What Couldn't Be

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A Short Story about what happens when there’s no happily ever after.

Keep in mind, my story is about a gay couple but there's no detailed sexual instances, only one implied one.

Submitted: July 28, 2012

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Submitted: July 28, 2012

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Gabriel

"What?" my dad asked me coldly, I stared at him defiantly.

"I know you heard me." I retorted snidely. "Come on Dad, you had to see this coming." I'd never seen him look so angry, he looked like he could actually kill me, but I brushed the thought away as nonsense. Surely he wasn't that crazy. I'm his only son after all.

"You’re a liar." He replied coldly. I was shocked by this response, not because of what he said, but because of the way he said it. I expected an explosion, yelling, screaming and maybe a fist or two, but this? My confidence wavered and I turned on guard instantly.

"I'm not." I replied, eyeing him. "There are many things that I am Dad, but a liar isn't one of them." He sneered at me.

"You'd better hope you are." He said quietly, dangerously. I was suddenly very aware of the fact we were alone, Mom was out with her friends. It was the first time I've ever been truly afraid of my dad. Still, I knew better then to let him know it. He approached me with measured steps, and even though I wasn't the one moving I felt like I was walking death row, that the executioner was ready for me. Somehow, I knew this would be much less pleasant then lethal injection. All of this crossed my mind too slowly to process fully before he was right in my face, and I didn't see the fist coming that slammed into the side of my head. I cried out. It doesn't matter how many times you're beaten, it still hurts every time, just as badly as the first. You never quite get over the fact that the one person who is suppose love and protect you is the one causing you the most pain. It didn't stop with the first punch, as soon as I was on the ground he kicked me in the stomach, my ribs and my back. I couldn't focus on what was going on, but I knew I was screaming and crying. Just as suddenly as the assault started it stopped, and as I lay their sobbing I thought for a brief moment he was done, it was a naïve hope. I was yanked roughly up off the floor by my hair and suddenly pinned against the wall by his arm, his hand releasing my hair and wrapping firmly around my neck. My eyes widened through the tears and I couldn't breathe, I couldn't focus on what he was saying, only noting that once again he was using that cold, calm tone. I scratched at his hand but couldn't escape, he simply squeezed harder and I was getting weaker. I was trying to scream but nothing came out.

"Gabriel! Gabriel wake up!" I was jolted out of my nightmare, gasping, not having realized that in my nightmare I had scratched myself, and badly if the skin under my nails was anything to go by. Rythym looked at me with worry.

"I thought the nightmares had stopped." she said, after I had calmed down enough to talk to. I sighed.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t want to worry you.” I muttered, sighing. She gazed at me, concern riddled into the premature lines in her face that she has developed since taking me in. “Rythym, it’s fine, please don’t think about it.” She sighed.

“You know Melody will not be pleased to hear this.” I grimaced.

“Please don’t tell Ry, you know she’ll freak.” She frowned at me.

“Gabe…” I shook my head.

“No, Ry, I’m perfectly fine.” I forced a smile at her, hoping to be reassuring. It was clear in her eyes that she was not accepting this, but it was also obvious that she had no desire to keep pushing me. I couldn’t blame her, my temper was well known in our small town. She sighed again and patted my shoulder.

“Well, at least it’s nearly dawn, breakfast is waiting for you.” I gave her my most grateful look.

“I’ll be out in a few minutes.” She nodded and with one last scolding look she left my room. I sighed, flopping back on my bed for a moment. Stupid memories. I threw my covers aside and stood, heading over to my window, dressed only in my boxers. I pulled back the curtains and threw open my window, breathing in the fresh, cool mountain air that I loved. The smell of crisp grass, hay, oats and the distinct scent of my horses washed over me. I felt all the tension drain away with the breeze, chasing my memories to the back of my mind where I held them securely under lock and key. I looked up at the sky. The sun was just rising, the pinks, oranges and the purples turned the sky into a masterful water color. I smiled to myself, allowing myself the luxury of my favorite view for a moment longer before turning and heading to my dresser. After I pulled on a faded blue t-shirt, well loved wranglers and my boots I trotted out of my room, welcoming the smell of eggs, bacon, sausage and biscuits. My stomach growled hungrily and I chuckled, quickening my steps.

“There he is!” Melody rose from her seat and glided over to me, wrapping her arms around me tightly. I rolled my eyes.

“Good morning Mel.” I mused, kissing the top of her head. At 6’3” I towered over my petite adoptive sister. Melody and Rythym Carmen were twins, Melody standing at no more than 5’4” and Rythym a bit more at 5’6”. Both had honey colored hair and were tanned by the sun. Rythyms eyes were a soft brown, but Melody’s were a bright, almost electric, blue. Both of them had found me sleeping at a bus stop when I was 14, and I've been with them ever since.

"How did you sleep Gabe?" she asked curiously. I smiled at her.

"Fantastic, as always." I replied. Rythym gave me a doubtful look, which I stubbornly ignored. "A good turn out this morning?" I asked, referring to the eggs as she finally released me so I could sit. She nodded.

"Yep. The chickens are as happy as clams." She mused. Melody loved the chickens and she went and gathered the eggs each morning…which is how she had missed my little episode. She went to the fridge and grabbed the orange juice and milk, pouring a glass of each and setting them in front of me before pouring her own and sitting beside me. Soon Rythym joined us as she served up the delicious breakfast.

