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  2. drpaladin

    Chapter 16

    Gabriel is as taken with Desmond as Desmond is taken with him. I thought Gabriel might have known more about what was going on with Sam, but it was more educated guesses. He must have been close friends with Sam at some point. The fatty sleaze was thinking too much with his perverse libido and fell right into the trap. If Desmond took an hour and a half to work on him, his last time on earth was extremely unpleasant. I'm sure Sam will be happy. Now on to bigger and better things.
  3. Dodger

    Chapter 63 The Show

    Thank you for reading and commenting @masuk I'm glad you're enjoying the story.
  4. LonelyBoi01

    Confused.

    I woke up to the sound of shouting, I could hear my mother downstairs yelling. *sigh* why does she always have to be this way. Ever since she her new boyfriend two years ago she changed, she's so dark now. I laid there in bed, trying to block out the noise when I heard it. The loud bang followed by the cry from my brother. I've never lept out of bed so quick in my life. I ran down the stairs, the scene appearing to me slowly. My brother was at the other side of the room, tears flowing from his eyes as he screamed out to me. I looked around and saw him, Daniel. My mothers boyfriend from hell. He was drunk but that wasn't the height of my concerns, in his hand - a gun. The color drained from my face as I stared at my mother, he had shot but missed her, she was crying her eyes out. "SHUT UP WOMAN!" Daniel yelled at her. "I've had about enough of your bitchy whining, the whole lot of ya.. especially YOU" He turned his gaze towards me. "You little FAGGOT, I saw the magazines under your bed, I refuse to let gay filth roam this earth." That's when my life flashed before my eyes. It was over quick but the thought still haunts me to this day. He pulled up his gun, aiming it towards me, I shrieked and looked around for an escape but I was too late. His finger crept towards the trigger, his gaze focused on me. He pulled it. "NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" The shriek from my mother, she lept... she took the bullet. She dropped down infront of me. Daniel turning around in shock and running out the door. "ADAM CALL THE FUCKING POLICE!!" I yelled as I took off my jacket, turning my bleeding mother on her side and wrapping it tight around her wound and holding pressure on it. I wiped her tears from her face as she stared up at me, I now was crying too. "I-I'm sorry mum.." I croaked out. She stared at me and groaned. "I-I-I.. l-love you......" She struggled out. "Don't leave me ma" I cried. "I need you!" She smiled slightly, her eyes slowly slipping shut as I cried out. The sirens were just pulling up outside as the paramedics rushed in, putting her on a stretcher and carrying her away. The cops came in and asked us what happened, taking any evidence like Daniel's gun which he dropped on the side. "Have you guys got any other family you can stay with while this is ongoing?" The cop asked us, he was nice enough - brown hair, dark tinted glasses. "Errm, I guess I can call our uncle" I croaked out, blushing slightly at my voice crack. "What's his name?" The cop asked. "Craig." I replied. He smiled at me as I pulled out my phone and began the long, painful conversation - explaining everything that had happened, holding back the tears the whole time. About half way through the cop asked to talk to craig, they spoke for a while about a bunch of stuff, I tried to not let Adam hear by taking him into the living room. "Here, he needs to speak to you" The cop said passing me my phone back. "I need to grab some clothes but I should be with you in about an hour, if you go to the hospital with your mother I'll pick you up from there." Craig said down the phone to me. "Okay, thanks uncie" I said, relief washing over me. "No worries kiddo, I'm so sorry this has all happened. Send my love to Adam as well for me" He said before he hung up. I put the phone down and gave Adam a tight hug. "That's from uncle craig" I said softly. "If you guys go and get ready to go I'll drop you at the hospital, your mothers ambulance left already" The cop said to us. "Oh.. t-thank you so much" I croaked. I got together our coats and shoes, tying Adams laces as his hands were too shaky. I gave him a tight hug and a kiss on the neck as I carried him out and put him in the back of the police car. "Ready to go?" the cop said to me. "Yup. Let's go."
  5. LonelyBoi01

    Prologue

    I hate myself. Those are the words I tell myself every single day. My name is Nathan, I'm 15 years old and I honestly don't know who or what I am. Me and my brother Adam have always been close. He is 4 years younger than me and I guess I've always been there for him, that at times has made me in trouble myself, I lost friends by taking his side over there's - but honestly I don't regret it. A cuddle with Adam can turn the worst day ever into the best, I love him so much. Our parents arent the best, my dad left us a couple years back and my mother met a new guy, completely changed her. She turned into a horrible lady. My life is a mess. A huge mess. But I have my brother, that's all I could ask for.
  6. Katya Dee

