The Virgin Billionaire and the Evil Twin [MultiFormat]
Click on image to enlarge.
eBook by Ryan Field
eBook Category: Erotica/Romance
eBook Description: When Luis Fortune's identical twin brother pays him a surprise visit after being estranged for more than ten years, Luis isn't prepared for the shock. Luis slips right back into the dangerous, competitive pattern that's always defined their relationship and laughs at his twin brother's bleached hair, his shabby clothes, and his new name, Gage Weston. Luis rolls his eyes when he finds out Gage has been living in Brooklyn for the last five years and working as a male stripper in The Village. In fact, Luis is so bitter he never even bothered to tell his husband, Jase, he had an identical twin brother. And Gage is still angry about something that Luis did to him more than a decade ago that involved a man named Snake, and he isn't shy about letting Luis know he hasn't forgiven him. And Gage has never forgiven Luis for leaving him alone in Tennessee to take care of their aging, overly religious parents. This, Gage believes, set the course for his life, causing him to wind up a male stripper living in a low-rent studio apartment over a grocery store in Brooklyn, struggling to survive and dating a closeted New York City cop with whom Gage knows he will never be able to have a real relationship. After a heated exchange, Gage walks out on Luis, vowing never to see him again. And then Gage experiences a series of life altering events that leave him devastated. So he comes up with a plan to get even with his spoiled twin brother and pay him back for all the heartache he's caused in the past. A plan that involves kidnapping Luis and locking him up in a room that was once a soundproof sex chamber, so Gage can assume Luis's identity and find out what it's like to be married to The Virgin Billionaire and have anything he wants. But it's not as easy as Gage thinks it will be to take over his twin brother's life. Along the way, Gage meets someone very special he never intended to meet and winds up falling in love for the first time. And when Gage sees how his twin brother's life has really turned out with The Virgin Billionaire, it's not at all as he'd expected it would be. Does Gage really hate his identical twin brother, Luis, enough to ruin Luis's happiness and assume his identity forever? Will Luis be able to survive being locked up all alone in a sex chamber with nothing but fattening foods, discount store clothing, and bad music? And will Gage ever be able to put the past aside and come to terms with Luis as an adult so Gage can pull his life together and focus on the man he truly loves?
eBook Publisher: Ravenous Romance/Ravenous Romance, Published: 2011
Fictionwise Release Date: June 2011
* * * *
2 Reader Ratings:
Gage Weston never wore hats, especially not baseball caps. He had thick, wavy hair that he kept longer than most gay men in their late twenties did; he worked hard not to look like everyone else. He parted it in the center and bleached it himself with a drugstore frosting kit because he couldn't afford to waste money on foil wraps in an expensive New York hair salon. He even cut it himself, with three mirrors and a cheap pair of scissors he'd purchased at a beauty supply on Broadway.
His wardrobe revolved around six white dress shirts, three pairs of jeans, and two black blazers. He owned three neckties, a pair of good black leather quarter boots, and a pair of running shoes. The black belt he owned was ten years old and his beige jeans and black dress slacks were almost twelve. Everything else in his small closet was either a castoff he'd found in a secondhand shop for less than five dollars or something he'd owned since he was a teenager.
On the morning he went to the opening of the new building for the Angel Association in the West Village, he wore a black baseball cap on purpose. He also wore a white shirt, his darkest jeans, his black quarter boots, and the newest of his black sport jackets. He wanted to look nice, because this was one of those almost-formal affairs. But he didn't want to be recognized.
As he entered the Angel Association building, he lowered his head and pulled the brim of the cap down as low as he could, practically covering his eyes. He shoved his hands into his pockets and hunched over a little. Gage had the kind of natural walk that could turn heads even when he wasn't trying for attention, and he wasn't trying now. His body seemed to swagger and his hips swayed a little. An older woman in a Chinese red dress standing beside the entrance door smiled and stepped aside. He noticed the way she glanced up and down at his legs and he sent her a smile so fast his head didn't move and the corner of his lips hardly turned up. A group of pudgy gay men in their forties standing near a refreshment table sent him quick, individual glances and gaped at his crotch as if they hadn't seen a decent crotch in years. Gage kept walking as if he didn't notice them. He crossed through the main lobby, lowering his head even more, and stopped behind a group of people who were listening to Luis Fortune give a speech.
