Authors: A. D. Ellis
By A.D. Ellis
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
From the moment we first spoke, I was inspired by you. Your sense of humor, your openness, your strength…all of these things allowed me to see your heart and I knew from the beginning what a special young man you truly are. Because of your honesty and willingness to answer my five thousand questions (I’m sure to you it seemed like more!), Sawyer’s story has come to life. For that, and for just being you, Sawyer and I both say
Thank you for being generous enough to share him with me. He is an amazing man today because he had an amazing momma to learn from. Thank you both. I’m honored to call you both my friends.
Let love in, let love win.
“You can’t help who you love.”
If you’ve read my original Torey Hope series, you first learned of Sawyer Morgan in the epilogue of
Because of Beckett
. I introduced him along with his twin brother Decker. Then in
Christmas in Torey Hope
I wove Decker and Sawyer into the story. From the first moments I penned Sawyer’s name onto the page, I knew in my heart he was gay. At the time of writing Nate and Libby’s twins, I didn’t have any clue I’d do this spin-off series.
When the thought came to me to do a new series and bring the four boys home from college, I immediately thought, “but Sawyer is gay.” I had never entertained the idea of writing a male/male romance. Not because I am against male/male stories or relationships, simply because it wasn’t something that had ever entered my mind. But, I wanted to give all four boys their story. I couldn’t give Decker, Zach, and Kendrick a book and skip Sawyer, I had to write his story true to who he is. (All four books in this series will be stand-alones. However, if you’re interested in reading Decker’s story first, you can find it
I am blessed with readers and friends who were able to give me a lot of input into this story. Parents told me about their children coming out to them and how they responded. Grown children shared stories of how their family reacted when told they were gay. Family members recalled different reactions to the announcements. Some people talked about the realization being a shock, others told me they’d always sort of known or had a feeling.
I was blessed beyond belief to be introduced to a reader’s son. This incredible young man, Brett, serves our country in the military, but always took time to openly and honestly answer my questions, clear up misconceptions, and entertain me with his killer sense of humor. Sawyer’s story is completely fictional, but this story is what it is because of Brett’s insight and honesty.
Sadly, I am very well aware, as I’m sure many readers are, that a large number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals are not met with love, support, or acceptance. Sawyer, along with many of his gay friends, deal with discrimination, misconceptions, fear, and hatred throughout the book. The way this story played out came completely from Sawyer and the other characters, I just wrote the tale they wanted to tell. It may be a much rougher story than the ones some readers have heard or experienced; it may be a much happier version of what some readers have heard or lived through. But, either way, it’s a realistic story focusing on acceptance, hope, and love.
If you or someone you love need information or support in issues surrounding sexuality, please connect with one of the many organizations available to assist. Here are two such organizations:
GLBT National Help Center
For those who like a little narrative along with a family tree. Here are the families of Torey Hope. Meet the Morgans, the Jordans, the Deckers, and the Martins. If the family tree image is hard for you to see on your device, you can click
to find it on my website.
John and Cindy Morgan
have twin boys
Nate and Nicky Morgan
and had children
Zachary Malone Morgan
Alyson Elizabeth Morgan.
and had children
Abigail Emerson Morgan
Sawyer Nicholas Morgan.
is sister to
, both are daughters of
Captain Robert Decker
and the late
. Robert later married
. Jeremiah had a son,
, from a previous marriage. Jeremiah and Audrey had
Megan Elise Jordan
Kendrick Robert Jordan
. Beckett got married in the first book of this series to a girl named Kenja.
Jeremiah is the son of
Jack and Judy Jordan
Captain Robert Decker had an estranged brother, Richard who was married to Corrine and they had a daughter named
. Josie married Jeremiah Jordan’s best friend,
and they had children
Zoey Belle Martin
Asher Jeremiah Jordan
Sawyer, age 16
Shirts discarded and arms entangled around torsos, the young men rolled around the bed as if wrestling. Hidden, she watched from the doorway in fascination, not disgust or horror. Her mind struggled to make sense of something her heart had already accepted. As the boys’ lips met in a sensual kiss, she brought her hand up to cover her surprise. She knew, instinctively, the act happening in front of her was what Sawyer had been missing, seeking, craving.
Knowing she should look away, afford them privacy, she couldn’t unglue her eyes from the awkwardly arousing scene transpiring before her. Hands roamed, cupping ass cheeks; hips and tongues thrust in simultaneous dances. Red basketball shorts and tight gray boxer briefs slid down firm, muscular legs followed quickly by black shorts and black briefs moving down a second pair of toned legs. She’d seen the male anatomy in Health class, but the young men on the bed were aroused from their sensuous exploration and she felt her eyes widening in impressed awe at the size of their…male anatomy. Sawyer, the dark haired one, reached a hand down and grasped the other boy; the act was reciprocated and a delightful display began to play out before her. Mouths, teeth, and tongues clashed as hips thrust and fists pumped; rough breaths, sexually charged, resonated in the otherwise silent room.