    Chapter 16

    It was 10:50, and Werner absent-mindedly licked his lips. He’s been sitting in his car for the last hour. He was so eager to get Rayhe on his knees finally, that he left his house a hell of a lot earlier than he planned. As a result, he ended up arriving to the house behind the old Plaza at 9:45. Therefore, he was sitting in his car for the last hour, trying to keep his imagination from running wild. He didn’t want to take care of himself again; he wanted Rayhe to do it for him. That and he was somewhat worried that he might not be able to perform if he managed to come for the third time. It’s been a while (a very long while) since Werner got more than one release in one day, and he didn’t want to strain himself too much. He would hate it if his body wouldn’t cooperate with him at a crucial moment. That would be very bad indeed. Finally, he heard the sound of the engine. He immediately knew that it was Rayhe. Who else would be driving here this late? Werner pulled the keys out of the ignition and got out of the car, his large form giving him troubles as usual, rubbing unpleasantly against the steering wheel. Maybe one of those days, he will start thinking seriously about losing some weight. He was absolutely right – the engine he heard belonged to Rayhe’s vehicle. Werner couldn’t help but smile when he saw that damn brat (well, he wasn’t a brat anymore, to be honest. He was what... Thirty?) to get out of his car, grave expression on his face. You have no idea what’s coming, Werner thought, pun partially intended. Even Werner himself wasn’t quite aware of everything that he was going to do to Rayhe-Junior tonight. Sometimes, he let himself go, let his imagination and his wild side to take over. When that happened, nobody (not even Werner himself) knew what was going to happen next. Werner firmly told himself to make sure that Rayhe survived tonight – there was an accident or two in his past... Werner winced when he remembered one time when he let himself go wild while he was pounding into Sam who was fifteen back then. He was squeezing the kid’s throat (one of the things he liked to do; it made him feel almost high) and then he realized that Sam wasn’t moving (or whining for that matter. Oh God, that whining pissed Werner off every time; all the ‘Please, stop!’ and ‘It hurts too much!’ were driving him up the wall), and when he listened more closely, he noticed that Sam wasn’t breathing either. Werner remembered panic that flooded him. He was running for the office, and mysterious death of his only son (whose throat would be covered with bruises that would match Werner’s fingerprints to a t) would not look good at all. He managed to resuscitate the kid, and after that happened, he made sure that he was in complete control of himself every time he was with Sam. Werner watched Rayhe walk towards him slowly, as if he was forcing himself to do so, which was probably the case. He stopped a couple of feet away from Werner, his posture beyond tense. “Werner,” he said finally. “Gabriel,” LeVoughn-Senior smiled widely. “Where is Specter?” “I had to make sure you came alone,” Rayhe said. “Are you satisfied?” Werner asked mildly. “Yes,” Rayhe said in a strained voice, and Werner almost laughed. Not yet, he thought, but soon. Well, it depends on... Oh, it depends on so many things... “Specter is inside,” Rayhe was saying meanwhile, and Werner blinked. “I used the back door,” Gabriel said when he noticed Werner’s expression. “I left him there a couple of hours ago; had to make sure that the perimeter was clean...” Perimeter, Werner thought. He spent too much time with that kill-for-hire; he is even using his vocabulary. Suddenly, Werner wondered if those two fucked yet. Then he shrugged to himself. It didn't matter. “Shall we...?” he asked politely, and Rayhe cringed. “Yes,” he said stiffly and went towards the house. Werner followed him, his excitement growing with each second. He was seriously concerned about him even making it inside the house; he felt like he was about to force Rayhe down on his knees right here, outside. He managed to get himself under control. Werner made it all the way to the house. Rayhe unlocked the door and walked inside. Werner followed him, and he was about to say, ‘Okay, this is private enough’ and have his way with that brat, when someone said: “Psst!” right above his ear. Werner turned around, dumbfounded, and then he saw some guy whose face he didn’t recognize; some guy whose green eyes were flickering in a strange way that immediately made Werner uneasy. He thought, “Oh, son of a bitch! This is a trap...!” when the said guy sank a needle into his upper arm, and that was the end of the day that started so well for Werner LeVoughn, because two seconds after the injection, he was unconscious. He didn’t even realize that his huge frame went down on the floor like an oversized sack of potatoes. **** Desmond needed all the help he could get to be able to move LeVoughn-Senior into the living room. “And I thought Rayhe was heavy,” he thought while Gabriel and he dragged the unconscious body into the room. “This one weighs more than a decent size whale!” Finally, the relocation was complete, and LeVoughn-Senior was securely attached to a huge armchair. Desmond straightened up and looked at Gabriel, who stood less than two feet away from him, his arms propped on his sides. “Now what?” Rayhe asked, and Desmond was somewhat amused to hear his voice lack any worry whatsoever. “Now...” Desmond said and glanced at still unconscious LeVoughn-Senior. “Did you give him the same drug that I’ve been injected with?” Gabriel interrupted him suddenly, and now his voice sounded darker than before. “No,” Desmond said shortly. “I don’t need his senses heightened; it’s unnecessary. I just needed to knock him out in order to get him into this chair. With his size...” he glanced at LeVoughn-Senior again. “It would be quite a nuisance,” he finished. “What do you want me to do?” Gabriel asked, and Desmond looked at him intently. “I want you to leave,” he said quietly, and Rayhe blinked. “Why?” he frowned. Desmond closed his eyes for a second. “Because if you stay...” “...you won’t be able to look at me the same way ever again.” “...there is a chance that someone might sneak up on us,” he finished. “You never know,” he added when he saw Rayhe’s doubtful eyes. Gabriel nodded slowly. “All right,” he said. “I’ll leave. I’ll be outside if you need me.” Desmond nodded somewhat stiffly and watched Rayhe walk out and close the door. Then he turned towards LeVoughn-Senior and noticed that the man’s eyelids started to flutter. Good, Desmond thought indifferently. He is coming about. It was two or three minutes later, when Werner finally opened his eyes. He glanced around and jerked wildly, trying to set himself free. He couldn’t move a muscle, it seemed. Desmond certainly knew how to tie someone down and completely incapacitate them. “Who... Who the hell are you?!” LeVoughn-Senior asked sharply, staring at Desmond with badly hidden fear. “I am the last thing you are going to see before you die,” Desmond said quietly. LeVoughn saw a blade in Desmond’s hand, and his eyes widened so much that under different circumstances it would be hilarious. “Wh... What are you doing...?” he stuttered. Desmond paused for a second. “I am doing the world a favor,” he said finally, and then the good day was officially over for Werner LeVoughn. **** Gabriel was leaning on his car, smoking slowly. He knew that being “sneaked up on” wasn’t the real reason Desmond wanted him to leave. Right before the assassin said it, there was this tense look in his eyes; the one that said, ‘If you stay, then you will see a monster every time you look at me.’ It wasn’t true, Gabriel thought. He knew what Specter could do, and he knew what Specter was capable of -- Gabriel did a very thorough research on him before finally knocking him out in that alley. He hated himself for succumbing to that idea finally. LeVoughn-Senior told him that he found out “... from a trustful source” that someone had placed a hit on Sam, and that the same someone hired Specter to do it. “If Specter gets anywhere near him...” Rayhe remembered LeVoughn-Senior saying to him in a teary voice. “...my boy is as good as dead!” Gabriel cringed at the words ‘my boy.’ He remembered how many times he saw bruises all over Sam’s arms, ankles, and throat. Mostly, it would be throat. He tried asking the boy what the hell happened, but Sam would tense up immediately after Gabriel asked anything. It would always be something like, ‘I fell,’ or ‘I scratched myself too hard,’ or ‘I got into a fight at school.’ Finally, Gabriel gave up and stopped asking him anything. Then, after Gabriel’s father passed away, LeVoughn-Senior decided to run for the office. Gabriel was surprised – he never thought that someone like Werner LeVoughn would be interested in politics. To Gabriel's utter amusement, LeVoughn-Senior managed to squeeze his enormous form into one of the office’s chairs, and Gabriel hadn’t heard from him or Sam ever since. Then, a couple of months or so ago, Gabriel received a phone call from a teared up Werner. At first, Gabriel flatly refused. He couldn’t help himself; every time he thought of LeVoughn-Senior, he’d remember the man’s leering eyes that kept running all over Gabriel’s body when he was younger and when LeVoughn-Senior still worked as an accountant for his father. He remembered finding the man completely and utterly repulsive; he still felt the same way when Werner called him that one day. So he refused, only to receive yet another call from Werner the next day. LeVoughn-Senior sounded downright terrified. Finally, Gabriel gritted his teeth and said that fine, he’d get Specter out of the way until the end of the month, until Werner figured out how to keep Sam safe. LeVoughn-Senior swore on his mother’s grave that he’d figure something out; that he’d send Sam to the farthest continent he could think of, just to make sure he survived. Gabriel remembered himself thinking that maybe some people did change, in spite of the belief that said otherwise. Werner sounded like he really cared about Sam that time; he sounded like a hysterical father; he sounded like someone who couldn’t bear even a thought of losing someone dear to them. “Well,” Rayhe thought darkly while sucking on his cigarette. “Turns out that good old Werner never changed after all... He is just a surprisingly good actor, that’s it.” Then he received yet another phone call from LeVoughn-Senior. That one happened after Gabriel had Specter chained to a pipe in his house. “You know,” LeVoughn-Senior said, his voice nowhere near the teared-up-father Gabriel succumbed to a little while ago. “I am rather naive... I mean, there is a chance that I just might let it slip off my tongue when I am talking to Julian... The fact that you are the one who placed a hit on Salamander-Senior... Things won’t go well for you then...” He was trying to persuade Gabriel into taking out Specter for good. In other words, killing him. That was when Gabriel lost it and told LeVoughn-Senior to shove his threats up his ass. It wasn’t like he never killed before, and it wasn’t like he was squeamish about blood -- that wasn’t it, no. He wasn’t going to kill Specter because the assassin was the one who became his tool of revenge for Sheila. He would never kill a man who avenged Sheila. That and there was also the fact that he would feel funny every time he looked at Specter; every time he would imagine what his skin would smell like; every time he thought that his mouth was made for kissing, not killing. When it finally happened between the two of them, Gabriel thought that his fantasies weren't even close to the reality. The reality was so much better. He still couldn’t believe that Specter (“Desmond... Desmond... Desmond... Oh God, Desmond...!”) would give so much of himself to Rayhe; that he would get lost in his own little world as much as Gabriel himself would; he didn’t expect Specter to react the way he did... So tonight, after Desmond told (“asked”) him to get out, Gabriel thought that there was no force in the entire bloody world that would make him see Desmond as a monster. He left nevertheless, because he knew it would be important to Desmond. He finished his smoke, wondering if he needed yet another one (it’s been almost an hour and a half since he went outside), when he heard Desmond’s voice calling him.
  7. Wayne Gray

    Expectations

    Thanks for writing, Petey! They definitely need someone to give them a talking to! You’re right. There are deeper issues for both guys, and it’s going to take time before those are resolved. IF they get resolved!
  8. Petey

    Expectations

    Both boys are so busy protecting their own hearts they're in danger of losing each other's. I think you should sit them both down and give them a good talking to, after all they are your boys :)
  9. Myr

    Mini painting 2

    I"ve started printing my own. painting comes soon
  10. Wesley8890

    Chapter 11

    I hate to say this but now I'm up to the point where I kinda want to knock some sense into this boy! I mean dad is obviously attempting to try to show he cares and Richie just refuses to acknowledge it. Was I this freaking insufferable as a teenager?
  11. Today
  12. This story was inspired by the Kyle character. Strange, huh? Yeah, I know. Honestly, though, many moons ago I met a neighborhood boy who was fifteen, attractive, unusually mature, and clearly—even if he didn't know it yet—sexually confused. The real Kyle developed a huge crush on me which lasted years before his family moved to another state. No, I never responded to that crush despite his increasing attempts to engage me both emotionally and sexually. A few years ago I had one of those random thoughts about the past. It happened to be the real Kyle who popped into my head, which made me go looking to see if I could find him. No luck there, but the thought wouldn't go away, so eventually I started writing a story. All I knew at the time was that it would be based loosely on the truth—gay guy moves into new neighborhood, meets fifteen-year-old kid, kid develops crush on gay guy as he figures out his sexuality, blah blah blah. What I refused to do, however, was write a story that hinged entirely on an adult-minor titillation vibe. Thus the Greg character could never show interest in Kyle, though I had no issue with Greg finding the kid attractive since that's no more inappropriate than liking dark chocolate; it's just natural. But that left me wondering how meeting a boy of fifteen could have a significant effect on a mature gay man if it didn't result in the gay man developing feelings for the boy. So—some of you will be pleased with this—I created a character originally called The Dick. I never gave him a name and he was never more than a nebulous shadow from the past, a guy who was Greg's first love and who hurt Greg in major ways. Not physically, no, but emotionally. In that first iteration, Greg was fifteen when he fell in love with The Dick. Except that didn't really create a problem significant enough to make Kyle important. As you can probably guess, it required that The Dick be an adult when they met and Greg fell for him. Which still didn't solve the boredom issue I was facing. Somehow I needed The Dick to be so significant that Kyle's presence and attractiveness would cause a profound impact on Greg, forcing him to face something terrible and painful from his past. Well, unexpectedly The Dick needed a name. Richard, right? That was an easy leap to make, so I made it. But he needed more than a name. And it only took about ten seconds of thought to realize what could be in Greg's past that would make meeting Kyle a potent catalyst for change in a thirty-year-old man. Basically, Richard, who became The Fiend since The Dick had too much levity associated with it, grew organically from the story as it developed, slowly taking on this dark and ominous persona. Because he'd been mature when Greg was young, making him a predator came naturally, especially because I needed Greg's hurt from Richard to be life-altering and of significant consequence. From there, making him Nate's father was a no-brainer. How could I make Greg's experience with Richard substantial for both guys? It's one thing for a best friend to feel hurt and anger at his best friend's assault; it's a much better challenge to overcome if the assailant was his father. So Richard was a simple, natural progression for a character who originally remained a nameless presence in the past upon whom all blame could be heaped for Greg's dating issues. Well, it started out being simple dating issues, or at least a severe disinterest in dating, but as Richard took shape, so too did a darker past and deeper problems for Greg. And Nate, as well. And finally, I originally wrote five separate endings for this story. One is the ending you've read, with Nate and Greg happily together. Two of the other endings I discarded immediately: Greg and Keigan getting together, which was too trite and predictable; and Greg and Kyle getting together when Kyle was nineteen, which required some romantic interest when Kyle was a minor, a line I was unwilling to cross. The fourth ending was sad: Greg withdrew from Nate because he loved him too much but couldn't have him, and Nate tried fixing it while his relationship with Rita progressed, ultimately ending with Nate and Rita preparing to marry while Greg was a lonely, anguished mess. In the last chapter, Greg sees them across the store where Nate and Rita are building their wedding gift registry. Nate looks hopeful and waves toward Greg, but all Greg can do is turn away as he begins crying. Yeah, after what I put Greg through, I really didn't want to leave him like that even if it was believable. The fifth alternate ending had Greg meeting someone at a party hosted by Keigan and Yannis, but he makes clear he can't really get involved with anyone because of his feelings for Nate. Later, at Greg's birthday party, he runs into Nate for the first time in a year or more, and they finally begin reconciling and rebuilding their friendship. Both are single and at the end, Nate asks Greg out on a date. I rejected that one because I wanted to give them a happy ending, not just a hopeful one. Hopefully some of that is interesting to those of you who like seeing a bit of what's behind the curtain. Thank you so much for all of your support, interest, kindness and feedback! I've never written for an audience; decades of writing always happened simply because I like to write and I have to do it to get stories to stop bouncing around inside my head. Posting this here on GA has taught me a great deal about sharing with others that which has historically been a personal endeavor resulting in something else to store in digital limbo. Now, perhaps, some of those wrongfully imprisoned stories can be released for the enjoyment of others. Again, thank you sincerely and wholeheartedly! Cheers and best regards, - Jason
  13. Ronyx

