I want to, once again, thank you all so much for the encouraging emails and feedback you've give me concerning this story! I can't tell you how touched I was by many of the letters you sent! Thank you! I'm finishing up the last part now (I added a few scenes, and things stretched out a little further than expected. But I hope you like it!), and I hope you enjoy the new chapter! Feel free to write me at Comicality@webtv.net or stop by my website at http://comicality.gayauthors.org to say hello! We'd be happy to have ya join us! :)

"Between The Lines 4"

I tried to read the first page or two of Devon's story in the bedroom that afternoon. And...and...I was instantly captivated. I mean, it was more...'emotional' than anything that he had ever written for class. More complete. And I could tell that, just from reading the first four or five paragraphs. I dove into every word, sucking up every sentence like it was the last sample of printed text in existence. I'm serious, I was literally enchanted by the style of it. To the point where the sound of Chris' television in the background became a quick and bitter annoyance to me. In fact, ANY noise whatsoever outside of my own inner voice reading those blessed words on the page became an annoyance to me. After just two or three minutes, I decided that I couldn't take it anymore. I had to get out of there. I needed to truly devour this story in the right way, and this wasn't the place to do that! I stopped reading, put my shoes on, and decided to make an exodus from that room so I could absorb this sacred scripture in perfect silence.

Chris heard me rustling around behind him, and when he turned to see what I was up to, he saw me searching for my keys. "Where are you off to?"

"I'm...uh...I'm just gonna go for a walk. I'll be back soon. K?"

"Oh. Well, alright. Hey, can you run down to the corner store and grab me a bag of those pretzels I like? I'll give you some cash when you get back."

"Yeah. Sure. Whatever." I said, and hurried out the door to head down to the dorm student center. I was tapping my fingers on the folder I carried Devon's pages in while taking the short elevator ride to the ground floor. What would his story be like just a few pages further into it? What's he gonna talk about? How is he gonna phrase it? Oh wow...I just KNOW it's gonna be awesome! I'm not gonna be able to stop! Ugh! I should have made him give me the whole thing!

As soon as the elevator doors opened, I charged forward, turning the corner to get to the student center. Unfortunately, they had some kind of activity in there tonight, so there was no 'quiet' to be found in THAT place I, then, turned around and walked outside, thinking that maybe I could just sit on the curb in front of the dorm and read it there. But with everybody coming in and out, that wouldn't really be a 'quiet' place either. So I thought for a second, and I just started walking. No particular plan on reaching an actual destination or anything. I just...I felt like my feet would eventually guide me in the right direction. So I walked..and I walked...and after about ten minutes, before I really knew what I was doing, I had the brilliant idea to go out to Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. I was practically half way there, and you could see the spray from pretty much anywhere in the city. There would be people there too, I'm sure, but at least the fountain provides a nice soothing backdrop of white noise that would allow me to concentrate. It was perfect.

I was practically skipping blocks of sidewalk just to get out there, moving excitedly through scores of tourists, college kids, and average pedestrians, in an attempt to finally be alone with a small piece of Devon's heart and soul. A part that he had entrusted to me. What little I had read was too much for me to dilute with background noise and television chatter. I wanted more. I wanted....sighhh...I wanted to be with him through the symbolic act of reading something that he wrote. Something he created. Something he spent time and effort on, and brought to life with bit and pieces of his true self and his honest emotions thrown in. Just reading the words was almost like hearing his deep, sexy, voice, being moaned softly in my ear. Boyish haze in its delivery and all. It was like having his arm cradle me in his fragile embrace, my head leaned back on his shoulder, as he shared his innermost secrets with me. And when you're intimately connected to something like that, you don't want any distractions. It ruins the fantasy. It lessens the impact. And Devon's beauty was something that should always be appreciated at its fullest potential.

I found myself a bench on the side of the fountain, its brilliance was almost hypnotic in its presentation...but I had to stop staring long enough to get back to reading. I couldn't wait another second. I opened my folder, and decided to start over from scratch. Just in case I missed something in the interpretation of Devon's words. I started from the beginning, and practically flew through all ten pages in a matter of minutes! I mean..there were even some sentences that I read two or three times in a row, just because I liked the way he phrased them. God...Devon has such a cute sense of a 'voice' in his writing. It's like, I can feel it when he writes. And there were a few times when I caught myself smiling when I didn't even realize I was doing it. He had a truly magical affect on me. I couldn't explain it. But it was there, and I never wanted it to end.

