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The following contains mild descriptions of sexual acts between consenting underage boys. It is an original work of fiction and has no basis in reality.

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Perry and Jesse

The Incredibly Romantic (and slightly kinky) Adventures of Two Boys In Love

Part V Truths and Lies

Chapter 22: The Moment Of Truth

Jesse waited for me to take the lead, and then followed quietly as I plodded self-consciously upstairs, feeling the eyes of both our mothers boring into us. We went to my room and I closed the door. I wanted so badly to hold Jesse in my arms, to have him hold me, but he went and flopped down in the swivel chair in front of my desk. I went and knelt in front of him.

"I love you," I said with all the meaning I could muster, trying to rest my head in his lap. But he actually gave my shoulders a gentle shove. I sat back on the floor, looking up at him with puzzlement and disappointment. "That wasn't so bad. it was a little weird that your mom--"

"You don't have to tell me what you guys talked about," Jesse interrupted me quickly, almost fearfully.

"But I want to...need to, actually," I noted with a sly half smile.

"What...?" Jesse asked, his expression still somber but his curiosity piqued by my strange little grin.

"Well, she asked if you had tried to touch me...inappropriately."

"Did she really?!" Jesse asked, and there was suddenly burning anger in his face. "That blows!" he muttered through clenched teeth.

"It's okay.... It's okay..." I said, hoping that he would calm down. "I don't think she knows, but I guess she's been wondering about you. Something about some rumors that you might've had an inappropriate relationship with some boy back at one of your old schools."

I watched Jesse's expressive face, his cheeks flushed a bright crimson, struggling to get his emotions under control. "I should explain that--"

"You already told me, the first time you came over, that you'd been interested in kissing boys," I interrupted quickly.

He nodded hesitantly. "But that's--"

"But I have to tell you something else!" I said excitedly. "You see, it turns out that you do have a crush on someone at school--only it's not me!"


"It's Merissa Scott--that girl from the seventh grade with the big blonde hair!" I giggled childishly.

But Jesse didn't seem amused, just perplexed.

"Well, I knew your mom was fishing around," I said. "I guess she was trying to see if I knew something she didn't, about..." I lowered my voice, "about you being gay and stuff."

Jesse nodded in understanding.

"So I just came up with this idea that you have a crush on Merissa. I don't know why I picked her.... Just that she's so pretty and you're so good looking and you both have blonde hair and--"

"Okay, okay, I get it," Jesse said acceptingly, relaxing his posture slightly.

"Anyway, apparently you're going to ask her to Jessica's party!"

"Is that right?" Jesse asked, finally breaking into a hesitant smile.

"Yeah, I guess you're really lusting after each other, and since she always follows Jessica around anyway, I'm pretty sure it'll work out."

"She's the one that wrote that note that we were the two hottest boys in the school," Jesse pointed out.

"That was her...?" I asked confusedly, somehow assuming the M. at the bottom of the page had stood for Melissa, and that she was probably writing sexy little notes to every creature on the campus with something hanging between its legs.

"You remember--the locker note?" he reminded me when I looked perplexed.

"Oh yeah, right." That was just before things went south with Derek.

"You really think a pretty girl like that would want to hook up with a butt ugly kid like me?" Jesse asked bashfully, apparently forgetting the content of the note he had just mentioned.

"Hey, if I can do it..." I suggested with a playful grin.

Jesse smiled a little, and then sighed heavily, his brows knitting into a pensive scowl. "That's...that's all very cool, Perry...really. I'm glad you did that. At least that's one less thing my mom has to worry about for now."

"Glad to be of service!" I quipped cheerfully. My mind was already racing through the next four weeks, imagining what it would be like when I returned from New York, how Jesse and I would get together--alone--and do incredible things together--hot, sweaty, lurid things--like maybe that sixty-nine thing.

"But I have to explain to you what my mom was talking about...that business at my last school."

"No you don't," I countered quickly. For some reason, it didn't sound like something I wanted to know.

