Jump to content
    C James
  • Author
  • 10,120 Words
Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

In Memory of Ed Wooton

For the Love - 29. Mixed Emotions

Mr. Williams headed off to see Sheriff Buchanan, but only after he'd made me tell him the entire tale of my trip to Piedmont. Once I finished, he read me the riot act at full volume while Steve sat there, smiling far too innocently.

As soon as Mr. Williams had slammed the door on his way out, I advanced on my giggling boyfriend, "Gee thanks, Steve," I grumbled, "being ripped a new one by your dad was somuch fun."

Steve laughed, backpedaling, "Hey, I wanted to make sure you got the message never to do anything like that again. Besides, if you think this was bad, think how much madder he'd have been if he had to learn all about it from Sheriff Buchanan, who just happens to be his boss."

Nodding, I conceded that Steve had a point as Mrs. Williams entered the room, her shoulders slumped, a stark contrast to her usual expression of unshakable resolve, worn like a mask that she dare not let slip. Mrs. Williams sat down on the sofa with the faintest of sighs, while Steve and I gingerly took seats on each side of her. She glanced at me, her eyes tinged with sadness, "Chris, you probably don't think very highly of me right now..."

Holding up my hand for a moment to interrupt, I said, "Ma'am, that's not true. First off, it was a long time ago and secondly, it's none of my business anyway."

Giving us a forced, fleeting smile, she admitted hearing part of her husband's high-volume lecture of me - enough to know that I'd been to Piedmont and brought back Steve's Charger. She added, almost as an afterthought, though I could tell it wasn't, "I know Eric had some role in that, somehow. I'll want the full story soon, but not tonight."

Mrs. Williams left after saying goodnight, Steve following her, obviously wanting to give his mother some more reassurance. I went to Steve's room and worked on my homework for a while. Steve returned, looking a little more upbeat as he told me, "I think everything's going to be okay."

"How about you? Are you okay with the news?" I asked.

Steve sat down on his bed, thinking for a moment before answering, "I was surprised, but it was a long time ago and it sounds like that hypocritical asshole Thaddeus is more to blame. I think Mom and Dad are working through this okay from what I can see. As for the rest, I couldn't be happier that Eric is only my half-brother. I've been damn worried that I could be like him in some ways, but this eases my mind on that score. It also explains why he was bigger than me when we were younger; different genes."

Steve and I grazed through our homework assignments, more to keep busy than accomplish anything, until Mr. Williams returned about an hour later. He came directly to Steve's room, taking a chair near the door, looking very tired. "Guys, I've heard about the murder attempt in detail and I'm real sorry for leaving when I did. I want to talk to you both about the potential charges from the Piedmont DA; they haven't done anything - yet, but they could at any time. I'm under threat too, due to this bullshit about aiding and abetting illegal sexual conduct. They can't make it stick, but an accusation on my record would be devastating. Until you are both eighteen, for all our sakes, I'm going to have to insist; no more sex in this house."

My nuts began to ache a little as I shuddered at the thought of our looming dry spell, until I realized we could always use the back seat of Steve's Charger off in the desert somewhere. I needn't have worried, because Mr. Williams soon added, "What you do in your own apartment, Chris, is your business. You pay rent, so that's your house. As for Steve, he's legally a minor in my charge so I'm going to ask that if anything occurs over there, don't tell me. I'd prefer that you two don't sleep here in Steve's room because you share a bed, and claims could be made. This is just until you are both eighteen, or the pressure is off, whichever comes first, so only for a few weeks at most."

Mr. Williams left after talking with us for a while, but I could tell that he was deeply concerned over the threat of charges, however spurious the jurisdictional claims.

Friday arrived, right on time. Steve and I had decided to skip school for the day and help Chad move, so we were able to sleep in a little. We needed it, after fully taking advantage of being under my own roof the night before.

Just before noon, the phone rang. I answered it groggily, finding Veronica on the other end, telling us to get our asses in gear and get over to Chad's to help him move. We dragged ourselves out of bed and got ready to head on out. Steve was in a good mood, after hearing that he would be getting his Charger back on Saturday. More importantly, things seemed to be going well between his parents.

Veronica had changed plans slightly; after we had Chad moved into her house, we were having the first part of his birthday party that night, continuing all day Saturday and into Saturday night. The party, per usual, would be in part a pool party, so I cast a suspicious glance at my gorgeous, innocent-acting boyfriend as he dug around in my wardrobe. He pulled on a pair of jeans, setting a t-shirt aside on my bed and heading out the door, telling me he was going to his room to get a gym bag. I knew darn well that Steve would try something somehow, but this time, I wasn't giving him the chance; while he was gone, I slipped a pair of boardies on under my jeans as I got dressed.

Steve returned, gym bag in hand, to begin collecting a few clothes for our stay at Veronica's. He smiled the most innocent of smiles as I handed him a pair of boardies. He made slightly too much effort in giving me a clear field of view as he placed them in the bag with no apparent sleight of hand.

Tugging the zipper closed, Steve handed me the gym bag, his face still adorned with an angelic smile. After he pulled on his shirt, I slung the bag over my shoulder. As we headed out the door I chuckled to myself at my deviousness in foiling his plans; he had no idea I was wearing boardies under my jeans, so no matter what he pulled I wouldn't be stuck wearing Speedos at the party.

We tossed our wrapped presents into the back of my Jeep, arriving at Chad's house minutes later to find Chad waiting outside, pacing the sidewalk like a caged lion.

Checking my watch, I noticed that we were two minutes early, "Hey Chad, what's up?" I asked, leaping out of the Jeep.

Chad glanced at his watch yet again, "I'm just stressing out. My folks will be home around ten and I need to be gone by then. I hope Rob and Joe get here soon."

Steve walked over to Chad, grabbed his arm, and checked the watch, "Dude, relax. Rob and Joe said they would be here about a half hour from now and that gives us over ten hours to load up. How much stuff you got, anyway?"

Chad thumbed the button of a garage door remote, pointing as the door rumbled upwards, "Damn near everything in the garage."

I followed Steve in, finding neatly stacked cardboard boxes of every shape and description in the center of the otherwise near-empty garage. I shot a puzzled look at Chad, "This doesn't seem like much; we could get this loaded on the truck real quick."

