This story contains scenes of love and sexual interaction. Much of this involves males with other males. If the reading or possessing of such material as this is illegal in your country, state, province, county, municipality, etc., please leave this site immediately and do not proceed further. If you are under the legal age to read this, please do not do so.

It is not my intention to offend anyone or to get you in trouble.

The author retains all rights to this original story. Please do not publish without explicit authorization from me.

This story is completely fictional. Most of the places mentioned, and none of the characters exist in real life. Some may possess physical or personality characteristics of people I know or have known. But if you see yourself in this story, your imagination is better than mine!

All best, Jon

If you like my story, drop me a line. I'd love to hear from you: seperatepiece@hotmail.com

Matt and Jon

Chapter 16

The Growing Circle

The next morning, the boys began to stir. Ryan rolled over and propped himself on one elbow and watched Eric sleep. He looked over to see Matt looking at him with a smile on his face. Ryan returned the smile, and looked lovingly back at Eric. He leaned in and planted a light kiss on his cheek, and a smile spread across Eric’s face as his eyes fluttered open.

“Good morning.” He said sleepily.

“Good morning.” Ryan replied. They exchanged a look of pure love that needed no other words.

Matt didn’t mean to stare, but he couldn’t take his eyes off of them. He was so happy for them. He knew that look very well, and he knew what their eyes were saying to each other. He looked down at Jon’s sleeping face and kissed him on the lips. Out of the corner of his eye, Ryan watched an exchange that was similar to the one he had just had with Eric, and for the first time in his life, he really understood how truly special a moment he was witnessing.

LittleTom was the first to actually get up. He stretched, and much to everyone’s amusement, he once again inadvertently flashed his morning boner at everyone.

“What? It never happens to you?” He yawned, and plodded off to the bathroom.

As the rest of them slowly started to get up, Eric shyly turned away from the rest of the group, but not away from Ryan. He knew that he need never feel shy in front of him again. They took turns in the bathroom, and eventually got themselves showered and dressed and headed down to breakfast. Shelley and Dan had pitched in to whip up a batch of pancakes, with bacon and scrambled eggs. They hadn’t done that in a long time because of Jon’s dieting, but this morning they knew they’d have an army of hungry teen boys to feed. Jon slowly savored a pancake with a little syrup and butter, a strip of bacon and some egg while the others dove on the food like it was their last meal.

Matt looked across the table at him with a mouth full of pancake, and beamed at him. He found that he was constantly amazed at his will power and determination. He was so proud of him and decided he needed to think of a special way to reward him.

After the breakfast dishes were put away, the boys went outside and threw a Frisbee around the yard. It turned into a game of keep away, and LittleTom was at an obvious disadvantage. As always, he loved being the center of attention with the older guys. Finally, he lunged into the air and grabbed the Frisbee and danced around the yard holding it triumphantly over his head. He was especially proud because it was Sam who had thrown the intercepted pass. He never needed to know that Sam had purposely made it an easy one. Being an athlete, he had the knack of making it look good.

They all collapsed on the grass and discussed their plans for the day.

“I guess we could go to the arcade, or miniature golf, but we’d never all fit in my car.” Sam said with a sigh.

“Uh, Eric and I might go over to his place for awhile. He has some…posters he wants to show me. We could catch up with you later, maybe.” Ryan said as he blushed. He looked over at Eric to see him blushing too.

“OK,” Sam brightened. “That could work. Call my cell when you’re done…looking at stuff, and I can come and pick you up…that is if we can find a safe place near a security guard or something for the others to wait. Remember what the detective said.”

“Wait,” Matt cried, “I’ve got an idea that’ll make everyone more comfortable. Let’s get Gary and Chet to meet us. We could call Trev and Andy and the girls too. It’ll be fun AND safe!”

Everyone was happy with that arrangement, and phones came out of pockets and plans were made. Gary and Chet were both more than happy to join in, especially since Sam had told them about what happened at the house. Sam drove Ryan and Eric to Eric’s house. It wasn’t far, but he wasn’t taking any chances on someone seeing them leave the house and following them.

The boys thanked Sam for the ride, and said they’d call him soon. Sam waited until they were safely inside, and he headed back to pick up the others.

As soon as the door closed behind them, they fell into an embrace. They kissed for a few minutes until Eric pulled back and looked into Ryan’s eyes.

“Wanna see my room?” He asked quietly with a smile spreading across his face.

