This is a fictional story dealing with love and consensual sexual activities between males. If you are not of legal age, reside in an area where viewing such material is illegal, or are offended by homosexuality and/or homosexual themes, leave this site now.
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Note: Thanks to Tim and Rock for feedback on the draft chapters. I owe a special thanks to Robb for doing the final proofreading and catching all those silly little errors I missed.
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Derek drove on the way up to Adams State. I sat in the front seat and enjoyed the view as the rolling hills of the Piedmont in Georgia and South Carolina gave way to the foot hills and mountains of North Carolina.
In Douglas, Arizona, where we'd lived before Daddy moved us back to his home place in Indian Crossing, the mountains had always been visible ‑ but in the distance. These mountains were different. They were softer, more graceful in many ways than the rocky peaks of the Pedregosa Mountains. We were actually in the mountains and surrounded by their embrace.
As we climbed in elevation, we started to see patches of snow. Derek, Scott, and I grew excited. We weren't used to snow. It had only snowed twice in all the time we'd lived in Fenokachee County.
I knew it had been a cold winter. We got the ski reports on the Weather Channel. But this was the last week of March. Man, there had been azaleas blooming in Atlanta! Now, we were seeing snow on the ground!
We got into town in time to catch a quick lunch at a fast food restaurant before finding our way to campus.
We located the athletic offices, and were greeted warmly by the receptionist. That was no surprise. All of the places had hired friendly receptionists. Guess being friendly was part of the job description. Duh.
An assistant coach came out to meet us. He introduced himself as Roy Darnell, one of the defensive coaches. He took us back to the conference room. We anticipated the high pressure sales pitch.
We didn't get it.
Darnell began, "Gentlemen, we're really pleased to have you visiting our campus today. I hope you had a pleasant trip. As you can see, winter is still trying to hang on up here. In fact, they're predicting another bit of snow tonight.
"We'll want to talk with you all about our football program later, but our players are students first, so we want you to see the campus and talk with a faculty advisor before we talk about football. Derek, you indicated on your application that you're thinking about pre-law, so we've got an appointment set up for you with Dr. Luke Madison, the Chair of the History Department. Many of our pre-law students major in history. If you want to talk with someone in another department, I can arrange that."
"No, sir, I was thinking that I'd probably major in history."
"Good. Brett, you indicated that you're thinking about a medical career. Your appointment is with Dr. Gary Griffith, the Chair of the Biology Department. Most of our pre-med students major in either biology or chemistry. Is that okay with you?"
"Yes, sir, that's fine."
Derek and I exchanged quick glances. This visit was certainly starting out differently than the first three.
Coach Darnell turned to Daddy, "Mr. Privette, I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but as we came back to the conference room, I noticed that you were having some difficulty walking. I can have Robbie, the player who's going to be showing you around, load you all in one of the field carts. It will save you a good bit of walking. Remember, on this campus, it's either uphill or down hill. Our football field is one of the few flat areas on campus."
Daddy smiled. "No offense taken, Coach. I think I'll take you up on your offer. Being from the swamp lands of Southern Geogia, I'm not much used to climbing hills."
"Good. Robbie should be out in the lobby now. If you're all ready, you can start the campus tour. Head Coach Stevenson and I will be here when you get back."
He led the way back toward the lobby.
As we entered the lobby, a big, young man rose from one of the chairs to meet us. Derek and I are 6'2". This guy had to be 6'4" or 6'5". He wore loose fitting clothes, but you could still tell that he had a very muscular physique with a broad chest and much narrower waist. He was good-looking, in a rugged sort of way, with a combination of very dark curly hair, an olive complexion, and light greenish hazel eyes that reflected some ethnic mixing in his ancestry.
Coach Darnell seemed surprised to see him.
"Josh, what are you doing here? I thought Robbie was going to be doing the tour."
"Robbie's stressing out over an exam he has later this afternoon. I'm filling in for him."
The big man came forward with his hand extended. "I'm Josh Locklear. I'm the strength coach for the team, and up until last May, I was a student and player here at Adams State." He shook hands with each of us as we introduced ourselves.