Gage knew more about Luis Fortune than anyone else in the room. Luis was "married" to Jase Nicholas, who had been dubbed the Virgin Billionaire by the press because he had made his billions with his Virgin Alaskan Spring Water company. Gage had been following Luis Fortune's life in New York for some time, ever since Luis had accidentally become mixed up in a sordid drug ring that involved Luis's used underwear and a few older gay real-estate agents in Manhattan who had fallen on hard times. Gage had read Luis's sappy blog posts on that ridiculous gay romance blog called Elena's Romantic Treasures and Tidbits. He'd seen Luis's photos in magazines for which Luis had modeled professionally more times than he cared to recall. Gage even knew Luis and Jase had a weekend house in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, called Cider Mill Farm; they traveled to Alaska as much as they could to spend time with Jase's family; and they had a preschool-aged son named Hunter who was really Jase's biological child.
It wasn't difficult to follow Luis Fortune's life now that he was married to the Virgin Billionaire, especially since Luis had recently made headlines for getting involved with a shifty character named Darius-something who had been harboring a grudge against Luis Fortune for exposing an underage pornographer in Los Angeles.
When Luis Fortune started speaking about how dedicated he was to this organization, the Angel Association, and how he wanted to prevent young unwed mothers from abandoning babies on doorsteps and in Dumpsters, Gage looked down at his shoes and rolled his eyes. Gage thought the cause was worthy; he just questioned Luis Fortune's intentions. As Luis continued, Gage yawned. Some things never changed: Luis always loved being the center of attention. Toward the end of the speech, when Luis thanked everyone who had helped him reach the point where the Angel Association could now have its own center for unwed mothers--as if the whole thing had been his sole responsibility--Gage clenched his fists in his pockets and exhaled. When Luis finally ended the long, drawn-out speech and everyone in the lobby began to applaud him, Gage bit the inside of his mouth so hard he almost drew blood.
But Gage didn't walk up to Luis right away. He stood on the sidelines observing as people shook Luis's hand and thanked him for everything he'd done for the Angel Association. He looked at Luis's wide smiled and noticed how short Luis's dark brown hair was cut. It was such a typical haircut for a young gay man in New York, with that silly little turned-up wave above his forehead, that Gage had to restrain himself from walking up to the platform and kicking Luis right in the ass. It looked as if he had his hair styled at the clip-and-dip poodle parlor. But Gage had to admit Luis's outfit wasn't bad. Luis wore a light brown suit and a white V-neck shirt that had probably cost him more than what Gage paid in rent that month for his studio apartment over a grocery store in Brooklyn Heights.
When the crowd finally began to dissipate and Luis kissed a thin woman with long straight black hair on the cheek, Gage squared his shoulders and crossed to the head of the platform where Luis was gathering his things to leave. The thin woman turned and walked to the back of the building, and everyone else started heading toward the exit door. Luis bent down to pick up a Gucci briefcase by the shoulder strap as Gage walked up to him and removed his baseball cap. Gage waited until Luis slipped the strap over his shoulder, without saying a word. And when Luis finally looked up and saw Gage standing there, Gage tilted his head to the side and sent Luis a blank gaze.
Luis's head jerked back and he pressed his palm to his stomach. He said, "Eddie," then looked Gage up and down a few times, as if to be sure he hadn't been mistaken.
No one had called Gage by that name in at least five years. It caused a slight burn in his stomach, especially coming from his twin brother's identical voice. But it could have been because Gage hadn't seen his twin brother in more than ten years. If it hadn't been for Luis's short dark hair, it would have been like looking into a mirror. Part of the reason he'd dyed his hair blond was so he wouldn't look anything like Luis.
Luis took a cautious step toward him and smiled. "What are you doing in New York? It's been such a long time." Though his voice rose with a friendly lilt, Gage detected a strong hint of reservation. "I'd almost forgotten how much we look alike."
Gage felt a pull in his stomach. "I probably shouldn't have come here today. It was a mistake." He turned and started walking toward the exit, truly wishing he hadn't gone there.
"Wait," Luis said. "Don't leave. It's been a long time."
Gage stopped walking and turned around to face him again. "It's been more than a decade."
Luis reached for Gage's arm and said, "Look, my husband and son are in Alaska this week visiting family. Why don't you come home with me and we can talk?" He glanced back and forth to be sure no one was watching them.
Gage hadn't expected an invitation from Luis. So he thought for a moment, then nodded. "I guess I can spare a few minutes." He figured it was the least he could do. After all, he'd been the one to approach Luis without warning.
"My driver is right outside," Luis said in that overly friendly way he'd always had when he was trying to win someone's trust.
