ATTENTION: This story may depict incidents that could be disturbing or offensive to some people, including sex-same attraction and inter-generation relations. Do not read further if it is illegal for you to do so in your jurisdiction or if this will offend you. The author of this work does not advocate or condone the violation of any laws and he does not condone sexual relations between adults and minors. This story is fiction. It is fantasy, which is not yet illegal in the United States. Having a fantasy does not mean one acts on those fantasies.

There is no overt sex in this first installment, but there certainly will be in further installments (as necessary for the plot). Please let me know what you think about the story at eromenos at usa dot com, and thank you so much for reading my story. I hope you will enjoy it.

The Prince of Knaves
by Eromenos

Chapter One

My tummy ached, my chest was tight, and my wiener was as stiff as a nail. I stared down at the wood grain on my scratched and battered school desk as Mary Jane Patterson carried on and on about her family’s upcoming vacation in California, where she was certain she would be discovered by a famous movie producer who would cast her for his next picture and make her a star. I certainly didn’t believe her and I could hear the giggles of derision from around me as she carried on. I was grateful that, for once, the derision of my classmates wasn’t directed at me!

Very good, Mary Jane,” Miss Hardcastle said, interrupting the delusional girl and finally putting an end to our misery. “I’m sure you will have a wonderful vacation. We now have time for one last contribution. Who else would like to tell us about their summer plans?”

She looked around the room, but no one volunteered. I assumed everyone else was like me and wanted nothing more than to hear the bell sound three o’clock so that we could all escape and begin our summer break. I nervously glanced up, which was a mistake, for at that very moment, her eyes met mine and she smiled.

Christopher, would you like to tell us what you have planned for the summer?”

No, I would not like to tell the class what I had planned for the summer, but apparently I was going to. Reluctantly, very reluctantly, I rose from my seat, as I discreetly shoved my left hand into my pocket to hide the evidence of my anxiety-induced stiffness. I glanced nervously about the room and saw several contemptuous grins as I pressed my lips tightly together. Miss Hardcastle sighed and said, “Yes, Christopher?”

I looked up at her and in my usual soft voice, I replied, “Well, we were going to drive to Montreal for Expo ’67, but... well, since my Daddy died in that car wreck, I don’t think we’re going to do anything.”

Miss Hardcastle looked at me with, what was for her, rare regret on her face as she quickly responded, “Oh, I’m so sorry, Christopher. I completely forgot. Yes, I can understand why you might not have any plans. And, of course, you know that we all extend you our sympathies.”

There was a snort from somewhere behind me, which I ignored, as I almost whispered, “Thank you,” before I sat down.

Miss Hardcastle quickly recovered her presence, however, and began her end-of-the-school-year speech, in which she declared that she had actually enjoyed teaching us this year, which came, I am sure, as a surprise to all of us, that she wished us luck and success when we moved on to the fourth grade in the fall, and that we should all have a fun and safe summer vacation, during which we should all read lots of books. And, then, as if she had timed her speech perfectly, the bell rang, the two dozen now ex-third graders around me grabbed the grocery sacks in which they had stuffed all their supplies and their old school papers, and made a mad, frantic dash for the doors to begin their three months of freedom. Miss Hardcastle was left at her lectern watching with a rare smile as I took my time, wanting to avoid the crush at the door and the possibility that I might be subjected to my usual after-school-taunting.

Christopher,” Miss Hardcastle said gently as I walked past her, “a moment, please.”

I stopped, feeling my stomach grow tight with apprehension, and looked up at her with fear.

I know you’ve had a difficult time this year,” she began, “and I know it’s a terrible and painful thing to lose a parent at such a young age, so I want you to know that I sympathize with you. However, I would like to say that life in the fourth grade might be a little easier for you if, perhaps, you stand up to the others a little more than you do. I wouldn’t be so willing to accept the bullying, if I were you. Stand up to them. It might mean you get hit in the face or in the tummy, but it also might mean they have more respect for you and will be willing to leave you alone.”

