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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 - 4. Chapter 4

“You’re late.” The tall, middle-aged woman in the immaculate dark suit with its long skirt said as soon as Cole walked into the storefront that was his father’s campaign headquarters.

“I had to pick up Dale.” Cole replied with a nonchalant shrug. When they’d left the hospital, Dale had no idea where they were going, and was surprised that it was the Congressman’s campaign office.

“Yeah, well if you haven’t noticed, we’re three and a half months away from the biggest election of your father’s career and things aren’t half as organized as they need to be before we start the field campaign.” The woman said with a dark look at Cole. A slip of her dark hair had gotten loose from the bun she wore it in, and she slicked it back while staring at Cole who looked sheepish.

“I told you I’d pick them up today, and I’m here.” Cole said with a hint of a whine in his voice. “Aunt Trish, his mom’s in the hospital and he’s been there all day.”

“What, are you the boy’s private taxi or something?” The woman said angrily while Cole sighed.

“Look, I’ll just pick them up and get them to the bank first thing in the morning, okay?” Cole asked her and she nodded before disappearing towards the back offices. They were standing at the counter that formed the ‘lobby’ of the office. One of those little swinging doors was at the far side, through which Cole led the way as they waited for the woman. “We’ve used this place for the last few campaigns.”

“Oh.” Dale wasn’t sure what else to say as he looked around. There were several desks, all looking like they were old office surplus, boxes stacked against every wall, and campaign signs with Cole’s father’s name on them from all of those elections. There were stacks of signs against one wall for this election and Dale followed Cole towards the stack.

“Think I can get your grandmother to put up a lawn sign?” Cole asked him with a wry smile.

“Here, Cole.” The lady said as she came out from one of the offices in the back. “These are the checks that came in the last week and I’ve filled out the deposit slips. They need to be in the bank by noon tomorrow.”

“I’ll do it after second period.” Cole promised. “Mr. Carter will give me a pass.”

“Good.” She said and then gave Cole a kiss on the cheek. “I’m late for the train, so I’ll see you when I get back. You’ve got your keys to lock up?”

“Yep, have a fun trip Aunt Trish.” Cole said and the woman left in a rush, without giving Dale more than a little nod.

“Who was that?” Dale asked with wide eyes.

“That is Aunt Trish.” Cole said with a fond smile. “She’s the reason dad got into politics.”

“You’re kidding?” Dale asked with surprise.

“Nope.” Cole laughed. “My father was just your regular good businessman, making good money before she came along and talked him into running for this seat.”

“What does she do?” Dale asked.

“You mean when she’s not running a campaign for my father?” Cole asked.

“Yeah.” Dale answered.

“She’s running someone else’s campaign.” Cole answered with a teasing smile on his face. “Aunt Trish is a political consultant. She comes up here once every few weeks to keep her eye on things and stuff. We don’t have a lot of office staff yet, this far out. We’ve usually got one volunteer and a staffer in here until we start gearing up in March and April.”

“Oh.” Dale said and realized he would have to work at not being so mono-syllabic. “What are those?”

“These are donations that have come in here or at her office in Oakland over the last few weeks.” Cole said. “Normally Jan would take them to the bank, but her daughter went into labor this morning, so I volunteered to take care of them.”

“That was nice of you.” Dale said and wondered where all his glibness had gone.

“Jan’s been the campaign manager for the last two campaigns.” Cole explained without Dale having to ask who Jan was or her connection to all this. “Aunt Trish and Dad handle all the strategy stuff together. Trish then does all the media buys and arranges things like polling, photo shoots and media strategy. Jan handles the staff when we hire them – and the volunteers, of course ­that’s her specialty. You won’t find anyone in the area as good as she is when it comes to handling people. The volunteers just love her and every year she gets more than we can possibly use, which is a big deal.”

“Why’s that?” Dale asked. He had no experience, none, zilch, when it came to the actual workings of a campaign. All he knew he’d learned from Cole directly.

“If you don’t get good volunteers, you have to hire people and that costs money.” Cole answered with an easy grin as he looped his arm over Dale’s shoulder. The close contact made Dale’s muscles tense up at first, but then he relaxed against Cole’s side just a little bit more. Cole was taller than him, and they fit together in a way that made Dale’s heart ache, thinking of the future day when this might end. “Jan brings in hundreds of volunteers that cover all the precincts on Election Day.”

“Um, what?” Dale asked.

