This has been copyrighted by J.R. Loveless in the year of 2011. Please do not reproduce this copy for your own personal gain. Remember, this is a free read available for all to enjoy.
Content Warning: Not for under 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18 or it is against your state/country’s laws to read such content, please close the page now.
Thank you. – J.R. Loveless
White rain. It was what Kia had affectionately dubbed the falling flakes slowly drifting down to the ground. Brand’s footsteps made wet crunching noises in the fresh powder as he walked toward home. He burrowed deeper into his jacket, but not only from the biting cold digging into his skin. Melancholy sat heavily on his shoulders at the memory of the day his best friend had come up with the title.
The day remained etched forever in his mind. It was one of the last times he’d felt Kia pressed against his side or heard the laugh he’d always loved. Kia…
* * * *
Brand called laughingly to his friend. “Kia, get out of the street.”
Kia twirled around in the middle of the road, his head thrown back as he enjoyed the first snowfall of the season. Grinning broadly, he glanced over at Brand, who was still on the sidewalk. “No one is going to be out driving in this, Bran.”
Kia always dropped the D in his name and whenever he heard it, it sent a spike of warmth through his chest. Shaking his head, Brand stepped off the curb and moved leisurely to his friend’s side. The white specks dotted Kia’s black hair and they shone like diamonds beneath the street light, crystallizing the longer they sat there in the frigid cold. Kia turned his head toward Brand, a mischievous twinkle in his bright blue eyes, and the dimples at the corners of his mouth deepened in pleasure.
“Don’t you just love the snow, Bran?”
His heart swelled with the love he’d kept hidden from him for so long. Brand lifted one shoulder, stuffing his frozen hands inside his pockets. “It’s too cold.”
Kia, the shorter of the two, slipped one arm through Brand’s and tugged him close to his side. “I can keep you warm. And besides, snow is so much fun! Think of all you can do with it.”
Brand looked down into the pixyish, upturned face, frowning. “Like what?”
“Snowball fights, build a snowman, sled, ski, and make snow angels!” Kia wrinkled his nose at Brand. “Though right now there’s not enough on the ground, but soon there will be.”
“I still don’t see what’s so great about it,” Brand muttered, secretly enjoying his friend’s body pressed into his.
“Come on, Bran. It’s beautiful. It’s almost like white rain. Oh, I love that! White rain! Sounds like a lyric in a song,” Kia exclaimed excitedly.
* * * *
That had been four years ago and the last time he’d stood in the falling snow with Kia by his side. Not long after, Kia had gone away to college and never came home for Christmas or even summer vacation. He really couldn’t blame him. Kia’s home life hadn’t been the greatest in the world. His mother, a weak woman, married a man who drank all the time and spewed a lot of verbal abuse at her and Kia. It surprised Brand that Kia hadn’t let the constant barrage of filth take away his smile. He’d held strong all through their high school years and even after he’d gone away to college.
Their letters and phone calls, at first, had been frequent, but over the course of the first two years they’d tapered off until Brand went three months without hearing from Kia. He’d tried calling several times but each time he’d been told Kia wasn’t in his dorm or couldn’t come to the phone. And each time his heart broke just a little bit more. Until finally… he’d given up. No more phone calls, no more letters. Kia faded from his life like the first drops of snow that hit the ground and melted.
Despite Kia moving on without him, Brand couldn’t forget him. He’d never told Kia how he felt inside; how his heart beat a little bit faster every time he was near, how the smallest smile made his stomach cramp with so much emotion that he wanted to cry, and how just a single look into those gorgeous blue eyes made him want to sink deep into their depths and never be free. His hands balled into fists as he tried to stem the fresh wave of pain he felt. It wrenched his heart apart for the thousandth time since the day he realized Kia didn’t love him back.
He’d managed to find a way to live through the pain and eventually it faded to a dull ache most days, but he’d stumbled across an old photograph in his desk of the two of them recently. They’d been goofing off in his backyard and his mother had snapped a picture of them. Kia had a smile on his face, lighting it up so beautifully. Like a sledgehammer to a watermelon, the image brought back the agony, so hard and fierce he’d even gasped aloud at it, catching the attention of one of his students. Through a haze, he’d managed to gasp out a fake excuse and left the room.