Coach Darnell told Josh about using one of the field carts, made his excuses and left us in the hands of our tour guide.
As we walked downstairs to get one of the field carts, Grandpa Jackson asked, "Where are you from, Josh?"
"Well, I grew up in Maxton, North Carolina. It's in the eastern part of the state near Lumberton and Laurinburg."
"I've been through that area a few times. Locklear's a pretty common name down in those parts, isn't it?"
"Yes, sir. There aren't a whole lot of different surnames in the Lumbee Tribe."
"How does a guy from the flat lands of Eastern North Carolina adapt to the hills and the snow up here in the mountains?"
Josh's chuckle was full of warmth and humor. "I have to admit, it was hard the first winter. In fact, the whole first year was hard, for a number of reasons, but I love it up here now." He looked directly at Derek and me. "You'll love it up here, too. That is, if you decide to come here."
Daddy asked the next question, "What position did you play?"
"I was a middle linebacker. Ah, here we are. Let's take this cart. We're heading over to the History Department first."
Josh pointed out the various buildings as he drove the cart and watched out for the students on the sidewalks. He brought the cart to a stop outside Platt Hall and led us upstairs to the History Department office.
The secretary smiled warmly at Josh when we all walked in the office. Josh went over and took her hand.
"Hi, Lauren. Is Dr. Madison in?"
"Yes. Go right on in."
As we entered the office a trim, shorter man, with glasses and a goatee got up from behind the desk. He looked like he was probably in his late thirties or early forties. "Josh! Man, it's good to see you!"
He gave Josh a handshake and a shoulder hug.
"Dr. Madison, I'd like to introduce you to Mr. Robert Jackson and his grandson, Derek. And this is Mr. Nick Privette and his sons, Brett and Scott."
Dr. Madison shook hands with each of us, then motioned for us to sit around the small conference table in the office.
He talked for a good half hour with Derek and Grandpa Jackson about the pre-law program at Adams State and about the kinds of classes that Derek would need to take as well as the kinds of grades he would need to maintain for admission to law schools.
"It's a competitive field, so grades are very important. If you're playing football, there's a lot of time you're going to be spending with the team. That's time away from your studies. You need to make sure you keep up with your classes or you won't be able to get into a law school after graduation."
We'd visited three other schools, and this was the first time we'd talked with a real professor about classes.
As we left his office, Dr. Madison gave each of us one of his business cards and told us to call him if we had any questions or if he could help us in any way. He and Josh exchanged another quick hug, then we were on our way back downstairs to the waiting field cart.
As we were getting into the cart, Daddy remarked to Josh, "You seem to know Dr. Madison pretty well."
He chuckled again, "Yeah. I had two classes with him the summer between my junior and senior years. I'd avoided history all the way through school, but Dr. Madison really made the class interesting. He's one of my most favorite profs. By the way, I was a biology major. My very most favorite prof is the person we're going to see now, Dr. Griffith."
Once again Josh threaded his way through the students on the sidewalks as we made our way to the other side of campus. Several of the students we passed waved at Josh or called out his name. He always smiled and returned the greeting.
In the Biology office, the secretary jumped up from behind her desk and greeted Josh with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Josh introduced us to her, and as he finished the intros a strikingly handsome man came out of the inner office. He looked like he was in his mid thirties, but I figured he had to be older than that. He was about 5' 11" and maybe 175 pounds with gray-blue eyes and curly dark brown hair that was just starting to show some gray at the temples. I noticed a very distinctive gold ring on the third finger of his left hand. Darn...married.
He and josh greeted each other with big smiles accompanied by a full chest to chest hug and lots of back patting.
"Folks, this is Dr. Gary Griffith. We just call him Doc. Doc, I'd like you to meet...." and he made the introductions.
