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 Please do not publish without explicit authorization from me.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 24

Eric awoke early on Saturday morning. He was spooned against Ryan’s back, so he gently disentangled himself and tiptoed toward the bathroom. When he returned, He found Ryan sitting up in bed.

“I missed you.” Ryan said as he yawned and smiled.

“I tried not to wake you.” Eric said as he got back into bed and snuggled against Ryan’s chest.

Ryan kissed the top of Eric’s head, and pulled him against his bare chest. “Are you ready to tell your parents?”

Eric sighed. “I guess.”

“You okay? You could wait, you know.” Ryan stroked his boyfriend’s light brown hair.

“Yeah, I know, but I want to be honest with them. I don’t know how they’ll take it. Sometimes I think they must know, but they never said anything.”

“Well,” Ryan pointed out, “you said your mom was cool about Jonny and Matt that day in church…”

“Yeah, but it’s different when it’s your own son. They’ve never said anything bad about gays in general, but I don’t know how they’ll react when it’s me.”

“Eric, don’t worry, they love you.”

“Oh, I know,” Eric said softly, “I just hope they don’t try and keep us apart. I couldn’t bear that.”

Ryan squeezed him to his chest. “Let them try!”

The two got up, showered and dressed and headed down the stairs. Mr. and Mrs. Martin were already up and starting breakfast. It was just the four of them, as Eric’s sister was sleeping over at a friend’s house. This is partly why Eric had chosen today to break the news. The two boys pitched in and helped them and soon they were sitting around the table.

Bennet and Betty Martin looked across the table at their son and his friend. They could tell that they seemed quiet.

“Did you boys have a good time last night?” Eric’s father asked.

“Yeah.” Came the monosyllabic response from their son.

“Dad, mom…we need to talk.”

His parents regarded him seriously.

“Um, this isn’t easy so I guess I’ll just tell you. Ryan and I are in love.”

There was an uneasy silence in the room as Ryan and Eric searched his parent’s faces.

Betty was the first to speak. “It’s alright Eric, we know.” Her expression was loving but serious.

“W-why didn’t you say anything?” Eric stammered.

“We knew you’d tell us when you were ready.”

Bennet Martin cleared his throat. “We wanted to hear it from you, rather than from checking your internet history trail. Besides, we thought you might just be curious.”

Betty looked across the table at the two boys. “Ryan, we want to talk with Eric in private, so after breakfast, we think it’s best if you go home for awhile.”

Eric began to protest. “You can say anything you have to say in front of Ryan!”

Ryan gave Eric a reassuring smile. “Eric, it’s okay. I understand.”

Bennet relaxed. “Thank you Ryan.”

The rest of the meal passed in silence. As they were clearing the table, Eric let out an involuntary nervous giggle.

“I was just thinking,” he said when he noticed all of their eyes on him. “Can you imagine, like, a boy and a girl coming to their parents and having to admit the dreaded secret that they’re straight?”

Ryan pictured the scenario, and stifled a giggle of his own, as he noticed that Eric’s parents were not finding it as funny as they were.

When the breakfast dishes were in the dishwasher, Ryan announced that he’d better be going.

He turned to Bennet and Betty. “Thanks for everything.”

Betty smiled weakly at him. “You’re welcome. Your family has had Eric over so much, we were happy to reciprocate.”

“C’mon,” Eric said. “I’ll walk you to the door.”

When they were in the foyer, Eric placed his hands on his boyfriend’s shoulders. “I’m sorry about that, Ry. I think it’ll be alright though.”

Ryan gave him a lopsided grin. “Well, we didn’t expect them to jump for joy.”

They exchanged the briefest of kisses, and Ryan headed for home. Shelley was doing the breakfast dishes when he came in the kitchen door. Tom and Dan were reading the paper as Ryan sat with them and snagged the sports section.

“How was your sleepover?” Tom asked peering over the top of the paper.

“It was good. Eric told his parents about us at breakfast.”

Tom sighed. “I thought you were home early. Is everything alright?”

“I guess so. They wanted to talk to him alone. Eric didn’t want me to leave, but I told him I understood. His parents are very…private.”

Shelley hovered behind her nephew’s chair, placing her hands on his shoulders. “Based on what I know about Betty from church, she’s a very fair woman, though she does have her way of doing things. Everything has to be ‘just so.’ So long as they didn’t out and out reject you, I’m sure she’ll lighten up eventually. She might even be a very strong supporter.”

