Cold Granite and Maple Syrup



The following story was suggested by a friend.  It involves sex between minor boys.  You really shouldn't read this if you're not allowed or if you might be offended.  It is all fantasy.

Kevin’s scowl was a good reflection of his mood. He stood in the doorway of the family room in nothing but his briefs. He was just minutes out of bed, having stopped only in the bathroom to pee, and what he saw in the room irritated him. Kevin had never been one of those people who could open their eyes with a smile on their face, but he usually came around quickly. This was not going to be one of those mornings.

His older brother, Tanner, and his cousin, Avery, sat together on the floor, their backs to the couch, X-box controllers in their hands. Well, Tanner had his in hand and was actively twisting the device and madly pressing buttons. Avery’s controller sat limply in his lap. Avery was leaning up against Tanner’s arm and had his head cocked to one side, practically resting on Tanner’s shoulder. The sounds of explosions and gunfire filled the house as Tanner had the volume turned up loud. Avery, at 12, was a year older than Tanner. Kevin was 8.

The whole week had been like that and there was still one more to go. Avery and his dad, Kevin’s uncle, were visiting for 2 weeks. Uncle Jake was spending his nights on the pull-out bed in the family room, the one that Tanner and Avery had their backs to; Avery was sleeping on a blow-up bed in the same room as Tanner and Kevin. Dad and Uncle Jake had left before dawn to go fishing. Tanner and Avery had probably been up for an hour.

It was the way that Avery treated Tanner that bothered Kevin. Avery seemed to fawn over Tanner, always seeking Tanner’s attention and Tanner’s approval. Other boys at school liked Tanner, but they didn’t hang on his every word the way Avery did or change their opinion about stuff to match Tanner’s. It seemed even more unsettling to Kevin because Avery was older. It seemed that Tanner and Kevin should be following Avery’s lead rather Avery following Tanner’s.

There were other things that were bothersome as well. Kevin thought that Avery fussed over his clothes way too much. Kevin and Tanner pretty much lived in gym shorts and briefs. If a shirt was necessary, it was whatever tee shirt they could first lay their hands on, and not always a clean one for that matter. Avery wanted all his clothes to be clean and neatly folded, and he’d rummage through two or three different shirts each morning just to find the right one for the day. Shoes were the same way. Tanner and Kevin rarely wore anything but sneakers. Avery had brought along a half dozen pair.

And then there was the way that Avery looked at both Tanner and Kevin, but especially Tanner. There was no being shy when you shared a room with your brother, and both Tanner and Kevin thought nothing about stripping down in front of each other to take a shower or to change. But Avery seemed to get all weird whenever that happened. He tried to pretend he wasn’t, but Kevin could tell that he liked to watch. And Kevin was pretty sure he got a boner.

Kevin still liked Avery, make no mistake about that. He thought Avery was kinda cool. He played fair, treated Kevin like a friend, and he could be real funny. He had turned Kevin on to some pretty cool new books, as well. And, like Tanner, Avery didn’t treat Kevin like a little kid.

When Kevin really thought about it, he wondered if he just didn’t resent Avery for disrupting his new relationship with Tanner. For the last month he and Tanner had spent every night in the same bed, jerking off together and then sleeping together naked. More than just the sex, Kevin loved the intimacy. There was a real comfort and a sense of sharing something special that came from sleeping pressed up against someone, your skin warmed by theirs. Each night this week at bed time Tanner had looked at Kevin from across the room with a look of regret as Avery lay on the floor between them. Maybe that was what was irritating Kevin.

“Morning Kev!” came Tanner’s voice from the family room. Kevin, startled from his reverie, returned Tanner’s greeting with a scowl. “Hey Kev!” said Avery, hesitantly.

“Mom left you some pancakes in the kitchen,” Tanner continued. “She went out shopping with some people from work. Said she’d be back in time for lunch.” Tanner looked carefully at his brother before returning to his game and the sounds of warfare.

