If you are offended by male/male relationships, or male/male sexual relationships, then you shouldn't be here in the first place. If this conduct is illegal in your area, you must EXIT NOW. This story is not to be copied or posted elsewhere without permission from the author. If you are interested in a story about gay teenage males, then please take your time and enjoy. Feedback/comments/suggestions and even complaints are welcome at DomLuka@aol.com

Chapter seven

The ride kept spinning, disorienting everything with the flashing lights... I was terrified that someone would see us because of those lights, put it was difficult to concentrate on anything other than Aaron's tongue in my mouth and our foreheads knocking together with the jolting of the boat.

But the kiss... maybe it wasn't the greatest, but what kiss is when you're being jerked around and drowned by an amusement park ride? It was still a kiss. And I kissed him back... at least, as best as I could until the lights became brighter, then I seemed to panic a little and come to my senses as I placed my hand firmly on his chest and shoved him away. He had been kissing me so hard that it actually hurt to separate.

"Stop!" I don't even know if he heard me over the screams, but I didn't care at this point, too much was going through my head as I faced forward and waited for the ride to end.

Aaron was gay. Well, yeah, obviously. Maybe that's what I'd sensed when I was around him before. This whole kissing thing certainly cleared up any doubt in my mind when it came to whether or not he had been flirting with me that first night, though.

Aaron kissed me. Yes he did. And I kissed him back, didn't I? And it was my first kiss, and it still had my head spinning, and it was taking all of my control to keep from looking at him, maybe even grabbing him to kiss him again, just to see what my second kiss would be like....but it was also taking all of my control to stay buckled in my seat, rather than jumping overboard to escape my boat-mate. Aaron Keslin.

Why did it have to be him? Why did it have to be someone who Luke hated? Someone who I didn't even trust after hearing his history... why did it have to be him, to give me my first kiss? What was going to happen now? I was supposed to be forgetting about Aaron. How could I do that after this?

I slightly shook my head, letting the shock wear off as I realized that we'd slowed down and there was light shining on my face from the end of the tunnel. The ride was almost over, and so was this interesting encounter with Aaron. I glanced over at him again and noticed he was also looking straight ahead with an unnaturally tranquil look on his face. When he caught me staring at him he turned his head, though, and raised a sharp eyebrow at me as if to ask, what? I gave him an incredulous look in response and he laughed.

"You think this is funny?" I hissed as the ride came to an end.

"I think you should call me," was his response as he unbuckled and stepped over me the same way that Luke had, so I was forced to lean back in my seat and lift my head to look up at him as he stepped over my knees. And there he was. The boy I kissed. I couldn't seem to stop staring... until I realized that he wasn't moving, just standing there, straddling my legs.

"Move it!" I frowned at him, coming to my senses as I reached for my own buckle.

"Will you call me?" Aaron asked, sounding a lot less confident than he had a few seconds ago.

What the hell kind of question was that?

Okay, it was a good one. I know that there was that little voice in my head, telling me to stay away from Aaron, but he'd just kissed me. And all hormones aside, he'd just kissed me. I'd never had the opportunity to talk to anyone else who was gay before. I'd never known anyone else. I was curious, wanting to speak to someone who was like me.

I wanted to know if Aaron was like I was, carrying around a secret that he was too afraid to tell the people around him. Or maybe Aaron was different. Maybe he was gay and he didn't care who knew about it. Maybe he'd already told people, and could tell me how they reacted. The only people who knew about me were Grandma Alice, and of course my mom... I'd never been brave enough to tell a friend. I wasn't even brave enough to tell the people who I was living with.

And then there was that fact that at one time Aaron had been friends with Luke. Maybe Luke knew that Aaron was gay. Maybe Aaron could tell me how Luke reacted to it if he did know. Maybe that would give me an idea whether or not I was safe here if someone did find out about me.

"I don't know." I replied honestly, "will you please move?"

Aaron smiled with a shrug and finished stepping over my legs as I hurried to unbuckle.

"Well, you have my number." he said. "I'd like to hear from you, Rory." and with that he turned to walk away, and I cringed for him when he stopped abruptly, coming face to face with an agitated looking Luke.

"What are you doing here?" Luke demanded as I scrambled out of my seat, feeling panicked. I think I was afraid that Luke would take one look at us and know something had happened. Logically I knew it was impossible for him to know that we'd just been kissing, we had been too deep in the ride then, but I was still worried about him catching me with Aaron, even if this was in no way my fault.

"Hey Luke," Aaron replied, and I saw his shoulders relax as he got over the shock of running into the blonde. Luke just glared at him and then looked at me as I finally managed to get out of the boat, my legs feeling shaky.

"Are you okay, Rory?"

"Yeah," I said quickly, "I'm ready to go, though."

I passed Aaron without looking at him, but had to pause when Luke continued to stand there, glaring at Aaron. But, he didn't say anything else. Instead he turned and followed me away from the guy he seemed to despise so much.

"Was he bothering you?" Luke asked me.

"Um, no... he just showed up on the ride." I replied, "kinda took me off guard."

