THE STUDIO IN THE COUNTRY, Part 12
DISCLAIMER: The story that follows is a work of fiction. Some characters may be based on real people, but this story should not be considered accurate or truthful representations of any actual person. This story is not intended to reflect the behavior, work habits, personal hygiene, sexual proclivities, or hang time of any real person, living or dead.
WARNING: This story deals with homosexual themes. If this offends you, read no further. If you are under 18 years of age, read no further. If accessing this story causes you break any laws applicable in your area, read no further. If you are sometimes awakened in the middle of the night by a profound, often downright painful itching of the skin, irritated by long, hot showers and exasperated by winter weather, in the inaccessible space between your shoulder bladesjust where it's hard to reach by either hand so you're forced to use some kind of implement or the corner of a door framethen, Jesus, get some lotion or something! You're grossing us out here!
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NOTE: "Bizarre Interlude" had nothing to do with this story.The BSB mentioned in "Interlude" have nothing to do with the BSB in this story. I'm just a little fascinated by the idea that the actual Boys readand possibly have writtenthe stories in the Archive. "Bizarre Interlude" (a short story that has since been deleted) was just that: a bizarre interlude. Now back to the next installment of my real story which I like to call...
Part 12 - Friday Afternoon
The trip to the mall was pretty uneventful. Mike had somehow got the keys away from Robby, which had completely rearranged the seating. Stacey took my seat to give directions. AJ sat with Kevin so as not to be too far from Stacey. Robby took Mike's place in the back with Howie and Nick, which left Brian and I in the middle seat. As I sat down, I grinned at Brian and ignored Kevin.
Our timing was great. Construction on Central Expressway kept things crawling along most of the time, but at 10:30 on a Friday morning, we went north pretty quickly.
"Mike, where are you going?" Stacey yelled sometime later.
"Mom said to exit at Northwest Highway," Mike defended, as he headed onto the service road.
"Well, that'll work, but it's easier if we get off at Park," Stacey said. But by then our van was curling around the circular on-ramp that led onto Northwest Highway and across Central to the mall.
Once inside the parking lot, Stacey directed us around to the rear of the building, the side that faced Park Lane. We stashed the van in what little covered parking there was, in the hopes that fewer people might see us climbing out. Already the Boys were wearing caps and sunglasses. It looked a little odd to me.
Kevin evidently thought so too. He stopped AJ as he reached to slide the door open. "If we all wander around together with dark glasses on, people are gonna stare at us, then we're gonna get recognized."
"Yeah," Brian added. "We should split up."
"But didn't you promise Ms. Shaw that you'd stay together?" Mike asked.
"Well," Kevin began, "we are all in the same place. This mall isn't that big. And we're less likely to get recognized in small groups than we are in one big one."
I suggested a plan. "How 'bout this: we go in three or four little groups of two or three, shop and eat lunch, and meet back at this entrance in, say, three hours. We have enough cell phones for every group to have one. If anyone runs into problems, they head for mall security and start calling the others."
"Where is mall security?" Kevin asked.
"That corner," Stacey said, pointing in the direction of some shoe store. "It's across from the pay phones and restrooms. I can show you on the map just inside the door."
"Well, let's group up and go," Robby said with a grin. "I didn't survive Mike's driving just to sit here."
"Nick's with me," Mike said quickly.
"And Stacey's with me," AJ said. "She knows this place well enough to keep me safe."
"And who's gonna keep you safe from Stacey?" Nick asked with a grin.
"AJ's got a good point," Brian said. "We've got four people who've been here before. We should put one of you guys in each group." He was looking at me when he said that.
Kevin was looking at my brother. "Robby, will you come with Brian and me?"
Robby looked at Kevin, then Brian, them me, before telling Kevin, "Sure. Brian, is that okay with you?"
Before Brian could answer, Kevin said, "C'mon, cuz. I want you to help me pick out some clothes."
I interrupted Brian too, saying, "Well, Howie, it looks like it's you and me. Ready to go?"
"Yeah, let's go."
