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Second Shot - 18. Chapter 18: School’s Out for the Summer

Summer means being apart from Peter, that has it's own issues that are made worse by the people Jason ends up working with.

Pulling down with all his weight, Jason thought the thick metal pry bar might snap in two from the effort. The stump he was trying to dislodge? It sat there mocking him.

Why were he and Dean trying to remove it anyway? This far back on the property it was not in the way. He had a terrible feeling this was busy work to justify he and Dean getting paid by his grandparents.

“Stupid stump.” He tossed the bar aside as Dean laughed. Lifting up his shirt he wiped the sweat from his face.

“Dude, I thought you were gonna blow a blood vessel or something.” Dean leaned on the shovel, standing around the hole they were digging as instructed.

“Why are we doing this anyway?”

Dean grabbed two water bottles and tossed one to his brother. “Reggie said they’re going to install a drain pipe to the creek.”

Jason followed Dean’s arm as he pointed from the house to the creek. Sure enough the stump sat in a direct line between the two.

“Doesn’t anyone else realize water doesn’t need to flow in a straight line to reach its destination?” He glared at the stump. “A small detour and viola, no need to move the stupid thing!”

Jason stomped on it for good measure. “C’mon, let’s go see Reggie about getting some axes.”

The brothers jogged back toward the tool shed, practicing evading each other as if it were a soccer pitch. A defender, Dean had an invite to the U-19 men’s soccer tryouts. Jason bragged to anyone who would listen about his brother’s talent, but when they competed, he gave Dean no slack.

Laughing, they passed a group of four guys around their age also working on the estate for the summer. Reggie, the head groundskeeper, always assigned the brothers together, but never with anyone else. Jason wondered at one point if they were separated so Reggie could give them the easy work since they were family. Today’s job dispelled any notion of special treatment.

When he looked toward the group of workers, Jason almost stopped to stare. They were repairing an old stone wall; two on each side. All four stopped working when he and Dean ran by, no doubt wondering what they were doing. The two closest were tall tan, shirtless and hot, at least that was how he would describe them to Wendy if he were talking to her right now. Dirty baseball hats, worn backward, covered most of their dark hair. Like everyone else on the estate, they wore the standard work shorts, white socks and work boots. Reggie made sure he and Dean wore the same thing, ‘for their safety,’ he told them.

The taller of the two, was clearly staring. At first he couldn’t tell if he was looking at Dean or him, but when they locked eyes, he knew it was him. Jason waved as they passed only to be tackled by his brother.

“Focus, Jase.” Dean laughed. “I just got the ball away from you.” He extended a hand and helped Jason up.

“No doofus, you just got a red card for tackling from behind.” He held his right arm up and snapped his hand, imitated a referee giving Dean a red card before cracking up.

“Your face is priceless little bro.” He pushed Dean’s shoulder and continued toward the shed. Before he left, he turned back. The guy was still watching, only now with a smile. When the other guy, probably his brother, nudged him they resumed working.

They found Reggie in the small air conditioned office, watching some video on the internet. Jason’s knock sent him sprawling. His glare lasted only as long as it took him to realize who’d knocked.

Short and slightly paunchy, Reggie had been with the Henry family for almost twenty years. Royce described him as eminently competent when motivated, but lazy by nature. So long as he had staff to do the real work, he could fix almost anything.

“Jason,” he said in his friendliest voice. “Is there a problem?”

The older man quickly stepped out of the office, shutting the door behind him.

“Nothing aside from that stump is mocking me.” He laughed. “It’s as if it’s telling me it was there before I was born and will be there long after I die.”

Reggie laughed at his description. “Won’t budge, will it?”

“Not a lick,” Dean added. “We need a couple axes to cut the roots.”

The brothers followed the man toward the back of the barn. Reggie selected two double edged axes. Before handing them over, he eyed them carefully, his voice leveled as he spoke, “Either of you ever used one of these?” Gone was the embarrassed look at getting caught goofing off.

“No sir,” Jason answered as Dean shook his head.

“No disrespect boys, but you get hurt using these, you might lose a limb.” He motioned for them to head outside. “I value this job too much to risk hurting either of Mr. Henry’s star soccer playing grandchildren.”

They cleared the barn doors a step behind their supervisor. “Aaron, Ethan, come here!”

In response to the call, the two guys Jason noticed on the way up removed their gloves and walked toward the shed. The older man strode toward them, followed by Jason and Dean.

“Yes, sir?”

“Aaron, I need you and your brother to help Jason and Dean with a stubborn stump removal down by the creek. Jason swears it is mocking him.” Reggie’s ribbing seemed good natured enough. “Neither of them has used a double edge axe before and I don’t want any injuries.”

Jason caught Ethan staring at him from the corner of his eye. He looked over, giving the guy the barest of smiles. He knew Reggie was still talking, so he tried to concentrate.

“For now, let the others work on the wall, you can come back to that later if needed.” He handed the two axes to Aaron and his brother. “Let’s get that stump out before the crew gets here to lay the pipes.”

“Yes, sir.” Aaron accepted the tool, nodding briefly to the boss.

“Good.” Come get me if you need me.” He avoided looking at Jason and Dean. “I’ll be in the office doing paper work.”

Jason struggled not to laugh. When the four of them were out of earshot, the brothers glanced at each other and burst out laughing.

“What’s so funny?” Aaron asked.

Jason turned to Dean and laughed more before he detailed the joke.

“Why would he care what you think?” Ethan asked. “He does that shit all the time and just yells at us to get back to work.”

Jason didn’t answer right away, trying to find a plausible lie that didn’t include letting on who they were.

“Because our grandparents might not be too happy to hear their head groundskeeper is watching YouTube videos instead of supervising.” Dean began before Jason could stop him. “That’s why.”

“You’re grandparent’s own the place?” Aaron turned to Ethan, who shrugged.

“Dean.” Jason hissed. “St . . .”

“Yeah.” Dean grinned.

“ . . . op.” He winced as he finished speaking.

“Thought your name was Tellerman, not Henry?” Ethan chimed in.