Brand had attended college to become an English teacher and it became the only thing that kept his sanity in check when he’d realized Kia was slipping away from him. Kia always encouraged his love of books and it’d been his idea for Brand to become a teacher. The second year his best friend hadn’t come home for Christmas, he’d almost considered dropping out of school, because it only served to remind him of Kia. But he’d resisted the urge to quit and plunged his way through the remaining two years with an almost sick determination to prove Kia right.
He didn’t know when his feelings had changed from friendship to love, but they had and deepened even further still as time passed. He’d never doubted what he felt for Kia nor his attraction to another man, never had to. Not when he’d been raised to believe love was precious, no matter what form it came in. Five years ago, a year after same-sex marriages had become legal in the state of Massachusetts, his uncle married his life partner of fifteen years and it’d given Brand hope for his own future. A future he’d wanted to share only with Kia.
Somehow he’d always thought Kia would be by his side no matter what happened and it made Kia’s abandonment hurt all the more. Brand tried so many times to look at others, yet he couldn’t bring himself to care for anyone else. It felt as though he would be betraying Kia every time he thought about moving on without him. The same question he always asked himself went round and round inside his head. Will I ever be able to move on?
Stopping on the same sidewalk he’d been standing on that day five years ago, Brand stared out at the street longingly. Kia’s coat had flapped around his slender body as he’d twirled around in delight at the falling snow. He’d looked so beautiful, his cheeks flushed red and his eyes sparkling like the Christmas lights on a nearby rooftop. The sight had completely stolen Brand’s breath.
Pain drove him to turn his head away, a low anguished sound tore from his throat. Brand rushed toward home, almost slipping on the icy sidewalk in his haste to get away from the memories driving equally icy shards into his chest. He almost sighed in relief when the white fence came into view and his steps quickened just a bit more. Pushing open the front gate, he strode inside and shut it behind him, following the small pathway behind the house toward the little cottage he rented from his mother. It wasn’t until he’d reached the stairs that he looked up and stop in shock. His lips parted, but his voice seemed frozen in his throat, carried away on the sharp agony searing through him.
“Hello, Bran,” Kia said softly.
Kia looked the same yet different. He’d filled out in a few places, was no longer as slender or feminine-looking. His hair, cut short, had dark red highlights to accentuate the style, giving him an almost gothic appearance. The soft smile on his lips began to fade when Brand didn’t speak. Kia stepped toward him.
Brand finally found his voice and it came out colder than he thought it would. “What are you doing here, Kia?”
Kia flinched and dropped his gaze. “I came to see you,” he whispered.
“After two years of nothing? What did you expect? Open arms?” Fury raged inside of Brand, along with hurt, and he tried to hide it, praying Kia couldn’t see the effect he still had on him.
“I’m sorry, Bran,” Kia murmured.
Brand bit his tongue, unable to respond without being cruel. His lips flattened into a thin line as he started up his front steps. He knew he’d been wishing Kia would come home but he hadn’t counted on how much it would hurt to see him. It felt as if he’d been standing on thin ice and it had suddenly broken beneath his feet, snatching him into the freezing depths to swallow him whole.
“Can we talk, Bran? Please? There’s something I have to tell you.”
He debated just shutting the door in Kia’s face but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. No matter how much Kia had hurt him, he couldn’t just turn him away. Giving a sharp nod, Brand opened the front door and entered his house, leaving it open for Kia, who darted inside as though he believed Brand would close him out. He couldn’t deny the brief temptation that flashed through him once more.
Brand shed his jacket, hanging it on the hook behind the door, and kicked his boots into the small closet just inside. He flipped on a light as he headed to the fireplace, intent on warming the room. He was well aware of Kia just standing there where he’d left him. Only when the fire crackled warmly in the hearth did Kia speak.
* * * *
Kia stared at his best friend’s back in silence. He watched Brand’s muscles ripple beneath the dark gray shirt he wore. Brand looked even more beautiful than the last day he’d seen him. He still had a good six inches on him, but Brand’s body had filled out in all the right places. Amber hair cut and combed neatly made Kia’s fingers itch to muss it all up, and it stung that he didn’t have the right to do it anymore. Not yet at least. The steel gray eyes he adored had seemed so cold as they’d studied him out on the front porch. Even now Brand refused to look at him. Watching his friend setting a fire to crackle in the fireplace sent melancholy spiking through him. He’d missed Brand every single day, so much so it began to feel as though he couldn’t breathe, but he’d been determined to give Brand a reason to be proud to have him in his life.