“Oh, we’ll talk about GOTV later.” Cole said with a smile and a flex of his arms that drew Dale in tighter. “You know, you fit against me real nice here. You’re just the right height. I’m glad you’re doing this you know. I can’t think of another person I trust as much as you.”

“You barely know me.” Dale murmured as he started, stopped, and then restarted putting his arm around Cole’s waist. It was surprising how relaxed Cole was about this.

“I know you enough.” Cole countered with a laugh as he looked down into Dale’s eyes.

“I haven’t really said yes yet, you know.” Dale murmured.

“Yes you did, you just didn’t say it out loud.” Cole murmured back, leaning down until his forehead touched Dale’s. “C’mon, you know you want to say it. It’s just your pride being stubborn.”

“Fine.” Dale said with a sigh and almost fell as Cole leapt out of his embrace with a whoop of joy.

“I got a BOYFRIEND!” Cole shouted with exaggerated exuberance and a huge smile on his face that was contagious.

“Just announce it to the whole world, why don’t you?” Dale laughed.

“Not quite yet.” Cole said as he calmed down slightly and straightened up his shirt. He was a few steps away from Dale, who felt lonely after their warm embrace.

“Really?” Dale asked. “I thought as soon as I agreed you’d make it public.”

“I’ve been doing some thinking.” Cole said with a smile before hopping up and sitting on one of the desks. The crunch of paper being pushed and crushed by his actions was clearly audible, although Cole didn’t show any notice.

“You, thinking? Now that is scary.” Dale joked.

“You’re just jealous ‘cause I got the looks and the brains.” Cole retorted. Dale was surprised. If asked before, he’d have said words like that from Cole would have pissed him off, but something about how Cole said them, the fondness in his voice as he spoke made them funny instead of offensive.

“Please, I wouldn’t want your looks.” Dale said without malice, his voice hinting at his own amusement. “You must have been fighting off everyone from little old ladies to the neighborhood pervs since you were a little boy.”

“Don’t remind me.” Cole laughed with a visible shudder. His tone, and his shudders said Dale hit too close to the truth. “Anyway, as I was saying, I’ve been doing some thinking. We’re not even to March yet. The election is in June. The vote Dad needs to change his position on was delayed until the beginning of April.”

“Why was it delayed?” Dale asked with real curiosity.

“Not enough votes.” Cole said with a shrug. “They need two more votes, and Dad’s is one of them. The leadership knows Dad’s in a fight for his reelection, and they know he’s going to change his position in an attempt to reach out to the progressive voters, but they also know he’s not going to change his mind in time for the vote the way it was scheduled. Dad told Mom that if he switched, the other guy will switch too and they’ll have the votes they need, but he doesn’t know how he’s going to switch without it looking bad for him and costing him more votes than it gains him.”

“Okay, then why the delay in our boyfriend thing?” Dale asked. He could understand what Cole had said, and it made sense.

“I thought we could get to know each other as friends better, and let other people get used to seeing us together as friends.” Cole said with a smile that showed off his dimples. Dale wondered if he had spent hours as a kid in front of a mirror, practicing his expressions. “You know, I hang around your friends a bit, and you hang around mine.”

“You mean the football team?” Dale snorted. “I’m sure they’ll just love having me around.”

“You assume too much about them.” Cole said with a shake of his head. “Yeah, they were pissed the first month after all that, but they’ve calmed down now. It wasn’t you that provoked those bastards. They went after you guys and they paid the price.”

“We all paid a price for that shit.” Dale said sourly. “My grandparents didn’t exactly like learning they have a gay grandson under their roof. A bunch of the kids that were involved in that shit moved over winter break, or they transferred to different schools.”

“I wondered why I haven’t seen all of them around.” Cole said. “You still going to GSA meetings?

“No, that was part of my deal with my grandparents.” Dale said sourly. “My friends from there, well those that are still here are pissed at my decision to not go anymore and pretty much stay away from me. Any friends I bring home, well if they’re guys, my grandfather thinks we’re having sex, and if they’re girls, my grandmother treats them like we were engaged.”

“Not fun.” Cole said with a shake of his head. “So, we spend more time with my friends.”

“I’m not sure I want to do that.” Dale said nervously. “I mean, sure you say they’re nice, but you’re you. Everyone is nice to you.”

“Not everyone.” Cole said and there was the slightest amount of bitterness in his voice.

“Okay, almost everyone.” Dale said, trying to make his voice sound humorous. Cole smiled at that.

