DISCLAIMER: The following story is a fictional account involving teenage boys, some of who are gay and trying to cope with love and homophobia in the American Midwest. Limited sexual activity takes place in this story and there are references to gay sex, and anyone who is uncomfortable with this should obviously not be reading it. With a few very obvious exceptions, all characters are fictional and any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. Conversations with real individuals are strictly hypothetical and not meant in any way to imply an actually conversation that has taken or might take place. Although the senator in this story bears a strong resemblance to Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, the suggestion that he has a gay grandson is pure conjecture. Although the story takes place in actual locations and establishments, the author takes full responsibility for all events described and these are not in any way meant to reflect the activities of real individuals or religious establishments, governmental nor school or corporate policies. The author retains full copyright of this story, and of stories based on these characters.

Please note that this is the nineteenth in a series of short stories known collectively as Naptown Tales. The series of stories can be found on my GayAuthors Page and on the Naptown Tales Page at Awesome Dude. Slightly modified versions of some of these stories that are suitable for younger teens can also be found on the Altimexis Page at Codey's World. Please see the Introduction for important background on the series.

Spring Break

A Naptown Tale in Five Parts

by Altimexis & David of Hope

A Father's Idea - Rob

I was just dozing off. Warm, comfortable, cozy; Lindsey was spooned into me; my arm resting on her hip; her comfortable softness allowing me to drift into a remembrance of our many contented nights of happiness together. I knew if I relaxed just one more level, the comfort of happy dreams would be swarming forth as my subconscious mind smothered the reality of my thoughts.

"Rob . . ." she whispered.

"Hmmm . . ." I hummed back.

"I was thinking about spring break for the boys," she continued whispering.

I didn't want to be removed from my reverie, "Uh hmmm . . ." I whispered back.

"How about a trip to Disney World . . . I know Sammy would love it."

"Trevor's been there," I mumbled with my eyes too heavy to open, and then a thought sparked my mind. I'd lost my dreamy state, but kept my eyes closed. "How about a summer holiday at Disney World, but something academic for spring break . . . like a trip to DC?"

Lindsey nudged her soft rump into my crotch with a jerk. "Love it. Let's do it. Maybe we should call on Dick while we're there. Weren't you and his son around Sammy's age when you were friends?" she asked.

"Calling us `friends' is vastly overstating it," I replied in my groggy state. Let's just say Chet thought of me as his friend, and I tolerated him. We went to the same day camp," I said with a yawn, "that's all.

"Chet was a snobby little brat and I was one of the few kids that didn't tell him to buzz off . . . or worse. Dick was the mayor of this town back then, and yet he took the time to pick up his kid at camp, every day."

"I know," she said with a laugh. "You've told me a jillion times before. He always waved to you, or asked you how you were doing, and even had you over to his house a few times. Dick's been very good to you; he got you into the Young Republicans, and got you some of your business connections when you were first starting out and you've been a very generous campaign supporter in return."

"Dick's a good guy . . . probably one of the most honest in the Senate."

"And one of the most senior, and most powerful," Lindsey noted, "but surely he'll take some time out to spend with one of his staunchest supporters."

"It's been ages since we've been to DC, but I'm sure you're right," I agreed.

 "Goodnight darlin'," she whispered drowsily.

"Yeah, goodnight sweetheart," I whispered as my subconscious rearranged another cog in a puzzle.

Part One
Planning the Trip - Trevor

"Hey Trevor!" Sammy said briskly as I opened one eye to see him smiling at me from my bedroom door, just opened enough for me to see his head sticking through the opening. It looked like his head was floating there in mid-air and I started laughing, still snuggled under my comforter. "The shower's free bro . . . go for it."

"Here I come," I said still laughing as I threw back the comforter and jumped to my feet, my morning boner sticking straight out in front of me. "I gotta pee real bad."

Although Sammy was my recently adopted foster brother, our relationship was more than that. We'd shared enough of life's meanest experiences together that we were also the best of friends. We were brothers in the true sense of the word - we trusted each other, respected each other, and without any sexual innuendo attached, we loved each other. He was a very frightened unloved 12-year-old when he came into our family, but between Mom, Dad, and me, I guess he's learned to become a happy new teenager.