Pain twisted his insides at how much he’d hurt Brand in his selfishness. It wasn’t until he’d spoken to Brand’s mother that he realized how much he had. She’d told him that Brand was always alone and seemed so withdrawn from people after he’d left. The solemn facade had drawn him to Brand in the beginning. They’d met when they were thirteen; Brand kept to himself, either reading a book or staring into space. Regardless of the cold reception he received at first, Kia kept trying day after day to draw him out of his shell. It took time, but eventually he’d succeeded and Brand had opened up to him. It appeared that his desire to protect himself had only served to return Brand to the solitary person he’d once been. His throat felt dry as he searched for the words to explain why he’d stopped calling Brand, stopped writing or e-mailing him. How could he make him understand that he’d only done it because it hurt too much? Every time he’d talked to Brand on the phone, every letter or e-mail he’d read about his friend’s life, sent a knife straight into his heart. “I missed you, Bran,” he finally choked out around the lump in his throat.
Brand gave a cynical snort and turned hard eyes toward him. “Missed me, Kia? When? When you were too busy to come to the phone? Or maybe it was when you never returned my letters?”
Kia moved toward Brand only to stop as Brand took a step back. His heart sank even lower into his stomach, but he persisted in trying to make the one man he loved more than anything understand why he’d done what he had. The silence stretched out for long moments between them before he found what to say. He hugged himself as he started talking, staring anywhere except at Brand. “When I left for college, it was hard, Bran. So hard to be away from you. I wanted nothing more than to come home. But I couldn’t. I had to finish because I didn’t want to end up like my mom.”
Brand didn’t reply.
“I thought the more contact we had, the easier it would be. But it wasn’t. It was harder and made me miss you even more. So I selfishly started avoiding your calls and replying to your letters. At least, sending my replies to you. I wrote a letter every week telling you about school, work, and any little thing that came to mind but I never mailed them. I couldn’t.”
He had an entire bag filled with the letters he’d written Brand. One long letter every week for two years was a lot of letters. He’d planned on giving them to Brand when he returned and they were still in his suitcase out on the front porch. “I need you to understand, Bran. I wanted you to be able to be proud of me and have someone in your life worth knowing. Not someone who’d come from a poor family and has a weak mother with a bastard for a stepfather.”
“I didn’t care about that,” Brand said hoarsely, his hands clenched at his sides. When he looked up at Kia, Kia’s heart broke even further at the anguish in Brand’s eyes. “I needed you, Kia. You promised you’d never leave me.”
Kia took a tentative step forward, his heart lifting when Brand didn’t move away this time. He continued until he stood right in front of him. Brand’s dark amber hair seemed longer than he’d remembered it, and there were lines around his mouth and eyes that hadn’t been there before. He reached up to lightly trace those lines with the tip of one finger. “I didn’t leave you, Bran. You never left my mind, my thoughts. All I could think about was getting home to you. I’m sorry. I never realized how much it would hurt you.”
Brand’s lips twisted and he reached up, grabbing Kia’s wrist to stop his movements. But he didn’t push Kia’s hand away. He merely kept it in the loose manacle his fingers made.
“Not hurt me, Kia? I…” His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed hard.
“What, Bran?” Kia pushed closer until the fronts of their bodies rested against one another. “Talk to me. Please.”
It didn’t look like Brand would say anything at first. His mouth opened and shut several times but nothing came out. Kia’s face fell. He wondered if maybe Brand had moved on without him and no longer loved him. He’d known how Brand felt about him. He’d seen it in the way he looked at him, the way he would unconsciously move his body toward him when they talked or almost hovered over him protectively in large crowds. It had taken the knowledge of Brand’s feelings to make him realize he didn’t want Brand saddled with a high school graduate who would go nowhere in life.
A whisper of words left Brand’s lips, sending agony crashing over him like a tidal wave.
“I loved you, Kia. You broke my heart when you left, when you stopped replying to my e-mails and returning my phone calls.”
Loved? Did Brand no longer love him? Kia’s eyes grew moist but he blinked back the tears. He knew he had no right to expect him to love him after he’d practically cut all ties with him. “I’m sorry, Bran,” Kia murmured. “I always intended on coming back. I could never leave you for good because I’ve loved you almost from the moment I met you.”
Brand stiffened, his gaze snapping up to meet Kia’s in shock. Kia smiled softly, reaching to cup Brand’s cheek. “Why do you think it hurt so much to leave you and why I wanted to come back home so badly? I do love you, Bran. I always have and I always will. Can you forgive me and allow me to earn back your love?”