Ryan went slightly weak in the knees, and all he could manage was, “yeah.”

Eric led him by the hand up the stairs of the two story house that was similar to the Kent’s in design. When they reached the top of the stairs, Eric led him to the first door on the right, and into his room. It was a neat room. His desk had a computer on it, and Eric went right over to it and booted it up.

“What are you doing?” Ryan asked, a little disappointed.

“Well, since neither one of us have any experience, I thought I’d show you some sights that I bookmarked. It might make it easier.”

Ryan perched on the bed, and peered over Eric’s shoulder at the screen. He’d looked at gay sites before, but had never seen anything like the ones Eric had found. One was an illustrated step by step “how to” site about anal sex. Both boys got excited as they read and looked at the pictures. The site warned that this should never be done without a condom, but the boys agreed that since they’d never been with another partner, that it wasn’t necessary. As they read and looked at the pictures, their hands strayed to their stiffening erections, and they began squeezing and stroking through their pants. When they’d finished reading, Eric stood up and pulled his t-shirt over his head, then reached down and relieved Ryan of his.

Ryan chuckled. “Hey, what happened to my shy guy?”

Eric smiled lecherously. “He’s wayyy to horny to care! Get those pants off, stud.” Eric commanded as he undid his belt buckle and fly and let his jeans fall to the floor and stepped out of them. When Ryan had gotten his pants off, Eric reached for the waistband of his underpants and pulled them down, exposing Ryan’s pulsing hardon. When he’d stepped out of his own, he pulled Ryan urgently down on the bed and went right between his legs. He buried his face in Ryan’s crotch and rubbed it all over, sending chills up and down Ryan’s spine. Eric loved Ryan’s signature scent. Even though they’d both showered earlier, their little session of reading and squeezing had left Ryan with that telltale musky sex smell that Eric was coming to live for. It smelled a little like fresh brewed coffee, but there was another element he couldn’t quite place that was uniquely Ryan.

Eric pulled himself up on the bed next to Ryan. “Ryan, one of the other sites I read said that the first time takes a lot of patience.”

“I know, baby. Don’t worry, I think I know what to do, and if you want me to stop anytime, just say the word. I’d never want to hurt you.”

Eric kissed him sweetly on the cheek. “I know, that’s not what I meant though. The site also said I should ‘relieve’ you first, then wait awhile. That way you won’t get frustrated And besides, after going through the hard part, I want you to last a good long time in me.”

Ryan returned the kiss. “So…what did you have in mind?”

Eric smiled as he wordlessly slid down Eric’s body and engulfed his hard dick in his mouth. He began to suck him slowly with his lips tightly around the shaft. He applied suction on the upstroke as he began to increase his pace. Ryan began to squirm on the bed as his hips began to gyrate in rhythm to Eric’s oral ministrations. Eric’s hands massaged Ryan’s thighs as he began to moan. Ryan was in utter bliss. He had enjoyed pleasuring Eric at the same time, but having all the attention focused on him was much more intense. As he felt his orgasm coming on, he didn’t fight the feeling. He opened his eyes and looked down at the beautiful boy who was intent on his pleasure. The sight of his cock sliding in and out of Eric’s mouth and the look of love in Eric’s eyes as he gazed up at him was all it took to send him over the edge.

For the second time, Eric milked Ryan’s engorged penis with his lips. He savored every last drop before letting it slide from his mouth. When he finally joined Ryan on the bed, he lay in his arms and let Ryan hold him lovingly.

“Do you want me to do you too?” Ryan asked as he petted his boyfriend.

“No, I’m going to need that edge if I’m going to get through the painful part.”

Ryan hugged him tight. “I just want it to be special for you.”

They just cuddled for awhile until Ryan was recharged. Eric reached under his bed and found the lube that he’d hidden there and handed it to Ryan as he rolled over on his stomach. Ryan applied a generous amount between Eric’s cheeks and began probing his rectum with his finger. Eric began to squirm as Ryan’s finger slid in and out of him. Ryan became increasingly excited and attempted to get another finger in there. Before long, he had stretched Eric to accommodate three fingers, and Eric was pressing back against his hand.

Ryan kissed the back of Eric’s neck. “You think you’re ready to try it?”

Eric nodded as he reached for a pillow to put under him. Ryan positioned himself so that the tip of his dick was aligned with Eric’s opening, and gently pushed in. Ryan was just average in size, and easily got the head past the ring. He heard Eric gasp, so he waited.