"Don't forget to call me, Rory." Aaron suddenly called from behind me, making me jump. I can't believe he did that. Luke gave me an inquisitive look, but all I could offer him in response was a small shrug, as if I didn't know what was going on. It wasn't a complete lie... I didn't know.


I knew I should have asked Eddie when the mail man came. It would have saved me the trouble of sitting outside in the heat half of the day, waiting on the front steps of the house with Chey. It had been a strange morning, waking up and eating breakfast with everyone, and being the only one who didn't have a place to go. Eddie offered to take the day off and spend it with me, but honestly, I thought we'd spent enough time together over the weekend. This was still new to me, and I didn't want to spend so much time with him that it felt like he was smothering me. I needed a break.

But, I still hated being alone. I definitely missed Luke. I'd gotten so used to it being just the two of us during the day that I hated he was working. Chey's company wasn't bad, it just wasn't the same. But, she did sit with me all morning while we waited for the mail man to come. And when he finally did, I was on my feet with Chey at my heels as we beat him to the mail box. The older man gave me a smile as he handed over a stack of mail and I gave him a small wave as I whistled for Chey, which was unnecessary because she was still with me, as I headed back into the house, flipping through the envelopes as I went.

I had been waiting-not so patiently, for Grandma Alice's expected `something' to arrive. Unfortunately, as I flipped through there mail, there was nothing. At least, nothing that I was looking for. I was half tempted to call up Grandma Alice to accuse her of making up this so-called message from my mother just to drive me crazy. But, I was already in enough trouble with her, and calling would only end up making me feel worse, I knew that much. And now, after waiting all morning and having nothing to show for it, all that was left to do was to wait for tomorrow and go through the whole thing again.

So, now that I was no longer waiting for the mailman, and thinking about what he was supposed to bring, I had plenty of time to think about other things. I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not.

As I dropped the mail in the kitchen and then headed to my room for a pair of swim trunks, I thought about my mom, and wondered over what she had to say, and wondered why she couldn't have told me when she was alive-whatever it was.

I wondered about Eddie. I wondered if whatever was coming would change the way I saw him once again, and I wondered if whatever it was would help him forgive my mother. Because even if Eddie seemed okay with it, I didn't have to be a mind reader to know that he was angry with my mom. He'd said that he was sure she had a reason for it, and he'd never said anything bad about her, at least as far as I could tell. But, he was definitely angry, and for some reason that made me uneasy. I didn't like the idea of Eddie having unsettled anger towards my mother. Maybe it was because she wasn't here to defend herself, or maybe it was because of the previous tension between Eddie and I, and I was looking for reasons to continue disliking him...I'm not sure, but the idea of Eddie being angry with mom, was upsetting, even if I was mad at her too.

I tried to shake all of the circulating thoughts from my head when I made it out to the pool and stepped in, allowing my body to sink to the bottom as always. But this time, instead of an attempt to think peaceful thoughts about my mom, I tried to think about anything but her. Every time mom entered my mind I went back to the same thing: she lied to me. And when I thought about how she lied to me, I needed an explanation for it, and I'd end up right where I'd started, wondering when Alice's package would arrive. But, at the same time, not thinking about all of this left my mind open to more thoughts that I'd been trying to avoid since yesterday.

Aaron. I suppose it was normal for someone my age to let his first kiss consume his every waking thought, and I guess I was no exception. That kiss had been in the back of my mind since it happened. Unfortunately, while the surrounding circumstances allowed me to think about that kiss, they prevented me from doing anything about it. It wasn't that I wanted to do something about it, though. ... and even if I did... what could I do? It was Aaron.

Just because Aaron kissed me didn't mean that anything had changed since Luke told me what happened between the two of them. Except now Aaron was gay.... and he kissed me... and I kissed him back. And he asked me to call him and I was seriously beginning to think about it. Shit.

I knew I shouldn't be thinking it, but with a phone so close, it was hard for me not to go call Aaron. There were just too many things I wanted to ask him, and having been kissed like that was not exactly something that I could just forget about. After all, it had never happened to me before. I wasn't sure what to think of it, and I really wanted to talk to someone about it.

I wasn't exactly one of those people who were good at keeping quiet when something so... momentous happened to them. Unfortunately, this was something that I could really only discuss with one person. Aaron. I mean, I suppose I could always talk to Grandma Alice, she knew about me... but then again, calling her about my first kiss would just be asking for a world of trouble, and not to mention the millions I'd be paying a shrink in the future when I realized that the one phone call ended up being the root of all my problems. Nope. I wouldn't be calling her.

I allowed my body to float, just below the bottom of the pool, not feeling the need to breathe yet as I looked up, the sun appearing distorted above me as it shined down over the pool. I wondered what I would do for the rest of the day. I hoped at some point I could stop thinking altogether, but seriously, I was supposed to be on my own until everyone got back from work. No mail. No one to talk to. The echo of a barking dog...