I looked down at the floor in shame, an emotion to which I had become quite accustomed, and muttered, “I’m not a sissy.”

I’m not saying you are, Christopher. I just think that if you showed just a little backbone with the others, you might have an easier time.”

Still unable to look her in the eye, I replied, “Yes, ma’am.”

Good boy. Now, go and have a nice summer. And, don’t forget to read a lot of books, though I know I don’t have to tell you that, do I?”

I knew I was supposed to smile at that, but I could only reply with a shame-filled, “Yes, ma’am,” as I turned and trudged toward the door.

What I had thought would be a happy moment, the end of the school year and the beginning of my freedom from the agonies of the third grade had been turned sour, though not intentionally, I was certain, by my now former teacher. I knew she meant well, I thought to myself as I entered the rapidly emptying hallway outside the room. However, she just didn’t understand. It wasn’t just that the other kids taunted me. It was that I deserved it.

I plodded down the hallway toward the front entrance to the school, holding the sack containing the detritus of the past nine months, and tried to block out the memory of what had just happened. I tried to think about what I would do when I left here. Perhaps, I could stop by the library on my way home. That would be nice. I could sit and look at the Maxfield Parrish book. I loved the art of Maxfield Parrish, several of his works in particular. Then, I remembered with renewed shame and a wicked twitch of my stiff thingy the reason I liked those pictures. I sighed heavily as I entered the lobby of the school and turned toward the heavy wooden doors with their large windows.

As I pushed one of them open, I could feel the warm, late May afternoon envelope me. A bright sun was bathing the scene with a beauty that had been missing over the last few days of overcast skies. It almost made me feel better, until I stopped on the top step and heard the usual refrain from the usual suspects gathered in their usual place at the foot of the flagpole.

Hey, Sissy Chrissy!”

Look! It’s Sissy Chrissy!”

That’s not Sissy Chrissy. It’s Kissy Chrissy!”

Hey, Kissy Chrissy! Ya wanna kiss me?”

Naw, that’s Pissy Chrissy, ‘cause when he gets scared, he pisses in his pants!”

These comments were greeted with much laughter and hilarity, not just by the half-dozen or so boys by the flag pole but by dozens of others who were passing by, not just third graders, but kids from all grades in the school, from Kindergarten to Sixth. I froze where I was and resolved that I would get through this moment, just as I did every day at this time.

Chrissy the Fairy!”

Sissy Chrissy! The pissy kissy!”

How did they know my secret? I knew they did; otherwise, they wouldn’t be so mean. I had never done anything to any of the boys who were so mean to me. The only explanation was that they knew my secret, my dirty, evil, wicked secret.

Hey, Sissy Chrissy! Is it true the doctor said you’re a pervert?”

I froze. My eyes opened wide with shock as I looked at the boy in front of me. My mind worked frantically, but all I could ask was, “What’s a pervert?”

It’s a sicko!” the boy replied with delight as the others laughed. “It’s someone who does dirty, filthy things! And, the doctor said that’s what you are! Your stepmom told my mom! You’re a pervert!”

Pervert! Pervert!” the boys around him started chanting.

I simply stood there, tears starting to pour down my face, knowing there was nothing I could do, knowing they were right. That’s what I was.

All right! That’s enough!”

All the chanting and laughing and dancing about abruptly ended. I didn’t need to turn around to know that Mr. Shoemaker was standing behind me. The sixth grade teacher, tall and slim, with red hair similar to mine, had been the only person at school who had ever seemed to be concerned about me. He had stopped the bullying and taunting several times over the months and I was always grateful to him.

Jimbo, Bubba, Freddy! Move on, now! Move it!”

It’s the last day of school!” Jimbo sneered. “You can’t tell us what to do!”

Maybe,” Mr. Shoemaker said, “but, I can make sure you have a month of detention next year when you come back, and don’t think I’ll forget, either. I’ll go in there right now and set it up!”

The bullies seemed to deflate as they sullenly turned around and walked away. Jimbo looked back over his shoulder at me and declared, “You just wait, Pervert! You’re dead, next year!”

