Silent(new)

                                   

Chapter one

September 1997

The asphalt glistened after the rain and the trees swayed gently in the soft autumn wind. The air was fresh, the maple leafs were breathtakingly beautiful that time of the year, warm, flashing orange and red. The sun peaked from behind the clouds and the water droplets on the street glistened on its gleam. The light was a warm, beam of light, running in different directions as the dispersed pieces of clouds moved across the sky, at times swallowing the sun behind them completely.

When the rays touched your skin, it was warm for a moment, but the wind was whimsical and didn’t allow such pleasure to last for long. Michael sighed, saw a huge pile of fallen leafs on the side of the street, and couldn’t hold back the urge to kick it. The pile fell apart, but, as the leaves were wet and stuck on each other, his childish whim hadn’t caused greater grief to the park employees.

Michael reached to pick up one lonely leaf from the ground and played with it as he walked forward. He smiled slightly, studied the veiny surface of the leaf and it’s bright autumn colors before he allowed it to slip from between his fingers, watching as it gently fell on the dark green grass.

Once again, he drowned himself in his thoughts, that had been bothering him for days. Slowly, he moved forward on the wet street, not even noticing a water puddle as he stepped into it. His shoe became soaking wet, and he looked down, feeling annoyed. What else? He asked in his mind and sighed. The shoe was creaking, his sock was soaked and it made him shiver from the sudden coldness. He was beginning to get more and more absent-minded. These thoughts had taken up too large a part of him, and they had only grown stronger during the summer.

Love: it was supposed to be something wonderful! It was supposed to… but it was unfair and cruel… Why him? Why couldn’t he have fallen in love with someone else? Michael kicked a lonesome stone on his way and cursed. The sun hid behind a cloud, and, now, his shoe had a soaking cold puddle in it, making a wet splash on his every step.

As he tried to think of something more agreeable, he once again found his thoughts dwelling on his friend. He smiled secretively to himself as he remembered how Tony had laughed on his own silly joke so hard that he had fallen over from a chair. Tony had always been funny, little crazy and oh so lovely… Michael sighed. Falling in love with your best friend was complicated enough without the fact that they were the same sex; it was the cornerstone of his grief, so completely insuperable. Why did this have to happen to him? He had tried so hard to be normal, and now he was tired.

He couldn’t sleep, and had no taste for food. Surely Tony had noticed something wrong by now. Michael knew he had, but the other boy didn’t have a clue as to what was bothering him. Michael wished that he could tell him, but, in all honesty, he was afraid of the other boy’s reaction. They had known each other their whole lives. People had teased them of being like brothers without any idea how it bothered Michael. Brothers? Hah! It was the last thing that he wanted to be to Tony; it would have crossed the line…

When had it started? When had the feelings changed? Perhaps they had always existed and only now bloomed once they were nearing adulthood.

”Hey Mikey, wait!” The running steps echoed against the asphalt, and Michael was startled from the familiar voice. He stopped in his tracks and turned, seeing Tony running towards him. His freckled face turned into a grin

Michael watched his friend with confusion, seeing Tony even made him forget the unfortunate state of his shoe.

”Tony, what… Where-?” He tried to reach for the right question, stuttering slightly, which was rare for him to do.

”Man, I tried to shout from the distance!” Tony breathed, slightly out of breath. He lowered his hand down on his friends shoulder, leaned towards the ground, let out a small chuckle, and, then, brought his gaze back up to see his friend’s face.

”You’ve played in water puddles again, haven’t you?” He teased, almost making Michael blush, which also was rare.

Michael cleared his throat trying to overcome his confusion. ”I didn’t even notice when I stepped in one,” he explained. ”Where are going?”

”I was coming to look for you,” Tony grinned. ”You saved me the trouble of walking all the way to your place.”

”Looking for me?”

”I was near by,” Tony shrugged. ”Visiting Steve…” He continued and looked at his friend. ”Tom’s party!” He called out, grinning at Michael’s confusion. ”I knew you had forgotten! You haven’t spoken one word of them! What is wrong with you?”

”Nothing… There’s just been so much going on…” Michael noticed that he was stammering again.

”Ha! It’s some girl, isn’t it?” Tony thought. ”I wonder who she is?” The other boy tilted his head while observing him. ”You’re warming things up with Jenny perhaps?”

Michael shrugged not knowing what to say. ”I don’t know.”

Tony cocked his brow feeling amused. ”Mysterious,” he stated. ”Well, I will dig the truth out of you sooner or later… Now, hurry home so you can get out of those wet shoes, I will come by your house a little later so we can go together.” He patter his friends shoulder and turned on his heals. ”See you soon!” He called before continuing his way.

Michael sighed. How long would he be able to hide his true emotions?

**^^**^^**

Tony sat on Michael’s bed, sipping the beer that he had sneaked with him in his backpack. It was warm, but it would do, fulfill its purpose, at least. He observed his friend with interest, who was looking for an appropriate shirt from his wide collection of clothes.


He allowed his gaze drift downward on his bare upper body and couldn’t help but to admire the way the muscles moved under the soft and perfect olive-toned skin. Michael’s skin always looked slightly tanned. Tony had recently started to notice even more how perfect his best friend looked, how beautiful he was.

Michael was the most beautiful man he had ever seen, and thinking about it was exceedingly confusing. Tony tried to calm himself down. He knew that he wasn’t the only straight man who had noticed Michael’s looks to be strangely captivating.

Michael moved in front of the mirror to look at himself and pulled a black tank top on.

“Jenny won’t be able to keep her hands to herself when she sees you,” Tony laughed.

Michael glanced at him through the mirror with that same confused look on his face, the same one that he had when they had met outside earlier, but, this time, his confusion lingered only for a moment and was soon replaced with a cunning smile.

”You think?” He asked, cocking his eyebrow, looking sexy. ”She wants me?”

“Michael, everybody wants you,” Tony replied in an amused tone, knowing just how much Michael loved to hear compliments. 

When the other boys gaze was back in his reflection, Tony allowed his gaze to move lower on Michael’s body. He gazed at his bottom, nicely round and firm, wrapped inside tight jeans that fitted imperfectly. Tony’s thoughts wandered to what his butt would feel like under his palms and licked his suddenly dry lips. Had he ever seen a more perfectly shaped behind? He suddenly couldn’t remember. When he finally understood what he had been thinking, he got scared, but, still, he couldn’t remove his gaze, even though he knew he should and fast! He tried to distract his mind, tried to think of women’s breasts, big and round and so perfectly smooth!


Michael squeezed some hair-wax into the palm of his hand and rubbed his hands together. Then, he ran his fingers through his hair, messing it. He observed his own face in the mirror until he happened to catch another glance from Tony. He was surprised to see where his friend’s gaze was locked onto. There was a pinch in the bottom of his stomach, an almost painful spark of hope, and although reason tried to tell him to leave it at that, he couldn’t. The temptation grew too big and, in the end, what harm could it do?

”You too Tony?” He asked keeping the cunning tone.

”What? Me too what?” Tony asked before realizing what Michael had meant. ”No! I’m not gay or anything!” Although those words felt painful to hear, Michael made up his mind that he wouldn’t let them get to him; not now, he would tease his friend a moment longer testing his boundaries.

”Then why did you look at my butt so… interested?” He asked and grinned, at the same time wishing that it wasn’t just a game.

”I wasn’t looking!” Tony yelled in his defense.

”Yes you did! I saw. I’m not blind. You looked for a long time.” Michael laughed, enjoying the situation far too much than he should have.

”No!” Tony still insisted.

”Yes you did! You want me. You’re lusting for me.” Michael was grinning. Tony’s face was red, and he knew his friend would get mad, still he wasn’t able to stop.

”No I don’t! Shut up.”

”Uh, you want me really bad… You want to fuck me senseless.” Michael continued to tease and chewed on his lip. It would have been wise to hold his tongue. After all, he knew full well of his friend’s temper, which occasionally lead to mild violence, but Tony had never been violent to him, not even threatened. The only situations that Tony’s violence had sprung forth was when he had defended Michael after he had gotten himself in trouble.

”Stop it Mikey, or I’ll…” Tony breathed, his hands squeezed into fists on his side and his face still remained pink. Michael didn’t really understand why Tony took his jesting so seriously now. Tthis wasn’t the first time that he teased his friend in similar fashion.

Michael turned his face and smiled. ”Come silence me then, if you want”, he said sniggering quietly.

”God dammit Michael, you’re so fucking annoying at times,” Tony huffed. Michael turned back to face the mirror.

”But you like me anyway?”

”But I like you anyway,” Tony repeated.

”And you want me because of it.” Michael stated next, knowing he was moving in unclear waters.

”And I want….” Tony started, but then looked at him angrily. ”No I don’t! Not like that!”

Michael glanced at him, then at himself in the mirror and smiled. ’I really should shut up, now. I’m looking for trouble, but this is too much fun!’ he thought.

”Yes you do”, he stated then with confidence while fixing individual locks of hair.

Tony stared at him, with his eyes fixed in thin lines as he got up. ”I warned you,” he hissed while strolling closer to him with a threatening look, and, for a moment, Michael was sure he’d be hit. What did happen, he could have never foreseen. Tony grasped him, turned him around to face himself. Hot lips connected with his own and strong hands groped his bottom in a surprising frenzy. Michael’s heart hammered in his chest, his hands, which had been lying helplessly on Tony’s chest, limp from confusion, now wrapped around him wanting to keep the contact longer. He responded to the kiss that was most intense that he had ever gotten, filled with suffocated lust that was now released in its full power.

Tony hardly realized what he was doing. Michael’s leaner body was pressed against his and he was stuffing his tongue inside his mouth, enjoying the taste of his friend! Michael responded. What finally woke him to the situation was the sensation in his crotch, the curiosity that his cock started showing towards the situation, the tightness, throbbing… Michael had to have felt it! Tony startled backwards, pushing his friend away from him in awakening terror, shaking.

”Dammit… dammit…” He cursed over and over, stumbled backwards, and Michael looked at him confused, his lips glistening, slightly swollen and red. ”Dammit Michael!” Tony pointed at his friends almost accusingly. ’You are so beautiful’ -cursed… ”I’m not… but you are so… Dammit!” He spluttered and escaped the room.

