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A vibrating cell phone makes both of us look down. Logan’s picture stares up at us. Getting up, I go to my refrigerator, pulling out some cut pineapple. “You better answer. He’s only going to keep calling.” I motion to his phone on the table.

Sighing dramatically, he sits down and answers. “Yes, Logan?”

I can hear Brance’s husband going off, and that’s saying something because Logan does not yell. He is like a Zen god.

Brance holds the phone away from his ear, and Logan keeps lecturing a good minute before there’s silence. Brance pushes the speaker button.

“Feel better?”

“Not really”

“I have you on speaker. I’m at Tess’s.”

“Of course you are.” A tortured sigh comes through the phone. “Hello, Tess.” His voice is laced with anxiety.

“Hi, Logan. I’m so sorry to drag you into my mess again.” Guilt!

“Well, Tess, I would love to blame you.” He snips, “Let’s be honest, Brance is making this decision even though I have told him repeatedly it’s not healthy for either one of you. He can’t continue to fight all your battles.”

I flinch at the harsh truth, and Brance instantly grabs the phone, taking it off speaker. “Logan, I love you, and I know you truly do mean the best, but you need to be careful. This trip is something that has to happen, and you know it.” His beautiful chocolate eyes watch me as he listens.

“Without a doubt, it’s going to be nothing but a bundle of negative energy. Unlike you, Tess and I are used to that—we thrive on it. I won’t allow you to make me feel guilty, Logan.”

A leaf blower roars to life outside. I turn, glancing out my window. My neighbor’s gardener is blowing dust and leaves into my yard. If I wasn’t in such a state, I would go outside and say something, but at this point in my life, dirt and leaves are not a priority.

“Yes, Logan, I’ll remind her you told us so. Does that make you feel good? Because it just pisses me off!” Taking my hand, he absently looks at my nails.

“I get that, Logan, but I’m not leaving her to the wolves. Look… I’m trying to have patience.” Brance frowns, leaning forward.

“Un-fucking believable!” Turning to me, he says, “You see this asshole blowing shit on your yard?” He points out the window.

I roll my eyes. “It’s the last thing we should be worrying about.”

“Logan, I need to go, her next-door neighbors…”

Shaking my head, I say, “Brance, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to go take a shower. Tell Logan… I guess, thank you is appropriate.” Hot tears threaten to spill again. I have come to love Logan. He is one of the kindest, most practical people I have ever met. I think that is what pushed Brance to make the ultimate commitment to marry him.

Logan is truly our opposite. Brance needed his innocence. He grabbed it and has become a much different person.

But ultimately, deep down inside, we are what we are. Logan won’t allow himself to accept us. He can’t, even when he reluctantly witnessed the decision we made. That one secret that changed all of our lives. The decision that is going to bring my past crashing down around me, like placing the last domino piece and watching everything you have built fall. I don’t blame Logan, but I do envy him. His endless chakra cleansing is just that: endless. Brance is still Brance and I’m, well, me. Leaning down, I kiss his forehead as he argues with his husband. Because no matter what, Brance does have a point. I need all my ammunition if I’m going to try to convince him that I’m not the vilest person in the world.REED

Past – sixteen years old“Dude, did you see that new girl in first period?” Andrew, my latest partner in crime asks.

“The redhead?” Jax responds, in between sets. Jay is torturing us today with his workout.

“Boys, boys, if all you pansies are going to do is chit chat about your schoolgirl crushes, why am I wasting my time?” He taunts us as usual. I want to tell him to go fuck himself, but since he’s taking his personal time to train us, and we all have doubled in size the last couple of years, I hold back.

He grabs some barbells and starts doing curls himself.

“No, Jay dog, this girl is beyond hot. Am I right, Reed? Come on. If the almighty Reed Saddington thinks she’s hot, you know she is.”

Jay stops lifting and looks at me. “Well?”

“She’s hot. I’d do her. Do you have her number? We should invite her to Blake’s tonight,” Jax answers for me as he wipes his face with a towel.

Jay looks at me in the mirror. “I’m still waiting for Reed’s thoughts.” He eyes me, challenging.

I shake my head. I have been into boxing lately. I had my dad take a portion of our gym and put in a small ring. I look him in the eyes. No way am I backing down.

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