Volume 2

Chapter 1


Have you ever wished that you could just disappear? That the floor would open up beneath your feet, allowing you to fall away from reality? Sometimes the mind emulates such an out-of-body experience to brace your soul from a torrent of pain.

But it doesn't really save you from anything. Instead it just pauses the impending disaster, acting like a stopwatch rather than a shield.

In the end you're still exposed.


The sudden snap of Tess's shout dragged me back to the room. I remained motionless beside the door, my eyes locked to hers. Shock. Anger. Fear. The toxic trio clouded the expression on her face, but I couldn't tell which one dominated her feelings, the one in control.

A silent beat passed between us. What was she going to do? What was I going to do?

My gaze shifted to the bright glow emanating from my laptop. Its lid was wide open, proudly projecting the despicable email account to the room.

Finding my legs, I paced across the room towards the desk. Arriving beside its sandy wooden surface, I reached out and slammed the lid of the laptop closed. The solid thud shook the room, but failed to startle Tess, who continued to glare up at me through narrowed eyes.

"You're Ryan?"

Ryan? She says his name as though she's heard it before. I forced a stoic stare, refusing to allow any hints of shock from registering on my face. Sean must've mentioned his virtual friend to her at some point; only I had no idea what else he'd told her.

I tightened my jaw. "You should go."

"No, I don't think so." She leapt up out of the chair in a flash, before stepping around the desk and squaring up to me. "Well?"

My head turned towards the door. "Please, go."

"Not until you answer my question!" She pressed, waving a finger before my face. "Are you Ryan?"

My focus returned to her dark eyes as I weighed the decision inside my mind, yet it had already been made for me. It was no use denying what she'd just seen for herself. I dropped my eyes and gave a single nod.


I don't know. There wasn't an answer to her question, at least one that made any sense. Instead I did the only gesture that came naturally to me. I shrugged.

"Are you kidding me?" Tess fumed, shrugging her own shoulders as she mocked my action. "You shrug? Is this just a big joke to you? Get Sean to fancy a boy so you can what? Share it with the school?"

"What? I wasn't going to do that!"

"Sean came out to me a few weeks ago and he told me all about this Ryan boy. You know, I never trust people online and this is why." She snarled. "You're a creep."

I gritted my teeth. "I'm not a creep."

"Hiding behind a fake name, a fake picture, a fake everything!" she spat, her small frame struggling to contain the tornado of rage and fury trapped within. "You're worse than that!"

"No! It wasn't like that, Tess."

She stood back and cocked her head. "Are you gay, West?"

"No. No, I'm-"

"Then you have no idea what it's like for him," she interrupted, cutting me off. "The last thing he needs is some weirdo going around trying to mess with his life and then telling everyone about it. Honestly, did you even think...?"

I closed my eyes, plunging my world into a darkened stillness as I fought to drown out the sound of her voice. After the morning I'd had I really wasn't expecting things to have gotten any worse. I couldn't have been more wrong.

My image of Keith had been irreversibly marred after I'd discovered the truth about him, yet in a twisted act of fate, the very same thing was happening between Tess and me.


She'd just found out one of mine, only I wasn't feeling any relief; I felt constricted. The one fact alone wasn't enough for her, I needed to tell her more so she could start to understand things from my angle. I needed to show her the whole picture.

The truth.

My eyelids flickered open. "I'm bi."

Tess's expression froze as she paused her tirade. "What?"

"I'm bisexual," I replied, my voice cool and detached. Stepping around her, I moved to sit down on the edge of my bed. "So no, I wasn't going to tell everyone about Sean."

Her frown deepened as she watched me sit. She clearly wasn't expecting me to have said that. The room was silent for a few moments as she contemplated my revelation, before she walked towards me. "Do you like him?"

"I don't think so."

"What does that mean?"

"It means I don't know, alright?" I shot back, a wave of nausea tearing through my stomach.

Shaking her head, she continued to stare at me. "This is seriously screwed up, West."

I gave a nod. Thanks for telling me.

"Wait..." she began shakily, her eyes widening in alarm. "Does Harry know about this?"

"No," I answered. And you can't tell him.

Her face softened, the sudden pique of anxiety vanishing in an instant. Just the thought of Harry working alongside me seemed to be too much for her to bear. Not that I could blame her. The idea of Harry knowing about anything she'd just discovered was enough to make my head throb.