Chad shook his head, his hair falling across his eyes, "I've got a few more things inside. I want my desk, my bookcase, my trophies, and my clothes too."

"So, that's a few hours at most, less with four guys. Why the stress?" asked Steve.

Chad shuffled some before answering, "Mom and Dad suspect something's up. They walked in on me while I was packing some books last night. They said that if I thought I was moving out, to think again if I know what's good for me."

I didn't like the sound of that, not one bit. "Chad, they can't stop you. Tomorrow, you're an adult. You have your own income and a place to live, there's not a damn thing they can do."

Chad responded with a sullen nod, "They can try keeping my stuff if I don't get it out, that's why I need to do this today. They also hinted they'd make legal trouble for Veronica if I broke our 'agreement'."

"Don't worry, dude, we'll have you out of here before they get back. Tomorrow you'll be an adult and they can't touch ya," Steve said with a forced smile, giving Chad a pat on the back.

A rumble, followed by the squeal of over-worn brakes announced Rob and Joe's arrival, Joe parking the tow-truck in the street. I stood back as Rob backed their old flatbed truck into the driveway, coughing a little from the plentiful blue-tinged exhaust fumes. As they climbed out, I waved my hand in front of my nose, calling out, "I think you guys need a ring job, you're burning oil."

Rob ambled up, punching me lightly in the arm he said, "Who're the mechanics here, goofball? Why don't you stick to stuff you know, like blowing up Mayberry?"

I knew damn well Rob and Joe wouldn't let me off the hook for that. I nodded, cringing and shying away, "I guess you heard."

Rob and Joe both laughed, Joe needling me first, "Oh yeah, we heard about the whole thing, Rambo. And if you think you'll ever live it down, you're blonder than Steve," Joe's expression quickly changed from jovial to serious as he added, "Dude, what you did, that was fucking stupid. It's a miracle you're still alive."

I had to agree, because he was right. I was also eager to change the subject, so I pointed at Chad's pile of boxes, "Chad needs to get his stuff out of here quick, there's trouble brewing with his parents."

Glancing at his tow truck, Rob asked, "How soon do you need us? We've got a car to tow and could be back in under an hour, but we wanted to drop the truck off so you guys could get started."

I eyed the flatbed; it was as the name implied, just a truck cab with a flat, open slab of metal for cargo. Joe caught my look and pointed to some tie-downs;"We'll lash everything down and I've got a cargo net to go over it."

Chad looked at the truck, then at his pile of boxes, "We'll be okay, just come back when you can. I don't think they will, but if my parents show up early..."

Rob tossed Chad the keys to the truck, "We'll be back as soon as we can, take off if you need to, but...only you or Steve can drive the truck, understood?"

My jaw fell as I stared at Rob, wondering why he'd excluded me. Joe smirked, pointing at me, "We don't want Chris driving it. He'd probably want to take the scenic route, right through downtown Piedmont. He just can't seem to get enough of that town."

My cheeks burned as everyone had a good laugh at my expense. Hopping in their tow-truck, Rob and Joe took off while Steve eyed the pile of boxes.

Steve took a quick walk around the boxes then glanced at the truck, "Let's get the furniture first, and see how it fits. This shouldn't take long if we push it."

We hauled out the furniture, setting it on the flatbed near the cab-end of the truck. Chad began glancing nervously around the neighborhood, finally mentioning his fears, "Guys, what if one of the neighbors sees us and calls my folks?"

Steve looked around the quiet street before replying, "Let's kick this into high gear. Even if they show up we can just drive the truck off, they can't stop us. Chad, grab some trash bags to throw your clothes and any unpacked stuff into. Point out what we should take first; whatever's the most important to you. Let's get moving."

Steve stripped off his shirt, tossing it by the side of the driveway, where it was joined by Chad's and mine. Steve and I began hauling the boxes out from the garage as fast as we could, working up a sweat, while Chad disappeared into the house, trash bags in hand.

Ten minutes later, we had the last box out of the garage and loaded onto the truck and I lead the way back inside Chad's house, glancing around the richly appointed living room. The room, decorated with carefully positioned and displayed expensive-looking knick-knacks, left me wondering how anyone could care so much for mere objects while treating their own son like dirt. I stopped for a second and shuddered, remembering my own parents, suddenly understanding all too well what Chad must be feeling.

We found Chad in his room, frantically stuffing clothes, hangers and all, into trash bags, his body covered in sweat from his frenzied pace.

Steve put a hand on Chad's shoulder, "Whoa, man, take it easy. We're done outside. What needs doing besides your clothes?"

Chad sat down in a wooden chair, breathing hard, his hair soaked with sweat, as he looked around the room, "Not a lot. I can't think of anything. I've done my trophies. The desk and bookcase are already on the truck. Could you guys grab the trash bags by the door? Be careful with 'em, my trophies are inside the big one and all I could do was wrap 'em in clothes. Those trophies mean a lot to me and I'll feel a hell of a lot better once they're out of here."

I followed Steve on a run to the truck, hauling the trash bags. On the way back inside, Steve motioned for me to stop, saying in a quiet voice, "Chad's really stressed. I've never seen him this bad. Let's get him out of here as fast as we can." I nodded in agreement.

We entered Chad's room to find him darting from one side to the other, looking in empty drawers, often more than once. Steve spoke before I had a chance, "Dude, calm down. We're almost done."

Chad nodded, droplets of sweat hanging from his chin, "Yeah, those three bags by the door should do it. I've checked under the bed and everywhere I can think of. Let's get out of here..."

We each took a bag, following Chad as he double-timed it to the truck. Steve leaped up onto the bed, tossing us a bundle of tie-down straps as well as the cargo net. Steve picked up one bag, "Chad, your trophies are in this one. It'd probably be safer in your car."

Steve carefully handed Chad the bag, and watched as Chad raced for his old heap, parked at the curb. Together, Steve and I draped the cargo net over the flatbed, and then began cinching tie-downs into place. We were half-done before Chad ran back, scrambling to help. I resisted the urge to tell him to slow down, because I knew how badly he wanted to put this place behind him.