“Thanks Aunt Shel. I know they’re good people, it’s just that they’re kind of…uptight.”

Dan spoke to his nephew. “We’ll be happy to talk to them if you think it would help.” The other adults nodded their agreement.

“Thanks Uncle Dan, I guess I’ll just wait and see how it goes over there. Is Jonny around?”

Tom smiled. “No, he and LittleTom went to meet up with everyone at the mall. My guess is the arcade. Why don’t you take your bike and catch up with them. It’ll take your mind off things.” He reached in his wallet and fished out a 20 dollar bill. “Buy a round of games on me, okay?”

Ryan pocketed the 20 with a smile. “Thanks dad. You’re the best.”

He took off on his bike and pedaled toward the mall. The early Autumn weather felt clean and crisp. He stopped to check his cell phone for the fifth time to make sure he hadn’t missed a call from Eric. Nothing. He sighed and put it back in his pocket, just as Todd came to a screeching halt beside him.

“Hey Ry! Are you going to meet up with the gang?” Todd called out cheerfully.

Ryan’s mood lightened at the sight of Todd’s happy smile. “Yeah, race you to the bike rack?” He said, returning the smile.

“You’re on!” Todd yelled, and they both took off.

Ryan was bigger than Todd, but Todd had the advantage of riding his bike everywhere. It was a close race, so they decided to call it a tie. As they leaned against their bikes catching their breath, a dark haired kid rode up to the rack beside them. Todd looked at the bike the kid was riding. He noticed the shiny new wheels and tires. He inspected it closer and found what he was looking for. A nick in the paint, just below the handlebars. When the kid dismounted, he noticed the saddle was brand new. As the kid was locking up his bike, Todd glanced under the saddle at the support. He smiled broadly as he saw the two tiny initials etched in the paint. T.A. He was delighted that this kid was riding his cherished old friend that he’d donated for needy kids.

“Nice bike!” He said warmly as the kid clicked the lock into place.

The kid stood up to his full height and smiled at Todd. “Thanks! I just got it.” He said, beaming with pride.

“Oh, uh, I’m Todd, and this is Ryan.”

“Jamie.” The kid said as he stuck out his hand.

“So Jamie, we’re meeting some friends at the arcade, you wanna hang with us?”

“Um, okay.” Jamie answered a little uncertainly as he fell into step with the two.

When they reached the arcade, Joel was the first to notice them. He waved eagerly at Todd, as he silently mouthed the words “I love you” across the noisy room. Todd’s heart leapt as he joined his boyfriend. Eventually he remembered his manners and introduced Jamie to all of his friends. They had all been taking a break, but were anxious to get back to the games. They were all deciding what to play when Todd noticed Jamie shying away from the group, pretending to be interested in a poster on the wall. Todd’s heart broke for him, realizing that he probably didn’t have any money. He racked his brain for a way to pay that wouldn’t offend him.

Just then, Ryan returned from the token booth with a hand full of coins and began distributing them among the kids. “Here, my dad’s buying.” Todd grinned at the look of sheer joy on Jamie’s face as Ryan tossed him some game tokens.

They all played their favorite games. Jon took some teasing when he chose Ms. Pacman, but he laughed and took it in stride. When they’d gone through the twenty dollars, they all dug in their pockets and figured they each had enough to head to the food court and get some ice cream.

Jamie looked around the group, knowing that he had nothing in his own pockets. He really liked the way they had all seemed to accept him. Maybe he could say he wasn’t hungry, he thought to himself as he followed the group.

When Todd reached the front of the line, he ordered two chocolate soft serve cones. Joel was right behind him. He couldn’t help but smile at his boyfriend’s thoughtfulness. He started to reach for the cone as Todd turned around, but his face fell as Todd walked right past him and offered it to Jamie.

Jamie was taken aback by the offer. “Oh, uh, I wasn’t going to have any.” He said as he blushed. “My mom will have dinner ready when I get home.”

Todd laughed. “Don’t tell me you buy the ‘it’ll spoil your dinner’ routine! Go on, take it before it melts. You can get me next time.”

Jamie smiled as he gratefully took the cone from Todd’s outstretched hand. “Thanks.”

