Chapter 3: Even Roses Have Thorns.
**Author's Note:** Please read the disclaimer in Chapter 00 before you read this.
After we placed our order, I decided it was time to get Colt thinking about his future. "Colt, being seventeen, you're legally old enough to become emancipated from your parents and live on your own. I don't think it would take much to make that happen, but is that what you want?"
"Yes! That would be great," he answered adamantly. "They've made it clear they didn't want anything more to do with me, so I don't want to ever see them again." I felt sad that he felt that way, but I could understand it.
"Okay, if that's what you want," I told him, "but then what do you plan to do? Are you going to finish school or are you going to get a job?" He thought for a few seconds before he answered.
"I guess I'd like to finish school," he told me, almost dreamily, "but I guess I'll have to go to work in order to have the money I'll need to live on my own." He seemed almost sad at the prospect.
"Not necessarily," I advised him, causing him to looking up at me, with a questioning expression on his face.
"What do you mean?" he shot back. "How can I live on my own, without any money?"
"Well, I'd be willing to help you, if you want," I explained.
"Help me how?" Colt pressed, not understanding what I had in mind.
"As long as you stay in school, I'd be happy to let you live with me," I responded, while looking Colt straight in the eye. I saw his mouth drop open slightly, as my comment registered with him.
"But won't that mean you'd have to pay for my food, clothes and other stuff?" he wanted to know.
"Yes, I guess it would," I admitted, "but that's all right. I have a decent job and can afford it, but it won't really cost me that much more than I'm spending now." I smiled and winked at him, to let him know I was being sincere.
"That's really nice of you," he agreed, "but I can't do that. I wouldn't mind living with you and all, but I'm not going to cost you any more money." His face was set with determination and I could see that I wouldn't change his mind about this.
"Okay, how about a compromise then," I suggested. "School will be over in a month or so, so let's get you through that first. You'll have some catching up to do and that will be hard enough, especially with having to change schools on top of it. Once school is over, I'll help you find a job for the summer. You can continue to work weekends once school starts again in the fall, as long as you keep your grades up, if all of this meets with your approval." He studied me again for a few seconds and then began to smile.
"Yeah, that will be okay," he answered, looking a little more self-assured. "But I still don't understand why you're willing to do so much for me."
"That's easy," I quipped. "In the short time I've known you, I've discovered that you are worth it. I just want to make sure you get treated a little better now, than you have in the past."
"I'm still not sure why you care," he told me, "but thank you. I'll make sure you don't regret this."
"Oh, I'm sure I won't," I admitted, just to let him know I trusted him. I guess it paid off. The look on his face was priceless and more than enough payment for whatever I'd end up spending on him. I was only six years older than he was, but I was beginning to feel almost like his father. Can you imagine that?
We were still lost in the moment, each in our own thoughts, when the waitress showed up with our order. She placed our food in front of us, although I'm not sure either of us was totally aware of her actions. We both came to, however, when she spoke. "Do you need ketchup or anything else?" she asked.
"Uh, no, I don't think so," I replied, while looking toward Colt, to make sure he didn't want anything either. He didn't say a word in response, but it didn't matter. The waitress had already walked away. Eventually, we came to our senses long enough to start eating, but we were still lost in the emotional issues that had preceded this.
We ate without getting into another conversation, but I could sense that Colt was deep in thought about something. I felt it best not to disturb his mental deliberations and let him continue with whatever it was that was on his mind. When we finished our meal, we walked out to the car, and when I turned around, Colt was standing behind me, on my side of the vehicle. "Were you expecting to drive?" I asked him, trying to use a little humor to discover what was going on.
"Uh, no," he told me nervously. "I just wanted to do this," he continued, as he threw his arms around me and squeezed me tightly. "Thank you for everything," he added, when he finally broke the hug. "I don't know what I'd have done without you."
"Hey, none of this mushy stuff," I quipped, as he moved away. "Hop in the car, because we have a couple other stops to make." He raised his eyebrows at me.
"Where are we going now?" he wanted to know.
"I guess I might as well tell you," I explained to Colt. "If you're going to stay with me and go back to school, you're going to need more clothes than what you brought with you, so I was going to take you to the mall to pick up a few things. After that, I thought we should stop at the grocery store and stock up on food."
"Leo, you don't have to spend more money on me," Colt announced, looking very concerned.
"I know I don't have to, but you need the things, so I'm going to do it," I responded, adamantly. "You don't have enough decent clothes for school and I don't want you wearing the same things day after day. Now, don't argue with me. Okay?"
