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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. 

The Beard - 1. Chapter 1

He had everything a person could want in life.

You could tell that just by the way he walked in through the glass doors of the fast food restaurant. His walk was filled with confidence, that self-assurance that said he could handle anything that came his way. If his walk wasn’t enough, the form-fitting designer jeans, light brown loafers, and dress shirt that looked like it was tailored just for him served to reinforce his aura of impervious confidence.

His skin was nicely tanned, not too dark, but a healthy tan that made his skin seem to glow in the neon light. As he approached the counter, his fine features became clearer, and Dale Andrews had to hold back the sigh he wanted to exhale. It was always like this, although Cole Pritchard had never come in here before, or at least not while Dale was working.

“Hi.” Cole said with a smile that showed off his dazzling white teeth, and there was a happy twinkle in his green eyes that made Dale’s legs weak. It was bad enough having three classes with this handsome guy, but to see him here at work?

“Hi, welcome to Darlow’s.” Dale answered, all too aware of the manager nearby, removing Elisa’s register. “What can I get for you tonight?”

“How about a… milkshake?” Cole asked with a slight hesitation as his green eyes flicked over the menu. Dale’s impression that Cole had never been here before seemed to be confirmed. He was all too aware of Cole’s immaculate appearance, and tried to ignore the grimy feeling of his hair underneath the uniform hat he wore. When his shift had started he had worked over the fryer and that always made him sweat. The acne he’d fought off and on since the age of thirteen was only made worse by working over the greasy equipment, and now he’d been put out on the counter for the last two hours of his shift.

“Uh, what flavor would you like?” Dale asked, sticking to the impersonal question instead of acknowledging that he knew this customer. His manager, a woman in her mid-thirties hated for the teenagers on her shift to talk with friends that came in to the fast food restaurant.

“I don’t know.” Cole said with a sigh and a slump of his shoulders. “I guess… chocolate?”

“Always a good choice.” Dale couldn’t help the slight smile that came to his lips. When Cole’s full lips answered the smile, he was once again made aware of his shortcomings, including thin lips and teeth that should have had braces years ago.

“Fine, that’ll do.” Cole said with another smile and a slight toss of his head that made his wavy black hair shift ever so slightly. The long bangs hung down just short of his eyes, and gave him a slightly mischievous look when he wanted, like now.

“Would you like any fries with that, sir?” Dale asked and those beautiful lips changed to a slight frown.

“Sir?” Cole’s voice was tighter and Dale could see the Manager hesitating with the cash drawer in her hand. Her plump face was just starting to frown.

“Will that be for here or to go?” Dale asked, skipping over the question implicit in Cole’s voice.

“For here.” Cole answered as the frown deepened. The manager let out a harrumph and took the cash drawer back to her office, apparently satisfied that Dale wasn’t going to wreck her ‘labor percentage’ by talking to a friend. Not that there was a line behind Cole or anything.

“She doesn’t like us talking to friends.” Dale whispered as he pushed the buttons on the register.

“Friends?” Cole asked and there was a hint of mischief in his voice. “I wasn’t sure if you counted me as a friend.”

“You know what I mean.” Dale whispered back and then louder. “That’ll be $3.98, sir.”

“Now that better be a damn good milkshake for that price.” Cole whistled as he pulled out his wallet. “You working much longer tonight?”

“I’m off in fifteen minutes, the same time the dining room closes.” Dale answered. “Why? I mean, we’re not really friends. We just worked on that project together last semester.”

“Thanks to your help on that project, I got an ‘A’ in that class.” Cole reminded him with a smile while handing over a five dollar bill.

“Here’s your change.” Dale said with his hand out. “So what are you doing here?”

“Actually I came here to see you.” Cole said with a smile that caused a fluttery feeling in Dale’s chest. He had to push it down before Cole saw the dreamy look on his face. It wasn’t like Cole didn’t know Dale was gay, but knowing and seeing it were two different things.

