STANDARD WARNING: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to individuals, living or dead, is pure coincidence. Do not read this story if you are offended by man-to-man romance or sex. Do not read if you are underage according to the laws in the country, state/province, county, city/town/village or township where you live. There is sex between males. You have been warned!

Copyright 2001 by Nick Archer. Permission is granted to Nifty Archives, ASSGM, and gaywritings, to post one copy. No part may be copied, reproduced, republished, or reposted on another website without written permission from the author.

Family Instincts

By Nick Archer

Chapter 18

Matt was in his own little world. As much as he wanted to put Jake out of his mind, he couldn’t. His concern for the boy had turned into an obsession. The passing scenery became a blur outside the Jeep as he drove to Saugatuck. Tim was reading Time magazine. Matt had no idea Saugatuck was so far. After he consulted a map, he decided it would be an hour’s drive. The reality turned out to be twice that. Their route would take them past New Buffalo.

Matt and Tim had met with the lawyer Bill found for them. She specialized in family law and custody issues. Rhoda Goldberg was brisk, efficient and knowledgeable. Her plan was to attack Al’s obvious lack of interest. She gave them direction and told them not to worry. But Matt still did. It was like a dark cloud over him, clouding his work, shadowing his interactions with his boys, and darkening his relationship with Tim.

"What are you thinking about, babe?" Tim’s deep, sexy voice invaded his thoughts.

"Jake, and things," Matt answered without looking at him.

"I think I know a way to take your mind off things."

Matt glanced over at him. He had a mischievous grin. But more than that, his cock was standing proudly out of his jeans. Tim smiled at Matt, then at his cock. It glistened with his own saliva in the midmorning sun.

"Tim!" Matt’s head swiveled wildly as he glanced through the expanses of automotive glass. "In the middle of the expressway!"

Tim licked his palm seductively and continued masturbating. His expression was like a schoolboy doing something he shouldn’t be doing. "Why don’t you give me a hand, sweetheart?"

Matt did reach over to touch his solid erection. Tim grinned at him and nodded, encouraging him.

"Yeah, Matt. That’s good," he whispered, although there was no reason why he should.

Matt reached over, and his fingertips explored the head of his cock. As he grew bolder, he wrapped his hand around the shaft.

"Sweetie, we’re coming up to a tollbooth."

They both giggled like naughty schoolboys. Tim covered his exposed cock with the magazine. They only paused briefly at the booth for a ticket to the Indiana Toll Road. The man in the booth grinned back at them with a raised eyebrow.

The campground office was in a little green building with a large rainbow flag flying outside. They stepped out of the Jeep and stretched. The gravel drive crunched underfoot.

"We’re here," Tim playfully poked Matt in the ribs. Matt chuckled and threw an arm round his shoulders. The air smelled crisp and clean and lightly pine-scented. The campground owners obviously took pride in the place. There were rocks painted white that outlined the drive and the sidewalks.

They held hands on the way into the office.

"I want to look at the store," Tim pulled on Matt’s arm. Matt refused to relinquish his hold on Tim’s hand, and his arm was stretched taut.

"Let’s register first." A girl was behind the counter. She was perhaps fourteen and very pretty. Her long auburn hair was braided. Her cheeks were already rosy, most likely from working outdoors and they had just a smattering of freckles on her upper cheeks. Her brown eyes were shining and clear. Her smile revealed braces. "Welcome to Camp It, gentlemen. I’m Amanda, Brenda’s daughter."

Matt shook her hand and smiled. "I’m Matt Rosato. This is Tim McGraw."

"Oh, hi. I wanted to meet you. My mom is on a garbage run. She should be back anytime. Let’s see..." She consulted a computer screen, "you are in space B4." She smiled at them. "That’s one of my favorites."

Matt smiled as he signed the register. The girl showed them the location of the site on a map and gave them a pink ticket to hang on the campsite’s post near the road.

"Just to let you know, we’re having a Stories and S’mores session tonight at the Big Firepit. That’s where we get together and tell ghost stories and just talk." The anticipation in her eyes displayed her enthusiasm. Using the photocopied map, she showed them the location of the Big Firepit.

