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 email@example.com.
Kyle, Part 1
So much happened to us that fall. First, we had a hurricane, and Kyle and Tim saved the lives of a girl and her baby. They both got a lot of attention for that, and they deserved it.
Then, Kyle's brother died. How can a twenty-year-old guy die like that? Poor Kyle was really torn up about it. Me and Tim were really sad because Kyle was so sad. It didn't seem fair, really. Clay's boyfriend, Jeff, didn't have a family, so they took him in, just like they had me. He was in college so he didn't live with us all the time, but our house was the only home he had. Kevin and Rick hardly knew Jeff, but that didn't matter to them.
Then we went on that awesome trip to North Carolina. I had never really been anywhere before except north Alabama, where I used to live, and the beach. That was right before Brian came to live with us. I had an unbelievably good time on that trip, and that was when I realized they weren't ever going to turn me out and throw me away. I knew on that trip I had a home. And I loved those mountains.
Then it was Kyle's birthday. His parents gave him an awesome boat.
"This ain't my boat. This is our boat. That's why I named it Clay, even if he's dead. This boat is gonna be fun, and Clay would have brought us fun, if he was here," Kyle said to us.
His parents went ape shit when he named it that, but they went ape shit because they were so happy Kyle felt that way about his brother. I had nursed Kyle through five or six crying sessions over his brother that nobody else knew about, so I knew how sad he had been because of Clay.
And I have to admit, I had a hard, hard crush on Kyle. He was what every gay boy hoped to fall in love with. He was smart, funny, unbelievably good looking, not afraid to take chances, totally masculine in the way he acted and talked, built, rich. What am I leaving out? Oh, yeah, he was loyal to his friends and totally nice. He was a golden boy, if ever I had heard of one. The only problem was that Kyle was only interested in Tim. Me and my boyfriend Jason fooled around sometimes with him and Tim, but he never let anybody but Tim kiss him or make him come.
I didn't want to like Tim at first. I was jealous of him. What did he have that I didn't have? Hell, I had been forced to lift weights since I was eleven years old, so I had a nice body. I used to think I was dumb, but that was just because I wasn't allowed to go to school. Kevin and Rick got me in adult school right away, and I found out I'm pretty smart. My big brothers and my little brothers are all really smart, but I'm beginning to think I might be just as smart as they are. Kyle told me I'm smart one day, and I believe him. He don't lie.
Back to Tim. As much as I didn't want to like him, I found that I couldn't resist. Him and Rick and me did some shit to scare Kyle around his birthday, and I found out then that Tim accepted me for what I am: a country-ass shit-kicker. To him, it was like Kyle was my brother and his boy. That made me feel like Tim didn't have no problems with me. How can you not like a guy like that? I was jealous of Tim because I wanted Kyle, but Kyle didn't want nobody but Tim. I decided I could be their brother and friend, or I could be an outsider. I decided on being a brother and friend.
Then there was Brian. He came to live with us the Sunday we got back from North Carolina. Brian was beautiful. He was younger than me, but he had a face and a body that really turned me on. I felt guilty as hell about how I felt about him. I was dating Jason, and me and him were having sex. I knew I wasn't in love with Jason the way Kevin and Rick were in love, or Kyle and Tim were in love. But I liked him a lot. Then, all of a sudden, there was Brian.
We moved into a new house a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, and that first night there Tim and Kyle made a big fire in the fireplace. The old house didn't have a fireplace, so that was new to us. Kevin and Rick were on the sofa, and Kevin was holding Rick like they usually did. Tim and Kyle were on the floor, and they were snuggled together, too. I needed some snuggle, so I asked Brian if he would let me hold him like Kyle was holding Tim. He said yes after everybody let him know I wasn't going to hurt him, so we spooned up, just like they were doing.
When I got that little guy in my arms, it didn't take me two seconds to get a hard-on. He was soft and warm, and he smelled real good, too. Nobody saw it, but I kissed him on his neck a few times. I figured he could feel my dick against his back, even though we had clothes on, and he didn't make me move or nothing. Pretty soon it got kinda hot with the fire and all, so all four of us boys took our clothes off, except for our underwear. I saw that Brian was hard, and he let me snuggle with him again. My hand kind of roamed down to his dick, and I rubbed it a time or two. That's all it took for him to shoot into his drawers. I humped against his back a few times, and I shot, too. Nobody else knew what was going on, I don't think. If they did, they didn't say nothing, and I'm sure they would have if they had seen it.