"It was Bobby Cohen," he said quietly.

"Huh? But I thought--"

"The story I told Tom and wasn't exactly true," he confessed, his head bowed so that his golden locks hid his features from me.

"It wasn't?" I asked dumbly.

"Well, some of it was...and some of it wasn't."

"Jesse, you don't have to do this. I love you more than anything and that's all that matters!"

"But it isn't fair that you don't know about this," he stated, finally looking down at me with watery blue eyes. "You see, it wasn't Ron that Bobby got close to.... It was me."

I felt like I was floating in a dense fog. I was reaching out, trying to grab onto things that I thought were real, but they all seemed to dissolve into watery mist as soon as I tried to touch them.

"What I said about Ron and the other guys I hung out with was true, but the fact was, when I called Bobby over to sit with us that day, he grew attached to me--not Ron. I wasn't even physically attracted to him...I just felt sorry for him, knowing what it was like to be alone in a big school. He was one of those kids that just seemed ripe to be picked on...really thin, with these wire rim glasses that made him look really geeky. But he had a nice mop of shaggy, black hair and this cute little turned up nose--"

"Why are you telling me this?" I asked, getting things all muddled up in my head. Hadn't Derek asked the same thing yesterday? Hadn't this story been for his and Tom's benefit? It had nothing to do with me--did it?

"I was the one that insisted that he sit with us everyday, even though the other guys really were afraid that he was gay and that it would cause problems for them. And I really did see Bobby get tripped in the cafeteria one day. It was awful..." he said, looking at me with teary eyes. "I wanted to go help him, to tell those big, fat-headed morons off, but I just couldn't get in trouble again...I already told you I got in lots of fights and I ended up hurting one kid pretty bad. That was when I was at a school in Cicero. After that, it seemed like every bully in the school wanted a piece of me. We were forced to move even though we barely had any money."

"It's okay, Jesse. That's all in the past," I told him. "Just let it go...."

But Jesse ignored my pleas. "Anyway, after that incident in the cafeteria, Ron and the other guys wouldn't even sit with us anymore. Bobby and I ended up alone, and my other so-called friends said I must be a fag too--guilt by association."

"Gees...what kind of crazy place was that?" I asked incredulously.

"Just a place..." he responded. "Just a fuckin' normal place." He sighed, his eyes staring blankly across the room. "So that next Saturday, I did go to his house. He had a great book collection--almost like yours--and we started out just talking about our favorite authors and series and stuff. He even told me that he did some writing and I was really curious to read his stuff, and then...."

I still felt so confused, like my mind was full of really thick pancake syrup. Jesse had lied to Tom and Derek? Hadn't it been Ron Halwicki that had messed around with Bobby Cohen?

"He kissed me...on the cheek," Jesse said, tapping the point of contact lightly with his finger. I guess I'd really been expecting it. I'd already kissed and messed around with a...a few kids and I was pretty sure that Bobby really was gay. I told him I didn't want to do that kind of stuff, but he got so sad, Perry.... Gosh, you should've seen him, taking off his glasses to wipe the tears out of his eyes.... So I just held him, and pretty soon, we were kissing--even frenching. We both got hard and he said we should jack each other off, but I freaked and...and just left."

"Let's not talk about this anymore," I said, shakily getting to my feet.

"You need to hear this, Perry.... Please, just sit," he urged me.

"No..." I moaned, as if I was in physical pain.

"Please?" he begged me with those amazing crystal blue orbs. I reluctantly sat on the edge of my bed, just a couple feet from him, but I was starting to feel ill.

"So, that Monday, I didn't sit with him. I ignored him, and sat with the other guys. I told them in a sorta joking way that Bobby had attacked me when I was at his house and we all kinda laughed about it. I know that was wrong, but I was just thinking about protecting myself and not getting into trouble again. I swear, Perry, I thought that if this all happened again, it'd kill my mom. She was already taking anti-depressants. Things were so bad, she finally broke down and asked my Aunt Ruthie to send some money--and my mom is a very proud and stubborn woman."

