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Boarding School Blues – Chapter 2

Boarding School Blues
Levi Holland

Chapter 2

Outside the glass office building, Cooper’s dad glanced through the scheduling and dorm papers until his bushy eyebrows wrinkled with his forehead.

“Forgot your way around here?” Cooper asked.

“Ha ha,” his dad said plainly. “One of my old teachers is now the headmaster. We didn’t have the…greatest understanding.”

“What your father means is that he liked to cause trouble,” his mom said as she plucked the scheduling sheet from his dad’s hands.

“How’d you get in trouble?” Cooper asked, but his dad was quick to raise his hands in self defense.

“Really, it was nothing. Some light pranks, innocent vandalism, that sort of thing. But maybe try to keep a low profile until you get settled in.”

“Cooper,” his mom said, “you’re in Valentia. How exciting!”

His mom pointed to the red, swirling font of Valentia where the words House of Bravery were inscribed beneath.

Cooper didn’t get the big deal. The names didn’t mean anything. They were a silly way to figure out where you were in the castle, that’s all. They didn’t mean he was special in any way.

“Well, it’s no Ehre,” his dad started to say, but a swift elbow from his mom silenced him. “Oww, I mean, Valentia is a great place to end up!”

His mom bent over with her hands on her knees. “Race you to the top?”

As they sprinted down the castle’s corridors to the dorms, they encountered all sorts of lavish furniture and architecture. Cooper had no way to put a value to it all, but it must have been easily more than a hundred times what his own house was worth. It reminded him of the field trip they took back in fourth grade to some dead guy’s fancy estate. Blue Ridge completely dwarfed that building, but its rooms had a lot of similar furniture inside.

Finally they reached the top of Valentia’s spire. Sunlight gleamed through the stained-glass windows and onto the cherry hardwood floor. There was a whole bunch of fancy furniture that looked like something you’d find in his grandma’s place, but Cooper didn’t care about any of that. His eyes were locked onto the TV setup and gaming system in the corner, way bigger and nicer than anything he had back home. At least there’d be something to cure his boredom when he wasn’t in class.

Along the gray, stone walls were towering portraits of dead old guys Cooper didn’t recognize. Most of them looked stern or angry, but the man in the final portrait looked almost bored as he stared off in the distance at something beyond the artist.

“He’s a little grayer now, but that’s definitely Headmaster Robinson,” his dad said.

“Are you gonna get me in trouble for being your son?”

“What? No, of course not. Probably not, anyway. At least, I hope.”


Past the main suite was the largest and shiniest bathroom Cooper had ever seen. His shoes squeaked against the shiny, black marble tiles as he poked his head inside the shower area. On either end was a separate shower head, and Cooper’s stomach squirmed at the idea that he might have to share a shower with another boy he barely knew. At least the toilet had a door for privacy.

Checking his dorm papers again, Cooper headed to the first bedroom, marked with a shiny brass 1 above its door. Giving the door a quick knock, he felt like an idiot when no one answered. Of course they wouldn’t—he was clearly the first new student to arrive in his dorms.

Cooper wondered what his roommate would be like. Hopefully someone funny like Sawyer, or maybe someone who loved to climb like him. Honestly as long as the person wasn’t a jerk, Cooper would be happy. The last thing he needed was another Buttface Johnson in his life.

Inside the bedroom, two twin beds draped in red covers faced each other on opposite ends of the room, with a separate nightstand and dresser for each, along with a small joint walk-in closet to share. Like with the suite outside the dorm rooms, sunlight bathed the room through the tall window against the wall. The bedroom was huge, big enough to squeeze two or three of his own bedrooms inside.

Cooper wondered how he might decorate his side of the room. Or would his new roommate want to do something together?

Turning around, he was startled to see his parents standing together, smiling as his mom rested her head against his dad’s shoulder.

“My little man,” his mom whispered.

“Mom,” he groaned, “It’s just 6th grade. Really, I’ll be fine.”

His words trailed off, and before Cooper could put up any more false bravado, he tackled his parents at the same time they smothered him in a hug. The perfume from his mom filled his nostrils, and he nearly cried, realizing he wouldn’t get to hold his parents for the next few months after they left.

“We’re going to miss you so much,” his mom said.

“Be sure to write us all the time,” his dad said before kissing the top of his head.

“Remember your schedule—opening ceremony at 6 o’clock.”

“Give yourself plenty of time to get there.”

“Maybe go with a buddy.”

Cooper’s head was spinning with his parents’ last minute instructions. “Guys! I love you both, but really. I think I’ll be okay. Dad, if you survived this school, I think I can manage.”

“What does that mean?” his dad asked.

“I think,” his mom said, taking her husband’s hand, “Cooper’s got a good head on his shoulders. He’s smart, brave, friendly. He’s a perfect fit.”

Cooper smiled at his mom, and in the quiet, his dad asked, “And I’m not those things?”

They all turned their heads as someone stomped up the final stairs to the top floor of the suite.

“Phew, finally! Out of the way! Coming through!”

Cooper’s parents parted like clouds on a breezy day as a tall mousy-faced boy with high, rounded cheeks reached the landing. His brown, styled hair was neatly arranged in a swoop as the ends of each strand curled up. The yellow infinity scarf sitting on the boy’s shoulders began a chain of strange, mismatched patterns, styles, and colors in all of his clothes. It was like the kid chucked a handful of darts to see which clothes he was supposed to wear that day.

Peering down at the papers in his hands, the boy looked up and seemed to finally notice Cooper standing in the doorway of Room 1. He looked back down, scanned the papers with his finger one last time, and crumpled the papers in his pocket.

“You must be my roommate,” the boy said as he strolled up to Cooper. “The name’s Anakin Adams.”

Cooper froze, staring at the boy’s outstretched hand. This was his new roommate? Definitely not what he was expecting.

“You’re supposed to shake it,” Anakin said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

When Cooper shook the kid’s hand, his arm was nearly rattled from its socket.

