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Noah was freaking out as he got closer to the farm. He hadn’t expected this to happen. He prayed to God that his Luke was alright. He tried to calm his mind by assuring himself that nothing could happen to Luke, and that he must be alright. But the more he thought about it, the more anxious he became.
He honked the horn several times in annoyance. A black Impala was driving ahead of him, limiting his speed, as it drove at a snail’s pace. He swore out loud, honking the unpleasant horn again. The driver finally took the hint, and moved over to let Noah pass. Noah drove off and took a swift turn, stopping in the frontier of the Snyder farm.
He quickly hopped out of the car and ran towards the big abode. His heart sped up when he reached the door and he knocked softly. Subconsciously he had begun tapping his feet, he became impatient and knocked again – louder this time.
The door finally opened and he was greeted by a little girl standing in the doorway, staring at him. “Um ... hi.” Noah said, not knowing what else to say.
Natalie looked up at the tall stranger, and then suddenly smiled wide. “Hello. Did you come to play with me?”
“Ehm... no, sorry. Is Luke here?” he asked eagerly.
“So, you are here to play with Luke and not me?” She pouted.
“Natalie, who is it?” A voice came from inside.
“Grandma, it’s someone asking for Luke.” She said turning to her grandmother, who was approaching them.
Emma looked at the unfamiliar guest, but still gave a warm, loving smile to him. Natalie ran away, disappearing inside as Emma asked, “Yes?”
“Hi. I am Noah Mayer – Luke’s history teacher.” He told her.
“Oh, please come in.” She opened the door wide to let him in. Noah entered the familiar living room, which he remembered from Sunday. “What brings you here, Mr. Mayer?”
“Please, call me Noah ma’am.” He smiled at her and she nodded. Then with some slight hesitation mixed with fear, he said, “And uhm- Luke hasn’t been to school for a couple of days this week. So I thought I would check on him personally. Is he alright?”
“Actually, he is not.” Noah felt the colour drain from his face, hearing Emma utter those words.
“What happened to him?” He anxiously questioned her. Emma could see the over-protectiveness in Noah’s eyes and wondered about it. But she shrugged it off, thinking Luke must be a good student in his class. “Can I see him?” Noah asked her in desperation.
Emma nodded and asked him to follow her as she took him upstairs. Noah just wanted to see if Luke was ok, and not too injured after ...
“He is sleeping right now.” Emma interrupted his thoughts, as they reached Luke’s room.
She opened Luke’s door to reveal Luke sleeping peacefully in his bed. Noah wanted to go in and take Luke in his arms; to hold him tightly, to never let him go. But he controlled his emotions. He was just happy to see Luke wasn't hurt too badly. Instead, he was flawless; without any injuries, and no casts or anything. Noah breathed a sigh of relief.
That indicated Mrs. Gordon wasn’t talking about Luke. But he wanted to know, “What happened to him?”
“He is not well. He has had a high temperature for the last two days. But it’s been getting better since last night, thank God for that!” She exclaimed, sadly watching her grandson. Luke stirred a bit with their voices but didn’t wake up.
Emma closed the door quietly without making any noise, and guided Noah back downstairs. “He should be fine by tomorrow, I think. And if he’s feeling up to it, he will be at school tomorrow.”
“No. Let him rest; he needs it, I guess.” Noah said again in a protective way, making Emma suspicious, but she didn’t call him on it.
“Please have a seat. I will bring you something.” Emma said with a smile, turning to go inside the kitchen.
“Oh, please don’t bother ma’am. I have to be back at school anyway. I’ll let you get back to whatever you were doing…” He gave a short bow of his head and smiled at her graciousness. And before he left, he said to her, “Oh, and please don’t let Luke know I was here. I mean, he would get stressed with school stuff, and that’s the last thing he needs right now.”
Emma felt weird about it, but nodded anyway, assuring Noah that she wouldn't mention him stopping by. Noah thanked her and headed out, leaving Emma with several unanswered questions.