* * * *
Nothing could have prepared Brand for this moment. Kia was here, in front of him, confessing his love for him. All the misery and all the pain he’d felt these last two years began to fade away. He knew it was still wrong that Kia had cut all contact but how could he give up the one thing he wanted more than anything? Especially on Christmas Eve? Brand’s lips turned up in a small smile. His heart felt as if it might jump right out of his chest. “I never stopped loving you, Kia.”
Kia grinned and launched himself against Brand, burrowing his face into his neck. He felt Kia breathe in deeply and the way Kia seemed to savor the scent of his skin sent a thrill racing to Brand’s belly.
“I’ve missed you so much,” Kia sighed.
Brand’s arms tightened around Kia and he pressed a kiss to the shorter man’s temple, closing his eyes in pleasure. No one else would have ever fit so perfectly in his arms as Kia did. He pulled back to look down at Kia, tipping his head up with the fingers of one hand. “You know this means you can’t ever leave again without taking me with you, don’t you?”
Kia wrinkled his nose up at him. “I can still go to the bathroom on my own, right?”
Throwing his head back, Brand let forth a delighted laugh at Kia’s words and he tightened his embrace further. “Not if you’re going to shower,” he replied suggestively, caressing the side of Kia’s neck.
“I think that’ll be a fun shower then,” Kia teased, leaning up to press his lips to Brand’s. Brand swallowed the small squeak of surprise Kia released when he intensified the kiss, his tongue thrusting inside to taste the deepest recesses of Kia’s mouth.
They were both gasping for air when Brand finally broke away. He leaned his forehead against Kia’s as he struggled to regain his breath. “I’ve wanted to kiss you for so long.”
They moved to the couch, never once letting each other go. Kia snuggled into Brand’s side as they started to talk about the last two years. The fire was just beginning to die down when Kia yawned.
“Sorry. I came straight here after my plane landed and the flight was a long one.”
Brand nuzzled affectionately at Kia’s hair. “You can sleep here. If you want to, that is.”
Kia yawned again, a sheepish look on his face. “I was kind of hoping you’d let me. My bags are on the porch.”
Brand laughed and shook his head. “Come on.”
They both shivered as the door opened, letting the cold inside. Brand rushed over to snatch up the two suitcases he hadn’t noticed before. When he turned around, Kia stood looking up at the night sky, a silly grin on his face. “What?” Brand asked quizzically.
“White rain,” Kia responded simply, slanting his eyes teasingly toward Brand.
“I still don’t like snow,” Brand said, rolling his eyes.
Kia laughed and grabbed one of the suitcases, entering the house ahead of him. He set the bag on the floor and unzipped it, pulling out a small sack. The edges of a stack of envelopes peeked through the slight opening.
“What’s that?” Brand asked curiously when he noticed Kia’s hesitation at showing the bag containing what he assumed were the letters Kia mentioned earlier. He slid his arms around Kia’s waist from behind.
Kia hugged the black bag to his chest tightly. “I’m embarrassed.”
Brand rested his chin on Kia’s shoulder. “Embarrassed about what?”
Kia closed his eyes, leaning deeper into Brand. “I’ll tell you later…” he murmured. “For now… just hold me, Bran. Hold me and don’t let go.”
A low sound rumbled in Brand’s chest and he locked his lips onto the side of Kia’s throat. Kia gasped and responded by tilting his head, granting Brand further access to his neck.
Brand sucked heatedly, savoring the taste of Kia’s skin. He wanted to pinch himself, just to see if maybe he were dreaming again. The nights he’d spent fantasizing about this very moment were innumerable and he intended to more than make up for the long, lonely years. His cock swelled and throbbed, desire coursing through his veins like a drug. He instinctively ground himself into Kia, moaning huskily. “I missed you so much, Kia,” he whispered, wanting to crawl inside the man in his arms and never let go.
Kia silently turned in Brand’s arms and pulled him into a searing kiss. “Show me how much.”
Brand stepped back from Kia, picked up his hand and tugged him toward the couch. He sank down into the cushions, pulling Kia into his lap. Kia tossed the small bag onto the table and quickly faced Brand again, capturing his mouth in another kiss. Their hands caressed each other lovingly, sliding beneath shirts, along arms and necks. Soft sighs and heated groans played a tune in tandem with the fire still smoldering in the hearth.
