This story is a continuation of the story of Kevin Foley, Rick Mashburn, and their "sons," Tim Murphy, Kyle Goodson, and Justin Davis that started in "Tim" and continued in "Justin."  It is about gay men and gay boys living and loving together as a family, and it contains descriptions of sex.  The sex is never intergenerational.  If you are offended by descriptions of gay sex, or if the law in your area forbids you to read them, please exit the story.  Otherwise, I hope you enjoy it.  I appreciate feedback, and you can send it to me at

--Brew Maxwell

Kyle, Part 1

Chapter 18

(Kevin's Perspective)

During the weekend before Thanksgiving, Rick and Kyle figured out how to use the digital camera George Murphy had given him for his birthday.  It was the type of camera that saved pictures directly to a disk, and you could add even more memory by using a memory stick.  The camera took still pictures, but it also took short movies, as well. 

"Take some pictures of the house, Kyle," I said.  "I'll send them to my parents in e-mail.  Oh, and take some of you guys, too.  They asked me a bunch of times for pictures of y'all."

Kyle did as I asked him to do.  He had several disks full of pictures by the time he finished.  He gave the disks to me for me to use later.  He and the boys took the camera down to his house to take pictures of his boat, his house, his parents, and whatever else came to mind.

I was eager for my parents to meet the kids.  They had visited during the summer for a long weekend, but the boys had been in Orlando that weekend with George.  Mom and Dad had been terribly disappointed, as had the boys, but it was one of those unfortunate situations that couldn't be avoided.  They were scheduled to arrive at our house Wednesday afternoon, and they'd stay until Sunday morning.  It would be a great break for them and a great holiday for all of us.

Saturday night we went to Mass, as usual, and then we met up with a good many of our friends at our hangout.  Kyle took the camera, and he got some pretty good shots of everybody.  He even shot a short movie of me eating.

"What are you going to do with those," Jerry asked.

"I don't know.  Just save them, I guess," Kyle said.

"Would you mind sending a few of them to me through e-mail," Jerry asked.

"I'd be happy to.  I can send them to Pat, too, if you think he'd like them."

"That would be great."  Jerry gave Kyle his business card that had his e-mail address on it, and Mont and Sam did the same thing.  Mont's Terry was supposed to get home the next day from his job assignment in the Far East, and Monte was beside himself with excitement that night.

"Can you e-mail movies, too," Kyle asked.

"Sure you can," Rick said.  "You do it exactly the same way you e-mail pictures or anything else.  You just attach the file."

"I want to get some memory stick," Kyle said.  "I think it would be fun to make movies."

"What kind of movies are you going to make, son," Jerry asked.

"We might just make us some sexy movies.  You never can tell," Kyle said.

"Rick, can you take a little walk with me and Kyle, please," I said.

We took Kyle outside.

"Kyle, buddy, were you teasing back in there about making sexy movies," I asked.

Kyle looked like he was uncomfortable.

"You weren't, were you," Rick asked.

"Have you taken any pictures of the boys naked, Buddy," I asked.  I didn't want to scare Kyle or make him embarrassed, but I had to know.

"No, sir," he said quietly.  "Just the ones you took at the party."

"On your honor," Rick asked.

"On my honor," Kyle said.  "I've thought about it, but I haven't done it yet."

"Well, don't do it, okay, Buddy.  You know what child pornography is, don't you?"

"Yeah, I guess," he said.

"Well, all of you guys are under age, Bud.  If you take sexual pictures of Tim or Justin or Brian or yourself, that's child pornography.  We're not going to have any of that.  Understand," I said.

"I hadn't thought of that," he said.

"I didn't think you had," I said.

"You took some pictures of us naked at my party," he said.

"Apparently, pictures of kids in a nudist environment are okay, as long as they're not sexual, but we don't want any part of sex pictures and kids," I said.

"I understand.  On my honor, I won't do it, and I won't let any of them do it," he said.  "No sex.  No hard-ons, right?"

"Right," I said.

"But nudies are okay?"

"Show them to us first before you do anything with them, okay," I said.