Ten minutes later, we had everything secured, and Chad began to relax, smiling faintly as he remarked, "Even if they show up now it won't matter. They can't stop me."

"Want to take a run through the house, see if you forgot anything?" I asked.

Chad looked back, a little wistfully, at the house, "Nah, I'm all done here. Let's roll."

Steve dug out the keys to the truck, telling Chad, "Chris and I'll follow you to Veronica's in the truck, but we'll need a ride back here to get Chris' Jeep."

Chad and I both gave Steve a perplexed look, as Chad asked, "Sure, but wouldn't it be easier if Chris drove his Jeep now instead of both of you going in the truck?"

Steve turned to me, nodding gravely, "Yeah, it would, but I want to make sure he doesn't go to Piedmont again."

I punched Steve on the arm as Chad laughed and I grumbled, "Okay, okay, smartass, I'll follow you."

Steve flipped open his phone as he climbed into the truck, "I'll call Rob and Joe, let them know we'll be at Veronica's."

Grabbing our three shirts from beside the garage, I tossed them into my Jeep while Chad hit a button on the garage door opener, placing it on a workbench in the garage before dashing out under the closing door.

Chad watched, becoming nervous again as Steve cranked the truck. For a few moments, I thought it wouldn't start. Chad noticeably relaxed as soon at the engine caught, diving into his old car with a big smile on his face. Steve pulled away, grinding the gears, causing me to snicker. I fired up my Jeep, glad that Chad was out of his parent's house at last.

Following the flatbed truck as it crawled along, I pulled Steve's gym bag out of the foot well, curious to see if he'd made the switch yet. I held it in my lap as I unzipped it, glancing inside to find, unexpectedly, my boardies, right next to some jeans, the black Lycra from one of Steve's Speedos sticking out from underneath. I wasn't at all surprised he'd brought at least one racing suit; that's what he normally wore. What puzzled the heck out of me was how he planned to trick me this time... Even if he made my boardies vanish, Chad surely had some I could borrow. Steve didn't even seem to be trying, though, and that made me suspicious as hell.

Steve backed the truck into Veronica's driveway, Chad and I parked in the street. As I climbed out, the gym bag safely tucked under my arm, I tossed Chad his shirt, leaving Steve's and mine in the Jeep. Chad tucked his shirt into the back pocket of his jeans as we walked up the front steps to a waiting Veronica.

"Welcome home, honey," Veronica said softly, sweeping Chad up in a big hug. Chad hugged her back, before launching into a deep kiss, both of them oblivious to their audience.

Steve coughed lightly, "Chris and I can come back later..."

Veronica stood by Chad's side, her arm over his bare shoulders as they both shook their heads, Chad blushing slightly as Veronica said, "Nope, we're holding off that particular birthday celebration until his actual birthday. Today and tonight are for having other kinds of fun. Come on in."

We'd barely set foot in the door when Rob and Joe arrived, a glint of familiar silver showing from the back of their tow truck. They parked behind their flatbed, Rob hefting the pony keg by himself, easily carrying it into the house as Joe brought up the rear, clutching a plastic sack.

Rob plopped the keg down into a waiting tub of ice in Veronica's kitchen, remarking with a satisfied grin, "We got the good stuff this time - Coors."

Joe opened the bag, setting two fifths of Vodka on the kitchen table while Rob tapped the keg as Veronica groaned, "Looks like you guys came prepared."

Rob grinned, "Yeah, Vodka and beer, can't have one without the other. Besides, we've gotta take care of our buddy Dex, I hear he's on his way."

Veronica nodded, "Yeah, he is. He left Los Angeles in the early hours of this morning to avoid traffic then holed up in Blythe to get some sleep. He said he'd be coming straight here when he wakes up, so he should be arriving sometime after dark," Veronica shot a withering glance towards Steve and me;"He said he'd fill us in on the data stick, too, because these weasels won't."

Steve and I smiled as innocently as we could, hamming it up a little. "I've been thinking about this. A girl's gotta use her creativity. I thought we'd go a little bit formal today, so I picked up a little something ...," Veronica said, her voice dripping with fake honey.

Veronica opened a kitchen drawer, withdrawing a small brown paper bag and upending it over the kitchen table. Out tumbled three black satin bow ties, complete with black elastic collar straps, just like Chippendale dancers wear.

Smiling sweetly, though as fake as a three-dollar bill, Veronica told us "Tomorrow is Chad's day, but tonight is mine.You three," she said, her outstretched pointer finger moving between Steve, Chad, and I, "will look cute in these and I've got my camera. Put 'em on. Oh, and Chris, in honor of your second excursion to Piedmont, you get to be the serving wench for the evening. I've got a nice tray for you to carry, so you can fill all our drink and food orders."

Chuckling, amazed I'd gotten off so easily, I slipped on the bow tie as Chad and Steve followed suit. Veronica snapped a few pictures of the three of us, shirtless in jeans, cajoling us into hamming it up a little, striking poses, flexing for the camera, which with Steve didn't take a lot of prompting, none at all, really.

Veronica gave us her most angelic smile, as I waited for the other shoe to drop. She obliged by saying, "Let's adjourn to the pool and have a few beers. Chris, you're serving," she reminded me.

Casting a quick glance out the patio door, Steve eyed the pool before looking at the gym bag I now had clutched under my arm, grinning, "Holding onto that bag kinda tight, aren't you?"

Grinning from ear to ear, I tossed Steve the bag, shrugging. He didn't react, just smiled, as Veronica announced, "Y'all go get changed."

Half turning away, Steve stopped, then stood watching me, waiting for me to follow. I let fly with the grin and the laugh I'd been suppressing, "Not this time, Steve. I don't know what you had planned, but I won't be falling for it; I came prepared," I said, as I kicked off my shoes, then my jeans, to reveal the boardies I was wearing.

Steve didn't react; he just stood there, smiling for a few moments before heading for Veronica's spare room to change. That, I reflected, was fartoo easy.

The spare room door opened as Steve made his appearance, wearing his tight black racing suit and the matching bow tie.

Steve stood before us in the kitchen, placing his hands behind his neck and stretching with an impish grin on his face.

