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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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Russ wanted to explain Art's strange reaction on meeting him. He asked us to find a place to park the Jeep so he could do that. Derek looked back at me in the rearview mirror. I said, "My house."
He nodded his head and turned toward the swamp road.
I leaned forward from the back seat of the Jeep, patted Russ' shoulder and said, "We're going back to my house. If we were pulled over anywhere here in town and people saw us, they'd come over and talk. It's one of the problems of growing up in a small town."
Russ nodded his head. He looked nervous. Whatever he had to tell us, it was really bothering him.
I led the way upstairs to my room. Derek and I tossed our jackets on our bed and sat down. Russ slowly took his jacket off and carefully placed it on the other bed before sitting down.
He looked at his hands for a few seconds before clearing his throat and looking up at us. His eyes were moist.
"You guys have been wonderful to me. I can't tell you how much I treasure your friendship. I've never made friends easily, and I've lost the few I've had. I'm afraid that when I tell you this, you won't want to be my friends anymore."
Derek and I moved across the room and sat down on either side of Russ. I took his hand.
"Russ, I can't say that it was easy breaking through that aloof New England exterior of yours. Derek and I like you a lot, but we've always thought you must be pretty lonely...just afraid to admit it."
Russ took a deep breath. "Thanks. That helps. I guess I'd better start at the beginning. My full name is Russell Cabot Lowell Shields IV. My family's an Old Line Boston family. We've been involved in business and government in Massachusetts for generations. My father's a lot older, certainly older than your dad is, Brett. He already had grown children when his first wife died and he married my mother. He's always been pretty distant...cold even. I hardly ever saw him except at dinner. My mother wasn't much warmer. They were always busy with some political cause or business deal."
He sighed. "As soon as I was old enough, I was shipped off to boarding school...actually to the same one that my father and grandfather had attended. I was always expected to be the top in the class in everything. That didn't win me a lot of friends, and most of my schoolmates who called me their friend were just trying to use me to gain social position and status. I know that sounds stuck up, but that's the way it was."
He paused briefly before plowing on. "I figured out that I was probably gay by the time I was thirteen. That was another reason not to let anyone get too close. The homophobia at the school I attended and in my parents' social circle was over the top. I knew my life would be over if anyone discovered that I was queer. Then in the summer between my junior and senior years, I screwed up. God, I've never told anyone this before..."
He wiped his hand across his eyes. Derek gently squeezed the back of his neck.
"Our gardener had a new assistant. He was only a couple of years older than me and he really turned me on. I spent the first part of the summer lusting after him. Finally, we found ourselves together in a remote part of the grounds. Nick...that was his name...Nicholas Sposza...unzipped his pants and pulled out his dick. He said he knew I wanted it. He told me to get down on my knees and suck it. God help me, that's just what I did. It was kind of rank...I don't think he'd had a shower that day...and I loved it. At that moment, I knew for certain that I was gay.
"Well, my father saw us. I don't know why he was home. He was never home in the middle of the day, but he was that day. He called me into his study before dinner. He and Mother were both there. I'll never forget the look of loathing and disgust on their faces. They told me I had disgraced the family. They ordered me to pack my things and to be out of the house before they finished with dinner. We had a house out on Cape Cod. I was to use that house the rest of the summer and then go directly back to school. They never wanted to see me again. My father told me that he would pay for my last year at prep school. If I managed to get through the last year of school without causing a `scandal' or creating `rumors,' he would put the car in my name and give me a $20,000 cashier's check. After that, I was on my own, and if I ever set foot on their property again, they would charge me with trespassing.
"I got through the summer and the next school year, but a fancy prep school education doesn't equip you for anything except college, and it was clear I wasn't going there any time soon. After graduation, I put everything I owned in the car and headed south. I spent some time in DC, but I couldn't find a job that paid much, and I was moving through the 20 K rapidly. The first time I took money for sex, it was a thrill. I felt guilty afterward, but it was exciting at the same time. Each time I took money for sex, it got easier, and the guilt feelings were less and less. After a while, I realized I was making way more money blowing guys for pay than I was working at Starbuck's. I quit serving coffee and started selling myself full time.
"By wintertime, I'd met a few other rent boys. One of them had the idea of getting out of the direct services end of the business and into management. He persuaded several of us to move to Charlotte and start an internet escort service for the Carolinas and Georgia. That's what I did for the next two years. The money has been good. I've managed to save almost enough that I should be able to pay for college, but I'm still offering `personal services' to build up more of a financial cushion. I hope I can quit the escort business entirely by this time next year."