"Yes, sir.  I don't want to do anything wrong, you know?"

"That's all we wanted to hear, son, but we already knew that," Rick said.  "Let's go back inside and eat."


The kids had a half day of school on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and Brian, Tim, and Kyle got to our house around 12:30.  They had gone to their usual place to eat lunch, so they were set for the afternoon.  Gene and Rita Goodson had gone to Charleston, South Carolina, to spend the holiday with her sister and her family.  Kyle had been adamant in not wanting to go to Charleston, and his parents had agreed that staying home with us was in everybody's best interest.

"Is there anything we can do to help," Tim asked.

"Brian, have you and Justin moved all of your stuff to the third floor," I asked.

Our new house had four bedrooms and four bathrooms on the second floor, and the boys had taken rooms there.  It was Tim and Kyle in one room, Justin in one, Brian in one, and Jeff in one.  Jeff was only there on weekends, for the time being, but our house was his permanent home.  Jeff would be driving in from Gainesville later in the day.  

Rick and I had decided that it would be more convenient and nicer for my parents, and my brother and his wife, if they had rooms on the second floor.  All of the boys had agreed, and we were about to toss a coin to see who would have to move for the holiday weekend when Justin, and Brian at Justin's suggestion, agreed to do it.  That was typical of the kind of cooperation that we had come to expect from Justin.  He and Brian were slowly becoming best friends.  I knew Brian had a crush on Justin, and I sometimes wondered if we should discourage their closeness.

"He's all moved, but I haven't had a chance to move yet," Brian said.  We had wanted Justin and Brian to take most of the clothes and other things they would need or want over the weekend up to the third floor so they wouldn't have to be popping in and out of their rooms while our guests were in them.  We knew that was a real imposition on them, but they were both really good sports about it.

"Y'all help him move his stuff," I said.  "Then I want you to go pick up the bag of oysters I ordered."

"You got it, buddy," Kyle said.  He grinned at me, and I grinned back.  Little Rick, I thought.

It didn't take them long to help Brian move.  Then they went to the fish house to pick up the oysters.  I didn't say anything about buying ice, but Kyle knew to do that.  He also knew that we really didn't have anything to put them in to ice them down, so he bought a large galvanized tub, too.  Justin and Jason had used gloves and oyster knives that belonged to the Goodsons, so Kyle bought three sets of those for us.  Having Kyle around was like having a third adult in the family, and it was at times like that that I appreciated that fact.

My family pulled in around four.  Justin was home by then, too.

"You must be Justin," my mom said, grabbing him in a hug shortly after she kissed me hello.

"And you're Brian," she said, hugging Brian.

"And you've got to be Tim," she said, hugging him.

"And you're Kyle."  Again a hug.  "Where's Jeff?"

"He hasn't gotten here yet, Mom," I said.  "He's driving in from Gainesville, and he should be here pretty soon."

"Kevin, Kyle is not ugly at all.  In fact, he's very handsome."

My God, I thought.  Where the hell did she come up with that?  Kyle was the best looking of all of us.  In fact, he could easily have been a major model.

"Why did you think that, Mom?  I never said that."

"You never said it, but you certainly implied it," she said.  "You said everybody thinks Kyle resembles Rick."

"Oh, no, you didn't say that!  Oh, no, you didn't," Rick said laughing with delight.  He grabbed her in his arms and hugged her tightly, lifting her slightly off the floor.  

She hugged him back and laughed, too.

"You've been here five minutes, and already it's started.  It's good to see you, Beth.  You bitch," Rick said.

My mother laughed hard, and everybody else caught on to what was going on.  We all laughed, too.  That exchange between Rick and my mother set the tone for the rest of the holiday weekend, and we spent the a large part of the time they were there laughing.

I introduced my brother, Craig, and his wife, Cherie, to everybody.  They both shook hands with the boys, and Craig didn't say anything out of the ordinary.

"You played that mighty straight," Rick said to Craig.  "That surprised me."