AJ and Kevin were the first out of the van. When I started to stand, Brian grabbed my belt loop and held me down in the seat. Howie noticed and got out first, followed by Nick and Robby. "Sorry 'bout that," Brian whispered.
"No problem," I told him. "You two need to spend some time together."
We hit the entrance, examined the floorplan on display so Stacey could point out the exact location of the security office, then the groups went their separate ways. Mike and Nick headed straight into Lord&Taylor. I figured that must have been Nick's idea: Mike hates that place. Howie was speaking privately with Brian, when I heard Kevin ask Robby about men's clothes. After a second of thought, Robby led him and Brian toward Brook's Brothers. AJ and Stacey disappeared so fast that I knew she'd drug him to Neiman-Marcus.
"I hope Stacey doesn't wear AJ out," I told Howie. "She's a bit fanatic about shopping. Neiman-Marcus is the closest thing she has to a holy shrine."
Howie laughed. "Don't worry about AJ. When it comes to shopping, he can definitely hold his own. So, Ben, where's your favourite store?"
"Right here," I said, pointing behind him.
He turned and read the sign. "'The Market.' What is it?"
"Strange and interesting furniture and knick-knacks," I told him. "I've never actually bought anything here, but it's full of useless stuff that just looks cool."
"Sounds interesting," he said. "Let's take a look."
For the next couple of hours we wandered around the giant J-shape that it Northpark Mall. We stopped here and there, peering into this or that shop but never actually buying anything. Howie and I, it turned out, liked a lot of the same things.
The mall itself seemed sparsely populated. There weren't a lot of customers, and what we could see were mostly older women with expensive suits and mounds of white or yellow-white hair. There wasn't a lot of danger that Howie would be recognized, let alone mobbed. There was more threat from the college-age girls who worked in the various stores, but even they looked too bored to look at Howie twice.
There was a young guy at Bombay that spent a lot of time looking at us. He even followed us around and talked to us a lot. I whispered to Howie that I thought he'd been recognized.
"No, you goof," he whispered back, laughing. "He's just flirting with you."
I put the back of my hand on my forehead and feigned despair. "Oh, don't hate me because I'm beautiful."
Outside of Neiman-Marcus, there was a skinny, balding man playing a baby grand piano. The piano is always there, but I'd never seen this guy before. Everytime we came here, Mike and Robby would urge me to go play that piano. I never did, but they always nagged me.
That's why I laughed when Howie said, "Here, I'll knock him off the bench, and you start playing. You're better than he is." We didn't, of course, but the idea made me smile. I knew I was better than this guy, but I was flattered that Howie thought so too.
Our first purchase was when Howie bought a cherry-wood photo box at the Museum Store. As we were leaving the store, Howie asked, "So, do you think your mom will like this?"
"You bought that for my mom?" I was surprised at how nice that was. None of our other clients had ever bought any presents for any of us.
"Well, yeah. Your parents have been really great this week. Most people treat us like paying customers, but they have treated us like guests in their house. After all," he added with a grin, "how many couples would have been thoughtful enough to have a bunch of sons just so we'd have somebody to play with when we visit?"
We were still laughing at his strange joke when we saw AJ and Stacey heading into the Nature Company across from us. Each of them were carrying two large Nieman-Marcus shopping bags. Howie and I followed them in.
We found them in the back looking at the giant stuffed versions of endangered species. "Stacey, you should be ashamed of yourself, spending all this money!" I teased her.
"Me!" she exclaimed. "This is all his! I've never seen a guy buy so many clothes!"
"Well, one bag is hers," AJ said, holding up one of the bags he was carrying, the only one of the four that was stapled shut. "I bought her something, but I won't let her see what it is."
"Howie," Stacey said, "let's go over here and talk. I want you to help me pick out something for him." She stressed the last word and nodded in AJ's direction. They stepped over to the opposite corner of the store, and I glanced over at AJ to see his reaction. He was grinning at me.
"What?" I asked him after he continued to grin for a few seconds.