"So, that's the story. I use the name Rock Hardin when I'm working. That explains how your friend Art knew me and thought my name was Rock. I was at that party last weekend as the escort of one of the invited guests."
Russ stood up and turned to face us.
"I'll go pack my bags."
I jumped up and pulled him into a hug.
"You're not going anywhere. I know that it had to have been hard for you to tell us your story. It took a lot of guts, and it means you must trust us. I invited you to spend Christmas with us because you were going to be alone. No one should be alone at Christmas."
Derek joined in the hug, "Russ, we're not stupid. You were always vague when you had a `job' over the weekend. The few times I tried to ask you about it, you changed the subject. I told Brett that I thought maybe you were a go-go dancer at some smoky bar. But hey, you're a high priced fancy bitch...oops, that came out wrong. What I'm trying to say is that we love you. You're still our friend, and we'd be downright hurt if you left."
Russ just sort of melted into us. He put his head down on my shoulder and let out two deep sighs.
Suddenly, Derek started giggling. I gave him a dirty look, but he just giggled harder.
"Derek, this is a serious moment here. What's so danged funny?"
"I'm sorry, Babe, I just can't help it. Russ, do you really rent out as Rock Hardin?"
"That is just so tacky! Rock...Rock Hard-in...Rock Hard-on. I expected better of you."
Russ looked stricken at first, then a smile crept onto his face.
"It is sort of tacky, isn't it. It was the name I thought of the first time a john asked my name. Now that I've got a reputation and a clientele, I can't change it." He dissolved into a fit of laughter. Derek and I joined in.
When we were laughed out, I said, "Russ, thanks for trusting us. We aren't going to judge you or stop being your friends because you're doing what you have to do to survive. I just want you to know that we want you to be safe."
"Thanks, guys, I don't do drugs; I don't drink when I'm `working'; and I always use condoms. My...uh...agent always knows where I'm going to be. I have to call in at a predetermined time and again when I'm done with the job."
Derek smiled. I knew it was going to be a lulu.
"So how much are you worth?"
"$350 a night or $600 for the weekend."
"Damn, you are a high priced bitch!"
"My clients tell me I'm worth it. I can provide references, if you want." He grinned.
"Okay, you got me on that one. I'll take your word that you're worth the price."
Soon after our conversation, Derek went to his house for Christmas Eve dinner, but he was back right after Daddy, Russ, Scott, and I were finished with our dinner. He said his mother had made some remark about me, and he'd told her that he wouldn't come back to her house as long as I wasn't welcome there as his partner.
After dinner, we sat in the living room and watched a little TV. We had some light conversation, but Derek was not in a good mood and didn't interact much with the rest of us. Daddy excused himself fairly early and headed to his bedroom. Russ went up to his room shortly after that.
Scott and I sat and talked with Derek. We managed to lift his dark mood before we all went upstairs to bed.
Derek may have been in a bad mood earlier, but it would have been hard to tell that from his actions in bed that night. We made slow, sweet love that and brought each other to the brink three or four times orally before I slipped my throbbing cock into his warm hole. I tried to make it last, but we'd both been so keyed up for so long that I started spewing my load into him after only five or ten minutes. When I came down from my orgasmic high, I felt his love juices spreading between our bellies. He'd come at the same time I had.
We talked softly for a few minutes, until my dick softened enough to slip out of his hot channel.
"Were you surprised by Russ's confession today," I asked as I drifted toward sleep.
"A little. Like I said, he was always so vague about his `jobs' that I figured he was an exotic dancer or something like that."
"I'm glad he came down for Christmas. I think he's a pretty lonely person behind that cool exterior."
"Yeah, he needs some true lovin'. Someone that really cares for him, not just for his body."
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"Let's do it."
We got up and walked naked into the room where Russ was sleeping. Derek got in one side of the bed, and I got in on the other.
"Wh...what's going on?" Russ awakened as we climbed in.
"Hush," I answered, "we're going to sleep with you tonight. We think you need some love instead of sex."
"Yeah, just love. No sex. Brett's already taken care of the sex part for me."
Russ made an obvious sniffing sound. "You guys positively reek of sex. How am I going to get back to sleep?"
"Well, you can beat off if you want. Derek and I are pretty beat already, we probably wouldn't even notice."
I don't think Russ ended up masturbating that night. Derek and I slid close to him and put our arms around him so that we were also touching each other across his chest. Russ wrapped his arms around both of us and sighed contentedly. I think he was asleep before I was, and that was pretty darned quick.
