Jump to content
  • Join For Free and Get Notified of New Chapters!

    Are you enjoying a great story and want to get an alert or email when a new chapter is posted? Join now for free and follow your favorite stories and authors!  You can even choose to get daily or weekly digest emails instead of getting flooded with an email for each story you follow. 

     

    Parker Owens
  • Author
  • 2,906 Words
  • 4,189 Views
  • 49 Comments

Summer's End - 1. Zander's Question

This is another brief snapshot of Andy and Zander.

“Zander, I can’t believe I’m watching you fold laundry.”

My mother looked pleased with herself. She had nagged me about that particular chore through most of high school. Some people fight with parents over taking out the trash, or homework, or using the car. For me, it was laundry. How many unpleasant moments had there been over getting my wash done? And here I was, doing multiple loads. Voluntarily.

“Yeah, well, being a married man does that.” I smirked as I folded one of Andy’s tee shirts, the blue one that stretches tight across his chest. He was so wearing that to the party later on, if I had anything to say about it.

“Why aren’t you out at the barn with Andy?”

“He’s finishing the wiring for the solar panels. He said he could do it himself.”

“Such a stubborn boy.” Mom shook her head and smiled. “And a special one. I’m amazed he arranged this whole project on his own.”

“It was supposed to be a surprise.”

“And I was surprised. But you can’t exactly hide eight five-foot solar panels very easily.”

“Well, he insisted on doing something for you and Dad before we go off to college.”

“It’s a wonderful thing. Those power cells will add some much-needed free heat and light out there. And no more groping for light switches, either.”

I tossed the socks into a pile on top of the dryer. “I’m getting better at sorting and matching them.”

“Are there any with holes in the heels or toes?”

“You think Andy will let me throw them out if there are?”

“Probably not.”

“So if there were any, I’d probably just put them in the drawer, anyway. In the way back, maybe.”

“Love does strange things to us, doesn’t it?” I looked up at mom. She wore a serious face, but a hint of humor tugged at the corner of her mouth. That happened often, it seemed.

Andy and I were leaving, and only she and dad would remain in the old house. At the end of the week, we’d load the pickup and move into our tiny student apartment at State College.

“But they’re good things.”

“Yes. I think they are.” Now she smiled. “For one thing, you fold laundry. But honey, you can’t do socks like that.” She took the pair of white socks I held in my hand.

“Why not?”

“You have to flatten them and match them so the heels and toes are in the same direction. That way, they fit in the drawer.”

“Andy doesn’t complain.”

“Andy usually folds.”

Now it was my turn to smirk. “That’s our division of labor – I do the wash, he does the dry and fold.”

“Just a year ago, when you were first together, he’d have done it all, and perfectly, without any kind of complaint if you asked him to,” Mom said softly.

I nodded. She was right.

“That devil of a father did that to Andy: made him compulsively obedient and so quick to take the blame. I swear, I want to cry when I think about what happened to him,” she went on.

“But he’s better now.”

“Better, yes.” Mom put her hand on mine. “But Zander, don’t you ever forget that he can’t just erase his past.”

“I know that.” And I did know. Mom wasn’t the only one to have made this point. Andy and I talked about it – a lot.

“There are going to be times when he hurts inside, and you won’t be able to figure out what to do for him.”

“Yeah. I know. It’s happened before.”

“It has. And when it happens again – ”

“All I can do is love him.” I remembered some dark days over the past year, curled around Andy on our bed, protecting him from the demons that stalked his memories.

“That’s right. That’s what you do.” She took a shirt from the pile I’d done and re-folded it.

“It’s not hard. To love Andy, I mean.” I took a deep breath. “But sometimes, I wonder if I can ever… if it’s enough. If it will ever be enough.”

“Are you saying you don’t know if you love Andy adequately?”

I shook my head. “No, not that. But can I ever love him enough to make him leave what happened before in the past? To make him forget about his uncle and dad? Can I give him the life he deserves?”

Mom put down the shirt and gathered me into a hug. “Zander, sweetie, I know it’s hard. This isn’t something you do by yourself. You love Andy. Is it enough? I think so, but only the two of you will ever know that. And the two of you will have the life you both deserve when you live it and work at it together.”

