Page 69 of The Keeper

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He makes a noise of disgust. “I’m so sick of it. The studios always try to make it look like I’m having some fling with whatever costar I have. Helps sell movies. Makes me look like a womanizer. It’s so fucking stupid.”

I’ve always known that most of Kit’s “relationships” were not real. A few have been questionable, but he’s a good team player, a good company man, and a good actor. People believe it when he looks into some young ingenue’s eyes, believes he really feels what he portrays on screen. Believes that chemistry could translate to real life.

“So, no one, then?”

He swallows and pulls his hand from mine, rubbing it along his artfully stubbled chin.

“Kit?” I press.

“There is…someone.” He chokes it out like he’s expelling a demon. “I’m in love, I think.”

“What?” I can’t contain my surprise. “With whom?”

“His name is Josh,” he says quietly, looking around to make sure no one is straining to hear our conversation. The street is busy with people, most who don’t seem to notice the presence of an A-list celebrity in their midst. A few do double takes but likely think there’s no way he could be here, wandering around like some commoner.

“Josh,” I repeat quietly, taking in the implication. “So…”

“Yeah,” he answers quickly.

My brother is gay, and I didn’t know it!“Since when?”

“Since birth?” he says. Then, “I’ve always known but that’s not what they want, you know? It doesn’t sell movies.”

A weight settles in my stomach when I think of what this means for him. He’s got money and power and a career that is on fire, but he has to prance around with young actresses instead of being with the person he loves. Talk about a loss of control. And now I feel like a tool. How have I missed this? Missed knowing that my brother is forced to lie every day?

“People would understand,” I say.

“Would they? Would the people from Ohio and Mississippi and Montana all accept their golden boy leading man if they knew that, in real life, he was in love with another man? The studio understands. Josh lives in the apartment next to mine. He’s my neighbor to anyone else. To me? He’s everything, and I can’t tell the world.” The bitterness in his voice is palpable.

I take his hand again. “I’m so sorry, Kit.”

“Yeah.” He takes a shaky breath. “Well, it is what it is.”

“I had no idea. Which is crazy because you’re my brother and I thought I knew you pretty well.”

“That’s because I am such a brilliant actor,” he says with a flourish. “But now that I’ve told you my secret, I need you to do me a favor.”

“I won’t tell anyone.”

“No, it’s not that, though I would appreciate it. I need you to take this ball and run with it, Bill. This is a real chance. And when you have that chance—at love, at success—you need to take it, sister-mine.”


i have feelings


We’re in the second period at home against New York. Game tied, it’s been a violent, high-pressure battle since puck drop, with a whole lotta flared tempers, body checks, and on-ice smack talk. New York’s left wing is a cocky, young kid named Bryce Barrymore. He’s hockey royalty, the son of a legendary defenseman. Just eighteen, he went straight from high school to the pros and into a multi-million-dollar starting slot like me.

He’s a sharpshooter but also a dirty player, from what I’ve seen tonight. A decade and a half younger than Evan, he’s using it, moving quicker, pivoting with more grace. His taunting doesn’t seem to be getting into our captain’s head, but his play certainly is. Evan looks slow out there, especially after taking shot after shot against the glass from New York’s aggressive defensive players.

Having had enough, Evan takes a cheap shot at one of them, dragging his stick under the player’s skates as he tries to whiz by with the puck. As the defenseman goes down, Bryce Barrymore comes barreling in, smashing Evan against the glass where they get into a punching match, Evan’s helmet going first, then Bryce’s. I can hear Evan call him “Little Lord Fauntleroy,” to which Bryce spits in Evan’s face.

The crowd is cheering this whole debacle on as the refs try to get in the middle of a growing group of players, now all fighting one another.

It takes seven whole minutes to clear out the brawl, a bunch of first-string players heading to the penalty box as the second string comes out, mad as a bunch of hornets and not showing any sign that they’ll play a peaceful period.

We finish second period at a tie, Coach trying to keep his cool while lecturing everyone on playing with dignity.

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