Disclaimer: This is a work of complete fiction.  It does not and will not exist outside the fantasy world.


Author's note: If you don't like the bloody story, don't read it.  Simple as that.  And if you're looking for sex with no plot, you've come to the wrong place.

Thank you to those who have expressed kind words of encouragement. Friendly emails are more than welcome!

Matt Caper

bassareusmc@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Matt-Caper/122147427866557

 

Chapter 5

 

 

Apparently Landon liked Noah enough to stick around, because we saw him every day until school was out.  A couple of days before the last day of school, I even went to his foster home and introduced myself to his parents.  They lived in a rather large house, but man was it cluttered!  Including Landon there were nine kids living there.  There was nothing but chaos in that place.

 

The foster parents were nice enough, but not overly welcoming.  In fact, Landon's foster dad didn't seem to do much to help out with the kids.  And his foster mother looked entirely frazzled.  I gave her my cell number and address and let her know Landon was welcome to stay over whenever he wanted.  She seemed pretty glad to have him somewhere safe, but especially glad just to have him out of the way, though she didn't expressly say so.  Nevertheless, I got out of there quickly before I ended up with a job watching even more kids.

 

I finished my semester of school a few days before Noah and Nicholas did.  Thankfully Landon volunteered to pick them up from school those few days, because I started work at the YCC on my first Summer vacation day.  I had already worked out a new routine for when the boys were finished with school as well.  Two days a week they would go to Granny's, help her out and spend time with her.  The other three days that I worked, they would hang out at the YCC or with Landon.  Then Sundays and Mondays we would all spend together.  Incidentally, I made Landon swear on everything that is holy that he would be responsible and careful when they were with him.  It frightened me to put that much trust in him, but I did it anyway.

 

That first day at my new job, however, marked the beginning of a lot of changes I would have to make in our routine, though I didn't know it at the time.  All I knew was I was in for a very frustrating Summer.  Gloria, the lady who hired me, gave me a polo to wear with my khaki shorts and started me on a tour of the place.  Hardly anyone was there except the staff, since the lower schools hadn't let out yet.  That gave me a chance to learn the ropes without kids under my feet.

 

I was one of several new employees starting out that day.  Most of the others were also college kids needing a Summer job.  Gloria introduced me to them one by one as we went through my tour.  All was well and good until we got to the pool.  I had brought my swim trunks and hoped to swim a few laps after finishing my work each day.  I was severely disappointed and irritated when I found out who the Summer lifeguard was.

 

"This is Ryan," Gloria said.  "He's one of our lifeguards for the Summer.  He's also going to be helping you out with parties and large groups."  I stared for a moment, unable to believe my bad luck.  It was Ryan Jennings, the hottest guy in high school.  And the biggest asshole.  I still couldn't forgive him for embarrassing the shit out of me in the locker room.

 

I offered a controlled smile and shook his hand politely, though I said nothing.  If he recognized me at all, he didn't let on.  Him being there was seriously going to put a damper on my swimming desires.  I was more than a little annoyed.

 

We continued with the tour and explanations of my duties, and pretty soon I was put to work.  My duties weren't hard, but there was a lot to do.  I liked that it kept me busy.  I didn't have to think about Ryan at all, until I had nothing else to do but clean up the pool area and boys' locker room.  No one was even using the pool by then, so Ryan was assigned to help me.

 

"Hey, how's your first day?" he asked when we found ourselves together near the pool.

 

I glared at him, amazed he would even speak to me.  "Do us both a favor, Jennings, and don't bother with the niceties."

 

"Whoa, who pissed in your cereal this morning?"

 

"Seriously, dude," I said flatly.

 

"Whatever," he muttered and walked away.  I rather hoped I could go all Summer ignoring him.  I was going to try my best.

 

Much to my dismay, he apparently quickly forgot about that conversation when he saw me later.  I was dismissed from work for the day and decided, against my better judgment, to swim a few laps anyway.  I was changing in the locker room when he walked in.  Of all times he could have come in there, he had to waltz in when I was naked.  Not to mention he was wearing a speedo that made his body look achingly sexy.

 

"You gonna swim?" he asked.

 

"If you don't mind," I muttered.  "Just for a few."

 

"It's cool.  You a good swimmer?"

 

I frowned as I hurried to get my trunks on.  Why the hell was he still talking to me?!  "Yeah."

 

"You ever been a lifeguard?  I'm gonna teach a course at the city pool this summer for advanced swimmers.  We could use an extra lifeguard around here."

 

I stood upright to address him once I was dressed for swimming.  I decided to lay out my cards.  "Why the fuck are you even talking to me?  You didn't give me the time of day last year, except when you were being a twat.  So what gives?"

 

"Dude, are you seriously still mad about what happened in high school?"  He said it as if high school was a long time ago.  "I thought you might be over that by now."

 

"Well you thought wrong.  That was only a year and a half ago.  You were an asshole then, you're probably still an asshole now."

