by Grasshopper

Chapter 12

Callie slept deeply way into the morning. Everything was working out just the way she wanted it. The last part of her plan would happen tonight and then she'd be done. Wes and Cole would forget all this silliness, they'd both see that they would be so much better off being normal. Callie would take care of everything. She knew what was best for Coley and for Wes. She rolled over in her sleep, curling around her huggy pillow and dreamed of dancing with Wesley on a sandy beach.

Cole lay in his bed until the sun began to warm the snowy yard. He had already cleaned Mom's car and Callie's bathroom. Part of him knew he should tell Mom and Dad what had happened, but he'd promised Callie and she'd promised not to go to the Blue Moon again and, since nothing bad had happened, he figured it was okay.

Tonight was Lily Campbell's party, the last place he wanted to be. All he wanted was to talk to Wes, but Wes had turned off. He talked little as it was, and when he made up his mind, nothing Cole said ever made a bit of difference. If Wes said he was going to take Mercy to find out about his mother, then that's exactly what he'd do. Cole would just have to wait like he'd done all his life.

Wes woke up early. He had to be on the job by 7:30 and he wanted to talk to Mercy before he left. They had to make plans. He knew if he stayed in McLaren much longer he'd never be able to leave Cole. He understood why Cole's parents were concerned. He understood why Callie had come to him. Cole deserved better than him. Wes loved Cole so much that he saw why he had to let him go. He tapped on Mercy's door and opened it when she whispered, "Come in".

"Mercy, can you be ready to go by next Saturday?" Wes figured that would give them a week to get everything straight and that would give both of them one more pay check, enough to buy the old Chevy Camero sitting down in Hill's used car lot. He'd been making payments on it for over a year and this last paycheck would do it. His birthday was in three days and as soon as Wes could get his license, they could leave. He figured it would take two days driving full tilt to get to Salt Lake City and from there, he had no idea what direction their search would take them.

"Come here, Wes," Mercy whispered excitedly. "I've found something very important. Look!" She scrambled out of bed and ran to the closet, pulling the quilt and the old bible down off the shelf. Opening the bible, she pointed to the inscription:

This Bible Belongs To: Katherine Violet Lucas

Age: 13 – Today is my birthday!!!

Happy Birthday to ME!!!

Year of Our Lord: May 21, 1980 – Provo, Utah

"Look, Wes, its Mother's bible."

"Where did you find it?" Wes asked, his voice choked as he touched the book reverently.

"Up in the attic. Look, her name was Lucas and here's her birthday and she was from Provo, Utah, not Salt lake City like Father said and, look," she rustled quickly through the pages, "Look, Wes, she liked a boy named Billy.

This is so great!"

Wes felt the burn of tears in his smokey eyes. All this time, all these years, they could at least have had this. They could at least have known this much. A blaze of anger shot through his heart.

"This was her quilt. It's handmade, look Wes." She handed the faded Wedding Ring quilt to her brother and he did exactly the same thing she had done. He raised it to his face and breathed in the faint smell of lilacs. "Someone sewed this for Mother for her hope chest."

Still holding the quilt, Wes said, "I've got to get to work. I'll pick you up at the doughnut shop at six, as usual. If you see Karl, avoid him. He's being too quiet."

Mercy hugged him tightly. "Just seven more days, right Wes?" She was so mixed up. She wanted to leave this place and never come back, but she hated leaving Craig. She knew too that this meant Wes had to leave Cole. They were both paying a heavy price for being safe and for finding out who they were and the answers to so many questions, Wes especially.

"Until we have answers and until you feel safe, we have to leave. You got bus money for today?" Mercy always rode the local bus to town. She couldn't walk long distances on her crippled leg. She nodded yes; he handed her the quilt and left to start the long walk to town.

Cutting through Harrelson's pasture and then over Hangman's Cliff chopped a half hour off the trudge. Wes had done this so many times, he could do it in his sleep, but today, Cole wasn't waiting for him at the cliff. This was just another way they could be together. Cole always walked with him on Saturdays, but he wasn't here. Wes couldn't wait around. He pushed the hurt to the back of his mind and went over and over what they had learned from Mother's bible. Lucas! His grandparents are named Lucas and they live in Provo, Utah. He and Mercy were getting closer to the truth. 'Cole, where are you?' his mind wouldn't stop thinking about Cole and why he wasn't there. Had he decided that if Wes was leaving, he wouldn't come? Was he angry? Where was Cole?