“Why?” Dale asked when he’d gotten his voice under control.

“Do you have to go right home after work?” Cole asked instead of answering. “Could you and I go somewhere and talk for a bit? I’ve got a favor I need to ask.”

“Uh, sure.” Dale answered, trying to keep from blushing. His curiosity was in full swing. What could Cole need from him? Cole had everything in the world from loving parents that were still married, to good looks, and lots of money. He was also one of the nicest and best people in the school. The only ones who’d had a complaint about him were the school whores that he refused to copulate with when they threw themselves at him.

“Okay.” Cole said with another dazzling smile. He even had the cutest dimples that showed when he smiled fully.

“Uh, let me get your shake.” Dale said quickly as Cole started to leave. He could feel the guy’s eyes on him as he made the shake, and his hands were nearly shaking when he handed it over to Cole.

“Thanks, I’ll see you in a bit.” Cole said with a smile. Dale just nodded, and went back to stocking the condiments and bags before the end of his shift. Exactly five minutes before nine o’clock, the manager came out of her office and started ringing out his cash register while he set about locking the doors. She watched him with eagle eyes as he finished and went back to the register to sign off for the night.

“I don’t like friends visiting during working hours.” She reminded him stonily, waiting until he was off the clock for her speech. Dale resisted the urge to stare at her.

“I’m sorry, Kris, he’s not really a friend.” Dale said quickly. “I tell my friends not to come in here.”

“Then who is he?” She asked huffily. “He looks like he’s got money. Is he your new boyfriend?”

“No!” Dale almost shouted, and he did blush this time. She just smiled at him.

“You’ve got a crush on him, don’t you?” She laughed. “So what is he doing here? I saw him on the outside camera. He’s sitting in his little BMW convertible. From what I saw, he hasn’t even touched that milkshake.”

“He needs a favor.” Dale answered weakly.

“Oh, so it’s like that is it?” She asked him while Kim, the girl working drive-thru who was also sleeping with Kris was standing nearby, a wicked smile on her face as she listened to their conversation. Thankfully, she’d graduated Radell High last year, although she probably still knew a few people there to spread rumors too, something Dale definitely didn’t want to have happen to Cole.

“No, nothing like that.” Dale put all the contempt he dared into his voice. “We have a couple of classes together, and last semester I had to help him on a big project. He got a good grade on it, so it’s probably something like that.”

“Well, you better go see what pretty boy wants.” She laughed at him. “He’s standing at the door right now.”

“He’s what?” Dale’s voice cracked embarrassingly as he turned to look at the doorway. Sure enough, Cole was standing there, and waved at him when he saw Dale looking his way.

“See you tomorrow.” Dale said with a sigh before heading into the back. He had his coat in there and grabbed it before leaving. Here on the coast, winters were mild but it still got cold late at night.

“So, um, how was work?” Cole asked cheerfully when Dale exited the restaurant’s doors. He smiled at the handsome guy before checking to make sure the door had locked behind him. With his luck, the lock wouldn’t catch and some guy would come in and rob the store. Kris would surely blame him if that happened.

“It was work.” Dale said with a shrug. “So, what’s so important for you come all the way over here to my work and wait for my shift to end?”

“How about something to drink?” Cole offered. “We can go to Sharkey’s right down the street. It’s open twenty-four hours. Maybe some dessert?”

“I, uh, I smell.” Dale stammered slightly. “I mean, I’ve been working all day and they had me doing the fryers earlier, so I’m all sweaty and gunky and stuff. Why don’t you just tell me what you need?”

“It’s not that simple.” Cole said softly. “Look, I really need your help, okay? Come with me to have something to drink and some dessert at Sharkey’s. They have a good berry pie.”

“Okay.” Dale answered with a sigh. His mother should be in bed by now, so that wasn’t a worry for him. Cole led the way to his silver BMW, and even held the door open for Dale, causing him to feel very self-conscious.

