***Please Note:  This story contains scenes depicting sexual acts between men and boys.  It also contains scenes depicting incestual sex.   If you are under the age of 18, or if it is illegal for you to read such material in your state, please do not read further.  If you are offended by this type of material, again, please do not read further.

This story is completely a work of fiction.  The characters and situations in the story exist solely in the author's imagination.  If you have questions, comments or suggestions regarding this story, please email me.   Flames ignored.

For a list of my other stories, and info about me, go to my Website.

Christopher's Story

Copyright 2002-03 Eric Draven.

All Rights Reserved.


Chapter 29

   When we got back to the house, Evan had already let everyone in, so they were waiting for me when I walked in.  Jim hugged me and told me how proud of me he was.  Ted patted me on the back, and Khayman hugged me.  Tommy, Sheldon and James gave me a chorus of "congratulations."  Everyone was excited.

    Since it was warm, my dad moved us all out to the back yard.  He and Clint brought out sodas for everyone, and we all sat around the pool talking.  I was so happy that all of the paintings had sold.   I told them all that Cory wanted to do another show, and they all wanted to know what I was going to paint next.

    After a while, Jim announced that it was time for him, Ted and Khayman to head off to the hotel.  Ted and Khayman both wanted to stay at my house, but Jim, after talking to me, told them that the house was going to be full, and they could see me in the morning.  Ted told me, privately, that he understood, and after another hug from Jim, they were on their way.

    Sheldon left next.   He said he'd had permission to go to the show and come here after, but he wasn't pushing his luck.   James and I chuckled at that.  He promised to call us in the morning, and then he was gone.  That left Tommy, Puck and James.  It had already been arranged that Tommy and Puck were spending the night, so the four of us went inside to watch movies and just hang out.  Dad and Clint hung out with us for a while, but they excused themselves after a while and went to Dad's study.

    James and I settled into one corner of the couch with Tommy and Puck at the other end.  We had a movie in the DVD player, but none of us were paying any attention to it.  We couldn't stop talking about the show.  All three of them seemed to forget how tired they were when I told them that I was being paid over fifty thousand dollars for tonight.  They all kept talking about what they would do with that kind of money.

    Around three in the morning, I decided that I'd had enough.  They guys helped me set up the roll away bed in my studio for Tommy and Puck, and then all of us headed to bed.  I was too tired for sex, and James said that he didn't want to do anything with the others in the room anyway, so we all settled down and went to sleep.

    The next morning, Jim brought Ted and Khayman back with him.  Khayman didn't try to talk to Puck.   It was obvious to everyone that Puck and Tommy really liked each other.   Khayman seemed to accept that, and he left it alone.  I was glad.  They stayed with us while Jim went to the gallery to get his paintings.  I hadn't realized that he'd bought more than one until he told me that he'd purchased three.  He'd bought "Sorrow", "Stigmata" and "Self Portrait."  He said he was going to hang them in his living room.

    So for the next two hours, we all decided to just sit around and wait for the adults to return.  Evan and Kendal had already left for work, so it was just us.  James talked to Ted for most of that time, and Puck actually talked to Khayman.  He took him off to the kitchen to have a little talk, and I saw Tommy watch them go into the other room.

    "Don't worry, Tommy," I said.  "He's nuts about you."

    "Yeah," said Tommy, smiling.  "We decided to go out last night."

    "Cool," I said.   "Just be careful with him, Tommy. Don't hurt him."

    "I wouldn't," he said.   "I really like him."

    "I know," I replied.

    Once Jim and my dad got back, it was time to say goodbye, and I hated to see them go.  After they were gone, Tommy and Puck headed off to Puck's house, and James and I went back to sleep.

    Cory, Dad and I talked a few days later about another show.  I decided to paint ten more pieces for the show, and Clint was going to add some of his sculptures, so Cory was thrilled.  I set about sketching my friends the very next day.  I had an idea in my mind about what I wanted to paint, and I decided to do a series based on my friends.

    Things went pretty smoothly for the next few weeks.  James and I continued to get closer, and Tommy and Puck really seemed to be developing a great relationship.  Sheldon continued to hang out with us, but he'd started dating a girl that none of us knew, and he wasn't around as much.  I had several chances to sketch him, anyway.

    My dad finally called Khayman's dad to talk about when Khayman could come to visit.  It was decided that he would come for a week.  It was set for two weeks before school was to start, and Puck told me that he and Khayman had come to an understanding.  They would agree to be social, but nothing more.  He said that he would never be Khayman's friend again, and I respected that.

    James and I continued our work out session three times a week, and he lost what little weight he'd gained.  I even gained a lot of muscle mass rather quickly, and soon, almost all of my clothes were too tight.  Dad suggested that I use some of my money to buy new clothes, and James and I set out to go shopping.

    I bought several pairs of jeans and shorts, and almost a truck load of shirts.  I'd had to call Evan to come to the mall and get us, and he laughed at me when he saw how much I'd bought.   He said that my money had definitely gone to my head on this shopping trip.   Dad just smiled when we got home with all of my bags.

    The first week in July, my dad got cable connected in my studio, and I connected my lap top.  I was happy to have the net again, and I had been talking to Cory about setting up a website with some of my work on it.  He'd said that it could boost the sales of my paintings, and I really liked the idea of having my own website.

    Clint went in with me, and the site featured a lot of my sketches and paintings as well as a bunch of Clint's sculptures.   He helped me set up an online shopping cart that allowed people to order prints or full paintings from me.  It also worked for people to buy his sculptures.  When Cory heard about the sales we were getting, he joked that I soon wouldn't need to do shows in his gallery anymore.

    The weekend before the fourth of July, I held my second show.  Cory told me in advance that he wasn't going to be selling any of the paintings at this show.  He wanted to let his regular customers get a crack at buying some of my work, and they wouldn't have a chance if I sold out during the show.

    My dad liked the idea, and Clint explained that some of his regular customers had paid huge amounts of money for his sculptures, so I didn't mind.  James, Sheldon, Tommy and Puck were there for my second show, and it was just as successful as the first.  It was the first time that they'd seen my new work, and they were all embarrassed by some of the paintings.

    I'd done two themes this time.   One was a series of four dark paintings of angels.  Cory told me that he liked the work, but they really weren't his style.  He accused Clint of rubbing off on me, but I assured them both that I was merely trying to broaden my talent.   They both told me that I'd succeeded.

    The second was a series of very bright and colorful paintings of people that resembled my friends at play.   Some of them were a bit daring, but no one seemed to comment on the homoeroticism in the paintings.  People loved them, and I was thrilled.  I had paid to have 8x10 and 5x7 prints made of each painting, and they were all featured on my site.  I wouldn't be able to sell the paintings themselves, but I could sell framed prints of them.    They sold like crazy.  I'd had to have reprints done several times.   People didn't seem to mind that I sold the 8x10's for three hundred and the 5X7's for one hundred, fifty dollars.  They just kept ordering them.

    We had a big party for the fourth, and Evan invited a friend that I hadn't met before.  Kendal had two of her friends there, and my dad and Clint had even invited a few of their friends.   It went very well, but I stuck with my friends most of the time anyway.  Puck was becoming a very big hit in the group, and I was happy for that.

    Sheldon brought his girlfriend to the party, and we all got a chance to meet her.  She was cute, and I remembered her from our English class.  She'd sat behind me.  Her name was Lisa, and she had long curly blond hair and bright green eyes.  She really seemed to like Sheldon, and she took the news that James and I were a couple very well.  I just hoped that the rest of our class mates would be as open minded when school started.

    "Lisa seems nice," said James after everyone had gone home.  We were helping Evan and Kendal clean up the mess.

    "Yeah," I agreed.  I was still thinking about the painting that I was working on.

    "She didn't seem to upset to hear that you and I are gay," he said.  "She even congratulated me when Sheldon told her that we are together."

    "Yeah, she congratulated me, too," I said, smiling at him.

    He kept looking at me with a half smile on his face for what seemed forever.  I kept putting cups and cans in the trash bag I was carrying, but he just stood there and gawked at me.   Soon, his half smile turned into a goofy grin and then changed to a serious expression.  I knew that something was on his mind.  I just had to be patient and let him talk when he had figured out how to say what he wanted.