I sighed and nodded. “I just worry sometimes.”

Mom released me and patted my cheek. “Okay, worrying’s normal. You two chose a hard route. You’re so young to be married.”

“I don’t regret it. I never will.”

“I’m glad. I don’t regret your marriage either. The two of you make me feel like the luckiest mom in the world.” She sighed. “I just wish you didn’t have to go away next week.”

Just then, the back door opened. “Zander?”

I swear, the room brightened just at the sound of Andy’s voice. “Back here,” I called out.

His smiling face appeared in the doorway to the laundry area a moment later. “Oh, hi Mom.” He leaned into kiss me; I smelt hay and the wonderful, indelible scent of my lover. My husband.

I stopped folding laundry to kiss him back. Who wouldn’t?

“All right boys. I can finish this up. Don’t you have a party to get ready for?” Mom asked.

“Yeah, but it doesn’t start for a few hours. Plenty of time.” Andy kissed me again. “I actually came in to ask Zander for some help.”

Mom raised an eyebrow but smiled.

Andy let me go. “I’m done with the wiring and the support rails, but I’m getting ready to put the solar panels in place on the barn.”

“Don’t tell me you got up on the roof without someone spotting the ladder,” Mom scolded.

Andy blushed and looked away. If he weren’t so damn cute, I might have joined Mom in chiding him.

“I just want to get this done so I can work out any problems before we go.”

“Geez, Andy, I can help,” I said, dumping a pair of shorts back in the basket.

“Go on, boys, get out. This is almost done, anyway.”

“Thanks, Mom. C’mon, Zander.”

I couldn’t help a grin as I followed Andy’s sexy stride out the back door. A dark plaid flannel shirt hung, untucked, off his frame. Andy still favored softer shirts, though he’d cut the sleeves off that one as a concession to the summer heat. That was fine – I got to admire the taut muscles in his arms that way. I’ve drawn them so many times in the past year that I think I know every sinew. Not every boy has a farm stud for his very own. And Andy’s mine.

As we rounded the side of the barn, out of sight of the house, a daydream flashed before my mind’s eye.

It would be so easy to push Andy up against the rough wood of the barn, so I could kiss him again. This time, I’d get a much better taste of him. I could practically feel my hips grinding into his, my desire stoking his own. My fingers would quickly find their way underneath his shirttails to the beltline of his jeans.

Would Andy object? Not if I could help it.

His buttons and zipper wouldn’t resist long, and then I’d be able to fall on my knees and take him in. One of the best things in life was making love to Andy, anytime, anywhere, anyhow.

I realized Andy had turned and was talking to me. “This won’t take too long. I’ve already got the cradle and pulley rigged, so all you have to do is – are you listening, Zander?”

Did my glance at his zipper give me away? I blinked and brushed my hair off to the side.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m listening.”

Andy glared at me for a moment, then smirked. He knew exactly what I was thinking. “Sure. Right.”

“How is this going to work?” I asked.

“I’ll go up on the roof. You load a panel into the rope cradle, and I’ll haul it up. Simple,” Andy assured me as he buckled a tool belt around his hips.

I licked my lips and felt myself stir. The flesh on those hips was perfect to kiss, right at the top of the bone. It was a place on him guaranteed to make him growl in pleasure while I stroked him. I blinked, trying to clear my mind and concentrate on the task.

I grinned and held the ladder while he ascended to the roof. I might have glanced up at Andy’s butt, just maybe.

He stepped off the ladder and turned around. For a moment, I stopped breathing. Andy stood there on the roof, golden and bronzed in the sun. The light made his hair frame his face like a halo. How could I ever love him enough?

“Hey, Zander, you okay?”

“Oh, um, yeah. I’m fine.”

“Right, so let’s get going.”

I picked up one of the panels and hefted it. The device was awkward and heavy, but I secured it with the ropes in the cradle Andy rigged.

I looked up at him and smiled. “Okay, lift away.”

I watched as Andy hauled on the rope, the muscles in his arms working as the panel rose in the air. He was so pleased with that home-built roof crane. It wasn’t very complicated, but it worked. It was his design, though I’ll admit I helped a little. The radiant smile on Andy’s face as he snagged the panel and pulled it in made the hours of preparation and building worthwhile.

