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We got back to Julian's house after a quick drive. The lovely boy was quiet the whole way home staring out the side window. "Are you sure you're alright Julian?"
"Oh.. yeah uhh.. I'm okay," he answered awkwardly. I could tell something was bothering him.
"Julian what's wrong?" I continued. I didn't know what else to do.. I couldn't just leave him and not talk.
"That car's following us Mike," Julian answered after taking a deep breath.
I checked my mirror and saw the red car Julian had been looking at in the parking lot that he had thought his dad was inside. "Is that your dad inside it?"
"Yeah Mike, I think it is.."
"Okay Julian.. it's alright," I said trying to calm the boy down. I certainly wasn't worried. "Just think about tonight and how much fun we'll have okay?"
This got a smile from the boy who looked at me for the first time since we had started the drive home. "How do you do that Mike?" he asked as his face lit back up to it's usual, and amazingly beautiful shine.
"Do what?" I asked simply.
"You always make me feel better!" He said smiling. "I hate my dad, and he's following us in a car, but I really don't even care right now!"
"Good," I said flatly smiling at Julian. "Don't even think about him. This is a special evening between you, your mother, and I."
"So 'fuck him' is what you're saying," Julian said giggling.
I burst out laughing myself. "Yes Julian, basically that's what I'm saying!" I paused still chuckling. "You know you shouldn't use that language, but I couldn't have put it any other way." He smiled, and I winked at him and checked the mirror to look at the car behind us. "Well you son of a bitch.. follow us to the door and give me an excuse.. you'll land back next to that rock you've been hiding under," I thought to myself.
As we pulled off of the main street and into Julian's subdivision, the car following us kept going along the main road. Julian breathed a sigh of relief but then looked at me seriously. "He'll be back you know.."
"Good," I said with a voice of stone. "Let him come."
With that we pulled into the driveway and raced up the steps in our new clothes. "I'll call mom while you umm.. you stand there and look good," Julian said smiling at me when we were inside. Then he threw himself against me wrapping his arms around my waist tightly. "I love you sooooo much Mike!"
"I love you more," I said chuckling as he joined in with his own giggles. "Now let's call your mom and give her the good news."
"Kay," he said as he let me go, still smiling, and picked up the phone to call his mother. He dialed the number quickly knowing the digits off by heart. He then added some more numbers and hung up the phone. "Gotta page her and wait for her to call back," he said as he waited for the phone to ring. A few moments later the phone rang and when Julian picked it up his mom was on the other line.
"Hey mom!... Yeah we're havin an awesome time! .. uh huh... yeah okay guess what... nope.... nope.... Give up? ... hehe kay, you know that CHA dinner you wanted to go to? ... Yeah well we're going! ... uh huh... Mike's takin us... here you talk to him," Julian said as he passed me the phone.
"Hello?" I said winking at Julian.
"Mike, I can't have you spending $300 to take us to a dinner!"
"Well now, hello Debra," I said chuckling.
"Hello Mike," she said. I could hear her smile.
"About this dinner.. I have a personal invitation, and it's much less than $300 per person for entrance," I said coolly.
"You have an invitation?"
"I sure do.. I work for the investment firm that's handling the CHA 's accounts now. As for any expenses for the evening, my company will pick up most of them. Now I've got a limousine coming to pick Julian and myself up in a half hour and we'll swing by your office with a change of clothes. Then I figure we can tour the town in the stretch for an hour or so and then show up for the dinner." Debra was taking in what I was saying.
"Julian doesn't have any clothes suitable for the CHA..."
"... We've been shopping and we've found some acceptable clothing for the pair of us to wear."
"Can I talk to Julian again for a minute then Mike?"
"Of course you can Debra," I answered as I handed the phone back to smiling Julian.
"Hey mom," he said happily. "So can we go? .... YES!!!!" He exclaimed as he jumped up and down. "This is gonna be so great mom wait and see!"