Jesse had given me hints of how difficult his life had been back in Illinois, but never before had he gone into such detail. I was beginning to understand why he would get down on himself so much, how he blamed himself for making his mom's life difficult, but this was all too much. I only wanted to think about how we were going to sneak up to our secret place on the hill behind St. Boniface, now that we couldn't spend time together outside of school. I wanted to shut my ears, but Jesse just kept going, mostly in a monotone, but sometimes not able to fully hold back all the powerful emotions these recollections were conjuring up.

"Well, a couple of days later, I tried to apologize to him, but he was really upset...just really hurt--not so much by my running out on him that day--but by my ignoring him at school. He really felt abandoned and that just crushed him. He wouldn't accept my apologies and just got all bundled up to go out and wait for his bus. My locker was on a different floor and I came out a few minutes later and noticed he wasn't where he should've been to get on his bus. So I raced around, looking for him, and sure enough, I found him along the side of the building, mostly hidden from view. The kid that had tripped him and three of his friends--all of them bigger than Bobby of course, had him surrounded. Well, I didn't even think about it really. I dived right in, telling them to leave Bobby alone, and of course they turned on me like a pack of hungry dogs. I had to...had to fight them..." he said, his voice thick with shame and regret.

"What else could you do?" I asked, still trying to put all the pieces together. But it was like my brain didn't want to cooperate. It kept wanting to think that the story he had told to Tom and Derek yesterday was true, and that this was a lie.... But why would Jesse lie to me? To try pushing me away again? I was so confused, and definitely not feeling good.

"I lucked out. They hadn't been expecting a girly little seventh grader to be able to kick ass like that, and once it was clear that I meant business, they bolted. Actually, I got off pretty easy on that one," he noted, almost as if talking to himself. "It was my first fight at Gregson, and Bobby did speak on my behalf. He was really grateful that I came along and...and helped him out, so then we started hanging out together again. I begged him not to tell any of the other guys about the fight, and they went back to giving us the cold shoulder. And then...I'll admit, I was growing really fond of Bobby. We started sharing some of our writing--mine was all that silly Lord Of The Rings and Star Wars fan fic kind of shit, but his was more like poetry. They were stories--mostly sad ones, but told in a very stylized way. He really had a gift...." His voice trailed off.

"I understand..." I noted vacantly. "Are you gonna talk to Merissa?"

"Perry," he said forcefully, "I made up my mind, before I even told that story to Tom and Derek, that I was gonna come clean with you. It just happened to work out that I could instill a little healthy fear in those two horn dogs; hopefully, before they get themselves into trouble."

"But that was the true story, right?" I asked desperately.

Jesse shook his head. "Please, Perry. After you talked about Gary's friend, I just knew that I had to tell you. It's something you have to hear...and this is really the best time, 'cause you'll have a chance to really think about it...really think about what kind of person I am, without all the sex stuff getting in the way."

"Getting in the way?" I asked with shock. "How can you say that?"

"I didn't mean it like that," he assured me quickly. "I love the things we do together, Perry--you know I do. But if there's even a chance that this relationship can go on, get better and stronger, then you really need the whole story. I know you don't want to hear this, and truthfully, I don't want to tell it, but I finally worked up the nerve and I'm just begging you to let me do this!"

How could I deny my beautiful blond angel? With unspilled tears in my eyes, I reluctantly nodded, my head feeling heavy and somehow disconnected from the rest of my body.

"So...uh...yeah...The dumpster thing. That was Bobby's idea and I told him it was too risky, but he insisted. He suggested we cut our last class of the day--P.E.--so we'd have some time before the rest of the school got out. But of course, it seemed like half the school had the same idea. Most didn't stick around though. They just took off for the park, or the mall or whatever. It was pretty cold out, even though it was early April, so we were sorta lucky and got the dumpster to ourselves. Bobby said that was a sign that we were meant to be there, and we were both horny and started kissing and cuddling and stuff." He looked at me guiltily.

