"Plaquemines Parish" Part 15

By: Pee Jay



I was sitting on the bed in my room and hit speed dial for Mark's cell phone. After three rings, he answered.

"Good morning, sexy. I was just walking into my room to call you when the phone started ringing."

"Good, so when are you coming over? We're supposed to be there between one and one-thirty."

"Mom's been giving me a lot of hassle about hanging out with someone she doesn't know. She thinks I'm trying to hide something; like I'm saying one thing and doing another. She's paranoid about drugs since my little brother was caught with a couple joints. Would it be possible for you and Mike to pick me up?"

"Geez Mark, she let you go with us for the weekend and now she's got a problem with you going to an afternoon barbecue. It doesn't make sense."

"I know, I know. I could leave now and come over if I have to. It would be a lot easier if she could see me leave with you and Mike. I think it would go a long way to ease her mind."

"Okay, I'm in my room now. I'll go down and talk to the control freak then call you back."

He laughed because my comment definitely cited an obvious facet of Mike's personality. Then I felt the need to tell him about the sex shop and our conversation a while ago. Mark said he would help me clean the koi pond if we could do it naked. I agreed smiling and rubbing my crotch then we hung up.

I made my way downstairs grabbing the coffee pot as I passed through the kitchen. As I crossed the deck, Steve hollered at me to bring some milk so I went back inside. At the spa, I filled their cups and handed Steve the milk then sat on the edge with my legs in the water.



"Mark has a problem with his mother," I said then looked at him.

"I'm listening."

"Well, she thinks Mark's up to something because I've never been there; he's always coming over here. She suspects he's not doing what he says..."

Mike interrupted, "You mean there's a problem with trust?"

Well fuck me! I can't believe he managed to work that in. All I could do was hold my hand to my forehead shaking it, the guy was impossible. When I looked up, Steve was grinning.

"It's not funny, Steve. It isn't easy being me."

"I can see that," he said then snickered.

"Get on with it, Sport."

"Okay, okay. The bottom line is ... can you and I pick him up for the barbecue? That would go a long way to ease her mind."

Mike sighed, "I suppose. We'll have to take two cars. Tell him we'll be there at quarter to one."

"Thanks you guys," I said standing up with the coffee pot. Steve passed the milk then I went inside to call Mark. I hated to ask something of Mike so soon after his lecture; actually, grilling would be more like it. As much as I didn't like asking, I wanted Mark to go more so it wasn't difficult to compromise, just hard to stomach.

I called Mark to give him the good news. He was happy promising to thank Mike when he saw him. Then I suggested he bring a bathing suit; he was glad to hear Mike's parents had a pool. I proposed that he not eat anything until we got there since there would be a ton of food and, according to Mike, his mother appreciated a healthy appetite; then he said goodbye and hung up. I sat on the bed looking at my phone wondering why things had to be so complicated.

I heard Mike and Steve coming through the back door into the kitchen. A minute later and they were climbing the stairs. They stopped outside my door looking in.

"What?" I asked defensively.

Steve pushed Mike so he started into the room then sat on the bed next to me. `Now what?' was all I could think. Steve sat down on the other side.

"Two against one isn't exactly fair," I said.

"Val," Steve said placing his arm around me.

I was cognizant of the missing reference to Sport as the seconds ticked. What could it be now?

"We want you to know how much we care. We want you to know that no matter what happens we'll always be family; you, me and Mike. And just so you know, we really do trust you."

"That's right," Mike said placing his arm around me. "I might be a little tough at times but it's for your own good. Val, I don't want that to discourage you from coming to us with anything, anytime. You're a good kid and we're here to help. We want you to succeed. You're like a son to us and we couldn't ask for a better one."

Well shit, that was too much. My eyes started getting watery forcing me to look away. How does he do it? He's on your ass one minute then the next you want to hug him. I don't get it. Still, it struck a chord deep inside; I was lost for words as I sat between them struggling to withhold tears.

"Val?" Steve said.

I looked at him overcome with emotion, teary eyed. "Yeah?"

"Come here," he said pulling us together.

I gave him a heartfelt squeeze and a hardy, "Thanks, Steve." Then Mike did the same so I reciprocated squeezing him too. When we parted, they stood up and started for the door.

"So do I still have to clean the koi pond?"

"Oh yeah," Mike said. "And you still have to think about why."

I shook my head. I didn't really expect him to relent, it was worth a try though.

I took some clean underwear from the dresser on my way to the bathroom. After showering, I straightened up my room and threw a bathing suit, my phone, wallet, camera and sunglasses in a shopping bag then went downstairs to wait.

I cleaned the kitchen then started the dishwasher. As I finished wiping the counters, Mike and Steve came in.

"Ready?" Steve asked.


So we locked the door, set the alarm and went to the garage.

Mike kissed Steve and said, "See you there." Then he turned to me, "You want to drive?"

"Yeah sure."

He tossed me the keys then we climbed in. I was a little nervous because his car was so expensive. It wouldn't be so bad if he weren't sitting next to me watching my every move. Then I had a thought.

"Mike, I know Mark lives in Metairie but I don't know exactly where." Then I felt stupid for not being ready.

"Okay, let's call him."

I retrieved my phone from the shopping bag. I hit speed dial for Mark then handed the phone to Mike. I backed out of the driveway then drove in the direction of the freeway. Mike got a kick out of Mark answering the phone. He must have said something suggestive because Mike told him he wasn't me with a smile on his face. It wasn't long until we exited the freeway in Mark's neighborhood. Mike pointed out the turns as we went. A few minutes and we were pulling up in front of Mark's house.

