The Steven Roberts Stories

by Hamster

No Way, Jose - Steven and Landon

Author's Note:

This story is a sequel to "It Takes a Village" which was entered in the "Recovery" writing challenge. Many of the characters are the same, and events described in that story are referred to in this story. So you may find it helpful to read "The Eye of the Storm" and "It Takes a Village" first if you haven't already done so. Thank you and happy reading!

To get to the two preceding stories, click the lef arrow in the left hand margin one or more times.

The Monday after Thanksgiving

Steven was pretty nervous about going back to school. He was concerned that he'd let his studies slip and it would be really hard to get good grades in most of his classes. And he was really worried about how many people knew what he'd done to get hold of weed and booze, and whether he'd get completely ostracized by all the kids.

On the first matter Steven didn't have to worry very much. His dad had talked to the Principal, and his Home Room teacher told him that all of his teachers had been asked to give Steven a lot of leeway in making up his missed assignments. He'd still have to do them, but there would be a pretty generous timetable for completing them so that he could catch up during the remainder of this semester and during the Christmas break. In some classes the teachers just gave Steven a grade for his missed assignments that reflected his average scores before Nick had been killed. Of course, it meant a lot of work for Steven but he felt he could do it. After all, he didn't have a social life anymore so that meant more time for schoolwork.

The second matter was much more difficult. Steven had already realized that he and Nick had been so close together, they pretty much excluded everyone else. They had classes together, they ate lunch together, they went home together, and they went on dates together. With Nick gone Steven had no other close friends. And because he'd always been high or drunk in the weeks following Nick's death, people had steered clear of him as if he were toxic.

Before lunch Steven hadn't seen any of the boys who had fucked him in exchange for weed and booze because they were mostly juniors and seniors and they had different class schedules. But he knew it would be hard to avoid them at lunch.

When the bell for lunch sounded he got his sandwich from his locker and went outside to his favorite table under the live oak tree, got out some books he needed to read as part of his missed assignments, and tried to be completely inconspicuous. But it wasn't long before one of the juniors came up to him.

"Well, if it isn't our favorite slut! How are you, cum bucket? What do you need this time, some more of our excellent weed?"

"That's all finished with. I quit."

"Oh no you don't! We enjoyed your little tight ass and we're planning to have it again soon. So we don't care if you don't want our weed or booze, we'll just fuck you and keep the stuff for ourselves. We win both ways!"

"No. Forget it. Fuck off!"

"Don't tell me to fuck off, you little faggot! We'll tell everyone what you did!"

"Then they'll all know you guys enjoyed fucking a boy more than the girlfriends you brag about screwing!"

"They won't believe you! They all know how studly we all are! So, Friday night at the football field, don't be late!"

"I won't be there."

"Oh, yes, you will! Or else we'll punch your lights out!"

"And if you do, you'll be in deep shit."

"Oh, yeah, faggot?"

"Yeah, asshole. Now, listen very carefully. Last time you all fucked me I got picked up by an EMT and he did two things. He took photos of my ass with blood and cum all over it and it sure as hell looks like I got raped."

"You can't prove it was us. There weren't any witnesses."

"Oh, yes, I can prove it. The second thing the EMT did was get a nurse to use a rape kit. So, all of your DNA that was swimming around in my ass is now waiting to be tested. And that will point directly at you three."

"But you let us, so it wasn't rape!"

"Prove it! And anyway, I'm fourteen so it's statutory rape. And you all would also get done for dealing drugs and giving booze to a minor. Juvie will suit you guys nicely. Who knows, they might decide to try you as adults so you could go to the County Jail!"

There was a silence while the older kid processed all this information. He'd lost a lot of his initial cockiness, and now seemed to be trying to find a way to weasel out of everything. So Steven kept up the pressure.

"Look, asshole, the DNA evidence I've got against you can last for years before it's tested. I gave a full statement to the police over the weekend about you three, and the police have your names and the rape kit. The only thing I didn't do was press charges. All I have to do is to tell the cops to proceed, and they'll come and arrest you and process the rape kit. And they know who you are already, so if you mess me up, they'll come get you and you won't have a chance to avoid prison. So why don't you and your buddies just accept that. If you leave me alone, I'll keep quiet on my end. Mess me up, you're toast. OK?"

The older boy tried to put on a brave face, but he seemed completely deflated. "Fuck you, Roberts! You better watch your step because we'll get you!"

"Whatever" said Steven, and turned to pick up his textbook while the older kid slunk away.

The other kids sitting at the other tables all watched to see what would happen. When the bully walked away, Steven just gave everyone a long hard look, and they immediately looked away and got on with their own lunches and conversations.

At dinner Steven told his parents what had happened, and gave his assessment that they'd probably leave him alone. Both his parents were really worried that Steven was at risk, but in the end they all agreed that there wasn't much they could do except hope Steven was right. They'd all agreed over the weekend that it was important to go to the police, and Steven had given a full statement about what had happened and who was involved. But he didn't press charges, and the police accepted that strategy because his statement would be valid for at least a year.

Tuesday

At school the next day nobody bothered Steven. He got through lunch by himself under the tree with no sign of anyone. He looked around at the other kids sitting at different tables. As is normal, the social system of high school was plain for everyone to see: a table full of jock's, a table full of 'A' list girls with their boyfriends, several tables of regular kids, mostly segregated by gender and, of course, a table of freshman nerds. Steven paid no attention to any of them, and just went back to reading his textbooks.

At the end of classes Steven waited for his mom to pick him up, and then they drove off to the Gymnastics Center. This was the first time he'd been since Nick died, and he felt out of shape and mentally unprepared for the rigors of his gymnastics routines.

His coach welcomed him back. "Steven, I'm devastated by what happened to your boyfriend, and I'm so sorry for you. I know Nick came to all your meets and was always rooting for you. Are you OK?"

"Yes, I think so, Coach. Thanks. I need to try to get back to as normal life as possible so I thought I'd try to get back into my routine here."

"Well, I'm glad you're here. There's nothing like exercise to help you along. But if you haven't worked out for a month or more, you're going to be out of shape. So what I'm going to propose is that you go get changed, and we'll get you to go through basic training exercises until you get your strength back. If you try to go straight back to where you were you'll fall or rip a tendon or something. Slowly, slowly, OK?"

Steven nodded. "Yes, that's what I was thinking too."

"OK, go get changed and I'll get you started."

