There's lots of ways I get my inspriration. Like, for example, my boyfriend, Lucas. Luke's been HIV positive since he was sixteen, when one of his father's friends raped him and he was sent off to a foster home, where he met me. He wasn't brought up with us--he didn't go to church with my family, he didn't go to school. Mom had to talk him into going back to school. At first, he didn't want to. But, after he started opening up to me on those days the rest of my family was gone, he said he'd go as long as he'd have classes close to mine.

So, after so long, Mom enrolled him in our public school. We spent time together, and when Luke would start crying in class, they'd call me and he'd tell me what happened.

Anyway, most of my inspiration for what I write comes from him. Anything that involves a gay boy growing up is somewhat based on him. All my fans, all the interviews I do ask how I come up with people with such a great personality, and my answer's always the same: I have a great muse.

But when Luke went into the hospital for his annual AIDS test, he was sick. Phnumonia, I think they said it was. And my writing went in a downhill spiral. My publishing agent guy didn't talk to me for a while because I wasn't sending in anything good enough to publish, my book sales were slowing down. My life was going to hell because Luke was going to hell.

A few weeks after he was admitted, he got back out, good as new. He still wasn't infected with AIDS, and that meant that he wasn't going to die. My writing skyrocketed, and another book of mine was published by the end of the month.

Luke was never the same. He didn't put his time into anything anymore, kind of like his life had lost all meaning. The one time I asked him about it, he said it was because he was infected with HIV that could turn into AIDS at any moment, and he still hadn't found what he wanted to do with his life. And that's all he told me. For some odd reason, he wouldn't tell me more. He told me that it wasn't something I needed to know about, wasn't something I should know about. He never told me.

So life went on as usual. Luke went to work, I worked on my novels...New characters were introduced that worked around one of Luke's many great traits. Other characters were introduced that worked around the traits I didn't like about him.

And then Luke sort of...changed. He wasn't his happy self anymore. His breathing was shorter, he could only stand up for a certain amount of time. I asked if he needed to go to the doctor, but he wouldn't let me bring him. I asked if he lied to me, if he was infected with AIDS. He told me no, he wasn't, and that the doctors were still sure that he wasn't going to get it any time soon.

I brought him into the hospital anyway. I was relieved when the doctors said it was just a cold. The shortness of breath was caused from a promotion at his job. I couldn't understand it, something didn't fit...But at the time, I shrugged it off. I didn't want to think about losing Luke, didn't want to think about life without him any more than I had to.

I began a few more novels, one revolving around AIDS and HIV and dating someone with either of those. About an open-relationship between friends with benefits. My new publisher/agent guy, Seth, decided that they should be revised before I sent them in.

So, I was sitting there, leaning back on my chair in my office, staring at my computer screen, trying to get the words from one side of the computer screen to the other, but in a better way, when the phone rings. That sends me into a short series of events.

I jump, making the chair fall backwards, me landing on my back. I attempt to stand up, but step on my foot wrong and twist my ankle. I cry out, grab the phone just as it starts ringing the last ring, and sigh into the phone. "Hello?"

"I have it," Luke's voice comes quietly from the other end. "It"? What the hell is "it?" I didn't tell him to pick up anything.

"Have what?" there's a few seconds of silence.

"I have AIDS, Jere," he whispers softly, sobbing crowding his voice. The phone drops to my feet and I push the speaker phone button.

"How do you know?" I whisper back.

"I looked a bunch of AIDS stuff up on the Internet, and I've...I just know, Jere...I know it," he sounds so sure, so positive...unconfident, though. This is not the Lucas I knew three months ago.

"Have you gone in to take a test?"

"Yeah, they said nothing's changed," I shake my head as I become aware he can't see me.

"So are they lying, or is the website lying?"

"These websits aren't lying, there's about fifteen of them that have all the same things...I've got fucking AIDS, Jere, and those doctors never told me,"

What do you say to your boyfriend when he announces he's got AIDS over the phone? What can you say? "Jere?"

"Yeah, I'm still here, Luke," I whisper. I suddenly remember the pain in my ankle and let my head drop against the desk. "Jesus Christ..."

"What?" he sounds so...unsure. It's as if he wasn't sure he should've told me.

"I twisted my ankle trying to answer the phone," I admit, rubbing at it. "When do you get off today?"

"I get off in about ten minutes,"

"Can you take off early?" I ask with a tone of urgency in my voice. I wonder if Luke picks it up.

There's a moment of silence, some muffled talking, and Luke saying, "Yeah, of course,"

"Alright...So...can you leave now?"

"I'll be home in ten minutes," he says softly. "I love you,"

"I love you, too...Bye,"

"Bye," he hangs up the phone and I set it beside me after it beeps. I look down at my already swelling ankle and sigh. Only I can do something so stupid.

I crawl to the couch and try to take in everything. Luke's got AIDS. The doctors aren't telling him that. Luke's got AIDS. My boyfriend has AIDS.

And suddenly a thought comes to mind. I've had sex with him and I've never gotten a test. Does this mean that I have AIDS? Or what? I shake the thoughts from my mind. I don't need to know. Luke doesn't need to know.

I turn so I can lay on the couch, decide against it, and curl up around the arm as the phone rings. I just leave it--it's probably my mom or someone else as equally stupid.

The answering machine picks it up. "Hey, Jere, it's your mother..." since when can't I tell by her voice? "...Just wondering what's been happening...You haven't called, you never call, and it worries me...Anyway, I found this nice girl at the grocery store who seems like your type. You should come meet her sometime. Love you, bye," I sigh. Mom...

So I never told her I was gay. I didn't want to hurt her. Dad had died of cancer a few months after I realized it, and I didn't want to hurt her more by telling her. And now, of all times, I couldn't tell her because...well...I'm not only living with another male, but I'm having sex with him. And he has AIDS. Mom would have a heart attack.

There's keys jingling outside the door. Luke pulls them back out as he opens the door, and closes it, where the lock slides back into place. He looks at me before biting his lip. "I'm sorry,"

"Don't be sorry...It's not your fault about anything,"

"Yes it is. If I wouldn't've told anyone, I'd still be at home and I never would've met you and this never would've happened..."

"I wanted this to happen, Luke..." I say softly. He gazes at me in confusion. "I wanted this to happen...I needed this to happen. I was going to go crazy when I met you because of the sexual tension I felt building up..."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that I've wanted you for as long as I remember. Even when I didn't know you, I wanted somebody just like you to come along and take me away..." I laugh. "I know it sounds like a fairy tale...but I guess that's how I wanted it,"

And Luke's gone. I try to follow him, but he's running too fast and I have no idea where he's going. So I go back into the house and fall at the bottom of the door when I get inside. I lay down as tears come to my eyes and I'm soon asleep.