"I liked what we did last night," Brian said the next day. "That was the first time somebody else made me shoot like that. I want to do it again with you."
"Dave never did that to you," I asked. Dave was supposedly his boyfriend.
"He's touched it a few times when it was hard, while we were kissing, but he's never made me shoot," he said.
"Do you like me," I asked him.
"Yeah, I like you. Can't you tell?"
"Yeah. I thought you did. I like you, too," I said.
"You have a boyfriend," he said.
"I know. We'll see," I said.
That's all that happened between me and Brian before the night before Thanksgiving. That was the night I slept in his bed with him because Tim's dad needed my bed. Two or three times before that I had started to get up at night and go into his room to see if he wanted to do anything. I just jerked off instead, though. I knew he was kinda scared of me, or at least he seemed to be. I was liking him more and more, and I didn't want to scare him.
Brian finished in the bathroom before me that night, and he was already in bed when I got in there. He wasn't covered up, though, and he had his briefs on. I usually sleep naked, but I left my briefs on that night to be like him. He was on his side facing away from me. I got on my side facing him, and I pulled the covers up over us.
"Hold me like you did the other night," he said in a soft whisper.
I snuggled up to him. My chest was against his back, and my legs were touching his legs. My dick was against him, and I got hard in just a few seconds. It felt so good to touch him like that. His body was warm and smooth and nice. I nuzzled my face against his neck, and I kissed him there.
"This feels so good," he said softly. "Is this having sex, Jus?"
"Sort of," I said. I started rubbing his chest. He had big ole nipples, and I found one of them and rubbed it.
"It feels good when you do that," he said.
"Let's take our underwear off," I said.
He pulled his down, and I got out of mine. I turned him on his back, and I got on top of him. Our hard dicks were touching. I put my face between his neck and his shoulder, and I sucked on his earlobe. He liked that and moaned a little bit. I started moving against him. His dick was wet, and it slid easy against me. Mine was wet, too, as I rubbed against him. I felt him go stiff, and I could feel his hot juice on my stomach. Mine jumped out of me right after that, and that was the hardest come I had had in a long time.
"That was nice," he said softly.
"Yeah. It was excellent," I said. I rolled off him, and we both went to sleep spooned up.
The next morning I woke up early. Brian was still sleeping, and I had a chance to watch him up close. He was really beautiful, in a manly way. He had dark hair, and I could see some beard on his face. I knew he shaved, but I guess he didn't do it as often as he should to be really smooth.
I touched his face, and then I ran my finger down his cheek to his neck and shoulder. I kept outlining him. He was hard, and I had never really seen his hard-on until that morning. He was almost fifteen, so I figured he probably had grown in that department all he was going to grow. His was as big as mine, I guess. They all looked big to me when they were hard. Who could tell? And I really didn't care.
Brian woke up and rolled onto his back. He tossed the cover off himself like he was going to get up, but he didn't. He just laid there.
"Good morning," he whispered and smiled a beautiful smile.
"Good morning," I said in a soft voice too, smiling back at him. "Happy Thanksgiving."
"Oh, I forgot about that. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too."
I propped my head up on my hand so I could see him better. I put my other hand on his chest. It was real warm and soft. I started playing with his nipple.
"I like it when you do that," he said. "I didn't know it felt nice until Kevin told me about it a few weeks ago. I do it to myself now, sometimes."
"I do it to myself, too," I said. "I used to have rings in mine like Tim and Kyle have. Those really made it feel good."
"Where are they now? Your rings, I mean."
"I took 'em out. I still have 'em, though."
"Do you like to kiss," he asked.
"Would you kiss me?" He said it so shy and cute that I shuddered a little bit. I leaned over and kissed him. Not hard or passionate or nothing. Just a little kiss. He pulled me toward him after that, and then we really kissed. He knew how to use that tongue of his.
"Are you in love with Jason," he asked.
"Naw, not really."
"He's your boyfriend, though, isn't he?"
"Yeah, he's my boyfriend. I like him, and we have a lot in common. But we're not in love. Not like some people I know."
"You mean Kevin and Rick," he asked.
"Yeah, them, and Tim and Kyle, too. And Monte and Terry."
"I don't know Terry," he said.
"He's Monte's partner. He's been off on a job somewhere. He just got back."
"What about you and Dave? Are y'all in love?"