When Kia’s hands reached for the zipper of his jeans, Brand stopped him suddenly, uncertain. Kia looked at him in question and his cheeks grew as red as Rudolph’s nose. An eyebrow went up at the embarrassment on Brand’s face.
“What’s wrong, Bran?”
“I… I’ve never…” Brand trailed off, lifting a hand to cover his eyes.
Kia chuckled as he forced Brand to look at him. “I’ve never either, baby. We’ll learn together, hm?”
Momentarily distracted by Kia’s use of the word ‘baby’, it took Brand a few breaths to realize what his best friend said. His eyes widened in shock. “But… surely someone at college realized how gorgeous you are?”
Wrinkling his nose at Brand, Kia poked him lightly in the chest. “Haven’t you heard a word I said? There’s never been anyone but you. Of course there were guys and girls who hit on me, but I’ve only ever been able to think of you. I love you, Bran. That didn’t change even then.”
Tears stung Brand’s eyes and he yanked Kia once more into a searing kiss, frantically tugging at both their clothes. Kia laughingly grabbed at his hands.
“Slow down, baby. We have all night, the rest of our lives for that matter. I want my first time, our first time, to be beautiful.”
He slithered off Brand’s lap and deftly undid Brand’s jeans. The second Kia’s hand wrapped around his cock, Brand gave a startled jerk, never having been touched so intimately by another person. Kia’s hand slid up and down his shaft, tugging gently.
“Mmm. Bigger than I imagined.” Kia grinned up at him.
Brand flushed. He’d never experienced sex, but he’d watched a few gay porn movies on his personal computer and knew his cock was slightly above average. His thoughts were ripped away when Kia’s tongue unexpectedly swept the sensitive underside of his dick. “Kia!”
* * * *
Kia slid his tongue around the plum-shaped tip, loving the small gasps his best friend and now lover made at each new sensation. He could hardly wait to feel him inside of him, hard and throbbing. He hadn’t actually had sex at college, but he’d experimented with toys. Every time he’d shoved a fake cock in his ass, it had only been an extension of Brand. Abruptly engulfing the silken length, Kia slowly slid his mouth down, rolling his tongue along the underside of Brand’s shaft. His gag reflex forced him to stop part way and he sucked wetly as he moved back to the head.
“God, Kia,” Brand moaned, sinking his hands into Kia’s hair. His hips thrust upward, attempting to plunge his dick deeper into Kia’s throat. Kia hummed in pleasure, sending vibrations through his cock and straight to his balls. “Kia… Kia… wait… ah…”
Sucking harder, Kia could feel the stiff length in his mouth twitch as he heard the desperation in Brand’s voice. He wanted to taste his friend, his lover, wanted to absorb the flavor into his body. Brand attempted to push him away, but Kia stubbornly refused to let go. He grabbed Brand’s hands and pinned them to the couch cushion, allowing his mouth to do all the work.
Seconds later, Brand gave a strangled cry of release and filled Kia’s mouth, his body shuddering. Kia tentatively swallowed the first splash of cum, tasting the salty fluid, and finding he enjoyed the spicy liquid, eagerly gulped down the remainder. When Brand began to soften, Kia allowed him to slip free. Kia let a small smile of accomplishment cross his face as he waited for Brand to calm down and catch his breath. It gave him a heady sense of power knowing he had such an effect on his lover. “Watching you come is the hottest thing I’ve ever seen,” Kia said huskily.
A groan escaped Brand as he pulled Kia into his lap, immediately cupping him through his jeans. He whimpered and ground his cock into Brand’s hand. Brand teasingly drew the zipper down, one short tug at a time. “Bran,” Kia growled, his voice hitching when the backs of Brand’s fingers brushed along his hard length.
A smirk tipped the corners of Brand’s mouth, but he didn’t give in to Kia’s impassioned plea. When the zipper reached the bottom, Brand undid the button and parted the folds of fabric. Kia wore black briefs so tight they hugged his shaft like a second skin. The tip of Kia’s cock poked out of the top of the briefs, capturing Brand’s attention. He slid his thumb over the head, causing Kia to gasp at the sensation. Brand tugged the cloth down, revealing the stiff flesh to his almost hungry gaze.
“Beautiful,” Brand murmured, watching the firelight dancing over the pale pink skin.
