Don’t Let Me Go by J.H. Trumble was named a finalist in
the “Gay Romance” category of the Lambda Literary Awards!
Some people spend their whole lives looking for the right partner. Nate Schaper found his in high school. In the eight months since their cautious flirting became a real, heart-pounding, tell-the-parents relationship, Nate and Adam have been inseparable. Even when local kids take their homophobia to brutal levels, Nate is undaunted. He and Adam are rock solid. Two parts of a whole. Yin and yang.
But when Adam graduates and takes an off-Broadway job in New York—at Nate’s insistence—that certainty begins to flicker. Nate’s friends can’t keep his insecurities at bay, especially when he catches Skyped glimpses of Adam’s shirtless roommate. Nate starts a blog to vent his frustrations and becomes the center of a school controversy, drawing ire and support in equal amounts. But it’s the attention of a new boy who is looking for more than guidance that forces him to confront who and what he really wants.
Tender, thoughtful, and unflinchingly real, Don’t Let Me Go is a witty and beautifully written account of young love, long-distance relationships, and learning to follow your heart.
“Don’t Let Me Go is a charming story. Trumble’s love for the characters is evident on every page, and it’s contagious.” -- Robin Reardon, author of A Secret Edge
Saturday, July 26
One. I lied. All that crap about me wanting you to go, about me
needing to know who I am without you. Lies. Every stupid, lying
word of it. I don’t want you to go. God, I don’t want you to go. And
not only do I not need to know who I am without you, I couldn’t care
less. There is no me without you. The yin and the yang. You, yin; me,
yang. Adam and Nate. Two parts of a whole. Existing together in
beautiful harmony. Without you, I’m just a broken piece.
Two. You had to know that.
I veered my car sharply into a Shell station a few blocks from
“You’re kidding,” he said, glancing at the time on his cell
phone. “Nate . . .”
“What?” I maneuvered the car next to a pump and hit the brake
a little too abruptly. “You want to get to the airport? We need gas.”
He huffed, one of those irritated and irritating noises he’d been
making all morning. “Why didn’t you put gas in the car yesterday?”
he said, turning down the stereo. “We don’t have time for this.”
“We don’t seem to have time for a lot of things lately.” I killed
the ignition and popped the handle on the door.
“Come on. That’s not fair. We spent the entire night together.”
“Sleeping,” I muttered and dropped my head back against my
seat. This was the part where he was supposed to console me, whip
out his ticket and rip it up into a million pieces right in front of me,
toss it out on the concrete, beg me to turn the car around, profess
his undying love, confess he couldn’t live without me.
Instead he lit up his cell phone. “Shit,” he said softly. He
dropped the phone in his lap and growled, which might have been
sexy if I hadn’t been so angry and if he hadn’t been so freaking
anal. “Are you trying to make me miss my flight?”
So much for love. “I don’t know why you’re in such a damn
hurry. At the rate we’re going, we’ll have time to wax the stupid
plane before they board passengers.”
“You’re being a brat,” he said. “You know that?”
Brat? He called me a brat? He’d called me a lot of things in the
last ten months and nine days, a lot of sweet, beautiful things. But
brat? Never brat. Not even close.
He opened his door. “I’ll get the gas.”
“I’ll get it,” I said, and got out.
I jabbed the nozzle into the tank and locked the trigger, but I
kept my hand on it. The other hand I shoved deep in my pocket. I
watched the air shimmer around the pump handle.
Adam leaned against the car and watched me. When I didn’t
look up, he tipped his head low and fingered my T-shirt at the
waist. “Just to set the record straight,” he said, “we didn’t sleep all
that much either.” The tiniest of smiles tugged at the corners of his
mouth. My eyes locked on his and my heart lurched in my chest. It
was an unexpected moment of intimacy standing next to a gas
pump on a stifling July morning, sweat trickling down my back and
the smell of gas strong in the air, the moment so brief that in the
days and weeks ahead, I would think I had imagined it. But for
three, maybe four fleeting seconds, I saw in his eyes the guy who
loved me, the guy I loved back so much that it scared me sometimes.
His eyes shifted past me to the spinning dial on the pump, and
as suddenly as it had arrived, the moment was gone.
He took the handle from me and released the trigger with a thunk and seated it back on the pump. I stared at the dial, not quite
believing what I was seeing—five gallons. Five gallons? That was all
he could give me this morning? A five-gallon delay? I stood,
stunned, as he secured the gas cap and smacked me on the butt.
“Let’s go, handsome.”
As I pulled back onto the road, he checked the time on his cell
phone again and then tucked it back in his pocket and resumed
patting his thigh to the song. I thought if he pulled that freaking
phone out one more time, swear to God, I was going to pitch it out
the window. The gas gauge nudged just past a quarter tank, but my
internal gauge was quickly slipping toward Empty.
“You won’t miss your flight,” I said, the hurt coating my words,
weighing them down so that they tumbled out, heavy and muted.
He put his hand to my ear and rubbed my earring with his
thumb. “I’m going to have to send you a new pair of earrings.”
I kept my eyes on the road but shifted my head and my shoulder
to trap his hand just for a moment. “I don’t want another earring.”