 

"Look, I'm sorry, all right?  I apologize for being an asshole."  He didn't sound sorry to me.

 

"Well good for you," I said, and left the locker room.  I went ahead with my swimming because I needed to cool off mentally.  And because I already had the trunks on.  I realized, however, I would do better with a speedo, if I wanted to swim regularly.  Doing laps in swim shorts was not very easy.

 

Unfortunately, I also really wanted to take that lifeguard course.  I felt I could be good at that and would enjoy it.  I thought I would see if someone else was offering the course this Summer, too.  I did not wish to be instructed by Ryan fucking Jennings.

 

When I arrived home that afternoon, I was still in a foul mood.  All three boys were there waiting for me and noticed right away something was wrong.

 

"What's the matter?" asked Nicholas.  He was almost always the most intuitive one, especially when it involved me.

 

"Fucking Ryan Jennings," I said.  Of course this only confused them.  So I had to tell them the whole story about the poison ivy, and I had to tell the beginning of it again for Landon's benefit.  When I finished, Nicholas was absolutely scowling.

 

"What a fucking asshole!" he declared.  I realized I was definitely not a good influence on their language.

 

"That sucks," agreed Landon.  "I can't believe he did that, then tried to act all innocent."

 

"I know, right?" I said.  "Now I have to work with the fucker all Summer long.  Oh, and he wants me to take a lifeguard course he's teaching.  I really want to take it, but not from him."  It really felt good to commiserate with my boys.  "Anyway, forget about that.  Tell me about y'all's day.  Did you drive carefully today, Landon?" I asked with a small smile, since he had picked up the other two from school.

 

"Yes I did!" he said proudly.

 

"Yeah, but then they had sex in the bedroom when we got home," Nicholas informed me.  "So I just went outside for a while.  It was too weird listening to them."

 

"Lovely," I muttered with a sigh.  The two lovebirds merely blushed and grinned at each other.  "I think I'll start dinner.  Wanna help, Nicky?"  Nicholas had always been practically attached to my hip, but he was more so now that Noah spent all his time with Landon.  So he and I got dinner going while they all told me things about their day.  I loved it when they told me their day's stories.

 

Later that evening, Nicholas and I made a trip to the store so I could get a pair of speedos.  That really excited him, since I would be like him now.  And as soon as we got home, he made me try them on and parade in front of them.  I had to admit, I felt very exposed, but all three boys agreed I looked "hot" in them.

 

"Thanks guys, but I just want them for easier swimming."

 

"You'll totally get laid if you keep wearing those," Landon offered.

 

I snorted.  "Right.  It's nice to dream, anyway."

 

"Except," Landon began, and he reached into my pouch and adjusted my cock. "Point your dick up instead of down."

 

My eyes widened, and I stared at him with a bit of shock that he'd invaded my space like that. But he didn't seem to be bothered at all. "Well then," I snorted. "It looks like I'm sporting wood that way."

 

"Yeah, that's the idea," he grinned.

 

Regardless of how "hot" I looked in my speedo, it was several days before I got up the courage to wear it.  In fact, school was out and all three boys were with me at the YCC.  I finished my work and joined them in the pool, wearing the speedo for the first time in public.  Landon grinned as I came out and wolf whistled at me.  I could have strangled him.  Everyone was obligated to turn and look at me, including Ryan Jennings, whom I had avoided talking to since my first day.

 

I shot Landon the bird as I climbed onto the diving board.  I noticed Ryan was still watching me.  That was rather unnerving.  Still I performed a perfect dive.  My dives were only perfect every few times, so I was glad this one was good while I was being watched.

 

I swam a few laps, but it wasn't long before all of us were getting hungry and ready to go home.  We climbed out of the pool only to be met by Ryan.  "These your brothers?" he asked.

 

"Uh huh.  Basically," I answered dryly.  "Landon, Noah, Nicholas."  I pointed them all out.

 

"Basically?" he asked.  "What does that mean?"

 

I resisted the urge to growl at him.  "It means we're not blood related, but I claim them anyway."

 

"Are you Ryan?" Nicholas suddenly asked.

 

Ryan smiled brightly.  "Yep."

 

"We don't like you.  You made fun of Grey," the little one stated.

 

"Yeah," Landon added.  "And you're not even sorry about it."

 

I was somewhat embarrassed my boys were sticking up for me, but proud and amused at the same time.

 

"Oh my god!" Ryan exclaimed.  "I'm sorry, all right?!  Really and truly!  It was just a joke!"

 

"Would you think so if someone had done that to you?" Landon continued.  I was liking this kid more and more every day.

 

Ryan sighed.  "Okay, probably not.  Fine, you're right.  I was an asshole.  Can't I do something to make up for it?  I'm really sorry."  At least that time he actually sounded sorry.

 

"It's cool," I said.  "Just forget it.  All I wanted was a sincere apology.  That sounded sincere enough.  No hard feelings."