“Thanks for doing this.” Cole said with an almost giddy expression on his face. He got in the driver’s seat, started the car and buckled his belt before pulling out of the parking lot. Dale had to grab the grip on the door to keep from being pushed out of his seat by the force of the turn.

“Whoa!” Dale murmured.

“Sorry, I just love driving this car.” Cole said with a laugh as the chilly night air whipped through their hair. That was Dale’s first warning that he’d lost the work hat.

“Damn, my hat!” Dale nearly whined. He’d have to pay for it, and working at a fast food restaurant didn’t exactly leave him rolling in money.

“Don’t worry!” Cole said with a laugh. “It landed in the back seat.”

“Oh.” Dale said with a half-pout on his face. Now that the hated, greasy hat was off, his curly, mousy brown hair was blowing in the wind, reminding him it must look awful.

With the speed that Cole drove, it wasn’t much longer before they pulled into the twenty-four hour restaurant. Unsurprisingly, it was nearly empty when they walked in, although the older waitress had a genuine smile on her face when she saw Cole.

“Well, if it isn’t one of my favorite customers!” The woman said cheerfully. “You want the usual booth, dear?”

“Sure, thanks Linda.” Cole said with a smile. She led them to a booth near the back of the restaurant, far from the few other customers. Then she took their orders, with Cole ordering glasses of lemonade and berry pie for both of them.

“You do like lemonade, don’t you?” Cole asked with a slightly worried expression after Linda had walked away.

“That’s fine.” Dale said with a little laugh. It wouldn’t have been his first choice, but Cole was practically bouncing in his seat with something that he wasn’t saying and it made him look really cute.

“I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid.” Cole said with a fond smile as he looked around the diner’s 1950’s style décor. “Dad says that Grandpa would take them here, so it’s like a family tradition coming here. We still do come here, when Dad’s in town, at least once before he heads back to D.C.”

“It must be nice.” Dale replied, trying to keep the bitterness out of his voice.

“Did you and your Dad do something like that, you know, before he…” Cole asked with a slight frown. “I mean, you don’t have to tell me if it hurts too much…”

“No, it’s alright.” Dale said with a slight smile. “You know, you’re the first person to ever do that.”

“Do what?” Cole asked as a crack appeared in his aura of self-confidence.

“Ask me something about my dad like that.” Dale answered honestly. “It’s like everyone assumes that I don’t ever want to talk about him.”

“You mentioned him once when we were working on that project together.” Cole answered as Linda headed towards them with a tray in one hand. Two tall glasses of lemonade were on the tray, as well as two large pieces of pie.

“Here you go boys, a late night treat!” She said with a smile and a happy tone in her voice as she began to set the glasses and plates in front of them. She looked Dale over and gave him a smile just for him. “I don’t think I’ve seen you in here with our Berry Pie boy before.”

“Linda, I’d like you to meet my friend, Dale Andrews.” Cole said with what sounded like real pleasure in his voice. “He’s the one that helped me with that project last semester.”

“You mean the one that got you an ‘A’ from that hag Mrs. Landreau?” Linda said with that same wide smile. “That woman hates your guts.”

“Not so much mine as my father’s.” Cole laughed. “Yeah, that same project.”

“Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Dale Andrews.” She turned her smile back on Dale, who felt like squirming in his seat. “You work down at Darlow’s?”

“Yes, I do.” Dale admitted since it’d be hard to deny it with him still wearing his work uniform.

“Now that’s a crappy place to work.” She laughed. “Well, you two enjoy the pie and I’ll be by in a bit to make sure everything’s okay.”

“She’s nice.” Dale said after she had walked away.

“She’s also blunt beyond belief sometimes.” Dale smiled as he picked up his fork and prepared to take a bite of food. “One time, when Dad was in his first term, she walked up to him, asked his order and then told him he was a fool for something he’d voted on.”

“How’d he take that?” Dale asked with a little chuckle as he took his first bite of food. Try as he might, he couldn’t match the natural gracefulness that Cole showed while eating his pie.

