…Bring Jake and Dylan Closer
The bonfire was everything that the twins and Marcus had described. There were at least a hundred young people milling around the gigantic tiki-lit garden filled with hanging baskets of flowers and low coastal shrubbery. It opened up into a wide expanse of black sand beach. A natural-wood fence followed the borders of the yard down to a secure gate just above the high-tide line, and a hundred more of Sage and Spencer’s friends were spread out along the shore. Drinking, laughing, swimming; they all came to celebrate the start of summer and end of school proper.
As far as food went, it was like walking through a sumptuous buffet in Las Vegas. Seafood of every variety, Italian and Thai dishes, a taco bar, a sandwich counter, salads in combinations Jake had never heard of, as well as the typical teen foods of hamburgers, hotdogs and every kind of pizza. Three different brands of beer, all expensive, were on tap, offered alongside exotic teas, sparkling water and tubs full of iced soda pop.
Jake surrendered the keys to his truck at the door with promises he’d get them back once he proved his sobriety at the end of the night, but it wouldn’t matter. Rooms had been set up, similar to high school grad night parties, for kids to crash in if they were too tired or too intoxicated to drive home.
Jake and Marcus found their friends easily despite the masses. Spencer was holding court with several friends, tottering a little on his feet even though it was still early. When he spotted the cousins he hailed them over in a wasted fashion and made introductions all around. Sage and Noah had found a quiet corner to cuddle, and Luis was off dancing somewhere, but they were just as enthusiastic in their welcomes.
Kelsey was, as usual, as close to Dylan as humanly possible. Jake almost turned around to lose himself in the crowd when he sighted them, but he fastened what he hoped was a naturally pleasant expression on his face and made himself greet both amiably. Kelsey said “Hi Jake” like a well-programmed robot with a smile that didn’t come anywhere near her eyes.
The truth was, Kelsey was only being nice to him under stringent duress. After Tuesday night’s beach party debacle Sage had harangued her thoroughly and practically threatened to disown her if she didn’t shape up. It was enough to make her realize that Jake had already wrapped her friends around his little finger and reduced them to blithering idiots who would believe anything he told them.
However, she needed to be careful or she’d find herself on the losing end. “As much as I think Jake is up to no good, I promise I won’t try to break up his bromance with Dylan,” she had promised her friend.
Kelsey was positive that, despite what everyone said, he was at fault for her invitation on the yacht being rescinded, but he was too suave. All he had to do was flash those innocent-looking green eyes and smile with that deep dimple, and he had them dropping like flies, convinced otherwise. No dummy, Kelsey decided she needed a change of tactics. She would fake being nice if it killed her. Biding her time, because at some point stupid Jake Nielsen would fuck up, she knew waiting him out was one of her strong points. She’d find a way to expose him.
Jake stopped worrying about Kelsey as soon as his eyes found Dylan, and his breath hitched at the sight of his beautiful, blue-eyed face. He couldn’t help it; his memories stole back to soft lips and that rescue kiss. It hurt that he didn’t trust himself to be honest with him and tell him to his face how he felt, but it would be unwelcome at best, disastrous at worse.
Steady, he told himself. Remember your vow. Focus on how Kelsey looks as if she belongs in his arms. Is he fighting her off? No, it’s as plain as can be; she is his future, not you. What kind of chance would you have with a straight guy?
Dylan broke into a huge grin, slapping Jake on the back in warm welcome. “For someone who almost drowned yesterday, you’re looking pretty good.”
“Thanks to you,” Jake replied appreciatively. “I owe you a debt of gratitude for realizing I was in trouble right away and knowing exactly what to do.”
“Nah,” Dylan waved him off modestly. “But how are you really? Any lasting side effects?”
Jake shook his head and then wished he hadn’t, grimacing. “My neck is a little stiff, but at least the nausea and headaches went away. It felt good to get clean last night and go to sleep without my aunt waking me up every half-hour.”
He laughed awkwardly. “You know what they say about your life passing before your eyes? It isn’t true. No white light or bright glowing tunnel. Nobody appeared to me and made me remember all my screw-ups. It was like being in a trance without dreaming. And then I just woke up and found myself…”
His voice trailed off in embarrassed silence. He had almost told Dylan how great it felt to regain consciousness beneath his gorgeous mouth. He blinked and fought a blush he was getting familiar with when around the older boy.
Dylan didn’t seem to notice. “…trying to stay on your surfboard while vomiting and dealing with my bad breath.”