 

He smiled and seemed relieved.  "Sweet.  That'll make the rest of the Summer a hell of a lot easier."

 

"For sure," I agreed.  "I'll see ya Tuesday."  I ushered the others toward the locker room.

 

"Hey," he called.  I turned around.  "Given any more thought about the lifeguard course?  Only cost twenty-five bucks.  I'm starting a class on Monday morning, eight to nine-thirty.  Monday through Friday for two weeks.  I can get you in if you're interested.  You can pay me later."

 

I really wanted that class, and now that I'd made peace with Ryan...  "Yeah.  I wanna do it.  Count me in."

 

"Sweet.  See you Monday then.  Public pool."

 

We continued into the locker room, where Landon immediately spoke up.  "Dude.  He is totally into you."

 

I laughed out loud.  "That's ridiculous, Landon.  He's not even gay."  I shed my speedo and followed the boys into the shower.

 

"I'll bet you a hundred bucks he is.  He was checking out your ass when we were walking away.  I bet he's beating his meat right now and thinking of you."

 

"Landon!  Don't be crass.  Believe me, I would know if he was gay.  He was probably thinking how ridiculous I look in that speedo.  Besides, he had a girlfriend our whole senior year of high school."

 

"That don't matter," he said while sharing a spray with Noah.  "Want me to ask him?"

 

"You better not if you value your life."

 

He shrugged and went about his shower, paying more attention to Noah's body than his own.

 

I don't know how many fantasies I had had about Ryan before the fateful locker room incident.  Admittedly, I'd even had a few fantasies about him since then too.  But I didn't even have a hint of a hope that he played for my team.  As far as I knew, none of the guys on staff at the YCC was even remotely gay.  Which was pretty disappointing, since nearly all of them were lookers.

 

On Monday morning, Nicholas was the only one who wanted to go with me to the class.  He could only sit and watch instead of getting in the water, but he seemed content with that.  Truthfully, I was glad he was there to show me support.  I was a little nervous about the class and how well I would do.  To add to my anxiety was the awkward feeling of being the only male student in the class.  All the rest were young-ish married ladies.

 

But the real awkwardness came when everyone was asked to pair up with someone.  Having an odd number of students, Ryan paired me up with himself.  The idea was to practice holding a person who's unconscious while treading water.

 

"Grey, be my victim.  Let yourself sink and I'll catch you up.  Don't worry, I won't let you drown."  I did as he said, and he continued to instruct throughout the demonstration.  He caught me from behind, wrapping an arm around my torso.  My whole body tingled as my body was pulled against his.

 

I thought of every un-sexy image I could imagine in effort to prevent a hard-on; old ladies on the beach, my grandpa in a speedo, a cow giving birth, or a plate of guacamole.  As he went through all the steps, then went through them again, he held on to me the entire time.  I glanced up at Nicholas, who was watching us intensely.

 

"Y'all start practicing.  Take turns holding each other up.  Grey, trade places with me."  As he released his hold on me, his hand slid down my chest and stomach, where it rounded my waist and casually brushed against my ass.  Had he done that on fucking purpose?  It seemed highly unlikely.  Nevertheless, it increased my discomfort level.

 

When I was positioned behind him, I was apprehensive in my movements.  "Don't be afraid of body contact," he said to everyone.  "You're saving your friend's life, not cuddling up to them."  He took hold of my arm as I wrapped it around him, and he guided it to where it should be.  The rest of my body slid against his, and I fairly tingled all over again.

 

"Good, Grey," he said as I trod water.  "Now use the strength of your arm and legs to get me to safety."  I swam my victim to the shallow end of the pool, along with the other students. There the bottom of the pool sloped gradually upward until reaching dry ground.  I placed Ryan where he could lie there with his head above water, and he grinned brightly at me, white teeth shimmering in the morning sun.

 

"Can't wait to start mouth-to-mouth training," he whispered.  My brow lifted in surprise, and he merely smiled like he'd said nothing significant.  "That's it for today, guys," he said to everyone.  "Good first day."

 

I exited the pool, where Nicholas greeted me with a towel.  "Thanks."  I purposely avoided even looking at Ryan, trying to process those last few minutes in my head.  But he joined us after chit-chatting with the ladies.

 

"Hey Nicholas," he greeted jovially.  "Grey, I'm glad you came.  I was right, you're gonna be good at this."

 

"Thanks," I mumbled.  "Nicky has your money."

 

"Oh yeah!" Nicholas dug in his pocket and withdrew a few bills, handing them to Ryan.

 

"Thanks.  Too bad most of this goes to the city."

 

My eyes met Ryan's for a moment or two before I nervously smiled.  "Guess I'll see you tomorrow.  Thanks for the lesson."

 

"Wait, you're off today, right?" he said quickly.  I nodded.  "Sweet, me too.  Wanna grab lunch with me later?  You and the boys?"  I must have looked confused, because Ryan suddenly laughed.  "You do eat lunch, don't you?  Sometimes with other people?"