Gage nodded and said, "I can only stay for a minute." Then he put the baseball cap back on and pulled it down over his eyes so no one would notice they were twins as they walked to the car, knowing that for weeks to come, he'd probably regret the decision to go back to Luis's home.
The Virgin Billionaire's New York residence was far less impressive than Gage would have imagined. He'd pictured something larger, with a marble entry hall, a butler, and massive crystal chandeliers hanging in every room. But this was one of those older town homes on the Upper West Side, with modest-sized rooms and sleek original hardwood floors that had been painstakingly refinished. The walls were white and the furniture was traditional, with fussy, uncomfortable chairs and antique side tables that looked very expensive. He would have imagined black leather and chrome and glass, stippled with some of that mirrored deco furniture that seemed so popular everywhere. When Luis led Gage into the living room, a small dog with a shaggy mop of blond hair on its head--but bald everywhere else--jumped off the sofa and growled. The dog glared at Gage and showed his teeth, kicking his back legs and arching his back.
"Camp," Luis said, "knock that off and be good." Then Luis turned to Gage and said, "I don't know what's wrong with him. He's normally so friendly with everyone."
Gage shrugged and looked the nasty little dog in the eye. At a glance, it would have been easy to mistake it for a rat. "If I looked like him I'd be in a bad mood, too. It's completely bald. Is it sick?"
Luis laughed. "He's a Chinese crested. I found him in a back alley a few years ago before I met Jase and he followed me home. I'm not even sure how old he is. That was when I was living in this very building when it was apartments. Then Jase bought the building and turned it back into a one-family home."
The dog barked at Gage, then ran to the back of the house.
Leave it to Luis to be so politically correct he'd own a rescue dog instead of an expensive, well-bred show dog like most billionaires. "I was never a huge fan of animals," Gage said. "I'm sure you remember. I wasn't fond of any animal on the farm, and they felt the same way about me."
Luis smiled. "Do you mind if we go upstairs? I'd like to change my clothes. This is the most uncomfortable suit I've ever worn." He sent Gage a sarcastic grin. "I'd like to be more comfortable, like you, and put on some old shabby things."
Luis hadn't changed. He always knew how to use a compliment to put Gage down. Gage shrugged and followed Luis to the staircase in the entry hall. He didn't take the reference to his old clothes as an insult. They were old clothes; he couldn't afford to buy the clothes Luis wore. Though Luis could have been kinder, Gage had learned years ago never to expect any sincere compliments from his twin brother. They'd been at each other's throats since the day they'd been born.
As they climbed the stairs, Gage noticed a few paintings on the wall with the names of famous artists he wouldn't dare try to pronounce aloud in front of Luis. He remembered the way Luis had always been so culturally superior to him, always making fun of the way he spoke, laughing at how little he knew when it came to books and art. Once, when they were only about thirteen years old, riding in the car with their parents, Gage had pointed to a sign that said, "Antiques" on the side of the road. But he'd pronounced it ANN-tee-kews, and Luis laughed at him for the rest of the day. Gage learned that the less he said, the better off he'd be.
When they entered Luis's and Jase's bedroom, Gage remained silent. The walls were the same stark white as the first floor, the floors the same hardwood, and the furniture was just as simple. But he didn't comment. He had a feeling this minimalist simplicity, with plain white bed linens and white sheers on the windows, was just as forced and pretentious as everything Luis had ever done in his life. All these simple American furnishings were probably rare antiques that cost as much as most regular people earned in a year. Leave it to Luis to marry a billionaire and pretend in such an understated way that he was just like everyone else. And leave it to Luis to work this hard to be tasteful and elegant. If Gage had married a billionaire, the room would have been filled with gilded mirrors, French furniture, and chandeliers dripping in crystal. There would have been red satin sheets on the bed, with several leopard pillows.
Luis opened a set of double French doors in a small hallway that led to the bathroom and said, "I can't wait to get out of these pants and into a pair of sweats. These shoes are killing my feet. You'd think a three-thousand-dollar pair of shoes would fit perfectly. But there you are."
Evidently, Luis needed to mention the price of his shoes.
Gage remained silent, with his hands folded below his waist, and crossed to a fireplace with a white marble surround. He'd purchased his shoes at a small shop in Brooklyn for $49.99. He looked above the mantel at an oil painting of Luis, Jase, and their son. They were all wearing matching crewneck sweaters with a tasteful little emblem just below the left shoulder. He smirked and shook his head back and forth, wondering how long it took Luis to decide on whether or not to wear simple crewneck sweaters or V-neck sweaters so they'd all look as though they'd just stepped off a yacht.
