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

"I'm in so much trouble," I murmured, in what I hoped was coherent speech as Jude unbuttoned my pants, something that I was aware of, but too sick to care about at the moment. Jude pulled my pants down until they caught at my knees and I lost my balance, falling back until my ass hit his bed and he knelt down in front of me to untie my shoes.

"You'll be fine." He replied calmly.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, where thoughts made at least some sense, I knew that I was going to think about this later-Jude taking off my socks and shoes, and then my pants-all because I was too incompetent to do it at the moment. It was humiliating, but around Jude, I had a feeling that I'd get used to embarrassing myself.

"No I won't. Do you know what I said to my sister? I told her to fuck off. Do you know what that means? It means, I'm in big trouble. She thinks I'm crazy. Do you think I'm crazy?"

"I think you need to go to sleep."

"I can't sleep. I have to call home. I was supposed to be there and now, I'm in trouble." I nodded my head to further express my point.

Jude let out a breath as he finished working off my pants and stood up, grabbing the bottom of my shirt to pull it up.

"Quinn, you're going to be fine. We'll get it worked out tomorrow, and you can't call home right now."

"I have my phone." I said defiantly.

"No, I have your phone, right over there," Jude nodded to the chair it was sitting on. "You, are drunk."

"I'm sick." I frowned.

"You'll feel just as bad in the morning." He promised, and I frowned at him. He just smiled as he pulled my shirt over my head, so that I was stripped down to my boxers and I tried to cooperate as he pulled back the covers on the bed and took my arm to guide me under them.

"You're not making me sleep on the couch?" I asked, sounding surprised.

"I'm not making you sleep on the couch."

"Hmm . . . " I sighed, as I rested my head on a pillow and closed my eyes, allowing Jude to pull the covers over me. "I'm kind of tired of myself, Jude."

"You're gonna be fine, Quinn. Get some rest."


There are several ways to wake up in the morning, all of which are unpleasant when you have a hangover, but none as bad as someone bending over your body and literally screaming in your ear. I screamed right back as I woke, holding my aching head, and as I opened my eyes and focused on the apartment around me, which seemed much too bright at the moment, I heard Taylor's unmistakable laugh and groaned. It was enough to make me burry my head back under the pillow in an attempt to block him out.

"Fuck you." I mumbled.

"Thought you'd never ask," Taylor retorted, "but you have to brush your teeth first. I hear you were spewing all night. Feel better now? I've got breakfast. Nothing like eggs in the morning."

My stomach lurched as Taylor waved a fast food bag near my head and a second later I was throwing the covers off and running to the bathroom to empty whatever was left in my stomach into the toilet, with Taylor whistling after me. Have I ever mentioned how much I hated him?

While I was in the bathroom, trying to wash the vile taste out of my mouth, I got a good look at myself in the mirror, and once again I woke up in Jude's apartment looking like shit. Only, this time it was different, because I'm pretty sure I had actually turned green I was so sick. And my head, my head hurt so bad I could hardly see straight, or hold it up for that matter.

I also became aware that the only thing I was wearing was my boxers, and while normally that wouldn't seem like a big deal, I might as well have been naked with Taylor around. I wondered what he was doing there anyways. He was probably there to do exactly what he was doing: making me miserable.

I must have been in the bathroom for fifteen minutes, feeling so horrible that I contemplated whether or not I wanted to lock myself in there, away from Taylor, so I could go back to sleep, even if it was on the bathroom floor. But, eventually I worked up enough nerve to go back out there, and as I did, I wondered where Jude was. Of course I didn't want to face him after last night, but at the same time, I would have rather woken up to him instead of Taylor. But, I got my answer when the phone rang, and the machine had already picked up by the time I left the bathroom.

"You're probably still asleep . . . " Jude's voice was saying. "And if you're not, then you're probably freaking out right about now . . . "

I looked at Taylor expectantly. He had made himself comfortable on the bed, and he was listening to the message, but he just shrugged at me.

"You can answer it." Taylor pointed out. "It's not for me."

I just frowned at him, and started to look around the room for my clothes, wanting something to wear as Taylor continued to stare at me, not bothering to hide the way his eyes were wandering everywhere expect for my face.

"Probably wondering where your clothes are . . . " Jude's voice said and I paused, wondering how he did that. Taylor openly laughed at the look on my face. "They're not in the apartment, Quinn. Sorry, I didn't get them down into the laundry until this morning, it's downstairs, but I'm sure you can find my closet."

As soon as Jude said it I turned towards his closet, determined to cover up, and Taylor pouted at me.

"Taylor should be there soon." Jude said, and I glared at Taylor, who just smiled at me. "He's bringing your car . . . but if he bothers you, you can throw him out of there . . . "

"Hey!" Taylor frowned, suddenly sitting up to glare at the answering machine. I actually laughed, but immediately regretted it and held my head as I pulled a pair of running pants and a shirt out of Jude's closet. I quickly started pulling them on as Taylor finally got up and answered the phone.

"Kick me out of here? Not nice, Jude. Not nice.... of course I'm bothering him... yeah, he's awake..."

I pulled the shirt over my head and then frowned towards Taylor. I had an idea of what was coming next and I wasn't sure I liked it.

"Phone's for you, Quinn," Taylor said, holding it up with an amused expression on his face, probably because he knew I didn't want to answer it. When I hesitated, he brought it back to his ear, "he's being shy, Jude, but he sure looks cute in your..."

I crossed the room and snatched the phone out of Taylor's hands, giving him the dirtiest look I could muster in the state I was in, as I brought the phone to my ear.

"Yeah?" my voice cracked, and it was no surprise, as sore as my throat was.

"Morning, Quinn."

"Hi," I replied quietly as I glanced over my shoulder. Taylor was behind me, spreading out the food that he'd brought on the kitchen table. I turned away from him for two reasons, the first being that the smell was making me sick, and the second was that for some reason I didn't feel comfortable having a conversation with Jude while Taylor was right there.

"Feeling better?" Jude asked me.

"Not so much," I frowned.

"I have some aspirin above the microwave." Jude offered. "Take a few of those, and as soon as you kick Taylor out, go back to bed. You really will feel better later, you just need to rest."

I was about to thank Jude about the aspirin, when what he was saying actually hit me. Honestly, if I were in his position I would want to know when the drunk would get out of my home. But, Jude was telling me to go back to bed-in his bed, in his place, even after everything, he wasn't asking me to leave.