I kicked off the bottom of the pool and when I surfaced, it was to the sight of Luke standing over me, trying to keep Chey at bay as she jumped up, determined to lick his face for a proper greeting. His jeans were filthy, and his shirt wasn't much better, it also looked like Luke had been profusely sweating under his helmet, but he was smiling. I smiled back, although I found myself annoyed that he looked good even when he looked like shit.

"What are you doing here?" I asked.

"The job site's not that far." he explained. "I thought I'd come home for lunch and see what you were up to. I'm kinda surprised to see you back here, though. I half expected you to be out front waiting on the mail."

"The mail's in the kitchen," I replied with a slight frown, disappointment coming back to haunt me.

"Nothing from your grandma?" Luke actually looked disappointed too, and I had to smile at that.

"Not yet."

"Sorry Rory... maybe it'll be here tomorrow."

"I can hope," I sighed.

"Hey, are you hungry? I could use some company while I eat. I can't really stay long."

"Sure," I agreed. I wasn't exactly hungry, but I happened to need the company too, and Luke was perfect for that. He reached down, offering me his hand so I took it and let him pull me out of the pool.

"You know, you should find something to distract yourself with," Luke commented as he passed me my towel and I started to pat myself dry before I wrapped it around my waist. "If you're not thinking about it, time will fly by and the next thing you know you'll be holding that package."

I looked at Luke and smiled, knowing that he was right. I just wished that the thoughts I was distracting myself with were less stressful than waiting for that package. Unfortunately, constantly thinking about Aaron was just as stressful, if not more so than thinking about what was coming in the mail. And now that Luke was there, that craving to talk to someone about what had happened on that ride was coming back.

I guess if I really thought about it.... after being around Luke pretty much constantly since I'd been there, I felt like I knew him. But more than that, I felt like I could trust him. I'd been afraid of what might happen if anyone here found out that I was gay, but if I went with my gut instincts, the way I had when I told my mom about it, I really didn't think that it would matter to Luke. I mean, he seemed to like everyone, except for Aaron, and he had a good enough reason not to like Aaron. Maybe he wouldn't judge me based on the fact that I was gay. But, just because I didn't think he'd make a big deal out of it, didn't mean that I wasn't afraid to tell him for other reasons. Even if Luke was okay with it, and we could still get along just fine, I was afraid that he might see me differently if he knew the truth. He probably wouldn't be walking around naked anymore... that was probably a good thing, but still, I liked the relationship we were developing. I liked that I had someone to sit around and just be one of the guys with. I didn't exactly want things to change between Luke and I. Besides, even if I wanted to tell him, it's not like it would be the best idea in the world to talk to him about Aaron, anyway. He wasn't exactly neutral in that area.

"Rory?" Luke's voice cut into my thoughts. I blinked and realized that Luke was now at the door, looking back and regarding me curiously. Apparently, I'd been spacing out. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," I nodded, forcing a smile as I moved towards the house.

"Come on," Luke smirked, clasping my shoulder and pushing me in ahead of him. "Come have lunch with me and we'll see if we can't get your mind off of things. What do you think about doing something tonight?"

"What do you mean?" I asked curiously, smiling at his abrupt subject change.

"Well, I know Eddie and Jase wanted us all to do dinner together, but maybe afterwards we can get out of the house for a while. How's your foot feeling?"

"Better." I replied, glancing down as I wiggled my toes. The cut still hurt every once in a while, but most of the time it wasn't really noticeable to me.

"Cool, do you think you'll be up for going on a hike tonight?" and then he teasingly added, "I promise to carry you home if you sit on another cactus."

"That won't be happening." I laughed. "And sure, why not? I'll probably be going stir crazy by then, anyways. You know... it's weird, Luke. When I got here, I was so ready to avoid everyone, and now it feels like I'll go out of my mind with everyone working all summer."

"It won't be all summer," Luke replied, as we reached the kitchen and he immediately opened the refrigerator and began to pull food out and pile it on the table. "We'll probably be taking vacations, and besides, you'll find something to do with your time. The guys will probably be dropping in on you every once in a while too... actually, if you want I can drop you off somewhere on my way back to work."

"No," I said after a moment of thinking. "Thanks, Luke, but I'd probably just get lost, anyways. I'll just jump back in the pool when you go, that should keep me busy for a few hours, and afterwards... I'll find something."

"The attic," Luke suddenly said, around a mouthful of food. He'd started to eat sandwich pieces before he even put the sandwiches together, so while he ate I washed my hands and moved over to the counter to do it for him.


"The attic." he repeated. "You haven't really done much exploring, right? There's all sorts of old pictures and stuff in the attic. Probably some funny ones of Eddie and Jase. I mean, if you're bored you might want to check it out."

"Maybe I will," I shrugged, noncommittaly. After Eddie showed me that album with pictures of my mother I was too worried about finding more. Maybe on a day when I wasn't trying not to be reminded of her I'd be interested, but today was not one of those days.

"Seriously." Luke insisted. "You should go up there and check it out. I mean, you might be interested in some of the stuff you'll find."

"Alright, if I get completely bored I'll go up to the attic," I smiled, and passed him a pile of sandwiches.

