Calix and I are just about to drift off into a nap when my father pounds on the bedroom door and startles us both. Flinching in my arms, Calix manages to not go flying off the bed in a panic – which is impressive, but I'm still pissed.

In a split second, the anger comes rushing back to me; igniting my body.

It's unbelievable that I can't get two minutes alone with Calix, and we only just got here. I don't want to know what it will be like over the next few weeks… months… however fucking long it takes me to slap together this fucking cabin.

I whip back the door, glare at my dad—seconds away from telling him off when he interrupts.

"Wyatt – we need to talk some more…" his eyes trail to where Calix is hobbling towards us, and he lowers his voice. "One on one."

"Whatever you have to say, you can say it in front of Calix," I state clearly. There's no point hiding anything from him. Not only will he nag me for details to the point where I'll have no choice but to repeat every word, I'm just done keeping things from him.

But of course, just when I think I have Calix figured out, he goes and surprises me.

"No, you should catch up," he encourages, giving a small push to my back and making it clear that he'll be fine. His eyes twinkle—telling me he's serious. The bigger problem is that my stomach is twisting at the thought of talking to my dad any more than I have to. "Mr. Walker…" he starts, "can I use your phone? I need to call home…"

Home. My eye twitches at his use of the word, but I'm too focused on the way my father pats his back affectionately, turning him by the shoulder and pointing him in the direction of his bedroom. "O'course you can, Cale. Any time you need it. Phone's on the charger in there."

"It's going to be long distance…"

"Don't worry yourself about it."

Calix beams at us – giving me one last, encouraging nod.

It's already been a lot to take in. I don't want any more. I don't want to do this alone... How can I tell Calix I need him without sounding weak? He's counting on me to be strong – but – I can only do that when he's with me…

All of these doubts fly through my head too fast to deal with. Next thing I know, I'm following behind the heavy steps of Wade Walker—leaving Calix behind. And it feels wrong. I don't know what I'll do without him by my side to ground me—to remind me about our dreams. I might ruin everything because holy shit, I need him so bad it hurts.

It's exactly like when I let him go on the mountain—crippling, life-changing, dependence plagued me back then, too…

The stinging feeling deep in my heart just makes my temper flare up again.

Trying my best to keep it together, Dad sits down on the old chesterfield, and I take the ancient La-Z-Boy across from him. I notice that the kitchen has been tidied since dinner, and there's even a fire going, but I can't help remembering the cold nights that haunted my childhood and still be bitter about it now.

"If this is what it's going to be like here, I'm telling you, Calix and I would rather sleep in the truck," I say bluntly.

"Most sons would appreciate a roof over their head," he muses.

"Most dads wouldn't insist their adult son – and boyfriend – live with him."

"Us Walkers, eh? We're mould-breakers," Dad agrees solemnly. "Your great grandfather was a rebel of his time too…"

It's cold, uncomfortable silence next.

When we stare at each other, I feel the tension climb to an unbearable level. My patience is thin, even on good days, and I'm not sure what's better – staying put and hearing him out, or walking out the door with Calix in tow…

"Damnit Wyatt—just what's going on? You've been at Grandpa's cabin all this time? You haven't been doing anything with your life? And what's the deal with Cale?" He points down the hall and to the bedroom where we can hear some laughter. "His leg's seen better days, and he looks like he's not even old enough to be here on his own in the first place!"

Here we go. It was only a matter of time.

I fold my arms across my chest, because I have a feeling that if my hands aren't locked tight to my pits, they'll go flying in my dad's face. "Not that it's any of your business," I bite out, "but this is what Calix wants. He may not look it, but he's eighteen – and he's stronger than you think. Did you miss the part where I saved his fucking life? That I love him? That should explain it. Anything else?"

Dad rubs his hands together—something I'd seen him do countless times when he was itching for a drink to hold on to. Instead, his knuckles almost turn white with how hard he clasps them.

"Wyatt. I'm sorry."

It's said in a serious tone, and I know for a fact his blue eyes have only shone this sincerely once before.