They sat around the food court after they’d finished. They were all talking and laughing when Joel caught Todd’s eye. “Bathroom.” He mouthed at him, and excused himself from the table. Todd followed a minute later, only to find Joel in the men’s room on the verge of tears.

Todd saw his expression instantly, his lower lip quivering, his eyes threatening to spill over with moisture. “Joel! What’s the matter?” Todd asked as he closed the distance between them and tried to embrace Joel.

Joel held him off at arms length, losing the battle against his emotions. “I love you, and if Jamie makes you happy I won’t stand in your way.”

“What are you talking about?” Todd spluttered incredulously.

“You hung around him all day, and you practically ignored me…you even bought him ice cream. I should have known this would happen…he’s really cute.”

Todd couldn’t help it. He started laughing as he drew Joel into his arms. “C’mere honey. I’m sorry for laughing, it’s just the idea that I could love anyone but my little kosher hot dog!” He said as he caressed Joel’s head against his chest. “Joel, trust me on this one. This kid really needs friends, okay?”

Joel pulled back enough for Todd to see his face. “What do you mean?”

Todd sighed. “Look, I wasn’t going to tell anyone, but I have to tell you now. When Ryan and I met him at the bike rack, he was riding my old bicycle. The one I donated to the bike shop when they had that charity drive for needy kids. Don’t tell the others, okay? I don’t want him to feel weird.”

Joel understood Todd’s behavior in an instant. “That’s why you bought him…”

Todd nodded. “It was a Godsend when Ryan treated everyone at the arcade, but I knew he wouldn’t have any money for ice cream.”

Joel traced Todd’s features with his fingertip. “I should have known you had a reason. I’m sorry I doubted you.”

“Just don’t do it again!” Todd said, as he took a playful nip at Joel’s finger as it passed across his lips.

“Oh! Trying to get a bite of your little kosher hot dog? Where did THAT come from anyway?” Joel teased.

Todd giggled. “I thought of it last night. I’ve been waiting all day for a chance to use it.”

Joel released him as they both shared a laugh. “Just don’t call me that in public!” He said as he splashed some cold water on his face.

They walked back to the food court and found the others still there. They were goofing around so much that they didn’t even notice their absence.

Matt was excited. He’d spoken to Ann, and she had invited everyone over for a cookout lunch on Sunday to celebrate Matt’s debut with the church choir.

“I don’t know what all the fuss is, but hey, any excuse for a party.” Matt enthused. “There’s only one catch…you all have to come to church.”

Joel laughed. “Well, I’m usually free on Sunday mornings, if you’re sure there won’t be any lightening bolts. What about you Jamie?”

Jamie hadn’t been sure he was included in the invitation. “Well, I’m Catholic, but I, uh, haven’t been in awhile.”

Matt laughed. “Our church welcomes visitors of all kinds, but mom was only kidding about that part. You can just come to the cookout if you want.”

Matt borrowed a pen from Stacey and scribbled his address on a napkin for Jamie. “Come over around 12:30. Bring your appetite. Mom and dad always make a ton of food when they cook out.” He smiled warmly at their new friend as he slid the napkin across the table. “That’s the church address on the top in case you decide to come. The service is at 11:00. Don’t dress up. It’s really informal…especially for kids.”

Jamie thanked him and said he’d better be getting home. They all said goodbye and that they’d see him tomorrow. As Jamie rode home, the good feeling started to fade. He wondered if the gang would like him if they knew where he lived. He figured that Todd had asked him to hang out with them because he was impressed with his bike. He wondered how they’d feel if they knew it was a hand out. He thought about the cook out. Who was he kidding? He couldn’t keep it up for long. He was a kid from the wrong side of the tracks. He had no business at their backyard barbeques and their fancy houses. By the time he’d gotten home, he’d almost convinced himself that he should just forget all about them, but something inside him made him want to go. For just one day, he wanted to pretend he was like them. He wanted to know what it was like.

Ryan’s cell phone went off in his pocket, just as he pulled in the driveway. He jumped off his bike and flipped it open.

“Eric! How did it go?” He practically yelled into the phone.

Eric laughed. “Calm down. It’s all good. They even said we can still have sleepovers, they just don’t want us to parade it in front of them. The other request they had was that we keep it secret. They think people will give us a hard time if they know.”

