Off to College Ch. 02byJTQuinton©
Raven took a deep breath and tried to calm himself. "Why? Do you think that I am really worried about getting the family money?"
"All you have ever worried about was getting my money." Raven's father snapped.
Raven lost the tight reign he had on his temper at that moment. "Father you do not know anything about me. I have no want nor need for your money." Raven snapped out with more heat than he intended.
The old man slammed his hand on the roof of his car, "Why you little bastard. If I cut you off you won't have the money to make it at State."
Raven forced himself to take a deep breath, and glanced at Matthew, "Get in this won't take long." He turned back and took a step toward his father. "Old man, I hate to be the one to burst your little bubble, but I don't need your money. Grandma Kathy left everything to me. To be honest with you father, my bank balance is most likely at least double yours." He fought to hold his temper under control.
The anger in his father's eyes was nearly as bright as the son. "Why would she leave everything to you?" His eyes flashed, "That woman would never leave anything to anyone other than her charities."
Raven stood a little straighter, "You should have asked your wife when they read the will. I was left her entire estate. Now if you don't mind I am heading to the lake for the weekend. I will be returning Sunday night to pick up the rest of my things to take with me." Raven knew his father never liked being told her was wrong, but there was nothing he was going to do or say to make the man happy at this point. He took a deep breath and forced himself to do something he had never done before; he turned and walked away from his father while the man was still angry.
"Don't you dare walk away from me boy! I'm your father and you will do as I tell you."
The anger felt like it was going to burn through Raven's ears but he didn't let himself stop moving until he was standing at the driver's door of the car. He pulled it open with a nearly silent sigh. "Don't worry I've seen him worse." Matthew whispered as he watched his friend climb into the car.
Fighting to keep the anger he felt at his father out of his voice Raven smiled at his friend, "I have no idea how you can handle even as little of him as you do without wanting to kill him."
Matthew grinned, "That's simple. I am not here to spend time dealing with him. I come to this place," he paused to look around as Raven started the car, "to see you and maybe to say hello to your mom. She is a wonderful lady."
Raven felt pride for his mom fill his heart, "That she is. She deserves better than that man but you will never convince her of that. The woman loves him." The ride was quiet and comfortable for a few moments as Raven maneuvered the car down the drive and over the rough back roads toward the far edge of the lake.
Matthew looked at his friend, he wasn't sure how well this weekend was going to go but he knew it was time to come clean. There was no way that he was going to State with this big of a secret hiding between them. Something this important needed to be handled before a move like that. The car slowed to a stop at the edge of the clearing where they always camped the first night out. Matthew smiled to himself as he climbed out of the car and grabbed the tent off the top of the pile in the trunk. "Hey you want to set up down here this time, or just head up to the hideout tonight?" he called hoping to moved farther into the woods and away from where people might overhear the conversation he hoped they would be having soon.
Raven's head spun to look at his friend. In all the times they had camped out Matthew had never asked to skip the clearing. Something was up, suddenly he felt a strange fear fill his chest. He hoped his friend wasn't about to break is world. "If you want to pack all of this up there tonight, I'm all for it." he loved what they had come to call the hideaway years before. It was a cave set into the bottom of the hill. There was a trickle of water that flowed past it all year long even once the water in the lake was frozen over in winter.
Matthew smiled, tossed the tent over his shoulder on its strap and picked up one of the backpacks. "Then I'll take the first load up and set it just inside. Shouldn't take us more than a couple of trips to get this stuff up there." he was smiling as he walked away.
Raven caught himself watching his best friend walk away and admiring the fit of the jeans he was wearing. "Sounds fine." he called out reaching into the trunk and grabbing the other backpack and a couple of the smaller things from the side. He followed Matthew about twenty yards behind him trying to keep his overactive body under control until he saw him duck out of sight as he passed into the cave opening. At that point Raven stopped and turned to look at the lake for a moment. Taking a deep breath he turned back toward the cave and walked the last few feet. "I closed the trunk, we can set up the tent in here and put this stuff away before we go back down and get the last of it. All that's left down there is the coolers." he dropped the pack just inside the entrance of the cave as he passed through the opening.
"Cool. Where you want to set this thing up?" he asked looking around the cave and trying to remember the best place they had set up over the years.
Raven laughed, "Near the back, should be less of those damn stones back there. If I remember correctly there is usually a layer of leaves back there." he smiled at the memory of the last time they stayed here and thought about setting up closer to the front so they could watch the meteor shower. It had been a horrible night with a lot of tossing and turning trying to get comfortable.