    "I want you to make love to me tonight, Chris," he said quietly.

    I stopped dead in my tracks and turned to really look at him.  Neither of us had brought up anal sex since we'd decided to be a couple.  I'd just thought that after everything that had happened with his dad and Josh, he wouldn't want anything to do with it.  Sure, we'd fucked before, but I still wasn't sure what to think about that.

    "Are you sure?" I asked.

    "Absolutely," he said.   "I love you."

    "You don't have to do this to prove that you love me, James," I said.

    "I know that," he said.   "I want this."

    We didn't get a chance to finish that conversation, because Evan came over.  He helped us clean up the rest of the mess, and then we all went inside to watch a movie.  James kept looking at me off and on throughout the movie, and I kept worrying about his feelings.   It had been very hard for me to even suck his dick the first time, and I wasn't completely sure that he was ready for the step he was asking us to take.  I just hoped that he knew what he was doing.

    I found myself in a constant state of arousal just thinking about it.  I hadn't fucked anyone since the last time Evan and I'd had sex.  I really liked it, and it was something that I'd thought about doing with James several times, but I never talked to him about it because of what had happened.

    When we finally got downstairs, I think we were both nervous.  We took our time getting ready for bed, and I actually took all of the sheets and blankets off of my bed and remade it.   James sat in front of my easel watching me and saying nothing.  Finally, he got up and went to his bag.   He rummaged around in it for a few minutes and then pulled out a tube of lubricant and a condom.  We hadn't used a condom the last time, and I wondered why he wanted to use one this time, but I didn't say anything.

    "I want to make sure that this is what you want, James," I said when he came over and sat beside me on the bed.   He was holding the condom and lube in his hand.

    "This is what I really want, Chris," he said.

    "James, I don't want you to do this if you're not ready," I said quickly.  "I know that you're still dealing with . . ."

    "That was different than this," he said, cutting me off.  "They did it to use me, Chris. I know that you love me."

    He sounded sure of himself, and he didn't appear to be the least bit upset.  He finally just kissed me, and I found myself returning the kiss.  It started out like every other kiss we shared, but soon it turned into an urgent, needful show of affection.  His arms went around my neck, and I wrapped my own around him, pulling him closer to me.  He laid the condom and lube on the bed as he moved closer to me.

    I pushed him back until he was lying flat on the bed.  Then I kissed him again, but I kept pulling away from him every time he tried to put his tongue in my mouth.  I smiled at his exasperated look and started to kiss his neck.  We were only dressed in boxers, so I had full access to his neck and chest, and I took advantage of this, licking and nibbling on his nipples.   He moaned and put his hand on the back of my head, so I knew that he was relaxing and getting into it.

    I moved down his torso, leaving kisses along the way.  I paid extra attention to the newly form ridges in his stomach, and I attacked his navel.  He giggled a little as I swirled my tongue in his belly button.  Then I started to tug on his boxers, and he lifted his hips to allow me to pull them down his thighs.

    I immediately went to his nuts and started to lick and suck them one at a time.  He tried to spread his legs to allow me greater access, but his boxers were still around his thighs.  I remedied that by pulling them all the way down, disengaging myself from his nuts to pull them off his feet.   Then I kissed my way back up his thighs to his nuts again and resumed the treatment I had been giving them.

    He spread his legs and handed me the lube.  I wasn't ready for the lube yet, though.  I wanted to do to him what Evan had done to me so many times.  I'd loved it, and I was sure that James would love it, too.  He was already moaning from what I was doing to his nuts.   I lifted his legs a little to give me better access to his ass, and then I liked my way down the area between his nuts and his hole until I got to what I was looking for.

    He drew in a sharp breath when I let my tongue drag across his asshole, and his legs lifted a bit higher at the same time.   I ran my tongue around the outside of his hole for a few minutes, teasing him.   Then I went right for his hole, making him jerk and moan.  I pushed my tongue inside and started working saliva in and out of his hole.   I felt him loosen up under the manipulations of my tongue, and after a few minutes of tongue fucking his ass, I moved back to his balls.  I used that time to open the lube and get my index finger nice and slick.

    I licked up the underside of his dick while I traced my lube soaked finger around his hole for a few minutes.  He moaned louder when I finally put my mouth around his dickhead and started to push my finger into his asshole.  I slid my finger into him while I slowly let his dick slide further and further into my mouth.  As I pulled back on his dick, I slid my finger slowly out of his ass again, and I kept this up until his hole stopped sucking at my finger.

    I took my mouth off of his dick and my finger out of his ass at the same time, causing him to groan in displeasure.  But soon enough, I had two fingers lubed and I returned to my previous ministrations.  He grunted a little as the second finger joined the first in his ass, but he moaned happily again as I started to suck his dick again a few seconds later.   I found the little knot inside of him with my fingers as I felt the head of his dick slide into my throat, and he gasped and moaned, letting me know that I'd found what I was looking for.

    For the next few minutes, I worked that knot and sucked his dick slowly.  He kept moaning until there were no pauses between his moans, and he let out a long low sound.  I knew that he was ready then, even before he raised his head to look at me.

    "If you don't stop that, I'll cum," he said.  There was a desperate look in his eyes, and I knew that I had him teetering on the brink of orgasm, and he desperately wanted to reach that goal.   At the same time, he wanted to last, so I took my fingers out of his ass and my mouth off of his dick together.

    He handed me the condom, and we locked eyes again.  I wanted to check for any sign of fear, but I didn't see any, so I rolled the latex sheath down my dick and applied a generous amount of lube to the head and shaft.  He pulled his legs up higher, bring his asshole up higher, and I placed the lubed head of my dick against his asshole.  After lubing his dick, being very light with my hands, I started to apply pressure, and he gasped when the head of my dick popped into his asshole.  His body tightened up, and he stopped moaning.  I looked up at him, and he was watching me carefully.  I just kept still and let him get used to the head of my dick.  Evan had told me that the head was the hard part, and you had to get used to that before going on, so I gave him a few minutes.

    When I felt his body relax, and the care filled expression left his face, I slowly added pressure until, inch by slowly sinking inch, my dick slid into him.  I stopped when I felt my balls touch his ass.   I leaned forward and put my lips against his, and he opened them slightly.  I slid my tongue into his mouth and kissed him very slowly as I let him get used to my full dick in his ass.

    "Its all the way in," I said when I pulled away from his lips.  "I'll let you get used to it."

    "Just fuck me," he breathed.  "But go slow."

    That was all I needed to hear.   I pulled my dick out of him until only the head was still inside his asshole.   Then I started slowly sinking myself back into him until I felt that knot inside him glide over the top of my dick.  He sucked in air through clenched teeth as I found that knot, and I knew that I'd hit it right.  I leaned forward until his dick was trapped between us, and I started slowly pushing in and out of him, hitting that knot every time.  His dick was sliding around between us, and he started to moan again, letting his head fall back against the pillow.

    After a few minutes of riding his prostate, I let up on it and pushed all the way into him before sliding back out again.   I fucked him like that for a few minutes as my balls tightened in their sack, and I felt the familiar tingle of my impending orgasm.  I started to fuck him faster as his ass clamped down around my dick, and his body jerked.  His ass clenched my dick with each wave of his orgasm, and I lost my own battle shortly after he started to cum.  I shot into the condom inside his ass, and gasped as my orgasm gripped me.

    Spent, I turned us until we were spooned against each other on our sides with my dick still inside of him.   It softened after a few minutes and slid out of his ass.  He turned over and pulled the condom off of my dick, throwing it into the waste can beside the bed.  I pulled him close and kissed him slowly.

    "Are you ok?" I asked after pulling back.

    "I'm fine," he said, kissing me again.  "I love you so much, Chris."

    "I love you, too, James," I said.

    We lay there in each others arms for a while, kissing every now and then.  I kept running my index finger through the cum on his stomach, and he stated to lightly kiss my cheek and neck.  He pulled me closer, and I felt his cum gluing us together as we kissed long and soft.   When we broke that kiss, I turned over and grabbed my shirt off the floor to clean us both up a little bit before he settle into my arms and we went to sleep.