Joe was driving Gust to his friend’s place. He turned his head to look at him. The sad look on Gust’s face killed him. He wished he could do something to make him feel better.
Gust sat in the passenger seat, holding a picture in his hand.It was his and Candes’ snap from their first trip. He stared at it while in a trance, remembering all the happy times he had shared with her. While they were together, they were inseparable. Though he knew it wasn’t romantic feelings he felt for her, the love was always there – the love of a best friend. She was the person who was closest to him, other than Luke.
“What are you thinking?” Joe asked out of the blue, breaking Gust’s train of thought. Joe was worried and he couldn’t stop from expressing it.
Gust sighed heavily. “Nothing.” He shook his head.
“Please baby.” Joe pleaded with his eyes. “Why don’t you let me in? Don’t I mean anything to you? Don’t you trust me?”
Gust looked at Joe, who looked back at him. They stared into each other’s eyes for a moment, before Joe turned his eyes back on the road. “Do I take a right over here?”
“Yeah...” Gust said, directing him to Candes’ apartment. “And ... I was just reflecting... you know, over the past.” He opened up. “Candes and I have spent good times together.”
Gust caught the discomfort on Joe’s face and quickly said, “Please don’t get me wrong. I never loved her like she said she loved me. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t like her. She is a great girl, Joe.”
He felt Joe’s hand grasp his, tightly. “I understand that, alright?” he assured him.
Gust gave a nod looking down at his hands, and whispered, “I can’t believe she did this.” He gave a huff, running his hand through his hair, and looked out the window. He saw another car driving fast, passing them, and pulling up quickly into the parking lot of one of the apartments. They had arrived at the residence area by now, and Candes’ place wasn’t that far away when he suddenly said, “It’s all because of me this is happening. I tend to fuck up things just when they are getting good.”
“Don’t you say that!” Joe said forcefully, but softened his tone as he continued, “You are not responsible for this situation, you get that? You chose to be yourself, and believe me; you did the best for the both of you.” Gust was still looking out the window. He didn’t say anything for a moment. “Gust?” Joe got worried by the silence. Gust said something in a low voice, which was washed away by the outside traffic noise.
“I said stop the car.” Gust said, looking at him with disinterest. “We have reached her place.”
Joe nodded and drove up the driveway. “Let’s go.” Gust mumbled when the car stopped and he went to open the door.
“I’ll stay here in the car while you talk to her.” Joe said. Gust turned to him with a surprised look on his face. “That’s the right thing to do. You need to talk to her alone.”
Gust kept studying his face for some time, in disbelief. Joe would always say the right things, and take away a piece of Gust’s heart. How can someone be so thoughtful?
A smile of gratefulness broke on Gust’s face and he left the car.
He blew out a nervous breath as he reached the enormous dwelling. Candes was from a well-to-do family; her father worked as a co-partner of Worldwide – a multinational corporation.Her parents never approved of him when he used to date her. They would be rude around him whenever he visited Candes. He tapped the door softly and waited for it to open.
The butler didn’t take much time to open the door, and he was ushered into the house.He asked him to sit while he went to get Candes. Gust nodded and was about to take a seat on the pillow-soft couch when Mr. McGraw, Candes’ father came up to him and grabbed him by his collar. “See what you did to my daughter.” He said with his teeth clenched tight. “You ruined her life. That’s what you wanted from the very beginning, isn’t it?”
“Honey, stop!” Candes’ mother came rushing behind him and tried to pull him away. “He’s not worth it.” She looked at him with disgust and anger in her eyes. Gust felt he deserved this after all the sorrow he put their daughter through. He understood why they were behaving this way; because they loved their daughter and hated to see her unhappy.
Mr. McGraw didn’t let go of his collar yet but spat out, “Didn’t I always tell you he just wasn’t right for our girl? But no one listened to me.” He pushed Gust off as he let go of his collar. “You better leave before I lose my temper and commit a crime.” His eyes were spitting anger.