"She's great, isn't she?" he asked.
I pretended to be scandalized. "Why, I do believe you have designs on our Stacey, Mr.... What the Hell is your last name anyway?"
He laughed. "McLean. And I don't know if I have designs on her or not, but I do like her." AJ bent over to pick up the two shopping bags, then stood up again. "C'mon, Stacey," AJ said. "There's stores I haven't seen yet."
She smiled at him. "Okay, Alex. It's your money." They smiled and said their goodbyes, then they were gone.
I looked at Howie. "Alex?" I said.
"That's his real name," he explained. "In public, we try not to say each other's names too loudly. They attract attention, even if we're disguised."
"Then should I call you 'Howard'?" I asked him.
"Do, and I'll have to hurt you." Howie laughed. "C'mon. Pick the place, and I'll buy you some food."
Twenty minutes later, we were seated on the patio at Maggiano's, enjoying a great lunch and watching shoppers walk by through the mall. Our table was in the corner of the patio, against the windows of the dining room. We decided that there was the most chance of him being recognized by someone sitting inside the dining room, so Howie sat with his back toward the window. I sat across from him, with my back against the railing that separated the patio from the mall walkway.
It must have been a little early for lunch because the three tables nearest us were still empty. Service was quick too. Our wine came fast, and our food followed it pretty quickly.
Our conversation had been wandering aimlessly, but Howie took it around a sharp right turn. While passing the garlic bread, he said simply, "So, you slept with our boy Brian on the couch last night."
I shook my head slightly. "We just fell asleep on the couch. That's it. No big deal."
"Do you like him?"
Now I frowned. Where was he going? "Yeah, I like him. He's a good guy."
"No, I mean do you like him?"
"I don't know if that would be a good idea," I told him. His huge brown eyes were looking straight at me, and I went on, "Brian's confused about a lot of things right now, and I just want to help him figure things out. I don't want to take advantage of him or make his life any more complicated. I just want to be his friend."
"Have you told him that?"
I hesitated. "Not exactly. But I haven't tried anything with him either. I haven't come on to him, and I don't plan to."
"I believe you," he said. "I like you, Ben. You're a good guy. You're smart and funny, and you're a Hell of a musician, and you take good care of your brothers. I think you'd be a good friend to have. But if you hurt Brian, I'm gonna hurt you."
I'd liked Howie before, but he'd just gone up in my estimation. He was stilll just as friendly, just as easy to talk to as before. But he was ready to protect his friend, and he was telling me that straight to my faceno rudeness and no phony diplomacy. It reminded me a little of Robby.
He was looking me straight in the eye now, and I looked right back. "I have no intention of hurting Brian," I told him.
"I didn't really think you did," he said simply. "But, like you said, he's confused. He may fall for you whether you want him to or not. Be careful."
"I have worried about that," I told him. "I don't want to send him the wrong messages. Do you think I should stay away from him until you guys leave on Monday?"
Howie thought about it. "No, don't avoid him, unless that's what you want to do. If you do, he might think he's being rejected."
"No, I don't want to avoid Brian. I like him, and I'd like us to be friends. Even after you guys leave, if possible. I'd like to stay in touch with him, and you too, if I can."
"You can," Howie said, smiling. "We're gonna be busy, but we're not leaving the planet or anything. It's hard to maintain friendships, but it is impossible. I'll give you my cell phone number. Then you can call me directly, without going through other people."
This made me smile until an unpleasant thought occurred. "Although," I started in again, "avoiding Brian would probably make Kevin happier." I watched my fork as it traced patterns in the linguine on the plate in front of me.
Howie reached over and touched my hand, stilling the fork. "Don't worry about him. He'll come around. I think he's just surprised about his cousin coming out. But he's too nice a guy deep down to not get over this and be supportive."
"I believe that about Brian," I said. "But I just wish I knew what problem Kevin has with me. I tried to get him to talk to me this morning, but he said it wasn't the right time."