"I remember that too." Matthew commented heading for the back of the cave. "I'll see if I can find us a nice spot." he dropped the tent near the wall and took a few moments to move around some of the leaves that had blown to the back of the cave. He wanted to make sure that the tent was as comfortable as it could be. "So, everything ready for heading out to State?" he called back to Raven without looking up.
Raven shook his head, making himself look away from his best friend. This was going to be the hardest night in a long time for him. "Yes. Nobody wants me to go, but there isn't anything any of them can do about it."
Matthew mumbled something under his breath but lifted his voice for the end of the thought, "What do they have against you going to State this fall? It's one of the best schools out there."
Raven busied himself with moving some of the branches near the cave opening in an effort to hide it a bit more. "They think I should follow my father. Everyone thinks I should go into the family business and become rich and famous spending other people's money."
Within a few minutes Matthew had the tent up in the back of the cave and a makeshift fire ring cleaned out so they could have a fire once the sun went down. He thought for a moment about the bottle of wine in his backpack. He still didn't know if he had enough guts to try and seduce his best friend, but he at least needed to talk things out with him.
"I'll be right back. I'm going to get the cooler." Raven called to his friend. He couldn't wait until they got settled and he could talk with out worry.
"Wait." Matthew replied poking his head out of the tent where he had been laying out their bedrolls for the night. "You think dinner can wait a few? There's something I want to talk to you about." he stepped away from the tent and a few feet closer to Raven.
Raven saw a flash of fear cross his friend's face and decided what ever he wanted to talk about was more important than walking back down to get the rest of their stuff. He moved over to a large rock they used to sit on and dropped gracefully onto it. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing is wrong, but I want, no I need to talk with you." he took a deep breath and tried again to get his mind around the words that he wanted to say.
Raven paused, something was heavy on his friend's mind and he knew the only way things were going to get better was if they talked it out. "Okay we can talk, we have all weekend. Just come sit and tell me what's going on." He did his best to keep his voice calm and soft. The fear blazing in Matthew's eyes was starting to sink into his own heart.
Matthew walked slowly toward hi friend, his breath becoming shallow and his nerves on edge. "You have to promise to hear me out Raven. You have to promise not to judge me until you've heard everything I have to say." His voice was shaking.
Raven reached out his hand touching Matthew on the arm, "Hey, don't worry about it, nothing you could ever say would make me end this friendship. We've been friends too long and are too close. I mean I've told you things I have never told anyone else. But if you need my promise you have it. I will hear you out, and as for judging you, there is no worry there as I don't judge many people to start with."
Matthew looked down at the hand that lay so lightly on his arm, "Thank you. God that sounds stupid to thank you for letting me talk." He swallowed trying to get his nerves under control.
"Raven as you said we've known each other forever." He looked off into the distance, "I mean I can even remember the day we met. It was my first day of preschool. I stepped on your hand trying to get back over to my mom." He blushed at the memory but it seemed to relax him. He continued as the fear in his chest began to loosen. "I'm still making a mess of this." He complained stepping away and forcing Raven's hand to slip from his arm. "It doesn't matter if I'm making a mess of this; I have to tell you the truth before we head to school."
Raven held back his smile, "Are you saying that you have lied to me?" he asked trying and failing to keep the laughter from his voice. He didn't want to hurt his friend, but he could see himself in the fight he was watching.
Matthew shook his head at the question, "No, well not really. It's more that I haven't told you everything." He sighed, "This is a lot harder than I pictured it being." He stopped to take a steadying breath before continuing, "Raven I love you." The last of the words rushed out on a breath of air. He dropped his eyes so he couldn't see Raven's reaction to them.
"What do you mean?" Raven asked slightly confused by hearing the words he had been about to interrupt his friend with. "You love me?"
Matthew's heart dropped it sounded like his friend was making fun of him. "I mean I love you. I have been in love with you for years, since we were kids." His words were rapid and Raven could hear the fear in them. His friend was scared to death that he would reject him.
Knowing there was no way he could hurt his best friend Raven reached out again and tried to touch Matthew. "Matthew," he had kept his tone soft, apparently to soft as he saw all the hope and light fade from Matthew's eyes. He knew instantly that he was messing this up and risking the future he so desperately wanted with the only person he had ever loved in his life. He stood up and placed his hand on the side of Matthew's face to turn it so that he was looking at him again. It was now or never he couldn't stand the pain he could see in those eyes. "Matthew," he tried again, "please don't be sad. You haven't messed anything up. In fact you have just made me one of the happiest people on this crazy rock we call Earth." He felt the relief slip through the muscles of his love's face and smiled. "There is nothing to worry about." He paused just short of telling him that he loved him too. The words just weren't ready to come out.
"Really? You aren't mad about this?" he asked with a shy smile on his face.
"No, I'm not mad. More confused than anything else."