“Wow, I guess we could do that, only some people already know. What did you tell them?”

“I told them about the people that know, and that we trust them. I also said that I wouldn’t go around advertising it, but if anyone asks, I’m not going to lie. I also told them that if someone is making nasty remarks about any of my friends, that I wouldn’t hesitate to stand with them.”

“Yeah, me either. How did they react to that?” Ryan asked.

“Well, they really want me to avoid confrontation, but they said they understood. I was pretty firm, so they knew they had to compromise. Can you come over for dinner tonight? They want to talk to both of us.”

Ryan thought for a moment. “They’re not going to lecture us about sex are they?”

Eric laughed. “If you could have seen mom’s face every time the subject almost came up, you’d know that won’t happen! They just want to be around us as a couple…sort of get used to the idea. Dad also said he wanted you to know you’re welcome and all. I know it’s going to be one of the most awkward nights of our lives, but they’re really trying.”

“Okay, I’ll ask my dad, but I’m sure it will be okay. What time?”

“Well, if you come over as soon as you can, we can have some time to talk before dinner. I want to tell you all about it.”

Ryan said he’d be there as soon as he washed up and changed his shirt. He told Tom where he was going, and left for Eric’s house with some fresh cut flowers that Shelley insisted he take to Betty. When he walked up the driveway, Eric swung open the door and invited him in. He reached for the bouquet.

“For me? You shouldn’t have.”

Ryan laughed. “Well, that’s good, because I didn’t. These are for your mom from Aunt Shelley.”

They took the flowers into the kitchen, and Betty put them in a vase.

“We’ll be upstairs.” Eric told his mother as he took Ryan’s hand and led him to his room. When they were inside, Eric pulled Ryan into an embrace.

“I know it sounds silly, but I really needed a hug.”

“It doesn’t sound silly. That’s what I’m here for.” Ryan answered as he held Eric tightly.

They sat on the bed holding hands and talked about the day. Eric said that even though his parents weren’t happy about it, they still loved him and wanted to try to accept his orientation. At one point his father offered to send him to a psychiatrist.

“You’re kidding!” Ryan laughed.

“Yeah, no shit. I told them I’m gay, not crazy.” They shared a good laugh over that, and headed downstairs.

Dinner was quiet at first. The atmosphere was a little strained. Ryan was determined to be pleasant to Eric’s parents. He complimented the food and made small talk. He couldn’t help feeling the strain of the scrutiny he was under. It seemed like they all were skirting the issue of their relationship. Finally, Ryan couldn’t stand it anymore.

“Mr. and Mrs. Martin,” he began a little nervously. “Eric told me some of what you discussed today, and I just want you to know that we both agreed to do everything possible to abide by your wishes. We both know you want the best for us, and that you’re concerned.”

Bennet put his fork down on his plate. “Ryan, I’m very glad to hear that you’re so sensible. You and Eric are young, and have plenty of time. No need to rush things.”

Ryan looked him right in the eye. “Mr. Martin, there’s something else I want you to know. I love Eric very much. I promise to always treat him with respect. We both knew we were gay for years before we met, and when we did, it was like years of loneliness just vanished. I’ll never take that for granted.”

Eric squeezed his hand under the table. “Same goes for me.”

Betty smiled at the two boys. “Since Eric is…gay, and it seems that nothing will change that, I’m glad he found you Ryan. I hope you’ll think of us as friends. You can both come to us anytime for anything.

Ryan smiled. “Thanks Mrs. Martin. That’s really great to know.” He giggled and added, “Aunt Shelley said you were cool.”

The laughter around the table broke the tension, and soon they were chatting normally without any of the uncomfortable feeling they had had earlier. After dinner, they helped with the dishes. The grownups discreetly left them alone when it was time for Ryan to leave. They kissed in the foyer. When the kiss was over, Eric looked sadly into Ryan’s eyes.

“I don’t feel like saying goodnight just yet.” Eric whispered.

“Walk me home?” Ryan wiggled his eyebrows.

As they went down the walkway, Eric pulled Ryan by the hand over to the side of the garage where they slipped in through the side door. Eric took an exercise matt off some hooks on the wall, and laid it down in the corner. He embraced Ryan and pulled him down on the matt on top of him. Their tongues found each other’s mouths as their crotches pressed together.

“How far can we go out here?” Ryan whispered when they broke the kiss.