I felt Mr. Shoemaker’s hand on my shoulder. He squeezed gently and simply stood there silently as we watched them walk away. They were going north, toward the cheaper and older homes on the other side of the school from the newer and nicer homes, where I lived, south of the school. Finally, when the Safety Patrol at the north corner had let them cross the street, Mr. Shoemaker looked down and said, “Don’t worry about next year, Christopher. I’ll look out for you and if anything ever happens, don’t you hesitate to come to me. Okay?”

I looked up at him with gratitude. He was so handsome and nice. I liked Mr. Shoemaker and I wished he was teaching fourth grade instead of sixth. I would have loved to sit in his class and gaze at him. I felt my pee-pee throbbing in my pants and I was grateful I could hold my sack over the front so that he might not see the little rise it was undoubtedly making in the fabric. I nodded to him and replied, “Yes, sir. Thank you.”

He smiled and added, “Don’t think you’re alone, Christopher. You’re not. I understand what you’re going through. I really do, because I’m just like you. I know what you’re feeling inside because I feel those same things, too. So, don’t ever think you’re alone. You’re not the only boy in the world who gets these feelings and thoughts. Trust me. There are lots of us in the world. Lots of us.”

I looked up at the man with utter astonishment. Was he really saying what I thought he was saying? Was he saying he knew my secret and the wicked, dirty, nasty thoughts I had and things I did? He knew about it and he was the same way? Really? Really?

I opened my mouth to speak, but I couldn’t say anything. Mr. Shoemaker smiled at me, but at that very moment, another voice, low and gruff and frightening asked from behind the teacher, “Is everything all right, Mr. Shoemaker?”

The teacher turned around and I saw Mr. Gruber, the principal, standing behind him in his dark and awful fearsomeness. Mr. Shoemaker seemed almost as intimidate by the principal as was I. He smiled uncomfortably and said, “Yes, Mr. Gruber. Everything is just fine. Christopher, here, was being taunted by that usual group of thugs from the third and fourth grades. I was reassuring him about life.”

Well, we don’t want to coddle him,” Mr. Gruber replied. “That’ll only make matters worse. Go on home, boy.”

With that, he stepped back and crossed his arms. Mr. Shoemaker smiled and me and nodded.

Thank you, Mr. Shoemaker,” I said with gratitude as I looked into his eyes. Our eyes held for a couple of seconds until the man finally turned and said, “Have a good summer, Christopher.”

With that, he and the principal reentered the building. I felt better. At least, in the future, I would have an ally. It was also comforting, for some bizarre reason, to know there were other people like me out there, other people with the same dirty, naughty, nasty thoughts and who had done the same dirty, naughty, nasty things. Well, of course, I already knew that. There had been at least one other person who had been like that. But, now, I knew there were others and that they might not be as mean as the one of whom I already knew. Mr. Shoemaker was one and he certainly wasn’t mean. Maybe it was possible to be this way and it not be so evil and sinful. Mr. Shoemaker wasn’t evil and sinful.

And then, as I walked away from the school and toward the library a few blocks away downtown, I felt my pee-pee almost jumping inside my underwear. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could do the bad thing with Mr. Shoemaker? It would be so nice. He wouldn’t be mean to me when he did it. He’d be nice. He might even kiss me when he did it. We could get naked and do it. It would be nice. It would be wonderful.

No one else in the world liked me. Maybe Mr. Shoemaker was the only one. Daddy was dead. So was Mommy, Grandmom, and... yes, even Granddad. All I had left in the world was Betty, my stepmother, and she couldn’t care less about me. Maybe Mr. Shoemaker would like to do it.

I walked on to the library, in the afternoon warmth, dreaming of Mr. Shoemaker’s smile, his red hair, his nice hands, the way he held my shoulder, the softness of his voice. I would love for a man to be that way with me, but be nice about it and not mean about it. Mr. Shoemaker would surely be nice about it.