“Our mom is a Henry.” Jason answered now that the secret was out.

An awkward period of silence followed as the four walked toward the stump. Walking behind the brothers, Jason got a chance to look at them more closely. Ethan stood taller but not quite as developed. He bordered on skinny, but not like Peter. Where Peter was super ripped, Ethan was naturally skinny and just starting to add muscle. By contrast, it was clear Aaron spent time in the gym.

Up close neither was as cute as he initially thought. They were nice looking, but not in Peter’s league. That he felt the need to compare them to Peter bothered him. Who cared if they were as cute? He was dating Peter; that was all that mattered.

Lost in his thoughts, he didn’t realize Ethan asked him something. Only when the youth called his name, did he come back to the present.

“Where did you go?” Ethan laughed.

“Jase has a habit of getting lost in his thoughts.” Dean earned an elbow for his efforts.

“Sorry, was daydreaming,” Jason said, looking at his co-worker. “What did you ask?

“How come you only work three days?” He repeated.

“We intern at our dad’s accounting firm Monday through Wednesday.” Jason decided Ethan might be cute after all. Definitely cuter than Aaron.

Satisfied with the answer, Ethan nodded as the four reached their destination.

For the remainder of the morning, the four worked to uncover the roots keeping the last remnant of a once large tree firmly in the path of progress. During that time they talked about themselves, though Jason and Dean did more listening than talking. Jason felt uncomfortable saying too much given he was the boss’s grandson.

Aaron and Ethan were local, they lived about 2 miles away. Both worked here last summer and were thankful to get their old jobs back. Aaron was about to enter his senior year at Penn State, while Ethan was going to be a Sophomore at Pitt in the fall. The more they interacted the more he felt certain Ethan was checking him out. Of course, he spent a fair amount of time looking at Ethan, so it was possible he was reacting to Jason’s attention.

Lunch break turned awkward when Jason and Dean started toward the main house. The other set of brothers made for the tool shed where a refrigerator stored their food. Jason could almost feel their eyes following him and his brother up to the back entrance where the servants had lunch waiting in the small bar area off the pool.

Back at the work site, the silence dragged on for a few minutes until Ethan broke the ice.

“Must be weird going into the big house all dirty to have lunch with your grandparents.”

Jason gave a short laugh. “What makes you think my grandmother lets us anywhere near the main house before we use the showers?”

“How do you get to the showers if you don’t go into the house?” Aaron asked.

“We use the showers in the pool house to clean up.” Jason picked up the pry bar to test their progress. “Last week we went swimming right after work so it worked out fine.”

Waiting for Jason to finish, Ethan took the axe to the nearest root. “What’s it like inside?”

“Ethan!” Aaron glared at his brother.

Jason brushed aside Aaron’s concern. “Bring a bathing suit tomorrow and we can show you around after work.”

“They got plenty of spare suits in the pool house.” Dean pointed out. “Just bring something clean to change into after you shower. That’s what we have to do.”

They both laughed at the absurdity of their situation.

Ethan looked to his brother for guidance. When Aaron didn’t object he asked, “You serious?”

“Sure,” Jason shrugged. “Not like we have any plans when we’re here. Be good to have someone younger than the grandparents to talk to once and a while.”

Aaron paired off with Dean, leaving Jason to work beside Ethan. A couple times he smiled to himself at how it worked out. ‘Likes’ attract he figured. They were making progress when Jason offered to take a turn chopping at the roots. Using the axe he got from Aaron, Jason and Ethan made steady progress until they spied Reggie striding their way.

He stopped to yell at Aaron for letting Jason use the axe before continuing over.

Jason met his eye. “I don’t think Aaron is in a position to tell me no, sir.” Reggie quickly got the message.

“I see.” He nodded. “Unless you want me to make your grandfather come out here to tell you himself, you stop using the axe, okay? He gave me very clear instructions on what I was not to let you do.”

“Yes sir.” Jason handed the axe back to Aaron, accepting the pry bar instead.

When the older man left, Aaron gave Jason a relieved and grateful smile. “Thanks man, I can’t afford to get fired, I really need this job.”

“My bad to start,” Jason said. “I knew he didn’t want us using the axe, I shouldn’t have put you in that position.”

When it came time to quit, the stump was almost free. Everyone except Jason was ready to go. “Go on, but leave me the axe.” He told the others.

“Man,” Aaron shook his head, “I don’t need trouble with Reggie.”

“Dean go with them and tell Reggie I insisted.” Making sure the sun had set enough that he wouldn’t risk burning his fair skin, Jason pulled off his sweat soaked shirt. “If he doesn’t like it, he can call Pop. But there’s no way this stinking stump is going to beat me today.”

Jason tossed his shirt aside then held his hand out for the nearest axe. Aaron looked unsure what he should do.

“Go ahead, Aaron,” Ethan told his older brother. “Take Dean up and tell Reggie. I’ll stay behind to help Jason finish.”

“Thanks Ethan, but that’s not necessary.” Jason didn’t want him to stay without getting paid. “This is my grudge not yours.”

“It is now,” Ethan eyed him a way that confirmed Jason’s suspicions. “Besides, you need a second set of hands to get this out.”

“Bro, I’m your ride.” Aaron pointed out. “How are you getting home?”

“I’ll take him home.” Jason gently took the axe from Aaron’s hand. “Just go let Reggie know what we’re doing.”

Unsure what to do, Aaron took the axe back from Jason. “If Ethan is staying I should too. Mom would freak if I came back without him.”

“I’m staying too, Jase.” Dean flashed his brother a grin Jason knew too well. “This ain’t beating the Tellerman brothers.”

“Or the Millers either.” Ethan laughed.

Twenty minutes later, when they were a few chops from finishing, a golf cart careened over the grass toward them. Raymond Henry, dressed in a crisp white polo and khakis, sat beside Reggie as he drove the boss to the work site.

“Hey Pop.” Jason waved to his grandfather, but did not put down the axe he was using. In the ditch, covered in dirt, he and Ethan took turns chopping at the nettlesome root. On higher ground, Dean and Aaron held the stump taut.

