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By Heather Long
You know, it’s funny. I talked to a friend today and the subject of high school came up. I don’t think about high school all that often. I wasn’t part of the popular crowd or any crowd for that matter. I tended to hang out on the fringe of all the groups. My focus was on getting good grades, going to work (I worked all the way through high school) and generally making it through the day.
But I knew a “Brenden”—he was that perfect guy. You know the guy, the one who said hi to everyone, who didn’t let cliques or status control how he behaved. He dedicated time to every fundraiser, made you feel good when he talked to you because he actually talked and he rarely if ever said anything he didn’t mean.
Of course, he was also the guy you could never have because he was so perfect. Underneath that veneer of perfection, my Brenden was like everyone else—he had fears, hopes, dreams, and a difficult home life with parental expectations and a desire to be something more. He was really good at putting on a show because he genuinely cared about other people—and he cared what they thought.
I found out about ten years ago that my Brenden was gay—and like the Brenden in A Marine and a Gentleman, he didn’t tell anyone because he had plans and goals and he didn’t want to be defined by his sexual preference.
His only regret?
He didn’t feel like he did enough to support others around him who were openly gay, because he kept his preferences private. No one blamed him for that—it’s not always a friendly world when you drop all facades and be yourself. It’s not always easy to be that as adults much less in high school when our sense of self is still being formed.
I think I was myself in high school—I was much as I am now—I hang out with a cross-section of society, I don’t limit myself to just a handpicked few and I focus on my work and getting the job done. But I could learn something from Brenden and Liam in A Marine and aGentleman—opening up to friends opens up a world of possibilities…and happiness.
Benjamin Franklin said it best. “The U.S. Constitution doesn't guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself.”
Were you, yourself, in high school?
Leave a comment with your email address and tell us about your high school experience. One lucky commenter will receive a Heather Long backlist ebook.
Lieutenant Brenden Fitzpatrick is a dedicated Marine, loyal son, and devoted uncle, but he's lonely. When he went Marine, the rule was don't ask, don't tell. His brothers-in-arms pretty much didn't ask and didn't care. Watching so many friends settle into long-term relationships highlighted the absence of someone to come home to in his life. When his unit encourages him to give the 1Night Stand service a try, he asks for the impossible—a night with the one man he almost gave up the Marines for in the first place. A man he called best friend but let time and distance carry away.
Liam Gardiner grew up on the same Boston block as his best friend, Brenden. Unlike Brenden, Liam always accepted that he was gay—a fact he didn't mind flaunting to all the bullies and naysayers in school. It got his ass kicked more than once, but Brenden always had his back, rescuing him time and time again, until the day Brenden left for the Marines. He missed his buddy—the crush he never confessed, lest it cost him the precious friendship—so when Madame Eve's invitation to meet Brenden arrived, Liam faces uncertainty for the first time.
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