"She’s a cute girl," Tim commented once inside the Jeep.

"It’s odd, though. The campground is strictly adults-only. Sort of a strange rule when Brenda has a daughter."

Their campsite was lovely and in a heavily wooded area. The mature trees and undergrowth almost formed a green room in the forest. There was a firepit and a picnic table. Previous campers had left a clothesline strung between two trees. They smiled at each other.

Matt popped open the rear hatch of the Jeep. They mutually decided on the placement of the tent after inspecting the area for rocks and exposed roots. Before they pitched the tent, they laid a tarp as a groundcloth.

"I think this is the center pole," Tim said as he assembled the long nylon pole. He began to slide it into the sleeves. Tim assembled the two smaller poles while Matt pounded the plastic stakes into the ground with a mallet. They unloaded the other gear: lawn chairs, coolers, a 30-gallon plastic tote that Matt had purchased to put all the kitchen gear in, and their clothing and personal hygiene supplies. Matt left the first aid kit in the Jeep. They set up the innovative new dining canopy. It was dome-shaped and the ad said the round shape would hold the heat of the camp stove.

"Let’s go to the beach," Tim suggested.

Matt wiped the sweat from his brow. "Great idea. But let’s have a sandwich before we leave." In the dappled sunlight under the canopy of trees, they ate their simple lunch of turkey breast and cheese on wheat bread, chips and nectarines.

"You know, Matt, I always wondered which boy is your favorite?"

Matt took a bite of his sandwich and chewed thoughtfully for a few seconds. "I love them all equally."

Tim raised his eyebrows. "Come on! I know you have a favorite!"

"No, I really don’t," Matt insisted. "But, I love Brian because he’s like you."

"How so?"

"He’s strong and courageous, he stands up for what he believes in, and he’s loyal to the people he loves. He likes to be the center of attention, like you sometimes. He’s ambitious and he goes for what he wants in life. Now, let’s go swimming."

"I knew Brian was your favorite," Tim smiled smugly at him. Matt’s smile was a code still waiting to be cracked.

"I heard that there was a clothing-optional part of the beach," Tim said as Matt slipped behind the tent to put on his trunks.

Matt wrinkled his nose. "At a state park? I doubt it."

"Still, it would be fun...."

"We’ll check it out," Matt answered noncommittally.

Tim sighed. "You and your body image hang-ups." Tim watched Matt load a used potato sack filled with coffee cans, plastic cups, old spoons and a Tupperware bowl orphaned without it’s lid.

"What’s that shit?"

"For building sand castles."

"And I’m the one who’s supposed to be a big kid."

As they entered the park, they commented with pleasure at the cleanliness and tidiness of the green oasis. They crossed the clean white beach. The weather was perfect for swimming; in the mid-eighties with high humidity. The sky was a bit hazy, and there was a strong south wind. They staked out an area and marked it with beach towels and a cooler with beverages.

"This seems to be a family beach," Tim said disappointedly. "Family in the traditional sense," he amended himself.

"No PDA, kiddo."


"Public Displays of Affection."

"Man, I was really looking forward to walking down the beach holding hands."

Matt straightened a beach towel on the sand. Then he grinned, looked Tim directly in the eyes, and tapped his shoulder.

"What? What is that supposed to mean?"

"Tag. You’re It." Matt laughed and ran toward the water.

"You shithhead!" Tim shouted before he realized that there were little children nearby.

"God, the water’s cold!" Matt exclaimed.

Indeed, the water was cold. They splashed each other, allowing the cold waters of Lake Michigan to chill their skin. They swam out to where they could barely touch the bottom. Tim grabbed Matt around the waist, slipped his hand under Matt’s trunks and wrapped his hand around his genitals.

"Tim! You’re going to get us arrested!"

"Relax. They can’t see underwater."

