Legal Notice:

The following contains mild descriptions of sexual acts between young people. It is an original work of fiction, and has no basis in reality.

Do not read this story if:

  1. You're not 18 or over.
  2. If it is illegal to read this type of material where you live.
  3. If you don't want to read about gay/bisexual people in love or having sex.

The author retains Copyright © 2005 to this story. Reproducing this story for distribution without the author’s permission is a violation of that copyright.

Dedicated to Ren-You are always in my heart.

Perry and Jesse

The Incredibly Romantic (and slightly kinky) Adventures of Two Boys In Love

Part V Truths and Lies

Chapter 37: Jessica's Party Pt. 2 (Kyle's Story)

Kyle was standing there looking singularly uncomfortable in his Sunday suit and tie. He had his hands stuffed clumsily in the front pockets of his dress slacks.

"We were just making out," Jesse explained calmly.

Good thing I'd just used the toilet, otherwise I would've wet myself for sure.

But Kyle only laughed. "Ha! Man, Taylor. You gotta wicked sense of humor. Who woulda thunk? The bashful kid....Man, the way you had Bainbridge fuming in there...shit, that was priceless!"

"We aims ta please," Jesse declared with a quick bow.

"We were ah...just checking out the backyard and stuff," I explained for my own peace of mind. "It's pretty cool. There's a waterfalls and cool lights and a big pool house and...stuff." I swallowed the lump in my throat as best I could.

"Yeah, this whole crib is totally high end," Kyle nodded approvingly.

"Where's Melissa?" Jesse asked.

"Oh, she' know...back yapping with the other chicks. Somethin' about wrapping presents and bows and ribbons and shit like that."

The three of us stood there in the dim light, and I could clearly sense Kyle's discomfort.

"Something on your mind?" Jesse asked.

"Well...heh, heh...actually, I kinda wondered if I could talk to Perry for a, alone?" he asked sheepishly.

"I guess," Jesse said teasingly. "As long as you promise not to put any of those famous 'captain of the football team' moves on him."

"Fuck man, you crack me up, Taylor," he chuckled, but his mind already seemed to be elsewhere.


It was Merissa, her short, girlish figure outlined in the light of the hallway.

"Hey, good call, dude," Kyle whispered. "Merissa's pretty hot, even if she's only a 7th grader. She's turnin' into a serious babe. Looks like them melons are coming along nicely. I bet she'll put out for you at the drop of a hat."

"Well, I do have the hat," Jesse noted with a sly grin. "Actually, she is a little sweetie pie," he agreed. "And, well...the night is young," he added with a wink that was obviously meant to emulate one of Kyle's signature moves.

"Go for it, dude!" Kyle said in a louder voice. He and Jesse smacked their uplifted palms together and the sound echoed in the big room.

"Don't do anything I wouldn't do," Jesse said, wagging an index finger at me.

I nodded and watched him go, smoothly slipping his hand around Melissa's waist as they walked back toward the great room. I felt my cheeks burn at the sight.

"Awesome party," Kyle said when we were alone.

"Yeah, I think Jessica's really into this sort of stuff."

"She's hot, dude," he declared. "Still, I never thought she'd put out for anyone in our class--she's such an ice queen. You know, she likes to have a good lookin' dude on her arm, but when it comes to getting down to business...." He let his voice trail off knowingly.

"Well, I don't really know what she sees in me," I admitted. "But we seem to be getting along pretty well."

"Is she takin' care of your needs?" he asked pointedly.

"," I felt myself starting to blush, "I think that's kinda private."

"I hear ya, dude. That's totally cool, not wantin' ta brag and shit. I mean you and me, and Jess, we were just born with the looks chicks dig, right? I mean watcha gonna do about it?"

"I dunno," I shrugged. "I don't feel good looking or anything. Sometimes I kinda wish people would just back off a little."

"No way, dude! You gotta take advantage of the goods God gave you. I mean, shit, you could probably bag every chick in the class if you wanted to--I mean, forgettin' about the bowsers of course."

"Um, Kyle, I'm really not comfortable talking about this stuff."

"Heh heh, I hear ya. It's just that, what the fuck else is there to talk about other than sports and chicks? Am I right?" He seemed totally sincere in his declaration.

"Those are pretty important things," I admitted. "Um...sorry you guys lost the other day," I noted, changing to the other subject.

"Yeah, total bummer," Kyle agreed. "Guess I was a bit off my game," he confided, although he didn't sound overly remorseful.

"You were short a couple guys," I reminded him.

"Yup, such a small dick of a school. No pool to draw from. Wish you'da joined up. You're so fast. You'da made a great wide receiver."

"I'm not a football player," I assured him. "A little too wild and wooley for my taste."

"Gotcha," Kyle said with a wink. "But you're goin' out for baseball again, right?"

"Yeah, it was fun last year. I think Tom'll be the pitcher."

"Yeah, them Latinos, they just got baseball in their blood, huh?"

I shrugged. "Tom's got a lot of talents, but I think he pushes himself really hard." I wished he'd hurry up and get to the point. Clearly, Kyle was nervous about something. I didn't think he had come out here to talk about sports, which meant....

"Hey, about that game last week," he said quietly.


"The reason I wasn't on my game--and I ain't sayin' this is any kinda legit excuse, just what's goin' on, ya know?"


"It's just that--"

We heard some giggling from down the hall and it didn't sound like Jesse and Melissa. Apparently, some couple was having their own private little party. We both froze guiltily (even though I didn't have anything to feel guilty about at the moment), but Kyle looked downright fearful.

"Shit," he cursed quietly. He glanced around, and then opened one of the french doors, urging me to go outside.

The evening was definitely chilly, but not as cold as it would get in January or February, and we did have our suit coats on.

"This is more like it," he noted approvingly, crossing the patio and continuing on down the stairs. He seemed to relax a little once we were away from the house, but I gazed about apprehensively, looking for any sign of an ashtray or flip flops. I sniffed the air, but all I got was a strong whiff of chlorine. Kyle sauntered slowly toward the edge of the pool. We could hear the subdued roar of the miniature waterfalls along with the muffled hum of the filtering machinery hidden off in the landscaping somewhere on the other side. The pool house to our right was dark.

"What did you want to talk about?" I finally asked.

"Well, you remember when ya came into the supply room the other day?" He had shoved his hands into the front pockets of his slacks again and was having a difficult time looking me in the eye.

I thought we'd just been talking about the football game, but I went along with the sudden shift in topic. "I'm really sorry about that."

"No way, man. It was totally my bad," he admitted readily. "Ya see, it's just's just that...." Whatever it was he was trying to say seemed to keep getting stuck in his throat. "It's just that, I wasn't with Melissa." He finally glanced at me and his athletically handsome face looked uncharacteristically strained.