"I have to go home," was my response. Of course, as soon as I said it my stomach was rolling into knots, thinking about what I'd be dealing with at home, and after yesterday, I was pretty sure that whatever I would be dealing with, would be much worse than I could imagine. As it was, I was already late for meeting Mr. Johns at the school, and so I was probably still suspended. My mother definitely wouldn't be happy about that, on top of the fact that I didn't come home last night... and when she found out how I spoke to my sister... I was in so much trouble.

"No you don't." Jude replied, and the calm yet firm tone of his voice grabbed my attention, "Don't leave. I have to work... but, I might get off early. I want to talk to you."

I want to talk to you. I'd been hearing that a lot lately and it hadn't been a good thing yet. Needless to say, I didn't really want to find out what Jude wanted to talk about.

"I can't," I insisted, "I'm already in enough trouble, if I go home..."

"That's right, Quinn," Jude interrupted, "you're already in enough trouble. Do you really want to go home and deal with that shit feeling like you do now?"

Of course I didn't. But, that didn't mean that I had a choice in the matter. Not going home would only make things worse.

"I have to... look, Jude, I appreciate what you did last night and I'm actually going to admit that I owe you big time, but..."

"What?" he said teasingly, "no shots at me about how I got you shit faced and tried to take advantage of you? I thought you liked blaming me for your problems."

Okay, I admit I deserved that.

"No," I replied, "I thought I'd blame Taylor this time."

I heard Jude chuckle softly, and I felt myself smiling, but it faded quickly.

"I have to go home." I stated. " I'm already in enough trouble and I have to..."

"What, make things right?" he asked, more seriously. "Face it, Quinn, it's not working for you. What do you plan to do? Let your mom send you back to that quack counselor?"

I cringed at the mention of Johns. But, the truth was, I knew what I had to do, especially if I wanted to keep my secret safe. At some point last night when I was memorizing what the inside of Jude's toilet looked like, I'd come to the conclusion that if I was ever going to make things right I was going to have to go back to being me. Or, at least the me my friends and family knew. And, if I had to go talk to Johns and convince him that I didn't think I was gay anymore to get things back to normal, then I'd have to do it. Although, I'd also accepted the fact that no matter what I did it wouldn't change the one thing that was making my life miserable. I was gay.

"Quinn, don't go back there." Jude said when I didn't respond.

"I don't know what else to do." I admitted.

"Stay." He insisted. "Just wait there, I'll be off work soon... I don't want you to get in any more trouble, but in this case... you know, Taylor once said something that didn't make a lot of sense at the time, but I think right now it's fitting."

"What was that?" I asked, leaning on the counter and glancing over at Taylor out of the corner of my eye.

"If you're going to get in trouble, you might as well make it big trouble, at least that way when you get caught it would have been worth it."

"You're right, it doesn't make sense." At least, it didn't make sense to someone like me, who was not at all accustomed to being in any kind of trouble.

"All I'm saying is, until you get this sorted out with yourself, it's going to be useless to go home, Quinn. Unless you want to tell your family the truth..."

"You know I can't do that!"

"I know you're not ready... and you're not ready to go home."

"If I don't, my mom will freak out and call the police! You don't understand, Jude. She works all the time. If she doesn't at least know where I am..."

"So call, say you're with a friend, and then wait for me to get off work." Jude insisted. "Seriously, Quinn, you make everything a lot more complicated than it has to be."

"You wouldn't say that if you had my life." I mumbled.

"Oh shut up," Taylor suddenly said, causing me to look up at him, "stop complaining. I'd love to have your life. I mean, how can you complain about a guy like Jude drooling all over you? And of course you've got my sexy self too... have you brushed your teeth yet, Quinn?" Taylor winked at me and I purposely turned away from him.

"Will you tell him to shut up?" Jude remarked, but he sounded amused.

"Does that ever work?"

"Not really," Jude admitted. "Listen, Quinn.. I've gotta get back to work. I should be finished up in a few hours. Just wait, okay?"

"Jude..." my head hurt way too much to argue about this. But to be honest, I didn't want to wait. It felt weird enough talking to Jude on the phone while I was in his apartment. I wasn't sure that I was ready to literally face him yet, and I had no idea what he'd want to talk to me about.

"Quinn, I gotta go. Just hang out, okay? Please. I'll see you in a while."

Jude hung up and I frowned. It would have sounded like an order, the way he told me to stay, if it wasn't for the please he threw in there. I was a little confused when it came to why he wanted me to stay. It wasn't like he didn't have every reason to throw me out of there... I'd actually expected him to.

"Ready for breakfast?" Taylor asked as he suddenly took the phone from me and hung it up, after hearing the dial tone.

"No." I glared at him. "And I swear Taylor, if you make me sick again I'll ruin your shoes."

"Cranky," Taylor raised an eyebrow at me, "come on now, Quinn, I'll behave if you do. Sit down, I won't make you sick, promise. See, no eggs for you, pancakes." He pointed at the plate he'd set up for me. There didn't seem to be anything on it that the stench of would send me running to the bathroom again, but the idea of sitting down with Taylor wasn't exactly appealing, either.

"I just want to go home." I replied as I turned away, but Taylor placed a hand on my shoulder and turned me back.

"Liar, you don't want to go home. Come on, have some coffee and eat. It'll make you feel better... or worse, depending on what sort of morning after guy you are. Personally, I like to eat lots of bread when I have a hangover, but Jude... you get him as wasted as you were last night, and you don't want to put anything in his stomach for at least the next twenty four hours."

"Taylor..." I warned.

"Alright, alright. Eat. I'll shut up."

Eating wasn't really a task that I, or my stomach was looking forward to. I was feeling sick, and in the short time that I'd been out of bed I'd become both queasy and dizzy. In the back of my mind I knew that I should probably just go home, but Jude asking me to stay was sticking with me too. While I didn't necessarily want to face him, the offer was appealing... and convenient, considering there was a bed close by and I already felt like I was going to crash again.

I frowned at Taylor but took a seat on one of the stools at the counter, and I slowly picked up the plastic fork and started to cut into the pancakes, separating them into pieces but not really eating them. I was too busy feeling my stomach churn as I watched Taylor inhale some sort of egg sandwich. But, he did shut up... sure, his mouth was full, but we sat there in an uncomfortable silence that was at least peaceful for fifteen minutes, and I even sipped some coffee before I was running back into the bathroom to lean over the toilet again.


I never thought I'd be naked anywhere near Taylor, but at least Jude's bathroom had a lock on the door, which I used when Taylor convinced me to take a shower, and I had to hand it to him, it did make me feel better.

It was when I left the bathroom, dressed in Jude's clothes, that I started to feel sick all over again, and it had nothing to do with my hangover. It was the familiar chirping sound, reminding me that I had a cell phone and someone must have turned it on. But, what was scarier was Taylor answering it.