"Jesse...I don't want--"

"And sure enough, that same group of bullies came around. It was like they had us tagged or something. They seemed to know just where to find us. This time, there was only three of them, but they were really prepared. One had a metal pipe and the others had broken boards for weapons."

"That's it!" I declared, getting to my feet. "Let's go back downstairs and get some cheesecake!" I headed for the door and Jesse bounded over, literally blocking my way.

"I did it, Perry. I don't know how...I was so scared, but I managed to fight them off. One guy got a black eye, and there were some bruised shins and ribs, but they didn't touch Bobby."

I reached around him for the doorknob. I didn't need to hear this shit, this wretched nightmare from Jesse's past. It was over. That was Illinois, this was California. That was then, this was now.

"Please wait...I'm sorry, Perry...I'm so sorry to do this to you--I really am, but you have to listen.... Then I'll go...forever if you want."

"I...don'" I said through gritted teeth.

He looked at me helplessly. He could have easily forced me to listen: twisted my arm, knocked me to the floor, threatened me somehow, but he didn't.

"I know that," he said, his voice full of sadness and regret.

The orange chicken and chow mein I had eaten for dinner were churning around in my stomach. I would have welcomed the chance to hurl my cookies, if it would keep me from hearing the rest of this story. I crumpled and slid down against the door. Jesse got down on his knees in front of me, making sure that we were looking into each other's eyes, sharing each other's pain.

"Well, you can imagine. After that, word got out around school that I was some kind of mini-fighting machine, and my daily challenge was just to stay out of trouble. My mom was called into the principal's office and they told her what they thought had happened. I didn't confirm anything they suggested about what Bobby and me might have been doing back there, but the fact was that we had cut class. Even though I'd only fought in self defense, I was suspended for one day. It was no big deal really, and I did gain a little respect from that incident, and the bullies definitely kept their distance, although I knew that eventually, they'd get their revenge. Meantime poor Bobby, he was so grateful to me for saving his skin. I hate to say it, because he really was a sweet and talented kid, but it was just pathetic the way he clung to me. Still, I knew that I had those same kinds of feelings for boys that Bobby did, even if I wasn't really attracted to him personally so much. But I told Tom and Derek, we set up a time to get together over the spring break and he pestered me and pestered me until I agreed that we'd jack each other off this time. So that's when that business happened with the stairs."

"Business...stairs...?" I groaned, clutching my aching gut as I sat hunched against the door, my knees pulled up to my chin. I was having such a hard time following his story, getting it mixed up with the one he had told Tom and Derek, the one that had gone round and round in my head since yesterday. "Wasn't that Ron...?"

"Look at me, Perry," Jesse urged emotionally. He took my chin in his hand and forced me to look at him through tear-blurred eyes. "It was me. I was the one who panicked and pushed Bobby down the stairs."

"You pushed him away..." I clarified, because even in my confused state, I knew that was a really important point.

"Yeah, I guess...maybe..." His voice trailed off indecisively. He sighed and gathered up his strength of purpose again. "It doesn't really matter though. The fact is that it happened and Bobby got seriously, seriously hurt. The thing is, I did say that he had slipped and those guys coming up the stairs backed up my story. Maybe it was because they knew Bobby and me were gay, or maybe they were just afraid that I would come after them if they said anything different.... Who knows? All I could think about was how Bobby looked at the bottom of those stairs, his leg twisted around the wrong way, just lying still, like he was asleep or something. The strange thing was, his glasses were still on his face all in one piece, even after that horrible fall.... Can you imagine what that looked like?"

"No.'m gonna be sick..." I warned him. I struggled to get to my feet and stumbled towards my bathroom. I leaned over the toilet and let loose with a torrent of half digested Chinese food. Jesse got a wash cloth and ran it under the water before wiping my sweat-covered forehead with it. He filled a drinking glass with tap water and held it to my mouth. I took a few sips, tasting the bitter bile of my own vomit.