My own smug grin began to fade, as I realized that something was indeed up. As if reading my mind, Steve nodded, then angled his head towards Veronica as she said, "Good try wearing the boardies under your jeans Chris, except Blondie has out-smarted you yet again. No switch or trick was needed, because he's got me on his side today and I'm thinking you're a little over-dressed, so go get changed."

Steve chuckled, "I brought an extra suit for you, it's in the gym bag on the bed."

I stood my ground, holding up my hands, "Whoa, I think I'll just keep the boardies on..."

Veronica slithered her arm across my shoulders, reaching up with her free hand to twirl a lock of my hair, "Chris, after your little hair-brained excursion, you surely know that I've got plans for your hair tonight. Now, the question is, do you want to be blonder than Blondie, or do I just lighten you up a little?"

Sensing my looming defeat, I gave it one last try, "Why do you want me to do this?"

Veronica laughed, "Payback for not telling me what's on the data stick, plus your trip to Piedmont. Besides, it's good for you."

Resigned to my fate, I stalked off to the spare bedroom to change, followed by the peals of Steve's laughter.

I checked the bag and sure enough, he'd bought not one, but two extra suits, both identical to his own. After stuffing my boardies in the bag, I pulled on one of the tight suits, shaking my head over the fact that Steve had gotten me, yet again. I shrugged, figuring I might as well make the best of it, so I straightened my bow tie, smoothed my hair, threw my shoulders back, and tried my damndest to mimic Steve's confident air as I returned to the kitchen.

Steve stood there grinning, leaning back against the kitchen table, as Chad snickered at me. Veronica nodded approvingly, struggling to keep from laughing, as she fixed her gaze on her boyfriend and said, "Chad, honey, remember the night we got together? Steve tricked you into wearing Speedos that night, so I was just thinking how good you looked, both then and at your swim meets. So, seeing as it's the night before your birthday, why don't you dress like Chris and Steve tonight, for old time's sake?"

Poor Chad, he never saw it coming. He stood proudly, puffing out his chest a little, casually strumming his fingernails over his bare right pec, nodding in agreement, as he replied, "I would, but all my suits are either in the locker at school or somewhere in my boxes. It'd take forever to find a pair."

Steve tapped Chad on the shoulder, "No problem, bro. There's an extra one in my bag, just for you."

Chad spun around glaring at Steve, "You just happened to bring me one, huh? Gee, thanks, bro.I'll get you for this; you know that, don't you?" Chad said turning on his heel, heading for the spare room to change, giving Steve an over-the-shoulder smile to let him know he wasn't actually angry. I'm sure the desire for payback was real enough, though, so I made a mental note to have a private chat with Chad on that issue soon, hoping that we could come up with a suitable plan.

While we waited for Chad, I noticed an inexplicable silence from Rob and Joe. At the previous parties, they'd hooted and hollered when Steve or I made an appearance in a racing suit. Glancing in their direction, I stated the obvious, "You two knew, didn't you?"

Rob shrugged, looking very much like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar, "We knew Steve and Veronica were plotting it and that Veronica usually gets her way, so yeah, I guess you could say we knew."

"You could've warned me," I grumbled, as Rob, followed by Joe, began to laugh.

Grabbing a cup, I pumped in some beer and watched as Chad returned, adjusting his bow tie. I'd seen him in Speedos at swim meets before; he was used to it so I was unsurprised that he looked fairly comfortable. I couldn't let the opportunity pass, so I sidled up to him and whispered in his ear, "You do realize that you're both almost naked and the only straight guy here, right?"

Chad laughed, "The thought had crossed my mind."

Veronica looked askance as she asked, "What did the psycho lunatic say, Babe?"

Chad shrugged, "He was just pointing out that I'm almost naked and the only straight person here."

Veronica glared at me as I shook my head, sputtering, "I said guy, not person..."

Arching an eyebrow at me, Veronica addressed the room, "Let's head on out to the pool."

It was a perfect afternoon; the patio was partially shaded from the lowering afternoon sun. Late fall had arrived, cooling the weather so that the daytime highs were barely above a hundred; perfect pool party weather.

The azure waters of the pool sparkled their cool invitations as we took our regular seats. Steve joined me, planting his beer by a lounger before turning to face our gathered friends. Grinning, he did his customary hands-behind-the-neck stretch in the afternoon sun; his golden tan and blond hair standing in perfect contrast to the tight black swimsuit. He looked spectacular, as always.

Steve pulled off his bow tie, tossing it on a patio table before glancing at the water, then eyeing me warily. Veronica caught the look and pronounced, "Chris, be nice, no drowning your boyfriend, not until later, anyway."

Snickering, Steve launched himself into a back flip, slicing into the water with barely a ripple. Chad and I tossed our bow ties next to Steve's and we shared a conspiratorial glance, the unspoken plan agreed with a nod as we raced for the pool, diving in unison on opposite sides of Steve.

I surfaced near Steve, grinning maliciously as he backed away reminding me, "Veronica said..." his words cut off as Chad dunked him under from behind.

Steve surfaced, sputtering from a mouthful of water as I laughed, "Veronica said I couldn't drown you. She didn't say I couldn't distract you while Chad did it.

Veronica laughed, "Leave his swimsuit on this time, guys."

Rob booed his disapproval.

We all shared a good laugh, lolling around in the shallow end of the pool for a while. Soon, though, we climbed out to lie in the sun, enjoying the feel of the warm desert air as it dried us. We lay there, sipping our beers, while Rob and Joe pressed me for the details of my trip to Piedmont. I waved them off, "Wait until Dex gets here so I don't have to tell it twice. He should be here by nightfall."

Veronica grumbled, "If he's not, you better spill it about that data stick, or else."

I agreed, promising that, one way or another, everyone would know what was on the data stick before the night was through.

After relaxing together for a while, our thoughts turned to food. Chad loaded the grill with charcoal briquettes and then squirted a liberal dose of lighter fluid on the barbecue grill, causing it to flare up when he lit it. Half an hour and a beer or three later, he pronounced it ready, tossing on a few water-soaked Mesquite branches before loading the hamburger patties onto the grill.

The burgers were almost done when Veronica informed me, "Put your bow tie on, Chris, and start serving."

I played along, doing my best to act formal, taking orders and serving burgers. Chad and Steve donned their own bow ties as well, but didn't help with the serving.