The story was just about a guy our age on a summer vacation somewhere near the beach. He was job hunting and...well, it's really hard to describe without making it sound boring. But believe me...it WASN'T! And the thing is...I couldn't really tell if the main character was supposed to be gay or not. I mean, he didn't really give any hints in the pages I read. I think I secretly wanted him to be gay, just so I could really see Devon's perspective on it all, you know? But he didn't give up any info just yet. I know it sounds silly, but there was so much of his true personality in the story, that I felt myself falling in love with him all over again. His passion was there, his intelligence was there, his adorable sense of humor was there...and in minutes, I found myself trying not to smile again. I must have looked like a complete fucking psycho to the people around me. But screw them all! I'm spending some quiet time with my virtual dream boy!

Yes, it's true. Despite my ducking and dodging of the feelings I was experiencing before concerning Devon in the flesh...all my conflicts melted away instantly when I was reading his words on paper. I mean, I was invaded by his charm in ways so amazing that I couldn't defend myself against it anymore. He knew how to pull the right strings to make me 'feel' something again. And I don't think Chris knew how to do that without him putting his mouth on me. I was so intoxicated by the story, that when I came to the bottom of the tenth page, it was like running into a brick wall.

"WHAT??? NOOOO!!!! FUCK!!!" I said out loud the first time I finished it all the way through. The exclamation instantly got a little girl with a glow bracelet and her mom to look over at me as I tried to hide the fact that I was um...talking to myself. Arrrgh! THAT'S page ten??? That's where he's gonna leave me hanging? That's SO not fair! Jesus!

It took a second or two for me to merge with reality again, but when I did...I just sat back on that bench, a goofy smirk on my face, and stared at the fountain in front of me. The sun was setting so fast, and the rush hour traffic was already beginning to move at some kind of steady pace again. I thought about Devon giving me those pages, and wondered if he was getting even HALF the enjoyment out of MY measly story as I did out of his. My eyes glazed over, and I got lost for a moment as I just imagined the beauty of his smile. There was no other smile like it in the world. If only I could make a facial expression like that, one so undeniably sweet, my own. To kinda...'keep it'...without having to share it with anyone else ever again. Imagine it. Me in love...with Devon and all his perfection...and having him love me back. Imagine us having conversations and trading jokes the way we do, just as an added BONUS to mind-blowing sexual encounters! Just....just imagine what it would be like...to connect with someone so completely that compromise, tolerance, and unspoken frustrations, were simply nonexistent. Forever.

At that exact moment, just as a wave of emotion rushed through me, the Buckingham Fountain lights came on. Coloring the streams of water a variety of passionate colors that lit up the evening sky around me. And it almost felt like a 'sign', you know? A signal of 'permission' of some sort from the fates above. I can't explain it really, but I was worried that my feelings had suddenly stopped on a dime and started running wild in a different direction. But...after a few moments of deep thought, I realized that that wasn't the case at all. It had all been a slow build, a gradual shift, that tenderly massaged Devon's brilliance into my heart. All while leaving Chris behind to be the guy who just happened to work his way into my 'bed'. Funny thing, I never knew how unbelievably HUGE the difference was between the two. Not until that very moment that I saw the colors dance and change among the streams of fountain streams before me. And I had to wonder what it would be like...to have both options at once. The lover and the soul mate.

Only Devon had what it took to give me both. Only Devon. Sighhhh.......only...Devon....

I would be lying if I said that it wasn't difficult, walking back to the dorms that evening. Nothing felt right to me about my situation anymore. How could something that I had invested so much emotion into suddenly feel so...awkward? It felt like...I was already broken up with Chris, but...I'm pretty sure that HE doesn't know that. At least not yet.