    Chapter 11

    The house was empty when I got up. I guess my aunt and uncle weren’t going to force me to go back to school until I was ready. I really wasn’t sure I would be able to face people again. I’d already had to endure their looks when Stephen spread the rumor that I was gay. I could only imagine what they would think about Wade dying in the car accident. Dying. It was still hard for me to understand. Uncle Ray had helped me a little the night before, but it was hard for me to imagine a bright future. I just couldn’t see a rainbow ahead. My mourning had become a storm. Dark clouds surrounded me, and there was no way the sun could ever peek through again. I sat in the family room for a while and watched television, but I soon discovered I was looking at the screen, and I wasn’t really paying attention to what was on. I went to my room and checked my email, but again nothing. I picked up the cell phone on my desk and played a game, but I couldn’t concentrate long enough to even make a decent challenge. Tears welled up in my eyes when I opened my contact list. Only one name appeared- Fucker. Why? Why had he paid for Wade’s funeral? It didn’t make sense. I had humiliated him in front of his coworkers. I had intentionally tried to hurt him. And I know I hurt him. I saw the look in his eyes when he was pulled from my hospital room. I expected him to hate me. I wanted him to hate me. And I still wasn’t sure that he didn’t. He did agree for me to live here with Uncle Ray and Aunt Barbara. By the belongings in my room, it appeared he had completely cleaned out my room at his house. It was obvious he never expected me to return. He hadn’t even spoken to me at Wade’s funeral. A nod of his head was the only acknowledgement that I was at the church a few seats away. He had held Wade’s mother and comforted her, but he couldn’t walk over to me and comfort me. I am hurting. I needed someone to hold me. Two people I loved deeply were now gone. I loved him once, a long time ago. I had loved him before he left us- before he hurt Mom. My mind is wracked with confusion. I want to hate him. But deep inside I want to be a little boy once again. I want to catch a blue gill and listen as he laughs with pride at what I have done. When Uncle Ray held me last night, I wanted it to be him. But I hate him. Right? ******** I was asleep in bed when my phone indicated I had an email. I looked over at the clock. It was 3:36. I got up, sat down at my desk and opened my phone. Gabedaman: can I come see u? I sat and stared at the message for several minutes. I couldn’t decide if I was ready to see Gabe again. He was right when he had said that I wasn’t the same Richie he knew. I had changed and I didn’t know if he would like the new me. I didn’t even like the new me. I wondered if it would be best if I would just let him forget about me. I had too much baggage and I didn’t want him to try and carry it for me. He’d been doing that for years. He didn’t deserve a friend like me. After all these years I knew he felt obligated to be my friend. I wanted his friendship, I needed it. But I was no longer the old Richie. I wasn’t the friend he had grown up with over the years. Something was different. Our friendship would be different. Richierich: yeah, sure I regretted sending it the moment my finger hit the key. I wasn’t prepared to talk to him. I didn’t know what to say. Richierich: can we make it another time? I sat at my desk and waited nervously for his reply, but it never came. He either had left his house before reading it, or he had decided to ignore it. I got up, removed my pajamas and put on a pair of shorts and a tee shirt. I walked over to the window and looked out, waiting for him to come. If I had been at home, it would have only taken him a few minutes. But my aunt’s house was about fifteen blocks away. I looked over at the clock: 3:58. I knew it would only take him about ten minutes to ride his bicycle here. My body began to shake when I saw him ride up into the driveway. He rang the doorbell several times before I got up the nerve to walk to the door and open it. He had his head down but lifted it and attempted a slight smile when he saw me. “Can I come in?” he asked when I stood staring back at him. “Yeah, sure.” I stepped aside as he entered. He was carrying an armload of books. “Here,” he said as he laid them down in a chair. “I brought your homework for you. I wasn’t able to get your computer science assignments because there was a sub today.” He looked up and our eyes met. “Thanks,” I managed to smile. His lips curled into a smile. He then walked over and wrapped his arms around me. My body stiffened as he clutched me tightly. “Are you all right, Richie?” Tears filled my eyes as I rested my head on his shoulder and nodded. His eyes were misty when he pulled away and looked at me. “I know I should have come to see you,” he apologized, “but I didn’t know how to take all this.” Tears started to flow down his cheeks as he pulled me into another hug. “God, Richie! You almost died!” We both started to cry uncontrollably. I don’t know who was more emotional, me or Gabe. One thing was for certain, I hadn’t lost my best friend. He was still here for me, flaws and all. It surprised me when he pulled away, stared into my eyes and then…kissed me. On the lips! I think it startled him as much as it did me. He jumped away, and his face flushed with embarrassment. “Jesus, Richie!” he exclaimed as his face continued to redden. “I didn’t mean to do that!” I held out my arms. “I know that, you idiot.” He walked over and we hugged once again. “But thanks anyway.” He pulled away and said excitedly, “If you ever tell anyone I kissed you, I’ll kick your ass into tomorrow!” I started laughing. I knew Gabe meant nothing by it. It only showed how much he really cared about me. I may never tell anyone about the kiss, but I’ll always cherish it. It sealed our friendship forever. I put my hands on my hips. “What?” I tried to sound insulted. “I’m not a good kisser?” “No,” he said quickly, “you’re a good kisser.” “I am?” I continued to tease him. “No,” he blushed. “I didn’t mean it that way.” “It’s okay, Gabe,” I said trying to make him feel more comfortable. “A kiss doesn’t always mean you want someone. It can show that you care for someone, like when you kiss your grandmother.” It was his turn to put his hands on his hips and act insulted. “So now I kiss like someone’s grandmother?” “Dunno,” I shrugged my shoulders. “You didn’t kiss me long enough for me to tell.” “Well, you’re never gonna find out again,” he insisted. “And if you ever tell anyone...” “You’re going to kick my ass into tomorrow,” I laughed. “Damn, straight,” he replied. He put his arm around my shoulder and led me to the sofa. When we sat down, he turned toward me, tucking one leg under his other. “So, are you all right?” I shrugged my shoulders. “I guess I don’t have much of a choice, do I?” “Guess, not,” he replied sadly. “But you know I’m here for you if you need me?” “Yeah, I know,” I sighed. “Good old Gabe watching out for fucked up little Richie.” He reached out and touched my arm. “Don’t, Richie.” “It’s okay,” I replied when I saw how upset he was getting. “I’ll be all right.” I stood up. “Let’s go to the mall. I need to get out of the house for a while.” He started to grin. “I heard Footlocker is having a sale on Nike’s. Dad gave me my allowance last night. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of money. “Damn!” My eyes widened. “What did you do to get that much money?” “Cleaned out the garage.” “Without me?” I shrieked. “How come he’s never paid you when I’ve helped you?” “You didn’t get me in trouble, Asshole,” he laughed. “When you help me it is usually because you got me to do something stupid at school. Cleaning the garage was our punishment.” “You mean your punishment,” I giggled. “I never got into trouble.” “Fucker!” he laughed as he held up the money. “And if you’re nice, I just might buy you a Big Mac.” “You were going to buy me a Big Mac anyways,” I grinned evilly. “What makes you so sure?” “I’m blackmailing you for kissing me.” “Fucker!” He pulled me back down onto the sofa and pretended to hit me. “I’ll kick your ass.” “Tomorrow!” I screamed as I threw him on the floor. I held out my hand and helped him up. “Let’s go, I’m starved.” He put his arm around my shoulder as we headed for the door. ******** I intended to go back to school the next day, but I didn’t get any sleep. Every time I closed my eyes, Wade’s face appeared. Tears filled my eyes when I saw him grinning with his brown eyes shining with mischief. God, I miss him so much! What I miss the most is not giving him my virginity. I had planned to do that after he had taken me out to the steak house. As we ate, I really began to fall in love with him. He would look over and smile innocently. And his eyes, those brown eyes, they would stare at me with so much love. When he told me that I was the first person he had ever told that he loved, I believed him. And I had wanted to give him the only thing I could to show that I loved him to- me. But now... I was curled in a ball hiding under the covers when Uncle Ray entered the bedroom. He sat down and didn’t say anything for several minutes. I guess he didn’t know what to say. What can you say to someone whose world has been shattered completely? He finally reached out and rubbed me on my back. “Just remember what I told you, Richie. It won’t last forever.” I nodded and then he got up and left the room. I slept for about two hours until my cell phone rang. I was puzzled who was calling me because I hadn’t given it out to anyone. When I picked it up, I saw the word ‘Fucker’ on the screen. My hand started to tremble as I held it, but I couldn’t bring myself to talk to him. I turned it off and put it back on my desk. After showering and eating some cereal, I went out into the garage and got out my bike. It took me about thirty-five minutes to ride across town. When I entered through the wrought iron double gates, I saw a large, green tent with many people standing outside. I wondered who they had come to mourn. Was it someone they loved, or were they there because it was the proper thing to do? Then I thought again of him. Did he attend mother’s funeral because he still had feelings of love for her, or had he been there because it was expected? He was, after all, still her husband and our father. I stood beside my bike as I looked at the large number of people surrounding the tent. Who had this person been that brought so many people to say goodbye to them? Tears filled my eyes as I wondered why no one had attended Wade’s funeral. He was a great guy, perhaps greater than the person whose casket sat under the tent. But no one came to say goodbye to him. Even I couldn’t bring myself to follow the hearse for the last ride to the cemetery. I remembered how difficult it was to watch as the long black vehicle led the procession to where I now stood. It would have been too emotional for me to have to do it again so soon. So, I went home and buried my head under the covers of my bed. Now I didn’t even know where he was. I got back on my bike and rode it up the sloping hill to where my mother was. As I approached, I noticed a black BMW. He was here. I turned and headed to a large oak tree and hid behind it so he couldn’t see me. He was sitting on the ground beside the now wilted and dry flowers. Andrew was sitting in his lap and Melinda was pressed up against his body with her head buried in his shoulder. She was holding a bouquet of fresh pink carnations. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but it appeared he was trying to console my little brother. He put his arms around him and held him tightly. I dropped to the ground and started crying silent tears. I didn’t want to make any sounds because I didn’t want him to know that I was watching. After several minutes they got up off the ground and he put his arms around Andrew and Melinda and stood staring down at the ground. She leaned down and carefully placed the bouquet atop the mound of dirt. They turned and headed back to his car. Harley jumped out from the back seat, ran to Andrew and embraced him. Freddy got out of the passenger’s side and helped Melinda into the car. When he turned, he saw me standing behind the tree watching. Our eyes met. We stood staring at each other briefly before he nodded slightly and then got into the car. I watched as his black car pulled away and he drove off down the sloping hill and through the wrought iron gate. After I was sure they wouldn’t return, I walked over to her gravesite and sat down. I crossed my legs and just sat staring at the flowers my sister had placed upon the grave. After several minutes, I finally began to speak. “I don’t even know where to begin,” I said tearfully. “So much has happened since you’ve left.” My shoulders began to shake, and I leaned forward and cried for several minutes. Finally, I sat back up and wiped my face clean. “Did you know?” I picked a fresh carnation from the bouquet and held it in my hand. “There were so many times I wanted to tell you, but you already had so many other things to deal with.” I plucked a few petals from the flower and let them fall to the ground. “Somehow, I think you knew, though. Mothers always know, don’t they?” Tears again filled my eyes. “I want to make you proud of me. I really do. But things are so hard right now.” Again, I feel forward and started sobbing loudly. I sat back up and plucked a few more petals from the pink carnation. “I fell in love, Mom. His name was Wade. I think you would have liked him.” More tears. They wouldn’t stop flowing from my eyes. “He died, though.” I sat staring down at the mound of dirt. “I wish you were here. I’m so confused.” I plucked more petals from the pink carnation and let them fall to the ground below. “But I guess you’re not here, so I’m going to have to learn to do this by myself,” I said sadly. “Life sure is hard, isn’t it?” I lifted my sleeve to my eyes and wiped them dry. “Where ever you are, I hope you’re not in any more pain. I hope you’re watching over Andrew, Melinda and me. I’ll try to do good. I promise. It’s just isn’t easy.” I plucked a few more petals from the carnation. “I guess I’m going to have to be a man now, huh?” I blinked back the tears. “Dad is taking good care of Andrew and Melinda. Don’t worry about them.” I reached for more petals, but there were none. “He hates me, so I’m living with Aunt Barbara and Uncle Ray; but I guess you already know that.” I looked up as a flock of birds flew overhead. I sighed and sat motionless for several minutes. I watched as the mourners at the big, green tent walked quietly back to their cars and drove away. “I guess I better go,” I finally said. “I’m meeting Gabe and we’re going to the mall. He’s still my best friend.” I fought back tears. “I don’t know why, though.” I took a deep breath. “I love you, Mom. I know you didn’t want to leave us.” I leaned down, kissed the dirty ground and then sat back up. “I promise I’ll try to be good. I won’t let you down no more.” I wiped the tears from my eyes and then stood up. After staring down the mounded soil for another minute, I walked to my bike and headed home. ******** Gabe was sitting on the porch waiting for me when I arrived home. “Where the hell have you been, Richie?” He looked down at his watch. “I’ve been sitting waiting for ten minutes.” “Wow,” I laughed. “Ten whole minutes?” “Well,” he pouted. “It seemed like a long time.” “Did you get the money for the shoes?” I asked as I opened the door. He followed me up to my room. The shoes he had seen the day before cost more than he had, so he was going to ask his father if he could do more chores to make up the difference. “No,” he frowned. “He told me I had to learn to live within my means. I’m fucking fifteen, I don’t have any means. Whatever that is.” “You saw that other pair you liked,” I reminded him. “They were cheaper than the ones you wanted.” “Yeah,” he frowned again. “But everyone is wearing the ones I wanted. They’ll know I couldn’t afford them.” “Does it really matter what they think?” He threw up his arms. “Well, duh, yeah,” he replied. “I play basketball. If I’m going to get a girl to look at me, I have to look good.” I scanned his body, fell on the bed and started laughing. “You gotta have a body to look at first.” He jumped on the bed and pinned me down. I continued to laugh as I attempted to wiggle from under his lanky body. “So now I’m ugly?” I continued to squirm under him. Finally, I was able to break away. I ran to the middle of the room and turned. “Yeah,” I laughed. “And you can’t kiss, either!” “Fucker!” he screamed as he shot up from the bed and chased me into the living room. He tackled me, and we went tumbling to the ground. “I can to kiss,” he insisted as he held me to the ground. “I just can’t kiss another guy.” “You didn’t have a problem yesterday,” I squealed as he pressed me harder into the ground. “And besides, you’ve never even kissed a girl.” “I have to!” he shouted. I stopped squirming and he let me up. “Really?” I looked over as his face reddened. I knew Gabe talked to a lot of girls, but I had never know him to date any yet. “Who?” “I’m not going to tell you,” he said as he sat up and tried to catch his breath. “You’ll tell everyone if I tell you.” “No, I won’t,” I promised. “Who have you kissed?” He studied me for a minute before responding. “Promise you won’t tell anyone?” I nodded my head. “Okay. Teresa Scott.” “Teresa Scott!” I started laughing. “I knew it. You two have been looking at each other since the sixth grade. When?” “When what?” “Idiot,” I laughed. “When did you kiss her?” “Two weeks ago,” he blushed. “After a ball game.” “Did you?” I ran my finger inside my fisted hand. His eyes widened. “No!” He screamed. “We only kissed for a few minutes.” He scooted back, leaned against the sofa and looked over at me. “What about you?” “What about me, what?” “You know.” He started making the same gesture with his hands. Tears filled my eyes as I got up and walked into the kitchen. Gabe jumped up and followed me into the room. “Jesus, Richie!” he apologized as he grabbed my shoulder and turned me toward him. “I’m really sorry. I forgot.” “It’s okay.” I got a paper towel from the counter and wiped my eyes. He continued to look at me. “So, you two were like... in love or something?” I started laughing nervously thinking about Wade’s proposal. “Yeah. He kinda wanted us to get married.” Gabe’s eyes widened. “No shit! Weren’t you too young? And besides, is that even legal?” “Dunno,” I responded sadly. I wiped a few more tears from my eyes. “I guess now it’s never going to happen.” Gabe walked over and pulled me into a hug. “I’m sorry, Richie,” he said. “I was such a dick. I’m sorry for all the things I said about him. I didn’t know.” I pulled away and walked across the room. “I guess I really didn’t give you a chance to know, huh?” “I’m your best friend, though,” he said. “I should have known.” He walked over and stood before me. “Promise one thing though.” I nodded my head. “If you ever fall in love with another guy, let me know, okay?” I started laughing at the serious look on his face. Good old Gabe. I knew why he’d been my best friend for all these years. “I don’t think it will ever happen again,” I smiled. “But if it does, you’ll be the first to know.” “Good. I better be.” He hit me lightly on my arm. “Now let’s go to the mall. I guess I’ll have to settle for the cheaper shoes.” “Gabe?” “Yeah?” “You’re not ugly.” I smiled. “I’m sure you’re going to kiss a lot of girls.” “You think so?” he asked hopefully. Gabe is cute, athletic and smart. He is also a bit naïve and clueless about the charm he possesses. I have been jealous for years about the way girls fawn over him, trying to get him to pay attention to them. “Yeah, I’m sure of it.” I threw my arms around his shoulder. “Let’s go.” As we headed for the door, he suddenly stopped. “Wait a minute!” He reached into his pocket and pulled out an envelope. “I almost forgot. Here.” He thrust the envelope into my hand. “What’s this?” “I stopped by your house to talk to Freddy before I came over here,” he explained. “When I told your dad I was going to the mall with you, he gave me that.” He nodded at the envelope I was holding. “What’s in it?” “Dunno,” I said as I fumbled to open it. I reached in and pulled out a large wad of money. “Jesus, Rich!” Gabe grabbed it from my hands and counted it. “There’s two hundred dollars here!” he squealed. When he handed the money to me, I pushed it back into his hand. “You keep it,” I insisted. “I don’t want it.” “I can’t take this, Richie.” “Sure you can,” I insisted. I didn’t want anything he gave me. “It’s only guilt money, anyway.” “Guilt money?” “Never mind,” I smiled. “You want those shoes we saw yesterday, don’t you?” “Hell, yeah!” “Then let’s go buy them.” “You sure?” He looked at the money he was holding in his hand. “I’m sure,” I smiled. “You’re my best bud.” I threw my arm around his shoulder and we headed for the door. I started laughing when he shouted, “Fucking, hell yeah!”
  14. Wayne Gray