Julian got the dress his mom had asked for, and the matching shoes, purse, earrings, lip stick, as well as all the other things a woman has to wear to look fashionable. We gathered her things up in a jacket bag and went downstairs to wait for the limo. Nothing was being said so I asked Julian about telling his mother that his father was back. "Nope, she can find out later," he said. "It'll just upset her and spoil things so we'll worry about him tomorrow maybe."
"Works for me," I said smiling. Julian stood on the second step leading upstairs and held his arms out to me. I moved forward and let him wrap his arms around my neck. Then once again I felt his lips brush gently over mine. Kids are smarter today than they used to be, but Julian is an amazing kisser. His soft lips brushed over mine again and again before he actually kissed me. Then I felt them press against mine more firmly, and his tongue worked it's way into my mouth. My mind began to real as the most intense feelings of love I had ever experienced coursed through me. It was like the more I got of Julian the more I needed. Before I had met him I hadn't realized how empty my life was, but with this boy in my arms.. just a 12 year old boy, the whole world seemed complete.
We broke our kiss when we heard the limo pull up outside. When we walked outside and Julian saw the size of the car his jaw dropped. It was one of the double-stretched ones, and I guess he had expected one of the smaller ones. I had been raised in a wealthy family in Ohio and I was used to this type of lavish transportation from childhood myself, and I wanted to make things easier for Julian and his mother. I knew Debra would never accept "Charity" but it wasn't charity.
Once Julian had taken in his eyeful of the car and circled it a couple times to look at it from every angle, we hopped in after waving goodbye to the neighbor perched behind his living room blinds where he thought we couldn't see him. We arrived at the side entrance to the hospital and I ran in with the things for Debra who received them graciously and gave me a strange look. "What?" I asked her.
"You know Mike, if you weren't right for my son I'd be trying to catch you for myself. You're a kind-hearted, sweet, and loving man.." then she seemed embarrassed and went to change. I simply smiled to myself and headed back out to the limo to wait next to it with Julian in his matching suit. Debra came out and chuckled. "Don't you two look like a cute pair?! Aren't I lucky to have two such handsome escorts this evening," she said running her hand gently down Julian's face. He smiled shyly at her. One of those "aaw mom not in front of everybody!" looks that kids (especially boys) are great at giving.
I for my part was "checking out" Debra. She really was a beautiful woman and didn't look any older than 32. Or at least what I assumed most 32 year olds to look like. She was dressed in a black sequined dress that came down just below her knees. I made a half bow and held my left arm out towards the car as the driver opened the door.
"Where to sir?" The driver asked as he sat back in his seat up front.
"A drive around town, and to the dinner for 6:30." I answered smiling to Julian. We were sitting in the back of the car, me on the left and Julian on the right with my arm on the head-rest of his seat. He looked at my arm above him and smiled snuggling up to me. Debra gave him a smile tilting her head to the side slightly. Soon we were driving around town and Julian couldn't stay in one seat. He was moving around the car looking out the windows on each side at all the people checking out the limo. Debra came and sat next to me.
"How was your day? He wasn't too much trouble was he?" She asked.
I chuckled. "No he was fine.. he told me about his father, and the night he left," I said quietly. Julian was up front talking to the driver.
"John wasn't usually physically abusive," she said slowly. "That night was the worst I had ever seen him, and after that I didn't want him back. He stormed out and came back a few days later and found the locks on the doors were changed. We divorced, and he gave me sole custody of Julian, and I gave him the car. I kept the house, and he didn't have any child support payments to make and he's left us alone thankfully."
"Julian saw him today," I said. Debra instantly became rigid.
"Where?" She asked quickly.
"He followed us home from the mall and kept going.." I answered. "Look, we didn't want to tell you until after dinner, but forget about it until later."
"I can't," she said as she began to shake slightly.
I looked up front to Julian who was still engaged in what looked like a happy conversation with the driver. "Debra look," I said. "Legally speaking he has no business coming around to do anything. If we need it we'll get you a restraining order on him."
"I can't afford the legal fees," she said nearing tears.
