Torn In Two For You
“By now you know that I'd come for you
No one but you, yes I'd come for you
But only if you told me to
And I'd fight for you
I'd lie, it's true
Give my life for you
You know I'd always come for you.”
- I’d Come For You, NICKELBACK
The pain presented itself before his eyes could even open, though it felt dulled somehow. A pillow supported his head and the bed beneath him was moderately soft. It felt good to be laying down again. He didn’t try to move, sensing the pain waiting right there to stab through him. A low voice came to him muffled, but close by. A male voice.
Noble’s throat worked, his mouth dry as he tried to swallow. “Jonah…” the name barely made it to his lips and he wasn’t for certain if it actually reached open air. Had Jonah come for him? Rescued him from his father’s assault? If so, he couldn’t imagine that his dad would still be breathing. Such a thought neither startled nor bothered him, though he wondered if it should have.
When a hand wrapped around his, he instinctively grabbed on, throat working more quickly. “Jonah…” his voice cracked, weak, broken, eyes stinging. But as strong fingers tightened just enough to hurt – he knew it wasn’t Jonah.
“Open your eyes, Noble.” His dad’s voice was clearer now. “Look at me.”
Tears began to seep down his temples as he slowly opened his eyes; Jonah wasn’t here. And he was still alone with his dad. The man loomed over him and Noble realized he was lying in a hospital bed. It still hurt to breathe, though not as bad as before, and he suspected they had given him some pain medication.
His dad stared down at him and Noble searched for remorse in the man’s eyes, but found none. “Our business is our business.” Alan spoke low, though his voice lacked softness. “What happens within our own family is private. You know that though the lessons are hard, they are also necessary. But others wouldn’t understand that.” He retained his tight, uncomfortable grip on Noble’s hand. “So to avoid outside scrutiny…this is what happened.”
Noble’s head spun as he listened to his father recite the details that he had given to the paramedics, and then the doctor. Warm tears drained out as the truth of his father’s brutality was systematically buried beneath the lies that he insisted Noble corroborate. Jonah won’t believe your bullshit story. He’ll know what you did. He knows what you are.
“Your mother, Rebecca and her parents are on their way over.” Alan said. “And you will tell them exactly what I’ve told you.” He squeezed his hand again and Noble winced, tears thickening. “Do you understand me, son?”
Noble just stared at him, hating him more than he thought he could hate another human being. Alan must have detected his resistance and possible notions of defiance, because he leaned down closer and stroked his fingers through Noble’s hair. “Remember what I said about your boyfriend.” He nearly spit in his face, voice lowered to a whisper. “In case you don’t recall just who makes up the members of my country club, I have people who can reach into any facet of a person’s life – and fuck it up royally.” His fingers twisted around Noble’s strands, tightening. “Is that what you want? To see your faggot boyfriend brought to ruin? His entire life shredded?”
Squeezing his eyes shut, sobs breaking through him, Noble shook his head slowly. “No.” he choked.
“Then we have an understanding.” Alan murmured. “Do we not?”
Noble choked on a hard sob, eyes clamped shut, and nodded, “Yes.”
“And you’re going to fix things with Rebecca.” It wasn’t a question. “And the wedding will go forth.”
The nausea from before tried to rise up again. Noble clenched his jaw to force it down. He might hate his dad more than anything right now – but the man spoke true; he could hurt Jonah in the worst ways. If Noble ignored him and ran back to Jonah, everything he had worked so hard for would be ripped away and destroyed. And his dad was acquainted with the kind of people who could take it so far as getting Jonah arrested on trumped up charges of fraud, or whatever else they chose to frame him with. His life would be gone. Eradicated.
All because he loved you.
He stared up at his dad’s face. Saw the triumph in his cool eyes. It wasn’t fair that he got to win, that he could force Noble to take a beautiful heart like Jonah’s and thrust it away. Noble’s jaw tightened until his entire face ached and hot tears dripped from his eyes. I hate you. I don’t care if it’s a sin – I hate your fucking guts!
The deep, internal sick feeling invaded Mason’s gut the moment Alan called from the hospital. He hadn’t told them over the phone why Noble had to be taken in, but that he would explain when they arrived. Mason hadn’t spoken to the man directly, but rather Rebecca had answered the phone. Real concern strained her face and harrowed her eyes, reminding him that the young woman still retained true feelings for Noble, though he didn’t believe she was truly in love with him.
