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Chapter 2 - Taylor

It has been a few weeks since school started and Gregory still haunted my every thought, slowly driving me insane. My behaviour became so iritic that my friends started asking á questions, questions I didn’t know how to answer. My uncle noticed, and one night after dinner he sat me back down at the kitchen table “Are you going to tell me what’s going on with you Ragazzo?” I sighed, knowing very well he would hound me about it until I finally spill the beans. I stared down at my entwined fingers, not too sure who to explain it.

“You know you can us anything right?” My uncle looked a little worried, most likely thinking I was doing drugs - again. “It’s not drugs; it’s a fellow classmate of mine.” I could feel their surprise rock sky high since this is the first time I expressed my concern for someone outside of my family. “Who is this classmate of yours? And what did he do to have you focus your attention on him?” I smiled a little; there was no underestimating my uncle’s observation skills. Even for someone who grew up among mobsters, he was very quick to grasp the situation, something that saved several lives of our members back in his day. “I don’t really know what it is about him, but his eyes haunted me from the time I looked at them, they looked so lost and empty. It reminded me of the eyes of the younger ones within the family after the disaster before we reunited to be one family, and it scares me a little.”

Both knew the devastation we went through before our family was reunited and my dad took the wheel together with the Don from the other side of the family. My uncle squeezed my shoulder “I am sure everything will be fine Ragazzo.”

When I got to my third period, the one I share with Greg, I got the ultimate opportunity to figure it out. I never thought I would be that grateful to that obviously desperate teacher Mr Rush for paring me up with Gregory Chambers. “Okay class, pay attention, please. I am going to call out the pairs for this semester’s project.” Everybody groaned as he announced it, I zoned out until he reached my name “Taylor Thompson and Gregory Chambers.” He handed me a print out with our project assignment on it. A shadow loomed over my table as Gregory sat down on the opposite side of my table, he looked a lot more together and a lot more closed off too. “Can I see that?” His velvet voice washed over me, as he looked at me brow raised as he motioned to the paper in my hand. “Sure” I silently breathe a sigh of relief that he didn’t notice the slight quivering of my voice. We swapped numbers, although Gregory didn’t seem very willing to swap, I was thrilled for some reason.

During lunch, everybody wanted to know why I wasn’t making as much noise as I usually do when not being paired with one of my own. “So are you going to tell me what’s going on in that pretty little head of yours?” My second in command Rafael, asked as we made our way to our second last hour for this day. I glanced at him, he looked sincere enough. “Wondering how I can get along with Greg long enough to pass this idiotic project of Mr Rush.” Rafael just grunted, “Since when do you worry about getting along with anybody?” That’s true; I usually don’t care about anything outside my family and friends.

“That’s because Greg managed to capture your interest didn’t he?” Glancing to the side I see that Veronica had taken the seat beside me at the lunch table. “Ronnie, I think that’s highly unlikely,” Rafa said, shifting a little so he could look at her properly. “They never spoke or met.” Making Veronica snort at his obvious slowness on that subject. “You two met?” Rafa’s eyes were round and wide with part of his sandwich hanging out of his mouth.

“Close your mouth, Rafa! You are making me lose my appetite!” I snap at him. He closes his mouth with a click and swallows his mouth full of sandwich.

“So when did you two meet?” I roll my eyes at his interrogation tone, “They met in the hallway on the first day of school and after that in the parking lot.” I am not even surprised anymore that Veronica knew all this. “And now they need to work on Mr Rush’ project together, meaning they will be hanging out a lot more.” She snickered at a joke only she knew. “Be sure to disinfect yourself when you leave though,” Rafa says seriously for once in his life.

“Why would that be?” I am intrigued as to his answer; he has good advice now and again.

“Well to kill the gay germs. DUH! His parents are gay.” He mumbles. I try very hard to keep a straight face, I give up as I feel a chuckle escape and before long I am laughing so hard my stomach hurts. He looks a little flabbergasted as both I and Ronnie wipe our tears away and sniff a little. “What’s so funny?!” He demands angrily, looking from me to Ronnie.

She took it upon herself to put him out of his misery “Being gay isn’t contagious Rafa, you either are or you’re not.” He looked confused, I am pretty sure his dad told him differently as the both of them left for their next class. The bell rang, signalling that lunch was over. Getting up, I pick up my tray and dump everything except the tray in the trashcan on my way out. As I walk down the hallway to my locker I hear a familiar voice speak in rapid Spanish. Turning the corner I am faced with Greg’s back as he stands a little hunched over as he speaks into his phone. “Sé Nance, sí entiendo es terrible, pero simplemente no puedo zanja de clase porque quiere ir a casa.” (I know Nance, yes I do understand it’s terrible but I can’t just ditch class because you want to go home.) I understand a little of what is said, apparently, Nance wants to go home and he disagrees tot something she said. He sighs and mumbles something I don’t catch before hanging up and notices me standing there.