“Nice swag, by the way.” Anakin walked a circle around Cooper, giving his clothes an appraising glance like he was ready to auction them off. “Very street urban.”

“Uhh, thanks?” he said. “I’m Cooper. Cooper Morrow. So is your name, like, from Star Wars or something?”

He figured all kids from rich families must have had strange names.

Anakin shrugged. “I guess. It’s definitely more my parents’ thing though. I only really like the lightsaber fights. Check it out. Is this our room?”

Stepping past Cooper, Anakin inspected their bedroom, while Cooper walked back to give his parents one last hug goodbye. He wasn’t convinced Anakin would be the forever friends that his dad and Oskar were, but at least their first conversation hadn’t gone down in flames.

One of his dad’s knees cracked as he stooped down.

“Remember what I said about your Headmaster,” he said. “He’s a good man, but a strict one. Just keep that in mind.”

“I will, Dad. I love you.”

“And please try not to do anything reckless. No climbing trees!”

After embracing one last time, Cooper fought the urge to chase after his parents as they finally descended the rounding staircase to the base of Valentia’s spire. As their footsteps faded among the growing voices from other students below, Cooper prayed he wasn’t making a terrible mistake by staying at Blue Ridge.


Roman climbed the seven long flights of Fuerza’s spire alone.

The only way forward was to harden his heart. That was how he would survive. Even still, he nearly cried out as his mom drove away down Blue Ridge’s long driveway. Now it was just him.

Without much to do until the opening ceremonies, Roman figured he might as well see what his home for the next ten months would look like, so he followed the student map in his hands until he reached the boys’ section of housing, and then, Fuerza’s spire.

As he climbed, Roman prayed Xavier wasn’t in his suite. Or if he was, Roman hoped he wouldn’t be seen. The rounded stairs hugged the outside wall of the spire with a small landing at the start of each suite. When he reached the floor for the 8th graders, he paused. He thought he might have heard some snickering from further inside, but after peeking around the entranceway and seeing no one there, Roman dashed up the remaining steps, wincing with each sharp, jabbing pain at his ribs.

At the top, the suite for the 6th graders was identical to the ones he’d passed along the way. Fuerza’s purple colors lined all the carpet and furniture. The silence and sunlight pouring through the window was calming. No one would bother him here. As expected, his bags hadn’t been brought up yet. He remembered something about the front office lady saying they’d be there after dinner, but it didn’t matter. There was nothing inside that Roman needed right away.

Instead, he went to the bathroom, where his shoes squeaked like a trapped mouse with every step. The counter top held two sinks beneath a wide, frameless mirror. Lifting the tail of his shirt, Roman grimaced as the purple-plum bruise appeared. He could almost see the contours of Xavier’s knuckles along his ribs. Every deep breath was another painful reminder.

Roman hated the way the boy in the mirror stared back at him—hated how much his pointed face, his blond hair, and steely blue eyes were spitting images of Xavier’s. Along the walls of his house were pictures of their father around their age—his mom always joked that if their dad could be plucked from those photos, she could pass the three of them off as brothers.

Roman buried his fingernails into his palm and slammed the top of the counter.

Leaving the bathroom behind, Roman went to Room 2 and closed the door shut before picking the bed closest to the window overlooking the campus. He wasn’t sure how long he sat huddled on the purple covers, staring blankly at the forest-covered mountains in the distance. Maybe if he didn’t move long enough, he’d be forgotten about, left alone. Maybe he’d even disappear entirely. No one would miss him.

Even as new voices and footsteps reached him from the suite, Roman didn’t move. What was the point? He began to wonder whether the window pane at the top of Fuerza’s tall spire might open up when his bedroom door barged open and thunked against the wall.

Standing in the doorway was a pale boy in clear-framed glasses. He ran a hand through his curling, strawberry-blonde hair before locking eyes with Roman on the corner bed.

“Oh,” was all the boy said, his expression a mixture of surprise and something Roman didn’t recognize. The boy’s eyes danced over Roman’s body before he stammered with a blush and backed out of the bedroom.

A flurry of voices argued outside before the boy returned, this time herded along by a woman with long hair the same orangey shade as the kid’s.

“Ahem,” the woman coughed, giving his shoulders a firm squeeze.

“I-I’m sorry I left without introducing myself,” the boy said, his eyes anywhere but on Roman. “I’m Fielding Everest.”

What an unusual name, Roman thought, glancing between the boy and his mother, although he supposed his own name wasn’t exactly common either.

“Delighted to meet you, dear,” Fielding’s mom said with a buttery smile that stirred something up inside Roman.

“Roman,” he managed, figuring he should actually get off the bed and introduce himself properly. “Roman Jacobs.”

The woman’s eyes grew wide in recognition. “I think I know your father! Well, my wife actually, but Jacobs, as in the director, Gerard Jacobs?”

“Mom,” Fielding said, “stop.”

“Oh, hush,” the woman said, conking the side of her son’s head.

Roman nodded and she came up to shake his hand. Actually, shake was putting it mildly. Both her hands gripped Roman’s, and it looked as if the woman might cry. This was never a reaction he’d gotten before. Whenever people were interested in his father, they spoke to him, not Roman.

Mrs. Everest squeezed him in a hug, and Roman’s face smushed against her pillowy breasts. They were suffocating, and he fought the urge to push the woman away as he stood stiffly with his arms at his side.

“Mom, boundaries!” Fielding shouted, and Roman caught the tail end of a southern drawl in his raised voice.

“I’m sorry,” she said, and stepped back to wipe the tears from her eyes. “You’ll never know how grateful we are to your father. He was my wife’s big break. Ahh, look at me. Such a mess. Excuse me.”

The two boys waited awkwardly as the sound of nostrils blowing into a tissue reached them from the bathroom. Fielding still refused to really look at Roman, so he tried breaking the ice instead.