Howie laughed a little. "Timing is everything with Kevin. He won't talk about a problem until he's ready. And when he's ready, you'd better just sit and listen, 'cause you can't stop him from talking. But enough about them: you want some dessert?"
I smiled at him. "Does Brian know how lucky he is to have a friend like you?" I asked him.
Howie grinned. "Sure, he does. I tell him all the time."
"Y'know," I started, "the logical thing to do is for you and Brian to pair up. You already to travel together, so that would solve a whole lot of problems without making anyone suspicious."
He had a sly grin on his face. "Brian and I discussed that last night. We both agreed that it would be really practical, but we're not interested. It'd be too weird. We've known each other for almost seven years. It'd be too much like sleeping with my brother."
"Ugh," I said at the thought. In college, some of my friends had suggested that very thing to me once they'd seen Ethan, Robby and Mike. They were kidding about my "getting them to change teams," but I'd always found the idea a little disgusting. "Enough said," I told Howie. "Now, you said something about dessert."
Chocolate mousse went surprisingly well with my glass of wine. I had just finished set the spoon into the empty bowl when two warm hands wrapped themselves over my eyes. "Guess who?" a voice said in an obviously fake high pitch.
I pretended to me mad. "If that's you, Justin Timberlake, you should know I still have that court order keeping you five hundred yards from me at all times!"
Three different voices laughed. The hands were gone, and I looked over my shoulder to see Brian right behind me. Robby was nearby; he and Howie had been the other ones laughing. Kevin was there too, holding two shopping bags and looking stern under the brim of his baseball cap.
I decided to be friendly. "You're behind, Kevin. A..., er, Alex already has four shopping bags. You'll have to hurry to catch up." I smiled when I said it. The sunglasses hid his eyes, but I think his mouth softened a little.
"The four of us working together couldn't keep with Alex," he said. His tone wasn't unfriendly. I took that as a minor victory.
"Have you had lunch yet?" Howie asked.
"Not yet," Brian said, pushing his sunglasses back up.
I looked at his glasses, then Kevin's, then Howie's. "You're right," I directed at Kevin. "Together, all these sunglasses do look suspicious."
"We're not staying," Robby said. "I'm just taking them to Godiva. They wanted to get a present for Mom."
"It's covered," Howie said, lifting the back next to his chair. "I bought her a photo box. But I don't have anything for Mr. Corbyn."
"Guys, you don't have to buy them presents," I started to protest.
Howie looked at me just long enough to say "Shut up!" in the friendliest way possible before turning back to Kevin. "Have you thought about what to buy him?"
Brian was looking around the stores in that section while Kevin shook his head. "What about the Colorado Pen Company?" Brian asked, pointing to the small shop on the opposite side of the large fountain.
"It's a good idea," Robby nodded. "Dad always buys the cheapest pens he can, and then complains about them all the time."
"Then it's a plan. C'mon, cuz! 'bye, guys!" Brian said fast, already walking away.
I turned back to the table and reached for my wine glass. Howie was grinning at me.
"What?" I asked him, confused.
"It's just good to see Brian happy again."
Right on schedule, we all gathered at the entrance and headed to the van. Mike and Nick were leading the way. We were about twenty feet from the van when I noticed something wrong. "Mike, why is the van in a different parking space?"
"Hey, he's right," AJ said, pointing to a space closer toward the corner. "We parked over there this morning!"
"Well," Mike began, "Nick and I ran an errand while you were shopping."
"What kind of errand, Baby Brother?" Robby asked. Robby sounded just curious, but Kevin looked angry as he walked over toward Nick.
"We went to the grocery store across the street for Mom," Mike said.
"And you took Nick? What if someone had recognized him?" I asked.
"Nobody recognized me," Nick said.
"That's not the point, Nick," Kevin said firmly. "If something had happened, we wouldn't have known where you were. You can't just go off without telling us."
"Not to mention," Brian added, "how much trouble Mike could have gotten into if something had gone wrong. You gotta think, bro!"
"Okay, okay," Nick said. "Hell, we just went to the grocery store."