When they approached the entrance to the hospital, Mason hung back, tugging out his phone. “You ladies go on ahead.” He told the women. “I’ll be along in just a moment.”
Rebecca looked at his cell. “Who are you calling?” He just stared at her, a sadness heavy in his eyes about this war that had broken out in the midst of his family. Her face hardened and eyes glossed with tears. “Jonah? You’re calling Jonah?”
“Noble is in the hospital, Rebecca.” Mason spoke low. “I don’t know how serious it is, but Jonah would want to know.”
“I don’t care what Jonah would want, dad.” She said thickly, anger simmering in her eyes. “Noble is my fiancé and Jonah has no business even coming around him.”
“No, dad.” She insisted. “I don’t want him here.”
Mason sighed and lowered his voice to keep his words between him and his daughter. “I realize this isn’t the time to bring this up, but…I know that Noble talked to you about…the wedding and such.”
“That isn’t how Noble feels.” Rebecca spoke quiet, tight. “Jonah is the one influencing him. And I can’t help but believe…you as well.”
“Come on, sweetheart.” Colleen stepped over and touched her arm. “You can deal with this later. Right now, we need to find out what’s wrong with Noble.” She cast Mason a disapproving look but said nothing as she guided her daughter towards the entrance. Tessa didn’t look at him at all.
Another sigh seeped out and he opened his phone, dialing his son’s number. When Jonah answered, Mason hesitated then explained to him that Noble had been taken to the hospital.
“What?” Instant alarm squeezed Jonah’s voice. “Why? What’s wrong?”
Mason cleared his throat. “I don’t know yet. I just arrived. Rebecca and Colleen are on their way up to his room. I just stopped to call you.”
A brief pause, then, “What the fuck happened, dad?” Emotion strained his words. “He was fine last night when I dropped him off.”
“I don’t know.” Mason said. “Alan called from the hospital and said he had to bring him in, but didn’t say why over the phone-“
“Alan?” Jonah’s voice turned to stone. “Wait? What? His dad is there?”
“Yes.” Mason told him. “He stayed over at Noble’s last night to…talk some things out with him. They clearly aren’t approving of-“
Jonah cut in sharply. “Keep that motherfucker away from Noble, dad! I know how he talks things out with him.” Anger and tears mixed in his voice. “If that fucker touched him, I swear to God I’ll rip his fucking head off!”
“Jonah, what the hell are you talking about?”
“Just stay with Noble.” Even through the phone, Mason could hear Jonah’s rush of breath, almost feel the force of his racing heartbeat. “Do not leave his side. I’ll be there as soon as possible. I’m leaving now.”
“Where are you?”
“I’m in the city.” Jonah’s voice broke a little and he cleared his throat. “Just stay with him, okay, dad?”
There was a plea in his voice that alarmed Mason. “Okay…I’m headed up to his room now.”
“Call me when you find out what’s wrong.” Jonah choked on his words. “I’ll be in the car, but I should have service most of the way back.”
“I will.” Mason assured. “Drive careful, son. Whatever’s wrong with Noble, I’m here. Don’t be driving reckless trying to get back here.”
“I’ll be fine.” Jonah said thickly. “Just don’t let that fucker near him.” Then the line went dead.
Fuck! Why did you leave him last night? Why didn’t you take him home with you?
Tears blurred Jonah’s vision as he maneuvered the car along the city streets, biting his tongue to keep from screaming at everyone to get the fuck out of his way, forcing his foot not to stomp on the gas and ram them out of the way.
He raked a hand across his face, dragging away tears. “You fucker. You better say your fucking prayers right now, ‘cause I swear to God you’re not going to get away with this.” He didn’t have to have his dad call him and tell him what was wrong with Noble, as soon as he heard that Noble’s dad was there – he knew.
An unbearable ache cut through his heart. What kind of hell had Noble went through last night? Was that why he hadn’t answered the phone? Because he couldn’t? Tears coursed down his face. You promised him his dad would never touch him again. You fucking promised him! “Baby, I’m so sorry.” He whispered, choking on a sob. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I should have fucking been there!” He rubbed his face with his arm and finally made his way out of the city and pressed down on the gas, speeding away down the highway.