She knew she should have left, should have allowed him this intimate moment, but it was too late; an ill-timed sneeze, obstructed by a quick pinch to the nose, but not thwarted completely, literally blew her cover.
She froze in the doorway as two heads, rosy-cheeked and breathing heavily, popped up and fists quickly abandoned that which they craved to hold tightly. The lip she bit and the tears which sprang to her eyes weren’t for herself; her heart broke for Sawyer. She knew he had worked to cover up the feelings and longings in his heart; she knew he strived for normal and easy and drama-free. Her heart was hurt for him, not because he was her boyfriend and had been caught making out with another guy, but because she knew he was already struggling and the challenging, uphill strife he faced would be a burden on his beautiful heart.
With shorts quickly replaced and shirts pulled over heads, the two young men stood awkwardly in the middle of the room, warily observing her. She wondered who would speak first and what those infamous first words would be.
“So, um, Josh, this is Katie. My girlfriend. Katie, this is Josh.” Sawyer had the decency to look embarrassed, but Katie wanted to ease his discomfort. She had fancied herself in love with him for a while, but in her heart she’d known there was something missing when they were together. Watching him at that moment, she knew she’d never seen her best friend look so alive, so interested, so radiant.
“Hi, Josh, it’s nice to meet you.” Katie smiled at Josh who seemed a bit more freaked out by the situation unfolding in front of him than Sawyer or Katie. Turning to her boyfriend, Katie spoke, “Hey, Sawyer, maybe you and I could have some time to talk and you could call Josh later?”
As if roused from a hypnotic state, Sawyer blushed and nodded. “Yeah, um, that would be good. So, I’ll see you at school tomorrow, Josh. Um, maybe we could, um….yeah, bye.” Sawyer’s stumbled words were enough of a reason for Josh to hightail it from the room without a backward glance.
“Okay, so that was awkward all around. Want to get out of here and talk about what just went down?” Katie held her hand out to Sawyer and he knew in that exact moment that he would love her for the rest of his life; aside from his twin brother and cousins, she was his heart and best friend.
They left his house with him wondering in absolute horror what would have happened if his brother or parents had been the ones to walk in on him in bed with another guy. Reaching the main park in Torey Hope, they walked to the shelter house and perched themselves on top of a picnic table. Facing each other, sitting cross-legged, their knees touching, Katie reached for his hands.
“So, you know I love you, Sawyer, and that will never change. I think if I can witness what I just saw and still profess my love, I’m pretty solid in this relationship.” He smirked and saw her smile at him in relief. “However, I think there are some things we need to get out in the open. First, I’m sure this is pretty obvious, I’m breaking up with you.”
Sawyer threw his head back and laughed. Feeling the pent up frustration and anxiety leave his body calmed him. “Katie, I’m sorry for what you just saw…no, I’m not sorry you saw it, and I’m not sorry it happened; I’m sorry I didn’t share my feelings with you before you had to walk in on it.” He leaned in and kissed her gently, “I will forever love you, as my best friend, Katie. But, you’re right, we can’t be together, not in
way; it wouldn’t be fair to either of us.”
They sat silently for a moment. Sawyer, deep in thought, his dark eyes focused on their hands. He appreciated Katie giving him the time he needed to gather his thoughts.
“So, I think I like guys; I think I’m gay, Katie-girl.” He said it on a whoosh and then sat apprehensively as if the universe was going to strike him down. In a strangled whisper he repeated, “I think I’m gay.”
She felt those words in her soul; the relief he felt in speaking them, the fear he felt in admitting them. But the words from his mouth spoke of more to her heart; she heard his despair, his doubt, his dismay.
“Sawyer Morgan, look at me. You are gay. You’re not a murderer or a pedophile or a thief; you have a great family and friends, they will support you no matter what. It will be harder for some of them at first, but they will come around. If they don’t, you’ll
She was taken aback at the vehement shaking of his head and his quick, “No! I’m not ready to tell anyone else.”
She rubbed his hands in hers and raised an eyebrow. “Why not, Sawyer? Your family loves you like none other; they are one of the most loved families in Torey Hope. They would never not stand behind you.”
“That’s just it, Katie. I can’t tell them right now. This is brand-new to me; I’m just admitting it and accepting it. If I tell them now, they will have to deal with the stress and possible embarrassment and drama it may bring; I can’t do that to them right now. What if it causes problems at The Center? Let me figure this out within myself a little more first, then I can break it to them.” His dark brown eyes pleaded with hers.
“Well, I want it stated on record that I think you’re making a mistake, but I promise to support you; as long as you’re not endangering yourself, I’ll let you keep your secret. And it will be my secret, too.” She squeezed his hand and felt his body relax. “So, how about you tell me about this revelation. How long have you known?
do you know?”