Steven went off to the locker room. A few people saw him and said "hello" and "welcome back" and "good to see, you, Steven" but otherwise they just treated him as normal. Steven stripped off his school clothes and put on a pair of tight briefs, the short white shorts that gymnasts wear, a white singlet with blue piping on the collar and arm holes, white anklet socks and his very expensive gym shoes that gave him the proper protection for his feet. Even though he'd lost weight during his absence from the gym he felt he looked pretty good.

Coach put him through a fairly gentle routine with a lot of basic exercises and plenty of repetitions. It wasn't long before Steven was breathing a little harder and starting to sweat. "OK, Steven, slow down I don't want you to do too much today. It's going to take you a little while before you're back on the floor and ready to compete."

"Thanks, Coach. I'd forgotten how easy it is to get out of shape!"

"Don't worry, you'll be back to full strength before long. Now, run off home and we'll see you on Thursday. OK?"

"Thanks, Coach, I'll be here!"

Steven went to change back into his school clothes. Although he could have just stayed in the gym outfit, he always felt uncomfortable being outside in his gym clothes because he knew that a lot of people would be ogling his long legs and well-toned muscles. And while he was proud of how he looked, he didn't need an audience of women and men mentally undressing him.

In the locker room he met Gabe who had just arrived from school where he stayed for extra Math tuition after regular classes. Gabe was a couple of years older than Steven, and a better gymnast as well. On occasion he would help Steven through his routines and give him advice, but they competed in different age groups when it came to meets so they didn't compete against each other.

"Hey, Steven, good to see you!" Gabe walked over and gave Steven a big hug. "Bro, I'm so sorry about Nick, I really liked him and what happened was awful. And you two were perfectly matched. Life is really crappy sometimes. How you doing?"

"I'm getting over it, Gabe, it's been tough but I think I'm on the mend. That's why I came here today, to try to get back to normal."

"That's smart, Steven, mens sana in corpore sano!"

"What the fuck does that mean?"

"It's Latin. It means a healthy mind in a healthy body. The fitter you are physically, the better you'll feel mentally."

"OK, smart ass, but you're probably right. Look, I've got to go, Mom's waiting for me. See you Thursday?"

"Sure! Take care!"

Wednesday

Nothing happened to Steven on Wednesday. He really began to feel that life was returning to normal, and he was grateful for that because he'd been on a mental rollercoaster for so long. He was doing OK at catching up on his homework, and he was pleased he'd started back at the gym. He felt a little stiff in places from his workout the day before, but at least that meant he'd given his muscles something to do. He looked forward to going back the next day and working out a little harder.

At lunchtime he sat by himself and nobody bothered him. He got on with his backlog of homework, and he made a decision that he wasn't going to try to build any more intimate friendships at school because he just was sick and tired of gossip and drama that's the normal lifeblood of high school.

And at home things seemed to be more or less back to normal. His Dad was working normal hours so was always home for dinner. His Mom had decided to try to get a part-time job, mornings only so she would be available to ferry Steven around to the gym and other places, and she was optimistic she'd get a job offer by the end of the week.

Thursday

Steven was back at his normal table for lunch. There were no signs of anybody coming to pick on him, and anyway he didn't expect to have trouble at school because there would be too many witnesses. So he was gently munching on his sandwich when he sensed someone come and sit down opposite. Steven ignored him.

"Ummm, hi Steven, ummm, I know you want to be alone, but, ummm, I wanted to ask you something." Steven didn't look up, he just went on reading and eating. "Ummm, I hear you're pretty good at gymnastics, ummm, at least that's what Gabe says. And he ought to know, because, ummm, he's really good, isn't he?"

This wasn't the sort of conversation he'd been expecting, and it didn't seem threatening, so Steven glanced up and looked at the kid across the table. He recognized him as one of the nerds from the nerd table who Steven hardly knew because they only had one class together, and he couldn't remember his name.

"How come you know Gabe?"

"Ummm, he's my brother." Steven realized he had seen the kid at the gym a couple of times when they had had meets. "Oh, yes, I guess I've seen you at the gym. What do you want?"

The kid shifted around a bit, and then he went red, and looked at the table. "Ummm, well. It's like this. Ummmm, Meghan, ummm, that's Gabe's girlfriend, she's going to some hen party tomorrow, ummmm, so me and him, we're going to the movies, and, ummmm, we thought maybe, ummm, you'd like to come too."

Steven was completely taken aback. This was the last thing he'd expected. He looked at the kid more closely. He wasn't bad looking, nothing special, he had rather unruly blonde hair that was badly in need of a haircut and made him look stupid, and he looked just slightly scruffy as if his clothes weren't quite the right size. He didn't know what to say.

"Well, ummm, I didn't think you'd want to come, ummm, but I thought I'd ask. Sorry." He started to stand up.

"Wait, I didn't say 'no', did I? I was just surprised because I hardly know you and I don't know Gabe very well. Look, I have to clear it with my parents. Can I call you later?"

"Ummmm, OK, but call me, not Gabe, OK? Ummm, here's my number." And he pulled out a piece of paper on which he'd already written 'Kyle' and his phone number. Then he stood up and Steven watched him shuffle away. Steven thought that it wasn't surprising he was at the nerd's table: he seemed very shy, he didn't dress well, his clothes looked a little tired, and his hair was a mess. No girls were going to go for him. But he was really puzzled about the whole thing.

At the end of school he went to the gym, worked out a little bit harder which pleased him and his coach, and then went to change out of his gym clothes. He met Gabe in the locker room.

"Hey, Gabe, I'm glad I met you. Thanks for the invitation!"

"Huh?"

"The invitation to the movies tomorrow!"

"What the fuck are you talking about, Steven. I mean, yeah, I'm going to the movies tomorrow with my brother, but how come you know that? And what invitation?"

Steven was suddenly very embarrassed. "Well, Gabe, at lunch today your brother came over to my table and said you and him were going to the movies and would I like to come as well. I didn't say 'yes' or 'no' to him because I hoped I'd run into you and see if it was legit."

"Now you've got me very puzzled. Kyle and I never mentioned you when we planned to go to the movies, so if he invited you, it was from him and not me. And what do you mean by 'legit'?"

"Well, there are some kids who would dearly love to beat me up, or worse, and I wondered whether they had cooked this up and forced Kyle to invite me so they could jump me outside of school."

"You in trouble?"

"I don't know. Maybe."