Michael touched his tingling lips with confusion. Tony had kissed him. It wasn’t only imagination. It was real. He breathed fast, happy and confused, and then realized how fast Tony had left him. They would have to talk… to clear things… Hope… He felt a spark of hope touching his chest. Could he really be that lucky?

Trembling and overwrought, Michael took his over-shirt and got dressed. He would go to Tom’s party, hoping to find his friend and clear things up between them. He was afraid and hopeful at the same time; if Tony felt the same way, he wouldn’t have to fear any longer.

**^^**^^**^^**

Anxious, nervous, had Tony even arrived at the party? He had left so suddenly…

Michael congratulated Tom little hastily, gave him the gift he had gotten in a rush and tried his best to smile, all the while looking around. Half of their school seemed to be there, but he couldn’t see Tony anywhere.

”Hi Michael,” the familiar voice cooed somewhere close and made Michael turn to the source of it.

”Hi Jenny,” he greeted the girl with a soft voice and smiled. He wanted to ask if she had seen Tony, but thought that it might sound rude to ask so early on. ”How are you?” He asked, instead, and the girl grinned appearing somewhat drunk. Her tolerance for alcohol had never been laudable.

”Fine, now that you’re here.” She replied and stepped closer. ”I missed you. I would like to talk to you, in private…” She whispered and reached to take Michael’s hand in hers.

Michael felt uncomfortable, but didn’t dare to pull his hand away from her hold too soon. Last month’s confusion had lead to foolish actions. He had wanted to be normal so badly that he had ended up giving false hope to Jenny. They had dated almost a year, broken up before the summer, and then, just before the school started… Michael regretted it; things were complicated enough. Jenny would hardly understand if he told her the truth… If possible, he wanted to avoid telling her for a moment longer.

”Did you miss me?” Jenny asked, nestling close to him, Michael cleared his throat.


”We just saw each other yesterday…” He replied and smiled, the girls eye’s darkened for a moment, causing a new stab of regret in his chest. The girl seemed to notice, seeing how she smiled again.


”Let’s get you something to drink…” She whispered and pulled the boy towards the living room.

Michael noticed the few jealous looks that he got; Jenny was a stunning girl, perhaps one of the prettiest in their school and any guy would have been lucky to walk in his shoes. How he wished that he could feel that way himself.

On the other hand, Jenny got similarly jealous looks from the other girls; there was no doubt that Michael wouldn’t have comparably been the school’s, or maybe even the whole village’s, handsomest boy.

Michael’s grandmother from his mother’s side was Spanish, and he had inherited the most flattering features from her. Michael’s skin was beautiful, flawless, olive tanned. Chocolate brown eyes were framed with dark, thick eyelashes. His hair was warm brown, soft and full. Michael had the figure of a dancer: he was slim with lean muscles. His height reached up to 180 centimeters. Michael was one of those people who turned heads wherever he walked, girls as well as boys, women as well as men. The boy was, like many would have said; breathtakingly beautiful.

Michael took the glass of punch that Jenny offered.

”Listen, is Tony here?” He finally dared to ask.

”Yes, I think he went outside. Funny, I thought you two would arrive here together.” Jenny answered tilting her head little to the side.

”I’ll go and talk to him,” Michael said looking out of the window.

”As long as you hurry back, I also need to talk with you…” The girl smiled and Michael responded to the smile hastily before retreating to the cool air outside.

He found Tony sitting at the swings outside, and Michael sat next to him, trying to catch Tony’s eye.

”Tony?” He breathed. Tony turned his gaze upward, taking a gulp of his beer.

”What now?” The other boy asked, trying to sound indifferent.

”You left so suddenly. Don’t you think we should talk?” Michael asked, trying to interpret the look on his friends face.

”About what?”

”You know what. I didn’t just imagine it,” Michael responded. Tony was quiet. Michael collected all his courage to say what he had been thinking for several months.

”Tony, that kiss… You don’t know how I’ve longed for it… I’ve fallen in love with you, you know… and I…” Michael stammered slightly and gently reached for his friends hand.

Tony looked at him with confusion, his eyes wide, moment of silence that felt heavy around them. Tony’s eyes moved down to the hand that held his own and the confusion changed into disgust. He quickly pulled his hand on his lap and looked around them hoping that no one had seen.

”God dammit Michael! What are you going on about?” Tony snapped looking at him with conflicting emotions. ”That kiss was a mistake, do you understand!” Tony spat. ’That kiss was the best I’ve ever had’ The voice in his mind argued, but Tony didn’t want to acknowledge it. No, he didn’t want it to be true!

Michael’s lower lip quailed, he felt a stab in his chest and his eyes were beginning to water, but he did everything he could to prevent his tears.

”I know what I felt Tony…” He whispered. ”I’m scared too. This isn’t easy, but no one kisses like that unless there’s something real behind it…”

Tony’s face twisted with rage.

”It was a mistake! Some sick whim and… and drunken mistake!” Tony’s voice was low now, asphyxiated almost.


”You’ve never gotten drunk from one beer so much that you wouldn’t know what you’re doing…” Michael stated with a slightly bitter tone, hurt by Tony’s reaction.

”I’m not gay!” Tony snapped. ”It’s sick, forget that talk! I don’t want to hear about it ever again, do you understand?!”

Tony got up, his hands squeezing into fists. His face was still red from fury, and he looked down at his friend in threatening way. He saw Michael’s eyes glimmering and there was a part of him that wanted to reach out and wipe away the tears, to comfort, to hug, to hold… And these emotions only freaked him out more than before. They weren’t right! ”It’s disgusting…” He hissed before he turned and hurried back inside. He wanted to drink and forget, forget that doomed kiss and forget what Michael had said! He wanted everything back to normal.

Chapter 2

Michael hadn’t been able to stay. When he had gotten back inside, he hadn’t seen his friend and couldn’t be sure if he had stayed at the party or not. At that moment he didn’t care though. Michael had simply wanted to hurry home, be in his own bed, hide under the blanket, and, preferably, sleep for the whole week, if possible, even avoid going to school on Monday.

Jenny had tried to stop him from leaving, asked with confusion why he was in such a rush, but Michael hadn’t been able to explain. He could hardly find his voice. He was painfully aware that nothing could ever return normal after that night.

Dreams that night only stayed as far away as they wished, though. The air seemed suffocating and hot. His body sweated all over and the sheets wrapped around his damp skin. Horrible pictures were running through his mind at a relentless pace: how Tony would hate him, how he would laugh and tell everyone. What if the whole school found out? Michael tossed restlessly, cursed his own stupidity, and at the same time cursed Tony and his silly prejudices!

That kiss had been real, and it was an enormous lie that Tony didn’t enjoy it!

By morning Michael was completely exhausted, more tired than when he had gotten to bed. He rubbed his face and tried to convince himself that somehow everything would turn out okay. Monday was threateningly close though, if he would just… fall ill? No! He couldn’t be that big of a coward.

His muscles were aching, his head pounding, his neck felt stiff, he had to force himself to get up. ’I’ll make it through this, somehow,’ he whispered in his mind as he walked in front of his mirror. His hair was sticking out all over, which almost made him growl at his image, and groom them compulsively. When he finally managed to get them somewhat settled, Michael got dressed and stepped downstairs; perhaps if he could make himself eat something, sleep could come better?

His mother pottered around in the kitchen in her usual manner, humming happily to herself. His dad sat in front of the table and read the Sunday Paper while sipping tea. He brought his gaze up and smiled at the sight of his son.

”Rough party, eh?” The man laughed and winked. Michael sighed tiredly.

”Oh well…” He shrugged disparagingly and took the sport pages from the news paper that his father offered him.

”Good morning love,” the mother smiled as she turned and poured him a cup of tea without asking if he wanted one. ”Did you have fun last night?

Michael shrugged again, looking at the report of the Saturday’s football game with a concentrated expression, although, in reality, he just read the first sentence over and over without going further. ”It was okay,” he finally remembered to answer.

”Was Jenny there?” His mother asked and served him toast with his tea.

”Yeah,” Michael replied shortly, bringing the tea cup on his lips.

”She’s such a nice girl that Jenny,” the mother stated. ”Isn’t she, Henry?” She asked her husband.

”What? Yes, definitely very nice. When are you bringing her back to visit?” The father momentarily brought his gaze up from the magazine.

Michael sighed with irritation and glared at his parents.

”We broke up at Spring, don’t you remember?” He practically snarled.

”Sure, we simply thought, well Jenny’s mother said that you’re spending time together again?”

Michael looked at his mother resentfully; did parents always have to gossip with each other?

”We’re just friends, that’s all,” he responded somewhat rudely.

”I think you have a new girl in sight”, the father chuckled, glancing at his wife.

”There is no god damn girl! It’s fucking annoying that I can’t even eat breakfast in peace!” Michael snapped.

”Michael! That use of language is completely out of line!” His father scowled and gave him a dark look to which Michael responded with defiance. ”Apologize,” Henry insisted.

Michael stayed silent, glaring at his parents with annoyance.

”Apologize or go to your room to think about your behavior!” Father repeated.

Michael stood up, collecting the sport pages with him and marched out of the room without saying a word.

”What on earth is the matter with that boy, lately?” The mother sighed shaking her head.

”Hormones,” the father stated calmly, concentrating on his magazine. ”Don’t worry. He will apologize when hunger overcomes his pride,” he continued to sense his wife’s hesitation.

”I hope so,” the woman sighed, starting to clear the table.

**^^**^^**^^**

The whole Sunday had went by in rather tense atmosphere at home. He had been moody and whinged, until finally, before bed time, he had finally submitted and went to apologize to his parents. His acting up was more due the fear. He knew he had to tell them as well and wasn’t at all too trusting that he’d get their approval. Both were religious. His dad had one time sighed that he didn’t understand same sex relationships; complete hogwash… So there was no way that Michael could expect them to take this news lightly.

The night before Monday didn’t go any better. At morning he woke feeling even more exhausted. Going to school frightened him; he could only guess what he would have to face, and, although he had thought to prepare himself for the worse, he was still bitterly disappointed.

He couldn’t help but to notice several heads turning as he walked past, whispers carried the stares, quiet snickers, blushing cheeks, angry glares. Michael swallowed, so most of the students knew. Over the weekend the rumors had traveled throughout the School. How could Tony deceive him so? He wanted to ask his friend straight forward, but he soon saw that he wouldn’t get an opportunity for a private talk. Tony stood next to the lockers with their other friends. They all looked at him as he approached, and Michael’s heart began to beat madly as they sluggishly walked towards him. He saw a flash of guilt in Tony’s mien as their eyes met for a flashing second.

