Tate D'Angelo always thought he knew who his father was: beloved doctor, devoted husband, and father ... Everyone at the funeral shared the same glowing stories of a kind soul. So when his father's old college buddy Randy approaches him after the service, Tate expects to hear echoes of the same.
Instead, he gets a lifetime's worth of letters that tell a different tale and cause him to view his father -- and his family -- in a whole new light.
The truth, about a secret romance kept buried for decades, astonishes him. Overwhelmed by grief and confusion, Tate's unsure if he can bear learning how the lives of two men entwined over the years, but he reads on anyway, discovering more to value, more to respect, and most importantly, more to love about the man who raised him.
There was no explanation, no preface.
There was simply the first letter. The handwriting was his dad's. Even if the penmanship had gotten sloppier over the years, his backward-slanting script was still recognizable.
Tate wasn't sure what to expect -- or why this man Randy had chosen to share such personal items with him. He figured there was only one way to find out.
He began reading.
June 5, 1973
Well, kid, it's been three days, fifteen hours, and twenty-seven minutes since we graduated and I last saw you. But who's counting?
I don't know how often I'll be able to write, what with starting medical school and planning for my wedding. But I wanted you to know that I was thinking of you and, oh hell, how very much I miss you.
I know this is hard. I know you wanted something else. But it just can't be. The world doesn't look kindly on two men as a couple, especially if one of them plans on being a pediatrician. And besides, as I've told you, I love Sharon in my way. She's a great girl, and I know she's crazy about me. We have a good relationship, and I can foresee a great future with her.
Oh shit, who am I trying to kid? She's a wonderful woman and I do love her, with all my heart. But I love you, Randy, more. And ... she can never know this. It would break her heart. It would break mine.
But I still ache when I think of leaving you just as dawn was breaking the other morning, looking up at you standing in the window of your apartment, watching me, your hand pressed against the glass.
I wanted so much to turn around, to just say "fuck it all" to a world that disapproves of something as pure and honest and passionate as what we shared. I wanted to run back up the stairs and into your arms, to cover you with kisses, and take you back to bed -- one more time.
Could you see that on my face? Could you see the longing and the pain?
I don't know what will happen with us, I only know I hope to hear from you sometimes. I can't, much as my head tells me to, just sever all ties with you. It's a dangerous game, but a world without you in it, in at least some small way, is a world I can't bear living in.
My heart won't let me say good-bye, not completely.
I know that's not fair to you, but I also know a handsome guy like you, with such talented hands, will not be alone for long. You too will find a nice girl and settle down, have kids, just like I plan to do.
And who knows? Maybe there will come a time when we can all get together with our families. Maybe, after a while, these desires we have for each other will be replaced by friendship and respect, edged out by the love we have for our wives.
I hope so. But today I am missing you and wishing, so hard, you were here in Miami with me.
I start my summer job waiting tables at a little seafood place on the beach tomorrow -- and med school awaits at the University of Miami in the fall.
Take care of yourself, Randy, and please, no matter what, don't forget what we shared. I know I won't.