"Okay, but I'll find a way to pay you back," he agreed. How could I not be impressed with his desire to carry his own weight?
"If that's what you want," I conceded, "but it's not necessary. This is just to get you started." He shrugged his shoulders slightly and nodded once more, to let me know he was giving in. I drove directly to the mall, so he didn't have time to dwell on it.
We went around to a variety of stores, picking up things along the way. Colt kept arguing with me that this or that was too expensive and we could buy something cheaper, but I wanted him to be able to fit in with the other kids. It was going to be difficult enough to transfer and adjust this late in the school year, without standing out by wearing clothing the other students would make fun of. After explaining that facts of life to him, we both made concessions and came away with something we all thought was acceptable.
After loading everything into the trunk of the car, we drove to the grocery store. We went down every aisle and I would ask Colt questions, such as if he liked this or that or if he saw anything he wanted. He seemed hesitant to make suggestions, so I told him if he didn't let me know what he liked, he'd have to eat whatever I prepared. Finally, he began to mention that he didn't really care for some of the things I pointed out. We finished our shopping, drove home and unloaded the car and then Colt went to put away his things, while I took care of the groceries. When he came back out, I was almost finished.
"Leo, how did you get your name?" he asked, and then quickly realized his question didn't sound right. "I mean, I know your parents named you and all, but isn't Leo an old man's name." I chuckled at his comment and Colt looked scared. I figured he was worried he'd just hurt my feelings.
"A bunch of my friends used to tell me the same thing," I laughed, "and you're right. It's not a name you hear much any more. The thing was, when I was born in August, under the Zodiac sign for `Leo', my mother thought that was a signal that I should be named after her father, Leo. So I ended up with both of my grandfather's names, Leo Edward."
"I think they should have put them in the other order," Colt announced, and I couldn't argue with his logic. I'd heard that from my friends before too.
"I guess," I told him, "but didn't you get teased about being a young horse?" At first he acted shocked that I had said anything like that, but then he laughed.
"Yeah, many times," he admitted, "but it wasn't too bad."
"Well, neither was the teasing I got about being named Leo or being compared to a lion," I joked back. Colt looked over at me.
"I'm glad you didn't get upset by my asking you that," he admitted, somewhat relieved.
"Colt, don't ever be afraid to ask me anything," I assured
him. "If I don't want to answer your
question, I'll tell you, but I'll never get angry.
So, you don't have to worry about asking me what's on your
"Yeah, more than okay," he replied.
After lunch, I asked Colt what he wanted to do. "Didn't you say you bought two DVDs at that store?" he asked.
"Yes," I admitted, already having a fair idea about where this was going.
"Well, how about we watch them," he suggested.
I must admit I initially liked the idea, but immediately began to have second thoughts. My first concerns about doing this were of a legal nature. Even though I knew Colt's ID showed me he was older than the state's age of consent, I knew that school identifications could easily be faked. Maybe he was really only fourteen, as he appeared. Not only that, but it could also be argued that he would have to be 18 to see such materials, since that's how old you had to be to purchase them in a store or to view adult sites on the Internet. Therefore, I was still more than a little worried about indulging him. Besides, we were in the south and sometimes law enforcement could find ways of making things look the way that they wanted and worse than they actually were. I didn't want to put myself in such a situation, so I was hesitant about giving in.
As I continued to ponder this, I began to realize there was more to my reluctance than possible problems with the law, but how could I tell Colt that? How could I tell him my real concerns? I had already begun to hope that maybe I could build a lasting relationship with him and I didn't want our first time together to be driven by porn. If we eventually did something with each other, I didn't want it to be cheap and dirty. I wanted it be special, something he could remember and cherish. I didn't want it to appear as though an erotic DVD had fueled my physical attraction to him. I didn't want him to ever have any regrets about what we did. The problem was, he was pressing me for an answer and I had to tell him something.
"Well?" he whined, while looking at me hopefully.
"Colt, I'm not going to tell you no," I tried to explain, "but I don't feel that I can legally show them to you. However, if you happen to find them and decide to watch them on your own, well... how would I know, if I wasn't there." I thought that would satisfy him, but I was wrong.
"Come on, Leo," he whined. "I'm not going to tell anyone, so how would they know?" He looked crushed and I couldn't blame him. In reality, I was a little disappointed too.
"I'm not stopping you," I told him. "It's just that I think it best that we not watch them together."
"But I want to watch them with you," Colt announced, before his face suddenly began to turn red. That's when I realize there was possibly more to his desire than just seeing nude bodies and sex scenes. I wasn't sure how to react. I began to suspect he might have been hoping to use the DVDs to get me in the mood to do something with him. As much as I would have liked to, I was sure we'd both regret it later. I just couldn't do it under those circumstances.
