“So um, do you have your eye on anyone special these days?” Caleb Grimm asked, hoping to pry whatever troubled his best friend.. Dancing hues of yellow and orange from his family’s backyard fire pit washed across his face and twinkled in his dark brown eyes.
Zavien des Lauriers glanced at his best friend, then returned his gaze to the flames. He absentmindedly poked at the burning logs with a sturdy oak branch. “Maybe.”
Zavien didn’t reply, but a sly grin spread across his face.
Caleb saw it and smirked. “Is it someone at school or at you church?”
Zavien pursed his lips, then shrugged.
“Zavi,” Caleb said, using Zavien’s nickname, “I’m your best friend. You can tell me.”
“No, I can’t.” I really can’t, Zavien thought.
“Seriously? Whatever happened to no secrets between best friends?”
Zavien frowned. “I just can’t talk about it. I’m sorry.”
“Is it a church thing?”
“Seriously, dude. That place has you more wound up then a tornado. There are so many rules and you’re terrified of breaking them.”
“Rules govern our society. They keep us on the path to God. We need them.”
Caleb rolled his eyes. “No, they keep you obedient to your church leaders.”
“How would you know?” Zavien snapped. “It’s not like you’ve ever attended my church.”
“It’s obvious to me the rules make you miserable. No fun ever. Do anything but be a teenager.”
Zavien sighed. The last thing he wanted to do tonight was get into another ‘your church is a cult’ argument. It was hard for people outside the Ambassador Life Training Institute to understand how important following the rules was to ensuring your salvation with God in Heaven. But Zavien knew his secret already jeopardized his salvation.
Zavien looked Caleb. “If I tell you, you can’t tell anyone, okay?”
Caleb nodded. “Of course, Zavi. Secrets between best friends stay secrets between best friends. Otherwise that wouldn’t be a thing, right?”
“Okay, okay,” Zavien said, grinning. His heart fluttered and his stomach flip-flip-flopped as he summoned a mental image of his crush.
“Oh, wow, you really like her, don’t you?” Caleb said, beaming at the unmistakable infatuation on Zavien’s face.
Zavien slowly nodded. “I do, but um…” He paused, then looked down. “It’s complicated.”
Caleb gasped. “She’s not a church girl, is she? Oh my gosh, your mom is going to flip. But hey, that mean’s it’s not crazy Delilah van Doors, either, right?”
Zavien chuckled. “It is most definitely not Delilah.”
“Which means it’s someone from school. So, who is it?”
“It’s someone from school. It’s Jolan Winters.”
Caleb laughed. “Blue-haired Jo—“ Then he suddenly froze, his mouth agape. He stared at Zavien for a moment and then blurted out, “Jolan Winters? But Jolan’s a guy. You’re into… Holy crap, Zavi! You’re gay?”