Seeing them like that hurts me in a hundred ways that are different than the occasionally painful love I have for Calix. This eye-stinging, throat-constricting pain is the kind you feel after years of bottling everything up—only to realize it hasn't done anything to help.

"I'm so sorry for everything, and I've been dying to say it all these years. I—your mom—she expected better of me and… you deserved much better than I'd done to you. There's no denying I fucked up. Now that you're here, I don't know what I gotta do to make peace and start over."

Ow—fuck. I don't know if it's guilt, but for a moment I feel like I'm the one in the wrong. It was easy on that mountain to hope my father was all alone—completely miserable—and there were days I wished he'd die like that.

But I know the terror of being alone, now.

I know first-hand what it's like to fuck up, and have no way to fix it. Like it or not, there's an empathic part of me now that grows every day I'm around Calix—and at the moment it's reminding me that my father's pain was real. He was unable to contact me… unable to apologize even if he wanted to…

I'm speechless.

For several reasons. Like I'm stunned by his apology, and I'm not prepared for what comes after, and I know I've been wrong but I don't want to open my mouth and admit it.

"I pulled you out here because—I don't think we can do this without a proper start-over. What'd'ya say?" Wade Walker offers his hand and it's more threatening than it was earlier. This shake – I know – is a thinly veiled apology.

But for Calix. For Calix.

I can't forget this is all for Calix.

Even though I chant this in my head, I can't control the cringe when my hand meets his. I think about having to tell this to Calix later, and a flash of his hazel eyes in my deep imagination gives me the power that I needed all along.

I squeeze my father's hand before he can let go, and make things clear.

"I forgive you," I start—not expecting the relieved look on Dad's face to affect me so much. I falter with my next statement because he looks so happy. "But—but that doesn't mean I'm sorry for leaving."

"Understood," Dad smiles, but he adjusts his wrist so he can return the strong shake—squeezing my fingers just as hard now.

"I just want to start over… for Calix—not Cale, stop calling him that."

"Well the name's stuck—"

"Unstick it then," I growl, watching his smile grow wider. "It's not funny."

"Alright alright." I let go of his hand, hoping everything's settled, but he just rests it on my knee and leans forward seriously. "I'm happy to have you back, Wyatt—honestly. But you need to get a job. And sort out whatever Calix's situation is."

My limited patience ends with him telling me what to do.

"I'm taking him to the doctor tomorrow," I bite out, shoving his hand off my knee and standing up.

"And the job? I've got friends down at Wholesale Sports – they're always looking for staff to run the gun counter." It's about as awful of an option as there could ever be. I'm not cut out working with people, so retail is out of the question, but before I can even open my mouth to state this, Dad carries on. "Back-counter, Wyatt. Mounting scopes and that. Plus you'll get a family discount – been itching to try out the new Benelli Supernova…"

"I've got enough cash to get by for a few months," I insist.

"Well – when you change your mind…"

When… not if…

He stands up beside me and before I can dodge his hand, he pats my shoulders a few times. "You don't need to pay rent or anything. God knows that Grandpa put you in the will for a reason and you're entitled to stay here. But I expect utilities—groceries—I'm an old man now. Retiring any day…"

Rolling my eyes, I turn away and march down the hall to my father's room where – apparently – the only phone in the house is at. As I approach, the sound of Calix's sweet laugh floats through the open door and into the hall, nearly stopping me in my tracks.

Instead, I cautiously peer around the corner of the frame and spot him sitting on the edge of the bed—face animated, bright, and so—fucking—happy.

"Yeah—yeah—uh-huh—and Dax guess what! There's a whole bunch of dogs here! I couldn't even count 'em… and they're huge! I've never seen dogs that big!—Bigger than me! – Hahaha! No I swear it! I forget what they're called… like malmyutes or – yeah something like that…! I know you're allergic but I wish you could see them…"

Calix clutches the receiver like it's precious to him; which I know his brother is but I don't understand why.

It annoys the crap out of me that such an irresponsible excuse of an older sibling can be held in such high regard. Any time he talks to—or about—his brother, Calix gets this God-awful excited look on his face. I can't make sense of the constant urges to erase it time after time.

