Disclaimer: This is a work of complete fiction. It does not and will not exist outside the fantasy world.
© Matt Caper
The boys and I easily settled into a routine. Taking care of them required a lot more energy than I liked, but I already knew it was totally worth it. All three of us needed each other and were benefiting from our arrangement. Despite the extra work it took, things were going along pretty smoothly.
Almost two weeks after we met, I had to skip a day of being with them. It was a Thursday, one of my late days at school. Spring break would begin on Saturday, but Friday would bring a math test that I badly needed to ace. There was a math lab at the college on Thursday evening, and I had to jump at the chance to go. I worried about the boys being on their own, but they'd be with me again Friday. And all of Spring break, for that matter. We had lots of fun planned.
I didn't finish the math test until 3:00 on Friday, but it was amazing how much weight I felt lifted off of me when I walked out of there. I was hopeful that I'd done well and was in a pretty good mood. That changed really quickly, though, right about the time I went to pick up the boys from school.
I was parked and sitting on the hood of my car as usual, looking for them to show up. Nicholas appeared, and I grinned as I realized how much I had missed them. I hugged him right there in front of God and everybody. "Hey man, I missed you."
He didn't seem to mind the public hug at all. "Hi Grey! I missed you too! Um..." He paused, and I detected something was wrong. "Mrs. Taylor told me to tell you to come inside. I think Noah got in trouble today."
I frowned. "Okay. Throw your bag in the car and show me where to go." I could feel my good mood draining away already. Inside the office I had Nicholas sit and wait while I was invited into the Principal's office. Mr. Bailey, the Principal, was behind his desk. My mom was in there, seated off to the side, and Noah was seated in front of the desk. I took the empty seat next to him and took in his appearance. He had his arms folded across his chest, was slouching down in the seat, and looked extremely angry and a little bit scared. He didn't even look at me.
I shook hands with Mr. Bailey as he introduced himself. "Mrs. Taylor has told me of Noah's situation, and that you're one of his primary caretakers. That's why I've invited you in here. Noah has told me his mother can't be reached. I confirmed this with his grandmother. She also suggested bringing you in."
I nodded. "It's not easy for her to get around. She pays me to watch Noah and his brother."
Mr. Bailey nodded in return. "I just wanted to let you know I'm aware of the situation, and I'm confident you will deal with what has happened."
I looked at Noah again, who hadn't moved. I knew this wasn't going to be good. "Are you okay?" I asked him. He glanced at me for only a second, and I realized he was trying not to cry. I took a deep breath and turned my attention back to the Principal. "What happened?"
"As I understand it, another student was verbally harassing Noah. And to be clear, that student did receive detention. However, Noah got angry and physically attacked the student - another boy. When a female teacher attempted to separate the boys, Noah hit her in the face."
"Oh my god," I said, looking in horror to Noah.
"It was an accident," he whispered, voice breaking.
Mr. Bailey continued. "This is my first year as Principal of this school, so I can't speak from personal experience on the past. This is the first time this year he's been in my office. However, we take physical violence very seriously."
"Of course. So do I," I assured him. "Noah is a good kid. I know he has an anger problem, and I'll deal with that. I really hope you're not going to expel him."
"No," he shook his head. "I won't expel him this time. Neither the other boy nor the teacher suffered any bruising or other lasting physical harm. I'm inclined to be somewhat lenient on first offenses. I think 4 days of Saturday school is quite lenient, don't you? They'll start the Saturday after school resumes following Spring break."
I sighed with relief. I thought at the very least he would be suspended. "Yes sir, I do. I really appreciate that. I know he can do better."
Mr. Bailey indeed looked satisfied. "Very good," he said, standing up. "Thank you for coming in, Mr. Taylor. I was concerned, knowing you're so young. But your mother told me how well you look after those boys."
"Thank you, sir." I stood and shook hands with him again. "Feel free to call me any time about Noah or Nicholas. They're more than just a job for me." I said my goodbyes to him and my mom and informed Noah it was time to go.