    The next morning, we worked out for two hours.  It was an intense workout, and I thought he'd be tired, but he stripped naked and walked over to the bed.  We fucked again, and it was almost exactly like it had been the night before.  After we showered together, washing each other all over, we went upstairs to breakfast.

    For the next few weeks, that became our routine.  He would spend the night on the nights before our usual morning workouts, and we would fuck before going to sleep only to get up, work out, fuck again and shower.  Soon, though, he wanted to fuck me.  I wasn't comfortable with that, so we had a long discussion about it.

    We were sitting in my studio talking about it, and I was trying to make him understand that I just wasn't comfortable with being fucked.  It wasn't that I didn't trust him, I just didn't want to do it.

    "I don't understand why its ok for you to fuck me, but I can't fuck you," he said.  He was getting angry, and I couldn't figure out how to calm him down.

    "James, I don't want to be fucked," I said.  "It has nothing to do with you. Its about me. I freak out for a few minutes every time you just touch my ass. How do you think I would handle you trying to put your dick in it?"

    "But why, Chris?" he asked.  "You know I love you, and I wouldn't do anything to hurt you."

    "James, it doesn't have anything to do with whether or not I know you love me," I said.   "I don't want to be fucked. Ever."

    That ended the conversation for me, but James brought it up several times later.  I never changed my mind, though.   My ass was off limits to anyone, and that included him.  I thought it was going to be a problem, but things continued the way they were between us.   He still spent the night three times a week, we fucked each night and again the next morning after our workouts.  He asked questions about why I didn't want to get fucked from time to time, but he never really kept it going.

    Evan seemed to notice that there was a little tension between us, though.  He talked to James a few times, but that only pissed James off.  He thought that I was asking Evan to talk to him when I didn't even know that Evan knew what was going on.  I was getting really confused, but things still didn't change between us sexually.

    When Khayman came to visit for a week, James suddenly stopped asking questions, and he didn't say anything about Evan talking to him anymore.  James actually became more affectionate with me, and I suspected that he was jealous of the time I was spending with Khayman.  I asked him about it, but he told me that he knew that I wouldn't do anything with Khayman.

    We were all together at the park the day after Khayman got there.   We'd watched one of the ball games and were trying to decide what we were going to do for the rest of the day when Todd and Donnie showed up.  I knew when I saw them that there was going to be trouble.   I just hoped that I could keep my anger in check this time.

    "Well lookie here," said Todd as they walked closer to us.  "A whole pack of queers. The only one missing is Alex."

    Donnie laughed at that, and I saw James ball up his fists.  I hoped that he wouldn't blow up, but I was pretty pissed off already myself.  I glared at Todd, and he looked away.  I noticed that we had all kind of moved closer to each other, and I was glad that all of my friends were there.  I hoped that they would step in if James or I started fighting and end it before it got too bad.

    "Look," said Donnie, pointing at Khayman and then at Puck.  "New queers on the block."

    "Looks like Tommy's got a boyfriend," said Todd, and they both started laughing again.

    Before I knew what was happening, Tommy was off the picnic table and on his feet.  Donnie said something I didn't hear, and then Tommy launched himself at him.  The two were on the ground, and Tommy was punching Donnie in the face over and over again.  It all happened so fast that none of us had a chance to react to what we were seeing.  Even Todd backed away from them.

    Then there was a police officer pulling them apart while the rest of us just stood there looking stupid and watching.   He asked us all a bunch of questions, and we made it clear that Todd and Donnie had come over to us and started calling us names.  Donnie told him that Tommy had just started punching him, but Puck spoke up, saying that Donnie had been calling him names.

    In the end, Tommy and Donnie were both arrested, and my dad came to pick the rest of us up.  He dropped everyone off at their houses and took me and Khayman back to our house.  He didn't ask us any questions for a while, he just drove.  I was still in shock over what had happened, so I wasn't in the best shape to answer any questions anyway.

    When we got back to the house, Dad asked us what happened, and Khayman filled him in on the scene at the park.   Dad said he would call Tommy's mom later to find out what had happened, and Khayman and I went down to my studio room.  I still couldn't believe that Tommy had been arrested.  I couldn't believe that he'd hit Donnie to begin with.  Tommy had always been the type to walk away rather than fight.  I guess he just didn't like him talking about Puck.

    "That was intense," said Khayman once we were in my room.  "Tommy really pounded that guy."

    "Yeah," I replied lamely.   "Those two have been starting trouble with all of us for a while now."

    "How did they know that you were all gay?" asked Khayman, and I explained about Todd's mom working as the court reporter in family court and about her telling Todd everything that went on and him telling everyone at school.

    "He just started calling us all fags after that, and here we are," I said.

    "Sounds like he's the one who needed his ass beat," laughed Khayman.  "I hope Tommy's not in too much trouble."

    "Yeah," I said, picking up the phone to call Puck.

    I talked to Puck for a while about what had happened.  He didn't know anything more yet about what was happening at the police department.  He told me that Tommy's mom was on her way down there now, and I wondered if he was going to be sent to a youth home or not.  I surely hoped not.

    For the rest of the afternoon, Khayman and I sat around worried about what was happening.  My dad told me that he would call Tommy's mom later that evening if she didn't call us.  He seemed almost as worried about it as we were.  I told him everything that had happened.   He listened and told me that he didn't think that Tommy should have been arrested.

    Tommy's mom called my dad around four to let my dad know that he was home, and that he had to go to court on Monday, the day that Khayman was supposed to leave.  She assured him that they didn't need any of us to be there, and she said that she was going to do her best to put a stop to what Todd and Donnie had been doing.  She said that she was tried of standing by and watching while we all got into trouble over things that were started by those two.

    James called a little bit later and asked if I was in trouble.  I couldn't figure out what he thought I'd be in trouble for.  After all, I hadn't hit Donnie, and I'd stayed quiet throughout all of it.  I asked if he was in trouble, and he said that Alice didn't know anything about what had happened.  I was glad for that,because the last thing that he needed was a trip to talk to the social worker.   He'd been doing good, and the last time that they'd had a visit, the social worker had told him that there was no need for a future visit unless something went wrong.

    For the rest of the evening, Khayman and I sat in the living room watching television.  My dad came out of his study to watch the news with us.  He told me that he wasn't upset about what had happened in the park, and he hoped that Tommy's mom and dad didn't come down on him too hard over it all.  When I told him that I thought they should know all of the history behind the fight, Dad said he would call them after the news was over and have a talk with them about it.

    I went to bed shortly after the ten o'clock news, leaving Khayman upstairs with my dad.  He had been sleeping on the couch, so it wasn't a big deal.  I laid there in my bed staring at the ceiling.   I couldn't stop thinking about the fight.  I hoped that things wouldn't be like that when school started.  I wasn't looking forward to getting into a bunch of trouble over Todd and Donnie.

    The next morning, I took some of my new paintings over to the gallery.  Cory was excited about all three of the paintings that I'd brought and asked me about the website.  We talked about that for a while, and he told me that he was working on selling two of my paintings to a guy that usually bought nothing.

    "He's been showing a lot of interest in your work lately," he said, sipping his coffee.   "He's asked a lot of questions about you, and all I've told him is that you are a young artist."

    "Thanks," I replied.   "I'm not so sure that I want a lot of people knowing much about me."

    "Well, most of the people who come in here know who you are," he said.  "A lot of them were at both shows."

    "Yeah, but not everyone who comes in here knows me," I replied.

    "I hired a new guy who says that he knows you very well," said Cory, setting his coffee cup on the desk.   "Name's Cole."

    "Really?" I said.

    "Yeah, he says that he and your brother used to be really good friends," he said, eyeing me.

    "Used to be," I agreed, thinking about the hurt look in Evan's eyes when he'd told me about him and Cole not talking to each other anymore.

    "Well, you'll probably run into him sooner or later," he said.  "He's off getting my supplies at the moment."

    "Right," I said, looking at the clock.  It was almost nine, and I was supposed to meet James at the park at ten.  It was quite a walk from the gallery, so I said goodbye to Cory and headed out.