I felt like a complete idiot. I was being a true asshole by wanting somebody else when I was already in a committed relationship. But...I didn't know how to NOT want him so much! I didn't know how to make my attraction for everything that Devon was, inside and out, vanish into thin air like it should have a month ago. I didn't know how to pull the wool back over my eyes so that I could go back to loving Chris again like I did before. Tricking myself into thinking that there wasn't something out there better for me. I'll admit, I was the biggest activist in the WORLD against cheating on your significant other in the past. I didn't think that there would EVER be a case that would provide a legitimate excuse for leaving the person you promised you heart to...no matter WHAT the circumstances were...for someone else! I always thought that it was just a matter of greed and selfishness that people could simply 'avoid' if they displayed some discipline and were strong enough to get away from the temptation of it all. There was a time when I thought 'changing your mind' on what you really wanted in love was all bullshit. But....here I stand...contradicting my every solid thought on the matter. Going against my own golden rules, purposely hiding the extra pieces so I wouldn't have to play the game any more. I felt completely 'stuck' between what I knew to be right before, and what I know to be right now. What I feel in my heart. And trying to deny that you're in love with someone is like trying to deny that you're hungry, or sleepy, or sick. Despite a brave face...your body is going to flat-out betray you in the most blatant ways possible, and it's going to keep hurting, aching, crying, yearning, and FIGHTING against all of your common senses, until it finally gets what it wants. The heart can really be a spoiled fucking brat when it wants to be, you know that? Especially when it comes to love.

That night, when I went to bed, I had to fight the urge to go back out into the living room and sleep on the couch again. Just feeling Chris' weight in the bed next to me was a hard emotion for me to process. I found myself on the very edge of the mattress. Not wanting him to touch me. Not wanting him to breathe on me. Not wanting to hear his snoring. All this time, I've been longing to break him out of his fear of being 'too gay' to cuddle with me...and now, I couldn't get far enough away from him.

Was it regret that I felt in the pit of my stomach? Was it shame for still being here, knowing that I would rather be with someone else? How do I go about telling the boy next to me that I'm in love with someone else, when I JUST confessed my love to him no less than 24 hours ago? How do I...ask for my freedom, when it was his embrace that kept me so warm when I needed it most. At a time when I was finally able to explore and truly be myself.

I thought about it for over an hour. Laying there beside him, eyes wide open, staring at nothing but darkness. And it became clear that 'gratitude' was not a strong enough emotion to hold a relationship together. Neither was sex. Or convenience. Or a sense of blissful nostalgia for what we had over the last 5 or 6 months together. I'm gonna have to tell him, aren't I? I'm going to have to break this off and take a leap of faith in Devon's direction. Jesus...I hope I'm making the right decision. I REALLY do

The next morning crept up on me. I wasn't sure what time I dozed off, but I do remember that the sun was beginning to pour through the window when I did. So I couldn't have been out for more than three or four hours. Chris was still laying next to me, and I rolled over as he leaned forward to give me a kiss on the lips. It was a kiss that I had once cherished above all others. But now? Now it tasted cold, and bland, and dull in its delivery. I was almost sickened by the feel of his tongue trying to pry my lips apart so he could slide into my mouth. Sure, there were the appropriate gay 'instincts' that appreciated the physical contact. Blood flowed to the appropriate locations. The typical stimulation caused the predictable organ to get hard. And when I closed my eyes and separated myself from my thoughts, my body switched to autopilot, and I found myself wrapping my legs around him as he rolled over on top of me. But...the heart was gone. It wasn't into it at all. The physical pleasure felt so artificial. So unbelievably selfish. I just couldn't keep myself interested.

Yeah...we had sex. Whatever. Everything got sucked and rubbed and...sighhh...you know, the usual. I didn't realize that his frame felt so 'heavy' on top of me before. And I never realized how his little comments about me being tight and a good fuck kinda...I don't know...offended me a little bit. And he was so much stronger than me, so he just pretty much dominated the entire act without me having much control at all. And...now that I think about it, Chris isn't really that good of a kisser. There was, like...saliva everywhere. I almost wanted to spit it out on the sheets when he wasn't looking. I just...I wasn't having FUN with this arrangement anymore. When Chris came, and gave me a few strokes to make sure that I came too...he just, laid there for a second until he caught his breath...and got up to take a shower. He actually 'thanked' me for the morning screw. Can you imagine? I felt like...a blow-up doll or something. Like...'Gee, you're welcome. Glad I could be of service.'

