Note: This prologue originally didn’t exist before 4th June 2019. To all my new readers, this won’t affect you. To all my old readers who are clicking on this prologue after reading the 19 chapters I already put up, I’m sorry for the lack of chronological order. Part of the first draft for a writer is figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and I’ve realized that not having this prologue makes things confusing later on. So here it is!
I’ve decided to write this in 3rd person past tense even though the whole of this book is 1st person present tense. 3rd person is my weakest so this will need a lot of editing I think *laughs nervously*
Smoking cigarettes and eating celery was Dom’s thing. Drinking and getting high was his other thing. Then he also had his other other things like staring intensely at Christian until he got uncomfortable. That was the worst thing.
Dom watched from the kitchen as Christian caught him out from afar in the lounge room, sensing his emotionless, ceaseless looking. Christian stared back for a moment, then took the liberty of leaving the cool air circulating the frat house and plunging himself into the windless, roasting hot summer’s day the end of August had brought. Not that doing things with Dom’s permission around here was obligatory, but doing things without Dom’s permission pissed Dom off. The ‘nice’ type of people pissed him off too. Like Christian.
Christian had been here a few days as a first year, in Dom’s territory and under Dom’s rule. Dom had been here three years already, sewing his unpleasant nature into the whole fraternity. He was looking forward to the hazing and pledging season, due to start tomorrow after the first years grabbed diapers from the store and made sure their moms were at the ready. It would get that bad, and the ‘nice’ ones like Christian would be getting the bulk of Dom’s games.
Shortly after Christian leaving, and after Dom stubbing out his cigarette, Will flashed on Dom’s phone screen. Cousin. Cousin who had the better parents. Cousin who had the easier life. Cousin who Dom hadn’t spoken to for a few years. But their conversations continued on like they never stopped.
“What?” Dom spat.
“I’m trying to get through to someone,” Will said.
“You got through to me.”
“I meant someone who’s gone to your college...I think.” That was why Will was bothering him? That was why Will thought it was cool to speak to Dom after all this time?
A moment of confusion passed before Dom asked, “What the fuck do you want?”
“Can you get a message through for me?”
Dom let out a short, scornful laugh. “Don’t call me up asking me to do shit for you. You have your girls for that.”
“Please, cousin.” That was the sound of Will Carter begging. Dom never thought the day would come.
Will Carter got everything. He was the captain of the soccer team in his high school, a school that wasn’t infested with strict rules like Dom’s Catholic school. Will Carter got freedom, there weren’t rules to hold him back. He partied, he got his girls, he brought them over, he drank, he smoked, he did what he wanted when he wanted and Dom sat and endured that every time he visited him.
“Dom, please,” there was the begging again. “Fuck’s sake, man.”
Dom laughed hysterically. He wished he could see his cousin’s pleading face for satisfaction. “I ain’t doing shit for you.”
“Cuz, I can’t show up there, man. They’ll think I’m a fucking stalker.”
“Not my problem.”
Dom was about to end the nuisance of a call when he heard Will ask, “Why do you hate me? What did I do to you?”
Dom bit his tongue, seething. Even though he was jealous of Will, Will did nothing to him. It was what religion did, and Dom didn’t want his past and his misfortune to be a sympathy ticket or an excuse. He hated Will because he hated Will, that was it.
He hated Will.
But hearing him out could allow Dom to dig for an opportunity to mess with his cousin as a way to feel better about himself. So on a whim, he decided to let Will explain everything, from all of what he did to Tommy Carpenter in high school to why he did it and why he needed to get through, which was the self-serving reason of ‘I’m in love with him’.
Dom already knew the why to Will’s bullying anyway.
Because Will’s gay. Because he didn’t want to be. Because he didn’t know how to be straight past beating up the gay kid. He had it easy compared to Dom, and here Will was thinking he could get what he wanted like he always did, and from the one person who was too bitter and too envious to give even the smallest inch of happiness to anyone.
“Tell him I’m sorry, please. Tell him I hope he’ll come and see me,” Will finished, narcissistic enough to think anyone would after what he did.
“I’ll pass the message,” Dom lied, sheer loathe stirring in the pit of his stomach. He tapped off that call hating everything, needing an outlet for his rage, for his jealousy...
And Tommy Carpenter would be it.
Everyone got to be themselves, everyone except Dom. Everyone, everyone, everyone. Dom wanted nothing more than to make the life of someone he envied miserable, and Tommy Carpenter seemed like the perfect target because Tommy Carpenter managed to escape the horror. Dom didn’t, he was still living it. He envied his freedom.
Shortly after the call ended, Christian walked in with an iced coffee in hand. Dom stared at him, and stared, and stared.
Moving in a few days ago, Christian got a glimpse of Dom’s personality when he rounded up the first years, including Christian himself, and bragged about how he ran this fraternity, how he’d have people scrubbing the floors if need be. So even though the staring left an uncomfortable feeling crawling all over Christian’s skin, he said nothing and planned to carry on to his room.
Then came the crunch of celery that Christian already couldn’t stand just as he was about to head for the stairs, and he stepped back to the kitchen, ready to confront Dom about his staring. But before he could, Dom opened his mouth.
“You know a Tommy Carpenter?”