“You don’t have bad breath,” Jake said softly. “Or if you do, I didn’t notice it.” He laughed to dispel the unease that had settled over them. “All I tasted was salt.” And you.
At that moment Marcus disengaged himself from a high school friend he hadn’t seen in months, and he turned to find Jake and Dylan staring at each other with bewildered looks of both their faces. He knew instinctively that he’d interrupted a private discussion that felt a bit stilted, and maybe both needed liberating from it. He stepped between them like a bull, shouldering them aside and breaking the connection.
“I’d suggest getting out on our boards and spending time out on the water, but you know what Mom said about surfing.”
Jake really did blush this time. “Dude, don’t let me keep you from your fun. If you want to, go for it.” He stared longingly out into the ocean where surfers were lined up waiting for some barrels and wishing he could be there. It was like getting back on a bike after falling off; he wasn’t going to let one bad experience keep him from surfing ever again.
To Dylan he said in a chagrined voice, “Aunt Pat told me to stay out of water more than knee-high for a whole damn week.” Jake groaned in disappointment. “I can wade in it, and that’s about it. Maybe I should just stick to building sand castles.”
Dylan let loose with loud mirth that rumbled through him. “Look at the bright side, Jake. You’ll be so busy at the day camp next week you won’t have a moment to spare for the beach.”
“Do you always have to be so damn positive?” Jake crossed his arms in fake indignation.
Marcus laughed, throwing his arm around his cousin’s shoulders. “Let’s go get something to eat. I need a beer. Don’t you want a beer?” And when Jake huffed at him, Marcus backtracked. “Oh yeah, dude, I keep forgetting that you don’t drink.”
Jake thumped him playfully on the arm. “I drink, Marcus, I just don’t…”
“Get drunk. Yeah, yeah, I know. Mr. Squeaky Clean. You’re no fun.”
“You don’t have to get hammered to have a good time,” Jake told his cousin stiffly, his feelings a little hurt from being treated like a child in front of Dylan.
“So you say.” Marcus was at a loss over the sudden change in Jake’s behavior, but he couldn’t help teasing him with a punch of his own back to Jake’s stomach. “And someday, you’re going to tell me that story you promised me about why you stopped.”
Dylan looked at the two of them, totally confused by the vague anger brewing between the boys, but let it go after his friend shot him a warning frown. Something told him Jake’s story wasn’t pleasant to remember.
As it turned out, Jake was learning that even semi-sobriety didn’t mean you were safe from shit happening. Ninety minutes and two cups of beer later, an expensive European microbrew that tasted very good, by the way, he was standing alone down the beach the watching two older Caldwell siblings build the framework for the bonfire in a large concrete fire ring. The sun was still an hour from setting, but already a chill breeze was blowing in off the water and it was getting cold.
A barefoot teenager with her black and purple hair in shoulder-length cornrows and wearing a string bikini top and tight, white shorts sashayed up to him. She stood there quietly looking at him so he wasn’t aware of her at first.
“I have been trying all night to work out where I know you from.” Her perfect smile was brilliant in her tanned face and the beads on the end of her braids made a clicking sound when she moved. “Maddie,” she announced, putting out her tiny hand to shake.”
“Jake.” He squinted in the dim light and took her hand gently in his, wondering if she was being friendly simply for friendship’s sake. “I’m sorry, but you aren’t familiar to me. Did you go to A.P. High?”
The girl lifted her shoulders in light resignation, as if it didn’t matter. “I still do, Jake” she giggled. “Class of 2013.”
He quickly worked it out. She wouldn’t have begun high school until the year after he moved to Madera, and he didn’t think she was one of the crowd of friends that Marcus had introduced him to. “Then sorry, no. I’m originally from around here but I moved away four years ago.”
“That’s too bad,” Maddie purred, stepping forward into his personal space. “And I don’t care what you say, I still think I know you from somewhere.” And just like that, she was hitting on him while Jake did his best to make a graceful exit.
It was more or less the same all night. The bonfire drew the party-goers like bears to honey, and there stood this adorable curly-headed brunette that nobody knew, lit up and on view. Jake didn’t hear the whispers around him asking who he was. It never occurred to him that if he’d moved to the darker corners of the yard he would be virtually invisible. All he could tell was that girls who, he quickly surmised, had already had a few beers too many were eyeing him up and down like a piece of candy. Swaying on their feet, either staring at him coyly and giggling or using what they believed to be cleverly-phrased pickup lines. All sorts of variations on “You’re really cute and have the most beautiful green eyes, do you know that?”
