Sunday, August 10, 2014

Black, Black Heart

If he’d taken a moment to stop and listen to them, the voices in Carver’s head would have told him to wait. They would have cautioned him on appropriate timing and potential repercussions. Carver hadn’t meant to react the way he did – wouldn’t have, in fact, in any other circumstance. But Les had been gone for over a week. Aweek! And the time had drawn past so slowly Carver thought he’d all but lose his wits. It wasn’t Carver’s mind that had him reaching for his buddy and dragging him into the embrace; it had been his heart, his soul, pure need.

Carver knew the minute he heard the first snort. Had it confirmed unequivocally with the following snicker. Died just a little with the, “Gross, dude. You let that fag touch you?”

Les’ lips drew back over his teeth. “Get your fucking hands off me,” was accented with a sharp shove that knocked Carver’s breath clean out of his lungs. He saw Les’ striking blue eyes get flashed towards the rest of the hockey team and Carver braced. “Faggot.”

“I arrive Thursday night but the meeting doesn’t start until the following Monday. It would be awesome to get together with you, catch up on old times. If you’re free, of course. No pressure, I just thought maybe we could talk...”

Cell phone, home phone, email address and daytime contact info had followed the two-page later.

As if there was a hope in hell Carver would actually call.

He sighed, lifted his gaze from the paper and out beyond the plate-glass window to the darkened sky. There was no moon. The stars lay tucked behind the cloud cover that had been brewing throughout the day. Nothing but black – black, dark, dreary, moody. Carver could relate.

He reached for his lighter, flicked the silver wheel that inspired life from vapour, and touched the corner of the letter to the dancing flame.

“You fucking know better!” Carver had barely heard the growl before he felt the drive of palm that knocked him forward. “The hell is wrong with you?”

“Damn it, Les!” Carver pushed off the wall and turned with a glare. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think.”

“Then start!” Les said coldly, “Or don’t bother talking to me at all.”

Carver’s chest tightened so badly he was sure it was a physical reaction. Eighteen years old, and he was going to go down in history as the first kid in Manotick to die of a heart attack in his senior year. “Please,” Carver whimpered, “Don’t say that. I’m sorry.” He stepped forward quickly, dug fingers into the front of Les’ jacket, pressed flush against Les’ rigid body. “Forgive me?”

The relief Carver felt when Les’ hand snaked around his hip and pulled them closer together was almost more satisfying than a full-blown orgasm. Then none of it mattered anymore. Because Les was leaning down, frown gone, lips parted and meeting his mouth as if the issue had never been.

That was where Carver’s heart lived, where it waited, where it always waited... for that rip in the continuity of loss and alone, for the moment Carver could touch him, taste him, be part of him.

“Who is it?” Carver’s attentive, yet obviously irritated tablemate asked.

His mouth moved to form the word ‘nobody’. His heart refused it. “Just an old friend.”


“Always,” Carver grinned, trying for amusing. “But never mind me, you were telling me about your merger?” Carver set his Blackberry facedown on the table and tried to ignore the little flashing light.

Nothing felt like Les, ever. Those stolen moments had been permanently etched in Carver’s brain. Flash-frozen glimpses of time when half-naked bodies slid against each other, touching, rutting, gasping. When the back seat of Les’ 1982 Chevy Malibu was the only thing worth waiting for. When slipping off to hide in the deepest recesses of barely accessible farm roads became reward for the rest of it. It was a time when hands knew no boundaries, lips never grew tired, and bodies burned for the feel of another hard body beside it.

“Love you,” Les would whisper, over and over into Carver’s ear, frying his brain, igniting nerves and breath and heartbeats until it was just too much. And Carver would cry out a parroted sentiment, screaming it against seat or shoulder while fluid raced from his body and every part of him rode waves of bliss.

Carver sat on the floor and clutched the glass like it was the one thing holding him to stable ground. His hands shook. His chest pounded. Even his legs, bent as they were like a praying mantis in full petition, trembled and twitched. A long time, over a decade... so how did the voice still penetrate his soul to that degree? The letters he could burn, the texts he could ignore, but a voice? On his very own phone? With that timbre in it that suggested so much more time, so much more growing had taken place.

Carver let go of a deep breath, took another long drink, and eyed the landline. When he found out who passed along his phone number, Carver was going to kill someone.