The gate to the yard opened, startling us, as we turned to see Dex stroll in, decked out in his customary loud Hawaiian shirt.

"Dex, welcome back," I hollered, adding, "How do you want your burger?"

Dex stared at Chad, Steve and I before shrugging, "I'm not even gonna ask. As for the burger, burn it, with extra onions please."

After serving Dex his burger, I finally got to sink my teeth into my own, Veronica made the best damned burgers, and the Mesquite smoke added the perfect touch.

Veronica wasted no time, mumbling around a mouthful of burger, "Dex, spill it, what was on that damn data stick?"

Dex finished chewing before answering, "Account info for credit cards, including the encoding for a magnetic strip. Basically, all the ingredients for forging credit cards, for over ten thousand separate accounts. Once produced, the counterfeit cards would work just like a real one, and would have a street value of over a grand."

Veronica whistled, shaking her head before mumbling, "Wow, that isbig. Ten million dollarsworth of big. So that's what those rats were up to."

I nodded, "Yeah, they paid fifty grand for it, too."

Dex fixed me in his gaze, "How do you know that?"

I was about to answer when Steve cut me off to say, "He overheard it while in Piedmont, while nearly getting himself killed."

Shrugging, I figured I might as well get it over with and proceeded to tell Dex the whole story of the camping trip, the stake out, and my trip to Piedmont.

When I was done, Dex took a sip of his beer, glanced at the others, then returned his gaze to me, "You are quite insane. You do know that, don't you?"

Nodding, I blushed a little. I was about to reply when Dex turned to Rob and Joe, swirling his beer as he asked, "I believe you guys owe me something?"

Rob nodded, "Yeah, there's a bottle just for you in the kitchen and we'll get you the rest of the case soon."

Dex headed for the kitchen to retrieve the Vodka as I caught Steve's eye, then cast a glance at Rob and Joe, which Steve returned with a subtle nod. We got up, strode over to them, pulling up a chair on each side of theirs, as they both gave us suspicious looks.

Dex returned, pouring a liberal dose of Vodka into his drink as Steve, smiling innocently, launched into our pre-planned script, "Dudes, I was wondering, why did you guys bribe Dex for the URL and password to that website, then download our pictures? What did you want them for, especially when downloading them was such a big felony?"

Rob began to fidget nervously as Joe replied, "Uh, we were just clowning around..."

Giving them a not-so-gentle reminder, I said, "But guys, a whole case of good vodka, plus a full engine service? Why would you want pictures of us, anyway, especially x-rated ones?"

Rob and Joe exchanged a glance, Rob beginning to blush while Chad and Veronica snickered in the background. Joe shook his head, "Okay, okay, we did it because they were hot pictures, alright?"

It was just too much and I lost it, cracking up hard at their discomfort. Steve decided to give them an out;"Dudes, we can either keep reminding you of this unnatural fixation you guys have for minors, or, we can come to an arrangement. My Charger has a dented bumper and the paint is scratched pretty bad. How about you guys fix it at cost and we'll forget about those photos you downloaded?"

Rob growled, "You ass. If you were gonna make a deal like that, you could have at least let us keep the damn things," he paused for a few seconds, exchanged a glance with Joe, then added, "But, you got a deal."

Steve and I high-fived, as Veronica's phone began to ring. She answered it, speaking cryptically, before hanging up and telling me, "Throw some more burgers on the grill."

After I'd stoked the coals, added more Mesquite, and thrown the burgers on, I shot Veronica a questioning glance. She just smiled sweetly and shrugged, as I wondered what the hell she was up to now.

There wasn't long to wait. By the time the burgers were done, I was standing by the grill preparing plates, when Veronica's doorbell rang. She entered the house, only to return a few moments later with my boss in tow.

"Hi Betty," I gasped in surprise, attempting to put the grill between me and my boss, feeling suddenly very self-conscious about standing around in a racing suit and a bow tie.

Betty eyed me warily, glancing at Chad and Steve before grumbling, "Just what I needed; I get to be the only lesbian at a banana hammock convention."

Veronica laughed, "Chris is our serving wench for the evening. How do you want your burger?"

Betty gave me another perplexed look, "Medium, no onions, and get me a damn beer, wench."

As I filled Betty's order, Steve walked over to her, chuckling, "Hi Betty, turns out you were right about my family tree. Eric's my half-brother, not my brother, and the Piedmont Sheriff is his uncle."

Utter silence descended as our friends digested the news. Shocked stares gave way to frantic questions, so Steve cut to the chase, "Eric's father is Reverend Thaddeus J. Emoe."

Betty recovered first, "Thaddeus... that utter swine! I should have known. As for Eric, I guess it's like they say: like father, like son."

More questions ensued, Steve replying to each in turn. I watched as Betty gasped upon learning about the contents of the data stick. Veronica headed for the kitchen and I followed quickly, asking as soon as we were alone, "Why did you bring my boss here with me dressed like this? You should have warned me."

Veronica chuckled, "I thought she'd have fun. She and I talked when I stopped by the bookstore a few days ago, so I invited her."

"And you wanted to embarrass me, didn't you?"

Patting me on the head as she walked by, Veronica said, "Of course I did, Rambo."

Following her back to the patio, I soon learned why she had patted me on the head. I watched as she pulled a covered serving tray from under a towel, placing it with a familiar flourish on a small table, before pointing at a chair.

"Chris, park it, right here," Veronica said, jabbing a finger towards the chair.

Resigned, I padded over and sat down. Veronica pulled the bow tie off over my head while Betty watched with almost-veiled mirth.

Veronica announced theatrically, "Ladies and gentlemen, yet again we find ourselves gathered here, for purposes that shall become apparent. Chadwick, officiate, please..."

Chad adjusted his bow tie, struck a formal pose, rapping a knife three times against an empty glass.

"This proceeding is hereby called to order." Veronica said, echoing her words from the last pool party before continuing, "As you are all aware, Chris has been to Piedmont, again. It is apparent that he did not learn his lesson. Therefore, once again, we have no choice but to act, and act we shall. There is, as I have discovered, a well-founded concern that Chris may be planning yet another visit to Piedmont."

My eyes opened wide at that, as I sputtered, "There's no way in hell I'd go back th..."