"So Gabe, what's on the agenda for today?" Melody asked, gazing at me. I swallowed my food before answering.

"Well, I figured I'd check on Lyric, she's getting closer and closer to her date, we should have a little one around here in no time, and after that I'm going to take the heard out to the back pasture." I replied. Since I was a child I've always had a love of horses, a natural talent, as my mom used to say. Now, at nineteen, I run the Carmen Ranch, looking after, training and breeding horses. I loved it.

"Oh." Melody sounded disappointed. I frowned.

"Why?" I asked. She ignored the question.

"So what time do you think you'll be back?" My frown didn't dissipate.

"I'm not sure. After I take them out I have a few errands to run, and a meeting with Jack Merlo, you know how that man is." I said dryly. "Why?" I repeated. She sighed.

"Oh, no reason." She patted my hand lightly and gave me a smile. She took her dishes to the sink. In the corner of my eye I saw Rythym trying, and failing miserably, to hide her knowing smile. Uh oh. I thought.

"Rythym-" she jumped up suddenly and kissed my head.

"You'd best get started dear, the horses are hungry." She then joined her sister at the sink and I sighed, shaking my head. I stood and headed out to start my chores.

Jethro

I straightened my jacket as I walked into the restaurant where I was to have a late lunch with my Father. As I entered, many heads turned to look and I fought to keep the polite smile on my face instead of the sneer that was begging to appear. Let's all look at the Salazar Heir, hmm? I thought bitterly. The whispers didn't even have the decency to wait until I was out of earshot. The initial silence brought on by my appearance was broken by the quiet, insistent buzz of gossip that shadowed me like the plague.

"Have you heard? His Fathers is talking about retiring."

"He's the most eligible bachelor, could you imagine marrying into that family?"

"He has everything, money, power and looks, but rumor is he has no people skills."

"My aunt says that his poor Father has been trying to set him up with a nice girl, but the ungrateful boy refuses all attempts, apparently no one is good enough for the prat."

I winced slightly at the last statement. That's unfair, and has nothing to do with it. And, I wouldn't refer to the women my Father has been forcing on me as 'nice'. I thought bitterly. Except for, perhaps Dianne, but it's not fair of me to marry her, however wonderful she may think it would be. I smiled at the hostess.

"My Father is awaiting my arrival, is he not?" I asked politely. She smiled back at me, the glaze clouding her eyes was familiar to me, I have seen it in the eyes of most people who look at me. I wonder what they would think if they truly saw me. I know what they see, they see Jethro Salazar, tall, with broad shoulders, jet black hair and striking blue eyes. They see me as a dollar sign. They see my family and my power, but they do not see me. But then, neither do I, so maybe they’re not far off.

“Of course sir, right this way.” She said, leading me back towards the back rooms. I sighed to myself. Throwing myself to the wolves. I mused darkly. Well, the one wolf anyway, the alpha. I smothered a snort. It didn’t take long to get to our room and she opened the door for me.

“We’ll be with you shortly, sir.” She simpered, once again I found myself holding back a sneer. I tilted my head in acknowledgement then focused on the task at hand, dealing with my Father was no easy feat. I took a moment to double check my appearance, smoothing my vest and straightening my tie. With a deep breath I strode forward, confidently. My Father was sitting at our table, reading the paper. He glanced up as I approached, his warm smile contradicted by the ever present cold look in his eyes. Ice is warmer. I mused. I tilted my head towards him as he motioned for me to sit. I took my seat, sitting straight and unmoving, watching my Father. A personal lunch with his son was not a regularly occurring event, and a not at all welcome one.

“Good afternoon Father.” I said politely. He tilted his head, looking back at his paper.

“Have you seen the paper today?” he questioned, ignoring my comment. I shrugged slightly.

“No, regrettably I missed the morning post.” I replied. “Why? Is there something interesting in that trash for once?” He smiled icily but folded his paper, setting it aside.

“How did the meeting go?” he ignored my questions once again and I narrowed my eyes slightly in irritation but didn’t press him.

“Well.” I replied easily. “The Johnson deal has been confirmed, the papers signed.”

“Impressive.” Most people would revel in their Fathers approval, but I knew there was a but involved and waited to see how I’ve fallen short this time. “Although, I had hoped you would have wrapped that up this time last week.” Ah, there it is. Of course he did.

“I tried Father.” I replied evenly.

“There is no room for trying in the business world Jethro, there is merely succeeding and failing, no in between. Surely you have learned at least that much.” I clenched my jaw slightly, frustrated by, how even at twenty one, my Father was still capable of making me feel like a small child.

“Of course Father, I understand what you are saying, and what you have taught, but I closed the deal.” I replied curtly. He gazed at me condescendingly, and his tone matched when he spoke.

“Indeed you did, but you also cost the company an extra weeks’ worth of time that we could have spent moving forward, proceeding with our experimentation. Instead, we spent it haggling with a stuck up granddaughter with more money then she knows what to do with.” He said slowly, coldly, as if I was mentally challenged. I frowned slightly.

“What would you have had me do Father? Woo the girl?” I asked dryly. He sneered at me.