Usually I was the one waking him up in the morning after I'd had my shower. Mom and Dad had always been pretty strict disciplinarians when it came to us getting up on time. Mostly, it was to keep Sammy on schedule so he could take his HIV meds at the proper time.

I quickly grabbed my dressing gown and lunged at the door, still laughing. Sammy stepped back looking at me questioningly, standing there with a bath towel wrapped around his waist.

"What's so funny?" he asked as he followed me into the hall to the bathroom on his way to his room.

"Ya spooked me bro. All I could see was your head sticking in the door . . . I thought you'd lost your body." We were both laughing when he closed the door to the bathroom and went to his room to get dressed while I went on with my morning `S's.

Once dressed, I went down to the kitchen. As usual, Mom was fixing breakfast and Dad was reading the paper with a cup of coffee in front of him. Sammy was in the middle of drinking his OJ. There was something unusual though - Mom was humming and kinda singing while she stood at the stove. Normally she was quietly concentrating while she cooked.

"Morning Mom!" I greeted her. "Morning Dad!" I chirped.

"Good morning Trevor," they answered together; Dad peering over the top of his paper with an unusual big smile while Mom carried on with her humming at the stove. I knew something out of the ordinary was up, but it didn't bother me - I felt sure it was going to be good news.

Sammy looked at me with one palm up, a questioning look on his face again, as if to say, "What's up?" Even he'd noticed the unusual happy-go-lucky morning attitude of our parents. The only answer I could give Sammy was a grin and a shrug of my shoulders.

Mom was always great with a hearty breakfast. She used to say that she wanted to make sure the men in her life started their day off right with a good breakfast. Today it was fluffy scrambled eggs, sausage, and potato pancakes, together with light homemade biscuits. Scrumptious!

The four of us were finishing off breakfast with some jam on our biscuits. Dad cleared his throat and smiled at the rest of us.

"Go ahead Rob, ask the boys." Mom said with a big smile.

"OK." Dad said, still smiling. "Your mom and I were wondering . . . do you boys have anything planned for the spring break?"

"Paul and I were jus' gonna hang aroun'." Sammy said. "Nothin' special."

"Just about the same for Kurt and me. Why? What's up Dad?" I asked.

Somehow, Dad couldn't take the smile from his face. "Sammy, have you ever seen Washington D.C. . . . our nation's capitol?"

I was kinda stunned. All I could think was, `WOW!'

"Oh yeah," Sammy replied. "I've seen lots a pictures of Washington in books an' on TV."

Dad gave me a wink, and it was all I could do to keep a straight face. There was something special about Sammy - he wasn't dumb - actually he was very intelligent - it was like he was innocently naïve. Not putting it all together; it was part of his charm.

Mom reached across the table. Instinctively, Sammy put his hand in hers. "Sammy, what we want to do is take you boys to Washington to see the real thing."

Sammy's eyes bulged. "I . . . I ain't . . . I mean I haven't ever been anywhere really outside the city. Ya mean it . . . Ya really mean it?"

"Of course we mean it," Dad said.

"Dad, I really want to go," I said smiling apprehensively, "but it's something like this that I'd really like to share with Kurt."

"Oh, we considered that Trevor . . . how about you Sammy? I suppose you'd want Paul to come as well." Dad said still smiling.

"You're kiddin' me! Oh God Rob . . . Dad . . . he'd love it an' he'd get soooo much out of a trip like that! You really mean it?" Sammy was almost laughing, trying to catch his breath.

"Yes son, we really mean it," Dad said laughing. "Now boys, I want you to check with Kurt and Paul, make sure they want to go and then I'll check with their parents to make sure it's OK with them. That a deal?"

I was ecstatic. "YOU BETCHA DAD!"

I got up, went over to Mom, and gave her a big hug. "Thanks Mom, this will make spring break really special. Hey, breakfast was good too."

Sammy was giving Dad a hug as well. He was so happy; I think he had tears in his eyes as we switched parents, giving our gratitude.

"Alright both of you . . . off you go," Mom said, "brush your teeth and Sammy, don't forget to take your meds with you."