"I don't think we're even boyfriends. We like each other. We're friends. All we've ever done is kiss, though. He gets me real hard and I've wanted to do stuff, but he doesn't want to."
"Does he get hard when y'all kiss?" I thought maybe the guy might not really be gay.
"Yeah, that's what I don't understand. Tim and Kyle said he knows what to do, too."
"That's kinda unusual," I said. I thought Brian was really hot and sexy. I didn't have no trouble getting it on with him, or wanting to.
I looked down at Brian's dick, and there was a little puddle of pre-cum right below the head of it.
"You can touch it, if you want to," he said. "You still haven't touched it directly with your hand."
I reached down and gently ran a finger up and down the underside of it a couple of times. Brian shuddered a little.
"Does that feel good when I do that," I asked.
"Oh, yeah. Did you ever have a blow job?"
"Yeah. Me and Jay do that."
"I'll do it to you if you do it to me," he said very shy.
"Sure, Buddy, but you don't have to do me unless you really want to, okay," I said.
"Okay," he said.
I leaned over him and sucked the nipple I had played with earlier, and he gasped a little. Then I ran my tongue down his chest and stomach. I lapped up the pool of pre-cum on his stomach, and then I licked at the head of his cock. Then I took it into my mouth real gentle and soft. I knew he liked it, and he squirmed around a little. He didn't last too long, and I got a mouthful of his juice.
"Oh, that was the best, Jus. Thank you," he said.
"I'm glad you liked it, little Buddy," I said.
By then the bed was pretty much of a wreck, and the cover was off me, too.
"Can I touch you," he asked.
"Sure. You can do anything to me you want to," I said. I had never said that to another guy, even to Jason. I didn't really know what was happening, but I sure was liking him a lot.
He touched my dick like he was afraid he was going to hurt me. It felt good, though.
"Touch my balls, too," I said.
He sat up and started pumping my dick and rubbing my balls. I usually can last a long time, if I want to, but I didn't want him to get tired or bored. I concentrated on what he was doing and on how sexy he looked. I shot my load in just a few minutes.
"Did I do it good," he asked.
"You did it damn good," I said. "We're going to both need a shower. It's probably time we get up, don't you think."
"Justin," he said, and stopped.
"I really like you. I used to be scared of you, but I'm not scared of you anymore."
"I really like you, too. I'm sorry I made you scared of me, but I would never, ever do anything to hurt you, Buddy."
"I like for you to call me Buddy," he said.
"Well, you are my buddy. Let's take a shower together. Come on."
Brian and I went down the back stairs that led into the kitchen. Tim and Kyle were in there cooking breakfast.
"Morning," Kyle said, all cheerful and cute.
"Morning. Where is everybody," I asked.
"They're in the den, drinking coffee. I was wondering if I'd have to go pull your asses out of bed."
Brian grinned and blushed. Kyle, he picked up on it right away. He grabbed Brian in a headlock. He didn't hurt Brian. He was just being affectionate.
"Some little fella got lucky, didn't he," Kyle said, all grinning and happy. He ruffled Brian's hair.
"You could say that," Brian said, as Kyle released him.
Kyle and Tim were so happy you'd a-thought they had just got laid for the first time.
"Was he nice to you," Tim asked.
Brian giggled. "Yeah, he was real nice to me."
"I ain't no brute, Squirt. I know how to make my man feel real good," I said.
All of a sudden Kyle hugged me and Tim hugged Brian. I could feel Kyle's hard dick through his pants, and that made me hard in a heartbeat. That rascal knew it, too, and he grabbed my butt with both hands and rubbed against me just a little bit.
"Justin, when I think about what you were like the first time we met you...," Kyle said after he broke the hug.
"I know. Let's don't talk about that, okay," I said. "What you see here now is the real me, not that fucked-up punk y'all met at that motel."
"I know, and you make me so proud of you," Kyle said, smiling.
Goddamn, Kyle, I thought. You know just how to get to me. I was very close to crying what they all called happy tears, but I didn't.
"Let's get this breakfast on the table," Kyle said, and the four of us went to work.
Thanksgiving had always been my favorite holiday. It always involved four days of rest, and the holiday part always came at the start of it. Christmas was great, of course, but I never could really relax until after New Year's. And Christmas had all those damn presents to worry about. Not that I didn't like getting presents, and even giving them to people like Rick and my brother, but it was such a hassle to round up gifts for all the people you needed to give to. My parents were awful to buy for, and every year I wracked my brain for weeks trying to find something that cost enough, but not more than I could afford, that they would like, but that they didn't already have.