"Geez, this isn't so bad," I said. "In fact, it's a nice neighborhood. Mark said his house wasn't all that nice."

"Maybe he was comparing it to ours. You're right though; it's a nice area."

We rang the doorbell and a minute later Mark's mother answered the door. She was pleasant looking as she held the door open.

"Come in Mike. It's nice to see you again."

Inside, Mike introduced her as Mrs. Doucet and I told her how nice it was to meet her. She liked that saying the same thing. She asked Mike about the barbecue so he filled her in explaining how it was an annual thing, mostly family with a few close friends. They were talking between themselves about our weekend trip when Mark entered the living room from the hallway.

"There he is," Mike said looking at Mark. "Do you have your bathing suit with you?"

Mark and I were smiling at each other; me picturing him naked and he with his own lustful thoughts, I hoped. Mike was trying to divert the conversation since Mrs. Doucet was asking pointed questions about the weekend making Mike uncomfortable with his less than accurate responses.

"You guys jump in the car and start the air conditioning. I'll be there in a minute."

I sensed Mike's discomfort so I said, "Okay Mike, we're running late anyway."

I said goodbye and repeated myself telling Mrs. Doucet how nice it was to meet her then we went outside pulling the door closed.

"Thanks for picking me up," Mark said. "Can you move the car so I can put mine in front of the house?"

We jockeyed the cars around so their driveway was clear in case his mother wanted to go out. A few minutes later and we were on our way.

"Thanks Mike," Mark said. "Mom was beginning to get suspicious."

"You're welcome. That's the last time I mislead her so keep that in mind. If something like this comes up again she's going to get the facts."

I glanced sideways at Mike then looked in the rearview mirror. Mark had a worried look on his face.

We parked across the street from Mike's parents' house then locked the car. I noticed Bill's SUV parked in the driveway meaning he and Mom were already there.

As we made our way up the driveway, Mark said, "This is a fancy neighborhood. The houses are huge. What does your father do?"

"He's semi-retired. He's one of the managing partners at the law firm where I work."

"Oh, a nepotism thing, huh?" Mark said sarcastically.

We looked at each other grinning. He was catching on quick and getting braver. I reveled in the fact that it was at Mike's expense. Mike cuffed him on the back of the head.

"Hey, knock it off," he said. "Methinks I hit a nerve."

That drew a chuckle out of Mike.

Instead of going in the house, we walked around to the backyard. There was a six-foot high privacy fence between the driveway and yard. Mike opened the gate motioning for us to go ahead.

When we stepped inside, we saw a beautifully landscaped yard with a deck off the back of the house and a lanai over it covered with Jasmine and Bougainvillea. To one side of the deck was a large Magnolia tree that stretched its limbs a good distance over the deck. On the other side was a bank of built-in appliances with a fridge and barbecue among other things. Centered in the middle of the lawn was a large swimming pool with floating chaises bobbing in the water. There was a cabana attached to the garage with a `his' and `hers' side. The perimeter was a plethora of beautiful flowering bushes and shrubs scenting the air with their sweet aroma. It was lush and verdant looking like something out of a magazine.

"Wow," Mark said. "This is awesome. I've seen pictures before but I didn't think anyone had a yard like this."

"Where do you think those pictures come from?" Mike asked him. "It has to exist somewhere to be photographed."

I punched him in the arm for being a smart ass. Then I spotted Mom sitting on the deck wearing a sleeveless dress and sunbonnet with a yellow ribbon. She looked terrific. If I didn't know any better I would've thought she was the lady of the house. She waved when she saw me look her way.

"I'm gonna go say hi to Mom," I said as I waved back.

I made my way across the yard. A few feet from the deck, I broke into a run so I could jump onto the deck, not wanting to go around to the stairs. When I got close, Mom stood up and I closed my eyes wrapping my arms around her and squeezed. After a few moments, I eased up and kissed her on the cheek.

"Hi Mom, you look lovely." And that she did. She was the prettiest thing there.

"Thank you, honey," she said. Then she put her hand behind my head and kissed me.

"Mom, you're not supposed to kiss your kids on the mouth."

She laughed and said, "Says who?" then sat down next to Bill.

I extended my hand saying, "Hi Bill, good to see you again. How are you?"

"Good, thanks," he said in his usual genial manner as we shook.

Then I spotted Steve and gave him a wave. He smiled back. He looked good sitting there relaxed and self-confident.

"Come here, Sport," Mike said. He was standing next to his parents with Mark.

"Mom, Dad this is Val otherwise known as Sport." I rolled my eyes. "Sport, this is my mother Mattie and father Theo."

We exchanged greetings; me calling them Mr. and Mrs. Harris, them referring to me as Val, thank God. When we finished, Mrs. Harris, Mike's mother, said, "Call me Mattie, everyone else does."

"Okay, I'll try. It's kind of weird calling adults by their first names." The fact that she had a weird first name didn't help either; I was certainly not one to talk about unusual names.

"Same here," Mr. Harris said. "Call me Theo that's my name and I'm sticking to it," then he chuckled placing his arm around his wife.

"Okay Theo," I said looking at Mike who was grinning. I knew what he was thinking and it made me smile too. Sheesh, it was already turning into a fun time.

We introduced Mark to everyone who didn't know him. Mike's sister hadn't arrived with her family so Theo suggested that everyone relax, swim, have a drink, whatever pleased them. Mike took up residence next to Steve so I decided to get close to my dude.

"The fridge is over there," Theo said pointing to a bank of appliances under a colorful ceramic tile countertop.

"Thanks," I said. "We have to check with Mike first."

