High quality erotica. And more....

Tag: Boarding School Blues (Page 1 of 6)

Boarding School Blues – Chapter 20

Boarding School Blues
Levi Holland

Chapter 20

Jordy’s service was held on campus.

It wouldn’t be his final resting place, but his family wanted everyone to have some kind of closure. Seeing all the students dressed in formal clothes was strange, and Cooper couldn’t wait to get out of his collared shirt. The material clutched his throat like a pair of squeezing hands.

Even though it was chilly, they couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day as they listened to Jordy’s dad read his eulogy. He spoke of Jordy’s love for everyone, the smile he always wore, and the fond memories he shared of Blue Ridge.

Beside the closed casket stood a beautiful painting of Jordy made by Anakin’s art teacher, Professor Ricci. If Cooper stared long enough, it was almost like Jordy could somehow pop out of the portrait, and then everything would be back to normal. No, that wasn’t right, Cooper thought. Even if Jordy was back, so much had changed about all of them, but maybe that was part of growing up, never knowing what the day would bring but dealing with it anyway. A smaller photo of Jordy and Kai together rested against the portrait, and it pained Cooper to know that Kai would likely never return to Blue Ridge. Some losses were too great.

Soon they would be leaving for an early winter break. Headmaster Robinson thought it best to cancel the remaining classes leading up to the holidays. A fresh start was what everyone needed.

Cooper wrestled with his parents’ decision to take him out of Blue Ridge all week, but finally he couldn’t take it anymore. Blue Ridge was where he needed to be. They tried to interject, tried to stop him, but finally they understood how much this place, the people, meant to him. When the winter break finished, Cooper was coming back to finish out the year at Blue Ridge. This was his home now.

The night after Jordy’s service, Anakin asked Cooper to wait in the suite. He wouldn’t say why. Naveen and Julian helped pass the time playing Smash Bros. on the Switch, but after a couple hours of mindlessly beating each other up with Nintendo characters, they got tired and went to bed.

Anakin took so long that Cooper wondered if he’d forgotten about him entirely, but finally, a triumphant shout came from Cooper’s bedroom.


When Anakin came out of the bedroom, the lights were off, and he guarded the door as he ushered Cooper over.

“No peeking, Coop,” Anakin said, and he made Cooper cover his eyes.

After Anakin led him inside the bedroom and flicked the lights on, it took him a second for his eyes to adjust, but when he saw what Anakin had been working on over the past few hours, tears sprang to his eyes.

The mural was finished. All week Anakin had been chipping away at it, but still the piece was missing something, a je ne sais quoi, Anakin called it. Whatever that meant.

Up to then, Cooper’s favorite part was how lifelike Anakin had drawn Detective Dackery. But not just the duck detective. He’d drawn the two of them as well, posing as members of Dackery’s agency. Cooper had seen the way Anakin could create realistic pictures before, but now the drawings were life-size, filled with meticulous detail and realistic color. Cooper remembered earlier in the week when Anakin had been penciling in the faint freckles on Cooper’s cheeks. Whenever Anakin needed a reminder, he got real close to Cooper, his eyes scanning him intensely. Cooper never failed to blush, especially when Anakin was that close.

The finished mural was filled with bright explosions of color, but now, Anakin had found their missing piece. Standing proudly in the center of the mural, with a beaming smile on his face, was Jordy Diaz. He was larger than life as he loomed over the other drawings. Every wonderful, beautiful detail about their lost friend had been brought to life.

“Anakin, it’s amazing!” Cooper shouted and tackled his friend in a hug.

“You really think so?” he asked.

“I know so. You’re the best artist I’ve ever met!”

“Aww, thanks,” he said, blushing as he rubbed the bridge of his nose.

“What’re you going to do after the year’s done?” Cooper asked.

“I think I’m going to keep it here,” Anakin said. “That way anyone who has our room from now on will always know about Jordy and how much people loved him.”


The night before the winter holiday, Fielding wanted to throw a Christmas party. There were no classes their last day, so after breakfast, he dragged Roman with him to invite Cooper and all his Valentia friends.

“But I don’t celebrate Christmas,” Naveen said.

“Fine, call it whatever dumb thing you want,” Fielding said, “but you’re coming.”

“Do I have to bring gifts?” Anakin asked.

“Oh my god, bring whatever! Just be there!”

They got permission from Headmaster Robinson to have the party in Roman’s suite. Throughout the afternoon, Fielding made Anakin help with the decorations until it was time for the others to arrive. Ivan and Wyatt were kicked out of their room to go find plenty of snacks. “Don’t eat them!” Fielding said pointedly to Ivan. Meanwhile, Fielding sent Roman on a mission with Cooper to grab plates from the banquet hall.

“He’s pretty nuts, isn’t he?” Cooper asked as they walked.

Roman rolled his eyes. “You have no idea.”

Not many students were around. Dinner had finished, and most were likely packing for an early exit the next morning. Roman smiled. For the first time in a long time, he was looking forward to being home with his family.


The suite had been transformed.

Somehow, Anakin and Fielding had worked together to dress the room in bright reds and festive greens. They even managed to hang a handful silver ribbons from the high ceiling, bouncing the light inside the suite in glittery reflections. Cooper was almost afraid to ask how they managed to pull it off.

The couches were pushed out to make plenty of space for everyone and soft Christmas music played from a small Bluetooth speaker. By the time everyone brought their hoarded snacks and presents, they were having a real party.

Most of the night was spent drinking way too much soda and burping loudly or sharing some of their favorite memories so far from the year. There seemed to be an unspoken agreement that they would only ever talk about the good things with Jordy, like how he could make friends with anybody, or how he was one of the fastest swimmers any of them had ever seen. They would never forget what happened, but they would honor his memory over Professor Bell’s.

When it came time for gifts, they turned their attention towards the pile in the corner of the room. Somehow Fielding managed to snag a miniature Christmas tree from somewhere in the castle, but he refused to say where. There weren’t enough gifts for everyone, but that was okay with Cooper. The gifts weren’t nearly as important as being together.

“Me first!” Julian shouted before handing Naveen a hastily wrapped box with a bow on top.

“But I already said, I don’t celebrate—”

“Just open it. I promise you enjoy,” Julian replied in his heavy accent.

When Naveen opened it up, his cheeks burned red. Inside was the pair of panties from Nadia.

“You jerk! I knew you were the one who stole them!”

“Was there something I missed?” Fielding asked as Cooper fell to the floor with Anakin, laughing to the point of tears down his face.

Cooper watched with glee as Anakin opened up a new set of Prismacolor pencils. After finishing the mural, Anakin had burned through his entire pack. Cooper knew right away what he wanted to get for his best friend and begged his parents to help him out.

“You’re the best, Coop!” Anakin said and they bumped fists. After the break, they promised to create a secret handshake only they could use.

Anakin’s gift to him was a handmade drawing of the two of them. In it, Anakin’s arm was wrapped around Cooper’s shoulder as they smiled. It almost looked like the two of them were staring directly into the lens of a camera. How Anakin managed to make everything so lifelike, Cooper would never understand.

“I’ll keep this forever,” Cooper said with a smile, and he meant it.

“Alright, listen up!” Fielding said, clinking his red plastic cup to draw their attention. “I have an announcement to make!”

They were sitting in a large circle, and as Fielding got to his feet, he dragged Roman up with him. They each gave a subtle nod before turning their attention back to the group.

“We just wanted to officially let everybody know tonight that we’re a couple!” Fielding announced.

Roman blushed as he said, “And if anyone has a problem with that, I’ll kick your ass!”

They all cheered.

After the party was over, Cooper and Anakin took their time making their way back to their suite. They were about to spend more than a month away from each other, and neither of them were in a rush to go to sleep.

“So, Roman and Fielding, huh?” Anakin asked.

“Kind of surprising, right?” Cooper suggested.

“Maybe. I mean, you spend all your time with someone, you’re bound to start having feelings for them.” Anakin stopped short and stammered. “I mean, I’m not saying that’s what happens with everyone or anything, if that’s what you thought I meant. Unless, of course, you felt the same way, uggh, I don’t know what I’m saying anymore.”



“It’s okay. I like you, too.”

Back in the bedroom, their beds were still pushed together. As they stripped from their clothes, Cooper’s hand found its way into Anakin’s, and they snuggled close together beneath the covers. Their bond was the main reason Cooper wanted to stay. Anakin filled his heart so much, Cooper swore it might spill over, and it was the best feeling in the world.

Anakin kissed him, first on the side of the temple, then on his cheek, and as Cooper turned his head to face him, on the lips. It wasn’t a kiss of lust and passion, but one of tenderness and love, the kind that said, I’ll always be there to look after you.

In the days following Jordy’s death, Cooper hadn’t touched himself at all, and one kiss was enough to make him hard and twitchy. The underside of his boner was extra sensitive as he slowly ground it against Anakin’s hip, yearning for release.

Anakin’s fingers brushed through his hair, and the way his nails teased Cooper’s scalp made him shiver despite the warmth of the bedroom.

One hand slid down Anakin’s torso until his thick erection was in Cooper’s hand. Anakin’s husky groan tickled Cooper’s ear as Cooper gently slid his wrist up and down like he’d watched Anakin do several times before. Already his best friend was raising his hips to meet him, but before Cooper could get too far, Anakin held up a hand to pause him.

“Let’s do it together,” Anakin insisted. “Like, you do me, and I’ll do you.”

“Okay!” Cooper said and tucked enough pillows behind them so they could sit against the wall.

When they pulled the covers back, Anakin’s boner made Cooper’s look like a little kid’s. He didn’t mind it so much—he knew he was supposed to start getting bigger in the next couple years. Anakin reached over, and instead of using his whole fist like Cooper had, he used his thumb and first two fingers.

The little zappy feelings shooting all up and down his three inches made it tough to breathe as he tried to relax enough to enjoy the intense pleasure. Cooper put his hand back around Anakin’s dick and squeezed. His boner reminded Cooper of holding a hotdog, if a hotdog could jump and wriggle around.

Anakin matched his speed, and whenever Cooper went up, Anakin went up too, following him on the way back down with every stroke. Cooper’s head started to roll with the pleasure, and soon his head fell against Anakin’s shoulder.

In a breathy voice, Anakin said, “Let’s kiss while we do it. I liked that a lot.”

Cooper turned his head to meet Anakin’s soft lips again, and it was like the good feelings multiplied. His skin tingled as his nerves fired along his whole body. He wanted to rub himself against every part of the mattress, and all the anxious energy seemed to zero in around his groin.