The boys made breakfast for us on Thanksgiving morning. I sort of felt sorry for Jeff when it came to stuff like that. He hadn't been around us enough to really have gotten to know them very well, and he was sort of a fish out of water. In age he was between Rick and me, and the boys. Not quite a full adult yet, but not a kid still, either. I was really glad Cherie had taken to him so readily and so well.
Rick, of course, was in charge of the Thanksgiving dinner. He had negotiated with the chef at our biggest hotel to make turkey and ham, gravy, cream of carrot soup, and a sweet potato soufflé. The salad was going to be Salad Mimosa, which was basically baby salad greens out of a plastic bag straight from the store, chopped up boiled eggs, and lots of raw parsley. The dressing, a vinaigrette, was easy, and he had made it a couple of nights before. We'd serve that after the entree. Rick would have to steam some broccoli right before the meal, but that would be a snap. He had made an oyster dressing from a recipe my grandmother had passed down in my family. I tasted it when he made it Tuesday night, and it was superb. He'd made the first course that night, too, which was pickled shrimp. The first time he had served that to my family, my father and brother had liked it so much it was fun to watch them eat it. Typically, you only have one helping of the first course. That time, my brother had had three helpings and my dad two. Rick had been tickled by that gustatory display of approval; my mother had been slightly embarrassed, I think.
Dessert was truly an embarrassment of riches. Rick had picked up a cut glass Victorian tea tray at a flea market the first year we were together. He had paid something like $25 for it, and it had three tiers. He set it on a cut glass cake stand that was already six inches high off the table, and he put the cake stand on a silver tray. They provided two more tiers to put desserts on.
People in our office had given us a ton of goodies for the holiday, like fudge; divinity; home-made fruit cake; home-make chocolate-covered cherries; crystallized citrus rind, some of of which was dipped in chocolate; peanut brittle; pecan brittle; pecan "bark," which basically was roasted pecans covered in chocolate; home made lemon bars; and fancy cookies. He piled the tea tray with that stuff, and he tossed in some beautiful fresh strawberries, cumquats, and sprigs of mint from his garden for color. He set it in the middle of the table as a center piece. He got the chef to make a pumpkin pie and an apple pie, too, for the traditionalists. Those were on the side board, though, for anyone who wanted them.
Rick was in charge of the kitchen, but I was in charge of the dining room. We were going to eat at two o'clock, and around ten I gathered up the four boys to help me set the table. Having a butler's pantry in our new house really helped out on that occasion. It kept us out of the kitchen.
"Okay," I said. "You guys are going to learn how to set a nice table. Now pay attention to what I'm teaching you. This is important stuff for you to know, and the only way you'll learn it is by doing it.
"The first step is the table cloth. If it's laundered properly, there will be one crease down the middle on the top side of the cloth. That should form a peak down the center of the table. Like so. Help me with this, Kyle."
Kyle and I stretched the table cloth down the table. The laundry had done it just as I had told them to, and the crease was sharp and straight.
"Okay," I said. "Next go the service plates."
Rick and I had nice table appointments. I had inherited the sterling silver from my grandmother, my dad's mom, and my mother had given me her "second best" wedding china. It was a pattern by Lennox that was no longer available in retail outlets, but I had found a china replacement service on the Internet. They had quite a bit of it, so I had filled out what she didn't have. We had picked up another set of Lennox that was complimentary to what Mom had given me at a Lennox factory outlet store. It was supposedly factory seconds, but the flaws in it were totally unnoticeable. The only flaws I could find were on the underside of the dishes, and we had bought it for a song. The crystal had come from an estate sale on E-Bay. It was Waterford, and we had service for twelve in water goblets, red wines, white wines, and champagne flutes. That day we were going to use all of it.
"Why is this called a service plate," Kyle asked.
"It's not the plate you're going to eat off," I said. "It's just a plate to put other plates on. You'll see."
"How did you learn all this stuff," Tim asked.
"I worked in a pretty fancy restaurant for two years when I was in college, Tim," I said. "It was part of my job to know about this. I catered quite a few very nice dinner parties, too. One at the Governor's mansion, even. It had to be done right."
"I didn't know you hobnobbed with them big boys," Justin said.
"I saw him taking a leak, Jus. He wasn't all that much of a big boy," I said. All four of them howled with laughter.
We set the service plates out.