“Hang on a sec,” he said. “Okay, look out down there.” A moment later, he had the panel free from its cradle; he sent the rope rigging whizzing down the side of the barn back to me. “Load up another one,” he called out. “I’m just going to rest this on the rail.”

Andy and I repeated the procedure: load, raise, unload, return. Soon, just the matted grass by the side of the barn showed where the solar panels once rested.

“You want me to come on up?” I inquired as Andy moved out of view with the last one.

A few moments later, his face reappeared. “Yeah, that would be great.”

Up I went.

“There isn’t that much left to do,” Andy explained as we stood balancing on the pitch of the roof.

It never looked very steep from the ground, but it sure felt different standing up there. I shifted uncomfortably, already hot in the full sun.

“So what am I doing?” I asked.

“Come on over here,” he directed, walking carefully toward the panel furthest away, his sneakers gripping the asphalt shingles.

Andy knelt before it and pulled a big roll of black tape from a pocket in his tool belt. “You’re gonna lift this end up.” He grinned at me. “While you hold this, I’m going to connect the wiring and tape it. Then you lower it down into position on the rail and I screw it into place.”

“Wait. You’re making me do all the heavy lifting?”

“You wanted to help.”

“Hang on a minute.” I peeled off my tee shirt and tossed it over the edge of the roof. “It’s way too hot up here.”

Andy raised an eyebrow. “You’re making it even hotter.”

I just shook my head and made my way over to where he was kneeling. “The things I do for love,” I muttered.

Actually, the task wasn’t as hard as I imagined. I grumbled, but I didn’t have to lift very far, and Andy worked fast. The hardest part was sliding the panels into position so the screw holes in the rails lined up. Andy had the electric drill ready to drive the screws in a hurry.

With the third panel secured and in place, Andy leaned over and gave me a quick kiss.

“What was that for?”

“Because you love me. And I love you back.”

We shifted our places to tackle the next unit. I started to lift, but Andy straightened, undid a couple of buttons, and pulled his old shirt off over his head. It followed mine over the side.

“Now I’m really distracted.” I had to grin.

“Nobody up here but you and me,” he shrugged.

Andy’s spine and back muscles played in the light. Though his scars were faded, there was no mistaking them. To me, they only highlighted how gorgeous I thought he was. For a moment, I contemplated what it might be like to make love on a hot roof.

But what I said was, “Come on, are you going to make me hold this thing up all day?”

Andy bent to his work again, fingers making efficient work of the connections.

“Where did you learn all your electrician skills?” I asked.

“Eustace showed me some of this; and then I did some reading up, and watched tutorials online. It’s not complicated.”

I set my end down so Andy could fix it in place. I watched his face set in concentration.

“Have I told you that I love you today?”

“Yup. At least once or twice.” Andy finished and raised his head to smile at me.

I wanted to kiss him again, but held off. There would be time later.

“Ready for the next one?”

“Whenever you are, Z.”

We didn’t take very long with the rest of the panels. Taking down Andy’s homemade hoist and putting away the ladder and tools took almost as much time as finishing the installation.

“Thanks for coming out to give me a hand, Z.” Andy lifted his end of the heavy aluminum ladder. “I couldn’t have done that without you.”

“I wasn’t much help.”

“Yes, you were. You encouraged me to do this project. You believed in me, like you always have, no questions, no hesitation.” Together, we shoved the ladder onto hanging brackets. “It’s one reason I love you. One out of a million.”

We stood for a moment in the hot tool room in the barn. “Whew. I’m so done.” I pulled my shirt out of my pocket and wiped my brow.

“What’s the matter, old man, getting tired?” Andy taunted, stepping closer. His eyes glinted.

“Who said anything about tired? We have Kaz and Terry’s party to go to.”

“You up for a shower?” He grinned, then put his arms around my neck. “Together?”

 

Would it ever be enough? Zander’s question echoed in my brain.

When you’re a mother of an older teen, it’s hard loosening the strings that bind your kids to you and to home. Yet it’s part of life, and I’d let it happen with my three oldest ones. Zander marrying Andy in high school changed that whole dynamic. Their transition to independence was very different from Zander’s siblings. But I still wanted to keep them just as they were. I felt as if I needed more time with them, especially with Andy, the son-in-law so close to my heart.