This idiot brother almost killed Calix.

Looking up, Calix spots me leaning against the doorframe listening to his conversation. "Oh—Wyatt's here! You still wanna talk to him, Dax?"

An odd apprehension has my stomach turning. I know that if I open my mouth to say any words to this dude, they're going to be ones that make Calix upset with me. Yet when he bounces forward on his bad leg, offering the receiver and smiling encouragingly—I swallow hard and focus.

"Hello?" I greet dryly—making my voice as unimpressed as possible.

"This is Wyatt?"


Calix tilts his head just like Canuck at the tone of my voice. I can tell by that fascinated look on his face that he's trying to decipher every word being said.

The spotlight reminds me to keep a cool head.

"Yeah, I don't know who the fuck you think you are—but I'm not going to let you get away with kidnapping my brother you psychopath—!" I manage to keep my face stoic, and unaffected, despite a bubbling rage starting under my skin. "You may have Calix fooled but he'll never be happy with you. He's not even gay. He's not the kind of kid that'll just fall in love with an axe-murderer and I won't let him."

"Calix is very happy," I assure as cheerfully as I can. He beams up at me at my words; looking the happiest I've ever seen him by just pretending to be civil on a phone call. "The happiest he's ever been."

"You think this is a fucking joke?" Daxton shouts from the other end of the line, though I doubt Calix catches the words because he's snuggling into my chest and smothering me with much-needed affection. "There's no way I'm going to believe you aren't forcing him to—"

"You don't need to worry at all," I smile, bending to kiss the fluffy softness of Calix's dark hair. "I'm taking care of him. He's safe—and happy…" My heart warms with this statement—knowing these are the only things that matter.

"Taking care of him by taking him from his family?! You got some poor timing there asshole—!"

"I'm going to take him back for Thanksgiving," I mention casually, swallowing all the things I want to throw back in his face about leaving Calix alone in the woods. "Then we'll finally have the pleasure of meeting each other, and you can see for yourself that he's doing just fine."

"What about his leg? His school? He was supposed to start a semester in the Fall! I won't let you come into his life and fuck it all up!"

"Uh-huh," I continue, as if I'm casually responding to insignificant small-talk. "Yeah—right, it was nice talking to you too. Get well soon, alright?"

Then I promptly end the call and toss the receiver to Dad's bed.

Calix is beyond ecstatic. His arms wrap tightly around my neck and he jumps off his good leg to let me carry most of his weight. "Wyatt—that was amazing. I thought for sure you'd rip into Dax or something but… you were really nice to him!"

He's so happy, he sounds like he's getting a bit emotional. I lift Calix up, walk him out of the room, and plant a kiss on his face.

"Your brother shouldn't be stressing out so much about you. I wanted to make it clear you're okay… then maybe he'll recover faster…"

It's a bit of a stretch, but I'm rewarded with sweet kisses.

Truth is, Daxton can bitch about it not being 'like Calix' to do something like this, but it's not like me either. Love has taken us both out of our comfort zones for the sake of being together.

As we lock eyes, I'm convinced we made the right choice.

After catching Calix up about everything with my dad, we get ready for bed.

"Doctor—tomorrow," I state, whipping off my shirt and throwing it to the ground. We strip to our boxers, and then I crawl into the tiny bed beside Calix, forcing him to shuffle over and make room.

"What? Why?" he complains immediately. I turn off the lamp—still feeling it's foreign and weird that I'm not putting out a fire, scratching Canuck behind the ear, and settling down on an old, firm mattress by myself. "It's fine!"

"Calix—you can barely remember what the doctor told you at the hospital. We gotta get it checked." He mutters something into my chest that sounds a lot like 'no we don't'. "Yeah – we do. At the very least I wanna know when those stitches come out—what the next steps are. All that. It's nothing bad, eh?"

"You'll be there with me?" he asks quietly.

"No—o," I groan sarcastically. "I'm going drop you off at the clinic and fuck off for a few hours."