Great! Just great, thought Kevin, as he stumbled groggily into the kitchen. He had thought he might talk to his mom about some of his frustrations. She wouldn’t necessarily agree, but she would listen to what he had to say and would understand. And he knew he could count on a warm hug and a kiss that would make the day seem a little brighter.

Kevin’s bare feet padded quietly across the cold tile floor of the kitchen. Kevin smiled in spite of himself when he saw the plate full of heart-shaped pancakes that lay on the counter. His mom liked to do that, and although Kevin and Tanner both complained, she knew that they liked them. A clean plate was on the island in the middle of the kitchen along with utensils, the butter dish, and a plastic bottle of maple syrup.

First Kevin crossed to the refrigerator and grabbed the carton of orange juice. Opening the top he lifted the carton to his lips and chugged some down. The first rush of juice came faster than Kevin anticipated and a bit escaped the corners of his mouth, dripped down his chest and onto the floor. He stopped, swallowed, and then belched, before surveying the damage. He smeared what was on his chest with his hand and wiped his mouth with his arm. Seeing only a small puddle on the floor, he spread it around with his foot, trusting it to dry before his mom came home. He took one more swig from the carton, then closed the top and returned it to the frig. Then he grabbed a glass from the cupboard and placed it in the dishwasher. Tanner had taught him to always close the carton and to make sure to put a glass in the dishwasher so mom wouldn’t know he drank from the carton. She seemed to think it was gross for some reason, and didn’t appreciate how it saved on time and glassware.

He returned to the island, hoped up on the middle stool, and pulled the plate close. He grabbed a pancake from the stack, smeared some butter on it with his knife, and topped it with syrup from the bottle. Then he stabbed the pancake with his fork, lifted it from the plate, and began to eat his way through.

He sat in silence, lost in thought. He found himself thinking more about Avery. Avery’s hair and eyes were both a dark brown. He parted his hair down the middle and it hung down straight to his shoulders. Although he was a bit shy and sometimes seemed uncertain, he did have a nice smile and a warm way about him. Avery was a bit taller than Tanner and in quite good shape from being on his school’s swim team, but he wasn’t really that coordinated around a ball or in any sort of field game. His skin was a nice olive brown, and Kevin kind of liked that it was the same all over, even those places that didn’t see the sun. He thought that Avery would brown nicely, like he and Tanner, if he just spent more time outside.

Kevin’s musings took him nowhere in particular. His thoughts about Avery lead him to reflect on the past week, then to the week ahead. He had, by that time, eaten up to his fork, so he set the pancake down on his plate, held it down with one hand, and repositioned the fork back into the middle. He licked the syrup off the fingers, then, after thinking for a second, wiped them on his briefs. They were already dirty, after all, and Kevin saw no need to waste a napkin.

He had the pancake about halfway up to his mouth when he noticed the sound. No, not the sound, it was the lack of sound, the silence, that he noticed. And, when he thought about it, it had been silent for some time. His scowl returned. Tanner and Avery had paused the game and were talking. They were probably planning the day. The fact that they hadn’t included Kevin meant they didn’t care what Kevin thought or that they were planning to ditch him. “Fine!” thought Kevin, “I don’t fuckin care what they do!” But he really did and he felt hurt.

Kevin was so absorbed in feeling sorry for himself that he didn’t hear the boys come into the kitchen. The scrapping of a stool on the tile floor next to Kevin made him jump. In fact, the stool to either side was being pulled out and Tanner plopped down on his right while Avery perched on his left. Tanner’s smile was warm; Avery’s was tentative. Kevin grew wary.

“So Kev, rough morning?” Tanner began. Kevin turned to his brother and snarled. He could see the laughter in his brother’s eyes although his smile remained unchanged. Yet something about the sincerity of his expression made Kevin pause. Tanner’s look didn’t suggest some diabolical plot, but something else, instead. Kevin whirled and looked at Avery who glanced down and avoided Kevin’s glare.