Neither one of us said a word on the way to the car, nor did Nicholas. Once in the car, Nicholas spoke up timidly. "You okay, Noah?"
Noah ignored him, but I decided to let Nicholas know what was going on. "Nicky, your brother attacked another boy today and hit a teacher in the process. Your Principal went pretty easy on him, considering. After Spring break he has to go to 4 weeks of Saturday school." Nicholas was quiet, probably astounded by Noah's actions. I drove away from the school and was quiet myself for a couple of minutes.
"What I want to know, Noah, is why you attacked the other boy. Mr. Bailey said he was verbally harassing you. What did he say?" I heard Noah sniff, and I looked over to see him succumbing to quiet tears. He didn't answer me.
"Talk to me, Noah." He folded his arms over his chest again and still refused to talk. It made me mad. "Don't ignore me, dammit. Uncross your arms and sit up. I don't care if you're crying, start talking."
"Shut up, you're not my dad!" he yelled.
That made me more than mad. It hurt. I pulled the car into an empty parking lot and stopped, unbuckled, and turned to face him. "You're right, I'm not your dad!" I yelled, even louder than he did. "I actually GIVE A SHIT about you!" I was fuming and breathing heavy. "Your mom and dad, they're fucking losers, okay? They suck! `Cause they don't realize what awesome kids they had, and they don't give a fucking rat's ass. I wasn't just blowing smoke when I told Mr. Bailey this was more than a job for me. I don't keep you every day for the money. I didn't change my whole life for you just for a few bucks a week. I fucking care about you guys. And if you can't see that, then you need to open your damn eyes! Goddammit!"
Noah had his eyes glued on me by then, unable to stop himself from crying. "He kept calling me a loser and a freak and a pussy, `cause my dad is in prison and my mom's a slut. He said I was gonna be just like them and I should just kill myself now." He kept wiping his eyes angrily.
"Well I got news for him. And you. You're not any of those things. I love you, and I love Nicholas," I stated emphatically. Despite knowing them for such a short span of time, I knew with every fiber of my being that I really did love them. "That's because you're awesome and SO much better than your mom and dad. And because you make my life tons better just by being alive and being here with me. And I will keep telling you that until you fucking believe it. I'll be damned if I'm gonna let you end up in prison like your dad."
Noises coming from Nicholas made me turn my head toward him, and I discovered he was also crying now. For that matter, so was I. "Shit," I muttered. "Get out of the car, both of you." I climbed out and rounded the car to where they stood. "Come `ere," I said and pulled them both into a tight hug. And both of them responded in kind, hanging on for dear life.
I don't know how long we stood like that. It felt like several minutes, or it could've been just a few seconds. All I know is that it was a profound moment in our relationship. "Back in the car," I said when we were done. "Time to go home."
Interestingly enough, the atmosphere between us was much better as I drove the rest of the way home. No one was crying, and Noah wasn't angry anymore. There was even conversation between us. "I'm sorry I yelled at you," Noah started. "I love you, too."
"Me too!" Nicholas piped up. "I love you, I mean."
I grinned and felt my heart swell. "Thanks, boys. And I'm not mad at you, Noah. Only disappointed in your behavior, that's all."
"I know. I'm sorry I acted bad today, too. When we get home, can I call Mrs. White and apologize for hitting her?"
"Yeah, man. I'm proud you thought of that. I think that's a good idea." When we got home Noah did just that. I had Nicholas work on his homework in the kitchen with some pudding cups as a snack. Over the break he had to learn five new words and their definitions, words designated by his English teacher. Noah and I went to the bedroom, looked up the right phone number for Mrs. White, and I listened while he delivered his apology. I was very proud of him for trying to make amends.
After the call, he stood in front of me while I was seated in my desk chair. "So..." he began, fidgeting nervously. I waited. "Am I in trouble with you for what I did? I mean, are you gonna whip me or anything?"