Calix knows his question is absurd, but he still jabs my side with his pointer finger, causing me to recoil and jerk away. "I meant like—as my boyfriend…"

"I don't know what that even means, sweetheart but yeah. As your boyfriend." I haven't held the title for long; even before Calix, I can barely remember ever being one outside of middle school. But beyond being a boyfriend now, there's no way my heart can take being separated any longer than necessary.

Calix is happy with my answer, but he's not happy with the way I attempt to shut my eyes after this long, emotionally exhausting day.

"Wyatt," he whispers. "I'm not tired…"

Christ—he whines the last part in a way that's not lost on me. I can't say I'm not in the mood when literally all it takes is one look down at him squirming beside me to get my blood pumping. But—it doesn't feel right.

"We can't do anything, Calix," I warn—getting out the words before I'm too far gone under his spell. It's happened before…

"Your dad won't hear us," he insists, recklessly shuffling up my side so he can kiss me. The angle we're at only allows him to reach my beard, but he kisses softly along my jaw—and it takes everything I have to turn away.

"I don't want to argue," I maintain. "Just feels wrong—"

"Get over it and kiss me," he demands in the dark, yanking my beard until our lips meet. Fiery sparks shoot south—from my head, past my stomach, and right to my cock when Calix kisses me with everything he's got.

I've been doomed by this exact kiss before, but it's still just as effective as it was on the mountain. My mind blanks as an overwhelming sensation comes over me—a light, airy feeling of floating. I return his kiss with no thought to it, forgetting all my issues with indulging him.

Calix gets ahead of himself by slowly rolling his good leg over mine and attempting to climb on top of me. His over-eager actions briefly clear the clouds from my head and I pull off just enough to slide my palm along his face.

"I love you—Calix—I do, but we shouldn't do anything…" He doesn't look as sad as I expected, but he doesn't exactly look impressed either. "You're louder than you think," I continue, smiling playfully as I use a free hand to grope his amazing ass and give it a squeeze. "You won't want to face my dad tomorrow morning, trust me."

He groans – clearly frustrated with my answer – and lets his head drop. "I don't care about that. I'll be quiet…"

I can feel how hard he is with his crotch practically glued against mine; and a thought strikes that… it's unfair of me to brush him off…

When he wants me like this, it's actually impossible to resist. With both hands now resting on each of his soft, springy cheeks, I grip and pull Calix up to kiss him.

A blast of desire rips through my body and sets me on fire from the contact of our lips—the feverish temperature taking away some of my sanity.

I end up tonguing Calix so hard he starts to pull away for air. Instinct makes me force Calix to keep up, and I use a hand to firmly hold the back of his head; dark hair flying out in tufts between my fingers. I tongue and bite—seeking to get deeper—to get him choking on the taste of me. All kinds of violent urges come to the surface with Calix and I don't know why. I don't understand. And Calix just fuels it by keeping up with everything I do; like it's never enough and he's the one demanding more.

His hips lift but I'm not aware of what he's doing until small fingers are pulling down our boxers. Calix grinds our cocks together in perfect rhythm with our tongues. He moans into my mouth, breathing deeply as he writhes—swallowing a mix of our saliva like he's thirsty…

Then a sudden hiss of pain escapes him—and I'm aware that all this movement isn't good for his leg. It's sliding to the side of me in his need to get into a good position to really hump at my body.

So I flip him.

Calix's back hits the mattress and he doesn't protest at all. The only thing he cares about is being face-to-face – and with our lips still connected he's getting exactly what he wants and letting me handle everything else. Like it should be.

His arms wrap my neck and he pulls me in – lifting and spinning his lower half against me… losing focus.

Hooking my tongue around Calix's, I use a free hand to grip our cocks together and then I pull at them slowly—tortuously—scraping teeth across his soft lips.


It's a beautiful sound but he has to keep quiet; I press my mouth to my ear to remind him.

"Ssh," I whisper, though I admit… breathing hot air into his ear doesn't exactly help. Calix barely manages to turn a tortured whine into a small squeak—dick twitching against mine.

