"Plaquemines Parish" Part 14

By: Pee Jay



As we made our way to the Marina, Mark appeared left out of our family embrace. He was walking next to me on the outside. I took hold of his bicep and pulled him toward Mike, changing positions with him. I caught Mike's arm as it slid off my shoulder and placed it around Mark. Then I put my arm around him and winked. Mike looked over with a smile embracing Mark. I liked the way he included him.

"I hate seeing Mom left behind by herself," I said, "I feel guilty leaving."

"I don't think she's going to be alone for long," Steve said.

My ears perked up. "Okay, what do you know that I don't? I hate being the last to find out. By the way, did you guys know about the gas leases?"

"Yeah, Bill faxed the document to the office," Mike said. "You know our firm specializes in Environmental and Natural Resources Law; the lease is an old version without the encumbrances that cloud contemporary agreements. Your grandfather elected to have the royalties placed in trust, managed by the oil company. They don't do things that way anymore. According to Katy, his family lost everything during the Great Depression. For that reason, he didn't trust banks."

I didn't know Mike's firm specialized in that area. It was good, I guess, but he wasn't coming across with much information. "Is Mom rich? And don't give me the pat answer, Mike."

"It's not my place to say, Sport. I never charged Bill or your mother. They're clients nonetheless. For that reason, I'm duty bound to withhold what I know."

Well Jesus Christ, the SOB found a way out...again! How the hell does he do it? I had a thought so I said, "Steve, do you know what's going on? If you do, you should say something. It's not like you're going to incriminate anyone and you're not duty bound either. "

We walked in silence for a distance before Steve said, "I'm not sure it's my place to say anything. You know your mother isn't keen on you working when school starts."

"Nice try Steve, don't change the subject."

Mark laughed because I wasn't getting anywhere and I suspected it was because he was there. I decided to drop it until we were alone. I did, however, think the timing was good to discuss my job since he was there for support.

"I know Mom wants me to quit working when school starts but I'd like to keep my job. Mark and I tried to talk her out of it but all she would agree to was postponing her decision. Can you guys help persuade her?"

I looked sideways at Mike to gauge his reaction. I had to lean forward to see Steve. They weren't exactly tripping over each other to respond. I thought a little nudge might help so I said, "I can't pay room and board if I don't work."

Mike started laughing which caught me completely off guard. Why is it, every time I attempt a sales job it's an uphill struggle? I decided to play it cool and confident. I pretended his laughter didn't faze me.

"I agree with you," Steve said. "I don't see anything wrong with working. I got a job when I was sixteen and I've been working ever since. As long as your grades are good, I don't see a problem."

Mike said, "Same here, I don't see the harm so long as you keep your grades up. In fact, I think it's good that you're working. I told your mother we should watch your grades. If they start to drop, then it's goodbye job. She's not convinced though. She doesn't think you're doing the things that teenagers normally do, like having fun."

"I think he should work too," Mark said. "He shouldn't be running around on the loose."

I liked the sound of that, it made me smile. He wanted to make sure my time was occupied and I was pretty sure I knew why though his concern was unfounded.

"So what's gonna happen? Do I get to keep the job?"

"It's up to your mother," Mike said. "We don't want to go against her wishes."

That was good enough for me. The consensus was more or less universal that I keep working. I was sure Mom would go with the flow.

When we got to the marina, I handed Mark my pack saying, "I'll be right back." I was going to pick up my last paycheck; it was in the top drawer of Charlie's desk. And I was glad I did, it was over two hundred dollars.

Steve took the first shift driving so he fired up the engines and we were underway. Mike went below to strip the bed while Mark and I kept Steve company. After a while, I retrieved my camera from my pack and took a picture of Steve at the helm. I told him to take his shirt off so he looked sexy in the picture. He did smiling grandly wearing his sunglasses then I snapped the picture. We traded places and he took one of Mark and me at the helm; we were shirtless with our arms around each other, wearing sunglasses. Right before Steve snapped the pic, I turned and kissed Mark on the cheek then the shutter opened and closed. I had to have one of Mike, Steve and me so Mark did the honors. I was going to print the one of Mark and me then get a cheap frame and put it on my desk. I was going to do the same with the one of Mike, Steve and me so they could have it for the desk in the library.

A little more than halfway, Mike announced we were having pizza for dinner and asked Mark if he wanted to stay. He did, so he called his mother and she was okay with it. When he hung up he said, "They're going to a movie this evening. She wants me home by eleven. She wanted to know why Val's last name is different from Mike's. I didn't know what to say so I said I would ask," then he looked to Mike for an answer.

"I told her I was his guardian when we had lunch. I didn't mention Steve because I didn't want to get into the gay thing. I wasn't sure how she felt about it. If she had a negative reaction, she may not have agreed to your coming and Val wanted you along so I withheld that part."

I said, "When Mrs. Guidry, Dave's mother, asked, I politely told her to call Mike and she let it go at that. It seemed to work for me but she wasn't my mother. I wasn't duty bound, as Mike says, to give her the facts."

We talked about all sorts of things the rest of the way. Mark asked Mike and Steve how they went about telling their parents they were gay. Mike said his mother figured it out when he started talking about Steve, having him over during school breaks, going to movies and dinner together, generally spending every free moment with him.

According to Mike, she was the one who asked and took it well when he told her. His father was the one who needed time to come around. Eventually, Mike said, he came to love Steve like any in-law, which made him put his arm around Steve and peck him on the cheek. Needless to say, Steve responded positively.