I swallowed hard past the lump in my throat. How could he even
think I could part with this one? When I’d woken up in the hospital,
one of the first things I’d noticed was that they’d taken my earrings,
the ones he’d brought me from New York. He’d taken a
black stud from his own ear then and put it in mine. I hadn’t taken
it off since that day. I didn’t intend to take it off ever.
I glanced at him. He smiled and dropped his hand and looked
back out the window. I could sense his thoughts slipping away
again as he picked up the song and the beat.
“We’re pulling apart,” I said.
“Hm?” He looked over at me.
“The line. It’s we’re pulling apart.”
I looked back at the road. “Never mind.”
He smiled distantly and turned back to the window. Up ahead,
the freeway split. I slid into the right-hand lane and made the wide
sweep onto the toll road as Adam butchered yet another line.
It was stupid, stupid, getting pissed off over something I did myself
all the time. Who cared whether he got The Fray’s lyrics right
or not? Except that he’d been doing more and more of that in the
past few weeks—feigning attention, smiling vaguely when I said
something or asked a question. Sometimes it felt like he was already
gone, like his brain had been unplugged from the here and present
and plugged back in to the there and future. Maybe I was to blame.
I’d pushed him to take the job. This is your time. Please, go to New
York. Be fabulous. I just never thought he’d go for it with such
“You’re wearing the green underwear,” I said.
“What?” He turned down the AC.
“I said, You’re. Wearing. The green. Underwear.”
“What? You’re complaining about my underwear? You want
me to take them off?”
“We don’t have time for that, remember?” I said, sullenly.
He rolled his eyes. “Why does it matter what underwear I’m
“Because I bought them for you in Key West.”
“I remember. I like them. A lot. I promise, they’re clean.”
“I just don’t know why you’re wearing them today,” I mumbled.
Okay, now I was being a brat.
I popped the cover on the storage compartment in the console
and felt around until I found a thin jewel case. One-handed, I
flicked it open and popped out the CD. The case clattered to the
console, then dropped into the space between the console and
Adam’s seat. I hit the eject button and switched the CDs, then
dropped The Fray back into the storage compartment sans case
and smacked the lid shut. Three Dog Night wailed about some stupid
bullfrog named Jeremiah.
“Is there something we need to talk about?” Adam asked.
The heat was creeping back into the car. I turned the AC back
up and stared at the toll booths up ahead, considering the penalty
for crashing through the gates. We’d get pulled over for sure. I’d
probably have to take a sobriety test—walk the line, breathe into
some little tube. I’d get a citation for failure to stop and pay a toll
and probably a hugely inflated bill for replacing the gate. And then
Adam would miss his flight. And for just a little while longer he’d
stay. But there were other flights. There would always be other
I hit the brakes and fumbled in the tray at the base of the gear
shift for quarters. I counted out five. “Dammit, I should have gotten
some quarters before we left.” The tray held some loose
change, mostly pennies and a stray nickel or dime. I slid the coins
aside until I found two more quarters. I pinched one and added it
to the five in my hand, then flung all six at the basket. Three overshot
and fell to the concrete.
“Great.” I got the last quarter out of the tray. “Do you have any
“Just back up and go to the full-service lane,” he said, clearly
“I can’t just back up.” A horn blared behind us. I glanced in the
rearview mirror, then popped the door handle and gestured to the
dickhead behind us as I got out. He leaned out his window and
called me a faggot. I found two of the coins and made some suggestions
to the guy about how he might amuse himself while he
waited for me to move, then got back in the car, slammed the three
coins into the basket, and hit the accelerator, almost taking out the
I couldn’t stand any more joy to the fishes. Gag me. I jabbed
the track button. After a pause, an electric guitar ripped from the
speakers. I’d burned this CD of rock anthems years ago when I first
decided guitar was more than just a way to blow a few hours after
school each day. I might have lost myself in the music if it hadn’t
been for the stupid lyrics.
Well, I’m hot-blooded . . .
Oh, hell, no. I hit the track button. From the corner of my eye, I
could see Adam staring at me, but I kept my eyes on the road. The
airport exit was just ahead, three-quarters of a mile. I considered
staying in my lane, driving until we ran out of gas. (How far would
five gallons take us? Galveston, maybe? I could finish my senior
year at Moody High. Surely there was a theater company Adam
could perform with. It didn’t even matter. We could be beach
bums, sell T-shirts to tourists in a beach shop, live on love. That’s
all we needed, right? The toll road to I-45, then Galveston. It
would be so easy.)
A jet screamed overhead. The noise—the jet, the AC blowing
full blast, the music, the roar of traffic around us—it was all too
much. I turned off the AC again and flicked on my blinker and slid
into the exit lane.
Fame (fame) lets him loose, hard to swallow.
I jabbed the button again, twice, then a third time.
“What’s wrong, Nate?” Adam said.
I shook my head, not trusting my voice. The heat was creeping
back into the car. This time it was Adam who turned the AC back on.
And then “Free Bird” was playing and my fingers ached with
the urge to hit the track button again, but I could feel Adam’s eyes
on me, so I didn’t. Death by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
“Hey,” he said, running his hand up and down my thigh. “Let’s
do Key West again next June. It’ll be my graduation gift to you this
time. No parents.”
I gripped his hand tightly and hoped to God I could make it to
June. Key West was magic. And I was afraid I was going to need
some magic by then.