Matt’s cock responded to the attention, and soon he was erect, despite the chilly water. "Let’s see what we’ve got here," he said, tugging at the elastic waistband of Tim’s trunks. Matt slid his hand in, and found Tim’s cock semi-erect. It felt deliciously naughty to be groping each other in public and in broad daylight. They cast anxious glances toward the shore to see if anyone was watching. Everyone else seemed to be involved in their own swimming activities. There was one exception. A boy of indeterminate age had placed his towel on the sand near their towels.

"Wonder who he is," Tim voiced the obvious.

"The water is getting cold. And if I don’t stop we surely will be arrested for public indecency."

They smiled at the boy who greeted them in a piping voice. "Hi."

As they toweled off their hair, Matt and Tim exchanged amused glances. The youngster had registered on their gaydar. He was a stunning young man, perhaps a bit on the skinny side, but that could be excused by his adolescence. He had dark hair and soulful hazel eyes. He had a very mischievous grin that spoke volumes to the two adults.

Matt carried the potato sack of containers to the shore. With his heal, he drew a rectangle in the sand. Tim opened the sack and started to pack a Folger’s can with damp sand.

The boy sat on his towel for a while and watched in silence. As the huge sandcastle took shape, a shadow appeared over them.

It was the boy. "Awesome castle."

"Thanks," Tim replied.

"Can I help?" he asked shyly.

"Grab a coffee can," Matt invited.

"What’re your names?" he asked them.

"I’m Matt, this is Tim." They exchanged another private glance.

The boy offered his hand, first to Matt then to Tim. "I’m Ben."

"Nice to meet you, Ben."

"How old are you guys?"

Tim smiled condescendingly. "I’m twenty-five. Matt is thirty-four." He overturned the Tupperware bowl. The result was a domed sand stadium. "How old are you?"

"Fifteen," he said almost defensively.

"I have a son who is just about your age."

"Really? Is he here?"

"No, he’s at home."

Ben’s disappointment was palpable. "Do you have other kids?"

Tim spoke up, "We have a son who is eleven and a foster son who is fourteen."

"Cool! I wish I could meet them."

"Maybe next time," Matt said. Then, after a beat, he added, "I could give you Brian’s email address. I’m sure he‘ll be pleased to write to you."

Ben brightened. "Cool."

Matt brought out the camera and took pictures of the castle and Ben. Tim suggested they shower off and head back to the campground.

"It was nice to meet you," Matt formally shook his hand.

Ben was crestfallen. He knew the two men were gay and he had so many questions to ask them. Especially now that he discovered they had sons, too. Were they gay? Wonder what it would be like to have a gay dad who understood what I was feeling? Ben consoled himself with two thoughts: First, he was a resident and he still had the whole summer ahead of him. He was determined to hook up with someone by the end of the summer. Second, he had a plan to meet up with Tim and Matt again in a very short time.

Matt and Tim entered the changing area and showers located near the parking area. It was a cinder block building painted tan with dark green trim. When they entered the men’s changing area, they heard the sound of water running.

"Oh my God!" Matt whispered. "Look who’s in the shower."

Tim peered around the corner and spotted Ben fully nude in the shower with an erection that stood at a 90-degree angle to his body. He never looked directly at the two men, but he acknowledged their presence with a grin that held both promise and danger. Tim covered his mouth.

"Let’s get out of here!" Matt tugged on his elbow.

In the Jeep with the open windows whistling in the wind, Tim commented, "I’m sure he’s not the first one to masturbate in that showerhouse."

"True, but he was obviously underage and I don’t want to give any ammunition to anyone. They might use it against us. Remember what Marty said. We’re in the public eye now. Remember what Amanda said when we registered? She said, ‘I wanted to meet you.’"


"So, that means word is spreading. Maybe Brenda read the article in Windy City Weekly. Who knows? We just have to be careful. Besides, we can shower at the campground."

Before they even returned to their campsite, they stopped at the shower house. It was spotlessly clean. Matt carried a Zip-loc bag full of miniature toiletries. There were outdoor showers as well as indoor ones, and the indoor showers came in two flavors. There were enclosed showers and a larger shower room for communal cleanliness. They were alone in the building.