It was like living in two realities. Carver was never really sure which world he was waking up in. It could be the fantasy of perfection, skip school, drop work, and do nothing but hang around somewhere secluded – wrestle in the stream that ran through the woods beside the mill, sit naked back to chest in high grass and tell jokes until they were too sore to laugh anymore.

Or it could be the nightmare, weekends of hockey tournaments and family dinners. When they were nothing but neighbours, barely acquaintances, long past childhood friends and on separate paths towards tomorrow. That’s what 'they' expected, that’s what everyone wanted to see. The high school wonder-boy and the overly intelligent introvert weren’t supposed to hang out together. Les was meant for parties and cheerleaders. Carver was born to succeed.

The town wasn’t small – it was miniscule. Library, post office, police department. Legion and arena. Only twenty-four streets but five goddamn churches. Folks just didn’t ask. They just didn’t tell. If it wasn’t about that year’s crop, the tourism market or JC, they didn’t want to discuss it. If it was personal, if was some odd side of ‘normal’, they stuffed it in closets and kept it to themselves; hoping for the best, hanging the hell on to whatever sanity they could manage to cling to.

So Carver dealt with the fact he couldn’t make eye contact when he walked past Les and friends at the bar. He learned not to bristle when they called him names. He even managed to swallow it when Les went along with them. Because it wouldn’t last forever. Tomorrow, the day after, Les would be back in his arms and he could fool himself that everything was perfect.

He reached for the delete button for the third time and found himself listening for the fourth. Phrases meant to soothe nudged at wounds long since sewn tight, “Just need to talk – Make sure you’re all right – Seems like it’s been forever – So much I’ve wanted to say – Things you should know...”

“But that was then,” Carver told the telephone. “You can’t hurt me anymore.”

He’d spent years (lifetimes, centuries, aeons) telling his heart to let it go. And it had learned.

That was not a lesson Carver would forget quickly.

“So... you’re really taking Marcy?” It wasn’t a big thing; Carver didn’t even know why he was making such a huge deal out of it. Of course Les was taking Marcy to the prom. It’s not like they were going to go together.

“Stop,” Les growled. “Just don’t.”

“What?” Carver asked, and even he could hear the pout in his voice. “I’m not doing anything. Just asking.” He let a full minute of silence pass, took another pull from the stolen bottle of whiskey – let the burn fall all the way down his throat and pool in his twisting belly. “You going to the after-party with her too?”

The flush that rose up Les’ face was obvious, even in the dusky lighting. “Obviously,” Les snapped. “She’s my date.”

Another sharp turn of everything from chest to bowel, another swallow to force it all down. “You two spending the night?”

The big event, the party everyone was talking about – the prom was nothing compared to the festivities being planned by the parents of Les’ hockey buddy, Sean. Private boathouse, right off the bay, way too much booze, and zero supervision. Invitation only, which meant all of Manotick High’s princes and princesses: the jocks, the cheerleaders, the elite. Not Carver. Nor any of Carver’s circle. None save the only one that Carver wanted to be with.

“Well, we’ll be drinking,” Les mumbled, avoiding Carver’s eyes. “So probably.”

“You manage to bring in any wine for me yet?” Carver asked the woman behind the bar. Jenny, if his mind served him well. She used to be pretty, back in the day. Now she just looked tired.

“Nothing you’d let touch your tongue, that’s for damn sure, Carver.” Jenny reached back into the cooler and handed him a Heineken. “Here. Leave the box wine for the old ladies.”

The town never changed. Carver came back every December and every year it was the same thing. The weekend before Christmas he’d fly in. Mom would meet him at the airport even though she had to take a cab to get there. He’d rent a car, they’d stop in Gloucester for some lunch, and he’d drive them back home...

Where the people still shot him ‘those’ looks. Where it didn’t matter if he was worth just under two and a half million, or if he was listed on any of the best sellers list. Where he’d always be nothing but ‘that gay kid’. Now they just tagged on the added insult of, ‘who moved to the city.’

The tired roadhouse was no different. Unchanging, stagnant, frozen in time. He could place every single one of the posters on the wall, the tables, hell – the
 peoplesitting at the bar, without even looking. It was like stepping back in time.

“Carver!” He was tossed a quick wave and a friendly grin from a table in the corner. The three of them, like always. Helen, now a quiet librarian; Jarvis, who owned an insurance brokerage in Nepean and Ricky, who’d surprised them all and done sweet FA except collect a welfare cheque and become an alcoholic.

Carver didn’t blame him though. It was easy to lose hope here. Way, way too easy.