“Yum, I love this stuff.” Cole said with an actual moan of pleasure. “Anyway, Dad asked her why she thought he was a fool and they spent the next twenty minutes talking about how the IRS calculates income taxes on tips.”

“I bet he loved that.” Dale almost laughed and was relieved at the smile on Cole’s face.

“Actually, he did.” Cole answered after taking a sip of the tart lemonade. “She started working here when she was eighteen, before I can even remember, really, and she’s almost always waited on us. In a way, she’s almost part of the family ‘cause of that, and Dad loved hearing her opinion even if he disagreed with her.”

“Wow.” Dale said with a shake of his head. “I never imagined an ordinary person being able to tell off a congressman.”

“Sometimes I think that’s all people do with Dad, tell him what he’s doing wrong.” Cole said and there was heaviness in his voice.

“It seems like all people want to do is bitch at someone else about their problems.” Dale murmured as it struck a chord deep in him.

“Like drunk drivers?” Cole asked and his words were like a bath of cold water, or a stake to the heart. Dale just stared at him as his fork clattered onto the table.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to insult you…” Cole said when Dale said nothing.

“No.” Dale said firmly and shook his head quickly as he picked up his fork. “I mean, no, I wasn’t insulted. Shocked, yes. No one’s ever said something like that before.”

“So I’ve done it twice in one night?” Cole asked with that charming smile back on his face and while Dale stared at him, he took another bite of his pie, closing his eyes while chewing and smiling in bliss.

“You shouldn’t do that.” Dale said grumpily as he speared a bit of berry and lifted it to his mouth.

“Do what, ask you questions like those?” Cole pushed.

“No, look so damn happy when you take a bite.” Dale replied with a mischievous smile on his face. “It makes you look you’ve just had sex.”

“Now who’s talking smack.” Cole laughed and his eyes were twinkling again.

“I’m just warning you.” Dale smiled back. “If Luan Smelters was here, she’d be bouncing under the table to put that smile on your face.”

“Gross.” Cole said with a shake of his head. “That slut kept trying to get in my pants all last year.”

“I heard she was pissed when she didn’t get in them.” Dale laughed. As risqué as this conversation was, it felt safer than where they’d been going before.

“You might say that.” Cole laughed. “It didn’t do her any good though.”

“Poor Luan.” Dale said in a falsetto that got a full-throated laugh from Cole.

“It’s a damn shame you won’t hang out with us at school.” Cole said when he’d finished laughing and taken a sip of his lemonade.

“Your friends and I don’t get along, or have you forgotten the reason why the football team doesn’t have a decent quarterback any more?” The bitterness was back in Dale’s voice, as well as the pain.

“I’m on the football team, you know.” Cole’s voice held an edge to it and his green eyes glittered with determination when Dale dared to let his hazel eyes meet them.

“I know.” Dale said weakly. “You’re not like them, though.”

“You mean a mono-browed Neanderthal caveman?” Cole asked with a slightly arched eyebrow. Like everything else about him, it was just perfect, leaving Dale to wonder if they were plucked.

“Yeah, like that.” Dale agreed after a long pause while he studied those eyebrows, deciding that yes, Cole must pluck them. “I can’t imagine any of them sitting down to eat pie with me.”

“Their loss.” Cole said with a shrug. “They haven’t been bothering you anymore, have they?”

“No.” Dale said with a shrug. “You told me last semester you were trying to get them to stop.”

“Well, I was and am.” Cole said. “What happened, well it wasn’t your fault or the fault of the others there. Those guys, they went out looking to make trouble and they found you. They deserved every bit of what they got.”

“Yeah, well, when our football team loses every game next season, we’ll see how many people share that opinion.” Dale said miserably, pushing his half-eaten pie away. Cole’s plate was empty.

“You’re not going to eat the rest of that?” Cole asked him and when Dale shook his head, grabbed the plate to pull it towards him. “Thanks.”