”Watch where you are walking fag!” Tom hollered loudly, shoving him with such force that Michael lost his balance and fell over. Jarring laughter filled the hallway, and no one helped Michael to collect the books that had fallen from his hands. Michael brought his hurt gaze to Tony, who suddenly looked away and continued on his way with the others.

He tried to collect the remains of his pride, gathering his books, gritting his teeth, ignoring the pain on his knees and hands. What ever happened, he wouldn’t go running to his mother; he wouldn’t cry. He would hold on through the day as well as he could; he would be strong. They wanted him to break, Michael knew that.

He sighed deeply as he opened his locker after the first period. This definitely was the most difficult day that he had gone through. He had fallen so many steps from the lateral of schools hierarchy: from the top step to the one at the very bottom.

He heard the steps from behind him and turned.

”Hi Michael,” the girl’s voice was quiet. She held a book against her chest and the look in her eyes was somewhat insecure and sad. ”Say that it isn’t true,” she asked tilting her head and took a step closer. ”It can’t be true Michael. Tell me that they’re lying.” She pleaded and looked at him, searchingly with her blue gray eyes, as if searching for the truth on his face.

Michael sighed and glanced around, too many curious eyes were following them and he turned to close his locker. He then lowered his hand gently on the girls shoulder.

”Come,” he asked leading her outside, to a secluded place, so they could talk in private.

They sat at a nearby bench. Jenny was looking at him expectantly, but slightly frightened. It would have been tempting to suddenly deny everything and somehow return to that easy but mendacious life. On the other hand, living a lie had become so hard, and Michael felt tired. The damage had been done.

”I didn’t know how to tell you. I didn’t know how,” Michael started , chewing at his bottom lip and taking her hand seeking for comfort, with hope that she might understand. Jenny shook her head and closed her eyes. She released a repressed sigh. ”I do care for you and I hope we can still be friends.”

Jenny opened her eyes looking away. ”God dammit Michael,” she cursed silently and pulled her hand away from the hold before bringing her hurt gaze back to the boy. ”We were going out for almost a year!” Her eyes glimmered from tears. ”You’ve made an ass out of me!”

”This isn’t easy Jenny. I tried! I care for you! God only knows how much I want to be different!” He breathed, tried to calm down, fumblingly touching her arm, but she flinched away.

”Do you know how hard it is to hear from a stranger that the boy I love, the boy I’ve been with, and…” She shook her head. ”To hear that he is… That you! You never even wanted me! Imagine how foolish I feel now! The way I’ve poised myself on you and now… You made me believe! You lied to me…”

”I didn’t mean to Jenny…” Michael swallowed. He saw her crying and couldn’t hold back his own tears anymore. ”Forgive me… I was so confused, I still am… I wanted to tell, but I was afraid… please Jenny…” He reached out to wipe the tears from her face. ”Forgive me…”

”Don’t touch me!” The girl hissed and stood up. Her eyes were red. Her mascara had ran under her eyes. A dark line of tears left a crack on the makeup on her skin. ”It hurts too much…” she whispered. ”I can’t do this now… I just can’t Michael…” She shook her head helplessly before turning, Michael watched as the girl hurried towards the main door where her friends waited. They tried to hug her, but she shrugged them off, stepping toward the door and hurrying inside.

Michael felt even worse. The day was more exhausting mentally than he ever could have imagined. The continuous implies, nagging and pushing. Some looked at him with pity, but still didn’t dare approach.

He had never felt more alone. How could he go through the rest of the year? Were none of his friendships stronger than this?

When he arrived home, he was exhausted and ready to burst into tears. He couldn’t say a word to his mother, just hurried upstairs into his room and fell down on his bed. He lied there, unmoving, curled up. He didn’t want to return back to school; everyone hated him now.

There was a quiet knock on the door.

”Yes?” Michael asked with hoarse voice. His mother peaked in carefully.

”Can I come in?” She asked. Michael didn’t look up, didn’t reply. He heard his mother sigh. ”What is it dear?” She asked as she closed the door behind her and stepped in further. Michael wiped his face and sat up uncomfortably, still avoiding her gaze. ”What happened?” The voice was so soft, concerned, similar to the one that comforted him when he had been small and hurt his knee falling off his bike, ripping his new jeans. He had been afraid to tell her.

Michael shook his head, felt the tears in his eyes, and hid his face.

”Go away,” he asked weakly, not wanting to show her that he was crying. He was too old for it anyway.

His mother didn’t care. She sat down beside him and gave him a hug. ”You can tell your mother,” she whispered softly, and Michael, desperately needing the comfort, didn’t want to reject his mothers embrace. He couldn’t completely relax either. ”Darling, what’s happened?” The mother stroked her son’s cheek, pressed a gentle kiss on his forehead, and sensed his hesitation. Michael’s head rested on her shoulder until he pulled away, appearing slightly confused and restless.

”You’ll start hating me as well…” He mumbled and got up, his mother gave him a confused look.

”Michael, I could never hate you. You’re my child. You could never do anything that would take my love away.” She assured, clearly worried by now. Michael glanced at her, wrapping his arms around himself, shivering as if he were cold.

”I’m gay,” he whispered, his voice hoarse and nervous. ”Can you accept it?”

His mother looked at him with confusion, perhaps even slightly upset?

”Michael…” She started with a hesitant voice, clearly not knowing how to continue. ”You don’t know what you’re talking about,” she sighed, her voice quailing, searching her son’s face in disbelief. Michael shook his head with frustration, wanting to scream.

”It is true! Can’t you understand! I’m gay, and now the whole school knows because I told Tony on Saturday. That…” His voice deceived him and he squeezed his eyes shut, groaning quietly. When he opened his eyes he looked outside to the sunny autumn weather; the sun had been up all day, almost as though it were mocking him.

”It’s only a phase, I’m sure that… Alright, my dear, don’t worry. Let’s forget this. You’ll meet some nice girl. I’m sure that many have similar phases.” His mothers face was gentle. She nodded, smiled almost comfortingly as she stood up. ”Soon this nonsense will disappear,” she whispered. ”Others will forget as well.”

Michael turned as his mother tried to reach out to hug him. He stepped back, wanting to laugh bitterly.

”It’s not a phase, not a disease, nothing that would simply disappear if you close your eyes! How can you be so blind?!”

”It’s a sin, it’s dirty!” His mother breathed. ”The Bible…”

”Screw the whole Bible! Screw the religion! I don’t care! What good has it done?! You can pray a thousand prayers and it won’t change it! Can’t you see it mother? Can’t you understand? I’m not hurting anyone. I can’t change. I’m finally telling the truth!” He breathed tensely, irritated that his mother didn’t understand, that no one did. ”You said that nothing would make you hate me? What did you think I would tell you? Would it have been better if I said that I was a criminal?”

His mother shook her head, feeling hurt.

”Come to your senses Michael, what will your father say when he hears this?”

”If you have nothing else to say, then please leave. I can’t do this now.” Michael sighed.

”Michael I just…” The woman approached, tears filling her eyes. She felt hopeless; she would have to pray for God’s guidance.

”Go!” Michael roared and pointed at the door. His mother, startled by her child’s harsh voice, still not ready to believe his words, but not knowing what to do, turned and left to room quickly, afraid of what would happen when her husband would find out.

**^^**^^**^^**

His father found out a couple of days later. They sat in the living room, when the man spoke about a rumor that he had heard, he had frowned as he had talked with disbelieving amusement, at the same time irritated that someone would spread such a hurtful and dishonest rumor about his son. But, after he told history about his confusing day and looked at his family, his wife had a distressed look upon her face, and his son sat silently, almost calm, without showing even the smallest sign of outrage. Silently, glass of brandy in one hand, pipe in the other, his father put the pieces together in his mind.

”Michael, why are you not saying anything?” He asked almost tightly. The boy’s serious gaze met his father’s, and, if the TV hadn’t been on, the silence that settled in the room would have been thick enough to cut with a knife. It was as if all of them were holding their breath. Finally, Michael sighed.

”It’s not just a rumor dad, it’s true. I’m… I’m gay.” His voice was quiet, resigned in hearing the rage that would follow. The father lowered his glass slowly, his hand trembled, face serious and turning to hatred.

”What nonsense are you saying? No, Michael, not you! Not my son!” The man hollered as he stood up. ”It’s filthy,” he hissed, face gnarled into sneer. ”You’ll go someplace to get treated, a shrink, we’ll fix you back to normal.” He got serious nodding firmly.

”Dad, you can’t be serious! I’m not sick!” Michael screamed with an upset tone and rose face to face to his father. The man’s face twisted with disgust and rage.

”I will never accept it! My son is not that kind of… animal!”

Michael almost burst into hysterical laughter. The situation was crazy in every way. Wasn’t there anyone in the world who would think sensibly? Who was still living in the modern day? Everyone seemed to be stuck in some weird world of prejudices, and it made him feel sick.

”I can’t change! Whether you approve of it or not!” Michael shouted with defiant rage. His dad brought his hand up to hit him. He had never hit him before, but now he definitely looked like he could. ”Go on, hit me then!” Michael encouraged him. His mother’s desperate cry snapped them both back to reality; the woman was crying.

”Stop! Both of you stop!” She begged with a broken tone.

”Now look what you did!” His father grumbled angrily, shaking his head in disgust. ”Go to your room. I can’t bear the sight of you right now.” He hissed, and, for a moment, they looked at one another, briefly. Michael knew he was being sincere. He had no intention of accepting this.

His parents’ reaction hurt more than anyone else’s. His father had never looked at him as coldly as he did then, never with such despite. Michael feared that they both had stopped loving him for real. He was alone and the whole world seemed to have turned against him.

Chapter 3

Everything would be easier if he had a boyfriend, Michael had decided, someone who would understand, hold him and assure him that everything would work out. It would probably be easier to handle the situation if he had someone to count on, and that was why he had decided to try his luck. He was only seventeen. It could be that they would turn him back from the door, but maybe they would think that he was old enough? Michael felt excited, nervous…

It felt uncomfortable to approach such a strange place all by himself. He wished that he could have had someone with him, but there was no one to ask; everyone still seemed upset with him.