“Moms, right?” Roman offered. “Always doing embarrassing stuff like that.”

Fielding offered a meek smile, finally looking up at him. “Tell me about it.”

“So, your mom’s…”

Fielding’s face flushed. “Yeah, she’s gay. That’s not a problem, is it?”

“I was going to say an actress, but no,” Roman said. “Of course not. Why would it matter?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Fielding said with enough sting to make Roman flinch. The drawl was back in his voice, but Fielding relaxed his shoulders and frowned. “Sorry, it’s just some people have issues with them. With—”

Fielding’s mom came back, her face now cleaned up, and she stretched her jaw like she was trying to wake herself up.

“Well, I guess this is it,” she said. “I’ve got to take care of a few things before I go, but try not to get into too much trouble. I love you, sunshine.”

Roman heard the muffled groan even as Mrs. Everest smothered her son in a full-bodied hug. Seeing the two of them burned something inside Roman, and he turned away. What did he care how other families were?

After she left, Roman was ready to continue quietly ignoring each other, but Fielding seemed to have other plans in mind.

“So, why were you sitting up here all alone?”

“I…uhh…” Roman paused, not sure what to say. His mind flashed to Xavier, the aching bruise on his ribs, the emptiness inside his chest, the window. “I don’t know.”

“Well, come on, let’s go outside. It’s a nice day, and I saw some kids throwing a Frisbee.”

“I don’t know,” Roman said again, worried Xavier might see him and ruin things.

“Is that all you know how to say?” Fielding asked. “Come on, let’s go.”

Before Roman could protest, Fielding grabbed his hand before running the opposite way, tugging Roman with him. It annoyed him at first, being pulled along by this kid he barely knew, but seeing the way Fielding’s smile lit his face, a different emotion fluttered through his heart as their hands clasped together too perfectly. Maybe this once, he could take a chance and see where things led.

When they reached the first of many steps at the top of the spire, Fielding shouted, “Last one there’s a rotten egg!”

“Oh, you’re on!”

They scurried past Mrs. Everest and a few other families before jumping the final steps. As they ran, Roman began to pull ahead, not far now from the large stone staircase leading down to the grassy fields. He was just about to turn back and taunt Fielding, when a figure stepped from around the corner.

“Woah, hey!” Moving too fast to stop, Roman recognized too late the navy suit of one of Blue Ridge’s professors. When they collided, a handful of papers sprang up and careened like feathers to the ground as the man fell back on his butt.

A sinking pit spread through Roman’s stomach. Not an hour into his time at Blue Ridge, and already he was done for. He scrambled to collect the papers, but the man stopped him.

“Really, it’s fine.” The man’s eyes widened with recognition as he took a good look at Roman, and he laughed. “Well, if you aren’t the spitting image of Xavier. You know, I think I remember him saying he had a brother on the way.”

Roman shook his head in confusion.

The man seemed almost disappointed as he pointed to his face. “Professor Bell? Xavier’s math tutor? Surely, he’s mentioned me.”

This was Professor Bell? Back when Xavier was happy to share about his life at Blue Ridge, the name Professor Bell popped up often. He’d always sounded like one of the cool professors, and Roman just tackled him to the ground. Great.

“He’s mentioned you before,” Roman mumbled, trying to avoid the man’s stare. God, what an idiot he was.

Professor Bell brushed any potential dirt clinging to his suit pants before waving it off. “Well, I would have preferred our hellos to be done in the classroom, but it’s a pleasure all the same. Do me a favor? Try not to plow anyone else over.”

Professor Bell walked away, but before he left their sight, a hand reached back to rub his tailbone.

Beside him, Fielding smacked a floppy hand into Roman’s chest. “Oh my god! I can’t believe you just did that!”

“Shut up,” Roman muttered.

“You were like, ‘Whoosh,’ and he was like, ‘Watch out!’ and then BAM! I thought you were gonna get expelled for sure!”

“I said, shut up!” Roman shouted. “Anyways, you wish I had gotten expelled.”

Fielding’s eyebrows furrowed. “Huh? Why’s that?”

“Because that was your only chance to beat me!”

Before Fielding could react, Roman sprinted the remaining distance outside to the fields, breaking through the threshold and into the sunlight.

End Chapter 2

Copyright 2023 – Levi Holland
All rights reserved

Boarding School Blues – Chapter 1

Boarding School Blues
Levi Holland

Blue Ridge Academy is the premier boarding school to attend—unless you’re Cooper Morrow, who feels like his whole life is about to be uprooted. After being outed as the new scholarship student for incoming 6th graders, Cooper will have to find a way to prove to everyone else that he belongs by making a few friends along the way. For Roman Jacobs, starting at Blue Ridge is the worst thing that could happen, especially when he feels like his older brother lurks around every corner, ready to make his life miserable. Join them across these 20 chapters, through various trials and ups and downs, as Cooper and Roman learn to navigate the uncertainties of middle school and discover the type of people they really are.

Chapter 1

Cooper Morrow stretched out a scrawny arm and grasped the low-hanging tree branch as he pulled himself up with a grunt. There was nothing able to stop his smile as the afternoon sun baked into his skin, not even the sweat clinging to his back. As Cooper reached the last of the branches, the crickets chirped their hellos, and Cooper climbed up beside his best friend, Sawyer.

“Finally,” Sawyer said. “We’ll miss the sunset if you take any longer.”

Sawyer scooted over to make room, and Cooper rested against the scratchy bark of the honeylocust. There was nothing left to do but let his feet dangle and appreciate the view as the sun tiptoed toward the horizon.

Cooper loved the way parts of Misty Pines poked its head above the summertime trees. Maybe he could spot more of the town if he climbed higher, but the dangers of a branch snapping were too great. At least, that’s what his mom was always saying. Cooper closed his eyes and breathed in the sweet smell of pine on the wind.

“So, this is it, huh?” Sawyer asked. He gave a halfhearted smile as he rubbed the faded jagged scar running down his cheek.

