The line went dead before I had a chance to demand what he was talking about. The dead weight of dread knotted in my stomach as I spotted my house, dark inside, a little way further down the street.
The frigid air coupled with my fresh panic had ripped me from my erotic swoon and I stood in front of the door, trembling in the cold and out of the suspicion that father was just waiting for me, bat in hand.
All I could think was that he finally went over the edge. Complete and utter mental collapse is the only escape for a man so fatally wounded by the past. And that's exactly what mother's death did: jettison him into an inescapable pit of despair and self loathing.
The door knob felt like ice.
I was having a difficult time mustering enough courage to actually turn it and walk in. I had never heard Gabe sound so upset and I knew it wasn't just because of Rean. Gabe was worried for my sake.
Holding my breath, I pushed the door open, its hinges whining loudly as it wedged open wider.
The kitchen was dark, and the stairs resembled a cavernous black mouth since I could not make out the door to my room at the top. Everything was eerily still and yet the phone call had not come but minutes ago. Father had to still be inside.
I took my first step inside, noticing that suddenly I had hyper sensitive vision and hearing. Every creak and pop the house made put me on edge.
"Hello?" My voice was flat. No response came. A chilly breeze was blowing through the door, rustling some leaves along with it across the carpet.
I nearly shit myself when I turned to my left and saw Father sitting at in the kitchen staring directly at me. I scanned the room for the bat but couldn't find it. Hopefully, Gabe and Rean managed to haul ass out of here and that's why I didn't see them.
He was looking ultra creepy since the blinds were closed and only a few scraggily rays of light peeked in casting claws across his face.
"I said sit down."
I moved to the seat at the opposite end of the table and stared at him. "Where are Gabe and Rean."
"I sent them home. How long have you been having boys shimmy up the lattice into your bedroom, Gavin?" His eyes were boring into my face.
"They were just going to surprise me since I haven't seen them in so long."
"That wasn't what I asked."
"It's the first time all right, and if you hurt Rean you are in deep shit."
"You are a fucking liar."
Now, I had only heard father cuss twice in his lifetime. Once when my mother died and again when he told me he would never love me. This was different because the words were menacing. I noticed that he had something clutched in his fist.
"What's in your hand?" A list of possibilities raced through my mind. It was a knife, a gun, or something even more sinister.
He grinned malevolently, his mouth a distorted red line. "I'm glad you asked. See, I was wondering what you and that boy were doing down in Florida, but all that was cleared up with your call."
My throat closed. I hadn't called him, not on my life. "What the Hell are you talking about?"
He unclenched his hand and I squeezed my eyes shut momentarily, awaiting the bang or the plunge of cold steel before I released what he was holding was his cell phone.
His thumb stabbed down on a button, accessing his voicemail which he played on speakerphone. I stared at him, confused until the message began to play and had to clap my hand over my mouth not to throw up.
It was Collin and I, and we were both panting and talking dirtily. My memory whipped back to the nights in Jarrod's house and I recalled feeling something pressing into my back but not caring enough to move it since Collin had been on top of me. I shuddered in horror at the realization that it had been my phone and as cruel fucking fate would have it, it dialed Father's number.
The voices were hazy but Collin's voice came distinctly drifting across the line moaning deeply and chanting my name. Father wouldn't stop staring, his eyes tearing into mine accusingly.
When the recording finally clicked off he rose stiffly from his chair and I heard a heavy dragging across the linoleum coming up along with him. It was too late when I realized that the bat was grasped in his other hand and felt it explode in searing pain against my shoulder.
I felt a crack resonate through my limbs and I didn't know if it had broken or what but my arm hung limply at my side, rendered completely useless. I didn't have time to feel the pain I was running upstairs to my room, my arm dangling helplessly at my side.
I tried to lock my door but my left arm was still incapacitated. Father rammed into the door, shooting me sprawling backwards onto the ground and was standing over me before I could scramble away.
He was shaking, clasping the bat so hard his fingers were purpling. All I could think was this was it. I am going to die and I won't even be able to tell anyone goodbye.
"I have given you so much since she died and all you can do is sneak off to another state to fuck your goddamn stepbrother?! You're selfish and repulsive!"
The next breath wouldn't come and I just lay there waiting for the next blow because I didn't want to think any longer. I couldn't have Collin as a step brother. It was almost as unbearable as Mother's death. I lay back on the carpet, resigning myself to father's quivering fury and I could just make out mother's picture above me on my bed stand.
He loosed a raging scream and I felt little shards of glass scatter onto my forehead.
"Why did you leave me? Why did you leave me alone…"
I heard a dull thud beside me and brushing the glass away I realized it was father on his knees, dry heaving. The glass had come from mothers picture which lay mangled on the floor between us.
The choking sounds were his sobs and his face was contorted into the deepest anguish I had ever witnessed. He snatched the picture from the floor and ground it into a crumpled ball in his shaking fist.
It was the only picture that I had left of her. When she died, he had purged the entire house of any trace of her existing, never mind that his son happened to be grieving too and wanted her memory to stay. He was pitiless and I had to steal this picture from the garbage can in his room the day after her funeral. He wasn't man enough to face up to her photo and admit to himself that he was a better man when she had lived and was nothing now that she was gone. Gripping the bat which lay next to him I raised it high above me before slamming it down onto the back of his neck with a dull smack.