“I just think we start out being friends and then, maybe in the first part of March we start dropping hints we’re more than friends.” Cole said with a shrug. “Get my parents to meet you and know you first, that kind of thing. Plus, if we spend the time, we’ll have a stronger friendship, maybe one that can survive our ‘breakup’, you know. I’d like to keep you as a friend after everything is said and done.”

“So would I.” Dale admitted with a sigh.

“Good, now that it’s settled, why don’t you come with me to my house?” Cole asked with a raised eyebrow. “I need to drop this stuff off, and my friend, Glen will be coming by in about an hour. We usually play a few rounds of hoops once or twice a week.”

“Who is he?” Dale asked after nodding. Cole slid off the desk and led the way towards the entrance, stopping to turn off the lights before they left the office.

“My oldest friend.” Cole answered along the way. “He lives down the street from me and we’ve been friends since we were little kids. His parents send him to private school, though, so we only see each other when we visit outside of school.”

“Oh.” Dale replied, reminded once again of the vast difference between him and Cole.

“Let’s get going.” Cole said after locking the door behind them.

Dale had never been to Cole’s house before, although he knew it was in the Pineridge Estates development. The drive up the hillside was scary, what with all the hairpin turns that Cole took at top speed, causing the tires to squeal more often than not. The house was near the top of the ridge, and as they got higher and higher up the hillside, the houses got bigger and bigger.

“Here we are, home sweet home.” Cole said with real enthusiasm as they pulled into a wide driveway. The older boy hit a button on the remote that was attached to his visor and one of the three garage doors opened. Dale felt almost dirty getting out of the car, looking at his worn out clothing with chagrin as he realized the house he was entering was probably worth a million or more.

“It’s nice.” Dale said as he looked around the garage. There was a stack of shelves on the far side, and three tarp-covered things that looked like motorcycles. He didn’t see any other cars, either.

“This is the garage, silly.” Cole laughed. “C’mon inside.”

“Okay.” Dale said with a sigh. “Is there anyone else here?”

“Nope.” Cole said with a silly grin. “Too bad we’re not really boyfriends. We could use the time for a little fun.”

“I’m not the straight one, remember?” Dale teased back as they entered a long hallway. In an alcove on the right sat an industrial-sized washer and dryer. The other side had a counter that ran for nearly twenty feet towards what turned out to be the kitchen.

“There’s a bathroom here after the washer and dryer if you need to use it.” Cole said.

“No thanks.” Dale replied while looking at the rows of cabinets over the counter, and the large sink that was halfway down the counter. He also noticed a large dishwasher near the sink, and as they walked past the door that led to the bathroom, there was another room with a very large freezer.

“Dad uses this area when we have barbecues, getting the meat ready and cleaning.” Cole explained as he noticed Dale looking around. When they entered the kitchen, Dale’s eyes nearly bugged out. It was a large room, larger than the dining room and kitchen at his house combined. The stove was in a large island in the middle of the room, and there was a large double-door refrigerator against the far wall. Everything looked like one of those show kitchens in stores, complete with a hanging rack over the island stove with well over a dozen pans and pots hanging from it.

“Wow.” Dale said aloud.

“Dad made the mistake of taking Mom to an Ikea down in the Bay Area.” Cole laughed lightly. “She bought the entire display kitchen set they had there.”

“It looks real nice.” Dale said.

“Be sure to tell her that when you meet her.” Cole said. “She loves compliments about her kitchen.”

“I will.” Dale promised. Off of the kitchen was a large dining room with a long glass and dark wood table. The living room had a large plasma television, black leather couches, and what Cole called the ‘family’ area with a small round table and several chairs where they played games. What took Dale’s breath away was the set of huge bay windows that looked out over the city below them. In the distance he could see the glimmer of the ocean in the light of the full moon shining down through a break in the clouds.

“You don’t ever get used to that.” Cole said softly, standing really close to Dale. His closeness sent a shiver down Dale’s spine. The sudden feeling of romance was almost too much for him and he took a step forward, so he could no longer feel Cole’s body heat against his back.

“I never realized it was so beautiful up here.” Dale said in a voice that was closer to a whisper than anything else.

“It is.” Cole said in a low voice that made Dale want to shiver again. “Dad spends half the night up here whenever he’s home, just sitting on the patio, sipping his wine and talking with mom.

“It sounds romantic.” Dale said softly.

“It is.” Cole replied with a chuckle. “I know I’m lucky. My parents love each other and I can see it every time they’re both home, sitting on that patio talking.”