“The view, or my last day of freedom?”

Your freedom,” Sawyer corrected.

Cooper groaned and chipped away a piece of loose bark on the branch. “Don’t remind me.”

How was it fair Sawyer got a whole extra week of summer break, while Cooper had to leave in the morning for some uppity boarding school?

Sawyer gently bumped his shoulder. “You know I’m messin’, right? I’m sure Blue Ridge is gonna be great.”

Rolling his eyes, Cooper said, “Starting middle school without you and the other guys is gonna totally suck. I’m not gonna know anybody there.”

“You’re telling me Cooper Morrow is afraid of meeting new people? Hello, remember how we met?”

Cooper smiled as he got swallowed in the daydream. Two years before, during the summer after third grade, Cooper had been cruising the bumpy, neighborhood sidewalks on his scooter. He was at the right place at the right time when he came across the new kid, his red baseball cap too big for his curly brown locks as he scribbled on the ground with a bucket of chalk at his side.

The dog came out of nowhere. Barking and gnashing its teeth, it lunged towards the kid, one sharpened claw quickly finding a home on the boy’s cheek.

Cooper swooped in like a madman, barreling the scooter into the canine at full force. As he tumbled down to the pavement, the skin on his palms got scraped up, but at least the dog was spooked away. Cooper barely had time to get to his feet before the kid tackled him to the ground in a grateful hug.

And just like that, Cooper found an inseparable friend in Saywer.

How many times had Sawyer watched his back, too? Like last year, when Lance Buttface Johnson kept picking on Cooper because he didn’t have enough money for extra snacks at lunch. Sawyer spread a rumor around the 5th grade that Lance’s farts reeked and his pee smelled like old, smelly cheese.

Cooper sighed as the sky painted itself in hues of orange and pink. It wasn’t meeting new people that made Cooper afraid. He was afraid of never finding another friend like Sawyer.

“You’re gonna be great, Cooper,” Sawyer said. “Just promise me one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“Promise you won’t turn into one of those snobby, rich kids.”

Cooper blanched and stuck out his tongue. “Uggh, never.”

Sawyer pretended to sip from a cup of tea, extending his pinky as he spoke in a terrible English accent. It made Cooper laugh, at least enough to distract him for a little while. This was his last afternoon with his old life. After today, everything would change.

The station wagon rumbled along the misty gray roads of the Virginian mountains.

Buckled in the back seat, Cooper wondered when the never-ending trees would give way to something more exciting. Anything to peak his interest! But ever since his parents drove headlong into the blanket of fog swallowing the mountains around them, trees were all Cooper could see.

The brochure for Blue Ridge Academy sat unopened beside him. No way was he reading that boring pamphlet again. Cooper craned his head behind him. He’d give anything to climb in the open trunk, pull out his favorite Detective Dackery book from his suitcase, and get lost in the world of the famous duck detective rather than the one he was on his way to now.

He wasn’t super religious, but when his parents first applied for the scholarship, Cooper prayed the school would explode. Or get sucked into a black hole. Or at the very least, maybe his application would be rejected. Cooper didn’t care how amazing the school and faculty were supposed to be. Did his parents not understand his whole life was about to be uprooted? By June, they received word of his acceptance. By July, the deal was done. His prayers failed. God hated him.

Why did he have to be the one unlucky scholarship kid?

“We’re getting close!” his dad announced from behind the wheel. Cooper groaned like he did when he had an upset stomach.

“It’s not too late to turn around,” Cooper said before clunking his head against the window. It was his mom who twisted around in her seat and stretched her hand.

“Come on,” she said and wiggled her fingers towards him. “Give ‘em here.”

Cooper reached out and slipped into the warm comfort of his mom’s hand.

“I know you’re nervous,” she said. “This is a big change for all of us, but think about all the amazing stories you’ll get to share when we see you next.”

His dad cleared his throat. “And I’m sure things are even better than when I was there.”

Imagining his dad as a kid in the ancient, dusty classrooms of Blue Ridge did little to cheer him up. Anyone alive then had to be skeletons by this point.

“But Dad, what about my friends at home? What happens when they don’t wanna hang out with me because we never see each other?”

“I know it can feel overwhelming,” his dad said, “but the friends I made at Blue Ridge were part of my life for years after I graduated. Remember Oskar?”

Cooper rolled his eyes but nodded. During his dad’s fortieth birthday party last year, dozens of friends came to wish him well, some who Cooper had never seen before. One of the people who stuck around the longest was a well-dressed man with tan skin. He and his dad spent so long catching up that Cooper was sent to bed before the man left. It was only later when Cooper discovered his dad and Oskar had been roommates at Blue Ridge.

“I bet you’ll find an even better friend than I did,” his dad said.

That part, Cooper doubted. Sawyer was his ride or die—or at least, that’s the way things had been. What if by the winter break, Sawyer had already moved on and replaced him? Cooper would rather have his knees taken out by a sledgehammer and be crippled for life!

The GPS announced Cooper’s pending doom. Outside the window, iron bars followed the dips and curves of the hills along every twist and turn. Cooper wondered if the entire campus was gated in like a prison. What had he read on their site, that Blue Ridge Academy had over a thousand acres of land? The number meant nothing to Cooper, but at least if he hated the place, he could run away and live off the land as a hermit. How hard could it be?

His dad slowed and turned through the first set of gates, where the iron letters of BLUE RIDGE curved over the entrance. Well, Cooper thought, this is it—the end of my life.

More hills, more trees, more fog. Cooper squirmed against the leather seat of the station wagon. The car’s rumbling was starting to tickle his groin, and he reached a hand down to pinch his underwear and shorts away from his growing boner. Not only was he stuck going to the worst place on earth, but now he was stuck with yet another erection. Thanks, puberty.