"Oh?" I said.  "Well, that's none of my-"

"It was Miss Zimmerman!" Kyle blurted out.

Suddenly I understood why this was such a big deal. It wasn't that Kyle was just admitting some minor infidelity with another girl at school. I wouldn't have given that much thought since I already knew from first hand experience that Melissa was looking for any and all opportunities to do the same. But an adult--a member of the faculty?!

"Yeah," he laughed uncomfortably. "Heavy shit," he conceded dismally.

Then I recalled that Miss Zimmerman had been at the last football game. No wonder Kyle couldn't concentrate!

"Gees, t-that's something," were the only words I could manage at the moment.

"No kidding," he agreed readily. "Ya see, it started out real innocent, like with me just helpin' her out. It was after school and I was lookin' for Mrs. Scott to give her some note from my mom, and I seen Miss Zimmerman in the teacher's lounge, all alone cuz the rest of the faculty's like at some meeting or somethin'. And she's cutting all this colored paper into circles and squares and shit."

I felt really apprehensive listening to Kyle talk about this. I kept looking around, expecting--hoping really--that Noah or anybody would come strolling out of the house at any moment.

"See, she's helpin' out Mrs. Coleridge--you know, the 1st grade teacher. So's I ask her if she could use an extra hand--ya know, just being polite and shit--and she's like, yeah, sure. And it's not like I got anywhere to go til my mom shows up. Usually I'm at practice or in detention anyhow. So next thing ya know, I'm sitting there in the frigging teacher's lounge cutting little colored circles and shit!"

"Kyle, this is really...weird," I told him. "I mean, seriously."

"Yeah, I hear ya," he acknowledged guiltily.

"And why are you telling me? I didn't even see who you were with in the supply room."

"Well, hang on. Let me just finish up," he said hurriedly. I noticed that he too was glancing around skittishly as he spoke. "So yeah, like, she asks me if I wanna help her again some time and I say sure, what the fuck? I mean, I don't say what the fuck, but ya know what I mean."

I nodded quickly so that he would get this over with as quickly as possible.

"This is like mid November I guess. But it's like two weeks later, and she tells me at lunch that she could use my help again. So after school, I pop into the teacher's lounge and it's empty. Then Tracy--I mean Miss Zimmerman, she pops out of the supply room and gestures for me to come in. Well, this time she's makin' parts for some kinda fuckin' caterpillar or something, with little legs, and bodies, and antennas and shit, and we like, stand around cutting and just chatting about stuff, and she starts telling me that she has a brother a few years older than me who's on the Varsity football team at Escondido High. I say that's totally cool and she says I look really great out on the field, and I say, it's like really awesome that you come to the games, Miss Z.--that's what I call her...uh...sometimes."

Now he came in a little closer so that he could lower his voice conspiratorially, even though there didn't seem to be anyone else around. "So first, she gives me a little peck on the cheek and says I'm cute--like no big deal, right? I get that all the time from older chicks, ya know?"

I nodded reluctantly, feeling my stomach twist as Kyle told his story.

"It's like they can sense my maturity," he added thoughtfully. "Anyway, we just keep cuttin' and talkin' and I'm wincin' once in a while cuz my shoulder's being a bitch, and pretty soon, she's like rubbing me there--on my shoulder. She says I feel tense and I tell her it's cuz Reigert pushes me so much at practice. I mean, shit, it ain't braggin' or nuthin' to say that I'm really the only decent quarterback we got, right?"

"Uh, yeah, you are good," I assured him.

"Yeah, so she goes like, my brother just loves it when I massage his shoulders after a practice. Want me to do that for you?" Kyle said, raising his voice in a ridiculous attempt to sound like Miss Zimmerman. "Well, I'm like wondering if that's such a good idea or not, ya know? I mean, she's like a student teacher and shit, and even though she's pretty hot and gots those massive melons, I'm like, whoa dude, you don't wanna be getting yourself in hot water. So I like politely decline even though I'm getting pretty horny and we go on cuttin' and it's getting late. I tell her my mom is comin' to pick me up in a few, and she says, oh no, just a little longer and we'll be done, then I'll give you a ride.  And I'm thinking like, yeah, I bet you wanna give me a ride, baby! But I'm all like, sure, whatever. My mom'll be glad for the break, ya know?"

The words were spilling out of Kyle's mouth so rapidly now, I could barely keep up. And the way he would pinch his voice when he was quoting Miss Zimmerman almost made it sound like he was having a conversation with himself.

"So after like an hour of cuttin' and cuttin', my throwin' arm's really bugging me, and she says, here let me, and she starts rubbing it, and man, she knows what the fuck she's doin' cuz it feels great!"  He smiled a little as he recalled the memory. "I tell her that feels so fuckin' good and she says my whole back is tense. I told her at H.T. we'd have a whirlpool and maybe even a team masseuse, but this was just a dinky little middle school so what's a guy to do? Then she asks me to help her take all this paper and shit back to Mrs. Coleridge's room, right? And when we get there, the old crone ain't even there. In fact, the friggin' door's locked and I'm thinking, shit, now we gotta haul all this stuff back to the office. But she's got the goddamn key, and lets us in."

I glanced nervously at my watch. Nearly fifteen minutes had passed since Jesse and I had first slipped away. I was worried that Jessica would be on the prowl, wondering where I had gotten off to. I didn't flatter myself that she couldn't get along without me or anything, but I knew she liked to have me around for propriety's sake since I was supposed to be one of the hosts.

As if reading my thoughts, Kyle strolled even further from the main building, closer to the darkened pool house.

"So we get in the room and she says, let me finish that massage, and I say, that's okay, I'll rub some balm on my shoulder when I get home. But then she says, if you take off your shirt, I can give you a serious massage. And I'm like, whoa! This is gettin' freaky! But fuck, it's not like I can't see a great opportunity when it's dangling in front of my face. So I rip my shirt off and she's all like, ooh, Kyle, you're so muscular; you look like a high schooler, and shit like that, and I know I'm in pretty good shape but it's still hard to believe a college gal would be so interested in a goddamn 8th grader, ya know?"

"Gees, Kyle. I'll tell you the truth. This whole's really scary."

"It's only scary if you get caught!" Kyle pointed out, "and we were in a dark classroom after school and no one knew we were there. So she tells me to lie down on one of those long reading tables in the back of the room and then she goes to town. Fuck, Perry, it was awesome! That gal really knows what's she's doing! If she didn't wanna be a teacher, she could be a goddamn chiropractor or sumthin'!"

I thought about the back rub Jessica had given me this afternoon and how good it had felt, and not only that, how worked up it had gotten me.