A moment later, Luis walked out of the closet wearing nothing but a skimpy black thong. He crossed to where Gage was standing and put his arms around Gage's shoulders. He hugged Gage tightly, with his cheek pressed to his twin brother's. Then he kissed Gage on the cheek very gently and said, "It's so good to see you again. I think about you often. You're my brother, the only family I have left now."
Gage rolled his eyes and took a step back. He'd never been affectionate with Luis, and hugging his almost-naked brother made him uneasy. He remembered how Luis had always been so obvious about flaunting his naked body in front of other people. He'd been that way since they were children, without a hint of shame.
Luis turned and slowly walked to the other side of the room. He opened a cherry highboy and pulled out a pair of beige sweatpants and a black V-neck T-shirt. Then he walked to the bed and set them on the edge. When he bent over, he spread his legs slightly and Gage noticed he and Luis were identical in every single way. They had the same smooth, round ass and the exaggerated arch at the small of their backs, with two perfect dimples. They had the same legs and the same smooth skin. There wasn't even a distinguishing birthmark that could define them as individuals.
"What are you doing in New York?" Luis asked, pulling the black shirt over his head, leaving his bottom half naked. Anyone else would have put on their pants first. But not Luis. "Are you here to see the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building and all those other fun touristy things we New Yorkers never bother getting around to see?"
Gage smiled, knowing this was another subtle insult. People who didn't know Luis very well wouldn't have recognized it as an insult. Gage knew Luis was insinuating that Gage was just a country bumpkin from Tennessee who'd taken a bus to New York to check out the tourist attractions. "I'm afraid not, Luis. I've already been there and done that. I've been living in New York for almost five years."
Luis stopped dressing and sent him a stunned glance. "You've been here for five years and you've never contacted me? I don't understand."
"We haven't seen each other in more than ten years and you never tried to contact me, Luis," Gage said. He noticed they even had the same well-defined stomach muscles and small, round chest muscles.
"Where do you live in New York?" Luis asked
"Brooklyn," Luis said, as if it left a bad taste in his mouth.
Gage smiled, expecting this reaction. "I have a nice little studio in Brooklyn Heights, above a grocery store."
Before Luis could reply, there was a knock on the open door and a young man with a dark beard stepped into the room. He was handsome in a rough way, and Gage wasn't sure whether he was gay or straight. He took one look at Gage and blinked. Then he looked at Luis and shrugged.
"You're not seeing things," Luis said. "This is my twin brother, Eddie." He didn't seem the least bit awkward about walking around in a thong in front of this guy.
Gage said, "My name is Gage Weston now. I changed it when I moved to New York five years ago." He smiled at the young man with the dark beard. "I changed it from Eddie Bowles to Gage Weston just like Luis changed his name from Freddie Bowles to Luis Fortune."
"Don't be so hostile, Eddie," Luis said. "I'm sorry, Gage. This is Cory Rhodes. He works for us at our home in Bucks County. I don't know what we'd do without him."
Cory smiled and said, "It's nice to meet you, Gage." Then he turned to Luis and said, "I'm heading back to Cider Mill Farm now. I fixed the problem in the kitchen sink and I want to leave before the traffic gets too heavy." He didn't seem flustered or surprised that Luis was half naked, which made Gage wonder what the story was between them.
"Thank you, Cory," Luis said. "I can't thank you enough for coming into the city like this. I'll see you this weekend. Jase and Hunter are coming home Friday and I'll drive out before they arrive."
Cory smiled. "I'll see you then." He turned to Gage and smiled. "It was nice meeting you. I can't get over how much you look like Luis. Except for the blond hair, of course, I honestly couldn't tell you two apart."
Gage smiled. "I'm the nice one."
Luis laughed. "I wasn't going to say anything about my brother's bleached blond hair, Cory." He turned to Gage and stared at his head. "Why on Earth did you ever do that to your hair? It's so brassy and it should be cut much shorter like mine. I'm afraid it's not very becoming. I'm sure it will grow out eventually. Accidents happen. We all go through those bad hair stages."
Gage ignored Luis's commentary. Luis had been trying to make him feel inferior since they'd been children and he was used to it. The competition never ended. "It was nice meeting you, Cory. But I doubt you'll be seeing much of me. I just stopped by for a moment today." He smiled and spoke with a lighter tone. "I can only take about one visit with my twin brother every ten years. More than that, I might have to be hospitalized."
"Ah well," Cory said, not knowing how to reply. "I'll see you this weekend, Luis."