Worse still, Cooper didn’t have a way to make it go down. Sawyer had told him once that if you stuck a quarter on it, they were supposed to soften eventually, but Cooper was broke, and he thought that advice must be nonsense, anyway. If it were true, surely they would have talked about it during family life at the end of 5th grade. Cooper sighed and adjusted himself one more time. At least the boner wasn’t super obvious.

The station wagon continued its jerky motions until they reached a second set of sealed gates. A tall security guard dressed in a dark navy suit blocked the path, his thick arms crossed over his chest. The car rolled to a stop in front of him.

“The letter,” his dad said, and Cooper handed the invitation up, trying his best to lean over while shielding his boner. The smell of freshly cut grass filled the station wagon the moment the windows rolled down, and the guard strolled towards his dad. A pair of dark, round glasses hid the man’s eyes, but Cooper’s skin prickled, especially once the man glanced his way. The guy was starting to freak him out. Seriously, who in their right mind wore sunglasses on a foggy day? They weren’t called fogglasses, after all.

“Hello,” his dad called out cheerily as the guard plucked the invitation from his hand. “We’re here for the new student drop-off.”

While the guard scanned the invitation, Cooper’s eyes drifted to the guard post, where a black German Shepherd sat leashed. Its beady black eyes bore into Cooper as it revealed its white fangs in a snarl. After the run in with the dog that nearly clawed Sawyer’s face off, Cooper had taken it upon himself to learn everything he could about canines. It’s what Detective Dackery would have done—learned anything and everything he could to prepare for the next case. Cooper knew a dog’s jaws were powerful. A single bite could snap his bones like a toothpick.

“Go on through,” the guard said, his voice like gargled rocks.

The gates groaned as they creaked and wobbled on their hinges, and the station wagon puttered through with a lurch as they crossed the second barrier of gates.

“Dad, did that guy seem a little off to you?” Cooper asked, twisting in his seat to stare at the guard as they drove past. Even with the man’s eyes hidden behind his sunglasses, Cooper couldn’t shake the feeling he was being watched.

“Guys like him are just doing their job, protecting the school and all that. No need to worry, buddy.”

“If you say so,” Cooper said, giving one last glance over his shoulder. He’d be fine if he never saw the man at the front gates again.

After following the road a while longer, his mom gasped in her seat as she leaned forward.

“It’s beautiful!” she exclaimed. “Cooper, look! Just like Harry Potter.”

It was the first thing anyone saw when looking online or at Blue Ridge Academy’s many brochures: an immense stone castle modeled after some old dead people who built a castle once in Europe, or something like that. At the different corners of the castle, eight towering spires stretched high into the fog, with four gigantic colored banners flapping in the breeze. Never in his whole life had Cooper seen something so enormous.

His eyes flicked down to a few kids dribbling a soccer ball in the manicured grass. Others threw a Frisbee back and forth or simply chatted back and forth in huddles. Another was even attempting to scale the trunk of a nearby tree. Cooper smiled. He’d have no problem making it to a branch like that.

As the station wagon puttered through, Cooper pressed his face to the window. How many of these kids were headed into 6th grade like him?

“This place is cooler than I thought,” Cooper said breathlessly.

“See?” his mom asked. “There’s the Cooper I know.”

A string of vehicles lined the curb as the station wagon pulled to a stop behind them. Adults dressed in the same navy suits as the guard from earlier helped direct students and their families inside the towering castle. This close to it, Cooper thought his new school might swallow him whole.

Cooper blinked. Both his parents had turned in their seats to look at him. His mom’s eyes brimmed with tears, and Cooper doubted his dad’s smile had ever been bigger.

This was it. They wanted him to give the final okay. He could still back out, he supposed; pitch a fit like when he was still a little kid. And his parents loved him enough that it would probably work.

But maybe, just maybe, there was a little part of him that was curious to see what happened; where things led. The unknown, the excitement, the nervousness, the anticipation, it wrapped him up like a ball of rubber bands, and he was bouncy thinking about what might come next. Sawyer’s voice echoed in the back of his mind: Promise you won’t turn into one of those snobby, rich kids.

Taking a steady breath, Cooper closed his eyes before giving his parents a nod.

“Let’s do this.”


Roman Jacobs nursed the bruise along his ribs as his mom drove down Blue Ridge Academy’s expansive driveway.

He didn’t need to see it to know how ugly the purple stain was on his stomach—Xavier made sure to leave a mark.

Roman cast a glance to his brother, who was too absorbed in his phone to pay him any attention, but that was fine. The last thing Roman needed was another painful reminder about where their relationship stood.

His eyes flicked down to the red Nike sneakers on his brother’s feet. His feet were getting too big for them, but Xavier wore them anyway. Kept them clean no matter what. For some reason, Roman’s last Christmas gift to his brother was pretty much the only sign Xavier still cared for him. Or maybe Xavier just liked having nice shoes.

Resting his head against the cool window of the Tesla, he tried picturing the last time his entire family had been together. Maybe it was during his eleventh birthday, or was his mom gone for work? He couldn’t remember. Even now his dad was off somewhere on one of his movie shoots. When Roman woke up that morning, he hoped his dad would have somehow been there to hug him and drive him to his first day of middle school.

But he hadn’t. And now once his mom was gone, it would be another four months before Roman saw either of his parents again. Already the homesickness was eating away at him.

His mom stopped the Tesla at the security gate, and Roman immediately recognized the broad stance of Roy Rochester from the other times he’d visited. He knew the professors had to wear special uniforms, but it always creeped Roman out how Roy always wore the exact same clothes, even down to the dark sunglasses perched on the bridge of his nose.

As his mom handed the papers with their updated photographs to Roy, Roman could have sworn the guard’s brow furrowed as he swept his gaze over Xavier. Soon after, the gates creaked open, and the Tesla whirred softly as they drove through.

Up ahead, there were hardly any cars parked at the roundabout in front of the castle. It made no sense why they had to get to Blue Ridge so early. The opening ceremonies weren’t until dinner, so what was the point? Besides, the moment his mom was gone, there’d be no one to stand in Xavier’s way.