Something pushed against his lips, and when it happened again, Cooper realized it was Anakin’s tongue. It surprised him, but in a good way. Opening his mouth, Anakin’s tongue darted inside and swiped his own. If Cooper thought kissing while jerking off was nice, this was a whole new level of awesomeness.

The creeping pleasure was making his balls scrunch up. He wanted to tell Anakin he was about to get the feeling, but if he did, Anakin might stop moving for a split second, and even that would be too long, so he said nothing and let the wave build and build until it crashed.

The room was filled with wet sloppy sounds from their making out, and Cooper moaned loudly as he came, shuddering as Anakin kept up with the kisses. Against Anakin’s fingers, his boner twitched and throbbed, spitting out nothing as it spasmed, but feeling amazing nonetheless.

It was Anakin who broke away from the kiss then, his breath hitching in a puppy dog whine as his muscles clenched. All at once, Anakin’s boner flicked hard against Cooper’s hand a dozen times as Anakin released the shaky breath he’d been holding.

“Grrrh, so good,” Anakin whined, finally relaxing his body as his boner stopped twitching in Cooper’s hand.

Cumming had made Cooper sleepy, and all he could manage to do was adjust the pillows enough to lay down. Already his eyelids were closing, but before he passed out for the night, Anakin’s fingers slipped back into his own as he wriggled their bodies close together.

“Goodnight, Coop,” Anakin whispered.

“Goodnight, Anakin.”


Roman admired the bracelet around his wrist. With all the decorations and planning he’d done, Roman never expected Fielding to get him a gift. The silver charm hanging from the corded bracelet meant everything to him.

“I’m sorry,” Roman said after the party. “With everything that happened with Xavier, things got so busy. I didn’t have time to get you anything. I’m officially the worst boyfriend ever.”

“It’s okay,” Fielding said and kissed him softly. “But you better bring me something good when you get back.”

Roman laughed as he was assaulted with kisses. No matter where he turned his head, Fielding pursued him like a puppy with relentless love.

“So, things with your brother…?” Fielding asked, letting the question hang as they lay in bed together. They were dressed in only their underwear, but that was fine with Roman. Being close was all that mattered.

“I think they’re gonna get better,” Roman said honestly. “It might take some time before things are fully back to normal, but…I’m hopeful.” Ever since forgiving him, Roman couldn’t fully describe how weightless his body felt, like he could drift away and float in the clouds.

“I’m really happy for you,” Fielding said and nuzzled up to him.

Fielding circled his index finger around his belly button, and Roman couldn’t help but harden up. His boner twitched on its own each time Fielding approached the waistband of his briefs.

Roman hadn’t planned on anything happening tonight. He would have been perfectly fine laying there while holding each other. Whenever they did that, Roman felt warm, whole. But, he was also okay if Fielding wanted to spend their last night together doing something fun.

Roman trailed his fingers across Fielding’s bird chest and licked his lips as he pressed them against Fielding’s ear.

“I think I might have a present for you after all,” he whispered.

Fielding shivered, and Roman swung his leg over, straddling his hips. He was pleased to feel Fielding’s dick matching his own hardness as it pulsed against his briefs. When Roman leaned forward, he gently tugged Fielding’s wrists above his head, exposing his boyfriend’s bare armpits. Pretty soon, maybe sometime in the next year or two he figured, the space would fill with the same strawberry-blonde hair on top of Fielding’s head. For now, Roman loved the pale smoothness there.

Wriggling his dick against Fielding’s, Roman leaned down and hungrily kissed Fielding’s lips before working his way across his jaw and along the grooves of Fielding’s neck.

“Unnh,” Fielding moaned, panting in shuddering gasps as Roman suckled his skin.

Hearing Fielding’s groans sent little shivers through Roman and made him grind his hips harder, rolling his erection forward and back. Even with their underwear between them, the feeling was addictive like a drug.

“Lose them,” Roman said breathlessly, sitting up only long enough to wrench his briefs down his legs.

“Thought you’d never ask,” Fielding said and took his off too.

They tossed them somewhere on the floor before Roman was back on him. He was working up the courage to try something he’d only seen once but had thought about ever since.

First, he returned to Fielding’s neck. Roman loved the way he drew out little moans from Fielding’s throat, each one a little more whiny and desperate than the last. Soon, his lips worked their way down his chest until they paused at one of his hardened nipples. They weren’t very big, no larger than a dime with a tiny nub on top, but each one was rock hard as Roman flicked his tongue across them. Whenever he teased them with his teeth, Fielding bucked beneath him, hissing in pleasure. He made a mental note to have Fielding try that on him sometime, but tonight wasn’t about Roman. This was Fielding’s gift.

Leaving his spit-soaked nipples behind, Roman continued on his path, dragging his tongue down Fielding’s torso until his chin bumped against the tip of Fielding’s penis. There was a little gasp above Roman as it dawned on Fielding what was about to happen.

“Are you really gonna…?” he trailed, and in response, Roman turned his head, letting his tongue glide down Fielding’s bare pubic area. The boner just beside his tongue was like steel, rigid and quivering.

Roman wasn’t sure what to expect. Obviously he knew penises were meant for peeing, but apparently licking and sucking it must have felt really amazing too. Why else would Ivan and Wyatt have done it? For some reason he was nervous, even though he knew he had nothing to fear. Fielding made him feel safe, always.

Lifting his head and scooting further down, Roman leaned in and flattened his tongue against the base of Fielding’s three-and-a-half inch boner. The gasp and breathy moan made Roman’s heart soar. As he slowly dragged his way up Fielding’s dick, each subtle twitch throbbed against his tongue. Roman couldn’t remember, but he thought Fielding’s dick might have grown a little bigger since the very first time he’d seen it hard. It was impossible to say. He’d seen it so often but never up close like this.

When he reached the top, the spongy crown flared against his tongue, and Roman took a second to gather more spit in his mouth before wrapping his lips around the tip.

“Oh my god,” Fielding moaned as he bent his legs and squeezed them against Roman.

With a free hand, Roman used a few fingers to tease and lift the tightening ball sack beneath Fielding’s boner. Each flutter of his fingers seemed to make them draw up more until Fielding was steadily pumping his hips in Roman’s mouth. There wasn’t enough there to fill his mouth completely, so he wasn’t worried about gagging anymore. He just let Fielding ride out the pleasure and dictate the pace.

Soon the thrusts became less rhythmic, more frantic, jerky. Roman rubbed Fielding’s stomach, loving the way it seized and tightened beneath his palm.

“Roman…” Fielding whined. “Roman, gonna—ahh, gonna cum.”

To Roman it sounded less like a warning and more like a celebration. He didn’t want to stop, didn’t want to take away from any of the good feelings he’d helped Fielding have. If anything, he doubled down as he flicked his tongue against the underside of Fielding’s erection, and soon his boyfriend’s hands were at the back of his head as Fielding lost control of himself.

“Aah, aaahh, aaahhh,” he whined, and for a split second, the tip of Fielding’s penis expanded before something dropped on Roman’s tongue. It was a little squirt of something gooey that got smeared against Fielding’s dick as he kept humping through his orgasm. The taste was subtle—a little like salt but also something unique entirely. Roman loved it.

With one final shiver, Fielding finally collapsed, his hips dropping back to the mattress as he released a breathy whoosh of air. Taking one final slurp up Fielding’s penis, his boyfriend shivered at the sensitivity. Roman worked his way back up Fielding’s body, trailing kisses along the way until he ended where he started, right at Fielding’s lips.

“Merry Christmas,” Roman whispered, giggling at himself and them and life.

Roman closed his eyes and could hear the grin in Fielding’s voice as he replied.

“Did you mean to say the worst boyfriend ever? I think you meant to say the best.”


When the sun came up the next day, everything was so quick to happen.

Naveen and Nadia left early in the morning. Cooper knew from last night’s party that their parents had plans to take him and his twin sister on an extended family vacation. Before they left, Julian gave a mischievous smile and elbowed Naveen playfully when he found out Naveen and Nadia would be sharing a room together. Naveen punched him in the shoulder through his blush.

Pretty soon Julian was gone too, leaving only him and Anakin. The suite felt strangely empty without their two roommates playing games or giving each other a hard time.

They spent their last hours together outside where Cooper taught Anakin the basics of climbing trees. He wasn’t terrible at it, but Anakin was too worried about getting dirt and grime on his clothes and in his hair to make any real strides.

“Okay, I suck now, but when I come back, I’ll make sure to bring a whole bunch of old clothes so you can teach me for real!”

“I’ll hold you to it,” Cooper said, and they bumped fists.

“We really gotta work on that secret handshake.”

When Anakin’s parents beeped their horn, they hugged each other so tight, Cooper thought he might burst. Both their faces were teary as they pulled away.

“We’ll be back soon,” Anakin said. “And you can tell me everything you did over break!”

“I will,” Cooper replied. “You, too.”

Then there was just Cooper. Well, Cooper and Roman.

As Cooper bounced his way down the steps of Valentia’s long spiral staircase, he ran into his unexpected friend halfway through the corridor, and they walked together the rest of the way toward the entrance in silence. It wasn’t that they didn’t have anything to say to each other; rather, there was so much to say and so little time, but Cooper knew this wasn’t the end. They were only going away for a little while, and then they’d be back.

Dragging his suitcase behind him, Cooper wheeled it to a stop as he reached the top of the stone staircase just outside the school’s main entrance. The air was chilly, but the sun was shining bright as Cooper searched the parked cars lining the roundabout. His parents’ green station wagged puttered as it waited for him, ready to take him home.

Roman looked like he wanted to say something, but before he could, the station wagon beeped, and Cooper saw his mom roll down the window and flag him down with waving arms. She looked way more excited for him to be coming home than he was. Cooper smiled. Maybe he was a little excited, too.

“So, this is it, huh?” Cooper said, struck by a strange sense of déjà vu as he held out his fist for Roman.

“Cooper, I…” Roman trailed, and Cooper lowered his arm.

“What’s wrong?” Cooper asked.

“No, nothing, really,” Roman said, stammering as he tried to collect his words. “It’s just…with everything that’s happened, I don’t know how I can ever thank you. Without you, Xavier…”

Cooper swooped in and hugged Roman. He didn’t need to say it. Cooper knew how thankful Roman was. Ever since rescuing Xavier, it was like Roman was a completely different boy. The scowl was fading. Seeing the way Roman smiled more and laughed harder was worth everything to Cooper.

“Thanks, Cooper,” Roman said.