"Next, the silverware. Dinner fork on left, knife on right. Then the salad fork to the left of the dinner fork. Soup spoon to the right of the knife. Then the cocktail fork to the right of the soup spoon. In fact, let's put the tines of the cocktail fork in the bowl of the spoon.
"Forks," I said, handing them to Tim.
"Knives," to Kyle.
"Salads," to Justin.
"Soups," to Brian. "I'll take the cocktail forks."
We marched around the table setting out our appointed implements. I surveyed the scene after we had finished, and it needed help.
"Guys, this stuff all needs to be straight and the same distance apart. Straighten it out. Let's do it right," I said. "Each of you take three places and make them pretty." They went to work, and I walked around to supervise. "Knife blade facing the plate," I said.
"Okay, that looks good," I said, after I was satisfied they had done it right.
"Damn, this is a lot of stuff," Jus said.
"Yeah, but we're not finished yet," I said.
"What else we got to put out," Jus asked.
"Let's see. Napkins, bread plates, er, salt cellars, salt spoons, pepper shakers, place cards, and the crystal."
"God almighty, Kevin," Justin said. "Is somebody gonna teach me how to eat this meal. I ain't ever seen most of this stuff before. How the hell am I supposed to know what to use to eat what? I don't really have good manners, you know?"
I grabbed Justin around the shoulders in a hug, and I chuckled.
"I don't know what to use, either, Kev," Kyle said. Tim and Brian echoed his sentiment.
"Don't worry, guys. I'll teach you. That's what big brothers are for, isn't it?"
We got the rest of the table set. Rick had the dessert tray ready, and we put it in place. He had picked up some roses that we set out in four very low crystal vases, two on either side of the centerpiece. The table looked spectacular, and even the boys were impressed with how beautiful it was. Kyle got his digital camera and took pictures of it and of us.
"Can we sneak us a little piece from that dessert thing," Jus asked.
"Hell, no," Rick said adamantly. "But there's plenty more of everything in the kitchen. Go get yourselves some." They went after their treats. "It is truly gorgeous, Babe," he said after the boys left the room. He gave me a kiss, and we let it linger for a few seconds. They caught us when they came back into the dining room.
"How sweet," Kyle said.
"Shut the fuck up," Rick said. He and Kyle laughed.
I gave the boys a few pointers on what to use to eat which course. None of them had ever had a meal with that many courses, even Kyle and Tim, and they were impressed that it was all logical and made sense.
"Why do we have all these glasses," Brian asked.
"Good question, Brian," I said. "We're going to have three wines at this meal. A white wine with the first course and the soup, a red wine with the main course, and champagne with dessert. You serve each wine in a different glass. The biggest glass is for water."
"Which glass is for white wine and which is for red," Kyle asked.
I showed him.
"Why aren't they the same size? So you can tell them apart?"
"Well, that helps, but the white wine glass is smaller because white wine is served chilled. Red is served at room temperature. The white wine glass is smaller so there's less surface area of it to warm up before the white wine courses are finished. We'll replenish the white wine after the first course, just to make sure. Sometimes they put out another wine glass, for sherry, to have with the soup, but we don't do that."
"Why not," Kyle asked.
"Because we don't have any sherry glasses," I said.
"Good reason," he replied.
"Oh, and guys, you always hold glasses of chilled wine by the stem, never by the bowl. Your hands will warm it up, and that's bad."
"Jesus Christ! How are people supposed to know shit like that," Justin asked.
"They're taught it by their parents or big brothers, that's how they know it," I said. "That's why I'm teaching you right now."
"I didn't come from a family that had this many of anything in the kitchen," Jus said.
"Yeah, but you do now," I said.
"Yeah, I reckon I do." He turned away and wiped his eyes with his hand. The other boys watched him in dead silence, and they knew what was going on.
"All better," he said when he turned around, grinning. He grabbed Brian around the shoulders in a hug. "Looks like you and me done lucked up."
"Why is this champagne glass such a different shape than the others," Tim asked.
"There are different theories about that, Tim. One is that champagne is served chilled, so it has to be relatively small, but the volume of this glass is greater than the volume of the white wine glass. So I don't buy that theory. Another one is the tall, thin glass keeps the bubbly in the bubbly longer. Another is it's pretty to watch the bubbles rise up from the bottom of the glass. I don't know if anybody really knows. It's called a champagne flute, by the way."
"I tasted champagne before," Kyle said.
