Kevin Devereaux’s life can't get worse. He’s on probation. He’s stuck with an unemployed ex-convict dad. And he lives in a run-down trailer on the crappy east side of town. To keep his probation officer happy, Kevin joins a theater program for teenagers and falls hard for Peter Finn, the lead actor in the show—and the son of the town's leading family. Despite their differences, Peter returns Kevin’s feelings, and for the first time, Kevin learns what it means to be in love.
But Peter’s family won’t accept a gay son—let alone a boyfriend from the wrong side of the tracks—and in their conservative town, they must keep the romance secret. Still, they have the play, and they have each other, so they’ll get by—
Until a brutal attack shatters Kevin’s life and puts Peter in danger of going to jail for murder.
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: Under 18
Protagonist 2 Age: 18-25
Tropes: Age Difference, Class Differences, Coming of Age, Coming Out / Closeted, Find Love and Come Out, First Time, Forbidden Love, Hurt / Comfort, Meet Cute
Languages Available: English
A single piece of paper was supposed to keep me out of jail. My heart pushed against my spine like it was trying to drill out my back and run for it. A little voice that lived inside my head said, You’re an ass for even trying it. No one wants a loser. You’re going to juvie, and you deserve it.
The grimy tiled hallway was attic-room dim. Someone had turned most of the lights off, probably to save money. They had shut the AC off too, and it was close to ninety degrees in there. Sweat ran down my back as I scuffed down the corridor, eyes down. The laces on my shoes were knotted twice each because they’d been broken a couple of times. That made them a bitch to tie, so I usually just shoved my feet into them like old slippers and pretended I didn’t want to play basketball with my friends anymore. Previous friends. I didn’t seem to have many current friends.READ MORE
At the end of the hallway was the bulletin board with the great and powerful paper on it. If my name was on it, I was in the clear. If not, clang went the bars. Fear dried my mouth and dampened my hands. You hear stories about what it’s like in juvie, the stuff they do to new kids. I was sixteen but short and on the skinny side. I’d be someone’s shower boy for sure.
I passed some doors and got to the end of the hall. The bulletin board had a bunch of flyers on it that shouted stuff like Summer Stock Seminar and Youth Counselors Wanted and Have You Seen This Dog? In the middle was a brand new sheet, white as a grin, with the words Teen Scenes Cast List: The Importance of Being Earnest at the top. The fear jolted through me. The list. My probation officer said I either had to get a job or find a summer program, or she would recommend to the judge that my probation be revoked and I spend the next two years at Maximus Boys Training School, which was a fancy word for teen prison. There are no jobs in for teenagers, thanks to the toilet economy, and like a dick, I’d put off looking for a summer program. Yesterday I was in the library hoping they might be hiring for the summer—they weren’t—and I saw a flyer for summer theater tryouts, which my watch said I had just enough time to make.
I knew zip-shit about theater, but by then I had nothing to lose, so I ran across the street to the Ringdale Community Art Center. In ten minutes I was on a stage pretending to be some weirdo from England while the director pushed her glasses up her nose and whispered to a guy scribbling on a clipboard.
Today was the absolute, last-ditch, no-shit deadline. Unless I called Ms. Blake this afternoon with good news, I was heading for shower-boy hell.
I was panting like an overheated dog. My eye started to travel down the cast list sheet and suddenly I couldn’t stand it. Not knowing was better than finding out. I didn’t care what Ms. Blake said. I spun around to run away—
—and crashed straight into someone else. It was like hitting a suitcase filled with hammers. I said, “Oof!” and went down. The floor rocked. I shook my head like a cartoon character who’d been whacked with a ping-pong paddle.
“Geez, are you okay?” A hand into my field of view. “Let me help you.”
“Yeah, I’m—” I looked up and totally stalled out. The guy standing over me was about nineteen. His hair made me think of a blackbird, and his eyes were green, like the first day you mow the grass in May. His jaw was long, and his nose turned up at the end just a little. My insides twisted around, feathery and fluttery all at once, and all my words ran away. It felt weird, and I didn’t know what to do.
The guy pulled me to my feet, and I could feel the strength in his arms. He wore a crisp T-shirt, and the cuffs around the lower sleeves were filled with muscle. Way more than my skinnyass arms. I ran my hand through my hair. It’s ordinary brown, always a little too long, and so thick it’s hard to comb. At least my eyes are a decent blue.
“You’re in a big hurry for someone who didn’t even check the board,” he said.
My brain kicked back into gear. His name was Peter. He had auditioned too. The director had called us both up on stage to read together, in fact. My words came back, and they tumbled around like a bag of oranges spilling across a table. I didn’t—I mean, you were—wow!”
“I was wow?”
Shit. My face grew hot, and I wanted to fade into the wall behind me. “No, I mean you were good. Yesterday. Really good. You did… a good accent.”
Aw shit. In my head I was putting a pistol to my temple.
“Thanks.” He held out his hand again. “Kevin Devereaux, right? I’m Peter Finn.”
“I know! I can’t forget you I mean, how good you were.” Bang. “They put the cast list up.”
Peter tried to lean around me to see it, though he had half a head on me. He smelled like sweat and sunlight. “So, did you check it?”COLLAPSE