"Yeah, you can kinda guess what happened next. She's massagin' away, getting lower and lower until she's right at the top of my pants. If you take these off, she says, I can get to the base of your spine--that's where all the tension really is. And she wasn't kiddin' about that--at least about the tension being lower!" He gave me a rather forceful nudge that almost toppled me into the pool.

"Whoa, sorry, dude!" he said, quickly catching my arm.

It was weird the way the lights beneath the surface of the pool cast a strange, shimmering light over everything--making it seem like nothing about the moment was quite real. But I knew I didn't want to hear about this anymore. Listening to other people talk about sex was about the most unappetizing thing I could imagine. And with a teacher?

"You should've gone to Mr. Cardoza right away," I scolded him as I started to turn away.

"Wait!" he said, probably louder than he'd intended because he winced and glanced around again. "Perry, I'm tellin' ya, it was great. She gave me a fuckin' bj right on the reading table in Mrs. Coleridge's room!  Oh man, she makes Melissa look like a rank amateur. I mean, she's probably blown like a dozen college guys! Goddamn...." His voice trailed off in awe. Then he cleared his throat. "After that, we got together like maybe three more times, doing some work in the supply room and then sneaking off to the first grade class when no one was payin' attention. Per, she let me touch her fuckin' boobs! I mean, hot damn, it's like, you can't even get your hands around just one! And she loves it, dude!"

"Kyle, that's enough!" I said, daring to raise my voice.  I knew what he was describing to me was called statutory rape, and I didn't want anything to do with it. "I don't wanna hear anymore. I think what you and Miss Zimmerman are doing is really, really dangerous and-"

"But Per, check this out, dude. She wants you too!"


"Yeah, totally. See, after you popped in on us unexpectedly the other day, she said she'd had an eye on you for a while and you were so fuckin' cute--those were her words, dude, and I said you were totally cool and a great bud of mine and she wanted me to get you to join us! I'm telling you, man, it's the most incredible experience you'll ever have. I know Jessica's totally hot for a girl, but face it, she's got like zero experience. Miss Z., man, she's like one hundred percent woman, dude. She ain't no nun, that's for fuckin' sure."

"Do you hear yourself?" I asked in disbelief. "There's no way!" I assured him bluntly, hoping that would put an end to this extremely uncomfortable conversation. Thank God, it was the beginning of Christmas vacation, and I wouldn't have to see Kyle or Melissa or Miss Zimmerman for a good two weeks. At least that would give me some time to digest everything he was telling me and of course, talk to Jesse about it.

"Don't be so quick to pass, dude," Kyle warned me. "First off, we'll be really careful. No one wants to get caught--no one's gonna get caught--got it? And second, we don't have to go together. We can like, take turns or whatever. Besides, you don't even have to make up your mind right now. You can think about it over Christmas, while you're freezing your ass off in New York. But Miss Z. really wanted me to talk to you soon cuz she'll be leavin' at the end of the semester. I told her you were really bashful and probably wouldn't go for it, but she insisted. She said every 8th grade boy is hornier than hell--they can't help it."

What was wrong with Miss Zimmerman, having sex with 8th graders? What was she thinking, getting Kyle to ask me to get involved in something that crazy? Why would she think that I wouldn't report her?

"Oh man, Kyle. I wish you hadn't told me any of this," I said despairingly. "What Miss Zimmerman's doing is wrong."

"Hey, it's really easy to point a finger, man, but think about it. I mean, at our age, everything we do is wrong. I mean, we're not supposed to be havin' sex with nobody, not Miss. Z., or Melissa, or Jessica, or Katy or even ourselves, so we're all guilty on that account."

"It's not the same," I said, pointing out the obvious.

We looked at each other illuminated by the eerie light coming from the pool. I couldn't hide my disapproval and disgust and Kyle finally started to look worried.

"Oh man, Thompson...You can't tell anyone else about this. Miss Z. and me, we'd be in serious, mondo shit--got it?"  He looked at me intensely and loosened his tie.

"Yeah...I know. I honestly don't want to get you in trouble." I was already trying to think if there could be a way to report Miss Zimmerman without dragging Kyle down. I mean, yeah, he was foolish to get involved with a teacher, but clearly, she had taken advantage of him.

"If you report Miss Z., I'll get in trouble fer sure!" he said, as if reading my thoughts.

And maybe that's just what Miss Zimmerman wanted him to say. Maybe she was counting on what she thought was the camaraderie between two close friends to keep her secret. Maybe she thought I'd come to the game last week because of Kyle, and not Gene. Maybe she thought all 8th grade boys were as willing and able as Kyle. "This is all too much. I don't know what to think!"

"C'mon, Per. I know you're totally cool. You'd never rat on us, right?" he asked pleadingly. Seeing my indecisiveness, he pressed me further. "I'm telling ya, Per. She could make you feel so good, you just wouldn't believe it. And man, I bet if you wanted, she'd go all the way with you!"

"Dammit, Kyle! Everything isn't about sex!" I shouted. It was odd the way standing near the water seemed to muffle our voices somewhat, but right now, that was a good thing.

"I hear ya," he acknowledged quickly and desperately. "It ain't. But I mean, if you're not gonna do drugs and shit, what else is there? You gotta have your needs taken care of, right? Otherwise, how can you go out on the field--or on the court, and give it your all?"

That was an interesting perspective, especially since it seemed to me now, that one of the reasons Morgan was so driven and focused was precisely because he was frustrated in that particular area.

"Look, you can think whatever you want, do whatever you want--it's totally up to you...but the main thing is," and Kyle got right up in my face, "the main thing is, you can't tell anyone--no grown ups, natch, but not even Jessica, or Morgan, or Jesse, or especially Melissa, okay?" he pleaded.

I wanted to tell him about how Melissa had tried to jump my bones at the football game, but I bit my tongue. Apparently, my lack of response freaked him out, because he suddenly grabbed the lapels of my jacket and gave me a pretty vigorous shake.

"I'm not kidding, Thompson!" he warned in a louder voice. "Please don't tell anybody or I'm totally fucked!"

"You will be if you don't get your fuckin' hands off him!" 

I was shocked and bewildered to see Morgan appear out of nowhere and grab Kyle roughly by the arm and spin him around. Kyle even dragged me a long for half the trip since he was still holding onto my lapels. I stumbled and then caught myself.

"What the fuck, Kipner?" Kyle asked with stunned surprise.

"Why're you hasslin' Perry?" Morgan demanded. His body language indicated that he was ready to get physical in a hurry.

"I'm not hasslin' nobody!" Kyle retorted, regaining his self confidence and straightening out his suit coat. "What the fuck are you doin', sneakin' up on people?"