"I'm sorry, baby, I'm so sorry," Jesse crooned, rubbing my back as I remained hunched over.

"Enough...enough..." I gasped, not wanting to hear any more about Jesse's past. But he took it to mean that he should stop rubbing my back. He helped me back to my feet and after I flushed the toilet, led me the few steps over to my bed. I sat heavily. There was a knock at the door.

"Is everything okay in there?!" It was my mom, her voice filled with motherly concern.

Jesse went and slowly opened the door and my mom came racing in. She immediately came up and felt my forehead.

"What happened?" she asked.

"Perry threw up," Jesse informed her, wiping the tears from his own eyes.

" poor dear," she said in a soothing voice. "Why don't you lie down and I'll get you--"

"I don't want to lie down!" I snapped defiantly. "I just need a little more time with Jesse."

"But you look terrible, dear," my mom noted. "Maybe you could talk on the phone--"

"Please, Mom.... Please.... Just give us a few more minutes...then...that'll be it," I said, not sure what was going to happen next.

"I'm so sorry, Jesse," my mom apologized. "I didn't think Perry would get so upset."

"He's a very sensitive guy," Jessse noted.

"I think he's not the only one," my mom noted, lightly caressing Jesse's moist cheek. Then she gave me one more worried look over and closed the door behind her. I waited until she got to the bottom of the stairs.

"You didn't have to tell me that!" I said angrily.

"I did," Jesse insisted. "It was time for you to know...everything. I think you already knew--or suspected--that I tried to--"

"Don't say it!" I exclaimed, springing to my feet only to feel another wave of powerful nausea cause my head to spin. I gagged but nothing came up.

"Okay!" Jesse conceded, rushing over to help me sit back down. "You really should lie down," he suggested.

"I...don't know. I'm so...I might puke again," I said by way of explanation.

"But listen, Perry. There's something else I need to tell you...."

I shook my head adamantly, like a stubborn toddler refusing to eat his vegetables.

"Just hear this and then I'll leave," Jesse promised.

Didn't he understand that I never wanted him to leave? But I was too weak to argue and nodded hesitantly. Jesse took my hand in his and we desperately locked fingers.

"After I came back from seeing Bobby in the hospital, my mom went back to work, but I just couldn't go back to school. I...I took a lot of my mom's pills," he explained, his shame causing his gaze to fall to the floor. "I was ready for all the misery to be over. I was stupid, Perry, really stupid and really selfish. My mom needed me. Miranda needed me, but all I could think about was poor little Bobby Cohen, broken and bruised, lying in that hospital bed with tubes going in and out of him just...everywhere. He had a bandage wrapped all the way around his head; his leg was in a cast, and he looked as pale as..." Jesse swallowed a lump in his throat as his own emotions threatened to overcome him.

"But that's all in the past now," he assured me. "The thing I wanted to tell you was, I had this dream.... But it seemed more real than a dream...more like a vision or something." His voice got thinner as he seemed to conjure up those memories. "I dreamed that I was lying at the bottom of a pool, completely submerged. I was alive but I knew that there was no way I was going to make it back to the surface. I realized all I had to do was take one deep breath--and it would all be over."

He was squeezing my hand so tight that I thought I would scream, but it was also the only thing keeping me from running out of the room.

"But just as I was about to do it, an arm plunged into the water from directly above me and a hand reached out. I just instinctively reached back and that hand grabbed onto me and pulled me to the surface. And that's when I woke up, in the hospital, looking not that much different than Bobby had with all the tubes and the machines...."

"" I muttered, feeling the tears pour freely down my cheeks.

"But listen Perry, this didn't make sense to me for a long time, but last night, after telling that story to Tom and Derek, and then that business in the suddenly just hit me. When that hand grabbed me and pulled me out of the water, I just had a glimpse of the person who was rescuing me. It wasn't anybody I knew--not my mom, or dad, or any of my relatives. It wasn't a teacher or Ron Halwicki, or even Bobby. Somehow...somehow...the person who pulled me out of that pool was you...."