Steve, on the other hand, said his father took it in stride and his mother was the one who balked. He said his mother had a strict upbringing and her mother, Steve's grandmother, was a member of the WCTU before and while she was married to Steve's grandfather. His mother was required to attend many of the functions as a little girl and later as a young woman. Those meetings were often held in churches in those days.

Mark asked Steve, "What's WCTU? I've never heard of it."

I was curious too.

"It stands for Women's Christian Temperance Union"; then he went on to explain since Mark and I had never heard of it.

When he finished, there was little doubt why she had a problem. It sounded like his mother grew up in the dark ages. And, the characterization he gave his grandmother made her sound puritanical. I was darn thankful for my mother and sympathetic toward Steve. I didn't ask if his mother still had a problem; it seemed out of place and it was evident he was having trouble talking about it.

We were nearing the marina where they moored their boat so we began to clean up and gather our things. I gave the deck a quick mop and went below to get the dirty sheets and laundry. Mark wiped the galley down while I mopped the floor. We locked up and then Mark and I put the cover over the boat. It only spanned the rear section keeping dust and rainwater from entering the cabin.

We loaded the car while Mike and Steve took care of business inside. On the way home, we stopped at the pizzeria to pick up the order. I told everyone the pizzas were on me. I said it was my way of saying thank you for letting Mark come.

Mark and I climbed into Steve's car with one pizza each on our laps then we were off for home. A couple miles later, Mark's stomach growled. I'd heard the expression many times. On this occasion, his stomach literally growled making me smile.

"Who was that?" Steve asked looking in the rearview mirror.

"It wasn't me," I said. Then I slipped my hand under the box on Mark's lap stroking his thigh. I clasped some hair between my fingers and pulled.

He flinched and said, "Ouch," jerking his leg.

"Knock it off Sport," Mike said.

"Hey, why do you automatically think it's me? There's two people back here you know."

I thought about rapping him on the side of the head as if to say `duh' but there wasn't anywhere to run so I didn't. Nevertheless, I had to grin at the thought. Me rapping Mr. Authority and him not able to catch me, it was too funny.

"He's trying to start something," Mark said with a grin.

Damn, the dude was catching on quick. I rolled my eyes as if to say `yeah right, like they're gonna believe that'. Well, it was partly true except I wasn't going to start something in front of `the boys'. When I did, I was dang sure gonna follow through, especially where Mark was concerned.

I couldn't suppress a surge of feeling. I took his hand, worked my fingers between his, and squeezed lightly, looking straight ahead. He gave a gentle squeeze back.

When we made it home, we decided to eat on the deck. As we ate, Mark asked, "Would you like to take a field trip this week?"

"Where do you want to go?"

"I was thinking of visiting The Grand Village of the Natchez and Emerald Mound. They're designated as National Historic Landmarks. Emerald Mound is the second largest Pre-Columbian earthwork in the country covering eight acres. The ancestors of the Natchez Indians, the Plaquemine Culture, constructed it. I think it would be interesting. Oh, and you might learn something in the process."

"Very funny," I said. "Where is this sanctuary of the savages anyway?"

"Natchez, Mississippi. It's an easy ride."

"How far?" Mike wanted to know.

"About a hundred and fifty miles up the east side of the river in Natchez, Mississippi."

"I don't think you guys will be making a trip like that on your own. You better put that on the back burner."

I said, "It sounds like an interesting time. Maybe we could talk Mom and Bill into going sometime. They always have an outing planned for Sunday when she's here. That way, we could get them to pay for the gas and a nice meal at the club."

I thought that would be a good way to approach it. Besides, Mark's car was a few years old and who knew what could go wrong. And that far from home, it sounded like we were asking for trouble. I didn't want to point that out and run the risk of hurting his feelings. He looked somewhat defeated sitting next to me so I said, "That sounds like an all day trip and we have to work too. Maybe we could find something closer until we can work it out."

"Yeah, I guess you're right. I wouldn't want to make the drive only to turn around and come back once we get there. I'll see if I can't find something around here to investigate."

"That sounds much better," Steve said. "As long as it isn't the Quarter."

I had enough of everyone's two cents so I started clearing the table. Mark helped then we went to my room to relax. We were beat from the fresh gulf air and sun. It's amazing how the elements can zap you, literally making you weak.

I reclined on the bed and Mark lay down next to me. We no sooner embraced than the weight of our eyelids succumbed to gravity. It was the best way I knew to fall asleep.

The next morning I was awake at the crack of daylight. The clock radio indicated five-thirty. The sun hadn't set when we fell asleep. True, it was summertime but still; it was early by anyone's account. I awoke fully dressed on top of the comforter not remembering Mark leaving.

I went downstairs to start the coffee then went to my room to undress and shower. After showering, I was staring in the mirror brushing my teeth when I noticed a dark cast on my cheeks. It looked like Steve's shadow, only not as dark, so I turned both ways to check it out. I was getting a beard! Man, I liked that and the idea of not being pretty or beautiful ... I was looking like a man at last. My hair was a mess so I ran my fingers through it trying for a different look. I thought about mousse but it seemed like too much hassle so I plied it with my fingers hoping it looked a little less combed or maybe partially groomed, I guess tussled was the look I was going for.

I turned to the mirror on the back of the door checking myself out. I felt my tits and the short hairs that encircled them. I wished I were more masculine looking like Mark; I was still on the thin side or so I thought. I had a big hard-on thinking about him so I started stroking myself. I imagined Mark standing behind me pressing his hard dick into me and stroking me at the same time. I widened my stance so as to give Mark access.