“If it had closed the deal faster, of course. Do not be afraid of using your advantages Jethro.” I stared at my Father.

“Father-“

“This has always been one of your many shortcomings boy, you do not see all of the possibilities. Situations like these are what cause my great concern about your ability to run this company.” I counted to ten mentally to keep my cool.

“I assure you Father, that I have the company’s best interest in mind. I figured it would be better to have the girls trust, for future investments, then it would be to lead her to expect something that she would not receive.” He gazed at me, trying to decide how he was going to respond.

“A reasonable decision.” He said, conceding on this point, for now. “Though it wouldn’t be in your worst interest to look into a girl such as her.” I sneered slightly.

“Father please, money aside, she’d be a worthless investment. She’d bring nothing to the family.” I said evenly, coolly, a tad annoyed at his suggestion, though not surprised.

“True.” He agreed, sitting back. A smug smirk crossed his lips. What trap have I walked into? I thought wryly. “Which is why I think Dianne is a wonderful choice.” Oh, bugger this. I thought darkly. I never win. I gazed back silently, internally fuming. He smirked, knowing he’d hit a nerve. “When you think about it, she is the perfect candidate. She’s beautiful, young, smart, comes from a good family and is utterly enamored with you.” I shrugged slightly.

“Precisely the problem, the girl is literally obsessed with me. My interest is fully seated within the company, I don’t have time for a girl who will take my attention away from that. She is high maintenance.” I argued flippantly. He tsked his tongue.

“As women are Jethro, but Salazar War Industries is a family run business, how will we keep that image up if the head does not have a family of his own?” he retorted without missing a beat. I tensed slightly.

“I understand where you’re coming from Father but-“

“But nothing Jethro. To inherit this company you must marry.” He stated it so frankly, apparently I had stripped the man of his patience. I was unsurprised, I knew this was coming.

“Father-“

“I am readying for retirement Jethro, you must do this or you will get nothing.” I stared at him.

“What?” My Father picked up his paper and set it down in front of me. I glanced down at it, and my blood ran cold at the title of the article.

Salazar Heir Chooses A Bride

Below it was a picture of myself and Dianne out at lunch. We were friends, just friends, and had lunch regularly.

“Father, what have you done?” I whispered.

“I closed the deal, so to speak.” When I looked back at him he was smirking, triumphant clear in his eyes. Our waiter chose then to arrive with the food my Father had ordered for us. Salazar Heir Chooses A Bride rang inside my head. I wondered if I’d ever be able to hold down food again.

Gabriel

It was early evening by the time I finished up my errands. It had been a long day, John Merlo was a bitter, stubborn man, who knew very little about horses. All he wanted was a winner, he didn't care about who the horse was, only his or her potential and ability. He was also known to work his horses into the ground, until they just gave out. All in all, he wasn't a very nice man. I ran a hand through my hair as I pulled up in front of our ranch home. I smiled to myself slightly, feeling my tension ease at the sight of it. Our home was a modest, Victorian style ranch house, painted white with deep blue trim. It really was a beautiful place. Rythym and Melody had inherited all of this from their parents when they passed in a car accident, about seven years ago. The family wasn't necessarily rich, but they were by no means poor. Horses, when done right, make a very prosperous career. I mused. I put my '94 Toyota 4Runner into park and hopped out, glad to be home. I walked up the few steps and kicked off my muddy shoes before entering. The smell of steak and potatoes greeted me. Why are they so good to me?

"Ry? Mel? I'm back!" I called, shutting the door behind me.

"In here Gabe!" Melody called. I smiled and padded into the kitchen.

"It smells absolutely amazing." I commented as I walked in. Melody was by the stove, stirring the homemade gravy and Rythym was setting the table. They both looked at me and beamed.

"Thank you darling." Melody said happily. I looked at Ry and raised an eyebrow.

"Are we expecting a guest?" I asked, my smile fading a bit. I'm not the

biggest fan of people, and they know this about me. Ry sighed.

"Nothing get's past you, does it?" she complained.

"Nope." I replied wryly. "So tell me, who is our mystery guest?"

"Well, it wouldn't be a surprise if we told you." Mel retorted. I frowned.

"Come on guys, you know I don't like surprises, especially when it comes to people."

"We know darling." Mel responded guiltily, and yet seemed a bit excited.

"Gabriel, don't you think you should go clean up?" Ry suggested. I gazed at her defiantly.

"This is my house, why should I? It's not like I've got something to prove." I retorted. Melody sighed.

"Gabriel, please? If not for yourself, for us. You smell like manure." I

gave her an annoyed look.

"We live on a horse ranch." I pointed out.

"Gabriel, stop arguing and go." Ry said sternly. "Stop acting like a thirteen year old." I narrowed my eyes but turned on my heel, stalking out of the kitchen. I headed up to my room. After a quick shower I stood in front of my mirror, gazing at myself. Who could they possibly want to impress? I wondered as I raked a brush angrily through my hair. It was nearly impossible to do anything with the wild locks and I scowled at my reflection, my green eyes darkened by indignation. I finally gave up and grabbed a clean pair of my "nice" jeans and a white button up. I returned to gaze at myself again. That's the best they're going to get from me. I grumbled to myself. I headed out my door but paused at the top of the stairs when I heard the door bell ring. An irrational feeling of anxiety washed over me briefly. Whenever someone unannounced showed up at our door.

