My heart pounds faster the closer we get to South Hill. Holding Slade’s hand is the only thing keeping me sane. I know we have to face the consequences for lying about this weekend. I’m just not ready to.

My only hope is for God to answer one of my million silent prayers. There could be so many outcomes for tonight with each feeling like a worst-case scenario. I can handle Dad being mad, but disappointment is something that’s hard to come back from.

I need to know what’s going on, and press ‘call’ on my phone, and it rings three times. “Aaron, what the hell did you do?” Candace whispers into the phone.

Nervously drumming my fingers against the steering wheel, I ask, “Don’t worry about it. How’s Ma?”

“Well, she’s pacing the house like a crazy woman,” she pauses. “Aar, you should know that… uh, Daddy’s been smoking. He’s gone through almost half a pack already.”

“Dammit,” I mutter.

Dad only smokes when he’s upset. The last time was three years ago, when his younger brother passed away suddenly. Now, he’s smoking because of me, and I hate that I’ve put him in that frame of mind.

Sighing heavily, I say, “Okay. I’m about an hour away. Do me a favor and keep me posted. Can you do that for me?”

“Yeah, sure, no problem,” Candace says, clearing her throat. “Aaron, you know I love you, and that you can tell me anything, right?”

“I love you, too, squirt. But I can’t tell you, not right now, there’s too much goin’ on.”

“Okay, I’ll see you when you get here,” Candace says hanging up.

I exhale slowly. Placing my phone between my legs, I look over at Slade. He strokes my hand lazily with his thumb. He joins our hands together and kisses the back of mine, and he smiles.

“You okay, Jones?”

“I have no idea what to say when I see my parents,” he says solemnly.

“Play it by ear. Only thing they know is we were at the cabin but nothing else. Let them do all the talking. Hopefully, we can get out of it with as little damage as possible.”

Slade snorts loudly. “Aar, do you honestly think that’s going to work? Your mom knows about us, and has probably connected the dots by now. What if she’s already told your dad?”

Shaking my head, I reply, “She wouldn’t do that to me.”

“Okay, let’s say she covers for us. Do you really want her to keep lying?”

I shrug and answer, “Of course not, but what other choice do I have?”

Seconds go by when Slade whispers, “We can tell my parents and your dad about us.”

Caught off guard, I jerk the wheel nearly hitting the car on my left. I rip my hand from Slade’s to get control of the truck. Horns blare all around me. The driver I almost hit flips me off and curses profusely.

I slowly maneuver to the shoulder. Turning to face Slade, I see the wide-eyed panic in his eyes, as he white knuckles the door handle. He looks at me and asks, “You okay?”

My voice cracks a little, “Yeah, you?”

He laughs nervously. “Yup, but I think I may have peed a little.”

“You can avoid that by not giving me a heart attack while I’m driving. I could’ve wrecked ’cause of you,” I reply angrily.

He turns quickly towards me his eyes filled with shock. “Whoa!”

“Listen. I’m sorry, okay?” I offer half-heartedly rolling my eyes.

“What the fuck’s wrong with you?” Slade retorts.

Knowing I overacted, I grab his hand. “Jones, fuck, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that, but you throw me a curveball. You’re not serious about telling them?”

He stares out the window, and quietly states, “It’s all I’ve been thinking about for the past two hours. There’s no way around it.”

“We have other options,” I state desperately.

He sighs shaking his head. “They already know we were at the cabin. Your mom knows we’re dating. Whatever we say, she’ll know it’s a lie. We have to tell them.”

“We can tell them we were up there with a couple of girls.” I knew I was wrong the second the words came out my mouth.

The hurt flashes in Slade’s eyes. He clears his throat, but his voice is shaky, “You’re willing to shit all over the memory of our first time with a lie about being with a girl?”

Closing my eyes, I grab his hand, and answer, “No, no, I’m not. Forget I even said it. But, Slade, are you honestly ready to come out to your folks? ‘Cause you freaked when I told you Ma knew about us. What’s the difference between now and then?”

His face softens but offers a melancholy smile. “I guess your mom knowing was just the first step. Baby, we shared the most important part of ourselves with each other last night. I can’t ever go back to living my life hiding behind a girlfriend. I want everybody to know how much I love you. Aar, aren’t you tired of lying?”

Nodding, I whisper, “Yeah, of course I am, but if we tell them, this could be the worst night of our lives.”

Moving in closer, he hugs me, and I bury my face in his neck. A few minutes pass when he pulls back placing his forehead against mine. “Aar, I know you don’t think so, but this is the best decision.”