Michael arrived early enough at the club so that there wasn’t much of a line yet. Still, his heart pounded madly as he approached the doorman and did his best to look confident. Still, under that cold amused gaze, he felt so small and insecure. He forced a smile upon his face and could only hope that the man wouldn’t inquire his age. It was difficult to say if the man had any suspicions or if he was taking a knowing risk when he nodded approvingly and showed him in. The man seemed to be grinning at him, almost laughing, perhaps sensing how lost the boy would be in a place filled with grown, horny men.

Michael swallowed. It was difficult to find his confidence, now. He was only a child still, desperately wanting to step into bigger boots already. In his school he had once been the king, but here he was a fish on a dry land, a lamb amongst the hungry wolfs.

His insecurity must have been visible, for the looks of strange men on his body felt too intrusive. He felt like turning around and going back home. Still, his mind would not allow such cowardice. He brought his chin up, gritted his teeth; he had to be determined and calm.

However, the first touch on his bottom quickly made him seek for a place to sit. He had never felt as insecure, as fearful. Strange faces sneered around him, laughing and winking, looking his way with meanings he wasn’t certain of.

Many had seen him, many were curious, but Michael had woken interest in one man whose meeting he’d live to regret. Michael hadn’t noticed him at first – there were too many new things that stole his attention. It was only a matter of time when someone would approach.

Finally Michael felt the intense stare on his skin and turned. The man smiled and tilted his head, curiously watching his reaction. Michael answered a smile more shy than he intended.

The man was handsome, no doubt about that. He wore a gray suit. The top buttons of his shirt were open. His dark hair was combed neatly, a light bristle framing his angled face. His clothes fitted on him perfectly, revealing that, underneath, one would probably find a well-trained, muscular body. The man was a lot older, over thirty at least, perhaps closer to forty? Michael estimated and couldn’t help but feel curiosity towards the stranger, so intensive was his gaze, somehow mysterious?

Finally the man approached, knowing well that the boy couldn’t stay alone for long. He lowered his glass on the table and smiled.

”Where’s your date?” He asked politely and Michael’s attention was drawn to his accent, he wasn’t from England.

”I’m alone,” Michael replied smiling slightly.

”Really?” The man asked pretending to be surprised. He had observed the boy long enough to know that he was. ”Mind if I join your company, unless you’re expecting someone else?”

The boy nodded, smiling, causing the man to want him even more.

”Perhaps you would like a drink?” The man suggested.

”Thank you… Beer?” Michael smiled, observing the man who nodded and smiled almost gently.

”I’ll return to you soon.” The man said and left towards the counter. He glanced behind him and smiled with satisfaction, noticing the boy following him with his gaze. Young and inexperienced: an easy catch. He chuckled in his mind as he bought the boy the drink he desired and returned.

Michael thanked the man, smiled, and tasted it.

”You’re not from around here,” He stated tilting his head flirtatiously.

The man smiled, quiet for a moment before replying.

”I’m from New York. Just here for a business…” He didn’t hide his interest. He looked at the boy, openly admiring him. ”Richard… Ricky…” He said, holding out his hand that the boy took, grinning sweetly.

”Michael,” He replied.

”You look very young Michael,” Ricky smiled. ”Can I inquire your age?”

Michael hesitated for a moment. ”Twenty five,” he lied thinking that his young age would otherwise make the man to back off.

The man cocked his brow, smiled skeptically and also somewhat amused. ”Are you really? I would have guessed twenty.”

Michael laughed, looking into the man’s eyes.

”I’m really just seventeen,” He finally whispered. ”Is that bad?” His look became slightly worried, and the man could hardly control himself. The age was perfect, the boy was incautious and naive, if he played his cards right…

”Not at all, don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone,” The man grinned. ”But I am a lot older, does that bother you?”

Michael hesitated, but finally shook his head. ”I see no reason why we couldn’t talk.” He answered. The man tilted his head, noticing the boy’s hesitation. He decided to make a bolder move and lowered his hand on the youth’s thigh.

”Only talk?” He asked. The boy held a confused gaze, even slightly nervous. Under his touch he could feel the boy quailing. It was simply delicious. ”Relax,” The man smiled, removing his hand for now. It was no use in scaring the boy too early. ”I’m sorry if I intrude, I don’t mean to frighten you, you are simply so…” The man sighed giving him a mesmerized look. ”It’s been long time since I saw something equally as beautiful.”

Although it was certainly not the first time Michael had heard a similar praise, the man’s essence caused him to blush.

”Thank you…” He answered with a smile. The man’s adoring gaze stroked his wounded self-confidence. Everyone around him seemed so disappointment in him.

”I’m only saying what is true. Surely you must realize your own charm,” The man smiled, tasting his drink. Michael didn’t reply, simply continued to smile.

”Tell me more about yourself, I’m intrigued,” Richard asked, leaning forward, and Michael uttered a soft laugh, perhaps even slightly confused.

”I don’t know where to start.” He answered and took a hold of his glass, his fingers playing nervously on its surface. The situation was new and confusing. A grown man’s attention was completely different than the that of the girls his age. The same methods surely wouldn’t work.

”You have an exotic look about you. Where do your roots come from? Or am I mistaken to think they might come some place different than here?”

”My grandmother is Spanish. My father is Irish. I was born here.” Michael replied softly.


”I was right then,” the man grinned. ”And excuse me for staring. I can not help myself… What else…” He stopped to think. ”What are your hobbies? Do you study?”

”Dance, football, playing piano… I’m in High school…” The man had his gaze fixed on his fingers. He brought the boy’s hand up, holding it for a moment.

”Your hands are beautiful, so delicate…” He whispered kissing his palm. Michael couldn’t help but snigger. ”I’m confusing you? I am sorry,” the man whispered lowering his hand on the table, touching it lightly. ”You think of me as an old pervert?” He asked joking.

Michael shook his head.

”No, this just, this is…”

”New?” The man suggested making the boy nod. Ricky smiled. ”My interest confuses you, I can understand that. I don’t want to pressure you or make you feel uncomfortable… Would you like me to leave?” He asked.

Michael shook his head lightly, causing the man to chuckle inwardly. He had to be careful, patient. This reward was something he really wanted. The boy had to be still untouched, at least as other men were concerned.

”I would like to kiss you,” He admitted, looking at the boy. This kind of sweet talk usually worked on the young ones, older would have found it more or less amusing and cheesy. The boy’s chocolate eyes met with his own. He smiled and saw the boy thinking about it. It was good to let him think that he controlled the situation, think that he had him wrapped around his little finger. He gazed at the boy almost pleadingly, awaiting and slowly bringing his hand to his knee. ”Your lips are so inviting…” He whispered and the boy smiled still, remaining silent, perhaps waiting to see what he would do. Ricky leaned forward. ”I’m going to steal a kiss from you,” Ricky grinned. ”What will you say?”

”You do not have to steal something that is freely given,” Michael smiled, but still didn’t make the first move, but waited for the man to make it, feeling excited.

He felt the man’s hot breath on his skin, the scent in his nostrils, the hand gently touching his cheek and softly moving in his hair; Michael closed his eyes for a moment, shivering from anticipation and as he opened his eyes he found himself looking straight in the dark eyes of Ricky, much darker than his own. His lips parted, and the man’s lips touched his as lightly as a feather. He smiled, and the touch returned more determined this time. The man’s stubble tickled his skin and made Michael grin into the kiss. His hand fumbled down on the man’s thigh, hearing his pleased groan. The hand in his hair brought him closer, the kiss grew more intense staying gentle at the same time.

The kiss was different. Michael couldn’t explain it with words. It just was. Maybe it was more determined? Controlling, without being unpleasant in any way, the man’s hand moved along his thigh and Michael felt himself shivering. He could sense the man’s desire and enjoyed it. Suddenly he wanted to test how deep it would be, how much the man would be ready to do for him.

”I have to go…” He sighed drawing back slowly.

”Not yet,” the man’s voice was hoarse and his gaze slipped down to his moist lips, leaning forward to steal another kiss. ”I get you a new drink,” He promised. Michael smiled without promising anything and the man walked towards the bar. When Ricky got in front of it, Michael stood up, looked straight at the man and smiled. He walked towards the door making sure that his gaze followed him. The man tilted his head, smiling curiously although somewhat surprised. Michael was certain that the man would follow him outside. He was counting on it.

When he got outside, he walked slowly along the pavement, all the time expecting to hear the footsteps behind him.

”Hey there pretty boy, where are you going?” He heard a drunken voice asking and turned his face to the sound. The man was somehow ragged looking, balding and middle-aged, dawning a beer belly. The sleaze ball gave him a lecherous look as he stood there, leaning his back against the side of his car.

”That’s not your business to know,” Michael responded rather rudely.

”Come with me? I have a big house and something else that is big,” the man laughed and gripped his own groin. Michael felt sick.

”No, indeed I will not.” he said sharply, not hiding his disgust. He hurried his steps but the man kept following.

”I could pay you,” The man said, stopping him and waving a large sum of cash in front of his nose.

Michael grimaced and felt a shudder running through him.

”Not for any sum!” He called out.

”Why?” The man didn’t let go of his arm.

”You disgust me, let go! I’m not a prostitute!”

”Aren’t you? God damn whore; I’ll fucking show you!” The man raised his fist and Michael sighed in fear, preparing for a hit that seemed inevitable.

Ricky got there just in time, he grasped the other man’s collar and shoved him against the nearest wall. He looked at the other man threateningly, eyes narrowed with rage.

”What the hell do you think you’re doing?!” He roared. ”The boy is mine. You stay away from him; is that clear?” He hissed in the other man’s ear. ”You leave this boy alone, understood?!” He demanded with more audible voice.

”S-sure, take it easy mate,” The man stammered raising his hand up in defense.

”Good, now leave from my sight!” Ricky pointed at the dark street ahead, releasing his hold. The fearful man escaped the scene.

”Are you alright?” Ricky asked and turned towards the boy, giving him a concerned look.

”Y-yes, thank you,” Michael breathed and the man smiled. He stepped closer, pulling him into his embrace.

”You ran away,” He whispered kissing the boy’s cheek softly.

”I believed that you would follow,” Michael admitted shyly, causing the man to utter a laughter.

”So you were teasing me?” The man cocked his brow and Michael almost blushed. ”You are cute, I want to see you again, can I?” He asked, touching the boy’s cheek tenderly.