It didn’t surprise Carver that he couldn’t sleep; that he’d been tossing and turning for hours. Every time he closed his eyes he saw black silk draped with pink ribbons, a tuxedo jacket over linen, a corsage of lily and baby’s breath. Happy smiles, perfect teeth, lips leaning in to touch each other.

His heart ached at the emptiness of watching the two of them drive away in that fucking limo with six other teenagers, music blaring. Marcy had looked like a living doll, Les had shone like a goddamn diamond, and everyone had been so happy, happy, happy.

And it hurt, hurt, hurt so fucking much. Too much to do anything but dwell on it. Too much in fact, to even pull air into his lungs less the extra pressure explode his chest. So he lay, and held his breath, listening to the sound of quiet midnight, staring blankly through glass into darkness, and tried not to eat his own heart out.

“How’s your mother?” Jarvis asked and Carver nodded as if that somehow answered the question. Because Mom wasn’t well – was suffering with arthritis and asthma, and God only knew what was making her skin look so papery thin since Mom refused to go see a doctor. But Carver was back in Manotick. You don’t talk about shit like that in Manotick.

“How’s the business?” Carver asked him back and Jarvis nodded. As if that somehow answered the question. Because Jarvis lived in Manotick. So Carver wasn’t going to hear how the economy was kicking the shit out of his business or how claims had risen to crippling levels.

“Anybody see last week’s Senators’ game?” Ricky asked, signalling the bartender with a lift of his glass. As if that was somehow an acceptable way to order a drink. As if being a local meant he was allowed to act like an ass.

Welcome back, Carver. Don’t worry, nothing's changed.

That feeling of being watched... Carver hadn’t even realised he’d fallen asleep yet the tap of instinct that said to take notice still managed to find him in the haze. “Jesus,” he whispered, staring into Les’ eyes, unseen in the dark but nonetheless recognizable.

“Carver,” was all Les said, words heavy and slurred on a thick, uncooperative tongue.

“Are you drunk?” Carver moved to sit up – was disallowed. “Tell me you didn’t drive like that!”

“Need you,” Les answered. “Can’t... couldn’t... I tried...”

“Les?” Carver frowned. “How’d you get back from the part--” And then speech was cut short by Les’ mouth.

“Need you,” Les repeated and Carver chose not to care about hows and whys, to focus instead on the hands pushing up his t-shirt and wandering over skin. To push aside thought for sensation as they both undressed each other. To shakily secure and offer the bottle of lotion he used to jerk off with when Les husked, “All of you.”

They’d never gone that far, always hands and mouths and fingers. It was raw, and overwhelming, and it hurt, but it didn’t matter one damn bit because it was Les,fucking Les, and Les was inside him and touching him and with him. Mumbling into his neck, saying all those things that sounded so damn real – trembling. Wanting him, needing him.

“I should go,” Carver said, an hour after he’d arrived. It wasn’t late, but he was tired. Coming back to town seemed to sap every bit of energy Carver had, a slow feed that lulled with apathy, stupefied with exhaustion. Besides, one could only talk about nothing for so long.

“Already?” Helen flashed a look at the clock, back at Carver, at the door. “You just got here!”

“I know but...”

She was still watching the door when Carver noticed her expression change. She caught his eye. “I’m sorry,” Helen shook her head. “I had to.”

“Fuck,” Carver was whispering. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.” But be it for the pressure in his ass or the thrill on his cock, Carver was not of mind to decide. A slightly harder thrust and Carver grit his teeth, that swell of body preparing to peak and Carver groaned, because damn if he didn’t feel every little twitch and surge right there inside him, and Les lifted to desperately search out lips and tongue.

“God, please,” Carver whined and there were so many ways to end that sentence that he couldn’t even finish it. Don’t stop. Don’t leave. Don’t ever go back there. Just love me. Just tell them.

Promise me forever.

“Almost...” Les gasped, misunderstanding completely.

Stand, and go. Now. Get up. Do it now. But no matter how many times his mind beat at Carver’s nervous system to send the signals to his muscles, the synapses that bridged that communication had shut down. All he could do was stare.

“I’m sorry,” Helen repeated. “It’s just... he begged.”

And God knows, Carver thought. No one could resist Les when the man begged.

Side by side, breath in time, hands still clasped... while their bodies recovered from the throes of orgasm, and their minds tried to organize it all, Les had looked over and said, “I wish it could always be like this.”

