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Chapter 12

Caleb’s mom pulled me into a hug as soon as we walked inside his house. She assured me multiple times that I was welcome there for as long as I needed to be and I thanked her each time. Her love and support brought tears to my eyes. I wished my mom and dad were as loving and accepting as her.

“Mom, let him breathe. You’re going to suffocate him,” Caleb complained and I chuckled. She let go of me and rolled her eyes with a sigh.

“Elliot, it’s not fair how your parents treated you. A parent is supposed to love their child unconditionally, not kick them out just because of sexuality. You are always welcome here,” she gave me one last hug, then let me go.

Her words left me speechless. All I could say was ‘thank you’ before Caleb dragged me up the stairs to his room.

He pulled me into a tight hug as soon as we were inside the room. I could hear his sniffles and held him as close as possible.

“I’m so sorry, Elliot,” he said between sobs.

“You don’t have a reason to be sorry, Caleb. None of this is your fault,” I said.

“I know, but you don’t deserve to be treated that way. You are the kindest, most caring person I’ve ever met and deserve all the happiness in the world. I wish I could fix this for you,” he muttered against my neck.

“You’re a sweetheart, you know that?,” I smiled and hugged him tighter.

“It isn’t fair! I know how much it hurts to lose a parent, and you lost both of yours! You don’t deserve that!,” he gripped onto my shirt and pulled me impossibly closer in a protective manner.

“Sweetheart, it’s okay. I knew a long time ago that they wouldn’t accept me. Yeah, it isn’t fair and nobody deserves to be treated that way, but there’s nothing we can do to change what happened. Even if I could, I wouldn’t. It was bound to happen eventually. I’m just glad that I have you here to help me through this,” I wiped the tears off his cheeks and kissed him on the forehead.

It was quiet for a few minutes as we held each other. “How are you not upset right now?,” he finally asked.

“I got it all out when I was on the phone with Remmy,” I stated and I saw a glimmer of something flash in his eyes.

“Wh-who’s Remmy?,” he asked.

“Remmy is like a brother to me. He’s a great guy. I think you’ll like him,” I answered.

He looked away and I could see him nervously biting his lip, “You mentioned him coming... What happens when he gets here?”

“He’s leaving after classes on Friday, so I’m guessing he will be here around five-ish. He’s going to help me figure out my next move,” I answered and I saw sadness in his eyes.

“You’re not going to leave, are you?,” he asked with a small voice and watery eyes.

I held his chin with my thumb and forefinger and made him look up at me, “Caleb, I’m not going to leave. You’re stuck with me.”

He smiled and I released him as he wiped his tears away.

“Can we come inside yet?,” an impatient Atlas asked from the doorway.

I chuckled and said, “Yeah, come on in.”

Caleb pulled away from me reluctantly and they started getting everything set up for a movie night.

Matt and I spent our time getting to know each other as we watched them set things up.

Turns out, Matt’s pretty cool. We have a lot in common too and I even learned that Atlas sings and plays the guitar. I guess he is good at it too.

“Oh, yeah. I remember seeing a guitar in his room the morning after the party,” I said absentmindedly, not even considering how awkward that information could make things. I noticed Atlas and Caleb pause for a moment and I realized my mistake.

“I’m a bit confused,” he started with a confused expression, “Atlas said he only knew Caleb when he moved here.” Matt looked at Atlas and I noticed a guilty expression on his face.

He never told Matt.

“Yeah, uh, Elliot and I technically met the night of the party but didn’t officially meet until the next day for dinner with his family,” Atlas said. After a moment of silence, Atlas said, “Elliot and I slept together the night of the party.”

Matt’s eyes widened in surprise and he asked, “Atlas, why didn’t you tell me before? Is there a reason you kept it a secret from me?”

“No, no! It wasn’t a secret! I just didn’t know how to tell you,” Atlas said quickly, “I swear, Elliot and I are only friends.”

Matt looked between Atlas and me and sighed.

“I think I need some air,” Matt stood up and walked out of the room.

Atlas went to follow him, but Caleb stopped him.

“Just give him some time to calm down,” Caleb suggested.

“No, I need to explain things to him. I don’t want him thinking there’s still something between us,” Atlas tried getting out of Caleb’s hold.

“I’ll go check on him, stay here Atlas,” I said and walked out of the room. I walked down the stairs and looked around, spotting him sitting on a chair on the back patio. I walked over to the glass door, opened it, and walked out. I closed the door behind me and sat on the chair beside him.

“I don’t know why he didn’t tell you, but there’s nothing between us,” I said after a few minutes of silence.

“How do I know you both are telling me the truth? This is my first relationship with a guy and I really like Atlas, but I don’t want to get hurt.”

“Matt, I’m going to tell you something, and I don’t want you to tell anyone. This needs to stay between you and me, okay?,” I began with a sigh.

“Alright,” he responded.

“I don’t like Atlas more than a friend. I ... I like Caleb,” I finished with a smile, “Fuck, I can’t even get him out of my head,” I chuckled and ran my fingers through my hair. “It’s probably pretty obvious that I like him, but I’m just not ready to tell him yet. I’ve never felt like this about someone before, and I’m really scared I’ll fuck it up somehow.”

I ended up saying more than I planned on saying, but I’m sure Matt knew now that nothing more than friendship is between Atlas and me.

I looked over at him and saw a smile on his face. “Thanks, Elliot,” he said and stood up.

“You’re welcome,” I responded with a smile and we went inside.
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