Sensing that the worst of her onslaught was over, I let out a breath, attempting to relieve some of the stress bottled up inside me. The release was short-lived. Clearing her throat, Tess raised a pointed finger towards me. "Maybe he should know what you're really like. See what you get up to behind his back."

"Fine, go ahead!" I snapped, outraged that she'd even suggest such a thing. "Out me to Harry if that'll make you feel better."

"This isn't about me!" she shouted, her eyes bulging in anger.

We held our steely stares for several seconds, our bodies trembling from the violent tides of emotions rolling through us.

Closing her eyes, Tess inhaled deeply and then slowly walked over to my window. She remained silent as she peered through the narrow blinds, watching the cars driving past.

"Just tell me one thing," she began, almost conveying an underlying tone of care and compassion through her voice. "Why'd you do it, West?"

A numbing sense of fatigue gripped my body, weakening my resolve to defend my actions. She was right and I was wrong. It seemed trivial to fight anymore. "I wanted to know if he was gay. That's all."

"But you said you don't like him."

It's complicated. "I don't."

She faced me, an apologetic look falling across her eyes. "This can't go on."

"I know."

"And Sean needs to know the truth."

My heart began to quicken as image after image flew through my mind. "I know that too."

"I'll give you a chance to tell him, West, but if you don't by the end of tomorrow, I will." Her voice was soft, but the threat in her words was clear.

Unsure of how to respond, I watched as she made her way over to the door and exited the room. Swallowing hard, I tried to ignore the growing sense of apprehension as I stood up from the bed and wandered over to the window. Tess appeared outside the front of the house a moment later as she walked down the front path and out onto the street.

Leaning on the windowsill, I dropped my head forwards to rest against the cold glass. My eyes followed as she moved further and further away, until her faded silhouette disappeared against the red, sinking sun.


Hindsight is always twenty-twenty. There were a million and one things I could've done differently to avoid detection, but none of that mattered anymore. I should've known better from the beginning. I'd set out with a flawed plan, one that had no clear endpoint in mind. I never thought of the 'what ifs' or 'what happens next?' Instead it was the journey to find the truth that captured my interest, just as it was my short-sightedness that led to me getting caught.

Letting out a sigh, I eased my neck from side to side as I rested back against the pillow on my bed. Tess had left my house an hour earlier, leaving me alone in my room to ponder the important decision I had before me.

To tell or not to tell?

Despite Tess's promise to share the truth with Sean, the choice to tell him personally was still mine. Telling him in person was the right thing to do. Then again, I didn't exactly have the best ideas when it came to choosing what was or wasn't the right thing to do.

I recalled Tess's words in my mind, "...if you don't tell him by the end of tomorrow, I will." I rolled onto my side and exhaled. Some choice.


Everything always came back to the virtual boy I'd created less than a month ago. What began life as a tool was coming back to bite me in the arse. Not only that, but it was now going to hurt the one person centred at the heart of all that I'd done. Sean.

For almost three weeks I had lied and cheated to uncover one of his closest and most guarded secrets. No matter how I tried to phrase my explanation, there was no way he'd be able to accept what I did, let alone consider forgiveness.

He'd also want to know why. Why did I do it? Even when Tess asked me that question, I still didn't feel comfortable with my answer. The truth was that I wanted to know if he was gay. It seemed simple enough, but then he'd wonder: why would I, West, want to know that? It only pointed to one explanation; that I was somehow interested in him. But I still didn't know if I was.

Then there was the question about Tess. Even if I were to tell Sean the truth, what guarantee did I have that she wouldn't go around telling everyone what really happened? She'd mentioned telling Harry the truth during her broadside rant, what if she went ahead and did that?

I brought my arm up over my eyes. Harry. I'd been so distracted by Tess discovering Ryan that I'd completely forgotten to find out why she'd visited my house in the first place. I was supposed to find out her plans for New Year's Eve. I groaned aloud. So much for that happening.

It really had been a day from hell. First with Keith, and then with Tess and Ryan. Yet despite it all, I couldn't ignore the sickly feeling looming in the pit of my stomach that the worst was still to come.

I had to tell Sean.

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Written by Kai Taylor
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Copyright © 2013-2014 Kai Taylor