"I was just lookin' for Per. Actually, Jessica was lookin' for him and I ran into Jesse and he said he left him in the morning room with you. And when I didn't see you guys in there, obviously I checked out here."

"Okay, so you found him," Kyle said, clearly angered and embarrassed to be caught off his guard. "No need to get all anal about it."

"Why were you grabbing him?" Morgan demanded. "Per, what was he doing?"


"It's none of your fuckin' business, Kipner!" Kyle spat.

"Of course it is. Perry's my friend!"

"Gees, I don't see your name stamped on his forehead or anything. Shit, he's my pal too, right?"


"So fuck off. We were just havin' a private little chat--man to man. Something you wouldn't know nuthin' about!"

"What the fuck's that supposed to mean?" Morgan asked, getting right into Kyle's face.

"It means you've been acting like some kinda psycho lately, goin' ballistic at that game with St. Luke's and ragging on your team and always lookin' like you're constipated or somethin'."

"I'll constipate you right into the goddamn pool filter if you don't tell me why you were hasslin' Perry!"

"Hasslin'? What the fuck are you smokin', man?"

"I saw you shakin' him, God-damnit!" Morgan bellowed. He grabbed Kyle by the lapels of his jacket to demonstrate what he had seen.

"Morgan?" We all turned at the same time. It was Katy, standing at the top of the stairs in her long Christmas gown. Jessica came up hurriedly behind her.

"Let go, you crazy fucker!" Kyle blared.

"Tell me what you were doing!" Morgan demanded with even greater urgency, shaking Kyle violently.

"Get your fuckin' hands off me!" Kyle  demanded, and grabbed Morgan's arms and tried to pry him off.  They began to struggle even as Katy and Jessica made their way down the stairs, a slow and laborious task in their long gowns and high heeled shoes.

Now both jocks were locked in each other's grip, staggering around in a wobbly circle.

"What's gotten into you anyway?" Kyle asked through gritted teeth. "I seen the way you keep lookin' all moony at Thompson, like you got a fuckin' crush on him or somethin'. You a goddamn fag or somethin'?"

If Kyle could've read Morgan's mind in order to find out what button to push to get the most violent possible reaction out of him, he couldn't have been more on target. Morgan let out a wordless cry of anger and he looked much the same as he had that night on the basketball court. He ripped one arm free of Kyle's grip and balled his fist, preparing to clobber Kyle in the jaw. But the other boy quickly grabbed the attacking arm and they continued to struggle, their dress shoes scuffling noisily on the tiled surface.

It was weird the way they seemed to actually hover over the surface of the pool for a long moment that seemed to defy the law of gravity. Maybe it was just the shimmering, scintillating illumination being cast up by the submerged lights. But the huge splash sounded more like an explosion, and I imagined the entire community of Coronado Hills must've heard it. Someone shrieked, probably Katy. In any case, as the two fully dressed boys floundered around in the pool, I heard the clacking of high heels. 

I got on my knees and reached an arm out, but both boys ignored me as they clambered to the side of the pool, puffing and sputtering.

"What is this?!" Jessica screamed in a near hysterical voice.

Kyle was the first to scramble out, and I went and grabbed his sopping wet shoulder and helped him along regardless of whether he wanted the assistance or not. He just rolled onto the ledge and lay there panting and coughing, water dripping everywhere.

"Oh Perry, you're going to ruin your suit!" Jessica declared.

I just shook my head and knelt down to help Morgan haul himself out. He seemed to want to stand up, so I let him lean on me as he lifted himself. His woolen suit coat, button down shirt, and dress pants were heavily weighted down with water, and he staggered around for a bit.

"You...crazy...fucker!" Kyle gasped, picking himself up.

The two dripping boys stood there glaring at each other, coughing and shaking themselves, and I wondered if we were about to witness Round Two.

"What got into-" Jessica began, when she was suddenly interrupted.

"Bravo! Bravo!" It was Noah, slowly clapping his hands as he came strolling out from behind the pool house. The sudden appearance of Jessica's brother seemed to throw everyone for a loop, and Morgan and Kyle both seemed confused enough to let down their guard a little. "And all I was going to do was to spike the egg nog. How puny and uninspired my imagination is."

"Oh, Nobby. Don't make a joke of this. What are we going to do with these two?" Jessica asked. Even though she was clearly upset, it seemed like she was genuinely concerned about the two soaked boys standing outside in the chilly December night.

"I suppose I might be able to scrounge up some odds and ends for them from the back of my closet," Noah offered.

"Yes...I suppose that will have to do," Jessica said, obviously flustered.

"Screw that--I'm outta here!" Kyle declared angrily. He pried his cell phone out of his wet suit coat and tried to make a call. "Shit!" he exclaimed when he discovered it wasn't functioning. He shoved it back into his soggy pocket.

By this time, Melissa had come out, a shawl wrapped around her shoulders. A few steps behind her were Jesse (sans the Santa hat) and Merissa.

"Call your bro and see if he can pick us up," Kyle demanded.

"But he's at Cindy's...thingie," Melissa protested confusedly, obviously bewildered by the scene before her.

"Can't you see I'm soaked to the skin?" Kyle replied angrily, shaking himself so that fat drops of water splattered everywhere.

"Okay..." Melissa answered timidly, and carefully extracted her phone from her slender red and pink striped purse.

"As you wish," Noah said dismissively to Kyle, who wasn't even paying attention. "Mr. Kipner, if you'll follow me?"

"I'm really sorry, Per," Morgan mumbled shamefully.

"What're you apologizing to him for?" Kyle shouted incredulously.

I watched as they started to go, Morgan leaving a dripping trail of water behind. He turned back once, but I couldn't make out his expression clearly in the dim yard lighting.

"Oh, for heaven's sake, at least get yourself dried off!" Jessica pleaded, more to Melissa than to her stubborn boyfriend. "The pool house should be open. There's plenty of towels in there."

Melissa nodded in agreement as she finished up her call. Kyle squelched along behind her.

"Where are the towels again?" Melissa called back.

"Oh for heaven's sake--I'd better come along!" Jessica sighed as she threw her arms up theatrically. She led the way, going  in first. I saw the lights go on through the curtains.

"What was that all about?" Jesse asked.

I wanted to tell him of course, but Merissa was clinging to his arm as if she was trying to protect herself from the eruption of senseless madness that had just taken place.

"Well, Kyle and I were just talking about...something--you know, just stuff," I said evasively. "And he just got kinda excited and grabbed my jacket. I guess Morgan was looking for me and when he saw Kyle grab me, he...well, I guess he got kinda excited too."

"They're like animals!" Merissa declared with a cluck of her tongue. "You'd never do something so senselessly stupid as that, would you Jesse?" she asked, batting long, curling false eyelashes and giving him a saccharin sweet smile.