"Fine," he rolled his eyes, "so, are you sure you don't want a ride anywhere? I've gotta get going."

"No," I shrugged, "I'll just see you later."

"Alright," he smiled, "have fun."

He took the sandwiches from me and after he grabbed a coke from the refrigerator, I walked him to the front door and watched from inside as he got in his car and waved before he pulled out of the driveway. He hadn't exactly been home for very long, but I had to admit that just seeing Luke for a few minutes had broken up my day some. I just wished that he could have stayed longer.

I was just about to close the door as Luke disappeared down the road when something caught my eye and I held the door, staring at the brown truck as it neared the house. My stomach was in my throat by the time it parked on the street, and the next thing I knew I was running out of the house barefoot, with a towel around my waist and snatching the small package out of the UPS guy's hands before he was even out of his truck.

"Expecting something?" he laughed, as I inspected the package only long enough to confirm that it was Grandma Alice's handwriting on it.

"Yeah," I smiled as I took the pen he was holding out for me so I could sign for it. "Thanks."

I wasted no time bringing it safely inside. This was definitely a surprise... and the moment I'd been anticipating. My knuckles were white, holding onto it before I even got inside. I brought it straight to the kitchen, with Chey on my heals, and after grabbing the nearest knife I flipped the package over on the table, ready to cut it open and.... stopped.


Don't you dare open this without Eddie. It's for both of you, and I'll find out if did. Make sure you're keeping warm.


Grandma Alice

No. Not Fair. The evil, vile, woman. I gritted my teeth and lifted the knife anyways. The hell with what she said. I could always say that I didn't see the note before it was too late... only... God, this was so not fair.

At that moment, I truly wished that I still hated Eddie's guts. If I hated him, then that package would be opened and to hell with everyone else. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Ever since I found out that Eddie wasn't just a deadbeat, I'd been trying to at least respect him. And the truth was, he deserved to know what was in that package as much as I did.

But I wanted to open it, damn it.

I lifted the knife and cut again, getting as far as puncturing the tape before I stopped and inwardly cursed myself. I'd say that I was just trying to respect my elders but that would be a crock of shit. The truth was, I was developing a conscience when it came to Eddie. I knew that if the situation were reversed, and he'd gotten it first, then I'd want him to wait for me. Then again, Eddie probably had a lot more patience than I did. But, I dropped the knife anyways... not that I was about to give up.

I went straight the refrigerator. Before Eddie left this morning, he'd left a list of numbers that I thought were pointless, until now, as I scrolled down the piece of paper until I found the listing for, Eddie work. A second later I had the phone in my hand and I was dialing.

I impatiently waited through the recording of the office location, phone numbers, and a lot of other information that wasn't going to do me any good at the moment, and then finally I heard Eddie's name, pushed the number two on the phone and waited as it started to ring. I was both disappointed and annoyed when a woman answered instead of Eddie.

"Can I talk to Eddie Soarda please?" I asked.

"Are you a client?" the woman wanted to know.

"No, I'm..."

"I'm sorry. Eddie Soarda is currently in court. If you'd like to speak to another attorney I can transfer you."

"No. I don't want to talk to an attorney. I need to talk to Eddie," I frowned. "Do you know when he'll be back?"

"No, I don't. Would you like his voice mail?"

"There's no way I can talk to him?" I asked impatiently, and then decided to add, "it's sort of a family emergency."

"You're family?" she asked, sounding somewhat surprised.

"I'm... his son," I admitted, the words sounding strange to me, but I hoped that the admission would get me somewhere.

"Right," she replied skeptically. "I'll transfer you to voice mail. Please hold."

"Wait!" I didn't bother to hold back the groan that escaped me when the line clicked over, and a few moments later I was speaking to Eddie's voice mail, saying that the package had arrived, and mentioning, on no uncertain terms, that I wasn't sure how long I'd be able to wait before I tore it open, with or without him.

And then I waited. Again.


I treaded the water slowly, back and forth across the pool, inwardly humming the theme song from Jaws and continuously glaring towards the package where I'd left it on the patio table. Every part of me was dying to jump out of the pool and go rip the damn thing open. And why shouldn't I? It was from my mom. The answers to why certain thing affected my life, were in that box. At least, they were supposed to be. I should be able to open it.... and it wasn't like I hadn't warned Eddie that I would open it if he didn't get home fast enough. Sure, I said it to a recording, and so far I'd only given him fifteen minutes, but I just didn't have a whole lot of patience left at this point.

When I pulled myself out of the pool twenty minutes later, I was surprised when I didn't go straight for the package. Actually, I was purposely avoiding it as I went over to a chair in the sun to sit and dry off for a few minutes, and while I sat there I tried to be as patient as possible, straining my ears, listening for what would hopefully be the sound of Eddie pulling up, ready to open this package with me. But, as I sat there, feeling frustrated and impatient, something else happened. I started to feel nervous, and a little scared.