    Expectations

    I know. They're damaged goods, both of them. Children!
  15. Thorn Wilde

    Expectations

    Ugh, I just can't with these boys! Love that morning scene just as much now as when I first read it, though.
  16. Thanks! It's only the second mini I've painted myself. Got a lot of pointers from our DM, who also plays Warhammer, so he's pretty seasoned at this stuff.
  17. There were clear skies, for which Wren was thankful. He and Caleb had pulled the tent out of the back of the pickup, then made themselves a nest of padding, blankets, and a sleeping bag. It was too late and too dark to set up the tent, so they'd sleep in the back of the truck for the night. He stared up into a sky filled with stars and the smudge of the Milky Way. Caleb was beside him, turned away on his side. Wren couldn't count how many times they had done this growing up as kids and teenagers. But it was different now. Wren could feel it, and he was sure Caleb could too. Wren didn't know what time it was, but he knew sleep needed to come soon. They would wake with the light, and that came early. There were also semi-wild chickens about with a loud, eager rooster - a farmer's alarm clock. They'd be up with the dawn, one way or another. Caleb sighed and rolled onto his back. Clearly, he too had trouble sleeping. They both lay there in the chilly evening, warm between the layers of blankets and an unzipped sleeping bag. "You still sing?" Caleb asked, his voice a murmur. Wren sat up on an elbow. "Not really." He shifted until he was in a seated position, his grandmother's quilt around his shoulders. "Not too much reason for it." He looked up at the sky. "Everything I sing turns into a country song. Nobody wants to hear that." "Maybe in California, but we're hillbillies here, in case you forgot." An amused quality in Caleb's tone made Wren smile. "Oh, I haven't forgotten." "Well." Caleb put his hands behind his head. "We're awake. Sing me something." Wren thought only a moment, and he had it. He glanced at Caleb. His friend looked up into the sky, waiting for Wren's voice. He inhaled and began to sing, his voice clean and carefully controlled. At the first notes of the song, 'I Hope You Dance', Caleb swallowed. It was a piece about taking risks, loving recklessly, and living a person's true life at any cost. Wren had always loved it, and now it was the first thing he thought of when Caleb asked him to sing. So he did. Wren closed his eyes and the tight control over his voice slowly disappeared, replaced by emotional inflection as he allowed his own mental state to bleed through. The last notes faded, and both men were quiet. Wren opened his eyes and looked down at Caleb. Caleb stared back at him, his expression unfathomable. Finally, he blinked and his jaw moved. "Goodnight, Wren." He rolled again on his side to face away from Wren. He looked at the back of Caleb's head - the only part of him visible, all wrapped up in his blankets. Wren didn't know what he expected, but what he felt was disappointment. "Goodnight, Caleb." Wren settled among the little nest of comfortable, warm layers and turned on his side. He too faced away and sighed. It would be another hour before sleep finally ended the way his chest ached, and how his mind continued to thrash in both longing and resignation. Hours passed and night gave way to the gradual march of the sun. Light woke Wren slowly, gently, serenely. The black-haired man shifted, then his eyes shot open. Caleb's warm body pressed against his, spooning him under the sleeping bag. They were both still clothed in their t-shirts and jeans - they wanted to be ready to go if something happened on the property. That didn't stop Wren's groin from reacting. Wren knew it was probably innocent. It was a chilly night, and sleeping bodies tended to migrate toward whatever would make them comfortable. In this case, it was Wren's body heat which was the attractive factor to Caleb, and sometime during the night he had thrown an arm around Wren and pulled him close. Wren didn't want Caleb to freak out when he woke. He decided to lie there and pretend he was asleep so Caleb could believe that Wren was unaware. Though it was torturous, he loved how Caleb curled into him, how secure it made him feel - and how complete the world became in that moment. It steadily brightened. It wouldn't be long before the light woke Caleb. Wren waited. A few minutes passed, and a rooster crowed in the distance. Caleb grunted softly, and Wren heard the sound of his jaw as it moved. Caleb leaned back slightly. He was awake, and Wren felt his stare on the back of his head. Instead of pulling away, Caleb lay back down on the same pillow Wren used. Wren wet his lips nervously. "Wren?" Caleb's voice was a murmur, so low Wren almost didn't hear it. He knew Caleb was testing him, to see if he were asleep. Wren didn't answer, and his heart thudded in his chest. Caleb's arm squeezed him, just slightly, then he leaned in, his nose against the back of Wren's neck. Caleb's lips ran over the tiny hairs on Wren's skin, and a wave of chills rose under where Caleb's soft, careful exploration occurred. Caleb breathed, his respirations warm on that same, sensitive skin. Those breaths picked up as Caleb inhaled Wren's scent. The hand on Wren's belly gripped his shirt, and Caleb's pelvis ever so slightly ground into Wren's backside. Though he tried to remain silent, Wren couldn't control the tiny groan that escaped him. Caleb stopped and lay stock-still for a few beats. Wren closed his eyes. He knew it was over. His cock, trapped beneath underwear and jeans throbbed in an erection, and the amount of sexual frustration he felt was maddening. Then Caleb tasted the back of Wren's neck, his mouth open, tongue pressed to Wren's skin. His hips moved in sensuous, small gyrations, grinding his pelvis against Wren. There was no longer any pretending - Caleb knew Wren was awake, and he must have no longer cared that Wren knew he was. Caleb's hand slid down until his thumb hooked under the button of Wren's Levis, while his fingers caressed the shaft of Wren's cock that lay straight up the dark-haired man's zipper. "Are… you want this?" Wren gasped as Caleb unbuttoned his jeans and squeezed his testicles gently through the material. Caleb responded by pushing Wren's pants down. Wren lifted his hips to help things along. Then Caleb shucked his own Carhartts and threw them over the side of the truck. Wren turned, and Caleb immediately pulled him in. Their bodies contacted under the blankets, each of them only in their briefs. As Wren leaned forward to kiss him, Caleb's hand pulled on the small of Wren's back, pressing their groins tightly together. They writhed, and as their tongues slid over one another's, Wren began to smell that familiar scent that so often accompanied male excitement - precome. It only made him want it more. Caleb pulled back for a moment. His underwear came off, and his strong fingers pulled at Wren's too. His breathing was almost labored, and his eyes were glazed with lust. Wren joined him in nakedness, then he pushed Caleb onto his back and climbed on top of him. Wren lay on him. He kissed Caleb, the big man's hands continuously running up and down from Wren's neck to his ass. Wren ground himself into Caleb, frotting in a primal, animalistic sensation. Caleb leaked copiously, and things became slippery quickly. Caleb groaned and lay his head back. His Adam's apple moved, and Caleb's lips separated as he panted. Wren stared down at him. He was so close, but he wanted Caleb to finish first. Carnal wonderment lit in Caleb's eyes, then he arched his neck. He moaned loudly and jerked as his moment struck. That was what Wren needed, and he too came in a messy spurt of fluid. Wren smeared their come into one sticky load between them as he continued to move and gyrate against his groaning friend. Wren dropped to lay his face against Caleb's neck. Both panted. Caleb's wide hands rested on the small of Wren's back. Wren bit his lip, almost afraid of what Caleb would say or do next. Wren steeled himself, then raised up to look at him. Those blue eyes stared. The lust was gone - sated for the moment, but wonderment remained. Caleb blinked slowly, then he sighed. "We should go up to Charles's to clean up." Wren licked his lips nervously. "Okay." He cringed. "Uh, are we all right?" Caleb looked at him for what seemed to be a long time. Finally, he nodded. "We will be." ⤱ Caleb had high hopes that he and Wren could get in and out of Charles’s and Tracy’s place without a lot of questions, looks, or comments. They had wiped themselves as clean as they could and dressed in their rumpled clothes. After, they drove up to the Shaws’. Wren pulled up, parked, and they both saw Charles crossing the big garden to meet them. Caleb sighed, already anticipating the inquisition. “Hey.” Wren smiled at Caleb. “However you want to handle this, it’s fine.” Wren nodded. “I’ll follow your lead.” Caleb considered. He didn't know what he wanted. He knew both Charles and Tracy accepted him, but he had no desire to throw his business out there. He rubbed his stubbled face. "Can we just, ah, hold off on sayin' anything?" He made a pained face. "I don't wanna lie, that isn't the way I wanna live. But I don't want to offer either." Wren nodded. "All right." His eyes tracked Charles as he got close. "Let's get this over with." Charles grinned at them as the pair exited the vehicle. "Hey! How was truck camping?" "Good." Caleb glanced at Wren. "Uh, we're both a little ripe, though. You mind if we hit the shower?" "Nope, don't mind at all. Y'all are doing the whole holler a favor by washin'!" Charles laughed and led them to the house. Tracy smiled as they entered. "Howdy, guys." She was at the kitchen counter and had just begun to fry spicy breakfast sausage patties in the cast iron skillet on the stove. "I'll get some more sausage in the pan. We're havin' breakfast sandwiches." Caleb nodded his thanks. "Sounds great, Tracy." Wren was quiet as they walked inside. Charles got them both towels. For Wren, he added a pair of socks and a fresh undershirt. Caleb retrieved a change of clothes from his room for himself. "You can have the first shower." Caleb jerked his head at the bathroom door. "Go for it." Wren clutched the clean shirt and towel against his chest. He stepped into the bathroom and closed the door behind him. Charles eyed Caleb. He motioned at his younger brother, and Caleb dutifully followed him down the hallway into the kitchen. The sound of the shower began from behind the bathroom door. "Okay, what's with Wren? Did something else happen?" Charles asked, then he frowned when Caleb hesitated. "Did he try something even after you told him not to?" There was an incredulous tone in Charles's voice. Tracy looked on, the spatula in one hand. "Nope." Caleb stepped over to the coffee pot and poured himself a mug of coffee. "He was a perfect gentleman." 