I just looked at him, seeing his beautiful smooth face and silky blond hair all broken up into kaleidoscopic fragments by my tears. "What...?"

"It was you, Perry. You were the one who rescued me...!" He was still squeezing my hand way too tight, but now I was squeezing back.

"But how...?"

Jesse shrugged, and actually managed a weak smile. "I don't know, Perry. I mean, how could that be? I didn't know you even existed. But it just came to me.... It was suddenly all so clear.... I remember the face was kinda blurry, but the wavy brown hair, the strong, lean figure, and those eyes.... I remember the color so clearly now...."

"You didn't make the connection when you first saw me?" I asked, releasing our desperate grip so that I could wipe the tears out of my eyes with the sleeve of my shirt.

"Nope, not really. I mean, honestly, I really didn't want to think back to that time...especially when we had moved to a completely new place, so far from where everything had happened. Not that I didn't think about Bobby, or the foolish things I did, but I just never made that visual connection of who it was that pulled me out of that pool.... And yet, if I really think about it, that first day, when you came up to me when I was sitting under the tree reading, and the sun was behind you so I sorta had to squint to look up at you...there was something.... I mean, I noticed the second I walked into class that you were the cutest guy in the room, but that just made me feel like I didn't want to have anything to do with know...after all the trouble I had back home.... But when you came up to me at lunch...I don't know...I guess I did feel something. It really was sorta like the image I saw in my dream..." he whispered, his lips trembling with awe. "But I didn't make the connection," he repeated quietly.

Finally, we embraced, and it was like that time in the mall, after Jesse had beat up Jorge and Rooster in the bathroom. The embrace, the physical contact, was only the tip of the iceberg. The connection ran much deeper than that, and I knew without a doubt that Jesse was in my soul and I was in his.

"Jesse...!" we heard the muffled call of Mrs. Taylor from the bottom of the stairs. "We need to get going soon!"

He released me and held my hands in his. "I'm so glad I was able to get through all that," he said with obvious relief, a few tears trickling down his flushed cheeks. "At least now you know what kind of person I really am...a fag, a troublemaker, a liar, a...a total loser...I don't deserve..."

"Don't say that--don't ever, EVER say that again!" I spoke quickly, clamping my hand over Jesse's mouth. "You're none of those things! You're my beautiful, shining angel.... You're a hero, and you touch me in the deepest place in my heart!"

Jesse pried my hand off. "You're making a big mistake, Perry! You need to open those amazing eyes of yours and really look at me for who I am...what I am. You're an incredible in a hundred million...a billion! You deserve the best...not some wretched excuse for--"

"Aghhh!" I cried wordlessly as I shook Jesse violently by the shoulders. "I hate this--I hate this!" I sputtered frustratedly. "Fuck you for saying those things--Fuck you!" I brought my hand back, fully prepared to slap him full in the face. He just sat there with tear filled eyes, waiting....

"Oh my God...!" I groaned, quickly dropping my arm. "What am I doing?" Heavy sobs erupted from my now empty gut and made their way violently up my throat and through my nose. Tears and snot covered my face.

"I...I'm so sorry..." Jesse muttered, looking bewildered by my hysterical reaction. "I did this to you...I...."

"I love you, you stupid fucker!" I grunted, grabbing him fully in my arms and pulling him against me. "I love you so much that it hurts...God, Jesse, it hurts!"

"I know..." he groaned. "I want so badly to walk away from you, to give you the freedom and the life you deserve...but I can't. I love you so much that I can't live without you."

"Oh God, Jesse...Please, let's not fight," I begged.

I felt Jesse's chest swell as he took in a heavy breath and then slowly released it. "No more fighting," he said, wrapping his arms around me so that we were locked in a fierce embrace.

"Promise me...promise me you'll never do what happened before...I need you so much...."

"You rescued me, Perry...I owe you my life!" he whispered into my ear.