"Did you like it," I asked.
"I don't really remember," Kyle said.
"We're not really having champagne today. We're having a sparkling wine called asti spumanti," I said. "Champagne, technically, only comes from the Champagne region of France. In France, it's against the law to call sparkling wine champagne if the grapes weren't grown in the Champagne region and if the wine wasn't made there. The asti is sweeter and goes better with dessert. At least Rick and I think it does. Asti is Italian, not French."
It was noon, and Rick came into the dining room.
"I need some help getting the food," he said. "Kyle, we need you and your car. Jus, we need you to drive Kevin's car, and I'll take my car."
"Why don't we just take my truck. We can get it all in the back of that," Jus said.
"It would be all over the back of it, man," Rick said. "Let's just do it my way, okay?"
"Yes, sir, boss," Justin said. Rick grinned at him.
If Kyle was Rick's son, Justin was Rick's second son. I think the bottom line with Jus and Rick was that Justin knew Rick could and would physically kick his ass if it came to it, and Justin respected that. He respected me, too, of course, and Jus and I were pretty close in lots of ways, but Rick, Kyle, and Justin were the rough and tumble types. Tim, Brian, and I were gentler, more intellectual, perhaps, less inclined to try to really drown someone in a pool fight than they were. We balanced well, I thought.
"Come on. Let's go," Rick said. "Babe, can you make drinks? There are a couple of trays of hors d'ouevres in the kitchen to put out."
I went into the den where everyone was seated.
"There you are. What have you been doing? Where are the boys," Mom asked when I went into the den.
"We've been setting the table, and I've been giving etiquette lessons," I said.
"Oh, I can't wait to see it," Cherie said.
"I think it's pretty nice," I said.
"They are so lucky, Kevin," Cherie said.
"I know. I wish you had called me in to help," Jeff said. "I'm sure I won't know which fork to use for what."
"Jeff, just do what the rest of us do. Cardinal principle: the hostess sets the rules at the table. If she screws up, everybody screws up, following her lead," I said. "Isn't that right, Mom?"
"That's absolutely right, Kevin. I've eaten soup with a teaspoon more than once because the hostess didn't know her ass from third base," my mom said.
"And, see, Jeff, you don't ever have to say something like, 'I don't know what to use,'" Cherie told him. "If everybody screws up, there's no screw up. See?"
"She's exactly right, Jeff," Mom said. "Basically, what difference does it make which spoon you use, as long as you get it in your mouth?"
"Using the wrong spoon in Boston can make a huge difference in your social life henceforth," George said. "And, Kevin, thank you for teaching them. I've been remiss in that, and I shouldn't have been."
"George, I think that under the circumstances even your mother would understand," Mom said.
George and my dad laughed.
"I'm here to take drink orders. I'm offering Bloody Marys, Mimosas, and standard bar fare, including white wine," I said.
They all wanted a Bloody Mary, and that was great.
"Jeff, can you give me a hand, please," I asked.
"Sure," Jeff said.
Once we were in the kitchen, I said, "How are you doing, Jeff? I haven't had much chance to talk to you, man."
"I'm hanging day to day, Kevin. I miss him so bad. He was my Rick, you know?"
That statement hit me like a Mack truck. All of a sudden I knew what Jeff had been going through, and my heart almost leaped out of my chest to go to him. If I lost Rick, I would lose myself. He and Clay were younger than we were by a few years, and they hadn't been together as long as Rick and I had, but I knew age and time didn't necessarily equate in emotional attachment.
"I don't know what to say, Jeff."
"You don't have to say anything in words, Kev. You and Rick have said volumes and volumes in what you've done for me already. I have a home now here with you. I feel completely welcome. I have a family again, thanks to you guys. I even have a little brother, Kyle, and a big sister, Cherie. You don't know how much that means to me."
Jeff grabbed me and hugged me. He was sobbing, and I started crying, too. We stood there holding each other for several minutes until we both settled down. Cherie came into the kitchen just then. She took one look at us, and she teared up, too.
"Go upstairs, Jeff, and settle down. I'll take over here," she said.
"Thank you," he said, and he kissed her on the cheek as he left.
"My God! What an unbelievable group of people this is," she said.
"What do you mean? I think it's a good group. We love one another," I said.
"You don't get it, do you?"
"Get what? We're just a bunch of queers huddled up because we need one another," I said.
"Yeah, and the twelve apostles were just a bunch of fishermen huddled up because they needed bait," she said.
