Caden’s friend Army is growing into his own, including an acceptance of who he is, but a dangerous figure in his life could change everything.

From Interitas Volume 2: False Prophets

There was one more house on the walking tour of Live Oak that had a story and a resident who loved to tell it without words. A one-story shotgun house with peeling brown paint and a sagging roof and an overgrown yard, all of which practically screamed, “Stay away, danger lives here!”

That house’s resident, Tommy O’Connor, didn’t know that Army was gay. As far as Army was concerned, his father never needed to know. It wasn’t news that he would take well, and when Tommy O’Connor got news that he didn’t take well, he usually responded with his fists. Or boots. Or lit cigarettes. Once with a baseball bat.

Army had gotten used to the abuse. He hated that fact, but there it was. It was all he had ever known—all he could remember. Tommy O’Connor’s son had always been his punching bag, a convenient outlet for whatever aggressions or aggravations or egregious slights he had felt in his life. Since his mother had left shortly after he was born, it was just the two of them and their secret life of pain and violence.

He had never told anyone what happened in that one-story shotgun with the peeling brown paint and sagging roof and overgrown yard. It wasn’t because he was ashamed; it was because Tommy had said that if he did, he’d kill Army and everyone around him.

Army didn’t merely believe that his father would do it, he knew that he would. He was certain that if he ever even hinted about what was going on to anyone, that Tommy would respond with a campaign of destruction so total and all-encompassing that it would generate headlines around the world and by the end of it, both he and everyone he loved would be dead.

So yeah, the idea of telling his father he was gay never crossed his mind. It wasn’t even on the radar.

Which is what made it all the more surprising when he did.

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