Gabe got out his phone. "Kyle, tell me loud and clear. Did you invite Steven to the movies tomorrow?....You did?...Now tell me the truth, was that your idea or did someone make you invite him?.....are you sure?....positive?…..OK, I'll believe you, but if you're not telling the truth you're going to be in deep shit, understood….. whatever, same to you, asshole, see you later."

Gabe looked at Steven. "He says it was entirely his idea. Nobody set him up. I believe him, he's a lousy liar."

"OK, I'll believe you, but I'm really puzzled because Kyle and me, we're not friends and we hardly know each other."

"Steven, you're puzzled? How do you thing I feel? My brother doesn't talk to people he doesn't know, he's really shy, he's hardly got any friends, and any friends he has are all the nerds who he's known since first grade. It doesn't make sense. But, what the hell, I'd be happy if you want to come with us tomorrow. It's only the two of us and we're going to go to some horror movie because when I go to see movies with my girlfriend we have to watch romantic comedies. She doesn't like blood and screaming but me and Kyle do! It'll be fun!"

"OK, thanks, Gabe, I'd like that. I'll call Kyle and tell him I'll come."

Friday

Steven was still puzzled by Kyle's invitation and he speculated about why Kyle was doing this, because it did seem so out of character. He didn't see Kyle at the nerd table at lunchtime. However, he saw one of the kids who had fucked him at the football game, their eyes met, and then the kid just turned round and disappeared. That made Steven feel a little less uneasy.

So he was in a good mood when his Mom dropped him off at Gabe's house. Gabe opened the door.

"Hi Steven, I'm glad you could make it! KYLE! Get your skinny little butt here right now, we're going and if you're not ready we'll go without you!"

"COMING, asshole!"

Steven laughed. "I thought you said he was shy!"

"Not with me, the cheeky little brat!"

They heard a door shut and then Kyle walked into the room. Gabe and Steven just gaped, staring at Kyle.

"Hi, guys, let's go!" said Kyle, with a big grin on his face.

"Kyle, what the fuck have you done to your hair?"

"I got it styled, don't you like it, bro?"

"Like it, brat? No, I don't LIKE it, I LOVE it, you look fabulous!"

Kyle had had his hair cut so it wasn't in his eyes, and he'd had it feathered and some subtle blond streaks put in it, and it was gelled a bit so it stuck up. He had that perfect look of really carefully arranged casual hair. And in addition he had on a really nice shirt, and khaki slacks, and he was wearing a choker necklace. It was amazing.

"Kyle, you look great!" said Steven, "What brought this all about?"

"I just felt like I needed an upgrade! Come on, guys, stop ogling me, let's go!" Steven and Gabe looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and they headed for the movies.

The movie was exactly what it promised. It was funny and really scary and everyone in the theater was alternately laughing and screaming. Steven sat in the middle, between Gabe and Kyle, and at really scary moments Kyle would grab Steven's arm and try to hide from the horror on the screen. At the end of the movie everyone cheered and there was lots of laughter and chattering as the audience filed out.

"Well, that was fun, wasn't it," said Gabe, "much better than Meghan's romantic comedies, but don't tell her I said that so she might withdraw some of my 'privileges' on our next date! OK, who wants to go for pizza?"

And, of course, they all did. The three boys easily demolished a large pizza. After all, they hadn't eaten for a few hours, except for a giant tub of popcorn but that doesn't count. After they'd stuffed themselves and had the obligatory burps, Gabe said he had to go pee and went off to the restroom leaving Steven alone with Kyle.

Suddenly Kyle looked very embarrassed. "Umm, Steven, ummm, I'm really glad you came tonight….Ummm, can I ask you something?"

"Sure, Kyle, go ahead!"

"Well, I don't know what you're doing tomorrow, ummm… but would you like to meet for, ummm, lunch or something because I'd like to ask you something?"

"Yes, why not, I've got nothing lined up. Shall I meet you at the mall?"

"Steven, I'd rather not, ummm, I'd rather go somewhere quiet so we could, ummm, just talk a bit?"

"Do you like Mexican? We could meet at El Lobo? OK?"

"Ummm, Great."

"Noon?"

"No, ummm, let's make it later, say, ummm, one thirty? It'll be quieter then."

"Fine."

"Quiet, here comes Gabe, ummm, don't tell him, OK, Steven?"

"OK."

Saturday

Kyle was waiting for Steven at El Lobo. Because it was a nice Florida winter's day, the sky was blue and humidity was down, so most diners were out on the terrace, but Kyle had chosen a booth inside tucked away at the back. There wasn't anyone near him.

They ordered a bunch of tacos and enchiladas and some soda. Kyle started to fidget and look uncomfortable. Steven looked at Kyle.

"What's on your mind, Kyle, you seem a bit edgy."

"Steven, I'm very nervous. Ummm, I want to talk to you about something and, ummm, it's very personal, and, ummm, I don't know how to start."

"Kyle, I'm very patient and I can be a good listener, and whatever it is you have on your mind, I promise I won't make fun of you or anything. And if it's very personal, I promise I won't tell anyone else. Kyle, you can trust me."

"Well, ummm, I think so, that's why, ummm, I thought you'd be the best person to, ummm, talk to."

"OK, I'll try to help you as best I can. Now, what's up?"

Kyle's eyes began to fill with tears. "Steven, ummm, I think I'm gay and I don't know any, ummm, gay boys except you of course, and, ummm, I need someone to talk to about it. Ummm, can you help?"

"Kyle, I'll try, that's the best I can promise. I don't know how much help I'll be, but let's see."

Their food arrived and that meant there wasn't much talking for a while, but after they'd quelled the first pangs of hunger they started talking. Kyle told Steven of all his fears about being gay, and how terrified he was of anyone ever knowing, especially his parents and Gabe who all seemed pretty straight and conservative, and how isolated he felt because he didn't know any gay people at school and even if he did he wouldn't know how to talk to them because he was shy and how he dreamed of having someone he could call his boyfriend and nobody would care about it, and how jealous he'd been of Steven and Nick because they'd been out at school and nobody picked on them, and how happy they seemed together, and he had been jealous not just because they were having sex together but because they had seemed a perfect couple, and that's the type of thing he wanted, and he needed to talk to someone because he couldn't keep it all bottled up inside him.

Steven tried to help him and give him advice and suggest things to do and not to do, and he told Kyle how he and Nick had got together and how lucky they had been to have such supportive parents, and a little bit about having sex with him (but definitely not all of that). And Steven noticed that as the afternoon went on, Kyle was more cheerful and spoke pretty much without saying 'ummm' all the time, and he told Kyle that.