"Which would have been fine," Kevin said, "if you'd just told us where you were going."
"That's my fault," Mike said. "I didn't tell Nick I wanted to go until after we'd split up. I should have told everybody." He'd been looking from face to face, but he looked at me when he added, "I'm sorry."
"Well, you're back now, and no one got hurt," Kevin said.
"And no one will get hurt," Stacey said, "if you tell me you brought me chocolate." Everyone smiled or laughed, and we started toward the van again.
Walking toward the van, I put my arm over Mike's shoulders and said quietly, "Nothing went wrong. But if it had, the record company could have sued the studio for negligence. We've got to be careful."
"Shit," Mike said, "I hadn't thought of that."
The ride back to the Studio was quiet. Everyone was back in their original seats again, and I was working on the music for "I Need You Tonight" again.
Robby glanced over. "Almost done?" he asked.
"No," I replied, closing the notebook. "Completely done. I'll copy it for you when we get back."
"Can we play it tomorrow night?" Mike asked from the back seat.
"Sure, I guess," I said, looking back toward Mike. "And maybe Nick will sing it while we play."
"Hey, we want to sing too," AJ said, imitating a pouting child. "Why does Nick get to have all the fun?"
"We could work on two or three songs," Mike suggested, "and we could all play and sing." Most people seemed to think that would be fun.
"I could record the whole thing," Robby said, "and burn it onto a CD for you. It wouldn't sound completely professional, but you could keep it to remember us by."
When we got home, we parked near the front door and piled into the house with our shopping bags. I dropped our luggage in the hall and offered to help AJ with his stuff. Nick, Mike and Robby carried the food into the kitchen.
"Mike," Robby said, looking into one of the bags he was carrying, "what's with all the cheese?"
Mike smiled at him smugly. "We're having a pizza party tomorrow night, so we're gonna need it."
"Cool!" Robby said. He loved our mother's pizza parties.
"Does this mean Mom's gonna be in the kitchen all day making crust?" I asked Mike.
"I'm gonna help her," he said. "It won't take all day, and I'm not gonna let her do all the work since it was my idea."
"What's this pizza party anyway?" Brian asked.
"Mom makes lots of little crusts and bakes them half-way. Then everyone tops their own with whatever they want and bakes it the rest of the way," Mike explained.
Brian reached over and held one of Robby's bags open so he could look into it. "Well, this looks like enough cheese for me, but what are the rest of you gonna eat?"
It seems like everyone had taken a day off. When we reached the elevator, we could hear the billiard balls clicking against each other in the pool room. Inside, we found Dave, Ed and Dad playing pool. "So, you're finally back, huh?" Ed asked with a smile. "Did you have a good time?"
"At the very least, they spent a lot of money," Dave said, nodding toward the shopping bags.
"No, AJ spent a lot of money," Howie corrected him.
Dave reached over to put his pool cue back into the rack. "You guys wanna hear the tracks now. We need a decision about the the intro. Piano or strings?"
The Boys looked at each other. "Can we do this after dinner?" Brian suggested.
"Yeah, finish your game," Kevin said. "This is the first afternoon off you've had in almost two weeks. Enjoy it."
Dave smiled and reclaimed his cue. "You're the bosses."
"At least when Phyllis isn't around," AJ said with a grin before leading us back to the elevator.
On the second floor, I followed AJ, Stacey and Kevin into their suite, carrying two of AJ's shopping bags. I kind of hoped that Kevin would find this a better place and time to talk to me, but instead he went into his bedroom and closed the door. AJ and Stacey were wrestling around in the living roomStacey trying to see what AJ had bought her and AJ trying to keep the stapled bag away from her. I left them alone and went down to the other suite.
It took Brian a while to answer the door. When he did, he had a can of grape soda in his hand. "Look what I found!" he said. "You guys keep the fridge well stocked, but all week AJ's been taking our grape soda. Today, I finally get one."
My poker face returned. "How do you know it was AJ?"
"Well, he denied it," Brian said slowly, "but I'm pretty sure it was him."