 

"I guess," I answered lamely.  "Um.  Yeah."  I laughed nervously, blushing all over.  "I'm cooking lunch today.  Until I start getting paid at the YCC, we won't be eating out.  Um, you wanna come over to our place?"  God, I felt like a stammering idiot.

 

"Great!  You got your cell?  You can have my digits, then you can text me your address."  He looked down at my speedo.  "Got any pockets in there?" he grinned wickedly.

 

I thought I was gonna pass out.  I couldn't remember the last time I was reduced to jelly by a boy, yet here I was, practically a puddle on the ground.

 

Nicholas saved me by pulling my cell from his pocket and pushing a few buttons.  "Okay, shoot," he said, typing as Ryan dictated.  Then, "Done.  Sent you a text."

 

"Thanks, kiddo.  I'll see you guys in a couple of hours."  He walked toward the small building that housed the lockers and showers.  And damn if I didn't watch his ass while he walked.

 

"Nicholas, what would I do without you?" I sighed.

 

"That's what I'm saying," he quipped.

 

I laughed and massaged the boy's head briefly.  "Let's get out of here."  I hadn't bothered to wear clothes to the lesson.  Even if I had, there was no way I would change there at the pool with Ryan inside.  At home I jumped straight into the shower.  My head was full of confusing thoughts, mainly trying to figure out if Ryan was actually flirting or not.  What if I misread him and embarrassed myself?  I'd just have to act like nothing was going on, I decided.  That way I had no chance of embarrassment.  I would force him to make a move, if he even had a move to make.

 

By the end of my shower, though, I'd pretty much convinced myself that I was reading way too much into things.  Ryan probably didn't have any of his friends in town anymore and was just looking to hang out with someone.  In fact, I was probably an act of desperation on his part.

 

I'd forgotten to bring any clothes into the bathroom with me, so I had to emerge naked.  Not that it mattered, but all three boys were gathered in the bedroom waiting to hear about Ryan. Landon and Noah were still in their underwear.

 

"Told you he was checking you out," said Landon.  "You owe me a hundred bucks."

 

"Ha!  You don't know that.  He's just coming over for lunch.  And you better behave while he's here."

 

"I think he likes you," Nicholas stated.

 

I rolled my eyes as I opened my underwear drawer.  "He just wants to be friends," I countered.  "Guys can do that, you know, without jumping each other's bones."

 

"You need a boyfriend," Landon said.  "Everything's better when you have a boyfriend."

 

"I don't need anything.  I have you guys.  You're all I need."

 

"Except when you need a blowjob," Landon giggled.

 

"Landon, you're a mess," I said, shaking my head.

 

"But you love me anyway."

 

"Lucky for you," I laughed.  He ducked as I reached to muss his hair, but I succeeded anyway.

 

"When's the last time you had a hummer?" Landon persisted, taking my underwear out of my hands to be facetious.

 

"What's a hummer?" asked Nicholas.

 

Landon backed away as I advanced on him in effort to retrieve my briefs. The fact I could've gotten another pair out of my drawer escaped me, apparently. "A hummer's the same thing as a blowjob," said Landon. "Getting your dick sucked by a hot mouth." I pounced on him and grabbed for my briefs, but not before he tossed them to Noah, who promptly tossed them to Nicholas when I came his way.

 

"Could you be any more explicit?" I said to Landon. Nicholas retreated on the bed, and I tackled him, causing him to shriek with laughter. I pinned him down and easily secured my underwear in my hand. We froze in that position, both of us turning to look at Landon, who was now fondling his own tented briefs. "Nothing embarrasses you, does it, Landon?" I sighed.

 

He massaged himself for a brief moment before giving his hand over to Noah's crotch instead. Noah was embarrassed, blushing fiercely, but popping a boner all the same. "Nope," Landon replied with a sultry growl. Nicholas and I merely watched them fondle each other, while I still had Nicky pinned down, until they started making out and easing down onto their bed.

 

I muttered a curse word as I began to grow hard. I raised off of Nicholas. "Do you have to do that in front of us?"

 

Landon took a break from Noah's mouth long enough to turn toward me again. "I'm not the one getting it on with Nicholas," he grinned. "I know you've seen us fucking at night sometimes." He removed his underwear and proceeded to do the same to Noah's. "It's even better in the daylight."

 

"I don't wanna do it in front of Nicholas, though," Noah said softly.

 

"Why not?" asked Nicholas, sitting up as I rolled off the bed. "I wanna see how it's really done."

 

"Watch this, Nicky," Landon said wickedly. "This is how a hummer's done." He promptly went down on Noah, who immediately began moaning loudly. Nicholas stared with wide eyes, until I urged him off our bed and tugged him out of the room, closing the door behind us.

 

Nicholas sighed with disappointment. I, on the other hand, sighed with frustration. I still didn't have my underwear on, and now I was at full mast. Maybe I needed a boyfriend after all. "Your penis is bigger than Landon's," Nicholas pointed out with interest.