"I expect you to finish what you started."

"What I started?"

"Yes, Mr. McGraw. What you started in the lake."

Tim led them into the shower room, but Matt stopped him. "I’d rather go in a booth."


"I don’t want an audience if someone wanders in."

The shower they had chosen could have accommodated four or five men. But on this afternoon, two men in love was more than enough. Their lips locked as soon as Tim latched the door shut.

"Kinda like our first time," Tim whispered, his voice ragged with lust.

"I know how much you like sex in water."

"You know me too well, Matthew." He reached around to Matt’s ass and slipped a soapy finger in his hole. Matt’s ass tightened around his finger. He pushed back. He needed Tim. Already his breath was quickened and his heart rate elevated in anticipation.

"I need you, Tim." Matt turned around and placed his hands flat on the bench and presented his ass to his lover.

Normally, Tim was a gentle and considerate lover. But it had been several weeks since they had had serious sex. The demands of raising three boys, plus Tim’s bout with the measles had put a damper on their sex life. Tim positioned his erect love pole directly at Matt’s pucker and entered him roughly. Matt let out a small cry of pain, but welcomed the invader.

For better balance and better access to Matt’s defenseless hole, Tim placed a foot on the bench not far from one of Matt’s hands. He plowed Matt’s ass mercilessly. Matt was ready for it. More, he wanted it and needed it. He trusted Tim in all matters sexual, and knew Tim would never hurt him. Sure, he might push the envelope with a bit of roughness, but by this time, the limits were understood by both men and words were superfluous.

The pain generating from his hindquarters subsided into pleasure, and Matt wriggled his ass. "Fuck me hard, Tim," he whispered.

Tim was more than glad to comply. He pumped even more vigorously and clamped his callused hands on Matt’s hips.

Matt urged him on further. "Give it to me, Tim. Come on. Fuck my hole."

He began involuntarily grunting with each of Tim’s thrusts, creating a rhythm. Just as the bench began banging against the wall, Tim pulled out. Matt knew he was ready to climax.

He spun around, and took Tim’s balls in his hands and tugged gently. Tim liked pressure on his testicles – but not too much. Matt had learned the correct touch.

"Oh, yes, Matt. That’s right. Oh, God, I’m cumming!"

Matt moved his own cock closer so that it would be baptized by Tim’s hot juice. Matt loved the feeling, Tim knew it, and he aimed his cock toward Matt’s genitals. With a loud grunt, he ejaculated on Matt’s cock and balls. He shook with pleasure as the last of the cum drained from him.

Matt began stroking himself as he used Tim’s spunk as lubricant. Tim pulled his lover closer and kissed him. It was all Matt needed, and he let loose a huge stream of cum on Tim’s thigh.

"That was so good," Tim whispered in Matt’s ear.

"It was excellent." He playfully slapped Tim’s ass. "Let’s get cleaned up and make some dinner."

"I can’t believe how hungry I am," Tim commented as he dove into the grilled chicken breast with vegetables. Several days before, Matt had marinated the chicken breasts in soy sauce. When the fire was ready, he grilled them just long enough to pick up some of the smoky flavor but not cook them through. He then placed the semi-cooked chicken in aluminum foil with frozen vegetables and a dollop of commercial teriyaki sauce. He returned the foil packets to the fire, turning them once.

"This is so delicious, Matt. How did you learn to cook like this?"

"Trial and error when I was a camp counselor. Sunday night was always the cook’s night off so we had a campfire with our cabin. We could cook anything we wanted, as long as we let the cooks know what we were going to do in advance. All the other counselors chose to do franks and beans. It was easy, and the kids liked them. After the first year, I decided I was going to do something different. So, I found a few books, picked out some recipes, made out a shopping list and gave it to the cooks at the beginning of camp. Sure, there were a few failures the first year. But after that, the whole camp wanted to see what was for dinner at Calumet cabin."

Tim helped to clean up and put the rest of the food away. By this time it was getting dark. Matt recalled his father saying that every meal takes at least an hour when you are camping.