Howie came in from his bedroom, his cell phone on his shoulder. "Brian, we've got some time to kill before dinner. Whaddya wanna do?"
Brian thought for a couple of seconds before answering. "Well, it's nice out. We could..."
Howie stopped him with a raised finger then listened intently to his cell phone for a bit, then hung up. "Sorry. Checking messages. What were you saying?"
"That we could play basketball. If you and Kevin play this time, we could play three-on-three."
Howie grinned at me. "We could play four-on-four if Ben played."
"And," I laughed, "if you could get AJ away from Stacey."
"You guys go get Nick and your brothers," Brian said to me. "I'll work on Kevin and AJ."
Nick had a clear shot at the basket but missed it by a good three feet. "Crap!" he yelled.
"Yeah, I think the word 'crap' describes that shot pretty well," Howie teased him.
"You really captured the moment there, Nick," Robby said. "'Crap!' What a way with words!"
"Jeez!" Nick sounded angry. "if I'd known you were all such wordsmiths, I'd have tried to say it more loftily!"
"Calm down, Nick," Mike said. "They're just giving you a hard time."
AJ frowned. "'Loftily'? Is that a real word?"
"Brian," Kevin said, "What's the score?"
"Twelve - fourteen. We're leading."
"But we've got the ball," AJ said.
It was a good game. AJ and Howie had joined Robby and I against the others. I had quietly suggested to Brian that since I was probably the worst player and he said he was the best, we should be on the same side to even things out. But Brian had promised to play on Kevin's team, he said. But the game was still good. I wasn't as good a player as the others, but I was taller than Brian, and Robby and I had used that to our advantage a couple of times.
Besides, our team had a cheerleader.
"C'mon, AJ," Stacey yelled from her chair. It was cute, watching her cheer for him, but twice now he had been showing off for her and got the ball stolen from him. This time he looked up at her for just a second, but it was long enough for Nick to dash in and steal the ball again. Damn, he was quick!
Now he was off in one corner, taking a shot. Robby was the only guy close to him, but he was behind him and couldn't stop him from shooting. That wasn't his idea anyway. Just as Nick raised his arms to shoot, Robby stepped up behind him and pulled his baggy shorts down to his knees. A surprised Nick shot anyway but missed wide. The ball went across the driveway, but no one cared. They were too busy laughing.
"Wooo hooo! Nice boxers, Nick," AJ yelled, which made everyone laugh again.
After a couple of seconds, Brian said, "Hey, those look like mine!"
"They are," Nick said, pulling up his shorts. "I took them out of your room yesterday."
"Well, they're yours now," Brian laughed.
Nick wasn't listening. He was looking at Robby. Robby just grinned at him. "You know," Nick said, "this means war." He tried to look serious, but he didn't quite pull it off.
Robby laughed. "Bring it on! I have the homefield advantage, and I know where they cook your food."
"C'mon," Kevin said, still chuckling a little. "12-14. Let's play!"
The game was more serious after that. Stacey stopped distracting AJ, and Robby kept his hands off the guys' clothing. Our side caught up and pulled ahead by two, then their side did the same thing. Finally, we were tied twenty to twenty. The next basket won the game.
I had let myself get backed up toward the building by Kevin and Mike, but I was trying to get open to help Robby. He had the ball, but Brian was working hard to get it from him. I stepped to the left around Mike and opened my hands. Robby passed the ball to me. As the ball went to his left, Brian turned to get it, but I was closer than he thought. I caught the ball, but it got knocked out of my hands as Brian flew into me.
He knocked me back against the gym wall, but his weight was off center and he fell into me. Instinctively, I had my hands on his shoulders to keep him from falling. It was all accidentala very innocent sports-related crash. We looked at each other to laugh. That's when I caught sight of his blue eyes, and suddenly it didn't feel so innocent anymore. We just stood there for maybe a second, our faces inches apart and our eyes locked.