“Kev!” Tanner began again, placing a friendly hand on Kevin’s shoulder. “Look, I know you’re not having a good morning and that you’re a little pissed at us…” Boy! What an understatement that was, Kevin thought. “…so we want to make it up to you. Actually, this is Avery’s idea, but I know you’ll like it.”

Kevin heard Avery shift on his stool at the mention of his name but Kevin’s eyes never left Tanner’s face. Tanner’s expression had softened just a bit, but his smile was still wide. Kevin and Tanner’s relationship was unique. It was true that they fought as much as any two brothers did, but they always supported one another. Tanner never let any of his friends harass Kevin and Kevin had always stood by Tanner, even against some of the biggest kids in school. Kevin trusted Tanner completely and his faith in Tanner had never been misplaced. Then Tanner’s expression softened even more, turning serious for the first time. “Trust me Kev,” he said. Kevin paused; then nodded.

Kevin’s eyes never left Tanner’s face as Tanner reached over, took the fork and its impaled pancake, and set it on the plate. He shoved the plate expertly across the kitchen island so that it stopped just short of the edge on the far side. Then he slid off his stool and moved in behind his brother, lacing his arms under Kevin’s and across his chest. “Go for it, Avery,” he said. “It’s OK!”

Kevin shifted his attention to Avery. Avery was clearly hesitant. He slid off his stool uneasily, watching Kevin warily. Then he reached down and wrapped his arms around Kevin’s knees.

“OK, Avery! Ready?” Tanner said, and Avery nodded. Together the two boys lifted Kevin from his stool and laid him on his back on the kitchen island.

Kevin had never been on the kitchen counter before, nor had he ever even thought of the possibility. The cold granite counter top pressed against his back and his legs. It felt good. Above him Kevin could see the halogen lights on the track that followed the contours of the island, and behind them, the white ceiling with its striated surface. It was a unique perspective on a part of the house that Kevin felt most familiar with and it captured his attention.

Movement by Tanner and Avery broke Kevin’s reverie. Both boys slid the stools out of the way and moved next to the counter close to Kevin; Tanner at his shoulder, Avery at his hips. Avery looked more nervous than ever before, but Tanner looked hungry, a look Kevin was familiar with and loved. He wasn’t exactly sure what was planned next, but he knew it would be fun. He found that he was already hard in anticipation and he drew his knees up to hide the bulge in his briefs.

Tanner started first, and he started with his eyes. Kevin watched as Tanner scanned his body with lust. He seemed to soak in every detail, beginning with Kevin’s eyes, pausing at his lips, lingering on his chest, and then moving down to his groin. Kevin felt each part of his body tingle under Tanner’s gaze and he giggled involuntarily and covered his crotch with his hands when Tanner eyes reached that spot. Then Tanner leaned in and kissed him.

Kissing Tanner was something Kevin was familiar with. It was something they did many times each night, but each time still felt new to Kevin and it always had the same effect. Kevin always felt it was impossible to get harder than he was until he felt Tanner’s warm breath in his face, felt his soft lips against his own, and felt Tanner’s tongue inside of him. Then a spark seemed to travel from his lips to his groin and his already hard dick seemed to stiffen even more. Kevin wrapped his arms around Tanner’s neck and, in return, he felt Tanner’s hand begin to roam across his chest.

They broke off their kiss and Tanner began to explore Kevin’s body, his fingers running gently over Kevin’s skin. Kevin shivered in response; then looked toward Avery. Avery stood with his mouth cracked open, his breathing heavy, his face flushed. One hand seemed to be reaching for Kevin, but it had gotten stuck part way there. Kevin reached out, took Avery’s hand, and pressed it flat against his stomach. Avery watched it the whole way and he swallowed hard, as if his mouth was dry, when it finally touched Kevin’s skin.

Avery’s touch was tentative. He kept his hand flat and moved it about Kevin’s stomach, stopping at Kevin’s bellybutton and poking a finger in hesitantly. While Tanner explored all over Kevin’s chest, arms, and face, Avery seemed stuck in one spot. Kevin realized that this was new to Avery and that he would need Kevin’s help, so he took Avery’s hand and placed it square on the front of his briefs, right between his thighs.