"Hmm," I pondered. "I probably should spank you. I don't know, I've never had to punish a boy before." I fell silent for a couple of moments, save for a sigh or two. "Listen, I'm pretty concerned that you can't control your anger. It's okay to be angry, but definitely not okay to lose it like that. I'm hoping I can teach you how to walk away from idiots like that boy and ignore them." I sighed heavily. It was weird how worried I was about this boy I barely knew.
I continued. " If you ever get so angry you think you just can't stand it, tell an adult. If you can, ask to be excused to the office and then ask my mom if you can call me. I will always go to bat for you, Noah. If someone is picking on you, I'll make sure it's stopped. If you wanna yell and scream and hit someone, do it to me. Seriously." I framed his face with both my hands on his flushed cheeks. "I'm here for you. And why is that?" I asked him.
"Because you love me," he beamed.
"Exactly." I kissed his forehead. "Now. I'll give you your choice of punishments. You can either take a spanking right now and get it over with, or you can be grounded all of Spring break. You can still stay here with me, but I'll take you to Granny's while Nicholas and I do things, and you have to stay in your room, both here and at Granny's. We're also getting a TV and DVD player to put in the livingroom, but you'll be grounded from that, too, until Spring break is over. You think about it while I change." I moved away and began shedding my clothes. I was still in my good school clothes, and I didn't want to be in them another minute. Out of the corner of my eyes, I watched Noah and could see he was horrified by the choices I'd given him. But he didn't take long to make his decision. I had barely gotten my pants off when he spoke up.
"So if I take a spanking now, I won't be left out of all the fun during Spring break?" he asked for clarification.
I turned to face him. "Correct. Your punishment will be over and done with. But I won't go too easy on you if I spank you, either. I know from my own growing up experiences that it wouldn't do any good if I made it easy." He groaned and stopped to think more about it, while I put on some shorts and a tee.
"Okay," he said finally. "I want the spanking. I deserve it anyhow."
I was hoping he would choose that, simply because I didn't want to leave him out of all our activities over the coming week. I didn't give him a chance to change his mind. "Okay. I'm gonna go get my dad's paddle from the garage. Take your pants, shirt and underwear off and wait here. I'll be right back."
He mumbled a "yes sir," and began to strip off, and I left the room and the apartment. Halfway down the steps, I heard Nicholas fly out the door behind me, running to catch up.
"Where you going?" he asked breathlessly, afraid of being left behind.
I threw an arm over his shoulders once he was at my side, and he walked into the garage with me. "Only in here. I gave Noah his choice of punishments for what happened today, because I want to teach him to control his anger. He chose a spanking. My dad made his own wooden paddle years ago that he always used on me, and it's in here somewhere. Will you help me look for it?"
Only then did Nicholas leave my side to join the search. "He really wants a spanking?" he asked in disbelief.
"Yep. It was either that or be grounded to his room at Granny's all of Spring break."
"Whoa!" he exclaimed. "I'd want to spanked, too."
I chuckled. "I thought as much. Hey, I found it." As I picked up the plain, heavy board, I almost felt like I was supposed to take it to my dad, for my punishment. It was a strange, new feeling to be the disciplinarian for once. "You don't have to stay in there and listen, if you don't want to. No one's in the house if you want to go watch TV."
Nicholas nodded feverishly. "I don't wanna hear him get in trouble." He bolted out the door and to the main house, while I trudged back upstairs. I wasn't really looking forward to this, but I knew if I didn't help him work through his anger, no one would.
When I reentered the bedroom, Noah was standing next to the bed, naked, and he had a hard-on. Again, I ignored the state of his body and took a deep breath. "Right. So, no more lecturing, let's just get this over with. Face the bed. Bend over and grab your ankles. Spread your legs a little so you don't lose your balance." He obeyed, and I was presented with his white ass, waiting for its beating. "Do not raise up again until I say you can. Understand?"
"Yes sir," said Noah, voice quivering.