“You sure you don’t want me to stick around until your parents get here?”

“Nah,” Roman said, “Go ahead. I’ll see you soon.”

Halfway down the stairs, Roman called out to him one last time.

“Hey, Cooper?”


“When we get back, you owe me a race!”


With each breath Cooper took down the stone staircase, he thought back to his first semester at Blue Ridge. So much had happened—he had changed so much in such a short amount of time. He wasn’t sure how things might feel returning to his old home, with his family, in his old bedroom, hanging out with Sawyer as December slowly turned into January.

It made him a little nervous, but if there was one thing Cooper had discovered about himself over the past few months, it was that he was braver than he would have ever thought possible. He deserved to be anywhere his feet landed. And he belonged wherever he ended up.

The End

Copyright 2023 – Levi Holland
All rights reserved

Levi’s note for readers:
As I said in the previous chapter, thank you to everyone who has read through this story and shared their thoughts. Your voice means the world to writers. Thank you to Jason as well who was willing to read through and offer his insights as I was building the story over the last several months. Your friendship and kindness are pretty amazing!

I’m beyond thrilled with the challenge I set for myself in completing my first full-length erotica novel. Lots of planning went into this bad boy, and even though Boarding School Blues isn’t a perfect story by any means, it is a very personal one and one I will always celebrate having written. Could there be more adventures in friendship, romance, and adolescence for Cooper, Roman, and their friends and family? Of course! But like all good things, this story has come to a close…for now.
(Although, seriously, if you’re ever interested in more, let me know.)



Boarding School Blues – Chapter 19

Boarding School Blues
Levi Holland

Chapter 19

Xavier’s first month at Blue Ridge was filled with homesickness.

By the end of the first few weeks, he thought his heart might actually break. His roommate Logan was nice to him—a country boy who had more posters of guns, deer, and the outdoors than anyone Xavier had ever known. Very different than his own privileged lifestyle. Every time he saw Logan, Xavier was reminded of Roman, because having a roommate was a lot like having a brother.

The day Xavier arrived at Blue Ridge, Roman buried his tear-stained face against Xavier’s side, squeezing his arms around his older brother in a vice grip. Roman promised to write him every single day, and true to his word, when Xavier’s first care package arrived, over a dozen handwritten letters were stuffed inside, including several crayoned pictures made by Roman. One of Xavier’s favorites was of the two of them holding hands on a sunny beach as a big blue wave crashed against the sandy shore. It wasn’t very good, but it was everything to him. Pinned against his bedroom wall, it was the first thing Xavier saw waking up and the last thing before going to bed.

His classes were alright, and the professors were nice, but a top student he had never been. Especially in math. The numbers always swam across the page. He understood how they were supposed to work together, but the moment he was alone, a mental barrier blocked his path. Maybe if he’d studied more, if math hadn’t been so tricky, then maybe things wouldn’t have ended so terribly.

It was late October, just over two years ago.

Fall break meant a long weekend free from classes. Xavier was sitting on one of the marble benches outside in the courtyard, working on one of his letters back to Roman. His brother had drawn himself dressed as Michael Myers for Halloween. Did Roman remember making that drawing? Xavier never forgot it.

An approving whistle from behind drew his attention.

“Good morning, Professor Bell,” Xavier said.

“Morning, Xavier. What’re we working on today?”

Professor Bell slid along the open seat across from Xavier and set his steaming mug down on the surface before adjusting his sweater and warming his hands. The mountain chill numbed Xavier’s hands, but the clear, sunny day was too nice to stay indoors.

“A letter to my brother,” he explained. “He sends me these drawings each month, so I try to write him back about each of them. See? He’s Michael Myers in this one.”

Bell nodded in understanding. “Ahh, you two must be pretty close.”

Xavier smiled. “He’s the best brother ever.”

“Did you know that not many people know I have a brother? Two, actually. I’m the oldest, just like you.”

“Are you guys close?”

Bell tilted his head as he considered the question. “Not so much now, but we were pretty inseparable growing up. Always running around, getting into all sorts of trouble. We were probably half the reason for our mom’s gray hairs. Sorry, I didn’t mean to distract you with all my rambling.”

Xavier was quick to perk up. One of the coolest teachers at Blue Ridge wanted to talk with him, spend time with him. Of course he didn’t mind!

When their conversation finally ended, Bell took his emptied mug and left, but not before giving Xavier’s shoulder a soft squeeze in passing. “Keep being that great older brother, Xavier.”

Time had a way of blurring at Blue Ridge, and before he knew it, winter break had arrived. Xavier spent some of his free time exploring sections of Blue Ridge castle he hadn’t been to yet. Obviously the girls’ spires were totally off limits, but that was okay with him. Girls were like a foreign language. You heard them alright, but they were impossible to understand.

He ended up looping around to the school’s library, where towering shelves stretched high towards the ceiling. The fireplace crackled brightly as Xavier discovered Professor Bell reading a novel in one of the thick padded chairs. The flames warmed Xavier’s skin as the two locked eyes.

“Already out of things to do?” Bell joked and waved Xavier to take the cushiony chair opposite of him.

“What’re you reading?” Xavier asked. For some reason, he never thought his science teacher would want to read regular books in his free time.

“Oh, just a boring story about a small hockey community.”

Xavier smirked. “If it’s so boring, then why are you reading it?”

“I was trying to be polite,” Bell said. “I think you would find it boring. I find it fascinating.”


Xavier smiled and turned his attention to the rolling flames. One of the logs sank with a crack into the embers, and a burst of sparks floated into the chimney.

“So what’s on your mind? Cold as it is, I doubt you’re sticking around just for the fire.”

Xavier looked over. Bell had tucked his novel beside him and turned his full attention towards him. His teacher wanted to hear what he had to say. Xavier sighed.

“I’m just not sure about going home this Christmas. I already know my dad won’t be there—and Roman’s great, obviously, but my mom works all the time too, and it’s lonely with just the two of us. There’s always people to hang around with at school.”

True to his point, a trio of teenage girls strolled past, laughing together as they returned a stack of books to the librarian at the front desk.

Bell leaned forward with his hands clasped together, his chocolate brown eyes reflecting the warmth and comfort of the chimney fire.

“You’ve got a lot of great friends here, Xavier. And I think you’ve got a great family, even if sometimes they can feel a little distant. It’s important to treasure both, but it’s also important to live in the moment. Make the most of your Christmas with your brother. The people you have looking out for you at Blue Ridge will be waiting for you when you’re back.”

Xavier nodded, coming to grips with the fact that he was part of two worlds now, his life at Blue Ridge and his life away. Professor Bell made it easy to see things in a different way, and Xavier knew he would miss his teacher more than anyone.


“You can’t keep going on like this, Xavier. Any more tests like your last one, and you’ll fail the class.”

Xavier hung his head across from Professor Lee in her office. She was right. He’d totally blown his last math test! Ever since getting back from winter break, his grades had been slipping more each day. Nothing he tried worked.

“What happens if I fail?” Xavier asked. “Do I have to repeat the year, or am I kicked out of school?”

“I’d like to think you have it in you to succeed, young man,” she said. “But I also think a little extra support can go a long way. Have you considered working with a tutor?”

“You’re going to tutor me in math?”

Professor Lee shook her head and brushed back a strand of her glossy, black hair behind her ear. “That would be unethical since I already teach you math. No, we would find somebody who can help support your specific needs.”

“I’m not stupid,” Xavier growled. “I can do it!”

The sharp tsk sound Professor Lee made with her tongue silenced him.

“It is not an issue of smarts, Xavier. Everyone is different. Having a tutor is not a blemish on who you are.”

It sure felt that way. Xavier didn’t know anyone else who had to stay behind and talk about failing Professor Lee’s class.

Later on, when Logan asked him how his talk went, Xavier said, “She thinks I’m an idiot who needs help with math. I don’t want to have to stay behind each day.”

Logan sat cross-legged on his bed while using a toothpick to prod at the leftover lunch stuck between his teeth. “Isn’t it worse to get held back?”

“Uggh, Probably,” Xavier said. He fell back against his bed and turned to face Roman’s pinned up pictures on his wall. If Roman could draw his emotions right then, there’d be a dozen numbers flying out of his head while his brain smoked from the overload. “Can’t you help me? We could stay up late and go over homework before bed.”

“Help you?” his roommate asked. “Shoot, I’m barely scraping by. Just go ask someone, man.”

Xavier had all but kissed his life at Blue Ridge goodbye when Professor Lee approached him at dinner the next night with a beaming smile. Everyone at the table traded glances. Their professors didn’t just walk over and chat unless someone was in big trouble. Xavier’s cheeks burned when she had him follow her.

Back at the teacher tables, Professor Bell gave him a kind wave. It turned out Professor Lee had spoken about his tutoring needs, and Bell was quick to offer up his time.

“Really, it’s no problem at all,” he said as he dug his fork into the salad on his plate. “Because of the Blue Ridge Buddies, I don’t have any extra responsibilities right after classes. Honestly, Xavier. This will be good for you.”

And he believed it. Because Professor Bell was awesome, and because Xavier wanted to spend time with him.

As spring blossomed on campus, Xavier spent extra time each day with Professor Bell in his class. It had taken some time to get approval from Headmaster Robinson to miss some of his club activities, but after that, the two of them met for half an hour each day, working through some of the trickier skills Xavier struggled with all year. It was Professor Bell who realized Xavier was missing some foundational math skills, but after several weeks of exhausting and grueling drills, he was making progress. Even Xavier could see the tutoring was working.

After clawing his way back, Xavier knew he was far from out of the hole, but as his 6th grade year drew to a close, he had a decent shot at passing.

All that was left was the final test. If he managed a 70 or higher, he would pass. He barely slept at all the night before, tossing and turning so much that Logan threatened to make him sleep on the suite couch outside their bedroom.

Xavier’s feet dragged like a zombie as he slumped into class, but as he answered each test question, remembered all the different tips and strategies Professor Bell taught him over the past couple months, his confidence grew. When Professor Lee showed him his test score at the end of class, Xavier snatched it and ran all the way down to Professor Bell’s office.

Seeing Professor Bell through the door’s glass window, Xavier barged inside and nearly cried with happiness.

“I got a 74! I passed!”

Bell was out of his seat in a second and scooped Xavier up in a hug as he spun him around. Xavier was dizzy with excitement and joy and affection, and a million other emotions big and small coursing through him. Bell looked over the paper, and Xavier figured he was checking to see the problems he still got wrong. Instead, Bell surprised him by talking about all the things he did right.