“Thank you,” he would manage and try to pity her. Try not to feel disgusted when she had stumbled against him and was practically draped all over his body. Sometimes being aloof helped, but often not. He’d resort to making light of the situation or, in desperate cases, mention having someone special in his life. It wasn’t a lie, but he couldn’t let those two important words: I’m gay, slip out of his mouth. He disgusted himself with his cowardice.
“Whad’dya say we go inside and find a quiet place to get better acquainted.” The newest girl, this one age twenty with her dark hair in a pixie bob and her lip and nose pierced with rings, had her head resting against his shoulder. She lifted her hand to begin stroking his jaw. He thought her name was Angel.
“I don’t really think…” But he didn’t get a chance to use one of his ten kinder versions of get lost. Marcus, grinning ear to ear, had been watching the whole litany of seduction scenes from fifteen feet behind Jake and now rushed in to his rescue.
“Hey, Angel,” he called, loudly enough for only her to hear. “Stop molesting my cousin.”
The teenager stood up straighter and turned around. “Marcus Walker,” she yelled in fake mortification. She stared between the two of them. “Cousin, huh? Well, I can sure see the resemblance. You have the same eyes.”
The three got into a short conversation, and then Jake said his goodbyes. He leaned over to Marcus. “She’s all yours, Cuz,” he whispered.
“I’m right behind you.” Marcus said quietly. “I just couldn’t stand watching you become one more fish snack for all these barracudas. It’s like they have never seen a man…”
"Or something," Jake laughed and they walked off together to get more to eat.
From the vantage point of Roz’s patio, Dylan chuckled and shook his head while he watched a very uncomfortable-looking Jake fending off the latest of the slew of determined women. Their intentions weren’t hard to guess, and some of them were quite offended when he wouldn’t take them up on their offers. He was calm and well-mannered, careful not to make even the most inebriated feel censured, but Jake finally escaped with Marcus, not succumbing to one of the flirty girls. Come to think of it, Dylan hadn’t seen Jake show interest in a single woman since he arrived in Aleppo Park. Maybe he was shy or picky, but just maybe…
Even with the parade of would-be conquests, Jake ended up having an extraordinary time. That was, up until one in the morning when he was trying to find Marcus so they could leave and unexpectedly ran into Kelsey.
“Hi Jake,” she said in a saccharine sweet voice, dripping in venom. “I know I’m supposed to be nice to you or you’ll rat me out and make all my friends dump me, but I have some info you need.”
“What’s that?” he asked warily, lifting his hair off his neck. It wasn’t worth the effort to argue that he had no intention of snitching on her, but he was eager to hear what she had to say.
“Just that I’m watching you. I know all about you and see what’s going on, and you can’t win.”
Jake swallowed and wondered what she meant by watching him. He inwardly swore that he had fought his base desires all evening and barely looked at Dylan once. Friendly, yes, when they crossed paths, but he was avoiding the older boy. He’d even managed to forget Kelsey was there and would have liked nothing better than to believe she was leaving him alone.
Then he wondered if she suspected he was gay.
The almost-scared look that flashed across Jake’s face to be extinguished almost instantly fascinated Kelsey. Oh, so he did have something to hide. No matter what it was, she would find out.
His sexuality was something she could get mileage from, and Jake wanted to kick himself for his cautiously erected charades he’d played all night with the local girls when it would have been just as easy to tell them the truth. He knew it was time to stop hiding and just be honest with people. He didn’t have the luxury of being able to care if Dylan knew he was gay, and let the cards fall however the hell they wanted.
He inspected the short eighteen-year-old with a face that would be pretty if she knew how to be nicer, but her sour disposition gave her a pinched look. He felt sorry for in a way. She was so frenetic in the way she grabbed at people as if they were objects, and she didn’t even comprehend the damage she did to herself by it. She might find a way to hurt him, but he would always win against the Kelseys of the world because underneath, where it counted, she couldn’t touch him. Yes, she was annoying, but her immaturity almost made him laugh out loud.
He couldn’t help but break into a smile. “I’ll keep that in mind, Kelsey. Have a nice night.” And he walked away, leaving her pouting in his wake, reconsidering whether or not Jake had anything she could exploit to her advantage.