“So why am I here?” Dale asked after watching the graceful manners Cole showed while eating pie. Anyone else would be described as ‘stuffing their face’, but somehow Cole made it look graceful.

“Because you accepted my invitation.” Cole’s answer was almost as irritating as the smile on his face.

“You know what I mean.” Dale said with irritation.

“So did you?” Cole asked.

“Did I what?” Dale shot back. “No, I didn’t suck Craig Garman’s dick. It may have been his wet dream, but I wouldn’t touch him with Luan’s mouth.”

“Damn!” Cole snorted since Dale had waited until the glass of lemonade had just touched his lips. Some of it actually came out of Cole’s nose.

That was one thing Cole couldn’t make look graceful.

“You did that on purpose!” Cole said after wiping his nose with his napkin. He actually took a handkerchief out of his back pocket to wipe the tears that were forming in his eyes. “That hurt!”

“Wish I could say I was sorry.” Dale shrugged as he spoke in a tone his father would have called ‘insolent’.

“Yeah, I bet you do.” Cole groused but there was a smile on his face. “I haven’t done that in ages.”

“What?” Dale asked.

“Snort something through my nose!” Cole replied and Dale just smiled.

“Really, I never knew the congressman’s son snorted cocaine.” Dale teased and was pleased at the smile that lit up Dale’s face.

“I forgot your little habit of twisting every damn thing, but it still hasn’t worked.” Cole said with a slight edge to his voice.

“What still hasn’t worked?” Dale asked innocently.

“Every time I ask you about what you and your Dad used to do together, you try to change the subject.” Cole pointed out, causing Dale’s heart to lurch a little bit.

“I…” Dale stammered, not sure just what to say.

“What, can’t figure out how to change the subject again?” Cole asked lightly, lessening the sting of the moment.

“We tossed a football in the backyard.” Dale said in a quiet voice. “That was the old house, the one before the accident. Where we live now, it’s with my mom’s parents. They help to take care of her.”

“You played football with your Dad?” Cole asked with surprise. “You’ve never seemed the type to play sports.”

“We didn’t really play football.” Dale said with a shake of his head. “He always wanted me to play when I got older, so he taught me to throw the football around. I remember, he had this big board he painted up like a target with a hole in it, and he’d set it out for me to throw the ball, and every time I got so I could make it through the hole most of the time, he’d move it further away. When the accident happened, he was talking about buying the field behind our house so he could keep moving it further back.”

“Did you ever think of going out for football?” Cole asked in a quiet, serious tone.

“No.” Dale said flatly. “That was Dad’s dream, not mine. It’s what he wanted for me, not what I wanted. I just did it ‘cause we got to spend time together when I threw the ball around. Besides, look at me. I’m a skinny runt, not a football player.”

“You’re not a runt.” Cole said firmly. “I mean, I’m about six even. You’re what, five-nine?”

“Five eight and a half.” Dale answered.

“Can’t leave out the half, can we?” Cole laughed, and somehow Dale didn’t feel like he was being teased.

“No, we can’t.” Dale said with a slight smile. “Every half counts, or that’s what the damn math teacher keeps telling me.”

“Ha!” Cole laughed again as Linda approached them with a smile on her face.

“You boys sure are laughing a lot.” She said happily. “It’s a good thing we’re so dead or I’d have to tell you two to keep it quiet. Everything fine here?”

“Pie was great, Linda.” Cole said.

“It was good.” Dale agreed. “Lemonade’s real good too.”

“We make it fresh dear, not from that powder stuff you use at Darlow’s.” Linda said with quiet pride. “You boys want anything else? Want me to get some more lemonade?”

“No thanks.” Dale said and Cole just shook his head.

“Well, you know the bill by now, Cole.” Linda said. “It’s a slow night so you boys take your time, and just leave the money on the table unless you need change.”

“Thanks, Linda.” Cole said.