The elder man smiled back at his grandson before grabbing a floppy work hat from the seat to cover his thinning gray hair. Stepping out, Raymond walked closer to see how the work was progressing.

“I told him, Mr. Henry.” Jason heard the accusation in Reggie’s voice. “But I can’t make him do what he doesn’t want to do.”

“Jason.” Ignoring his groundskeeper’s comments, Raymond Henry stopped at the lip of the hole. “Why is everyone still working? I stopped paying you four more than 20 minutes ago.”

Taking a full swing, Jason sank the sharpened edge deep into what they all believed to be the last root holding the stump in place.

“This darn thing is NOT going to beat me Pop.” Freeing the blade, he stood poised to strike again. “Ethan and Aaron agreed to help me and Dean. I told them to go, but they insisted on staying to help.”

“Is that so?” The older man seemed amused. “Why am I not surprised you four fell in thick as thieves?”

Jason exchanged confused stares with Ethan, then the other two.

“Since you four insist on finishing the job on your own time don’t let me keep you.” An amused look played across his face as he walked back to the cart. “Oh, Jason. Do be careful please. I’m not sure I could find a plausible excuse to give your mother for why you got an axe wound.”

Jason flashed his grandfather a grateful smile. He and Ethan resumed their work, alternating blows on the stubborn wood.

“Reggie.” Raymond addressed the groundskeeper. “Go get that coil of thick rope. I think we are going to need it to move the stump when the boys are finished.”

Glancing at his employer seated comfortably in the cart, Reggie nodded and trudged his way back toward the shed. Jason couldn’t be sure, but he thought he saw a scowl on the man’s face when he looked back.

Ethan swung again and the stump wiggled. “Yeah!” he shouted.

The other three joined in his celebration until they attempted to move the heavy piece of wood out of the hole. Raymond watched the four tired young men realize what he alluded to earlier.

“It’s too heavy for you to lift out.” He started the cart, moving it toward the creek. “That is why I sent Reggie to get the rope. We can use the cart to help pull it up.”

“Thanks Pop,” Jason said. “It would have sucked to get it free only to leave it where it is anyway.”

“Sometimes age and wisdom bests youth and brawn.” He laughed. “Though it has taken me considerable time to come to that realization.”

Everyone laughed and leaned back to wait for Reggie’s return. When he saw the older man walking back, Jason hopped into the pit again and chopped a few inches below the top of the stump.

“Yo Jase, what are you doing?” Dean called to him.

“He is cutting a notch so the rope will have a place to rest.” His grandfather explained, giving his grandson a nod.

Still holding the second axe, Ethan jumped down to give Jason a hand. Before the supervisor returned, they finished two workable cuts in the side of the stump. Working together, the four tired coworkers secured the rope around the wood then to the back of the cart.

“Mr. Henry, I’m not sure this cart was made for hauling something like this.” Reggie complained.

“Hush Reggie.” The older man laughed. “After all this effort, we owe it to the boys to help them finish.”

Satisfied the rope was secure, Jason gave Aaron a thumbs up. He stayed in the hole with Ethan, pushing up, while their brothers, reluctantly aided by Reggie, pulled from above. Raymond applied some gas to the cart, pulling the ropes tight.

Slowly the difficult stump began to move. Straining, Jason felt Ethan’s dirty, slick body next to his as they shoved the lump of wood out of the hole. At first they struggled to get it to move, but as more of the stump cleared the hole, the resistance abated. One final shove pushed it over the lip; it was free. Off balance, Jason and Ethan fell forward, hitting the inside of the pit while the others followed the cart down toward the water. Covered in dirt, the smiling duo high-fived each other in triumph.

“So, are you out?” Ethan asked Jason when it was just the two of them.

His first reaction was to freeze, but he quickly smiled. “For the most part, how about you?”

“The same.” When he smiled, Ethan looked even cuter Jason decided. “My brother and mother know, but not the rest of the family.”

“Yup, that’s how it is with me.” Jason hoisted himself out of the hole then reached down to offer Ethan his hand. They both knew he didn’t need the help, but Ethan accepted the offer anyway. “My grandparents don’t know. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t tell them.”

“I won’t tell them if you don’t tell them about me.” He started to dust off the dirt from his chest, but found he was making it worse. “Boyfriend?”

“Yeah.” Jason smiled thinking of Peter. “You?”

Ethan’s smile answered the question before his reply. “Yup. How long you two been dating?”

“Since around November. How about you two?” Jason felt a sense of excitement talking to a stranger about Peter. That this ‘stranger’ was also gay made it more thrilling.

“Anthony and I met in January.”

By this point the cart had stopped and everyone but Raymond was working to untie the rope. “Think we should go help?” Ethan asked.

Jason shook his head, too tired to walk down only to get there just as they finished. “No, there are enough hands to do the job. Besides, we did most of the hard stuff at the end.”

Searching for his shirt, he used it to wipe his face. He thought about collecting the tools, but sank onto the ground to rest instead.

“True.” His new friend sat next to him.

“Thanks for helping.” Jason held out his hand. “Really, I would be here another hour at least if you and your brother hadn’t helped.”

“No problem,” Ethan accepted his hand. “I was hoping for an opportunity to chat alone for a minute. You couldn’t have missed me checking you out all day, so I wanted to at least say something before I left.”

Jason snorted, shaking his head. “Yeah, like I was so subtle myself.”

“Did you hear me say you weren’t eyeing me all day too?” They both laughed. “I just didn’t want to start by accusing you of something I was guilty of as well.”

“Thanks.” Jason found himself staring, so looked away. “Sorry, didn’t mean to stare.”

“No problem,” Ethan laughed. “I’ve been doing the same all day. Nearly popped a boner when you FINALLY took off your shirt.”

Jason didn’t need a mirror to know he turned bright red. “Um . . . well my skin is pretty fair and I would have burned had I gone shirtless when the sun was up.”

If Ethan noticed he was blushing, he ignored it. “I was reasonably certain it was a sun issue not an image one.”