Jake woke up excited on Monday morning and jumped out of bed before his alarm clock went off. It was the first day of the children’s day camp at the rec center, and he couldn’t wait to start. It wasn’t even that he’d be spending the whole day near Dylan and they would probably hang out in their limited free time; he was pumped up about teaching baseball skills to the kids. These were young boys who would filter into youth sports teams, hopefully as more competitive players, and become tomorrow’s standouts at A.P. High School. That one or two of them might take a little piece of his skill along with them made it all worthwhile.
He almost didn’t make it through his first hour. Coach Abel had somehow heard about Friday’s incident on the beach and wanted to send him home for a couple days until he was positive he had recovered fully. Jake insisted he was fine and had come ready to work, and he would not be easy to stop. He promised that if he felt any side effects or became overexerted, he’d let the coach know and take a break.
Jake was quickly introduced to the rest of the baseball training staff, four men like himself who had all lettered in the sport in high school and were now playing for various college teams around the southwest. Whitley and Chance were the pitching assistants; both played at UCLA, seniors this upcoming fall, and were good friends. They were also total douches with the typical attitude that the pitcher was the most important player on the team. Evan worked with the catchers and was a funny standout from A.P. High Jake remembered from his own year there. He attended Arizona State. Manny, a base and outfield assistant like Jake, hailed from Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo and was a very talkative junior at CS-Fullerton.
Jake was the youngest assistant, and he realized that his job was cut out for him. The other four had been preparing for the day camp for the past three weeks, already had their assignments memorized and taught as a cohesive unit. There would be no time to acclimate himself slowly, and he had to be up to speed and show he could perform. There were twenty children in each session, morning and afternoon, and Jake grit his teeth and went to work. Moving up and down the lines of boys throwing baseballs back and forth, he corrected stances and the way small hands gripped the leather. Drills taught them the correct way to round bases and what each position’s requirements were. He put in 150 percent from the get-go and earned the grudging respect of Coach and the other assistants, at least Evan and Manny’s.
Jake didn’t have time to eat lunch with Dylan that first day. He was in conference with Coach Abel listening to the man evaluate his skills as a teacher- judged as fairly good and had Jake ever considered being a P.E. teacher- and barely had time to gulp the sandwich he brought from home. He saw him at a distance across the parking lot when camp ended at four, but he was tired with dirt sticking to his sweaty body and didn’t feel up to talking much. Dylan also looked busy but a whole lot cleaner and cooler, and Jake just raised his hand in greeting before driving off.
The rest of the week followed much the same pattern, but Jake was getting to know the campers by name and enjoyed watching their skills improve. He and Dylan found time to share their lunch hour twice, and it was Manny who clued him about using the showers near the pool area after camp each day if he didn’t want to go home covered in dust. However, that was Dylan’s arena, and Jake feared catching him in the dressing rooms, forcing his eyes not to stare in lust and getting a hard-on as they changed clothes. Being in a lose-lose situation between fighting an erection in front of the man he loved vs. offending him with his body odor, Jake chose to keep his distance and leave the rec center as fast as possible after camp finished.
At the center when he was with the kids and staff, Jake could clear his mind of all but baseball. Anywhere else, his emotions drifted all over the place. He wished he could just go with the flow and be happy in the present. Thoughts of Dylan and how much he wanted to be in his arms or kissing those warm lips came out of nowhere. He felt positive and on top of the world when he surrendered to the cathartic plan that Dylan would be worth acting like an idiot for if he just blurted everything out. Cringing like a coward when he anticipated how negatively such an admission would be received. He didn’t think love could make a person so miserable. He felt like he was going to explode with the need to simply touch him.
The pull on his feelings made him sometimes difficult to get along with. Or maybe it was Marcus’ eternal curiosity and joking around that irked him. His cousin wondered why Jake kept acting a little off. At first he believed it was due to the situation over the beating his dad gave him and then moving in on short notice. But that was three weeks ago, and Jake was still walking around with his head in the clouds. So next, Marc thought that maybe he’d found some hot guy to fall in love with… except that he wouldn’t discuss it. The more Marcus pushed, the surlier Jake got, until it became obvious that he was not going to share any information.
It was Friday night, the middle of June already. Avery had taken Pat out for a seafood dinner, so the boys were cleaning up their own fast food meal. Not wanting to start another irritating round of hints without answers and being frozen out, Marcus approached Jake cautiously.
“Noah says that Sage was watching you at the bonfire and thinks you’re gay.”