“She’s nice.” Dale said as he watched the waitress walk away.

“You’ve said that before.” Cole pointed out.

“So sue me.” Dale shrugged and took another sip of lemonade.

“How’s your mom doing?” Cole asked him seriously.

“No different.” Dale answered after a long pause. Most people would get a very mean answer for that question, but somehow he felt like Cole really cared.

“Have the doctors said if she would get better?” Cole asked. “Last we talked, they thought they might be able to make things better with some new procedure.”

“It didn’t pan out.” Dale said with a shrug and a grimace. “Costs too much money and Medi-care won’t pay because it’s experimental.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Cole said with genuine sympathy.

“Why am I here, Cole?” Dale asked seriously and this time he was the one whose eyes pinned the other’s.

“We’re friends, right?” Cole asked. “I mean, real friends, not just high school friends. Ever since we worked together, I got to know you a bit and I know I can trust you. You understand things that no one else I know does.”

“I… I wouldn’t mind being friends.” Dale admitted and then held his breath.

“Good.” Cole said with a genuine smile. “See, I need a favor, and there aren’t many people I can trust as much as I think I can trust you. You get it, and they don’t.”

“What is this ‘favor’ you need, Cole?” Dale asked, and he vowed to himself that if he could do it, he would. He had some idea of what life must be like for Cole. Cole’s self-confidence, his aura of invincibility, he had to have that or people would eat him alive. While he waited for Cole to answer, he took a deep drink of the lemonade.

“I need you to be my boyfriend.” Cole answered at long last, and Dale felt the lemonade spewing from his nose as he nearly choked to death.

“You what?” He managed to gasp out while Linda came running.

Dale wasn’t sure what the evil smile on Cole’s face really meant, but he was almost scared to find out.

Copyright © 2012 dkstories; All Rights Reserved.
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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. 
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Chapter Comments

This is an interesting situation, one that I haven't seen before, and written

so well. I'll have to keep up with it to satisfy my curiosity, but more than that,

it sounds like fun.

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This certainly looks like a fun and interesting read. Dale probably almost blew lemonade out his nose when Cole told him what he wanted. lol Love This!

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You got my mind twisting and turning with thoughts of why Cole 'needs' and not 'wants' Dale to be his boyfriend. The 'want' part could be easy to answer if Cole isn't really gay...but....I have a feeling he may be more curious then we can see right now. I guess that answer will be revealed in the following chapters. I'll be sure to mark this as a 'follow' so I can keep up with it.

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Well I guess that would be one way of keeping the girls out of his pants. Sorta is a bit weird considering the damage to his reputation and crap he could be calling down his head. But got to admit it should be attention getting hehe.

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Brilliant initial chapter, where we get to know the two main characters and something of their background - though some of the important stuff about Dale's parents is only hinted at. And then of course the final boyfriend part which really boosts our interest in what is going on.

I'm on my fourth read, but I still enjoy this story a lot. This time I'll do my best to comment, instead of just getting caught up in the story :-)

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Clever and playful chapter that really grabs ones attention by first swooning over Cole, then holds on with one empathizing with Dale's misfortune and finally the berry pie to the face with Cole's unusual request. One of the best opening chapters to a series ever. Thanks for posting.

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I am rereading this story...it has been a while but I remember really enjoying it the first time...cheers...Gary

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Clever and playful are the exact words `i would use. I will be following this story, probably to the end.

Will H.

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On 12/10/2012 at 2:04 AM, Stephen said:

This is an interesting situation, one that I haven't seen before, and written

so well. I'll have to keep up with it to satisfy my curiosity, but more than that,

it sounds like fun.

I have seen a situation like this written, and not everybody can pull it off, though the other author did so.  I've seen another story where a girl hires a gay guy to be her boyfriend for one event -- and he falls in love with her brother!

Looking forward to reading this, @dkstories.

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I found out about this story from Dabeagle's Doghouse a reader recommended it. So far so good

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