Tom Foster has his life planned out, and he's systematically pursuing his goals. At twenty-two, he's been organist and choirmaster at The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd for three years, he's working on his doctoral thesis, and he's beginning a secondary career performing in concert. There is no room in his schedule for romance ... until Noah Webster, a gorgeous green-eyed blond, walks into the church one evening to audition for the choir.
What starts as an arrangement of convenience -- Tom's usual page turner is unavailable, and Noah agrees to do the job-soon turns into a fast friendship. Then Noah, who is saddled with an obnoxious roommate, rents the spare bedroom in Tom's house, and ultimately the two men become lovers and partners in life.
But before they can ride off into the sunset together, they must face one major obstacle: Noah's violent, homophobic Southern Baptist father.
Tom spent most of Saturday at the church. He worked assiduously at the organ until one, then swam laps for an hour. He ate a sandwich, returned to the organ, and put in four more solid hours of practice. Finally, he went home, took a shower, and went to work in his studio, playing catch-up on a number of projects that involved paperwork and planning. In between work sessions, he also fielded an interesting telephone call.
When Noah returned home from his visit to Live Oak that evening, he appeared to be extremely upset, and it looked as though he’d been crying.
Noah grabbed him in a bear hug and said, “God, I’ve missed you.”
“All of my belongings are in the car.”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“I’ve been kicked out of the family and disowned,” Noah said and started to cry.
“Sit down on the sofa, babe, pull yourself together, and tell me about it.”
Noah sat, and Tom sat beside him and put his arm around Noah’s shoulder before he said, “Now, start at the beginning and tell me exactly what happened.”
“I took a short nap after lunch because I was sleepy and because everyone else had errands to run. When I woke up, Mom and my grandmother were home, so I went into the living room to spend some time with Grandma.”
“Dad came home from running some errand or other, and my brother was with him. Anyway, Grandma asked Bobby if he was taking his girlfriend to the senior prom. Bobby said yes and started talking about her.”
“I’m with you so far. Then what happened?”
“Mom asked me if I’d found a girlfriend in Jacksonville yet. I don’t know why I did it, but I said, ‘No, but I have a boyfriend.’”
“Wow, that must have come as a bolt out of the blue. What happened then?”
“What do you think happened? The shit hit the fan is what happened. My dad stormed out of the room ranting and raving about queers, and Mom got hysterical. After a few minutes, Grandma actually slapped Mom and said, ‘Mildred, get a grip, it’s not the end of the world’. That quieted Mom down, but she was still upset and carrying on about how evil homosexuals were. Finally, Grandma got tired of it and added, ‘Mildred, I didn’t raise you to be that stupid. Your son is exactly the way God created him. Who are you to judge His handiwork?’”
“Geez, that must have been an intense scene.”
“Baby, you have no idea. Anyway, my dad came back into the room and ordered me to clear out my room, leave, and never come back. He said there would be no more family help with my schooling. He actually said something like, ‘That queer organist must have corrupted you’, or words to that effect. God, I’ve never loved Grandma as much as I did when she said, ‘Stuff a sock in it, William. You’ve been polluting my daughter’s head with your Baptist crap for twenty plus years, and I’m sick of it’.”
* * * *
“I think someone once said that it takes a crisis to bring out the best, and the worst, in people. Let’s get that car unloaded, then you can unwind.”
They stood up, and Noah grabbed him again in a fierce hug again. “I don’t know what I would have done,” Noah said, “if you hadn’t been here waiting for me.” Then he started tearing up again. “What am I going to do about school next year? I don’t make enough to cover everything, and I don’t think Grandma has that much money to spare.”
“Babe, I have some very good news.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Go wash your face, and I’ll tell you.”
Noah disappeared into the bathroom. When he emerged, his face was freshly scrubbed and he had his emotions under control. “So tell me,” Noah said.
“You must have had your cell phone turned off while you were gone.”
“Yeah, I don’t get any signal on I-10 west of Macclenny, so I just shut it off to save the battery, why?”
“Because Dr. Ambrose tried to call you.”
“Dr. Ambrose is head of the Music Department at UNF, and she was my advisor when I was working on my dissertation. She was also my voice teacher.”
“What did she want? For that matter, why would she have my number?”
“She called me and asked me for it, and when she couldn’t reach you, she called me back and told me what she wanted.”
“Babe, she was at the Elijah performance, and you impressed the hell out of her. If you want to major in music, a full scholarship is yours for the asking. She said she’d have called you sooner, but it took her a while to juggle the budget and come up with the money for another scholarship.”
“Just so. I assured her that she would hear from you first thing Monday morning.”
“You know I’ve been in a quandary about what my major should be, right?”
“Yep, and you’ve been thinking about music, haven’t you?”
“I guess that decision has just been made for me, hasn’t it?”
“Don’t do it, babe, unless you’re absolutely certain.”