“Are you okay?” He asked.

“It burns a little but it’s not too bad. Just wait a minute.” Eric rasped.

When Eric began to press back against Ryan’s intruder, Ryan rested his head on Eric’s back and began to slowly sink into him. Both boys moaned at the same time as Ryan’s pubes came to rest on Eric’s ass. They stayed like that for a little while, just reveling in the feeling of being united.

Ryan whispered, “I love you Eric.”

Eric affirmed his feeling. They didn’t speak of it, but they both knew that they were thinking how painful it was going to be when Ryan had to go home. It was as if they both shook off the momentary sadness at the same time, and decided to live in the present.

“Make love to me.” Eric whispered.

Ryan began to rock in and out of him slowly and lovingly. He was glad that Eric had sucked him off earlier. It felt so incredible that he knew he would have disappointed Eric if he hadn’t already had an orgasm that day. Eric responded to each thrust, as Ryan seemed to go deeper and deeper with each movement. Ryan involuntarily increased his pace as his excitement grew, and he could feel the beginning of his orgasm build in the pit of his stomach. Both boys were drenched in sweat as their bodies slapped together. They began to feel an urgency to their lovemaking as it reached its peak. Eric moaned with every stroke as he pressed back, trying to get Ryan deeper into him. The feel of Ryan’s dick nudging against his prostate was almost too much for him. He was lost in ecstasy when Ryan finally couldn’t hold back any longer and came deep in Eric’s body, filling him with his seed. Eric let out a whimper as his body shot spasm after spasm of gooey liquid into the pillow. Ryan collapsed on the bed, taking Eric with him as his dick softened and popped out of him. They just hugged for awhile, and enjoyed the closeness of their bodies against one another.

When they had recovered, Eric sighed. “That was incredible. I don’t know that I could ever do that with someone unless I really loved them. You were so gentle with me. You made me feel so loved. What are we going to do when you have to go back? I don’t know how I can live without you.”

Ryan petted Eric’s hair. “I know, baby, I know. We were wrong to think that we could turn our feelings on and off. Maybe we never should have…”

“No!” Eric interrupted. “I’m glad you were my first. No matter what happens, it’s a very special bond between us, and I don’t regret it for a minute! Ryan, I love you so much!”

“I love you too, Eric.” Ryan whispered gently. “I’ll be back to visit, though, and we can email and I.M. each other…I’ve got a webcam.” He giggled.

“Me too!” Eric giggled back.

After snuggling for awhile, they reluctantly got out of the bed and cleaned up the mess they’d made. They hopped in the shower together and cleaned each other off. When they’d dressed, Ryan called Sam’s cell and told him they were ready to be picked up. As they sat on the lawn waiting for Sam’s little VW to round the corner, Eric smiled at Ryan.

“Let’s not think about your leaving anymore until we have to, okay?”

Ryan smiled back at him. “Okay, it’s a deal.”

At the arcade, Chet was acting like a mother hen in Sam’s absence. Sam trusted him with the boy’s safety, and he wasn’t going to let them down. Even though Gary was there, and all their other friends, Chet felt they were his responsibility. They decided to get a bite to eat while they waited for Sam to get back with Eric and Ryan.

“Maybe we should wait, they might be hungry too.” Jon said to the group.

“Don’t worry, I can always eat again!” Trevor joked as he headed to the snack bar, while Stacey rolled her eyes after him.

“He’s not kidding ya know!” She said as she fell in behind him.

After they had gotten their burgers and fries, Matt led the way to the tables. The aisle was blocked by a boy about his age who had his back to him.

“Excuse me.” Matt said to the kid’s back.


“Uh, excuse me? We just want to get by you to the tables and you’re kinda in the way.”

Getting no response, Matt thought this guy must be the rudest person on Earth. It occurred to him that the guy may have seen the news broadcast, or heard about it and was trying to pick a fight with him. With Chet and Gary behind him, though, he had no fear of that. Balancing his tray in one hand, he tapped him on the shoulder.

Just as the boy turned around, Matt said, “What! Are you deaf or something?”

A broad grin spread across the stranger’s handsome features. “Hey, not bad. You got it on the first try!”

Matt turned six shades of red as he stammered. “I…I’m…I didn’t…”

The boy laughed. “Don’t worry about it, I’m used to it. I just moved here, my name’s Todd.” He said as he extended his hand to Matt.