Michael nodded. ”I think I would like that,” he whispered and leaned forward to kiss the man. For a moment they looked at one another.

”Well then, I think it’s best to get you home, it’s late.” Ricky whispered and Michael smiled happily.

”Thank you,” Michael whispered, glad that the man seemed to want more. He wanted so badly for someone to care for him and love him the way he was.

Evelyn sat in the kitchen looking at the clock nervously and waited, where was the boy? When the front door finally opened, it was already past Midnight.

”Where have you been?” She asked when the boy stepped into the kitchen.

”Out,” was the short reply. Michael came to the fridge, took a carton of apple juice, lowered it onto the counter and searched for a glass.

”Out where?”

”It’s none of your business!” Michael snapped and filled his glass with the cold drink.

”Yes it is, I am your mother; I want to know where my child is at evenings!” Evelyn responded in an upset tone and got up.

”Alright, I was at a bar, you know, one where only men go to?” Michael answered knowing that it would annoy his mother.

”Michael, do you think that we’re not trying? We’re trying hard to adjust in this situation.” Evelyn gave him a serious look.

”This situation? Yeah, you’re doing a brilliant job in it aren’t you? Especially fathers ’adjustment’ had been specially successful.” Michael retorted with sarcasm. The mother gave her son an exhausted look. She was clueless. She tried her best, tried to reconcile the relationship between her husband and their son, and, at the same time, accept that she would never see her child getting married or having children of his own. The cleft between them only seemed to grow wider and wider, despite all of their attempts. It was difficult to understand each other. In the end she sighed deeply, she didn’t know what to do or say.

”You should try to see this from our view too, this isn’t easy.” She said and Michael shook his head.

”And you think this is easy for me?” He asked with a sigh.

TBC.

Chapter 4

The atmosphere at home continued to remain tense, his parents seemed to watch his every move and Michael had enough of it.

His bags packed, he arrived on his grandmother’s doorstep that Sunday morning, rang the door bell and feared that he’d be rejected this time as well. At the same time he trusted his grandmother more than anyone.

The woman opened the door and looked at her grandson with surprise.

Michael stood there on her doorstep, appearing so completely miserable in the morning mist, bag on his shoulder, backpack on his back, with a lost and pleading look in his once so bright and joyful eyes.

“Can I come in? I can’t stand being at home,” Michael asked with miserable tone.

“My dear child.” The woman sighed, hugging him gently before she lead him inside. “Of course you can stay, for as long as you like.” She smiled. “Take your bags to the guestroom, I’ll make us some tea,” she added, touching the boy’s hair gently before turning towards the kitchen.

Michael followed his grandmother to the kitchen after taking his bags. He stood at the doorway, wriggling his hands nervously and chewing on his lip.

“Do you know why I am here?” he asked insecurely, slightly frightened that when she found out she wouldn’t even want to look at him, she’d tell him to go.

The old woman poured the hot water in two porcelain cups and turned to look at him, still smiling gently.

“I think I do,” she replied, then urged, ”Sit down Michael.”

Michael walked further into the room and sat down in front of the table, still so terribly insecure that he observed his grandmother quietly. A tea cup was placed in front of him and grandmother searched for the tin box that contained cookies; Michael remembered that box from his childhood.

“There, take some cookies.” The woman smiled and sat down. Chewing on his lip, Michael leaned forward to pick out a cookie from the box and brought his gaze back up to his grandmother.

“I wouldn’t worry about Tony, he’s just always been so stubborn, he does care for you though, Michael. He’s just too afraid,” Grandmother said and brought the tea cup on her lips, blowing gently on it before tasting.

The boy’s eyes were wide with confusion and caused the woman to utter a soft laughter. “I knew before anyone told me,” she said. “My dear child,” she said and smiled as she leaned forward to touch his hand reassuringly, “don’t worry, everything will turn out for the better.”

Michael burst into tears, partly from the enormous surprise and relief that finally someone understood. She got up, circled the table and hugged him gently.

“You are so dear to me, nothing will ever change that, here you can stay for as long as you like,” she whispered, rocking him in her embrace.

“Alright, let’s drink our tea before it gets cold,” she said, stroked his hair before returning to her seat.

“How did you…?” Michael started wiping the tears from his eyes.

”How did I know?” Grandmother suggested with a soft smile. ”I saw how you looked at each other and they way you’ve always talked about Tony, I saw you never really took so much interest in any girl.”

Michael nodded slowly, took the cup between his hands and tasted. “Tony hates me, everyone hates me,” he whispered.

“Don’t talk nonsense Michael, people just… They are afraid of what they don’t know, what is new… And your parents…” The woman sighed deeply. “They love you, believe me, it’s difficult for now, but give them time.”

Michael’s lower lip quailed. “Everyone looks at me differently, I can’t stand it, I can’t see how it could change? How could it turn? They don’t understand,” he said miserably. “At school I feel so alone, I’d like to go play with the others but they don’t want me there anymore… Tony isn’t talking to me either. I’d take this so much better if he would just… notice that I still exist. He doesn’t even look at me.”

“Oh Michael.” The woman looked at her grandson sadly, feeling irritated at her daughter and her husband, their silly prejudices. Couldn’t they see what they were doing to their child?

“Believe me, thing will get easier, time will move by faster than you think. And Tony…”

“Screw Tony…” Michael hissed, feeling frustrated. “He left me alone, he told everyone and betrayed my trust. If his friendship is that weak, then I don’t need it.” He wanted to believe it, wanted to forget.

Grandmother observed him quietly, slightly worried. Michael met with her gaze, hesitated for a moment.

“I met someone yesterday, a man,” he whispered and chewed on his lip. It felt so good to talk to someone who still cared, he wanted tell her about the chance meeting.

“A man you say?” Grandmother smiled slightly, the worry inside her grew but she didn’t want the boy to see it. She wanted him to tell her everything. “How old is he?”

Again Michael bit his lip, faint blush rose to his cheeks. “He’s really nice, American, a real gentleman, he saved me when this one man was about to attack me,” Michael explained, wanting her to approve of Ricky.

“You didn’t answer my question?” The woman pointed out with soft tone, knowing already before he had said it that she wouldn’t like the answer.

“He just turned forty,” Michael almost whispered. “He’s really handsome and successful business man,” he added quickly.

The woman cleared her throat, lowered the cup down on the table, she crossed her hands over her lap looking at the youth.

“He is forty,” she repeated, keeping her voice gentle. She wanted to be careful, knowing the whims of the youth, she was afraid, if she would reject this completely, it might chase the boy in the man’s arms more quickly. ”Michael, your mother is 38,” she reminded causing the blush on the boys cheeks deepen. “You’re still very young. Be careful, people aren’t always what they appear to be.”

“I know, but… I like him, I promised to meet him again.”

“What is his name?” she asked, trying to remain calm.

“Ricky…” Michael almost muttered.

“And his last name?”

“I don’t know, you don’t ask that nowadays.” Michael gave a small laughter, but got serious noticing the look on her face.

“I want to know his last name before I let you out to see him and I want his phone number.” Her voice was slightly tighter now. “And, if you go, I want you to go to some place public, I don’t want you to go anywhere alone with him. Understood?”

“I’ll be careful,” Michael promised. ”But he was so polite… If his intentions weren’t good, then…”

The grandmother sighed deeply interrupting him. “It doesn’t say anything yet. Be careful, don’t trust too easily. He’s … I don’t like it that he’s so old, not at all,” the woman said honestly and eyed the boy. ”He could be your father. It’s not normal that a man his age would take interest in someone so young.”

Michael sighed, frustrated. “I know the age difference! I know all that, but… I liked him, and it’s not completely unusual… I’ve decided to meet with him anyway.”

The boys agitated voice made her fall silent; she knew how stubborn Michael could be, she had been very much like him when she was young. Now when the boy felt like the whole world was against him, she didn’t want to argue. Although she didn’t like it, she saw it best to observe the situation, hope that he would come to his senses and if he didn’t she would ask to meet with the man.

**^^**^^**^^**

Michael got dressed and was fixing his hair in front of the mirror. The man would pick him up soon; they’d go and have coffee some place and perhaps go for a walk after. Grandmother stepped into the room, watching him get ready with worry planted on her mien. When the boy’s gaze met hers through the mirror, he smiled.

“You won’t be late, will you?” she asked. ”My nerves couldn’t take it, nor my heart for that matter.” She smiled awkwardly, wanting to prevent him from leaving all together.

Michael turned, smiled and came to her. He hugged his grandmother and kissed her cheek softly. “I’ll be careful, don’t worry,” he whispered looking at her face. “I love you,” he added. “You did take your meds, right?” He couldn’t help but to ask, the woman’s mention about her heart had caused him to worry.

“Well now, who is looking after who?” She chuckled softly and touched the boy’s cheek. “I love you so very much and yes, I’ve taken my medications.”

“Good.” Michael smiled. “I’m not out for long, I promise,” he added.

The woman watched from the door as the boy neared the taxi that stopped by the side of the street. The man stood beside it, opened the door to the boy and nodded towards the woman. The grandmother gave a hesitant nod back, imprinting every detail about the man in her mind; just in case. Tall, handsome and well dressed. Pleasant smile, her trust however was lean, she simply hated the whole situation, the boy was simply too young.

**^^**^^**^^**

They walked in the park, the evening had already darkened, it was peaceful, no one else around. Michael couldn’t feel any fear, they had already sat at a coffee house for an hour or more. They had talked and the man had impressed him even more with his conduct and appearance.

The man asked him things about his family and school and Michael told everything openly. At some point the man had wrapped one arm around his waist. “Is this alright?” he had asked and Michael had said it was.

They stopped to take a seat on a park bench and kissed. Michael enjoyed these kisses and the attention that he got from the man. He loved to tease and so he interrupted the moment even now. Agile Michael hopped up, radiating youthful energy and passion.

“Well, Mr. Matthews, we’ve talked an awful lot about me, but I’d be interested in knowing more about you. Other than you kiss excellently.” Michael grinned.

“I think you enjoy teasing older men?” The man grinned back lazily and got up. Michael walked forward, glanced at him but staying ahead

“You think I’m teasing you, sir?” Michael tinted his head, joking, he walked backwards, facing the man.

“Sir? You make me sound so old, am I really that old?” The man wondered, smiling and following the boy with his gaze.