Gingerly I touched Noah's ass with the paddle, to get my aim. He drew a sharp breath. Then I nailed that ass in the next second. Noah cried out loudly, but I kept pounding, smack after smack, with barely a rest in between. I didn't count exactly, but I spanked him about thirty times, none of them soft. His body trembled, and he was completely in tears, yet he remained in position until I was done.
"Okay, stand up, I'm through." Noah stood and turned toward me, and I immediately took him in my embrace. That's something my dad never did; he would merely leave the room. But somehow it was instinct for me. I suppose I shared part of Noah's pain, and I wanted him to know I still loved him just as much. Noah clung to me for the second time that day. I even gently rubbed his ass for him, which was seriously red.
I held him until he stopped crying, and even then I continued. "I'm sorry, Grey," he whispered.
"It's over with now, buddy. You just gotta do better from now on."
He nodded against my shoulder. "I will." He still didn't move away, and I wondered how long I should comfort him. But when I realized he was getting hard again, I thought it was time to separate.
"I hope so," I said, breaking away and sitting on the edge of the bed. His cock pointed straight at me from that perspective, so I stood again, wandering around the room. "That wasn't fun, and I'd rather not have to do it again."
"But you will if you have to, right?" he asked. It almost sounded like he hoped I would, that maybe he just didn't want me giving up on him.
"You bet. I want you to grow up to be a good man. I'll do whatever I have to do to make that happen." He smiled and looked relieved. "You think you can put your clothes back on? I'll let you tell Nicholas what we're going to Wal-Mart for tonight."
He grinned wider and immediately put on his clothes, though he still handled his backside carefully. He ran into the livingroom, but came back momentarily. I'd forgotten Nicholas wasn't there. "Where is Nicky?" he asked.
"Oh yeah, I forgot. He's in the main house. He didn't wanna hear you get punished. Go get him and meet me at the car." He tore out of there like everything was normal again. Personally, I was more than relieved the spanking was over.
When the boys joined me in the car, I interrupted their chatter. "Listen up, guys. This means we're gonna spend less money on eating out for a while, okay? I'm gonna make my lazy ass cook more often." I had the ability to cook just about anything I wanted to. But I rarely did it, merely to save time.
"Can you cook as good as Mrs. Taylor? I mean your mom?" Noah queried.
I grinned. "Who do you think taught me how?"
I made our Wal-Mart trip into a grocery shopping trip. I abhorred grocery shopping, yet it was a totally different experience with two boys in tow. It was actually rather fun. Plus I ended up buying a few things I normally wouldn't have bought; foods and desserts to last us a while. My refrigerator wasn't gonna know what to think, never having that much food in it before.
And finally we picked out a television before leaving the store. A flat screen, though not a huge one, and a DVD player. Also a few movie rentals from this self-service box they had. My debit card also didn't know what to think when we checked out. I imagined it was a little peeved from being overworked. But boy was it worth it! I had two very happy boys and something besides the computer to keep us occupied at night. And more importantly, my little apartment was becoming more like a home, and three wandering boys brought together were becoming more like a real family.
I think the only person who got an actual break during Spring break was Granny. We checked on her often, and she was just dandy being on her own for the week. The boys and I, however, played ourselves silly. Frisbee in the park, chases, hide and seek at night, picnics, watching movies late at night, and going to the Youth and Community Center filled our week. The Center included swimming, basketball, tennis, weights and exercise equipment, and general running around. By the end of the break I was pooped.
Even Mom and Dad kept busy; Mom with more of her Spring cleaning, and Dad with more projects improving the house. And we even got involved with helping them, which absolutely thrilled my parents. I, for one, had a great time despite the exhaustion. The boys obviously did too. The best part of it was the bonding I did with the boys. They never got tired of me participating in activities with them. Never did they want to do something by themselves, and that was perfectly fine with me. I was still young and could keep up with them and loved every minute of it.