“You nailed order of operations—and then the patterns, nice job! Wow, even the algebraic stuff. We worked on that for weeks. Xavier, this—”

His arms were suddenly wrapped around his teacher as he cried, and Bell’s arms folded over him, too.

“I’m so proud of you,” his teacher whispered above him as Bell gently rubbed his back.


When 7th grade started, it was only a few weeks into the year when Professor Lee suggested tutoring again with Professor Bell.

Xavier couldn’t have agreed quicker, eager to spend more time with his favorite teacher. He couldn’t quite explain why, but lately being around the man made his chest feel tight and his words freeze up. It was a lot like being nervous during a project, but in a good way.

Their tutoring sessions continued as normal until one day, Xavier arrived outside of Bell’s classroom the same time his favorite teacher was on his way out.

Bell smacked his forehead when he saw Xavier with his books.

“Tutoring, right, of course. Sorry, Xavier. Headmaster Robinson’s got us scrambling all over the place to have decorations in time for the Halloween dance.”

“So we can’t meet today?” he asked, trying to ignore the way his chest stung.

Professor Bell started to shake his head but then stopped. “Well, there is another place we could go. Only if you wanted to, of course, but my home is always available.”

“I’m okay with that!” Xavier blurted out and struggled to keep the blush from spreading across his cheeks. Why were his words so jumbly lately? “I mean, if you’re sure it’s okay.”

A smile crossed Bell’s face as he stepped back inside the classroom and scribbled directions on a piece of paper before scurrying past. “Perfect. Let’s say around 7 o’clock then. I’ll make sure the door’s open for you.”

As dusk settled, Xavier walked the winding cobblestone path away from Blue Ridge’s campus, past the lake, and through the canopy of woods leading to the teachers’ homes.

Stopping under a nearby streetlamp, Xavier dug the crumpled sheet of paper from his pocket and checked the directions once more. As if plucked from the pages of a storybook, all the houses possessed a quaint charm. Bell’s house was surrounded by a white picket fence like the others, with a manicured lawn and rows of bright flowers huddled together in the garden bed. A winking gnome waved at him from the shadows of the yard’s oak tree as Xavier rubbed the goosebumps from his arms, walked the small set of stairs, and knocked on the cherry wood door.

An owl hooted nearby as Xavier stood there awkwardly. His backpack was beginning to strain his shoulder. Did he have the wrong house? After he knocked again, Xavier remembered what his professor had said about leaving the door open. Was it right to go inside, though? That sounded a lot like trespassing. The curtains were all drawn shut on the main windows, so he cupped his hands around his face and leaned against the tiny window slit at the door.

The living room was empty, other than the glow from the table lamp and the news playing from the TV. On the coffee table in front of the couch was an open math textbook along with a mini whiteboard and some markers. At least he was in the right place.

The chill of the doorknob surprised him, and at any moment, he expected someone to yell at him, demanding to know why he was so far from the dorms at night. There was no point in waiting outside only to get busted. The door gave no resistance as Xavier opened it up, and the sound from the TV immediately filled his ears.

“Professor Bell?” he called out. “It’s Xavier.”

When there wasn’t any answer, Xavier moved further inside the living room before setting his backpack on the couch. The living room led directly into the kitchen, where a kettle of tea brewed on the stove, but his teacher wasn’t there either.

From deeper inside the house, there was the sound of squealing metal. Xavier pursued the noise, pausing to look at some of the hanging photographs Professor Bell had of his family. They ranged back from when he graduated college down to his younger days at Blue Ridge with his roommate. In one of them, Professor Bell looked to be about his age, with his arm locked around the neck of another boy as the two flashed twin mischievous grins at the camera.

Xavier had to stop himself from reaching up and touching the photos. His teacher was cute in these photos, but he was handsome now, his features sharper and more chiseled in his late twenties.

At the end of the hallway, there was a cracked door, and Xavier gently pushed it open before calling his teacher’s name again.

“Xavier? Shit!”

Xavier blushed as Professor Bell danced on one foot as he tried to pull his briefs up. Even though his teacher turned away, there was no rewinding what Xavier had seen. The thick, hanging dick between his teacher’s legs was so much bigger than Xavier would have guessed, with a trail of dark brown hair spreading from his bushy groin all the way up to his belly button and down his thighs. Even his teacher’s balls looked twice the size of his own. As Bell pivoted the other way, his black briefs only hugged tight against his firm ass cheeks.

That fluttery, tightness was back in Xavier’s chest, and his penis sprang to its full hardness as it rubbed along the inside of his own underwear.

“I’m sorry!” Xavier stammered and pulled the door quickly shut before running back to the couch and burying his face in shame.

When Bell came to greet him on the couch, he was dressed in a sleeveless t-shirt and sweats, his hair still damp from his recent shower. The scent from his teacher’s body wash reminded Xavier of a misty spring morning. He could barely make eye contact without dying from embarrassment.

Bell cleared his throat. “I, uhh, I’m sorry you had to see that.”

Xavier was sure that if he looked in the mirror right then, his skin would be brighter than a tomato’s.

“I shouldn’t have been snooping.”

“No, no, it’s my fault. I was the one who told you to come in.”

“But I saw you…you know?”


Xavier was dying from embarrassment all over again as he nodded. Professor Bell shrugged in a nonchalant way that Xavier thought was the coolest.

“I’m sure it’s not much different than seeing your suitemates naked.” When Xavier’s jaw dropped, Bell said, “What, you think I don’t remember what it was like to be a kid here?”

“Yeah, but I didn’t think teachers said things like that.”

Bell bumped his shoulder into Xavier’s. “Eh, so what? We’ve known each other long enough now. If I can’t be honest with you, then who can I?”

That helped break the ice, and after Professor Bell excused himself to take the tea from the stove, Xavier decided if his favorite teacher wasn’t embarrassed about being caught naked, then he wouldn’t be either.

They were close to wrapping up for the evening when a nagging question kept bothering Xavier. Taking a risk, he said, “Professor Bell, can I ask you a personal question?”

“Go on,” he said, checking through the algebra problems they’d worked on over the night.

“What is it like…” Xavier paused and couldn’t believe he was about to ask this. He cleared his throat and tried again. “What is it like having so much hair? On your body, I mean.”

Bell set the paper down and faced Xavier on the couch. “It’s a little hard to say, since I’ve had it for so long now. It doesn’t grow all at once, you know.”

Xavier blushed. “Erm, yeah, I know. I have a few hairs too. You know, down there.”

Talking like this was making Xavier hard again, and for the first time that evening, Bell’s face flushed. Xavier never considered how his teacher might get embarrassed like regular people. He thought nothing fazed the man.

“Then, you already know they’re a little different than the hair on your head. Why, do you want a lot of hair on your body?”

Xavier reached his fingers out before his mind could convince him otherwise as he gently teased his teacher’s arm hair. “Maybe, but I don’t know. I think it would take some getting used to.”

He shivered as Bell’s fingers matched his, tracing along the smooth, bare skin of his forearm.

“I wouldn’t be in a rush to grow up so soon,” Bell whispered, leaning forward. “I think you’re perfect the way you are.”

His whole insides burned as Bell’s lips tickled the downy hairs on his cheek, and goosebumps erupted across his body. When their lips met, Xavier gasped into the kiss. His boner had been teetering back and forth since they started talking, but now it was like unbending steel as an overwhelming ache to touch and grab it coursed through him.

Sometimes it was like that whenever he had an intense dream. He’d wake up in his bed, grinding against the covers, tantalizingly close to…something, but never able to reach it. It was like trying to hold a fistful of water. He could never catch the whole thing.

Xavier finally pulled away and took a few panting breaths, noticing the thick lump sticking up against Bell’s sweatpants.

“I, uhh, probably shouldn’t have done that,” Bell said, shaking his head as he closed his eyes.

“Why not?” Xavier asked. “I wanted to do it, too.”

His teacher’s forehead creased in thought as he scratched it. “Yes, but I’m also more than twice your age, Xavier. You’re a minor. I’m an adult. There’s a lot wrong with what just happened.”

Xavier couldn’t see the big deal and said as much. “So what? It’s not like I’m going to tell anyone. Besides, that was really fun.”

Bell said nothing, and as the timer on his phone went off, signaling the end of their tutoring, he hastily gathered up the materials on the coffee table. As he did, the lump pressed forward against his sweatpants the same way Xavier used to make teepees in his bedroom.

“You’re not mad at me, are you?” Xavier asked.

“No, of course not,” he said, but he still wouldn’t look at Xavier as he returned the papers and textbook to Xavier’s book bag. After that, he was quick to shuffle Xavier out the door and told him to hurry back to the castle.

For the next few days, Bell canceled their tutoring. There was always some lame excuse about why they couldn’t meet. Xavier knew it was because of the kiss. He wasn’t stupid. Why didn’t his teacher understand how badly he wanted the kiss too?

Three days later, Xavier was back at Bell’s house. His teacher came up with a reason for why they couldn’t meet in the classroom like normal. They both knew it was bogus. It’s just that Xavier didn’t care.

The chance to spend more alone time with his favorite professor was all he was interested in. Halfway through their next session, Xavier asked if they could kiss again, and unlike the first time, Bell didn’t hesitate.

As the stubble from his teacher’s chin grazed his own, Xavier leaned back under the man’s weight, immediately hard as they kissed. Xavier made sure to wear sweatpants like Bell had the last time. When his erection pushed against the cloth, there was no way his teacher could miss it.

The long fingers of Bell’s hand cupped against his dick, and Xavier heard someone moan inside the house before realizing it was himself. Bell worked his fingers along the outside of Xavier’s clothed erection, and it was like laying in his bedroom at night as he humped against the covers, trying to chase the pleasurable feeling that always managed to elude him, only this time, it was surging faster than ever before.

Something was happening near his groin, like a rubber band being stretched and stretched and stretched, until it finally snapped away, rippling through him all at once.

“Something’s…unngghhhh…feels good,” Xavier panted breathlessly, forcing his mouth away from Bell’s as his dick twitched against his teacher’s hand. There was a wetness down there too, and Bell was making his penis glide against it.

“Did you just cum?” his teacher asked.

Xavier could only stare down at his groin, too confused to give an answer. When he lifted the waistband of his sweats back, there was a little white puddle smeared beside his dusting of blonde pubes. His still-hard dick looked shiny with the stuff too, and a bleachy smell struck his nostrils.

“It’s never happened,” Xavier said and started to return his waistband, but Bell wanted a closer look and helped Xavier lower his sweats down to his thighs.