"What for?" Theo asked.

"To see if we can have a beer."

"Son, you're in my home now. Mike does as he's told around here; he's a good boy that way. If a beer is what you want, then help yourself." He had a mischievous twinkle in his eye. I could tell by the look, we were going to get along famously.

"Okay thanks, Theo," I said grinning.

Finally, there was someone Mike couldn't control. I would never have believed it had I not witnessed it for myself. This was definitely going to be a good time. Mark and I escorted each other to the far side of the deck. Half way there, he put his arm around me. A flash of panic overcame me before I decided to go with the flow. I liked it and I was, after all, gay. So who was I trying to kid? Still, it felt a tad embarrassing.

"I like the old man," Mark said. "It's true what they say ya know; like father, like son."

We both laughed, mostly because it was true and the likeness was real.

"Yeah, I do too. I don't think he's as bad as Mike. Did you see the look on his face when he said we could have a beer?"

"How could you miss it?"

After we selected a brew, Mark said, "C'mon, let's go talk to Theo and see what we can find out about Mike."

I agreed. It sounded like a good idea. Theo probably had an arsenal of useful information. I was hoping we could scrounge up some dirt. He was sitting next to Mattie on a glider with a canopy over it. We took up positions opposite them. I said loud enough for Theo and Mattie to hear, "Let's raise our beers to Mike then drink a toast to him."

Mark liked the idea and we both enjoyed a chuckle.

Mike was looking our way so I said, "Okay now."

We raised our beers, tipped them toward Mike and Steve then took a swig. When we lowered our bottles, Mike was frowning causing Mark and me to grin. Then we turned our attention to Mattie and Theo who were both smiling; especially Theo, he seemed to delight in our defiance.

"Did Mike ever get in trouble when he was young?" Mark asked.

Man, the guy read my mind. That's exactly what I was going to say.

"Are you kidding?" Theo said. "Trouble was his middle name."

Mattie told him she didn't think it was a good idea to be telling those stories but it didn't stop Theo who kissed and assured her it would be fine. She excused herself shaking her head and went inside to look after the food. Mom got up and followed her. Theo spent the next twenty minutes telling us about one fix after another Mike got into when he was our age. He had a knack for storytelling, which he punctuated with cliffhangers and a devious grin. We stopped him every so often to get the gory details, he was more than happy to oblige.

Theo was interrupted by a studly looking guy with jet-black hair letting himself and a blond girl in the gate. Mike hollered, "Hey Mack, over here." Then he rose and walked across the deck to greet them. Mack had hunk written all over him making me wonder what his hard dick looked like, black hair and all.

Theo told us the newcomers were Mack and Diane. He said Mack was a buddy of Mike's who he played football with, Diane was his wife. Theo said his real name was Jim MacKenzie but everyone referred to him as Mack. According to Theo, he was the quarterback and Mike was a wide receiver. They grew up together remaining best friends through high school then college and still were. That surprised me since I never heard Mike speak of him.

Mack and his wife came over to say hello to Theo. Diane bent over and kissed him on the cheek. The old man perked up in his seat making me smile. He may have been old but the spark was alive and glowing. Mike introduced me as Sport again and called Mark my partner in crime; it was an obvious reference to our beer drinking. I was beginning to wonder if it was a good idea.

After intros, I excused myself and went to the car for our swim trunks while Mark visited with Theo. I was starting to get a hard on from checking out Mack's crotch. When I returned, I gave Mark a wave heading for the `His' side of the cabana. It was a good size room with a shower behind a privacy partition at one end. At the opposite end was a vanity and mirror. In the center, were enclosed stalls with benches for changing and urinals on the opposite wall.

Mark came in with a smile on his face. "There you are. I'm going to have my way with you." Then we started making out with tongues dueling while our hands grabbed and explored. It didn't take either one of us long to bone up pressing our hard dicks against each other. I had my hand down the front of Mark's shorts stroking him when the door opened.

"Ahem," Steve said.

We parted immediately with our faces aglow.

"I thought something like this might be going on. I came in here for two reasons; one, I have to pee and two, be forewarned. Theo will do anything he can think of to embarrass you. If you want to keep your business private, I suggest you wait till you're well away from him. I can personally attest to his ways."

As soon as Steve finished, the door opened and in walked Theo. He nodded briefly on his way to the urinal. Steve raised his eyebrows and cocked his head as if to say `see'? Mark mouthed a silent, `thank you'. Then we chose separate stalls to change while Steve stood at the only other urinal to pee.

When Theo was done he washed his hands and said, "Enjoy your swim boys," then the door swung closed behind him.

I peeked over the partition to make sure he was gone. "Steve, we owe you big time, thanks a lot."

"Don't mention it. I suffered plenty at his hand. If you think Mike's bad, you ain't seen nothing."

With that, Steve let himself out. Mark and I emerged from our stalls clad in our trunks.

"Man," Mark said. "That was too close for comfort." He stepped close then we started in again.

We couldn't resist a few more kisses and gropes. I was massaging his dick outside his trunks when the door swung open again. It took us a moment to realize what happened then we parted as quickly as possible.

"Hi boys, don't let me interrupt," Theo said with a smirk on his face and a glint in his eye. "I left my watch on the vanity." He walked to the vanity and picked up his watch pulling it around his wrist. As he walked toward the door he said, "Carry on boys," then the door swung closed.

"Well that old buzzard," Mark said. "He didn't forget his damn watch. He did that on purpose."

"I agree. We better take Steve's advice to heart. It could've been much worse."