Despite his mood, Jake had to grin. “Well, at least she’s in good company because I’m sure I am.” He tilted his head. “What did Noah say back?”
“Knowing him, probably some joke,” Marcus smirked before getting serious again. “You know he wouldn’t out you like that without permission.”
“I know,” Jake agreed. He picked up his empty soda cup to take it into the kitchen. “Um, tell him if it comes up again he’s free to tell the truth. I don’t have anything to hide.”
Marcus’ eyes went big. “Really? Are you sure that’s what you want?”
Jake nodded. “I’m fairly sure he isn’t going to take out an ad in the Orange County Register, but yeah.”
“Oh, by the way,” Marcus informed him, “Noah and Dylan are coming over tomorrow night for pizza and video games.”
Both elated and fearful, Jake struggled to act nonchalant. “It’s fine by me. It’s your house, Marcus.”
Marcus’ fist came down on the counter hard. “See, this is what I mean. What kind of a statement is that?”
Jake jumped and stared at him, shocked. He certainly hadn’t meant that the way it came out… bitchy, selfish and ungrateful. Marcus was glaring at him with his arms crossed over his chest.
“You’re right, and I’m sorry,” Jake backtracked. “I know it isn’t an adequate excuse, but it’s been a long week, and I’m tired. Of course, I’d love to spend tomorrow night with you three and the Xbox. It sounds like fun.”
“It’s cool, Jake,” he smiled. “But sooner or later you have to let me in and tell me what’s wrong.”
“Nothing’s wrong,” Jake lied. Because there were some things that he couldn’t tell anyone.
The guys were all enjoying a rowdy time the following night in the Walkers’ family room. Pat and Avery were again out, leaving the boys surrounding the wide-screen tv with admonishments to keep the noise down and the trash picked up. They were getting pretty heavy-duty into Left 4 Dead, the apocalypse game. After losing several crazy rounds of paper-rock-scissors, Jake was forced to take on the persona of Zoey, the only female protagonist. He was having multiple problems with The Witch killing him every time he went near her, and he knew his mind wasn’t on the game.
Half an hour later, they were all getting tired of it. Dylan set down his controller and stretched. “So what do we do now?”
Forever after, Jake would never know what compelled him to speak. Maybe it was the sleek brown skin of Dylan’s torso that made an appearance from under his shirt every time he extended his body to reach for a piece of pizza from the box on the table. Maybe Jake was just bone weary with keeping his secret and, even though he realized his dreams were going to get ground into dust, he hated the dishonesty. Maybe…
“I’m gay,” Jake said bluntly to dead silence. Okay, it was candid but not tactful.
He looked up from his lap at the three of them. Noah was staring with his mouth wide open, his hand frozen as if he was going to throw his game controller at Marcus, which was what he’d planned on before Jake spoke.
“Duuuude,” Marcus whispered, quite surprised by how Jake just unloaded that bomb without forewarning. “Way to just spit it out.”
Jake blushed. Even though he knew he should focus on Dylan because he was the one who mattered the most here, he was almost afraid to. What if…? But he had to know. This was the whole reason he said anything.
“So does Dylan get the short or long version of the story?” Noah asked, scratching his head, just as taken aback as Marcus.
Jake had turned his head towards the blonde and was staring straight at said-Dylan, checking for signs of revulsion. He saw none, took several deep breaths and began to relax. Maybe he could get through his confession unscathed.
“I’m not sure,” he finally answered. “It kind of depends on what he wants to know.”
Dylan had a million thoughts flying through his head, the primary ones astonishment and delight. Jake Nielsen was gay. Holy shit, he was gay. That was awesome. The. Most. Awesome. Thing. Ever. But kind of scary; yes, definitely scary. Someone—a boy— he really cared about might actually be capable of returning his feelings. It meant… uh, telling Jake that he was gay too. He would have to. So the rest of his friends would know, but he guessed he could handle that. It looked as if everyone else in the room seemed to know about Jake except him. Only him, from the looks of things. Noah knew; Marcus knew too. Zip, zip, zip, his brain was in meltdown.
His voice came out a little wooden when he spoke. “Everything, I guess.” He gazed deep into Jake’s eyes and saw uncertainty mixed with hope. It made sense; coming out like that must have been difficult. “I’m not prejudiced if that’s what you’re worried about. I’m…”
Dylan couldn’t say it. He wanted to, but he told himself that this was Jake’s moment and he didn’t have a right to intrude, but what he felt was cowardly. He watched Jake break into a big smile, so for now his admission could settle until another day.