“That was your first time?” Bell asked as a smile crossed his face. “That’s a big deal!”

Xavier blushed and smiled, proud of himself for something he didn’t even really mean to do. But man, did he wish he could do it again. That feeling had been amazing. Just like what he’d been trying to make happen in his bed, but this time he’d gotten there. He wondered if Logan knew about this stuff, too.

Bare ass against the couch, Xavier looked down as Bell swiped a finger across the slippery stuff at his groin. His dick twitched as his teacher lifted his finger to his mouth and ate whatever was on it.

“Ewww,” Xavier said, blanching at the idea of eating something out of his dick. That was where he pissed from.

“You haven’t tried it, so you wouldn’t know,” Bell said. “Do you trust me?”

When Bell took another swipe and lifted his finger to Xavier’s lips, he wanted to push away and say no, but he was too curious about the taste. Besides, he trusted his teacher. Xavier didn’t resist as Bell smeared a finger past his lips, and he was surprised at the bitter-sweet taste and the way it clung to his tongue and the roof of his mouth. Not at all like he thought it would taste or feel.

“Can I see yours?” Xavier asked, wanting the chance to see his teacher’s body up close again. The fleeting glimpse after Bell’s shower had been etched in his mind, and now he wanted more.

When Bell unzipped his jeans and pulled down his briefs, his boner slapped against his torso, surrounded by the same dark nest of hairs Xavier saw days before.

“It’s so big,” Xavier breathed and glanced down at his much smaller package.

“Don’t worry,” his teacher said, “I’m sure you’ll have a lot more growing to do.”

Reaching out, Xavier placed his palm against his teacher’s dick, and Bell shuddered as Xavier lifted it upward. A thin string of clear moisture ran between the end of Bell’s penis down to his groin.

“Did you already do it?” Xavier asked.

Bell laughed softly. “Cum? No, but if you keep rubbing it, I probably will soon.”

Xavier knew that was exactly what he wanted to do. The explosively good feelings had made goosebumps ignite all over his body, and he wanted his teacher to feel the same.

Bell guided him on how to touch his penis. It wasn’t just about rubbing it. There was squeezing, and a pumping motion, and sometimes pausing to give extra attention to the sensitive part near the tip. Soon, Bell’s breaths came in short, sharp gasps before spewing out the same stuff Xavier made, only his was so thick and white, and there was way more of it. The idea of tasting it like before made his stomach feel squeamish.

Thankfully he wasn’t asked to. Before long it was time for Xavier to go, and after Bell helped him slip back into his sweater, he pulled Xavier in for a hug.

“That was very special, Xavier,” he said. “You’re a beautiful boy.”

“Do you think we could do it again some time?”

“Only if you promise to keep it a secret. People don’t understand relationships like ours.”

Were they in a relationship? Xavier didn’t think about what they did in the same way his parents must have dated before they got married. It left his insides with a fluttery feeling, even though there was a small voice in the back of his brain warning him of something he didn’t understand.

“I won’t tell anyone,” Xavier promised.


Shoving Roman against the wall was the worst day of Xavier’s life.

He hadn’t noticed when the changes started, but suddenly there was the Xavier who protected and loved Roman, and another who pushed him away.

Maybe they were two sides of the same coin, only his coin was spinning more and more out of control, and Xavier spent nights clamping his teeth down on his knuckles or pinching his fingernails into his skin until the pain forced him to stop.

Did he still like doing things with Professor Bell? Of course. They felt really nice, and who wouldn’t want to feel loved, appreciated, worshiped? Besides, his teacher understood him better than anyone, even better than Roman, and sometimes it felt like better than himself. Professor Bell always knew the right things to say.

Xavier’s body sang whenever his teacher snuck a gentle, teasing touch during school hours, unnoticed by anyone else but the two of them. Then, when they were alone at his house, it was like the whole world melted away. His teacher was good about making him feel like the most important person on the planet, only Xavier couldn’t deny anymore how the secret was eating away at him.

He was bitter and angry when he shoved Roman that last winter, not at his brother, really, but at himself. Roman was so oblivious to anything going on—he would never understand the way Xavier’s emotions raged through him like a violent eruption. When had he become so aggressive?

After Roman ran downstairs in tears holding the back of his head, Xavier punched himself in the same spot on his thigh until a grotesque bruise the size of his fist formed. He was so ashamed of himself that he couldn’t even bring himself to say goodbye to Roman when it was time to go back to Blue Ridge. Xavier spent weeks hating himself for that.

Of course Professor Bell asked about the bruise the next time he saw him naked, but Xavier didn’t want his teacher to think any less of him, so he lied, saying how he was running around careless and bashed his leg on the side of a dresser. The answer seemed to satisfy him as his teacher worked tender kisses down Xavier’s chest, pausing to suck at each nipple before going further down and engulfing his boner to the hilt. Man, he loved that.

Sometimes Xavier wondered if his roommate knew what was going on. He never said anything, but Logan would occasionally shoot him a wary glance when Xavier mentioned he was on his way to yet another tutoring session.

Whenever Logan or Professor Bell mentioned the fingernail marks on his body, he tried to brush it off like it wasn’t a big deal, as if every night his thoughts weren’t constantly buzzing in his head like a thousand beehives.

“You’re worrying too much,” Xavier would say.

“Of course I worry about you, we’re best friends,” Logan would say after they finished jerking off on their own beds.

“Of course I worry about you, you’re my special friend,” Professor Bell would say after swallowing Xavier’s cum.

By the time summer rolled around, Xavier was ready to be done with his secrets. He was going to tell Professor Bell that he liked being around him but didn’t want to be with him, at least not romantically. Besides, Roman would be starting school at Blue Ridge soon. Even if he’d been terrible at showing it lately, Xavier wanted to protect Roman, to make things right.

He just didn’t know how. How do you apologize to your brother for being the biggest jerk in the world and pushing him away for so long?

Worst yet, it was like his body was going through some strange form of withdrawal, and whenever he jacked off on his bed, Professor Bell invaded his thoughts like a parasite. That first time Roman saw him cum, Xavier had been so frustrated with himself for letting things go on too long with Professor Bell that he’d snapped and slammed the door in Roman’s face.

Things were going to be different. He was going to change. He had to, for Roman’s sake. Even if it meant he would never touch himself and cum again, he would do whatever it took. And he even convinced himself it was possible, for a little while at least.

Three days later, when Xavier asked Roman to hang out with him, it was like the old days between the two of them, laughing, playing games, teasing each other. When he asked Roman if he wanted to swim, he hadn’t intended to take advantage of him, but suddenly there he was, exposing himself in front of Roman. Could he be anymore fucked up?

His three days of abstinence made his head foggy and lustful, and suddenly every curious touch from Roman reminded Xavier of Professor Bell. When he coated Roman’s hand with his jizz, of course he freaked out. He didn’t know what to do, and so he shoved Roman out of his room again and cried on his floor for hours.

The worst part was that Xavier couldn’t figure out how to break the cycle. He was jammed in the mud and couldn’t wrench himself free. Roman had somehow become a vessel for him to direct his sexual urges towards. At least with Professor Bell, things had been different. God, what was wrong with him?

Xavier was so scared of himself, and if he was honest, scared of what Professor Bell might do if he rejected him. The morning Roman joined him at Blue Ridge, he sucker punched Roman, and a piece of Xavier broke forever.

“If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay away from me at Blue Ridge.”

Because if Roman wasn’t around him, then Roman couldn’t be around Professor Bell.


A week ago, Professor Bell’s classroom was empty. It was the time of day when everyone was at their clubs. Mostly, anyway.

Xavier should have been down at the archery ranges, but lately he’d had no interest. He was good at it, sure. He just didn’t care anymore. Nothing felt important to him. Whenever one of his teachers called him out on his apathy, Xavier shrugged them off, because what was he supposed to do?

In his mind, the solution was simple: go to Professor Bell, tell him things were over, and move on with his life. But whenever he’d try, the words died in his throat before he could get them out, and then they were making out again, and the cycle started all over. Professor Bell was like a drug.

When Xavier found him alone in his classroom, the man winked at him, and even though the attention still made his heart flutter, lately it was making his stomach sour.

“Close the door,” Professor Bell said softly.

Xavier had grown a lot taller over the past year since they started fooling around, but Professor Bell still had no trouble lifting him up onto the table. He was getting bolder lately with the places they hooked up.

Xavier was putty as Professor Bell worked one hand over his nipple while he sucked at Xavier’s throat. There were certain things his teacher did that always made him moan, no matter how much he tried to hold it back. Suddenly Xavier’s shirt was on the floor, and his jeans unzipped. His dick was leaking, knowing Professor Bell was about to suck him off again to a shuddering orgasm.

That’s when the door opened.

And there was Jordy.

“Shit, shit, shit,” Professor Bell muttered as he scrambled to his feet and tossed Xavier his shirt.

The halls were empty as Professor Bell ran to flag Jordy down. Xavier overheard fragments of the hushed conversation.

“…don’t want to talk…”

“…not what you think…”

“…but why were you and him…”

“…can work this out….misunderstanding…my place to explain…”

Xavier could only cradle his arms to his chest as he tried to comfort himself. Maybe this was what they needed, to be caught. Maybe that was his escape.

When Professor Bell came back, Xavier couldn’t read his expression. It was almost like his teacher was trying to convince himself of something. He told Xavier they were all going to meet at his house later that night. That was good. Maybe then Xavier could find a way to explain how jumbled up his insides felt lately.

But then of course things didn’t go that way. Why couldn’t Jordy have just reported them? Stayed at the castle that night? Then, nothing would have gone the way it had.

No, it wasn’t just Jordy’s fault. Xavier had been too much of a coward to do anything about it. Jordy’s death was just as much his fault.

Had Professor Bell always planned on killing Jordy? He wasn’t sure, but after Jordy was inside the man’s house, the two must have recognized something in the other’s face, because suddenly Jordy was trying to scramble away, and then Professor Bell was on him, tackling him, suffocating him, and Xavier felt like a child, frozen in fear, unable to even cry out.

“What did you do?” he croaked out in a whisper.

Jordy. Jordy wasn’t moving. Why wasn’t he moving?

“Xavier, it’ll be okay,” Professor Bell said, leaving Jordy’s body and standing to his feet.

Wake up, Jordy. Wake up!

“Stay away from me,” Xavier said.

He tried to run, tried to flee, but his teacher was like a savage animal. He’d become a monster. And suddenly Xavier’s head was burning as if someone set a fire to his temple, and everything went dark.