“I think I started suspecting when I was about twelve. I remember seeing some guys at The Center who had taken their shirts off to play basketball, and I thought they were absolutely beautiful. I’d seen girls and women in swimsuits and felt nothing, but an attractive guy with his shirt off made my heart beat faster.” Sawyer’s eyes had a faraway look as he recalled the vast difference in feelings he’d had for males and females.
“Then, I met you and I wanted so badly to just fall in love and be normal. I’m so sorry, Katie, I really haven’t been fair to you at all. It’s not that kissing you isn’t nice, but it doesn’t light me on fire like kissing Josh does. I’m so very sorry you had to find out this way.” Sawyer’s head hung in shame.
“Sawyer, don’t apologize.” She felt tears build in her own eyes as the tears began to spill out of his. “I’ll admit it was a bit of a shock to walk in and see that. But, if I’m being honest with myself, I really wasn’t that surprised. I love you and kissing you was nice, but I never felt all the butterflies and glitter that the girls talk about when they are gossiping about kissing boys. Seeing you with Josh, the way your body responded to his, knowing that our bodies had never responded to each other in that way, I knew in my heart that you were meant to just be my best friend.” They dried their tears; they both erupted in laughter when Katie quipped, “At least you were gay before me; I’m not sure I could stand the social outcasting if the rumor started that I turned you gay.”
Walking arm-in-arm, they headed back toward his house. “So, Josh, huh? Do you want him to be, like, your boyfriend?” Katie nudged Sawyer’s hip in teasingly playful way.
“I like Josh, but I think I like him because he’s the first guy I’ve kissed. I like his body next to mine; I like to have my hands on him; I like to kiss him. Do I like
? I don’t know. I don’t think he’s any closer to admitting or accepting his sexuality than I am, so I don’t see us becoming a couple and publicly outing ourselves. If anything, we’ll spend time behind
doors and try to figure things out for ourselves, individually.” Katie blushed at the mention of
“Hey, bud, that door was practically wide open. I probably should have just walked away, but you two were astonishingly beautiful in your sexy little coupling, and I couldn’t help myself. You should thank your lucky stars it was me and not your mom or dad or brother!” Katie wagged a finger sternly in front of his face.
Sawyer blanched yet again at the thought of his parents or twin brother, Decker, finding him in a compromising position with another man. He knew in his heart that his parents and brother would accept him no matter what, but he didn’t want to bring undue stress or drama into their lives; for now, he’d keep it secret, but he’d tell them once he was a little more comfortable with it himself.
But, the thing with keeping secrets and not being truthful with those who love you is that it gets harder and harder with each day. As the years passed, Sawyer realized he’d missed several prime opportunities to be upfront with his parents and Decker.
There were the numerous chances he had when he and Decker were alone. Playing video games, basketball, going for a run. He couldn’t count the number of times he ended up with a bloody tongue from biting it so hard. The words were right there, he wanted so badly to say them, but his fear always got the best of him.
Helping his dad in the evenings or summers. He’d find himself painting a fence, cleaning out the garage, changing the oil in the car with his father.
“How’s Kendrick and that girlfriend of his?” His dad would ask.
“Which one?” Sawyer and his father would laugh.
“What about you, you got your eye on anyone special?” Nate would give him the perfect opening, yet Sawyer would swig some water or get super busy in finding a rag to clean up the oil.
“Nah, no one in particular.” The chance to tell the truth buzzed around his head like a bumblebee, but then it was gone, flying off to another flower.
The evenings in the kitchen helping his mom cook supper, setting the table, cleaning up the dishes. She’d lay down the cloth she was using to clean and cock her head in that special way that only she had, “Sawyer, you know we love you, right? Always.”
Over the years he’d swallowed many baseball sized lumps trying to control his emotions. Fear, shame, guilt. It was like his mom knew he had a secret, but she didn’t want to force it out of him. He could picture himself telling her, “Mom, I’m gay.” But, then he’d think of an analogy he’d once heard,
Words are like toothpaste. Once you squeeze the paste from the tube, you can’t put it back in. Our words are like that, once we speak them, we can’t take them back no matter how hard we try.
Sawyer knew the analogy was meant for speaking harmful words, but he still couldn’t get away from the hard truth,
Once you tell them, there’s no taking it back. No matter what their reactions, you can’t ever change things.
He knew he wasn’t ready to tell the entire family, but his brother and parents deserved to know the truth, he knew this. Yet he continued to keep it from them. After a while, it was a lie of omission which had been hidden so deep he feared Decker would be pissed that he’d kept it from him for so long. Would his parents be hurt that he’d lied to them on top of the disappointment in finding out their son was gay?
It all became too much. He’d dug himself so deep, he wasn’t sure there was a shovel in the world that could save him. So Sawyer got by, he searched for himself, he longed for love, and he kept his secret hidden deep within.