    When I got to the park, James wasn't there yet.  Checking my watch, I saw that it was almost ten.   I was sure he'd be around any time, so I walked over to the ball diamond to wait for him.  It was a really hot morning, and I thought about asking James to go swimming with me later.  I knew that Khayman would jump at the chance to be in the pool.  He'd told us that he was going out for the swim team when school started.

    "Hey sexy," said James, coming up behind me and startling me.

    "You scared me," I said, looking around to see if anyone was close to us.

    "Sorry," he said, climbing up the back of the bleachers to sit beside me.  "Called you a little bit ago, your dad said you were at the gallery."

    "Yeah, I took over a few more paintings," I replied.  I wondered if I should tell James about Cole working there or not.  The two of them didn't get along anymore.

    "Cole said that he's going to start working there pretty soon," said James.

    "When did you talk to Cole?" I asked, turning to face him.

    "He called the other day," he said.  "Asked if I wanted to go to a movie or something."

    "He did?" I asked, shocked.

    "Yeah, he said that we needed to spend a little time together and try to get over what's between us," he said, looking away from me.

    "And you don't want to do that," I said slowly.

    "Not really," he said.   "Cole's an asshole. I don't want anything to do with him."

    That was all I needed to hear.   I knew when to leave something alone.  We sat there for a little while not talking at all.  James seemed to have something on his mind.  I assumed he was thinking about Cole, so I didn't ask.  When we finally decided to leave the park, James didn't want to go to my house.  He said he wanted to spend time alone with me.

    "What about Khayman?" I asked.  "He came to visit me, James. I can't just ditch him for the day."

    "Right," he sighed.   "Well, you go on home then, and I'll call you later."

    "What's wrong, James?" I asked.  He wouldn't look me in the eye, and he kept kicking the dirt with his foot.

    "Nothing is wrong, Chris," he said.  "I just have a lot on my mind right now. I wanted to spend a little alone time with you, but you have to spend some time with Khayman. I don't really want to spend time with him."

    "I thought you guys were getting along good," I said slowly.

    "We are, I guess," he said, turning away from me again.  "I just don't want to be around other people right now."

    "Ok," I said.   "I'll talk to you later then."

    "I love you, Chris," he said before turning and walking away from me, not even waiting to see if I would say it back to him or not.

    When I got home, Khayman was sitting on the couch.  He was watching something on television about the war, but I knew that he wasn't really paying attention to it.  He could care less about the news.  I walked in and sat beside him, and I swear he jumped.  I looked at him and noticed that he was biting his thumbnail.

    "What's up?" I asked him.

    "Nothing," he said simply and went back to biting his thumbnail.

    I left him alone and went downstairs.  I tried to paint, but I couldn't stop wondering why James was acting so strange.  The thing with Cole must have really been working on him.   But why would he not want to come over here? I wondered.  He came over every day.   Something was wrong, and I didn't know what to do to find out how to fix it.

    And Khayman was acting funny, too.   I wondered if he and James had gotten into an argument or something.  James had said that they were getting along fine, but he didn't want to hang out with him today, and Khayman didn't seem to even want to talk to me.  Some visit this was turning out to be.

    For the rest of the day, Khayman stayed upstairs.  James called a little later and asked me what I was doing.  He sounded as if nothing was wrong, so I didn't ask him any questions.   He told me he'd come over in the morning, but I reminded him that I had to go to the gallery in the morning to talk to Cory a little more about the website.  He said he'd meet me in the park after I left the gallery.  I told him I'd call him, and that was the end of our conversation.

    Tommy called not long after James did.  I asked him if he was coming over, but he said that he was spending the day with Puck.  He said that Puck still didn't want much of anything to do with Khayman, so he didn't think the two of them would be coming over until after Khayman went home.

    I hated this.   My boyfriend was having some sort of problem with Khayman, my best friends didn't even want to come over while he was still here, and Khayman wasn't talking either.  I was about to go upstairs and make him talk to me when he came downstairs with Sheldon on his heels.

    "Hey, Chris," said Sheldon, smiling.

    "Hey," I said, turning from my still blank canvas.

    "Where's James?" he asked, looking around the room.

    "He said he had a lot on his mind today," I said.  "He's at home."

    "Oh," he said.

    "What's up?" I asked him, eyeing Khayman.

    "Not a whole lot," he said.  "Lisa went with her mom for the day, so I thought I'd come and see what you guys were up to."

    "Well, I've been trying to paint," I said, looking back at the blank canvas.  "But as you can see, I'm not doing a very good job."

    "Want to swim?" asked Khayman.  "Its really hot outside."

    We changed into trunks and went out to the pool.  For the better part of the afternoon, we horsed around in the pool.   My dad called us inside to eat supper, and then we went back to the pool.   This time, we just sat around the edge of the pool with our legs dangling in the water.  Sheldon told us all about Lisa, and he said that she was really cool with us being gay.

    "She said that it was sad, but she didn't care," he chuckled.

    "Sad?" I asked.

    "Yeah," he said, smiling.   "She said you and James are both lookers, and its sad that you are both gay."

    "That was nice of her," I said, feeling my face heat up.

    Just then, Evan came outside.   He must have just got home from work, because he was still dressed in his uniform.   He stripped down to his shorts and dove into the pool, making us laugh.  When he came up for air, he grabbed my legs and pulled me into the pool.   We horsed around, dunking each other for a few minutes, and then we both climbed up the sides and sat on the edge.

    "Where's James?" he asked when he caught his breath.

    "He said he had a lot on his mind," I replied.

    "Yeah," he said.   "I talked to Cole today."

    "You did?" I asked, shocked.

    "Yeah, he came by the store today," he said.  "He wants to get together and hang out some time."

    "You going to hang out with him?" I asked.

    "I don't know yet," he said.  "I'm still kind of pissed at him."

    "Yeah," I said, and we both fell silent.

    Things went on like that for the rest of Khayman's visit.  James met me in the park every morning after I left the gallery.  Sheldon came over for a while every day, but James didn't come to the house.  Khayman perked up a little bit, but every time I mentioned James, he got quiet again.  I knew that something had happened, but I decided not to push the issue.  James would tell me about it after Khayman left.  I was sure of that.

    The night before Khayman had to leave, Cory called the house.  Clint talked to him for a little while, and then he told me that Cory wanted to talk to me.  I took the phone in the kitchen and sat at the table.  Khayman was sitting across from me.  We'd been playing cards when Clint told me to get the phone.

    "Hey Cory," I said into the receiver as I dealt the next hand.

    "Chris, I want you to come by the gallery first thing in the morning," he said.  "I've sold some of your paintings."

    "That's great," I said, wondering why he wanted me to come to the gallery just because he'd sold some paintings.

    "I'll be here at eight," he said.  "Think you can meet me then?"

    "Sure," I said.   "Anything special about this time?"

    "I'll tell you all about it when you get here," he said.

    "What was that all about?" asked Khayman when I hung up the telephone.

    "Cory wants me to come to the gallery in the morning," I said.  "He said he sold some of my paintings."

    "Well, he's sold some before," he said.

    "I know," I replied.

    "My dad will be here around noon," he said.

    "I know," I replied.   "I'll be back way before noon, I'm sure."

    "Good," he said.   "I'm going to miss you when I get home."

    "I'll miss you, too," I said.  "Its been nice having you around."

    "Thanks," he said.   "Gary will be happy to see me, though."

    "I'll bet," I said.

    I wanted so badly to ask him what had happened between him and James.  We had been talking really good all evening, and that question was stuck in my mind.  I didn't want to ruin the evening, though, so I wasn't going to ask.

    "You love James a lot, don't you?" he asked, throwing me.

    "Yes," I said.   "When I first met him, I couldn't stand him. Then we got to be friends, kind of. Then, when I got back from Chicago, he helped me sort some things out, and we started spending a lot of time together. Now . . ."

    "I'm glad that you have someone," he said.

    "But?" I asked.

    "But what?" he replied.

    "Khayman, I know something isn't right between you two," I said.  "James has stopped coming over here, and you get all quiet when I mention his name. Did you guys argue or something?"

    "Lets just say that its best that James and I aren't around each other," he said.  "Can we leave it at that?"

    "Sure," I said, wanting to ask a million more questions.  I let it go, though.