'Me, on the other hand…' Caleb thought. Charles relaxed. "Okay. Good." He smiled and clapped a hand on Caleb's shoulder. "See? I told you if you just set down some ground rules, things would be fine." "Yep, you did." Caleb nodded sagely and took a sip. Tracy pressed the spatula and flattened the sausage patties in the hot pan. “So, what’s the plan? You gonna stay down on Wren’s land for a while?” Caleb thought. “I think I’m gonna need to.” He shook his head. “I don’t trust those uncles of his, and I don’t want to leave Wren alone on the property.” “I think that’s smart.” Charles frowned. “I trust them as far as I can throw Wade!” The water kicked off in the shower, and Caleb tossed back the rest of his coffee. “All right. After we’re cleaned up, dressed and fed, we’ll head back down and get the tent set up.” “I’ll come down and help set the poles,” Charles said. “They can be tricky. Best if I show y'all how it’s done.” Caleb smiled. “Thanks. That’d be good.” The bathroom door opened and a barefoot, damp Wren padded out. “God, that’s better.” He passed Caleb near the hall entrance. “It’s all yours.” “Thanks.” He watched as Wren found a seat at the table to put on his socks. Caleb couldn’t quite help but stare a second too long at Wren’s tight, shapely ass - that same ass he’d had his hands on only a little while before. He tore his eyes away. Then, as he turned toward the bathroom, his gaze met Charles’s. His brother stared at him, then Charles smirked and slightly shook his head. Caleb flushed red at getting caught ogling Wren by his brother. He cleared his throat. “Ok. Be out in a few minutes.” Charles saluted him with his mug, and Caleb retreated to hide behind the bathroom door. ⤱ Setting up the mess tent was an exercise in patience and humility. Even with Charles's help, they had to start over multiple times. "Nothin' is labeled? Really?" Caleb sighed as he helped Charles dismantle the portion they had just put up. Wren only shook his head and did what he could to help. After the majority of the tent was erected, he also stepped away, found a spot where the signal was strong enough for an outgoing call and dialed the airline. He had his return flight refunded, minus a "service charge." Then he called his roommate, Travis, in San Diego. "Hello?" Travis's voice came over the phone. "Hey, Travis. It's Wren." He rubbed his head. "So I'm not coming back. Some things have happened here, and I need to stay. I know what a hassle it is to find a roommate, so if you don't have one by the time rent is due, let me know. I'll pay the month." "Oh. Well, okay." Travis sounded thoughtful. "Do you need your stuff? You still have some clothes, and a few other things here." Wren heard something in his voice. Subtle, but there was more Travis left unsaid. "Yeah. That'd be great. I'll send money for the shipping." Wren hesitated, then he went for it. "So, you doing okay?" "Yeah. I'm okay." There was a wavering quality in Travis's tone. He was quiet, then he sighed. "Well, not really. I guess, since you're not coming back I can just tell you. I've been thinking about, ah, about what you caught me doing." He took a shaky breath. "I can't stop thinking about it." Wren hid his surprise. "Yeah?" His mind churned. Travis sounded like he just told him he'd murdered a man, and this time Wren determined to be supportive. He struggled to find something constructive he could say, then his eyes widened. "Hey. Have you thought of maybe exploring that a little more?" The silence was pronounced as Travis thought. He finally replied, "What do you mean?" "Well, I know of this guy." Wren bit his lip as he spoke. "He runs this, ah, service. Where guys and even couples can go, and experience, uh, stuff." Wren distinctly remembered seeing a man in a sweaty jock with another guy's face buried in his crotch on Mr. Branson's website. Travis exhaled over the connection. "For real?" "Yeah. Look it up. 'Managing Discipline.' His site is the first one that will come up." Wren heard a keyboard in the background. Travis inhaled in surprise over the receiver. "Whoa." Wren grinned. "Yeah, that's what I said when I first saw it too. The fellow who runs it is called 'Branson'. You should message him on the site." Wren's tongue appeared at the corner of his mouth. "If you do, tell him Wren sent you." ⤱ Charles grinned as they set up the double cot. "Look. Room fer two." Caleb glared at him, and Wren snorted with a laugh. After a couple of hours, they had finished with setting up the tent. Now they moved bedding, camp lights, and various supplies in under the protection of the canvas. The shelter was hell to set up, but it was sturdy, large, and could comfortably accommodate up to a half-dozen people. Wren smirked and shook his head. "I'm fine sleeping in my little nest on my pad." Caleb watched him roll out his three-inch thick foam pad on the other side of the tent. Both the cot and the sleeping pad created a little sleeping nook, with a two-foot wide walkway between them. Charles stood back, hands on his hips and looked at the setup. "This looks awful snug. Cozy." "It's a tent," Caleb said. "Only so cozy it can be. But at least it's not the dead of summer or winter. It'll be bearable." "Till when?" Charles leaned so he could look out the front flap of the tent a dozen feet away. The tent faced Beecher's old house, and the elder Shaw brother rubbed his chin. "You're tearing down the old place, but how long will it take to get something else built?" Wren straightened from arranging his bedding. "Well, since I'm here on site I'll be really motivated to get it done." He narrowed his eyes in thought. "Some of the foundation under papaw's house is sound - cement piers instead of loose brick. That can be reused in the new structure. But I'll still have to do a lot of prep and groundwork. Plus, I'll have to widen the foundation to accommodate my design." He looked a bit uncertain. "I know all about designing them, and I've helped with different aspects of building houses. Never built one entirely from scratch myself." "We've done it - from foundation to roof." Caleb nodded. "Helped our folks with their place in Louisa. It's a pretty little house too." Caleb's expression changed to curious. "What kinda place you thinking anyway?" Wren considered what he wanted to say, then he sighed. "Well, it's probably nothing you guys have seen or heard of, though it's not that different from any other house. It'll start with post and beam," Charles nodded, and Wren continued, "then we'll infill with straw bales on edge." Caleb and Charles frowned. "Straw bales? You're building a house out of straw?" Caleb couldn't keep the incredulous tone out of his voice. Wren nodded. "Yep. The only houses in California to survive the wildfires we had recently were made of strawbale, cob or adobe. They're almost fireproof, quiet, and beautiful." Wren glanced back and forth at each of the dubious Shaw brothers. "Okay, you guys will just have to trust me here." Charles laughed and shrugged. "All right. It's your house. We'll help however often we're able." He smirked. "Long as you help me with hay season." It was a well-known fact that Wren hated throwing hay. He groaned. "Ugh. Anything, anything other than hay!" Wren bargained. "Fencing? Feeding? Harvesting? Butchering chickens? Come on, anything else." Caleb laughed as Wren and Charles continued to bicker about their planned work-trade. They all knew Charles and Caleb would help Wren build his house, and that Wren would help as much as possible with anything the Shaws needed - including baling and tossing hay into their barn. After a few more minutes, Charles had to go, and he drove back up to his place. The next item on the list for Caleb and Wren was the repair of the tractor. They got into Caleb's truck and were soon on the road. Caleb had been busy all morning, and he'd managed to avoid overthinking about how he struggled to define what happened earlier in the day with Wren. Now, his mind had the quiet space it needed for processing. Wren seemed content to be a passenger, and he looked out the window at the green scenery. Caleb glanced at him and let his eyes sweep from Wren's face, down to his dirty jeans. He couldn't look too long though, and Caleb concentrated back on the road. A weird, fluttering sensation in his belly made him squirm. It felt as if he were stressed, but that feeling warred with one of contentment. 'What is happening?' Caleb turned onto the main road for the area, and they drove through a tiny map-dot of a town called Willard. He glanced again at Wren. This time Wren lay back in his seat and stared out of the windshield. He too looked deep in thought. Wren looked over at him and sighed. His voice was tremulous when he spoke. "You ever feel like you're walking around in a dream? And anything you do will fuck it up. And you'll wake, and it'll be over." Caleb's attention was back on the road, but he could see Wren looking at him from the corner of his eye. Caleb swallowed. "I don't know." He blew out a breath. "We're friends, Wren." He shook his head. "I don't want that to change." After a few seconds of scrutiny, Wren again faced forward. "So, that means I'm supposed to forget about this morning? I'm supposed to forget how nice it was to touch you?" He shook his head. "Because I don't think I can." He whispered, "I don't think I want to." The sensation in Caleb's gut increased. "I don't know what you're askin' of me." Caleb exhaled. "Yeah, something happened. And, I… I need to think about it. I need to figure out some stuff, okay?" "Yeah. Got it." Wren crossed his arms over his chest. "Pretend it didn't happen." Caleb felt the anger and disappointment from Wren. "I didn't say that, damn it." "But you meant it. That's what you meant." Wren shook his head. "It's fine." His tone told Caleb it wasn't 'fine'. The big Shaw boy was out of his depth and floundered. "Wren, I don't know what you want from me. Just tell me what you want, fuck!" Wren was silent, his eyes on the dash, eyebrows furrowed. Finally, he sighed a defeated breath. "Too much, I guess. I want too much." "That's not an answer. That's just another fucking riddle." Caleb started to heat up. "What. Do. You. Want?" Wren looked over at him. Caleb stopped at the single light in Hitchens, a small town on the way to Grayson and returned his stare. The light changed. The car behind them honked, then pulled around the truck. Caleb ignored it. Caleb continued to glare at Wren, unmoving. "Tell me what you want." Wren's eyes softened with discouragement. He shook his head once and faced forward again. "Nothing you can give me." ⤱ Wren stewed. He didn't speak at all in the store as they shopped for the parts they'd need to repair the tractor. After that chore, they went to buy some food that didn't require refrigeration at the local grocer, then they were back on the road again. Caleb didn't try to engage him on the return trip. They were both irritated and quiet, which made for an awkward ride home. They were supposed to stop for lunch at Wren's mother's. Wren didn't want to talk to anyone, particularly Caleb at the moment. He needed to think. Plus, he didn't need his mom trying to figure out what was wrong with him. As the truck turned down the road leading into the holler, Wren finally spoke, "Can you just drop me off at the tent?" Caleb frowned and looked at him. "What? You don't even want to be around me, now?" "Caleb, I just… I just need to think." Caleb snorted. "Hey, that's all I asked for too." He ignored Wren's request and turned down Rachel's gravel drive. "But we both know how far I got with that." Wren glared at him but found himself without the moral high ground to stand on. He leaned back in the seat, crossed his arms and glowered.
  18. kbois

