Doc’s staring at me. “Seriously, Gus, how are you doing? I have a right to be concerned. Look at it from my viewpoint. My old pal shows up badly bruised from some sort of fight. He’s only 14, but essentially on his own, actually living with a girlfriend. On top of that, he’s skin and bones…clearly not eating properly. If you were me, what would you think?”

I open my mouth, but nothing comes out. I don’t know what to say, plus I’m suddenly super afraid he’s gonna call child welfare, or at very least, my dad. Suddenly, I find my voice. “Doc, I know this looks bad, but I’m really okay. Azalea’s changed my life…totally for the better! We take care of each other…seriously.”

He looks me in the eyes. “Are you using birth control? I wouldn’t want you to have a baby to deal with. That would lead to some very real trouble…and you’ve grown so much, it’s a serious possibility!”

I’m kinda stunned. Not sure how he figured we’re hooking up, but guess it’s pretty obvious. Glance down at my huge feet…I’m definitely not a kid anymore. “Yeah, we use condoms,” I mumble…totally lying. We haven’t been together long enough to deal with that, and it scares the shit out of me. Does he know something I don’t? Kind of wonder what we’re supposed to be doing.

Thankfully, he doesn’t deliver any bombshells. “Glad to hear that,” he says. “Don’t be careless. Does Azalea tell you where she is in her menstrual cycle?”

Again I’m speechless. Really haven’t a clue, except I sorta know what he’s getting at. “Uh…” Know I sound like a total idiot. “Uh…I actually rely on her for that info.”

His eyes sear into me like lasers. “Okay, Gus, but it’s not all the woman’s responsibility. Take it upon yourself to know her menstrual cycle…when she’s most vulnerable to pregnancy. It’s very important.”

I swallow hard. “Yeah, okay. I definitely will.”

“Good! Listen, Cornell…er Gus, I cared about your mother tremendously. She was a wonderful, sensitive person and you’ve inherited her best qualities. If you ever need help, or advice, of any kind, don’t hesitate to call.”

He looks almost teary-eyed, and it really gets to me. He’s such a super guy…and he’s always there for me, but I’m also worried. He looks older than I remember, and if I lose him, they’ll be nobody around who’ll remember my mom and me.The times I spent with her were like the best ever…until Azalea came into my life.

Doc hands me an envelope.

“What’s this?” I ask.

“Your prescriptions, plus a little something to tide you over.”

I peek into the envelope and see a bunch of twenties. I can’t believe he’s being so nice to me. “God, Doc,” I gasp. “Thanks sooo much…makes me feel super guilty to take your money.”

He pats me on the shoulder. “Use it for emergencies,”

I get dressed and we go into the hall. I hear Azalea in the kitchen, laughing…telling Justine one of our crazy adventures. Think it’s when we were naked all afternoon and I wonder what the fuck Justine and Doc will think?

But, the minute Doc and I walk in, it’s obvious Azalea’s won over Justine. She’s laughing so hard, tears are running down her cheeks.

“What the heck’s going on in here?” Doc asks in mock astonishment.

“Oh my god!” Justine replies. “Azalea’s giving me an account of their experiences the last few days. It’s positively wild!”

I’m praying Azalea didn’t provide too many details. Don’t want Doc to get freaked and call the authorities. “So, listen,” I say. “We shouldn’t impose on you any more. You’ve been too nice as it is!”

Justine’s all hyped…holy shit! “I can’t believe you and Azalea got locked out naked all afternoon…and were picked up by that peculiar man!”

I shoot an angry glance at Azalea. Evidently, she doesn’t realize they could report us to the state or something. “Haha, she’s exaggerating!” I say.

Azalea gives me a whoops, sorry kind of look. Guess she’s so relieved and comfortable with Justine, she’s totally let her guard down.

I glance at Doc who looks freaked. “Good lord!” He mumbles.

I blush and stare at my sneakers. Azalea sidles up…rests her head against me. “Gussy, it’s gonna work out. No worries!”

Doc gives me this super serious look. “Maybe I should call your dad. This is not a good situation!”

A stab of panic hits me. “Geez, Doc, please don’t! We’re really doing okay. I’ve never been happier!”

He shakes his head. “But what if something really serious happens and I did nothing. You’ve obviously had some close calls!”

“You haven’t ‘done nothing!'” I plead. “You’ve been fantastic, and I promise to call if something serious happens!”

He scratches his head. “I feel like I’m a facilitator. You kids are only 14, and anything could happen…like an unwanted pregnancy.”

Azalea dives in. “Doc, please don’t worry. I know my menstrual cycle, and I’d never put Gus in that position. H’s super sexy, but I’m not ready for a family!”

Doc rolls his eyes…let’s out a really long sigh. “Okay, okay, but please be careful! It’s just hitting me how incredibly perilous this situation is!”

“Understood, Doc,” I say. “Totally!”

Justine glances at Doc. “We need to get these kids to the pharmacy.”

“Oh…uh…no worries,” I say. “We can walk.”

“Absolutely not,” Justine says. “I want to be sure you have everything you need! Listen, Gus, you’re family to us.”

To be continued… Read next episode!