"I'll take care of the fees," I said quickly. I wrapped an arm around her. "Listen.. I'm gonna take care of things if you'll let me. I want to take care of things. You and Julian mean a lot to me, and I'm not gonna let John hurt either of you again."
"In a way, I wish he'd show up so you could beat the hell out of him," she said composing herself slightly and almost laughing. "He's a big guy but I think you could handle him pretty well."
"We'll see," I said smiling off into space imagining the sound of his nose cracking under my fist. I couldn't understand how someone could have brought Julian and his mom to this kind of reaction just with his presence, and if I had the chance, I would give him some backpay. Julian's mom cheered up at my reply.
"Mike, I appreciate your offer, and I may take you up on it if it comes to that, but I don't want you to think I'm taking advantage of the situation.."
"I love your son," I said in a low voice. "I'm in love with him. I don't understand it, and I'm a little self-conscious talking about it, but if he and I are going to have a relationship, you're going to have to put up with my constant need to protect him, and you from anything I see as a danger. That's the way I am, and a refusal from you would be more like an insult than anything else."
"You're going to have a continued relationship with him then?" She asked smiling so big I thought her face my crack.
"I'll be here for him as long as he wants me," I said simply. "You and I will probably have to discuss some things first," I said squirming a bit in my chair, "but all the same, this is what Julian wants I think."
"Did you guys.. do.."
"No," I said quickly. "No we didn't take things past when he kissed me." I couldn't help but blush slightly. Here I was 26, and talking to a boy's mother about kissing her twelve year old son! It sounded ridiculous but nothing else could make sense.
Debra blushed slightly too. "You will probably do more than just kissing though right?"
"I guess.. if that's what Julian wants," I said softly.
"You're clean right?"
"Clean? .. Oh.. OHH... yeah. Clean! No STDs." I said chuckling slightly.
"Well if you're clean, and you really love him.." she paused considering her words. "Respect each other's wishes. I'll talk to Julian about it too. So just be gentle with him, and take things slow."
I sat in silence for a moment thinking. Then Julian brought me back to reality as he threw himself down into my lap. "This is so cool!" He said excitedly. His mom went back to the seat she had started out in, and Julian took her place once again cuddling up to me.
Within a few more minutes we had arrived at the dinner and were seated among some of my co-workers. A few days later everyone wanted to know who my guests were, and for a week or two talk of the woman with the black sequined dress floated around. I kept a pretty close relationship with my subordinates and often joked around with the lot of them. They thought Debra was nothing short of gorgeous and said if I hadn't hooked things up with her yet that I should. They didn't know I had something better. I had Julian.
The dinner was one of those charity events where they give out a few awards, and have a few speeches from important people, then they play came on. I'm still not sure what it was all about since the plot twisted and turned so much. I wasn't too interested in following anyway since Julian and I were engaged in our own side conversations making fun of the clothes the actors were wearing. Yeah it was a little juvenile or immature, but I had fun! The meal was a huge five course deal. Salad, soup, appetizers, the main course of fillet minion and baked potato, and the desert course. I was surprised when Julian used all the right forks for all the right parts of the meal. I later complimented him on his table manners getting a big smile and a wink from him.
The dinner and theater started at 6:30 and wrapped up around 9:30. The limousine pulled up out front and we got in. "Thanks for a great evening Mike," Debra said smiling. "I haven't had a night out like this since.. well for years!"
"Quite welcome. Thanks for coming with me and giving me a reason to go!" I said smiling.
"Well thanks for taking me and gettin' me this suit!" Julian chimed in giggling.
We all talked back and forward about the high points of the evening, and Julian gave an account of the day we had. We didn't end up going go-carting after all. We hadn't had the time, but the day had still been exciting for Julian, until he got up to leaving the mall and seeing his dad. "Are you sure it was your dad?"
"Yeah mom," Julian said softly looking at the floor as we pulled up at Julian's driveway.