We lounged around in our underwear at night, watching movies and eating snacks. And without exception, they clung to me like a lifeline whenever we were stationary on the couch. It began with the three of us sitting side by side, a boy on each side of me and cuddling up to me. Then it graduated to an entirely different position - the couch facing the TV long ways instead of the traditional stance - and me propped up with pillows and stretched out facing the TV, Nicholas between my legs and leaning back against my chest, and Noah snuggling up to me at my side, resting his head on either me or Nicholas. And every time I soaked it all up, enjoying my new little family and thinking I might even be making a significant difference in their lives. I sure hoped I was.
Some things worried me a bit. Being boys, all three of us experienced the constant reminder of the presence of hormones; even Nicholas often had his own small erections. I fretted over it when we snuggled up on the couch or in bed. They had to have been aware whenever I had a boner, but thus far neither of them had mentioned it. In fact, Noah wasn't discreet about looking at it whenever he could. But Nicholas was usually the one snuggled against it, yet he acted like nothing was out of the ordinary. If they weren't going to mention it, neither was I. I may not have been able to control it, but I certainly didn't want to draw attention to it.
All too soon it was back to our normal routine. Or so I thought. Tuesday came, one of my late days, and things were vastly different from our routine when I arrived at Granny's house to pick up the kids. I knocked on the door; no answer. I knocked and knocked, getting no response. I tried the door, but it was locked. By this time I was already worried. I called Granny's number and could hear it ringing inside the house, yet no one picked up.
I was about to go into a panic when I saw the lady next door walking toward me. From what I understood, she helped Granny out with shopping and trips into town and whatnot. "She's not home, young man," she announced.
I stepped off the porch and greeted her in the yard. "I was getting worried. Is she all right?"
"Oh, she's fine. She left with another lady friend of hers. She'll be back later."
"What about the boys? Did they go with her?" I couldn't believe they would all leave without calling me first.
"No, dear. The boys haven't been home today."
I gaped at the lady. "You mean they didn't ride the bus home?"
"No," she answered calmly. "Evelyn said the boys had other plans today."
The lady chuckled. "Their granny."
"Oh." I was beside myself. Other plans? And they didn't tell me? "Well thanks," I mumbled and trudged back to my car. My heart was sinking, though I felt stupid for being so sad and pouty. I just thought I shared close communication with the boys and they would always inform me of other plans they had. And besides all that, illogical as it was, I wished to be a part of their other plans.
I drove home feeling very sorry for myself. What would I do all evening alone? I sensed a night of porn watching in my near future. It always helped me forget reality. When I walked through my apartment door, I tore off my shirt and tossed it on the couch. I sighed heavily, making the most out of my pity party. Shuffling to the kitchen, I pulled out some pudding cups from the fridge, which only made me feel worse. The boys loved the pudding cups. I plopped down at the table and drowned my sorrows in chocolate.
A few minutes later I heard the door open, and in popped my dad. "Hey. You got some mail." I noticed the envelope in his hand was already opened.
"Must be from the school," I noted. Mid-semester grades were mailed out recently.
He tossed the envelope on the table. "All A's except for Algebra. 86. I'm proud of you."
"Thanks," I smiled weakly. At least something was good today.
"Happy birthday, by the way. Wait, it wasn't yesterday, was it?"
Shit. I'd forgotten I was nineteen now. "Nah, it's today. Thanks again."
"Yeah." He remained awkwardly silent for a moment. "I think we might have a present for you. I guess you'll have to check with your mom. You know she takes care of those things sometimes."
I gave a dry chuckle. "Yeah, I know. I guess I better go see her." I sure didn't feel like it, but I knew she'd be disappointed if I didn't.
"Yeah, she'd like that. Anyway, see ya over there." He turned and left, leaving me once again to my misery. Growling out loud, I retrieved my shirt and left the apartment. I figured I should get it over with now, so I can wallow in my misery the rest of the night.
As I entered the back door, I smelled cake. Typical of my mom to still make me a birthday cake. But in the kitchen there was no cake and no mom. In the living room there was no dad. "Dad?" I called but got no answer. This is ridiculous, I thought. "Well shit. What a fucking birthday."
