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Bodega Bay

by Nick Chapter Seven

"Are you sure?" I whispered as quietly as I could as I followed Justin down the hallway from his room to the kitchen. It was one in the morning and his parents and brother were asleep.

"Shhh," he admonished me with a mischievous grin on his face as he led the way to the kitchen. When we got there, he turned the light on and slowly pulled the drawer nearest to the sink open and pulled a thick cook book out, setting it carefully on the counter. I watched with a great deal of amusement as he studied the table of contents, finding the recipe he planned to follow. He smiled and nodded knowingly my way before he started digging out each ingredient listed.

"Kevin, hand me that mixing bowl," he said, motioning to a large bowl on the counter to my right. I reached over and used both hands to lift it from its spot, bringing it slowly to where Justin was standing. Once we had everything laid out, Justin reached over to lift the head of his mom's Vita Mix, a contraption that looked older than my grandparents were, and that's when it happened.

The sound was piercing my eardrums as Justin panicked and hurried to unplug the mixer, but he couldn't reach the outlet. Out of nowhere we heard the footsteps coming toward the kitchen from the same hallway we had crept down only ten minutes earlier, then the loud whisper.

"Justin!" his mom whispered as she suddenly came into view, her eyes still trying to adjust to the light. As soon as I laid my terrified eyes on her, I felt Justin's hand on my nightshirt, grabbing onto me as he prompted me to follow him as he ran as fast as he could back to his room. The whole way back, we were both giggling uncontrollably, and when we got to his room, the sound of the Vita Mix was gone. A few moments later, his mom popped her head into the room and without a word, she stood there and waited for our laughter to die down, then she closed the door.

As soon as she was gone, we both erupted again. I was having the best time at his house, and I was so glad I had been invited to spend the night.

Justin and I had been inseparable since we met the week before. His mom and dad were two of the coolest parents a person could have asked for, and even Justin knew that. In the short time I had known him, I had been invited to dinner at his house four times, and the night before, they took me with them to Round Table for pizza.

It wasn't the first time I had done something with a friend, but it was definitely the first time I wasn't nervous about my friends eventually meeting my mom. My grandparents were completely thrilled that I had made a friend, and the fact that we were the same age was a bonus. They had no problem whatsoever with me spending all of my time with him, as long as I wasn't intruding on their family time.

Justin's mom put those worries to rest, though, when she told my grandma that I was a joy to have around, and that she only hoped my good manners and my penchant for wanting to behave would rub off on Justin. Of course, having just been his partner in crime at one in the morning, and getting caught red handed, I had to wonder if she was rethinking that position. Still for whatever reason, I wasn't worried at all.

Of all of the friends I had ever made, I don't think I had ever made an instant connection like the one I did with Justin. There was a feeling that I couldn't quite place when it came to him. From the start, he was someone I was drawn too. When I first saw him as I was riding my bike, I knew I wanted to meet him.

He had curly light brown hair, green eyes, a small frame, like mine, and a smile that took my breath away. As soon as we made eye contact, he smiled and gave me a nod with his head as I rode by on my bike. I slowed down to talk to him, which was totally uncharacteristic of me, and the next thing I knew, he was after his dad to get his bike out of the moving truck.

We rode around the neighborhood for a while, then we went back to his house so he could check in with his parents. They were almost grateful to meet me and had no problem letting him go with me again. We rode to my grandparent's house and I excitedly introduced him to them both, then I got permission to stay out a little longer than I was planning too.

I was a little nervous about spending the night at Justin's house at first, but as the evening progressed, those feelings were replaced by the fun I was having. We stayed up late and watched all of his WWE DVD's and then his dad and older brother moved all of the furniture in the living room out of the way and actually set up a make believe wrestling ring for us to go at it. It was so much fun pretending to be sent into the ropes and doing a dramatic fall when Justin held his arm out for a clothesline.

He climbed up onto one of the end tables and jumped off, but I moved just in time, and as he lay still, I stood over him like The Rock and imitated his People's Elbow. When I landed it, Justin made his whole body flop like I had made a serious impact, then he laid still while his big brother counted to three.

At some point, I thought to myself that I couldn't remember having that much fun. It wasn't that we had to go anywhere or spend any money. It was just being able to be a kid for the first time in my life that I enjoyed so much. Also, I think the adult confirmation that it was okay made it even better for me. If I had ever tried to do something like that at my mom's or even my dad's house, I most likely would have been whipped.