Craig looked at me with devilment in his eyes.  He teased Rick and me relentlessly about being gay, and we teased him equally relentlessly about being straight.  It was a tribute to our closeness and mutual acceptance.

"Oh, Bubba, don't set me up like that in front of these boys," Craig said.

"It surprises us when he acts straight, too, Rick," my dad said, grabbing Rick in a huge hug, his double meaning not lost on any of the adults.

I looked at the kids, and they didn't know what was going on, except that it was a family's way of having fun with one another.

"Kevin, I would kill for a cup of coffee right now," my mom said.  "Your brother was driving, and he refused to stop to satisfy an old lady's craving."

"I'm not surprised at anything he'd do, but I'll make you some coffee, Beth," Rick said.  

"Oh, thank you, Rick.  At least one of my sons loves me," she said.

"Guys, get their bags up to their rooms," I said to the boys.  Dad gave Justin the keys to their car, and the four of them took off.

"Those boys are magnificent, Kevin," my mom said.

"Thanks, Mom.  We think so.  They're our sons.  Your grandsons," I said.

"I know.  And they all have serious issues, right," she asked.

"Tim and Kyle don't, but Justin and Brian do.  Those two boys have been badly used and abused," I said.

"Have there been problems," she asked.

"A few at first with Justin, but you wouldn't believe how much progress that boy has made in the few months he's been here," I said.

"I'd believe it, son.  It's obvious there is a great deal of love here, and love really can work miracles," she said.  I knew she was proud of us.  I could see it in her face.

We all went into the den.  The boys went into the kitchen after they took their bags upstairs to help Rick, and they brought out what was essentially High Tea.  The beverage was coffee instead of tea, but the food was definitely High Tea caliber.  

"Don't fill up.  We're having a big dinner," Rick said.

"Thanks for the warning, Rick," my dad said.

Jeff came home as we were having "tea," and we introduced him to everyone.  Jeff was sort of quiet by nature, but he seemed to really warm up to Cherie.  

"What are you majoring in, Jeff," Cherie asked.

"Business," Jeff said.  "I'm thinking about law school, too."

"Craig and I are both lawyers," Cherie said.

"Oh, really," Jeff said.  I had assumed he knew that, but then I realized it had never come up in his presence.

"Rick thinks all lawyers are crooks, Cherie," Kyle said.

Rick tried to swat Kyle, but Kyle dodged him.

"Is that a fact, Mr. Mashburn," Cherie said.

"Not all lawyers," Rick said.  "I fact, just Craig.  And you,'re on my shit list," he said to Kyle.

Brian blushed when Rick said "shit" in front of the company.  

"Come over here and sit next to me, Brian," my mom said.  I knew she was looking for a way to get him next to her.  "What Rick said was okay, honey.  I lived with three men for many years.  I know how men talk.  It doesn't bother me."  She put her arm around him, and I could tell that just as Jeff had a special friend in Cherie, Brian now had a special friend and protector in my mom.  Eventually she drew Justin into her web of love and concern, too.

We chatted and made small talk for another hour as everyone got to know everyone else a little.  As I knew he would be, Craig was taken with Kyle.  I sometimes thought that my brother liked Rick better than he liked me, so it was only natural that Little Rick, Kyle, would appeal to him as well.  My dad warmed up to Tim, and the two of them bonded in a special way that afternoon.  Later, when George joined us for dinner, the two stud surgeons became fast friends.  

Mom and Cherie said they wanted to see the house, so we gave them a tour.  I knew Craig and my dad couldn't have been less interested, but they went along with us just to get their bearings, if not out of curiosity.  The boys stayed in the den.  One of them laid a fire.  It had gotten much cooler that week, and a fire in the hearth would be nice that evening.

Our meal that night wasn't anything fancy.  Rick made a huge pot of chili and a couple of pans of cornbread.  At Tim's request he had made a couple more layered salads, and for dessert he made my favorite, chocolate-orange cake.  He set everything out in the kitchen on the counter, more or less in buffet style.  He had bought a set of lap trays so people could eat in the den.  He made the first round of drinks for the adults, which included Jeff.  Kyle took care of the kids.  I watched Justin take the first taste of his.  He grinned at Kyle, and Kyle grinned back.  I knew what was up with that, and I really didn't care, as long as it was just Kyle and Justin.  I cared a lot if Tim and Brian had gotten the same treatment.