I still dread that it might be my dad. I brushed the feeling away. I'm nineteen, it's not like he could do anything to me these days anyway. I watched as Mel glided through the hall, pausing by the door to give me a bright and hopeful smile before turning her attention to the door. She pulled it open and greeted the other person. I didn't move when she stepped aside to let the guest in. I'm not sure what I expected, but this, him, was definitely not it.

I had to admit he was very attractive, about my age with a tall, though probably an inch or two shorter than me, I couldn't really tell from my spot on the stairs, slender build. He looked like he'd spent his fair share of time in the sun. His eyes were covered by the caramel colored hair that fell across his face. He tossed it aside, a huge grin spread across his face as he hugged her. I was held in spot by the look on his face, his smile was brilliant, and it almost made me want to smile to. Instead, I frowned at Mel, who was looking at me over his shoulder.

"It's so great to see you Aunt Mel." He said. I wasn't surprised by this, I

was aware that my sisters had a brother, but I had no idea that his son

lived in the area, in fact, I was led to believe the boy lived in Ventura,

California. It would explain his sun bleached, surfer boy hair style.

"And you Michael, we have been looking forward to your arrival."

"Where's Aunt Ry?" he asked, looking around. That's when his eyes fell on

me. I gazed at him uncertainly, I really didn't do well with people, especially not attractive young men who were clearly checking me out. I was suddenly glad that I'd let the girls coerce me into cleaning up.

"Hello." he turned his brilliant smile on me.

"You must be Gabriel." I nodded and walked down the stairs slowly.

"Yep, that's my name." I replied, smiling slightly despite myself.

"It's so nice to finally meet you." he said, and it seemed he was sincere. I held out my hand to shake his.

"You too." I replied. He ignored my hand and pulled me into a hug.

"I've heard so much about you Gabriel." he mused in my ear. My breath caught at the gentle brush of his breath against the side of my face. He pulled back before I could react and gazed at me, his eyes bright and friendly.

"Uh, Gabe." I managed after a moment. He tilted his head and raised an eyebrow at me curiously. "My name." I blushed slightly. "You can call me Gabe, Mel and Ry do."

"Alright, Gabe." he smiled again. Must he do that? I wondered dryly. It's distracting. Mel was grinning broadly, smugly at me. I rolled my eyes at her.

"Michael!? Is that you?" Ry called from the kitchen. He turned his attention away from me, somewhat reluctantly it seemed, but I brushed that away. I'm imagining things.

"Coming Aunt Ry!" he called back, heading into the kitchen. Mel and I followed behind him.

"Mel, what have you done?" I whispered to her. She tilted her head to give me a sideways glance.

"What have I done? Nothing of course." she replied with false innocence. "I just thought you needed some...male companionship." I narrowed my eyes at her.

"You set me up?" I whispered, horrified. She laughed lightly.

"I will admit to no such thing." She replied stubbornly. "I merely thought you guys could be...friends." I snorted.

"Mmhm." I replied doubtfully. "Mel, I don't want a relationship." I grumbled she waved me off.

"Then don't. All I ask is that while he's here be nice to him, and then, what happens, happens." I rolled my eyes.

"Nothing is going to happen." I retorted stubbornly as we entered the kitchen. She just shook her head in response, choosing not to argue with me. I was grateful for our small dining table that required each of us to sit on different sides of the table. Good. I thought wryly. I don't think I could handle sitting so close to him. I mused to myself. I took my seat at the 'head' of the table. My sisters would sit to either side of me and Michael took his seat directly across from me, which was almost worse than having to sit next to him. I couldn't avoid his gaze without it being rude. I sighed to myself as the girls brought our food to the table.

"What would you like to drink Michael?" Mel asked as Ry brought me my glass of milk.

"I'll have the same as Gabe, if you don't mind." he replied. She nodded and brought his glass, as well as two *Cool's* Light beers for her and Ry. Once we all sat down I took both Ry and Mel's hands, they took Michaels’ and bowed their heads. He looked at me curiously and I smiled slightly, apologetically. Mel and Ry were Christians, and always prayed before they ate. It never bothered me much, if they wanted to believe in some all powerful being they could knock themselves out, who am I to judge.

"Dear Kind and Gracious Heavenly Father,

We thank you for this beautiful day and this opportunity to sit here with family," Ry squeezed my hand gently and I smiled to myself. "and eat this fantastically prepared food. We ask that you please bless this food and all those who partake of it. We love you and say these things in the name of your Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen." They dropped our hands and looked at us.

"Let's dig in, shall we?" Mel said happily. I nodded.

"Yes!" I smiled brightly, happily as we began to dish up our food.