Cole glared at Callie. He had missed meeting Wes up on the cliff. This would have been a good time to talk about it some more, to beg him to reconsider. But Nooo! He was here at Lily Campbell's house picking music CDs for tonight. He had said, "NO!" when she wheedled at him, but then Mom had told him that Mrs. Campbell had called and asked for Cole especially to bring Callie this morning.

"Why do I have to go over there this morning? The party's not til tonight. I'm gonna be Lily's date, isn't that enough? I'm supposed to meet Wes up by the ................"

"Wes, Wes, Wes," Callie snarked, "Could we have five minutes without hearing his name? It sure will be good when we go away."

"Shut the fuck up!" Cole exploded.

"Cole Hewett! I won't have talk like that in my home," his mother cried out in a shocked voice. "Apologize to your sister."

"Like hell," he muttered, cutting Callie an angry look. Just a little while ago, they had been close and now, here she was, knowing she was hurting him and not seeming to care. It was like she was jealous of Wes or something. "Get in the car," he growled as he stomped toward the door. He was only doing this for Mom. He'd try to find Wes later this morning.

Lily was making it very obvious that she wanted Cole. If she pressed her boobs up against his arm again, he was gonna ..... he was gonna what? She couldn't help it any more than he couldn't help who he wanted. He'd have a talk with her tonight and explain .... Explain what? That he was gay and then the entire town would know tomorrow? He didn't know from experience, but he assumed that girls like Lily, whose fathers were richer than God, didn't tend to take rejection very well. Hell, this was a big fuckin' mess. He missed Wes and just wanted to be at the cave in his arms.

Lily, her multi-highlighted long hair that she flew to Dallas, Texas for every three weeks, swinging just so over the collar of an outfit that would probably pay for the entire lighting bill of McLaren, Wyoming for a month, plopped down in Cole's lap and slid her arms around his neck. "I'm so glad you came this morning, Cole. Tonight is going to be wonderful. I have something special for you." She smiled a very sexy catlike smile that could only mean one thing as she rubbed her perfect boobs against his chest.

'Oh, Jesus', Cole sighed to himself. 'What a fuckin' mess.'

Karl Jr. drove into the neglected barnyard, left the engine running as he stared at the old dilapidated house. He hated this place. He hated everything it stood for and especially the man who lived here. Karl hadn't seen Father since he had returned home and that was fine by him, but he'd left something buried in the barn and he needed it. He was running low on funds and the package would sell for ten K ... enough to get him out of this town.

Getting out of the truck, Karl couldn't help himself from walking over to the house to climb the broken steps onto the porch. He heard the voices of his past coming from the windows:

"Obey me!"
"No, Karl, no!"
"Bring me the belt!"
"You are worthless!"

and a soft, faint voice singing a song just for him as she rocked him in the twilight, "Sail, baby, sail, out upon that sea. Only don't forget to sail back again to me."

"I never forgot, Mama," he mumbled. "I would have done anything for you."

He leaned his head against the wood of the stairpost as flashes of memory flew behind his eyes: handing Mama wooden clothespins as she hung out the wash, cuddling in her lap as she read books to him, Mama hiding him behind her skirts when Father looked for him, and especially Mama singing to him.

Then, the day after Wesley was born, she was gone. Gone forever.

But then, letting out a harsh peal of laughter, raw and cutting, he stomped down the steps and headed for the barn. None of that mattered anymore. These people meant nothing to him. No one had ever loved him. She hadn't either or she never would have left him here.

Grabbing a shovel, Karl walked to the back horse stall and shoved aside the hay bin. Digging quickly, he hit the black plastic bag about three feet down. Pulling the bag out of the hole, he ripped it open and took out the backpack. Checking to make sure the ziplock bags of white powder were intact, he didn't bother to fill the hole back in; just threw down the shovel and walked out into the yard.

Father stood on the front porch. Karl sucked in a breath. He looked so old and worn, but his eyes still held that glint of madness.

"What are you doing here?"

"And hello to you, old man. Miss me? I sure as hell haven't missed you these last two years."

"Get off my land. I told you that you were not welcome here ever again."

"As if I want to even breathe the same air as you, you old crapweasel. I just came to get something I left." As Karl Jr. walked toward Terry Collom's old truck, he called out, "The next time I see you, it'll be in Hell." He could hear the old man shouting scriptures as he tore up the dirt in the driveway.