Slade’s illegal bahis a risk taker when it matters. If he hadn’t kissed me first, I know we wouldn’t be together now. The fact that he wants to come out has me at a crossroad. Going into an almost Zen-like state, I think about the two most important men in my life:

Dad is the first man to love me. When I was sick, he was there, and held me. His words of encouragement have been life altering. He’s taught me so much over the years, but the most important thing I learned is to be a loving, respectful man. I owe him everything. Does that mean I should sacrifice Slade in order to repay him for all his years of love and support?

Slade is my soul mate. I honestly don’t know how I existed in this world before without him. He’s my first thought in the morning and my last thought at night. I want to make him happy for the rest of our lives. He’s always there for me. Now, he wants me to be there for him. How can I deny him?

I’d be a shell of myself if I lost Slade. No matter how scared I am. Telling Dad I’m gay and in love with my best friend and boyfriend of two years feels like the right thing to do.

A sigh cuts into my thoughts. With a raspy whisper, Slade says, “I know this is sudden, but I can’t live like this anymore, Aaron. Something is telling me to tell my parents, and I want you by my side, when I do. If you can’t, I’ll let you go so I can find someone who can.”

He gets out the truck slamming the door behind him. I stay in the truck watching him pace angrily. After a few minutes, he stops, leans his back against the truck, and cries. I walk quickly over to him. I kiss his forehead and wrap him in a tight hug.

“I’m sorry, Aar,” he whispers pitifully. “I shouldn’t have said that to you.”

I rub his back. “No, ’cause you’re right, Jones. We’ve spent years lying to our family and friends. So, let’s do it. We’ll tell them about us tonight.”

The warm Virginia air blows gently as we hold each other. He pulls back, even with his face all splotchy he’s still the most gorgeous man on the planet to me. He takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly.

“No matter what happens tonight. I got your back, Jones.”

Slade’s eyes twinkle in the moonlight. “And I got yours.”

The touch of his lips against mine is sweet and gentle. We stumble back against the truck. His hands roam under my shirt and up my back. His short nails scrape down my back repeatedly. My shirt is almost over my head when I regretfully stop him by pulling his hands away.

Someone from a passing car yells out, “GET A ROOM!”

Shaking my head and laughing, I pull my shirt back down, and say, “We gotta go.”

“What if I offered you sex right now?” Slade says, running his hand down the front of my pants.

“I’d say that you’re trying to stall after I finally agreed to come out to my dad.”

Smiling mischievously, he says, “Shit. That obvious, huh?”

“Yeah, it was.”

Slade shrugs and unceremoniously climbs in the truck. I curse under my breath walking to the driver’s side. This is happening. The adrenaline pumps hard through my veins. Navigating my way back onto the road, I stay in the slow lane to earn us just a few more minutes of anonymity.

“We need to talk about how we’re going to do this,” I state timidly.

“At my house,” Slade offers.

Nervously, I announce, “I’ll call Candace, and have her tell my parent’s to meet us there.”

My fingers tremble as I call her. “What’s up, bro?” Candace answers quickly.

“Squirt, can you tell Ma and Dad to meet me at Slade’s?”

“Why?” Candace asks.

“Can you please give them the message? We should be there in half an hour.”

“Ok. I’ll tell them.”

“Thank you.”

“No problemo.” Candace clears her throat. “Bro, are you okay?”

“I honestly don’t know, squirt.”

There’s a pause before she says, “I’ll be here if you need me. Bye.” With that, she ends the call.

Forty minutes later, we arrive at Slade’s, but neither of us moves from the truck. I can’t seem to will my legs to move. Slade leans in kissing me purposely but passionately. We part hearing the front door open. Both sets of parents step out onto the porch. There’s no turning back now.

Slade turns to me and says, “Baby, no matter what happens in there, I love you.”

I look in his eyes and say, “I love you, too.”

We step out the truck. I walk over to Slade and he grabs my hand linking our fingers together. He smiles warmly. We take a deep breath at the same time and walk towards the house.

The look on my dad’s face is enough to make me want to turn and run. His mouth opens and closes before he walks back into the house with Mr. Jones following close behind.

I look at Ma. She smiles and it’s encouraging. I choose to focus on her, but I can see Miss April covering her mouth out the corner of my eye. Reaching the bottom of the steps, Slade leads me up to the porch, and we each stop in front of our mothers.

Miss April gestures with her head. “Get illegal bahis siteleri in the house.”

Walking past them, we hold onto each other for dear life. Our fathers pace manically and the vibe in the room is overwhelming.

“What the hell is this?” Mr. Jones hisses causing us to step back.