Veronica shushed me before continuing, "Chris, it has come to my attention that you left your shirt in Piedmont. Given your past history, I suspect that you are, or soon shall be, planning a rescue mission to retrieve it."

Veronica snapped her fingers at Chad, who tapped the glass again. Veronica proclaimed, "Do you recall the warning I gave you the last time this tribunal had you before it? Allow me to refresh your memory. I said that if you went to Piedmont again, you'd better hope it was the sheriff who found you and not me. Nonetheless, what do you do? You go charging back to Piedmont again"

Pointing at my ear, Veronica added, "This isn't a cut he has on the ridge of his ear, it's a bullet graze. Therefore, we can literally say that he was shot in the head, with no appreciable effect upon his mental abilities, or what passes for them. All these facts draw us to an inescapable conclusion... He is truly blond, so it is therefore our duty to make the exterior of his head match the interior."

Veronica removed the tray cover, revealing the familiar and expected brown bottle, along with a brush and a pair of plastic gloves. Betty snickered; obviously having been filled in on the evening's planned proceedings.

If I didn't like the result I figured I could always get it dyed back, so I smiled in resignation as Veronica began brushing the bleaching solution into my hair.

After I'd sat there a while, Veronica dragged me to her laundry sink and rinsed my hair. I toweled it off a little, turning to face a mirror, noticing that it was significantly lighter even though wet.

Veronica laughed, "Last time, I just lightened it a little and gave you some sun streaks and highlights. This time, I lightened it all some more, you'll be almost as blond as Steve. It'll look good on you, but this is your last damn warning; if you ever set foot in Piedmont again, I'll shave you bald as an egg and dye your whole head purple. Got it?"

Nodding, I turned serious for a moment, "I know what I did was stupid. I was scared Steve would go if I didn't."

Veronica glared at me, real anger flaring in her eyes, "You used what I told you to damn near get yourself killed. Do you have anyidea how bad that would have made me feel? I'm dead serious, don't you everfucking do something like that again."

I promised that I wouldn't. It wasn't a hard promise to make; you couldn't pay me enough to set foot in Piedmont again, ever.

We returned to the patio, where I put the bow tie back on before serving everyone a round of drinks. We all relaxed a while, making small talk, until Steve asked Dex, "Tell us about California. You said it was pretty strange?"

Dex coughed, "That's an understatement. It's just really weird. I looked online and found a motel room in Oak Meadow, which was on my way in, just off I-10. It didn't look all that far from the lab in Pasadena on my map, but the traffic was so bad it took over an hour each way. At rush hour, the freeways become parking lots and it's even worse, you can't get anywhere at all, so I went in late and stayed late. I mainly hung out in Oak Meadow, but that place is downright trippy. I was eating lunch one day at a pizza place, called, with typical California unoriginality, 'The Pizza Joint', that had this waitress who was a cast-iron bitch at the best of times. She got really pissy when these three teens came in, two guys and a girl. The teens started clowning around and I swear one guy started to jack the other guy off under the table. Those kids must be from outer space... Get this; they ordered pizza with Pineappleon it."

My stomach turned queasy at the thought. Dex gave us a few more details from his California trip and some of the other strange people he'd encountered there, including a strange blond guy with a French accent happily offering to tie up people in the park. Dex went on to say that he'd braved the traffic to try some sightseeing, checking out the beach at Malibu and Venice, the Queen Mary, and a few other sights. He'd even paid a visit to the Los Angeles zoo, finding it crowded, and most of the animals driven into their lairs by the oppressive smog. According to Dex, that damn smog was so thick he'd been unable to see the big 'Hollywood' sign that's supposed to be on the hills and even the normally garrulous Australian Echidna was deep in its burrow at the zoo. Unsurprisingly, Dex had fallen in love with the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, just a few blocks from where he was working, informing us that were it not in California, he'd love to work there.

Once Dex had finished his recount, we relocated inside to evade the emerging evening bugs. Chad and Steve racked up for a game of pool, which Steve won, setting up the table for another game as Veronica and Betty paired off against Steve and I. Dex, drinking fairly heavily, played video games with Rob and Joe, who were pretty well skunked.

After several more games, our unhurried pace was interrupted when Betty announced, "It's after eleven and I have to be up in the morning, so I'll leave y'all to your fun. Thanks for the great evening. Oh, don't forget, Rambo, try and stay away from Piedmont."

Everyone other than Betty and I cracked up, Dex especially as it was the first time he'd heard my new nickname. I smiled at Betty, "I'll try. See you at work Monday..." I paused as my alcohol-fogged memory kicked in, turning my head to ask Dex, "Hey, do you still have that micro-camera gadget, the one that lets you look inside of stuff?"

Dex nodded, so I told him, "We found fresh brickwork blocking up an old smuggler's tunnel at the bookstore and we want to look behind it. Could you swing by Monday afternoon with the gear so we can give it a try?" His normally expressionless eyes lighting up with interest, Dex agreed.

Betty thanked Veronica, wished Chad a happy birthday, and left with Veronica's promise to invite her to the next party.

A few puzzled looks had been caused by my tunnel comment, so I had to explain a few things. As I wrapped up my explanations, the doorbell rang. Veronica hollered, "Come on in, Betty," before remarking quietly "I wonder what she forgot?"

The door opened, the figure striding into my peripheral vision resembling Betty not at all. The first thing I noticed as I turned in that direction was the gun. Then I noticed the police uniform.

"Hi sheriff..." I gasped in surprise, as Sheriff Buchanan stood staring at me, one eyebrow creeping up towards his receding hairline.

The sheriff removed his hat, scratched his head looking at me, then at Chad and Steve, "I won't even ask..." he mumbled, and then in a louder voice said to us all, "I'm afraid I'm here on official business."

Butterflies began swarming in my stomach, my anxiety growing even worse as the sheriff turned to Chad, "I've been receiving calls from your folks all night. They're claiming that you took your belongings and moved out against their wishes."

Chad blanched, replying in an agitated voice, "I did, but I turn eighteen tomorrow."