He's panting hard as I rut against him in short steady bursts; eyes hooded and glazing over as they meet mine. Like he's hypnotized. With parted lips and a dangerously sexy look on his face, I pick up speed and fuck against him furiously—forgetting about the main issue until Calix loses himself and lets out a long moan.

My only option keeping him quiet is holding a hand over his mouth.

But when I do, his eyes go wide like I'm betraying him and he starts struggling.

"Mmmmph! Mmhh—nnn!"

"Be quiet, Calix—" I murmur seriously.

As I speak, he gushes precum all over my hand. Way too excited. He wants me so badly, he can't help himself at all. It's this raw honesty that has me head over heels for him.

Nothing beats this body of his. Nothing beats his hot whimpers under my palm as I get us off.

Calix thrusts against my length—slides his cock between my fingers with no shame at all. He tries to shake his head back and forth to escape my hand but I don't let up. Another indistinguishable noise and a buck of his hips tells me everything.

"Feeling good?"

Of course he is. He wouldn't be trying to grab on to any part of me he can and fuck up against me this desperately if he wasn't.

But it makes me so happy.

"I love you," I whisper, before digging teeth into my bottom lip and riding an intense wave of my own sticky pleasure. "So much. Love you, Calix…"


And is it just me or is Calix even fucking hotter than normal with his mouth shut like this? I love the helpless, pained look he gives me in the dark. So much that I feel my cock swelling against Calix's as I remind him I'm in charge. He's always crossing that line during the day and now? It's payback.

I want to break him—and I can't control that urge so I end up attacking all of his weak spots as he's forced to endure it all in silence.

With long strokes of my tongue, I taste his ears, neck, shoulders… and then I bite softly into the dark red spots I've already made on him just to get him shaking.


Even though it's muffled, he's letting me know he's cumming and damn do I need him to.

I pick up the pace, and a spike of my own pleasure carries me closer to climax… like my body is programmed with Calix's and there's no way we're doing this alone.

I squeeze his pulsing cock near the base and it's over for poor Calix—he cries out under my hand and releases in rapid spurts. All of it is so hot—even his cum—and I can barely suppress my own voice as an orgasm pulls at my balls.

My extreme love for him makes me remove the hand from Calix's mouth and kiss him a final time as ecstasy takes hold of us both.

It's not easy slamming against his wet cock and getting him to properly suck back my tongue again—but even if it's sloppy, it's at least quiet.

And, with a few long jerks, we're both spent.

The pleasure packed a punch that left me tingling all over—left me feeling even more relaxed than when we first got into bed. I'm high from the chemicals of post-orgasm as I wipe us both down, but then next thing I know, Calix is breathing deeply underneath me.

He's fast asleep; and his gorgeous face pulls at my heart and fills me with such peace that I close my eyes and join him.

When I wake up, Calix is nowhere to be seen.

I open my eyes to this horrible, nightmare of a room all alone, and my heart immediately bursts out of my chest.

Where is he? What could he possibly be doing? Why didn't he wake me up?

I dress quickly, listening for any sound of him, but all I hear is the incessant howling of the dogs – ready for a morning run. After whipping back the door I shout into the hall. "Calix?"

Then I practically slide into the kitchen before the smell of bacon can even hit me.

There he is, sitting at the table with a full plate of breakfast and some orange juice. Beside him sits Wade Walker; and maybe it's just me but they look a little too fucking chummy—legs practically touching…

"What the hell, Calix?" I snap, sitting down at the table in a spot across him. "Why'd you leave like that?"

"Huh?" He seems completely confused that there is even an issue, and this just gets added to the top of the pile of my current frustrations. Another is the fact that my dad is providing breakfast… taking care of him better than me… "I got up to go to the bathroom and your dad asked if I was hungry. You were sleeping… so…"

"Wake me up next time, eh?"

I don't want to start my day without him. No, I don't want his day to start without me.

"We were just chatting," Dad cuts in just before he scoops a forkful of eggs into his mouth.

"About what?" I concentrate all my efforts into keeping cool.

"Your mom!" Calix chimes in happily, ripping into a piece of crispy bacon. "Wade showed me a picture—she was so beautiful Wyatt! A model!? I freaked out when I saw."