His eyes widen like a scared rabbit and I can imagine his heart rate pick up as I make my way over. “I was wondering when we could meet up to talk about and work on that project of Mr Rush’ class.” He blushed, dusting his cheeks with a light pink colour. The action made me want to see more of him blushing like that. He cleared his throat, just like the first time he spoke to me, “T-this weekend should be good.” He glared slightly as he stuttered a little.

I grin “Okay, I will text you later for your address.” I walk away; I could hear him grumble under his breath of not responding. I chuckle; I have other ways of finding out his address if he doesn’t respond.

“What has you so happy Fratello?” Syl asked as I picked him up later that day. I buckle him in his car seat “I convinced a friend to let me come over this weekend.” Syl’s bottom lip quivered as he started sniffling “I-I t-t-thought w-we w-were g-going t-to t-the pl-playg-playground i-in t-the w-week-weekend.” He cried, I softly pet his head “We will piccolo uomo after we go to my friend’s house. We need to work on a project together and my friend has a little brother too, he might play with you in the meantime.” He sniffled a little before wiping his tears “R-really Fratello?” I softly kiss his forehead “Of course piccolo uomo.”

Once we’re home I text Greg that Syl is coming along to his house this weekend. I get a little nervous when he doesn’t react immediately, I am used to people react in an instant to me. I let out a sigh of relief when his answer came; That’s fine. Then Logan has someone to play with too. My address is 2365 Park Lane. “Syl! My friend said you can come along this weekend. He said his own little brother will play with you.” I say as soon as Syl comes in the room. His eyes widen as he smiles

“Really Fratello? Who is it?” He bounces excitedly on his feet.

“Logan Chambers,” I say and his excitement disappears, and he looks a little sad, even frightened. “What is wrong Piccolo Uomo? Did he hurt you?” I snap thinking that he must have been the one bullying my baby brother.

“No-no Fratello he didn’t!” He squeaks, making me snap my eyes down to his trembling frame. “H-he helped me.” He mumbles looking at his feet.

By the time Saturday rolled around, Syl was getting very nervous and anxious, he started pacing back and forth and unpack and repack his bag with favourite toys. “Come on Syl! We need to go piccolo oumo!” I chuckle as he hurriedly runs down the stairs dragging his bag, leaving a trail with toys behind. It took us an additional five minutes to put them back into his bag before we could be on our way. It took us twenty minutes to arrive at our destination; I look back to Syl in his car seat “You ready piccolo oumo?” He bit his lip, looking a little intimidated by the two-story house before nodding his head. We got out and rang the doorbell; the door opened immediately, revealing a blond, tall, tanned man in his mid-thirties.

“Hello, I am Zachery Chambers.” He holds out his hand for us to shake, I shake it.

“Taylor and Sylvester Thompson.” Zach kneels a little and looks at Syl who is hiding a little behind my leg, “Hello Sylvester.” slowly holding out his hand and Just as Syl wants to shake it Zach lurches forward making Syl hid away.

“Mommy!” A blond little boy screams, wrapping his skinny arms around his neck, making Zach chuckle as he stands back up. “Lo, this is Taylor,” he points to me “and Sylvester Thompson.”

The boy grins to me before dropping down to the floor before hugging Syl and dragging him into the house. “Sorry about that.” Zach mumbles “Lo can be a little excited.” He steps to the side so I could enter. “Greg!” He hollers up the stairway “Taylor’s here!” I hear someone grumble, and a door to the side opens and reveals a Mexican in his mid-thirties scowling at Zach as he stands there with his arms folded in front of his chest “Querido, how many times do I have to tell you not to scream in the house?” Zach looks a little bashful as he scratches his cheek “Sorry T.” The Mexican just huffs and returns back through the door with Zach close on his heels.

“Please ignore my parents; they do this all the time.” I snap my head up to Greg standing on the stairs; he looks like he just woke up from a long nap. “Come on up, my room is the only peaceful place in the house.” I shrug as I climb the stairs and follow Greg down the right side of hall towards the only open door on this side of the landing. His room is tidy and clean, nothing I expected. No clothes strewn on the floor, no game consoles, even his bed is neatly made and his desk is spotless. Greg flops down on his bed after rummaging through his school bag and pulls out the project file. “Are you going to sit down?” he asked as he looks up to me standing there on the threshold. I step over the threshold and sit down beside him on the bed after taking off my shoes.

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