Eric smiled in the near darkness as he swung around to face Ryan’s crotch and began to undo his pants. Ryan took the not so subtle hint and got to work exposing Eric’s crotch as well. Soon they had their pants and underwear around their thighs and were sucking, kissing and fondling one another. When Eric engulfed Ryan’s entire length, Ryan let out a moan as his hips started an involuntary pumping. He redoubled his efforts on Eric, making hot passionate love to his throbbing penis. They knew they didn’t have much time, so neither one held back in lavishing affection on the other. Ryan’s orgasm hit first. He let Eric’s cock slide out of his mouth and moaned as he pumped into him feeling his semen gush from his cock. He lay breathless for a minute while Eric continued to lick and kiss his softening cock.

He rolled Eric on his back, and knelt between his legs, leaning over and taking him back in his mouth while fondling his balls. It only took about 45 seconds for Eric be whimpering and squirming as his own load coursed into Ryan’s hungry mouth. When he finished, he lay down beside his lover. They held each other and gently kissed, rubbing each others backs.

“Eric, that was the best.” Ryan whispered in his ear.

“Yeah, you’re one hot cocksucker.” Eric giggled.

Ryan laughed. “Hey, you told your parents you’d treat me with respect.”

“Oh, if there’s one thing I respect it’s a good cocksucker!”

They chuckled in each other’s arms. “You’re not so bad yourself, sweetie. You give one hell of a hummer.” He kissed him on the cheek and stood, pulling his pants and underwear up as he went. “I’m getting hot again, but I have to go home. Are you coming to church tomorrow?”

“Yeah, I’ll be there.” Eric answered as he straightened out his clothing.

“Good. I’ll see you then. Oh I forgot. Everyone’s going to Matt’s for lunch. The whole gang is coming. We met this new kid, Jamie at the mall. He’ll be there too. He’s kinda quiet, but he seems like a good kid.”

With a final kiss, they reluctantly left the garage and Ryan headed for home.

The next morning, Jon awoke in Matt’s bed. He prodded his sleepy lover gently. “Time to get up.” He whispered in Matt’s ear.

“Uhhhh, what time is it?” Matt moaned as he rolled over, pulling the covers up around his neck.

“It’s almost 8. Come on, rise and shine. Warm up and practice is at 10:15, and you have to be up for awhile before your voice wakes up.”

Matt put a tentative foot on the floor, but showed no further signs of life. Jon fished under the covers for Matt’s ribcage and tickled him lightly.

Matt squirmed and giggled. “Okay, okay! I’m getting up already!”

Once he came to full consciousness, he became aware of the urgent fullness of his bladder and raced to the bathroom with his bobbing stiffness poking out of his underwear, leading the way. Jon was right behind him and the two relieved themselves side by side at the bowl. When their streams had finished, Jon reached over and shook Matt’s cock a few times.

“I think you missed a drop.” Matt sighed as Jon leaned over and locked the bathroom door. He looked down as he kneaded and stroked Matt between his fingers.

“I think I got it all, but I’d better be sure.” He said as he went to his knees, pulling Matt’s briefs down as he went.

Jon relished Matt’s salty, slightly funky morning scent as he slowly and sensually slid his lips back and forth on his boyfriend’s hardness. He gently rubbed his balls with his palm, letting his fingertips stray to the area behind them. It didn’t take long for Matt’s passion to reach fever peak, as he voided his balls in Jon’s hungry mouth. When Jon was sure he’d gotten all Matt had to offer, he stood up and shared the remains in a passionate kiss.

Jon broke the kiss and stood forehead to forehead with Matt. “That’s your reward for getting up early and singing in the choir.”

“Ummmm, I think I’m going to take voice lessons.” Matt purred.

As they showered together, Matt rubbed some of the lanolin rich shampoo into his crack and leaned against the shower wall. “You deserve a reward too.” He said over his shoulder with a wink.

Jon didn’t hesitate. He positioned himself behind Matt, and slipped into him, making love to him as slowly and sensually as he had orally. When he came in Matt, he collapsed on his back, planting tiny kisses on his neck and between his shoulders. They realized that the hot water couldn’t last forever, so they finished up in a hurry, and soon were headed back to Matt’s room with towels around their waists.

Bill was headed to the kitchen when he saw them. “So, saving water?” He said with an evil grin.