Kyle blushed. "Steven, I sort of do that on purpose, most of the time. I didn't want to be someone who was very popular, so I put on this act of being shy and it's helped to keep people away, especially girls because I really, really, don't know how to cope with them."

"Well, with your new hairstyle and nice clothes, you're going to get a lot more attention from the girls. And, who knows, maybe a couple of boys as well! But I bet it'll be worth it!"

"That's why I decided to have a makeover! I mean, before I picked clothes that didn't suit me, and I wore them like I didn't care how I looked and I made sure my hair was always a mess, so I knew I was pushing people away and I was quite happy with that. Then I saw you and Nick being out and happy, and I wanted to be like that, so I decided to get a makeover because I knew that you'd be able to help me."

"But you had your makeover before you knew I'd help!"

"I took a gamble because if I was scruffy and unattractive when we went to the movies you might not like me or notice me. And I think the gamble's paid off, don't you?"

"Yes, I think it has. But even with your makeover, if you go on sitting with your friends at the nerd table, nobody will come and talk to you at lunch."

"They're really not my friends. I mean, we've been together since first grade but we're not really close or anything, and it's just been convenient for me because if I sit at that table, nobody notices me and I don't stand out. So, I wondered if you might help me."

"How?"

"I thought maybe we could start having lunch together?"

"Kyle, if you come and sit with me, it'll be like wearing a rainbow tee shirt with 'I'm gay' plastered all over it. That's why I don't get company because everyone's afraid of being called gay if they talk to me."

"Yeah, I know that, so I thought you could come to our table, tell everyone you're a friend of my brother, and then when people are used to us sitting at the same table, we could find somewhere else to sit."

"Let me think about that. I don't know if it would work or not. It would be better if it was more than just us two because then people wouldn't assume we were boyfriends."

There was a pause in the conversation while both boys thought about how they could make this work. In the end Steven suggested they keep sitting at their old tables until they could come up with a plan that wouldn't expose Kyle and leave him isolated. Eventually they decided to meet up next weekend and think about the situation some more.

"OK. Steven, I'm glad we've met like this, it's really helped me and I'm beginning to like getting to know you."

Steven looked hard at Kyle and thought a bit. "Kyle, you've certainly surprised me today, not just by telling me about being gay but being more confident than I thought you were. I'm sure we'll be able to work something out for you. But let me give you a piece of advice, if I can.

"OK"

"I decided I don't ever want to date anyone from our school ever again. There's so much gossip and drama about people's relationships, and then if things go wrong and you break up, you still have to go to class together. That sucks. If you could meet someone who doesn't go to our school it would be a lot easier for you. I'm not sure how you can do that, but if you can it would help you avoid being stereotyped."

Kyle thought about that for a moment. "You're probably right, but that's going to be difficult cos I don't know anyone outside our school."

"I'll think about it. After all, I'm sort of in the same boat." And Steven began to think that maybe getting a boyfriend for Kyle could be an interesting project, and he got quite excited about the prospect because Steven liked helping other people.

And when Steven's Mom came to pick them up she could see that for the first time since Nick's death there was a sparkle in Steven's eyes. Maybe, just maybe, the storm created by Nick's death was passing and Steven was moving on to a new phase in his life.

Monday

Things returned to normal on Monday. Steven sat at his table by himself and got on with his homework. At least he was catching up and that made him feel good inside. Kyle sat at his normal table, although they did exchange a brief smile and a quick nod to each other.

"Steven, can I have a word, please?" Steven didn't recognize the voice so he glanced up to see Chris, the President of the school LGBT club.

"You've got thirty seconds."

"Steven, I'm really sorry about what happened to Nick and to you. I've watched you sitting by yourself, and I wondered if maybe you'd be interested to come to the LGBT meetings and meet some new friends. We'd love to have you come."

Steven didn't say anything for a long time, looking straight at Chris without moving. Eventually he spoke. "Sit. I've got something to say to you." Chris sat down and waited.

"Chris, I'm not interested in coming to LGBT meetings at school. Sorry. Let me explain why. Once you start going to those meetings, you're judged by the rest of the school. You'll only have gay friends because everyone is scared of catching the gay disease. Yes, I know everyone knows I'm gay because of Nick and I being together for so long, but I'm not included in your social grouping and I don't want to be. Further, if I did come and met someone and we went out and it didn't work out after a while, I'd face what I'll call the 'Algebra Syndrome.'"

"The what syndrome?"

"'Algebra'. It's like this. You have a boyfriend and you break up because you find he's been cheating on you, and you have a flaming row, and you never want to see him again, and you get to school on Monday morning, and your first class is Algebra 101, and you're assigned to sit next to him, and you're seething with anger at the asshole so you don't understand a single word the teacher says because you're so fucking angry, so you lose out both ways, a crappy social situation, and a failing grade in Algebra."

"That's true, Steven, breaking up is shitty and you have to keep on meeting people you're pissed off with."

"Yeah, so if you want your LGBT group to do something constructive, do this. Link up with the other high schools and arrange a joint meeting so we can meet some kids from other schools without having to go to a bar or a club where we may get beaten up by thugs looking for some queer bashing, and that way we can avoid all the social crap that goes on in this place both when you hook up with someone and when you break up. Nobody in this school needs to know about my boyfriend or my relationships. Now, I've got homework to catch up on. Bye." And Steven picked up a textbook and started reading.

Chris didn't know what to say, so he just stood up and walked away.

Steven never gave him a second thought, and his life continued much as normal. He went to gymnastics on Tuesday and Thursday, chatted briefly with Gabe about nothing in particular, nodded to Kyle when he saw him at lunchtime, and arranged to meet Kyle for lunch over the weekend so they could think a bit more about how to help him.

Friday

Steven was buried in his homework at lunchtime and didn't notice Chris approaching.

"Steven, can I bother you again, please?"

"Chris, I told you I'm not interested in your LGBT group."

"I know, I heard. But I thought you might be interested in this." And Chris handed him a printed sheet.

Steven read it. "Chris, what's this? Explain."

"I listened very hard to what you said to me on Monday. So that evening I got in touch with the LGBT groups at Lincoln High and Kennedy High, and they all thought the idea of a joint event was fantastic. So we met Tuesday evening and came up with a plan to hold a social event in some neutral venue and we're inviting everyone we know who's gay. We've got some people coming from private schools as well. We've managed to get a space at the Community College next Friday after school, and we want as many people to come as possible. But it's by invitation only to avoid any trouble. Will you come? After all, it was your idea!"