I'd been so busy, thinking about how I wanted that package to get there, and how eager I was to find out what was in it, I hadn't really taken the time to think about what was in it. For all I knew it could be something that would change everything... again. So far my mom had kept the fact that she was looking for Eddie before she died from me, and the fact that Eddie never even knew about me... not to mention the fact that there was an Eddie. I wasn't exactly looking forward to finding out if she lied about anything else. Maybe it was better to wait to open the package after all.... at least, that's what I tried to tell myself as I closed my eyes and let the sun dry me.

I wished that Luke was still there. If the UPS guy had arrived a minute earlier I would have taken Luke up on his offer to give me a ride somewhere. I'd be at Eddie's office right now, instead of waiting for him to show up at the house.

It seemed like an eternity before Chey started barking from inside the house and my eyes snapped open. It was faint from the back of the house, but someone was definitely pulling up in front of the house. I grabbed the package from where I'd left it on the table and headed through the house, to where Chey was barking at the front door. I was just about to open it when the doorbell rang. I only paused for a moment to wonder why Eddie would be ringing the doorbell, but it didn't exactly click in my head that Eddie wouldn't ring the doorbell until after I swung the door open and blinked twice before the only words that came to mind escaped my mouth.

"You're not supposed to be here."

"Well, I guess I can stop wondering whether or not you'll be happy to see me." Aaron remarked as he tucked his thumbs into the pockets of his jeans and that sly smile crossed his face. I couldn't help the way I immediately went on the defensive. After he just showed up out of nowhere at the swim park yesterday, his sudden appearance at the house was sort of... creepy. I also realized, that despite my curiosity and constant thinking about that kiss, something about the way that he was looking at me, made me feel uncomfortable.

"What do you want, Aaron?" I demanded.

He must have seen that I really didn't like his sudden appearance because his cocky smile faded and he took on a more serious expression.

"Will you relax, Rory? I just wanted to talk to you. I didn't think you'd call me, so..."

"You came over here?" I demanded. "You couldn't pick up a phone first? And how the hell did you know I'd be here, anyway?" I found myself looking around, feeling a little paranoid because I was all alone at the house. At least I had Chey, though, at my heals, and silently growling at our visitor.

"I didn't know you'd be here," Aaron said quickly. "Look, I was driving by and since I didn't see Luke's car around I thought it might be okay..."

"It's not okay." I snapped. Honestly, I was starting to feel a little panicked and I had no idea why. It wasn't like I thought Aaron was actually a threat, but the way he'd just shown up had definitely freaked me out. It seemed ridiculous, too, considering that I'd actually wanted to see him, that I'd wanted to talk to him and ask him questions. I'm not sure. Maybe what I was feeling was nothing more than a gut instinct fueled by the fact that I knew what kind of person that Aaron was. He was the kind of person who would sell out his best friend as if he didn't have a conscience.

"Look, you know what? I'm sorry," Aaron shook his head, as he started to back away, towards the old gray car parked on the street "I shouldn't of come here. I wanted to talk to you but obviously...."

"Wait." I frowned. Why did I say that? My entire conscience was screaming at me to close and lock the door. But, he had to use the word talk, and despite my better instincts, I did want to talk to him, which is just another way of saying that I was confusing myself. But, Aaron stopped and waited for me to say something. "You really shouldn't be here, Aaron."

"I just wanted to talk." he insisted, and then with a glance over his shoulder he remarked, "if you're worried about the car being stolen I've got the papers."

"It's not funny." I stated, and then took a long moment to gather my thoughts, at least as much as I could. The last thing I'd expected today was Aaron showing up, especially with everything else going on. "What did you want to talk about?" I asked hesitantly.

"Can I come in?" Aaron asked, taking a small step forward.

Now that one, I had to think about. Honestly, I didn't feel right about the idea of him coming in the house. Luke lived there, and I knew that Luke wouldn't like the idea. And if I really thought about it, I doubted that Jase or Eddie would appreciate it, either. But, at the same time it didn't exactly make a lot of sense to stand in the doorway and ask him why he kissed me yesterday.

"You know, we could go somewhere else," Aaron suggested, when I didn't say anything. "If you don't want me around here... I understand, but maybe somewhere else... we could talk."

It only took me a few seconds after Aaron made the suggestion before I was looking at the package in my hands.

"Can you give me a ride somewhere?" I asked, all of my previous apprehension vanishing as I saw new opportunity in the situation.

"Um... yeah," Aaron replied, looking a little surprised. "Where do you need to go?"

"Wait here," I said shortly, before moving back into the house and closing the door on him.

Chey regarded me curiously for the next five minutes as I ran around the house, getting dressed and re-dialing Eddie's office to write down the address and to discover that he was still in court. I only hoped that he was finished with whatever he was doing by the time I got down there... and I was in a hurry to get down there. Not even the pathetic look Chey gave me as I walked out the front door with the package and the address got much attention from me. I was focusing on the package again. I had a ride. If Eddie wasn't coming to me... I would go to him.

"I need to go here." I announced as I passed the address to Aaron.

"Okay," he shrugged.