The driver opened the door for us and let the three of us out. I thanked him and tipped him well. One thing my father had taught me was that you always tipped the driver. As we walked up to the house and the limo pulled off I noticed the long scratch up the side of my truck. Debra saw the scratch left most likely by a key and looked at me fearing my reaction. I clenched my fists and gritted my teeth. "Just stay calm..." I told myself. Julian's eyes shifted from me out to the street. I followed his gaze and saw a car coming around the bend of the court and stop in front of the driveway.
Out stepped John, Julian's father. He was actually a bigger guy than I had at first thought standing at nearly six feet. He probably weighed about 230 to 240 pounds, but his weight was a "softer weight" than mine since he wasn't in quite the same shape he could have once been. He sauntered up the driveway smiling smugly at Debra who was wearing the jacket of my suit. "Hi honey," he said in a mocking tone.
"What are you doing here?" She asked shakily.
"I was about to ask Prince Charming here the same question," he said looking up at me. "Hey.. that's a nasty scratch there on your truck.. you should get it fixed."
Somehow I managed to restrain myself from strangling the bastard right then. "Yeah.. I guess I'll have to take it in for a fix-up on the paint job."
"John you're not supposed to be here. You don't live here anymore," Debra said looking uneasy about the situation. I smiled to her and winked letting her know I was in control of myself and not to worry.
"Well Roger.. that guy next door," he said looking at me, "told me that my wife had some big fella hangin around and I was worried."
"X-wife John." Debra said sharply.
"Hey watch your tone," he said pointing at her.
Julian seemed to snap at this. I hadn't looked down to the boy for fear of setting myself off, but when John pointed at Julian's mother, raising his voice, Julian lunged forward swinging. John stepped back and held the boy off of him then pushed Julian backwards and the boy fell to the ground. I gritted my teeth harder praying for control as Julian jumped up from the ground and again began to advance on his father. Debra grabbed him to hold him back and John drew his fist back ready to swing at the boy.
As John's fist began to shoot forward so did I. I grabbed his arm by the wrist and he yanked his arm free. "Stay out of this!" he shouted.
"I don't think I will John." I answered looking at him like the sack of filth that he was.
He tried to push past me but I stood my ground in front of Julian and his mother. "I don't think Debra wants you here.. you should leave."
"Get outta my way," he said hoarsely. "I gotta beat my faggot son!"
I couldn't help it as I thrust outward with both arms and sent him sprawling backwards onto the hard driveway. He jumped up and took a swing at me and missed as I ducked backwards then pushed him again. He started a swing along with "mother f-"
*SMACK*.. I delivered what I guess was a sickening blow as John spun around in a full 360 degree turn. "Son of a bitch!" I snarled angrily. He was stunned and I followed up delivering a blow to his stomach that landed with a dull thud. "You like to hit kids and women huh? How about hitting me you little coward?"
John was standing on the lawn to the side of my truck and came barreling at me. I stepped to the side and helped him on his way smacking him into the side of the truck and he collapsed face-down onto the ground. I grabbed him under his chin around the neck and lifted him up half way so that his stomach and chest were off the ground while his legs stayed resting on the ground arching his back upwards. "Now apologize," I said looking up to Julian who was watching with a tear-streaked face.
"Fuck you!" John snarled back.
I lifted him easily to his feet and pushed him against the truck with my left arm, then brought my right hand across with a backhand hitting his right cheek. "That's not polite," I said. "You've treated your family badly, and you've been rude.. They deserve far better. Now apologize and get out. I might overlook the damage you caused to my truck," I said looking at the dent he had made when he hit the side.
John snapped and fell to tears. He was defeated and as he started crying Julian walked up to us. He pulled me back from his father. Not roughly or angrily, but gently and smiled at me. Then did the completely unexpected. He wrapped his arms around his father and hugged him. "I love you daddy, but you never loved me back. I tried my hardest to be the son you wanted. I tried so hard, and I used to work out after you left trying to be big and strong like you and you're still ashamed of me! I just want you to go away and leave us alone again. You did it once and you don't wanna be my dad so leave. This is the last hug I'm ever giving you, I don't wanna see you or speak to you again, and from now on you're not my daddy, you're John."