"Why, of course not," Jesse said, patting her arm lightly. "I hate fighting. Just ask Perry."

Merissa looked at me expectantly.

"I guess we should get back inside. It's pretty cold out here," I suggested.

"You got splashed," Merissa noted with motherly concern. "You'll end up with chlorine stains on your jacket. You're mother won't be pleased."

No, I supposed she wouldn't, but I really didn't need this cherub-cheeked 7th grader pointing that out for me.

"Listen, Merissa," Jesse said in a polite, respectful voice. "Why don't you go back inside before you catch a chill? Maybe pour us some hot cider? I just need to talk to Perry for a bit."

"Oh, but why can't you come with me?" Merissa whined. "Jessica's in the pool house anyway," she noted, looking pointedly at me.

"Run along, now," Jesse said in that same polite voice, a phony smile pasted to his face. Merissa attempted another scowl, but it quickly melted into a girlish titter that reminded me of our brief encounter at the football game last week.

"You're right, of course. You're so thoughtful and sweet--always putting the needs of your friends first. I love you, Jesse Taylor!" she said, rising slightly on her toes to give my boyfriend a quick peck on the cheek.

That sure sounded weird to my ears.

"I hope your friends will be all right," she said turning to me with a sincere look of concern before scampering off.

"What was that all about?" Jesse asked, once Merissa was out of earshot.

I told him about Kyle and Miss Zimmerman.

"Wow, what a soap opera!" Jesse exclaimed disbelievingly. "Miss Zimmerman's in a shit load of trouble."

"So you think we should report her?"

"What she's doing is very wrong, very illegal."

"But I don't think Kyle should get in you?"

"He went in with both eyes open. Besides, it's not like they're gonna throw him in jail or anything. Worst case scenario is he gets expelled. He can go to Robertson, or if he's really desperate, St. Joe's."

"No, Jesse. We can't do that to Kyle. I know he was stupid to get involved with a teacher like that, but he's just a kid...just like us-"

"No, not just like us. He's just getting sex every which way he can. I don't see why you'd want to protect him."

"Let's think about it for a bit, okay?" I pleaded. "I mean, school's out anyway. We have time. Besides, I'm more worried about Morgan."

"He blew his stack again, huh?"

I nodded. "It's like he just came out of nowhere, and he was totally looking for a fight."

"Morgan's gotta get his head screwed on straight," Jesse said, "or something really bad's gonna happen and he's gonna end up in serious trouble."

"What kind of trouble?"

"You name it: school trouble, legal trouble, drug trouble, kicked-out-of-his-own-house-by-his-dad trouble."

"It can't be that bad," I said fearfully.

Jesse shrugged. "You saw him. You saw the way he was on Tuesday. And then there was all that stuff he told you later."

If I really stood back and thought about it, Morgan had planned to torture me that day. He had made a special trip to the Home Depot to buy the rope to tie me up. But it had just been a game, a let's pretend we're mental patients game, and things had gotten a little out of hand, or maybe a lot out of hand. I shuddered to think what might have happened if Jesse hadn't been there.

"I'm so scared," I shivered.

"He won't try anything as long as I'm around," Jesse assured me.

"Not for me--for Morgan. I mean, what's gonna happen to him? How's he gonna become normal again?"

"I don't know. It seemed like we accomplished some things the other day, but then again, maybe we just opened a whole other can of worms," he noted uncertainly. "Maybe we can't help him, Perry."

For a moment, I felt like I had taken an unexpected dip in the pool as well, and my whole body shuddered. "We have to. He's our friend," I insisted even though the words sounded a little hollow to my own ears.

"I know. But it might be that Morgan needs serious professional help."

"He just needs us to be supportive of him--he just needs his friends!" I repeated more desperately.

Jesse looked at me thoughtfully. "You can't be so soft hearted all the time, Perry. There are problems that friendship alone can't solve. You have to face the possibility that, as much as we want to, helping Morgan might be beyond us. And Kyle too. The best thing for him might be to just face the music now, before he gets himself in even bigger trouble down the line."

I couldn't accept what Jesse was telling me. We did have to help Morgan. We had promised him we would. And Kyle, as misguided and horny as he was, he was just one of us as well. Maybe if I talked quietly to Melissa, somehow, between the two of us, we could get Kyle to stop seeing Miss Zimmerman. There would only be a few weeks left before the end of the semester once we got back from Christmas break.

"It's not about being soft hearted," I said, bristling a little. "It's just that they're kids, just like us, and kids do dumb things sometimes even if they know they shouldn't. I just go around day after day making one stupid mistake after another and then spend the rest of the time kicking myself in the head about it. Even you don't always make the right decisions!" I realized too late what had just poured unthinkingly out of my mouth (head kicking time).

Jesse looked at me like a guilty puppy who had suddenly been slapped down and my heart sank. "Yeah, I'm totally fucked up," he said in a small, tight voice.

"You know I didn't-" I began to apologize, when the door to the pool house opened.

Out came Kyle, naked from the waist up and barefoot, dressed only in his dark dress slacks with a contrastingly colorful beach towel draped over his shoulders. His normally curly hair stood up like a badly trampled shag rug. My attention went briefly to his broad shoulders, smooth pecs, and well defined six pack, but there were too many other things swimming around in my head right now to really admire Kyle's athletic, fourteen year old physique. Melissa followed humbly, carrying a beach bag bulging with her boyfriend's wet clothing. Lastly came Jessica, a permanent look of disapproval embossed on her delicate features.

"How's the water?" Jesse quipped.

Kyle first glanced puzzledly at Jesse before his expression lightened a bit. "Not bad," he laughed self-deprecatingly.

"Oh Jesse, how can you make jokes?" Jessica asked, clearly annoyed. "This was just a horrible, horrible thing. The whole party is ruined. What could have gotten into Morgan?"

"Well, they are kind of competitive," Jesse noted. "Maybe he just wanted to race Kyle across the pool."

I saw Jessica bristle.

"Okay, okay!" Jesse pleaded. "Don't slap me!" He turned to me and offered a small, forgiving smile. "Merissa should have that cider waiting for us."

"The party's not ruined," I said in a hopeful tone. "It was just an accident."

Jessica looked at me skeptically. "You can go out the side gate," she instructed Kyle and Melissa, gesturing to the south end of the main house.

"Thanks, Jessy. I'm so sorry about all this," Melissa apologized, obviously not happy with the way the evening had turned out. She and Jessica embraced and then pulled apart quickly. "I'll call you in the morning, 'kay?"

"Just get him into some dry things as quickly as possible," Jessica suggested in a motherly tone. "Or Kyle'll spend his whole vacation sick in bed."