 

"His is probably still growing," I muttered, pulling on the briefs.

 

"Looks like you really do need a hummer," he giggled.

 

I couldn't help but chuckle. "Yeah, well, I don't see much chance of that."

 

"Maybe Ryan has a hot mouth," he said and winked at me. I could only roll my eyes.

 

When Ryan arrived, he predictably was greeted by our welcoming committee.  Landon, Noah and Nicholas stood side by side at the door as he walked in, and thankfully they were dressed.  I, on the other hand, was busy cooking.

 

"Wow," Ryan laughed.  "Do I have to go through a pat down?  This looks like tight security."

 

"We just wanted to say hello," Landon offered.

 

"Would you like something to drink?" asked Noah.  "We got milk, orange juice, grape juice, Coke, Dr. Pepper, and sweet tea."

 

"Sweet tea would be great, thanks."

 

Noah broke from the committee to fetch Ryan's drink.  "Would you like to sit down?  Take your shoes off if you want," offered the ever hospitable Nicholas.

 

"Man.  You guys are really somethin'.  Can I help Grey in the kitchen?"

 

I started to respond from my cooking station, but Nicholas beat me to it.  "Nope.  I'm the one who helps Grey cook."  He directed Ryan to the couch, while Noah handed him a glass full of tea.

 

"Thanks, guys."

 

Landon took a seat in the recliner, and Noah did the same, only in Landon's lap.  I couldn't see Ryan's reaction to that, and he didn't say anything about it.  "Lunch will be ready in a few minutes," I called to him.

 

"So you cook a lot?" he asked.

 

"Yeah.  With three kids to look after, it saves us a lot of money."

 

"I'm curious, how did y'all end up together if you're not blood related?"

 

Landon and Noah launched into all the details, while Nicholas and I worked.  Ryan seemed completely enraptured with the story.  They even told about meeting each other at the YCC pool and becoming boyfriends.  Then Landon, to my horror, opened his big mouth again.  "Now we're trying to find Grey a boyfriend.  He deserves someone nice."

 

Ryan looked into the kitchen toward me in surprise.  I shot Landon a look of death.  "Landon, shut your trap.  You guys come fix your plates."  I could feel my face burning hotly.  "My table's not big enough for all of us, so we'll eat in the living room."

 

As they all filed into the kitchen, I avoided Ryan's gaze.  "Nicholas, bring me Ryan's glass so I can refill it."

 

"This looks really awesome, Grey," said Ryan.  I continued to avoid looking at him.

 

"Thanks.  My mom taught me to cook."

 

After a few trips back and forth between the kitchen and living room, we were finally settling down to eat.  Landon and Noah claimed the recliner again, while the rest of us took the couch.  However, I sat on the opposite end from Ryan.  It was made less awkward only by Nicholas sitting close to me, so the gap between me and Ryan didn't seem so large.  Nicholas started a movie for us, which I was thankful for.  I didn't much care for conversation just then.

 

After the movie, Landon and Noah disappeared to the bedroom without an explanation.  Not that they needed to give one.  I took my regular seat in the recliner, and Nicholas cuddled up with me.  Ryan remained on the couch looking a little uncomfortable.

 

"Hey, thanks for lunch," he said into the silence.  "It was really good."

 

"You're welcome," I said.  "Glad you liked it."

 

"So, um, what're you doing for the rest of the day?"

 

I shrugged.  "Just hanging out, I guess."

 

More awkward silence.  "Can I use your bathroom?" Ryan asked suddenly.

 

"Umm, you probably don't wanna go in there," I said slowly.  "You have to go in the bedroom to get to it, and the boys are probably, umm..."

 

He nodded.  "It's cool."  Even more uncomfortable silence.  "I guess I should go.  Hey, thanks again.  I'll see ya tomorrow at work."  He was up quickly and moving toward the door.

 

I scrambled to get Nicholas up so I could see him out.  I barely got up before he was opening the door.  "Okay, see ya."  I gave a half-hearted wave.

 

Ryan waved back quickly and bolted out.  I collapsed back into the recliner with a groan.

 

Nicholas returned to my lap.  "That was really weird."

 

"Tell me about it," I muttered.  "I didn't know how to act around him.  I made myself look like a dumbass."

 

"Maybe he's not gay after all."

 

"Yeah, that's what I'm thinking.  I guess he just wanted to hang out.  I'm such a fucking moron."

 

Nicholas clung to me affectionately.  "Don't worry.  I still love you."

 

"I honestly don't know what I would do without you, kiddo."

 

"Yeah, I know," he grinned.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes life goes along without a hitch; a smooth ride.  And then sometimes a buttload of troubles occur all at fucking once.  I could handle the occasional bump fairly well; those were expected.  I really wasn't equipped to handle the emotional strain of my life falling apart at the seams.  That's what it felt like, anyway.