It was going to be alright, Jake was happy to see. Dylan looked a little nervous but not disgusted. At least he wasn’t leaping to his feet and storming out of the house, calling him a filthy faggot like his father had and swearing never to speak to him again. Jake took a deep gulp of air and began.
“I think you already know this, Dylan, but I grew up around here. I’ve known Noah since… when, Noah?” He glanced at his lanky friend.
Noah thought a minute. “Um, t-ball, right? I was five, so you must have been four.”
Jake nodded, and twisted back around to look at Dylan again. “Noah’s dad was my first coach. Marcus came to watch me play one Saturday and they hit it off. Then two years later, Noah moved into our neighborhood and we all went to the same school. My older brothers and I… had, um… troubles at home.”
“That’s one way to put it,” Noah muttered darkly, and Marcus nodded knowingly.
“We spent more time at Marcus’ house than our own. My dad has problems with his temper and can get a little rough.”
Two disbelieving laughs followed that statement. Dylan was giving him an openly confused look, so Jake dug deeper.
Four years had made a lot of difference in his life. It seemed so ridiculous now, but when Jake was fifteen, his world felt like it came apart the winter day his father arrived home from work and told the family they were moving. As part of restructuring so he could keep his job, George had accepted a supervisory position, along with a hefty raise, in the new factory his company had just built near the central California city of Madera.
Carolyn and the three brothers sat in dazed silence digesting this news. Bad enough that ninth grade Jake had to leave Aleppo Park and all he loved, but his oldest sibling David was a live-at-home sophomore at Saddleback College down the road and Adam was four months away from graduating high school. After the ensuing furor died down, Carolyn stood firm in a decision to allow the boys to finish the present term in their respective schools. Relocating could wait until summer.
Surprisingly, George agreed. But, come summer, transfer north they did amid hugs, tears and promises of frequent visits between the families of the two sisters. The shrinking Nielsen clan settled into the mountain community readily enough, leaving the older boys behind to continue their education in southern California colleges. And Jake was miserable.
“Madera is a… different kind of environment than the OC is. I’ve known I was gay since I was fifteen, but the last thing I was going to do was tell anyone that didn’t absolutely have to know. Maybe the high school kids would accept me, but I didn’t want to take the chance, not while living at home. My father is very prejudiced and I knew he wouldn’t support me.”
Jake shrugged casually to mask the hurt he still felt inside. “I didn’t come out until last year at Long Beach State, and even then I was very careful and only told a certain few. Dad found out anyway. When I arrived home from college we had… um… I guess you could call it a discussion.”
Marcus scoffed, his face dark with anger. “More like an interrogation complete with bruises. Jake left home the next day.”
Dylan stared at Jake, his eyes wide. “Your dad hit you?” He knew these kinds of things happened; he just had never met anyone they had happened to.
“Hit him is putting it mildly,” Noah interjected. “His father beat him up for being gay.”
”Yeah,” Jake laughed nervously and tried to joke. “Sucks to be me, I guess.”
”So Jake is down here hiding out,” Marcus summed up. “His father is not mentally sound and would drag him back to Madera if he got the chance.
Jake rolled his eyes. “To be physically compelled to give up my godless, faggoty ways or suffer his wrath. He was even talking about sending me to some church-run gay conversion camp.”
Dylan was completely shocked by Jake’s story. His family had been so accepting with his own coming out, he sometimes forgot that the rest of the world was less so. ”Why didn’t you have him arrested for assault?”
“I should have but I just wanted out of the house. My last final at Long Beach was on the eighteenth. I flew home four days later, only to turn around and drive back the next day. As long as I can hole up here at my aunt and uncle’s and he stays in Madera and unaware of my location, I’m safe.”
”So far, so good.” Noah added with a small smile.
”What about when you go back to Long Beach?” Dylan was even now searching for flaws in his plans.
Jake cleared his throat. “I don’t know. I'm already signed up for a dorm which would be the safest place to live even if I would rather get an apartment. The campus is pretty big with a lot of students. And there’s always security if I get in trouble.”
“Luckily Jake doesn’t have to rely on his father for financial support,” Marcus added.
“The best thing for all involved,” Jake avowed, “would be for him to peacefully disown me, but I don’t see that happening. I just take each day as it comes and kind of say my prayers at night that he never catches up to me.”
“Holy shit, Jake!”
(To be continued...)