    We stuck together for the rest of the evening.  We watched a movie with Evan, and then Dad ordered pizza, and we all sat in the kitchen to eat it.  Dad talked to Khayman about when his dad was coming and all of that.  Evan talked to me about Cole a little.  He said that they had gotten together a few nights ago, and Cole seemed to be his old self again.   I wanted to ask if that meant that they were having sex, but Dad was in the room.

    That night, I thought about why Cory wanted me to come to the gallery while I was in bed.  I stared at the ceiling and wondered about it for a long time.  I didn't even realize I had fallen asleep until Evan was shaking me to wake me up the next morning.  I squinted at him and tried to turn over and face the wall.

    "Oh no you don't," he said, laughing.  "I've got to be at work at eight, and Dad asked me to drive you to the gallery. Now get up and get dressed."

    He pulled my cover off of me as he said it.  I was gloriously naked under the blanket, and I sat straight up in bed, reaching for the cover.  He laughed and threw the blanket on the floor.

    "I'm up," I said.

    "In more ways than one," he said, laughing.

    "Shut up," I yawned.   "I'll be upstairs in a minute."

    When I got upstairs, Dad and Clint were at the table.  They both kept smiling at me, and I wondered what was up.   When I asked, they both pleaded innocence, but I knew that they were up to something.  They both kept asking questions about my paintings, and I wondered just what Cory had told Clint on the phone last night.

    When I got to the gallery, Cory was already there.  He was just unlocking the door when Evan dropped me off.  I walked over to him and he handed me his coffee.

    "Morning," he grunted as he shouldered the door open.  "Damn thing. I've been meaning to get this door fixed."

    He took the coffee, and I followed him into the gallery.  I instantly noticed that my "friend" paintings were missing from the wall that they'd been on every morning that I'd come to talk to Cory.   He saw me looking at the empty wall and laughed.

    "You sold all of them?" I asked in disbelief.

    "Sure did," he said, walking into his office and sitting behind his desk.  "To the same person."

    "Wow," I said as I sat in the chair in front of his desk.  "How much did I make?"

    "Well, you know I was asking $5000 for each one individually," he said.  "No price plates under any of your work anymore, though. I don't want them to know what I'm asking in case they offer more. This time it paid off."

    "How much?" I asked again.

    "Well, he wanted all six," he said.  "I was about to go into my 'that'll cost ya' talk when he made his offer."

    "Will you please tell me what he paid for them?" I demanded.  I couldn't stand it.

    "He paid five hundred, thousand dollars for the entire set," he said, grinning from ear to ear.

    "WHAT?" I gasped, jumping up from my seat.

    "You heard me," he said.   "Your dad will be here a little later. I have the check in the safe, and your dad is going to make sure that it gets deposited into your account."

    He talked to me about filling in the space on the wall, but I couldn't concentrate on what he was saying.   I couldn't stop thinking about the money.  I'd never seen that much money at one time in my entire life.  To think that I now had that much money was blowing my mind.  I couldn't think of anything else.

    I vaguely remember promising him that I would fill the empty space again before I was out of the gallery and walking slowly down the street.  I had to tell someone.  I couldn't think straight at the moment, though.  Then suddenly, James popped into my head.  I had to tell James.   I started walking to his house, stopping every now and then to start laughing like a crazy man.  People walking on the street must have thought I'd gone nuts.

    When I got to James's house, the front door was open.  Alice wasn't there, though.  She worked mornings, so I knew that James was still upstairs.  He was probably still sleeping.   Well, I thought, this was a perfect reason to pounce on him and wake him up.   I walked inside and headed for the stairs.  When I got to the top of the stairs, I heard something.   It sounded like a mouse running on a wheel in a cage.

    I wasn't sure what I was hearing as I walked up the stairs.  It sounded familiar, but I didn't know why at first.   I guess my mind wasn't working right.  I was till thinking about the paintings selling for so much money.  I couldn't wait to tell James about it.  I could barely keep quiet.   I wanted to start yelling.

    "Do you think Chris knows?" It was Khayman's voice.  I stopped where I was for a second and listened.  At first I thought they were planning something for me, but as they continued to talk, I knew I was wrong.

    "He doesn't suspect a thing," said James.

    "God, I love the way you fuck me," said Khayman, and I suddenly realized what that sound was.  It was the springs of James's bed.  They made that sound whenever I fucked James in his own bed.

    "Too bad you're leaving today," said James.  "Because I love fucking your ass."

    I had to see it with my own eyes.   I had to see my boyfriend and my so called friend fucking.  If I didn't see it with my own eyes, I wouldn't every really believe it.  I kept telling myself to get out of there, but I had to see.  I walked slowly to James's bedroom door.  I thanked God that the knob was still broken.  The door was open just far enough for me to peer inside the room.

    What I saw almost knocked me over.  Khayman was lying on his back on the bed.  A pillow was under his ass, and his legs were slung over my boyfriend's shoulders.  James was staring into Khayman's face while his dick was slamming in and out of his ass.  I was glued to that spot for a few minutes as a multitude of thoughts ran through my head.  I wanted to burst into the room and let them know that I'd caught them.  I wanted to go downstairs and wait for them to get done and then say, "Gee, guys, was it fun?"

    "I can't believe Chris won't let you fuck him," said Khayman.  "He doesn't know what he's missing."

    "Chris isn't a bottom," said James.

    "So, I'm a substitute?" asked   Khayman.

    "I love Chris," said James, making me feel like I would vomit.

    "Yeah," laughed Khayman.   "You love him so much that you have your dick in his friend's ass!"

    "Shut up," said James.   "You were the one who came on to me. Remember that. I was happy with the way things were until you came to town."

    "Awe, did I mess up your happy little relationship?" laughed Khayman.

    That did it.  The spell was broken, and I started to move.  However, I moved just as quietly away from the door and back down the stairs as I had when I crept to the door to see them.  I walked out of the house and down the street.  I didn't even know where I was going.  All I knew was that I was going.

    My phone started to wring about twenty minutes later.  I looked at the caller ID and saw that it was James's cell number.  I pushed send twice to answer and end the call.  I had to call the cell company and have his number blocked.  There was no way in Hell I'd ever talk to him again.   I couldn't believe he'd done this to me.  And it hadn't been once, either.   He'd said that I didn't suspect anything.  That lead me to believe that this wasn't the first time that they'd been together.

    James called back a few minutes later, and I just shut the phone off.  I walked around for over an hour.  When I looked around me, I noticed that I was in the park.  I sat on the bleachers and watch the young kids warming up for a morning ball game.  I couldn't keep track of what they were doing, though, and after a few minutes of watching them, I turned my phone back on and called Puck.  Thankfully, he answered the phone on the first ring.

    "Took you long enough to call back," he laughed.

    "Puck, its Chris," I said quickly.

    "Hey," he said.   "Sorry, I thought it was Tommy."

    "That's ok," I said.   "Can you pick me up? Do you have the car?"

    "Sure," he said.   "You alright? You sound funny."

    "I'm fine," I said, wiping the tears off my cheeks.  "I'm in Washington Park. By the ball diamond. Please come."

    "I will," he said.   "James called a few minutes ago. He's looking for you. Said he thinks you're having phone trouble."

    "Don't tell him where I am," I said quickly.  "Just come and get me, please. But don't tell anyone where I am. Not even my dad or Evan."

    "I'll be there in a few minutes, buddy," he said.

    We hung up, and then my phone started to wring again.  This time, it was my number calling me.  I mean it was the house.   I almost answered it, but then I thought that James may be there using the phone, or it might be Khayman.  I let my voicemail get the call.  When the phone beeped, I called voicemail.

    "Chris, its Khayman. Just wondering when you were coming home. My dad called, and he'll be here to get me in a couple hours. I wanted to say goodbye, and maybe plan the next trip. James is here waiting for you. See ya, hopefully soon!"

    I deleted the message and listened to the next one.

    "Hey baby. I tried to call you and something happened. Now I keep getting your voice mail. Oh well, I'll see you in a little while. I hope that everything went well at the gallery. Call me when you get this and let me know. I love you!"