 

Tuesday morning, Nicholas and I drove to the lifeguard class again.  We had decided Ryan wasn't gay after all.  But by the end of the class on that second day, I wasn't so sure yet again.  We practiced CPR on a dummy, while being given a ton of information to memorize.  Most of the class we spent out of the water.

 

Because of that, it was harder for me to believe that Ryan's touches were accidental.  When it was my turn to practice on the dummy, Ryan stayed close, coaching me through the exercise.  His hand rested on my back during most of that time, and before he retracted his hand, it once again slid down and brushed against my ass.  Then later, when he had dismissed the class for the day, he approached me with a smile.

 

"Good work today, Taylor.  You're a real natural."  Then he straight up patted my ass, like one might do on a basketball court.  But I was suspecting this wasn't a mere "bro slap".  "Hey, wanna grab a quick shower with me before work?"  He jerked his thumb toward the brick building.

 

I shook my head frantically.  I don't know why I reacted like that, except I was nervous.  And anyway, with Nicholas with me, I wasn't exactly free to fool around.  If that's what he was even suggesting.  "No.  Gotta get Nicholas home."

 

He frowned, but only briefly.  "That's cool.  See ya at work."

 

I turned wide eyes to Nicholas, who merely shrugged.  "I swear," I said once we were alone in the car.  "He confuses the hell out of me."

 

"I take it back.  I think he likes you."

 

"Yeah, maybe.  Thing is, I probably should shower there since I don't have much time before work.  I'm not sure what he had in mind for us, though."  I was racing home to shower, as I had less than 30 minutes before my shift started.

 

"Bow chicka pow pow," Nicholas sang in his best sexy voice - which was more humorous than sexy, and made all the funnier as his voice cracked.  I laughed and playfully slapped him in the head.

 

At home I literally took a 60 second shower and didn't take but 2 minutes to comb my hair and dress.  At least I had planned one part of the day, having made the boys sack lunches before class that morning.  "You guys get over to Granny's soon.  And text me if you go anywhere else.  Landon, drive carefully."  I always said that, even though he seemed to drive well enough.  Then I was gone, barely making it to work in time.

 

For a Tuesday morning, there was a large number of teenagers at the YCC.  Most of them were messing around on the basketball court, despite the fact it was hotter than Hades outside.  The only people in the pool were a group of old ladies doing water exercises.  For the first couple of hours or so of work, I was awful busy replacing broken equipment and organizing some of the equipment closets.  The Center desperately needed money for new equipment in almost all areas.  Weights, exercise, racquetball, pool, basketball...  All of those were in great need of updating.

 

I was in the equipment room off the basketball/volleyball court and lost in my own little world when Ryan's voice jolted me out of my reverie.  "You're working way too hard."  I jumped and whipped around to see him standing in the doorway.  He was dressed in his khaki shorts and Center polo, and it was no less sexy than his speedo.  "I've been standing here forever, and you didn't even notice."

 

"This fucking equipment," I complained.  "When's the last time they bought anything new?"

 

"I know what you mean.  Everything in the pool is falling apart.  But I heard they're building a new weight and exercise center, at least."

 

"That would make my job easier if they did," I murmured.  "Can you help me real quick?  This box is pretty heavy.  It needs to go up on that shelf."

 

"Sure thing."  Together we lifted a box of various balls, after which I sat on another box with a sigh.  Ryan sat next to me and neither of us spoke for a moment.

 

"I'm enjoying your class," I finally said.  "I'm glad you suggested it.  I was never on the swim team or anything, but I always liked swimming."

 

"That's cool.  You're gonna be a good lifeguard.  You'll probably be in high demand when I go back to school in the fall."

 

I shrugged.  "I hope I can keep working here by then.  School's gonna keep me pretty busy, though.  Plus the kids.  I feel like a single parent sometimes."

 

"You're pretty amazing with those kids.  You'd make a great dad."

 

I turned my head and gazed at Ryan, whose eyes were sparkling as he gazed back.  Even in the fluorescent lighting of the equipment closet, he was beautiful.  "Thanks..."  My voice trailed off as our eyes locked onto one another.  And the next thing I knew, his lips were on mine.  Ten seconds and an amazing kiss later, I was breathless and flushed, and grinning like a fool.  "Wow..."

 

"I've been dying to do that," he confessed.  "Hope you don't mind."

 

"Uhh, no.  Heh.  Not at all.  That was awesome."

 

Beaming, he stood and mussed my hair.  "I better get back to work."  He left, and I sat there for another minute or so, reveling in the aftereffects of his kiss.  I think I fairly floated out of there when I left.

 

Later, however, I felt completely foolish for letting myself be wooed even a little by him.  It was near the end of my shift, yet my work seemed insurmountable.  I'd been moving pretty much non-stop all day and was looking very much forward to getting home and off my feet.  Besides, I couldn't wait to tell the boys about the kiss from Ryan.