Kevin watched as Avery went from flush to pale, the blood draining from his face faster than Kevin could imagine. He seemed paralyzed, his hand resting gently where Kevin had placed it, his eyes locked on to the same spot. Then, every so softy, he began to flex his fingers and squeeze Kevin gently. Kevin, in turn, rocked his hips up to meet Avery’s touch. That seemed to help, and Avery slowly gained confidence and began to explore Kevin through his briefs, his touch becoming more deliberate with each passing moment. Kevin dropped his knees to the side to increase Avery’s access.

The touch of both boys made Kevin squirm with delight. Avery’s soft kneading, in particular, gave him great pleasure. But again Kevin felt that Avery needed his help to move things forward, or maybe Kevin was just impatient. Regardless, Kevin raised his hips and held them there, waiting for Avery to notice. And notice he did, almost immediately. He looked quickly over at Kevin, questioningly. Kevin, in turn, gave a small nod. So Avery moved his shaking hands to Kevin’s hips, and grasping the band of his briefs, he pulled them gently down Kevin’s legs and off his feet.

Now Kevin felt the cold granite counter top against the cheeks of his butt. It felt great to be lying naked in the kitchen, regardless of the warm hands that roamed across him. There was always a certain excitement in being nude outside of the bathroom or the bedroom. Kevin smiled with pleasure and folded his hands behind his head.

What happened next was a momentous first and one that Kevin would remember forever. Kevin watched as Avery paused to drink in the nude form in front of him and he seemed to wrestle with some decision, not sure of what to do. Then, with resolution, he reached across Kevin’s body, his chest pressed against Kevin’s stomach, to grab the bottle of maple syrup on the other side of the counter. This made even Tanner pause, and both brothers watched with curiosity to see what he would do next. Carefully popping the top, he positioned it over Kevin’s groin and drizzled the sticky, sweet fluid over Kevin’s dick. Kevin giggled at the sight of the syrup as it landed on the head of his dick and slowly began to slide down his shaft. His dick twitched with the sensation. Kevin expected Avery to use the syrup as a lubricant, the same way Tanner did with hand lotion. Instead, after locking his hair behind his ears, Avery plunged down and took Kevin into his mouth.

A hiss escaped from between Kevin’s teeth. His hips shot up hard into Avery’s face as his back arched and his head fell back onto the counter. At the same time his hands, which had been folded behind his head, shot down to the back of Avery’s head and he pushed Avery down as hard as he could. If he had been capable of sensing anything past the wonderful tingling in his groin, he would have seen Tanner’s jaw drop in surprise and heard him mutter, “Holy shit!”

Avery snaked one hand between Kevin’s thighs and onto Kevin’s butt, the other wrapped around Kevin’s side. Kevin, in turn, began to thrust his hips, unable to get enough of the wonderful, warm, wet sensation. All two and a half inches of Kevin were buried in Avery’s mouth and Kevin fought for air as he felt Avery’s tongue explore his young shaft and head. He rolled slightly on to his side so he could watch the unbelievable act taking place and seeing it happen intensified the experience. A small soprano “Ahh” began to punctuate each of Kevin’s thrusts. At one point Avery lifted his mouth off and teased the end of Kevin’s dick with his tongue. That, in turn, increased Kevin’s frenzy. He pushed down harder on Avery’s head with his hands and pushed up harder with his hips. Avery, in turn, resumed riding his lips up and down Kevin’s shaft.