"Let's get the oysters underway, guys," I said.

"Yes, sir," Kyle said.

Kyle, Tim, and Justin were going to be our oyster shuckers that night.  Craig joined the three of them and Rick and me on the patio.  Craig lit a cigarette as soon as he was out of the house.

"You can smoke in the house, if you want to," Rick said.

"In front of my parents?  Yeah, right!" Craig said.

"I'm the same way, Craig," Kyle said.  "My parents know I smoke, but I never smoke in front of them.  My brother didn't, either."

"Clay," Craig said rather somberly.  "How are your parents doing?"

"They're doing okay.  I got a boat for my birthday last week, and I named it Clay.  They really loved it that I did that," Kyle said, "but it made them cry, too."

"Yeah, but those were totally happy tears, Bubba," Rick said.  "They knew how much that boat meant to you, and the fact that you named it after Clay made them very happy.  And very proud of you, too."

Kyle didn't say anything, but I knew that what Rick had just said meant a great deal to him.

They got busy with the oysters.  Kyle had to show Tim how to do it, and he had to give Justin some pointers on how to do it better.  

"You can't get those tiny little slivers of shell in there, Jus," Kyle said.  "Ain't nothing worse than biting down on that shit, man.  Here, scrape it out, like I'm doing."  Kyle demonstrated how to clean the oyster after it had been opened.

"Some of these are really hard to do," Tim said.

"That's right.  Have you ever seen an oysterman?  Them fuckers got shoulders bigger than Studmuffin," he said, indicating Rick.

They opened oysters and set them neatly on the trays Rick had brought out.  We had paid a little extra for a sack of singleton oysters, meaning oysters that weren't stuck to other oysters, so they sat nicely on the tray.  Kyle had probably been shucking oysters all his life, and he did it efficiently and fast.  He would open an oyster for the tray and set it down.  Then he would open one and spear it on the point of his knife and pop it into his mouth.  Then he would open one and offer it to Tim, then to Justin, then to me, then to Rick, then to Craig.  It was a good thing the other boys didn't think they had to feed everybody on the patio.  Otherwise, the folks inside would have had to go without.

"You guys know what they say about oysters, don't you," Kyle asked.

"No, what do they say about oysters," Craig asked.  

"Eat oysters, love longer," Kyle said.

"What does that mean," Craig asked.

"You'll be able to stay with you mate longer, man.  Here, Rick, let me open you up a couple dozen, man," Kyle said.

Everybody laughed, including Rick, but Craig almost swallowed his tongue on that line, he was laughing so hard.

"Kyle, did you put anything in those drinks when you got them for you and the boys," I asked.

"Ice," he said.

"Anything else?"

"I think I'm busted," he said.

"Did you put any booze in Brian's drink," I asked.

"No, sir, or Tim's either."  Tim had taken several healthy slugs out of Kyle's drink, so I was sure that was true.

"You and Justin are seventeen, Kyle.  The legal drinking age in this state is twenty-one, man," I said.

"Jesus Christ, Kevin.  Lighten up, guy," Craig said.  "I had drinks at home when I was seventeen, and you had them younger than that.  I know because I made them for you.  It's a fucking holiday."

"Yeah, but Rick and I are responsible for these kids," I said.

"I know you are, but they're not going out.  They're not going to be driving.  If they get a little buzz before dinner, is that so bad," Craig asked.

"Having these kids has made me uptight about that kind of shit," I said.

"Well, lose it, brother.  We ain't going to be raided tonight," Craig said.

"What do you think," I asked Rick.

"I think whatever you decide, Babe.  But I don't think Craig or Kyle or Justin are irresponsible."

"Maybe 'don't ask, don't tell' works here, Kev," Craig said.

"I guess it does," I said.