"One more thing, Cory," Luis said. "Jase doesn't know I have a twin brother. I like to keep the past in the past, if you know what I mean. I'm going to tell Jase eventually. But I'd rather we keep this just between us for now." He turned to Gage and smiled. "Cory and I have a special friendship and we trust each other completely. Cory would never betray my confidence."
Cory shrugged and said, "I know nothing at all." Then he left the room as fast as he could and clomped down the front staircase as if running from a grenade set to explode at any moment.
"You seem so comfortable walking around half naked with your young, handsome employee," Gage said. "Most people would have covered themselves right away."
Luis smiled. "Cory is like family. He's seen me naked many, many times. Like I said, he's a very special friend. He's the man around the house when Jase is away, and he takes very good care of me."
"I'll bet he does," Gage said in a snide tone.
Luis put on his sweatpants and said, "Why on Earth are you getting so hostile? After all, if anyone should be hostile, it should be me. You're the one who got me kicked out of the house when I was barely able to take care of myself. I'll never forget what you did to me that day."
Gage wouldn't forget that day either. Luis had somehow discovered that Gage and one of the hired hands on their father's farm were having an affair. At the time, neither brother knew the other was gay--those things were not discussed openly in their home. The hired hand, whom everyone called Snake because of the snake tattoo on his bicep, was one of those lanky, manly, bow-legged types who wore a Stetson hat and cowboy boots all the time. He had constant five o'clock shadow, a nine-inch dick, and always smelled like beer and tobacco. Gage couldn't get enough of Snake back then. He was madly in love with him; he was the first man Gage had ever been with. Snake had screwed him from one end of the barn to the other for almost a year. When Snake wasn't fucking Gage's tight young ass, Gage was on his knees blowing Snake.
But Luis started having his own fling with Snake just to get even with Gage. Gage's heart was crushed when he found out, and so he took care of things as fast as he could. He followed Luis to the barn one hot summer afternoon and watched Luis strip down for Snake. Luis removed all his clothes, even his socks, and stood in a pile of hay. When Snake pulled down his zipper and spread Luis's legs apart, Gage went into the house and told his father something wrong was going on in the barn he needed to see. And when their father went down there and found Snake fucking Luis over a barrel as Luis begged Snake to fuck him as hard as he could, their father fired Snake on the spot and threw Luis out of the house for good that same day.
"But I guess I should thank you now, Gage," Luis said, exaggerating Gage's new name on purpose as if he was making fun of it. "If you hadn't told Pop what I was doing with Snake in the barn that day, I might still be back in Tennessee working on that God-awful farm instead of being married to one of the wealthiest men on the planet, with a thriving career of my own as a model." He turned fast and smiled. "No hard feelings here, Gage. I think everything ended well."
Gage knew Luis was rubbing it in now, putting him down for remaining in Tennessee and helping out on the farm long after he'd left. "Well, there are still plenty of hard feelings here, Luis. Why did you invite me here? To show me how wealthy you are now? To shove it in my face?"
Luis shrugged. "I haven't seen you in years. You're my identical twin brother. I thought it would be nice to catch up. Why did you come back here with me if you're still so bitter?"
"I guess I was just curious, is all," Gage said. "I wanted to see if you were still the self-centered little prick you always were." He turned to leave. "Now that I know you are, I think I'll go home. Have a very nice life." He remembered one of the things that bothered Luis the most was complete dismissal.
"Don't be so serious," Luis said. "It's impossible to be so serious with a name like Gage. It sounds like the name of a porn star." He laughed. "How would you like to have some of my old clothes? I have tons of things I'll never wear." He looked up and down at what Gage was wearing and frowned. "From the way it looks, you could use a little help in the fashion department. I didn't know people were still wearing sport jackets with lapels like that."
Gage could have used Luis's castoffs more than Luis even knew. He was barely able to pay his rent and eat, let alone buy new clothes at discount prices. But he wasn't about to accept charity from Luis. "I think I'll pass, but thanks just the same."
"Do you go back to Tennessee often?"
"There's no reason to go back," Gage said.
Luis took a step closer. "What do you mean?" His tone grew more serious.
"Mom and Pop died five years ago," Gage said. "If you'd bothered to contact them even once after you left, you would have known. Pop had a heart attack and died suddenly. Mom was diagnosed with cancer a month later and it took about a year for her to go. I took care of her until the end. When she died there were so many liens on the farm because they didn't have medical insurance that I just decided to let it go to the creditors and move to New York and start fresh."
Luis sat down on a trunk at the foot of the bed and set his palm on his chest. "I had no idea."