Matt stammered. “Well, uh, you know…”

Bill laughed. “Yeah, I know. Get dressed so we can take you to church to pray for your immortal souls.” He joked, giving each boy a playful swat on the rump as he passed them in the hall.

After breakfast, Jon took Matt by the hand and led him to the living room piano. He played some warm-up exercises and the boys sang along, limbering up their voices with some arpeggios. Then he played through the pieces for service, just to make sure Matt really knew his part. Matt knew Jon played well, but hadn’t really heard him. He was never around when Jon practiced. He was amazed that Jon got such a great sound out of the junky little piano they had. Ann and Bill came to the kitchen door and listened. When they’d finished the second piece, Matt’s parents broke into applause. The boys were somewhat startled by their presence, but they obliged them with a sweeping bow.

“It’s great to see that old thing get some use,” Ann said, “It was my mother’s years ago, but no one plays it anymore. Would you play us a piece Jon?”

Jon smiled and closed his eyes. He bent over the keyboard and began to sway to the strains of a Bach invention. His audience stared at him, watching his fingers fly over the keys. He seemed totally transported to another place as hundreds of notes swirled around the room. He relished the last measure with a tasteful rallentando, and released the last chord. Ann, Bill and Matt applauded wildly.

Jon shrugged. “I haven’t played that one in awhile.”

“Jon. You’re amazing! I had no idea you could play like that.” Matt enthused.

Jon was pleased. “I used to practice a lot more before I had friends. I’ve got to get serious again, though.”

Ann crossed the room. “You’re really gifted, Jon. Do you think you’d play for us once in awhile?”

Jon grinned. “Yeah, I’d like that…but PLEASE get this thing tuned!” He winced painfully as he fingered several octaves.

“It’s a deal!” Bill said, clapping him on the back.

When they arrived at church, they were pleased to see some of the gang had showed up. Stacey and Trevor were already seated, looking over the bulletin, and Andy and Marla were just coming up the walk. They smiled as they saw Todd and Jane walk in with Tom, followed by Jon’s cousins and his parents. Jon dragged Matt toward the robe room.

“C’mon, we have to find you a choir robe that’s not already in use.”

When he opened the door, he stopped dead in his tracks. Matt crashed right into him.

“Sam!!!” Jon shrieked, as he bounded across the room and lunged at his brother. Sam held him tight.

“Shhh, I want to surprise mom and dad.” He whispered excitedly.

Matt joined the embrace. Jon was so excited to see Sam in his choir robe.

Sam held Jon at arms length and gave him the once over. “You look great little brother. You must have dropped at least five more pounds since I saw you last.”

Jon beamed back at him. “What are you doing here?”

“I didn’t want to miss homecoming Sunday so I called Glenn and he FedExed me the music. I drove home early this morning and here I am.” Sam said as he zipped up the front of his choir robe. “Besides, I’ve really been working hard and I missed you guys.”

They found Matt a robe that was the suitable length, and lined up with the rest of the singers in the back of the church. Everyone glanced up from their hymnals as the choir processed down the aisle. Of course everyone was surprised and delighted to see Sam. They took their places in the choir loft in the front of the church, and the service went on. During prayers and concerns, Glenn took the wireless mic. Matt groaned inwardly because he had a feeling that he was about to be embarrassed.

“Friends, it is with great joy that we welcome a new choir member. After years of praying and nagging, Matt Barker has joined us this year.”

The congregation applauded loudly. Matt blushed, but he acknowledged them with a gracious wave. During the applause, Jon nudged Matt, and glanced to the back of the church. Matt looked over in time to see Jamie slip in the back and take a seat in the last row.

When it was time to sing the anthem, the choir rose on a cue from Glenn and held their music in front of them. The organ began the intro. Matt felt confident, standing between Sam and Roy in the baritone section. When they began to sing, he was truly amazed that he couldn’t distinguish his own voice from the sound of the section. It was as though they were one voice. It had gone well in rehearsal, but it seemed as if something just clicked. A warm feeling spread through him, standing in the middle of the group, being a part of something so beautiful. He was hooked. He had to concentrate on the music to avoid being overcome with giddiness. When the piece ended, Jon turned to see the expression on Matt’s face, an expression he knew very well. Matt beamed at him with a look in his eyes that said “why didn’t you tell me?” Jon smiled and refocused on the service.