He went still and dropped to the floor. I reached down and felt under his chin for his pulse which was erratic at best. Prying open his hand and I retrieved the picture and smoothed it out as best I could. It was latticed with white crease marks, a large one intersecting her face.
Filled with unspeakable anger I picked up the bat and started to pound his unconscious body, pummeling his back, his legs, and concentrating all of my will power not to beat his skull into a fine pulp. I finally had to be sick in the corner when thoughts of what would happen now began to filter into my mind.
So he did plan on marrying Collin's mom. The one person I truly had feelings for was suddenly forbidden. I tried to hold the ruined picture to myself but it offered nothing. No warmth, no comfort, and now her face was ruined and there was no way I could replace it.
I had to get out of there before he woke up but I couldn't go to Collins because I would have to explain myself to his Mom. My shoulder was burning up and the slightest movement sent shocks of pain from the rising lump straight into my head.
I ran blindly in the direction of Gabes' house, which was much further away. I had to stuff down the urge to just sob in the street and my stifled cries started to hiccup in my throat until I couldn't breath. Slowing to a loping jog, through misting vision I could see two figures walking not too much further ahead of me. It was Gabe and a rumpled Rean.
Gabe whispered something to Rean and kissed his cheek before sprinting over in my direction. I mustered the most placid expression I could but there was no fooling him and he devoured me in a hug.
"Ah, shit." I flinched as my shoulder was squeezed.
When he saw my shoulder his face darkened. Gabe could easily pulverize Father and it was only because he was a gentleman and cool headed in a extreme situation that he hadn't when Rean was hit.
"Stay here." He started off towards my house but I grabbed him with my good arm.
"Don't. I- he's unconscious right now. He pulled the fucking bat on me too. I knocked him out though so let's just go. I don't want to be there when he comes to."
Gabe seemed to be wrestling with his control, his jaw clinching repeatedly. He cleared his throat. "Is it broken?"
"I don't know, it just hurts like a bitch." I glanced over at Rean who was shuffling towards us. The left side of his face was puffy and his eyebrow was covered with a big strip of gauze that was soaked through in the middle.
"Jesus Christ Rean, I am so sorry."
He smiled sullenly. "Hey, my face is too pretty. No real damage."
The walk to Gabe's house was a quiet one and not until the front door was locked and the shades were drawn did I stop biting down on my tongue to keep from screaming. My mouth tasted like blood and vomit.
Gabe's parents weren't home so I went to their fridge and grabbed about five beers. Both Gabe and Rean watched from the kitchen doorway as I went from cabinet to cabinet until I found a bottle of Crown Royal which I uncapped and downed like water. It was pointless to get a glass. My throat was still raw from getting ill and the alcohol ignited in my mouth and burned all the way down.
When I couldn't take anymore straight hard liquor I uncapped a beer and emptied it in about the same speed. I was dizzy and nauseous, but worse than anything I hurt nowhere and everywhere because I knew things were irrevocably changed. I just wanted to get the pain out, just wanted to feel numb and shut off my mind. I drank another and another until I was reeling so badly I couldn't lift my head from the table.
Neither Gabe nor Rean ever made a move to stop me, rather stared on with sorrowful, pitying eyes as I tried to drink myself into oblivion.
I vaguely remember two strong arms under my own hoisting me from the chair, and a feeling much like being carried up the stairs before passing out on what felt like a bed.
The sensation of moisture on my forehead is what eventually woke me. Rean had a cool washcloth in his hand and he had been dabbing my brow. I couldn't help but think of my mother since she had done the same so many years ago.
It felt like a stake had been driven through my skull directly between my eyes when I tried to sit up. My tongue was dry and I thought I was going to fucking piss myself.
After a very wobbly trip to the toilet, I collapsed back into what vaguely resembled Gabe's bed.
"Alright, no more getting up. We thought you had alcohol poisoning when you first passed out. Jesus, you scared us." Rean placed the washcloth back on my forehead.
"How long have I been out?"
"Hours, it's about 4:30 in the morning tight now. Gabe went downstairs to get you a bottle of water and something to eat." He lifted the cloth and dipped it into a small basin of water. "You're staying here for the night."
Slowly I realized that I was wearing a skin hugging pair of briefs that most definitely weren't mine. I knew I had seen them on Gabe before.
"We had to get you out of your clothes…you kept getting ill. You should really try to eat something."
Just then the door quietly swung inwards as Gabe walked in with a tray of food. Vegetarian bacon, sausage, and eggs. I thought I was going to be sick again.
Gabe sat down next to me, the bed caving under his weight. He rested the tray between us. "Rean's right, you need to get something into your stomach so you can sober up some. You really scared us, Gavin."
"I'm sorry." They were moving like molasses, but the memory of what happened earlier was slowly seeping in. "Oh God, I can't go back home ever."
"Shh. Don't think about that now. I went back to your house and your Father wasn't there so he's alright unfortunately. But you aren't going home, not until I know where that fucker is and I make it clear that I will kill him if he lays a hand on you again."