Kevin’s vocalizations became deeper as he felt himself build toward his climax. His hip thrusts became more regular and Avery, in turn, held his head still, letting Kevin do the work. Kevin felt himself move closer and closer to his climax, but then, at a point just before the explosion, he felt it stall. Although the sensation of his first blow job was beyond description, it stopped just short of what he needed. Whether it was the act itself, or that Avery wasn’t locking his lips tight enough, Kevin didn’t know nor did he care, he just knew he needed to fix it. So he moved one hand from the back of Avery’s head and grasped himself tightly with his thumb and forefinger just below Avery’s lips. Relief was immediate, and Kevin felt the muscle-locking spasms of sexual release overtake him.

Tanner said later that Kevin sounded like an animal being strangled or a like someone choking on their mouthwash in the middle of gargling. Kevin didn’t care about that. He cared only about the rush of pleasure that flooded throughout him. The cold granite supported his body and allowed Kevin to let every muscle go slack. He curled up on his side and brought his knees up, knocking Avery off his suckling just as Kevin found the sensation too intense to continue. He lay there and panted.

When he slowly came around, his first act was to look at Avery. Avery, in turn, gave Kevin a very small, very hesitant smile. Kevin returned Avery’s smile with a broad grin. “Fuck, Avery, where’d ya learn to do that?” Kevin asked. Avery’s answer was a small shrug, but then his smile turned to a look of worry as he glanced toward Tanner.

Kevin had forgotten about Tanner up until this point, but a sudden movement by his shoulder and Avery’s expression made him think about his brother again. He turned in time to see his brother walk away from the counter and deeper into the kitchen where he disappeared behind Kevin’s back. Tanner’s movements didn’t worry Kevin, he knew Tanner well enough, but clearly they bothered Avery.

Avery’s expression turned from worry to panic. He took one step back from the counter and Kevin thought he might turn and bolt from the room. Kevin sat up quickly, his legs dangling over the edge of the counter, and grasped Avery’s hand. That stopped Avery from moving any further, but the panicky look remained. Behind him, Kevin heard the refrigerator door open.

“That was the most awesome thing ever!” Kevin continued. “I wonder if that’s what fucking feels like?”

Although Tanner’s bare feet made no noise on the hard tile floor, Kevin could tell exactly where he was by following Avery’s eyes. He turned to greet his brother when Avery’s look told him Tanner had returned.

“That was so cool, Tanner; you have to give it a try!” Kevin exclaimed.

Tanner stood at the corner of the kitchen counter looking at Avery, his expression unreadable. Avery, in turn, looked to the floor. Then Tanner spoke.

“Hey Avery, can you make mine chocolate,” he said with a grin, as he slapped a bottle of Hershey’s syrup on the counter. Then, without waiting for an answer, he slid his gym shorts and underwear to the floor. “Hop off, Kev. My turn.” Kevin, in turn, slid off the counter, watching Avery’s expression turn from dread to elation.

Kevin moved one of the kitchen stools back to the counter and sat by Tanner’s head, his chin resting next to Tanner’s shoulder. From there he gazed down across Tanner’s chest, stomach, and groin to Avery’s beautiful ministrations. He felt Tanner’s cheek press softly against his own as he watched Avery bob up and down; Tanner’s slick, glistening shaft revealed each time Avery rose. In his ear he heard Tanner’s familiar grunts that deepened in intensity as his climax neared. Like Kevin, Tanner did not last long before he seemed to try to shove his entire body into Avery’s mouth and gave a small cry. Then he went silent, his eyes closed, his breathing still deep, as he savored the moment.

Avery, like Kevin, watched Tanner’s chest heave, and he smiled at Kevin as he once again hooked his hair behind his ears. Kevin met his glance and smiled back, then, without thinking, beckoned him close. Avery, curious, joined Kevin at the end of the counter where Kevin now beckoned him to lean closer. “Kiss him,” Kevin whispered.

Avery looked tentative but Tanner did not. Without opening his eyes, he reached up, found Avery, and, hooking his hand behind Avery’s head, pulled him close. Kevin sat there, inches away, as the two boys drew near and he saw their tongues slide together in greeting just before their lips touched. He heard Avery give a soft moan and saw his hand tug at the front of his gym shorts which tented out in the front. Then he heard the heavy exhale of both boys and, an instant later, smelled the warm breath of each, intermingled yet still distinct. Kevin, who had yet to lose his erection, felt it grow even stiffer.