I started moving towards the car ahead of him, but paused when I realized that he wasn't with me. I glanced back to give Aaron an expectant look, wondering why he was just standing there, and the first thing I noticed was that Aaron was looking a little confused... and disappointed. I guess he'd figured out that the only reason I was going anywhere with him was because I needed a ride. But honestly, I didn't exactly feel any sympathy for him. Maybe that made me an asshole, but he was the one who showed up uninvited, not to mention it was somewhat satisfying to keep him wondering after he'd completely taken me off guard yesterday. Besides, just because I was using him for a ride didn't mean that I didn't plan to talk to him at all... I was still going to talk to him.

"Are you coming?" I asked.

Aaron flashed me a slightly annoyed look, but moved to the car. I waited for him to get in before I did, and I buckled up and he sat in the driver's seat, watching me curiously.

"What's your hurry?" he asked, and I became immediately frustrated that he would ask me a question like that when he could clearly see that I was in fact, in a hurry.

"I have to meet Eddie," I replied. "Are you going to give me a ride or not?"

"I said I would," he responded, with a bit of an edge to his voice, as he started the car. I sat back in my seat, wondering if my hostility was coming off too strong. He really had freaked me out, just showing up like he had, but now I was remembering the night at the park, after Luke told me the truth about Aaron. Aaron had been cold that night... he'd had that same edge in his voice, and something about it made me feel uneasy.... there seemed to be a lot about Aaron that made me feel uneasy.

As we pulled away from the house, I began to wonder if getting a ride from him was such a good idea. But, as I sat back in the seat and glanced in Aaron's direction, I realized that even while I was somewhat uncomfortable around him, all it took was remembering the way his mouth had been awkwardly over mine and how our heads had bumped together as he kissed me on that ride, and I could feel my pulse quicken and my mouth would go dry just thinking about it.

It seemed like we were both silent for a few minutes, as Aaron drove, looking frustrated with me and I looked down at the package in my hands, staring at grandma Alice's handwriting without actually reading it. I was suddenly finding it difficult to look in Aaron's direction.

"What's in the box?" he finally asked, this time, the edge void from his voice and I felt myself release a small, relieved breath.

It was strange under the circumstances, but I really didn't like the feeling of Aaron being upset with me. I almost felt like I should be apologizing for being rude to him at the house... even if he did deserve it.

"I don't know yet." I responded. "I'm not supposed to open it until I have Eddie with me."


"Because it's for both of us," I shrugged.

"Oh... so, who's it from?"

"My mom." I answered after a moment, and then looked out the window feeling somewhat guilty as I realized that the one little package was pretty much the last thing I'd ever get from my mom... and there I was, in a hurry to open it.

"Where's she at?" Aaron asked. I looked up, startled by the question. But then I remembered that I hadn't exactly mentioned where my mother was to Aaron. Most people I talked to already knew, so his question was... rare.

"She died." I explained, noticing that I had to take in a deep breath when I said it out loud like that. "Almost eight months ago."

"Are you serious?" Aaron asked, looking somewhat horror-stricken when his head momentarily snapped in my direction. "I mean, she's..." he paused and looked down at the package in my hands with a bit more curiosity this time before he turned his attention back to the road. "I'm sorry."

I just shrugged. I never knew what to say when someone said they were sorry. It wasn't like I could say it was okay, and honestly, I never understood what they meant by sorry. It wasn't like they were the ones who killed her.

"So, you really don't know what's in it?" Aaron asked when I didn't say anything for a few minutes.

"Answers, I hope." I mumbled, and then looked over at Aaron. "Do you know how to get to that address I gave you?"

"Eddie's office, right? Yeah, I know how to get there." Aaron nodded. "Does he know you're coming?"

"No." I admitted. "The secretary there said that he's in court. I haven't been able to get a hold of him."

"You know if he's in court you could be waiting forever, right?" Aaron asked, and I shot him a look that clearly said he wasn't being helpful. "Come on, Rory. Do you really want to end up waiting down there all day?"

"It'll be better than waiting around the house all day for him to get home."

"Okay.... then why don't we stop by his office and you can run in. If he's still in court you can leave a message that you'll be back."

"I'll be back?" I frowned. "And where will I be going?"

"With me." Aaron smiled. "I'm kind of hungry, and there's a place right across the street from the office... it's not like sitting down to lunch with me will kill you. I'll even buy."

Lunch with Aaron? It was probably another bad idea. There was a big difference between having a ten minute conversation with him on a car ride and sitting down for an actual meal with him. But, I really hadn't eaten anything when Luke had stopped by the house for lunch. I just made sandwiches and watched him eat.

"Look, Aaron... " I said firmly, "just because yesterday... what happened yesterday doesn't change anything. I still think it was fucked up, what you did to Luke... I really don't see us being friends."

"What happened yesterday?" he asked innocently.

"You kissed me!" I accused, feeling somewhat outraged that he'd asked. For a second I'd worried that he might have forgotten, and obviously I wasn't very impressive, but then he started laughing and I realized he was just teasing me. "Jerk." I mumbled.

"It's not like I'd forget." he smirked at me.