The Sheriff shook his head, "Doesn't matter. You're still a minor today and your parents have every legal right to demand that I take you into custody as a runaway. They've been burning up the phone lines all night, demanding precisely that, so I'm afraid I'm going to have to take you into custody. I'll pretend I didn't notice any underage drinking here, but you are, as of this moment, in my custody."

Chad's face fell, as the sheriff cracked a smile, "You'll remain in my custody until you are an adult. Your parents want me to haul you back to their house, but there just isn't time. Legally, you become an adult at midnight, which by my watch is about seven minutes away, at which time I'll leave you be."

I think Chad breathed the loudest sigh of relief, but it wasn't by much. Chad began to speak but the sheriff interrupted him, "You're also damn lucky your folks ain't too bright; they referred to your possessions as yours, then tried to claim they owned them. I know a little about why you left, but I suggest you give 'em a chance to calm down, then see if you can still have some kind of relationship with them."

Chad nodded, as I noticed a movement outside, as another officer neared the door. The Sheriff turned and told him, "I'll be out in a minute, Bob."

The sheriff turned deadly serious, "If I catch anyone under the age of twenty-one driving with any alcohol in their system whatsoever, I will throw the book at them. Same goes for anyone of age who is over the legal limit. If y'all know what's good for you, you'd best plan on walking if you want to go anywhere tonight."

Turning towards Steve, the sheriff grinned, "I took a few liberties tonight with your property, hope ya don't mind. I couldn't pass up the chance to take a little spin in your Charger. That's one sweet ride you've got there. It's in the driveway, with a half tank of gas," he said, tossing a key to Steve.

Steve's eyes lit up as he thanked the sheriff, only to be told, "If I see you so much as start the engine tonight, I'll toss your ass in jail because I know damn well you've been drinking. Got that?"

The sheriff checked his watch, telling Chad, "That's it, it's midnight. Happy birthday, and remember what I said; try to mend some fences with your folks eventually. They made some noise tonight about charging your lady friend here, but I made sure they understood that won't be going anywhere. They have no actual proof of sexual contact, so our D.A. won't entertain any ideas in that direction. Just let 'em calm down a bit, maybe they'll come around eventually now that they have no cards to play."

After bidding us all a goodnight, the sheriff said quietly to me, "Come outside with me, we need to talk."

Doing as I was asked, I followed the sheriff out, feeling decidedly uncomfortable on many levels, not the least of which was what I was wearing. As we reached the lawn, he stopped to tell me, "Your Piedmont problem is getting worse. It's looking to me like they are definitely going to go after you the second you turn eighteen, because Steve is five days younger. I wouldn't worry too much about a conviction, though even that's not out of the question given the attitudes in this area, but they can likely make your life hell. Those damn website photos they have are proof of an ongoing sexual relationship and they are probably admissible in court. About the only thing I can think of is to provide proof that no, uh, contact occurs during the time when you are eighteen and Steve is still seventeen. You ain't gonna like this, but what I've come up with is placing you in protective custody as a witness to several felonies and hold you at a facility down near Phoenix. I can't lock you up here since Piedmont could claim collusion and question whether you were actually locked up, so I phoned some friends in the state corrections department, seeking protective custody for you and the DA is clearing it with the State Attorney general's office. They're willing; all you'd have to do is turn yourself in the day before your birthday, then stay put until Steve turns eighteen."

Shuddering with a mix of shock and anger, I replied, "I'm the one they tried to kill, twice, and I've got to spend my birthday in jail? Damn, this sucks... Fucking hell, they broke the law, and I get to go to jail? Damn it, this sucks!" I clenched my fists, trembling with rage, as the sheriff waited patiently. I calmed down a little, "I guess I'll be reporting to jail the night before my birthday. Damn them, they just won't let up..."

Sheriff Buchanan gave me a sad smile, "They'll make the best conditions they can for you; they can keep you away from the general population and keep you away from the real prisoners as much as possible, but it won't be fun. I just don't see any other way to be sure. As for the ones doing this, they're going down, count on it."

I stood, a little shell-shocked, watching the sheriff drive away. Steve bounded out to join me, his grin fading as he saw my expression. I didn't want to bring him down during the party, preferring to tell him later, so I evaded a little, "He just wanted to tell me about Piedmont, just the same rumblings as before. The big news is he said they're gonna go down, count on it."

Steve whooped and I forced a grin for nothing else but him. Throwing his arm over my shoulder and patting me on the back, Steve dragged me towards his Charger. As soon as we were there, I tried to pull away, "Steve, we're wearing Speedos and bow ties, prancing around in the front yard at midnight. Can't we go inside and get dressed?"

Steve hugged me, "For you, anything. Come out here later with me though, okay?"

Agreeing, I followed Steve inside, only to find the party in full swing, Chad deep in Veronica's arms.

When Veronica and Chad came up for air, Veronica told us all, "It's officially his party now, plus he's officially moved in. The presents aren't until tomorrow, but drink up, let's celebrate!"

A few more rounds of drinks ensured that everyone was pretty well ripped. I even had a shot of Dex's vodka, which almost made me forget my upcoming incarceration. Forget it enough, at least, to let me join in the fun.

Chad and Steve squared off for a final game of pool and I sat down to watch. They were both still in racing suits and bow ties, and I have to admit I sure enjoyed the double-dose of eye candy.

Steve racked up for yet another game, this time against me, as Chad and Veronica began an earnest make-out session in the kitchen. Steve was about to sink the eight-ball when Veronica emerged from the kitchen, with a stooped-over and blushing Chad in tow, making a beeline for her bedroom.

We cracked up as soon as the bedroom door closed, knowing full well why Chad was hunched over and blushing. "Somebody has a pressing problem," Steve snickered.

Steve sank the eight ball as Rob and Joe appeared, looking both buzzed and tired. Joe mumbled, "We're going to try crashing out on the patio. Dex said he'd sleep in his van, while you lucky dogs get the spare bedroom. Life just ain't fair sometimes."

We bade them goodnight as I silently cursed the fact that they would be on the patio; I had plans that involved Steve and the pool, plans that were now torpedoed.

Dex said goodnight, heading for his van, so we went to the spare room, lying down on top of the mattress as slowly as possible, though it still squeaked like mad. I looked over at my gorgeous boyfriend and sighed, seriously considering trying the floor.