I came to the old, imposing, red brick library and climbed the steps to the entrance. As I entered, I was enveloped in the cool air and the smell of old books. I loved it. This was my haven, my sanctuary. Whenever things were too rough at home or I needed to get away, I came to the library and I immediately felt better surrounded by all these books.

Except when the gruff, old librarian glared at me as I entered the adult section. I had always thought librarians were supposed to like kids and encourage them to read. Mrs. Harding was different. She never encouraged me or any other kid in the library, not that I ever saw many other kids in there. Her hawk-like eyes watched me as I nervously nodded at her. As I walked by, she set a book down on the counter behind which he was sitting. I knew she was about to say something to me, but as I walked on to the giant room off from the lobby, she said nothing. With a sigh, I realized I had escaped her usual scorn as I walked along one of the huge, ancient, oak tables in the reading room. There was no one else in the reading room except the elderly man who was always in there every afternoon reading The Wall Street Journal. Sometimes, he would glare at me, so I was always especially careful not to make any noise as I walked to my destination.

Most frequently, when I came to the library, my destination was a shelf in the art section, which was where I was then headed. I turned into the stacks, walked halfway down and found the book for which I was looking without even trying. I knew instinctively where to find it. Pulling it out, I walked back out and over to the large, old, leather chair in the corner. I set my sack down quietly and climbed into the chair as I looked happily around at the only place where I felt safe, despite the hateful librarian and the grumpy man. The giant drapes, the heavy oak and leather furniture, the giant globe, the wooden racks with the dozens of newspapers, and the framed fake paintings of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin made me feel as if I were in a different world, a world of civility and peace and culture and goodness, where the hatred of the kids at school would never intrude and where I could be free to be myself, at least as long as the hateful librarian left me alone!

I looked down at the cover of the book. There was a painting of several women in white robes, sitting about a Greek temple at sunset. The golden sunlight glowed warmly around them. It was so peaceful and beautiful. I loved the sense of serenity I felt as I gazed at it.

The title of the book was The Art of Maxfield Parrish. He was my favorite artist. I loved his many Greek temples and forest scenes at sunset- or were they sunrise? I couldn’t be sure. I preferred sunset because it meant the day was over and not that I had a whole day of abuse and hatred before me.

I opened the book and went right to the first page I wanted. I knew the pages with my favorite works and, though I loved the Greet temples and forests at sunset, there were other works of his that held greater interest for my naughty and shameful mind.

The first was an illustration Parrish had made for a turn of the century book of poems by Eugene Field. It was for the poem “The Dinky Bird,” and showed a young man, slim and... well, naked... on a swing with a giant castle suspended in a cloud behind him. The young man was beautiful, with slender arms and legs and a pretty face with a sharp nose, and long, dark hair. He was amazing and I could sit in that chair for hours gazing at the picture, dreaming of being on a swing with him, being naked with him. Of course, the picture didn’t show his thingy, but I could imagine it, long and hard, pointing upward into the sky from the patch of dark hair below. I would feel his thingy as we swung. Perhaps it would be impossible to actually do it, but it was my daydream, my fantasy. I would feel it and rub it and make him feel good as we swung and he would do the same thing to me.

After several minutes of gazing at every detail of the young man, I turned to another page. Parrish had illustrated a published play by Louise Saunders in the teens entitled, The Knave of Hearts and though I loved the naked young man in the “Dinky Bird” picture, I was even more enamored of the paintings of The Knave in these illustrations! He seemed to be the same young man, with the same slender body, but he was dressed in green tights, the kind of clothes people wore in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. In one painting, he was sitting on what appeared to be a balcony wall watching the princess leave, his face downcast, but beautiful, his lush, dark curls falling back from his head. I gazed and gazed at him, wishing I could comfort him. We could open out pants and pull our hard wieners out and rub them while we hugged and kissed and loved each other. The Knave would be my friend. He would understand me. He was accused of stealing the tarts! He would understand someone like me, whom everyone hated and taunted and mistreated!