I remember the day of that last summer party before they left. The boys – I don’t care how old they get, they’re still boys to me – burst into the house, laughing and giggling about something. They stampeded past me in the kitchen and up the stairs like a herd of buffaloes. I’m sure they didn’t hear me shout about the noise. Not long after, I heard the shower running; the day was hot and they had been working outside.

I went back to slogging through my paperwork in the study. Later, I set aside a stack of intake questionnaires and checked the time. I’d been working longer than I imagined. I stood up, stretched, and listened to the house.

Silence.

That was odd. The boys had been so noisy, before. I frowned in irritation. I thought they’d left for the party without saying goodbye, maybe.

“Zander? Andy” I called up the stairs. No response.

I walked back to the laundry area. Their laundry still sat there. I blew out a sigh and stacked the piles to take upstairs. I trudged up to their room. The things a mother does, even for her almost-grown children.

The door was closed, but that wasn’t unusual. I tapped on the door, and, hearing nothing, I pushed the door open.

Not every parent sees what greeted my eyes.

Zander and Andy lay beneath a single white sheet, cuddled together on their wide bed, their shoulders and arms bare. It didn’t take much imagination to figure what they’d been up to, or that a nap had seemed in order afterwards.

My boys were beautiful.

Andy spooned up behind Zander, an arm draped over his middle. In sleep, Zander’s mouth was slightly open, but Andy’s face wore a slight, almost angelic, smile.

And in that moment, I knew; I understood with complete certainty. They loved each other enough, more than enough.

I remain indebted to Craftingmom for her tireless patience with me and this story.

 

Please think of this as a gift to any of you who have enjoyed reading the original A to Z story. While this story rattled around in my head for a long time, it never quite came to rest - at least, until now. Comments of any sort or description are always welcome.

Copyright © 2018 Parker Owens; All Rights Reserved.
  • Like 21
  • Love 39

Recommended Comments

Chapter Comments



6 minutes ago, purrbaby said:

Can’t get enough of A & Z!  Thanks for the story and hope your holidays are wonderful.

 

Thank you for reading this. And I hope your holidays are happy ones, too.

  • Like 1
  • Love 3
Link to comment

The story had a familiar ring to it and then, 'DING', I figured it out. Loved it!

 

I so miss 'A to Z' and was also so hoping that you'd pick it up where it left off; on Eustace's farm and welcoming the abused boy and making a place for him in their lives. Wasn't his name Reed Anderson?

 

Thanks for writing!

Edited by Nahrung
  • Like 2
  • Love 3
Link to comment

Thank you, Parker, for this delightful Christmas present! Merry Christmas to you and all your loved ones!

  • Like 1
  • Love 3
Link to comment

Just as they had receded into memory you brought these wonderful characters back to life.  Thank you!  Thank you!  What a delightful early Christmas present.

  • Like 1
  • Love 3
Link to comment
18 minutes ago, Nahrung said:

The story had a familiar ring to it and then, 'DING', I figured it out. Loved it!

 

I so miss 'A to Z' and was also so hoping that you'd pick it up where it left off; on Eustace's farm and welcoming the abused boy and making a place for him in their lives. Wasn't his name Reed Anderson?

 

Thanks for writing!

 

Your memory is flawless. But Reed’s story comes much later, and I have yet to hear him tell it to me. I am glad this story reminded you of Andy and Zander, and I am grateful for your comments and for your reading. 

  • Like 1
  • Love 2
Link to comment
18 minutes ago, mayday said:

Thank you, Parker, for this delightful Christmas present! Merry Christmas to you and all your loved ones!

 

Thank you for reading this. I was very happy to have this set for Christmas. 

  • Like 1
  • Love 2
Link to comment
16 minutes ago, donaldbirwin said:

Just as they had receded into memory you brought these wonderful characters back to life.  Thank you!  Thank you!  What a delightful early Christmas present.

 

How glad I am that this should bring back some good memories. Hope your Christmas is happy and wonderful. 