"You had no right to do that." I glared at him.

"Do what, kiss you?"

"Yes, kiss me!" I said incredulously.

"Why not? Do you have a boyfriend?"


"A girlfriend?"

"No." I frowned.

"Then I'm not apologizing." he said flatly. "You're fair game."

"Game?" I demanded. "I'm game to you? God, you're such an asshole! What made you even think that I wanted to be kissed? I didn't, you know."

"I don't exactly remember you telling me to stop." Aaron remarked. "In fact, I think you..."

"You know what, just drop it, okay?" I stated. "It's not going to happen again. I told you, it changes nothing... what the hell made you do that, anyway?"

"I thought you wanted to drop it." he replied smartly.

I clenched my teeth, wondering if it were possible to become any more frustrated with him.

"Can you just drop me off?" I said, after a full minute of brooding.

"Don't be like that." Aaron frowned over at me. "Come to lunch with me. Besides, you know you want to talk some more."

"Not to you." I retorted.

"Okay," he replied, a little more seriously. "I'm sorry... just come sit down with me for a little while.... just, let's talk, and when we're done, if you never want to speak to me again, I'll leave you alone. I swear."

"I never want to speak to you again, now." I remarked.

"You don't mean that." Aaron frowned at me, actually looking hurt. Maybe I even would have felt bad for him if I wasn't so frustrated at the moment. Between being in a hurry to get to Eddie's office and dealing with Aaron, I felt close enough to going completely insane.

"Look," I replied in a controlled tone, letting out a breath. "I just need to get to Eddie's office. I told you, nothing's changed. Luke... I live in the same house as Luke. I'm going to be there all summer... and he's my friend. I won't change my mind about what you did to him.... and why the hell do you care, anyways?" I suddenly snapped, causing Aaron to look over at me.

"Why do I care about what?" he responded coldly, obviously not liking something that I was saying.

"Why are you doing this?" I demanded. "It doesn't make any sense! It's not like we're old friends or anything! Why the hell are you trying so hard? And why did you kiss me? Why would you even think... are you playing some kind of game here? Just... why the hell would you even care whether or not I wanted to talk to you?" those were reasonable questions to me. In fact, those were questions I'd been repeatedly asking myself. I looked over at Aaron, expecting him to come up with some sort of explanation... what I didn't expect was for him to suddenly make a sharp turn into a parking lot and pull over. "Shit!" I cursed as I was forced to hold onto my seat, "what the hell are you doing?"

Aaron said nothing as he put the car in park and turned the ignition before he got out and slammed the door. I watched, feeling shocked as he walked around the car and knocked on my window rather roughly. It took me a few minutes to collect myself, but eventually I realized that he was about to throw me out. Honestly, I wasn't sure if I should feel hurt or pissed by this. But, I put on the straightest face that I could and opened the door. Aaron held it open for me as I got out and glared at him, at which time he surprised me again.

"I'm going to go get something to eat." he said flatly. "You can stay out here or you can come with." he didn't wait for me to answer, he just walked into the deli that I realized we were parked in front of.

I must have stood there for five minutes, trying to collect my thoughts, and trying to figure out what Aaron was doing. Once again, I found myself wondering if I was being too hostile towards him. I mean, yeah, he was frustrating me.... but honestly, this morning I hadn't intended to be rude if I ever saw him again. Things just seemed to be coming out of my mouth that way. I think it was because I was nervous. I didn't know how to act around him now. He'd kissed me. I'd never actually had a guy kiss me before, and as pathetic as it sounds, I wasn't sure how to react to it. Sure, I'd made room for the possibility that Aaron liked me, but I didn't really know how to react to that, either... or the fact that maybe, just a little bit, I liked him back.

But being around Aaron, was just a bad idea. Luke. The first thing that came to mind when I opened the front door back at the house and saw Aaron standing there- Luke. What would Luke think? How would Luke feel if he knew where I was right now? If he knew who I was with. Maybe thinking about Luke might seem ridiculous, considering a few days ago I'd planned to peruse a friendship with Aaron, even if Luke didn't like it, but now things were different.

I looked down at the package in my hands, and for the first time all day I realized that I wasn't thinking about what was inside of it as I took in a deep breath, and then proceeded to move into the deli, where I took a moment to look around. It was a small establishment, with only a few customers present. There were only six tables in the entire place, so it wasn't exactly difficult to find Aaron at one of the smaller tables, placed up against the peeling wallpaper on the wall. Aaron noticed me, but only spared a momentary glance in my direction before he went back to eating the large salad in front of him and I promised myself that I would not apologize for upsetting him as I approached the table.

"I'm sorry." I inwardly cringed as soon as the words left my mouth. I wasn't supposed to apologize to him. He should have been the one to apologize to me for making me feel so crazy. But, something about being around Aaron, while being as stressed as I was, had me developing sort of a passive-aggressive complex.

"Okay." he shrugged, nonchalantly. "Are you hungry?"

"Not really," I frowned, annoyed that he was acting so calm, considering it was obvious that I'd pissed him off, only a few minutes ago. "Aaron..."