He cleaned himself up and got dressed. Then he gave me a kiss on the cheek and left the dorm room while I stayed tangled up in our bed sheets. It was a lonely feeling. Like being lost in an emotional limbo of sorts. Not wanting what you have. Not knowing if you can get what you want. I remember drawing both of my knees up to my chest as I lay on my side, clutching to the sheets and the pillow, and feeling tears welling up in my eyes as I fought to push through the illusion of it all and just make the decision that I knew I had to make. Even if Devon didn't want me at all...his influence on me was permanent. His effect had been worked in too deeply. And if I couldn't have him, I'd just have to be alone.

I think I rolled back and forth in that bed until my body started getting 'sore' from it. I finally had to become a part of life again, and got myself cleaned up to get out of that room. Not for any particular reason...just to distract myself from my own thoughts for a while. You know...disturbing thoughts, like...where the hell am I going to live if I break up with my boyfriend? Shit.

There were still a few hours left until class started, and to be totally honest...I was kinda dreading it. Part of it was the idea that I was going to finally hear what Devon thought of my story, and it might be bad. It might be REALLY bad! I never should have built up the hype around it. He's got no choice BUT to be disappointed now. So yeah...a part of me was worried about his review, and that's why I was dreading going to class today. That's...part of it.

The other part? Was based solely on the idea that I'd be seeing him face to face again. But this time, I'd be full of 'admitted' feelings of love for him. And that's going to change everything. The way I see him, the way I talk to him...everything. And it was so strong that I never knew how hard it was going to hit me. A stray beam of sunlight, a certain flick of his blond hair, a particularly cute tilt to his already amazing smile...and I'd be reduced to jelly right where I stood. It was as unpredictable as a random seizure...and I didn't know whether or not I could be around him in that condition.

What was I gonna do? I can't...just ditch. I've GOTTA go. I've just got to...you know...control myself. Act like everything is as it should be. It can't be that hard, right?


The second I entered that building to go to class, I saw Devon coming out of the downstairs cafeteria, and my muscles locked up on me. I could feel my heartbeat in my THROAT! And when his bright hazel eyes focused on me from across the hall, he smiled at me and started walking in my direction. It sucked the breath from my lungs to see him, and I was too frightened to even run away at this point. I was lost. So lost.

"Hey." He said softly. There was a quiet blush in his cheeks, and the shade of pink was so alluring that my stomach tightened at the very sight of it. I was literally trembling in front of his beauty, and I watched as he offered me a reach into his open bag of gummy bears. "Want some?" He asked, the most amazing scent of candy on his breath.

"Uhh...yeah. Sure." I took a few and put them in my mouth, hoping that it could help to keep me from saying something stupid. Like spontaneously screaming 'I love you' at the top of my lungs. "I...I read your...your thing..." I mumbled.

"My story? Hehehe!"

"Yeah." I blushed.

He waited a second for a response, but I found myself unable to speak. I reached for some more gummy bears, hoping that it would buy me another few seconds to get some courage together. Then, Devon moved some of his long blond hair out of his eyes on one side, and grinned. "It's ok if you don't like it. You can tell me."

"NO!" I said, a bit louder than I wanted to. "Devon...dude, what you wrote was...it was amazing. It's like the most amazing thing I've ever read." The moment I let the shaky words leave my lips, Devon lowered his bashful gaze down to the floor, and the hair that he had just so gracefully pulled out of his face, slid right back into place...hiding his timid smile from my vision. It was so adorable how those strands of gold seemed to have a life all their own.

He bit the side of his bottom lip and said, "Thanks." Then he tried to look away from me as a smile spread out on my face too. He attempted to hide his shyness with humor, but it was still there. I could feel it radiating off of him like a second source of body heat. "So...I take it that it was 'good', huh?"

"Hahaha! Yes. Yes, it was definitely 'good'. Better than 'good'."

"You really liked it?" He asked.

And as I looked him directly in the eyes, my smile faded slightly, and I spoke the truth. "I loved it."