Dr. Griffith smiled and shook hands with each of us. He ushered us out of the office and into a small conference room where he talked to all of us, but especially to Daddy and me, about the biology program and the demands of being a student athlete who intended to get into a medical school after graduation. At the end of the meeting, he handed each of us one of his business cards and told us to get in touch with him if we had any questions just like Dr. Madison had.
Doc Griffith and Josh shared another hug as we left.
On our way out of the building Josh said, "As you can tell, I know Doc Griffith pretty well. I had a real rough patch my freshman year, and the only reason I got through it was because of the support I got from some friends, from Doc, and from the coaches."
The next stop on Josh's tour was the field house.
As Josh was showing us the main locker room, Derek said, "Josh, I have to tell you that I really like what I've seen here, but I need to ask you a question."
"Go ahead. Shoot."
"What do you do about gay guys on the team?"
Josh sat down on one of the locker room benches. "We don't do anything about them. By that, I mean there are homosexual players on every sports team here at Adams State, just as there are on every sports team at every other school. The difference here is that we don't expect our gay and lesbian teammates to stay in the closet, and we don't ostracize them, if and when, they come out of the closet. Homophobia is just plain not allowed here. If you've got a problem, or even think you'll have a problem being on the same team with some gay teammates, then Adams State is not the place for you."
Derek broke into a huge grin. "That's not going to be a problem for us."
I said, "What Mr. Big Mouth here is trying to say is that he's straight, but not narrow. I'm the gay guy."
Josh smiled and replied, "Well, it's always nice to meet another member of the family."
He laughed at our stunned expressions.
"Yup, I'm gay. Always have been. The coaches know it. The team knows it. It's not a problem."
Josh continued, "Listen, it's almost time for us to go up and talk with Coach Stevenson. I'll give you guys my phone number and email address, so please get in touch with me when you decide what school you're going to. I imagine that you're going to spend the night up here and drive back to Georgia tomorrow, right?"
"Then, if you like Italian food, let me suggest Cantana's Restaurant for dinner. My partner, Brandon Harris, is one of the waiters over there, and he's working tonight. Ask for him if you go there, and I'll tell Brandon to be on the lookout for you guys."
Josh led us out of the locker room, up the stairs, and back into the same office complex where we'd started a couple of hours earlier. He led us straight into the conference room. Coach Darnell was already there with another man, who turned out to be Coach Matt Stevenson.
Coach Stevenson and Josh exchanged hugs. Then Josh introduced all of us to Coach Stevenson.
He was a young man, for being a head coach...I guessed early to mid thirties. He had classic good looks, including a small cleft in his chin. His hair was a sort of sandy brown, and he had blue eyes. He'd taken over as head coach when John Schroeder, who had been the head coach for years, retired at the end of the last season. I noticed the ring on the third finger of his left hand. The design was very distinctive, and I'd noticed a very similar ring on Doc Griffith's left hand. Could it be?
Coach Stevenson asked how we liked the campus tour and if we had any questions.
Grandpa Jackson spoke up, "The tour was very informative. I have to tell you, Coach Stevenson, this is the fourth campus we've visited to talk about football scholarships, and this is the first time the boys were able to talk with some real faculty members. I want to compliment you on that."
"Thank you, Mr. Jackson. Here at Adams State, our athletes are students first. Sure they're playing football or some other sport, but when they graduate very few will go on to careers in professional sports. Most are going to go into business, or some other profession. We would be cheating them if we didn't prepare them academically for their careers after graduation. I know from looking at the files that Derek and Brett are both intending to go into graduate professional programs. Academics are even more important for them." He looked directly at Derek and me. "Fellas, it's going to be tough to be both students and athletes. The coaching staff thinks you two have got some real talent, and we think you could be important contributors to our team. However, if you don't think you can balance both the time demands of studying and the time demands of practice and games, then you'd better scrap the idea of playing football. From your grades and SAT scores, I think both of you would be able to get some fine academic scholarships."
Derek replied, "Brett and I are aware that it's going to be difficult to both get the grades we need and contribute to the team. As my grandfather said, this is the first place where anyone has said anything about academics. We're impressed. There's also been another consideration as we've been looking at schools and football programs. Brett is my best friend, and he and I want to be at the same place for college."