"Well, I'm not going to drink much because oysters turn to rocks in your stomach if you eat them while you're drinking a lot of whiskey," Kyle said.

"How many of these old wives tales do you know about oysters," I asked.

"A bunch.  Plus, I can always make some up, if I run out of real ones," Kyle said.  Everybody laughed.

"Let me get some fresh drinks," Craig said.  He came back in a few minutes with new drinks for everybody.  

Rick tasted his.  "I just wanted plain coke," he said.

"Shut up and drink it," Craig said.  Rick laughed and did as he was told.  Tim tasted his and grinned at Craig.  I knew my big brother had fixed my little brothers, my sons, up.  I knew there was no harm in their having a drink, and I felt like I had over reacted to the situation.  

"How's everybody doing in there," Kyle asked Craig when he returned with the drinks.

"There was a whole untouched tray and a couple of trays still had some on them.  They were making noises about going after the other food," Craig said.

"We have a half a bag left here," Kyle said.  "We need to shuck these out so we can eat them over the weekend.  We really shouldn't leave them out here all night like this.  Let's go eat, and then we can finish them up."

We got bowls of chili, cornbread, and salad, and took them into the den with the rest of the folks.  Everybody raved about the chili, and Mom and Cherie both said they wanted the recipe for the salad.  Rick opened some red wine to have with the chili, and he gave the boys a partial glass, too, even Brian.  I watched George to see how he might react to Tim's having wine, and he didn't bat an eye.  

After dessert, which also brought raves and demands for the recipe, the three oyster shuckers and the three supervisors went back outside.  That time, though, we were joined by George and my dad.

"Damn, it's cold out here," Dad said.

"Do you need a jacket, Dad," I asked.

"Yeah, if you've got something handy," he said.

Justin and Kyle were dressed identically in 501 blue jeans, jeans jackets, and cowboy boots.  Kyle had on a white polo shirt under his jacket, and he got the shirt wet and filthy opening oysters.  He took his jacket off, pulled his shirt off over his head, and put the jacket back on.  He looked stunning.  My brother, whom I knew was 100% straight, looked at him with more than a passing glance.

When we went inside, Justin put the Garth Brooks CD in the player.  He started to dance by himself.  In a few seconds, Brian extricated himself from my mother and joined him on the floor.  In another few seconds, Tim and Kyle were up, and, within a minute, everybody else was up dancing, too.  Kyle stopped the proceedings to give us a lesson.  He tried to imitate Gage's effeminacy, but it just didn't work.

"Hell, y'all watch me and Tim, and do what we do," he finally said.

By 10:30, we were all pretty tired from the dancing.

"Well, I guess I need to go home," George said.  His voice and manner indicated he really wished he could spend the night with us.

"George, I wish we had room for you," Rick said.  "We've got an empty room on the third floor.  We'll get that fixed up for you soon, man.  We just didn't think of it."

"Thanks, Rick.  I do wish I could stay.  I've never had more fun in my life with a group of people as I have with you folks tonight."

"You don't have to leave, Doc," Justin said.  "You can have my room.  I can sleep with Brian.  You don't mind, do you?"  His question was addressed to Brian.

"I don't mind at all," Brian said.

"Boys, I don't want to put you out," George said.

"George, they said they didn't mind.  You're here.  You're going to be here tomorrow.  There's no reason in the world for you to spend tonight and tomorrow morning anywhere but here," Rick said.

"Well, if the boys don't mind..."

"Stay, Doc.  Please," Kyle said.

"Okay," George said.

"Done," I said.

"Bravo," my dad said.  I could tell he really liked George.

"Justin, move your stuff into Brian's room," I said.  "Y'all go help them," I told the other boys.

"There are going to be some boyfriend changes around this place," Kyle whispered to Rick and me just before they went up to help them move.  

"I'm really tired, Beth," Brian said to my mom.  "Thank you for listening to me."

She grabbed Brian into a bear hug.  "You are a precious child, Brian, and I love you," she said.

"I love you, too," Brian said.