After that, he awoke in Professor Bell’s basement.


“Roman, I think I’m really messed up.”

Roman sat on the couch, knees huddled to his chest as Xavier finished his story. If he was honest, he didn’t understand it. It wasn’t so much the gross sex things with a man. He knew how good touching himself could feel now, especially when someone else was helping. What Roman couldn’t wrap his head around was why Xavier hadn’t just told the police or someone who could help.

But then maybe the way Xavier had cared about Professor Bell was the exact same way Roman cared about Fielding. Did anyone really get to choose who captured their heart? There were always consequences, though. Professor Bell had manipulated Xavier, and in doing so, Jordy lost his life, and Roman almost lost Xavier forever. Roman would hate his dead teacher for as long as he lived.

Reliving the memories where Xavier hurt him was like picking open a scab. How many nights had he woken up in hysterics? And yet, that whole time, Xavier was struggling more, hurting more, begging for someone to notice. Roman never noticed. He wanted to scream and smash windows and burn something down to ash.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Roman whispered.

“The things I did to you were,” he said.

Xavier refused to look at him, his eyes fixed instead on the red sneakers Roman got for him last Christmas. Because he loved him. Loved him still. The other night, all the caked on mud had been scrubbed from them meticulously until they shined like new. Roman had made sure of it.

The silence in the hospital room was deafening. Even the steady monitor beeps were drowned out. It was like the whole world was gone apart from the two of them, and as Roman stood to his feet, he hadn’t fully worked out what he wanted. Was it even possible to fix something that had been broken so many times, or were the pieces too small to hold?

Roman shuffled across the floor in his socks until he was in arms length of Xavier. If there was a way, if it was possible, Roman knew the path to healing started with the two of them. It had to. Xavier stiffened as Roman leaned down and wrapped his arms around his brother’s neck. Even still, Roman squeezed him tighter as the tears spilled from his eyes and dampened Xavier’s hospital gown. He’d cried so much lately, cried so much he was surprised he still had tears to give.

“I forgive you,” Roman said into his brother’s chest.

And then the best thing in the world happened that Roman could have ever hoped for.

Xavier hugged him back.

End Chapter 19

Copyright 2023 – Levi Holland
All rights reserved

Levi’s note for readers:
One more chapter to go, everyone! Thank you all for your patience as I dealt with the slow-editing process in the midst of my busy schedule. I hope you all have enjoyed where the story has taken off and landed, even if it might not be your typical cups of tea 😉 This chapter in particular was tough for me since I haven’t written adult/youth material, but my hope is that I painted Xavier’s relationship and backstory with as much sincerity and complexity as it deserved

Boarding School Blues – Chapter 18

Boarding School Blues
Levi Holland

Chapter 18

The sirens came first.

Between the blur of blinding lights and blaring sounds, Cooper’s head was so dizzy that it wasn’t until his heel had been stitched up in the hospital that the fog swallowing his brain began to lift and he could finally breathe.

How could he even describe his parents’ faces when they burst through the doors of his hospital room? He had so much he wanted to say and nothing at all, and he melted into their arms as they swaddled him in a hug. He didn’t have to be brave anymore. For just a moment, he could pretend he was still the same little kid he was when he started 6th grade.

Cooper wasn’t sure where Roman was. He remembered hearing Roman’s voice, his hands and head resting against him until the firetrucks came, but then they were pulled apart, separated.

Cooper hoped Xavier was okay.

The first time Cooper gave his statement, his chest was hollow and his legs too tingly and numb to stand straight. They questioned him so critically to the point where his dad raised his voice louder than he’d ever heard before and his mom fled the room in tears. Even still, it all washed over him in a haze.

The next day when they asked him again, the police were calmer. Everyone was. The officers told them they would try to limit their questions, and Cooper told them everything he could. Of course there were things he didn’t know. Why would he know why Professor Bell wanted to kill Jordy? Did it matter why he had Xavier locked up in his basement? No, his teacher had never mentioned anything to Cooper. That was insane!

It was funny how his parents’ mood changed so dramatically, from sheer joy that he was alive to raging fury about how reckless he’d been. They wanted to pull him immediately from the Academy. A place that dangerous was no place for him. He didn’t have the heart to argue, because what could he say? They were right. Thinking he had any chance to stop Jordy’s killer was nothing but reckless and foolish and stupid.

They treated his wounds, plucked the miniature fragments of glass buried in his palm, swabbed and stitched the cut on his heel. Thankfully the knife hadn’t cut too deep. As long as he was careful, the stitches should hold without too much trouble. He’d been so, so lucky, he heard over and over again.

Before the day was done, two sets of visitors came to see him.

The first was a man and woman he didn’t recognize. Both of their faces were honey bronze, and the man’s head was thick with dreads hanging past his shoulders. Cooper immediately saw Jordy in each of them. He wasn’t prepared for the way they shook his parents’ hands and wept at his bedside. As they each squeezed his good hand and cried, Cooper knew he would be reckless and foolish and stupid a thousand times again if given the chance.

Cooper’s second visitor came as the sun’s golden rays reflected off the blinds of his hospital room. With a gentle knock, Headmaster Robinson appeared in the doorway, his pristine Blue Ridge uniform a stark contrast to the worn, weary man wearing it. He regarded each of them before clearing his throat.

“I apologize,” he said. “I don’t want to interrupt if now’s a bad time.”

Cooper’s parents traded cautious glances before his dad spoke. “Not at all. Please, come in.”

Headmaster Robinson’s shoulders slumped as he walked inside. It was like he had aged ten years over the past few nights. When he reached Cooper’s dad, he extended a slow and steady hand to shake.

“Joe,” Headmaster Robinson said.

“Good to see you, sir,” his dad said, rubbing the back of his neck. “Been a long time.”

His headmaster quirked an eyebrow at this, and Cooper thought he saw the slightest smirk. After giving a polite welcome to his mom, Headmaster Robinson turned his attention towards Cooper and lowered himself to his knees. Each of them cracked like thick branches, and Cooper winced. He wasn’t sure he’d ever get over hearing sounds like that again.

Placing both hands on the railing of the bed, his headmaster bowed his head and breathed a heavy sigh. When he lifted his head again, his eyes brimmed with tears. “Young man, what you have done for this school can never be put into words.”

Cooper tried thinking of a way to break the tension that seemed to swallow him up over the last twenty four hours. “So, I’m not in trouble?”

Headmaster Robinson’s eyes widened, and he started to laugh. It started slow and built to the point where he had to clutch a hand at his side. “No, son, you’re not in trouble.”

His parents made room for his headmaster to sit on the thin blue cushions of the narrow couch inside the room. The sun gleamed off the gray stripes in his wild nest of hair. It was a long time before he spoke, like he was trying to choose the right words to say.

“I was told today you all would be withdrawing your son from the academy.”

His parents shuffled on their feet, neither of them making eye contact with Cooper or his headmaster.

“We think it’s for the best, you see,” his dad said. “We wanted Blue Ridge to be a fresh start for Cooper, not…this.”

His mom was quick to jump in. “Sending him in the first place was really more our idea. Maybe we pushed him too early to be off on his own like that. And we’re not saying what happened was your fault or anyone else’s, it’s just…”

“I understand,” Headmaster Robinson said and stood to his feet before walking to the door. A team of nurses hurried along an incoming patient laid a gurney, paying their room no attention as they passed. Headmaster Robinson placed a hand against the door frame and rested against it as he cocked his head towards them.

“Joe, you have known me for a very long time. Of anyone, you should know how important Blue Ridge’s values are to me. What I’m about to say, I don’t say lightly, and please feel free to disregard it. This is your decision, after all.”

What Headmaster Robinson said next would stick with Cooper for the rest of his life.

“There isn’t a single person at our school who embodies what Blue Ridge stands for more than Cooper.”

Then he was gone.


“Roman, you deserve to know the truth.”

The heart rate monitor beeped steadily as Roman stared at Xavier. His white-blond hair was messy from sleep but clean now as he sat propped in the raised bed. A couple hours ago, a nurse had changed the gauze bandage around the gash near his temple.

Between them was a small rolling desk they used to play cards while their parents picked up dinner from a nearby restaurant. Roman tossed a card in the growing pile and picked up another from the deck.

“The truth about what?”

Between the blood loss, dehydration, and starvation, Xavier was lucky to be found when he had been. Another day or two, the nurses said, and things would have taken a turn for the worst. After being treated, Xavier slept the entire first day, only coming around in the late hours of the following night. His throat was groggy and hoarse, and he was only allowed small sips of water to begin with, but he had survived.

That was all that mattered.

“About Professor Bell,” Xavier said in a whisper.

His mom had carried on relentlessly about how she’d sue the school for negligence and letting a murderer on the staff, but Roman had finally snapped, screaming at her in tears through his exhaustion to let it go. Why couldn’t she be satisfied that they were all together again? Alive. Safe.

“Didn’t you already tell the police everything?” Roman asked.

They’d both given their statements early on. Roman imagined they asked Cooper, Fielding, and Anakin a lot of the same questions. He didn’t care. There was nothing to hide. Xavier trapped in the basement was all the evidence the police needed for a dead man who had already killed another boy.

“I don’t even know where to begin,” Xavier said, and his brother’s face crumpled into tears as he dropped his cards in his lap and wiped his eyes.

“You don’t have to talk about it,” Roman said.

“No,” he said, shaking his head. “I need to. You of all people deserve to know what happened, why I…just promise me you’ll try not to judge me too hard. No one could hate me more than I hate myself.”

One of the first nights at the hospital, when Roman was supposed to be sleeping on the couch for a nap, he overheard one of the nurses talking in hushed tones with his parents about whether or not they knew about Xavier’s self-inflicted marks. In addition to a few bruises that didn’t match the other patterns of his injuries, the nurses found fingernail cuts all along his stomach and ribs, and Roman immediately thought back to the summer before when he’d first seen them and Xavier had told him not to worry.

He balled his fists. His insides felt all shaken up like a bottle of soda ready to burst. He wasn’t sure why Xavier would want to talk about the same dead man who had nearly destroyed their lives forever, but Roman nodded anyway.

And then Xavier told his story.

End Chapter 18

Copyright 2023 – Levi Holland
All rights reserved

Boarding School Blues – Chapter 17

Boarding School Blues
Levi Holland

Chapter 17

How could they have been so wrong?

