“If you must know, it lasted about a year.”

“A year?”

“I didn’t want to say anything,” Luis said in an exasperated tone. “But you didn’t give me any choice.”

“All the time, you knew I was in love with him,” Gage said. “You knew I was sleeping with him, too.”

“You’re the one who told on us,” Luis said. “You’re the one who got Snake fired and got me kicked off the farm when you sent Pop down to find us in the barn.”

“I didn’t have any other choice,” Gage said. “When I found out he was screwing you, I lost my mind.” He felt like he was losing his mind all over again. The room started to spin, his face grew hot, and he felt lightheaded.

Luis closed his eyes for a moment and sighed. “I was young. What else can I say? I was young and confused. I knew it wasn’t right, but he was so good looking, and I enjoyed it so much. I don’t know. Maybe I did get some pleasure in knowing you were sleeping with him first. We were always competing, always fighting to get attention.” He looked into Gage’s eyes and said, “Maybe things can be different now. Maybe we can stop competing and be real brothers. I’ve never even told Jase about you, and I should have done that a long time ago.”

Gage clenched his fists. “You whore.”

Luis glared at Gage. “You lifted your legs for him just as often as I did,” he said. “You’re just as much of a whore as I was. At least I cleaned up my act and moved on. You’re still whoring your ass to make a living, working in some trashy strip club, wiggling your ass in front of all kinds of men. You have no right to judge me or point fingers at me.”

But Gage thought he had every right in the world, especially now that he didn’t have a job, he was losing his apartment, and his entire life was falling down around him. He didn’t have many options left. So he reached down and grabbed Luis by the collar. He lifted him off the chair and hit him right in the mouth. “I’ve been dying to do that for years,” he said, noticing a drop of blood at the corner of Luis’s mouth. “I should have done it long before now.” He’d been planning all along to hit him over the head with something, but it felt so much better with his fist.

Luis’s eyes bulged and he lunged at Gage, which was something Gage hadn’t expected Luis to do. Luis had never been an aggressive fighter; he’d always backed away from physical confrontation. Luis grabbed the back of Gage’s head with one hand and punched him in the stomach with the other, leaving Gage out of breath and absolutely stunned.

After that move, it was as if they’d plunged back into their pre-teenage years all over again. They started throwing fists and hitting each other as hard as they could. They knocked over a table beside the maroon chair and wound up rolling around on the floor. Gage’s short black bathrobe opened wide and Luis ripped it off his back, leaving Gage stark naked and even more vulnerable. At one point, Luis grabbed Gage by the throat and pinned him to the floor with strength Gage hadn’t anticipated. As Gage kicked, Luis climbed on top of his brother’s naked, writhing body, straddled his waist, and started choking his neck. But Gage knew he was a better fighter, and slightly stronger than Luis. He’d always been more physical and athletic, and Luis had always been softer and more refined. So Gage clenched his teeth and pushed Luis off his naked body. Even the thought of being naked and this close to his vile twin brother twisted his stomach into knots. He stood up on his feet and braced his fists for more. Luis crawled for a moment, then stood up with both fists clenched for combat.

But this time, when Luis lifted his arm to throw the last punch at his brother, Gage swung at Luis first. He hit him in the jaw and knocked him out cold. Luis went down so fast, and with such force, he landed on the maroon chair with his head slumped forward and his arms hanging limp over the sides of the chair. At first, Gage thought he’d killed him. But then he checked Luis’s pulse and confirmed he was just unconscious.

Chapter Seven

Before Luis regained consciousness, Gage removed all of his twin brother’s clothes as quickly as he could. The only thing he didn’t remove was Luis’s expensive watch; the heavy, garish watch made Gage’s stomach turn. When he unzipped Luis’s tight jeans and pulled them down to his ankles, Gage was not as surprised as most people would have been when the back of his hand brushed against Luis’s bare ass. He knew Luis rarely wore underwear. Gage remembered that when they were growing up, their mother used to argue with Luis all the time because he refused to wear underwear. Luis always said it made him feel confined and uncomfortable. Their mother would just shake her head and laugh it off, calling Luis her naughty little boy.

When Luis was naked, still slumped forward in the chair and unconscious, Gage picked up his short black bathrobe from the floor and put it on Luis’s body without tying it shut. Then Gage pulled two sets of handcuffs out of the top drawer of the dresser where he kept the sex toys he used with Donny. They weren’t just any old flimsy sex handcuffs from a sex shop. These handcuffs were the real thing, given to Gage as a gift from his cop boyfriend, Donny Vitelli. They were older models, castoffs that the cops didn’t use anymore. But Gage knew they were very strong, from the many times Donny had handcuffed his wrists and ankles to the bedposts and fucked him into oblivion. Both sets of handcuffs had two sets of keys.

Gage fastened the handcuffs to Luis’s wrists and ankles, then pulled out another sex toy he’d used many times with Donny Vitelli. This toy had come from a sex shop in the East Village. It had a black ball attached to a rubber strap. The ball fit into his mouth and Donny would tighten the strap around his head so he couldn’t speak during sex. Donny loved to dominate him completely, and Gage had always been willing to accommodate all of Donny’s wishes in bed. In fact, Gage enjoyed being bound and gagged by Donny. He wouldn’t have trusted anyone else in the world to do it. But with Donny, in its own peculiar way, this bondage and discipline turned out to be one of the few romantic experiences they shared. It was their own special brand of sex, just something between them no one else ever had to know about, which made it extremely personal for Gage.

Gage felt a burn in his stomach as he shoved the black ball into his twin brother’s mouth and fastened the straps at the back of his head. Gage had a basic plan, but not a definite plan. He wanted to get even with Luis for stealing his boyfriend and altering the course of his life ten years earlier, but he wasn’t sure how far he’d go.

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