Surviving the wilderness is hard. Surviving gossip is harder.
Cadet Lieutenant Mike Ruggiero loves Future Servicemembers of America summer camp: fresh air, exercise, tactical training, wilderness survival... and cute guys. But hes trying not to think about that. Here, hes just a normal soldier. Then a rumor gets out that someone in Ruggieros squad is gay, and it looks like all the coming out drama from back home is about to come crashing back.
This story was available from Prizm Books from September 2013 to September 2014, and all proceeds from the sale were donated to OutServe, a charity serving gay & lesbian military servicemembers and their families. It is currently not available, but I am planning to rerelease it in the future. Stay tuned.
Sequel to: Don’t Ask
Anthologized in: Torquere Press 2013 Charity Sip Blitz
Publisher: Prizm Books
Release Date: September 18, 2013
Genre: Gay & Lesbian Young Adult
Ages: 12 and up
Buy: Currently Unavailable
Extras: Charity Blitz Blog Hop
Reviews: MM Good Book Reviews | Rainbow Book Reviews
Orange Squad was cresting the hill, led by Cadet Lt. Jenner. They came to a halt in front of us, and there was a pause while we all searched for the appropriate military protocol for greeting a squad that wasnt quite your enemy or your ally.
Medina went with, “What up, dawwwwgs.”
“Beautiful day for a stroll, isnt it?” Hudson added amiably.
“Hola, Purples,” said Jenner. “Im surprised to see you guys around here. Still looking for that first mark?”
“You wish!” I said.
“What do you mean, around here?” said Lewis.
“Why, you lost?” Jenner held up his map. “Need some help?”
“No!” cried Walker. “Its a trap!”
“Yeah, right. We wouldnt bother to trap you Purple Fairies,” said Congdon, Jenners right-hand man. “Come on. Were wasting time. We have one to go.”
“Thanks for the offer,” said Lewis diplomatically, “but I think were supposed to figure it out for ourselves.”
“Your funeral,” shrugged Jenner. “Come on, guys.”
As they marched past us, everybody heard Congdon mutter to his teammates--loudly, not trying to hide it--“Im dead serious! They have one. One of the Purples is gay.”
And I thought, Oh. Right. That.
I exhaled deeply. I felt sick and lightheaded, like Id just marched a mile without my canteen. My skin was clammy and cold under my uniform jacket.
When the world stopped spinning, the Oranges were moving on through the brush, but none of the Purples had moved a muscle. You could have heard a pin drop onto the soft carpet of leaves.
Jayden glanced at me for just a split second, then looked away.
He knew it was me, of course. I was out at school. He must have been the one who told, I realized. How else would it get out at camp? I wasnt mad. I couldnt be. Id never even asked him to keep it a secret. We didnt talk about it before we left, and I guess I assumed hed be cool. He wasnt the type to gossip. Even now, I didnt think he spread it around on purpose. He probably let it slip without thinking about it. I could understand that. I hadnt been thinking about it, either. That was the weird thing. I hadnt been thinking about it.
There were just so many other things to think about. Tactical problem-solving didnt leave any space in my brain for other thoughts. Physical training cleared my mind. Squad teambuilding kept me focused on other people, “us” instead of “me.” My gayness was the last thing on my mind. Maybe that was part of what I loved so much about camp. The luxury of not thinking about it. I hadnt taken the time to appreciate that.
And now it was over.