  • Like 1
  • Love 2
Link to comment
47 minutes ago, Nahrung said:

I so miss 'A to Z' and was also so hoping that you'd pick it up where it left off; on Eustace's farm and welcoming the abused boy and making a place for him in their lives. Wasn't his name Reed Anderson?

That just means @Parker Owens ‘owes’ us at least one more story, one that tells Reed’s history and future!  ;–)

 

And you’re not the only one who was expecting more about A & Z living on Eustace’s old farm!  ;–)

Link to comment
10 minutes ago, droughtquake said:

That just means @Parker Owens ‘owes’ us at least one more story, one that tells Reed’s history and future!  ;–)

 

And you’re not the only one who was expecting more about A & Z living on Eustace’s old farm!  ;–)

 

:) Thanks for reading, and for your encouragement! Maybe Reed will give me some direction in the new year. 

  • Like 1
  • Love 2
Link to comment
30 minutes ago, Parker Owens said:

But Reed’s story comes much later, and I have yet to hear him tell it to me.

With Reed, you turned convention on its head! In most Gay fiction, the Gay couple stumbles across the abandoned, abused boy(s). Reed ran to Andy & Zander! This is a very good example of why our visibility helps younger LGBTQs and allies. Just the fact that A & Z got married was talked about widely in their community and gave Reed hope for a better future! Even in Andersonville, everyone knows about the young Gay couple!  ;–)

 

The more of us who Come Out, the safer we all will be. Being Out In everyday life wherever you are can change minds about what LGBTQ means. We cease being the scary boogie man to our neighbors and acquaintances. Waving a huge Rainbow Flag is nice and all, but not required of everyone. Not hiding who you date (or dream of dating) reduces the number of times someone will try to fix you up with someone totally inappropriate (such as their homely sister with a lovely personality or their cripplingly shy and awkward, but hardworking older cousin – hey wait a minute, can you introduce me to that cousin?).  ;–)

Link to comment

Great story. I think I've missed something - the beginnings of this. I'll have to go back and look! :)

 

Thanks!

  • Love 2
  • Haha 1
Link to comment

I still can’t believe it’s been three years since you were posting the original.  This was a very nice revisitation of some of my favorite characters on GA.

  • Like 1
  • Love 3
Link to comment
2 hours ago, Timothy M. said:

What a lovely julegave to start my Christmas holiday.  Thank you, Parker. :hug:

 

Thank you, Timothy! I am so glad you enjoyed unwrapping this. 

  • Like 2
  • Love 2
Link to comment
2 hours ago, Wesley8890 said:

I think A to Z was the first full story I read on the sight and I loved it. It was nice seeing the boys again

 

It felt good to write about them one more time.  Thank you so much for reading this. 

  • Like 1
  • Love 2
Link to comment
33 minutes ago, Geron Kees said:

Great story. I think I've missed something - the beginnings of this. I'll have to go back and look! :)

 

Thanks!

 

I’m so glad you liked this. Not a Christmas story, no, but a good moment to see Zander and Andy. 

  • Like 1
  • Love 2
Link to comment
Just now, Parker Owens said:

 

Thank you, tim. They still make me smile. 

Not a damn thing wrong with that, Parker.  mine me smile and cry too ... it's a good thing. xo

  • Like 1
  • Love 2
Link to comment
24 minutes ago, spikey582 said:

I still can’t believe it’s been three years since you were posting the original.  This was a very nice revisitation of some of my favorite characters on GA.

 

Really? That long? I’m very happy you liked this short visit with them. 

  • Like 2
  • Love 2
Link to comment

What a lovely glimpse into these guys' lives.  :wub:  It's nice seeing them enjoy domesticity without drama.  I'm with Zander on folding laundry, especially socks.  😛  

  • Like 2
  • Love 1
  • Haha 2
Link to comment
3 hours ago, avidreadr said:

Great story!  Thank you for the present.  Happy holiday. 

 

 

Thank you for reading this. I’m so glad you liked seeing Andy and Zander again. Happy holidays to you, too.

  • Like 2
  • Love 2
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

    You probably have a crazy and hectic schedule and find it hard to keep up with everything going on.  We get it, because we feel it too.  Signing up here is a great way to keep in touch and find something relaxing to read when you get a few moments to spare.

    Sign Up
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here. 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..