By the time Sammy and I returned from our bedrooms, our backpacks loaded, Paul was just coming through the front door. Paul was special - very special - first because he was Sammy's buddy at school and home, he just lived three doors up the street, but really special because he has Down's Syndrome. Our folks, Paul's and ours, our friends, and especially my boyfriend Kurt, thought he was so special because of his innocence, his genuine innocent love for his friends. For sure, he was slow, sometimes he had to be shown something three times before he caught on, but he did have a desire to learn. Once in a while, if he lost interest, his mind would wander and he couldn't stay focused, but we understood that. Lately, it seemed his big interest was girls, so I guess that part was working OK.

"Hey Paul! Man do we have some great news!" Sammy exclaimed as soon as he saw Paul.

"HEY SAMMY!" I interrupted. "Let's wait 'til we pick up Kurt and tell them together . . . OK?"

"Oh right . . . yeah . . . I forgot."

"Morning Paul," I said, "It is good news for all of us!"

Paul gave us his good morning smile and as usual, brushing passed us without saying anything, went directly over to Mom to give her a hug. "G'morning Lindsey," he said.

"Good morning Paul. This hug every time I see you just makes my day." Mom said hugging him back.

Then as his manners dictated, he went quickly over to our Dad and gave him a hug. "G'morning Rob."

"Good morning Paul. You and Sammy going to look after each other today?" Dad asked holding Paul with one arm.

"You bet!" Paul answered as he quickly ran over to us and grabbed one of our arms. "Come on guys, we can't be late!" Somehow, that morning ritual Paul went through every school morning always made us smile.

"Bye Mom! Bye Dad!" Sammy and I said in unison as Paul ushered us out the door.

Kurt was waiting outside his house when as I drove up. Our first order of business once he was in the car was our good morning kiss. No doubt about it, he was my boyfriend and we were in love.

"Ooooo," Sammy and Paul cooed from the back seat. That comment just made Kurt and I kiss again in response to their tease. "Hey we can't be late guys," Paul said seriously.

Kurt, Sammy, and I had quite a history that started last summer. I guess now it felt like old news to us, but at the time it was the most serious and life threatening thing that could ever happen to a bunch of young teenagers. As a camp counselor, I was shocked one day when I was ushered out of the camp and accused of molesting younger children - one of them being Sammy. Kurt was the one who found out it was one of the other councilors and between him and Sammy, they were able to expose the real culprit at a great risk to their own lives. Sammy had been one of the kids who had been molested, and that's how he ended up being HIV positive. After the camp closed, it was Kurt's idea that we search out the kids that had been molested and do what we could to help them. Mom and Dad thought it was a great idea and after hearing about Sammy, and learning his history after camp, they went searching through all the child welfare offices until we finally located him. Immediately, my folks wanted to foster him. To me it felt so right. Now Sammy was my brother and we were both happy, actually at the moment - ecstatic.

"OK Paul, but first we have to tell you guys the good news," I began with a big smile. "Here it is. Our folks want to take us to Washington DC for spring break."

Kurt immediately looked dejected. "That's nice Trevor," he said quietly, "but that means I won't be able to see you for over a week."

Sammy started to giggle from the back seat. "Kurt! You didn't hear him right! Trevor said US!"

"THE FOUR OF US?" Kurt yelled.

"You betcha!" I answered. Right away, I had a bundle of Kurt hugging me. Glancing in the rear view mirror, Paul and Sammy were hugging as well. "I told you it was good news, but now we have to get going or we will be late for school."

The drive to school that morning was filled with exuberance and excitement, each of us wondering what a trip to Washington DC would be like.

Before Sammy and Paul got out of the car at the middle school entrance, I had to tell Paul that he'd have to get his parent's permission to go on the trip with us. I was pretty sure that we'd have to remind him again when we dropped him off this afternoon.