But Gust didn’t budge. He stayed where Candes’ father pushed him, and politely replied, “I am not going until I talk to Candes.”
“Such temerity ...” He stalked towards Gust, yelling in anger.
“Dad, stop, please!” Candes yelled, standing half-way down on the staircase. Both men looked in her direction and grimaced.
“Sweetie, he is just causing trouble for you, nothing else.” Mr. McGraw turned to her pleadingly, so that she wouldn't fall for Gust’s words again.
“Daddy please, let me handle this my way.” She pleaded with him.
“Trust me, please. I can handle this on my own.” She said, making him leave in displeasure. Mrs. McGraw followed him inside too. Candes sighed and faced Gust with no emotions, “Let’s go to my room.”
She walked up the stairs unsteadily, with one of her legs tied in white bands. Surprisingly, she didn’t have any casts on her hand, but there was a band-aid rolled over her hand just above the wrist, similar to the one tied around her head. A slight yellowish mark was noticed by Gust on the back as he walked behind her. He felt the pain in his heart. How did it all end up like this?
When they reached her room, she asked Gust to lock the door as she went and sat on the bed, resting herself. Gust offered to help, but she refused and managed it herself.
Gust stood beside the bed looking at her for a long time. “Why, Candes? Why did you have to do this?”
“It’s none of your business anymore.” She snapped and looked away from him. “Who told you about this anyway?”
“I was talking to Ashley at school this morn- ...”
“I told that bitch not to say anything.” She grumbled to herself, feeling anger towards her friend.
“Candes, it’s just me she told because I pushed the matter. I didn’t see you for days and I was worried...”
A sardonic laugh from Candes interrupted him, “Really?”
“Don’t be like that, Candy. We broke up, that doesn’t mean I stopped caring about you.” Gust was hurt, but he could see Candes’ point of view.
“You used me, asshole.” Candes swore. “You used me to hide your sexuality. How can you expect me to feel alright about that?”
“I don’t expect you to just forget it and forgive me so soon. Not at all! Hell, I do feel that I should be punished hard for hurting you like this.” He said, taking a breathing pause before saying, “but that doesn’t mean you get the right to end your life! That’s extreme.” He shook his head, trying to get rid of the images of Candes being found injured under the bridge at Mill Road.He was thankful to God that she was alright. He wouldn’t have been able to forgive himself otherwise. Gust felt sad thinking about it.
Candes frowned at him. “Dude, the world does not revolve around you. So stop thinking I would take my life over my lost love for you. You do so not deserve that.” She rudely blurted out.
Gust gulped down the harsh words, though very painfully, and asked, “Then what was the reason you took such an extreme step?”
The room went quiet as Candes couldn’t get herself to answer Gust’s question. She went into deep thought, reflecting over the rough couple of days she had.
“Gust ... this is hard for me.” She sighed in defeat before she even said anything. Her mood had swung from being angry to extremely sad, so sad that she was about to cry.
“Just say it.”
“Ok ...” she took a few deep breaths trying to think about how exactly to say it. Gust waited with baited breath as he watched her struggle with her thoughts. “I ... I am pregnant.” She said it, and held her breath, waiting eagerly for his reaction.
Gust was taken aback. He thought he heard wrong. “What?”
“I am pregnant, Gust” She was irritated that she had to repeat it, as if one time killing her soul was not enough.
Gust looked at her in disbelief. “This is not the time to kid with me, Candes. It’s pretty damn serious.”
Candes looked at him with a funny expression on her face. “Do you think I would kid about something as serious as that?” Her eyes filled with tears and Gust knew she was telling the truth.
Now the panic begun... “Shit!” He couldn’t breathe. “No! Shit!” He began huffing for air. He ran his hand over face, which had now turned pale. “Who’s the father?”
The blonde gasped. “What do you think of me? That I'm a slut; that I slept around with other men while I was dating you?” Tears were running down her face as she eyed him incredulously.