We exited the cabana and crossed the yard to the pool. When we reached the edge, I dove in the deep end surfacing at the opposite side of the pool. When I surfaced, Mark was on the diving board jumping up and down testing its flex. He walked back to the heal end of the board then postured himself. He began his walk toward the toe end raising his arms as he jumped up, landing on the board then sprang forth.

I watched the muscles in his body bulge and contract as he took to the air effortlessly. He was the essence of grace and beauty. He did a perfect jackknife entering the water with barely a splash. When he surfaced, Mike was standing on the deck applauding and whistling his approval. A few of the others joined in making Mark smile and blush while I beamed with pride to be with him. He swam over resting an arm on the edge of the pool.

"That was awesome," I said. I resisted kissing him knowing we were under scrutiny. But no one could scrutinize under water so I massaged his crotch, which was a dumb idea because I started to harden up. He shoved off toward the middle of the pool treading water. I shoved off after him.

"Where did you learn to dive like that?" I asked as we treaded water.

"I was a lifeguard at the club one summer. I watched the good divers and tried to copy them. That's about it."

"Do you know any other dives?"

"Yeah, a few but I'm out of practice. I did a jackknife `cause it's an easy one."

After a few minutes of conversation, we were getting tired of treading water so we swam to the shallow end to relax in the floating chairs. I went to the cabana to get my sunglasses since the sun was bright and the water reflected the sun's rays. When I came back, Theo and Diane were in their bathing suits trying to figure out if they were going to jump or wade in so I dove in and claimed a seat.

Theo was wearing large black framed sunglasses with his silver hair neatly combed and his big belly hanging over the waistband of his baggy bathing suit. He was so white he looked pink. He reminded me of Aristotle Onassis standing there with a drink in one hand and a babe in the other, it was funny as hell.

Diane was looking pretty good too. She wore a one piece suit showing cleavage at the top which didn't go unnoticed by Theo. She was pretty but not as attractive as Mom and somewhat heavier.

"Hey Theo," I shouted. "Where'd you pick up the babe?"

He started grinning like a little kid then gave Diane a squeeze.

"Don't you young bucks get any ideas. I found her first."

Diane was smiling too as she took Theo's arm then the two of them waded in at the shallow end. He put his glass in a slot on the armrest of my chair then lowered himself into the water. I thought briefly how he could be a great white shark then smiled. He shoved off with his feet doing an easy breaststroke toward the diving board. Diane was swimming next to him with her hair pinned up to keep it dry. At the far end, they rested under the diving board for a time and chatted then made their way back to Mark and me.

I was watching Theo trying to pick up any facet of his personality that I could. He had a goofy way of holding his mouth when he swam; sort of like a flytrap, agape. It made me smile.

"What's so funny?" Mark asked.

"It's Theo, he's too much."

Mark giggled, "I know. I like him."

"Me too."

When they made it back to our end of the pool, they squatted holding their chins barely above water. Theo moved slowly toward me looking like a crocodile. I glanced sideways a couple times trying to figure out what he was up to. He removed his glass from the armrest then flipped my chair over sending me face first into the water. My arms and legs whipping in the air then the water as I tried to regain some semblance of balance. I surfaced laughing, coughing and choking. Mark and Theo were laughing their asses off too.

"You old goat," I said. "Now I know where Mike gets his demonic mind."

He was belly-laughing paying no attention.

When he was able, he said, "Your manners are terrible, son. You should offer your seat to an old man whenever I'm around," then he chuckled some more.

"It's getting crowded in here. I'm getting out. You can have the seat."

I retrieved my sunglasses from the bottom of the pool then started toward the stairs. As I passed Theo, I splashed him getting his hair wet.

He chuckled then said, "That son of mine is doing a poor job of teaching you manners, boy. You need to learn some respect."

"Respect isn't learned ... it's earned," I said authoritatively. Then I couldn't resist laughing; all proud of myself. Neither could Theo, which was a major relief because I wasn't sure how he would take it.

Mark and I were walking toward the deck when he said, "Theo is a character. I wonder if Theo is short for something or if that's actually his name."

"I don't know. From the sound of it, his mother must have thought he was going to be president. I guess we could ask Mike."

Mom and Mattie were coming out of the house with a tray each of munchies so Mark pulled me by the arm in their direction. They placed them on a round, black wrought iron table with an umbrella over it. Mark and I pulled out a chair and sat down to feast; we were both hungry. We attacked the tortilla chips dipping them alternately in guacamole and salsa, which was medium to hot so I needed something to drink. I walked to the fridge reaching for an ice tea when Mark hollered, "Times two," so I pulled another one out.

When I returned, Mom was seated at our table so I asked her if she was thirsty. She held up a bottled water saying no so I took a seat on the other side of Mark placing him between Mom and me.

Then she said, "Bill says you have to take the admissions test for Ben Franklin tomorrow and he's volunteered to pick you up and take you."

That was the first I'd heard of it so I asked, "What time," I was hoping it wouldn't conflict with work since it was short notice and I hadn't asked for the time off.

"It's in the morning, I forget exactly what time. That's better you know, the mind is sharper in the morning."

"I know. So why do you want me to go there? How did you find out about the school?"

"I wanted you to go to Jesuit High but it was too late and they were full. That's the best high school in the city; it's a private Catholic school and a little religion wouldn't kill you either. Bill doesn't know anyone with influence there, neither do I. Ben Franklin is within walking distance of Bill's house too. That may prove convenient."

I wasn't sure where the religion thing was coming from. It's true, we were Catholic but I can't remember the last time we went to church, probably my first communion, let alone discussed religion. And Bill's house? What difference could that possibly make?