Steven was stunned. "You mean you actually listened to what I said and went off and did something? That's amazing!"

"Steven, you put your finger on a real problem for us, and came up with a simple solution. I don't know why nobody else thought of that. You're a fucking genius! Everyone will want to meet you and congratulate you for the idea."

"I guess I'll come, but on one condition. Please don't tell anyone it was my idea. You can take the credit, I don't want to be seen as anyone special."

"Are you crazy? People will want to thank you, I'm sure you'll be popular."

"I won't come if you're going to tell people it was my idea. OK?"

"OK."

"If I come, can I invite someone else? He's not my boyfriend but I think it's just what he needs because he doesn't want to be out here at school."

"Of course! That's the whole idea! But are you sure he's legit?"

"One hundred percent sure!"

"OK! See you next Friday!" Chris stood up and started to walk away.

"Chris! Thanks!"

Saturday

At lunch the next day Steven and Kyle met up again at El Lobo. Again they were by themselves in a booth at the back.

"Hey, Kyle, good to see you! How you doing?"

"I'm OK, Steven. But I'm not sure I've made any progress on thinking about how to meet someone outside of school."

"Let's order, I'm starving, then I'll tell you my news!"

After the waiter left, Steven got out the flyer that Chris had given him at lunch the day before. "Kyle, this is just what we want. The LGBT groups from our school, Lincoln and Kennedy and some kids from private high schools are getting together for a social meeting next Friday, and you and I are going to go and maybe we'll meet kids from other schools."

"Wow, how come they did this?"

"Can you keep a secret, Kyle, I mean a real secret?"

"For you, yes!"

And Steven explained what had happened with Chris and how Steven's idea had been transformed into reality.

"But why don't you want people to know it's your idea? You should be proud of this."

"I am, but I don't want to be put in the spotlight, it might give me attention. I just want to be liked for who I am, not because I had a bright idea."

They demolished their lunch when it came. After they had stuffed themselves, Kyle looked up at Steven with a worried look on his face.

"What's wrong, Kyle?"

"I'm scared. I mean I'm not used to going into a crowd of strangers, I'll probably clam up and people will think I'm stupid and won't want to have anything to do with me. And people from our school will know I'm gay!"

"Hey, relax! First, lots of other people will be nervous like that, you won't be the only one. Second, and this isn't easy, you have to trust that people from our school who are in the LGBT group won't out you to anyone not attending the social, they've been there as well and know how you feel, and so you have to trust they'll be nice to you and won't out you. Thirdly, I'll probably know one or two people there who don't go to our school and I can introduce you to them, and then we'll see what happens."

They talked a lot more about it, and in the end Kyle seemed a bit more comfortable, and they agreed to meet up before the meeting and go together.

The following Friday

After school Steven took the bus home, took a quick shower, changed into clean shorts and a nice tee shirt, checked himself in the mirror to make sure he looked good, and then got his Mom to drive him to Kyle's house. Kyle was waiting. He looked great, even better than he had when they'd gone to the movies together. Steven's mom commented on how nice he looked and told him it was a big improvement.

"You know Dad and I are going out and won't be back until about midnight, don't you?" Steven nodded. "Have you got your phone and the Uber App if you need to get home? And take Kyle home if you need to."

"Yes, Mom, don't worry, I'll be OK, and I'll make sure Kyle isn't left stranded."

"Have a good time!"

At the Community College they followed the directions to the appropriate parking lot. The boys got out of the car, went into the building and soon found the way to the room that had been reserved for them. There were a couple of older college students by the door who checked their invitations.

"Have fun, guys! Looks like you've got a lot of company!"

And they did. Steven was amazed to find at least sixty kids already in the room, about two thirds boys and one third girls. They were either standing in small groups or sitting at one of the ten large circular tables. Along one side there were a couple of tables with sodas and cookies.

"Jeez, I'm scared!" whispered Kyle, "I don't know if I can do this!"

"Hey, it'll be OK, Kyle, we're among friends here. Let's wander round and see if we can find anyone we know."

They slowly walked around. Steven saw a group of boys from their school, including a couple that he was really surprised to see there because he didn't know they were gay. He saw Chris who caught his eye, nodded, smiled and gave a little thumbs up. Steven nodded back and quickly turned away.

A little further on Steven caught sight of someone he hadn't seen since Middle School, sitting with what looked like an older boy.

"Kyle, let's go over there. There's a boy I know and he doesn't go to our school, so it would be nice to catch up with him."

Kyle looked over and saw a dark haired kid with light brown skin, obviously someone with an Asian parent or grandparent. He was talking animatedly to his older friend.

"Ummm, OK, I guess."

They walked over. "Hey, Jose, I didn't expect to see you here!"

"Steven! Wow, great to see you! Sit down!" Jose gave him a big grin and a fist bump. He looked great. He wasn't very big but he had the beginnings of a mustache so Kyle guessed he was older than he looked.

"Jose, this is Kyle. He and I go to Washington High together."

"Hi Kyle," replied Jose. "This is Landon. He used to be in my Boy Scout troop, we've known each other for years. Landon, Steven and I were in eighth grade together at Catholic Middle School."

The boys all nodded to each other and then there was a little break in the conversation. Eventually Jose looked up at Steven. "I'm so sorry to hear what happened to Nick. Are you OK?"

"Thanks, Jose, yes, I'm getting better. It was really tough at first, but I've come to terms with the fact that he's gone and he's not coming back, and that I have to get on with life without him."

"What happened?" asked Landon.

"Nick was Steven's boyfriend. He was killed in a car crash a couple of months ago," said Jose. "We had a Mass for him at school because lots of us had been together with him in middle school. He was really nice, and he and Steven were really happy together."

"So, are you and Landon together?"

"Oh, no, we're just friends. Landon goes to Kennedy High, and he heard about this meeting and he invited me because he knows I'm gay but not out. I mean, who wants to be out at Catholic High! The priests would be swarming around looking for fresh meat! I mean, it seems none of them can resist the allure of an innocent altar boy these days? So we both came here to see what the meeting is all about, and maybe meet some new people."

"Yes," added Landon "I'm tired of dating people from my school because of all the gossip and drama that goes on every time someone is seen with someone else. It's depressing."