"No, you don't understand. He knows."
Gabe and Rean both looked at each other for a moment.
"He knows about me and Collin because…while we were in Florida….oh shit…one night we were making out in bed and I guess since my phone was under me it accidentally dialed his number. He heard everything…"
"If he can't handle the fact that you're gay then maybe it's best if you never go home. You can stay with me, Gavin." Gabe looked fiercely protective.
"It's not that. He…before I hit him…he told me that Collin was going to be my stepbrother. He is going to fucking marry Collin's Mom. I can't be with Collin anymore." I felt the familiar heat behind my eyes that threatened tears.
Neither of them knew what to say, and I was so deeply ashamed for having my break down in front of them. It was impossible to hold back the tears any longer so I stared at the ceiling, letting them just well up and spill down the sides of my face.
Gabe moved the tray of food to the ground and drug me up basically into his lap. I felt him kiss the top of my head which only made it harder for me to control my tears.
Rean watched thoughtfully from the end of the bed. He knew that Gabe and I were past lovers and best friends. He also trusted Gabe so completely that not a hint of jealousy every came over him. I was so grateful to him for it.
"Just let it out." Gabe wrapped his arms around me and I did let it out. I sobbed as I had when mother died and I couldn't stop until I had no tears left.
Imagining living with Collin and his Mom as a family was breaking my heart. Any relationship we maintained would have to be in secrecy.
Eventually I was so exhausted from the lack of food, sleep, and nicotine that I had no choice but to force down the now cold food that Gabe had brought. If anything, I was ready for another drink but something told me that Gabe wouldn't allow it.
To take my mind off of things we hunkered down to watch Will and Grace on TV, which normally I would have been laughing hysterically at but now simply stared at morosely from my pillow.
I knew Gabe and Rean both had to be tired themselves after making sure I didn't fucking asphyxiate all night long so after a lot of reassuring and "thank yous" I sent them both off to bed. It was 2 in the afternoon.
I knew I would have to eventually call Collin. He probably thought I was blowing him off, which I was to a degree but only out of cowardice since the truth would eventually have to come out.
I lumbered downstairs, cursing each step because of the pounding pain in my shoulder and my head. I knew my only chance to walk around unsupervised was while Gabe and Rean were both asleep so I dug around in the fridge, locating the last beer.
When I looked at the damage I had done earlier it was indeed surprising that I wasn't dead. In total I counted 5 beer bottles, a nearly dry bottle of Crown, and somewhere along the lines I had downed a few shots of what appeared to be Bailey's Irish Crème which was tipped over by the coffee pot a sticky puddle dried to the counter.
The beer was a Bud and tasted much better than any food at the moment. I sat down in the living room but thought better of it since Gabe's parents might walk in at any time. So I moseyed back upstairs and polished off the beer in a swig. It took the edge off of my hangover at least.
My mind was too restless to fall asleep again so I wandered around the hallway, trying to distract myself from the mounting obligations that I had: face father, probably go to jail, face Collin, and probably die.
I heard a muffled noise coming from what I took to be the guest room since Gabe had let me stay in his room. Hardly naïve when it comes to surmising what might be the source of muffled grunts behind a closed door, I pressed my ear to the door anyway. As I have mentioned before, I am shameless when it comes to sex.
It was definitely Gabe and Rean, and from the sounds of it, they were probably in the middle of doing the deed. Little snippets of Collin's fuckable self wriggling beneath me immediately danced through my mind. I would give anything to just go back to that moment in his room together.
My thought process is incomprehensible sometimes as is my complete and utter lack of self respect and dignity. Within moments I had the door cracked open, but unfortunately, I could not see anything, that is until I spotted the mirror to the left. In its reflection I could see the bed that was against the other wall. Rean was resting his forearms against the bed and had his back arched into the air. Gabe was behind him silently pumping back and forth like a piston. Rean was the one making all the noise, stuffing his face into a pillow when he couldn't suppress a yell any longer.
Gabe's face was full of lustful intensity, focused on Rean's back and ass. His muscular physique was as delicious as I had remembered. Powerful arms and strong, clenched thighs all quivering with each thrust into a yelping Rean. I quietly closed the door, feeling slightly guilty about peeking, yet a lot less depressed and forlorn.
I knew that I would never be able to give up on Collin, but I had also sworn against living a lie and pretending to be someone I am not. But no one could ever know now.
Hiding at Gabe's certainly was not going to solve anything either. I knew that I would have to confront Father and Collin and soon. I knew that if I left now, it would be my best chance to escape before Gabe came thundering after me.
Tossing the beer bottle into a bathroom trashcan and borrowing some of Gabe's clothes from his closet I headed downstairs. I had to open and close the door as quietly as possible since I knew Gabe would be after me in an instant if he heard.
Once outside, I pulled Gabe's coat tight and started off in the direction of home. Halfway there I spotted something rolling across the sidewalk like a misshapen tumbleweed when I realized that it was my mothers picture. I gently tucked it inside of my coat pocket and continued on.
I couldn't help but think that it was a sign that my Mother was watching and on my side.