"Oh yeah..." Taylor was saying, "and who is this?... I asked you first... uh-huh. I'm starting to understand why Quinn doesn't want to talk to any of you people....uh-huh... hey, do me a favor and bend over, I think that stick I lost might be up your ass."

"Taylor!" I hissed, mortified, as I crossed the room and snatched the phone away from him.

"What?" he replied, as if he really didn't know.

I just glared at him as I turned away and slowly brought the phone to my ear, terrified of who it could be. I really hoped that it wasn't my mother. I'm sure I'd have an interesting time explaining Taylor to her.

"Hello?" I asked quietly.

"Quinn?" came the nearly panicked response.

"Brad?" that was not who I expected. In fact, after yesterday, I hadn't expected to hear from Brad for quite a while, if not ever.

"God, where are you?" Brad suddenly snapped, and I was reminded of why I was avoiding him and everyone else. "And who was that?"

"No one." I said quickly.


"Brad, don't." I cut him off as I held my throbbing head. "If all you're going to do is scream at me right now then I can't talk to you. Maybe later..."

"Quinn, wait! Don't hang up... l mean, I'm not going to apologize."

"Neither am I." I retorted, although until he said that last part I had planned on it.

"Quinn, look, I just want to know where you are. I'm worried."

"Are you calling for my mom?" I asked suspiciously.

"You know I wouldn't. But, I am calling for Bree." Brad's voice softened somewhat, and it seemed to relieve some of the tension from my migraine. "After she talked to you yesterday she was really upset. Quinn, when you didn't come home she thought it was her fault. She thinks she pushed you too hard."

I frowned, hating the idea of upsetting my sister like that. It was that big brother complex again. I hated the idea of anyone hurting her, and when I was the one doing the hurting I didn't know how to handle it. I was upset with Bree... with everyone, for pushing. But, it had been my decision not to go home. I didn't want Bree feeling responsible for it.

"Where is she?" I asked.

"Where do you think? Getting ready to go to class. Some of us still go to school, you know."


"Look, I don't want to fight, Quinn. I just wanted you to know that your sister's going crazy, and if you had any type of decency then you'd be home before she got back from school. It's bad enough that she covered for you last night when she didn't even know where you were."

"She what?"

"She covered for you, asshole. We all did."

"What are you talking about, Brad?"

"When your mom called last night," he explained, sounding irritated, "Bree told her that you were with me so you wouldn't get in trouble."

"Why would she do that?" I demanded, truly shocked by this. After everything that had happened, I couldn't believe that Bree would actually be covering for me.

"Quinn!" Brad said incredulously, "If you don't know the answer to that then you're a lot more fucked up than you're acting."

"But what about..."

"Quinn, just listen, alright? I already talked to your mom. She thinks you were at my place when she called. She also thinks we made up, so I'll play along for now. But Quinn, don't even think that you and me are anywhere near being okay."

My head was beginning to pound all over again. I should have just let Taylor keep the phone. Sure, I was blown away and not at all ungrateful that both my sister and Brad had tried to cover for me, but talking to Brad... or rather listening to Brad talk, was just a reminder of why I'd become so upset yesterday.

"I get it." I frowned, feeling myself growing hostile. "But I didn't ask you or Bree to do any of that."

"God, you really an ungrateful bastard, aren't you?" he retorted.

"That's not what I meant," I insisted, "I appreciate that you'd do it, but it doesn't matter anyways. I was supposed to be somewhere a few hours ago and when my mom finds out that I wasn't, it won't matter that you guys covered for me. It was a nice thought, though."

"Well isn't that fucking peaches and sunshine. Christ, Quinn! You sure are learning how to step in it! What is going on with you?"

I listened to that last question Brad asked me, and then I waited. I waited for him to start in on me again, without waiting for an actual answer, the way everyone seemed to be doing lately. But... silence. Brad stopped talking. He didn't say anything, and then I realized, that he was waiting too. Only, I had no idea what to tell him, so I found myself taking the defensive again. Maybe it was better to fight with my best friend than admit to him that I was gay. At least, that was my logical way of thinking at the time.

"What? I actually get to talk?" I retorted. "I was starting to think everyone's new favorite game was ambush Quinn."

"Fine, I get it. Maybe me and Marissa sort of ambushed you the other day, but what the hell were you doing with Trina Ashpock? Come on, Quinn, you at least owe me that much."

"I wasn't doing anything with her."

"Then why was she over at your place? Are you dating her?"

"What? No!"

"So you're just fucking her?"

"Brad!" I practically screamed, aghast at the thought.

"Well are you?" he demanded. "You're supposed to be my best friend, Quinn, I thought we told each other shit like that. I mean, I could see why you wouldn't want to, but..."

"I'm not fucking Trina!" I blurted, having forgotten that Taylor was in the room until he suddenly burst into laughter behind me.

"Who is that there with you?" Brad instantly demanded.

"No one," I stated, shooting Taylor an annoyed look.

"He answered your phone. Who are you with, Quinn?" Brad demanded.

"Just someone from school. You don't know him."

"Right," Brad actually sounded hurt, "new friend, then?"

"No." I said flatly. "Look, Brad... I'm sorry. I have to go."

"Quinn, wait! At least tell me where you are, or when you'll be home. At least give me something that I can tell Bree when she asks whether or not I've talked to you."

I frowned. Brad really was my best friend. That's why he knew what buttons to push when I was being hopeless, as far as he was concerned. My sister was one of those buttons. No matter what happened yesterday, or what would happen tomorrow, I had a feeling that Bree would always be one of those buttons used to make Quinn feel guilty.

"Tell her... she has my number." I sighed. I knew that it was an open invitation for Bree to call me, but I really didn't know when I would be home, and maybe if she called me today it would turn out better that it had yesterday... at least I could hope. After all, the conversation I was having with Brad could be worse.

"Fine." Brad replied, and I could hear the frown in his voice. "You're not even going to say where you are?"

"I can't. Not right now."

"Quinn... I just want to know what's going on."

I closed my eyes and sighed. Brad sounded... concerned. But more importantly, he sounded like Brad again. The one person who knew all of my secrets except one, and I felt guilty, for being unable to tell him exactly what was going on with me, now that he seemed to actually want to listen.

"I'm sorry," I told him, right before I hung up the phone, and then reluctantly turned to face Taylor, who was smirking at me as he lifted another egg sandwich to his mouth and took a large bite, the site of which sent me running to the bathroom for a third time that morning.