Suddenly the doorbell rang. No one showed up to answer it. I rolled my eyes, and then growled when it rang again. "Calm the fuck down," I mumbled. I jerked the door open angrily, ready to greet whoever was there with a less-than-hospitable attitude.
"SURPRIIIIIISE!" I nearly wet my pants, staggering backward in genuine surprise. Then a group of people on the front porch began singing "Happy Birthday" to me. Mom, Dad, Granny, Noah and Nicholas were all grinning from ear to ear as they sang.
"Oh my god!" They filed inside when the singing was done, while my mouth was still gaping open. "You sneaky little... I can't believe it!"
Mom was holding my cake as she kissed my cheek. "I had the boys ride home with me today. This was all their idea." She left to set up the party in the dining room.
"Happy birthday, darlin'." Granny hugged me gently before taking a seat.
"You had me worried," I told her. "Good thing your neighbor was there to tell me you had left."
"She was in on it, too," Granny smiled triumphantly. "It looks like she did her part very well."
"Oh man!" I turned to the boys. "You guys!" Both of them hugged me not-so-gently. "You actually thought of this?"
"It was Noah's idea to surprise you!" said Nicholas excitedly. "But it was my idea to ride home with Mrs. Taylor. She thought of picking up Granny."
"And I offered to go to your apartment," Dad said proudly. "I knew your birthday was today and not yesterday. I also figured you'd be moping about up there, and I was right."
I laughed and silently berated myself. I should have known better! "You boogers. I was sad you didn't call me and tell me where you were. You sure had me fooled." I hugged each of the boys again tightly. "Thanks for this. It means a lot."
"We got presents for you, but your mom said you can't have them until after cake and ice cream," Noah said. He was obviously proud of spawning this whole event.
The whole evening was a blast. Much better than it would have been on an ordinary day, and that's even without the gifts. Which were amazing! Mom and Dad gave me the money I'd spent on my TV, so I'd "have more to spend on the kids." Granny gave me a card with some extra money in it, too. But Noah's and Nicholas's gifts were the best of all. They were both handmade and full of love. When I opened Noah's first, I literally gasped. It was a beautiful wooden box that I could put keepsakes in.
"Oh my god, Noah! This is awesome!"
"Your dad helped me," he admitted. Which made sense, as my dad was great at woodwork. I glanced at Dad, and he looked mighty proud.
"He did most of the work," Dad informed me.
"Wow, buddy. I love it, thank you." Noah beamed brighter than I'd ever seen. "Look at this detail. You really did this? It's amazing. I love that you took the time to make me something rather than buying it. Dad, maybe you could teach him more. He's excellent."
"I agree," Dad smiled.
"Now mine!" Nicholas yelled.
"Not so loud," I chuckled and tore into the paper, revealing a picture frame. And inside the picture frame was the most beautiful artwork I had ever seen. It was sort of an abstract painting in some ways, yet it still had a form. It showed a man cradling a child to his breast. It wasn't a lifelike portrait; there was a lot of free form, but there were many details on the man and child. The background was all abstract with warm, brilliant colors. I'd had no idea Nicholas was this good of an artist.
"It's you and me," he said quietly.
I was breathless. "Nicholas, this is the most beautiful painting I've seen in my life."
It was his turn to beam. "I've been working on it in art class. My teacher helped me."
"Shit. I mean wow. God, Nicky, thank you. I love it more than I can say." I was completely overwhelmed with emotion. I let everyone know how much I appreciated the party. It was literally the best birthday ever. And when I was home alone later that night, I didn't even need porn. I fell into a peaceful sleep almost immediately after crawling in bed.
In April was Nicholas's birthday. I knew what he wanted, even though I wasn't sure I would enjoy it. Nevertheless, I bought the three of us tickets to see Justin Bieber in concert. And when I presented them to him, he jumped up and down, screaming like a girl. It made me laugh.