"Mom, have you given further thought to me working?"

I winced inwardly having asked the question. I had been thinking about buying a car, something like Mark's. I didn't need anything fancy or new, just wheels to get around and a job to pay for it. After all, I was going to be a senior and you can't be cool and carless; they don't go together. Besides, if school was near Bill's house then I had a logistics problem. I decided to push it.

"Some," she said. "I suppose it's okay."

"If Ben Franklin is near Bill's house, then I'll need a car to get there. After school, I'll need one to get to work. The streetcars don't go that far." I conveniently neglected to mention the bus.

She was silent for a moment then spoke, "I'm not opposed to you getting a car. I'm not crazy about the idea of you working, either. Bill, Mike and Steve seem to think it's okay. In fact, they think it's a good idea; not that I need their consent, mind you. I would rather see you join the French club or choose a sport to play; or an activity so you can be with kids your own age."

"Mom, I have two years of Spanish not French and there's no way I'm joining the Spanish club; that's out of the question. Those people are weird. They sit around after school speaking Spanish. Entiende?"

She laughed then said, "Don't be so hard on your old mother. I have your best interest at heart."

Mark said, "Dos años Español aqui." What he said was, "Two years Spanish here!"

"Bueno te," I said meaning, "Good you," in the familiar.

Mom excused herself saying we had more to discuss and we'd talk later then she left to rejoin Bill who was talking with Mike and Steve. I watched her sit next to Bill noticing the look they exchanged. Mom smiled at him then Bill took her hand rubbing the backside. It was an intimate exchange, done in good taste. A few moments later, Bill finished talking then leaned toward Mom. They kissed with their eyes closed. I looked away.

Mike's sister came through the gate with her husband and two kids drawing everyone's attention. Theo and Diane were on their way to the deck when he spoke loudly, "Hey baby doll, good to see you." Mark and I had to laugh at Theo's pet name for his daughter.

The two grandkids started pulling their father toward Mattie while Mike's sister smiled as she went to greet her father. They kissed then Theo put a bear hug on her making a grrr sound. I had to grin. Theo was so animated. It was exactly what I would have expected him to do. When they finished, Theo put one arm around each girl and they headed for the deck exchanging laughs and smiles. Theo was a card among cards.

"I've eaten too much of this junk food," Mark said. "It's starting to make me queasy. Let's have a beer."

"You should have an aspirin instead of a beer, fuzz nuts," I said then my dick twitched at the mental image. "I'm holding it to the one I already had. I don't want to deal with Mike tomorrow. Besides, it was a little underhanded the way we got the first one." As it stood, I wasn't entirely sure I was in the clear.

"I'm not having one if you're not."

"If you want to be safe; ask Mike. If he says okay then you're good to go. If you want better odds, ask Steve."

"Maybe I'll wait till Mike gets up then go ask Steve," Mark said.

"You're learning fast," I said. "Steve isn't a push over though; just a bit easier to deal with."

"It looks like everyone is getting introduced to Mike's sister and her family. Let's join the crowd."

"Okay," I said. "After you." I motioned for him to go first. I did that so I could salivate over his body as he walked.

Everyone was standing while Theo emceed. I guess it would have been silly to expect things to be otherwise. Mark turned around pulling me next to him as we walked, placing an arm over my shoulder. I was still uneasy about the show of affection though I had to admit, I liked it. We stood at the perimeter of the group behind Mom and Bill. As we politely waited, I shivered from the feel of Mark's armpit hair on my shoulder; it reminded me of how much he turned me on. Mack saw it and I felt an instant surge of heat in my face.

Next, Theo introduced Mom and Bill saying they were recently engaged and soon to be newlyweds. My jaw nearly hit the ground with the revelation; it was a total surprise. Mattie slapped him gently on the shoulder then whispered in his ear. When she finished, he looked directly at me but it was too late. The information had been declassified, the damage done. Theo looked shocked but not nearly as astonished as I was.

I looked at Mom who had turned around with a worried look on her face. I quickly did my best to change my countenance and, hopefully, look more poised than I was feeling. I didn't know what to say or do. It was the strangest situation I ever experienced, awkward would be an understatement.

Mom approached me saying, "Honey, I was going to tell you in a little while. I wanted to tell you myself before we made it public. We were going to announce it this afternoon. Bill asked last night over dinner and I accepted." Then she held her hand up to show me her ring.

"It's okay, Mom. I'm happy for you," I said then I hugged and kissed her. When we parted I said, "If Theo knows, then who were you going to announce it to, Mark and me?" Then I chuckled trying to lighten the moment.

She stroked my hair and said, "Oh honey, I'm so sorry it happened like this. I wanted to be the one to tell you."

"It's fine, Mom. Like I said, I'm happy for you. I really am and Bill's a great guy. You couldn't ask for any better. It took me by surprise, that's all."

Actually, surprise was putting it mildly; a lightning strike would've been more like it. Bill had taken his place next to Mom while we talked with his arm around her waist.

After a few awkward moments I said, "Well congratulations, Mom. You couldn't have done better if you'd placed an order," I said smiling. Then I offered my hand to Bill, "Congratulations Bill on the catch of the year. You're the luckiest guy on the planet."

"You better believe it," he said as we shook. He looked relieved that the situation seemed to work itself out.

Then Mark extended his hand to Bill with his best wishes. When they finished, he leaned forward kissing Mom on the cheek, congratulating her. She was her usual resilient self, accepting his grats.

With things as normal as they could be, Mom and Bill turned their attention to Susan and her husband to exchange a few perfunctory words. I looked away catching Steve's gaze. I rolled my eyes and we both chuckled aloud. "What next?" was all I could come up with.

