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Chapter Nineteen

[TRAVIS]

“Travis.” I jumped back, taking a stance at the sound of someone calling my name as I walked into the kitchen for breakfast.

“Damn, you scared the living daylight out of me,” I groaned, relaxing at the realization that I was just my mother. She was in her office clothes and I made the assumption she was about to leave. Her blonde hair was a very similar blonde shade with mine. It was cut into a neat bob around her face that gave her this professional look she fancied.

“I want to talk to you about something,” she said, dipping a tea bag into her mug of hot water. She proceeded to sit on one of the counter seats.

“What about?” I asked, walking fully into the kitchen and towards the fridge. I took out things for a quick sandwich, deciding that I was in no mood for one of Jane’s experimental omelets.

“What’s this gay thing?” I heard her ask. I froze, anchovies and a pack of cheese in hand. What? Did she just ask... What?!

“Sky, Sam, and Jasper gave me very informative breakdowns while Jonah- well, Jonah just sent me a crude text in caps stating that my son was a fag,” my mum said, stirring her tea with a spoon.

“Look, I-”

“Do I have to start going for parades or something?” she asked, cutting me off. I frowned, trying to decode what she had just said.

“Wait, you’re okay with this?” I asked, dropping the anchovies and cheese on the counter.

“Well of course I am, how shallow do you think I am?” she asked, giving me a matter of fact look. Okay, maybe I did want to point out that I thought she was very, very shallow. But I just stood there like a stack of cards waiting to be blown over.

“Back to my question. Do I have to attend parades or something? What about your room’s wallpaper? Should I change it to peach, maybe lilac? Did you quit soccer?”

“Mum, no!” I yelled on top of my voice. She paused, stirring her tea for a while to look up at me.

“You don’t have to do any of that, okay?” I said, feeling my face heat up.

“Are you sure? I read that gay male teens take up masculine roles to make themselves feel less gay. I don’t know, convince themselves they’re straight. So, if any of the things you currently do is part of some sort of defense mechanism let me know,” she said, taking a sip of her tea. I stared blankly at her, not sure of what exactly to say.

She looked down at her watch sighing. “I’m going to be late.”

“So Travis, feel free to confide in your mother,” she said, getting up.

“They’re not defense mechanisms, mum. I’m still Travis,” I said, taking out the loaf of bread from the top counter.

“I hope so. The worst thing you could do is to live a lie,” she said finishing the rest of her tea before dropping the empty mug in the sink.

I watched how she stopped by the kitchen door as the housekeeper walked in with Catherine.

“Good morning ma’am,” Jane greeted before handing a giggling Catherine to her mother.

“Fluff princess,” my mum cooed, tickling Catherine in the belly before handing her back to Jane.

“I have to run,” she announced before leaving the kitchen.

“Why do you have that confused look?” Jane asked taking stuff from the fridge.

“My mum took it all in as if it was nothing,” I explained, taking a bite of my sandwich. I confined in Jane about the gay thing the day outed me and I had come home looking like a wreck, and she’d been surprisingly cool with it.

“It is nothing, and I never doubted that she’d act otherwise,” Jane said mixing the baby formula in a bottle. Catherine banged the table of her high chair with her fists at the sight of it.

“Why?” I asked taking another bite of my sandwich before looking up at the clock. It was Monday, and two hours before Sky got here. The whole weekend had flown by after my Dat-outing with Paul.

I closed my eyes, still feeling fluttered about the whole thing. The fact that he had kissed me was still making my blood boil - in a good way.

“Well, your uncle Cam - you know the one that lives in a single room apartment with his roommate Carl?” Jane asked, heading to give Catherine her bottle. She snatched it with firm fists before shoving the bottle’s nipple into her mouth and began to suck with bliss.

“Yes. My mum’s brother...” I trailed, pausing as it finally clicked.

“He’s gay?” I asked, scrunching my brows. It never actually occurred to me before. I’ve known him and his roommate since I was a kid, but still.

“Bingo! But your mum and dad don’t talk about it much. Which reminds me, your father is probably going to be looking at you oddly for a while. Just know he’s trying to, and will eventually digest it, okay?” she said, patting my shoulder. I rolled my eyes but secretly counted myself lucky that I was in a fairly accepting family.

*

I walked around in the hall, hoping to catch Paul at his locker. Well, I assumed I knew his locker. I wanted to talk to him about Saturday. Explain to him that the kiss was only provoked by the moment.

I stopped in my tracks, sighing. It’s either I’d forgotten the location of his locker or I was lost in the school’s corridors. I’m quite afraid it’s the latter.

“Move it fag,” a junior said, bumping me slightly as he walked passed me. I ignored him, something I’d learned to do to people like him in a relatively short time.

I decided to check the secluded areas of the hallway just for the knack of it and finally found Paul.

“Paul?” I muttered, watching from the distance as two boys seemed to manhandle him against the lockers.

I watched as they tried to wrestle his sweater off him. He struggled, but he was virtually hopeless against the two of them. I lost it when one of them slammed him against the locker forcefully.

“Hey!” I yelled dropping my bag on the floor before running to them. I grabbed one by the collar if this shirt, slamming him against the other before attacking the other.

“Get off him!” I yelled, pulling the boy by the neck. He began to choke, letting go of Paul in the process.

“Run!” I yelled at Paul. He looked from me to the boy I still hand in a neck hold before picking up his bag from the floor and making a run for it.

While he disappeared into the hallway I tried to talk sense into the two idiots, but they just kept struggling. I sighed in defeat and settled for twisting their legs so they were temporarily immobile.

I left them, running through the now empty halls in search of Paul. I groaned in frustration after looking everywhere for him. I decided to check the restroom. Walking towards it, I already started hearing sobbing.