The comment created a moment of silence between us, both of us standing there fidgeting awkwardly as the tension built to levels high enough to almost weigh us down to the floor. "That's actually...a huge compliment coming from you." Devon said. "He reached into his bag, and pulled my first ten pages out, handing them back to me. "I think you officially broke the tie." He said. "There's no way I could ever write like that, Eli. You really...you really made me 'feel' something with this. And it's just the first ten pages. I mean..." He paused, a haze creeping into his voice as he looked down at his shoes. "...You have a really beautiful soul, Eli. It..it moves me. I just...wasn't expecting to see what I saw when you were just...being your true self and writing what was really in your heart. It's an entirely different experience from what...from what I'm used to..." I could hear a tender tremble in his voice, and tried to lower my head a bit to see if I could catch sight of his eyes. But I couldn't even see a hint of his expression. "I just...thanks for letting me see you, Eli. I mean, really see you." He gently peeked up at me from under his blond mask, just to see if I heard him, as he was speaking so quietly. But his eyes couldn't focus on mine for more than a second or two before he let his stare dart around to some other corner of the hallway. "Anyway...we should get to class, huh?" He cut the contact instantly. It went from being this really sweet moment, where I almost felt as though I could tell him how I feel...to him suddenly cutting out on me. It was like he got intimidated by it or something. And I can't imagine a boy that beautiful would ever be intimidated by anything. He turned to walk towards the elevators, and I had to retrain myself in the art of 'walking' just so I could follow him. Left foot, right foot. Left foot, right foot.

Oh man...this feels so fucking AWESOME inside.

As we reached our floor, I hurried out of the elevator to practically nip at Devon's heels as we walked to class. He seemed to be walking rather fast today, and it took some wind out of me, trying to keep up with those sexy long legs of his. I told him, "You know...I read what you wrote three or four times yesterday. I thought..well, you know...I could give you the next ten pages of mine if you gave me the next ten pages of yours. I mean...if you wanted to trade, that is. You seriously got me interested in what's gonna happen next."

He was still blushing, but it wasn't his usual giggly shade of pink. It wasn't that playfully flirtatious expression that always made me so blissfully happy this time. He seemed...almost like...he was trying to avoid me. "Um...well, you know, I should really go over it some more. You know...fix some things. Change some things. Make it better..."

I said, "Aww, no way! That's cheating!" I was hoping to get a smile out of him, but instead, it only made him more nervous. "Are...are you ok?"

Devon stopped walking, just steps before our classroom, and he briefly looked at me with a serious face. I couldn't read the emotion. I couldn't decode the message he was broadcasting through the alluring shine of his eyes. And he said, with a bit of hesitation, "Your story was really good, Eli. Ok? And...if things were different..." He stopped and rolled his eyes a bit, "...That is...if I could just...I mean...listen, I think you're..sometimes I think..." He seemed so frustrated with himself at that moment. He couldn't find the words to say what he wanted to say, but he was trying soooo hard.

"You think I'm what?" I asked, feeling the anticipation swelling up in my chest.

"Eli...do you think that maybe we could...go some place and talk later. Like...after class?"

My breathing increased. My heart stopped. And with a sudden gasp of air, I managed to mumble, "Yeah. Yeah, sure."

He let out of sigh of relief happy to not have to find an extremely abridged version of what he wanted to tell me and deliver it outside of a college classroom. "Cool. Ok...um...yeah, cool. Because...I really want..." He stopped, his eyes looking extra wet and shiny as he stared at me. "I think there's some...'stuff'...that I want to say. Ok?"


"Ok?" He asked again.

"Yeah..it's...it's cool." I said, attempting to keep my cool.

I don't think it worked too well. "Ok. So...the cafeteria, then?" He asked, and he bit the corner of his bottom lip, just as he always does when he's being...cute.

"Anywhere you want." I sighed, hoping that it didn't sound too desperate. And he grinned at me involuntarily, and then tried to suck it back in before I was able to invest too much meaning in his release.

"Alright then. After you." He said, a momentary embrace of calm, bringing him back to his usual grace. And I walked in the room before him, smiling at the sensation of being charmed so easily by his natural personality. What did he have to tell me? Was it anything like what I had to tell him? *WAS* IT???