"Have some more coffee." Taylor insisted as he passed another cup over to where I was leaning against the kitchen counter, trying not to feel so sick so I could clean up the mess from breakfast.

"I don't want more coffee." I frowned at him. "When are you going to leave?"

"When are you going to leave?" Taylor retorted. "Didn't you tell Jude that you had to get home? Or did he talk you into staying?"

"I'm going home." I mumbled, disliking the accusing look that Taylor was giving me.

"Right, I can tell you're in such a big hurry," he remarked, shaking his head, and then he leaned over the counter some, causing me to lean back, "so why didn't you tell your friend you were going home... if that is your plan."

"What do you want, Taylor?" I frowned. I didn't know where he was going with this and I really didn't have the mental energy to guess.

"Nowhere." he shrugged. "Just trying to make conversation."

"You're not very good at it." I remarked, holding my head again. I couldn't seem to get my headache to go away.

"I'm good at other things," Taylor winked at me before he momentarily walked away and returned with the aspirin Jude had told me about, along with a glass of water.

"Please don't elaborate." I responded, and than added, "thanks," for the pills.

"Who would have thought Quinn Moore was such a prude?" Taylor remarked, sadly shaking his head.

"I'm not a prude."

"Yes you are." Taylor replied, matter of factly, before he promptly changed the subject. "Are you going back to see Johns?"

I gave him a disapproving look, annoyed that he was eavesdropping on my conversation with Jude... but then I realized that he didn't have to eavesdrop to know about my position with Johns. I groaned inwardly as I remembered a detail of last night that I'd probably been purposely blocking out. It was the fact that I'd broken down like a pathetic moron, crying to Jude, without realizing that Taylor had been whiteness to it. But, as I thought about it, and I'm sure I blushed, it came to mind that Taylor hadn't brought the exact incident up, he hadn't taunted me about breaking down, or used it as a way to get to me... and for some reason, that surprised me.

"I really don't have a choice. I'll have to see him eventually... when my mom finds out I wasn't there today she'll probably leave work to take me to his office herself."

"You shouldn't talk to him." Taylor said. "Especially you shouldn't talk to him. You're head's all twisted up enough as it is, the last thing you need is for someone like Johns to get hold of it."

"It's not a big deal. I'll just tell him I was wrong, I'm not really.... like that."

"He's an asshole, but he's not stupid, Quinn." Taylor stated. "You already made the mistake of trusting him. He won't let you just take it back."

"Hey, I was trying to talk to someone!" I said defensively. "I didn't know..."

"I'm not saying it's your fault." Taylor cut me off. "I'm just saying that you can't go talk to him again... you shouldn't go talk to him again."

"Well like I said, I don't have a choice." I replied, trying to get my point across without becoming too irritated.

"You have more of one than you think."

"Look Taylor, I know you're just trying to help, and I'm not going to yell at you because I appreciate that you're not being a pervert for once, but if you're suggesting that I tell my mother..."

"Damn, will you relax?" he interrupted. "I get it. You don't want mommy to find out her little boy's a queer. Look, you know her better than I would anyway, it's not my place to tell you to tell her. But there are ways around this Johns problem without having to tell her."

"Like what?"

"Hmm... when do you think you'll be going to see him?"

"I don't know." I admitted. " I was supposed to go today, to get out of the suspension but now... I don't know. I probably won't be allowed in school until next week, and then my mom said.... she said I'd have to set up regular meetings with him," I finished slowly. Some reality was beginning to come back to me, and I didn't much care for it.

Getting wasted the night before after blowing off my family and friends, waking up in Jude's apartment, and actually hanging out with Taylor, willingly or not... it all seemed so surreal. I think that being where I was, away from my usual life, made things feel different, it was almost like I'd finally crossed a line, unable to stand any more stress or self loathing and for a short time I'd stopped caring about anything that terrified me, except preventing the world from discovering my biggest secret. But now... now that I was discussing this with Taylor, talking about Johns... the idea of seeing him on a regular basis, it really did scare the hell out of me. But why shouldn't it? I really had made the mistake of trusting him, and then afterwards... I really had wanted to disappear.

"Hey," I jumped when Taylor's hand suddenly dropped on my shoulder, and then I moved back some more so it would fall off. "Quinn, there really are other ways. You go back to school, when? Monday morning?"

"I think it's Tuesday now." I frowned.

"So, I'll come up with something before Tuesday."

"You will?" I suddenly looked up at him skeptically.

"That's what I said."

I stared across the counter, studying Taylor curiously as he started to drink the coffee he had originally poured for me.

"Why are you doing this?" I finally asked. Just like with Jude, I didn't see any reason that Taylor could have for wanting to help me.

"Why do I have to have a reason?" he shrugged, and then suddenly stepped away from the counter and announced, "I gotta go."

"You're leaving?" I'd never admit it, not in a million years, but I was actually disappointed to see Taylor go. The company had been... alright. When I was alone, I had way too much time on my hands to worry.

"Yup, school, remember? I have to be in my next class.... I'll probably see you later, if you're still around."

"Don't count on it. I'm going home." I replied as I watched him move towards the door.

"Sure you are." he rolled his eyes as he waved. "Later, Quinn."

It was ten minutes after he left that I realized Taylor still had my car keys... and my car.


It sucks being hung over. I wondered how long it would last. By noon, I had finally stopped cursing Taylor, I'd cleaned up the mess from breakfast and I'd decided that I didn't have the energy to go snooping around Jude's apartment. I'd also come to the conclusion that it was way too hard to keep my eyes open, but I didn't want to pass out again. I wanted to be awake, in case my phone rang or in case... well, in case someone showed up. But, staying awake was easier said than done, so I made the bed and moved out into the hallway, where it was colder, and hopefully, easier to stay alert.

I'm not sure how long I sat outside of Jude's door, leaning back against the wall, fighting to keep my eyes open, but it felt like an eternity before I sensed a shadow over me and forced my eyes open, becoming alarmed at the sight of the larger, older man towering over me.

"Hey Jude," he said, "didn't I tell you not to feed strays? You never get rid of them that way."

"Goodbye, Murphy." Jude said as he shoved the older man aside and moved to stand in front of me.

" Yeah, yeah, don't say I didn't warn you." Murphy replied, and then after flashing me a disapproving look he disappeared down the hall and into another apartment. I looked up at Jude, dressed in his coveralls and smudged with grease and I let out a breath. I wondered what he was thinking, finding me there, in his clothes, outside of his apartment when he'd clearly left me in it. Maybe I really did look like a stray. I was definitely beginning to feel like one.

"That guy hates me." I remarked.

