By: Remmy Duchene

One can’t walk the path of darkness and expect to escape unscathed.

At eighteen, Foster Erickson stepped out of the closet into a world of homelessness, prostitution, and drugs. Years later, he’s pulled it together and is ready to rebuild.

Determined not to let the demons win, Foster starts university with a plan to keep others from making the same mistakes he did. The last thing he expects is Sylvester Roberts.

After years of working with his father, Sylvester decides to step out on his own. University at his age is strange, but for him, failure isn’t an option. After flunking a few tests, Sylvester’s professor assigns him a tutor—Foster Erickson. The moment they meet, Sylvester knows Foster isn’t like other guys.

As the darkness hovers and Sylvester begins falling, he will have to decide if helping Foster fight his demons will be worth it in the end.

For anyone who has ever been told they were less than they really are.

To everyone who deals with the daily struggle and still gets up every day and lives. You are my inspiration.

To my dearest niece, who has become my biggest fan and amazing beta. Without you this probably would not be possible.


THE CHURCH bell tolled in the distance. Foster sat in the back seat of his parents’ old station wagon and allowed his forehead to fall to the glass. Trees crawled slowly outside, for it didn’t seem the car could go any faster than thirty. He hadn’t said anything since leaving church. That wasn’t his favorite pastime, but it got his parents off his back.

Every Sunday, since he was a baby, he’d been packed up and bundled off to the cold, sterile building that sat atop a hill in the small town of Deseronto, Ontario. So feeling like he’d been dowsed in kerosene and set on fire wasn’t particularly new. Only this Sunday, his life couldn’t have gotten any worse: his boyfriend of six months had cheated on him and Foster had ended it. Seeing Liam bent over a table getting drilled from behind burned Foster deeper than any other hurt in his life.

Although he wasn’t out to his parents, and his and Liam’s affair—if one could call it that—was of utmost secrecy, Foster still felt as if someone had ripped his heart out. Liam was his first—kiss, touch, googly eyes, top—everything. And in one night, one stinking night, it was all over.

No matter how old he was, Foster knew he couldn’t share a lover.

Perhaps they were too young to be that serious. At eighteen years old, who really knew what they wanted? Maybe he’d been too hard on Liam. It was, after all, young love.

Halfway home the rain began. Droplets fell atop the vehicle like hail landing on zinc with a pitter-patter of music. Usually Foster basked in the sound, even creating his own tune to go with it, but he just didn’t feel up to being musical.

Instead he snuggled into the seat as much as he could and counted down the seconds until he was allowed to get the noose from around his neck and pull on some normal clothes.

The vehicle pulled to a stop in the front yard to their old ranch-style home, and Foster shifted to remove his seat belt. He was just about to open the door when he saw Liam sitting on the top step of the front porch. Foster’s heart slipped from his chest and landed on the ground.

Something bad is about to happen.

Before Foster could detangle himself from the back seat, his father was already out of the vehicle.

“Liam,” Mr. Erickson said. “What a lovely surprise. I didn’t see you in church today.”

Liam never once broke eye contact with Foster. “I wasn’t feeling very well.”

“I assume you’re here to see Foster. Barb and I will go inside.”

“Actually, I’m here to see you.” Liam smirked.

Foster swallowed the lump in his throat, ignoring the fact the rain was now soaking through his Sunday best. “Don’t.”

“Don’t what?” Barb asked.

Foster didn’t have to be psychic to know what was coming. Liam didn’t like losing—not at football, cards… relationships. Liam especially didn’t like being the dumped—he preferred being the dumper. Foster had smashed that out of the park when he walked in on Liam with another guy and Liam didn’t even stop to check on Foster.

“I’m here to tell you,” Liam said, “that your son is gay. He’s gay and we’ve been seeing each other for six months, and when I say seeing each other, I mea—”

“Not another word!” Foster’s voice shook.

“Or what?”

Foster figured if the whole situation ended there, he could convince his parents Liam was mistaken. It wouldn’t be that hard to talk his way out of that. Sure, it would take some finesse, but Foster could pull it off. He had to end this whole confrontation—now.

“—I’m warning you,” Foster growled.

“Warning me?” Liam asked. “You’re warning me? I’ve been fucking him for six months!”

Foster exhaled as the world around him became silent.

There was no turning back now. Liam had crossed that line, and no amount of explaining could save Foster from the wrath he knew was coming.

The tightness in his throat caused him to choke and reach for his neck. Though nothing else around him seemed to exist but his parents, the look of utter disgust on their faces, and the pain that surged through his chest, Foster knew everything had changed. While he struggled to stay on his feet, Liam continued talking, and the more his lips moved, the more Foster slowly died.