“You are old enough to be my father. Do you often pick up innocent teenage boys?” Michael chuckled. His confidence was high, the way that the man looked at him, he knew already that Ricky was completely mesmerized by him.

“But I am not your father and you; an innocent teenage boy? The creature that now stands before me, appears anything but innocent.”

“You doubt my honor?” Michael laughed. The man was silent for a moment observing his face.

“You are still a virgin,” Ricky stated. “At least as other men are concerned.” He continued smiling at the youth.

Michael stopped, tilting his head. “Is it really that obvious?” he asked.

The man closed the distance between them, lowering his hand on the boy’s waist and Michael had to tilt his head upwards to connect with his eyes. The American brought his other hand to touch the boy’s cheek, smile still lingering on his face.

“You are really a beautiful boy, prettiest that I’ve seen,” the man whispered and Michael couldn’t help but to smile at the praise. ”Many would love to have you and you know that.”

The American’s eyes were digging into his own. Michael was about to open his mouth, Ricky however pressed his finger on them to shush him. “I’m an experienced man, I can easily see that you’ve never been with a man before, perhaps kissed sometime but never moved further. Am I right?”

Michael nodded. “I was fifteen when I first kissed another man. I won’t accept just anyone to be my first.” He wanted the man to be impressed with him, wanted his admiration to feed his soul. The man looked at him for a long time, Michael smiled, feeling confident; the man wanted him. Michael took a step back, holding the gaze until finally turning. He soon heard the following steps behind him.

“You’re not easy, all the better; I like to hunt.” Ricky was now by his side and Michael looked up at him.

“So you live in New York, what is it exactly that you do for living?” Michael asked.

“You do not address me so formally anymore, perhaps I’m getting on your good side by now?” The man chuckled before getting serious. “I run an advertising agency. The firm belonged to my father and I inherited it after he passed.” Michael gave him a curious look and the man saw it. ”I’m a wealthy man; I have more money than what I would need and no one to share it with.” He smiled looking the boy in the eye. Michael was slightly stupefied by the intensity of the stare and momentarily looked away.

“Handsome, wealthy man such as yourself, could easily find someone to be by his side,” Michael said.

“No doubt, but like you, I am selective of my company as well.” The man smiled when Michael looked up.

“What is that you look for a partner, then? I think you must be very picky if you haven’t met one yet.”

“I appreciate beauty, I am not going to claim otherwise. I appreciate youth, I want someone to inflame me with his energy. My work days are often long and I desire someone whom I could spoil in my free time, someone to hold and love. Maybe…” The man stopped and Michael stilled as well, listening to every word carefully, wanting to hear more. The man looked at him intensely and Michael felt his own heart hammering from excitement.

Ricky stepped closer, so close that Michael again felt his breath on his skin, and his smell that seemed to stun him.

“Perhaps the person that I’ve been looking for…” The American’s lips touched tenderly his cheek. “Is right now standing in front of me, waking these feelings in me that I haven’t felt for ages.”

Michael met with the man’s eyes and surrendered to the kiss that followed, feeling like he was in heaven.

“Would you go with me? To let me hold you? To spoil you and drown you with gifts? You’re the kind of a boy who needs to be appreciated, someone who should be drowned with gifts…” the man whispered and kissed him again, Michael felt like he could melt in his arms. They looked deep in each others eyes. Michael reminded himself of the man’s age, but his mind was starting to feel more convinced that in the end age meant nothing, years were just numbers. The man was handsome, he could offer a life that many could only dream of, but was he being sincere?

“You are good with words, you talk ’till my head gets dizzy, until you get what you want and then you’ll go. Aren’t you Americans like that?” Michael said, desperately trying to keep his feet on the ground and not be blinded by those rosy images that the man was feeding him.

“I am what I say I am and I want you. I could take you with me to New York. You would get a job from my company or you could continue your studies and live with me. How does that sound?”

Michael smiled feeling dazzled. He looked at the surrounding park and then at the man, his heart filled with doubts.

“We barely know each other,” he said and the man smiled, his hand once again reaching to touch his cheek, dreamy look in his eyes.

“It’s crazy,” Ricky admitted. ”I see something in front of me that I’ve always wanted and the time is limited. Sometimes one must act quickly, allow the feelings to guide you. You are someone that I could fall in love with, I feel it.”

Michael could only stare at him, not knowing what to think.

The man talked, touched him and talked, saying all the things that he had always wanted to hear. The man praised him, seemed to worship him already; this rich, handsome New Yorker worshiped him and he was only a young British student whose parents despised him, whose friends had abandoned him. He had been high, he had been popular and suddenly he had fallen down. The man was offering to bring him back up, he was offering his heart and riches. Michael could already see how life could be like, the fantasy was taking him over, already starting to blind him.

By the time that Ricky took him back home, Michael was already considering the offer seriously.

**^^**^^**^^**^^**

Grandmother sat in the living room watching TV when Michael returned. The boy sat down on the couch next to her. The woman glanced at the time; the boy had been gone for three hours and she had begun to worry.

“It’s late,” she stated, bringing her gaze back on the youth, whose face seemed to be glowing. The look in his eyes was dreamy and the woman felt a stab of worry in her heart.

“I’m sorry, I completely lost the track of time…” Michael sighed, barely able to hold back his excitement. ”He’s wonderful!” he finally exclaimed. ”He’s traveled all over, he’s handsome and rich! He has his own company!”

“Is it the wealth that enchants you?” His grandmother asked and tilted her head, feeling exhausted.

“I can’t say that it wouldn’t, it would make life so easy.” Michael replied honestly.

“But not always happy,” she reminded.

“Well it doesn’t make you unhappy either,” Michael chuckled. “Just think about it; to be able to travel anywhere at all, any time! Get everything that you ever possibly wanted without having to worry about the cost. Hmm… I would travel to Spain, the village that you came from and then… I’d travel around the world.” Michael dreamed. ”He asked me to come with him,” he whispered then with a grin, ”To live with him. He said that I could get a job from his company, advertising…”

The woman felt her worry grow, the boy spoke as though really considering it and he didn’t even know the man.

“Michael, you’re not really considering such madness?” she asked.

The boy was quiet for a moment. “What if I am?” he asked. “There are lots of opportunities in New York, I could finish my school there and study as a chef. And if it wouldn’t work with Ricky, I could always come back.”

“You don’t even know him!” His grandmother huffed. ”He could be anything at all!”

“He’s a good man, if you met him, you’d believe me,” Michael defended.

“Alright, I want to meet him, invite him over for a tea tomorrow?” she asked, curious if the man would have the guts to show up. Everything that the man had told her grandson, could be just to trick to lure him in his bed; the world was filled with such conman.

Michael hesitated but finally nodded. “If it makes you feel better, I’ll invite him,” he promised.

**^^**^^**^^**^^**^^**

He was used into getting what he wanted and this would be no exception. The boy was extraordinarily beautiful, he couldn’t remember seeing anyone in a long time that could compare to that beauty and although his original idea hadn’t been to take anyone with him, he was willing to go through extreme measures to get this specific boy. He was a true treasure, a gem in fact, and he couldn’t let this treasure slip through his fingers.

The boy wanted him to meet with his grandmother and this represented a problem. It was threatening to spoil his whole plan so he had to be careful. He agreed, knowing that if he said no, he’d risk the boys trust that he had already gained. Somehow it would all work out. He really was willing to do anything just to get that gem to himself. Challenges made life worth living.

The woman opened the door and he smiled politely handing out a huge bouquet of flowers. ”Evening Mrs. Harris.”

“Thank you, these are beautiful.” The woman smiled, but the smile was seemingly reserved. “Come in, please?” she asked.

“Richard Matthews, pleased to meet you.” He held out his hand after stepping in and the woman shook it.

“You may call me Isabella,” the woman said and glanced at her grandson, who stood by her side smiling at the man and seeming somewhat entranced by him.

“Would you like a cup of tea or would you prefer coffee?” Isabella asked.

“Thank you, tea will be fine,” the man smiled looking towards Michael while taking his coat off.

“Michael dear, would you be kind and put the kettle on?” the grandmother asked with a soft tone.

“Sure, should I put the flowers in a vase as well?” Michael asked and the woman smiled handing him the bouquet.

“Thank you sweetheart,” she said and watched as the boy retreated to the kitchen.

“So, Mr Matthews, perhaps we can move into the living room?” she invited a little stiffly and the man couldn’t help but notice her cold, critical stare.

“Sure, and please, call me Ricky.” He smiled.

They sat alone in the living room. Isabella crossed her hands on her lap and tilted her head. “I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise to you to know how I feel about all of this, about you,” she started keeping her voice low. ”Michael is only seventeen, what on earth could a man like you want with him, other than…” Isabella didn’t finish her sentence, she didn’t need to, the man would surely understand without her needing to explain.

The man smiled and looked straight in her eyes and although many would have agreed that the smile was pleasant, it made Isabella feel uncomfortable.

“I understand that he is young and I understand that as far as my age is concerned, I could be his father and therefore I understand your worry; it’s completely natural. I can assure you though that my intentions are good. I’m very fond of Michael even as our age difference is quite big and raises a lot of questions. I would however treat him as well as I can, I believe I can offer a lot to him and…”

“You are asking him to leave his home and move to the United States with you, where he has no friends or family. You’ve only just met and I can’t trust you no matter how elegantly you’d phrase it,” the woman stated and watched the man’s reaction; he was silent for a moment, nodded, smiled still, but Isabella thought that she saw an unpleasant flash in the man’s dark eyes.

“Michael is free to make the choice, he would of course be given the chance to continue his studies and nothing would keep him from returning home if he so chooses. I would like to offer him a chance to see what I could give him though and I’m prepared to buy him a return ticket as well, so that…”

At that moment Michael stepped into the room carrying the tea-tray. The man looked at the boy smiling warmly, a smile which Michael returned. The boy’s eyes seemed to sparkle; Isabella felt her worry grow, she definitely didn’t like this.

“So how’s it going here?” Michael asked with curiosity and Isabella forced a smile on her face.

“Fine,” she replied and thanked him when he handed her the tea cup. When he had served Ricky and himself, Michael sat close to the older man. Any outsider would have instantly thought that they were a father and a son and Isabella felt her stomach churn, especially when the man lowered his hand on Michael’s, holding it gently.