It was our Christmas morning tradition that Daddy would get up early and make a big breakfast. Then he would stand at the foot of the stairs ringing a big old harness bell just as his daddy had done on Christmas mornings. Scott and I would run down the stairs, grab our stockings from the fire place, and pull the little treasures out one by one as we ate breakfast.
We all got out of bed when Daddy jangled the harness bell that morning. Poor ole Scott did a double take when the three of us emerged together from Russ's room. Russ had pulled on a tee shirt and a pair of jeans, but Derek and I were still naked `cause all our clothes were in my room.
Once everyone had visited the bathroom and were decent, we went down stairs. Scott and I headed into the living room for the stockings, while Derek, who knew about our Christmas morning routine, steered Russ toward the kitchen.
Scott and I stopped short. There were four stockings hanging on the mantle! There had only been two hanging there when we went to bed. `Santa' had been busy.
Scott called out for Derek and Russ to come into the living room.
Derek just grinned from ear to ear. His family had given up the Christmas stocking tradition several years earlier.
Russ appeared stunned. Scott handed him a stocking saying, "This one's got your name on it, Russ." I thought Russ was going to lose it.
Daddy put his hand on Russ's shoulder and asked, "You okay?"
Russ hugged the stocking to his chest. His eyes were moist. "I've never had a Christmas stocking before. My parents thought it was a foolish custom." He looked up at all of us with the tears welling up in his eyes. "Thank you. You all have made this the best Christmas of my life."
He stayed with us for another day before he left for a `job' in Charlotte. He said he would see us back up at Adams State in January. I think he had a good time.
The day after Russ left, Derek and I went back to helping Art with the renovation project. Art seemed sort of distracted for much of the day. Finally, as we were loading the tools into the van at the end of the day, he said, "Guys, I've worried about this for days. I've got to tell you something unpleasant about your friend Rock...I mean Russ."
Derek looked at him and smiled, "Were you going to tell us that he's a rent boy?"
Art was clearly uncomfortable. "Yes, that's exactly what I was going to tell you, except I'm not kidding about it."
Derek smiled again, "I'm not kidding either. Russ told us why he got into the `entertainment' business. He's had a tough life, Art. He was basically disowned by his father for being gay. He's trying to save up enough money to pay for living expenses and tuition. As soon as he has enough, he's going to quit selling himself. He's basically a good guy, Art. We like him, and we don't care what he's doing to make his expenses. Now, how about we go back to your house and get naked?"
That's what we did.
Derek's relations with his mother remained strained for the rest of the time we were in Indian Crossing. His father, on the other hand, had accepted our relationship, and he even took the two of us out to eat at a restaurant in Waycross the last night we were home.
During the dinner, Mr. Jackson asked if we'd thought about housing at school for the next year. When we told him that we were going to look for an apartment together, he suggested that we look instead for a house. If we found the right place, he would buy it as an investment. If the place was big enough, we could take in a couple of house mates and reduce the cost for all of us.
We thanked him profusely and promised to start looking as soon as we got back up to Adams.
Actually, we didn't start looking for about another month because we had a bunch of snow that January.
Now, I'd been looking forward to seeing snow. The only time I'd ever seen it up close and on the ground was the previous spring when we went up to visit the Adams State campus. I'd been disappointed that the weather had stayed too warm to allow any snowfall before we left for Christmas.
Well, the weather was sure different in January! It started with a big snowstorm in the North Carolina Mountains two days before we went back to Adams. There was about six inches of fluffy, beautiful white stuff on the ground when we got back to campus. And the snow just kept coming. We had a snow storm that dumped four or five inches of snow each week in January. By the end of the month, I'd had my fill of snow. It was beautiful, but it was also very cold and very wet. I was happy when we got some warmer weather in February and had a little break from the snow.
About three weeks into the spring semester, Jordan Nance came back from his studio art class all excited about a new figure model that had been in the class that afternoon. Jordan's hands were talking so fast that even Mitchell had a hard time following.
I caught things like the most beautiful smile...nice legs...great ass...he looked like a classic Greek statue. Jordan was clearly smitten. When he showed us his sketches from the class, Derek and I looked at each other. Jordan was such a good artist, it was easy to recognize the model.
That night Derek and I hatched a plan.
The following Thursday Derek, Jordan, Mitchell, and I along with Radu Kavacevic, the basketball player, got together to go over to Dino's Pizza for dinner.
Our plan was in motion.
(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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