The Tesla parked, and Roman opened the door, wincing as a sharp jolt of pain shot through his ribs where Xavier had punched him earlier that morning. He grit his teeth and tried not to show how much it hurt. If he did, it was like letting Xavier win all over again.

“Boys, help me with your bags,” his mom said.

Xavier didn’t say a word as he stepped beside Roman. There wasn’t even a glance. Every time Roman bent down to pull out another suitcase, it was like getting punched a second time. A third. A fourth. He was thankful as he dragged the last of the bags on the curb. Immediately, several adults in blue suits swarmed them and hauled the bags away towards the castle.

By the time Roman turned around, Xavier was already gone, making his way down the green fields to do whatever it was older brothers who didn’t want to be around you did.

He flinched as his mom’s hand fell on his shoulder.

“Try not to see the worst in him,” his mom whispered. “Growing up can be hard for anyone.”

“Yeah, except sometimes it feels like Xavier hates me.”

“I promise you, he doesn’t,” his mom said. “He’s just figuring things out. One day, you’ll understand too as you get older and your body starts going through the same changes.”

“Eww, Mom, really? A puberty talk now?”

She gave him a soft pat on the cheek. “Come on, wise guy. Let’s get you settled.”

Blue Ridge’s castle was a great stone beast, and the stairs stretched like a forked tongue down from the opening archway. Roman and his mom stepped into its mouth as they entered the shade. In an instant, the number of directions he could peel off to were overwhelming, and he wondered how people kept from getting lost.

From his last visit, Roman recognized the smooth, cobblestone walls, oddly pristine in their shape and condition. The castle wasn’t really built hundreds of years ago—it was only made to appear that way—but Roman still found it impressive. What held it all together? Why didn’t it come tumbling down? It must have taken forever to build.

“Do you think anyone ever gets lost here?” Roman asked his mom.

She didn’t break stride as they marched to their first destination, wherever that was. “I’m sure it’s happened before. Just make sure to ask for help if you do.”

“I’m not a little kid anymore,” Roman grumbled. The last thing he wanted to do was look like a lost child who couldn’t find his parents at the store.

Their footsteps echoed off the polished floor as they arrived to the long, glass office building attached to the side of the castle. Roman waited outside while his mom went inside to grab his schedule and dorm papers. He wondered what his room would look like. All students lived in one of the many tall spires around the castle, with the girls separated in their own wing. From there, if he remembered right, they were split up based on their year: the seniors lived on the bottom floor, while the new 6th graders had to climb up seven grueling flights of stairs to reach their room. It was bullshit.

Roman pulled the dorm paper from his mom’s hands when she returned and paled as the purple letters of Fuerza, the same house as Xavier, gleamed on the page.

“Does the universe hate me or something?”

“What? Fuerza is a good home,” his mom said. “It stands for strength, you know. Your father will be so proud to learn both of his boys ended up where he did.”

If his dad really cared, maybe he would have shown up. Roman chewed the inside of his lip. Fuerza was the last place he wanted to be. He wasn’t sure what any of the other Houses were called, but Roman would settle for just about any of them if it meant dodging Xavier.

The tears were threatening to build, and Roman shoved them down. “Mom, are you sure I can’t stay home with you? We can get a tutor like we do during the summer!”

His mom pulled him gently to one of the benches outside the office. She smoothed out her blue dress before patting the empty space. As he sat down, the overhead bell chimed as another family walked into the office. There was another young boy like Roman, but he didn’t pay any of them attention. He wasn’t at Blue Ridge to make friends. He didn’t want to be there at all!

“I know this is hard,” his mom said. “The first time Xavier left was really hard for him, too. But I promise you, Roman, the stories you’ll have to share, the memories you’ll make, they’ll all be worth it.”

She leaned in and kissed him on the forehead, the same way she used to all throughout his childhood. When he was really little and scraped his knee, kisses like that made him feel better. It made him feel like his mom was a superhero who could control all the bad things in the world.

But he knew better now. His mom couldn’t solve any of his problems. She didn’t understand anything at all about what he was going through, about how awful Xavier had been to him over the last year.

No, the only thing that would help Roman was staying as far away from his brother as possible.

End Chapter 1

Copyright 2023 – Levi Holland
All rights reserved


I Hate You! – Chapter 7

I Hate You! – Chapter 7

As we entered our school for the second day as the other, I was even more confident than the day before. I woke up this morning with a tender rubbing over my cheek by Jake. I looked at him, and I was immediately in the mood when I saw his cocky grin. Before I knew it, our hands were working each other’s crotches again, and after a couple of minutes, another mind-shattering orgasm washed over us. Not as intense as the night before, but close nevertheless.

We showered together to compensate for lost time and were off to school. Jake picked out his wardrobe himself this time, and I had to admit he did pretty well. He wore a lovely, plaid skirt and a blouse that accentuated his boobs nicely. But I had to point out that a black bra was too visible under a white blouse, so we changed that.

My clothes were nothing special, although I decided to pick an old shirt, which made my pecs, shoulders, and tight belly more pronounced. We each went our own way again, and after chatting with Jake’s friends for a while, we went to the classroom.

“You two fucked Brian up big time!” Zeke said excitedly during our walk over there.

“That piece of shit deserved it. He had it coming,” Rob said, acting all tough.

“My sister has a mean right fist,” I chuckled, “I’m glad we don’t fight anymore.”

“Yeah… about that…” Zeke asked.

“Yeah. I thought she was some slut, but when she told me what had happened, I felt like a complete idiot. And after we finally talked about it, she stood up for herself.”

The guys looked at me with a bit of a puzzled face. That’s when I remembered boys usually don’t talk about their feelings like girls do. So I quickly added, “I showed her how to throw a decent punch, you know?”