"Don't take it personally." Jude smiled. "He hates everyone... did you get locked out or something?"

I shook my head no, and Jude gave me an amused look before he held out his hand, offering it to me. I only hesitated for a few moments before I took it and allowed him to help me to my feet.

"Taylor took your car again, didn't he?" Jude asked as he released my hand to open the door and lead us back inside.

"I hate him." I frowned, and Jude laughed.

"Taylor's the kind of guy who has to grow on you, I guess. But, I gotta be honest, I'm sort of glad he stranded you here. I didn't think I'd see you."

"Why would you want to?" I remarked as he closed the door.

"Okay," Jude said slowly as he placed a hand on my shoulder and led me further into his apartment. "I can see that you've done enough self loathing for one day. Take a seat, I gotta get out of these clothes."

"Do I get to watch?"

Holy damn. Did I just say that out loud? The wide eyed look on Jude's face would suggest that I did. Honestly, I think prolonged exposure to Taylor and Jude was resulting in some of their cockiness rubbing off on me. Maybe Jude was amused by my impromptu outburst, but I was mortified when he actually stared to unbutton his coveralls and kick off his shoes, giving me a long, pointed look from under the blonde bangs that had fallen onto his eyes.

And I had no idea what to do. I sort of just stood there, stupidly, as Jude undressed, slow enough to keep me nervous but fast enough to keep me from looking away as he stripped of his layers, his grease covered work clothes, his black t-shirt and blue jeans, revealing his slender, toned form, and long legs. When he started to push his, honest to god, scooby doo boxers off his hips, and my eyes began to follow the thin trail of glistening hair that led down his naval, until it began to thicken into a blonde, curly thatch, I caught myself and turned away, probably blushing to my ears. Shit. Maybe Taylor was right. I really was a prude.

"I was joking." I blurted.

"Hmm." Jude hummed from behind me. "You could have said that when I started taking off my shoes, don't you think?" God, I hated it when he teased me. "So, you wanna watch me shower too?"

"Jude..." I frowned.

"Okay," he laughed. " Just thought I'd ask. You started it, you know."

"When do you think Taylor will be back?" I asked, desperate for a subject change. "I can't really stay much longer. Bree will be home from school soon and I should really go try to talk to her."

"When will she be home?"

"Probably in about an hour. You think Taylor will be back by then?"

"There's not really any way to know for sure." Jude replied. "But, I'll tell you what, if you don't have your car back by then, I'll drive you home."

"You will?" I couldn't keep the surprise out of my voice as I resisted the urge to turn around and face him.

"It's not like I'm holding you prisoner, Quinn." I heard Jude reply, sounding further away. "I really am going to take a shower now. So, if you change your mind about watching, the door will be unlocked."


"Will you put on some pants already?" I demanded, only allowing myself to look at Jude out of the corner of my eye. Ever since he'd left the shower he'd been walking around with nothing more than a red striped towel loosely wrapped around his waist. I knew he was doing it to tease me, and drooling over Jude while he walked around practically naked was not something that I needed right now.

"Did anyone ever tell you that you're a prude?" Jude remarked as he removed the bowl of soup he'd heated up out of the microwave. This time I did turn towards him to glare. "Are you sure you're not hungry?"


"I think Taylor will be here soon." Jude said as he moved over to the sofa and took a seat. "If not, I can still take you home. I'd sort of like to see your sister again, anyways. She seems like a pretty cool girl."

That announcement put me on alert.

"What, no. Jude, you can't."

"Why not?" he shrugged. "You afraid if someone finds out you're hanging out with a queer they'll put two and two together?"

"I didn't mean it like that."

"Yes you did."

"Look, I just need to try to talk to my sister... alone."

"Have you thought about telling her?" he suddenly asked, and then laughed out loud at the mutinous expression on my face. "Just hear me out, okay? I mean, you said yourself that you're in trouble. I mean, your mom wants to send you to see that idiot at school because she thinks you're acting nuts, right? Well, unless you tell her why you can't go see him, then you're pretty much stuck... and you're obviously not going to talk to your mom, so don't you think it would help to have your sister on your side?"

"If I told Bree, then she wouldn't be on my side." I stated.

"I don't know... I've kinda gotten good at reading people, Quinn. You're sister doesn't seem like the type who would make a huge deal about it. Maybe if I..."

"No." I cut him off, firmly.

"I'm just trying to help."

"You can't help me. Unless you want to put some pants on. That would be helpful."

"I don't see what your problem is." Jude replied as he lifted his heels up onto the coffee table, not bothering to hold his towel in place or to shut his legs, so when the towel started to drop I dejectedly moved to sit next to him, where there was no danger of seeing... parts of Jude that I felt I had no business seeing. "I mean, I don't have anything you don't have."

"I have pants on."

"My pants." Jude smirked at me.

"Shit," I cursed, remembering that I still needed to retrieve my clothes from the laundry room. I started to get up, but Jude lightly elbowed me.

"Will you relax? There's plenty of time. You can get you're stuff before you have to go. You look good in mine, anyways." I gave him a disapproving look as I watched his eyes deliberately sweep over my body.

"Will you knock it off? Why do you have to do that?"

"Do what?" he asked innocently.

"You know what."

"Oh, that. Yeah. I can't help it, exactly. See, I have this habit when I'm nervous... I flirt."

"This is you nervous?" I asked incredulously. I shook my head, thinking that if this was Jude nervous then I'd be terrified to be around him when he wasn't.

"You sort of have that effect." he replied as he took in a mouthful of his soup.

"You're so full of shit that it's coming out backwards." I remarked. "Nervous people don't walk around naked."

"I'm not naked," Jude insisted through a sudden burst of laughter. I wasn't as amused as he seemed to be.

"And if anyone around here has the right to be nervous-it's definitely not you." I continued as I suddenly stood up and walked over to his closet and grabbed a pair of jeans.

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"It means that you're not the one who can't seem to help embarrassing himself every time we're together." I said as I tossed the jeans over to the sofa, next to him, before I turned around and hoped that he'd put them on. "I'm serious. Half the time when you're around I can't think straight, and the other half... the other half of the time I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing with you in the first place."

"You like me."

"I think you're... different." I admitted.

"So you don't like me, then."

"When I'm around you... I feel different. Like, I'm still me, just different... but I'm still me. It's like I don't have to lie to myself, or anyone else, and I do like that. I like... that you understand that."

I'm not sure why I was telling him this. I wasn't even sure if I was making sense. I think that I was just thinking out loud, getting my feelings out there. It probably would have just been easier to tell him that I was comfortable with him when I wasn't thinking about the way he was always hitting on me, but my current thought processes weren't that rational.

