EXCERPT CHAPTER 6 - ANGUISH: BEN'S STORY


Here are some excerpts from the true beginning of Ben and JC's relationship; the moment when they knew they could finally be together. And this is also the beginnings of the struggles they had with Ben wanting to live free and JC needing to hide.



“I think we should spend the 22nd together. Movie, pizza and the fort. I’m brace free and should be pretty much good to go.”
"Good. I’ll see you then and I’ll call you tomorrow. Mom’s calling me for supper.”
“Okay, talk to you later. Ben… I love you.”
“I love you too.” He hung up the phone and hurried down the stairs. His smile lit up the whole dining room when he walked in. “Hey everybody!”
“Well, look at you. My happy son is back. That medicine must be starting to work,” Evie gushed.
“It’s more than that I think, Mama,” Dylan piped up. “He was waiting for a call from JC.”
“Oh really?” Cole asked. “You haven’t talked to him in quite a while. Is your fight finally fading?”

Ben smiled and looked around at his family. It seemed the secrecy would begin now, a whole month before JC came home. But they would be able to be together and that was all that mattered. Hell, his family was always so supportive and understanding he might just come out to them soon. It would make things so much easier. “JC and I are friends again. Best friends.”

**********
Ben woke with a feeling that something was wrong. The sun shining through the curtains was too bright and the sounds coming from downstairs were louder than they should be for early morning. His brothers must have had enough of sleeping in on Christmas break. If he’d slept too late, his mom would have woken him. She knew how much it meant to him to be there to greet JC.
Rolling over onto his left side to try to go back to sleep, he was shocked to see that the clock read twelve, but then it was blinking which meant the power had gone out. Shit. What the hell time was it then? If his mother had let him sleep past noon…
Reaching into his nightstand drawer, he pulled out his watch. 11:53. Oh great. If he didn’t hurry, he was going to be late. Minutes later, he was dressed and headed down the stairs. “Ma! Why didn’t you wake me up. You know JC was coming in on the noon bus.”
“I’m sorry, I was on the phone with the insurance company all morning. I figured your alarm would wake you up.”
“But the power went out. My clock was flashing 12.”
“The power didn’t go out, Benjamin. Besides your clock has battery backup.”
“But then why is it flashing?”
“You probably need a new one,” Evelyn sighed. “I’ll grab one while I’m in town. Are you ready to go? You look like you’re about to explode.”
“Yeah,” he smiled big. “Let’s go already!”
Evelyn chuckled and hurried out of the room after her son.

**********

Ben sat on the steps of the porch of JC’s old house. They’d been lucky enough to rent it again. His fingers wouldn’t stop moving, first up and down his pant leg, and then playing with blades of dead grass that poked up out of the mostly melted snow by his feet.
The minute he saw the vehicle turn down the street, he was up and waiting at the side of the driveway. He could see JC in the back cab of the truck but he didn’t want to look too close. Six hard months had passed since they’d seen each other and he wanted to be able to take in every nuance, every change all at once. Although he kept telling himself to breathe, he couldn’t help but hold his breath.
When JC stepped out of the truck, Ben’s gaze swept him from top to bottom then back up to rest on his gorgeous face. A small scar sat on his jaw line, his normally long, dark brown hair was cropped short and a big smile shined on his face.
“Benjamin,” he said with a nod.
“James,” Ben returned.
JC moved well considering what his body had been through recently and before either of them had time to think, they were toe-to-toe. “It’s really good to have you home,” Ben murmured.
“It’s good to be home,” JC whispered, reaching out to briefly embrace his best friend… boyfriend. They both now knew that to each other, home was together.

********** 
BONUS EXCERPT

“God, we sound like we’re in love or something. I just wish we could shout it everywhere.”
“Me too…speaking of which, I want to come out to my family. I think it might make it easier. We would have one place where we could hold hands or hug, or kiss – within reason. We could have one place where we could be ourselves.”
“No!” JC exclaimed as he stood up and started to pace. “Do not tell your family!”
“Please, JC. I don’t like keeping things from them. They’ll support us, I’m sure of it.”
“But I can’t take that risk,” JC said, his voice panicked. “It could accidentally come out if even only one person knows.”
“Abby knows.”
“I don’t mind her knowing, she’s one of us and she’s not here for more than a few months a year.”
“My family wouldn’t tell anybody if we asked them not to.” Ben felt sick to his stomach. He didn’t feel like there was anything to hide. Just telling his family was a good compromise. It would make him feel so much better. 

EXCERPT CHAPTER 5 - ANGUISH: BEN'S STORY




We've got two short excerpts this time! One shows the rapport between Ben and his best friend/cousin Abigail. They are closer than siblings and she is his main confidant. Their relationship is special and plays a part in her future (In the contemporary romance Stormy Seas: Abigail's Story) 

The second excerpt shows a bit of relationship building between Ben and JC before the final get together. Enjoy!


Amid the fun sounds of summer, Ben hurried inside and headed upstairs to find Abby. “Hey are you okay? Why didn’t you come back?”
“I thought it might be a good idea to steer clear of Chris for a while. I decided to write instead.”
“You reacted better than I would have,” Ben chuckled. “I probably would have stewed over it for a month.”
Abigail shrugged without looking up from her paper. “They’re just boobs and if he sees them now and likes them, he might want to see them again someday.”
“Well, well,” Ben chuckled. “My sweet Abby is having impure thoughts.”
“Like you don’t.”
“Ah! I’m offended. I’m sweet and innocent, dear cousin. Heck I’m almost fifteen and I’ve never even had a crush on a girl.”
“Yeah,” Abby laughed. “But you’ve kissed a boy who gave you a boner.”
“Shh, it’s a secret,” he said with wide, innocent eyes and a wink. “Can I draw while you write, or do you want to be alone?”
“You know the answer to that. Go get your stuff.”

