On a frigid winter night, college freshman Will stumbles into the shelter of a church during choir practice. His father has just discovered that Will is gay, and has beaten him and thrown him out of the house. But right now Will’s interested only in getting warm.
Will’s college roommate Quinn is a soloist in the choir, which is practicing for a Christmas program. He discovers Will in the church–and his friend’s condition. Will, who has grown up in a repressed environment, including church school, an abusive father and a passive mother, is taken aback by Quinn’s enthusiasm and determination to take care of him.
Does Will have a future after all, especially one that will include Quinn?
…“No,” he moaned, and something cool touched his forehead.
A soft voice said, “It’s okay, Will. It’s okay.”
He opened his eyes to bright whiteness and confusion. After a moment, he recognized the voice. That was Quinn—they’d been roommates for the last couple of months, his freshman year at college.
Quinn was a music major, and also a freshman. Will remembered his father’s disdain for him and his complaint that Will should have had his own room and not have to share with a “fairy-boy nigger”—but Will was on a scholarship and didn’t have anything to say in the arrangements. The scholarship required he live on campus for the first year, despite his family living in the area—another thing that annoyed his father—and the college gave him no choice as to roommates.
He’d done what his father had told him, though, and kept to himself, watching with envious eyes as Quinn made friends with everyone on the floor and quietly rejecting any overtures of friendship toward himself. It had been so hard: Quinn was witty and outgoing and so damn, damn beautiful, with his creamy café au lait skin and bright dark eyes and silky brown curls, soft, loose, and tipped with gold. He’d never seen hair like that on a guy anywhere before, and he wondered if Quinn’s obviously mixed race was the source or if he colored it that way, like women did.
Those pretty eyes weren’t so bright now; they were dull with worry and fatigue. “Quinn?” It hurt to talk; his head felt stuffy and his throat was sore. And God, his head ached—hell, everything ached.
“Shh. It’s okay. You’re gonna be fine.” Quinn reached out and touched his forehead again, his hand cool against Will’s burning skin. “You’re in the hospital; you passed out at the church last night. Do you remember?”
Will remembered being at the church; remembered Quinn’s worried face and the other, older guy, and talk of calling his parents— Shit! He struggled to sit up, panicking that any minute his father was going to come through that door and he would be so pissed…
Quinn pushed him back down embarrassingly easily. “Hey, don’t go anywhere!”
“My parents! Did they call my parents?”
“No, baby, we didn’t. You freaked out when Bennigan said that, so we didn’t. We brought you here instead. Do you remember that?”
Will shook his head, but the movement only made it hurt worse. He heard a whining noise and realized it was him. “I just remember the church.”
Quinn gently cupped his cheek and said again, “Shh, baby, it’s okay. Can you tell me what happened? You wouldn’t let us call the police, either.”
“I fell,” he said dully. He sort of remembered saying that before.
“Right,” Quinn said, and his voice was flat. It didn’t sound right; Quinn’s voice was part of what was beautiful about him, so lively and expressive. Quinn MacLachlan didn’t do flat. “You fell multiple times on your face and cracked your own damn ribs.”
Well, that explained why it hurt to move. “Oh,” he said.
He opened his eyes again—when had he closed them?—and looked up into Quinn’s face. The shards of anger he saw in Quinn’s eyes faded and were replaced by concern. “Did your father do this to you?”
He didn’t answer. He couldn’t…