Jethro

It's one o'clock in the morning and as I lay on my bed I note that I've never felt more uncomfortable, more restless. I couldn’t sleep, which has always been a problem of mine, especially in times of stress. I sighed and rolled over into a sitting position, gazing out my window, which overlooks the city and river. Typically, I would draw the blinds, but tonight the lights didn't seem to bother me. I suppose that makes sense. I thought dryly. I have greater concerns this evening then whether or not the lights are too bright. My gaze lingered briefly on the city, happily going about its endless business, before scanning my sparsely decorated bedroom. I spend the majority of my nights here, but I will never consider it my home. There are no pictures on my dresser, my walls are a dingy gray with dark trimming. My sheets are plain and white, my covers a solid black, as are the bed curtains. My carpet is the same gray as the wall. Lint gray. I thought idly. My eyes continued their scan, pausing on my bottle of prescribed sleeping pills. My eyes lingered dangerously on the bottle, my thoughts not far behind. I can just take a few extra, and never have to wake up, never have to marry Dianne and never, ever have to fake another smile, shake another hand that offers me nothing but another layer of lies and deceit. I've discovered over the years that there is no skill in deceiving and acting flawlessly, in my life that's a given, the skill is being able to do so, and still hold onto who you are, to know that fact, and not become a victim of your own deceptions. I smiled to myself, without an ounce of happiness or joy. A victim, I mused. Am I a victim, or merely a coward? I shook my head and looked away from the temptation. What my friends would think of me- granted, they would understand but…understanding why a criminal commits a crime does not make him less of one. I sighed and ran a hand through my hair. Once again, I do not stay for me, but for them. I wonder, if I will I ever make a decision for myself. I snickered humorlessly. Alas, I am too afraid of what everyone else thinks to make any of my own decisions. Instead, I will sit back and let everyone else run my life. I sighed quietly. I suppose that answers my question then. I am not a victim, a victim implies that I have had no choice over what has happened. A coward is much more accurate, someone who sits by and does nothing, immobilized by fear. My father would agree with this conclusion, wouldn’t he? I scowled in irritation. Even when he is not here he mocks me. I thought bitterly. I got up and headed over to my dresser. I need to go for a walk. Just as I was pulling my shirt on my mobile rang. I scooped it off my dresser and brought it to my ear.

“Hello?” I answered somewhat irritably.

“Hey J.” Caitlin greeted me from the other end. I glanced at the clock, and raised an eyebrow.

“Good morning Caitlin.” I mused.

“Morning Darling. I just got off my stretch, and you said to call you as soon as I could. You sounded rather frantic, are you alright?” I sighed.

“Yes, I’m fine, well, as fine as I am expected I suppose. Have you seen the paper?” she was quiet for a moment.

“Yes, I have.” She sounded angry. “I can’t believe he’d do that, well, actually I can but…Jethro, I’m so sorry.” She ended up sounding sad. I closed my eyes, leaning against my dresser.

“Well, it could be worse.” I sounded a lot calmer about it then I felt. “She loves me, what more could I ask for?” She snorted.

“A man, perhaps?” I grimaced.

“I have long given up on such wishes Cait, you know that.” I reprimanded dryly. She huffed on the other side.

“I know, but Jethro…you deserve to be happy.” I smiled sadly.

“And I will be, as soon as I have the company under my control. Everything will change. Somehow, this will work out.” I promised with much more confidence then I actually had. She snorted in disbelief.

“Alright J, if you say so.” She grumbled. “Are you coming to the Ranch this weekend?” A genuine smiled graced my lips briefly.

“Of course.” I replied easily.

“Good. You need the break.” I nodded my agreement. She has no idea. I thought tiredly. “Why are you up?” she asked.

“I could not sleep, so I’m going for a walk.” There was another pause.

“Jethro, you better not-“

“I won’t.” I assured her.

“You’ve said that before, and whose’ arms have you wound up in?” she retorted. I sighed, again.

“Caitlin, I am an adult, I can make my own decisions.” She snickered.

“Really? You could have definitely fooled me.” she snapped. I scowled. “I’m sorry J, I didn’t mean that.” She apologized guiltily. I rolled my eyes.

“Don’t think of it.” I replied calmly, shortly. “I will see you at Marielle’s at two, alright?”

“J-“

“Good night Caitlin.” I snapped my phone shut in irritation. I hate it when she does that. I thought bitterly. It doesn’t matter that she does it unintentionally, and only when she’s upset about something. Even though I know that her snide remarks come from genuine concern for me, especially when it comes to him, it still hurts. I slid my mobile into my pocket and pulled on my leather jacket and boots before leaving my dreary flat. I felt like I could breathe as soon as that door closed behind me. I briskly strode down the hallway and stairs. The night was clear and I paused on the side walk, having taken a back way out to avoid the door man, who reported my comings and goings to my father. I cannot afford to be followed, not where I am going. I pulled up my hood while I dropped my head, slipped into the shadows and walked briskly down the street, heading for the Underground. I weave in and out of the various people, London is a little like New York City, it never sleeps. No one paid me any attention. Once again I am grateful for these casual clothes my friends bought me. The casual black jeans, t-shirt, boots and leather jacket aren’t flashy, and don’t draw any attention from the civilians. I loved this, being able to just melt into the crowd, be the nobody I have always wished to be. I smiled to myself as I made my way down to the tube. I got on the first train to Logan St. Logan is in the “bad” part of town, what we, the elite, call the Underground. In public, and around each other, we scoff and sneer about the area, but a select few of us see it for what it truly is, freedom, and our personal sanctuary. The Underground has seen me through many hard and impossible times. My addiction to the area sometimes concerns my friends, but neither are ones to judge. Adam and Caitlin both frequent the Underground.