I broke in, "Sir, one of the things that has worried me about playing football in college is the fact that I'm gay. I decided several months ago that I wouldn't play sports in college if the team didn't accept openly gay athletes. We've asked a question about that at each of the places we've been. This is the first place where we've gotten the right answer. It sounds like I'd be accepted here."
Coach Stevenson smiled. One side of his mouth turned up more than the other.
"I'm glad you told me, Brett. Since you're telling me this in the presence of your father, brother, Derek, and Mr. Jackson, I assume that you're out, at least to them. Correct?"
"I'm gay, too. My partner and I have been completely accepted here by the other coaches, by the students, and by our players. If you hadn't already asked Josh a question about the treatment of gay athletes at Adams State, then I would have told all of you here in this meeting. Everyone is accepted and valued on this team. I don't want a player on the team who can't be a teammate to someone because of their race, religion, political affiliation, or sexual identity. I can't take credit for that policy, Coach Schroeder established it when he hired me as an assistant coach knowing I'm gay"
Jeez, the head coach is gay! And that ring. Could it be that Coach Stevenson and Doc Griffith are a couple?
I looked over at Derek. He nodded.
"Coach, I think Derek and I are ready to sign letters of intent."
Coach Stevenson smiled that crooked smile of his again. "That's wonderful, Brett. I'm glad you feel that way, but we won't be signing any letters of intent today."
"That doesn't mean we don't want both of you here. However, I don't want you to sign a letter today. I want you and Derek to go home and think about it. Talk it over with your parents. Talk to your high school coach. Talk with your minister. Talk it out between the two of you. If you guys still feel the same way in a week, then call me. I'll have someone come down there with the letters for you to sign."
I was surprised by Coach Stevenson's position. All the other programs we'd talked with put pressure on us to sign the very day we were on campus.
Daddy said, "I have to say, this seems a little unusual."
Coach smiled again. "It may be unusual, Mr. Privette, but we want players who truly want to be here. If an athlete isn't happy with the school or the sports program, then they aren't going to be putting forth their best effort."
We talked for another fifteen minutes or so before the meeting broke up.
Mr. Jackson had booked two double rooms for us. When we got to the motel, Derek suggested that he, Scott, and I stay in one of the rooms with Daddy and Grandpa Jackson sharing the other room. His stated reasoning was so that he and I could talk about our plans. I think I saw Daddy blushing.
We decided to try the place Josh had suggested for dinner. We changed into some nicer clothes, and it was good that we did. Cantana's looked like an upscale sort of place, and it appeared to be popular. Even though the weather had turned sort of nasty, the parking lot was filled with cars. Daddy and Grandpa Jackson had a discussion about who would pay for the meal. They finally decided to split the bill right down the middle.
Daddy grumbled that he wasn't going to be paying his fair share, and Derek's grandfather said something about working out the difference in trade. I tried to pretend that I hadn't heard the remark.
We were greeted at the door by a white haired man with a wrinkled face whose quick steps and easy smile made him seem much younger.
"Good evening, gentlemen. Do you have a reservation?"
Mr. Jackson answered. "No, we're from out of town, and a Josh Locklear told us this was the best place in town to eat. Will there be a long wait?"
"Ah, you must be the Jacksons and the Privettes. Josh told his friend that you might be eating here tonight. Welcome to Cantana's. I'm Leo Cantana. We'll make a table for you in the private dining room. Brandon, Josh's friend, will be your server. Just follow me. I hope you had a good trip here, and that this is just the first of many visits you will pay to Cantana's."
Mr. Cantana led us through the crowded restaurant to a back room. There were two tables set for six each. Mr. Cantana seated us at one of the tables, provided us with menus, and removed one of the table settings before disappearing.
A few minutes later, a tall and very well-built dark headed guy with a goatee came into the room. He had a long scar that cut through his left eyebrow and another on his left cheek bone that looked like a continuation of the one in his eyebrow. The scars could have made his face scary, but his warm, smiling eyes softened their effect. His white dress shirt and black pants accentuated his muscular build.