“So tell me about your family? You don’t have any children?” the woman asked, barely able to hide her disgust towards the situation.

The man noticed the stare and knew instantly that the woman would cause troubles that he would have preferred to avoid. “I’ve never been married and I don’t have children. My father is dead and my mother is very old and lives with my sister’s family in California. I’m the youngest child, evening star you could say.” Ricky smiled.

“And how many siblings do you have?” Isabella continued to question calmly wanting to know as much about the man as possible.

“Three, I am the only son and my father left his business to me, he was very old fashioned man.”

“And does your family know that you’re…? Well..”

“Gay?” Ricky asked with amused tone. “My sisters know,” he said although it was a lie. “My mother… Well, like I said, she is old and wouldn’t understand. I’ve seen it best not to burden her with information that wouldn’t be any good for her health. We see each other very rarely.”

“If Michael would decide to go with you, would you introduce him to your sisters and their families? Under what kind of habitation would Michael live and how would you secure his safety?”

“Grandma! You’re practically cross examining him!” Michael laughed.

“These are important things, dear,” Isabella answered calmly and smiled.

“Your grandmother is right,” the man said. “I expected questions when I arrived,” he added with a smile before he continued. ”Later, I would be ready to introduce Michael to my siblings and their families. I live in New York, my apartment is big and spacious, lonely at the moment. I can assure you that Michael would be completely safe. The area that I live is very distinguished and I have a chauffeur who could take Michael to school and bring him back home, if he would decide to continue his studies which of course I would encourage him to do.”

Michael looked even more mesmerized and Isabella knew that his head was filled with fantasy of how grant life would be with all those riches. Everything just sounded too good to be true.

The man’s answers felt too thought out, too ready, the smile too calculated and if Michael hadn’t been there, she would have demanded more straight forward answers to more straight forward questions. She, however, kept the conversation polite, decided to do some research on the man’s background later if possible and do everything in her power to change Michael’s mind; to open up his closed eyes.

When Isabella had asked Michael to clear the dishes, she turned to the man once more.

“I don’t trust you,” she said honestly and the man, for a moment, looked almost surprised, but smiled.

“You’re worried.” He nodded understanding. ”But…”

“Please.” Isabella brought her hand up for a moment, to silence him. “I’m convinced that Michael’s happiness can’t be found with you, he is young, you are rich and you’ve dazzled him with your talk. Michael is confused. At the moment he feels rejected by almost everyone he knows and loves and you appear at this delicate time, when he thirsts for acceptance and attention… Sooner or later he would become aware of his mistake, and what then? I ask you to back off. I can not allow Michael to go with you, surely you see that?”

“This is quite unpleasant, Mrs. Harris.” He sighed. “Of course I understand your opinion, you are his grandmother and entitled to worry. However, the decision is Michael’s. If he decides to say no, I understand. If you ask me to stop seeing him while I’m here, I’m sorry, but my answer has to be no. The decision, like I said is solely Michael’s. I’m not going to pressure him into anything that he’s not ready for yet.” Ricky got up. “It was nice meeting you.” He smiled causing her to frown; the man was too well composed.

Michael returned in the room.

“You’re leaving?” he asked approaching the man who smiled warmly.

“It is late and… I think you have a lot to discuss with each other,” Ricky said and glanced at the woman almost amused. Isabella got up, watching as the man kissed her grandson’s cheek. “I’ll call you tomorrow,” Ricky promised him.

“Wait and I’ll see you to the door,” Michael smiled taking the man’s hand.

“Good-bye Mrs. Harris.” Ricky nodded towards the woman who felt too upset to reply.

When Michael returned after saying goodbye to the man, he gave his grandmother a curious look.

“Well?” he asked, smiling with excitement and he sat down on the couch. Isabella sighed, worried and little bit frightened. She wanted to talk some sense into the boy.

“He can be very polite, he talks well…” She hesitated.

“But?” Michael’s voice was slightly offended.

“But he is way too old for you and I don’t trust him.” She sighed. “Who is he really? Is he what he says he is? You only just met him and he wants you to move with him. What about Tony?”

“Tony doesn’t care for me, he’s made that perfectly clear,” Michael said, and sighed somewhat bitterly.

“You should wait, at times one has to be patient. I know it feels difficult, but it may prove worth it.”

“It won’t change Tony’s feelings or how he betrayed my trust,” Michael said. “I can’t just shrug my shoulders lightly at what he did. We’ve known each other forever and he… He told everyone! He treats me like everyone else, like I was somehow defective or sick…” He noted with a sad tone. “But Ricky; he makes me feel important and wanted. I don’t want to give that up, I don’t want to stay alone.”

“You’re not alone Michael.” The grandmother sighed and the boy bit his lip.

“I have you and I love you so much, you’re so important to me and… I can only thank… I wish I could do more…” He started taking her hand between his. “I promise to consider, but that’s all I can promise.”

The woman sighed a little sadly, hoping to find a way to ensure that the boy wouldn’t go. If nothing else would work she would have to tell his parents about the boy’s crazy plan. They would be mad of course, but it would be better than to allow Michael to go with that man, whose intentions couldn’t be good.

TBC.

Chapter 5

The boy was hesitating, possibly believing his grandmother; highly vexing. The woman stood in his way, if she didn’t exist the boy would have probably agreed by now and if he took the boy with him regardless of everything, the woman would tell. Troublesome situation all in all, but he needed to have the boy, nothing else would do anymore.

Ricky had always gotten what he wanted and this would be no exception and his only obstacle had to be destroyed before it would cause further damage. There wasn’t much time and still he had to be patient enough not to raise questions, it had to look like an accident. Ricky had always been good with words and there were always foolish people to be found, greedy fools…

**^^**^^**^^

Isabella sighed looking at her daughter.

“Michael can stay with me for as long as he likes,” she said calmly, and the daughter glared at her, picking up the steaming cup of tea in front of her with both hands.

“I don’t like this situation,” Evelyn finally muttered. “It’s not normal.”

“Who says what is normal? He is your son, you can’t change that.”

“Of course he is my son!” the younger woman hissed and then carefully glanced around her, noticing the odd stares she got from nearby tables making her regret the raising of her voice and the choosing of this public place. The woman’s cheeks blushed red and she gazed down at her tea cup. “It’s a sin, I know I didn’t raise him this way…” she whispered not wanting to repeat her earlier mistake. ”I want him to return home,” she added.

“So you can try converting him?” the mother asked her daughter somewhat frustrated. ”Is it Henry who put these thoughts into your head?”

The daughters lips tightened into a thin line and she brought her gaze up for a moment.

“They are my own,” she defended. “The Church and God, The Bible says…”

“The Bible says all kinds of humbug!” The mother sighed. ”Michael is a good, decent boy who loves you and right now you are only driving him further away from you.”

“I love my son, of course I do!” Evelyn responded tightly. ”I am only thinking what is best for him and this isn’t it. He would always have to endure troubles, people would always look down on him. He is smart, he has so much potential and this…”

“Changes nothing,” Isabella interrupted.

“Of course it does! It already has, you should hear what people are saying…”

“Is that what you worry about?” Isabella shook her head. “Your son is suffering, can’t you understand? He hasn’t made this up because it’s fun… Love is important, can’t you see that? Only love matters and everything else…” The older woman sighed deeply. ”Well, plead to your fate, plead to the Bible if you think it’s the right path to happiness.”

She got up, the conversation wasn’t going anywhere and she felt so exhausted.

The daughter looked at her mother, trembling slightly, but she didn’t say a word; she couldn’t.

“Michael stays with me, he needs someone he can count on… Perhaps one day you realize, and I pray to God that it isn’t too late then.” Isabella looked at her sadly, almost told her daughter that she loved her despite of everything, but she believed Evelyn already knew. The woman turned and slowly walked out of the coffee house.

Neither of them could have foreseen that it would be the last time that they’d ever see each other.

**^^**^^**

Isabella got out of the bus, and walked along the payment to her home. It was a dark, wet and slightly foggy evening.

Michael was with the man and she felt comforted with the thought that on the previous day the boy had promised to stay with her, said that he would miss her too much if he left. Michael intended to keep in touch with Ricky, if the man wanted and would then calmly look at the situation from a safe distance. She hadn’t felt the need to tell her daughter, she assumed that Michael would be safe with her, but even Isabella couldn’t have expected what kind of evilness had walked into their lives.

The tires screeched against the asphalt, bright lights split the darkening road. Isabella looked back, she had already taken two steps to the crosswalk, soon her face distorted with terror as the spotlight caught her. The car was moving fast; twice the speed the law would have been allowed and straight towards her. Her senses slackened, petrifying her and when she finally realized she needed to move, it was already too late.

The hefty vehicle hit her with enormous force, flying her several meters to the asphalt and when her weak body lay there, hardly moving on the cold asphalt, warm blood trickling on the ground beneath her, the car continued its way.

Someone screamed, someone was running closer. Isabella blinked, tasted the blood in her mouth, but she couldn’t speak, her breath hitched. Her next to last thought was worry that she hadn’t told her daughter, her very last thought was for her grandson. Her breath wheezed, the air escaped her lungs; it was her last breath. Her eyelids closed slowly. Isabella Harris was dead before the ambulance got to the scene.

Michael was walking to his grandmother’s home from the meeting with Ricky when he heard the sirens, saw the bright flashing lights. He didn’t know to worry, the lights and sounds only caused a normal curiosity, nothing else.

He watched the people who had gathered to the scene, shook his head and continued on his way. Then he recognized the shoe, it was lying there near the accident scene in a pool of blood. The ambulance drivers were already lifting the sheet covered body onto a stretchers. Michael’s heart began to hammer, the cops were talking to a couple at the side of the street, the bloody shoe… crosswalk… Michael approached the cops, trembling slightly.

“W-who?” he asked and the man looked at him, frowning.

“Did you see the accident?” the man asked and Michael shook his head desperately, he didn’t want it to be true.

“Grandma?”

The man lowered his hand on his shoulder, saying something. Michael didn’t understand, his ears were humming.

“Grandma’s shoe…” He shook his head, it couldn’t be true.

The lights, the face, blue red lights gleam on the wet asphalt, the man led him forward and talked. Michael didn’t understand, he felt numb, in his heart he already knew and yet he didn’t want to understand. He hardly realized that he was walking as they led him to the body and someone lifted the blanket. Michael wailed, almost fell on his knees, his body shook, it had to be a dream! A nightmare!

