the waist and kiss his cheek. “You look wonderful, Troy.” It was Mrs. Connors, his music director. “Are you ready for this evening?”
“I suppose,” he replied nervously. She had insisted that he play Pomp and Circumstance as the seniors marched in. It had been arranged that Jayden would lead him onstage as she introduced him. She had also asked him to perform a solo after the senior president gave her speech. He had reluctantly agreed, but he had told no one what song he was going to sing.
“Just look at you two!” Claire approached with Allison by her side. “Hold still, I have to get a picture.” Jayden turned Troy so that they were facing her. Just before she took the picture, Jayden leaned in and kissed Troy on the cheek.
They chatted excitedly with other seniors. The room was filled with nervous excitement as girls helped each other with the finishing touches on their hair, and boys helped straighten a friend’s crooked tie.
Jayden looked at the clock on the wall. It was 6:35. Only fifteen minutes until he was to take Troy backstage. He looked admiringly at Troy. He had improved so much the past three months. They had been to the mall several times with Claire. Troy seemed to adjust quickly to being out in public. He was even becoming comfortable eating in restaurants, but only if Jayden sat beside him and positioned his food for him.
“I can’t wait to hear what you’re going to sing,” exclaimed Allison. “I still don’t...” Suddenly, everyone became quiet. Troy could sense that something was wrong when Jayden wrapped his hand around his waist and pulled him into his side.
He couldn’t see the angry looks exchanged between Jayden, Claire and Allison when Will walked up. “Hi, Guys,” he said timidly.
Troy’s body became rigid when he heard his voice. He reached down, grabbed Jayden’s hand and squeezed it.
“Hi, Troy,” Will said almost in a whisper. Troy nodded but didn’t say anything. Will looked nervously into Jayden’s face.
“Can I talk to Troy?” he asked. “Alone?”
Jayden again felt Troy’s body become tense. His face was taut. Jayden looked at Will and responded angrily, “I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
“No,” responded Troy. “I’ll talk to him.” He realized that there had to be some kind of closure to their relationship. He knew that it had been over after the incident, but they still needed to talk.
“Are you sure?” Jayden asked Troy worriedly. Troy nodded and released his hand from Jayden’s. He then extended it to Will. Will took it and led Troy to a nearby corner where they could talk privately. Claire started to move toward them, but Jayden put out his hand and stopped her. “Let them talk,” he insisted.
“If he says something to hurt Troy, I’ll kill him,” she hissed angrily as she balled up her fists. She looked over and saw Troy and Will talking quietly.
“I’m sorry, Troy,” Will apologized. “I know it was wrong for not visiting you. I really did…”
“I understand,” he interrupted. “I gave it a lot of thought. At first I was hurt.” His mouth turned into a curl. “I won’t tell you some of the names I called you.”
“I can imagine,” Will replied. “It’s probably some of the names I’ve called myself the past few months.”
“But we are young,” Troy continued. “I couldn’t expect you to hang around and let me be a burden to you.”
“Troy...” Will interrupted, but Troy again stopped him.
“It’s okay, really,” he said. “I do understand. We dated for a while, and we had some fun, but we weren’t committed to each other.”
“But I still should have...” Troy again stopped him.
“It’s okay,” he said again. “I understand.” He reached for Will and gave him a quick hug. Will nervously looked over at Jayden who was carefully watching their exchange.
Will pulled away and smiled. “He really loves you.”
“Yeah,” Troy responded. “I’m a lucky guy.”
“So you’re happy?”
“Yeah,” he smiled. “I’m happy.” Will gave Troy a hug and kissed his cheek. He looked back over at a watchful Jayden.
“Jayden’s the lucky guy,” he said sadly. He took Troy’s hand and led him back to Jayden. He placed Troy’s hand in Jayden’s and walked away.
“Okay, Ladies and Gentlemen!” Mrs. Connors shouted anxiously above the loud chatter. “Line up!” Claire and Allison quickly hugged the boys before Jayden led Troy away.
Halfway through the senior president’s speech, Jayden took Troy backstage to get ready to be introduced for his solo. Even he didn’t know what Troy was going to sing. For the past several weeks he had tried to listen to Troy playing the piano for some clue, but most of it was classical music. He assumed that he was going to entertain the audience with a concerto.
Troy stiffened when he heard Mrs. Connor’s voice. “We have a special treat for you this evening. One of our talented musicians has agreed to sing a special song for you. You will remember Troy Neal for his performance earlier this year in the role of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.” They could hear loud applause coming from behind the curtain. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I’d like to introduce Troy Neal.” Jayden wrapped his arm around Troy’s arm and led him onstage. They stood quietly for a minute as the audience gave him a standing ovation.