Once we had all of the furniture put back where it went, we got ready for bed. We didn't fall asleep right away, though. Instead we lay awake talking about anything and everything. Every once in a while, while Justin spoke, I would steal a glance of his smile. It seemed radiant as he spoke, and all I could do was smile back at him.

Part of me wanted to thank him for being my friend and tell him how great his smile was, and how looking at him made me feel. But then there was another part of me that knew it wasn't the cool thing to do, so I stayed silent and just enjoyed the time we were spending. As we lay there speaking, though, I started to yawn and I knew that it wasn't going to be long before I fell asleep.

All of the sudden, I felt something warm and wet on my hand that woke me up right away. When I opened my eyes, Justin was grinning from ear to ear, looking like the cat that just swallowed a canary and my hand was resting in a small bowl of water. As soon as I realized what he was up to, he burst into fit of laughter, and I pulled my hand out and flicked the water on my hand back into his face.

"Come on, Kevin," he said. "Let's go make a cake."

"A cake?" I asked incredulously. "How?"

"We have the ingredients," he informed me, so I got up and followed him, which was how we wound up in the position we had found ourselves in with his mom.

"I can't believe she caught us dude," I giggled.

"I know," he said, trying to contain his laughter. "I don't know why the mixer turned on."

Justin reached over and turned his lamp on, and when his face was visible to me, I noticed he had been laughing so hard that he had tears in his eyes. We both sat up in his bed and sat Indian style across from each other as we traded stories from our past that made us both crack up. I told him about Bandit, and when I got to the part about locking him in the cage and squirting him with the hose, Justin laid back on the bed and laughed uncontrollably. We went back and forth for most of the night until we couldn't keep our eyes opened anymore.

The next day when we woke up Justin's mom and dad were grinning at us while we were eating breakfast. I wondered what was going on, but I didn't dare ask. I was almost scared that they were mad about what had happened the night before, so I didn't dare bring it up. I figured that whatever had them so amused must have caused them to forget about the cake incident. Then his dad spoke up.

"A cake guys?" he asked in a sarcastic tone with a smirk on his face, reaching over to poke his finger lightly into Justin's ribs.  In reply, Justin simply looked up at his mom and dad with the sweetest smile I had ever seen, then he went back to his meal.

That was it though. Nothing else was said about the incident. As if it hadn't happened, they asked me if I was having a good time and I politely answered yes and thanked them for letting me spend the night. Justin's mom gave me a huge smile and told me once again that she loved having me over, and asked if I could go with them to the water park in Antioch, the next town over.

I told her that I'd love to, but that I needed to ask my grandma and grandpa first. I knew I had forty dollars in my top drawer that I had saved from the allowance that I was getting when I still lived with my mom and Billy. I also still had the change that my dad let me keep when he paid for our ice cream when he was there to visit. He paid with a twenty, and the bill was under eight dollars. He told me to keep the left over money so I'd have something to spend on candy or anything else I wanted without having to ask my grandparents for money.

After breakfast I offered to help with the dishes and Justin looked at me like I was crazy before he dragged me off to the garage, where his ping-pong table was. We played for about thirty minutes before I had to ride my bike home. I promised to call and let them know if I was going to be able to go or not as soon as I found out. Justin walked me out the side door of the garage and opened the gate to let me out to the front. I put my backpack on my shoulder and started on my way.

The whole way there, I thought about Justin and how much I loved spending time with him. His mom and dad and his big brother were awesome. It was like he had the life I had always dreamed of having. His mom and dad loved each other and they loved Justin and his brother. His brother treated him like a best friend. They never seemed to fight. Instead, Justin was almost obedient when it came to his brother. And his brother always seemed to be there for him, treating him with the respect and reverence he deserved.

Of course, Justin himself was great too. Even if he was mischievous, he was the kind of a friend that could grow on someone. He seemed loyal, and he was fun to be around. Not to mention the fact that he was very cute, and he always seemed willing to show me his smile. I was definitely happy to have met him and I was hoping that my grandparents were going to say yes when I asked them for permission to go to the water park.

I picked up speed as I rounded the corner and started the last stretch before I could turn left onto the street that my grandparents lived on. I let my mind drift a little and I found myself back on my bus route for a moment.  As I approached the last left turn, I signaled left for no one in particular, then I took a wide turn onto the block. As soon as I made that left, though, the water park was suddenly the furthest thing from my mind. In front of my grandparent's house was my step mom's Lincoln, and I watched intently as three doors opened and my dad, my step mom and my stepbrother all got out.

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