Kurt and I were in different classes; I was two grades ahead of him, but we always had lunch together with many of the other students who belonged to the Gay Straight Alliance. David and Jeremy were another gay couple that were good friends that we often ate with. Jeremy's folks had adopted Cliff, another one of the abused kids from the summer camp. Cliff went to the same middle school as Sammy, Paul, and David's brother, Brad. Through all these social ties, we were almost like one happy family. Back in November, Kurt and Sammy made a great, rather emotional presentation about sexual abuse and HIV/AIDS in the high school gym to about four thousand high school kids. Paul was there too and I think he summed it up best when he told Sammy, `You were awesome'. I was really proud of both Kurt and Sammy that afternoon. Naturally, almost all the kids from the GSA were there and the standing ovation at the end of the question period told it all.

Once Kurt and I told David and Jeremy about my parents' plans to take the four of us to Washington DC for spring break, the conversation became a bit hushed. Both David's and Jeremy's eyes bulged as they were chomping down on a bite of their sandwiches. Without a change in their facial expressions, they stared at each, still chomping their food, and started deliberately nodding their heads up and down. As soon as they swallowed their food, they smiled and started staring at Kurt and me.

"WOW Trevor!" Jeremy began, "Would you like some company on that trip . . . you know . . . someone to help you keep an eye on Sammy and Paul. I know I can get Dad to pay for our way. What'd'ya say?"

"You mean it!" Kurt said, taking the words right out of my mouth. "It would be awesome with you two there."

"Oh man, it'd be a blast if you guys'd come with us!" I said trying to keep my smile from turning into a giddy laugh. "I'll talk to my Dad and Mom tonight. I'm sure Sammy and Paul would love it too."

David looked down at the tabletop with a big smile, "I can't believe it. I've never been there and for me, I think it'll be the trip of a lifetime! I want to go so bad . . . I sure hope my folks say it's OK."

"Hey not to worry love," Jeremy said, "Once my Dad talks to your Dad, you'll be going. I have a way with my folks. I'm sure Dad'll be on the phone to your folks and to Trevor's parents right after dinner . . . well, maybe around eight anyways."

"Yeah and my Mom and Paul's folks are going to be on the phone to your Dad too," Kurt added. "Trev, I hope you get time to brief your Dad before all the phone calling starts."

"No problem," I answered confidently. "He's looking forward to this trip as much as we are. I know that's all we'll be talking about at dinnertime. I know I'll be able to add your names to the roster. Knowing Dad and Mom, the more the merrier."

I was a bit distracted throughout my afternoon classes, just thinking about the fun that we'd all have with David and Jeremy coming with us on this trip.

After school let out, Kurt and I drove over to the middle school to pick up Paul and Sammy. When we told them that David and Jeremy wanted to come on our trip, they were happy as punch, but then they went quiet. Kurt and I both wanted some private time together, but we knew this wouldn't be the night for it.

We went through our usual goodbye kiss routine, which got the usual `Oooo' comments from Sammy and Paul in the back seat.

"Now lay the educational thing on your Mom when you're telling her about the DC trip." I warned Kurt. "I couldn't stand spending the spring break away from you."

"You can count on it." Kurt said as he opened the car door. "She's gonna be getting lots of hugs tonight, begging, whining, and a sales pitch she can't refuse. After all, your folks will be going and she'll feel comfortable with that. Hey, I love you."

"I love you too," I replied.

"Hey Kurt, I love you too ya know." Paul said from the back seat with a big smile.

"I know ya do big man and I love you and Sammy," Trevor said with a big smile, "but you guys are into girls and that's good too. Let's keep those phone lines open tonight. I think our parents are going to be yapping away most of the night to get this trip planned."

Sammy and Paul stayed in the back seat while I drove home.

Very quietly, Sammy broke the silence. "Hey bro, I think we have a problem. We had lunch with Brad and Cliff today. We told them about the trip and they want to come too. Ya think Dad. . ."

"Whoa!" I exclaimed, that means there'll be . . . eight of us, plus Mom and Dad! What do you guys think?"

"YEAH!" Paul and Sammy exclaimed in unison. "Brad and Cliff are lots of fun." Paul said.

"OK then, Paul when you go home, make sure you ask your folks if you can go and tell them to phone my Dad, got that?" I asked as I pulled into our driveway.

"I got it!" Paul laughed.