    I deleted that one, too.   There were no more messages, so I shut my phone off again just as Puck came walking toward me.  He smiled at me, but I turned my head.  Now that I was faced with a friendly face, I was afraid that I'd start spilling my guts about all of it.  I couldn't do that.  I wasn't going to let James have that kind of power over me.   I'd get over this, and when I did, then I might tell someone what happened.   But not until then.

    "Hey," he said.   "You sure you're ok?"

    "I'm fine," I said, turning to face him.  "Let's roll."

    "So, where you need to go?" he asked.   "Obviously not your house. You could have walked there."

    "Can I come to your house for a while, Puck?" I asked quickly.  "If not, then will you take me to Tommy's?"

    "You can come to my house," he said.   "Tommy isn't going to be home. Court."

    "Oh yeah," I said.   I'd forgotten about him having court today.

    "So, you going to tell me what's buggin you?" he asked as we got in the car.

    "No," I replied.   "I just want to go to sleep for a while. I'm so tired."

    "Didn't sleep much last night?" he asked, smiling at me.

    "Not for the reason that you think," I said, smiling back.

    "Oh?" he said.

    "Cory called last night and asked me to come to the gallery this morning," I said.  "He said that one of my paintings had sold. When I asked him what the big deal was, he said he wasn't going to say until I got to the gallery."

    "So what did he say when you got to the gallery?" asked Puck.

    "The painting sold for five hundred, thousand dollars," I said not succeeding in sounding the least bit excited now.

    "That's great, Chris!" cried Puck.

    "It sure is," I replied.   "Now I can afford to go to your school."

    "What?" he asked, looking at me.

    "I'm going to talk to my dad about it later today," I said, marveling at the fact that I'd decided this just that second.   "I don't want to go to public school this year."

    "Chris, tell me what's wrong," said Puck.  "Just yesterday, you said that you wouldn't be caught dead at Westhaven. What was it? Oh yes, 'tacky fucking school uniforms that make people look like geeks,' at least I think it was you that said that."

    "That's what I said," I replied, laughing.  "But I've changed my mind."

    "Why?" he asked.

    "Better education at Westhaven," I replied, looking out the window.

    "Right," he said, laughing.

    "Seriously," I said, turning to face him with as serious a look on my face as I could fake.

    "Ok, so you don't want James to know where you are," he said.  "And now you want to go to Westhaven. So I guess something happened between you and James."

    "Listen, I didn't want to go to Westhaven, because it was too expensive," I replied, ignoring his implication.   "Now it isn't too expensive. Can't a guy want a decent education?"

    "Sure," he replied.   "Even better when the school is private and his boyfriend, who he seems to be upset with, doesn't go there."

    "Puck, drop it," I said.  "If you can't, just let me out now, and I'll go back to the park, or you can drop me off at the mall."

    I hadn't meant to yell at him, but he really needed to understand that I didn't want to talk about James.  I wished that he would have just listened the first time I'd said that I didn't want to talk about it.

    "I'm sorry, Chris," he said after a minute.  "I'll take you to my house. You want to crash and not be bothered by anyone, you got it."

    "I'm sorry for snapping at you, Puck," I replied.  "Its been a very long morning after a very long night."

    "I understand, and I didn't mean to pry," he said.

    "You weren't prying," I lied.   "I'm just not ready to talk about what's wrong yet."

    "Yeah," he said.   "You need some sleep. Your eyes look bad."

    "I'm sure they do," I agreed with him.

    We drove the rest of the way to his house in silence.  I was so thankful for that.  I wasn't nearly as thankful for his silence as I was for his bed.  He took me upstairs quietly, explaining that if his mother didn't know I was here, then she didn't have to lie if anyone called looking for me.  I liked his thinking.  As soon as I was upstairs, I was out of my jeans and under the covers.  I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

    I woke up to the sound of Tommy's voice.  He was saying something to me, but I couldn't quite understand him.  I wanted more sleep, but he wouldn't shut up and leave me alone.  Finally, after he'd woke me up at least a million times, all of which I was planning to personally thank him for once I had my wits about me, I sat up.

    "Alright, Sleeping Beauty," he chuckled.  "What's going on? Puck tells me you're not here, and you are here. Then Puck tells me that no one else can know that you're here. James is looking for you, Khayman is looking for you, Evan is looking for you, and your Dad is looking for you. I finally find you, and I'm instructed that I can't tell anyone that I found you.

    "Now, tell me what's gone so wrong in Happy Land to make you snap orders at my boyfriend."

    "Fuck you, Tommy," I said, getting up.   I put my jeans on and walked out of the room to the bathroom.  When I came out, he was waiting for me.

    "I didn't mean it the way it sounded, Chris," he said quickly.  "I'm not upset with you. I'm just worried."

    "Well don't worry," I replied.   "I'm rich and single. What more could a guy want."

    "Rich?" he asked, smiling.   "Single?"

    "Both," I replied, heading back into Puck's room to find him making his bed.  Once it was made, he and Tommy snuggled up together on it.  They looked cute.

    "Alright," he said once he was settled in the bed with Puck.  "Single, I'll leave alone, because it seems to piss you off when I ask questions. Rich, you will have to explain."

    "Cory called last night," I said.   "He sold one of my paintings."

    "You've sold paintings before, Chris," said Tommy.  "That doesn't make you rich."

    "Well, until yesterday, I'd never sold one for five hundred, thousand dollars," I said flatly.  I didn't like the way Tommy never seemed to think that my selling a painting was important.   Sure, I'd only been making about fifteen hundred for each one, but still, for a boy our age, that was a lot of money to be paid for anything."

    "Five hundred, thousand?" he asked, mouth agape and eyes wide.

    "That's right, smart ass," I said.

    "Wow!" he said.   "Chris, congratulations, man."

    "I haven't even had a chance to tell my dad about it, yet," I said, looking at my watch and wondering when Khayman's dad was going to show up to get him out of my house, so I could go home.   Thinking about that, I decided that there was no way I would know when Khayman left unless my phone was on.

    I turned my phone back on and it rang instantly.   I looked at the number on my phone's caller ID and wondered who was calling from my house.  It could have been my dad, but then it could also have been Khayman or James, and I didn't want to talk to either one of them ever again.   I let my voicemail pick up the call and waited until it told me to check it.   My father's worried voice was the message, asking me where I was and why I wasn't there to see Khayman off.  He told me that his dad was there to get him, but they couldn't wait for me any longer.   They were leaving now.  I waited a little while and then went to the bathroom to call my dad back.

    "Where are you?" he asked.

    "I'm at Puck's house, Dad," I said.   "Please don't tell James where I am. I know he's still there."

    "Yes, he is," said my dad.   "He's worried about you."

    "No he's not," I said adamantly.   "Tell him to go home, Dad. I don't want him to be there when I come home."

    "Chris, what's going on?" he asked.

    "I'll talk to you about it when I get there, Dad," I said.  "Just make James leave."

    "Alright, Chris," said my dad.   "But you should call Khayman tonight and apologize for not being here when he left."

    "I don't think I'll be calling Khayman, Dad," I said.  "Ever."

    "I take it you are upset with both Khayman and James," said my father.

    "Is James standing there right now?" I asked.

    "No, he's upstairs with your brother," said Dad.

    "Good," I said.   "I don't want him to know that I'm on the phone. Tell him to leave, Dad. I don't care what you have to say to him to make him leave, but I'm not coming home as long as he's there."

    "Chris," said my dad.

    "I mean it, Dad," I said, cutting him off.  "If James doesn't leave, then I'm not coming home tonight."

    "Call Tommy," said my father.   "He's been calling for you, too."

    "Tommy's here, Dad," I said.   "Look, I know you're angry with me, but I'll explain everything when I get home."

    "I'll have James out of here soon," said my dad.  "I'll call you back when he's gone."

    "Don't let him use the house phone to call me, Dad," I said.  "If you don't promise me that he won't call me from this number, I won't answer."

    "I promise," snapped my father.

    "Thank you," I replied.

    We hung up, and I went back to Puck's room.   I grabbed Tommy as soon as I got inside the room and hugged him.   I buried my face in his shoulder and started to cry.  I couldn't believe that James would do this to me.  And Khayman was supposed to be my friend.  How could they do this?

    "Chris, are you going to tell us what's wrong?" asked Tommy, pushing me back to look at my face.