Steve ran his fingers through my hair, telling me how much he liked my new look. I grinned, feeling pretty good, plus a little buzzed, as I told him, "We'll look good in your car together, two blonds."

Laughing, Steve began to sit up, but stopped due to the noisy mattress, suddenly turning serious, "Chris, I'm happy as hell to have my car back, but not about the risks you took. I know you think you were preventing me from going, but you weren't, I wouldn't do anything that crazy. We're supposed to talk about stuff, so don't ever do anything like that again without telling me first, promise?"

I agreed, meaning it, reminding myself to tell Steve about my upcoming incarceration as soon as the party was over. Steve smiled at me, flicking my bow tie, "Let's go out and have a look at the Charger."

Easing slowly out of the bed, I waited for Steve, then followed him out to the Charger, the warm night air feeling great on my bare skin. Steve gave the Charger a once-around, looking at the scratched paint and the dented bumper, before returning to where I stood by the passenger-side door.

The moon had risen, sparkling in Steve's eyes as he leaned up against the door, puffing his chest out a little. The soft moonlight lit him to spectacular effect, as he hooked a thumb in my swimsuit, pulling me close.

Steve's hand came to rest on my chest and I reveled in the warmth, both from his hand and from his hot breath against my neck. I heard him whisper, as he gently thumbed my nipple, "Remember when we thought we were being chased in the desert, but it was just deer?"

I nodded, my knees becoming weak as Steve's hand moved up from my chest and began to trace my ear, as he whispered, "Remember the question I asked you, about my car?"

Pulling him close, our chests touching, brushing together, I watched that familiar, impish grin appear, so I whispered back, "What year is it..."

"A 69" he chuckled, as he pulled away from to me to open his door, his chiseled chest appearing ghostly in the moonlight. With the car open, Steve pushed the seat forward, as I felt his fingers slip beneath the waistband of my swimsuit, grabbing the drawstring and tugging me inside, his laughing, twinkling eyes full of mirth and desire, before he was enveloped by the darkness.

Pulling the car door gently closed behind me, I felt him lying down on the back seat. I eased myself on top of him, reveling in the touch of his hot, bare skin as our chests met again. Steve pulled his bow tie off, then removed mine, tossing them both on the rear window ledge.

Steve's hands slid up my back and down my sides, making me tremble as I leaned in. Parting his receptive lips, our tongues dueled in the dark. I ran my fingertips down his sides as we kissed, feeling him sigh. I teased his nipple, just enough to make him squirm, before kneading his bicep, feeling the hard muscle flex and move beneath the smooth skin.

His roaming hands teased me, driving me wild. I kissed Steve harder, running my tongue along his pearly teeth. I eased up on my arms, edging forward. With a quick tug, Steve undid the knot of my drawstring, as I arched up and twisted to get access to the drawstring of his suit. I tugged it free, running my hand along the front of his suit as he shuddered beneath me.

Our hot, steamy breathing was the only sound, as I felt his touch, fueling my hunger for his lips as I melted into him, feeling his skin, his touch, his passion, as our tongues entwined, along with our souls.

Steve pushed us apart, depriving me of his lips as he tongued my nipples one after the other while I buried my face in his soft, chlorine-scented hair.

His hot breath on my chest was all I could take. I slid down, our now-sweaty bodies moving freely and as one, grinding my hips into his as I nibbled gently at his neck, tasting the salt of his sweat, inhaling his spicy scent.

Steve moaned softly as I ran my tongue down the cleft of his chiseled chest, my hands on his pecs, tracing his nipples with my thumbs, his own gentle touches raising goose flesh as his fingers traced my back.

His body writhed, knotted with my own, our souls afire, burning for one another. Sliding my hand between us, tracing his hard, sweat-slickened abs, in seized his waistband, tugging gently until I had revealed what I sought.

Easing up as Steve tugged my suit down to my thighs and then off, I lowered myself, his bent knees between my own, our hips grinding in a rising tempo, as I felt all of him, every inch, of his body against mine. The feel of him, the heat, the movement, the earnest passion, consumed me.

Barely able to think, I gasped, "I'm getting close, stop me now if you want to switch around."

Steve's tongue brushing my lips made me tremble, my emotions running rampant as his fiery breath caressing my neck when he murmured, "This is better. There isn't much room in here and I like kissing you when..."

My lips found his, my tongue seeking out his, I didn't need to hear the words, I already knew what he meant, and I felt the same.

My hands, overly confined though they were, roamed Steve's heaving sides as I felt him moan into our furious kiss. I felt his fingers snake through my hair, his touch less gentle now, more demanding; I knew he was getting close. I let one of my hands seek out his neck, tracing the muscles and tendons that seethed beneath his tepid skin. My other hand slipped between the vinyl of the seat and his flexing muscles, my fingers kneading his lats, pulling us even more tightly together, my lips locked to his, my every muscle trembling while his hips arched, grinding into me with a fury, my senses exploding, my emotions flaring to their ultimate peak, in perfect synch with his.

We broke our kiss, gasping for breath, basking in the afterglow as Steve nibbled on my ear before whispering, "Now that's what a back seat is for..."

©Copyright 2007 C James; All Rights Reserved.
  • Like 24
  • Love 2

Please let me know what you think; good, bad, or indifferent.  The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"

Many thanks to Conner for editing, support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions on this chapter.
Many thanks also to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions (and for thinking up a title!).

Thanks also to Shadowgod, for beta reading and advice, and for putting up with me.
Any remaining errors are mine alone.

Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Story Discussion Topic

Open Club · 70 members · Last active

A fan club for C James to chat about his stories and share images related to them

You are not currently following this author. Be sure to follow to keep up to date with new stories they post.

Recommended Comments

Chapter Comments

That is one big crime organisation.  Sheriff Buchanan's visit was OK, but the news that Chris needs to be in a jail in protective custody is a bit unnerving.  Who knows how far the crime organisation can reach? Blackheart probably has some very professional assassins that can reach most anywhere.  With the info from Dex, this should be an FBI problem. That might provide better coverage and chance for survival for Chris.  🤨

Link to comment
View Guidelines

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Newsletter

    Want to keep up to date with all our latest news and information?
    Sign Up
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here: Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..