Just Once - Page 20

Caleb laughed. “I got news for you, old son,” he teased. “We're already there!”

“So speaketh the virgin,” Art fired back with a sneer more theatrical than mean.

Caleb placed a hand over his heart as if he had been shot. “A touch! A sting!” he cried in good humor. “But still a base and foul blow unbecoming of a gentleman,” he chided with decidedly less good humor.

“However true,” Art observed with a smirk.

“However true,” Caleb admitted with a shrug. “Hey, we can't all boff princesses in the woods, you know!”

Now it was Art's turn to place his hand over his heart. “Has honor now been satisfied?” he asked with a grin.

“I shall deem it so,” Caleb said after making a show of due consideration. “But only because your foul truth was uttered with only our ears to hear it. Do not try my patience again with such utterances, however.”

Art graciously bowed his head in acceptance of his brother's terms.

“Now tell me the hard to believe part,” Caleb said with a smile. “I can take it . . . honest.”

“Okay,” Art said with a slow nod. “You know how fiction likes to glorify getting laid, particularly for the first time?” he asked. “Fireworks, eternal bonding, spiritual revelations, that sort of thing?”

“Yeah . . .” Caleb answered slowly.

“That's the way it was for me and Annika,” Art told him, “literally . . . minus the fireworks. It was like we joined souls when we joined bodies, and together we became greater than anything we could have imagined before that moment. Everything, and I mean everything, the entire Universe, opened up to us, and with that came the certainty that together there was nothing we couldn't do; our only limitations were our shared imagination and conscience.”

“Sounds nice,” Caleb said, not really understanding. “But since I'm pretty sure you weren't the first two people to ever feel that way, why didn't you want to tell me that?”

“Because,” Art said with a sigh, “it wasn't just a feeling; because at that moment we also learned that omniscience and omnipotence have their downsides . . .”


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