"Okay, you do like me." he remarked. "Glad we cleared that up. You can turn around now, Quinn."

I turned around cautiously, and I was relieved to find that he had in fact put the pants on, and now he was reclaiming his spot on the sofa to finish his meal.

"What am I doing with you?" I asked rhetorically, after a full minute of staring at him. Jude glanced up as I went to sit down again. "I mean, if you think about it, it doesn't even make sense."

"Have I ever mentioned that you think too much?"

"I mean, you're the guy who kissed me. Do you have any idea what that did? It's like, for weeks I've been crazy. If I'd never met you in the first place then I'd still be...." I heard Jude drop his spoon into his bowl. He was probably waiting for me to start blaming him for everything. "I'd probably still be making myself as crazy as I am right now." I admitted, "so... I guess the real question is... what are you doing with me?"

I looked over at Jude just as he took in another mouthful of noodles.


"What are you doing with me?" I asked. "And don't give me any of that bullshit about attraction or how you like me. We both know I've been nothing but a pain in the ass and you would have been better off walking away in the first place. What are you doing with me?"

Jude stirred his soup for a moment and then looked in my direction.

"I do like you."

"Jude..." I frowned.

"Well I do." he insisted. "I mean, yeah, I'm attracted to you, and I won't lie and say that I don't want you in the let's see what's in your pants kinda way, because I do. But, those aren't the reasons why I like you. I just... like you. I did the first time I saw you, when you were waiting all politely for your turn to talk to Trina, even though it was obvious that she wanted nothing to do with you-that was definitely cute. Then, when you actually showed up at that party, I liked hanging out with you, and I even like all of the craziness that seems to follow you around. And, you're real. I like that you're real."

"Real? That's kinda funny, considering the fact that I can't even remember who the real me is."

"You're just confused right now. You'll figure it out, I believe that. But, that's not what I meant. I mean, maybe you don't see yourself as normal, but you're the closest to normal that I've seen in a while. You're grounded, a little loopy at times, but still grounded... and whether you know it or not, you have a great family. Maybe you're mom isn't around all that much, and I don't really know her, but your sister... she is your family, and you're lucky to have her. And your friends... they're not running to you with all of their drama, they're running to you for all of yours. And when you figure out that the real you isn't that much different than the person who you've always been... you'll see just how lucky you are, and, how normal you are... and you know, I think I like that you're still in the process of figuring it out, too. It's kinda fun to watch."

I wanted to frown at him for that last remark, but I was too busy staring blankly at him. A moment ago Jude had given me a few things to think about when it came to my family and my friends, but he'd also given me something else to think about. Like, the fact that he had sounded almost envious talking about it. The very idea that Jude could be envious of my life was laughable, considering what it had been lately. I didn't laugh, though. No. Instead, I felt sad, guessing what exactly he could be envious of.

"Where's your family?"

Jude looked up, almost appearing surprised that I'd asked.

"Trina's at school." he shrugged.

"No, I mean, your parents... where are they?"

"Oh, them." he shrugged. "Maybe we shouldn't talk about them." Jude abruptly stood up to take his bowl to the kitchen, although, I didn't get the feeling that he was trying to do it to avoid the subject.

"Should I not have asked?"

"No." he said quickly. "It's not that. I kind of like that you asked. But... well... how do I put this? You're sort of having enough trouble dealing with your own family. I'm not sure now would be the best time to tell you horror stories about mine."

"Horror?" I repeated, feeling alarmed as Jude came back after dropping his bowl in the sink.

"Okay, wrong word... um... not horror. My family's just..."

"Fucked up?"

"You've been talking to Trina." he smiled at me and I shrugged.

"She might have mentioned something."

"Well, I guess that's one way to describe my family." he admitted.

"Are you living on your own because you're gay?" I asked bluntly. It had been one of those questions about Jude that had been on my mind, and I was terrified of the answer, mostly because in the back of my mind, I could picture him going through exactly what I was going through now, just at a younger age. I also felt that my fate with my family was oddly tied to whatever his answer was going to be. What I wanted to hear was, that wasn't the reason why he was on his own. I wanted to hear it was possible to be accepted for being different, that not everyone would react as Mr. Johns had, like I was some sort of unnatural freak who needed help getting back on the right path. I think Jude understood what I was thinking, too, because he seemed to choose his words carefully.

"That's only part of the reason, Quinn. But, I don't want you to think that every family is like mine. Yours definitely isn't, at least your sister's not. I wasn't very close to my parents in the first place, and if you're asking if they kicked me out because I'm gay, then the answer is no."

"They didn't?"

"No, I chose to leave." he stated. "My parents did find out I was gay, and they didn't like it. But, they never actually threw me out. See, when my mom was young, her parents threw her out of the house because she got pregnant with my older brother."

"You have a brother?"

"Yeah, but he's another story entirely. What I'm saying is, my mom knew what it was like to be thrown out, and she always said she'd never do it to her kids, no matter what... she still hated that I was gay, though, and while my parents didn't throw me out, they made it so unbearable to live with them that I eventually left."

"Do you still talk to them?"

"No, I stopped talking to them way before I left. I do see them, though. My dad's a frequent customer over at Murphy's, and I saw my mom just last week when I had to go to the grocery store.

"What?" I didn't quite understand what Jude was telling me, and in all honesty, I wasn't sure that I wanted to understand. "You still see your parents?"

"All the time." Jude shrugged.

"And they see you, and they don't even care that you're here on your own? Do they even talk to you?"

"Not unless Murphy's not at the shop and my dad comes around... then we just pretend not to know each other and I address him as sir. Not much of a change from how it was at home, really. Except for the sir part."

It was difficult for me to hear what Jude was telling me. The thought of having your family throw you away like trash, the thought of never seeing them again because they hated you, that sounded terrifying, and why shouldn't it? It had been one of my greatest fears all along.

But the idea that your family could openly hate you, yet see you all the time, speak to you even, but never acknowledge that you belonged to them, to look at you and see a stranger, or to look at you and pretend that you don't even exist... or for you to look at them without acknowledgment, even... it sounded like hell to me.

"Have you tried... I mean, do you try to talk to each other? Ever?"

"Not really, no."

"How can you say that like it doesn't even bother you?" I practically demanded.

Jude stared at me for a long moment, almost as if he didn't understand the question, and then he just shrugged.

"Because it doesn't."