    "Let's just say that James and I are finished," I replied.

    "Will you tell me why?" he asked.

    "No," I replied.

    "Why?" he asked.   "I'm your best friend, Chris."

    "I don't want talk about it, Tommy," I said, trying hard not to start crying again.

    "Well, I'm going to need a reason to be mad at him," said Tommy, and I started to laugh.

    "I love you, Tommy," I said before hugging him again.

    "Does Puck know what's going on?" he asked me, and all I could do was shake my head.

    I hadn't told anyone what I'd seen, and I wasn't sure that I was going to tell anyone.  Let them all wonder, I thought.  James and Khayman would know why I wouldn't speak to either of them.   They'd know if they thought hard enough.  I was hurt, but I wasn't beaten.   James had made me promise to always talk things out with him.  He'd said that it tore him up when someone was mad at him and he didn't know why.  Well, then he deserved to be torn up, because he'd ripped my heart out.

    I sat on Puck's bed and tried to keep myself from crying.  They both kept staring at me, and it was making me uncomfortable.  I had made up my mind that I wasn't going to tell them what had happened.  If they thought about it, there was only one reason why I would break up with James and not speak to either him or Khayman.  I didn't need to tell them anything.

    "Are you alright?" asked Puck after staring at me for a few minutes.

    "I'm going to be," I replied.   "Just as soon as I can figure out how to stop thinking about James."

    "Will you tell us what's wrong?" he asked.

    "No," I said.   "I'm not telling anyone what's wrong this time. Let the bastard worry about it for a while."

    "Chris, did he hurt you?" asked Tommy.

    "Not physically," I replied.   "And what he did hurt will heal soon enough."

    "I hate seeing you like this," Tommy said.

    "Its only for a few more minutes," I said.  "I'm leaving as soon as my dad calls."

    "You should let me drive you home," said Puck.

    "Thank you," I replied.   "For coming to get me when I called. I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't come and got me. And I'm sorry for snapping at you."

    "Will you let me drive you home?" he asked.

    "Sure," I said.  I even smiled at him to show him that I was ok.

    "I really wish you'd tell us what happened," said Tommy.

    "Nothing that five hundred, thousand dollars can't help me get over," I said absently.

    "He's going to talk to his dad about enrolling in Westhaven," said Puck.

    "What?" cried Tommy.   "Why in the hell would you do that?"

    "Because I can afford it," I replied levelly.

    "Chris, don't let James do this to you," said Tommy.  "I never said anything before, because you guys seemed happy, but I never liked the fact that the two of you were together. I knew he would eventually do something to hurt you. I just didn't know what it would be, or when it would be."

    "And you still don't," I said quickly.   "If James asks you any questions, you both tell him that you had no idea that we weren't together. You don't know why I won't call him back or talk to him. Clear?"

    "Crystal," said Tommy.   "But I don't like it."

    "I know," I replied.   "But I'm begging."

    "Fine," said Puck.   "We'll do this. One day, though, you have to tell us why."

    "One day," I replied, and my phone started ringing again.

    I looked at the caller ID and was relieved to see that it was Jim calling me.  I answered the phone immediately.

    "Hello," I said.

    "Hey, Chris!" cried Jim.   "You ready for your weekend in Chicago?"

    "I'd forgotten about that for a little bit," I admitted.

    "Well, I'm sure James hasn't forgotten," he laughed.  "He's been so excited about coming since his foster parents agreed to let him."

    "Well, there's going to be a change of plans, Jim," I said, turning away from Tommy and Puck.  "James won't be coming with me to Chicago."

    "Ok," he said slowly.   "So you'll be coming alone?"

    "As far as I can tell," I said.

    "Well, you are the one that I want to spend some time with," he said.  "We'll have fun. Khayman will be happy. He'll get more time with you."

    "No, actually, he won't," I replied.   "I don't want anything to do with Khayman."

    "Ok," he said again.   "Don't ask, right?"

    "Right," I replied.

    "Alright," he said slowly.

    Suddenly, I had the greatest thought of the day.   I quickly told him about my paintings selling for so much money, and he was thrilled.  He kept congratulating me over and over again.  I asked him if I could come to Chicago sooner, and stay until Sunday.  He said that he didn't mind, but he wouldn't be able to come and get me.  I worked it out with him, and then I called Ted.

    "Hey!" he said when he found out it was me.  "I'm glad you called. How are things going with you?"

    "Fine," I replied.   "I'm going to be coming to Chicago for the rest of the week. I was wondering if you could pick me up at the airport."

    "You're flying in?" he asked.

    I explained my recent success, and he was stunned.  When I told him that I didn't want Khayman to know that I was coming, he didn't even ask me why.  I wondered if he knew what was going on here, but I didn't think Khayman would have called to tell him he was fucking my boyfriend.

    "Just call me and let me know when to come get you," he said after we'd talked for a few minutes.   "This will be so great!"

    "Now you're going to Chicago for the rest of the week?" asked Tommy when I got off the phone.

    "I really don't want to run into James for a while," I said.  "Chicago is the best way."

    "Chris . . ."

    "Tommy, please," I said, holding up my hand.  "I don't want to talk about this right now."

    Just then, my dad called.   He told me that Evan had just left to take James home, and I told him that Puck would be bringing me home.   He asked if everything was alright, and I told him that things were as good as they could be at the moment.  I know he wanted to know more than that, but I just couldn't tell him any more.  At least not on the phone.

    Tommy rode with us to my house, and I asked them both to come inside when we got there.  I had decided to tell my dad what had happened, and I thought that since they'd both been putting up with me all day, they deserved to know what was going on, too.  To save myself from having to repeat the story, I thought it would be easier to tell them all at the same time.

    "There you are," said Kendal when the three of us walked into the house.  "Everybody's been going nuts looking for you!"

    "Sorry," I said.   "Could you tell Dad to come into the kitchen, please? And you, too."

    "Sure," she said, walking towards Dad's study.

    "Are you going to tell me what's going on?" asked Dad when he, Evan and Kendal walked into the kitchen.

    "Yes," I said, sitting down.   "I have a lot to say, and I have a few favors to ask."

    When everyone was sitting down, I told them about my meeting with Cory.  Dad knew about it already, but Evan and Kendal hadn't heard, so they were both excited.  Then I told them about finding James and Khayman together.  Everyone was silent after I told them about that.  I could see that Tommy and Evan were furious, but I made them both promise me that they wouldn't say anything to him about it.

    I told them that I had decided to just ignore James from now on.  I said that he didn't deserve better than that, and I didn't want to waste time arguing with him.  It was over between us, and that was all there was to it.  He didn't need a reason.  If he thought about it for a while, he should be able to figure out why.

    I told them that I wasn't going to be accepting telephone calls from James or Khayman.  Then I talked to Dad about Westhaven.   He listened patiently when I explained that I could pay for the tuition.  I told him that I didn't want a repeat of last year, and going to Westhaven was a good way to make sure that it didn't happen again this year.

    Then I told him about my phone conversations with Jim and Ted.  Dad was quiet for a little while when I stopped talking.  He looked like he was trying to decide what to say.  I hoped that he'd go along with me going to Chicago tomorrow after enrolling in Westhaven.  I really didn't want to be in town right now.

    "We'll I'll get up in the morning and get you enrolled," he said finally.  "Then we'll go to the airport and get you on a flight. You'll have to call Ted from there."


   The next morning, my dad got me up bright and early to go and enroll at Westhaven.    The school was located almost outside of Springfield, and it was huge.   There were four buildings to it, and I thought I'd never get used to that part.   They all looked like very large log cabins.  The buildings themselves were very old, but the school had only been open for six years.

    Each building only had one floor.  There were sixteen classrooms in all but one building.  The main building held all of the offices, the cafeteria, the small auditorium and gymnasium.    I was introduced to my guidance councilor as soon as my father had finished filling out all of the forms in the main office.

    Mr. Hastings was an older man with a soft face and a gentle smile.  His dark hair was now salt and pepper, and he dressed like he was ready to play golf.  We sat in his office and talked about the classes that I would be taking there.  We'd stopped at Springfield High to get my transcript, so Mr. Hastings had no trouble getting me started.