"I'll drop you off when I'm finished here." he cut me off, still looking down at his salad as he picked through it. I must have regarded him curiously, wondering what he was thinking, for a full minute before he finally lifted his head and met my eyes. "How did your mom die?"

I raised an eyebrow, startled by the question.

"What?" I replied instinctively, but then, not wanting him to repeat the question I said, "cancer. It was cancer."

"Oh..." he silently nodded, "so, is that why you're here? Staying with Luke?"

"Sort of." I admitted. "I mean, yeah, that's why I'm here."

I noticed that Aaron's eyes had glazed over somewhat, and for a long moment he had a far away look in his eyes as I wondered why he was asking me all of this.

"Luke's mom died too," he finally said, after a long moment. "When I first met him.... he was still really torn up about it. But, he was younger.... he'd been through a lot... he wouldn't talk to anyone. No one, except for me. You know, he didn't always think I was an asshole."

"Aaron," I sighed, "that was probably before you..."

"I made a mistake." Aaron cut me off, suddenly straightening as he looked at me. "I know... I made a mistake. But, I'm not that person anymore. If I could go back and do it all over again, things would be different. But I can't do that. Now, Luke hates me and I have to live with that. But, do you know what else I have to live with? People judging me before they even get to know me, because someone like Luke, or one of his friends won't hesitate to tell people just what kind of person that they think I am... I thought you were different."

"You should have known how I'd react when I found out." I replied after a moment. "Luke's my cousin, you're...."

"Just a guy who you thought you liked?" he said bitterly.

"I thought you were pretty cool when we first me," I admitted, "but I never said anything about liking..."

"Oh shut up," he rolled his eyes. "You liked me."

I opened my mouth to object to the confident way that he said that, but I felt my face turning red instead, so in a lowered voice I asked, "Is that why you... kissed me? Because you thought I liked you?"

"You do." Aaron replied. "And yeah, why not? I mean, I could tell you liked me before Luke told you all of that shit, and I sort of thought if I showed you that I like you back... well, I don't know what I thought. I wasn't exactly planning on running into you yesterday, you know."

It didn't escape my attention that Aaron had just admitted that he liked me, as in, he was attracted to me. And to be honest, if the circumstances were different, that admission might have had me jumping up and down like a school girl as the thoughts of oh, my first boyfriend! My first boyfriend! Danced around in my head.

"What made you think I liked you?" I asked, trying to remain objective. Besides, there were things to worry about here. Maybe Grandma Alice was right, maybe I was obvious. "I mean, you shouldn't just go around kissing people, how did you even know... I mean, you don't even know whether or not I'm... gay." I finished in a whisper as I made sure none of the other customers were in ear shot.

"Are you kidding me?" Aaron smirked. "And, I suppose next you're going to tell me that you didn't have me figured out, too."

"I didn't!" I hissed. How the hell was I supposed to know that he was gay before what happened yesterday? Okay, there was the flirting, but even there I couldn't have been entirely sure. "You can't just tell by looking at someone!"

"It's more than just looking at them." Aaron replied, suddenly looking amused by the turn in conversation. "Like, with you, I could sort of tell by how you looked at me... and, you said yes when I asked you out."

"What?" I demanded, suddenly raising my voice at that last remark. "I never... you didn't... you never..." I sputtered, and Aaron started laughing.

"Sure I did. When you called me, remember?"

"You weren't asking me out! I thought we were just going to hang out with your friends or something, not..."

"I just said it like that because my mom was coming into my room. I'm not exactly out to her yet. I thought you knew."

"Well I didn't." I frowned. "I mean, it's not like I do this all the time. I've never even told anyone before, except for my mom, but she's... not here anymore, and my grandma knows about me, but...shit. My grandma said I was obvious, but I didn't think..." I was feeling panicked, and probably paling considerably as I realized that it was possible for just about anyone to figure me out.

"I never said you were obvious," Aaron suddenly said, looking in my direction with some concern. "I mean, I can sort of just sense it about people. But, you were probably a little easier because of where you live, anyways. I mean, as soon as you told me you were staying with Luke..."

"What do you mean?" I frowned, confused.

"Well, you know." Aaron shrugged. "It's like the house of queers over there."


"Yeah, I mean, you don't see a lot of it," he continued, "but Jase and Eddie are practically married, and then they've got Luke there, it's like one big gay family, so when you.... what?"

Aaron was giving me a funny look, but that could have been because I'm sure my jaw had dropped at some point as I only began to digest what he was saying to me. I opened and closed my mouth a few times, trying to get the words to come out as I looked at Aaron questioningly, and finally I shook my head and croaked out, "excuse me?"

Aaron frowned, and studied me for a minute before his eyes slightly widened and he sat up a little straighter in his seat.

"You mean, you have no idea what I'm talking about?" he asked incredulously. Now Aaron looked as confused as I did.

All I could do was shake my head and repeat, "House of queers?"

"Yeah," he replied slowly, with a small shrug. "They're gay, Rory. All of them."

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