"Cherie, I know what you're saying is a compliment, but I really don't understand it."
"Kevin, what you and Rick are creating here, have created here, is unbelievable. You've taken broken people and made them whole. Justin, Brian, Jeff, George, Tim, Kyle. You've given them a safe place. A place where they can forget all the shit they've been through. A place where they can be themselves, where they can learn, where they can love."
"Well, we sort of had to do that, you know?"
"No, you didn't. You didn't have to do any of that. But you did."
"Let's make the drinks. You're embarrassing me," I said.
"We can make the drinks, but you can't ever be embarrassed for what y'all are doing. Do you hear me?"
"You're all right, you know that," I said.
"Thanks. So are you. Oh, by the way, Beth and I have worked it out so you guys can have an all-male party Saturday," she said.
"What are you talking about. We want you to meet our friends," I said.
"Oh, we will. The party starts at two, right?"
"Beth and I have to leave at 3:30 to get to Tallahassee for a play that night. We'll spend the night there, if we feel like it, or come home. Either way, we'll be gone so you guys can have a pool party naked."
"You don't have to do that. We can wear suits."
"We could even stay here and get naked with you, for that matter, but I know the boys would be embarrassed. We want to do this, Kevin. Don't object. It's part of your mission."
"How the hell did my brother ever get you," I asked.
"He got me because you and Rick were both queer and unavailable, that's how," she said. She kissed my nose.
"Let's make the drinks," I said.
Rick and the boys all tumbled in in about thirty minutes with the dinner, or at least most of it. Rick came out to the den for a few minutes to exchange pleasantries, but he went back into the kitchen in just a few minutes. Craig got up and came back with cokes for the boys. Justin, Kyle, and Tim grinned at one another after they had tasted their drinks, so I knew what Craig had done. Brian drank his like it was a regular Coke.
"To each in his turn," Craig said. I knew that meant that Brian didn't get any booze and Tim got just a taste. I was sure the two big boys had gotten an adult serving.
My mother and Cherie had a fit when they walked into the dining room. George, Dad, and Craig were less enthusiastic, but they, too, said how nice it was. The first course was already on the service plates, and the white wine was poured. I asked my dad if he would say the blessing. This is what he said.
"Heavenly Father, you blessed me with two fine, strong sons. One of them has given me a daughter, Cherie, and the other one has given me another son, Rick. You have blessed my table with grandsons: Justin, Brian, Tim, Kyle, and Jeff. On this Thanksgiving Day, I am truly blessed. Bless us, my wife, our friend George, our children and grandchildren, oh, Lord, and these your gifts which we are about to receive from your bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen."
There was dead silence after that blessing. I looked at Rick, and there was a happy tear creeping down his face. My mom wasn't nearly that discreet. She had tears running down both cheeks, and they were spoiling her makeup. Cherie was no better off. George was in open tears, too, and Craig actually dabbed at his eyes a little with his napkin. The kids were fine.
Kyle had his trusty digital camera on hand, and he took pictures of the table and of everyone around it before we started eating. Tim made him sit down and took the camera away from him so he could be in some of the pictures, too.
"Does the camera work well," George asked.
"Oh, yes, sir. I love it," Kyle said.
Rick broke the ice. "The first course is called, simply, pickled shrimp, and the wine is...."
The meal moved on from there, and it was an overwhelming success. The boys handled their silverware and glasses like pros. They took turns helping clear the table between courses and serving everyone. I showed Kyle how to pour the wine without making a mess, and he did a good job. I thought he was going to overflow the first champagne flute, so I showed him how to do that, as well.
After dinner, Justin and Brian drifted off upstairs. Tim and Kyle got comfortable on the floor to watch TV, and they promptly went to sleep. Rick and I, along with Craig, Cherie, and Jeff, cleaned up the dishes and the kitchen.
"It was wonderful, guys," Craig said. "You and Rick are really incredible, Kevin," he said. He went on to say many of the same things Cherie had said to me earlier.
"It's cause we're queer, Craig," Rick said.
"I know where you're coming from with that word, Rick, but that word to me means something completely different from what you guys are. That word to me means strange, unusual, peculiar, bizarre. You guys are totally normal. Better than normal, even. Exemplary, even."
"Thanks, brother, but you might just be a little bit biased, you know," Rick said.
"Yeah, I am. Biased in favor of love."
"I think he's drunk," Rick said, and everybody laughed.