Moments later Avery lay on the counter, smiling broadly in anticipation; Tanner by his side. Tanner held the maple syrup in one hand and the chocolate sauce in the other and was offering Avery his choice. Kevin, for the first time, realized how funny the offer was, as the selection meant far more to Tanner than it ever would to Avery. When Avery made his choice, it was maple syrup. He seemed shy about pulling off his shorts and briefs and Kevin was perplexed as to why. Avery had a great body, olive brown all over, even where Kevin and Tanner were white. For some reason, Kevin found himself fascinated by Avery’s butt. Avery had a firm round butt, much firmer and rounder than Tanner’s. He liked the way it looked, squashed on the granite counter top. Kevin saw that Tanner, like himself, had not lost his erection. He also noticed that Tanner’s dick was still shiny and wet, while his had lost the slick coating. Avery’s dick was a bit longer than Tanner’s but also seemed skinnier. Like Kevin and Tanner, Avery had no pubic hair. While Tanner listened carefully to Avery’s instructions, Kevin moved his stool down to the other end of the counter.

Kevin leaned in over the counter, his face inches from Avery’s crotch. For Kevin, the view from this end was just as erotic as when he watched from Tanner’s shoulder. He half expected it to be a bit smelly, but it wasn’t. He noticed that Avery’s balls hung down far more than Tanner’s. Still, Kevin could see the small patch of skin between Avery’s testicles and the dark cavern that marked his anus. Kevin noted the line of wrinkled skin that ran from the center of Avery’s scrotum and disappeared into the darkness and he found himself running his fingers on the same spot on himself. It was a part of his own body he had always been curious about, but a place he had never been able to see. He had never thought to look at that spot on Tanner, because…well… because he and Tanner had never considered doing anything like this.

Kevin watched as Tanner began to work on Avery the same way that Avery had worked on him. His head bobbed up and down on Avery’s dick. After a moment Kevin noticed Tanner close his eyes, as if in concentration. Avery’s balls began to bounce up and down a bit as his hips began to rock. Kevin wondered what they felt like, being noticeably bigger and looser than his own, or even Tanner’s. Then Kevin noticed a small drop of syrup sweetened saliva escape from Tanner’s mouth and drip slowly down Avery’s sack. Without thinking, he leaned forward and licked it. Then, without any thought as to why, he quickly sucked one of Avery’s nuts into his mouth. Avery yelped.

The noise surprised both Kevin and Tanner, but not enough to disrupt either boy. Tanner continued to move up and down, swirling his tongue all around at the same time. Kevin continued to play with Avery’s testicle in his mouth, sucking on it gently and bouncing it about with his tongue. It felt good and it tasted…hmm… Kevin wasn’t sure how to describe it, other than normal. To Kevin it tasted mostly like sweaty skin; coppery and salty. He played with it a bit; then he moved to the other.

Unlike Kevin and Tanner, Avery was quiet throughout. His quickening breath was all Kevin could hear, but from it, Kevin could tell he was close to that special moment. Then, Avery, who had been holding Tanner’s face with both hands, suddenly pushed Tanner away, and, grabbing his own dick, he began to masturbate furiously. Kevin and Tanner both stood back in surprise. And then his climax hit. One leg slipped on the counter trying to gain traction and drive his hips up and his stomach muscles went tight. Then Kevin heard Tanner say, “Oh cool! Come here, Kev, you gotta see this!”

Avery was still stroking himself slowly as Kevin joined his brother at Avery’s side. There on Avery’s stomach sat a small puddle of clear fluid and a stringy, viscose thread connected that puddle to the end of his dick. Kevin, without thinking, stuck out a finger and pushed it through the drops. It was surprisingly slick. Kevin looked to Tanner for an explanation.