 

I hadn't seen but glimpses of Ryan the rest of the afternoon.  I was desperate to be close to him again and perhaps share another kiss before leaving work.  That, however, ended up being the last thing in the world I wanted to do.  What I wanted was more akin to punching him in his pretty little face.

 

Several boxes of new cleaning supplies for the pool arrived.  I was supposed to leave work in fifteen minutes, but Ryan was MIA at the moment.  So I was "volunteered" to wheel the boxes on a dolly to the pool equipment closet and stack them on the shelves.  Reluctantly I complied.  At least I'd get paid for the extra time.

 

I looked around for Ryan at the pool, but the place was deserted.  I had planned on skipping my usual swimming laps but began to reconsider, knowing I would have it all to myself.  I didn't think on that too long, however.

 

When I reached the pool equipment closet, I stationed the large stack of boxes near the door and fumbled with my keys.  For whatever reason, I unconsciously turned the door handle before unlocking it.  It opened, and I was pleasantly surprised.  The closet doors were never unlocked.  I shrugged, though, not too concerned about it.  The sight that met me inside was also a surprise, but definitely not a pleasant one.

 

I first saw Corey.  He was a college student on staff for the summer as well; athletic kid, buzzed hair, generally nice.  He was on his knees and performing fellatio on somebody.  I realized with horror he was sucking off Ryan.  The boy who had sweetly kissed me earlier that day now had his shorts around his ankles and both his hands on Corey's head, breathing heavily while getting head.

 

Corey apparently heard me open the door, for he reacted first.  Jumping backward away from Ryan, he staggered as he tried to stand.  "You didn't lock the door?!" he accused Ryan.  Ryan gasped and scrambled to pull up his shorts.

 

"Fuck," he spat.  "Grey, what're you doing here?"

 

I stopped breathing for a moment, and I nearly exploded with anger.  But I composed myself quickly, taking a deep breath.  "There's some boxes that need put up in here.  I'll just...leave that to you, okay?"  I turned and made a quick exit.

 

"Grey, wait," Ryan said, but I kept on moving.  I went straight to the locker room for my things.  There would be no swimming today.

 

As I was gathering my stuff, my phone rang.  I looked to see if it was a number I could ignore.  Landon.  "Hey," I answered.  My hand was slightly shaking with anger as I held it to my ear.

 

But it wasn't Landon's voice I heard.  Nicholas began sputtering out a barrage of words that I couldn't understand.  And it sounded like he was crying.  "Nicholas!" I interrupted.  "I can't understand you.  Are you okay?"

 

My heart was in my throat as he said something about a car wreck and the hospital.  "Nicky, Nicky!  Calm down, buddy.  I'll be right there, okay?  I'm on my way right this second.  I'm gonna hang up so I can go faster."  He was still sobbing when I ended the call, and I was panicking greatly.  I grabbed my duffel bag and headed out.

 

Ryan caught up with me before I made it out of the locker room.  He'd appeared toward the end of my call, though I hadn't really noticed.  "Grey!  What's wrong?  Is everything okay?"

 

"Fuck off, Ryan!" I spat and hightailed it out of there.  As I drove toward our one and only hospital, I knew I was being dangerous with the speed I was going.  I didn't care.  I felt like I was going to be sick, imagining what might've happened to my boys.  By the time I reached the parking lot, I was hyperventilating.  I made the effort to take deep breaths before going inside.  Now was not the time for me to fall apart.

 

Nicholas was the only one I found in the waiting room.  He literally attacked me when I entered, clinging to me and sobbing.  He tried to tell me what happened as I held him tightly, but I understood none of it.  "Nicky, honey, take deep breaths."  I guided him to the chairs and put my arms around him while we sat.  "Did you get in a wreck?"

 

He nodded, trying to stop his tears but gasping every few seconds for air as the sobs continued.  "Landon and Noah, are they okay?" I asked with dread in the pit of my stomach.

"L-Landon's h-h-hurt."

 

"So Noah's okay?  Where is he?"

 

"H-he's getting...x-rays."  His sobs began to lessen, and I continued to caress him tenderly.

 

"Okay, let's see if we can go in and see him."  He remained clinging to me as we approached the reception desk.  Thankfully they allowed me in right away.  Noah was sitting on a gurney in the E.R. by himself, waiting.

 

"Grey!"  He practically jumped off the gurney when he saw me and latched on to the one available side of me.  I kissed and hugged him fiercely.

 

"God, I'm glad to see you.  Are you okay?"

 

"My leg got hurt, but they don't think it's broken.  Just bruised."  Tears began to well up in his eyes.  "Landon got hurt, though.  I don't know if it's bad or not."

 

"Hey, don't worry.  Landon's tough.  We'll ask about him when the nurse comes by."  For a moment or two, I simply hugged and kissed on my boys, grateful they were alive.  "Was the wreck Landon's fault?"

 

"No," said Noah.  I was greatly relieved to hear that.  "We were coming to see you at work, and this stupid woman ran a red light.  She hit Landon's side.  It knocked him out and everything!"  He began crying again.  "I thought he was dead at first.  Nicky found Landon's phone and called 9-1-1."