Jayden could feel Troy trembling. He put his hand behind his back and rubbed it gently. “It’s going to be all right,” he assured him. “I’ll only be a few steps away.” Troy felt for Jayden’s hand and squeezed it. When the applause subsided, Jayden led Troy to the piano and helped him sit down. He gave him a reassuring pat on the shoulder before walking backstage and positioning himself so he could closely observe Troy.
Troy sat quietly for a minute as the audience remained silent. He finally cleared his throat and spoke softly into the microphone in front of him.
“As you know,” he started, “My life has changed dramatically the past few months. There was a time when I didn’t think I’d be here tonight.” He paused before continuing. “But as I sit here tonight, I know I’m one of the luckiest people in the world. Through all this, I found out what love really is.” His voice was becoming thick with emotion. Again, he cleared his throat. “I found out how much love my family has for me.” He turned toward the audience. “I don’t know where you are, but I love you Mom, Dad and Penny.”
Mrs. Neal leaned her head on her husband’s shoulder and cried. Mr. Neal wiped away tears that were falling gently down his cheeks. Penny grabbed his hand and held it.
“I also discovered what true friendship is.” Again, he looked toward the audience. “Claire and Allison, I love you more than you’ll ever know.” The nearby seniors turned and smiled at the two teary seniors.
Jayden wiped away tears when Troy turned toward him. “And Jayden,” his voice shook with emotion. “I really do love you.” Soft applause filled the auditorium.
He then sat straight and placed his hands on the piano keys. “For my number tonight, I’m going to sing a song I’ve enjoyed since I was a little boy. Tonight, it has a special meaning for me. It’s a song from the musical, Carousel. It was composed by Rodgers and Hammerstein.” His fingers ran effortlessly over the keys as he played the introduction. Everyone immediately recognized the song and began to applaud. They quieted when Troy began to sing.
“When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high; and don’t be…” He suddenly stopped singing as his voice started to quiver. Finally, he continued, “And don’t be afraid of the dark.”
Jayden watched backstage as Troy’s shoulders began to shake. Even though he continued to play, it was obvious that he was overcome with emotion. Jayden walked over and sat down beside his distraught friend.
“It’s okay,” he whispered. “I’m here.” He placed his hand on Troy’s thigh and squeezed it. Troy wiped the tears from his eyes and then sat upright and took a deep breath. Jayden smiled when the audience began to applaud encouragingly.
By the time Troy had reached the final bars of the song, everyone was standing and applauding loudly.
“Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
and you’ll never walk alone. You’ll never
Jayden took Troy’s hand and led him to the center of the stage. Mrs. Connors and Mr. Fallingsworth walked over and hugged him.
“That was wonderful,” exclaimed Mrs. Connors as the applause began to die down. Jayden wrapped Troy’s arm around his and led him offstage. He looked around to make sure no one was watching and then kissed him.
“I love you,” he said softly as he kissed him again.
“I know,” responded Troy. “I love you, too.” He leaned forward and kissed Jayden.
Jayden grabbed his arm and started to head off the stage. “Now let’s go get our diploma,” he said. He looked around to make sure no one was watching before he reached down and squeezed Troy’s crotch through his graduation gown.
“You’ve got a promise to keep.”
Jayden sat in bed with his laptop computer watching Troy’s bare chest rise and fall as he slept beside him. His eyes were filled with tears as he tried to reread the email he was preparing to send to Troy’s parents.
Dear Mom and Dad Neal,
Troy and I are doing well. After three weeks, we’ve finally settled into the dorm, and our lives are returning to normal. We’ve made a lot of new friends. Troy is having no problem getting around. If I’m not helping him, then someone is always ready to lend a helping hand. He’s extremely happy with the music department here. He has also volunteered to help the drama department with their fall production of Annie Get Your Gun.
The nursing courses seem like they may be difficult for me. I did well in math and science in high school, but I probably should have taken more advanced classes. I can’t thank you enough for helping me get the grants and scholarships to attend school here. I know you keep saying you don’t mind, but I do. I will repay you someday for the financial support you are giving me. It is what my mother would have expected me to do.
I also want to thank you for Troy. His coming into my life has been a blessing. I know it happened under very tragic circumstances, but I can’t imagine my life now without him. Before I met him, my life was going nowhere. I was traveling down a darkened path with no end in sight. Today, I wake up to a shining sun and a beautiful, smiling face. Our love grows stronger every day. I can now see a bright and long road ahead for both of us.
Your other son,
Jayden again looked down at Troy’s sleeping figure and through misty eyes hit ‘send.’
I hope you have enjoyed Down a Darkened Path. It was enjoyable presenting it again to new readers, and to those of you who are rereading it. Thanks for all the wonderful comments as the story progressed. I appreciated them very much. And remember- no matter how dark the path seems ahead of you, there is someone willing to walk it with you; and a rainbow always appears at the end of a storm.