I lay on my back still stroking and massaging myself. I spread my legs raising my head to see myself in the mirror. My dick was so hard it wanted to burst. I couldn't spread my legs because the bathroom was too narrow so I hung a leg over the edge of the tub propping the other against the vanity. I massaged my hole imagining it was Mark's big hard dick trying to gain entry. I tried to imagine Mark fucking me as I stroked harder and faster. A minute later and I came on my stomach.

I gasped for air, lying quietly trying to catch my breath. Then there was a loud knock on the door startling the shit out of me. I jerked my leg catching my foot in the shower curtain pulling it and the shower rod down. It rattled and clanged as it fell, resting askew in the tub.

Then I scrambled to untangle my foot and stood reaching for a towel and said loudly, "Mike, if that's you, I'm gonna kill ya."

He started laughing saying, "Oh God," between bouts of laughter. He was still laughing as he descended the stairs; his fits eventually became inaudible. All I could think was, `What an immature dickhead'.

I was done primping and pumping so I cleaned myself, re-hung the shower curtain and rod then went to my room. In the hallway, Steve was coming out of his room.

"Good morning Sport."

"Morn'in Steve."

"What was all the commotion about?"

"It's your husband. He's acting like a child again," I said trying to sound disgusted.

I was walking away; glad he couldn't see me smile. Steve giggled as he started down the stairs. I dressed, made the bed and headed for the coffee in the kitchen. Mike was sitting at the table when I walked in.

"Morn'in Sport."

I ignored him as I poured a coffee. I decided to drink it in my room so I started for the door. I glanced quickly at Mike; he winked at me, the big shit. I stuck my tongue out then retracted it quickly and kept going. I could hear him snickering as I crossed the living room.

I booted up my computer to see if Mark was online. I wanted to tell him I was sorry I didn't say goodbye when he left last night. He wasn't online or at least logged into instant messenger so I sent him an email.

For the hell of it, I checked the World of Warcraft armory to see what level Dave's hunter was up to. Christ, he was up to level fifty and wearing some decent gear. He had an advantage since he was able to play at night. That's when everyone was home making it much easier to organize a dungeon run where the good gear could be had.

I started to play WoW to pass the time. A bit later, Mike stepped into the room. I could see from my peripheral vision, he was going to court since he was wearing a suit and probably looking like a million bucks. I didn't want to look thereby acknowledging his presence. He walked behind me placing his hand on my shoulder.

"I'm sorry Sport..."

Before he could finish I said, "For what? Acting like a child again?"

From his touch, I could tell he was shaking lightly. He must have been trying to stifle a laugh.

"Give me a hug," he said.

"Ha, fat chance."

Actually, I wanted to hug him a lot but I didn't know how to set aside my feigned affectation gracefully. Besides, I was in the process of killing a monster to complete a quest and it wasn't going well.

"VAL," he belted out.

I jumped in my seat dropping the mouse on the floor, the batteries ricocheting off the baseboard. I stood up and turned around. "Jesus Christ, Mike you scared the shit out of me."

"I'm trying to get your attention so I can apologize and you're glued to that stupid game."

He stepped forward wrapping his arms around me, which I liked a whole lot. I put my arms around the big dude and squeezed him hard lodging my chin between his neck and shoulder. The fact that he cared enough to make sure things were right—and they were—said a lot.

"Thanks Mike, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to ignore you. I needed to kill that creature but I can do that anytime."

"I'm sorry Sport," he said pushing me back. Then he let a big grin overtake his face. "Did I catch you in the act earlier?"

"Mike, I swear to God ... one of these days, dude." I was shaking my head. "I won't always be this much smaller than you."

He pulled me into him and hugged me again. I welcomed it and reciprocated with equal fervor. We parted and Mike said, "I have to get going. Have a good day, Sport."

"You too; bye Mike."

With that, he was off. I sat down to do some serious questing and hopefully level up Boize, my mage. A short while later, Mark called saying he had a list of chores to do and probably wouldn't be over. We talked a while then agreed to call each other after work tonight and hung up.

I got bored with the game and shut the computer down. I gathered the laundry and cleaned the house in between loads. When I finished, I cut the grass thereby completing the worst of my chores for the week.

I called Rob and asked if he wanted to meet and do something before work. He did so we agreed to meet at a café on the way and compare notes from the weekend. We spent nearly two hours talking. He told me how he slept with Colin stopping short of giving me the gory details. I was good with that, not wanting to know. I told him what Mark and I did over the weekend, and then he asked again, when I was going to lose my cherry. We laughed, then paid and rode the streetcar the rest of the way to work.

The week was mostly uneventful. Mark was over one day for a couple hours. His mother had him painting the garage so he took a break Wednesday saying he was half-done and deserved it. We messed around in my bedroom, thankful that Mike and Steve were at work. That morning, Steve reminded me of the barbecue at Mike's parents' house this Sunday. He said Mom and Bill would be there and Mark was welcome too. When I asked Mark, he said he wanted to go, which I was glad to hear.

Roger hired a new waiter during the week and wanted Rob to help train him since he had been there a long time. Rob was also the object of Roger's roving eye so he often got preferential treatment, which he took a good deal of ribbing for from the rest of us. The new guy was hired to replace a waiter in the other dining room whose last day of work was Saturday. Rob said he would help train the guy; he didn't have much choice, so I agreed to take Saturday night off allowing the new guy to work my section while Rob and Roger kept an eye on him.