Carver had looked right back. Had spent a moment lost in the warmth of Les’ words. “It will be.”

Les shook his head and turned his eyes back to the ceiling. “It won’t be. It never will. Your heart won’t let you wait. You’re too... perfect.”

One quick roll had brought him Les’ face, Les’ body underneath him, a shared gaze. “I will always wait for you.”

Les lifted his hands, cupping the ones that cradled his face and Carver could have almost sworn those were tears...

Carver leaned forward, kissed Les lightly. “We’ll go somewhere, just pick up and leave. We don’t even have to tell anyone where we are. We wouldn’t need much.”

He’d never forget the frown that pulled Les’ forehead. A moment of agony: pierced by something unseen, sent by something unknown, its intention unclear. Les shook his head, let go of Carver’s hands. “I don’t want to talk about this now.”

Cologne darkened by sweat. Body heat. Heart beat.

“Is your door locked?” Les asked and Carver had nodded. “Can I stay?” And while Carver shifted to lie beside, to make two bodies comfortable on one space, he tried to ignore the barb that kept poking his brain... “Is your door locked?”

Are we hidden? Will anyone know? Am I safe?

“You wouldn’t call...” Les began to explain and Carver couldn’t hold back the snort. Go figure for Les to start off with this somehow, someway, being Carver’s doing. Something deserved.

Les stepped forward at the sound, lifting an arm, retracting it when he saw Carver’s flinch. “I just wanted to talk. When Helen said you were going to be in town...”

Carver shot Helen a glare that would have made puppies piss. She lowered her eyes.

“... I just had to try, you know? I drove all the way in from London. Just so I could see you.”

Autopilot switched on in Carver’s brain. Be it self-preservation, natural instinct, or learned response, Carver cared less. He welcomed the reprieve, stepped back from the moment and let experience take over. “Poor you,” Carver said, his voice smooth, calm, and completely deadpanned. He masked all expression with that veneered smile that could have been the pictorial definition for the emotion of ‘I was just handed the worst review of my life, written by a valuable acquaintance, and someone just shoved a camera in my face and asked me what I thought of it.’

“Shame to have lost all that time to travel for a fruitless, albeit appreciated endeavour. I do hope the rest of your holiday season meets you with more fulfilling and happier tidings.” Carver nodded at Jarvis, then Ricky. “Gentlemen, a pleasure, as always.” It took everything he could manage not to smack the anxiety off Helen’s face. “Thanks for the visit, hon. Do have an awesome Christmas.”

Three days wasn't so long. Not really. Not with graduation and colleges and summer jobs to sort out. It felt, however, like an eternity. Worse somehow since they'd actually fucked… but no, he couldn't think like that. Nothing had changed. Carver couldn’t expect Les to suddenly start calling every day and sending freaking flowers for God's sake. It was only three days.

So when Carver was out with his Mom and saw Les' mother in the grocers, when he suggested to his Mom to ask on the family, it had nothing to do with the ever-growing ache in his chest, it was just Carver being neighbourly. Even though his Mom flashed him that irritated look that she always gave when she knew damn well she was being played. She asked though. Because that's what his Mom did. She was a Manotick through and through. But she was still his Mom.

And when Mrs. Blackwell politely, albeit self-importantly, informed them both that Les had left two days ago for the armed forces, and Carver's knees just about dropped him to the ground, it had been his Mom who'd pushed him against the cart for support. "No," Carver said, shaking his head as if somehow Mrs. Blackwell was just a cruel bitch that wanted to hurt him. "He wouldn't just leave like that. Not without saying something."

He couldn't. He wouldn't.

All the Blackwell boys go into the services.” Mrs. Blackwell snorted. Then she'd given Carver a long up and down glance. “I don’t suppose that’s in your cards though is it, Carver?”

Lights, sirens, somebody call 9-1-1, he thought. I’m dying.

Carver’s Mom stepped up beside him and grabbed his forearm possessively. “You’d be right on that one,” she smiled coldly at Les’ mother. “This boy of mine’s got way too many brains to be wasting them on the services.”

He made it all the way to the high school before he had to pull over. He cursed his tears, because damn it all to hell, he wasn't hurt! He was so over hurt it wasn't even funny! Angry, maybe anger, sure.

Fucking Helen and her goddamn intruding. Why did people have to get involved? Why couldn't they just leave well enough alone?

Where had they all been when Carver had needed them? Where had they all been back then?