Tim and Matt sat side-by-side in the glow of the fire. Citronella candles helped deter the hoards of bugs as well as added a pleasant scent. They held hands and talked about the boys, the future, and about their relationship. Matt inserted a tape of Enigma’s MCMXC A.D. The odd juxtaposition of Gregorian chants with a hip-hop beat and ethereal keyboards soon lulled them into silence as they watched the fire.

The darkness of night took it’s time to arrive, but once it did, it seemed to blanket the campground quickly. Soon after, Brenda and her lover walked the campground roads carrying a propane lantern and announcing that Stories and S’mores would be starting shortly. The two men exchanged smiles.

"No doubt they’ll want to tell us stories about their new diesel pickup trucks and flannel shirts," Tim mumbled.

"Tim!" But Matt covered his mouth and giggled.

Tim carried a flashlight. They could smell the smoke before they arrived. A huge bonfire had been built in teepee style in the firepit. Logs encircled the fire. The lantern now sat on a picnic table north of the gathering area. It lit the table so the campers could see the makings of S’mores. Most campers surrounded the table laid out with Graham crackers, marshmallows and Hershey bars. On the ground near the table, they had thoughtfully placed a pile of long sticks on which to roast the marshmallows.

Matt sat on a log, and observed Tim as he assembled ingredients for the two of them. Tim smiled and chatted with the other campers easily. Matt smiled with pride. That man is mine.

Brenda stood and welcomed them. Her voice rang out in the clearing and could easily be heard over the fire. "Thank you all for coming. Hope you enjoy the S’mores. There’s a water outlet to wash your hands when you’re done over near the table. Please save the sticks – we’ll use them again. After we sandpaper the marshmallow off." The gathering chuckled. "We get together to tell stories – they don’t necessarily have to be ghost stories – but they usually are. Feel free to join in. In you do tell a story, please introduce yourself first, and tell us a little about yourself. I’ll start off by telling the story of The Hitchhiker."

Tim handed Matt a stick with a perfectly roasted marshmallow on the end. "Be careful," he whispered to Matt.

After they had finished eating the sticky treat, they quietly washed their hands and returned to their spot. Tim sat on the ground in front of Matt and Matt wrapped his arms around him. During the various speakers, he nuzzled his ear and kissed his neck. He loved the vibration he could feel when Tim chuckled and the movement of his chest as he breathed.

"Look at all those stars," Tim whispered.


Most of the stories fell into the category of urban legends. There was the story of the babysitter whose home is invaded, the required tale of the mental institution escapee, and the lovers in a car interrupted by a dead body hanging over the vehicle. One man recited a long, romantic, apparently original poem.

"I’ve heard most of these stories before," Matt whispered to Tim.

"So, why don’t you tell one?"

"I don’t know which one to tell."

"What about Resurrection Mary? You told that to the boys one night."

There was a lull in the stories. The circle of orange faces watched the sparks as they drifted to the north of the fire, rose up and appeared to become stars.

Tim spoke up. "My husband knows the real story of Resurrection Mary. Oh, I’m Tim, and this is my hubby, Matt. We live in Park Forest."

A man’s voice spoke up. "Aren’t you the ones who adopted the gay son? I read your story in the Windy City Weekly."

"Yes, that’s us."

"Bravo for you two!" He began clapping sincerely. A few others joined him, hesitantly at first, then in earnest for the bravery and courage it took to accomplish such a goal. "My name is Jerry. I live in Forest Park. This is my significant other, Arthur."

"Park Forest and Forest Park," Matt laughed. "It has nice symmetry."

"With all due respect, Matt, I think some of us would like to hear about how you did it. Not that we don’t want to hear your story about Resurrection Mary. How long have you been together?"

Tim looked up at Matt. "Just over a year. We just had – I mean, missed – our first anniversary."

Tim slapped his forehead. "God, I knew I forgot something!"

Friendly laughter greeted his exclamation. Matt kissed his cheek.

Matt spotted Amanda and wondered why he hadn’t noticed her presence before. She was smiling and nodding encouragement.