I got home late Friday night since I had a large party in my section and they stayed later than usual. Roger allowed it since they spent a ton of money. One of the ladies in the party kept touching me when I served her so I poured it on. I took care to stand extra close, flirting with her and touching her at times, it paid off. She picked up the tab for the group and left me a hefty tip, the biggest one I ever had.

Saturday morning, I awoke later than usual. A glance out the window revealed Mike and Steve in the spa drinking coffee. I took a leak then made my way to the kitchen for a coffee then headed outside to join them.

"Morning, Sport," Steve said as Mike repeated the same words almost in unison.

"Morning, guys. Geez, it's a miracle I don't endorse my paychecks as Sport or introduce myself as Sport when school starts. I wouldn't be surprised."

Mike and Steve chuckled then Mike said, "That reminds me; your mother called last night and wants you to call her at Bill's this morning."

"Did she say why?"

"Yeah, you're not going to the school we enrolled you in. You're going to Ben Franklin High."

"Why? What's wrong with the school I was supposed to go to and where is Ben Franklin? And how come no one asks me?"

Mike interrupted saying, "Slow down, Sport. You're doggone lucky to go to that school. It's the best public high school in the city. Neither Steve nor I were able to attend and we grew up here. Annnd," he drew it out for emphasis, "Bill pulled some strings to get you in so you're very fortunate he had the strings to pull. You still have to take the admissions test and pass though. They won't wave that. If you pass and graduate, you'll be one of a privileged few. That school has the best college prep curriculum in the city."

Well that didn't sound so bad. Actually, it sounded pretty good. I wondered why Bill would do such a thing. It's true, Mom and he were dating, but hell, I'm not his son or anything. In fact, I had the impression he tolerated me because of Mom. It was another confusing set of circumstances, difficult to sort out.

"I'm going inside to call Mom. I'll tell you right now; if she thinks I'm quitting my job she's crazy."

Mike said, "Settle down, Sport," while Steve giggled.

As I made my way inside, I was a little ticked off that Mom would run around making alterations to my life ... that's right, I said my life because it is my life and everyone is making decisions about it except me. Contrary to what His Lordship—that would be Mike—might think, I am capable of making good decisions.

I sat at the desk in my room and hit speed-dial for Bill's place. A couple rings later and Bill said, "Hello."

"Good morning, Bill, it's Val. How are you?"

"Good thank you, and yourself?"

"No complaints here."

"That's good to hear. Hang on a moment; I'll get your mother."

"Okay," I said. Actually I did have a complaint but now wasn't the time to lodge it and Bill was the wrong dude to harass.

"Hi, honey," Mom said, "Is everything okay with you?"

No, everything wasn't okay so I said, "Mom, what's with the change in schools?"

"We'll discuss it further when we see each other. Are you getting tired of your job? How's Mike and Steve?"

Shit, she was begging off, trying to change the subject. She was attempting to manipulate me with her sweetness. Yes, I loved my mother but I also knew her well. I'm didn't see myself as a puppet and did't appreciate being manipulated like one. I was sure she wanted me to quit working and I'll be damned, if I'll quit anything.

"Mom, I know what you're thinking and I don't want to quit my job. Mike told me about the school thing and, I guess it's okay. Mike and Steve said it's the best college prep school in the city. Just so you know, Mom, the only way I pay room and board is working and I'm gonna keep working. I need that job, I like my job."

She laughed that irritating parental version. "We'll see, honey," she said ever so sweetly. "Can you put Mike or Steve on the phone?"

"I'm in my room talking on my cell phone. They have a handset out at the spa. It would be easier to call them on the house phone."

"Okay," she said. "We'll have a chance to talk tomorrow at the barbeque. I love you," then she hung up.

A minute later, the house phone rang. I looked out the window to see Steve talking into the handset. Then my cell phone started ringing on my desk, caller ID indicated it was Mark so I opened it up and said, "Hi, handsome."

"Val, let's go to the Riverwalk today. We can walk around, shop or take the gondola ride over the river if you feel like it."

"Hey, that's a great idea. I'd love to ride the gondola; then we can have lunch. There's a ton of places to eat. You can leave your car here and we'll take the streetcar. That way, we won't have to worry about parking. How soon can you be here?"

"I'm on my way," he said then hung up. I looked at the phone and shrugged then decided I should get cleaned up.

I finished quickly then sat with Mike and Steve waiting.

"Are you brining Mark to the barbeque tomorrow?" Steve asked.

"Yeah, what time is it?"

"Anytime after noon, one or one-thirty would be a good time to show up," Mike said. "Bring your bathing suit if you want to swim. Mom and Dad have a pool and they'd love to see it get some use."

"Where do they live?"

"On the golf course in Kenner and make sure you have a good appetite too. They'll be disappointed if you don't have seconds."

"That won't be a problem for Mark. He'll have thirds if they let him"; then we three had a laugh.

"I don't have to work tonight. Rob and Roger are breaking in a new guy. He's working my section tonight."

"That'll work out good," Mike said. "We're having some friends over for drinks. It'll be the perfect time for them to meet you."

"Oh good, we're having a party!"

Steve started giggling. I was sure I could sneak a beer or glass of wine while they were preoccupied with their guests, maybe two or three! Mike was frowning as he thought about it. It was kind of funny to watch since he wasn't aware of his expression.

We heard Mark's car in the driveway so Mike asked, "What are you guys up to today?"

