Nerdy Ryan Miyashi is about to start college at Cal State Berkeley at the tender age of sixteen. This should be an exciting and happy time for the bright young man, especially since his first boyfriend, Tanner Cruz, is a total hunk, even if he’s a bit self-centered. Things were going great until Ryan accidently lets it slip to Tanner’s dad that Tanner’s childhood seizures have started to reoccur, costing the promising young athlete his chance at a football scholarship. Almost faster than it started, Ryan’s first romance is over. Or is it? At the same time, another handsome young man seems to be especially friendly…
Things were going so well. I’d come out to my parents and friends, and the sky didn’t fall. In fact, most of them were so supportive, I was starting to feel good about myself. I’d finished high school at the tender age of fifteen, and I had a full-ride academic scholarship at the University of California, Berkeley, and I was even taking a couple of graduate-level courses at Cal that summer.
Best of all, I had a boyfriend. Not just any boyfriend, either. My boyfriend—my first—was the school’s star athlete. What’s more, he was jaw-droppingly, heart-poundingly, pants-wettingly beautiful.
He was no twink. At six-foot-one, one-hundred-eighty-five ripped-to-shreds pounds, blond hair and blue eyes, he was the most masculine man I could ever have imagined. He fit right in with all the cool kids. Everybody loved him.
And he loved me.
And I fucked it all up.
“Squirt? Can I come in?” my brother asked through the bedroom door.
“Go away!” I pulled my pillow over my head. My door didn’t have a lock, so I couldn’t really keep Arnie out. I heard the doorknob turn and the door open a crack.
“C’mon, squirt, it’s me.”
It had been five days since I’d heard from Tanner, and three since I’d given up trying. We’d been on a camping and fishing trip and Tanner had had a seizure—probably more than one—during the trip but I’d been too stupid to recognize it. After he’d done the full-blown writhing bit on the banks of the lake, I’d been forced to drive us both home, even though I only had a learner’s permit and Tanner wasn’t old enough to be my wing man.
On the drive home, Tanner had used his considerable powers of persuasion and made me promise not to tell anyone. He was a childhood cancer survivor, and apparently the odd seizure was a legacy of the brutal chemotherapy he’d been forced to endure. Until now, they had been well-controlled through medication.
Tanner was extremely selective about who he let know about that part of his past. I was incredibly touched when he finally confided in me, but at the same time, I’d been sworn to secrecy. He felt that part of his past was nobody’s business, and I couldn’t disagree. To the casual observer, Tanner could come across as an insufferable egotist—that’s certainly how I saw him in the beginning. That made it all the more amazing to understand that Tanner kept that secret because he didn’t want the extra attention he would certainly get if people knew about his medical struggles.
One thing Tanner was not able to convince me to do was let him drive. At all. Over his protestations, I drove directly to Tanner’s house. I didn’t even want him to risk driving the short distance home from my house. Because of that, Tanner’s dad, Lou, drove me home.
Lou seemed to sense immediately that something was up. All it took was a few carefully worded questions from Lou and I cracked like an egg. The whole situation had been really scary and I ended up pouring my heart out and Lou hugged me while I cried. He told me everything would be alright and waited until I was safely inside before he drove off. A couple of hours later I got the text that I presumed would be my last communication ever from Tanner—