**********

JC looked straight ahead through the windshield,  he couldn’t quite bring himself to make eye contact. “I just needed to apologize…for how I ended things. I should have told you in person and not with that stupid letter.”
“That hurt…a lot,” Ben admitted, “But I accept your apology.”
JC’s gaze finally swung over to Ben’s and held. “I lied,” he said softly. “I’m not doing good. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wonder if people assume I’m gay.  Or if someone can guess, when I say your name, that we’ve kissed. There isn’t an hour that goes by that I’m not wondering how I can ignore my feelings for you. But on the other hand, I don’t have the strength to not care what people will think. I don’t have the power to admit what’s right in front of me.”
“Good,” Ben said with a smile. “I’m glad you’re miserable and I’m not trying to be mean. I…I just hope that if these things keep lying in your mind that you will eventually realize how much easier it is to just go with your gut and love me.”
“You’re an ass,” JC chuckled. “But I’m not so sure that will ever happen.”
“I can wait,” Ben said with as smile. “But not forever. Someday I will meet someone new.” He hoped he sounded convincing because he couldn’t imagine ever finding anyone else.
JC stared out the windshield again. “Maybe you should just try to do that.”
“I’d rather wait for a while. I have faith in you.”
“So, what have you been up to?” JC asked to change the subject as he fidgeted uncomfortably. And it worked, he and Ben talked about what had been going on in their lives, almost like they were best friends again. But their time was soon interrupted by Abby’s knock on the window. “You’ve got about ten minutes to wrap it up guys. Mom and Dad will be here soon.”
“Can I call…or maybe write to you sometimes?” Ben asked hopefully.
“You can write, but I can’t guarantee I’ll answer. It’s too painful.”
“Okay,” Ben agreed. “I understand.”
“I’d better go,” JC said, reaching for the door handle.
“Wait!” Ben said, grabbing his hand and pulling him close. “Goodbye James.” His lips came down in a kiss that went from sweet to earth shattering before they pulled apart and JC stumbled from the van.
“Goodbye, Benjamin,” he breathed, turning and heading back to where his parents would be waiting for him.
“You okay cousin?” Abby asked, breaking into his reverie.
“For now,” Ben murmured. “For now.”

EXCERPT CHAPTER 4 - ANGUISH: BEN'S STORY

Hey there everybody! It is now time for the excerpt from Chapter 4 of Anguish This one touches on the depression aspect of the story...this particular excerpt touches on it in a big way. This is when his life and his disorder start to change into something that is harder to handle.  Again, if you need help with your mental health, please ask someone - family, friends, teachers, bosses, doctors. They are there to help. As someone with depression and anxiety I can tell you that taking that first step is so hard but in the end, oh my goodness it is so worth it.  Take care of yourselves my friends! I adore each and every one of you and am glad you are in my life.


Despite having just lost his best friend and potential boyfriend, the three days he was able to spend with Abby buoyed him to the point that he didn’t think of JC all day. And the suffocating moments were few and far between.
If he wasn’t wrapped up in one of Abby’s stories, he was busy drawing or creating clever programs on the computer. And after a December 27th snowstorm, the weather cleared and warmed up enough for them to go riding. As much as Abby wanted to go to the fort, Ben kept her away. He knew the memories of kissing JC would bring some of the darkness back.
 At that point, darkness was being reserved for his drawings. It seemed war and death were his new favorite themes. But now, the thought of Abby leaving in a few hours made his heart ache every minute until she left. He was definitely looking forward to summer.
“No backing out, Ben. You’re coming to Nevada to visit in June,” Abby stressed as they finally walked into the warm and inviting ranch house.
“I’ll be there. We’re going to have so much fun.”
“Are you ready, Abigail?” Ethan asked. “We need to get the rental car back before five.”
“Yeah, I guess so,” she sighed. “We really need to move here.”
Ben hugged her tight. “I’ll see you soon. Call me when you get home.”
“I will, Bennie Boy."  With a kiss to his cheek, she grabbed her bag from by the door and followed her dad to the car.
“Hey Ben, wanna come play a game with me?” Dylan asked from the kitchen doorway. “Please? You’ve been so busy with JC and Abby lately.”
“I’m sorry, brat. Not right now. Tomorrow or the next day, okay?”
“Yeah sure,” Dylan murmured softly. “You never do anything when Abby leaves.”
“Come on, little brother,” Russell said.  "Ben just misses having her here. Why don’t you, me and Logan go tune up the snowmobiles so we can use them when the big storm hits this weekend.”
Ben walked slowly up the stairs feeling like the lowest form of human. How hard would it have been for him to play a kids' game with his six-year-old little brother? But somehow he just couldn’t.  He wanted to be alone, he had to be alone.
He knew it was coming the minute he opened his bedroom door. But as hard as he tried to turn around and run out to the barnyard to join his brothers, his feet just wouldn’t cooperate. As if he had no control over them, he walked to his bed and lay down.
That suffocating, drowning, gut wrenching feeling swept over him for the first time in a week. And he welcomed it with every particle of his being. As uncomfortable as it was, the sense of normalcy brought a smile to his face – until a new feeling hit him. Anger. Steady unwavering anger settled into his chest. It was anger at himself for being so loathsome, at JC for hurting him and at Abby for leaving him. It was a rage he wanted to scream to the world but couldn’t.