178 pages / 5100 words
Paperback at Amazon
Warren and Silas meet for the first time at the age of five. It doesn't go well.
When they reach junior high they have a truce in place and Tal, a new guy in their class, acts as a catalyst, bringing them together as best friends. Together all through high school, they survive school plays, Tal's girlfriends, Silas' boyfriend and Warren's endless studying. College is more of the same, until Silas and Tal coax Warren out of the closet.
For Warren nothing changes, but for Silas the world has unexpectedly changed forever. He had no idea he was in love with his best friend at all, and when he finally tells Warren the reaction is another surprise.
Warren knows all about Silas, knows the tricks, the games, the very best and the very worst about him, and Warren loves him back. But Warren also knows that if they're going to be together it's got to be forever, and he can't just risk everything for what might be another one of Silas' whims.
Silas has to prove he loves Warren, and he wants to do just that. But how do you win the heart of someone who knows you better than anyone else?
"We'll be here all night at this rate." Warren fell back in his chair, jamming against Silas' hand. "Hey!"
"Sorry." Silas adjusted his position. "So, I think I've got my mom talked around to letting me get that new game I was telling you about, with the..." His voice trailed off and Warren turned his head to see why. Then he nudged Tal.
Silas was watching a young man walk past them and up the steps of the stage. "Who is that?" he asked, his head tilting slightly to the side. "I don't recognize him."
Warren shrugged. "Someone's brother?" The guy had on a college hoodie and there were car keys dangling loosely from his fingers. "Does it matter?"
"Apparently," Tal murmured. He lifted his chin at Silas and Warren turned around in his seat to look.
Silas was staring as the newcomer crossed the stage. Sherilynn broke away from Madison to talk to him, apparently protesting his presence. Warren wouldn't say that Silas' eyes were bugging out, exactly, but his mouth was literally slack-jawed and he was watching intently. Then he blinked rapidly, three times and once more, and his face lost all color. He went white in an instant, so fast that Warren was alarmed into reaching for him, but then Silas' eyes narrowed and the color came back to stain his cheeks red. Silas nodded sharply, apparently to himself, and stood up. "So. All right, then."
Sherilynn went back to Madison and the young man came down the steps, pausing at the bottom to scan the rows of seats. He blinked and rocked back a little when he spotted the three of them, or maybe it was just Silas. Then he smiled and went to sit at the other end of the front row.
"What the hell?" Warren stopped talking, his own jaw going slack as Silas marched past him, all the way down the row and took the seat right next to the stranger. Within seconds they were shaking hands and smiling at each other, chatting away with no apparent awkwardness.
"Well," Tal said slowly. "That was interesting. If only it worked that way with girls."
Warren stared at him.
"Look." Tal lifted his chin again, this time toward the piano. The girl in the middle of the group was looking at them. As soon as she saw them looking back her eyes dropped and she giggled at the girl next to her. "That's Gabrielle Verner. She's hot."
Warren looked at Gabrielle. She was smallish and blonde and had darkly lined eyes. She appeared to be clean, and her hair was shiny. "I guess." Warren looked down the row to where Silas was talking with his hands and the guy was laughing, clearly charmed.
"And yet," Tal said, "I can't just go up there and talk to her. She's got a posse, for one."
"And you've got a girlfriend, for two."
"There is that." Tal grinned at him. "Or whatever we are. I haven't seen her in a couple of days."
The posse at the piano broke up and two of them headed to the director. Gabrielle, however, was on a direct path to Tal and Warren.
Tal sat up straight and became intensely interested in a speck of dust on his shoe. Warren snuck another look down the row to see Silas on his feet and the guy smiling up at him, nodding at something Silas was saying.
"Hi, Tally." She giggled and walked right past them. "Warren." She pronounced it "worn".
"Hi, Gabrielle." Tal looked up and smiled at her, watching as she walked all the way around to the stage left stairs and back up to meet her friends.
"I have to go." Warren stood up, his notes clutched tightly in his hand. "Tell..." He had to think and try to order his thoughts, prioritizing his words and putting a sentence in order. "Tell Mr. Howell that I had to go home, but I'll come in tomorrow morning before school to clean up and make sure the props are done."
Tal was looking up at him, his lips pursed. "And what do I tell Silas?"
"Nothing to tell." There wasn't. "Tell him to call me after supper. Or you guys come over. Whatever." He nodded. "Come over after supper. We have to get through that history stuff. Okay?"
"Okay." Tal gave him a long look. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." He was about to fly apart.
Sometimes love is complicated.
Copyright 2016 Chris Owen