MY MOM PASSED the fuck out.
One minute, she was gaping at me, at Kale, at me, at Kale, and then her eyes just kind of rolled back in her head and she dropped like a sack of bricks.
Mike half caught her since everyone else was too busy doing the same thing my mom had been doing—big eyes darting from me, to Kale, to me, to Kale.
Fast-forward to Ryan rushing to call an ambulance, a swirl of red and blue lights flashing through our windows, a team of medics sprinting into our foyer . . . and, yeah, tonight was a disaster of epic fucking proportions.
“She’s going to be okay?” Kale asks the medic standing on our doorstep, guilt weighing down his words.
“She’ll be fine,” the EMT assures him. “Just keep her hydrated and make sure she takes it easy.”
I don’t watch the ambulance pull away—because Shawn is still out there somewhere. When my mom finally regained consciousness and we were waiting for the ambulance, Adam gave me a quick hug, told me Shawn is an asshole, and went out to stand by his best friend’s side. But Mike and Joel are still in my house, with Mike running his hands anxiously through his hair and Joel gnawing on a thumbnail, neither of them knowing what to say or what to do.
Tiny step by tiny step, Joel backs toward the front door. “I’m . . . just gonna . . . ” When he’s almost there, he stops to rub the back of his neck. “Do you need me for anything?”
I shake my head. “Go.”
“I’ll see you next practice?”
“Yeah,” I say, not sure if I’m lying to him or not.
Joel slips outside, and Mike sighs before wrapping me in a strong hug. He keeps me pinned tightly against him when he says, “Look, Kit, Shawn only told me what happened between you guys after I found you on the roof, and when he told me . . . it’s not like he was proud of it. He knows he messed up.” Mike pulls away to study me, concern coloring his deep brown eyes. “If I had known you didn’t know—”
“Don’t say it.” I know he wouldn’t have told me, and then I never would have known.
Mike frowns. “I’m just saying . . . ” Another sigh escapes him. “If you really do love him—”
“You should give him another chance. That’s all I’m saying.” When I just stare at him, he adds, “I really do think you’re good for each other, and I really do think he cares about you.” When I open the door a little wider for him to leave, he takes the hint. But just as I’m about to close it, his hand wraps around the edge and his head pokes back inside. “Don’t leave the band over this.”
“I’ll call you.”
The frown he gives me says he isn’t satisfied with my answer, but he releases the door and leaves anyway, and then it’s just me and Kale standing helplessly in my foyer. I lean back against the door and close my eyes. “You didn’t have to do that.”
Of all the ways Kale imagined coming out, I’m sure that yelling “I’m gay!” at the top of his lungs in a room full of strangers wasn’t one of them.
“What are we going to do now?”
“Dad said we’re supposed to meet everyone in the den.”
I open my eyes, dead serious when I say, “Want to run away instead?”
“Only if we can be snake charmers.”
“I hate snakes.”
“Looks like we’re staying then.”
When I frown at Kale, he gives me a weak smile and pulls me into a tight hug—the kind that prevents you from breathing or thinking or feeling. I give him the same kind.
“I’m with you,” he says, and I tuck my face into the crook of his shoulder.
“I’m with you too.”
“Then we’ll get through this.”
“Are you ready?”
“No. Are you?”
Kale shakes his head against my cheek. “Not even close.”
Shoulder to shoulder, we cross the distance to the den and step down into it. My mom is lying on the couch, her head on my dad’s lap as he presses a damp washcloth against her cheeks. She sits up as soon as she sees us, batting my dad’s hands away when he tries to force her back down.
My brothers are camped on chairs and arms of chairs and the brick base of our fireplace. No one says a word. Everyone just stares and swallows and blinks and stares.
Kale sucks his lip between his teeth. I twirl the diamond in my nose.
“Why didn’t you tell us?” Bryce begins, and both Kale and I stare back at him. I don’t know who he’s talking to, since he’s looking at both of us, and neither Kale nor I are in a rush to answer him. “It doesn’t matter,” he continues. “So you like dudes, so what.”
When I gaze over at Kale, his eyes are already glistening. God, I want to hug him. I want to wrap him protectively in my arms. But Bryce beats me to it. He crosses the distance in no time, yanking my brother into a hug that brings tears to my eyes too. My hand lifts to my mouth, and I step away to give them space.
“You’re my brother,” Bryce says, and those three words say everything. When he pulls away, he smiles at Kale. And then he pushes his shoulder and crosses the room to sit back down.
Kale stares at everyone else—at our mom, our dad, at Mason, at Ryan. My mom slides her feet from the couch and pats the cushion next to her. “Come sit down.”