“Paul?” I called out opening the door slightly. I didn’t get a real reply, just a sniffled toned down cry.

Walking in, I found him seated by the first sink with his brown head between his hands.

“Paul...” I trailed not really sure of what to do. I approached him awkwardly before joining him on the floor. I listened to him cry his heart out, and the worst part of it all was that I couldn’t do anything to help the pain go away.

“Come on Paul, I’m here,” I assured, lifting his head off his hands. His face was red and stained with tears. He looked tired of crying, but not exactly done doing it.

“Why?” I asked monotonously, not quite sure of what I was asking. I rubbed his back reassuringly, trying to give some sort of comfort.

“They... They just f-fucking hate me... I’m tired, I’m so t-tired...” he cried, gripping my sides as he buried his head on my shoulder.

“Stop crying, it’s okay,” I assured as I continued to rub his back. His cries repressed to tiny whimpers and sighs as his body continued to shake violently. I pulled him closer, stroking his hair out of his wet face. There was silence around us, apart from Paul’s weak whimpers and the sound of a leaking sink.

“I hate them, I really hate them,” he muttered, pulling away from me before wiping at his tear stained face vigorously.

“Why would they do that to you?” I asked, taking his hand in mine. He quieted down, looking down at our conjoined hands with a partly calm, partly confused stare.

“I don’t know, probably because I’m a fag I guess.” He shrugged tightening the grip of our hold. We sat there in silence for a while. I sighed, at the feeling of our conjoined hands and visibly shook when he rested his head on my shoulder. I cowered in delight, not caring that that part of my shirt was soon turned into a wet patch.

“Travis,” he called, making me look down at him.

“Thank you,” he said, looking away from me, his full lashes glittery from all the crying. The instinct driven part of me was dying to kiss him, but the part that still reasoned reminded me of Alex. Where was he in this equation?

“We better go,” Paul said, cleaning his eyes with the back of his hand. I nodded in agreement, helping him get up. We walked out the restroom and eventually out the school door.

“Where were you guys?!” Sky screeched at the top of her voice as we walked out the school doors.

Her car was the last one in the already deserted parking lot apart from a hand full of bikes and three minivans.

I could see Alex poke his head out the car window, but I couldn’t decode the look on his face.

Paul walked up ahead of me to meet up with Sky who pulled him into a bone-crushing hug.

“You might as well kill him yourself,” I heard Alexander say as I walked up to the car. Sky stopped hugging Paul before turning over to stick her tongue out at Alex. Alex muttered something along the line of ‘immature’ before turning away.

I got into the back seat with Paul. I haven’t driven myself to school in the past few days, as Sky had offered to drive me back and forth. She probably explained it to Alex, considering he wasn’t ranting on about him and me being in the same location.

Sky soon got in and started the engine. She started small talk with Alex and Paul. I didn’t butt in, not wanting to get on Alex’s nerves.

She pointed out that our exams were starting this Wednesday, making me grimace in remembrance.

“Not prepared, are you?” Sky laughed, making me give her a death glare. She turned to stick her tongue out at me before returning her attention to the road.

We soon got to Alex’s place. Alex got down, and Sky went out with him.

“I’ll be back soon. I have to get some reference material from Alex,” Sky said shutting the driver’s door behind her.

I heard Paul sigh under his breath, and it was then I realized we were alone together - again. I bit my lip remembering what I wanted to tell him before I flew at his bullies.

“About that kiss...” I started, rubbing the back of my head. What in the world is wrong with me? I’d carried out the whole freaking conversation in my head this morning, why was it so freaking hard to actually say?

“I understand that it was in the moment, you don’t actually have to explain that,” Paul said. I looked over at him, wondering if he’d just read my mind.

“I...” I trailed not knowing what to say. I mean what could I say? I’m sorry we kissed?

“You said it yourself remember? I’m not exactly attractive enough for someone to like me, so...” he trailed, drawing invisible shapes on the car’s window.

I frowned, trying to remember when I’d implied such. Then it came to me, and I blushed, remembering my careless transfer of frustration on Paul.

“I didn’t mean that,” I said, turning to face him. How could he even think I meant that? It was in the past, and I didn’t even know him well enough to judge.

“But it’s true—”

“No, it’s not, okay?!” I said a little on top my voice, making him turn to face me with a questioning look.

“I was just angry. And stupid,” I said before letting out a sigh and looking down at my lap.

“You’re actually really nice... and cute... Shit. Do I actually have to tell you how good of a person you are?” I asked, holding my now boiling face. I suspected Paul wasn’t doing any better considering he was being awfully quiet.

“Thanks... I think,” he finally said as I heard the driver’s being unlocked. I uncovered my face, to find Sky getting in with a brown folder under her arm. She dropped it on the passenger seat before settling down on hers.

“Sorry for taking so long,” she apologized as she started the car.

“It was nothing,” I said, looking from her to Paul. He had his head rested on the window and the pink tinting of his face was hard to miss. He stirred, turning his gaze to me, making the pink turn a deep red before he turned away. I turned away too, paying attention to the passing scenery.

The ride to his place was void of conversation and noise, apart from the music playing on the radio that Sky sang along (badly) to.

When we got there he got out of the car and walked to his gate before pausing in front of it awkwardly. He bit his lip, running over to my side of the car, throwing the door open before leaning in to whisper something in my ear and taking off again.

Before I could finish processing what just happened he’d disappeared behind the gate and out of sight.

“What did he say?” Sky asked with a curious tone.

“I don’t know,” I lied as I closed the door behind me. Sky rolled her eyes, starting the car before driving off.

I was still visibly shaken up until Sky dropped me off at my place. Never, and I mean ever has someone ever told me they were in love with me.

Okay, let’s leave my parents out of this. That’s different.

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