We all told the boys good night.  Craig didn't hug anybody, but he gave Kyle a pretty healthy shot to the arm.  Kyle grinned at him.  "I'm going to get your ass for that," Kyle said, and they both laughed.

They all went up to bed.

"Son, you and Rick have really created a family here," my dad said after the boys were gone.

"I know, Dad.  They're pretty awesome, aren't they?"

"This family needs to be written up somewhere," Cherie said.  "You guys totally shatter every gay stereotype I've ever known."

"We didn't set out to do that, but I guess we do," Rick said.

"There's no question that you do, brother," Craig said.  "I've always been at ease with you and Kevin being gay, and those boys are no different."

"Maybe not, Craig, but there is some serious love going on with them," I said.  "Tim and Kyle are really in love with one another."

"That was pretty obvious," Craig said.

"Kyle exudes sexuality," my mom said, "but he doesn't flaunt it.  Have you ever heard of the concept of the alpha male in packs of wolves or other animals?"

Rick and I looked at each other knowingly.

"Some scholars think it applies to humans as well, and what I saw of Kyle tonight, he is definitely an alpha."

"Mom, you should have been out there with us with those oysters.  I know that theory of the alpha male, and I actually thought of it tonight," Craig said.

"I know that theory, too, Craig, and I agree with you about Kyle.  I wasn't out there with you guys earlier tonight, but he fits the alpha definitions that I've seen," George said.

"An alpha male roams and is promiscuous," Craig said.

"But Kyle isn't like that, Craig," George said.  "He was a virgin when Tim met him.  I know they have probably had sex, and I've worked through that on moral and religious grounds.  I'm sure he's had many opportunities with others, but he doesn't seem interested in anybody but Tim."

"I've done some reading about the alpha male concept, too," Cherie said, "and I agree that Kyle is an alpha.  Does he get into trouble with you guys?  Pushing the envelope, so to speak?"

"Yeah, frequently," I said.  "Like tonight.  He made himself and Justin drinks, with alcohol.  That was pushing the envelope, I thought."

"You and your brother pushed that same envelope when you were his age," Dad said.

"You knew about that," Craig asked.

"Hell, of course we knew, son.  Did you think your mother and I were blind?"

"Kyle probably does a lot more that you aren't aware of, Kevin," Cherie said.  "Is he generally responsible?"

"That's one of his best qualities," Rick said.  "He's the most responsible adolescent I've ever known, and he's totally honest, too.  At least when we confront him with something.  He's an Eagle Scout, as is Tim, and they take their honor very seriously."

"Last Saturday night we had to invoke Scout's Honor with him, and we're both satisfied he won't do what he promised on his honor he wouldn't," I said.

"Do you mind telling me what that was," George asked.  "I'm sure it would have involved Tim in some way."

"I'm sure it would have involved Tim in every way," I said.  "George, he loves that digital camera you gave him for his birthday.  Last Saturday night after Mass a bunch of our friends were at a sports bar and grill where we like to hang out."

"The Surf Hut," George asked.

"Exactly.  Kyle had his camera with him.  He had been taking pictures all day.  Jerry asked him--Jerry's one of the priests in our parish and a very good friend," I said for our guests' benefit.  "Anyway, Jerry asked what kind of movies he was going to make with it.  He said they might make some sexy movies.  Rick and I took Kyle outside and talked to him about that, and he promised on his honor that he wouldn't do it or let any of the boys do it.  And he won't, George."

"You're right.  Tim definitely would have been involved in that," George said.  "Following his alpha boyfriend."  Everybody laughed.

"Would anybody care for a nightcap," I asked.  Everybody but Rick wanted one.

"I was completely taken with gentle little Brian," my mom said.  "Are he and Justin boyfriends?"

"No," I said.  Then I thought about what Kyle had whispered to me about people changing boyfriends around here.  "Why do you ask that?"

"He spoke of him in such loving terms," Mom said.

"He has a crush on Justin," Rick said.  "And they both have a crush on Kyle."

"Justin and I had an interesting talk about that recently," I said.  "He said that he knew neither of them had even a remote chance with Kyle but that Brian definitely had a chance with him, with Justin, I mean."