Matt smiled at Jerry across the fire, and began the story. The circle of orange faces listened in rapt attention. Tim knew he was somewhat uncomfortable about being a celebrity. Matt didn’t consider himself a celebrity or anyone special or remarkable. He was simply doing what he knew – being a parent. Matt had also explained to him that Americans were under the mistaken impression that the lives of celebrities were open to inspection. Still, on a different level, Tim also knew he loved the attention.

The gathering broke up soon after Matt’s story. Many shook hands or hugged him as they headed back toward their campsite. Their words of praise were genuine.

Amanda caught up with them as they walked back. Her footsteps crunched in the gravel road.

"Thanks, Matt," she said as she embraced him. "Now, I know I’m not alone. I’m not gay, but my mom is. It makes me feel better to know that there are kids my age going through the same thing."

What a sweet girl, Matt thought. If I ever adopted a girl, this is what I would want her to be like. Honest, open and brave. "Thanks, Amanda. Before we leave, I’ll give you my email address so we can keep in touch. My son Brian likes pen pals as well."

She turned to Tim. "Can I have a hug from you, too?"

"Of course, sweetheart." She whispered something in his ear as she did.

She released him. "Bye! Thanks again!" Then she ran down the road again.

"What did she say to you?" Matt asked after she was out of earshot.

"She said, ‘Too damn bad you’re gay.’"

"I’m so tired," Matt yawned as he burrowed under the sleeping bag they had unzipped so they could sleep together.

"This air mattress is comfortable." He kissed Matt. "You’re not mad at me, are you?"

"For what, hon?"

"For forgetting our anniversary. And for getting you to tell the story about the kids tonight."

"For the anniversary, hell, no. I forgot, too. As for the story about the adoption – no, I’m not mad. I’m a little concerned about the boys, and what’s going to happen when word gets out at school." He sighed. "But I’m sure it’s going to happen sooner or later. We’ll just have to deal with it when it does."

"Was that lightning?"

"No, I think it was someone’s headlights." He kissed Tim, and tweaked his nipple. "Speaking of headlights...."

"Do you ever think about what we gave up to raise kids?"

"What do you mean?" Matt asked him.

"Well with our incomes, we could do a lot more than go camping for our anniversary. We could be like lots of other gay men and take vacations anywhere we want, we could own a house, and maybe even a vacation house. We could drive the newest cars and own all the electronic toys. I always wanted a boat."

Matt knitted his eyebrows, although he doubted Tim could see his facial expression. "Of course not. Do you want those things, Tim?"

"No, not at all," he answered honestly. Then, he smiled. "Well, except for the boat. I just wondered. A lot of the lives of other gay men seem to be empty. I love seeing the boys grow and change. And I know that I’m helping them become adults. The other day before you got home from work, Tommy hugged me and told me how much he loved me. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I don’t give a shit if we have to eat hot dogs instead of lobster."

Matt kissed him again. "I love you so much, Tim." As they kissed again with passion, a gust of wind buffeted the tent. "I thought it was supposed to be sunny all weekend." The fingertips of his right hand found Tim’s cock. It instantly sprang to life.

"Want a blowjob, big boy?"

"You need to ask?"

Matt plunged down on his hard cock. He slowly withdrew, inhaled a deep breath through his nostrils, then plunged down again. Tim’s hands gripped the sleeping bag. As Matt sucked the hot pole, he remembered to move his tongue against the head of Tim’s cock. Tim loved that, he knew.

"Fuck me, Matt. Please." Matt didn’t need to be asked twice. They both giggled as he fumbled for the flashlight, then for his shaving kit which contained the lube. The lube spit in Matt’s hand, and they both laughed at the sound. Matt leaned over and kissed him as his middle finger probed his tender hole.

Tim grimaced in pain as Matt’s middle finger slid in, but shortly his hole relaxed as did the creases on his forehead.

"Do it to me, Matt."

Matt spaced his knees apart for balance, and guided his cock into Tim. Matt loved to fuck face-to-face. He liked to watch Tim’s face – the face of the man he loved as much as life itself. He wanted to see the effects of his efforts as he invaded his body.