"Colt, I can't do that," I told him. "I'll think about it some more, if you want me to, but I'm just not sure if it would be right." I guess I was talking more about what I thought he might want to do, rather than just watching a DVD.
I could read the disappointment on his face, which made me feel bad, but both of us might have felt worse about it at some point later, if I'd given in to him. To avoid a prolonged confrontation, I went outside and started puttering around with some yard work I needed to do. My heart wasn't into it, but it did help to distract me and get me away from having to deal with Colt's request.
When I came back in, I noticed Colt had gone to his room and shut the door, so I didn't bother him. Instead, I washed up and began preparing dinner. When it was ready, I called Colt. He came out, but he didn't speak at all, so we ate the entire meal in silence. I began to question if this was going to destroy everything we had gained up to that point and then I wondered who would give in first. After dinner, we clean up the mess and went in to watch some television, but again in silence. Colt sat on the sofa, while I relaxed in my favorite chair.
We watched a couple of programs, but he never said a word. Eventually, he just got up and went to his room, without even glancing at me as he passed by. I was really worried that I had made a major mistake with him and that maybe he would change his mind about staying with me. I hoped not, but he seemed to take my refusal to watch the DVDs with him as more of a personal insult, which was certainly not what I had intended.
I decided it would be best to not confront him, so I just waited, to see how things would go from here. However, I couldn't help but be deeply concerned. As I made my way down the hallway to go to my bedroom, I noticed his door was closed, the light was off and I could hear no sounds inside. Silently, I crept past his room and went to my own, turning in for the night. I didn't fall to sleep right away, as my thoughts remained on Colt and I continued to question my previous actions.
I had a very restless night and actually wondered if I might wake up in the morning and find him gone. I hoped not, but only time would tell. When I woke up, I went to make a pot of coffee and read my newspaper, after noticing that everything looked the same as it had when I went to bed the previous evening. While the coffee was brewing, I decided to prepare things so I could make some French toast when Colt joined me. Once I had everything ready, I sat and waited. In fact, I waited over an hour and he still hadn't shown, so I debated about having my breakfast without him. However, I just didn't feel right doing that, so I went down and knocked on his door.
"What?" came the response from inside.
"Colt, I just came to see if you were hungry," I told him. "I'm ready to make French toast and thought you might like to come join me." He did not respond. "Colt, I'm not sure what you think I might have done, but nothing has changed. I still welcome you into my home and I look forward to your staying here."
I couldn't think of anything else to say, so I lowered my head and turned away from the door, ready to return to the kitchen. Just as I took my first step down the hallway, I heard Colt's door open. I stopped and turned back to look in his direction. "Do you have maple syrup too," he asked in a whisper, but still avoiding my gaze.
"Oh, course," I told him, encouraged. "French toast just isn't the same without maple syrup." After making my comment, I just turned and walked back to the kitchen, hoping Colt would follow. He did. Maybe things weren't as bad as I had imagined or possibly his teenage need for food was far greater than the hurt I'd caused him.
I immediately began to fix the French toast and piled it onto Colt's plate. It was disappearing nearly as quickly as I could make it. I continued to make more for him, until he told me he was full, and then I fixed some for myself. "I'm sorry, I thought you'd already eaten," Colt apologized. "If I'd have known you hadn't, I'd have waited until you had something, before I asked for more." He looked as if he felt terrible for making me wait to eat.
"Colt, it's not a big deal," I remarked, hoping I could make him feel better. "In fact, it felt good watching you enjoy my cooking so much." His head tilted upward and he smiled at me. A few seconds later, he stood up, walked up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist, from behind.
"Thanks, Leo. I'm sorry I was being kind of a jerk earlier," he told me.
"Would you like to talk about that?" I asked, hoping I could discover exactly what had been bothering him. He looked at me for a moment, before he replied.
"No, maybe we should just forget about it," he replied. "I just want you to know that I'm sorry, but I think we should leave it at that."
"If that's what you want," I told him, while remaining slightly disappointed that we hadn't cleared the air. I was afraid this might surface again in the future, but I didn't think pushing him now would help either. In fact, I worried that it might put us in worse shape than we were before. Accepting the small victory I had already gained, I let the topic drop. Instead, I tried to determine how he wanted to spend the day. I wanted to make the most of it. After all, it was Sunday and I would have to go to work tomorrow, after taking him to be enrolled in school.
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