Since Ethan seemed so forward Jason said, “I should thank you for being shirtless all day. Dean caught me staring and tackled me when I first saw you.”

“Really?” Ethan laughed nervously. “Why would you want to stare at me?”

“Oh c’mon,” Jason rolled his eyes. “You aren’t going to tell me you don’t know you’re good looking.”

Although he blushed a little, Ethan winked at Jason and smirked. “No, I just wanted to hear you say it. Being hopelessly in love with Anthony, that’s as much as I can ask from you.”

“You are so bad.” Laughing, Jason shook his head. “I owe Reggie a case of beer for hooking us up today.”

When he realized what he said, he froze. “Um, that came out bad.”

Ethan held up a hand. “No problem, I got it. And if I didn’t need the money so bad, I would go in halves with you. Last summer everyone was so macho and straight acting. No one except Aaron could talk about anything else during lunch except chicks they banged or wanted to bang. Aaron joined them at first, but them when he noticed how isolated I felt, we ended up eating by ourselves toward the end.”

The rumble of the cart engine came from behind them. Raymond was still driving, but Dean and Aaron were now seated in the back.

“Let’s get the tools for them to take back,” Jason said.

When the cart arrived, they put the tools in the small area in the back.

“Did you boys want to go for a swim before going home?” Raymond asked the Miller brothers.

It was clear from the moment the request was made that Ethan wanted to stay. He all but begged his brother to say, ‘okay,’ with his eyes. For his part, Aaron didn’t seem too reluctant.

“If it’s not a bother, Mr. Henry.”

“Of course it’s no bother, Aaron.” Raymond laughed. “We have this great big pool that is hardly used. It is meant for having people enjoy it on a hot day. Just have the boys show you where the showers and bathing suits are and MAKE sure you wash up good. Flora will make me clean the pool myself if you leave a mud slick on the water.”

Self consciously the four looked down at their dirt covered bodies.

“Will do Pop,” Dean answered.

Jason knew his brother was dying to go swimming.

“Oh,” Raymond turned toward Reggie. “Make sure the boys all get three hours of overtime for today.”

“All four?”

“Yes Reggie, all four.” The older man said patiently. “And three full hours. Seeing the job done should be rewarded.”

“You guys gonna hop on?” Dean asked.

“Nah,” Jason waved for them to go on without them. “You two are already seated.”

“Yeah,” Ethan echoed. “We can walk.”

“You sure?” Aaron looked uncomfortable.

“Yes.” Jason wanted to talk to Ethan alone, and this was the perfect way. “There are only two showers in the pool house anyway. If we all ride up together, two of us are going to end up waiting. This way you two won’t have to rush, and the showers will be free when we get there.”

“Okay.” Dean gave him a thumbs up. “See you poolside, bro.”

His grandfather looked back with a content smile before leaving Jason.

“That was smooth.” Ethan laughed.

“Okay, so my true motive was to be able to talk in private, but,” he held up his filthy hand. “That cart is not going to be able to carry us all, look at it struggle up the hill as it is.”

Ethan followed Jason’s hand as he pointed to the slow moving vehicle heading for the shed.

When his friend nodded, he continued. “And there really are only two showers. If all four of us arrive at once, you and your brother would insist Dean and I go first, then I would have to rush because I wouldn’t want to keep you to waiting.”

“God forbid the gay boy rush his shower.” Ethan teased, drawing a scowl from Jason. “Hey, I speak from experience. My brother tells me that all the time when we both need to use the bathroom.”

The image of Aaron yelling at Ethan to hurry up made him smile. “Then this worked out perfect. Our straight brothers get to go first so they won’t rush us when it’s our turn.”

“You couldn’t have planned it better if you tried.”

They took their time walking back, not only were they tired, but it would take their brothers some time to put the tools away and make it to the showers. Taking turns asking each other questions, they talked about school, their family and their boyfriends.

Talking about Peter to someone, a gay someone, who didn’t know Peter was a unique experience for Jason. Ethan was the first gay person Jason met who didn’t already know Peter. Being able to talk freely about his boyfriend without worrying the other person knew him, felt liberating. It also let him avoid talking about his family too much.

Not that he was ashamed of them, his mother’s reaction not withstanding, but it felt awkward telling Ethan. Perhaps his mother rubbed off on him, but it seemed tacky to talk about the family to someone who worked for his grandparents. Jason didn’t consider Ethan ‘the help,’ far from it, but he felt it best to focus on himself and not the larger family.

Approaching the pool area, Jason scanned the patio for signs Dean and Aaron were finished. He was about to suggest they stop when Dean came tearing around the corner of the pool house. Without missing a step, he cannon balled into the water, sending a spray in all directions.

“Impressive, little brother,” Jason called out when Dean’s head surfaced.

Dean swam to the edge of the pool. “What took you two so long?”

By this point Aaron appeared, eyeing the pair suspiciously.

“Some of us didn’t get a ride up the hill.” He joked. “It feels a lot steeper at the end of the day.”

“That and we didn’t want to stand around waiting for you to finish so we walked slow.” Ethan gave his brother a satisfied smirk.

Aaron’s expression baffled Jason. It felt like he was accusing Jason of doing something sneaky. Evidently Ethan noticed because he said, “Something wrong bro?”

“No, just get showered and get out here.” More tension in his voice Jason noted.

As the pair circled the fenced-off pool area, Jason thought he knew the cause of Aaron’s concern.

“You brother suspects I’m trying to seduce you, I think,” he said in a low voice.

“What makes you say that?” Ethan didn’t reject the idea out of hand, so maybe he agreed.

“Well . . . there are only two showers in the men’s changing room.” Jason stammered. “And there are no stalls, sooooo . . .”

“Ah.” Ethan nodded.

“Honestly,” Jason frowned. “It never dawned on me at the time. Dean and I use em every day. I was trying to keep us alone, but that was so we could talk. Showering together is just an added bonus.”

“Horn dog!” Ethan laughed.

“Why don’t you go in first?” Jason suggested quickly. “I’ll go wait by the pool so your brother won’t get all weird.”