Slade squares his shoulders and holds his head high. “Pa, I love him, and he loves me too. We want to be together.”

The rabid look in Mr. Jones’ eyes is scary. “What the hell do you mean, ‘you want to be together’? You can’t be together. It’s wrong in every sense of the word. There’s no way you love him. You have no idea what that word means,” he fumes.

“Terry, stop, please, can’t you see you’re scaring them?” Miss April tells him.

Throwing his hands in the air, he leans his arm on the mantle. He’s curses loudly. “This is not fucking happening. Women were put on this earth for a man to love her, not to be cast aside for another man.” Mr. Jones continues getting madder by the second.

“Terry, please! Give them a chance to explain,” Ma shouts over his ranting. “Sit down, you two.”

We sit on the couch. My heart races and I feel light-headed. This really happened. We came out to our parents.

Miss April clears her throat, “How long has this been going on?”

Looking at Slade, I answer for the both of us, “Two years.”

A loud gasp from everyone but Ma fills my ears. She stands stoic not saying anything. I’m not expecting her to either.

Dad stares at me. I see no sign of disgust, but the disappointment is clear. “You’re telling us that you’re gay?”

The pulse in my neck throbs faster and harder. I speak. “Yes, sir, we are.”

“This is just a passing phase. You’re not serious about each other. It’s not like you’re not having sex, right?” Dad asks. I avoid his hopeful eyes seeking validation. Not out of shame but because I can’t watch the hope fade from his eyes.

“This is priceless. We have degenerates for sons,” Mr. Jones says nastily, looking over at my father. Dad sits there motionless taking in the information that his only son is gay.

“Aaron, you told me you weren’t having sex,” Ma says, stepping forward. Everyone stops to look at her.

Dad stares in disbelief. “Dani, you knew and didn’t tell me? Why? When did you find out?” He walks over gripping her shoulders in his large hands.

“A year ago, and I was gonna confront them, but I decided against it. I saw how in love they are. There was no way I was going to rip them apart. For a year, I’d hoped Aaron would tell us, but he didn’t. Chris, it wasn’t my place to tell you, as much as I may have wanted to.”

“I’m confused. How do you know about them not having sex?” Miss April asks harshly.

Ma takes a pause before answering. “He’s been so sad. I knew why, so I told Aaron that I knew about him and Slade during his birthday party. We talked and that’s how I know.” Turning to Dad, she says, “I told him it had to be his decision to tell you.”

Dad shakes his head stepping away from her. Slade begins to tremble. I grip his hand tighter, running my thumb along his hand to help soothe him, but it doesn’t work.

“There’s no way my son is some fucking queer,” Mr. Jones interjects. He points to me. “You, the sooner you leave the better. He doesn’t need you to confuse him with your depravity.”

I flinch at the harshness of his words.

“Stop it,” Slade whispers repeatedly.

“This is wrong. You know it and I know it,” Mr. Jones continues ignoring Slade’s pleas.

“Stop it, Pa.” Slade stands, holding my hand tight. “I love him. This isn’t his fault. I’m the one who started it.”

“Boy, you’re confused. Don’t try and cover for this faggot,” Mr. Jones says, looking at me with disdain.

Slade stops Dad when he moves to intervene. “Don’t, Mr. Brooks. I got it.” He turns to his father. “He’s not a faggot and neither am I. Pa, I’m gay. I tried hard not to be but I can’t deny it anymore. I’m in love with him and nothing’s gonna change that,” he says smiling down at me.

“I’m telling you, if you choose to lead this lifestyle, you’re no longer welcomed in this house,” Mr. Jones says in an eerie, quiet tone.

Hearing enough, I stand beside Slade, and look Mr. Jones straight in the eyes. “He’s not choosing to live this lifestyle. It’s who he is. It’s who I am. We’re in love. We want to be together and we will be.” I look at Dad, and say, “I won’t give him up. Not for anyone.”

Mr. Jones takes a menacing step toward me but Dad blocks his path in an instant.

“Terry, I’ll drop you where you stand if you lay a finger on my son. Step… the… fuck… back, now!” Dad says getting nose to nose with him. Knowing my dad is not one to mince words, Mr. Jones steps back, shaking his head in disgust.

“I wanna talk to you outside,” Dad says motioning for me to follow him.

Rubbing my forearm, Slade leans in whispering, “Baby, go. He might be upset but he still loves you.”

I nod. He kisses my cheek, winks and releases my hand. Miss April starts crying. He canlı bahis siteleri goes to her, and whispers silently in her ear.

