Clive poked at his food with his fork. He may have physically been at dinner with his family, but mentally he was back at Cambridge with Maurice. Ever since he broke it off, Maurice hasn’t left his mind. He had this devastated look on his face. But he did the right thing, right? They couldn’t risk their reputations for some silly love story. No, it couldn’t have been love. Two men can’t romantically love each other. Clive would just marry a woman like every other man.
“Clive?” His sister Pippa broke through his thoughts. “You haven’t touched your food. Are you alright?”
“I’m just not terribly hungry. That’s all.” He answered. He wasn’t entirely lying. He had just lost his appetite a little.
“Okay.” She said reluctantly. She kept her eye on him for the rest of dinner.
After dinner, Clive escaped upstairs to his room. He felt as if he could collapse on the stairs as he was walking up. Was he still sick from before his trip? No, that wasn't possible. He wasn’t sick, not physically at least. He threw himself onto his bed once he reached his room. He pinched the bridge of his nose and squeezed his eyes shut. He sorted through his library of thoughts, attempting to find some explanation for the way he was feeling. Only one made sense: he was heartbroken. Clive relaxed, opening his eyes and moving his hand to his chest. He did this to himself.
“If life without Maurice is this miserable,” he mumbled to himself, “do I really want it?” He closed his eyes again. He thought about what he had said to Maurice. He opened his eyes. “Can I really change?” He asked, not sure who he was asking. “Other men have done it, you can too.” He told himself. “But how can I change something so natural to me?” He argued. “I’ve loved other men for as long as I can remember. Changing it would be like forcing me to write with my left hand.” He brought his hands above him and looked at them. “I don’t need to change myself, do I?” He, again, asked no one, and let his hands fall down. He laid in silence for a moment. “Oh my lord, what have I done?”
Clive jumped out of the automobile before it even stopped. He had already paid the driver. He slammed the door shut and ran up to the front porch, the rain hitting him hard. He stepped up onto the porch and rang the doorbell of the Hall’s house. He caught his breath as he waited for someone to answer. He removed his hat as the door opened. It was Ada.
“Mr. Durham, what are you doing here? It’s awfully late.” She asked, hand still on the door handle. Her mother called from another room. “It’s just Mr. Durham, Mama!”
“May I come in?” Clive responded, clutching his hat.
“Of course! It’s pouring!” She exclaimed, letting him inside.
“May I ask why you’re here?”
“I need to speak to Maurice. Is he here?”
“Yes. He hasn’t really been anywhere else since we last saw you.” Ada looked from the stairs to Clive. “You didn’t really say those things to Maurice about me, did you?”
“I don’t believe I know what you’re talking about.” Clive answered. Kitty and her mother entered the foyer.
“Hello, Mr. Durham, it’s lovely to see you so soon.” Their mother greeted him. “What’s the occasion?”
“I just need to speak to Maurice. That’s all.”
“Oh, of course! He’s upstairs.” She said, ushering him towards the stairs. Clive quickly stepped up the stairs, nearly hopping. He reached the end of the upstairs hall and stood in front of the door. He placed his ear against the door and softly knocked.
“Come in.” Maurice called. Clive slowly opened the door. He peeked his head out from behind the door, before fully stepping into the room. There was a small fire in the fireplace, providing a comfortable heat for the room. He shut the door behind him. Maurice looked up from what he was reading. His face bore a dead expression.
“Maurice.” Clive said. Maurice didn’t respond. “The least you could do is talk to me, Maurice.” He still clutched his hat.
“Why are you here?”
“I wanted- I’m sorry.”
“Sorry for…?” Maurice shut his book.
“You know exactly what I’m referring to. Those things I said to you. I didn’t mean them.” Clive explained. Maurice rested his chin in the palm of his hand. “I didn’t think about what I said, and how much it would hurt you. I-“ Clive paused. He didn’t know what he was trying to say. “I said it myself, I would’ve gone through life half awake if you had the decency to leave me alone. I can’t change- we can’t change ourselves. I think you know that better than I do. You never wanted to change.” Maurice’s countenance was softer. He loosened his grip on his hat. “My name, my reputation: it doesn’t mean anything if I don’t have you. Hiding you hurts, but it’s worth it.” Clive confessed. He felt the familiar rush he did the first time he confessed his feelings to Maurice. “Maurice- Maurice, I love you.”
“Clive…” Maurice stood up.
“I love you.”
Maurice smiled. “I heard you.”
“I know, I just wanted to make sure.” He chuckled nervously. Maurice embraced Clive, who wrapped his arms around his shoulders.
“You don’t have the decency either.” Maurice said. Clive laughed. “I love you.”