“That’s cum, Kevin,” Tanner explained excitedly, but it wasn’t much of an explanation to Kevin. In the meantime, Avery had released his grip and laid silently watching Kevin and Tanner.


Just before lunch, Kevin and Tanner’s mom returned, entering the kitchen through the garage. She glanced quickly around the kitchen and was both pleased and surprised to see that the remains of breakfast had been cleared away. She was always uneasy leaving the boys home alone, but they were reaching an age where it was hard to justify not trusting them. Plus, there were some errands, like the shopping she did today, that would not have gone well with two sullen tweeners and an 8 year-old.

“I’m home boys,” she called and paused, not moving again until she heard three young voices respond from the family room. “Did you guys behave?” she then asked, for no particular reason.

There was a pause and she almost thought she heard a giggle from Kevin, but, whatever it was, it was abruptly cut off. Then Tanner called back, “Of course!”

She divided up the bags she carried and went to leave several in the kitchen but stopped when she saw the counter.

“Tanner!” she called; and the tone of her voice meant that her oldest son appeared quickly.

“What mom?” he asked, skidding around the corner.

“Tanner! What is this sticky mess all over the counter?”

She watched Tanner’s reaction carefully and saw a flash of guilt before it was hidden by a mask of wide-eyed innocence, a look he had perfected over the years. “Oh…umm…sorry, we just got a bit messy eating. Don’t worry, I’ll get.” And he scampered around to the sink to grab the dishcloth.

“No,no, not that,” she said, bringing Tanner to a screeching halt, “use the cleaner under the sink and some paper towels.”

“Sure thing.”

She considered, then decided against, asking for a better explanation than the thread-bare lie he had offered. Boys were a complete mystery to her; having grown up in a house with just girls. Tanner and Kevin were her first experience with boys and their ways constantly baffled her. She looked at the mess on the counter and tried to imagine how it happened. The best she could do, however, was to conclude that her pancakes had served as some sort of ball or puck and there had been loud cries of “Goal!!!” and “The crowd goes wild!!!” At least the dishes were put away and the butter and syrup were in the refrigerator and she decided to be happy with that.

She was turning to leave when another spot caught her eye. She thought about expressing her disappointment at finding yet another mess, but, in the end she, merely pointed out the sticky spot on the floor in front of the refrigerator. This time Tanner’s face registered true surprise, still he jumped to clean up that spot as well.

Passing the family room she said hi to Avery and Kevin who returned her greeting. She turned to continue to the bedroom, but something was amiss so she turned back. The boys, who had started to resume their conversation, stopped and looked back at her. It took her a moment to put her finger on it, but then she realized what it was. The coldness with which Kevin had treated Avery all week was gone and the two were chatting like very close and long-standing friends. Again she found herself perplexed. She wondered if there had been a fight between them while she was gone. She had seen that between Tanner and Kevin, where some minor irritation erupted into a fistfight, only to end with the two being best-friends moments later. She shrugged realizing that, like the mess on the kitchen counter, she’d probably never know what happened.

Something else bothered her as well, and that was harder to pick out. Then it struck her, and she looked back into the kitchen at Tanner to confirm it. All three boys had the same wet hair, almost as if they had come out of the shower at the same time. But as quickly as the idea occurred to her, she dismissed it. She was convinced that Avery was just too shy to be in the bathroom with Kevin and Tanner. And even if he had overcome his shyness, the shower was just too small for three boys to be in there together without bumping into each other, and she felt she knew enough about boys to know that no boy would want that. In the end, deciding that boys could be pretty weird sometimes, she continued down the hall.

Kevin sat next to Avery on the floor of the family room. Both boys watched Kevin’s mom start down the hall and then stop. They watched with curiosity as she stared at them for a moment in confusion and then as she took a step back to look at Tanner in the kitchen. Kevin realized that whatever she saw must have been unimportant, because she ended up saying nothing. Kevin and Avery turned to each other as she walked away and shrugged. “I know,” Kevin said, “my mom can be pretty weird sometimes.”