Cooper collapsed beside the oak tree as he ran the fingers of his unbandaged hand through his hair. Nothing he had seen made any sense. Why was Professor Bell holding Professor Gray’s cloak? Did that mean he was the one at the boat house instead? Were they working together? No, that couldn’t be right. None of that made sense. There had to be some kind of misunderstanding.

“Cooper, we have to go,” Roman whispered.

“Go where?” Cooper asked.

“Inside the house,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going on, but we need answers.”

Cooper wobbled to his feet, no longer feeling brave. The house Professor Bell had come from was dark now like the others. Cooper followed Roman’s lead as they reached the porch steps, hardly able to breathe as Roman tested the doorknob. It opened without issue, and without a word, Roman dragged Cooper inside.

The darkness inside smothered him like a blanket, and right away Cooper inhaled the familiar lemony scent from the boat house, the same exact one from Professor Gray’s classroom the day Anakin had his sneezing fit. What was going on?

Roman twisted the lock on the front door, trapping Professor Bell on the outside. At least for a little while.

“We have to move fast,” Roman said, pushing past Cooper into the living room. “Xavier!”

Room to room they searched, calling out his name, but there was never any response. On top of it all, making their way through the pitch black house was proving all but impossible. Where was Xavier?

Cooper winced as he slammed his hip into the corner of a desk. He rubbed at the sensitive spot with his good hand while Roman shuffled closer in the dark.

“I think we have to risk it,” Roman said.

It was risky. They both knew it. Working in the dark was one thing, but the moment they flipped the light switch for the living room, Professor Bell’s house would shine like a light house. There’d be no hiding the fact that they were snooping around inside. But what choice did they have?

“If we’re quick,” Cooper said, “maybe he won’t see.”

Standing at the wall, Cooper counted to three before flipping on the light switch. Right away, his eyes squinted against the harsh overhead light as the fan whirred on the ceiling.

The house looked totally normal. If they hadn’t been there to witness Professor Bell leaving the home, Cooper wouldn’t have thought anything was out of place.

They split up again, and it wasn’t until Cooper passed the opening of the mudroom that he spotted the desk he bumped into from before. Scattered on top were several stacks of books, an old laptop, and other loose papers strewn about. There was enough clutter that Cooper nearly missed the door hidden behind the desk.

“Roman!” he shouted.

Roman was by his side in seconds, eyeing the door Cooper showed him.

“It’s worth a shot,” he said. “We have to find out what’s inside.”

Cooper helped Roman swipe all the junk off the top of the desk. As they worked to lift and rotate the desk out of the way, the cuts on Cooper’s palm burned. Whatever he and Anakin had done to stop the bleeding, he knew the wounds had reopened with fresh blood.

When they were far enough out of the way, Roman wrenched the door open until it clanged against the edge of the desk. A steep, narrow set of stairs led down into an inky black basement. Little light spilled down the steps, but Cooper thought he spotted the glint of a pull chain near the bottom.

He tried to slow his breathing. At any point, Professor Bell would be back. The locked door would only hold him off for so long, and nothing was to stop him from getting in through a window or busting down the door. If Anakin and Fielding couldn’t get help in time, neither he nor Roman would make it out alive.

“Xavier!” Roman shouted down the steps, but there was no answer.

They took the wooden steps slowly, each one clunking with their footsteps. The deeper they went, the more Cooper wanted to gag as an acrid, sour odor curled around his nostrils. It turned his stomach, and Cooper tried to only breathe through his mouth.

“What is that?” Cooper asked.

“Xavier! Are you down here?”

The basement was completely shrouded from their view. Somewhere in the back corner, a machine gently thumped and ticked every few seconds. Standing on the tip of his toes, Cooper struggled for the pull chain, just able to grip the end between the fingers of his good hand before he tugged. The light bulb buzzed to life.

And there was a body.



Roman had no doubt it was him as he dashed across the basement. The red sneakers he’d bought Xavier for Christmas were caked with dried mud, but there was no doubt about it. He’d recognize those red sneakers anywhere. Roman slid to his knees, praying Xavier was still breathing.

Xavier was strapped to a support beam, his arms wrenched awkwardly behind him and bound at the wrists. Though he wasn’t responsive, Xavier’s chest rose with short, shallow breaths, and Roman released a grateful sigh.

From head to toe, his brother was a mess. His greasy blonde hair lay matted from several days without a shower. A dried gash ran across his temple with old blood staining his jaw. His cheeks and eyes were sunken and hollow, his lips cracked with dehydration. Part of his shirt had been torn near the collar, and the dark stain spread around Xavier’s groin told Roman everything he needed to know about the nauseating stench in the room. Roman’s blood boiled as tears welled in his eyes.

“He’s hurt bad,” Cooper said as he inspected the bindings around his wrists. The zip ties cut deep into Xavier’s skin, leaving them dark with blood.

Roman tried to shake his shoulder, and Xavier’s eyelids fluttered open, unfocused and hazy before closing again.

“Xavier, wake up!” Roman said, low and urgent.

Xavier’s lips moved, but no sound came out. His face scrunched in pain as he tried again, this time forcing out a hoarse word, hardly more than a scratchy whisper.


“We’re here,” Roman said, trying to keep Xavier alert. “We’re gonna get help. We’re gonna…”

What were they going to do? Cooper was still struggling unsuccessfully with the restraints around Xavier’s wrists, and even if they got him free, his brother wouldn’t be able to walk up the steps, not in the condition he was in. Roman doubted they could get him anywhere close to safe before Professor Bell stopped them.

“Cooper, what’re we gonna do?”

Cooper scanned the basement. “There’s gotta be something down here we can use to cut the zip ties.”

Roman helped Cooper search, hastily digging through the messy boxes scattered around the basement in search for anything with a sharp edge. If nothing else, he’d chew through the binds with his teeth. They couldn’t give up now, not when they were so close to freeing Xavier!

“There’s nothing here!” Roman shouted, kicking a box over in frustration.

Cooper fidgeted with the end of his shirt as he cleared his throat. He eyed the stairs leading into the house. “I’ve got an idea,” Cooper said, “but I don’t know if you’ll like it.”

“What is it?”

“We can’t get him out,” he said, “but maybe I can create a distraction. I’ll lead Professor Bell away until the others show up. That way, you guys can stay safe.”

“Are you crazy!?” Roman shouted.

“You got any better ideas?”

“Yeah, not running out and getting yourself killed. Do you know how dangerous that sounds?”

Cooper’s knees wobbled as he clenched his fists. “‘We can’t be afraid of danger.’ I can do this, Roman. I’ll buy you guys time. But, in case I don’t make it—”

“No,” Roman said. “Don’t think like that. Just be careful.”

Cooper nodded, casting one last glance at Xavier before leaving. His feet clunked up the stairs, and after reaching the top, Roman heard the basement door close, followed by the scraping of the desk being pushed back against the door. It was all up to Cooper now.

As Roman knelt behind Xavier, he examined his wrists. They were crossed together, the zip ties chewing into his flesh. No matter how much he dug his fingernails into the ties, they wouldn’t budge. Maybe they overlooked something that could help cut Xavier’s bonds. He tried tugging them again.

Xavier’s voice rasped as he choked out Roman’s name.

“I’m here,” Roman stammered, sliding around to face Xavier. “Cooper’s getting help. Don’t worry.”

Xavier couldn’t lift his head, his eyes stayed shut, and when he spoke, every word from his mouth was like sandpaper.


A memory flooded Roman’s mind, from years ago, running through the house playing tag with Xavier. Roman wasn’t paying attention to where he was headed. All that mattered was that whenever he peeked over his shoulder, Xavier was hot on Roman’s heels, arms outstretched as Roman squealed with laughter.

Roman never saw the vase coming. By the time Xavier shouted his name, there was nothing he could do to avoid colliding with the podium. The vase cracked apart in thick glass chunks when it struck the ground, and all Roman could hear in his mind was his mom’s frustration. How many times had she warned them not to make the house their playground?

Xavier’s hand was on his shoulder, squeezing it in a way that said he was the big brother, that he was the one who would take care of it—take care of Roman. Xavier took the blame and along with it, two weeks of grounding as punishment. Even to this day, his parents never knew the truth, but Roman always remembered.

He wasn’t sure why the memory rushed back now as he wiped the hot tears from his cheek.

From upstairs, a muffled shout rang out. No doubt it was Cooper’s voice. Tied to the support beam, Xavier had dropped unconscious again, his head sagging low towards his shoulder. Cooper needed his help, but Roman couldn’t abandon Xavier. What was he supposed to do?

Did he run to the pull chain, hide with Xavier, and wait it out in the dark?

What if Cooper needed him in that moment and there wasn’t a second to spare?

Would going upstairs only put Cooper in more danger somehow?

Roman pulled at his hair and rubbed his eyes. He wished Fielding was with him.

The noises had fallen deathly silent. There was a moment where Roman thought he heard a man’s voice, but he couldn’t be sure. He couldn’t abandon Xavier, but he couldn’t leave Cooper all by himself either. How many times had Cooper put himself in harm’s way to help him find his brother?

Roman placed a hand gently on Xavier’s shoulder and squeezed just like Xavier had done for him when they were little. Just a few moments longer was all they needed.

Roman stood to his feet. His brain was foggy as he climbed the staircase, every step weighing him down like heavy lead. When he reached the top, he pressed his ear against the door, listening for any clue as to what was happening on the other side.


Roman tested the doorknob, but as expected, it didn’t budge, not with the desk shoved against it. Roman turned the handle and slammed his shoulder against the door, wincing with every dull jab of pain shooting through his arm. Each time, the door budged a little more. A little more. A little more. With a final grunt, Roman wedged his hands between the opening and pushed with all his might until there was enough space to squeeze his slim body through.

The lights were still on, and after easing the door shut behind him, Roman raised his fists in self defense in case someone sprang out at him. Not that he really thought he could fight off Professor Bell if he tried to get the jump on him, but he wouldn’t go down without a fight either. Roman was the one with everything to lose.

Every heartbeat stung his chest. Roman spun to either side as he stepped out from the mudroom, ready to dodge a punch or oncoming tackle. When he passed the hallway leading to the bedrooms, he ducked his head inside, but there was no one there. This side of the house was empty.

A distant shout drew his attention, and Roman stepped cautiously forward until he entered the kitchen. Inside, a table had been toppled, and a phone had busted apart in pieces on the floor.

The back door was wide open, and Roman froze as he saw Professor Bell in the yard.


Cooper had to buy Roman time.

Any second, Anakin and Fielding would be back with Headmaster Robinson, but right now they were headed to the wrong house. If Cooper couldn’t find a way to get them to Professor Bell’s, then Jordy wouldn’t be the only dead kid discovered on campus.