This really seemed to hit Melissa in a big way. "Hurry, Kyle," she urged, tugging his bare arm. "Eddie said he'd be right over."

But Kyle held his ground long enough to give me a meaningful glance full of weight and worry. "Sorry about all that, Per," he said in a humble voice. "Don't know what got into Kipner, but...anyway, guess I'll see ya next year, huh?" He gave me the good ol' captain of the football team wink that didn't quite mask the look of concern on his face.

"It was just an accident," I repeated apologetically.

"Yeah, right," Kyle snorted as he headed for the gate.

Melissa, still leading her boyfriend by the arm, turned and waved cheerfully at me. "Goodnight, Perry. Have a wonderful trip--see you when you get back!" as if nothing weird or dramatic had just happened. She blew me a kiss.

I just gave her a little wave.  Jessica saw them out and then caught up to Jesse and me as we entered the house through the morning room.

"What a nightmare!!" Jessica exclaimed. "What was that all about, Perry? Why were they fighting?"

"Well, it was really just a misunderstanding," I explained ambiguously.

Seeing that I wasn't going to give a more detailed explanation, Jessica once again threw her hands in the air as she took the lead heading back toward the great room. "Boys! Why do they always have to get so physical?"

"We're just touchy feely kinda people," Jesse remarked with a straight face.

Jessica stopped so suddenly, that we almost bumped into her.

"Perry, would you be a dear and go see how Morgan and Nobby are doing? I really need to get back to the party. It must be utter chaos by now!"

"Deanna's probably eaten all the tablecloths and Artie must be swinging from the crystal chandelier in his boxers by now!" Jesse said with exaggerrated concern.

"Oh, Jesse. Can't you be the least bit supportive?" Jessica groaned.

"I just think you're getting overexcited about nothing," he commented with a shrug.

"Nothing? Two boys having a fight and falling into the pool? You call that nothing?!" she asked, gesturing toward the great room. "All the planning, the expense, the effort of so many people?"  Jessica was really flustered now. Remembering that I had a twenty dollar candy cane stuffed in my pocket, I actually tensed, hoping that Jesse would back off.

'Hey, just chill," Jesse assured her. "I'm not saying Morgan and Kyle were right to do whatever it was they were doing, just that it isn't the end of the world. You've done a great job and it's an awesome party--everyone says so."

This seemed to mean something to Jessica, because her expression relaxed a little. "Will you help me get the Christmas caroling started?" she asked with a hesitant smile.

"Me?" Jesse asked with self-conscious surprise.

"Perry says you have a wonderful voice."

"He does, does he?" Jesse said, giving me the evil eye. "Why I oughta...." He shrugged and brushed past us. "What the hey," he sighed. "Here we come a-caroling...." he began to sing in that light, pure tone that sent thrilling little shivers through my body.

Jessica smiled fully now. "He's the craziest boy I ever met," she giggled. "And cute," she added thoughtfully.

"Cuter than me?" I asked with a pouty face, realizing the last thing in the world I wanted was for Jessica to start chasing after Jesse.

"No, of course not. You are the most beautiful boy in the world and no one else even comes close." She leaned in and gave me a peck on the cheek as Jesse disappeared around a corner.

"Even Kirk Vandriss?"

"Well, he is pretty hot, and rich, and successful, and eight years older than you...." she teased.

"But can he do this?" I asked, as I grabbed Jessica by the shoulders and kissed her full on the lips. Our tongues slid across each other as we chewed furiously.

"Wh-what was that for?" Jessica asked when we finally pulled apart.

Actually, I didn't know what it was for. Maybe I felt sorry for her because of the pool incident, or because her brother was gay, or because Jesse was needling her. Or maybe, and this made me shiver, I just liked doing it--a lot.

"Go see if Morgan is okay and come join us as soon as you can," Jessica requested in a quiet voice after she had partially regained her composure.

"Which room is it?"

"Two doors down from mine on your left," she said, gesturing for me to head back toward the library staircase.

I turned to go when she half whispered, half called my name. She beamed at me and twisted her ankle, suddenly a bashful, gawky young schoolgirl overly dressed in her long, flamboyant ball gown.  I gave her the trigger finger and wink and quickly headed off, not wanting her to see my eyes right now. I was confused, and I sensed that my confusion was growing deeper by the minute. I kept thinking how good it felt having Jessica's delicate fingers around my hard dick, how good it felt to hold myself against her small, yielding breasts, how good it felt to press my lips against her tender mouth.

And then I felt myself bristle again, wondering why Jesse had to be so flippant all the time, making little sarcastic remarks and silly jokes as if he enjoyed seeing Jessica's party go bad. He had made quite a scene tossing that mistletoe all around the room. I cringed as I realized that I was guilty too, thinking that it was all so funny at the time. Now it seemed like nothing more than a childish disruption, a disrespectful display in front of Jessica, who had gone through so much trouble to plan this extravagant evening.

I hadn't even realized that I had stopped and was leaning against the staircase in the library. I was breathing heavily and knew well enough by now that I was on the verge of a panic attack. Fuck! What was I doing, kissing Jessica, letting her play with my dick, pretending to be her boyfriend, feeling sorry for her? Jesse was the one I loved, and that love was deep and real. We didn't hide anything from each other, and I would just as soon cry on his shoulder as suck his beautiful boyhood. This charade had to end, and soon! Somehow over the break, I had to come up with a legitimate sounding reason to break up with Jessica, not just for my sake, but hers as well. I wanted her as my friend, but not as my lover. I knew now that I was capable of being with a girl just as much as I was with a boy. It felt good being intimate with Jessica. That must mean I was bisexual--just like Morgan! Oh man, there was another headache to deal with....

I got to the top of the stairs and started looking for the door with Arthur's banner on it. From there, I could figure out which one was Noah's. I spotted the colorful sign quite a ways down. As I passed a half open door, I heard some agitated but muffled noises.  I stopped and peered in.

The blood ran cold from my face as I saw entangled on what looked like a daybed in a Victorian styled guest room, Deanna and Artim, floundering about like their clothes were full of ants. She was basically on top of him and he was kicking his long legs in the air.

"Thompson--shit--help me, dude!" he gasped as he spotted me at the door.

Before I could even say anything, Deanna, in an impressive display of tae bo,  kicked out with her foot, slamming the door shut.  I moved on quickly; the last thing I heard before I got out of earshot was Deanna's muffled voice, scolding Artim for being such a baby. Well, at least I could put to rest all the rumors about Deanna being a lesbian.

I was just passing Jessica's room when a door down the hallway opened and out stepped Morgan. He actually looked pretty good, in an open collared white shirt, gray, pleated dress slacks with a black belt around his slender waist, and black loafers that looked a trifle too big on his feet. Even his short hair was neatly brushed. He was carrying a beat up looking knapsack that presumably held his wet things.