After we got out of the car, Paul did the knuckle bump goodbye routine with Sammy and me and although Paul fumbled it a bit, he was catching on.

Once we got in the house, Sammy and I read the usual note from Mom. (Sammy - Trevor, 1: do your homework, 2: At 5:00 put the casserole dish in the oven at 325. 3: At 5:15 put the heat on under the pot of potatoes. 4: Sammy, take your meds. 5: Set the table. See you at 5:30. Love you, Mom)

Sammy and I looked at each other and smiled. Doing these few things for Mom to make sure dinner was ready on time had become one of the pleasures of our routine. Mom and Dad worked hard for us to have this nice house to live in with all the extras that we enjoyed, so we tried to be eager to please them too.

Once Dad came in the door at 5:45, his usual time, he and Mom had their kissy-kissy greeting, said hi to Sammy and me, went to the fridge and had a short glass of juice to clear his throat and unwind a bit, we all sat down at the table to Mom's great meal. We could never understand how she did it, but in addition to the casserole, the mashed potatoes, there was a bowl of vegetables and broiled steaks for each of us.

"So boys, how was school today?" Dad asked.

Sammy had his mouth full, so I answered. "It was great Dad. We told Kurt and Paul about the Washington trip and they really want to go. Their folks are probably going to phone tonight to let you know."

Dad kinda smiled his mischievous grin, but then I knew something else was up when he winked at Mom. Sammy and I looked at each other and then quickly back at Dad.

Then he took on a serious look. "Oooh, I don't think their folks will be phoning me." Dad said slowly.

"Wha . . . Why not?" Sammy asked, rather concerned. "Are . . . aren't we goin'?"

Dad started laughing. "Oh Lordy, I love teasing you boys! Yes son, we're going and yes Kurt and Paul are coming too. I'd already cleared it with their folks yesterday. I just thought it would be nice if you could break the good news to them."

"Uhh . . . Daaad, I think you'll still be getting that phone call." I said as I winked at Sammy.

We'd just finished our desert and Sammy and I were clearing the table when my cell phone rang. I knew it was a no-no; Dad didn't want us talking to our friends after school, and he let me know with a scorned glance, but I had to answer it.

Before I had a chance to say hello, in a hurried voice, I heard, "Trevor, it's Jeremy. I know I'm not supposed to call, but it's a go. Dad's calling your Dad right now. Bye." Before I closed my cell phone, the house phone in the living room was ringing.

I started to smile as Dad, obviously irritated, quickly got up from the table and answered it. I looked at Sammy and nodded smiling. Mom looked bewildered as we kinda eavesdropped on Dad's side of the conversation.

"Hello? . . . Hi there Tom, how are you this evening? . . . I have? . . . They do? . . . Both of them? . . . DAVID and BRAD as WELL! . . . Good Grief Tom, this idea really stirred up a hornet's nest. I don't know . . . this is going to become quite pricey . . . no, we haven't made the flight arrangements yet, we . . . Maybe the Marriot. . . ." At that point Sammy and I were having a hard time controlling our giggles, so we headed for the kitchen with the last load of dirty dishes. We stood at the sink rinsing the dishes and loading the dishwasher trying very hard not to laugh too loudly. For once, we got to pay Dad back for teasing us.

"ALRIGHT! Both of you . . . in here . . . right now!" Dad didn't sound mad, but it wasn't the happiest tone I'd ever heard in his voice. He was still sitting beside the phone on the love seat with Mom beside him.

"Honey, it wasn't their fault." Mom said as Sammy and I sat on the couch. "They didn't do anything wrong."

Dad was looking at the floor, his lips pursed, and then looked at Mom and nodded. "Yes sweetheart," he sighed, "you're right." Then he looked at us. "You two know who that was on the phone and what it was about?" he questioned.

I bit my bottom lip, feeling guilty as hell. "Jeremy's dad?" I questioned.

He nodded his head. "Your mother's right. It's only fair that you would share your good fortune with your friends. Sooo . . . after a long talk, it turns out that Tom and Cynthia Kimball are going to let Jeremy and Cliff come with us. Tom also spoke to the Reynolds and . . . he's going to foot the bill for David and Brad to come along as well."