John looked down into his son's eyes with a look that was a cross between wonder and sadness. Wonder in that after everything he had done against the boy's love, he had still been "daddy" to Julian. The sadness was probably the realization that John had taken things too far to turn them around now. Julian hadn't just rejected his presence, but had shrugged him off as a father. He frowned and pushed Julian off, but gently. Then gave me a look that promised retribution.. payback. Something told me John would be back. His face showed anger, hatred, and even satisfaction as he paused staring me in the face. Then he looked away and limped back down the driveway to his car. John started the engine and left squealing his tires in a futile attempt at making himself look good.
Julian sighed deeply and we followed Debra into the house. Once inside Debra went upstairs to use the washroom leaving Julian and I downstairs for a few moments alone. "Are you okay Julian?" I asked as he wrapped his arms around my waist.
"Yeah," he answered softly. "I don't need him.. I have you instead."
"He'll always be your father," I said gently rubbing his back.
"Yeah.. that's okay. You're so much better. I'm sick of worrying about someone who doesn't love me, and now I have you to love me back as much as I love you Mike. Thanks for sticking up for me," he said squeezing me tighter.
I lifted him up into my arms. "I do love you Julian," I said placing my chin on his shoulder. "I'm here for you now, and I'll be here as long as you need me okay?"
"Forever?" he asked in the sweetest most innocent tone I had ever heard.
"Forever is a long time.. but as long as I have the power within me, I will always be here for you okay?"
Julian paused a moment thinking about my words then smiled. "Deal!" He peeped.
Debra came downstairs looking much better than she had when she went up. "Julian honey, can I talk to Mike alone for a few minutes?"
"Yeah mom," Julian said. "I'll go get ready for bed. Mike can you stay over again tonight?"
"We'll see," I said smiling as the boy nodded happily and ran up the stairs.
I turned to Debra who stood silent for a moment looking at me. "Thank you for stepping in outside," she said softly. I opened my mouth to speak but she placed a finger to my lips. "To me, it confirmed your feelings, and the things we spoke about earlier, as well as what you just told Julian. It's funny, but you both seem made for each other. I don't know a lot about your family history and some day soon I want to sit you down with Julian and get you to tell us both more about you. I'm off work tomorrow, and if you want to spend the night again tonight it's okay with me, and I know Julian will be happy about it.. No pressure," she chuckled. Then she got a serious look on her face. "Mike, I know its really soon of me to ask this of you, but I there is a special bond between you and Julian. If something were to ever happen to me, or anytime I'm away with business, he deserves to go to someone who loves him like you do and I can't think of anyone else I would rather see him with."
I was slightly taken back at first, but felt honored at her request. I didn't know what to say so I just let her continue.
"I know Julian is most likely gay. And I know you are attracted to him and that you would never hurt him. My question to you is could you let him go if he ever decided there was too much of an age difference and he found someone nearer his age?" She asked me slowly.
"I will be as much, or as little to Julian as he wants me to be," I said to her seriously. "If he wants nothing more than a father figure, or someone to act like his big brother, then that's what I'll be. He's accepted me into his life, and you've accepted me into your home, and to you both I am eternally grateful for your trust and love, and I promise you," I said taking her hand and looking her dead in the eye. "I promise you Debra, I will never hurt him."
Every word was true. I would give anything for Julian. I would do anything for Julian, and I would happily die to protect him. Debra had been surprised at my reaction to Julian's father, but how else would I react? No one would speak to him like that ever again if I had any control over it, least of all his loser of a father. It still strikes me as to how a boy can be so amazing when he comes from a man like that.. I guess he gets most of his genetics from his mother. For a woman in her forties, Debra could still be described as "hot" and her son definitely took after her in that department. Still besides the looks, and loving attitude, there was something more. There was still that something about Julian.