Adam is who I am hoping to find. He doubles as a bar tender and a bouncer at Secrets, the most notorious and yet well protected gay club in the city. Only those who are like myself, those of us with the secret that could destroy us, know how to get in, and where it is. Its location changes throughout the Underground, its movements depend on the threat. If someone unwelcome stumbles upon us, we move. If the local media has caught any of our members, or is suspicious, we move. If anyone betrays the confidence of Secrets we move, and that member is never seen at the club again. The rules are simple.

1. Don’t talk about Secrets

2. Don’t bring outsiders to Secrets

3. Don’t address other members outside of the Underground

4. Be careful, make sure you’re not followed

5. Never, ever tell the media.

My heart beat quickens the closer the tube gets to my stop. Every time I go I am anxious of being caught. It is bad enough that my father knows about me, I can deal with his taunts, as long as I have Secrets to go to. As long as the rest of the world is in the dark, my money is still at my disposal and my company in my hands, I could live with this dark secret. I reckoned that if God is already pissed off enough at me to make me this way, what are a few more sins and indulgences to the list? I smirked to myself as I slipped off the train, and onto the dimly lit platform. I straightened and took a deep breath, the smell of alcohol and decay welcomes me like an old friend. Here, there are no pretenses, no lies, we’re merely who we are. The dregs of society mixed with the elite, we complete the circle, we’re all equals here. This is the only place I have ever been able to just let go, let out the demon that rages inside me day and night, that fights the restraints that keep it under the surface, locked in the deepest pit of my soul. Here, I embrace the abomination that I really am. I quickly climbed the crumbling steps up to the surface and head straight for the seemingly abandoned warehouse on the corner of 66th ave and sixth street. I snorted at the irony of our current location. 666, original. It did not take me long to reach my destination, given it is only a few blocks from the station. I approached the building confidently, with purpose. I stepped over the threshold of the crumbling door way and headed for the back, to the door that leads to the basement. I reached the door that, unlike the building, is in perfect repair. I punched in my ID code and the door unlocked, permitting me entrance. Music and lights float up to me from below and I quickly descend the stairs, making sure the door shut and locked behind me. I dropped my hood as I reached the bottom of the steps. I paused for a moment, just to take in the scene. To my right is the bar, where plenty of men and women sit. They travel from all over England for this escape, this release, and I am thankful I live so close by. To my left is the dance floor where neon lights and bodies pulse in time with the music. I smiled, letting the comforting aroma of sweat, alcohol and sex wash over me. To the back is a hallway, which leads to the private rooms that are almost always in use.

“Snake!” I turned toward the voice and I saw Adam grinning at me. I turn and head over to him, skirting the dance floor and pulling out a stool. As I sat down he poured me a glass of wine. I smiled appreciatively at him, before taking a drink.

“Thank you Adam.” I replied. He shrugged.

“It’s on the house man. Hard day huh? I haven’t seen you around here in a few months.” I looked at him pointedly.

“Seen the paper?” he nodded.

“O’course I did. Rotten luck that is. Still, if you have to be married to a rich bint, might as well be Dianne. Girls head over heels for you.” I nodded my agreement.

“That’s what I have been telling myself.” I sighed. “I figured I would come out here and enjoy my make believe freedom while I still have it, you know Dianne’s not going to let me out of her sight once the shackles are put in place.” Adam shrugged.

“You never know mate, maybe you’ll get lucky. She knows how you are.” I grimaced.

“And it has yet to stop her.” I pointed out. “Maybe she thinks she can fix me, bloody hell maybe she can. That would be nice.” I took another drink of my wine. Adam looked at me, shaking his head.

“Can’t be fixed mate, it’s not a disease that can be cured. You are who you are, it’s about time you accepted that.” I smiled wryly at him.

“Oh, I know what I am my friend, I promise.” He sighed, shaking his head again.

“Jethro, you’re not a what mate, you’re a who. You can’t hate yourself forever, it hasn’t done you any good, has it?” I sneered.

“Neither does doing anything about it. Every time I come here, every bloke I am with feels good at the time, sure, but by the time dawn breaks I am regretting it, and hating myself a little more than the night before. I do not think that is how I am supposed to feel if I am doing the right thing.” He gazed at me seriously.

“That’s just ‘cause you haven’t found the right bloke yet, and your bloody old man doesn’t help. He’s got you so convinced that being who you are is wrong-“

“It is wrong Adam.” I snapped. “If it is not then why do so many people hate it? Why are they disgusted by it? Why is God?” he frowned at me.

“Don’t you go startin’ with that God crap. I figure that’s his problem, no?” I rolled my eyes at him, annoyed.

“You are not helping my mood.” I said dryly. He snickered.

“Well, if you’d drink something more than wine, you prat, I would be.” I laughed.

“Alcohol does not fix anything.”

“No,” he agreed. “But it sure does help make it go away for awhile.” He smirked.

“Yes, but at the cost of a major migraine and nausea the next day.” He threw his head back and laughed.

“Touché mate, touché.” I smiled slightly.

“Oi! Bar tender!” we both glanced down the bar at the man that was calling to him.

“I gotta go mate, why don’t you go get yourself laid man.” He said cheerfully, and sauntered off. I chuckled and smiled to myself. I turned on my stool to gaze at tonights turn out. Not a bad idea. I thought wryly. I might as well, I would not mind feeling wanted for awhile, even if it is a lie. My eyes scanned the room speculatively. Let us see, who will come talk to me first?