    "You understand that a grade point average of 3.5 or better is required at all times," he said, looking over my transcript.  "If you should fall below the requirement, you will be placed on academic probation for one quarter. If your average is not acceptable at the end of that quarter, you will be dropped from all classes."

    "I'm sure that my grades won't be a problem," I assured him.  "I've never gotten below a 3.5 in my life."

    "I see that from your transcript," he said.  "I am required to say that to all new students."

    We selected my classes, and then he took us on a tour.  He explained that since the gym was so small, there weren't many sporting activities required for the class.  He told us that there was a baseball and football team, but I'd missed the try out for both.  I wasn't worried.  I hadn't planned on joining any of the athletic teams.

    When he showed us the art room, I was in Heaven.  There was so much light in the room, coming from sky lights as well as overheads.  Classes were smaller at Westhaven, so there would only be ten other students in the class with me when school started.  No new admits were allowed after the first day of classes, so I'd made it just in time.

    After we left the school, we drove to the airport.  I'd packed for the trip the night before, so both of my suitcases were in the car.  We bought my ticket, and I called Ted to let him know what time I'd be arriving in Chicago.  He said he'd meet me at the airport.    My dad waited for me until it was time for my plane to take off.

    "Is there anything in particular that you'd like me to tell James when he calls?" asked my father.

    "Yeah," I replied.  "Tell him not to call again."

    "Don't you think that you should at least tell him that you caught them?" he asked.

    "I don't want anything to do with either of them ever again, Dad," I said.  "I know that probably isn't the best way to handle this, but right now, I don't care. He hurt me, and I won't stand for people hurting me. I'll never give people a second chance again."

    "I'm not going to push you into doing anything that you don't want to do," he said.    "After what's happened to you, I can understand your attitude toward people, but I hope that some day, you'll change your mind about second chances. Chris, everyone makes mistakes."

    "What James and Khayman did wasn't a mistake, Dad," I replied.

    "I'm not talking about them," he said.  "I'm just saying that if you go around shutting everyone out the first time they make a mistake, you won't have any friends when you're through."

    "Mistakes aren't what I was referring to when I said that I wouldn't give them a second chance, Dad," I said.  "Its hard for me to explain what I mean right now."

    "I understand that," he said.  "I'll call David and cancel this week's appointment. But I think you should continue to see him when you come home."

    "I plan to," I replied as they called my flight.      Dad walked with me to the ramp, and we said goodbye.  As soon as I got on the plane, I went to sleep.

    Ted was waiting for me when I stepped off the plane.  He smiled when he saw me.  I walked up to him, and he hugged me.  He held me tight, and I started to wonder what the other people around us thought about seeing us hugging.  He felt good in arms, so I decided to forget about the other people's thoughts.

    "You have really developed," he said, stepping back to look at me.  I was dressed in a t-shirt and shorts.  "Your arms and legs are huge!"

    "I've been working out a lot," I replied.  I didn't know what else to say to that.  It brought back memories of spending time with James.

    "I can tell!" he said, smiling again.

    "Come on," I said, grabbing his arm and pulling him.  "Let's go get my suitcases and get out of here."

    "Jim's at work, so you'll have to hang out with me for a while," he said, following me on his own.

    "That's fine as long as Khayman doesn't show his face," I replied as we got to the baggage claim.

    "You mad at him or something?" he asked, stepping up beside me as I grabbed my two suitcases.

    "Something," I replied, handing him one of the bags.

    "You gonna tell me?" he asked as we walked down the hall of the airport.

    "Khayman and I are no longer friends," I said as we walked outside.  "We're now enemies."

    "Why?" he asked.

    "You really don't know already?" I asked, stopping to look him in the eye.

    "How could I know?" he asked.

    "Khayman hasn't told you anything?" I asked.

    "Just that you weren't at home when he left," he said.  "He was pretty bummed about that. Where were you?"

    "In hiding," I said, walking away.

    "Wait up," he said, walking faster to catch up with me.  "You don't even know where the car is parked."

    "So come on," I replied not slowing down.

    "Alright," he said, catching up to me.  "Why did you hide out until Khayman left? What's going on?"

    "Well, let's just say that Khayman and James are now two of my most unfavorable people in the world," I said.  "The two of them could both die, and I wouldn't drop a tear over it."

    "Chris!" he gasped.  "What the hell?"

    "He fucked James," I blurted.  "I caught them."

    "Oh," he said.  "Khayman didn't say anything about you two fighting."

    "We didn't fight, and he doesn't know that I saw them," I replied.  "And I'd like to keep it that way."

    "What do you mean?" he asked as we walked over to his car.

    "I mean that I don't want you, or anyone, to tell Khayman or James why I'm not talking or seeing either of them," I replied, stopping and standing rigid in front of him.

    "You just want to turn your backs on them and let them wonder?" he asked.

    "It isn't that difficult for them to figure out why I'm no longer talking to them," I pointed out.    "If they think on it long enough, they'll figure it out."

    "But what if he asks me?" he asked.

    "Ted, promise me that you won't tell him what I told you," I said.  "James, either. If you can't promise me that, then I'm going back into the airport and getting on the next plane back to Springfield."

    "I promise," he said.  "I just think you should have it out with both of them. You'll feel better."

    "I'll feel better if I never see either of them again, Ted," I replied icily.

    "Fine," he said.  "Your secret is safe with me."

    "Good," I replied, getting into the car.

    We were silent for most of the drive to the apartment building.  I had mixed emotions about returning to it.  I tried to shove all of the memories out of my mind, but it was impossible.    Zack, my mother and Ken filled my mind, and I knew that it wasn't going to be an easy stay for me.  I just hoped that I didn't run in to any of them; especially my mother.

    "You got quiet," said Ted as he pulled into the garage of the building.

    "Just thinking," I replied as the car came to a stop.

    "This isn't going to be like it was before, Chris," he said, turning to look at me as he turned off the ignition.

    "I know," I replied.  "I won't let it."

    "Your mother doesn't know you're here, does she?" he asked.

    "Well, I didn't exactly advertise my arrival," I replied tersely.

    "Sorry," he said.

    We were both silent as we walked to the elevator.  I kept expecting the doors to open on my mother or Zack at any minute.  It was stupid, I know.  My mother didn't live in the building, and Zack was in jail where he belonged.  I just couldn't get it out of my head.  When the doors finally did open, it wasn't my mother or Zack that I had to face.  It was Khayman and his dad.

    "Chris!" said Khayman, smiling.  "I didn't know you were coming to visit."

    I shoved my way past him and walked on down the hall toward Ted's apartment.  I could hear Ted talking to Khayman and his dad, but I couldn't make out what he was saying to them.  I hoped that he was keeping his promise.  When I got to the door, I just stood there, waiting.  I didn't turn back to look at them, but I guess I should have.

    "Khayman, wait!" called Ted, and I finally turned around.

    "Why aren't you talking to me?" asked Khayman, standing in front of me.

    "Just go away," I said, trying very hard not to yell.

    "Not until you tell me why you're mad at me," he said, folding his arms.

    "I'm not mad at you, Khayman," I replied, smiling coldly.  "I hate you."

    "Khayman, come on," said his father from down the hall.  "Leave Chris alone."

    "I told him not to come talk to you," said Ted, coming up to us.

    "Just make him leave," I said, turning my back on Khayman.

    "But what did I do?" he asked my back.

    "Khayman, I said let's go," said his father.

    I heard Khayman walk away, and Ted put his key in the door.  He had the door unlocked and open, and I bolted inside as I heard Khayman call to me from down the hall.  I just kept going.    I didn't stop until I was in Ted's room.  I sat my suitcases down on the floor and sat on the bed.  Ted came in and stood in the door way.

My other stories on Nifty:

Detahz can be found in the Adult/Youth section.
Nicholas And Mark can be found in the Incest section.
Boys Of Summer can be found in the Adult/Youth section.
Midnight Encounter can be found in the Adult/Youth section.
Christopher's Story can be found in the Incest section.
***Celebrity*** can be found in the Celebrity/Boy Bands section.

I have other stories on my site, and you can check out my eGroup to see who the characters are inspired by as well as send emails to other fans of my work.