Chapter 19 | Brando

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If I had to name a talent of mine, I would say that putting my foot in it is right up there as my personal best. I like to think I don't judge people based on appearances, but I'm dead wrong. It must be in our DNA, as humans, to take what we see by face value. I thought Daxten was a dick when I first met him, and he proved me wrong. I thought Daxten had a perfect life, and again, he proved me wrong.

      I typically base judgments of people on how they treat me, on how they treat other people. I let actions speak louder than words. I feel stupid and disappointed with myself. I should have never said anything about Daxten's perfect façade.

      Can you really blame me? First class suite all to himself. A truly incredible sister who loves him and does anything for him. Clothes that cost more than everything I own altogether. Still, I should have asked about his life first before assuming he's living in a perfect, rich bubble.

      I rest my head on his hair. It's soft and feels wonderful against my cheek. I could sleep here and be content with standing in this exact spot for the next eight hours. I really don't want to move.

      Daxten doesn't cry, even though I want to for him. He's stronger than I am. I hope he doesn't feel like he has to keep it in for my sake.

      I rub his shoulders as I contemplate what I should say next. What do you say to someone who has lost their last parent?

      'In my experience,' I begin to say, holding back my own tears for him. 'You don't want someone who doesn't love you for you in your life. I hate that we have to come out like it's people's right to judge us, but it helps us flush out the toxins in our lives. It helps us see who truly loves us beyond our sexual orientation because that's not all we are. It's part of us, but we're people, and it's so easy for those who judge us to forget. We're all just people.'

      Daxten remains silent. He's probably thinking about his dad. I hope my words are having some kind of positive effect. I'm no therapist, but I can speak from the heart. I can speak from what I have learned from my own past.

      'You're a good person, Daxten. I've learned that about you. I can feel it radiating from you. My words may not mean much, but it's what I believe.'

      Daxten finally manages to speak. 'Your words mean a lot to me.'

      I smile, though he doesn't see it.

      He continues. 'He hasn't really been a dad to me for years. He's so wrapped up in his own world that he forgets he has children. To be honest, I feel like I lost him the day I lost my mom. I've already grieved for both of them. It's just a shock for it to be official now. I haven't told Leah.'

      I now share his burden, his secret. It makes me feel closer to him, even with our bodies touching, our spirits connect. There's being in close proximity to someone, and there's being close to their heart and soul. It's overwhelming. I feel like I'm responsible for something important. I've never felt this way with anyone before and it feels like it's only a first step. I never shared any kind of connection with Nick. Not like this. Not beyond the physical.

      'I promise I won't say anything to Leah. That's your story to tell, and whenever you're ready to tell it, I'll support you. One-hundred percent.'

      He grips my arm that's supporting his shoulder. 'I appreciate that.'

      He leans back, and we look at each other. There's a moment of seriousness expressed on both of our faces – then we burst out laughing. I try to cover my mouth.

      'I'm so sorry,' I say when I finally manage to stop.

      'Don't apologize,' he says with a grin. 'I really needed to laugh. It always happens when I feel like things get too serious. I should apologize for dumping that on you.'

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