There had been workmen in Lily Campbell's spacious backyard setting up a big tent, tables and chairs by the pool. The caterers were bustling around and the DJ was setting up his turntables.

Cole was miserable. All he wanted was to talk to Wes, but Lily, Callie and Mrs. Campbell had kept him busy all day doing the dumbest junk. It was like there was a conspiracy going on to keep him there. He'd slip away when he and Callie went home to change for the party. He knew in his gut that Wes was at the cave. Callie would just have to wait for him.

They finally headed for home at 4:00 and Cole saddled Whistler quickly. "Where are you going?" Callie yelled as he rode out of the barnyard.

"To see Wes. I'll be back when I get back." Cole didn't see the hate in Callie's eyes, as he rode off headed for Hangman's Cliff, anger marring her pretty face.

"You're gonna be very sorry, Cole," she muttered. "Oh, yes, very sorry."

He rode fast, checking his watch and realizing that, by this time, Wes was either home or at the cave. Spurring Whistler on, he pulled up outside the cave, but the fire was cold and Wes wasn't there. All he wanted to do was talk to him, hold him, try to convince him that they'd do this together. But, Wes wasn't in the cave. Deciding quickly, he rode on, crossing the Harrelson's pasture, jumping the rail fence and, when he got the Straihan's, he stayed in the saddle to yell Wes' name at the back door. Mercy hurried out, wiping her hands on an old apron.

"Wes isn't here, Cole. What's wrong?" she asked, looking back worriedly at the house.

"I need to see him. You know where he is?"

Mercy walked down the steps and over to Whistler. "No, he hasn't come home from work yet. I'm getting a little worried."

Cole tried to think where Wes would have gone. They were always together around this time on Saturdays. "I'll go look for him. Don't worry Mercy. He's fine. He's had a lot on his mind, you know."

"Yes," Mercy sighed, knowing Cole didn't know just how much. "Thank you, Cole." She stood silently watching Cole Hewett ride out of the barnyard amazed that no one else seemed to see how much they cared about each other. It was a plain as the nose on your face. Mercy just wanted Wes to be happy and be able to live his life with Cole, but fate just wasn't going their way.


She sighed and called out, "Yes Father, I'm coming."

Cole just happened to look up as he rode by Harrelson's barn. Reining Whistler in, he sat staring up the figure sitting in the hayloft door. "What ya doin'?" he asked, as if this was where he'd expected to find Wes.

"Watchin' you ride around in circles," Wes squinted into the fading sun.

"It seems like life is going around in some kind of stupid circles too," Cole muttered. "Can we talk?"

"Nothin' to talk about. It's all been said. You're gonna be late for your party."

"Fuck the party," Cole growled. "You know I don't give a friggin' fuck about some stupid party."

Wes kept his eyes aimed at the sky. If he looked at Cole, he'd waver. Everything was riding on Wes' shoulders; Cole's future, Mercy's escape. He had to do this for Cole and if Cole looked in his eyes, he'd be able to tell it was all lies.

There was an awful awkwardness that had never been between them before. Not sure what to say, neither boy spoke for a few minutes. Wes just didn't want to have to lie about his feelings for Cole and Cole didn't want to beg. They had reached a Mexican Standoff, neither able to speak the words that make all this right again.

"When are you leaving?"

"As soon as I take my last exam. I don't need to do the graduation thing."

Cole wanted to scream, but he said, "I'll get your diploma and keep it for you if you want."

"Yeah, thanks."

"Is there nothing I can say?"


"Then, I'll see you when I see you, I guess."


"I love you, Wesley. Don't forget."

"I love you, Cole. You either."

Cole sat still for a few seconds and then wheeled Whistler and headed back to his life; back to Lily Campbell's party and everything he cared nothing about. He left his heart with Wesley Straihan.

Wes watched him ride away. "Okay then," he murmured, "Okay", just like he had when he was a little boy and he had no choice. He jumped down to the ground and headed slowly back to the house. He could see the smoke puffing out of the kitchen chimney. It could have been a wonderful house, the Straihan Place, if there had just been love living there. As the sound of Whistler's hooves faded away, Wes let the tears fall. For twelve years, Cole Hewett had held Wes' heart in his hands and he took away with him tonight.

Cole sat in the dark of his bedroom through dinner. "I'm not hungry," he called through the door when his mom came to get him.

"Are you okay, Cole?" she asked, concern in her voice. She knew he didn't want to go to this party.