Sitting in that classroom that day was the longest, most torturous, experience of my life. Having his beauty shamelessly dangled in front of my eyes from across the room the whole time...it kept my stomach twisted up in an unimaginable series of tangles for over an hour. I couldn't keep my eyes off of him, not even for a few seconds to pay attention to our teacher when she was talking. And occasionally his magic hazel eyes would lift gently and connect with mine...and I would get so hard that I'd have to almost cross my legs to keep it from being on 'display' for everyone else in the class who decided to peek over at that particular moment. Honestly..I haven't had a boner that strong, that hard, and that tight, since junior high! Jesus! But what really made things bad for the both of us was the fact that our eyes couldn't connect without us breaking out into this big infatuated grin that almost always came with a free matching shade of rose in our cheeks. It was a game that my heart never tired of, and I felt myself just swooning over this boy as I squirmed in my own skin. So, this is love. This is what it feels like to just be...submerged in it. Enveloped by it. How does anyone manage to sit still through an emotion this...WEIRD???

As our classes were pretty 'lengthy', we got a ten minute break in the middle for people to take smoke breaks, get food, or just get a general break from the madness. So I got a chance to reconnect with my sweetheart for a few minutes of joy before we had to go back. I did all I could to not look too smitten with Devon as we walked to the vending machines at the end of the hall...but it was REALLY hard to hold it in! My insides felt like the center of a freshly shaken up soda, ready to seriously BURST from being around him. And all I could think of was....'I hope he's feeling just a fraction of this intense feeling'! Because if he wasn't, I was REALLY gonna be in trouble!

"So...it's good that we get a break during class. You know...so we al get a chance to...like...talk and stuff." I said, hoping that he would take the hint and give me a clue as to what was on his mind.

His flawless curtain of shyness instantly moved in to fog up the issue. He grabbed a handful of change out of his slim pockets, and looked down in his hand to count it out to buy a soda. "Yeah..." He said just above a whisper.

"Right." I said, too anxious to let it rest. "So...you said that you wanted to talk to me about something?"

"Yeah..." He said again, this time focusing his eyes on the machine to keep from looking me in the eye. "...Well...I mean, it wasn't, like...important..."

"Well, it doesn't have to be important for me to want to hear what you have to..."

"You know what? Actually, forget it." He interrupted. "It was just...dumb" He bent over to get his soda, and nervously tapped on the top of it.


"Hey, I think I'm gonna spend the rest of break in the classroom today. I wanna work a bit on our assignment for next week. So..." He trailed off, and he walked back to class. Leaving me behind in a cloud of confusion and disappointment. How did this suddenly go 180 degrees in the opposite direction? How did I fuck up? Everything was going great! I was looking forward to telling him that...that he makes me feel...Sighhhh. Well, I don't know WHAT I was gonna tell him! But it was going to eventually bridge over into the wonderful land of 'I Love You'. But he's shutting down on me. Is it because of Chris? Because if it is, I can DEFINITELY let him know right now that it's NO problem! Like...at all! I've gotta fix this. I'm GOING to fix this!

I walked back into the classroom, and saw Devon secretly peek at me as he pretended to be absorbed in the contents of his notebook, and he didn't even...speak to me. Which...even though I had an idea about what it was that caused him to be so strange all of a sudden...I have to admit that it hurt. Just a moment spent in absence of his attention was unbearable. Truly unbearable. I sulked back over to my seat on the other side of the room, and saw Devon take another peek at me before forcing his eyes back to his notebook again. I could see the restraint on his face. It dimmed his fragile beauty ever so slightly, and it comforted me to have a possible answer to give him. At least...what I HOPE was an answer to give him.

Our teacher went right back to the lesson once everyone came back in and took their seats. I must have sat there in that room for five minutes straight, silently watching Devon busy himself with anything that would keep him from paying me any mind. The strain on my emotions was an extreme burden, but I sucked it up and figured I'd just try to make it through the second half of class and talk to him afterwards.

"Alright, people...notebooks open." Our teacher told us. "I want you guys to just take a few moments, and just write down a short expression of something that's been on your mind lately. It can be anything you want, just take something from inside, and translate it into words. An author should be able to explore, more than just explain, their feelings. So take a few minutes and just do a little free writing. You never know, you might find out something about yourself you didn't know before. And if that involves going on a mass murderous rampage through the classroom...um...please include a specific date and time for said rampage so I can take that day off." There were a few snickers around the room, but Devon's sparkling eyes glanced up at me for a moment and I stared back at him, until we both began writing.