His expression immediately turned tense and guilty when he spotted me standing there just a few yards from Noah's room. He glanced back and Noah was standing at the door, a look of accomplishment on his face.

"None too worse for the wear, wouldn't you say, Perry?" the lanky college student called out.

"You look great!" I said with an encouraging smile.

But Morgan didn't seem to be buying it. "I fucked up, huh?" he asked quietly when we were face to face.

"Well, Kyle wasn't attacking me, if that's what you mean."

"Noah said the same thing."

"He heard what we were talking about?"  I whispered with alarm, glancing past Morgan's shoulder to see Jessica's brother still standing at the door, his hands on his hips. His smile vanished as soon as he saw me looking at him and that was a little chilling.

"I guess he heard some of it. Wouldn't tell me what it was about...." Morgan said in a leading way, apparently hoping I would shed more light on the subject.

"It was something sorta...private, okay? I can't really tell you about it," I admitted, "at least, not right now."

Morgan didn't look too happy, but he nodded understandingly. "Did Kyle split?"

"He and Melissa."

Morgan nodded. "Yeah, I think I'm gonna bail too. I feel pretty stupid about what happened."

I shrugged. "It was a misunderstanding. That's what I told Jessica."

"She was pretty upset though?"

"Yeah, claimed her party was all ruined, but Jesse told her she was overreacting."

"Good for him. Sometimes I think Jessica would make a great general. She loves to give orders and she loves to see  her toy soldiers all in a row, obeying her commands."  Then he looked at me awkwardly. "Oh...uh...sorry, that wasn't very cool."

"I know she can be bossy sometimes, but she has a...a softer side too," I assured him. "You don't have to go," I added.

Now it was Morgan's turn to shrug. "Yeah, I think I should. People'll be talking. At least, I don't have to see any of them for a couple of weeks," he laughed self-deprecatingly.

"What about Katy?"

"She'll be fine. She and Jessica are like sisters. Wouldn't mind if you'd keep an eye on her though. Wouldn't want Eric trying to move in on my territory."

I couldn't tell by his expression if he was serious or not. "Sure, I can do that."

Morgan looked at me pensively.  "Look, Per. I'm really-"

"You don't have to say anything--to me anyway," I assured him quickly. "I think it would be very cool if you apologized to Jessica, but it's up to you."

"Yeah, you're right," he said, rubbing the back of his neck. "I'll do that. And I suppose I should give Kyle a call. I think the guy's a fat headed jerk, but...he didn't deserve that, I guess."

"Well, if you do call him, you'd better try Melissa's number. His cell phone got soaked."

"Yeah, mine too," he noted sheepishly. Morgan kept looking at me. "We both have a lot to think about over the next couple of weeks, huh?"

I nodded, finding it hard to maintain eye contact. There were just too many weird things between us now. If it had all just ended with that slap in the face, I could've forgiven him and we could've gone back to the way things used to be. But now....

Morgan raised his arms to give me a hug, but hesitated when he saw me stiffen. He got that worried look on his face again so I moved in and embraced him. "Things'll be better," I assured him.

"Oh man, I hope you're right," he said, wrapping his arms around me briefly and then nodding his head in farewell.

Now I was left standing in the long hallway, facing Jessica's brother, who still stood just outside the open door to his bedroom. The look of smugness that he'd carried most of the afternoon had been replaced by something more intense. He gestured with a quick turn of his head for me to join him before he disappeared into his room. I realized I could just turn on my heels and head back to the party and Jesse, to tell him how much I loved him and how much I wanted to get out of this relationship with Jessica, but the fact was, Noah had overheard Kyle and me talking about Miss Zimmerman. There was too much at stake to just let it slide.

I knocked politely on the half open door and peered in. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it was a rather simply decorated room--nothing like the extravagantly appointed chambers of his kid sister. There were shelves holding various sized trophies both of the academic and athletic varieties, a high school diploma on the wall, a few music posters of groups I'd never heard of, and a small TV in one corner. The plasma screen computer monitor was slowly dissolving from one Bay-area scene to another: Golden Gate Bridge, the Presidio, Ghiardelli Square, the Berkley campus itself, and so on.

The full size bed that dominated most of the room was neatly made. The bedclothes, walls, and carpeting were all done in muted earth tones. For some reason, I had been expecting a garishly colored room filled with psychedelic remnants of the sixties. Noah stood leaning on his simple oaken desk, arms folded.

"Do come in," he said as I hesitated at the open door. "Please, sit," he said, gesturing to the bed.

The last thing I wanted to do was touch Noah's bed, so I shook my head. "I'll just stand," I said.

"As you wish, but please close the door. I do believe a handful of your schoolmates are using some of the spare rooms as bordellos."

I nodded and closed the door. " heard what me and Kyle were talking about?"

"Yes, mostly. I was out by the pool house...thinking," he admitted. "And you did give me much to think about today."


"Some of the things you said of course, but also, the whole way I handled myself...but, I'll get to that in a moment. I did gather that young Mr. Richardson is sexually involved with a member of the faculty over at St. Bonnie's."

"She's just a student teacher," I explained. "She'll be gone at the end of the semester anyway."

"Still, serious enough to get on the evening news."

"So, you're gonna tell?"

"I think, if we were talking fifth or six graders, I wouldn't hesitate, but I do believe that people your age should have enough sense, and enough will power, to resist such overtures."

"Well, I don't think any of us are experts," I noted defensively. "I mean, it's still kinda new to us, ya know?"

"My sense is that Kyle, despite his young age, has had some experience, some of it apparently with Melissa Doering."  He suddenly snickered, momentarily disrupting the tense mood.


"Coincidentally, I do know the older siblings of both Kyle and Melissa. Joel, who was one year behind me, is much like his brother: a no-frills, square-headed jock--although not nearly as dashing as his younger sibling. Now Eddie Doering, he's quite another story."

"What do you mean?"

The knowing smirk made a momentary comeback on Noah's long face, and then vanished. "It's not my place to tell tales out of school," he said dismissively. "Anyhow, to answer your first question, I believe I will leave it in your hands, Perry. If as you say, this young lady will be departing the school at the end of the semester, then perhaps it is best to leave things be. I understand your consternation about not wanting to implicate a fellow student, although frankly, he doesn't seem like the kind of fellow I would expect you to be overly concerned with."

I shrugged. "We're not really friends, but he's never done anything mean to me, or anyone else for that matter. It seems like Miss Zimmerman is the one who seduced him, and for sure she should know better."