    Chapter 21

    Around ten-thirty Sunday morning Lex woke up first, letting the first wave of his headache wash over him before he tried to move. Fucking Cassie and her Fireball. Never again. Yeah right. Every once in a while he and Cassie tied one on. After every time they both swore it would be the last. Yet inevitably they found themselves repeating history. At least, Lex consoled himself, it didn’t happen very often. He rolled out of bed, careful not to wake Ian and headed into the bathroom. After taking care of his bladder that was close to bursting he brushed his teeth hoping to get rid of whatever had crawled in and died. He shook eight ibuprofen out, popped four into his mouth and gulped water from the faucet. He padded back to the bedroom and left the other four painkillers on the nightstand next to a bottle of water for Ian when he woke. Walking softly down the hallway he glanced in the guest room and saw that Cassie had somehow managed to find her bed. He was impressed. He continued to the kitchen and filled the coffee maker with water. Thankfully there was coffee already ground. He couldn’t handle loud noise at the moment. Once it was brewing he went out to the porch and cleaned up their mess from the night before. He noticed that both bottles of alcohol were nearly empty. Damn, no wonder his head hurt. Heading back to the kitchen with the tumblers, he washed them out and then filled one with coffee and added a little vanilla creamer. He took some hamburger out of the freezer and set it out to thaw. He stepped out to the patio and relaxed on one of the loungers. Being at a higher elevation the morning air was cool, but not cold. This time of year was perfect for enjoying coffee outside. Roughly a half hour later Ian joined him, looking a little ragged around the edges. “Fuck. It’s been a long time since I drank like that. Thanks for leaving the ibu” he said as he leaned down for a kiss. Lex pulled him into his lap and kissed him thoroughly. “You’re welcome. Thanks for the amazing blow job last night.” Ian smiled and asked “So how long will Cassie be down for? I think she’s going to be in a world of hurt when she wakes up.” “It’s her own damn fault. She’ll recover. But a word of advice. Don’t speak to her until after she’s had coffee and a cheeseburger. Yes, I said cheeseburger. Don’t ask. It’s just her thing. But I’d like for your balls to remain intact so please don’t poke the beast. That’s all I ask.” Lex grinned. Ian hopped off his lap and told Lex “I’m going to shower. Wanna join me?” Lex raised an eyebrow and with a shit eating grin ordered “Lead the way” Nearly an hour later and with their headaches faded into a dull roar the two men ventured back into the kitchen and discovered Cassie at the table nursing her own big tumbler of coffee. Lex grabbed the burger he had taken out and put it in the microwave to speed up the defrosting process. He slipped out the sliding glass door and fired up the gas grill. By the time Cassie has finished her second tumbler of coffee Lex was sliding a plate with a thick burger covered with three slices of cheese in front of her. He placed a bottle of barbeque sauce next to her as well. Cassie grunted and took the bottle and squeezed out a generous amount onto her burger and then another huge splork on her plate. Topping the meat with the bun she practically unhinged her jaw like a snake to take a huge bite. Juice and sauce dripped down her chin. Ian looked on in astonishment as she dragged the burger through the sauce in preparation for the next mouthful. It took her exactly eight bites to finish the food. Gulping down her last bite, Cassie swallowed and looked at Lex “Thanks Nemo, I needed that.” Lex planted a kiss on the top of her head, smiled and replied “I hate you bitch.” It was now just after noon and Ian reminded Cassie that they were going to his parent’s house for dinner and she needed to pack on overnight bag. They would leave around one o’clock so they could visit for a while. Cassie stood up and kissed him on the cheek leaving a smudge of BBQ sauce and wordlessly headed down to her room to shower and get ready. Lex grabbed a napkin and wiped the smudge off Ian’s cheek and commented “Enjoy the silence while it lasts. It won’t be long before that cheeseburger will kick in and she’ll be back to her loud, obnoxious self.” The two wordlessly cleaned up the kitchen and sat on the porch to wait for Cassie. Ian remarked “At least my headache is almost gone. I still feel like shit though. God, I haven’t drank like that in a long time.” “You’re telling me. I only drink like that when I’m with her and this is the first time I’ve seen her in just over two years.” Lex said. “You never went back to the Seattle area? Ian asked. “Nope. I really did think that I was going to go and contact my father. Then after eight or nine months of chickening out I finally decided that I had to figure out who I was first. It was always Cassie and Lex, or Lex and Cassie since we were four years old. After the whole scar thing Cassie became overprotective of me. Hell, the only reason I got any sexual experience with another guy was because for a while she worked weekend nights and I was able to go to a few gay bars on my own. I still only managed a few hand jobs and blow jobs. As soon as a guy’s hand ventured anywhere near my back I bolted. Not exactly the way one goes about picking up guys.” Lex laughed. “So did you ever figure out who you are?” Ian wondered. Lex looked at Ian and said “It took a wicked talented tattoo artist to pull me out of my shell and make me his. I spent the last two years on my own and as soon as I saw you I knew I didn’t want to look any further for where I wanted to be. Even though I didn’t know it at the time. I’m yours, and that’s exactly who I want to be.” Lex leaned in for a kiss and before his tongue could make it’s way into Ian’s territory he heard “Awwwwwwwwww, ain’t they the cutest ev-er!” from a giggling Cassie. Ian whispered in his ear “Cassie Cockblock strikes again!” sending Lex into a fit of laughter. When Lex stopped laughing he shot a somewhat mock glare at Cass and informed her “You just wait. When your Prince Charming shows up I am so gonna interrupt you every chance I get and I’m teaching your kids from an early age that’s it’s perfectly OK to go into Mommy and Daddy’s room whenev-er they want. After all they’re gonna love their Uncle Lex!” Cassie snorted and challenged “Two can play at that game and believe me Lex, and you too Ian, I will win the war of corrupting each other’s children” “Who said we’re ever having kids?” Lex retorted. Ian interjected “Do you even want kids? We never talked about it after all. You were great with Sean’s kids. I guess I can picture you as a dad.” Lex looked a little uncomfortable. He bit his bottom lip and thought for a moment. Hmmmm, kids. Little versions of people. He really needed to reevaluate his stance on people. He looked at Ian and finally spoke. “I never really gave it much thought. I honestly never even saw myself in a position to have kids. I guess, maybe, but definitely not now. I figure if it’s going to happen then an opportunity will present itself. What about you?” Ian answered truthfully “I guess I’ve been a little jealous of Sean. Kids would cool, but you’re right, it’s not the right time. If it’s meant to happen then it will. At least we can have fun trying!” He leered as he grabbed Lex’s ass and gave it a squeeze. Cass grabbed her overnight bag and pushed both men toward the door saying “If I wanted to look at monkeys having sex I’d go to the zoo. Let’s go before I let Kathy talk me into pink tuxedos for you.” Once again the three found themselves piling into the truck. This ride was a bit quieter as they were still nursing the effects of last night’s binge. As they approached the McColm’s house Lex turned to Cassie and threatened “If you don’t behave yourself you will be uninvited from the wedding. Do you understand?” he growled. Cassie shot him one of those looks and told Ian “Keep his leash short and make sure he doesn’t pee on the floor.” Ian chuckled and parked the truck. “I can’t control either one of you. You’re both on your own. I’m sticking with my Dad.” he muttered. Upon entering the house they were greeted enthusiastically by both Kathy and Rick, who was introduced to a surprisingly docile Cassie. Kathy looked at the three and then remarked to her husband “Looks like some people we know may have drank way too much last night. What do you think?” “I think we won’t be opening as much wine as I originally thought” he answered. Then he added “So do get to see Ian’s masterpiece that my wife keeps raving about?” Lex obliged and Rick was just as impressed as his wife had been. He was awed by the incredible details and made sure both men knew how proud he was of them. Lex was still not used to such praise, but was slowly getting more comfortable with it. Dinner wasn’t going to be ready for another few hours so Kathy offered soft drinks or water. All three chose water. She brought out some cheese and crackers to tide everyone over. Their appetites were just starting to return and the mild assortment of cheeses hit the spot. Kathy questioned Cassie about her job and Cassie became more animated as she described the trials and tribulations of market research. Cassie mentioned that while she really liked the people that she worked with, the job itself was getting tedious. Yes, she studied marketing in college, but she felt like a hamster on a wheel. “Why didn’t you tell me Cass?” Lex inquired. “Because you were busy figuring out your own life and besides, it’s only been this way for a few weeks now. The last couple of projects have been so boring! I just don’t feel challenged anymore. I want to do something where I actually make a difference. I don’t know. I guess I need to find something that will inspire me.” she said. Kathy looked at her and advised “Follow your heart dear, if you’re not happy where you are keep your options open and make a change when you get the chance. You never know what opportunities