Kia sighed in pleasure as Brand wrapped his fingers around him and squeezed gently. Brand grinned wickedly just before he leaned down and flicked his tongue over the spongy head. A quiver wound its way through Kia’s body and he arched his back slightly over Brand’s arm. He tightened his grip on Brand’s shoulder, burying his free hand in the thick amber curls.
Brand slowly took Kia into his mouth, centimeter by centimeter. The feel of moist heat engulfing his cock was unlike anything Kia had ever felt before. Slick muscle rolled over the sensitive flesh and he gasped, tightening his grip in Brand’s hair. A choked sound rattled in Kia’s throat when the tip of his cock touched Brand’s tonsils. The position in which they sat didn’t give Brand much room for maneuvering and he quickly deposited Kia on the couch beside him, swooping down and engulfing Kia’s flesh.
To Kia’s utter embarrassment, a few swipes of Brand’s hot, wet mouth on his cock sent him over the edge. He cried out as he spilled down Brand’s throat, gripping at Brand tightly. When he could think again, he couldn’t fight off the blush that raced over his features. “I’m sorry,” he muttered, sitting up straighter on the couch. He tried to flatten a pillow over his face.
Brand pulled Kia into his arms, tossing the pillow aside and nuzzling at his throat. “It’s okay, Kia. I think we both needed that. Took the edge off, right?”
A chuckle bubbled up in Kia and he affectionately rubbed his cheek against Brand’s hair. “Yeah. I think it’s the pent-up frustration of jerking off for years thinking about you.”
“I hope you’re prepared to spend Christmas here because I fully intend to make up for all those years of just my hand and thoughts of me inside you,” Brand growled softly into his ear, nipping gently at Kia’s earlobe.
“Mmm, I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Kia yawned. “Although I think your mom expects you for Christmas dinner.”
* * * *
“I’m sure she’d understand.” Brand lovingly ran his fingers through Kia’s dark locks, enjoying the sensation of his friend’s body against him. When Kia didn’t respond, he glanced down to find Kia’s eyes closed and his mouth slackened in sleep. Brand laughed softly to himself before he carefully stood up, shifting Kia in his arms and holding him close to his chest.
He carried his precious cargo down the hallway to his bedroom and somehow managed to get the quilted comforter pulled back to deposit Kia beneath it. Pressing a light kiss to Kia’s forehead, Brand whispered, “Welcome home, Kia.”
Kia burrowed instinctively under the blankets, his face buried in the pillow. Brand smiled softly and headed back out to the front room to ensure the glass insert over the fireplace was secure. He turned to head into the kitchen to fix a late night snack, since he’d skipped dinner, and spied the black bag Kia had been holding. Warring with his conscience, it took a few minutes before he convinced himself it wasn’t spying. He snatched up the bag and loosened the drawstring.
As he’d suspected, the sack contained a stack of letters, all of which were addressed to him. He glanced guiltily at the bedroom door before pulling them out of the black bag. Brand’s heart thumped hard against his ribcage and he sank down onto the couch once more, carefully untying the red ribbon that bound the letters together. Kia really had written him letters while he’d been away. His finger traced over the curves of his name on the front of the envelope and he swallowed hard, tears stinging his eyes. He slowly pried open the first letter, breath catching in his throat as he read the first line.
My dearest Bran,
I miss you already. I miss your smile and the faraway look you get in your eyes when you’re immersed in one of your books. There are so many things I wanted to say that last day, but I couldn’t for fear of not wanting to leave. I have to prove myself to you and to make you proud to be with me. When I come home, Bran, will you? Be with me? Will you hold me and never let go?
The letter went on about how lonely it was on campus without him and what his classes were, his impressions of the professors. Brand’s throat worked as he set the letter down and picked up the next one.
My Dearest Bran,
I’ve been at school for only a week now yet it seems so much longer. Your voice on the phone this morning makes me ache to come to you. Am I torturing us both without reason? I could hear your sadness although you tried to hide it behind a fake laugh.
Some letters were funny, some painful and yet each one pushed another piece of the puzzle in place for Brand. He’d known that Kia, despite his overly happy façade, felt as though the situation with his mother and stepfather made him lower class, trash even. They’d lost so much time together. If only he hadn’t given up. He should have kept calling, written, even gone so far as to visit Kia at school. Instead he’d decided it wasn’t worth it and just stopped. What Kia must have felt. It turned his stomach at how he must have reinforced Kia’s feelings of inadequacy.