"Good evening, gentlemen. I'm Brandon, and I'll be serving your dinners this evening. I understand that you met my partner, Josh Locklear, earlier in the day. Josh told me to take special care of you since the team would like both of you (he looked at Derek and me) on the football team next year."
I noticed that his goatee hid another scar at the left corner of his mouth. This dude had been in some serious fights!
Brandon took our drink order, made some suggestions about items on the menu, and provided excellent service without seeming to be hovering over us all the time. Everyone said their food was delicious. My lasagna was the best I'd ever tasted, and I was stuffed well before the end of the meal.
After clearing away the dinner dishes, Brandon returned carrying a tray of some delicious looking pastries. Mr. Cantana followed him with another tray with a pot of coffee and five cups and saucers.
The two of them moved quickly placing desert plates and forks in front of each of us.
As Mr. Cantana was putting cups, saucers, and dessert plates in front of us, he said, "These are some of the wonderful desserts from our kitchen. The recipes are from my grandmother who was born in Italy. These are my gift to you. I hope to see you many, many more times when your sons are here in school."
Daddy protested, "Thank you, Mr. Cantana, but this is too much."
"Nonsense. It's good business. The next time you're in town, you'll remember the delicious meal you had here, and you'll come back." He chuckled as he walked back into the main dining room.
Back in the motel room Derek stretched out on one of the beds and groaned as he patted his stomach.
"Man, that was some good food. I don't think I'll need to eat for a week."
Scott bounced onto the bed that he and I would be sharing and said, "Derek, we're all teenagers. We'll be hungry in another hour or so."
"Not me, little buddy. I ate enough to last me a while. Say, what'd you think of our waiter? He looked like he had muscles on top of muscles. I sure wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley."
I sat on the bed next to Scott. "He looks sorta mean because of the scars on his face, but he had really kind eyes and a gentle voice."
"Whoa there, sport. I think the man is already taken. I wouldn't want to piss off Brandon's boyfriend. I think Josh has some muscles to spare, also."
"I know they're both taken, but they sure are nice to look at."
Derek tossed a pillow at my head.
On the drive back home the next day, Daddy and Grandpa Jackson really talked up Adams State. Derek and I would hear them talking in the back seat. One of them would start on about how nice the people were at Adams State and how nice the facilities were and so on. The song of praise was always followed by a "Well, of course it's Derek's and Brett's decision" thrown at us in the front seat. It got to be kind of funny. Truth was, Derek and I had pretty much made up our minds.
We'd talked about it in the hotel room. Scott had started watching some monster movie on TV, but fell asleep. I moved over to Derek's bed and we lay facing each other whispering our thoughts about the four schools we'd visited.
I should have told Derek that we didn't need to whisper `cause once Scott was asleep, a herd of elephants marching through the room wouldn't have disturbed him. I didn't tell him because whispering meant that we were lying with our faces close to one another. That's the way we fell asleep that night.
Back home in Indian Crossing, Derek talked with his parents on the telephone. They agreed with us that Adams State was the best choice.
We talked with our football coach. He wasn't too sure about Adams State. He said that he was concerned because the head coach was new that year, and that he'd "...heard some disturbing rumors about some of that coach's ideas." Our coach said that he wasn't sure the Adams State program would be the best for "...upstanding and moral young men like yourselves." Both of us read between the lines on that. Our coach was expressing his prejudice against homosexuals.
I also talked with Art Langdon about the different schools. Art said right off the bat that he had favored Georgia Southern for us, because that was his alma mater. However, after hearing about the program at Adams State, he thought that would be the best choice for me, if not for Derek as well.
At the end of the week, Derek placed a call to Coach Stevenson and told him that we'd thought about it, and we wanted to go to Adams State. Derek said that the coach sounded very pleased that we would be playing for him in the fall.