Matt shook hands with the boy. “I’m Matt. Look, I’m really sorry. I never should have said that. It was a mean thing to say even if you weren’t…”

“Deaf. The word is deaf. It’s okay, you can say it.” Todd said as he released Matt’s hand.

Jon stepped up to Matt’s side and offered his hand to Todd as well. “I’m Jon. If you knew Matt you’d know he’s the kindest person in the world. He never meant to hurt you.”

“It’s okay, you guys. Really. Besides, I guess you two know what it’s like to be different as well.” Todd said, enjoying the bewildered looks on the boy’s faces.

He explained his comment. “One of the good things about being able to read lips, is that I can ‘hear’ a conversation across a crowded room.” He said as he pantomimed quotation marks in the air. “I was listening in to the guys at that booth in the corner when you guys came up behind me. It seems you two are famous!”

The boys looked over at the table in the corner to see Charlie Pierce leering at them with one of his cronies, a guy everyone called Shade. Shade’s real name was Clarence Shadsky, but no one called him that, not even the teachers. He was a year ahead of them in school, and Charlie looked up to him. Matt shivered involuntarily, but he felt safe with Chet behind them. He wondered if Shade and Charlie were the ones who threw the bricks, but quickly dismissed the notion. Neither one of them was old enough to drive, and the attacker had definitely been in a car.

Chet moved closer to them, and Shade and Charlie instantly looked away.

Todd shuffled his feet. “Look, if you want to make it up to me, how about letting me hang with you guys. I’m new here and I don’t know anyone. I could really use some friends when I start Jefferson.”

Matt and Jon introduced him to the gang, and they headed for the tables.

“You know, Todd, you may not want to be seen with us. We’re not exactly the coolest people in town at the moment.” Matt offered as they slid into their seats.

“Look, Matt, I might as well tell you up front. I’m gay and I don’t care who knows it. I wasn’t out at my last school, and I’m not going to go through that again. I’m done being someone I’m not. It’s bad enough that I’m different because I can’t hear, I’m not about to be ashamed anymore because of the fact that I like guys. If anyone has a problem with it, I’m just going to have to deal with it. I’d be honored to be seen with you guys.”

Chet was the first to speak. “You’re in good company, bro. You don’t have to deal with it alone. Anyone so much as looks at you crosseyed, I’ll…I’ll”

“Hey big guy, calm down.” Todd laughed. “And thanks.” He added sincerely.

Soon they were joined by Sam, Ryan and Eric and introductions were made. Sam wanted to get a burger, and asked if anyone wanted anything. Ryan and Eric said they’d go with him, but Todd made no reply.

“Uh, Sam,” Jon said, “you have to look at Todd when you speak. He reads lips.”

Sam looked at the boy and smiled. “Todd, do you want anything from the snack bar? I’m going to get a burger.”

Todd smiled back at the older boy. “Nah, thanks though. I ate just before I came.”

While Sam, Ryan, and Eric waited on line, Matt and Jon told Todd how they came to be together, and filled him in on the brick incident. Todd was horrified to hear that someone would do such a thing.

“I thought it would be better here than where I used to live. It sucks that people have to be so small minded.”

Jon didn’t want him to get the wrong impression. “Not everyone is that way. Most people are cool around here. There’s always a few rotten apples in every bushel, though.”

“Anyway,” Trevor interjected, “school hasn’t even started yet and you’ve already got six new friends. We watch out for each other.”

“Yeah.” Andy agreed.

Todd beamed at the group and thanked them all as Sam, Ryan and Eric rejoined them. LittleTom smiled at Ryan. He’d been so grumpy lately that it made him feel good that Ryan looked so happy. He was concerned about how he’d feel when it came time to leave, and he knew that Ryan would need a lot of understanding.

When they’d finished eating, they went and played some more games. Todd was unbeatable on every game he played.

“Wow! You’re awesome. How do you do it?” Gary asked.

“I don’t know, really. Maybe it’s because all the noises don’t distract me.” Todd shrugged.

They had a great afternoon playing the games and goofing around. Sam looked at his watch and said they should think about getting back. Ann had offered to have all the boys and their parents over for dinner later before they all went back to have their slumber party at the Kent’s. It was going to be a family cookout.

“Todd, do you need a ride home? We have three cars between us.” Same gestured to Gary and Chet.

“You can ride with me.” Gary offered. “Chet’s only had his license for a week, and we want to make sure you arrive in one piece!” He said, punching Chet in the arm.