The man tried to calm him, people looked at him worriedly, whispered; the driver had to be drunk, to have been driving so recklessly, speeding, fleeing the scenery, red car, no one remembered the license number, it had been so foggy, everything had happened so fast.

Michael didn’t remember how he had ended up with the cops, didn’t remember the suggestion. He only remembered his grandmothers pale face, the trail of blood from her lips. They arrived at his parent’s house and numbly he got out of the car, following the two men to the door.

His mother opened it, frowned, her first reaction was the thought that they had caught the boy doing something he shouldn’t and the look on her face was disappointed.

The cops stepped further in, right in the living room. “We are sorry to inform you that your mother is dead… Hit and run accident… The boy identified the victim… We haven’t caught the driver yet…”

The woman let out a raspy, broken wail, unlike anything that Michael had ever heard from his mother’s lips before.

Almost confusedly, he brought his hazy gaze to his parents; his mother was shaking her head, bemoaning, her hands shook as they lifted on her face, tears dropping on her cheeks and the cops regretted the situation, assuring her that they’d do everything in order to find the man responsible.

It wouldn’t bring grandmother back. Michael remembered the bloody shoe on the dark payment and closed his eyes tightly. That morning, grandma had been so happy, she had been humming to herself in the kitchen and Michael remembered how she had smiled and the pain inside him kept growing. She was dead, gone… What did it mean? Why? Why now? He felt the emptiness… the pain scraped his lungs and made breathing difficult. Why? He asked over and over, wanting to scream, wanting to wake up to a new morning and find that everything in the last hour or so had been just a bad dream. Grandma would be home and well, everything would be alright.

The cops were gone, the air hung heavy around him, he heard his mothers sobbing; his father stood next to her, rubbing her shoulders and whispering words of comfort to his wife. Michael felt like an outsider. Part of him wanted to comfort his mother, get up and hug her, share the pain and loss, but… it felt difficult. Perhaps mom didn’t want that? Not now, when their relationship was the way that it was.

”I’m going to my room,” Michael whispered finally and got up, and if he did get an answer, he didn’t hear it.

They didn’t know how to come closer. Grief was selfish, it wrapped them up in its cold embrace and made them close their eyes from the rest. Evelyn was blaming herself that she hadn’t said something better to her mother when they had last met, she felt afraid that her mother hadn’t known how much she loved her. Only later would Evelyn realize she should have turned to her son, to see what her mother had asked her to see, but she wouldn’t get that chance and Evelyn didn’t know yet how much stronger her pain would still grow.

**^^**^^**

Ricky was so tender, his arms felt so safe and his concern… Michael snuggled against the man’s chest, weeping quietly while the hand stroked his hair, and the man kept whispering comforting words in his ear. No one else cared anymore, but Ricky did.

“I know how you miss her. Your grandmother was a wonderful woman, I liked her…” Ricky whispered looking at the boy. They sat alone in the car that was parked on a distant road; it would have been easy to take him, the boy would have even agreed to it in his fragile state of mind, but it was too early, he would have to weave the web to complete and only then could he enjoy the result; he was already so close.

“I’m afraid to stay alone,” Michael whispered quietly, looking out into the rain. His head still resting against the man’s chest.

“You don’t have to stay alone Michael, come with me?” the man asked. “My offer still stands,” he added quietly.

Michael drew a deep breath. ”She didn’t want me to go,” he whispered. “I guess she was afraid.”

The man was quiet, considering his words before he spoke. “She loved you,” he said finally, smiling to himself. “And her fear was probably caused by my age… It’s your decision Michael, I can only promise to do everything I can for your happiness.”

The boy brought his gaze up, looking at him thoughtfully and the man brought his hand over his cheek, admiring his beauty quietly.

“I don’t think I have much reasons to stay anymore,” Michael whispered finally and as the man smiled he smiled back. “I’ll go with you.”

“You don’t know how happy you make me, little one,” the man sighed and leaned forward to kiss him softly. ”You’re doing the right thing,” he assured the youth and kissed his forehead now. ”We leave for Paris day after tomorrow.”

“Paris?” Michael asked, surprised and the straightened on his seat. Ricky nodded.

“I have few things to take care of there, we travel from Paris to U.S, we’ll stay only for a couple of nights there,” he explained still smiling. He reached out to touch the boy’s hair thinking to himself for a moment; that it would be good to dye it once at Paris. A couple of shades lighter, a new hair cut and a different style of clothes?

”Michael, I think it’s best that you don’t mention to your parents that you’re leaving, they might try and stop you.”

The boy nodded with serious mien. “I won’t tell them,” he promised and the man chuckled in his mind at how easily everything would eventually go.

In Paris they would have to get new ID for the boy and he knew where to get it; everything would work out. The police might be able to track Michael as far as Paris, but not beyond. He had been careful and would remain so, the price would wait at their destination.

**^^**^^**

Michael sat in the schools library and tried to look as if he were studying, but his thoughts were running wild, the last day he was at school, sitting in this place. It felt odd; everything was happening so fast, there was no time for hesitation, he rubbed his stomach which felt slightly unwell from stress.

How would he even get to the States? Wouldn’t they want his parents permission to travel? Ricky had promised to arrange everything, said that he wouldn’t need to worry just act as normal as he could, not talk to anyone about his plan. Grandma had been the only person who had known. Thinking about her made him sad, he missed her so.

Approaching steps made Michael look up; Tony stood next to his table, seeming to hesitate, Michael didn’t say anything, cocked his brow and waited for the other to speak.

”Lessons will be starting soon, aren’t you going to come?” the other boy started.

Michael brought his gaze back to the book in front of him, holding a pen tightly in his hold.

“Can’t be bothered,” he replied shortly, running his finger along the page, following a sentence in the middle of it.

“I heard about Isabella, I’m sorry….” Tony continued with a quiet voice. “How are you holding up?”

“Poorly,” Michael replied and still didn’t look at his friend. Former friend, he reminded himself bitterly.

“I cared for her too, you know,” Tony said and chewed on his lip. Michael again brought his gaze up to him.

“Not enough to show up at the funeral,” Michael stated.

“I wanted to, but… I just… I couldn’t…” Tony explained and hesitantly sat down next to Michael. “Did they catch the guy who did it?”

Michael frowned, feeling slightly vexed and he shook his head. ”You’ll be late for your classes Tony, and I don’t need your poor attempts to comfort me, if that is what this is.”

“Mikey… I’m trying… Can’t we talk?”

“Now? When no one is here to see? Yes, we wouldn’t want to spoil your reputation.” Michael snorted and got up collecting his books. “Forget it, I can’t understand what you could possibly have to say.”

Tony sighed with frustration and got up. ”Do you always have to be so bullheaded? Can’t you just listen for a moment? I heard a rumor that you’ve been seeing some older guy, is it true?”

Michael brought the books against his chest glaring at his friend angrily. ”What if I am? How does it concern you?”

“Who is he?”

“None of your business,” Michael responded rudely.

“Damn it, Michael, can’t you even give me a chance to make things right with you?” Tony was starting to lose his temper.

”Can’t you understand how you hurt me, Tony? You turned your back on me like everyone else the moment I revealed my feelings to you. Can’t you see how difficult it was for me? How afraid I was? I needed a friend and you weren’t there, now it’s too late.” Michael turned to leave, Tony followed quickly and grasped his arm.

“I’m sorry… I was afraid too, I still am… just listen…” he begged.

Michael pulled away from his hold looking at his friend sadly.

“I need time, later perhaps I’ll be able to forgive you, but now… Just leave me alone, I can’t deal with this.” He sighed and hurried out of the library before Tony had time to stop him.

Tony stood there, helpless and alone, he didn’t know what to do, he wanted to rush after Michael and… what? Tell him how he cared? How… No, his own feelings were still too confusing and he believed he would have time to talk to his friend later. Tony could have never foreseen just how much later it would end up being.

**^^**^^**^^**

Michael didn’t go to school the next day, he was packing his things while his parents were at work. Ricky had advised him to pack up lightly, so he only took his favorite clothes and some photographs; his parents, grandparents and Tony. He hid his bag under his bed and sighed. His gray white cat was stretching on his bed and yawning languidly. Michael sat next to her, stroking her fluffy fur.

”I wish I could take you with me,” he whispered, smiling, but with melancholy. ”Mom and dad will take good care of you, I know that.”

The cat tilted her head and meowed as if understanding what Michael was talking about.

“Don’t worry, I will visit, perhaps this summer, if my parents have calmed down by then,” the boy promised continuing to caress her.

He ate dinner with his parents. No one hardly said anything, mother and father were both staring at their plates, his father asked to pass the ketchup, mom only moved the food around on her plate, she had been depressed ever since losing her own mother. Michael observed them both, feeling sad that he wouldn’t see them for several months and still he felt like he was making the right decision. He would call them later and hope that with time his parents would learn to accept him and he could introduce them to Ricky. Sure they would be upset hearing their age difference, but perhaps time would work on that as well? Michael wanted to believe that.

After dinner, Michael retreated into his room to wait, the man would come and pick him up from the near by bus stop after his parents would have gone to bed. They would drive to London and catch a train to Paris.

The clock neared nine, Michael sighed, took a page from his note book and searched for a pen to write a goodbye note to his parents.

“Dear mom and dad…” Michael wrote and paused to think. “I’m sorry to leave like this, I just can’t see another way. I feel so alone now that grandma is gone and I know you miss her too. I met a man and I’m going with him, I can’t tell you where I’m going yet, but I’ll call you later, I promise. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. He is a good man, I care for him and he cares for me. I believe and hope that time will fix our relationship. Despite everything, I love both of you so very much! Forgive that I’m leaving. -Michael.”

He propped the note on the table where his parents would find it the next morning when they would start to wonder why he wasn’t coming down to breakfast.

When his parents had gone to bed at ten, Michael snuck downstairs as quietly as he could, his bag on his shoulder and he slipped out in the cool late autumn evening.

The man waited in his car as Michael hurried to the stop. He got into the car and smiled nervously. Ricky answered his smile and leaned closer to kiss the boy.

“Ready for an adventure?” he asked, cocking his brow to which the boy answered with excited nod.

“Good.” Ricky grinned and started the car.

TBC

         Published 5.2.2012

            My Secret Shore© KOLGRIM       Please review 🙂

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