Josh Locklear called me the next evening to say that he would be coming down to Indian Crossing to bring our letters of intent. He said he'd asked Coach Stevenson for the job. We arranged for him to come down the following Friday, and once Daddy learned that Brandon would be accompanying Josh on the trip, he insisted that they stay overnight at the house.
That arrangement was going to be convenient for everyone since Derek had essentially been living at our place. After the Georgia State Legislature went back in session, Grandpa Jackson had to spend a lot of time up in Atlanta, and he stayed at his apartment up there most of the time.
Josh and Brandon were already out at the house when I got home after our track meet that Friday. I wasn't sure how to greet them, but Josh solved that problem by grabbing my hand and pulling me into a hug.
We chatted for a couple of minutes before Grandpa Jackson, who had come home from his legislative duties for the weekend, arrived. He was followed shortly by Derek. He was still in his baseball uniform. He'd been so excited about the letters of intent and about seeing Josh and Brandon again that he hadn't showered after the game.
While Derek grabbed a quick shower upstairs, the rest of us, except for Scott, had a beer. When Derek came down from his shower, we did the formal signing of the letters. Derek had turned eighteen two weeks earlier so he was able to sign for himself. I wasn't going to be eighteen until May 5, so Daddy had to sign under my signature.
With the formalities out of the way, Daddy and Grandpa Jackson started dinner preparations while the rest of us sat out on the porch in the warm Georgia spring evening.
During the dinner conversation, it came out that Brandon had been in the Army and had served in Iraq. Daddy and Derek's grandfather sort of monopolized Brandon for the rest of the evening. It wasn't until Grandpa Jackson had left for his house and Daddy had decided to go to bed that Brandon was able to join the rest of us on the porch.
I woke up early the next morning. Derek was sound asleep next to me in the bed. I decided to grab a shower before the rest of the guys started moving around. Josh and Brandon had told us that they would start back for Adams right after breakfast, and Derek was going to work with Art and me that day.
I should have knocked before going into the bathroom. Brandon was standing there in all his naked glory drying his hair. Holy cow, what a sight! Not only was Brandon built like some kind of muscle god with a dense forest of almost black hair on his chest and abs, he was also hung like a darn horse. Even flaccid, his circumcised dick was at least six inches long and two inches thick, and it rested over the top of a furry scrotum containing two hen-sized eggs.
"Uh...sorry...I forgot to knock," I managed to stammer out as I tried to get my eyes to move away from Brandon's impressive male equipment.
"Hey, don't worry about it. It doesn't bother me."
He turned to place the towel on the rack, and that's when I saw that most of his back and the back part of his left arm were covered with angry red scars.
"Jeezus, did you get those in Iraq?" It was out of my mouth before I could stop myself.
"Yeah, an RPG hit the fuel tank of a Humvee, and I was too close. I was lucky. A good friend of mine was killed in the blast."
"Jeez, Brandon, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything."
He smiled and placed his hand around the back of my neck. "It's okay, Brett. I was pretty self conscious about the scars for the first couple of years. I figured that no one would want to know me if they saw the scars. Then I met Josh, and the scars never phased him in the least. If they don't bother Josh, then I don't care what other people think about them."
"You guys really love each other, don't you?"
"Yeah, we do. In many ways, Josh and his unusual `family' have saved me from myself."
"I hope I can find a love like that some day."
"You love Derek, don't you?"
"Yeah, but he's straight."
"Give him some time, Brett. I get really mixed signals from Derek. He looks at you like someone who's in love but who hasn't realized it yet."
I laughed. "Man, I can only wish."
(To be continued)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Some of the characters who play parts in this story were previously introduced in "When Love Comes" (last posted in the College section on Sept. 6, 2001), "Love of a Lifetime" (last posted in the College section on May 19, 2003), "Finding Family" (last posted in the College section on June 5, 2008), or "Construction Job" (last posted in the College section on July 24, 2008). While not necessary, readers may find it useful to read the earlier stories posted on this site. All of the Adams State/Carterville stories listed above as well as my other stories are also posted at www.crvboy.com.
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