"How can you... how can it not bother you? If you see them, then..." I paused when my phone started to ring from over on the counter where I had left it, but I had no intention of getting up to answer it. For once, I didn't care about the phone, or who was on it, or what blow would come next. I needed Jude to give me an explanation. I wanted him to tell me how someone who seemed as... free as he did, could be the way that he was, while carrying around a burden, like the tragic existence he shared with his parents. I didn't understand it, but it terrified me. I didn't even want to imagine seeing Bree or my mother in every day life and being unable to approach them, unable to acknowledge them, or them, unwilling to acknowledge me. I think I'd rather be acknowledged as someone who they hated, than to be someone who they forgot about.

But, I didn't get my explanation. Instead, Jude got up to get my phone when I didn't move, and when he brought it back to me, still ringing, I just glanced at it and then looked up at him again.

"You should answer this." he insisted. "It's your home number, probably your sister."

"Is it because your gay... they didn't kick you out, but they won't even talk to you? Is it..."

"Quinn, you've been saying all day that you need to go home and talk to your family. Bree's on the phone, are you going to answer it?"

Again, I just stared. How could it not matter to him?

I started to get the hint that Jude didn't want to talk about his family anymore when he sighed and answered my phone himself.

"Quinn's phone.... nope, not Quinn.... hi Bree... Yeah, it's me. How are you?.... yeah, he's right here... uh-huh...really? Well, he's in a better mood now.... Yeah, I don't think you should worry about it... No, he's okay, I promise.... do you want to talk to him? I could probably get him on the phone... oh?" Jude suddenly lowered his voice and turned away from me, and that alone brought me back to the reality that he was talking to my sister on the phone, my sister who wasn't very happy with me right now... my sister who I was supposed to be talking to.

I stood up, but Jude had already crossed the room and was now speaking in a hushed tone, which made me immediately suspicious, but by the time I made it over to where he was to take the phone from him he snapped it shut abruptly and turned to face me.

"She hung up?" I frowned.

"Yeah, she said to tell you she's going out with a friend... Kara?"

"Yeah, she's my sister's best friend... Bree didn't want to talk to me?"

"She's sort of upset about yesterday." Jude replied. "But, she says she'll see you when you get home."

"That's it?" I frowned. This morning Brad had insisted that Bree was going nuts and I needed to talk to her. Now, it seemed like she didn't even care that I wasn't home yet. I had no idea what that was supposed to mean.

"Yeah... I think she's trying to give you space, Quinn. You shouldn't worry about it. Maybe the next time you guys talk you can get it all sorted out."

"I guess." I shrugged.

"Hey," Jude suddenly smiled. "Since your sister isn't going to be around, you really have no reason to rush home, right? Why don't you hang out until Taylor brings back your keys, at least."

"Yeah, okay." I said blankly, not really paying attention to what I was agreeing to. I was too busy wondering why Bree hadn't asked to talk to me... that she hadn't demanded to talk to me, like it seemed she'd normally do. It also wouldn't hurt to know what Jude was whispering with her about.

"Good," he said, suddenly taking my wrist and pulling me towards the sofa, "come on."

"What are we doing?" I asked as I sat down with him.

"I thought we could make out for a few hours, just until you have to go." he replied, getting my attention as my head snapped up at him and he started laughing. "Or, we can succumb to mindless entertainment. When was the last time you watched cartoons?" Jude asked as he lifted the remote and flicked on the television.

"Did Bree say anything else?" I asked. "What were you guys talking about?"

"I convinced her you were alive and well," Jude sighed. "And I told her that you didn't hate her."

"Oh." I nodded after a moment, not really feeling any better... did Bree really think that I hated her? That thought made me sick to my stomach. Here I was, worried that people would end up hating me, and instead I ended up making my sister think that I hated her. Or, at least that's what it seemed like. That was definitely enough to make me feel like the world's biggest ass. It was also enough to make me realize just how much I needed to let my sister know how much she meant to me, whether or not she was pushing me like everyone else. I decided right then that I'd be letting her know as soon as I could, meaning tonight, when she got back from going out with Kara, and when I finally went home to face... things.


That first night that I met Jude, being around him... before everything turned to hell with a kiss, had been an enjoyable experience. Sitting down and doing something as mindless as watching cartoons with him, and making fun of random commercials, felt almost like a repeat of that night.

If I ignored the fact that Jude was still gorgeous, and still didn't have a shirt on, and that I thought he was going to kiss me every time he leaned in my direction, then he'd just be this really cool guy who I'd want to be friends with any day of the week. I could even picture him hanging out with Brad and me, if the circumstances were different. But still, it made me wonder if we would have been friends, if things were different, if he went to school instead of worked all day, or if we were both normal teenage boys who liked girls instead of... each other.

But, it was hard to ignore, being so close to Jude. It didn't help that I knew he was attracted to me... or that he knew I was attracted to him. And I was. I was beyond denying that little fact. I'd actually admitted it to myself before I even admitted that I was gay. But the way I felt about Jude left me confused, as always.

Obviously, I didn't think I was ready to do much more than admire him. I'd been dealing with so many other things that the possibility of something more with Jude than our already, odd-at-best relationship, had been the furthest thing from my mind, even now that I could actually look at him and say those three little words that he'd been telling me all along. I am gay. It didn't really change the fact that I'd trained myself over the years to think straight- or rather, think about anything other than what you want to do with other guys. And around Jude, I began to realize that the habit would not be an easy one to break. It seemed like every time I started to think of him as anything more than just a guy who I was spending time with, I'd shut myself down. Or, I'd shut him down, depending on the situation.

But, despite all of that self training, I was still seventeen... and a guy. And I knew that if there was one thing that I couldn't just stop because it suited me, it was hormones. I'd also come to accept the fact that I'd never know what would set them off.

I guess I would consider it fortunate that it happened when it did, around the same time I began to realize that like everyone else, Jude needed sleep too.

When he started yawning, I started to feel guilty. He really wasn't like other guys my age. He was alone in this apartment, and when he wasn't working to support himself he was probably trying to clean up whatever messes his friends got into. I had no idea how late he'd been up with me last night, but unlike me, he hadn't been able to sleep in. He'd woken up and he'd gone to work, something that I was beginning to realize he had to do to survive. That made me feel even worse. Maybe I had problems, but I didn't have the burden of responsibilities that Jude had. I'd pretty much been fired from my job for blowing it off, but it didn't really bother me. But then, I didn't have to work to survive. I didn't have to depend on myself to make sure I had a roof over my head or a meal on the table. I think that was something I'd taken for granted before I met Jude Landon, and as I continued to watch his eyes drift shut, as he fought to keep them open, all I could think about was how me and my problems were probably not another burden that Jude needed to take on.