Mom and Bill were finishing up with Susan and her husband, Tom. We heard it repeated enough to know their names.

Theo said, "Sugar, I want you to meet Mike and Steve's charge." Then he looked at me.

I pulled Mark along not wanting to go through it alone. We all said our polite hellos as we shook hands, me with an arm around Mark, him with his hand on my shoulder. I felt secure. When it was over, I gave Theo a stern look. He returned my gaze with a blank look. I was messing around with him. I wasn't mad or irritated; I was trying to see if I could get a guilt complex going. You know the kind where the other person is feeling rather sheepish and contrite.

The group dispersed claiming seats around the deck. Mark wanted us to sit with Mike and Steve so we did.

After we sat down, Mike said, "I guess Dad kind of blew it there, huh Sport?"

"I don't know. The surprise factor got me more than anything. I didn't have a clue things were that serious between Mom and Bill. I'm in the process of planning my redress. Theo's got one coming."

Mike laughed then said, "He likes you."

"I don't blame him," I said making the four of us chuckle.

Mike's mother came up behind him and said, "Mike, will you start the barbecue so it heats up. Your father is taking the kids swimming; they won't be long."

"Sure, Mom," he said then rose.

When he was far enough away, Mark asked Steve, "Is it okay if we have a beer?"

"No," Steve said flatly. "There'll be no more underage drinking regardless of what Theo says and that's final. Don't ask again."

Mark didn't say anything. Instead, he looked at me so I shrugged my shoulders and that was that. I said, "He's been hanging around Mike a long time."

"Let's see if Mike needs help," Mark said.

The three of us made our way across the deck. Mike was sitting on the countertop talking to Mack, sipping a beer. Crossing the deck, I noticed Theo in the pool playing with his grandkids picking them up and throwing them in the water. The boy would stand on Theo's shoulders then Theo would launch him into the deep end. It appeared they were having a blast.

We took a seat on the countertop opposite Mack and Mike. I had to check out the bulge in Mack's crotch as I slid my rear end on the countertop. Man, it was hot as hell. I wondered if the real thing was as good as what I imagined.

"So what do you think about your mother marrying again?" Mack asked.

"I haven't given it much thought to be honest. I found out the same time you did. I had no idea things were that serious between them." Then I asked Mike, "How long have you known?"

"I knew they were talking about it so I wasn't surprised. I know Dad feels bad about making the announcement before your mother had the chance to tell you. He thought you knew already."

"That doesn't bother me so much. So when are they getting married and will I have to move in with them?"

It was a big concern since I didn't know Bill all that well. It would require another adjustment; one I wasn't eager to make. Then I remembered Steve's comment on the way home from our weekend in Plaquemines about Mom not being alone for long and her comment earlier about school being close to Bill's house. The picture was coming into focus with little retouching required. Still, I was worried about having to leave Mike and Steve. I really didn't want to.

"They haven't set a date," Steve said placing an arm around me. "You're stuck with us."

That was the best thing I heard all day. I put an arm around Steve and squeezed him hard.

"That's good news, Steve."

I could hardly contain my feelings. I wanted to hug them so bad and tell them how much I loved and respected them, tell them how they were my dad's not only now, but always. All kinds of things were going through my mind. In the end, I settled for a nod from Mike with Steve's arm around me. There were too many people around and I was afraid I might get watery eyes.

"So," Mack said. "Looks like the status quo for the next little while."

"Wrong," I said. "Mike and Steve will always be my dad's ... no matter what."

Mike sensed the emotion in my voice so he changed the subject saying, "Sport, will you and Mark ask Mom for the hamburger and hot dogs so we can get this barbecue underway?"


Mark and I slid off the countertop. Before we left, Mike pulled me into his arms and we hugged. It was great. When he released me, he messed my hair.

"Mike, I swear to God. You know I hate that."

"I know," was all he said with a chuckle.

Mark and I left to find Mattie. She was talking to Diane and Mom while Bill sat talking with Tom and Susanne over a beer. When we asked, Mattie said the burgers and hot dogs were on a tray in the fridge next to Steve.

Mark hollered, "Yo Steve," waving his hand above his head.

Steve looked over as I considered licking Mark's armpit. It looked so masculine and sexy. It made my dick twitch.

"In the fridge," Mark said pointing to the under counter fridge.

Steve waved acknowledging Mark's directive. Mattie asked us to bring the three trays out on the kitchen table so we headed for the house. She had paper plates, napkins and plastic utensils, among other things, stacked on them.

"Come here," Mark said wrapping an arm around my neck.

We had a passionate kiss with some tongue action but it was mostly the emotion passing between us that made it what it was – most excellent! We held our heads close after kissing, savoring the moment. When we broke, we rested our heads against each other's embracing for a couple minutes, content. We heard the back door open so we reluctantly parted with a quick kiss on the mouth. We gathered the trays on the table.

"Hi boys," Theo said walking into the kitchen.

"Hey Theo," Mark said. "What's happening?"

"You baby," was all he said making his way to the scotch and ice on the countertop.

Neither of us could resist a laugh, which Theo seemed to appreciate.

Mark took a waiter's posture placing a tray on one hand holding it even with his head while balancing another in front of him with his other hand. "Let's go," he said.

I picked up the last one and held the door for him. When we made it to Mike, Steve and Mack; Mark pirouetted then slid one tray after the other on the countertop saying, "Voila."

Mike was cooking and the aroma was driving us nuts. Mark's stomach was talking to anyone who'd listen while mine knotted up every so often. Mark suggested we get a plate so we could be the first to get whatever came off the grill.