If you’d just taken his jacket back to him…he would be okay now. He would be safe with you. He wouldn’t be…
“Fuck.” Jonah choked and wiped at his eyes again, hearing Noble’s words from last night; I’m scared shitless, Jonah. Scared of him finding out…”
Don’t be scared, baby.” He whispered tightly. “I’m on my way. And this time I won’t hesitate,” he swallowed thick and rubbed his face. “I’ll get you the fuck out of there.”
Mason was stopped in the corridor just outside Noble’s room, Alan Richman blocking his way. “What happened?” he asked tightly. “Is Noble all right?”
The man’s face was stern, unfriendly. “He will be.” A brittle tone clipped his words. “No thanks to your faggot son.”
Mason stepped back, startled. “What did you say?” He whispered and reclaimed the step, his hands squeezing into fists. “Don’t you speak about my son that way…unless you’re prepared to eat my fist.” He forced calmness into his limbs. “Now what the hell is your problem with Jonah?”
Alan’s voice strained with emotion. “This lifestyle your son has encouraged Noble to embrace is what landed him in the hospital.”
“What’re you talking about?” Mason’s gut tightened with dread. “What happened?”
His breath quick, rushed, Alan’s hard eyes bored into Mason. “This morning, Noble walked down to the corner market and…” The man faltered, throat working as his eyes glossed over. “He was jumped by a couple guys who saw him out last night with your son. They…beat the fuck out of him. Cracked his ribs.”
“What?” Mason breathed, suddenly sick to his stomach. His throat closed, tears burning.
Alan’s jaw clenched, and he wiped at his eyes. “This okay to be gay bullshit sent my son down a dangerous path, and now he’s the one paying for it. That’s what happens when we get out of God’s will, step out from under his protection. It leaves us vulnerable to the enemy. And your fucking son dragged Noble out into the open, exposed him. And this,” He jabbed his finger towards Noble’s room. “This is the result.”
His throat knotted with emotion, Mason just stared at the man. What could he say? Alan was distraught, and it would do little good at the moment to try and argue that it was hate and intolerance that caused this – and not because Noble had fallen from grace. The man’s son was lying in a hospital bed, beaten and broken. Could he blame the guy for his words and attitude right now? It wasn’t right to blame Jonah, but a distressed parent didn’t always think clearly or rationally. That much Mason could understand.
“I’m sorry.” Mason said thickly, feeling the pain as much as Alan. Noble was like a son to him as well. “Noble didn’t deserve this.”
“No he didn’t.” Alan said tightly. “And as his father, it’s my place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Unease squeezed at Mason’s chest. “What do you mean?”
“I mean,” Alan spoke low, cold. “I don’t want your son anywhere near Noble. He needs to get his life back on course with God, find his way back into God’s grace where he will be safe.” Alan shook his head slowly. “And he can’t do that here, not with the…influence of people like your son. Noble is struggling and he needs guidance. Not people telling him it’s okay to embrace a life of sin.”
People. Mason strongly suspected that Alan was referring to him, as well as Jonah.
“As soon as Noble is released.” Alan said stiffly. “He is coming back home with us, where he can get proper help. There are live-in programs where he’ll get one on one help and guidance every day. It’s where he needs to be right now.”
“Alan.” Mason stopped him when he started to turn away. “Have you…talked to Noble about this?” He had a terrible feeling about this course of action. Surely Noble wasn’t in agreement with this. When he’d last talked to the boy, Noble had been breaking loose of his chains, admitting who he was, that he couldn’t marry Rebecca and that…he loved Jonah. Had this horrible incident set him back to the beginning?
“Noble is in total agreement.” Alan assured coarsely. “Not that he’s in any condition to make any decisions at the moment.”
Glancing past him towards the room, Mason murmured, “Can I see him?”
Alan hesitated. “On two conditions.” He looked at Mason hard. “You do not mention your son’s name, or try to talk him out of going back with us. However you deal with your son is your business, but I will take care of my son. I know what he needs. And first and foremost – he needs to be as far away from your son as possible.”
A myriad of faces loomed over him, but not the one he was looking for; where was Mason? Noble continued to fade in and out of consciousness as the pain medication slowly began to wear off. But with wakefulness came the agony of trying to breathe. His chest and ribs were tightly bandaged, feeling like a vice was squeezing him.