Christian stayed silent. The first sentence out of Dom’s mouth to him should’ve been something else. Something rude and blunt, not casual. The moment of silence was enough to tell Christian he should leave instead of triggering a possible fight - Dom didn’t seem like the person to take confrontation maturely. The look in his eyes was shady despite his neutral tone.
“No...” Christian finally answered, “but my philosophy professor sent a preparation email to the whole class and I saw a Tommy Carpenter on the email list.” That humored Dom for some reason, but Dom didn’t say who the fuck remembers shit like that? as he was thinking. “Why?”
A smirk manifested on Dom’s face as he lit a cigarette and took a drag, an idea presenting itself in his head. He could do without Christian being one of the ‘nice’ ones. Dom had a lot of ‘nice’ ones to deal with this year.
“He’s gay, according to my asshole cousin Will. I hate faggots, and I’m bored.”
Christian flinched but Dom didn’t catch it. “What are you going to do?” Christian asked, composed even though internally he panicked for reasons that had nothing to do with a ‘Tommy Carpenter’.
“You’re not supposed to take that from someone.”
“Tell the rest of the frat...” Dom continued, Christian’s opinion irrelevant. “Mess with him, get a few laughs outta it. Join me, bro.”
His audacity was comical. Christian wasn’t the type of guy who got a kick out of bullying others, and the nerve Dom had to think he’d be okay with bullying someone for their sexuality of all things - or bullying straight up - was offensive.
“You think I’m going to agree with your playground games? Mess with someone’s life like that? Who the fuck do you think you are? Who the fuck do you think I am?”
“What’s your style?” Dom dismissed his questions. “You look like the walk-beside-you-to-stab-you-in-the-back type.”
“You don’t fucking know me.”
“No,” Dom stepped to him. “But I will know you, and anything I find out I’ll use against you.”
What Dom was capable of was still in the shadows, but Christian could see enough about him to know enough. He should have gone upstairs instead.
“You have issues.”
Yet like Christian wasn’t even present in the room, Dom went on. “You should probably join me. We could have some great times.”
“And if I don’t?”
Dom masked his gritted teeth behind his increasingly anxiety-inducing smile. Other ‘nice ones’ who weren’t Christian would have given in already, it was basic common sense to do so, but Christian was too nice even for himself.
Stupid is a better word, Dom thought, answering, “I’ll fuck with your life too.”
The ice in Christian’s coffee was melting and watering down the flavor, and standing here throwing words at someone he didn’t like was getting impractical and irritating. He needed to go.
“I don’t have to do shit. You don’t fucking own me,” Christian said.
Dom chewed his celery, alternating between that and his cigarette. “No, but I own all the motherfuckers in this fraternity, know all their secrets too. Been here too long for you to walk away a free man.”
Each of his words sounded dragged out and twice as virulent than any words that came prior. Christian wanted to walk away from such an irresponsible, childish conversation, but there it was persistently - the fear that walking away meant Dom digging up his unmistakenly gay past. However, there was no way in Hell he was going to ‘join’ Dom. He could only argue the matter and hope that when the time came for him to leave the kitchen, there would be no joining and no digging up.
“I’m not letting you do this,” Christian said. “Threaten me all you want but I’m not letting you do this to someone.”
“Why?” Dom was genuinely intrigued now contrary to how he’d been dismissing Christian’s every sentence before. “What have you got with Tommy Carpenter?”
Christian went quiet. “Nothing...” he said after a while.
An exasperated laugh left Dom’s gut for a split second as he was engulfed in a bad temper, then his face relaxed into an eerily blank stare. It was like two opposite personalities hit him at once.
“Then why do you give a fuck?” he asked.
“Because it’s a shitty thing to do, and you need help. I’m not letting you do this.”
“You can’t stop me.”
“I’d love to see the day.”
Christian’s knuckles paled and the lid of his iced coffee cup came off. He was out of words and options. He was going to have to walk away there and then, despite all the consequences. Just for a moment, he was, then the fear came back.
“Tell you what,” Dom said, analyzing Christian’s agony. “Let me compromise to serve your feelings and morals, yeah? Let’s make a deal.”
“I’m not making any deal with you.”
“Then I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do.”
Christian went quiet again. He didn’t know who Tommy Carpenter was but, A, didn’t want him getting bullied for being gay, and, B, didn’t want Dom to dig up the truth. The truth that Christian had been with a guy in high school, the truth that his capacity to like the same gender hadn’t and wasn’t going to change either, and homophobic Dom couldn’t know that.
He couldn’t know or he’d target Christian and let everyone in the fraternity target him too, and Christian needed college. He needed something more for himself than being the popular kid back in high school or getting what he wanted with his looks. He needed to be in this fraternity because his dad was decades ago, and his grandad was, and it was their thing. He had to be here, so if that selfishly meant making a deal with Dom, it was going to come to that.
“Alright,” Christian forced out. “What then?”
Dom stubbed out his cigarette, content with getting his own way. “I still need something to laugh at so I’m thinking the ‘walk beside you but stab you in the back’ approach. You do this, I won’t out him and I’ll go easy on you - immunity, bro. Back out and I’ll tell everyone here you’re a fag too.”
Christian gritted his teeth as Dom proceeded to tell him the terms of the deal.