Gabriel

It was almost nine o’clock by the time we decided it was time to head to bed. We had finished eating by seven thirty and had moved to the den, which is where we’ve been since. I had grudgingly taken a liking to Michael, he was funny and friendly and seemed like he really cared about Mel and Ry. I appreciated that more than anything, I was happy that someone else seemed to love them as much as I do. I had found out that Michael was actually from Palm Springs and that he owned his own surf shop. I was right when I assumed he was a surfer, apparently he goes out every morning and evening. Mel and Ry scolded him for it, something about sharks and whatever. I just thought it was cool. I smiled as I watched them say good night and head up to their rooms.

“Are you staying with us?” I asked him. He nodded.

“Yeah, in the guest bedroom. It’s got to be a little strange, having me around. It’s just been you and the girls for awhile, hasn’t it?” I nodded.

“Here, I’ll show you where it is.” I offered.

“Oh, thanks, that’d be great. I just have to grab my suit case out of my car, I’ll be right back.” He left the room and I found myself surprisingly pleased that he’d be staying with us. I got up and waited for him by the door. It didn’t take him long to return.

“Come on, this way.” I headed up the stairs, the guest room was by mine.

“So, Gabe, how exactly did you get here?” he asked. I was taken by surprise.

“You mean they never told you?”

“No, and not because of my lack of asking.” He admitted. “They just said that it wasn’t their story to tell, and that if you thought it was alright to tell me then you would, and that they’d leave that up to you.”

“Oh.” I replied, sighing. “It’s not that great of a story.” I told him as I turned down the hall. “I’m-was, a runaway.” I shrugged. “They gave me a place to stay and I…I just never left.” He was quiet for a moment and I opened the door to the guest room. “Here it is.” I said, a little awkwardly. But then he smiled at me, and I didn’t feel so awkward anymore. He walked in.

“Thanks.” he said, and set his suitcase on his bed. “I think there’s more to that story.” He said lightly, casually. I leaned against the door frame and watched him unpack for a few minutes before answering.

“Isn’t there always?” I replied quietly. He looked at me over his shoulder.

“I hope that by the time I leave here you’ll trust me enough to tell me the full story.” He replied just as quietly. I gazed into his eyes, holding his gaze for what seemed like forever before answering.

“We’ll see.” I turned then and headed off to my own bed. I chewed on my lip thoughtfully as I changed, hearing Michael in the next room probably doing the same thing. I went and sat by my window, gazing out into the pasture, where I could see my horses happily grazing. I thought about his comment, and wondered if I could ever trust anyone with the full story. I frowned slightly. I don’t even trust myself enough to think about it. How could I share it with someone else, another man at that? I’m so afraid of what he’d do with the information, not just Michael, but other men in general. They could use it against me, to hurt me, and why wouldn’t they? I sighed and closed my eyes. Why am I so convinced everyone is out to get me? I thought dryly. Why can’t I just take a leap of faith and hope for the best? Have I really let my dad affect me that much? I clenched my jaw. Every time I act like this I’m letting him win. I scowled, annoyed. Damn it. I groaned quietly. “I’m done with this.” I said out loud, hoping that it would be more real if I said it aloud. I felt a little better about it. I looked up at the setting sun, wondering idly if there actually was a God. I smiled wryly to myself. Nature is just beautiful on its own, it just happens naturally. If I was God, and this was my creation I’d be rather pleased with myself. I mused. I sighed and pushed myself up from my seat as the sun finally dipped behind the mountains, heading for my bed. Tomorrow will be interesting, I wonder if Michael will want to come with me on my rounds…I climbed into bed and my eyes closed as soon as my head hit the pillow and I drifted off to sleep.

The next morning I woke to my alarm instead of a nightmare, which I was grateful for. I didn’t linger in my bed, I couldn’t remember the last time I had gotten a full nights sleep, but last night I had. So, naturally I was in a pretty great mood. I took a quick shower and dressed in my work jeans and a dark green t-shirt. I didn’t even bother to brush my hair, it wouldn’t make much of a difference either, so why bother? I pulled on my socks and padded downstairs, where, as usual, I could smell breakfast cooking. I paused outside the doorway to the kitchen when I heard voices.

“He’ll be down any minute.” Ry.

“Does he get up this early every day?” Michael.

“Yes, he’s a very hard working young man, there’s nothing he loves more than this ranch and those horses out there.” Mel. I smiled to myself. That’s true.

“I can’t imagine having to get up this early every day. I would die.” I snorted quietly. “Does he do anything else?” he asked curiously. There was a pause.

“Not really.” Mel answered after a moment. “He has a hard time straying too far from the ranch.”

“Hasn’t he got any friends?” Michael asked. I frowned slightly. Sure I do-

“No.” Ry answered a bit sadly. “He has a hard time with people, he doesn’t trust anyone and he usually comes off as very…frank, maybe?”

“He’s very blunt and very…confrontation.” Mel added sheepishly.

“He’s a good kid, honest.”

“Well, he seemed nice.” Michael responded. I smiled triumphantly.

“Well, he is, when you get to know him. I was very happy about how he treated you.” Mel said honestly. I was surprised. They didn’t expect me to behave? I thought, startled.