“Don’t be so sure he isn’t suspicious of me.” Ethan pointed out. “If you recall, I did my share of getting you alone myself. I know he caught me eyeing you a couple times.”

Jason led them to the gate to the locker room. “Why does he care if you’re hitting on me? It’s not like he wants me for himself.”

They both laughed at the image of a jealous Aaron. “Think about it, Jason.”

Ethan stopped, his face serious for the first time since they ‘came out’ to each other. “You’re Raymond Henry’s grandson. If I piss you off, how hard would it be to get us fired? Aaron can’t afford to lose this job, neither can I. Things are tight even with working all summer. Losing half our paychecks might be the difference between going to school and not being able to afford it.”
The frank assessment of their finances, reminded him immediately of Peter. Combined, the two really put Jason in a funk. He and Dean worked ‘for their resume’ or ‘to build character.’ Sure he liked earning his own money, but if he lost his job it wouldn’t impact his wallet too much.

“Gotcha.” Jason nodded a couple times, but couldn’t look at his friend.

“Is there something wrong?” Now it was Ethan's turn to look worried.

“I feel pretty shitty about how I must come across, that’s all. Totally not your fault.” Jason tried to let Ethan know there was no problem.

“Why?” Ethan seemed more confused than before.

“You must see me as this spoiled little jerk who has no idea what it’s like to have to work.” He shrugged. “And you wouldn’t be too far off, I suppose.”

“Jason, what are you talking about?” Ethan put a dirty hand on Jason’s bare shoulder. “You’ve been great. If anything, I think you’re holding back a lot because you don’t want to be a jerk. I appreciate that.

“My situation is what it is, but I’m grateful for the chance to go to college and to work here all summer.” Ethan kept his hold on Jason. “I saw how you came to Aaron’s defense when Reggie got mad. You’re a decent person, don’t feel bad about it.”

Ethan surprised Jason by giving him a hug. Brief as it was, the embrace brought the two of them in full contact with each other. Jason could smell Ethan's body, which aroused him despite a full days work in the sun. When they stepped back, Aaron was scowling at them a few feet away.

“Go ahead, I’ll be right there.” Ethan motioned for him to go inside as he walked over to his brother. Rather than check to be sure, Jason let the brothers sort it out.

Waiting for Ethan, Jason collected things they would need; towels, soap, shampoo, and of course bathing suits. The influx of family in the summer, along with dates, friends, cousins etc, prompted his grandparents to stock plenty of towels and swim suits from children’s small to x-large adults. He figured Ethan would be the same size as him so he grabbed two medium blue suits, adding them to the pile of towels he collected.

Before he could undress, Ethan came back, smiling as if nothing happened.

“Everything okay?” Jason asked.

“Yup.” He gave Jason an emphatic nod. “I explained your situation; gay, boyfriend you love, totally cool with me being gay, not looking to hook up, etc. Next I reminded how you defended him earlier and that seemed to calm his nerves. When I left, he just did a somersault off the diving board.”

Hearing things were fine, Jason relaxed considerably. Seeing Ethan standing there with a big grin on his face, Jason felt movement in his groin. This was probably a really bad idea.

“Now what’s wrong?” Ethan slapped both hands onto his thighs.

“Just wondering if this is really a good idea.” He answered. “I mean, here we are about to go get naked together, alone in the shower.”

Ethan’s laugh was not what he expected. “Most times when you go into a locker room to shower, you end up naked with someone.”

“Smart ass.” Ethan’s humor helped allay his concerns a bit. “Fine, but I’m going to warn you now, there is almost no chance I’m going to make it through the shower, standing two feet away from you without getting a major boner.”

Jason turned red before he finished speaking. Better to warn Ethan than offend him.

“That’s what has you worried?” He started to laugh again. “Don’t worry, it’ll make two of us then.”

As if to make his point Ethan looked down at his crotch. When Jason’s eyes followed he could see Ethan was already aroused.

“Look.” Ethan sat down and started to unlace his boots. “I’m not going to try anything, I love Anthony too much to risk losing him just to mess around. Don’t take this the wrong way, you’re totally hot and seem like a great guy, but it’s not worth what it would cost me.”

Taking the bench opposite Ethan, Jason undressed as well. “That’s how I feel, but was afraid if you saw me with a hard-on you would take it as a come on.”

“Can I be flattered?” Ethan joked.

“Only if I am allowed the same privilege.” Jason slipped off his dirty socks and stood up. Why did he hesitate? Since he was ten he had been changing in lockers almost on a daily basis. Even since he started dating Peter, he never worried about becoming aroused. What made this so much harder?

“Because right now we’re alone, we’re attracted to each other, horny, haven’t seen our boyfriends in a while and both know the other is gay.” Ethan said as if reading Jason’s thoughts.

Jason nodded twice then took off shorts. As he warned, he was fully erect. Tossing a bar of soap to Ethan, he grabbed a towel and the shampoo bottle and went inside. Ethan was a step behind, his cock sticking straight up.

“Turn this way so I can get a good look at you and get it over with,” he joked.

Letting the water run over his body, Jason did as Ethan suggested, taking in the sight of his coworker in the process.

“Very nice,” Ethan complimented. “Now let’s get washed.”

“Yeah you are.” Jason said.

Unlike most morning showers, he was filthy, requiring he wash himself three times to get clean. This only added to the time they were in the shower. Jason struggled to keep his eyes off the sexy guy soaping himself up next to him. This was a new experience for him. As Ethan pointed out, they were both attracted to the other, alone, and extremely horned up.

Much as he tried, he couldn’t help looking over; repeatedly. Invariably he chose a time when Ethan was washing his crotch or bent over. His hope that once they saw each other he would calm down never came to fruition. Quite the contrary, with every glance, a renewed surge added to his already hard cock.

Washing his hair for the second time, he had his eyes closed when Ethan called him. “Um . . . Jason . . . can I ask a favor?”

He took a slow breath and kept his eyes shut; the question was going to be awkward. “Yeah… sure.”