"We're going to the Riverwalk and maybe ride the gondola over the river. I'm going to look for a jacket too. I don't want to wear that ratty old thing I brought from Wisconsin. I'd die if Mark saw me in it."

"Saw you in what?" Mark asked. He was standing behind me then started running his fingers through my hair.

"My old winter coat," I said. "It's probably too heavy for Louisiana anyway."

"You ready?" Mark asked.

"Yeah, see you guys later."

We all said goodbye. Mark left his keys on the edge of the spa in case they had to move his car. Then we started for the driveway. I put my arm around Mark's neck and pulled him into a kiss. He put his hand on my ass and squeezed. I loved it and so did my dick; it did a jig.

We had a great time walking around the Riverwalk. We rode the gondola over the Mississippi River; I took a lot of pictures with my camera. We shared a gondola with a family and asked the parents to take our picture, which they were happy to do. We posed with an arm around each other, smiling at the camera. After the gondola ride, we chose a restaurant with a terrace for lunch since it was warm and sunny. When we finished eating, we sat talking and people watching; generally enjoying our time together.

It was mid-afternoon and Mark had to think about going to work so we made our way toward the streetcar. When we got home, Mike and Steve left Mark's car in the garage where Steve normally parked; Steve's Caddy was gone. I walked into the garage with Mark to kiss him goodbye so the neighbors wouldn't see, then he left. If he weren't cutting it so close, we probably would have gone inside and messed around. As it was, he had to hurry or run the risk of being late. I wished we had kept better track of time since I wanted to be with him.

I watched him drive away then went inside. In the kitchen, I sat at the table with a glass of ice tea, my heels resting on the table. I pondered our situation and couldn't help wondering where we were headed. I wanted more than anything for us to be a couple; we already admitted that to each other. I didn't want to get burned again either yet I was feeling a whole lot for him. Christ, I was considering to let him fuck me and the truth be known, I pretty much decided he would. Not that I was handing out some kind of award or anything; I wanted it bad and Mark was hot. It was more than I wanted to think about so I went up to my room.

I unpacked the two picture frames I bought then fired up my computer. I printed the picture of Mark and me then the one with Mike, Steve and me on the boat; the one Mark took, then I put them in frames. I placed the one of Mark and me on my desk; it was a pewter color frame and looked nice. I chose a shiny thin black one for the library; it was contemporary in style. I thought it would make a nice contrast with all the wood. I went downstairs and placed it at an angle on the corner of the desk then sat back to admire it with my hands behind my head.

It really did look good and so did the three of us. We were all smiling, wearing sunglasses. I was standing in the middle while Steve had one hand on the wheel and his other arm around me. My hair was the longest and blowing in the wind as the boat was going almost full throttle. Mike rested one hand on the windshield while his other arm rested on my shoulders with his hand on Steve. We were shirtless and I noticed I was almost as tall as Steve, which surprised the hell out of me. I always felt much smaller around him because he was such an awesome dude.

I heard the back door open and the two of them came in sparring as they entered the kitchen. I went to see what was up. When I got there, Mike had his hand behind Steve's head, French kissing him. Steve dropped his shopping bags and put his arms around Mike. They weren't aware of my presence so I stood there taking it in. I liked the sight of my two dads making-out. I especially liked how much they were in love; I wanted that more than anything.

"HEY," I hollered loudly.

Mike shook with surprise, caught off guard. He stepped away from Steve completely startled.

I laughed my ass off; bending over. Finally, I got him back! The big shit got his just due! I felt exonerated. Like Mom says, `One good turn deserves another'.

"Hey, did you guys have a good day?" I asked.

"You little fart," Mike said. "I should rap you one."

"I'm not so little and you should watch your language Mister; that's a four letter word you know. If you want a contest then a contest you shall have," I said. "Put `em up, Mike. Let's see what ya got." Then I danced around him jabbing my fists at the air. "C'mon, stud, defend your honor." Then I gave him a light jab in the bicep, which was amazingly solid.

He put his hand on my shoulder and shoved. I began stepping sideways trying to regain my balance, finally running into the refrigerator. "Ouch, that hurt, ya big bully."

We all started laughing. The whole thing was farcical to begin with. The idea of me taking Mike on wasn't much more than fantasy.

"Hey, see if you can notice anything different in the library," I said.

The three of us congregated in the doorway; me looking at the picture, them trying to figure out what I was talking about. Finally, Steve looked at me with a grin saying, "I like it." Then he walked over to the desk and held it up for Mike.

Mike started grinning then I began to feel sheepish. He put his arm around me and squeezed. Then he messed my hair before he walked toward Steve to look at the picture.

"Mike, I hate it when you do that. It makes me feel like a little kid. I wish you would stop it."

"You shouldn't have told me that," he said with a chuckle.

I rolled my eyes.

"It's a nice pic, Sport," Mike said. "I like it a lot and the frame looks good too."

"Yeah," Steve added. "It's a nice family shot."

I couldn't resist a smile. That was exactly the thought I had.

"C'mon, Val," Steve said. "You can help me prepare the hors d'oeuvres while Mike sets the bar up. We only have a couple hours before the guests arrive."

I followed Steve to the kitchen where we went to work. I had no idea what to do so Steve gave me step-by-step instructions. I started the wall oven then he showed me how to set the temperature for the warming drawer. I never knew what the thing was used for but under the circumstances, it seemed like a handy item.

He had me fill bowls with chips, nuts, dip and all kinds of stuff and told me where to place them; while Mike went about placing coolers filled with ice and beer on the deck. I didn't miss that part. Then Mike spread plastic over the dining room table and covered it with a tablecloth so spills wouldn't ruin it.