The drive home was exhausting. Carver's heart bled, an open continuous wound, a constant dredge of pain. Every now and again his mother would speak, desperate to gain his focus, never once actually obtaining it – this thing, that thing, anything, except what mattered the most.

When they finally stood in the kitchen, and the bags had been piled on the counter and Carver had turned for the stairs with shoulders that felt heavier than iron and a heart more shattered than dropped crystal, his Mom had stopped him.

Carver looked back, held her gaze, streamed need and pain, and she'd wanted to say something, Carver could see it in her eyes, in her body language. But this was Manotick. Defeated, lost, she'd said, “Wash up and come on down for dinner. I got a roast in the oven.”

Whereby Carver had turned away and began to plod up the stairs. “Thanks, Mom. But if it’s just the same with you? I’m not really hungry.”

Had Carver noticed the car sitting at the side of the road he wouldn't have stayed parked for quite so long. As it was, Carver was noticing so little at that moment he neither saw the man approach the vehicle, nor lift the flashlight to the window. He all but ate his own liver when the knock came.

"Ownership and license, please."

The ownership was secured easily and passed out. The license not so much. "Officer, I swear, I have a license! My wallet," he padded pants, jacket, shirt, "it's gone!"

A heavy sigh, a lean… "Carver, you're fucking lucky I don't pull your ass in just to teach you a fucking lesson." Carver couldn't place the face, but he damn well knew the voice. Couldn't remember the name, but he sure as hell remembered the abuse. A toothpick swirled between lips and the fetid odour of coffee and cigarette breath washed over him. "But mostly you're lucky that I'm not in the mood to do a fuck-ton of paperwork. 'Cause I sure would love to teach Mr. Fucking I'm Too Good For This Town a sweet lesson." The flashlight was turned directly into Carver's face. "But you'd probably like that wouldn't you, Carver?"

A cold sweat sprung out on Carver's back. He didn't say a damn word.

"So if I were you, which thank fuck I'm not, I'd find that fucking wallet before I meet me again." Carver didn't notice the hand until it was too late. His chin was gripped, his face yanked upright. "Unless your Christmas plans were to show me the benefits of your filthy lifestyle by taking one for the team."

Carver's heart beat a tune of terror as he watched the shape make its way across the road and back to the car.

Fuck, he hated this town.

It was a literary scholarship to the University in Guelph and a federal arts grant that got Carver the hell out and running. He swore he'd never look back. Of course, swearing didn't do a damn bit of good when it came to holidays and weddings and funerals.

It only took four years of visits for Carver to stop waiting for Les to show up.

"Jenny?" He didn't need to ask anything else. She pointed. He turned. And Les picked up his wallet from a table littered with bottles.

That fucking…

It's hard to understand abandonment. More so when it doesn't come with explanation.


"Please, don’t. Five minutes…"

"I'll fucking kill you, I swear to God."

Broken, wasted, years lost… Carver had waited. He'd promised he would wait and he waited. Every goddamn day.

"I only want to talk!" Les said, holding the wallet as if it was ransom. "Please, give me a chance to say I'm sorr…"

“You don’t get to hurt me again!” Carver yelled, way too loud for the space. Heads began to swivel in their direction.

“I never wanted to hurt you...”

“That doesn’t mean you didn’t! You think you can come in here and tell me to listen and I will? Just like that? I don't know who the fuck you think you are or what game you're trying to play this time but it's not going to work!"

When the letters started and the emails and the Facebook messages and the chat pings began, Carver wanted to pretend they didn't rip his soul to shreds. I have a life now, he'd think. I put up the barriers and I wear the armour and you can't get past it.

“If I didn’t just pick up and go I wouldn’t have been able to. Everyone told me I had to, everyone had a plan for me.” Red-rimmed eyes, sore and swimming, but surprisingly still stunningly blue found Carver’s. “I was a coward.”

Carver huffed. “You weren’t afraid of anything.”

“I was afraid of everything!” Les said, voice catching on the words, lifting to the point that nearly every one of the hanger-on-ers that still sat at the bar now faced them. “I didn’t even have the balls to make the team stop calling you names. And I was the fucking captain.”

It took Carver six years to find someone else to love. He tried to tell himself, when he closed his eyes, when he felt his lover's hands trailing his skin and touching all those perfect places, that it wasn't Les he was thinking of. Breathing into someone else's neck, tasting someone else's mouth, and teasing memory into moment. When they broke up eight months later because Carver was 'just too distant', Carver hadn't been surprised in the least.