I follow Dad out the front door. He places a hand on my shoulder supportively, the way he has so many times before tonight, and I almost lose it. We stand on the porch, but neither of us says anything. Dad sits on the top step while I stand beside him.

“Aaron, I thought we were close, and that we told each other everything. Why didn’t you tell me?” Dad asks. I hear the hurt in his voice.

Sitting down next to him, I sigh, “Dad, I didn’t want you to look at me differently. I didn’t want our relationship to change ’cause of this one thing.”

“So, all those times you were asking to stay, it was because you wanted to be with Slade?” Dad asks.

“Yes, sir, it was.”

Holding his head down, Dad’s voice is low, “Jesus, Aaron. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do here. We were upset about you lying, because if something had happened to you, we wouldn’t have known.” He continues on, “Then you walk in hand and hand with your best friend declaring your love for one another. What do you want me to say?”

“That you love me no matter what, Dad. I never wanted to see that disappointment in your eyes. Lying to you for the rest of my life was a thought I considered, but Slade would’ve broken up with me if I chose you over him. I couldn’t sacrifice my happiness to ensure yours.”

With an indignant scoff, Dad says, “What makes you think I’d ever want you to sacrifice your happiness for me?”

The tears roll steadily down my cheeks. “I’m your only son, the one to help secure the Brooks’ family line. I know you dreamt of a wife and children for me. I was willing to give you all those things ’cause I thought I had to be the straight son you deserved.”

“After what you’ve been through, of course I’ve dreamt of you standing in a church waiting to get married. I saw grandkids. But my major dream for you is being a happy, well-adjusted adult. You can’t achieve that if you’re livin’ your life for me.”

We stop talking. I listen to the crickets off in the distance.

Quietly, Dad asks, “Aaron, what changed? Why’d y’all decide tell us tonight?”

Staring off into the distance, I tearfully ask, “Do you really want to know?”

“Yes. Tell me.”

I bite my lower lip nervously. “We been together for two years, but last night we made love for the first time. It’s always felt right being with Slade and last night solidified those feelings. This isn’t a passing phase. This is as real as you and Ma.”

Turning his head from me, I hear him sniffling softly. I decided to ask the only question that matters at this point. “Can you ever accept the fact that I’m gay?”

“Aar, I honestly can’t answer your question right now,” Dad says looking over at me. He clasps a hand to my neck. “I love you, but right now, this is too much for me to handle. I’ve gotta go clear my head. I’ll see you back at the house.”

Shaking my head, I desperately tell him, “Dad, don’t leave. What about Mr. Jones?”

He smiles. “He won’t try anything. Not with you.”

“How do you know that?”

His forehead bumps against mine. “Because you’re my son, and you can handle yourself, kiddo.”

With one last look, he places his hand on my shoulder, and gives it a squeeze. Dad’s in the car before I can process the words he’d spoken to me only seconds before. I watch as the car disappears. I wipe away my tears and head back into the house. Ma walks over pulling me in a tight embrace.

I hear Slade talking to his mother. “It’s not true, Mama, this isn’t your fault.”

“It is true. I let you do whatever you wanted. If I’d tightened the reins, you wouldn’t be telling me you’re a homosexual.”

“Mama, I was born gay. You had nothing to do with that. I love him so much,” Slade says softly.

Miss April pulls away from him shaking her head. “I can’t listen to you talk like this.” She stands up, walks out of the room, and up the stairs without another word.

“Mama,” Slade calls after her. I’m by his side in a flash, as he cries burying his face in my chest.

Mr. Jones comes downstairs shortly after. I recoil from his look of repulsion. “Get out of my house.”

“Pa, please don’t do this!” Slade begs, twisting out of my arms.

“As far as I’m concerned, you’re not my son,” Mr. Jones states cruelly. He flings the front door open. “Your mother asked me not to kick you out, so I won’t. But from now on you’re a tenant: you pay rent, utilities, and for your own food. Other than that, I don’t wanna hear anything from you. Unless, it’s to say you’ve come to your senses and denounce being a faggot.”

The defeated look on Slade’s face is heartbreaking. He wanted his family to know he was gay and in love, and to be happy for him. Instead, he’s wiping away the tears of hurt and abandonment at the hands of his parent’s because he loves me. I should’ve tried harder to talk him out of telling them. This is my fault.

Slade wipes the tears from his face, and says solemnly, “Yes, sir.”

Ma stops him before he walks past her. “Terry, don’t do this. I know you’re upset, but Slade is still your son. I don’t want you to say or do something else that you’ll regret. You’ll lose him if you keep going down this road,” Ma pleads.



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