Chet laughed. “Hey, I’m a natural!”

“Yeah, a natural disaster.” Sam piped up.

When the laughter died down, Todd explained that his mother worked for Macy’s, so he’d just hang out until she got off of work.

Marla’s eyes lit up. “OH MY GOD! Does she get an employee discount? Where have you been all my life!”

This brought shrieks of laughter from the rest of the group.

“You have to understand,” Stacey said gesturing toward Marla, “Shopping is her religion!”

Todd promised he would ask his mother.

“Hey, why don’t you join us for dinner. We’re having a cookout at my place. My mom won’t mind.” Matt enthused.

“I could ask my mom if it’s all right. C’mon!”

Jane Austin was quite surprised when her son, accompanied by a band of a dozen other kids trooped onto the selling floor of Macy’s.

“Mom, these are my friends! Matt asked me if I can come to a cookout at his place, is it okay?”

“Are you sure it will be all right with your mother, Matt?”

“Oh, she won’t mind. I can call her if you want.” Matt fished his cell phone out of his pocket.

He explained the situation to his mother and handed the phone to Todd’s mother. “She wants to talk to you.”

Hello, this is Jane Austin…oh, well thank you, but you should know, he’s not just another mouth to feed, he can really pack it away! Yes, I guess you would be used to that.”

They chatted for awhile, and Ann invited Jane to stop by after her shift. She handed the phone back to Matt, who closed the conversation. “Thanks mom, I love you.”

Todd’s mother looked at Todd. “You could learn a lesson from your friend Matt. He’s not embarrassed to say he loves his mother.”

“Aw, mom.” Todd blushed. “I tell you that, just not in front of everybody.”

Matt tapped him on the shoulder and he turned his face toward him. “I don’t know what it’s like where you come from, but around here, if we feel like hugging our moms, we do, and we don’t care who’s watching.”

Todd took his mother in a loving embrace. “I love you mom.”

She kissed him on the cheek and held him far enough away so that he could see her face. “I love you too.”

Ryan looked down at LittleTom. He could tell that his little brother was about to cry, and he put his hand on his shoulder and squeezed. LittleTom swallowed hard and took a deep breath and smiled up at his big brother. Ryan knew he would be all right.

Trevor, Stacey, Andy and Marla were going to Marla’s house for the evening. Her parents were out of town, and it was rare that they got to be alone with each other. Chet dropped them off on his way to the Barker’s. When he arrived, Matt and Jon were helping make the burgers, while Ryan and Eric were on salad detail. LittleTom, Sam, Todd and Gary were out back setting up the lawn furniture.

“Can I help with anything?” Chet asked, feeling funny just standing around with his hands in his pockets.

Bill smiled at him. “We’re pretty well covered in here. Why don’t you get the grill started.”

Chet ambled outside and in no time, the fire was blazing. Dan and Shelley arrived carrying a mountain of pasta salad. They were all in a great mood, and shared a good meal.

Bill leaned back in his chair. “So, Todd, are you excited about starting in a new school?”

Matt motioned to Todd to look at his father. “Sorry Mr. Barker, what did you say?”

“Oh, I just asked if you were excited about school.”

Todd seemed to think about it for a minute. “To tell you the truth, I was worried about it, but not anymore!” He gestured around the table at his new friends.

Bill laughed. “Well, you certainly stumbled into a great group. We’re all really proud of them.”

Jane parked in the street and walked around the side of the house as Ann had told her they’d be in the back yard. She paused at the gate and watched her son goofing around with the other boys. She was so happy that he had made friends so quickly. So many people didn’t take the time to find out what a terrific kid he was because of his deafness, but he never lost heart.

When Todd saw her, he ran over and grabbed her arm and propelled her excitedly over to the table to meet the Barkers and the Kents. Bill put a burger on the grill for her while Ann got her a drink. As she relaxed she realized that she’d made some new friends too.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am that Todd found your boys. He doesn’t have the easiest time making friends.” She confided in the other adults while the kids threw a frisbee around the yard.

Dan arched his eyebrows. “I can’t believe that a great kid like Todd would have any trouble.”

Jane thanked him. “It’s just that some kids aren’t comfortable with the fact that he’s deaf. They never even give him a chance.”

Bill practically choked on his drink. “Todd’s deaf? I never would have known in a million years!”