“I’m sorry.” Gust apologized. “I just can’t think straight right now. But how ...?”
“How can you not remember our first time?”
“I know and the condom broke, but you did promise you took the birth control pills. Did you not ...?” Gust’s eyes went big in realization of what might have happened. He felt like he was falling down a deep cliff.
“I’m sorry.” She sobbed. “It slipped my mind, and then I was too drunk when we had sex ...” she cried hard covering her face.
Yes, Candes had been too drunk to think soberly. They were at a party a few weeks ago. At the same party Luke was at as well. Gus saw him having fun, dancing close to some random guy. Nothing else had happened, but the images of Luke getting closer to someone else were troubling him even while he drove home from the party. Candes was full as a tick when she had declared she wanted him so bad. Gust wanted to forget about Luke and that guy, so he took her up on the offer. He drove the car over to a quiet part of town, and they did it in the back seat. It was very rough, and highly unexpected. When he realized that the condom he used had actually broken, he freaked out. Candes too was very afraid of the consequences, but she assured him that she would make sure she would take birth control pills and everything would be alright.
But she didn’t and now she was pregnant. Gust wished he could go back in time and set things right. However, things were done and he realized he couldn't run away from the fact that he was the father of Candes’ child.
Candes had been rambling about things, and he caught just the tail end of it. “I thought ending it all was the best thing to do.”
“By ending your life, Candes? You really thought that was right?”
“What other option did I have?” Candes said, “You might say abortion, but I was too afraid that mom and dad would find out about it.”
She looked at him with surprise on her face. “You weren’t?”
“No.” He smiled. “The birth of a child is an amazingly beautiful thing that happens in this world. I wouldn’t want to shrug off this blessing at all.”
Candes felt her heart beat at those words. This was the reason she loved Gust so much; he was always so sensitive, which made him attractive to her. But he was gay, and she understood she had no chance with him. She sighed. “Oh well, this big step really ruined my life. I wasn’t planning on ending up in the water, but that damn old man saw me and I didn’t see where I jumped. Otherwise the rocky land down there surely would have killed me.” Candes wiped her tears.
The very thought of Candes dying made Gust shiver. “Don’t say that. You have a long life ahead of you to live.”
“I guess that’s why I came out of that water alive.” She chuckled. “And this monster must be some fighter, putting up through all of this.” She palmed her belly, feeling the presence of life inside it. “The doctor said it’s a miracle that it survived even after I was hurt so badly.”
Gust smiled sadly. “I am glad.”
Candes turned to him with an undefined fear, “What are we going to do Gust? We’re so young. Can we be good parents? What will happen when everyone at school finds out?”
His mind was already was haunting him with similar questions, but he played it cool for Candes, “Hey, I know it’s not going to be easy, but we can pull through it. I will be there with you.” He said palming her shoulders. “I will look after all your needs, I promise. This baby is not only yours, but my responsibility too. And as for school, it’s not necessary we tell everyone. And if ever it comes out, we will face it together, ok?”
Candes couldn’t hold it in anymore, and she threw her arms around his neck, crying endlessly on his shoulders. She never thought he would be ready to stand with her through it. She was more than grateful that he was being so understanding and considerate.
Gust held the crying girl for some time and tried to comfort her. He knew it was going to be hard for both of them from now on, and truthfully, he was scared shitless.
After a minute or two, Gust’s phone vibrated in his pocket. Candes felt it and backed off wiping her eyes dry. Gust looked at the caller ID; it was Joe. He stared at his name for a while, thinking how he was going to explain this all to him. Would he understand?
He had gotten really close to him Joe since Saturday night. Every second he spent with the guy was heavenly. He made Gust feel special, and that’s what he had craved.
But now everything was about to get ruined with Candes’ pregnancy. How would he deal with all of this? He didn’t know ...
The phone vibrated for some time and then stopped.
--- TBC ---
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