The next picture, however, was my favorite. It showed The Knave lounging on a hillside with a bridge behind him crossing a vast gorge. His arms were so delicate and beautiful and his legs slim but strong. His hair was so pretty, his eyes, his lips, his face. I wanted to lie with him on the hillside, get naked with him, and do all the naughty and nasty things I could think of, play with his pee-pee, kiss him, hug him. I loved him. I loved The Knave.

I heard a telephone ring softly in the lobby as I gazed at the beautiful face of The Knave. I had read in the book that the reason all the young males in Parrish’s works looked androgynous was that his wife was the model for them. I didn’t know what androgynous meant, but I decided that it must mean looking like both a man and a woman. I didn’t like women, at least not that way. But, I liked the young men that Parrish painted. They were pretty. I liked pretty young men. The man who had been mean and nasty with me wasn’t pretty, even though I had liked doing it with him. I loved doing it with him, even though he scared me sometimes. I was sure I would love doing it with a pretty young man like The Knave even more!

The hateful librarian was approaching me. What had I done? I wasn’t making any noise. I hadn’t done anything. Why was she going to be mean to me?

Christopher Hughes?” she asked in a stage whisper.

I nodded and replied, “Yes, ma’am?”

She glared at me with prim disapproval as she announced, “Your mother called and you are to return home immediately. There is someone to see you.”

The only thing I could think of to say in response was, “She’s not my mother. She’s my stepmother.”

She narrowed her eyes at me with irritation and replied, “I have delivered the message. You are to return home immediately. There is someone to see you.”

With that, she held her hand out. Reluctantly, I handed her the book and she looked at the cover in outrage.

What are you doing looking at this kind of art?” she demanded. “If I catch you looking at this book again or anything like it, I shall ban you from the library! Now, go!”

I looked up at her with shock and my own outrage. She couldn’t do that! It wasn’t right! I wasn’t doing anything wrong and there wasn’t anything wrong with art! She was being hateful just to be hateful. I could feel my face burning with humiliation and anger. Furiously, I climbed down from the chair, picked up my sack, and stormed out of the library.

Tears streamed down my eyes. Why were so many people so mean to me? Why couldn’t people just let me be me? Why did everyone, everyone have to be so mean? Mr. Shoemaker was the only person who didn’t hate me or think I was weird or sick. No one else did. Maybe I would look up his address in the phone book when I got home. Maybe someday, I would go to his house and we could talk and maybe...

I marched down the street venting my anger and frustration through my furious footsteps until I had finally used up most of my energy as I came within view of my home. There was a car parked on the street in front of the house, a fancy dark blue Lincoln. I didn’t know anyone who could afford a Lincoln. Well, my grandfather had driven one, but he was dead, now. Daddy had driven a Mercury. Those were almost as good as Lincolns. I couldn’t imagine who it might be.

I walked around to the back of the house and quietly entered the back door. As I tip-toed through the kitchen, I could hear voices in the living room. My stepmother was speaking.

Of course, when Robert found out what his father was doing to the boy, he put it an end to it immediately.”

Oh, God! She was telling someone else about my secret! God! How many people was she going to tell? Who was in the living room? Who was she telling?

And, I’m sure the shock of his son finding out what he was doing was what led to Henry’s heart attack, but if you ask me, he deserved it, turning that boy into such a pervert. I mean, Christopher always was a problem child, but his grandfather just ruined him. Absolutely ruined him. And, Robert was just heartbroken. So, I want you to know what you’re getting into if you take him. He’s an absolute pervert and the doctor says there’s nothing that they can do about it.”

I’m sure that there are lots of things that can be done about it,” a younger male voice said, “with the proper love and patience.”

I agree,” said an older male voice. “And, I think Matt would be well suited to that.”

I accidentally dropped the sack and my heart jumped through my throat.

Christopher! Are you in there?” my stepmother yelled.

Coming,” I replied in a dead voice as I picked up the sack.

Slowly, I trudged into the living room, mortified that I was about to face two more complete strangers, and men at that, who now knew my secret.

When I entered, I froze. It wasn’t possible. I was dreaming. I was hallucinating. Someone had given me that drug all the hippies in San Francisco were taking.