Jane laughed. “He prides himself on his lip reading abilities. He fools a lot of people, until they say something that he doesn’t see. He didn’t start going deaf until he was 10, so his speech is fairly normal. He’s not ashamed of his challenge, he just doesn’t announce it to people.”

Shelley smiled and shook her head. “He sure is amazing.”

The adults all looked over at the kids playing in the yard and smiled.

Ann refreshed Jane’s drink. “Jane,” she began, “there’s something you should know about our boys. It’s not important really, but they’ve had some negative attention recently and it wouldn’t be fair not to warn you. They got themselves on the news in a story about the Gay Pride march, and someone threw bricks through our windows with threats attached. If people see Todd with them, they might get the wrong idea. Don’t get me wrong. We’re proud of Matt and Jon, it’s just that I feel you should know that there is a potential for danger.”

Jane thought about what Ann had said. “I’m so sorry that you went through such a horrible thing. I guess I should tell you that I’m a card carrying member of P.O.G., so sooner or later Todd will have to deal with the same kind of ignorance. I’m just glad he has some friends who understand. He came out to me last year, and it makes no difference to me, but I do worry about him.”

They talked for a solid hour until the party began to break up. Jane shared with them about losing her husband when Todd was eight years old in an auto accident, then how Todd had contracted meningitis two years later that had resulted in his hearing loss.

“I’m sorry to be such a downer, it’s just that I don’t know anyone here yet, and it’s nice to have people to talk to.” Jane said with a warm smile.

“Oh, that’s okay. Sometimes you just have to get it out.” Ann said, returning her smile.

Todd came running across the lawn and came to a halt beside his mother’s chair. He was out of breath and his flushed cheeks glowed.

“Mom! All the guys are sleeping over at Jon’s. Can I go? Please?”

Jane laughed. “Don’t you think Jon should ask his mother and father first?”

It was Shelley’s turn to laugh. “Jonny knows we wouldn’t say no to such a request. You’re always welcome at our house, Todd. We even have an extra sleeping bag for you.”

“So can I go mom?”

“Of course you can dear.”

Todd leaned down and kissed his mother on the cheek. “I love you mom.”

“Wow, that’s the second time today. I could get used to this.”

Shelley got Todd’s attention. “I have to warn you though, these card sharks are going to try their best to clean you out.”

Todd, laughing, turned to Matt. “You look about my size. Do you have any pjs I could borrow?”

They all laughed. Todd looked puzzled until Matt explained. “It’s just us guys, so we usually hang out in our underwear. Are you cool with that?”

Todd shrugged. “Yeah, I guess so.”

Jane got his attention. “Are you sure they’re clean?”

Todd rolled his eyes. “MOTHer!!!”

The adults and kids alike howled with laughter, and after a few seconds, Todd joined in good naturedly.

When they were settled in at the Kent’s, the cards came out and LittleTom dealt. They chatted as they played. Texas Hold ‘Em was the game of the night, because it was one of the few that could be played with a large number. Fortunes were made and lost, and no one seemed to care. At one point LittleTom had a full house, and he bet heavily on it. He even borrowed a quarter from Jon to sweeten the pot. When Ryan revealed his four aces, LittleTom squealed.

“That’s SO not fair!!!”

They all laughed, and Eric scooped up a handful of change and deposited it on the blanket in front of LittleTom.

“Here, don’t say I never gave you nothin’.” He said as he mussed LittleTom’s hair.

LittleTom turned to Todd and grinned. “My brother has the coolest boyfriend!”

Todd looked into his eyes. “Yeah, he does.”

They played a few more hands, when Jon idly asked Todd if his father was working late.

“Um, he was killed in a car crash.” Todd answered.

LittleTom looked at him, and said in a flat unemotional tone, “Ryan and I lost our mom too.”

Todd looked back at LittleTom. “So you know…what it feels like.”

LittleTom nodded. The other boys didn’t say a word. They knew that this was a moment between Todd and LittleTom. Eventually the game resumed and they played until they dropped off to sleep, one at a time.

Sam was the last one awake, and he carefully and lovingly made sure that all of the various limbs were tucked under the covers and settled into sleep himself. He was content that everyone he loved was safe and happy.

Hi all,

Well, I hope you enjoyed the chapter. I think Todd is a nice addition. I'd welcome any comments. Special thanks to Michael in Michigan for suggesting the addition of a deaf character, thanks to Barry for your expert advice.. I hope you like him!

All the best, Jon