Suddenly Kevin was there. With one hand, he grabbed Brian's shoulder and pulled him back to standing on his own. Then Kevin grabbed my shoulders with both hands. He pulled me toward him an inch or two, just to slam me hard back into the building.
"Stay the fuck away from him!" he yelled.
Everyone moved fast. Brian, AJ and Nick were there instantly, pulling Kevin back and calming him down. Stacey was out of her chair, on her way to intercept Mike. Robby got there first, keeping Mike away from Kevin. Howie looked over at Kevin, surrounded by the other Boys, then walked over to me. "Are you okay?" he said softly.
"Yeah." My voice was quiet, too surprised to be anything else. "Why did he...? What did I do?"
"I don't know," Howie said warmly.
Behind him, Kevin broke away from the others with a wide sweep of his arm and walked quickly around the corner of the house. It was hard to be sure, but he might have been crying. AJ followed him by just a couple of steps. Brian took a quick look around. His eyes were watery, and I felt sorry for him suddenly. "Are you all right?" he asked me.
I nodded. "I'm fine. Go take care of Kevin." He smiled weakly and was gone.
"Brian and AJ will find out what's wrong," Howie was saying, his hand on my shoulder. "I'm sure it's just a misunderstanding."
I wasn't really listening. I was watching Robby and Stacey whisper at Mike, both standing with their arms around him. Of all of us, Mike was the most emotional. He and Ethan were the most tempermental, but Ethan seethed for a long time while Mike would just get disgusted with himself to losing his temper. He had a hard time with big displays of emotions, his own or other people's. Screaming, fighting, crying: they always upset him.
I walked out from under Howie's hand and walked over to my brothers. "Mikey," I said, "I don't know what that was about. Nobody does, but Kevin. And until we know, there's no reason to be mad at Kevin."
"Yeah," Robby said softly, "calm down, Baby Brother."
"I'm okay," Mike said. "I lost it for a second, but I'm okay now. How about you?"
"I'm confused," I told him, "but I'm not hurt."
Mike looked up at Nick and Howie. "Isn't Kevin gonna be mad that you're on our side?"
Howie smiled at him. "I don't know about any 'sides,' so I'm not on one." He looked at me and added, "But I should go see if I can help with Kevin."
"Me, too," Nick said. "Are you sure you're okay?" He was looking at me when he asked the question, but his eyes went back to Mike before I could answer.
"I'm all right," I said. "And Mike's all right. Go take care of Kevin." Nick and Howie were disappearing around the corner when I hugged Mike.
"I knew I didn't like basketball," I said.
WELL, there's Part 12. I'm sorry it took so long. These installments are getting progressively harder to write. I need to take some advice that I presumptiously gave to a friend a couple of weeks ago about getting to know the characters better. I've been trying to do exactly that so that the story will go someplace. It slows me down, but the end result will be better.
MORE APOLOGIES: The last installment was already almost a week overdue, so I got in a hurry one Thursday night and finished it fast. I sent it off without checking it thoroughly enough for mistakes, so the end was full of mistakes and the HTML had a problem that the Archivist was forced to repair for me. I'm sorry about all that. That's what comes of waiting until the last minute. Stamp out procrastination!if not today, then sometime in the next week or so.
I was right to thank DLS for his help, but there are lots of
other people that I am grateful to and I haven't thanked them yet. I
won't do this often, but here's a massive list:
STORIES I enjoy reading are (in no particular order) ...
THE BOY BANDS STORY AWARDS nominees have been posted. You can vote for your favourites at http://220.127.116.11/boybandawards. My thanks to those people who got me nominated for Best Plot in a Series. It's a real compliment to me (and something of a surprise, since every other email I get tells me my story has no plot!) Thanks, guys, for the nomination!
THE WEBSITE, michaelwashere.homepage.com, is being re-vamped, but it has problems. If you're interested, please check it out and advise me.
BY THE WAY, Mike would like me to mention that he has nothing in particular against Britney Spears left breast. It's just that he's left-handed. *LOL*
FINALLY, I was kidding! Please stop including recipes for Crépe Suzette in your email.