Wade? They're on first name basis now? What does he mean he freaked out?

I missed so much in such a small amount of time, and it's upsetting. I can't find any words to express these irrational feelings because I'm very aware how idiotic they are—but they hurt none-the-less. With my father eyeballing me, it's even harder to tell Calix how much it bothers me. I'm helpless.

"How'd you meet?" Calix asks, turning from me and blasting my father with that sunny smile no one else deserves. It must be infectious because I've never seen Dad smile this big when talking about my mother. There were many dark days where even the reminder of her made him desperate for anything to cope. How could he forget that?

"Stampede of '89 – she was working as a model at a Ford booth—"

"The Stampede?!" Calix interrupts excitedly. "In Calgary?!"

"Only one, right?"

"What were you doing way out there?"

"Working as a cowhand on a ranch just south o'Pincher Creek. It was all part of the rodeo gig. Friends and I are strolling through – you know, taking in the attractions —we pass by that booth and Jen's leaning against this red Mustang, dressed to the nines… boots, hat, buckle… everything. And she whistles—"

"At you?!"

"Yup—called me over and told me to enter some contest, eh? Just doing her job. But I fell in love with her; felt it in my bones as soon as she spoke to me that she was the one."

Calix's mouth hangs open in awe as Dad talks. They're having this huge conversation without me, like I don't exist—like I don't matter…


"Why d'y'think? She wasn't just beautiful—Cale—she was intelligent, charming… joked that my hat was on backwards and laughed when I checked. Never heard a sweeter sound."

"Then what… you made a move?"

"Nearly too scared to… but knew I'd regret it if I didn't do something. So… I asked when she was done work, then swung by the booth and took her to down to the midway. Spent my entire paycheque getting Jenny this fucking huge bear, and the rest is history. Wyatt used to love that thing…"

The giant blue bear from my childhood had a permanent home in my room up until my mother passed. After that, Dad took it from me and drunkenly sobbed into it – passed out on top of it in the middle of the living room – and the next morning it reeked of vomit and spilled liquor.

Yet Dad's talking about it now like none of that happened. Like there was only ever joy—and none of the inescapable misery of his alcoholism that I remember.

A photo of my mom rests on the table between them and with one glance, my anger is overshadowed. It's replaced with hollow heart-ache I never got used to dealing with.

Mom's death was long. Painful…

Stage four lung cancer finally claimed her after she was nothing but a sunken-faced skeleton of her former self staring back at me.

The chills start; I get goosebumps along my arms at the traumatic memory of my last visit with her. At the way I held her cold, fragile hand. At her unblinking eyes because that close to death…? They don't move. She can't move. She can hardly breathe…

"Say something to her, Wyatt. She doesn't have a lot of time…"

"Say something—!"


They're both looking at me strangely. Calix is concerned—but confused—yet Dad seems to know exactly what's going on because he stands up abruptly and changes subjects. "Want breakfast, Wyatt? Bacon, eggs, toast…?"

It sounds great but I'm itching to escape. The walls of the small house seem closer together than ever and I swear I smell booze but it's just my memory playing tricks on me. Either way, I have no appetite, and no desire to stick around that much longer.

Before Calix can even finish what's on his plate, I'm hauling him up by the elbow.

"Can't. We're going to the doctor's."

"Wyatt, are you sure you're okay?"

We're in the truck, and I'm speeding down this island highway like I want to be pulled over even though I could get much worse than a ticket when they find out my license is expired. Calix has asked this about five times now, and I manage to force another "yeah" through my clenched jaw.

"You're lying," he finally accuses. I don't immediately deny it. "What's wrong?" he asks, getting silence in return because I don't exactly know where to start—there's so much that's going wrong and it's just me that thinks so…

But then, Calix quietly ventures into his next question.

"Did I make you mad?"

As he says it, I know he deserves better, and it loosens my lips a little.