It was a no brainer what I wanted to write about. It came easy. When I thought about how much Devon impressed me with everything that he was, and how he was so amazing that there wasn't any room left to even fantasize about him being more incredible...my pen just came to life. Every word was balanced between what I thought I wanted in Chris, and what I knew I wanted in the beautiful blond across from me. It was seriously beyond my control, writing that short expression in my notebook. The words came out all on their own, it was just a matter of me writing them down fast enough to keep up. My only restriction was the use of names, just in case Because if I know our teacher, she'll be asking for volunteers to read this out loud.

And I was right. "Alrighty then. Anybody in the 'sharing' mood today? Or do I have to find myself a target?" She asked.

This time...I slowly raised my hand, and volunteered to go first. Something I never do. My eyes looked back over to Devon, who was staring back at me, as expected. So...I took a deep breath, cleared my throat, and started reading.

"I don't think he knows. I don't think I even know. But somewhere out there is a person who seems more like me than I am like myself. Someone who completes me in ways that go beyond my understanding. Someone who shares my passions, understands my interests, supports my dreams, and tolerates my flaws. He's the only person that I can laugh with anymore. He's the only person...who makes me feel sane. And when submerged in such an insane series of events...such a feat can't be easy...And I don't think he knows." I looked up at Devon briefly again, who was hanging on my every word, listening closely as this look of concern washed over his face. I looked back at my notebook and continued. "It never mattered whether he had been in my life for ten years, or ten minutes. His meaning to me is timeless. It never mattered that he was untouchably beautiful on the outside...because his inner beauty glows with a graceful aura that goes beyond anything that physical beauty could ever hope to represent. It never mattered whether or not he had gotten to me first..." I glanced up again briefly. "Or if someone...less amazing was there before him...holding his place. All that matters is that I know what is real, and I know what I want. And...if anything about that confession could possibly cause him to want me back, if only in the simplest of ways...then these words are golden. And I will always cherish them as such. Because there is someone in my life who has given me the ultimate joy, and has blessed me with a feeling that I can neither hide...nor deny...and I don't think he knows." When I put my notebook down on the desk, I felt my hands begin to shake. I didn't dare look up from the page. The whole room was silent, and although it might have only been a few seconds, it was long enough to almost drive me MAD with the need for some kind of response!

I hadn't even thought about the fact that I had pretty much 'outed' myself to the whole room. If they weren't quite sure before if I was gay or not...I'm sure that was a big enough hint to choose 'A' over 'B'. And I didn't really mind that I had just taken something that was unbelievably personal to me, and splashed it out at everybody's feet in a big emotional tidal wave of 'mush' either.

No...what bothered me was that I had no idea how Devon would react to that. I knew how I wanted him to react...but that didn't seem to bring me much comfort at that moment. Finally, our teacher spoke. "Wow...Eli, VERY good! Emotional, descriptive, poetic...I'm blown away. You were definitely 'feeling' something when you wrote that, and it shows."

She asked what the class thought, and I heard compliments like, 'fantastic', and 'awesome', and 'wow'. And one girl said, "I think it's really sad But, like, in this really beautiful way."

And then, as to be expected, one guy in the class asked, "So wait...are you saying you're gay or what? Because that's what I got out of it." I blushed a deep shade of red, and thankfully my teacher didn't leave enough of a pause for me to have to answer that.

She said, "Now, now, Eddie...if you wanna ask Eli out on a date, you'll have to wait until after class." Which kept a few giggles going around the room. She moved on to the net volunteer before anyone had a chance to dwell on it, but I guess my half-open, half-closed, closet door just swung open a little bit wider than I had planned on when I got up this morning. Finally, more out of forced necessity than courage or will power, I looked up into Devon's eyes, and he gave me a sympathetic nod. Almost as if to apologize for withdrawing from me earlier. I couldn't tell if it was an actual 'acceptance' of my feelings...but at least it was a start.

The rest of the class was a blur, and when our time was up and she dismissed us for the day...that nervous rattle in my stomach intensified to a degree where I could barely stand up from my desk. I got some pats on the back from other students as they walked past, and our teacher gave me a knowing smile as she saw me secretly linger around a bit while Devon got his books together. And we both walked out into the hall.