"That's the same with Kyle and me, we're not a couple either but we just want to meet people outside of the school. It's so claustrophobic there, and everyone is putting their noses in everyone else's business. And then there's what I call the 'Algebra Syndrome' where right after you've broken up with someone, you have to sit next to them in Algebra, and you're so mad at them for cheating on you or whatever, you don't learn anything either."

"That's exactly it!" laughed Landon. "You've really nailed it! I think there's lots of kids feel exactly that way but they don't know people from outside school. So whoever dreamed up this meeting is a real genius!"

Steven wriggled around in his seat and then stood up. "Who wants a soda?" The other three boys nodded, and Landon stood up to help him. A few minutes later they came back with four sodas and a plate of cookies. Kyle and Jose were chatting away, and Steven felt relieved to see Kyle opening up. Because he knew them both, he thought it might be a good match, and was glad to see they'd got off to a good start.

As they were drinking soda and munching on the cookies, there was a loud banging from one end of the room.

"Hi everyone, can I have your attention for a few minutes?" Steven looked over and saw Chris standing up. After a few moments a semblance of quiet broke out so people could hear what Chris had to say.

"Hi. I'm Chris. I go to Washington High, and I'm the President of our LGBT club. First, I'm thrilled to see so many people here. When somebody suggested that we arrange a meeting between the High Schools in the area I was skeptical that we'd get many people. I thought maybe the LGBT members would come, but nobody else. But I was wrong. I see lots of people who aren't members of our clubs, and several people who go to private schools. That's fantastic!

"So I'd like to thank the person who came up with the idea. He told me that he wanted to remain anonymous, and I'll respect that, but I want to tell you what he said. He said that he didn't want to join our LGBT club because he didn't want to date kids from our school. He said he was tired of all the gossip and drama within the school, and just wanted to date someone without all that crap. And he told me of what he called the 'Algebra Syndrome' where you break up with someone and you're really mad at then, and then next morning at eight o'clock you have to sit next to him in Algebra, and that really sucks! So let's give big cheer to our anonymous friend for initiating this meeting!"

And there was a huge cheer and applause and wolfwhistles. Steven seemed intensely interested in the pattern of dots on the table right in front of his nose, and was blushing.

Landon leaned in and whispered. "Steven, it was you, wasn't it! You're a fucking genius!"

"Shhhhh! Don't embarrass me!" Steven blushed even more and kept examining the tabletop.

"OK, but I want to get to know you better so let's stick together this evening. OK?"

"OK, I'd like that!"

Finally the applause and cheers died down, and Chris started to speak again.

"I'd like us to do two things this afternoon. We don't have long because we have to vacate the hall by six for some other group, and anyway I expect lots of you already have plans for the rest of a beautiful Friday evening!

"First, I see lots of people from the same school sitting together. So what I'd like to see is that kids from Washington, Lincoln and Kennedy split up and join a group from another school. There's not much point in coming if all you're going to do is sit with the same kids as you do at school!"

There was a period of chaos as some kids stood up and moved around, and there was a lot of jostling and silly comments, but eventually things settled down. Steven could see that there was a better mix of kids at most tables, and that made him feel a little bit of pride.

"OK!" said Chris. "Now we can get down to business. What I'd like everyone to do is come up with some ideas of how we can arrange one or more events where we got together. We're not going to be able to use this room again very easily because it's always busy, but the Community College squeezed us in because they thought it was a good idea. So we need to think of places where we can meet safely, and where we can have some fun as well. I don't know, but maybe dances, maybe picnics, or we could go to the beach. It's up to you to come up with ideas! Write them down or text us at the number on your invitation. We'll consider anything as long as it's legal!"

There was a general hubbub as kids started throwing ideas around. Steven and the other three hadn't bothered to move because they were from three different schools, which was exactly what Steven had hoped would happen.

Jose and Kyle quickly resumed their conversation together, speaking quietly so neither Landon nor Steven could hear what they were saying over the general chatter from nearby tables. So Landon moved closer to Steven and started their own conversation.

"Steven, I really meant it when I said you're a genius. Just look at all these kids who really don't know each other talking together. It's fantastic!"

"It was just a simple idea, it's really not much!"

"Don't undersell yourself! The best ideas are simple! That's why they work so well. You managed to see a need and put it into action. You're smart, and I'm really beginning to like you!"

Steven looked up at Landon. For the first time since Nick was killed he began to wonder what it would be like to have another boyfriend, and he liked Landon already even though he hardly knew him. And he was quite good looking. He had thick and slightly wavy dark red hair that seemed to get lighter and darker when he moved around, he had a few freckles on the top of his cheeks and over his nose, and he wore glasses. He had a lovely smile with white teeth that had obviously had braces some time in the recent past. But what struck him most were his green eyes that seemed always to be smiling. So he took a deep breath.

"Landon, I think I'm beginning to like you as well. I mean we've only just met but somehow I think we could be really good friends, and I'd like to get to know you better as well."

And for the rest of the meeting they talked and learned more about each other and what they did at school, but it wasn't anything serious and they didn't talk about boyfriends or anything like that. But it became clear to both of them that they wanted to continue to get to know each other.

When the meeting finally broke up the four boys looked at each other.

"What happens next?" asked Kyle.

"Unfortunately I've got to get home because we're going out to dinner with my parents' friends. It sucks. I'd rather stay here." Jose looked a little disappointed as he said that.

"Me too," said Kyle. "But at least we'll see each other tomorrow, Jose and I are going to the movies."

Steven was amazed. "That's great, Kyle! I think you two are well suited, and you seem to have gotten on with each other very easily! Kyle, do you need me to arrange for you to get home?"

"Yes, I guess so."

"I can give you both a ride if you'd like!" said Landon.

"You have a car?"

"Yes, I'm just legal to drive you around as long as it's before nine."

Steven thought quickly. "Umm, if it's OK with you, Landon, we could drop Kyle off at home and then maybe you and I could hang out for a little while, unless you've got other plans already."

"No, no plans. I'd like to hang out with you!"

And that's what they did. Jose's Mom picked him up and took him home, Kyle got in the back seat of Landon's car and they dropped him off at his house, and then Steven and Landon looked at each other.

"What next?" asked Landon.

"Well, I guess we could go get pizza or something and just hang out. But if you like we could go to my place, there's nobody there."

"Perfect, I'd love that. Tell me where to go!"

When they reached Steven's house, Landon parked in the driveway as instructed, and they went into the kitchen through the back door. As soon as the door was shut, both boys looked at each other and suddenly they were locked in each other's arms making out as intensely as possible.