“Yeah.” Dale said with a shake of his head, willing the tears to go away from his eyes as he thought about his own parents, and the life they’d had before the accident. The sound of chimes interrupted the moment, and Cole let out a sigh.

“That’ll be Glen.” He said and Dale noticed that the light of the moon had been cut off by the clouds again. Cole left the room, and a moment later he could hear the sound of voices coming into the room. By the time he turned to face Cole’s friend, his eyes were clear and he had a smile on his face.

“Glen, this is my new friend Dale.” Cole said. “You might remember me mentioning him helping me on that damn project last semester.”

“How could I forget?” Glen asked with a laugh as he crossed the living room to shake Dale’s hand. In front of the tall, wide-shouldered blond, Dale felt like a mouse, but he managed a decent handshake. “Dale, he talked about nothing but how much he was dreading that project for a month and then he spent the next month gabbing about the look on old Landreau’s face when she couldn’t give him a shitty grade.”

“Yeah, well he did a good part of the work too.” Dale said with a smile. So Cole had been talking about him? That made him feel better about everything.

“It looks like it’ll start raining any minute now.” Glen said as they broke their handshake and he turned to look back at Cole. “How about we do billiards instead?”

“Sounds good.” Cole agreed. “C’mon.”

“I love this house.” Glen said to Dale as they followed Cole. “We’re just two houses down but the view isn’t half as good as what they got here.”

“Yeah and your house is half a million cheaper because of it.” Cole taunted his friend who laughed. Dale felt his eyes glaze over at the casual mention of more money than he’d ever seen in his life. Part of him tried to remind himself that he’d been invited here, but he felt so far out of his depth, and that he would never belong in a place like this.

“My Dad’s just a businessman, not a Congressman.” Glen teased Cole as they entered a long room that held a billiards table, a dart board, a bookshelf filled with games, a round poker table, and a computer desk in the far corner with a huge widescreen monitor. Cole picked up a remote from the counter that was in the far, right hand corner, using it to turn on the widescreen television that was on the wall closer to the hallway they’d come in through.

“Not the news.” Glen demanded as he crossed the room to the set of cue sticks hanging on the far wall. Cole grimaced a moment before turning it to some music channel that was playing a music video. Then he adjusted the sound level so it wouldn’t necessarily be too loud for them to talk.

“Get in here, Dale, we’re not going to bite.” Cole said to Dale who was standing nervously in the doorway. “You want something to drink? Soda?”

“Juice is fine, if you have any.” Dale answered and Cole went behind the counter to pull out several bottles. He handed the bottle of Coke to Glen, took a bottle of water for himself and gave a bottle of apple juice to Dale.

“Apple okay?” Cole asked. “Orange juice is in the kitchen if you’d prefer that.”

“Apple is fine.” Dale said as he twisted the bottle’s cap open.

“You rack ‘em, I’ll break them.” Glen said. “I get Dale on my team.”

“What, the two of you against me?” Cole asked with a laugh.

“Uh, you guys play.” Dale said quickly. “I’ll just hang here.”

“That’d be a drag.” Glen laughed.

“I, uh, I don’t know how to play.” Dale admitted, hating the blush that came to his cheeks.

“Well, hell, we’ll teach you.” Glen laughed. “Just don’t put no money down on the table. This guy’s about as bad a pool shark as there is.”

“No, really, it’s fine.” Dale protested.

“Nonsense, we’ll both show you how to play.” Cole said and got a pleading look on his face.

“You’re in trouble now, Dale.” Glen laughed. “I don’t know a person yet that can say no to that face.”

“Oh, alright.” Dale sighed. “Just don’t expect me to get real good or anything.”

“We just play to have fun.” Cole said gently. “Glen, you help him pick out a stick while I get the table set up.”

“Got it.” Glen said with a laugh and a smile for Dale. “Well, c’mon, I don’t bite people, much.”

“That’s not what Missy Parker said last year.” Cole laughed.

“Oh sure, bring up that tramp, why don’t you?” Glen laughed with a shake of his head as Dale joined him at the rack of pool cues. “If I’d known she’d slept with nearly every guy in this neighborhood, I’d have never let her get her lips around my dick.”

“I knew better.” Cole chuckled as he bent down and began to pull balls out of the holder in the table.

“You always know better.” Glen retorted and then turned to Dale with a conspiratorial look in his eyes. “If I was half as damn disciplined as Cole, I’d keep my dick in my pants the way he does, but I’m just too horny.”