"I'll always be there for you!" I insisted, cradling his head in my hands and kissing the top of his beautiful blond head.

There was a light tapping at the door.

"Boys...?" It was my mom. "Mrs. Taylor is ready to leave.... Is everything okay?"

We looked at our bedraggled selves, our hair tousled and matted to our foreheads with sweat, our eyes bloodshot, our faces streaked with tears, snot dripping from out noses.... And yet, we were both smiling! Huge, foolish, totally uncontrollable grins....

"I thought I heard shouting," my mom continued in a worried voice.

"We're fine...We'll be down in a minute, Mom," I croaked from a painfully rough throat.

"All right..." she responded, clearly unconvinced by my assurances. But I heard her footsteps as she descended.

We just stared at each other for another minute, those huge, stupid grins pasted to our reddened, tear-streaked faces. "You look awful!" I noted.

"You're full of snot!" Jesse pointed out.

We giggled like little girls as we made our way to the bathroom and took turns fixing each other up. I relished running my brush through Jesse's shiny, golden blond hair and remembered that I had a few precious strands safely tucked away on my bookshelf. Fear and anger had been replaced by light-headed giddiness. I kept looking at the two of us in the mirror and cracking up. Jesse was smiling, but understandably tired and drained. He had, after all, gotten a huge weight off his chest, and my reluctance to be a willing audience hadn't made it any easier for him. Finally, we both looked about as good as we could manage, considering what we had been through, and all the tears that had been shed. I put a hand on his shoulder just before he opened the bedroom door to head downstairs. He turned.

"You will promise me," I demanded as we locked gazes.

I saw a myriad of emotions dance through his crystal blue eyes and flit across his truly angelic visage, and I thought for a moment that he was going to turn away, but finally, he gave me a weak and weary smile that nevertheless sent shivers down my spine.

"I promise."

"I'll always be here for you," I assured him.

"I-I know.... And I'll always be here for you," he replied in a raspy voice.

"Maybe you don't deserve me, and I don't deserve you," I noted, "but we for sure deserve each other!"

Jesse nodded and we kissed briefly, knowing that anything more would cause us both to lose control.

As we headed wearily down the stairs, it seemed to me that four weeks wasn't so very long to wait, not for the person I planned to spend the rest of my life with. After the Taylors left, it was plain from the look my mom gave me that she wanted to know what had gone on upstairs--the vomiting, the shouting, the reddened eyes that clearly indicated that we had been crying.... But I only looked at her tiredly and shook my head. Not tonight, I said with my expression alone, and she nodded and gave me the most timid of reassuring smiles.

I tossed and turned for quite awhile that night, my head filled with powerful images and confused thoughts. It seemed to me in my half-waking state, that Jesse's suicide attempt had only just occurred, and that I had indeed managed to rescue him just in the nick of time. I realized that I was angry with him for daring to attempt such a foolish and selfish thing and I scolded him in the corridors of my mind.

Then I thought about Gary and Shane. I wondered how Shane had actually Why had he succeeded when Jesse hadn't? Had God decided that one should live and the other shouldn't? Was it a quirk of fate or simply a matter of a more aggressive approach?

I wondered what it must have been like for Mrs. Taylor, weary from a long day at whatever job or jobs she had, to walk in the door and see her beautiful son lying seemingly lifeless, sprawled on the floor or draped across a bed or some other piece of furniture. And I had an even more horrid thought--what if it had been Miranda who had discovered her brother like that? Would an eight or nine year old even have realized what was going on? What if she had simply thought Jesse asleep, taking an afternoon snooze?

But those awful images were eventually blotted out by the shining image of my beautiful blond angel, his long blond hair flaring from his head, his crystal blue eyes bright and dazzling, rushing towards me, a contented smile on his face. It was with an overwhelming sense of relief that I felt myself holding my precious soulmate once again in my arms, and I drifted off to sleep as Jesse whispered in my ear: God told me to stay with you....

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