The kissing went on for quite a while, then Steven managed to extricate himself from Landon's grip, and took his hand and led him back to his bedroom, and very soon they had their shorts and underwear off and were making out on the bed with their dicks pressed against each other, and they started moving against each other, pulling each other together so they could get more friction, and it didn't take long for either of them and Steven groaned and spurted and that sent Landon off and he spurted and then they slowly wound down stuck together with their juices. They hadn't spoken a single word since they entered the house.

When their breathing was back to normal, Steven leaned in and gave Landon a little kiss on the lips, and gave him a big grin. Landon grinned back and kissed him back.

"Wow!" said Steven "That was great!"

Landon nodded and just gave him a big smile. There was a comfortable silence as they just savored being together.

After a while Steven gave a little giggle. "I've never gone to bed with someone I've only just met! I hope you don't think I'm just a little slut!"

"No, you're not. And I wanted to do it just as much as you! And it's a first for me as well. In the past it's taken me quite a while to get to know someone well enough before I was willing to go to bed with them. But I'm glad we did this, even if we hardly know each other!"

"Me too! But I hope it's not going to be the last time!" Steven moved his hand down to Landon's groin and gently began to play with his dick which slowly started to respond.

"No, it's not! I want us to do it again, and soon!"

One advantage of being a teenager is that it doesn't take too long to recover and get ready for a second go around. And this time they went slowly, and explored each others' bodies. Steven loved feeling Landon's dick which was a little longer and a little thicker than Nick's, and running his fingers up and down his legs which were covered in fine blond hair, and making his nipples stand up by kissing them and sucking on them.

Steven rolled on to his back and spread his legs a bit, and Landon took up the invitation and stretched himself out on top of Steven and let his now hard dick push gently into Steven's groin. And Steven being strong and supple like a good gymnast, hooked his legs up over Landon's back and used them to pull Landon closer to him.

"Are you sure?" whispered Landon.

"Yes." And Steven reached over, opened the drawer of the nightstand, found the tube of lube he and Nick had used, gently put some on Landon's dick and then some more on his own hole.

"Go slowly, Landon, it's been a while."

And Landon went slowly and Steven winced a couple of times but then Landon was inside him and Steven remembered how wonderful it was to have someone's hard and hot dick moving inside you, and he began to relax, and gently pulled Landon into him with his legs, and then got Landon to go a little faster and harder, and Landon speeded up and then he suddenly arched his back and thrust harder and harder into Steven and Steven urged him on, and Landon exploded inside Steven and the pulsing triggered Steven's orgasm and they lay together panting for breath, exhausted but really happy and satisfied.

After a while Landon softened and slipped out of Steven, and they lay side by side with goofy grins on their faces. They didn't need to speak, their smiles and hugs said it all.

Eventually nature broke things up. "I need to pee," said Landon. And he got out and went into the bathroom. Steven suddenly felt very lonely.

When he'd finished peeing, Landon looked at his watch. "Steven, I've got to get going. My new driver's permit makes me get home before nine."

"Landon, I know it's awfully soon and everything, and we've only just started to get to know each other, but would you like to stay the night?"

Landon grinned. "I thought you'd never ask! I can't think of anything I'd like to do better! But I better clear it with my parents, OK?"

"OK, you do that and I'll order pizza. Meatlovers OK?"

"Yes!"

Landon texted his mother and not long after he got the go ahead as long as he didn't drive and didn't drink, and got the reminder he had to be home for lunch. Landon agreed, thanked his Mom, and turned his phone off.

Steven ordered the pizza, and then they took a shower together. Nothing happened, at least this time around.

When the pizza came and they were eating, Landon asked a question. "What about your parents. Are they going to be OK with me staying overnight?"

"Yes, don't worry. They'll be thrilled that I've found another boyfriend."

"Do you mean that?"

"What, that they'll be thrilled? Yes, of course they will!"

"No, I meant about me being your boyfriend!"

"Landon, I know I hardly know you, but, yes, I consider you to be my boyfriend, and I want to spend lots of time with you, and do stuff with you, and go places together, and be a real boyfriend for you!"

"Thanks! That's what I want as well, boyfriend!"

The two of them went to bed fairly early because they had plans to do more things before they actually went to sleep. Which they did. And when Steven woke up in Landon's arms he remembered how wonderful it is to wake up next to someone, and he snuggled up against Landon and watched him gently breathing with a big lopsided smile on his face, and he didn't wake him up until it was nearly time for breakfast. And when Landon did wake up he gave Steven a long but very gentle kiss, and said how much he liked sleeping with Steven and waking up next to him. Then they took a shower, and got dressed and went down for breakfast.

Saturday

Saturday morning breakfast had become a ritual in the Roberts household. It was part of the efforts to reestablish normality after Nick's death and the dysfunction that followed. Steven's parents waited with some interest to see who had spent the night. That wasn't a secret given there was a strange car in the driveway, and they could hear voices coming from Steven's room.

Eventually Steven came in leading Landon by the hand. "Mom, Dad, this is Landon, he's my boyfriend."

"Hi, Landon, make yourself at home. Scrambled eggs OK?" said Steven's Dad, who was at the stove cooking bacon and hash browns."

"Ummm, yes, thank you, sir!"

"Good, then sit down and food will be served very shortly!"

Landon was amazed by the normality of everything. There was no parental grilling of the new boyfriend, they just accepted his presence as if he'd always been there, and that eased his nerves very quickly. Soon he and Steven were telling Steven's parents about the meeting yesterday, and he told them he had found out the whole thing was Steven's brainchild. They ate their way through all the food Steven's Dad had cooked, and by the end of the meal Landon felt as if he belonged as part of the family.

"So, what are you two going to do today?"

"I've got to be home for lunch, my Mom's having a friend over and I'm supposed to be there. And I think I'm going to take Steven because I've met his family so now it's his turn to meet mine. Seeing we're boyfriends we better do that sooner rather than later."

"OK," said Steven's Mom, "but remember it's your turn to cook dinner tonight, Steven."

"I hadn't forgotten."

"You can cook?" asked Landon.

"Ummm, yes, I guess I can."

"Steven's a good cook." Said his mother. "Why don't you come for dinner and find out?"

"Ummm, OK, I'd like that but I'm not allowed to drive home in the dark."