This was it. I'm sure he knows. I'm sure he's fully aware of what's going on here. And I was hoping that it would make him happy. Is...um...is that a happy look on his face? Because...it didn't look like one. "Devon...I'm sorry. I shouldn't have read that out in class. That was stupid of me." I said, quickly taking shots at myself before he had time to deliver any of his own.

But he gave me a gentle grin. "No, don't be sorry. It was incredible. Like I'd expect anything less from you." He blushed a little, but then his smile faded. "If anybody should be apologizing...it's me." I was instantly confused, and he sighed to himself, an almost pained expression on his face. "Dude...I never meant to come between you and your boyfriend, ok? Honestly. That wasn't my plan at all."

"You didn't. Seriously."

"Yeah, Eli...I did. I just...I didn't know you were already hooked up with somebody at first. I mean...I thought you were cute, and you were funny, and we were hanging out..."

"Devon, it's ok."

"...I was having such a good time. And I REALLY really liked you, and then I found out you had a boyfriend, so I tried NOT to like you...but then you wrote that story, and there was so much of you in just those few pages that my feelings got worse..."

"Hehehe, I said it's OK!" I grinned.

He looked away from me, afraid that my smile would be contagious. "Sighhh..no...dude, it's not ok. I fucked up everything."

"You didn't fuck up anything."

"I shouldn't have done what I did..."

"All you 'did' was be yourself, and I love that."

"I don't want you to think that I just go around taking people's boyfriends, you know? I'm not like that. I swear!"

"You didn't 'take' me. I'm making a better choice. A choice that...is SO much easier than I thought it would be a couple of weeks ago. The truth is...I really like you too."

Devon leaned forward, his blond curtain moving forward to shield him from the compliment, but this time, I reached up a hand to lightly pull the strands of gold away from his amazing eyes. And he smiled. "Dammit, Eli...I'm TRYING to maintain some kind of direction on my moral compass here!" He giggled, and I laughed along with him.

Then...when the giggles stopped...our eyes connected in that hallway, and I craned my neck up slightly to give him a small peck on the lips. It was quick, and it was innocent...but the spark that I got from it was enough to energize my inflating heart for the rest of my life. It was the first time I had ever been able to touch those kissable lips, and when he turned red and backed away from me...I couldn't help but laugh. "Where are you going?"

"I...I have a Genetics textbook that I've gotta get...from the library." He mumbled with a dreamy gaze in his eyes as he walked backwards.

"Hey, Devon?"


"Isn't the library back this way?" I asked as he was heading towards an inevitable dead end.

"Oh...right." He changed direction, and walked towards me again, a bit embarrassed, but hiding it well with his smile. "Um...see ya..." He said, and walked past me. But then...he turned around, and gave me a kiss on the cheek before speeding up his pace and heading off again.

The way I was trembling inside, I doubted that I would EVER get used to getting kisses from him! EVER! I managed to 'float' to one side of the hall so I could lean my back up against the wall. I stared off into space, with an uncontrollably maniacal smile that nearly hurt to maintain. I thought my cheeks were gonna explode. My whole body tingled, feeling weightless and heavy and the same time. And I was afraid to take too deep a breath...because if I didn't stand perfectly still and concentrate on being somewhat 'normal'...I was either going to burst out laughing, burst out into tears, or just plain SCREAM until my lungs popped!

I noticed something out of the corner of my eye, and saw my teacher standing in the doorway watching me with an equally goofy grin. I stood up and tried to regain my composure immediately, but for all I know, she saw the whole thing. She just shook her head with a grin and went back in the room as I said goodbye.

Yes, this is love. REAL love. This is what I'm supposed to be feeling. And now...all I have to do...

..Is let my boyfriend know...

Thanks so much for reading this latest chapter! I'm finally finishing up the end of this short series, and I hope you guys will enjoy it when it's done! Thank you all for all of the wonderful emails and support you've given me for this story, and I'll see you with more in a week or two! Thank you! :)

Feel free to drop me a line at Comicality@webtv.net or just come by the website at http://comicality.gayauthors.org to say hello and read a bunch more! Cool? Thanks again, and I'll seezya soon!