“Can you wash my back?” Ethan blurted out. “I’m not asking for anything sexual or nothing, it’s just, well if my back is still as dirty as yours, it’s a mess.”

Being the doofus he was, Jason tried to turn around to see his back. Ethan erupted into fits of nervous laughter.

“What are you doing?”

“Don’t mind me,” Jason told him. “Clearly, I’m an idiot.”

“Seriously,” he returned to his previous question. “Would you mind? I mean I’ll wash yours in return, or first, if you like.”

“Ethan, I’m not sure that is a good idea.” Trying to laugh it off he added, “In case you missed it, I’m at full attention being this close to you already.”

“Um yeah dude, no one’s gonna miss that.” He laughed.

Jason was glad for the soap to hide his embarrassment. When he rinsed his face, Ethan was only a few feet away, soap in hand.

“I swear to you, this is NOTHING more than getting clean. At home I have this long handled brush, but here . . .” He shrugged.

“I’m not sure how I could explain this to Peter.” He admitted. “And don’t say not to tell him. I’m not good at lying, especially not to him.”

“Tell him the truth.” Ethan appeared as nervous as Jason. “I wasn’t lying when I said nothing would happen. I’m going to have to explain this to Anthony as well.”

“So why do it at all?” Jason asked. “A little dirt on your back isn’t the end of the world.”

“No, but neither is washing a friend’s back.”

Struggling to decide, he grabbed the soap from Ethan’s hand. “Fine, but you might get a phone call from Peter asking what happened.”

Jason stood far enough back so he didn’t ‘accidently’ poke Ethan. Putting his hand on the smooth tan skin he was afraid he might explode all over Ethan any second. “Tell me something, anything, that will take my mind off what I’m doing.” Jason asked.

“How about I tell you what your grandparents did for me and Aaron.” He didn’t wait for Jason to agree.

“Our dad worked here a few summers, twenty some years ago, just like us.” Jason noted the immediate change in Ethan’s voice. “He kept in touch with your grandparents when he graduated college; so his ‘sons could work for such generous people’ when we were older, he told us.

“Three years ago, two weeks before Aaron graduated, dad died. He had a massive heartache at his desk and was dead before anyone found him.” Jason kept washing, but his focus was on Ethan’s story.

“Aaron was supposed to work here over the summer, then go to Penn State in the fall, but dad’s death made a mess of the family finances. Aaron hadn’t qualified for much aid given dad’s salary and Mom working twenty hours a week as a crossing guard. With dad’s death, the funeral, the insurance and stuff, it was not tops on anyone’s list to reapply for financial aid.

“Come August, nothing had changed so Aaron wasn’t going to make it to school. Three Sundays before school starts, your grandparents show up at the door. I remember they looked very serious. Mom thought Aaron did something wrong. She called us all into the living room and your grandfather looks right at Aaron and says, ‘young man what were you thinking?’

“At this point, my mom is about to burst into tears. Before she can speak Mr. Henry says, ‘An education is the most important thing a young man can get. Why didn’t you tell me your financial aid isn’t settle yet?’ Of course we all were in shock.

“Next thing we know, your grandmother hands my mother a receipt. They paid Aaron’s first semester’s tuition. They told mom to not worry about this semester and to focus on the next one. When mom promised to pay it back they told her it was not a loan, but a gift from two grateful people for the pleasure of knowing her husband and her son.”

Ethan stepped away from Jason so he could rinse off. “Turn around.”

Jason did as he was told, his arousal gone.

“But their generosity to us didn’t stop there.” Ethan began rubbing the soap over Jason’s back. “My dad’s death messed me up worse than Aaron. When he went to school, I was alone most of the time. Mom found a new job, but it was crazy hours. I was trying to deal with being gay, no dad, no big brother, barely a mom, I was a mess and my grades suffered.

“I managed to graduate and your grandparents gave me a summer job, just as they promised my mom and brother. My dream was to go to Pitt like my dad, but because I screwed up high school so bad, they turned me down. Fortunately, I got into a couple second tier state schools, so I was still going to college.

“Around the beginning of August, I get this call from a woman who claimed she worked in the admissions office at Pitt. She asked me if I still wanted to come to school there. Of course I did, but I told her I didn’t have the money. She said not to worry, they had a full scholarship waiting for me if I wanted to attend.”

Jason could feel Ethan’s hands shake as they rub aimlessly over his back. Figuring his back was clean, he stepped forward to rinse off. He turned toward his friend, letting the water run over him. Ethan stepped back under his own shower.

“When she said that I got mad, began yelling at her. I told her only an asshole would find it funny jerking me around when it was my dream to go to the same school as my dead father, but I screwed up my chance. After I stopped to catch my breath she calmly says, ‘no Mr. Miller, this is not a joke. A friend of your family, Mr. Raymond Henry, called the chancellor and explained your situation. He said Pitt was missing the opportunity to accept an amazingly bright young man who suffered a tragic loss. He said he would count it as a personal favor if we would review your application and reconsider our decision.’ I couldn’t believe she was still on the phone if it was real.”

Numb, Jason stood still. They were both clean, but Ethan wasn’t finished. “I stopped what I was doing and stormed up to the house, asking to see your grandparents. Mr. Henry came down, giving me a big smile. I think I started to cry when I tried to thank him. Putting his arm around me, he repeated what he told my brother; ‘an education is the most important thing a young man can get.’ He told me if I wanted to thank him and Mrs. Henry, I should do well. All he did was open the door for me, it was up to me if I walked through it.

“I got a 4.0 the first semester and 3.95 the second.” He said proudly. “I mailed them copies of grades with a card to let them know I will never forget them.”

Ethan stopped talking, pushing the water from his eyes. Looking at Jason’s groin then his he snorted. “That seemed to do the trick.”

Jason laughed uncomfortably, “Yeah, it sure did.” Turning off the water, he added, “Ethan, I’m sorry to hear about your dad.”

“Thanks, he was a great guy.” They walked to where they left the towels. “I’m not sure what would have happened to us if not for your grandparents, Jason. They are the most generous people I ever met. They NEVER ask for anything. In fact, they act like they didn’t do anything for us and we’re always doing nice things for them.”