"YESS!" Sammy and I yelled together as we high-fived.

"Alright boys, don't get too excited," Dad warned, "we're going to be having a multi-parent family confab over this at the Kimball's Friday night to lay out some rules and an itinerary for the trip. Nothing's cast in stone yet."

Well Friday finally came and although Sammy, Kurt, and I had been to the Kimball house before, for an afternoon swim, it was the first time I'd ever seen it with so many people there. There were eight of us teenagers and nine parents. The great room actually looked crowded. Once all the introductions were finished in the great room, Jeremy's parents ushered the eight of us out to the pool for a swim. Naturally, Jeremy had told us to come prepared with our swimsuits. We had a blast. We were surprised - while we played volleyball, although Paul wasn't a great swimmer, he caught on and after about ten minutes he was responding to every pass that came his way.

After almost an hour, we were exhausted - at least it was starting to show on Cliff, Brad, Sammy, and Paul, so we headed in after a quick shower and change. All our folks were still sitting in the great room chatting and laughing away sipping on coffee and special cakes. I didn't know why it took so long to come to all the decisions, but again, we were shooed away into the game room. Now that was nice!

Carlota, the Kimball nanny and housekeeper, had set up a whole bunch of refreshments and goodies for us to eat. Once we had all that inside us, we felt rested, but really the whole time we were eating and talking, everyone but Jeremy, Cliff, and David had their eyes wandering around the room at all the games and equipment. David was the first to get up and suggest a game of pool. Jeremy went over to the DDR system and got it going, while David, Kurt, Brad, and I started a game of pool. Jeremy demonstrated to the others, although Cliff already knew how to work it and was pretty good at it compared to Sammy's first try. Paul was TOTALLY fascinated by it as he watched the others. When Paul took his first turn, they slowed it right down so he could concentrate on the flashing lights. After two minutes, they sped up the rhythm just a bit and he stuck with it; after another two minutes, a little faster rhythm - but then he became tired. Then Sammy went back at it, then Cliff. Paul remained fascinated and took another turn at the higher speed. We were amazed - he'd mastered it, maybe not at the level of Jeremy or Cliff, but certainly as good as Sammy. There was a moment of applause as he'd attracted the attention of everyone in the room. Then Mr. Kimball came in.

"You boys having fun?" he asked.

"You betcha!" "For sure!" "This is great!" "WOW!" The responses all came together.

"Good!" he replied with a smile. "Stay with it boys. "Jeremy, David, Trevor, Kurt . . . could you guys come into the great room for a few minutes? We want to talk about the itinerary with you for a few minutes."

As we got the end of the great room, Dad eyed each of us. "Boys, we want to know what the most important thing is for you on this trip."

David was the first to answer. "It's hard to say . . . there's so much. For me, I guess it's the Capitol Building and maybe the Smithsonian."

"Yeah, that and a chance to spend a great trip with our friends," Jeremy added.

"There's so much meaningful history there," Kurt said, "but most of all, I'll be able to share it with Trevor."

I'd been watching my Dad as the others answered and his face remained somewhat serious while they answered. "Dad," I began, "I want all that too," I said as I gestured to the other guys, "but . . . is this a trick question?"

Dad smiled and nodded his head. "You know me well son," he began, "however although your mother and I will be there, we won't be able to watch over all eight of you at the same time. The four most important things on this trip will be? . . ."

"Sammy . . . Paul, Cliff, and Brad." Kurt and I said together. Dad nodded his head.

 "What we want to do is make sure that each of you has a copy of Cliff and Sammy's medication schedules," Mom said. "I know it's unlikely that they'd forget, but you all know how we could get distracted by something interesting, including Sammy and Cliff. All of us, even Cliff and Sammy, know how important it is for them to take their meds on time. So that's one of our priorities even though they may get angry about all the reminders they might get from everyone."

"Distraction . . . that's a good word to describe Paul," Mrs. Manning said. "We know how much all of you care about Paul and you would do everything it might take to protect him, but in a moment of distraction, he may become interested in something that catches his eye, and like a young child, he wouldn't think of the consequences of leaving the group . . . and he may get lost. Believe me, it's happened to us and for an hour or so at the mall, we were frantic. So it is important that one of you older boys know where he is at all times."