“I just thought one day I could make it all right again. I’d come home and call you up and everything would have changed.” Les laughed – a hollow, broken sound. “Then one day you realise it’s been ten years. And when you come back looking, nothing has changed. Except you, Carver. You changed. You were gone.”

Anger. Furious, righteous, consuming anger threatened to unleash beasts that Carver himself didn't know the logistics on. He struggled to rein it in. "Don’t you dare try to give me excuses! The fact of the matter is that you were too embarrassed to love me. You let everyone tell you it was wrong. You – Mr. Strong, Mr. Tough Guy. While I was just weak little nobody me. But you know what? I never hid it from anyone!"

"I was wrong." Les said, almost in tears.

"Too late," Carver said, his voice as cold as he remembered Les' to be.

Les could have asked him for his soul. If Les had just come to him, before he'd left, and told Carver about his plans…

Well, Carter would have gladly dug his own heart out of his chest and handed it over. Carver could never have turned away from Les for any reason. He would have left everything if Les had asked him to. Would have given it all up.

Les stood. The chair dragged with him, wood against wood, a screech to draw attention he did not need to ask for. He walked around the table until he stood face to face with Carver. "I was wrong," he said. And his voice was strong. "I was a fucking idiot. I love you. I've always loved you. You were the only one I wanted and you still are. They don't rule me anymore, Carver. I promise."

So much pain… for so very long. Carver had said he would wait. And he would have. If he'd have known there was a chance. But how could he have possibly known when he didn't even know if Les was alive?

"Don't tell me," Carver said cruelly. He pointed to the bar. "Tell them."

And now everyone was looking. They weren’t even hiding it anymore. Outright fascination played on every face at the impromptu act played out for their entertainment.

"If you're so fucking comfortable with everything and you don't care what any of them say, then tell
 them! Maybe, maybe then I'll think about believing even a single word of what you say."

And then there was Daniel.

Daniel with the dark brown eyes and the laugh that never faded to anything less than a subtle smile, even when he slept.

Les straightened his spine, lifted his chin. "Fine, I will."

In a move that startled even Carver, Les turned to the bar and cleared his throat. "If I could have your attention."

As if, at that point, they needed to ask for the attention of the other patrons.

"You should all know that I am in love with Carver Fremont. I've been in love with Carver since we were sixteen. I have kissed him, I have touched him, I have fucked him. And I would do it all over again."

Les looked over at Carver, gauging his reaction. Carver did nothing but stare.

Daniel – the man who brushed away the ashes of the burned letters without question. The one who, outwardly patient and yet internally empathetic, waited for Carver to delete texts during dinner. The man who reached out a hand to lift Carver out of the corner when the phone messages made him slink to the floor.

"I was a liar," Les continued. "And a coward. I didn't want anyone to know that I was gay and I tried way too hard to hide it. I was wrong. You can't change who you are. You can't deny who you love."

The bar was silent. The faces were stunned. The emotion was surreal.

"Please forgive me," Les asked. This time the words were directed to Carver and to Carver alone.

"I love you," Daniel said, and he'd traced Carver's jaw with his pointer finger the way he always did. Slowly, sensuously, like he was trying to tell Carver through touch alone how much Carver would be missed.

"I love you too," Carver told him. And he'd meant every word. Because Daniel was where his heart lived now. "I'll be back on Boxing Day by dinner, I promise."

Daniel nodded, leaned in and kissed Carver's mouth with the expertise of Don Juan and the tenderness of Mother Teresa. "And I'll be back by noon. So I'll cook."

Carver smiled into another kiss. "Deal."

"I forgive you," Carver said. He reached for his wallet. "Thank you. For saying that you loved me. It means a lot. I loved you too." Carver looked up, caught Les' hopeful expression and as evil as he felt, as awful as it surely was, a little bit of pain was washed away in vindication.

"And now?" Les asked, voice quiet.

Carver smiled. "And now I love my husband. And he loves me."

The grief that washed over Les' face would haunt him. As much as Carver would have loved to stroll away and leave the man wallowing in angst, he couldn't. Carver had loved him very much once.

"You don't love me, Les. You love what we had. I was the only one you shared it with. You'll find it again. Now that you can. Now that you've come to terms with it. You're an awesome person when you want to be."

Carver held out his hand, kept it there until Les took it several long seconds later. "Merry Christmas, Les. Good luck."

The End

Copyright © 2011 AF Henley

No comments:

Post a Comment