"Shouldn't you guys let the women and children go first?" Mike asked.

"Probably," Mark said. "But it ain't gonna happen this time, we're starving."

Mike laughed then flipped a burger in the air. He tried to catch it with a spatula but missed then it landed on the deck.

"Nice job," Mark said. "That one's yours."

Steve rubbed my back and I gave him a look as if to say `I love you too'. It wasn't meant to be suggestive; it was from the heart.

Mike served up two burgers for each of us then said to beat it so we did, not before I patted Mike affectionately. We loaded our plates with some of everything then sat next to each other at the picnic table to scarf it down. Theo came from behind placing a hand on our shoulders saying, "Did you boys say grace?"

We both had our mouths full so Mark nodded affirmatively.

"Sure you did," he said then walked away smiling.

Mattie was carrying two plates while her grandkids followed her. She placed them on the picnic table opposite us then seated them. They were brother and sister with the boy looking to be a year or two older. Mattie tucked a napkin in the neck of their shirts and told them to eat up saying she'd be back to check on them.

"Hi," Mark said to them.

The little girl waved gently while the boy stuck his tongue out. Mark and I looked at each other then back at the little puke.

"You shouldn't do that," Mark said. "God might freeze your face that way."

"I don't care."

"Yeah you do."

"No I don't."

Mark rolled his eyes then decided to take a different approach. "What's your name?"

The little poop sat there mute pushing his food around with a plastic fork. He'd sucked his bottom lip into his mouth giving him an impish appearance.

There was no response so Mark said, "I'm Mark and this is Val," he said tilting his head in my direction.

The kid looked at me and said, "What kind of name is that?" with his nose wrinkled.

I chuckled then said, "What do you mean what kind of name is that? That's my name! Don't you like it?" Something about the little shit was irksome.

"I guess so," he said. "It's kinda weird though."

Okay, the little prick asked for it.

"What's your name anyway?"

"I'm Davey," he said as he straightened up sitting tall as he could. He seemed like a miniature version of Mike, looked like him too.

"Davey?" I said with my face contorted. "That sounds goofy. Are you some kind of goofball? I've never met a Davey before. I'm glad it's your name and not mine. Don't you think it sounds a little childish? Daaaveeey!" I shook my head before taking another bite of potato salad hoping that would be enough to put a stick in the spokes of his wheel; the front wheel that is.

The kid had a confused worried look on his face as he thought about it. He continued picking at his plate with the fork while the gears turned. His sister was being a nice, well-mannered little girl; she was cute. But her brother was a monster in the making. I wondered if he ever had a spanking. Then I wondered if the world could handle another Mike. I had to smile.

"What's so funny?" Mark asked.

"It's another Mike in the making," I said nodding at Davey.

"God help us," was all Mark said.

Davey got up and left. I would be lying if I didn't say I was glad. The little imp had trouble written all over him. He was a vexatious little brat with a personality to match. Cute was the last thing that came to mind.

We both got up for seconds and Mark had thirds. Eventually we finished eating, fully satisfied. Before we rose, Mark waved goodbye to the little girl. She waved back silently making Mark and me chuckle. We threw our plates in the trash then Mark said, "Let's go hassle Theo. He's over there with Mike and Steve."

"Okay, what do you have in mind?"

"I dunno. We have to think of some way to pay him back for opening his big mouth."

"Okay, sounds good to me."

We walked across the deck passing Mom and Bill who were eating and talking to Mack and his wife. I gently squeezed Mom's shoulder and patted Bill on the shoulder as we passed. Mattie was feeding her granddaughter while little Davey was talking to his parents pointing at Mark and me. I wanted to stick my tongue out at him but they were watching so I chose to ignore him. It wasn't easy to figure out how a little shit like that could get under one's skin so effectively.

We pulled a couple chairs up completing a circle. The Mike, Steve and Theo became silent, me wondering what they were talking about. After Mark plopped down in his seat, he made a silent waving motion with his hand as if to say hello. I bent over and gave Steve a hug from behind while he was taking a bite of his burger.

"Ah, do you mind, Val? I'm trying to eat."

"No. I don't mind at all," I said then released him and messed his hair. He shook his head in protest. Dad or not, anyone into guys would be attracted to him. Mike was lucky to have him, so was I.

I sat next to him winking at Theo who was studying me. He started grinning big time making me wonder what was going on in that head of his.

"So what are you guys talking about?" Mark asked.

"The price of tea in China," Theo said.

"And what did you come up with?"

"It's elastic."

"As in getting the truth when you ask an attorney?"

Theo laughed while Mike smiled. Theo thought for a moment then said, "You ever thought about being a lawyer, son?"

"I have, and then set the notion aside. I'd make a lousy liar ... I mean lawyer." He shook his head as if to indicate an accidental faux pas.

Theo looked at Mike and said, "Where did you find this one? You better keep an eye on him."

"That's my job," I chimed in. "And just so you know, I found him at the yacht club."

"Oh!" Theo remarked. "Who's your father?"

"I work there," Mark said succinctly.

Mom approached us saying, "Excuse me, can we talk to you for a few minutes, honey?"

I scanned the group quickly to see if anyone noticed her say honey. It seemed to go unnoticed.

"Sure Mom," I said rising. I looked at Mark, "Holler if you need reinforcements," then I followed Mom.

"He's doing fine," Theo said behind me.