Matt started slowly, then increased the rhythm. Tim placed his hands on Matt’s shoulders, and held on for dear life. His head rolled from left to right as he moaned.

"Yeah, Matt! Give it to me!" Matt responded with even faster thrusts. Tim came first, and Matt felt his hot hole pulse and throb as he ejaculated. The sensation pushed Matt over the edge. He withdrew from Tim’s ass and came on Tim’s balls.

Matt threw his head back and released a deep sigh of contentment. A flash of lightning illuminated the tent.

"Uh-oh, looks like we’re going to get it now."

"Is everything packed away?" Tim asked.

"Not hardly."

"Let’s put away as much as we can, then. It’ll be much easier than trying to dry it off before we pack to go home."

They took some time to clean themselves up. Matt moistened a washcloth with some of their drinking water. He cleaned himself, then moistened another and handed it to Tim. They slipped on sandals and shorts to pack the Jeep with nonessential items such as the lawn chairs and the clothes that were hanging on the line. Matt put the damp clothes in Zip-loc bags.

"You’re all about Zip-loc bags, aren’t you?" Tim teased.

Matt checked to see that the food cooler and the propane stove were within easy reach in the back of the Jeep. He reasoned that if it rained for any length of time, starting a fire in the morning would be difficult. They could eat cold cereal and fruit for breakfast, but hot coffee was essential.

They tied a piece of clothesline between two trees at the foot and the front of the tent and pulled it taut. Over the line they draped a plastic tarp so that it did not touch the tent itself. They tied the corners to adjoining trees. The tarp would give them additional protection from the rain, yet still allow air to circulate underneath.

The wind picked up even more, and rain started to splatter as they rejoined each other in the tent. They had essentially packed up everything but the tent and the dining canopy.

Snug in each other’s arms, they watched the silhouettes of the tangled tree limbs each time the lightning flashed. The rain came down in torrents, but the tent was dry and comfortable.

"You really lucked out when you bought this tent. It’s a good one."

"And I really lucked out with you. Not only someone that I love, but someone who has the same values as me. Someone that cares about other people, especially kids."

"I love you, Matt. Happy anniversary."

"I love you, too, Tim."

The rain continued off and on all night, yet they remained dry in their tent. The morning was cool and damp and they both donned sweatshirts. Matt had packed packets of instant oatmeal that they ate along with red seedless grapes and coffee. Matt had bought a toaster designed to sit on top of a stove burner. Tim said it looked like a medieval instrument of torture.

"I guess I need to practice with it." Matt said ruefully.

"What do you think about going home?"

Matt considered it. "Do you want to?"

"Yeah, I miss the boys."

"I miss them, too. Too bad they don’t allow kids here. They would love it. Well, we got some valuable practice out of the deal." Matt smiled. "And a little action."

"And a little action," Tim agreed.

"Levin residence, Mike speaking."

"Hi, Mike, it’s Matt."

"Oh, hi, Matt. Having a good time?"

"Except for the rain. How are things going?"

"Good. Here, I’ll let you talk to my mom." He put down the phone. "MOM!"

"This is Leah."

"Hi, Leah! How are thing?"

"Good. The boys are doing well."

"Great! Leah, we’ve decided to come home a day early because of the rain."

"Oh, you don’t have to. We’re doing just fine here."

"I know, and I appreciate your efforts to give us some time alone. But we miss the boys."

"How sweet. Well, when shall we expect you?"

"We’ll be on the road as soon as we can strike camp."

"Very good, Matt. Take care. Drive safely."

Matt laughed. She used her Jewish mother instincts even on him. "Yes, ma’am."

After she hung up the phone, Leah pointed to Jake. "You get busy, mister. Your parents are going to be angry enough with you as it is."

Jake returned to his task.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome. I read and respond to all email (even if it takes a few days) Just click on one of the links below. And don't forget to check out my website (Chapters are always posted there earlier than here) and my other story here on Nifty, Pocketful of Stars, in the Young Friends section.

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