A short time later and we all went upstairs to shower and change. I wasn't sure how to dress so I knocked on their door.

"Yeah?" Mike hollered.

"What should I wear?"

"Wear a jockstrap. You'll look good serving drinks like that."

I stood outside their closed-door thinking. Shit, he can't be serious. No way in hell am I walking around in a jockstrap with a bunch of people I don't know. Christ, I felt stupid wearing one under my gym shorts. He had to be kidding so I said, "Very funny Mike except no one is laughing."

He pulled the door open with a grin on his face. "I had you going didn't I?"

"Hardly," I said shaking my head, as if I would admit it.

"Dress casual, anything you feel comfortable in. We're wearing shorts with a polo shirt."

So I went to my room to select something similar. I didn't want to stand out. It was going to be awkward enough without calling attention to myself. I showered first then did my routine at the sink. I checked my face to see if my beard was noticeable. There were the beginnings of a shadow so I decided to leave it. I was hoping it looked sexy like Steve.

I put some mousse in my hair then styled it the way I liked it. I swore to God, if Mike messed it up he was in for it. It would be all out war. When I was pleased with the look, I went to my bedroom to dress. I really wanted to wear my new pink polo shirt but I chickened out. I was afraid someone would think it was too faggy or something. I stuck with my original scheme; khaki colored cargo shorts with a cool collarless shirt I bought at the mall. It had a wide neckline with long sleeves, which I pulled up to my elbows letting it hang loosely over my shorts.

I opened the door to the closet to have a look in the full-length mirror. I turned around and craned my neck to see at my backside. Everything looked as good as I could hope for so I closed the door and walked to the dresser. I spritzed my neck and wrists with cologne then rubbed them together. It was expensive so I was sure it smelled good. I only bought it because the guy behind the counter was hot and said it was one of his favorites.

"VAL," Steve hollered from the bottom of the stairs.

"COMING," I responded.

I took the sacred monkey and cock charm from the dresser drawer. I swore silently. I would have to mess my hair to put it on; it didn't have a clasp. I tossed it back in the drawer then made my way downstairs.

Mike and Steve were in the kitchen making last minute adjustments. I was getting excited over the idea of a party. I had never been to a party and this one was going to be at home with all gay people! Steve had a glass of wine in front of him while Mike had a can of beer on the countertop. I decided to run a test.

"Oh good, that's my favorite beer," I said avoiding eye contact with Mike on my way to the fridge. I had no idea what I'd do when I got there; it seemed like a good diversion. I opened the door peering inside not sure what to do next. Without a better idea, I closed the door to face the inevitable.

As I turned around, Mike was fixated on me. "What?" I said innocently.

Mike shook his head. "You know what? It just dawned on me. I totally understand why parents get gray hair. As if work and life aren't enough, there's kids to worry about."

"I'm not a kid, Mike. You don't have to worry about me."

"You're more of a kid than you know. That's the worrisome part."

I was feeling bad about the concern Mike voiced. Hell, all I was looking for was a couple of beers. What's the harm in that? I walked over to Mike and said, "You guys have been good to me. I don't want to make you worry." Then, I put an arm around Mike and one around Steve. After our three-way hug I said, "Good, now let's have a beer."

Mike exhaled a long drawn out sigh shaking his head while Steve had to laugh.

"Seriously though, is it okay if I have a beer?"

Mike looked at Steve who shrugged his shoulders then he turned his attention to me. "One beer kid and that's it, period. I don't want anyone to know we're allowing a minor to drink."

"Thanks," I said on my way out the back door.

I selected a beer from one of the coolers then went inside. We finished setting everything up and stood around talking while we downed the beverage of our choice.

A short time later, the doorbell rang. Steve and Mike went to answer it so I went out to the deck to dispose of the empty beer bottle.

The back door opened and out came Mike with a couple guests showing them where the beer was. He spied me at the edge of the deck and said, "Oh, there you are. Come here, I want to introduce you."

"John and Bob, this is Val. Val, this is John and Bob," he said indicating who was who.

John raised his hand to shake. I shook with both of them as we exchanged greetings.

"Sport here is going to Ben Franklin High this year," Mike said. "We'll get the particulars tomorrow."

They both congratulated me and wished me well. I thought they were nice; a little odd looking together but nice just the same. John was so much taller than Bob one couldn't help but notice. I whispered in Mike's ear asking him if we could forego the Sport thing tonight and he agreed with a smile.

He looked like he wanted to mess my hair so I decided to go inside and have some hors d'oeuvres since we didn't have dinner. I was starving. I walked around the table picking at this and that, Steve had a good selection.

"Val, don't use your fingers, get a plate and silverware," Steve said.

I turned around to look then he winked at me squeezing my shoulder. It was obvious he was in good spirits. I made a heaping plate and ate the whole thing; everything Steve prepared was so delicious.

I saw Mike in the library talking with some people so I decided to go outside and see what was happening. There was a hottie in the kitchen looking through the cabinets so I said, "Can I help you find something?"

He looked at me then closed the cabinet door. He was turning red from embarrassment so I said, "No need to be embarrassed. I live here so I know where everything is."

He grinned big time then said, "I'm Dickie," extending his hand.

Well shit, I had to burst out with a laugh. It was impossible to withhold it. Who the hell is called Dickie anyway? And what kind of a person would admit to it? It was too much; I had to laugh. When I got control of myself, I looked at him feeling like a dirty dog for laughing at his name. He was sexy as could be in spite of it.