"I think that's our job," David said smiling at Jeremy. "We already want to keep an eye out for Cliff, so adding Paul and Sammy to the list is no problem and I know Brad's pretty mature . . . he'll keep a lookout too . . . he sure wouldn't want anything to happen to any of his friends."

With all that settled, we all gathered together again in the great room for a bunch of hugs and goodbyes before we headed home. Sammy and I were still excited as hell as we headed for our bedrooms that night.

Two days before we were to take off, we got hit with a bomb. Dad came home with a long face and whispered something to Mom.

"Oh Rob no!" she said sadly and went back to the stove

We knew something was up, but Sammy and I decided to wait until after dinner to ask him. Sammy and I talked about school during dinner, but Mom and Dad were quiet about how things went at work. When he left the dinner table, Sammy and I quickly cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher without saying anything, then headed for the living room. Dad was in the love seat with Mom beside him holding his hand. I stood there trying to understand their problem.

"Mom . . . Dad," Sammy said quietly, "What's wrong?"

Dad pointed his finger to us and picked up the phone. Sammy and I sat on the couch, actually on the edge of our seats while Dad stared at the floor.

"Hi Tom," he said quietly, "it's Rob . . . listen, Lindsey and I have a bit of a problem at work. There's been a breach in the firewall of one of our major clients. It's probably going to take us the better part of the next week to track it down, let alone figure out what may or may not have been stolen, work on damage control and of course patch the cause of the breach. I'm going to have to put every IT person I have to work on it, myself included. As the owner, I can't exactly abandon ship to take a family vacation when the corporate ship's sprung a major leak. . . .

"Yeah, I figured you'd understand. . . . Anyway, with so many of our resources diverted to this one account, I'm going to need Lindsey to handle the nuts and bolts end of the business for a while, from our P.I.'s to our burglar alarm installations. She can't exactly get away, either. Such is the life of a small business owner.

"I don't want to cancel the . . ." He paused, rubbing his forehead; I think he was listening to Mr. Kimball. I was in shock as I stared at Dad. Sammy looked at me equally concerned and worried. I crossed my fingers as I touched Sammy's leg and he in turn, gently took my hand in his. "Yes, I know you and Cynthia have a full plate and I know that the Reynolds are in a tight bind with him pounding the pavement, looking for a new job." All I could think of was `Oh shit!. How can we lose this trip now.' Those moments of silence during the conversation just made my heart sink. "You would do that?" Dad questioned into the phone. "Yes Tom, I trust them, but they'll be so far away in the case of emergency." He paused while he listened again. "How about if I call my senator friend, Dick . . . oh, you know him, too? What do you mean, not a bad guy for a Republican? Oh, I forgot you guys are Democrats. But seriously, you know Obama, personally? And you know Bayh? Anyway, Dick was going to meet with us and the boys . . . maybe he could recommend . . ." He paused again. Now he had a bit of smile on his face. "OK, sounds good. Call me back. Thanks Tom, bye."

Even Mom's face started to look relieved, as Dad did smile when he hung up. Sammy and I looked at each other, still wondering what was going on.

"Did you boys catch the gist of that conversation?" Dad asked. Sammy and I just nodded. "It's true, your Mom and I won't be able to go on the trip with you and your friends, so for the most part you'll be on your own." He looked at Mom. "Sweetheart, Tom figures that we could hire a chauffer and a guide for the eight boys. It makes sense and maybe with the money we'll get back from our first class tickets, we can still manage it."

"Yes, knowing Tom and Cynthia they'd probably want to pay for the whole thing," Mom said smiling. "It certainly sounds like a better idea than canceling the whole trip. Is Tom going to phone Dick?" Dad just nodded his head.

The phone had remained silent by the time Sammy and I headed for bed. We were really no closer to an answer. Would Mrs. Manning let Paul go? What about David and Brad's folks?

The authors gratefully acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Trab in proofreading our stories, as well as Gay Authors, Awesome Dude and Codey's World for hosting them.


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