My stepmother was in her chair by the fireplace. There was an older, balding man in a three-piece suit in the chair opposite her. And... seated on the couch and facing me as I stood in the entrance to the living room was... The Knave.

Okay, I knew it wasn’t The Knave. Maxfield Parrish had used his wife as the model for a fictional, imaginary character. But, it was absolutely amazing. Seated on the couch was a young man with long, dark curls about his head and falling down his neck, wearing jeans and a tight, green crocodile shirt. He was slim, but muscled, and he had the prettiest face I had ever seen on a guy in real life: ice-blue eyes, thin, dark eyebrows, long lashes, thin lips, a delicate, slender face, almost feminine, yet there was a strength in the face, a certainty and confidence, too, that was distinctly not feminine, but quite masculine. As I stood in the entranceway, he slowly rose to his feet, his lips parting, as he gazed at me in what seemed like wonder.

Well, don’t just stand there, Christopher,” my stepmother barked. “Come in.”

I walked forward a few steps, my eyes still locked on those of “The Knave.” Neither of us seemed able to speak.

The older man stood up and said, “Christopher, my name is John Haley. I’m your father’s attorney. I’m handling his estate.”

I turned my head reluctantly toward him as he smiled and I replied in a week and robot-like voice, “Hello. I’m pleased to meet you.”

My eyes immediately turned back to the young man as he suddenly looked at my stepmother and said, “Could Christopher and I have a few moments alone? We can go outside for a bit while you two make the arrangements.”

Mr., Haley nodded and smiled. My stepmother simply shrugged. The Knave stepped forward and smiled down at me as he extended his hand and said, “Christopher, why don’t we go get acquainted.”

I put my sack down on a chair beside me and, still in a state of shock, gave my left hand to him. He guided me to the front door and out onto the porch, where we sat on the swing.

Who are you?” I asked as we sat down.

The young man took a deep breath and in his soft, voice, a bit boyish for someone his age, though I really couldn’t tell what his age was, he replied, “Chrissy, I’m your brother.”

I blinked. I sat for a moment. He had called me Chrissy. Only the bullies at school called me that. Or Daddy. But, when Daddy called me Chrissy, it had always been affectionate, though he hadn’t called me that for a few years. I had outgrown that...

I don’t have a brother,” I replied accusingly. “Who are you?”

The young man smiled and nodded as he replied, “My name’s Matthew Westfall, but everyone calls me Matt and, yes, I am your brother. You’re half-brother, but I am your brother.”

I was confused. How could this be? Mommy and Daddy had been married for only a couple of years when I was born. Daddy hadn’t been married before he married Mommy. He’d gone to the war in Korea when he was in college and then when he came back, he finished college and married Mommy. No. Who was this imposter, this beautiful imposter?

Really, who are you and why are you telling me this?” I demanded.

Matt took a deep breath and replied softly, “Chrissy, you know, I’m sure, that your grandfather wasn’t a really nice person. You of all people should know that.”

I looked away in shame. Matt put a gentle hand on my shoulder, just as Mr. Shoemaker had, and added, “Well, he was mean to your father, our father, when he was growing up. Well, one night, when your father was in high school, your grandfather became angry with your father and hit him and your father ran out of the house and came to the house of a family friend, a woman named Elizabeth Fischer. Have you ever heard the name before?”

I looked back and nodded.

Well,” Matt continued, “Elizabeth was a friend of the family, but she could be a little... untrustworthy. Well, she gave some alcohol to your father to calm his down and, well, one thing led to another, and she seduced him. Do you know what that means?”

I shook him head, though it certainly sounded sinister.

It means that she convinced him to do something he wouldn’t ordinarily have done and they did together what adults do to make babies. Do you know how that’s done?”

I nodded my head.

It’s similar to what your grandfather did to you, in a way. It was sexual. Well, she became pregnant and I am that baby. So, you see, we have the same father, so you are my little brother.”

I stared up at him in complete disbelief. It couldn’t be true. But, there were my father’s high cheekbones and his jaw and...