“Me too.” Ry said agreed. “I mean, I didn’t expect him to be terrible or anything but I definitely didn’t expect him to get on so well with you.” I sighed, grimacing.

“He seems a bit shy once he’s on his own with me.” He replied. “I asked him about how he got here.”

“Really? What did he say?”

“He told me that he was a runaway, or had been at any rate, and that you’d just given him a place to stay. He said he just never left.” It was quiet for a moment. “I told him I knew there was more to it than that, and that was the first time I saw any hint of his unapproachable demeanor. He replied shortly and I said I hoped he’d grow to trust me enough to share the truth with me, his response was; “We’ll see.” I wonder what that means.” He mused.

“I don’t know Mike, but I’d be careful. Don’t push him, he has a temper and if you upset him enough I wouldn’t put it past him to hit you. He got into plenty of fights during high school, and he’s yet to lose.” Ry warned him. I rolled my eyes. I’m not fourteen anymore, I’m not just going to attack him.

“Yeah, well, I think I like my chances.” He replied. It seemed like their conversation was over so I walked in, pretending I hadn’t heard them.

“Good morning dear.” Mel smiled at me. I smiled back lightly.

“Morning Mel, morning Ry, morning Michael.” He smiled at me.

“Good morning Gabe. Sleep well?”

“Amazingly actually, you?”

“Pretty good, surprisingly. It’s been a long time since I’ve slept without the sound of the ocean.” I looked at him curiously.

“Really? I’ve never been to a beach.” He stared at me.

“You’re joking, right?” I shook my head. He looked at his aunts accusingly. “You’ve never taken him to the beach?”

“He never wanted to go on vacation.” Mel replied defiantly. He turned his gaze back to me. I shrugged.

“The horses. I don’t trust anyone else with them.” I explained. It seemed completely reasonable to me. He shook his head.

“You are way too dedicated to those animals.” He mused. “The beach is amazing, you’d love it. I bet that if you went even once you’d never want to come back.” He replied. I snorted, amused.

“I’m sure it would be nice, but I can’t imagine not coming back. They need me here, besides, I love those animals.” I replied casually, with a bit of a cold undertone. It seemed to escape Michael entirely. I began to second guess my original thought of inviting Michael along. I took my seat across from him as the girls served up breakfast.

“Gabe, don’t you think it would be nice to show Michael around? He hasn’t been here since he was a little kid, I’m sure he would love to meet the horses too.” Mel suggested after they had sat, said the prayer and begun eating. I swallowed my food to reply when Michael piped up.

“That would be cool, it’ll give us more of an opportunity to get to know each other too, don’t you think Gabe?” he said it so enthusiastically that I almost believed him. Almost. However, given his previous statement I was unsure, and my inherent lack of trust in men didn’t help. I shrugged and took another bite to avoid the question.

“Gabe?” Ry insisted and I sighed, shrugging again.

“As long as he doesn’t get in my way.” I agreed grudgingly. Both women gave me a reproachful look and I rolled my eyes at them before focusing on my breakfast as they talked. About a half hour later we all finished our breakfast and I stood. “Let’s go.” I said to Michael.

“Oh, now?” he asked, surprised. I looked at him and noticed he was still in his pjs. I nodded.

“Yeah, I leave after breakfast and usually don’t return until dinner.” He blinked.

“Oh, well, just let me go change, alright?” I sighed again but nodded. He left the room.

“Gabriel, what happened? You were getting along wonderfully last night.” Mel questioned with concern. I shrugged slightly.

“Did you hear the way he referred to them? Like they were just creatures, like they were below him.” Ry sighed.

“Darling, not everyone understands the way you feel about them, they don’t understand them like you. You have to accept that very few people will get that, and think of them as anything more than animals, and pets at best.” I rolled my eyes slightly.

“Yeah, I know, whatever.” I shrugged slightly. “I don’t care how he feels about them. It doesn’t matter, honest.” Michael came down the stairs and joined me.

“Alright, make me into a cowboy Gabe.” I laughed and headed to the door, pulling on my boots and grabbing my jacket. I grabbed my keys off the entry table and walked out, Michael on my heels.

“Oh, oh boys! Wait!” I turned and Mel came bounding out of the house, my lunch pail in her hand. “Thought you wouldn’t want to forget this.” She mused. I took it with a smile.

“Thanks Mel.” I kissed her cheek lightly and she beamed at me. “We’ll be back later, just call on the radio if you need me.” She nodded.

“We’ll be alright. Have fun boys!” she called as I walked over to my truck and got in, Michael following.

“Later Aunt Mel!” he called back as we pulled out. “So what’s on the agenda?” he asked, turning to look at me. I glanced at him.

“A few errands, then we have to go let the horses out, check on Lyric, she’s our expectant mother. I have a meeting with a client after that. Then we’ll eat, go move some hay, help clean out some stalls, round up the horses and then return home.” I explained. He whistled.

“That’s a lot to do in one day.” He commented. I shrugged.

“I suppose, today is actually a lighter day. Thing’s kick up in a week or so, June through September are my busiest months.”

“Wow.” He mused. What does he do? I wondered. Does he just sit around all day and then surf? I snickered quietly. Probably. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles real work.


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