Maybe that's why I didn't ask him to take me home when it started to get late and Taylor hadn't returned with my car. Or maybe I had become too comfortable there. My headache was finally gone and I'd drifted into a lethargic state, watching as Jude drifted off on the sofa next to me. I sort of liked him when he was asleep. I felt like I could look at him without having to tell myself that I was staring, without having to worry about him seeing it.

I looked at the way his bangs fell over his eyes when he slept, and the way that his face relaxed into a peaceful mask, the way that his skin took on a glow, the kind most people have in the morning, and I wanted to touch him. I didn't want to touch him in a perverted way, I didn't want to grope him the way I'd done to Brad years ago, when I was first discovering my feelings for other guys. With Jude, I just wanted to touch him. I wanted to know how his skin felt, I wanted to know if he felt warm, like I did or of he was cooler. I wanted to touch his hair, that perfect hair that never seemed to get messed up, I wanted to brush it out of his face so I could see his eyes, whether they were open or not. I wanted to know what it would feel like to be close to him. I already knew what it was like to kiss him, but that wasn't the same, that was a different kind of closeness, the kind that made my knees shake and my palms sweat.... I wanted to know what it would be like now, while I felt comfortable, peaceful.

And that was why, when he began to lean into me, I purposely moved my arm around him and turned my body slightly, pulling him into my chest as I placed my hand on his stomach, taking note of the way that his muscles felt firm under the surface while his skin felt soft, and after a moment of feeling tense over the position, worrying that he'd open his eyes and catch me, I found myself relaxing, even pretending that this was something I did all the time-being cuddled up to another boy, like it was the most natural thing in the world.

It was probably ridiculous, I mean, I knew that it wasn't real. I was taking advantage of the situation while Jude was asleep, even while deep down I knew that the real thing was available to me if I wanted it. He'd made that more than clear. But this way was safe, pretending that I belonged there with, my arms around him. As his head sank down against my shoulder and his face turned into my neck, his breath blowing lightly over my throat, I wondered if I'd ever be ready for the real thing. I wondered if this would ever feel completely natural to me, after all of the times that I'd convinced myself that there was nothing natural about it. Or would I always be too afraid? Too afraid to let go of the prison I'd built in my own head, and let myself experience a desire that my own fantasies had been forcing on me for years.

But, while my mind found this... closeness with Jude unnatural and frightening, my body seemed to think it was pretty natural, especially when I glanced down and saw the tent in his jeans, which were still low on his hips. I stared at the outline of his erection, obviously not completely hard, but definitely apparent, resting under his pants, against his thigh because of the angle of his body, and I was so busy staring that it took me a while to realize that my body's own response was pressing up against the elastic band of the running pants, and pressing firmly against Jude's back.

Damn it. This was not what I needed. The experience had been a peaceful, pleasant one up until I realized that I'd have no way of explaining myself if Jude woke up and found us like this. It didn't exactly help that he continued to sink back, pressing against me, either, and when I'd pulled him back against me, I'd unwittingly trapped myself there, having no way of moving him without risking the chance of waking him.

When the sudden, loud knock on the door caused me to jump I was mortified with myself as Jude's eyes snapped open, but before he could figure out what was going on, I quickly moved to my feet, roughly dislodging him, and I quickly turned my back on him, pretending to stretch and hoping that the tent in my own pants wasn't noticeable as I listened to Jude release a sleepy groan from behind me.

"Sorry I fell asleep on you." he mumbled, and I had no idea whether or not he meant it in the literal sense.

"No problem." I replied as I risked a glance back at him to see that he was smiling at me, before he stood and headed for the door.

While Jude was busy seeing who had woken him from his nap, I took the opportunity to reach into the pants I was wearing and adjust myself, surprised that the fear hadn't deflated my inconvenient erection.

"Where the hell have you been?" I heard Jude say as he opened the door.

"Don't bitch to me," I heard Taylor's voice, "I gave you plenty of time to seduce him while I was gone. It's not my fault he's still in his clothes."

I finally turned around to see Jude rolling his eyes as he pulled Taylor, who was smirking at me, into the apartment.

"That wasn't cool Taylor," Jude frowned, "where are his keys?"

When Taylor held up my car keys, I was already crossing the room, and when I snatched them out of Taylor's hand, I was sure to throw a disapproving look at him before I looked at Jude. It was strange, how only a minute before I'd been so comfortable, close to him, and now I felt like it was imperative that I get out of there.

"I have to go."

"Are you sure?" Jude asked, even if he already knew the answer, and I nodded, and seeing nothing more to do or say I passed them both and moved out of the apartment without another word, feeling like a complete jackass.

"Quinn!" I wasn't even surprised when Jude caught me half way down the hall with a hand on my shoulder, and I forced myself to turn and face him. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah." I nodded, feeling self conscious with the pressure in my pants, against the elastic band.

"You know if you need to, you can come back here... anytime."

"I know." I replied, and I really did know. It was sort of nice, knowing that I did have a safe place to get away if I needed it. But at the moment, I wanted to get away from that same place, and away from Jude, before he realized how nervous I suddenly felt talking to him.

"So, I'll call you?" it was more of a question than a statement, but I actually found myself smiling at him, despite the way I was feeling.

"Okay," I nodded again, and hoped that it was enough of a goodbye as I turned and left, making it out of the building this time.

When I found my car and started the drive home, I managed to look at the clock and I inwardly groaned. I'd obviously been on the sofa with Jude for longer than I thought, because it was past ten, and I knew that Bree was probably at home by now, waiting for me. I figured that she'd have plenty to say when I got there, and thinking about whatever lecture was coming solved my earlier problem as my cock slowly deflated.

But, while I was worried about what would happen when I got home, I couldn't stop thinking about Jude. I also couldn't help feeling ashamed over my actions, as innocent as they were. I was ashamed at myself for thinking of him as someone who I was attracted to, and I was ashamed with my body's reaction to being up against him like that. I couldn't help it, though. It was in my head to scold myself for having those types of feelings, bodily or otherwise, and again, I wondered if I'd ever get over it. I took the time to think it over on the ride home, and to wonder about how I could get over it-or if I wanted to get over it. But, the drive home was all the time I had, because as soon as I walked in the front door and into my dark house the light flicked on, assaulting my eyes as I blinked, expecting to find my sister there.

"Where the hell have you been?" It wasn't my sister's voice that I heard in front of me, and as my eyes adjusted to the light I went rigid.

That night, when I walked into my house, was the first and last time I ever came home to my mother waiting up for me, furious and concerned over where I'd been.



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