I escorted the only lady in my life with my arm around her, proud son that I was. She seemed to like it too if the smile on her face were any indication. I noticed I was looking down at her which brought the `little lady' concept to mind. I tilted her sunbonnet forward on her head trying to give her a mean look though she couldn't be mean if her life were in jeopardy. She elbowed me in the stomach then adjusted her hat.

I took a seat opposite Mom and Bill. "What's up?" I said.

Bill began. "You have to be at Ben Franklin at nine tomorrow morning. I'll pick you up at eight-thirty. You'll be taking the admission test by yourself in a conference room. Steve sent a copy of your transcripts and your prospects look good. One thing I can't do is ask them to bend the rules; they've already made an exception. So take whatever measures you can to ensure your best performance. This is important."

I thought about it for a moment then looked at Mom. She raised her eyebrows for emphasis. I knew it was Mom's influence or possibly Bill's affection for Mom that brought it about but he made it sound like more than a test, something dire almost.

"I'll be ready, Bill. I haven't had the chance to thank you. Mom mentioned it, and I appreciate, your help. I mean it Bill, I really do."

"You're welcome. Val, we don't know each other well but I want to tell you something and I think you're old enough to understand. I love your mother and want to spend the rest of my life with her. I will do anything I can to ensure her happiness. Your welfare is important to her and so it is to me. I'm pleased to do this for you."

I was at a loss for words. I already thanked him but that was the only thing that came to mind. Without a better idea, I extended my hand saying, "I'm sorry to repeat myself, but thanks again, Bill. I sincerely appreciate it."

Then we shook hands while he smiled. I couldn't help doing the same and thinking how lucky we were. Mom couldn't have found a more honest, decent person anywhere. And the fact that he loved Mom, well; they were both fortunate to have each other. As for me, I had nothing to complain about and everything to be grateful for.

I stood up telling Bill I'd be ready at eight-thirty in the morning then left to join Mark. He was still talking with Theo, Mike and Steve. I reclaimed my seat listening to their conversation. Mike was arguing with Theo over some point of law that was beyond the three of us so Mark said, "Have you thought any more about going to Natchez?"

I glanced quickly at Steve for his reaction. He didn't so much as blink so I said, "No not really. If we don't go next week then we probably won't make it until Thanksgiving or Christmas break."

Mark said, "Steve do you have any vacation time coming?"

"I do and I can tell you this much; it won't be spent in Natchez, Mississippi."

"I guess that's out," I said. "Let's try Bill and Mom. All they can say is no."

"No to what?" Mike asked.

"Going to Natchez with Val and me," Mark said. "Steve doesn't want to go and you guys won't let us go alone."

"Why do you want to go to Natchez?" Theo asked.

Mark told him about his Native American heritage. How his grandmother was one hundred percent Natchez Indian, his mother fifty percent and his twenty-five percent heritage. He gave Theo the skinny on the Natchez region and a quick synopsis of Emerald Mound.

Theo was genuinely impressed with Mark's knowledge and interest in his linage. He told Mark to let him know what Mom and Bill said after we asked. It sounded like he was considering going. He said Mattie was born and raised in Mississippi not far from Natchez. We talked for a few more minutes then decided to go ask Mom and Bill.

When we approached them, they stopped talking. As we sat down, I asked, "Have you guys ever been to Natchez?"

"No," Mom said.

"A long time ago," Bill added. "Why do you ask?"

I looked at Mark hoping he would take up the slack. He did starting his spiel and ending it on an upbeat note saying it could be our summer vacation if we went. He was referring to the four of us. Bill thought about it for a moment then looked at Mom.

"It's fine by me," she said. "I'm sure I can get the time off work."

"I'll have to see what's going on at work tomorrow. Did you know Natchez is a place of many firsts for European settlers, Native Americans as well as African Americans and civil rights?"

"Oh boy, here we go," I said standing up. "I'll be right back. I have to go to the bathroom."

Mark backhanded me on the arm. Mom and I grinned at each other then I left. I could hear Bill recounting the early history of the area as I made my way to the cabana. I was certain Mark was hanging on his every word.

When I returned, Mike and Steve were in the process of saying goodbye. I approached Mom and said, "Looks like we're getting ready to leave."

She rose to her feet then we embraced. I kissed her on the cheek and told her I loved her. Bill was on his feet so I offered my hand. He stepped close, gave me a quick hug then said he'd see me at eight-thirty in the morning. Mark said his goodbyes then we joined Mike and Steve.

Steve said, "Mattie has some leftovers for us. Will you guys carry them out to my car?" then he held his car keys up.

"Sure thing," Mark said taking his keys. "C'mon Sport, Mattie's in the house."

I rapped him on the arm rather hard. No way was I going to put up with that BS from him. It didn't faze him at all, he laughed it off. He was getting a little too comfortable around us for his own good. I didn't mind; I rather liked it.

Mattie gave us two shopping bags full of carryouts. We placed them on the countertop near the grill and went back to say goodbye. The scene was a mixture of hugging, kissing and hand shaking. When it came time to say goodbye to Mack, I shook his hand and felt a tingling sensation in my crotch. The guy was stud material extraordinaire, one hundred percent male, bulging crotch and all. I couldn't help myself.

Then we thanked Theo and Mattie for a good time. Theo told us to feel free to use the pool whenever we wanted. He said Mike and Steve had a key to the gate and the key to the cabana was in the drawer next to the fridge. We thanked them again then left.

On the way to the gate, Davey was trying to get on a bicycle with training wheels. He looked up and I stuck my tongue out at him. He immediately cocked his head back and stuck his out as far as he could; his eyes were wide open, the size of silver dollars.


Thanks again, Wayne and Chris, your help is greatly appreciated.