“They are good people.” Jason confirmed tossing Ethan a bathing suit. “Since Dean and I were kids they taught us the importance of helping others when we could.”

“Sorry to drop that on you,” Ethan stared at his feet. “But if you were as close to doing something you would regret later as I was, it was the right thing to talk about.”

Jason put his arm around Ethan’s shoulder. Gone was the raw desire, replaced by a closeness he felt for a good friend. “Thanks for sharing that about my grandparents. It means a lot.”

“You’re welcome.” Ethan smiled at him. “We should go jump on their heads before they wonder what we’re up to.”

“You’re on.” He opened the door and raced Ethan to the pool. Like synchronized divers the pair hit matching cannon balls, creating a wave that washed over both sides of the pool. When they emerged, they both starting laughing, glad they got passed a difficult spot.

Jason decided tomorrow he would make sure the staff put back scrubbers in the shower area.

******

Jason walked toward his room on the third floor. Other than Dean, no one came up here all summer. Like a fool, he let Dean pick where they would sleep and true to his age, Dean selected two rooms as far from his grandparents as he could find.

Only after he dumped his stuff in the room across from Dean did he realize how a couple of years away from home changes your perspective on things. When he was Dean’s age, no doubt he would have picked the same set of rooms. Now, he didn’t worry so much.

After their swim, Mrs. Miller showed up, invited to dinner by the Henrys. Jason’s grandmother said the boys had already showered and cleaned up but had nothing to wear home. So under the pretext of their mother bringing them clean clothing, she invited the three to stay for dinner.
That he and Ethan bonded was not surprising; that Dean and Aaron did was. Jason ticked off all the reasons they shouldn’t have gotten along so well; they were the furthest apart in age, Dean was still in high school, Aaron was studious, Dean only cared about soccer. They had so little in common it seemed odd until Jason remembered they both had gay brothers and both liked girls.

Until that moment, it didn’t dawn on him that Dean might need someone to talk to about girls other than his gay brother. Rather than be upset or jealous, Jason was glad Dean found a new friend.

He reached his conclusion about the time he made it to his room. Calling Peter filled him with a sense of dread. Not that he and Ethan did anything wrong, but it was going to look that way. ‘Where there’s smoke there’s fire,’ grandpa Tellerman was fond of saying.

Flopping on his bed, he reached for his phone. Peter would be home by now; better to get it over with early, in case it turned into an all night conversation. Reminding himself he didn’t cheat on Peter, he plugged his earbuds into the phone and hit the number.

“HEY!” Peter’s enthusiastic greeting made Jason feel worse. “Jason! I was just thinking of you.”

“Hey Peter.” At least he didn’t have to fake being glad to hear Peter’s voice. “Hopefully you were thinking good things.”

“Good?” He asked playfully. “Does naughty thoughts count as good ones?”

“Sure does.” Jason tried his best not to sound guilty.

“Then they’re all good.” Peter laughed. “How was your day?”

“Interesting.”

“Wow, that sounds . . . like there is a story there.” Peter’s response felt like a punch to the gut. Peter had no inkling what he was about to hear. “Wanna tell me about it.”

“Yeah, I do, that’s why I called.” Jason took a deep breath before recapping his day.

Apart from a few clarification questions, Peter didn’t say much during the twenty minutes Jason spent talking about what happened. His lack of comments concerned Jason. Should he have done this in person instead? No, he knew if he waited it would only get worse.

“Say something, Pete.” Jason finally said.

“What should I say?”

Jason knew Peter was mad. “So you are mad.”

“Did you expect me to be happy?” Peter asked.

Here it comes, Jason thought.

“I mean you are off showering with some hot guy who gives you a raging hard-on, what is there for me to say?” Now his anger was clear.

“I didn’t do anything Pete, I swear.”

“C’mon Jase, ‘wash my back and I’ll wash yours.’ What kind of crap is that?”

Jason knew Peter was going to be unhappy so he just stuck to the truth. “I keep saying this, but I didn’t do anything wrong, other than wash his back, I didn’t touch him. He has a boyfriend too.”

“That didn’t stop him from asking you to put your hands all over him.” Peter’s insecurities were behind this Jason realized.

“Yeah and after he asked me to help him out he decided to tell me the sad story of how his dad’s death fucked him up just to keep me in the mood.” Jason knew if he didn’t get Peter to see there was nothing here soon, it was going to get worse. “I swear to you Peter, there’s nothing going on. He cares about Anthony the way I love you.”

“So you weren’t tempted?” Peter challenged.

“Tempted? Yeah I was.” He wouldn’t lie to Peter. “But I wasn’t going to lose you for some passing temptation.”

“Hmph.”

Jason let the silence drag on. He didn’t do anything wrong.

“If you didn’t think you didn’t do anything wrong, why did you call to tell me?” Peter’s insecurities were showing again.

“Because I thought we were supposed to be honest with each other.” Jason challenged. “If you want me to lie and say I’ll never be tempted by someone, I can’t do that.”

“You know that isn’t what I . . . .” Peter started to say, but Jason kept talking over him.

“But I thought you would want to hear that when faced with the chance, hours away from you, with almost no chance of you finding out, I not only didn’t give in, I told you about it as soon as I could. I don’t know what else I can do.”

The silence on the other end wasn’t complete. Jason thought Peter started to speak twice, but nothing happened. Not sure how much more time he should wait, he was about to say something else when Peter broke his silence.

“Remember when I told you that you’re a lousy liar?” Peter’s question froze Jason’s heart.

“Yeah,” his voice was barely audible.

“I know you’re being honest with me Jason, but I can’t help being jealous.” Peter didn’t sound mad, more like sorry.

“Pete, you have nothing to worry about.” Jason felt horrible he made Peter feel this way. “I’m so sorry I caused you this pain. Not a very good way to tell you how much I love you.”

“So nothing happened.” It was more a statement than a question.

“I told you everything.”