When it was over, the boys headed to change out of their robes. Matt was excited.

“What an incredible feeling! It was like…like…we were one voice!”

Sam shrugged at Jon. “Newbies!”

Jon chuckled. “Oh I don’t know. I never get tired of it.” He took Matt in his arms. “Welcome to the choir, honey.”

As they hung up their robes, Sam whispered urgently. “Pastor Margaret at ten o’clock.”

The boys giggled and braced themselves. They knew that they were about to get the stuffing hugged out of them. She gushed with praise as she enfolded each boy in turn.

“So Matt, what do you think about choir?” She asked warmly.

“I love it.” Matt answered enthusiastically.

She hugged him again. “Sing a joyful song unto the Lord!”

Sam and Jon stifled a giggle as they watched Matt’s face turn red.

Pastor Margaret excused herself. She had to attend a planning meeting for the Fall Festival. It was one of the biggest fund raisers of the year. It was great fun, as well. They sold pumpkins and apple cider. There were hay rides for the kids as well as entertainment and games.

Pastor Margaret said over her shoulder as she departed. “I hope we can count on you guys to help out. There’s always so much to do. We need someone to run the spin art table, and some to make cotton candy, oh, the list just goes on and on.” She shook her head as she walked.

Matt looked at Jon. “We’ll be there.” He called after her as she rounded the corner. They added their names to the sign up sheet in the lobby before greeting their friends and family. It was always a good time, and they welcomed the excuse to be involved, since they felt that they’d outgrown the children’s games.

Coffee hour was in full swing, and everyone rushed to compliment the choir. The boys accepted the praise gracefully. Jon looked at Todd quizzically when he told them how much he enjoyed it.

Todd saw his puzzlement and tried to explain. “If I hold on to the pew in front of me, I can feel the vibrations of the organ…especially the low notes. It’s cool to see how you all sing the words together sometimes, and other times the different parts say different words. I can even tell by looking at your faces, and watching Glenn when you’re singing loud or soft. It’s really cool. It’s fun to imagine what it sounds like.”

Everyone in the crowd was impressed with Todd’s ability to derive enjoyment out of any situation. They were chatting away when Todd noticed Jamie standing off by himself. He nudged Joel and they made their way over to him.

“Hey Jamie, glad you could make it.” Todd said, as he watched the smile spread across the other boy’s face.

They led him over to where the others were standing and introduced him around. Jamie was a little shy at meeting the grownups. He knew from experience that they could read situations better than kids sometimes. He managed to smile politely and shake the offered hands.

Matt said sheepishly, “sorry mom. We met Jamie at the mall yesterday and I forgot to tell you I invited him to the cook out.”

Jamie blushed. “It’s okay Mrs. Barker. I can just go home if there’s not enough.”

Ann was horrified that this boy would think it possible that he’d be left out. She knew instinctively that something was wrong. She hastened to ease his mind.

“Oh no, Jamie. Please come. There’ll be plenty. Since we got here, I’ve already invited Glenn, Roy, Margaret and the Martins, so what’s one more.”

Jamie relaxed. “Thanks ma’am. I won’t eat much.”

Ann smiled at him. “I know how teenage boys can pack it away. Don’t be shy. Like I said, there’s plenty.”

Matt introduced Jamie to Sam and Eric, who had been hanging out by the refreshment table. Some of the other kids had ridden their bikes to church, so Jamie fell in with them for the short trip to the Barker’s.

Ann found Bill and pulled him aside. “Looks like we have a few extra guests. You go home and start the grill. I’m going to swing by the store and get more burger meat, buns and potato salad. Can you think of anything else?”

Bill thought for a moment. “Drinks?”

“Oh, yes. We’ll need more soda.”

She took the car keys from Bill, who said he’d catch a ride with Tom or Dan and Shelley. She smiled to herself wearily as she headed to the parking lot, but she didn’t mind. Matt would only be 15 once, and in the blink of an eye he’d be out on his own. She knew these days, these moments were very precious indeed.

Well, a lot happened in this chapter. I hope you're all able to follow. I'm having a moratorium on new characters for awhile. I don't want to make this a cast of thousands. There is plenty I have planned for the future with these guys. I hope you all liked this one. Let me know one way or another. Thanks for reading.

All best, Jon