After storming up the stairs, Cooper grunted as he shoved the desk against the basement door, his muscles straining under the weight. Now Roman and Xavier were pinned in, but at least Professor Bell wouldn’t be able to get back to them so easily.

Running to the front door, Cooper breathed a sigh of relief. Still locked.

Did he risk escaping out the front? What if Professor Bell was waiting to trap him? Cooper shook his head. He had to be decisive. This wasn’t like his books where Detective Dackery had time to contemplate every little move. Living in the what-ifs would only get him killed.

Cooper ran towards the kitchen, forming a plan as he went. He would head out the back door, hop the fence, and make as much noise as humanly possible. All he needed was one other adult to notice him, hear his cries for help.

Inside the kitchen, a phone flashed on the receiver, and Cooper snatched it from the stand. He wasn’t sure how soon the police would show, but it was worth a shot. Anything to increase their chances. The moment he was over the fence, he’d dial 911 and tell them everything.

He was so close. All that was left was to open the back door and run like hell for the fences. With a click, Cooper twisted the latch and wrenched the door open.


Cooper tripped backwards over his own feet and cried out as Professor Bell stepped through the back door. Beside him, the phone lay smashed in pieces, useless now to him or anyone else. Now what was he going to do?

Inside the kitchen, Professor Bell stalked like a cornered, rabid animal. The knot near his temple had swollen into a nasty purple egg, and the nearest eye was bloodshot like a spiderweb. Both eyes fixed on Cooper, dilating to sharpened points. Without a word, Professor Bell lunged at him, hands outstretched like talons as he dove forward, clutching Cooper by the throat.

At once the air snapped from his throat, and Cooper panicked, trying to dig his fingernails into the thick forearms of the man. As he struggled, Anakin’s scarf around his hand came undone, and the shallow wounds reopened. Little streams of blood trickled down his wrist and dripped onto his face as he tried desperately to escape from Professor Bell.

The fingers around his windpipe tightened, and Cooper knew his professor had gone insane. He wasn’t just trying to protect himself or cover his tracks. He was far beyond that. Professor Bell was insuring Cooper went down with him.

Cooper begged for breath. His eyes bulged with pressure. He had to think of something. Trying to claw Professor Bell’s face wasn’t doing him any good. He was too far away, and Cooper wasn’t strong enough. Glancing down, Cooper saw one last, hopeful opportunity and drove his knee into the man’s crotch.

Professor Bell buckled and gave a pinched yelp. His grip around Cooper’s throat loosened, and Cooper sucked in a choked gasp. He smashed his knee in a second time. As Cooper tried to scramble away, a furious hand tore the collar of his sweater.

Struggling to his feet, Cooper checked his throat with his good hand. Already, his windpipe was achy and bruised, and as he tried to speak, his voice was as hoarse as Xavier’s had been. How was anyone going to hear him calling for help? His only chance was to run.

Professor Bell lumbered to his feet, blocking Cooper’s path to freedom, and Cooper wished he had nailed him a third time in the balls. As Cooper backpedaled, he bumped into the kitchen table and felt it wobble. He tried to steady his breath, control his breathing.

When Professor Bell made another desperate lunge, Cooper waited until the last possible second before ducking beneath his arm. The instant his teacher collided with the table, he tipped to the ground with the table in a loud clatter. This was his chance!

Cooper’s eyes watered against the cool air as he sprinted out the back door, looking for the quickest way to safety. Like all the other yards, a tall white picket fence guarded all the ways out. On a good day, Cooper could’ve wedged his hands between the boards and scaled the fence with no problem like Professor Bell must have, but with his one hand messed up, he wasn’t sure he could make it in time, not before he got dragged back down and pummeled to death.

Cooper couldn’t look back, refused to look back, was terrified that if he did, Professor Bell would be over his shoulder, ready to snuff the life out of him. Ahead of him, the walls of the fence closed just around a tree growing tall in the yard. Its branches curled low and thick, growing thinner as the tree stretched higher like the honeylocusts back home. There was no other choice.

Cooper squeezed his fingers into the palm of his bad hand as he dashed to the base of the tree. The pain stung like a thousand wasps, but Cooper swallowed it down. Gripping the first thick branch, Cooper hoisted himself up, wincing as the bark chewed into his skin. One down. The next branch was in easy reach, and again he climbed, using every ounce of adrenaline pumping through his body. Push with the legs, not just the arms, Cooper reminded himself, reliving the hundreds of times he and Roman had scaled the rock climbing wall over the past several months.

Ten feet below, Professor Bell appeared, a shadow in the darkness. Even in the dim light spilling out from the kitchen, the knife gripped in his hand was unmistakable.

“It’s alright, Cooper,” he said in a strained voice. “There’s just been a misunderstanding. You come on down, and we’ll talk it out.”

No way that was going to happen. As Cooper turned his body, his foot slipped from the branch, and he cried out as he clutched the one near his chest. It was all he could do to hang on. Falling now meant losing everything. His feet dangled in the open air beneath him, and before he lost his grip, he swung back the other way, digging the rubber of his shoes into the branch below.

“Careful, Cooper,” Professor Bell mocked. “A fall like that would be pretty nasty.”

Cooper’s eyes widened as his teacher approached the base of the tree and lifted himself up onto the first branch with little effort. His extra height made it easy to climb, and Cooper looked up. There were only so many branches, so much space to put between them.

Cooper ground his teeth as he spun back around and pulled himself to the next branch. The branches were growing thinner, weaker. Each branch wobbled as Cooper held on with trembling hands and legs. Twice, he nearly slipped like he had before.

Before he could lift himself to the next branch, a hot, searing pain flashed across his heel, and Cooper screamed, his voice still a pinched strain in his throat. Professor Bell was only close enough to nick his ankle, but the knife was sharp. Blood dripped from his heel into his shoe, and right away, a chilly, nauseous pit formed in Cooper’s stomach. One more branch.

Cooper thought about his parents, how he would probably never see them again. He wanted to crawl into their arms and have them say everything was going to be alright. He wanted to hug Anakin tight and tell him he was the best friend Cooper could have ever asked for at Blue Ridge. He wanted to apologize to Roman, for letting him down. One more branch.

Every limb in Cooper’s body trembled. He could hardly put any weight on his sliced foot, and his strength was waning. One more branch.

Now the branches were thin enough that he could wrap his whole hand around each one. They creaked and groaned as they warped under his weight, and a sharp gust of wind nearly made him lose his balance. One more branch. One more branch.

But there was nowhere else to go.

As Cooper reached for the next branch and tugged, it snapped free, the jagged bark jutting like a spear from the trunk. Tears streamed down his face. Below him, Professor Bell’s breathing came in frustrated pants as he climbed ever closer.

“Got you now!” he shouted.

This really was it. With a shuddering breath, Cooper squeezed his eyes shut as he pressed himself against the trunk of the tree, tucking his knees to his chest. Whatever came next, he didn’t want to see it coming. Would dying be quick? He hoped it would be quick. He thought of Jordy, his smiling face and how welcome he’d made Cooper feel at Blue Ridge. Even though he was about to die, Cooper didn’t regret coming and meeting Jordy. He would never regret it.

Below him, the night held its breath in silence, and the branch he was on swayed from Professor Bell’s climbing weight. All he could do was hold his breath and wait for the end to come.

“Cooper, hang on!”

Roman’s voice from faraway made his eyes snap open.

Below him, Professor Bell jerked his head back in response, and that’s when the branch snapped. For a brief, fleeting second that seemed impossibly frozen in time, Cooper locked eyes with Professor Bell. His teacher’s face was etched in a silent, open-mouthed gasp, and then he was gone.

Another ear-splitting crack.

More snapping branches.

Fluttering leaves.

A sickly, dull crunch.

And then—



Roman’s feet were glued to the ground. Even his words were trapped in his throat.

Professor Bell’s contorted body lay in a crumpled heap at the base of the tree, surrounded by fallen branches and dead leaves. If by some chance he was alive, whatever life was left would be miserable and filled with endless pain.

Roman tried not to focus on the way his teacher’s head twisted at an abnormal angle as he tiptoed closer. Scanning the thin branches near the top of the tree, Roman’s eyes landed on Cooper’s small, shriveled form huddled at the top.

“Cooper, hang on! I’m coming!”

Scaling the branches was simple, especially with the months of recent practice using the rock climbing wall. Shrapnel from broken branches stuck out from the tree as Roman made his way closer to Cooper. His stomach turned as he imagined what his professor’s final moments must have been like.

Roman shook his head. What was he thinking? Professor Bell was a murderer and would have happily killed either of them if given the chance. Already Jordy was dead. Xavier would have been next. Why should he care about their dead killer? Still, as Roman took a glance towards his teacher’s body, he couldn’t stop himself from pitying the man.

The branches right below Cooper were wet and sticky, and Roman heard Cooper’s sniffling as he sat with his knees cradled to his chest. There was so little room for Cooper to sit that it was a miracle he hadn’t slipped off.

“Hang on, Cooper,” he called. “Don’t move!”

One more branch.

Even now Roman could see there was nowhere else to go. He and Cooper were so high up they couldn’t climb another branch if they wanted to.

“Cooper?” Roman called softly.

Cooper’s body was shaking, thin and fragile as he huddled in a ball. A bloody gash at his heel soaked through his sock, but Roman couldn’t see how deep it was. Soft cries reached his ears as Cooper whispered, “What did I do?” over and over again.

Shifting his weight on his heels, Roman carefully gripped the branch Cooper sat on and leaned his head against Cooper’s side. He wasn’t sure what else to do, other than remain there until help finally showed. From the thin branches at the top of the tree, Roman could see that some of the lights from the other houses had turned on. He needed to call for help, but no one knew they were in the tree yet, wouldn’t know until they stumbled upon Professor Bell’s home and discovered his body.

Roman bit down on the inside of his cheek to stop the tears from spilling down his face. He had to be strong, just a little while longer. But everything was adding up. Professor Bell, Xavier, Cooper, Jordy, how close everything had been to going so terribly wrong.

“What did I do?” Cooper whispered again, his eyes wide open is tears steadily streamed down his cheeks. “Ssshhh,” Roman whispered past Cooper’s sobs as he wrapped his arms around his friend in a gentle hug. “You saved Xavier. That’s what you did. You saved his life.”

End Chapter 17

Copyright 2023 – Levi Holland
All rights reserved

« Older posts

© 2024 Jason Crow

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