It was a 3 hour drive to see the concert, which meant we left immediately after school on a Friday. I also laughed when I picked up the kids and saw Nicholas had combed his hair much like Justin's. Nicholas's hair was getting long, and it really was beautiful. He looked way cuter than Justin Bieber, in my opinion.
And after a long night of screaming girls and a screaming Nicholas, we started our drive back home. I couldn't really afford a motel room. The gas there and back would kill me as it was, not to mention the ticket prices. But those were paid for with the money I got for my birthday, though I didn't tell the boys that.
Noah rode in the back this time and lay down to sleep. He was out almost immediately after eating something. Nicholas, on the other hand, rode in front and continued to sing Justin Bieber songs.
"Okay," I said after an hour. "No more singing. Please! Otherwise I'll be forced to drop you off and make you walk home."
Nicholas giggled and shut off the a capella tunes. "Thanks, Grey, for my birthday present. I had a good time."
"You're welcome. I couldn't tell," I chuckled.
We chatted on and off for a while, until he unbuckled and turned in his seat, raised the armrest between us (and my arm in the process), and laid his head in my lap. "I don't really like it you two are unbuckled," I said. "It's not safe."
"Just don't get in a wreck," he said matter-of-fact. He idly ran his fingers over my thigh and knee, still winding down from an incredible high.
"Ten-four," I said. We drove in silence for a while, and I only knew he was still awake because he continued caressing me. "Wish I had brought pillows for you guys. Sorry about my bony legs."
"I like your legs," he murmured.
I began caressing his head, running fingers through his Justin hair, while pondering over how precious these boys were to me. He scooted farther onto my lap, resting his head on both my thighs (and my crotch in the process), obviously reveling in the physical affection. "Are you sleepy?" I asked.
"Not really," he said. I didn't know how he couldn't be. "I'm hungry."
I laughed. "You ate not more than an hour and a half ago."
"I know, right? Forever," he sighed.
I laughed even more. "There's still half an hour or so until the next town. We'll stop then if you're still awake, okay?"
"I'll be awake. I'm starving." Funny kid.
We fell into silence again, until he rolled onto his back. The back of his head was right in my crotch, making me squirm a bit uncomfortably. "Do you think Justin Bieber is cute?" he asked.
I grinned. "Do I think he's cute?" I laughed. He nodded seriously. "I don't know. I mean, I guess. Not as cute as you are, though. You don't even have to wear your hair like him to be cuter."
It was dark, so it was hard to see his expression, but I could still make out his beaming smile as I glanced down briefly. "Am I cuter than Noah?" he asked suddenly.
"What's with all the questions, Nicholas? You and Noah look a lot alike. But you're still different enough to both be cute in your own way. You're both gorgeous boys. Don't all the girls at your school think so?"
He reached between his legs and cupped his crotch. I learned in my college psychology class that boys often do that to make themselves feel more secure. Either that or he needed to pee, I thought. "No," he said flatly. "Anyway, I don't care what they think. I don't want a girlfriend like all my friends do."
"Give it time," I laughed. "You will."
"How come you don't have a girlfriend?" I should have seen that one coming. But I was totally caught off guard.
"Um. Well, I don't think I'd have time for a relationship, what with taking care of you and going to school and all." I despised the idea of lying to Nicholas, or even misleading him, but I wasn't prepared to go there yet. Then again, I thought I might never be prepared.
"That's good," he murmured.
"I don't think I'd wanna share you."
"Aww. Well don't worry, you have me all to yourself. And Noah too, of course."
"Good," he said again. He lifted his head slightly and kissed my arm; I found the gesture entirely sweet. He fell silent, and I rubbed his head until I heard him start to snore. I sighed, wishing I could sleep too. But at least I didn't have to stop again, for food or anything else, so we got home quicker. I honestly thought we might have to stop at a picnic area for a few minutes so I could rest, but we made it home without incident. And we all went straight to bed, no passing Go, no collecting $200.