"Well, why don't you stay the night again?" asked Steven's father. "You two seem to have known each other for some time, even though Steven never told us about you."

Landon hardly knew what to say, and he turned bright red.

Steven just burst out laughing. "Dad, ummm, this is embarrassing, but we only met yesterday afternoon!"

"Well, I'm glad you didn't waste time getting to know each other. You make a perfect couple! Landon, when you come back this afternoon, bring your swimming trunks!"

The two boys were speechless and both were bright red. They looked at each other, nodded, and said they'd come back in the afternoon. When the two boys had stopped blushing they helped clear the table and put the dishes in the dishwasher, and finally got back to Steven's room.

"I guess you were right, Steven, they did seem to like me. It wasn't half as difficult as I expected."

"No, they didn't like you, they loved you!"

"We'll see. Now it's your turn, and you've got to meet my Mom and Dad and two sisters!"

Later that morning they went to Landon's house. Steven was introduced to Landon's Mom and his two younger sisters, Isabella who was in eighth grade, and Tamsin who was in sixth grade.

"Mom, can Steven stay for lunch? That way I'll have a friend to talk to while you gossip with Mrs. T."

"Of course. Now you four leave me alone while I make lunch. Mrs. T will be here at noon."

So the four kids went into the family room.

Tamsin was the first to speak. "Are you Landon's new boyfriend?"

"Umm, yes, I guess I am."

"Well, I hope you're nicer than the last one. We didn't like him at all, and we hated it when he stayed overnight!"

Landon was bright red and cringing in the corner of the settee. "Quiet, Tamsin, you're not supposed to say thing like that!"

"Why not, we didn't like him at all, did we, Bella?"

"Well, that's true, we didn't really, but, Tamsin, you need to be careful what you say. We don't want to scare Steven away, at least not yet! We've got to give him the full 'boyfriend interview' before we decide if he's OK or not."

"OK, Bella, I'll get started. So, Steven, tell me some interesting things about yourself!"

And so, for the next twenty minutes or so, Steven got the full 'boyfriend interview' treatment. He told the two girls that he was a gymnast, and he showed them a couple of his floor exercises, and he talked about living up north in the cold and snow and how difficult it had been to move to Florida, and how he'd met Nick and they'd been boyfriends until he got killed, and how he'd met Landon only yesterday but they were already boyfriends and really liked each other.

"Are you going to stay here with him tonight?" asked Isabella.

"Umm, no, I'm not. It's my turn to cook dinner at home tonight, so we're going back to my place."

"That's not fair!" cried Tamsin. "You spent last night there, you have to spend tonight here!"

"Well, I guess what I'll have to do, as long as your Mom and Dad are OK with it, is spend two nights next weekend here with you guys."

"OK, that's a deal! We'll hold you to that! What are you cooking for dinner tonight?"

"Well, I better check and see if Landon will like what I've planned. I'm planning to make grilled chicken strips with spicy peanut sauce and some veggies and a salad."

"Wow, you can cook that?" asked Isabella.

"Yes, it's not so difficult. Sound OK to you, Landon?" Landon nodded.

"OK," said Tamsin, "then when you come next weekend you better cook us something good! If it's OK then you will have passed the boyfriend test."

"It's a deal, as long as your mom trusts me in her kitchen."

They heard the doorbell ring.

"Oh, that's Mrs. T., come on Bella, let's go!"

The two girls raced out to the living room. Landon looked at Steven with a big grin on his face. "Still want to be my boyfriend after all that?" Steven laughed and nodded and they went out to meet the visitor.

When they walked into the living room Landon walked in first and Steven held back a bit because he felt very awkward and embarrassed. But when Landon stepped aside to introduce Steven, Steven was completely stunned. Mrs. T. was no other than his Principal from Catholic Middle School.

"Steven!" cried Mrs. Tanner. "What on earth are you doing here!"

"He's Landon's new boyfriend!" shouted Tamsin.

"Tamsin! No, you're not supposed to tell people about other peoples' boyfriends and girlfriends!"

"Sorry, Mrs. T!"

"Is it true, Steven?" He blushed and nodded.

"Come here and give me a big hug!" Steven obliged.

While they were hugging, Mrs. Tanner whispered in Steven's ear. "I was so sorry to hear about Nick! Are you OK?"

Steven nodded. "I wasn't but I'm getting over it."

Mrs. T. turned and looked at Landon. "Landon, I know this young man very well. He was my star pupil in eighth grade. He's smart, he's funny, he's very, very honest, he's extremely creative, and he can play the best practical jokes. I'm not sure you're worthy to be his boyfriend, but do the best you can. And if you ever hurt him and upset him, and I find out, I'll get the biggest paddle out of my office and I'll spank your backside so hard you won't be able to sit down for a month. Understood?"

"Yes, Mrs. T.!"

"Steven, I've known Landon for a while. He's perfect for you. You're going to be a wonderful couple!"

"Thanks, Mrs. Tanner!"

"Steven, seeing your Landon's boyfriend, you call me Mrs. T. from now on, just like everyone else in this house! OK?" Steven smiled and nodded.

And then Mrs. T. got out her phone and Landon and Steven stood together with those two big goofy grins on their faces and she took their picture.

"You two look so happy together!"

And Steven looked at the photo, and then he realized that finally he'd made the long hard trip up and out of the pit of despair, and for the first time since Nick was killed he was truly happy.

Voting

Three chapters of this story are part of the 2019 story challenge "Inspired by a Tweet: Non Consent". This is the first of those chapters. You can vote below, but should really read all three first. The other stories may be found at the challenge home page. Please read them, too. The voting period of 8 March to 29 March 2019 is when the voting is open. This story may be rated, below, against a set of criteria, and may be rated against other stories on the challenge home page.

The challenge was to write a story inspired by this tweet:

2018 Inspired by a Picture Challenge - What?

This challenge is to write a story based on reading the tweet and to write a tale within its spirit, albeit a male homosexual teenage tale.. There is no picture, Just the tweet.

No Way José

You may tick as many statements as you wish. Stories my also be discussed in detail on the Literary Merit forum

I will seek this author's work out
It grabbed my attention early on
I had to know what happened
I identified with at least one of the cast
Gritty - it had an edge to it
Realistic - it could have happened that way
I found it hard to follow
Good characterisation
I feel better for having read it
It was romantic
It was erotic
Too much explicit sex
It had the right amount of sex, if there was any
Not enough explicit sex
I have read and enjoyed other work by this author
I understood about lack of consent


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