“Didn’t leave out any naughty details?” Peter’s change in tone made him smile.

“You mean other than what I want to do to you, next time I see you?” He played along - or at least he hoped it was playing along.

“Oh really?” Peter’s reaction was as Jason hoped. “Care to share a few of those?”

“Um well,” Jason was never comfortable talking about sex, especially not on the phone.

“Are you alone?” Peter asked.

“Of course. Why?”

“Are you naked?” Peter’s voice told Jason they were good again.

“Holy crap! Are you trying to get me to have phone sex with you?” He whispered the last sentence.

“Trying? Hell no! I’m telling you what to do.” Peter didn’t laugh, suggesting he was serious.

“No, I’m not naked.” Jason kept his voice down.

“Get naked.”

“I will if you will.” Jason slipped off his short even as he spoke.

“I’ve been naked since you called.” Peter laughed. “You have a ways to catch up.”

Jason quickly took the rest of his clothes off. Hopefully no one would hear him. For the first time since Dean picked these rooms, Jason was glad to be on the third floor.

“Just relax and do what I say.”

Temptation averted, hopefully the rest of the summer will go as smoothly.
Copyright © 2011 Andrew Q Gordon; All Rights Reserved.
If you enjoyed what you have read, please leave a reaction and/or comment for the author!

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Chapter Comments

Oooh, I got nervous during shower scene . . . and even though nothing happened, I can see why Peter would be a little upset.

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On 01/08/2011 06:03 AM, Sara Alva said:
Oooh, I got nervous during shower scene . . . and even though nothing happened, I can see why Peter would be a little upset.
I almost had something happen, but I was sure folks would pillar me if I did. Still, I would be pissed too. Can't be good for his self confidence when his bf, who he is thinks is much better looking than he is [though in my mind Peter is the hot one - just sayin ] and here he is chucking wood over this new guy he meets. Hmm - is that the last we see of this???
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Okay- that is soooooo not cool! :(

 

The shower is so close to cheating! Like your butt hanging over the edge of cheating! If my man did this someone would be getting their cheating butt kicked! I'm glad nothing MORE happened!

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On 06/25/2011 09:09 AM, K.C. said:
Okay- that is soooooo not cool! :(

 

The shower is so close to cheating! Like your butt hanging over the edge of cheating! If my man did this someone would be getting their cheating butt kicked! I'm glad nothing MORE happened!

Everything can't be all lovey dovey, can it? I mean things happen when you're young and hot. Peter is right to think his man is a hottie and Jason never really thinks about how insecure Peter is about being with him. He doesn't see the problem and this won't help things. But he at least stopped when he should have. Right??? 0:)
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This chapter is very real. I mean, temptation is a real thing and I'm glad you didn't ignore it completely. That's what adds realism to your story and makes the characters that much more likeable and relatable. Despite the temptation, he refrained. Admirable. And he was honest about it too. :)

 

:2thumbs: Two thumbs up.

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On 07/08/2011 10:18 AM, AnytaSunday said:
This chapter is very real. I mean, temptation is a real thing and I'm glad you didn't ignore it completely. That's what adds realism to your story and makes the characters that much more likeable and relatable. Despite the temptation, he refrained. Admirable. And he was honest about it too. :)

 

:2thumbs: Two thumbs up.

To be honest, I toyed with him actually doing it, but I figured it was too 'soon' for him. I think the longer you're 'out' the more jaded you become and the more apt you are to just give in. But at the beginning your too caught up in the hope that everything is perfect and will work out. So I thought that was the more real way to play this chapter. Thanks for the thumbs up
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I really, really like Jasons grandparents after reading this chapter smile.png, the story with Ethans' fathers death made me cry like a baby.

You are a great writer specool.gif

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On 08/12/2012 07:10 PM, Slytherin said:
I really, really like Jasons grandparents after reading this chapter smile.png, the story with Ethans' fathers death made me cry like a baby.

You are a great writer specool.gif

There are some characters that seem to right themselves, Pop was one of those. I won't say he's my favorite character but he was very easy to read. I'm also a bit concerned that people keep saying I'm making them cry - is my writing THAT bad. :P
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On 8/12/2012 at 4:31 PM, Andrew Q Gordon said:

There are some characters that seem to right themselves, Pop was one of those. I won't say he's my favorite character but he was very easy to read. I'm also a bit concerned that people keep saying I'm making them cry - is my writing THAT bad. :P

You're writing is great and part of crying is the reward I figure for getting caught up with the characters & stories. Thank You

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the shower scene was just too hot !!! but that was a brilliant way to give us Aaron and Ethan’s story 👍

like those 👆, i cried during their whole story.

i hope there is a spin off with them or that they will appear in another story ❤️

yeah, the grand parents are good ❤️ and it is a shame that they have got a daughter like Hurricanes B ! but sadly, money often corrupt people

excellent chapter  👍

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On 7/11/2020 at 5:38 AM, Danilo Syrtis said:

the shower scene was just too hot !!! but that was a brilliant way to give us Aaron and Ethan’s story 👍

like those 👆, i cried during their whole story.

i hope there is a spin off with them or that they will appear in another story ❤️

yeah, the grand parents are good ❤️ and it is a shame that they have got a daughter like Hurricanes B ! but sadly, money often corrupt people

 

Once upon a life time ago I had such plans for this 'franchise'. Clearly most of those came to fruition.  

The shower scene is also some what taboo now in MM romance - cheating is NOT allowed if you want to keep your fan base - never mind 'cheating' is a real thing. MM Romance, as I've learned over the years is as much about fantasy as LOTR or other epic fantasy stories.  In a perfect world of HEA - cheating doesn't happen. When/If I repurpose this for my Group/newsletter, I'll have to see what I do with this. 

Give Barbara a chance - we all deal with disappointment in different way. 

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I get the impression Grandpa Tellerman knows and supports more than he's letting on. ❤️

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On 1/23/2021 at 3:46 PM, Chris L said:

I get the impression Grandpa Tellerman knows and supports more than he's letting on. ❤️

I'm not taking that bet. Just saying.

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