 

"Good for you, Nicky!"  He smiled slightly at the praise.

 

Just then a nurse showed up.  "You can see your friend now.  He's at the end over there.  He's got a concussion, but nothing broken, thank goodness.  He's lucky."

 

I thanked her, and we all shuffled to the end gurney, sheltered by a drawn curtain.  When we approached, Noah immediately threw his arms around Landon's neck.  A woman I didn't recognize was standing at his bedside.  She turned and offered her hand.

 

"Sheila Henderson," she greeted.

 

I shook her hand politely.  "Grey Taylor."

 

"Are you a friend of Landon's?"

 

"Yes.  I look after him sometimes."

 

"Oh?" she queried.  "How often?"

 

"Well, pretty much every day.  I look after all three of these.  Landon doesn't live with me like the other two, but he might as well.  He's probably with me more than he's at home.  I claim him as mine, anyway."  I furrowed my brow and slightly tilted my head.  "I'm sorry, I don't know you, do I?"

 

Landon spoke up and sounded a tad loopy.  I smiled as I realized he was probably on pain medication right now.  "That's my social worker," he said.

 

"Ohh, I see.  Hey, I'm glad to finally meet you.  Now I know who to talk to when Landon misbehaves."  I winked at him, and he grinned goofily.  "I get the impression his foster parents aren't that involved."

 

"You're here and they're not," she said tartly.  "What does that tell you?"

 

"Yep."

 

"But you had to come for Noah and Nicky," Landon slurred.

 

I moved closer to Landon where I could caress his brow.  "I'd come if it was only you here, mister.  You're crazy if you think I don't care about you as much as them."  That brought another smile to his face.  "I'm glad this wreck wasn't your fault, too.  I would've had to kill you if it had been."  All the boys giggled.

 

Sheila considered me for a moment, obviously having something to say.  Finally she spoke.  "Have you ever considered being a foster parent?"

 

I laughed at the absurdity of her question.  "I'm still in college.  And I'm not even married."

 

"You don't have to be married.  This area is always in desperate need of good foster parents.  And if you already look after three kids, I'm betting you'd be good at it."

 

"I wish Grey was my foster dad," Landon told her.  "Then I could live with him full time."

 

"And you'd get paid for it," she added.  "It isn't like you would have to support him on your own."

 

"How does one even become a foster parent?" I asked curiously.

 

"Glad you asked," she smiled.  In her left hand she carried a folder, from which she pulled out a brochure and a business card.  "You attend this training class nightly for two weeks.  You also have to be certified in CPR and first aid."

 

I chuckled to myself.  It looked like my lifeguard class might be more useful than I thought.

 

She went on.  "This is my card.  If you'll call me tomorrow, I'll get you set up for our next class that begins June twentieth.  $35 is our orientation fee."

 

"Would I be obligated to take in kids if I do this?"

 

"Not at all.  Personally, I would hope we could work it out so that Landon could live with you.  Not that I can guarantee that.  But it very well may be in Landon's best interest."

 

I glanced at the boys and saw they were about to burst with joy at this new possibility.  "You know, I think I'd really like that.  I'll definitely call you tomorrow."

 

"Super!" Sheila said.

 

"What about tonight?  I don't suppose I can take him home, can I?"

 

She sighed heavily.  "I'm afraid not.  I wish you could.  I'm waiting here for his foster mother.  She'll have to sign him out."

 

"Figures.  I'm gonna go give 'em my info so they bill me instead of Granny.  You guys sit tight."  Once I'd done that, I returned and found everyone the same as I'd left them.  "No Mrs. Stout yet, eh?"  The foster mother still hadn't shown up.

 

"She probably forgot," Landon rolled his eyes.

 

I planted a kiss on Landon's forehead.  "We won't forget about you.  Take care of yourself, okay?  We'll check on you tomorrow when I get off work.  What happened to your car?"

 

"Dunno.  They probably towed it away.  It was a piece of junk anyway."

 

"Maybe the lady's insurance will buy you another one.  One a little newer, hopefully.  That was a pretty old one, wasn't it?"  It was a '73 Chevy something or other.  Big and sturdy, but old and rusty.

 

When I returned to my car with 2 of my boys, I found it interesting to see them crawl in the back seat with each other.  Nicholas was administering constant affection to his brother, who was starting to feel a good deal of pain in his leg.  That's when I really began to realize how much of a caretaker Nicholas was.

 

"We should go see Granny first and tell her what happened.  I'm not gonna pick up this prescription for pain meds because it'll probably cost a fortune.  Over the counter stuff will work just as well.  I'll give you something when we get home."

 

Granny was practically beside herself when I explained what happened.  She loved on both boys like there was no tomorrow.  I think they pretty well loved it, though.  And before we went home, I picked up food for us from a burger joint.  After the day I'd had, cooking was no longer an option.