He seemed shocked, but Gage knew Luis well enough to know he'd get over it fast enough, probably before the next new trend in jeans came along.
"I wish you'd take some of my old things," Luis said. "They'll only wind up going to charity."
"I'd rather pass if it's all the same," Gage said. "And I really do have to leave. I have to work tonight. I'm a stripper at a small club downtown. I need those tips." He figured he'd mention this just to see the shock on Luis's face. When they'd been kids Luis had always been the aggressive one, looking for attention, and Gage had always been the shy one afraid to step out of his shadow.
Luis turned and looked at himself in a full-length mirror, examining his expensive designer sweatpants. "You really hate my guts, and over something that happened over ten years ago."
"I was in love with Snake," Gage said. "I was a virgin. He was the first. You took him just to piss me off, like you did with everything else I loved."
Luis threw his arms up. "His name was Snake. Think about it, you idiot. He was a character from a Tennessee Williams play. He didn't even take off his pants when he fucked me. He just pulled down his zipper and yanked out his dick. It's not as if you had a future with a man like that. He's probably sitting in an old recliner right now in a stained T-shirt, with a beer belly and an abused woman named Stella."
"How do you know that?" Gage said. "He was in love with me, and I was in love with him. We were planning to run away together and start a new life. He was in a country rock band."
"But the man didn't shower."
"So he had a few flaws."
Luis rolled his eyes. "He smelled like aged cheese and wine vinegar."
"So he wasn't perfect."
"I'll say. I had to hold my nose when he pulled down his zipper."
"He smelled like a real man," Gage said.
"He smelled like a fucking barn on a hot day."
"But we were in love," Gage said. "And when you're in love you overlook the minor flaws in a person." Gage lifted his chin. Though he didn't have money like Luis, at least he didn't judge people on a superficial level.
"Well, then, you should thank me for saving your life," Luis said, raising his voice. "Because if you'd wound up with Snake it would have left you even worse off than you are right now."
"It wasn't just Snake," Gage said. "You did it to me all my life. You intentionally made me feel inferior just for sport."
"Did Mom and Pop know Snake was fucking you back then, too?" Luis asked. "Did they know you were blowing him in the cornfield?"
"Of course not," Gage said. "They would have hit me over the head with a Bible and thrown me out of the house with you."
"But you didn't have a problem outing me and getting me thrown out of the house, did you? I'll bet they went to their graves never knowing you were gay."
"I couldn't tell them," Gage said. "I wanted to tell them many times. But I couldn't. After they kicked you out, I was all they had left. You were the favorite. You were the one with all the personality. They had to settle for me. It would have been too cruel to tell them. It would have killed them five years earlier."
"But it was okay to toss me out on the street and let me fend for myself?" Luis said. "It was okay for me to go live with Dr. Barton, a man twice my age, until I couldn't take it anymore and wound up running away to New York with nothing but the clothes on my back? And it was okay for me to make a living as an escort in New York, with clients in their sixties and seventies? I guess what happened to me didn't really matter at all. The only one who ever gave me a break after I was kicked out of the house was our uncle, the one you didn't like. But he was too sick to take me in. When he died of AIDS, before I had a chance to help him with money so he could get his HIV drugs, I was devastated."
Gage frowned and felt a lump in his throat. "I didn't know he died."
"That's because you never liked him."
"He always favored you and ignored me."
"I loved him," Luis said. "It wasn't easy on my own. When I look back, I don't know how I did it all alone at such a young age."
Gage looked around. "I can't believe you're complaining. You didn't do too badly for yourself, Luis. You saw our options and took advantage of them. I wish I'd done the same thing, but it took me a long time to realize I had options. From what I can see you have no right to complain about anything."
"You have no idea what it was like," Luis said. "And it's all because you outed me, thanks to the fact that your so-called boyfriend, Snake, who smelled like a horse's ass, wanted me more than he wanted you."
Gage lowered his voice and spoke in a growl. "You have no idea what it was like back in Tennessee after you left," Gage said. "You were the favorite, and they never let me forget it. Even though I did all the dirty work after you left, they still kept looking in the mail for something from you. When nothing arrived, they took it out on me, mostly with their blank silence. I think Pop even blamed me for telling him what you were doing in the barn with Snake. I think he would have preferred not to have known."
Luis turned and said, "Go fuck yourself, you self-righteous asshole."
"No. You go fuck yourself," Gage said. Then he stormed out of the bedroom and ran down the stairs so fast he took them two at a time.