"No… Calix. I'm not mad at you, okay?" I slow down as Calix takes my free hand and holds it. "I don't ever want to take things out on you again, either. I'm just not having as good of a time as you, I guess…"

He's uncharacteristically quiet after that, and I glance over to see his eyes glued to his lap.

"I'm not mad at you," I repeat again—stomach turning at the fact that I even have to drive it home this hard. I have no one to blame but myself, there, with how often I've lashed out at him.

"Are you sure? You looked pretty mad when you saw me at breakfast…"

"That was just—another layer on top of all the other shit."

"What other shit?"

"Everything… my Dad—"

"But I thought you two are having a fresh start?"

I grip the steering wheel too hard as we make it into town and turn left at the only walk-in clinic I remember. "It's not that easy for me… and I hate it. All I keep thinking about is what he used to be… and that he was never like this do-good-Dad before. Then the house—it stinks—feel like I'm choking…"

All of this is just coming out so easily; I didn't know I was keeping it so close to the surface. My heart hammers away because on top of how angry I'm feeling, there's also a lot of fear now that I'm saying it all out loud.

"You're the only thing keeping me going so when I woke up without you… seeing you getting chummy with the guy who only ever let me down… fuck Calix—I know it's stupid but—"

"It's not stupid," he interrupts finally—stating it like this is an unarguable fact. I open my mouth but he just sits up straight and continues; because when Calix is passionate about something, he'll debate it until he's out of breath. "I get it. There's a lot I don't know about what happened with you and your dad but… you're right. It can't be easy after all this time."

I set the truck in park after pulling into an empty space, then take a few moments to hug Calix.

It helps to know he's on my side—that he doesn't think I'm being ridiculous or over-reacting. A bit of that fear from earlier fades away, and after a few silent minutes of cuddling him against me, I feel a thousand times better.

Calix's incredible magic; just touching him makes me feel better.

"I love you," he mutters as I finally pull off—which of course, just makes me pull him in again—tighter this time.

"God, Calix. I love you too. So much it drives me crazy…"

"I can't wait for our cabin," he smiles, making me happy with just this simple sentence. Mom and Dad are depressing subjects, but this cabin—it fills me with a deep warmth at the mental image of Calix and I on a small porch, wrapped up in a blanket and drinking coffee… watching birds fly by…

"Me either… we're going to get started as soon as possible."

"What do we do first?"

His eyes are shining bright—locked on mine—happy and greener than ever in the morning sunlight. Damn, every time I look at him, he's more beautiful than before.

"We'll have to lay down a foundation. It'll be a bit of digging, then levelling… getting concrete mix… but before any of that we have to figure out how big it's going to be. We need a layout. Where're we going to put the bedroom, the kitchen…?"

Calix reaches under his seat for his sketchbook and flips it to a new page where he draws a long, boring rectangle. He marks off a door but I steal the pencil from him and add a few quick lines that represent the porch of my daydreams.

"Ooh! And this could be the bedroom!" he points to one side of the long cabin. "We're going to have a bathroom this time, right?"

"Yeah—we can rough something in. Might need Dad's help…" Then I stop, hand everything back to Calix and look at him seriously. "You're going to help too, right?"

"Of course!"

"Then you need to figure all this out," I say, tapping the sketch. "We need lots of cupboards, storage… everything. We can make it all from scratch—and you're good at this stuff."

He beams at the compliment, and I know he'll take it seriously when he hugs the book to his chest. "I can do that! It's easy."

I pet him because it's too hard to resist; his soft hair pulls my hand in like a magnet. I just want to drown in this deep, powerful, feeling of love for the rest of my life. "You're helping with other stuff too, but that's the first step."

Then I unbuckle my belt and jump out of the truck. Calix slides over to my door and I help him down while he launches into a hundred questions. "Other stuff? Like what? You'll show me what to do, right?"

"Yeah, see there's this thing called a hammer…" I start-off, joking sarcastically.

He punches my arm but almost loses balance in the swing and I wrap an arm around his shoulders to march him safely inside the clinic—avoiding the eyes of anyone else because in this world… my world… there's only Calix.

A/N: Sorry for the heavy chapter. Next will be a little lighter.