"It's okay," he said. "At home everyone used to call me Rich; somehow I acquired the name Dickie when I moved here and, well, I guess I'm used to it now."

I extended my hand and said, "Pleased to meet you, Dickie," then I giggled again `cause it sort of tickled to say it. "I'm Val; Mike and Steve call me Sport so I can sympathize with you."

"I was looking for a beer glass."

"Oh, you don't need one. C'mon, the beer's on the deck." I led him outside and showed him the iced down beer.

He noticed the koi pond and asked about it. After I explained, he wanted to take a closer look so I walked over with him. It was relaxing to watch the fish swimming in circular patterns while the water trickled down the jagged rocks. I'd forgotten how romantic it was with the night lighting. I began to feel uneasy. I thought Dickie was going to make a move and I didn't want to deal with it so I said, "C'mon, I'm hungry," which was bullshit but it served my purpose.

"You wanna leave so soon?" he asked with a smile.

"No, but I think it's best; c'mon."

We started walking toward the deck. After a few steps he said, "Let's go back after you make a plate. It's nice and romantic there."

"That it is," I said. "And that's the reason we're not going back. Maybe you can find someone inside who would appreciate it and the opportunity."

"I already found someone who appreciates it but you're not interested."

That did it. It was time to ditch Dickie. As sexy and nice as he was, I wasn't having any of it. I had the guy I wanted and was determined not to screw it up. And the truth be known, it wasn't a difficult decision. A stiff dick isn't the best foundation for a relationship. After it has its way, it's a pretty flimsy premise. I had what I wanted; what was important and was determined not to undermine it.

I left Dickie with some guys he seemed to know and went inside. I went to the fridge and made myself an ice tea then popped a lemon slice and swizzle stick in. I thought it looked more hip than a can of pop. I made my way to the dining room, Steve was nowhere in sight so I circled the hors d'oeuver table a couple times picking at the things I liked most, sipping tea.

When I was content, I stopped eating and took a long swig. Mike was talking to a familiar looking face in the living room. The guy was tall and bald with tattoos and piercings. As I lowered my tea, the guy pointed in my direction. He looked vaguely familiar. Mike turned around to see me lowering my glass.

Mike motioned for me to come with his index finger. I finally placed the dude. The dude Mike was talking to was the owner of the sex shop in the Quarter. He's the guy that took the lube from me and told us to beat it. I was fucked, and I mean it because I was royally fucked. I could only hope the guy wouldn't remember.

Mike was growing impatient and motioned with his head again, his face in earnest. I began my death march taking another sip through the swizzle stick.

"Hi Mike," I said with trepidation.

"Sport, I want to introduce you to Tony," he said placing his arm over my shoulder.

"Mike, you promised." I wondered how long that would last.

He apologized then raised my hand with the tea sniffing my glass.

"Tony this is Val, otherwise known as Sport. Val this is Tony."

"Nice to meet you, Tony," I said formally extending my hand. After we shook, I elbowed Mike. Damn, he had `Sport' burned into his brain.

"Same here, I didn't think we'd meet again so soon."

I glanced at Mike. He furrowed his brow as he looked at me. I had a sinking feeling. All I could do was give Mike a token smile and look away. Fuck, why did Tony have to say that? Mike tightened his grip on my shoulders so I put my arm around him. I wanted to rest my head on him but I thought it would look too dorky.

Tony was smiling like he hit the lottery. Mike was shaking lightly too confusing the hell out of me.

"I'm going outside for some fresh air. Nice to meet you, Tony," I said. I had to get out of there before I had some explaining to do.

"We'll talk tomorrow," Mike said.

"Translation, you'll talk and I'll listen."

Mike looked at Tony, "Sport's a quick study," then they laughed.

I excused myself and left. I wanted to punch the big oaf in the arm though I didn't. I headed for the deck and fresh air. Outside, the evening had cooled off and a number of guests were talking and laughing on the deck.

As I surveyed the crowd, I noticed Jerry and Mark, the owners of Le Coquille, the restaurant down the street. Jerry waved so I tipped my glass in his direction and nodded. He smiled and walked over.

"Hi Sport, how are you?" then he reached for my hair.

I leaned away saying, "Not you too. You must be taking lessons from Mike."

"What do you mean?"

"I swear to God, I'm gonna start thinking my name is Sport. And lately, Mike has this thing about messing my hair."

He chuckled then said, "Sorry, it looks so good I wanted to run my fingers through it."

I asked him how business was and he said sales were flat. Not good or bad, they were holding their own. He said they were going to start home delivery in the Garden District and Lower Garden District except during Mardi Gras; he said it was too hectic to do both. He thought that would boost sales. He asked me if I knew anyone that wanted a job delivering. I said I didn't but would keep my eyes and ears open when school started.

Steve was circulating and stopped to say hello. He put his arm around me as he greeted Jerry. I draped an arm over his shoulder and kissed him on the cheek then rested my head against his for a moment. Then I whispered in his ear, "I love you." After he said hi to Jerry, he kissed me on the head.

We chatted for a few minutes then Steve excused us saying he wanted to introduce me to someone. We crossed the deck where a small group stood talking and joking. Steve pulled one of the better-looking guys aside and said, "Matt, I would like to introduce you to Val," then he said, "Val this is Matt, he works for me."

We shook hands then smiled at each other. I couldn't help it; he was so darn attractive. Steve excused himself saying he'd be back in a minute so I chatted with Matt. He was pleasant and easy to talk to. It didn't feel awkward at all.