You’re my brother,” I whispered.

Matt nodded and said, “Dad was a wonderful man and he wanted to marry my mother, but your grandparents wouldn’t permit it. You have to remember that this was 1948 and he was only sixteen and that sort of thing was very, very scandalous back then and your grandparents didn’t want anyone to know. So, my mother married another man, a rich man who wanted a wife, but didn’t want to love her. She married him for the money. So, I wasn’t illegitimate and your grandparents weren’t embarrassed and humiliated by what all their society friends would think.”

I looked down. Daddy had another son older than me. I was stunned.

Your Dad was the most decent man in the world and it killed him that he couldn’t be part of my life, but when I was old enough, he would write letters to me and I would write him back. We met several times, but he could never tell you because he was afraid you would be confused. He planned to tell you when you were older and would understand. He loved you so much, Chrissy, so very much.”

I couldn’t say anything.

It hurt him that he couldn’t tell you about me or that he couldn’t be part of my life more than he was. He was a good man.”

I looked at him with tears in my eyes and suddenly, my wall of reserve broke. I didn’t know why. Possibly the shock of learning I had a big brother, possibly the stress of the last hour and a half, possibly a delayed reaction to losing my father. I hadn’t cried over Daddy. I had been afraid to. I was afraid that if I did, I would never be able to stop crying. Now, I suppose, everything came together and I just burst into hysterical sobs. Matt wrapped his arms around me and held me tightly as I cried. I don’t remember much about those moments except that I was just overwhelmed with emotions that I couldn’t control and that nothing, absolutely nothing had ever felt as wonderful as my big brother holding me.

Eventually, my sobs subsided and Matt pulled a handkerchief from his pocket. He dabbed my eyes and let me blow my nose. When I tried to hand it back to him, he grinned and said, “No, that’s okay. You can keep it.”

Through my residual tears, I grinned and nodded and then sniffed again before I said, “So, you’re my big brother.”

Yes, I am,” Matt replied, “and, I am so proud to meet you finally. Dad wrote to me hundreds of times telling me how proud of you he was. I know all about you learning to read from The Wind in the Willows and I know about you writing your story about pirates last year and I know about when you played “Oh, Susannah” on your harmonica before the Parents Night at school last fall. I know all about you.”

I lowered my head and whispered, “And, you know I’m a pervert.”

Matt said nothing for a moment before he put his arm around me again and said quietly, “You’re not a pervert. But, you and I are going to talk about that later. I want you to know that now that you and I have met, I am never, ever going to let you go. You’re my little brother, Chrissy, and I’m going to do everything I can to take care of you.”

I looked up at him and asked, “What do you mean?”

He smiled and said, “I love you. You’re my little brother and I love you. After years of reading all about you, I feel like I know you as well as I would have if we had grown up together. I love you.”

He stopped and took a deep breath before he asked, “Chrissy, I just drove in from Oklahoma City today and I’m staying at the motel. Would you like to go to dinner with me and then hang out this evening? Maybe spend the night?”

I looked at him with almost the same disbelief with which I met the news that we were brothers. With barely a nod, but exploding with joy, I breathed, “Yes.”

Matt smiled at me and said, “Good,” before he rose from the porch swing. We walked into the living room and Matt said, “Well, I’ve explained a few things to Christopher and I think we’re going to be really good buddies, aren’t we?”

I nodded and smiled to my stepmother, the first time I had done that in weeks.

Would it be all right, if Chrissy spent the night with me at the hotel? We can talk some more and get to know each other and maybe make some plans for the future.”

Fine with me,” my stepmother replied dismissively.

Mr. Haley said, “Excellent. I think that’s a great idea. I’ll be happy to give you two a ride over there.”

Great,” Matt declared with a beautiful grin. He looked down at me and said, “Go pack an overnight bag and we can go.”

I nodded and ran toward the stairs. Before I started up, however, I stopped and looked back. There, in the center of the living room, stood the most beautiful man in the world. There stood my big brother. I grinned and then turned and ran up the stairs.