George was beaming.

"How much older are Kyle and Justin than Tim and Brian," Craig asked.

"Kyle's a year and a half older than Tim, and Justin's a little more than two years older than Brian.  Why do you asked," I inquired.

"Well, there's the legal thing, you know?  When Kyle turns eighteen, Tim will still be only sixteen.  I've thought about that several times since the pedophilia stuff has been in the news, and I did some checking with some of my Florida colleagues at the bar," Craig said.

"And...," I demanded.

"And I found out what I wanted to know," Craig said.

My dad got his "annoyed at Craig" look on his face, and I could tell Cherie was starting to get pissed off at her husband.

"Don't be so pompous and tell us what you found out.  This is important," Cherie said.

"Okay, okay," Craig said, regretting at that moment he had said what he had.  "The authorities don't pursue the adult-minor issue if sex is consensual, especially if the relationship has been going on for a while, unless there are more than three years separating the partners.  Then they look into it--if they find out, of course."

"Well, that's a relief," George said.      

"It sure is," Rick said.  "Thanks, Craig."

"You said one of your friends is a priest," my mom asked, changing the subject.

"Yeah.  You'll meet him, too.  He'll be at the party Saturday night," I said.  "He and his brother, in fact, who is also a friend of ours.  And a lawyer, I might add."

"Are we having a party," Dad asked.

"We wanted you to meet our friends, Ed," Rick said.  "You've met some of our straight friends, of course, when you've been here before, but we've developed a pretty close circle of gay friends in the last year.  This party will be mostly our team."

"Oh, that'll be great," my mother said with genuine enthusiasm.

"I thought we've have steaks, salad, green bean casserole, and a special macaroni and cheese dish I make.  We'll have raw oysters again, too, if y'all can stand them," Rick said.

"Those oysters tonight were fabulous," Cherie said.  "As far as I'm concerned, you could serve them at every meal.  I love oysters."

"Eat oysters, love longer.  That's what Kyle told us," Craig said.  "Then he offered Rickie-pooh here a couple of dozen."

"God, I wish he had given them to you, instead," Cherie said.

"Oh, Baby, you really know how to hurt a guy," Craig said.  I could tell by the way they were teasing that that's all it was, teasing.

"Edward," my mom said in her ironic tone of voice.

"Yes, Elizabeth?"

"You be first in line Saturday night."

Craig had just taken a sip of his drink, and he laughed so hard that some of it came out of his nose.

"God, almighty!  That's disgusting," Rick said.

Craig left the room to take care of his little problem, and the rest of us continued laughing.

"Beth," George said, "Ed alluded a couple of times to your 'practice.'  What do you do?"

"She's a veterinarian," my dad said.  Craig and I had heard that "joke" since we were old enough to know what words meant.  

She gave my dad the usual smirk that that joke elicited.

"I'm a pediatrician, George.  And yourself?"

"I'm an oral surgeon.  I was in the Navy until June, but now I'm part of a group practice here on the beach," he said.

"Any special emphasis," Mom asked.

"Well, I pull my fair share of teeth, of course, but a lot of my experience in the Navy was in reconstructive surgery.  I trained at Bethesda," George said.

"A full hospital residency?"

"Yeah," George said.  Mom seemed impressed.  "Do you specialize at all?"

"Just in boys and girls," she said.

"Well, that's not entirely accurate, Beth," Dad said, pride in her dripping from his tongue.  "She's part of a multi-disciplinary team at Children's Hospital.  She's known in New Orleans as Doctor Insight because she has an uncanny ability to cut through the bullshit and get to the heart of the matter."

"I didn't know you worked on that team," I said.

"Oh, yes.  I've been doing that for a couple of years.  Surely I told you about that," she said.

"I knew it, Beth, and if I knew it, he must have known it at one time, too," Rick said.

"Well, maybe," I said.

Suddenly Mom yawned.

"Excuse me," she said.  "I think I need to turn in."  She always did something like that when she was the center of attention, but it was late.

We all needed to turn in, and we did.