I asked him how he became interested in Architecture and he explained how it started in high school. He took a mechanical drawing class and liked it so he enrolled in some drafting classes and the rest fell into place.

He wanted to know how I liked living with Mike and Steve. I told him how I considered myself lucky to have two dads and how much I cared for them. I didn't say love because it didn't seem right at the time and I really didn't know Matt. When I finished, he said he'd be right back and went to get a beer.

When he returned, he held one out, noting my empty glass. I set the glass on a table full of empties and accepted the beer. `What the hell' I thought. What's the harm in one measly little beer? It wasn't like I was going to get falling down drunk or anything.

Another nice looking guy came up and kissed Matt on the mouth then said, "What ya up to?"

"Talking with Val."

Then Matt introduced him as Len, his other half and we shook. They made an attractive couple making me wonder what people thought when they saw Mark and me together. We talked for a while and I learned Len was a computer guy. That's what Matt called him but Len corrected him saying he was an IT specialist. We laughed over it.

I saw Mike over Matt's shoulder walking our way and stiffened up. I lowered my beer hiding it behind my leg. I was quite certain he didn't see it unless he developed supernatural powers in the last hour.

"So this is where you're hiding," he said looking at me. "I wanted some friends to meet you but they had to leave. Are you guys taking good care of our boy?" he asked Matt and Len."

Then he drew me next to him with his arm. My cold beer touched his leg so he looked down. He took my arm and lifted it saying, "What have we here?"

I think I turned ten shades of red as my face was about to combust spontaneously.

Len said, "That's my beer. He wanted a sip so I let him," then he reached over and took it raising it to his lips.

"That better be the truth, Sport."

I didn't hesitate, "Oh it is Mike, I swear."

He seemed to buy it. He messed my hair before he left. I wasn't about to say a word. I was counting my lucky stars.

"Whew, that was close. Thanks Len," I said.

We all laughed then I looked up to see Mike staring at me.

The next morning I was first up and went downstairs to start the coffee. I finished cleaning what little mess remained. I grabbed one of Steve's industry periodicals and my sunglasses then headed for the deck.

There was a lot of dew on the grass as the nights were getting cooler but the days were still warm and humid. The birds were noisy as they flitted about, their day underway hours ago. The water trickled down the waterfall with the occasional bird or chipmunk pausing to drink.

The backdoor opened and closed so I turned to have a look. Mike and Steve were in their bathing suits on their way to the spa. They chose a chaise lounge on either side of me.

"Morning, guys," I said.

They both returned my greeting. I held the magazine open but eyed them through my sunglasses; we were positioned at angles.

"Did you enjoy last night?" Steve asked.

"Yeah, it was nice. I wish there were more people my age though."

Mike cleared his throat then said, "How did you meet Tony?"

I was dead sure he knew. He wasn't going to make it easy either, that was clear.

"We wandered into his store by mistake." That was all I could think of on short notice.


"Yeah, Mike. It was an honest mistake."

"How do you wander into a store that has leather harnesses, chaps, chains, whips and handcuffs and everything else they display in the window by mistake? And the sign over the door reads "Ye Olde Sex Shoppe" ... you call that an honest mistake?"

Steve and I started giggling. It did sound a little ridiculous when stated that way.

"That's not how it was. You're making it sound worse." Then I couldn't resist a smile and wiped it away as fast as it appeared.

"Why don't you tell me how it was and, while you're at it, what you were doing in the Quarter in the first place?"

It was my turn to clear my throat in an attempt to buy time. I took a sip of coffee then said, "You and Steve said I could go pick up the poster. You know the one upstairs in my room."

"True," he said. "I wasn't aware Tony sold Mardi Gras posters. So how did you honestly mistake a sex shop for a poster store?"

That did it, I burst out laughing and Steve couldn't resist either. After a few moments, I got control of myself and stared at the magazine on my lap.

"It was Greg's idea, not mine," I said. Then I sneaked a peek at him over the top of my sunglasses. He didn't appear to be mad.

"So you can't think for yourself? Is that what you're telling me?"

"C'mon, Mike," I moaned. "I didn't do anything wrong. What was I supposed to do? Wait outside like a nun or something?"

Steve started giggling again, which made my body hiccup trying to control myself. Geez, Mike was on to this thing like a bulldog, not letting go.

"That's not the point, Val. We trusted you and you let us down. That's what this is all about ... trust."

Good Lord, when he put it that way it made me feel lousy. I didn't think I did anything bad but he sure had a way of making it seem that way. I always thought of myself as a trustworthy person but he sure advanced a convincing case. I didn't know what to say but somehow an apology seemed in order.

"I'm sorry, Mike ... and Steve. I didn't mean for it to be like that. I want you to feel like you can trust me."

"We know you didn't mean it that way," Steve said. "But that's how it comes across."

"Think about it while you clean the koi pond," Mike said.

"Mike, if you wanted the koi pond cleaned why didn't you say so instead of making me feel like hell?"

"Would you like to write a five hundred word essay on `the importance of the rule of law' for drinking last night?"


"Then give it a rest."

Mike and Steve got up and headed for the spa. Mike had his arm around Steve, smiling and kissing him. Yuck, how could Steve stand it? I decided to go upstairs and call Mark to find out when he was coming over. We were supposed to be at Mr. Perfect's parents' house in a few hours.

To Be Continued.


Thanks again to Chris and Wayne for their time and patience.