“Uh, yeah.” Dale tried not to blush, both from the subject matter and the nice smell of Glen’s breath as it brushed against him.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that Cole was so damn good looking, did his best friend have to be just as beautiful, even if in a different way?

“All these sticks are good, but you want to test them anyway.” Glen said as he pulled down two of them. Dale let himself get lost in the words, and did his best to follow the instructions that Glen was giving him. It was certainly far safer than their earlier conversation.

Once Glen had helped him pick out a stick to use, Dale listened as closely as he could to the rules of the game. They were complicated, and he had to ask a few questions along the way, but once they started playing he grew more relaxed. The first two times it was his turn, he managed to sink one of Cole’s balls instead of theirs on the first shot.

“Don’t worry, you’ll get better.” Glen assured him in a friendly tone after his second shot did little more than move balls around on the table.

“Yeah, Glen there managed to sink the eight ball his first time.” Cole laughed as he sank another ball into the corner pocket. His lean frame looked far too delicious draped over the table as he lined up another shot.

“That was your fault, dipweed.” Glen growled as he smiled at Dale. “The nice guy over there managed to forget to tell me the eight ball was supposed to go last.”

“That sounds like him.” Dale laughed and then laughed even harder when Cole managed to barely knick the cue ball, sending it twirling away.

“Foul!” Cole’s voice was nearly a shout. “He cheated!”

“Now how did he do that?” Glen demanded through his sudden laughter.

“He was laughing at me!” Cole exclaimed.

“How many times have you done that to me?” Glen demanded as he sauntered over to the table and began to line up his shot.

“That doesn’t matter!” Cole argued while Dale continued laughing. Glen managed to sink the ball he was aiming at, and motioned to Dale to come over.

“You can do this.” Glen whispered in calm assurance. He body was tight against Dale’s as he helped him line up the shot. “There, you see the ball? Just tap the cue ball lightly right where it’s pointing.

“Okay.” Dale breathed, trying not to be overwhelmed by the feeling of Glen being so close. It didn’t help when Cole stepped into his line of view either. Somehow he was able to shut all those distractions out and managed to tap the ball just right, sending it into the target ball, and sending that ball into a pocket.

“Yes!” Glen whooped in joy, sticking out his hand for a high-five that Dale gave him while his cheeks blushed furiously.

“Lucky shot.” Cole griped. “Let’s see him do it again.”

“Yes.” Glen agreed and Dale sighed. This was going to be a long night. Cole ended up winning that game, and the next two, but Dale managed to sink three more balls in those games, and felt like he wasn’t a total loss by the time Glen left, and Cole announced that it was time to take him home.

“I had fun.” Dale admitted when they were in the car and driving down the mountainside.

“I did too.” Cole agreed. The top was up and the rain was starting to come down now, but it wasn’t bad.

“Glen’s a nice guy.” Dale added after a few minutes of relative silence.

“He likes you.” Cole added. “If he didn’t, well he wouldn’t have been as nice.”

“You guys have been friends for a while, right?” Dale asked.

“Yeah.” Cole answered.

“How do you think he’s going to respond to all this, when it goes public?” Dale asked out of curiosity.

“He’ll laugh.” Cole answered with a smile.

“Really?” Dale asked with surprise.

“Yeah, he’s bi.” Cole told him and then frowned. “Don’t tell him I told you, please. I’m the only one who knows, well, the only friend he hasn’t slept with already that knows. Just be careful. Once this whole boyfriend thing goes public, he’ll probably try to seduce you.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t let him… until after our break-up at least.” Dale laughed at the look of horror that came over Cole’s face. “He is a hottie, as my mom would say.”

“Gross.” Cole actually shivered as he said that, and Dale laughed again. It felt good to laugh. Sometimes it felt like he might have forgotten what it was like to have fun. If nothing else came out of this whole pretend relationship, at least he’d have remembered how fun it was to laugh.

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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This is such a great and entertaining story, but there is a lot here that is going to be interesting to watch unfold. Great job

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And so it starts - and poor Dale is thrown right into the difficulty of the difference in money and social status. But at least he managed to have fun and look at the advantages of this game.

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Dale really has stepped into the rabbit hole that is Cole. It was nice to read about him having a good time. Fun chapter, thanks.

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I love ur stories but u don't really give a lot of back stories. What did Dale's father do, what happened with Dale and de football team I don't want to find out almost to de end of de story when u mention them tell us wat happened it makes ur stories difficult to read sometimes even though I still read them just try and change dat thanks

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