They all started to smile, and we sat down, waiting for Mr. Skinner. I didn’t pay attention, but when someone shouted, “Looking good, Bri!” I turned around and saw Brian walk in.

“Fuck you, asshole!” he said and flipped him the finger as he sat down at the back of the room.

Both his eyes were black, and his nose was swollen. He had cotton balls in both his nostrils and looked miserable. The girls sitting around Jake suddenly started to giggle, and one of them showed them her pinky. Brian’s face crunched up when he heard and saw this.

During the day, Brian was constantly mocked, and I actually started feeling a little sorry for him. But when I saw him checking out the ass of a girl walking by with his best friend Steve, that feeling was gone immediately.

The last class of the day was gym class. I was good at sports, so I usually looked forward to it. But now that I could see most of my male classmates in their underwear, and maybe naked, I was even more anxious.

I noticed how noisier the boys were when we entered the locker room. Before I knew it, I saw a dozen bare-chested boys working on their pants and chatting away. I tried not to stare, but that was difficult. I had to keep myself focused on changing into my gym clothes, but I also let my eyes drink in the sight.

I quickly learned that some of the nerds I usually didn’t talk to had some fine-looking bodies. Jocks like Brian and Steve were bulkier, but I didn’t necessarily like that. I liked the smaller bodies with more muscle definition, and some of the nerds precisely had that. And the bulges in their underwear were more… interesting in a way.

PE itself was nothing spectacular. But we all worked up a sweat, so everyone had to take a shower. I didn’t mind. After all, this was the moment I had looked forward to for the entire day. In the girl’s locker room, everyone was always cautious about wearing towels to hide the good bits and shower as quickly as possible. But an occasional boob, ass, or pussy flash wasn’t uncommon. I wondered how this worked with the boys.

I quickly learned it was about the same. No one was fond of walking around unprotected. But when I entered the showers, I saw things were different here.

The shower stalls were broken, and judging by the stuff stored in there, they had been broken for a while. So everyone was using the showers against the back wall. I was constantly aware of not popping a boner, but this wasn’t as difficult as expected. I guess Jake’s body wasn’t turned on by other boys.

Most of the boys were facing the wall, and I was looking at a couple of cute bare asses. They were nice to look at, but I was here for more. So I hung my towel on the hook by the entrance and chose a spot somewhere in the middle.

I quickly glanced at both sides and was treated with soft dicks in all shapes and sizes. I was amazed to see that Danny, the kid who had skipped a grade, was far from the smallest out here. He still had a boyish body, but his dick sure wasn’t. He still had some growing to do, and he’d probably end up at the top regarding dick sizes.

One guy, Félix, who was originally from France, wasn’t cut like the rest of us. I never saw an uncut dick before, but I knew then and there that I didn’t like them that much.

If I compared my body with the rest of the guys, I was one of the best looking and with a more than above average dick. At least in my eyes, I was. I was amazed that Jake wasn’t aware of this.

I was shaken from my thoughts when I heard a familiar voice say, “So… you told your sister about me?”

I looked over and saw Brian standing beside me, facing the wall. He didn’t look pissed or anything, and I couldn’t immediately figure out what his intentions were.

“I answered her questions,” I replied blankly.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“She said she grabbed your balls but hardly felt anything. She wanted to know what the deal was.”

I let my eyes go down to his crotch and was amazed at how tiny and boyish he looked down there. I smiled and continued, “She wasn’t wrong, so I didn’t lie.”

This caused Brian’s face to go red instantly, and I saw him ball his fists. I was on high alert now, ready to fight. But he backed off when Rob, Zeke, and a few other guys came and stood next to me.

“Keep looking over your shoulder, shitstain! I’ll get you someday,” he grumbled and started soaping up.

“Anytime,” I said, turned off the faucet, and walked back to the lockers.

Walking there naked and with two other naked boys beside me was terrific. When I checked them out as we walked, I noticed they had a little more pubes than me. But my dick was a bit fatter and longer, which gave me more confidence to walk around like this. Glancing around, I knew I could get used to this. But once we were back inside the locker room, everyone acted shyly again and dressed quickly.

Copyright 2023 – Jason Crow
All rights reserved

Pueri in imbrem iunguntur. Quod simile non est fingere difficile.

I Hate You! – Chapter 4

I Hate You! – Chapter 4

“Yeah. We’re sorry,” Jake said after he and Mom listened to my monologue about the situation and how we were burying the hatchet.

Mom looked at both of us to size up the situation, shrugged, and said, “I heard this promise before. Seeing is believing.”

I checked out Jake’s reaction as she continued with whatever she was doing. He didn’t show much emotion, so I guessed he felt the same as me about it. A good thing was at least that Mom hadn’t noticed the switch we made. I was a bit scared that she’d immediately notice. Because that’s what moms allegedly notice right away. Another myth busted.

We gathered our breakfast at the table, and I was immediately annoyed. Jake was stocking up on carbs, something I avoided like the plague to stay in shape. But I couldn’t say anything about it with Mom around. I ate my usual fruit and protein shake, causing Jake to look funny at me.

“You really take this making-up seriously, don’t you?” Mom said as she walked by and looked quizzically at us.

I mumbled a soft “Yeah,” and Jake just nodded his head. Mom rolled her eyes, sat at the table, and said, “Look. I need you two to get along. You don’t have to be besties, but at least get along. Because after I’m gone, your brother or sister is all you’ve got. I don’t have any, but I sure wish I did.”

“You’re right, Mom,” Jake said, “we talked about it, and we really wanna stop fighting. It’s difficult enough as it is, right?”

Damn! That really sounded like something I could say! That little twerp was a hell of an actor. I simply nodded when I saw Mom started to smile.

“Good! I really hope you make it work this time. I’m off to Darlene for the rest of the day. You two can manage today without tearing down the house?” Mom said as she stood up.

“Can I use the computer in the study today?” I asked, “I need to do some research for school.”