Brand continued, needing to read every letter, needing to know everything. Each letter grew increasingly harder to read. But the last one stabbed him sharply in the heart.
My dearest Bran,
I know by now you must hate me and I can only hope when I return home to you that you can forgive me. Perhaps you’ll have found someone else by now, and even though it will break my heart, if you’re happy I will leave you in peace. I’m sitting on a bus as I write this letter, making my way back to you and praying you still love me as much as I love you. Hearing your voice, touching your hand, and feeling your arms around me is all I can think of, dream of. Please say you forgive me, Bran. Please say you still love me.
I would have returned as soon as classes were over, but I needed to save up enough money to afford the ticket home. My heart aches at how much I must have hurt you these last two years. Are you still waiting for me to answer? I knew when you stopped calling that you’d finally given up and it was almost more than I could bear. Only the thought of making you proud to have me in your life has kept me from racing home to you.
It’s snowing right now as the bus brings me closer to you. I still remember the last Christmas we spent together. How the snow reminded me of white rain. But what I remember most is your laugh, the smile you had on your face and the way the snow looked in your hair under the street lamp. Like diamonds.
Brand couldn’t read any further. Tears dripped onto the page and he ran a shaky hand over his eyes. To know that Kia had loved him even when he’d given up on his friend made his heart hurt so badly it felt as if it had been torn from his chest. If he’d truly loved Kia, he would never have given up. He should have fought for him, shown him he was already worth more than anything else in the world.
“Bran?” A sleepy voice interrupted his thoughts.
He looked up, his vision blurred by the tears he couldn’t hold back. “I’m so sorry, Kia,” he choked.
Kia rushed to his side, stopping when he saw all the letters scattered around Brand. He smiled at Brand and pushed aside the ones on the couch before sitting down next to him. Setting his hand on Brand’s forearm, Kia looked beseechingly into Brand’s eyes. “We both made mistakes, Bran. My letters were the only thing that helped me keep my sanity while I was in school. I imagined you sitting there and reading them, laughing or telling me to stop being so impulsive.”
He took the last letter from Brand, set it on the coffee table and gathered Brand’s still-shaking form into his arms. “Those letters were to make you understand how I needed to go to college, to make my life have some kind of meaning instead of being a high school graduate with nowhere to go in life. To show you that I never forgot you and how much I love you, even now.”
“I would have helped you, Kia,” Brand said huskily. “If you’d only told me. If I hadn’t been so weak and given up on you. I could have been there to support you and show you that I loved you no matter what.”
“It doesn’t matter anymore, baby,” Kia soothed gently. “We’re together again and I’m never going to let you go.”
Lifting his head, Brand’s lips claimed Kia’s in a sweet kiss. He poured all of his emotions, his love, into the kiss. Kia’s delighted response thrilled him and he deepened it, his tongue surging into Kia’s mouth. The telephone ringing shattered the silence and broke them apart. Brand looked at the clock in surprise. It was almost seven in the morning. He’d spent the entire night reading the letters!
He snatched up the phone, knowing it had to be his mother at such an early hour. “Hi, Mom.”
“Are you and Kia planning to come up to the house this morning, sweetheart?”
“We’ll be there in a little bit,” Brand replied, smiling at Kia.
His mother’s next words shocked him. “So you two finally came to your senses. ‘Bout damn time! Get your butts up here so I can hug you both.”
Brand’s mouth was still flapping in surprise when she hung up the phone. Kia took the phone from him and set it on the base. “Is something wrong?”
Kia frowned, tilting his head to the side. “Knew what?”
“About us. She knew how we felt about each other.” Brand shook his head, slumping back into the couch.
“Ah, I see. Was she… okay with us?” Kia asked uncertainly.
Brand picked up Kia’s hand in his. “Even if she wasn’t, I wouldn’t let you go a second time, but yes. She’s happy for us. She wants us to go up to the house so she can hug us both.”
Delight flashed through Kia’s eyes and his face lit up. “Oh… then let’s not keep her waiting. Get up.”
Brand stood, tugging Kia with him. They quickly changed their clothing and put on their boots and jackets. As they opened the back door and entered the kitchen, the smell of turkey and apple pie caused their stomachs to growl and Kia sniffed appreciatively. “I missed your mom’s cooking!”
His mother stood at the stove. She smiled brightly when she turned around and saw their hands linked together. Rushing over, she hugged Kia tightly.
“Welcome home, Kia.”