will drop into your lap.” You’ll find your way Cass, I know you will. You can always move here and be my personal slave. I may even pay you to shop for me.” Lex teased. Kathy turned her attention back to the boys and not so subtlety interrogated “So how are the wedding plans coming along? Ian sighed in resignation and told her “The menu and catering are taken care of. Duke’s going to handle that for us. I reserved a tent and chairs last week, although if it's nice we may not need the tent. I called Jase and asked him to be my best man. Lex is clearing out the yard and getting it ready. Guess what he found while clearing the back section that was all overgrown? The most amazing gazebo. His friend Jarren came over to look at it and after Labor Day they’re going to move it closer to the house. Lex wants to sand it down and either refinish it or seal it.” Lex jumped in “It really is in great shape. Jarren thinks it’s constructed out of teak which is why it held up so well. Once I get it sanded down I‘ll be able to really see how the wood looks. Then I can decide whether or not to restain it or just seal it. Hopefully I can just seal it. I’m excited to see how it’s going to look.” Rick looked at Lex and offered “If you need any help on the weekends I’d be more than happy to to give you a hand.” Kathy, not to be deterred once again interjected “What about decorations? Have you picked a color scheme or a theme?” Cassie looked at Lex with absolute glee. She was enjoying this way too much as she asked “Think Lex. Have you picked a theme yet? Maybe Hawaiian. We can all wear linen pants and flowered shirts. Or how about..” “Shut up Cassidy Marie Shaeffer.” Lex warned without thinking. The look that came over Cassie’s face was priceless. The gauntlet was thrown and they both knew it. In a completely even tone of voice she said “You did not just use my whole name. Ian, has Lex told you what his middle name is?” She looked at Ian who was trapped and knew it. He merely shook his head. Her focus returned to Lex who knew he was possibly screwed. “Lex, would you like me to inform this lovely family what your middle name is?” If looks could kill Cassie would be planning her own funeral. Lex begrudgingly gave in “What do you want?” Cassie smiled knowing that she had won. “Kathy and I not only get to dress you two for the big day, we get to decorate. Whatever we decide. Pink kittens and rainbow farting unicorns. Nothing is off limits. Hmmmm, I wonder if unicorn farts smell like cotton candy?” She glanced over at Kathy who was trying really hard to keep a serious look on her face and failing miserably. Cassie continued “And the guest list goes up to, ummmm, 40?” looking at Kathy who nodded. Ian started to protest but Lex cut him off. Knowing that there was only one way to gain back the upper hand and thwart the evil wench he looked at Ian and said “Luthor. My middle name is Luthor. My mom had one twisted, sick sense of humor. It was as if she asked herself ‘what’s the worst middle name I could give a boy named Lex? Luthor. Yep, that’s what I’ll call him’”. Rick could not hold back any longer. He started laughing and soon Kathy joined in. Ian gave in and joined them. Cassie glared and finally conceded “Touche, mon frere, touche.” Ian was the first to stop laughing and being the diplomat that he was looked at Lex and told him “Your middle name could be Buttered Pumpernickel and I would still love you. How about we let these two plan the decorations as long as they promise to keep it classy and no theme allowed?” Lex stared at Cassie who looked like she knew she won and instructed “Classy. No pink. No rainbow farting unicorns. No pink or rainbow anything. Am I clear?” Kathy, who was sitting next to Cassie put her hands on Cassie’s shoulders and answered for her “Crystal clear, I’ll make sure she doesn’t go overboard.” Lex didn’t miss the flash of Cassie’s aura that indicated that she was still contemplating mischief, but he let it go. Kathy’s aura flashed honesty and he knew she would try to keep Cassie under control. He had to think positive and believe that she would succeed. Cassie, who had been sitting quietly, piped up “So have you guys decided what you’re going to do with your names? Are you gonna hyphenate or keep what you’ve got?” Leave it to Cassie to hit a potentially touchy subject. Lex looked a little perplexed. “I don’t know. We haven’t talked about it. Truthfully, I don’t really feel strongly one way or another. I’m not particularly attached to my last name so I don’t have a problem changing it. Or we can hyphenate if that’s what you want.” he said, looking at Ian. Ian shrugged and replied “I didn’t think about it either. I guess we can just hyphenate. Takes a couple of more seconds to sign your name, but it’s not a major ordeal.” Rick, who hadn’t said a word so far in regards to any of the wedding plans interjected “You can always combine your names, you know, like McHews or Colson.” Ian and Lex looked at him like he had just invented sliced bread. “Dad, that’s a great idea! We never thought of that. What do you think Lex?” asked Ian. Lex answered “I like the idea. Starting a new phase in life with a new name, yeah, I really like it.” Cassie jumped in “Which one? McHews or Colson?” “Colson” said Lex “McHews” said Ian at the same time. They laughed and Lex just looked at Ian and told him “We don’t have to decide right now. Let’s wait until the end of September. Like Ms. Helen says, we can cross that bridge when we come to it.” Ian nodded, knowing that Lex wanted to wait until after he had his meeting with his father to make any big decisions. They hadn’t told his parents about the meeting because Lex wanted to see how thing went. If they went poorly then Lex would just move on, none the wiser save for them and Cassie. If they went well then Lex could decide how to share the news. Rick stood up and told the others “I think dinner is almost ready. Let’s go eat.” The group made their way into the kitchen and it wasn’t long before they were helping themselves to the delicious pot roast that Kathy had made. The beef was amazingly tender and nearly melted in their mouths. A rich gravy was the perfect complement to the carrots, potatoes and pearl onions that had been slow cooked with the meat. Steering the conversation away from the wedding itself Rick asked the boys if they were planning a honeymoon. Ian responded “We’re not going to take one right away. We think we may just take a few days and head down to the Cape or maybe up to Maine. We’ve been discussing our bucket list destinations and have narrowed down a big trip to either New Zealand or Scotland. You know I’ve always wanted to see New Zealand ever since I saw that show about it on the Travel Channel. Lex has always wanted to see the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh. I’m actually leaning toward the Scotland trip. If we do New Zealand I’d want to go for 3-4 weeks and the shop is getting really busy now and I can’t justify taking that much time off. If we do Scotland we can easily take 10 or 12 days off to see the country and take in a Tattoo performance. It wouldn’t be until next August though.” Rick jumped in saying “I’m a little confused. What is a Military Tattoo? I’m assuming you don’t mean ink on skin.” Lex picked up at this point and explained “No, the Military Tattoo is a yearly event every August that the Scots take a lot of pride in. In a nutshell it’s a lot of performances by some of the top Drum Corps from all over. They give precision performances along with lights and lasers in some cases. It’s been going on since 1949. The organization actually raises a lot of money and donates to various charities. You can see some of the shows or segments on You Tube.” “That sounds incredible. I’ve always loved drum lines.” Kathy exclaimed. The conversation turned to more mundane things as dinner was cleaned up and coffee and dessert brought out. When everyone had their fill of the homemade peach cobbler Ian and Lex decided to head home. Ian had an early client and Lex had some work on the computer to get to. They said their goodbyes and Lex told Cassie to text him when they were done with their shopping. Kathy had suggested that they meet at the mall when they were done so Lex wouldn’t have to drive as far. Lex gave Cassie a hug and reminded her to behave herself. Cassie just grinned and kissed him on the cheek “Goodnight Lex. I’ll see you tomorrow!” Ian pulled Lex out the door and they headed home. When they got back to the house Lex said to Ian “I guess we have a lot of things to discuss that we haven’t considered yet, don’t we? Ian stopped and looked him in the eyes and responded “Yeah, we do. But they can wait. We’ve got the house all to ourselves tonight and I for one am planning on taking full advantage.” With that he pulled Lex in for a searing kiss then headed down the hallway intent on making the most of their time alone.
  19. Le' sigh. My boys are no longer in the play offs. Say this, this morning. It gave me a chuckle. Hidden behind a spoiler, some may find it disturbing.

    Spoiler

    D4Ud3FJWwAALJOv.jpg

     

    1. spikey582

      spikey582

      Regular season Tampa Bay just needs some love...

      :unsure:

  20. Hey, DQ, for a San Francisco guy you show an amazing amount of sensitivity. Most of the various readers commenting on this story are complimentary -- and rightly so, but I detected some melting of the SFO frost on your part also. The only thing I find objectionable on the part of some commenters is the constant nagging to publish chapters faster -- GA puts a limit on how fast chapters can be published and all us poor readers must live with that no matter how much we enjoy a given story. Alas! Of course readers, you can be sneaky and underhanded, waiting until the story is complete before reading, but then the author suffers from a lack of feedback. Don0t make the author suffer; he has worked long and hard to publish his opus and deserves your feedback, it is his only rewrd.
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