Mom had taken our laptops during one of our previous fights, and we’d get them back when we could behave again. So, besides my telephone, the central iMac in our study was my only access to a decent computer screen.

“Yeah. Me too,” Jake added.

“Alright. You can,” Mom said mischievously, “you two can work out a schedule together and show me you get along.”

I glanced at Jake, and he simply shrugged. But when our eyes met, we both knew we’d have the opportunity to start searching for what had happened. So I smiled at Mom and said, “Of course! We’ll work it out together, right, Sis?”

Jake didn’t respond immediately, but after a few moments, he realized I was talking to him. He caught on and said, “No problem. Promise!”

Jake and I did the dishes together and made sure that Mom noticed how hard we tried to be kind to each other. I deliberately overdid it a little, so she wouldn’t get suspicious.

“I’ll be back at around five, okay?” Mom said as she kissed us on our cheeks.

“Say hi to Darlene for us,” Jake said.

“Bye, Mom!” I said, and moments later, the door closed, and we were alone.

Jake looked at me questioningly and asked, “What assignment did I miss?”

I was tempted to make something up, but I managed to refrain from it at the very last second. Instead, I decided to keep it light and said, “You didn’t. I just wanna try and figure out what happened to us. Although peeking this way is easier, I want my body back. Especially with you munching down all these carbs!”

“Oh. Right!” he said, clearly feeling stupid. And after a few moments, “What do you mean with these carbs?”

“I’ll get fat eating all the shit you put in your mouth this morning!” I said and tried to smile.

“Fat? You’re not fat! Not in a long shot! You look fucking amazing. Trust me, I know now,” he chuckled.

“But…” I tried but was interrupted by Jake.

“I eat the same stuff, and I’m not fat! You need carbs for your muscles and other important parts of your body. And trust me, boys don’t like skinny girls. There need to be curves. And you’ve got them in all the right places.”

Jake blushed a little after saying that, and I knew he was serious about it. And he did have a point. His body looked almost perfect. But wasn’t there a difference between boys and girls on that part?

“But all my friends do this. And I read online about…”

“Stop it. Just because your friends do it doesn’t make it right. And there’s just as many articles online about why you should eat carbs! You just need to make sure to exercise enough. But you’ve got that covered!”

I didn’t have anything to say about that. Deep down, I knew he was right. So I looked him in the eyes and asked, “You really think I look good?” and blinked like an anime girl.

Jake started laughing and grabbed his boobs again. He jiggled them and said, “You’re the hottest girl in class. And these make you look even better. Trust me!”

We were quiet for a few moments when I realized how honest and open we were to each other now. And there was still that one important question on my mind. And I decided to just drop it on the table. So I looked at Jake and asked, “Why do you keep calling me slut and skank and a tease? It hurts, you know?”

The look on Jake’s face changed immediately. It wasn’t anger, but close to it. It was more between disappointment and anger.

He sucked a deep breath, waited a moment, and said, “Because you sucked and fucked Brian on your first date. And you let Steve touch your boobs during homecoming. I thought you were smarter than that. I felt so angry and disappointed after hearing this. I mean… my own sister. The funny girl that I used to play with when she was younger. Talk about feeling hurt!”

This struck me like lightning! I knew a few rumors were going around, but I never realized they were about me, let alone about me being an easy tramp.

I felt tears of anger and injustice of it all well up. And as a tear rolled down my cheek, I whispered softly, “You never asked me.”

“What do you mean?” Jake asked with a stunned look on his face.

“You never asked me about what happened,” I kept on whispering and fighting back the tears.

“Why would I? Brian and Steve were pretty clear in the locker room about what happened!”

“You wanna know what happened? During our ‘date,’ Brian wouldn’t take no for an answer and tried to grab one of my boobs. So I grabbed him by the balls and told him to fuck off. That was it!””

Tears were streaming down my cheeks as I told this. Jake’s eyes were wide, and his face was flushed.

“I figured that would be the end, and we haven’t talked since. And Steve? We went to get hot dogs together during homecoming. That was all,” I said.

Jake was quiet for a few moments. His face was filled with anger, and he softly asked, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Tell you what? That Brian assaulted me? It would’ve only got you in trouble, and to me, it was the end of it. And tell you that I ain’t a slut? You never even gave me a chance!”

“Fuck, Kate! I’m SO sorry! I never… I’m such an idiot!” Jake said and started crying himself.

He quickly wiped his tears and came over to hug me. In my ear, he whispered, “I’m gonna fuck that Brian up so hard, his ass will be on backward. I promise! We’re gonna make sure everyone knows he’s a liar and a molesting asshole!”

“Don’t. I don’t want any trouble over this. That pencil dick isn’t worth it!”

We sat there hugging for a bit longer. Eventually, Jake got up, looked at me, and kissed me tenderly on my cheek. “I’m really sorry! It just never occurred to me he’d be lying. I was too shocked about it.”

“It’s okay, I guess. Just talk to me next time.”

“I promise. And now that I’m you, I’m going to embarrass the hell out of that jackass!” Jake said, smiling broadly, “Oh! And you’re right. He IS a pencil dick!”

“I didn’t feel much in his pants, so it was a wild guess. So I guessed right?”

“You sure did! He’s even smaller than Danny,” Jake chuckled.

Danny was in our class and skipped a grade, so he was over a year younger than Brian. The thought of this boyish dick between his legs lightened my mood considerably.

“I’m glad we had this talk,” I said to Jake, “we’re good now?”

“Duh! I feel so stupid for believing that piece of shit over you! Yeah. Of course! We’re good!” he smiled and kissed me on my forehead, which was a bit awkward but oddly touching.

After he stood up and I checked out my ass in these short, tight jeans, feeling pleased with how I looked, I said, “Let’s try to find out what happened to us, okay?”

We went into the study and browsed the internet for the next few hours.

Copyright 2023 – Jason Crow
All rights reserved

Aliquantum tardioris starter est, sed post hoc interest

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