"Yeah, I just want to get rid of this headache before I go. I'm okay."

Ever since Cole had brought Wesley home that night, Sarah had watched her son with different eyes. She knew he was unhappy right now and knew it had to do with Wesley, but she couldn't force him to talk to her. She could just be here when he needed her. "I'm here if you need me, Cole."

"Thanks, Mom."

The party was in full swing by the time Callie and Cole drove up. "You're sure in a foul mood, brother," she complained. "Don't you go messing up the party just cause you're cranky."

"Shut up!"

"Oh lord! You're being a total pig." Callie jumped out of the car and ran over to some friends that were walking into the house.

Cole sat behind the wheel, feeling dejected and alone. Wes wouldn't give an inch and Cole didn't even understand why Wes and Mercy felt they had to go right now. He slammed the palm of his hand on the steering wheel. "Damn!!"

"Sounds like you could use a beer, cowboy," Lily purred, handing a frosted green Fosters through the door Callie had left open. Sliding down into the Volvo's front seat, Lily Campbell checked Cole out from head to toe. Yum! Lily had wanted Cole ever since her father had decided she should come home to McLaren for her high school years to get a taste of real life. After her initial tantrum at having to leave the boarding school in Paris, Lily realized that, if she wanted Daddy's money, she'd have to play Daddy's games.

She'd run through every other eligible guy in McLaren County and several who were already taken, but Cole Hewett eluded her. When Callie had confided in her about Cole and Wes, she had pretended to be shocked, but, after living in Paris for seven years, being gay was no different to her than being a size four. She had decided a long time ago that she was bisexual and living at the girl's boarding school had proved her true. The only two guys in McLaren County worth salt were Cole Hewett and Wes Straihan and she didn't give a rat's ass if they were gay, straight or werewolves as long as one of them came her way.

"You down in the dumps, cowboy?" Lily began to rub Cole's clenched shoulders. "Want to tell Lily all about it?"

Cole downed the beer and took the one Lily handed him. "No, thanks. I've just got some stuff on my mind."

"Want to go on in the house and listen to the music?"

"Nah, I'm not very good company."

'He needs to get smashed', Lily thought to herself, then spoke, "I know just the place. Start the car."


"I know just the place where you can have the quiet you want. Come on."

Cole started the car and Lily directed him to the far side of the house and showed him where to pull the car up beside a small cabana. "It's the pool house. Daddy comes here when he wants to be quiet for a while," she laughed. "C'mon." Winding herself around Cole's arm, Lily tugged him toward the dark building.

"I don't think this is such a good idea," Cole muttered.

"Don't be silly, We'll just have another beer and you can tell Lily all about it."

She turned on a mellow lamp and the party music was flowing through the room. "Here, another beer will cheer you up." She slipped out a tiny folded paper that had been tucked in her bra, tapped the powder into the neck of the frosted Fosters and grabbed another beer for herself.

All Cole could see was Wes, sitting in that hayloft door, telling him he was leaving. He felt the misery choking him. His throat felt dry and his eyes felt heavy. Swigging down the beer, he watched with dazed eyes as Lily replaced it with a full bottle in his hand. Yeah, getting drunk wasn't such a bad idea. Maybe then he would forget the hurt.

Damn, it was hot in here! He heard Lily laughing, strange voices and heard the click of the door locking along with the heavy thumpa thumpa of the music.

Wes was sitting on the front steps watching the stars blink on and off, on and off, wondering what Cole was doing and if he was having a good time at the party. He felt a deep wave of coldness run through his mind and the stars went black. He realized that he was trying to see through Cole's eyes.

Apparently, it didn't work that way.

Going to parties and making new friends; that's what the Hewetts wanted for Cole. Wes had to step back and let that happen. He leaned back, rested his head against the wooden railing and remembered good times when he and Cole had thought they'd be together forever.

He remembered digging that hole in the schoolyard when they were in kindergarten. How Cole had been taking his turn digging and Wes had leaned his head over the edge and asked what he saw.

Cole had grinned and replied, "There's a parade going on in China." Wes remembered that they had both laughed til they lost their breath.

Wes woke up sad and feeling lonelier than he had in his life.

Callie slept until afternoon.

Cole woke up with the worst pounding headache and the sickest stomach.

He just made it to the john and then threw up until it turned to dry heaves.

Lily Campbell chuckled in her sleep, dreaming of what she would do with the video tape.

It was April Fool's Day.

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