He swallowed thickly, dryly and blinked against his bleary vision. Rebecca was at his side, holding his hand. “You’re going to be okay, sweetheart.” She said softly, tears wet her voice. “We’re going to get you the help you need. This won’t happen again.”
Noble stared at her as she squeezed his hand affectionately, searching her face for the woman he had convinced himself he was in love with. He barely recognized this woman before him now. Was she really so fixated on fixing him that she couldn’t see the reality of the situation? Or did she just not want to see it?
“Hon, when you get out of the hospital, we need talk about the wedding.” She said. “Your father suggested that it might be better for us if we got married sooner, then we could deal with all of this as husband and wife. I think that makes sense. We would be stronger as a couple, as a union. And all this mess with…Jonah…would be behind us. We could focus on our future, and getting you some real help.”
Noble felt sick. If Rebecca truly was just trying to hold onto their relationship – and not merely doing it out of spite towards Jonah – then he felt bad for her. She was running on desperation now. But how could he oppose their plans? His dad was vindictive, vengeful. If Noble blatantly defied him – he would ruin Jonah. Though he was being given no choice, the thought of getting locked into a marriage with Rebecca filled him with dread.
“We’re going to be okay, Noble.” Rebecca said softly and kissed his hand. Yet it wasn’t her lips he felt touching his fingers – but Jonah’s; strong but soft, warm lips resonating love in the form of light kisses. His ache for Jonah overrode his physical pain. Would Rebecca still think they were going to be okay when she discovered that her husband couldn’t make love to her? Surely she had to know, even now, that that would be the case. Why would she want to lock herself into that?
“Hey, kiddo.” Mason appeared at the opposite side of the bed, pain reflecting in his eyes as he gazed back at Noble. “How you doing?” Real concern weighed heavily in his voice. He reached out and stroked his fingers through Noble’s hair, eyes glossy with tears. “I’m so sorry this happened to you.” He whispered, throat working with emotion.
Noble’s eyes filled before he could stop them; He’s lying to you. HE did this to me! He suddenly felt like a child, wanting to throw his arms around one of the few people he could trust, cling to him and beg him to get him out of here, away from these others who only cared about their own agenda.
When the tears slipped from the corners of his eyes, Mason wiped them away with his thumb. He wanted to ask where Jonah was, if he even knew what had happened. But his dad was standing watch, eyes on Mason. He clearly didn’t trust the man. Mason slipped his hand into Noble’s and squeezed. It gave him comfort, as if he were assuring him he wasn’t alone. Noble tightened his fingers around Mason’s hand, almost desperately, as more tears rose up. I’m so sorry. I don’t want to hurt Jonah…but I don’t know what to do.
His dad approached the end of the bed and Noble clutched Mason’s hand more tightly.
“While you’re recuperating,” Alan said. “Your mother and I, and Rebecca and her mom, we will begin rescheduling the wedding date and getting everything in order. As soon as you’re well enough, we’ll have the ceremony.”
Mason’s brow pinched hard as he glanced from Alan to Noble. Less than forty-eight hours ago, he’d confessed to Mason that he loved his son, that he couldn’t marry Rebecca. Confusion tightened his eyes. “The wedding?” he murmured.
“Yes, dad. The wedding.” Rebecca spoke up, bitterness tainting her words. “My wedding. Or have you forgotten I was even planning on being married? Or do you even care anymore?”
“Of course I remember, Rebecca.” Mason said gently. “And I do care, but…”
“But?” Rebecca stared at him. “But what, dad?” She shook her head. “You don’t care. You don’t even think we should be married anymore…now that Jonah has decided he wants him. You think I should just step back and hand him over, don’t you? Precious, perfect Jonah should just get whatever the hell he wants.”
Mason started to reply when Alan cut in. “Rest assured, Rebecca,” he said coolly. “You and Noble will be married. My son was merely confused, but he’s thinking clearly now and still loves you, still wants to be your husband. Jonah…is out of the picture.” He shifted his stony eyes to Noble. “Isn’t that correct, son?”
All eyes turned on him, and Noble wished he could disappear, just fade away. His dad’s hand was clutching his heart, squeezing, ripping it from his chest as the threat and warning in the man’s eyes forced him to whisper, “Yes.”
© Copyright 2017 AMS1971. All rights reserved.
Book / Gay and Lesbian
Book / Gay and Lesbian
Book / Gay and Lesbian