Being gay is one of the most challenging things a teenage boy can face. Being closet gay for months, finally coming out, being greeted with a punch in the face, and being shunned is even worse. Having it done by your best friend of seven years who you've fallen in love with and your extra Christian mother who believes you can't be saved...
For Julian Douglas, life can't get anymore difficult especially in the face of high school, a restrictive religious mother, and a gorgeous man with a huge following who jumped into his life at the most inopportune time.
He felt like serenity. He made me feel safe and I couldn't help but slow my heartbeat down to match his and at once, I felt the tempo of his heart thumping against my back, his breaths on my neck, goosebumps raising. I could feel it when his body finally went slack, when he'd fallen asleep and soft snores emitted.
And I thought I was getting better at this breaking down thing... I honestly did but when I was alone, I seemed to fall apart. Endless serenades of how worthless I'd been and how destructive I was; I was a disappointment to literally everyone and I hated it. My breathing became shallow as I cried for the second time that day, finally feeling content being immersed in guilt. A shudder wracked through my body, tears escaping and Paul pulled me closer as he woke silently.
Mumbling soft nothings against my skin and kissing it to slow my breathing, he tried to lull me to sleep, "It's okay, you're okay."
Refusing to speak -my voice failing me- his arm came up to wrap around my shoulder and I held him there, placing a small kiss to his tattooed skin in a broken sign of gratitude, I must've run out of tears.
And I felt at ease.