"I see your point and I don't get the sense that there's anything more to it beyond breaking a few sexual taboos, therefore I leave the decision in your hands," Noah repeated. "However, inadvertently overhearing your conversation regarding the overzealous college gal, caused me to reflect on my own behavior today.... I really need to offer my sincerest apologies."

"You already said that," I reminded him.

"True, but perhaps I didn't entirely mean it. Truth be told, after I uh...took care of my rather urgent needs up here in my room, with visions of you in your bath towel causing me to have a climax the likes of which I haven't experienced in a very long time, I wandered back down to the pool house, trying to figure out a way to...well, seduce you."

"That sucks, Noah!" I said angrily, in no mood for more of his sleazy sexual games. I started to head for the door.

"Please wait," he begged. "I realize that it's totally deplorable, and that's why I once again offer my most humble apologies. Sometimes, it's easier to see the mote in another man's eye than the log in your own. Overhearing you and your friend talking about Miss Zimmerman helped me put things in their proper perspective. And while I hope our various encounters today won't leave a bad taste in your mouth, I do want to tell you that you have indeed made me think seriously about my own situation, and my own need to comes to terms with it. Therefore, I have decided that, before I head back to Berkley for the spring term, I will sit down with Jessy and tell her...about myself."  He stopped and waited for me to respond.


Noah hesitated. "Certainly about my sexual orientation. But as far as my relationship with Georgie, we'll see. I suppose it depends on how she reacts and what sort of questions she asks. Chances are, once given the fact of my homosexuality, she will probably be able to put two and two together."

"I think that's the right thing to do," I offered encouragingly.

He nodded hesitantly. "I suppose it is. You'd be surprised what a difficult subject that is to bring up...even with someone as close as your own sister."

"I think I understand," I said, recalling the traumatic afternoon I had spent with Tom as he had finally built up the nerve to come out to me.

"Thank you, Perry. I learned a lot about myself today, not all of it good. But I'm glad I was able to share with you about Georgie and me. In all honesty, I can't wait to speak to him again."

"That's great!"

"Well, I'm not expecting love to bloom least not instantly. He's a far better man than I am...but we'll see."

"Okay then," feeling suddenly anxious to get back to the party and my beautiful angel. "I'm glad you're gonna talk to Jessica. I know she'll be okay with it. She's a really smart and thoughtful person."

"Indeed she is."

"So I better get back to the party...."

"Perry?" Noah asked in an uneasy voice.


"Morgan Kipner is your friend?"

"Yeah, sure. One of my best friends."

"I see...."


"It's just that...his behavior might bear closer scrutiny on your part."

"What do you mean?" I asked cautiously.

"Well, look at the way he bore down on Mr. Richardson. Clearly, he was much more interested in striking first and asking questions later."

"Yeah, Morgan does sorta have a temper," I admitted reluctantly.

"But not only that. It's his motivation that bears some consideration." He paused thoughtfully, looking at me with knitted brow. "When we were alone, he hardly spoke of Kyle. His main concern was how you would react to his...impetuous behavior."

"Well, like I said, we're pretty close."

"Perry, this may come as a complete and total shock to you, but chances are quite good that there are boys in your class that are attracted to other boys. It's simply a statistical likelihood."

Strange how his words eerily echoed those of George Rauch's brother just a couple days ago. But this wasn't the time to get into a speculative discussion about Morgan's sexual orientation. I felt decidedly tense but tried to brush the comment off with a shrug. "That's none of my business."

"Perhaps in a perfect world," Noah said. "But the reality is, you are an exceptionally handsome young man...."

I was about to protest when he quickly continued.

"And not only that, you're a very sweet, kind hearted, trusting person, perhaps too much so if I may be so bold."

I didn't say anything, not wanting to lead him any deeper into a very uncomfortable conversation.

"It's just that, it's very possible that Morgan Kipner may be one of those boys."

"No way!" I bristled.

Noah held up his hands. "Now, I don't know for certain, and you are all very young yet, but think it through, Perry. Look at the way he came so quickly and emotionally to your defense. Recall Mr. Richardson's comment about Morgan looking all 'moony-eyed' around you or something along those lines. And there's the fact that all he was concerned about in the aftermath, was how you would respond to his behavior."

"Just because you're gay, doesn't mean everyone else is," I pointed out irritably. I knew it was a mean thing to say, but there was no way I was going to share anything about Morgan and his problems with this arrogant cad.

"Of course," Noah said patiently. "But it's something you need to be aware of," he added quietly.

It felt to me like Noah was sticking his large nose where it didn't belong and that made me angry. "I mean, gees, what if he is? He's still my friend, and you don't just a dump a person because...because they're a little different than you are."

"Yes, again you remind me of how incredibly enlightened you are for one so young," Noah said carefully. "But thinking back on my own imprudent behavior today, and seeing how quickly Morgan lost his temper...." His voice trailed off uncertainly. "Would it come as a complete shock to you, if I admitted that I care about you, Perry?" he asked in a small and humble voice.

I snorted. "Yeah. I got that message loud and clear."

"Not that way...not in the sense that I'm physically attracted to you as a beautiful, fourteen year old boy. But it seems, quite to my own bewilderment, that I care for you as a person. I find many qualities to admire in one so young. You are, after all, my kid sister's boyfriend--her first serious boyfriend, in case you weren't aware. And if you were a classmate of mine, or simply closer to my own age, I would be most proud to be your friend."

The correct response there was the old adage: with friend's like him, who needed enemies! But I kept it to myself. Noah was trying to express something that had more to do with what was in his heart than in his pants, and that was certainly a welcome change.

"Well, thanks for your concern, really, Noah," I said, trying to keep the anger from my voice, "but I can take care of myself. Morgan's my friend. He'd never hurt me, no matter what."

"I applaud your conviction in your comrades," Noah declared in a flat tone.

"Okay, so I should be going."

"Yes, of course. This is good bye then--for now," he said, slowly approaching me with an extended hand.

I only hesitated for a moment, and then took it and grasped it firmly. I started to pull away but Noah was still holding on. I felt a split second of panic but was relieved when he suddenly let go.

"I'm sorry for that," he said.

"For what?"

"For making you frightened of me. What a fool I was. And what a loss for me."


"Like I said, under different circumstances, I would have hoped that we could be friends."

"Well, who knows," I said evasively. "I mean, if you and George get back together...."

"No promises, Perry. But we do go way back, Georgie and I. The friendship is still there, if slightly tarnished. And the world is full of possibilities."

"Yeah, it is. Okay, well, have a good semester. Maybe I'll see you again sometime." Even as I said that, I realized that, if I broke up with Jessica, there would be no need for me to deal with this impudent college brat again. Of course, if he and George Rauch really did get together again....


Special Thanks to my editor-in-chief, AJ!

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