He was scared, he was dirty and he was wet. He had long since cried himself out and now all that came out were little wounded sounds that some animal might make if caught in a trap. He was only ten, well almost eleven, but he looked more like an 8 year old in his present condition. He was hungry, he was tired, but mostly he hurt. He hurt where they had hit him, he hurt where they had grabbed him and held him but most of all he hurt inside. Like most innocents it was hard for him to understand why anyone would hurt another human being and then laugh about it. His heart hurt, he decided. He wasn't having a heart attack like his uncle Mike, this was another kind of hurt in his heart. This hurt was like when you were in love and then the other person didn't love you or when someone you trusted did awful things to you even though you tried to be nice and do what you were told. It hurt in his chest as surely as if someone were stabbing him and the tears started again. He was ten, but he had endured enough misery in his short life to last a lifetime.
John Meadows was a cautious man, he didn't take chances and he didn't encourage others to do so either. He had stayed at the same job as an insurance adjuster for ten years even though he had been offered more money to change jobs simply because he felt a change was risky. He had driven the same car for the last six years because he thought financing a car these days was like a crap shoot. That was if you even paid a decent price for the car to begin with.
He had lived in the same house ever since his mother and father had retired and moved to Florida leaving him their home, the home he had grown up in, simply because it was a safe and sane thing to do. He never took chances, he never gambled, he was in a word: boring.
A light rain was falling as John made his way home that night. It was Friday night and as usual he had stopped at the Chinese place on Kingston and ordered his usual, Sesame Chicken and an egg roll. Extra plum sauce please. It was Friday and he had the whole weekend ahead of him and as usual he had no plans.
He sighed as he climbed behind the wheel of his Ford Taurus and started the engine. As he pulled out of the parking lot the rain began to fall harder and he turned on his wipers.
On the radio Michael Jackson was singing Off the Wall and he was tapping his left foot in time to the music. He liked pop music, and collecting recordings was his one only real hobby. He had over a hundred albums (vinyl), several hundred cassettes, and recently he had begun to collect CD's and had fifty or so already. He had a state of the art stereo in his living room and a smaller one in the bedroom and most of the time his house was filled with music. His choice in music was an antithesis to his boring life, but he didn't think about that, he just knew what he liked.
He glanced at the dash board clock, it was 6:12, if he hurried he could catch the last part of Star Trek on the oldies station. He liked the old shows even though most of them were way before his time. You see John was only 25, but to observe him and his habits one might have believed he was a much older man. Not that he looked old, he didn't really, he was handsome with big brown eyes and one of those naturally fit bodies that nature sometimes grants a person and though he wasn't vain by any means he accepted that he was a decent looking man.
The rain continued to fall, picking up in intensity and he slowed down in a effort to see through the deluge falling all around him. He was downtown now, a shortcut to his neighborhood, and at this hour there was hardly any traffic. The only bad thing about downtown was the traffic lights on every corner, but he had learned that if he drove at exactly 28 miles per hour he could hit most of them just right.
He made all the lights except the last one on Lake Street and as he pulled to a stop he looked around. There was a drug store on the corner to his right, the old kind with a soda fountain and a hanging awning all around the front. He had frequented the soda fountain a few times and enjoyed the atmosphere, but he really wasn't one to over indulge.
From the corner of his eye he detected movement beneath the canopy and he squinted his eyes to see who or what had attracted his attention. It was dark beneath the awning but his eyes soon adjusted and when they did he saw that the movement had been a small boy cowering beneath the awning looking frightened and cold.
John was not a cold man, but he had never really reached out to anyone before. It was part of his "take no chances" policy that he live and let live and he had never stepped up, not once, to help someone who looked as if they needed it. Despite his reservations at helping, he could see something was not right about the situation and he felt a gnawing in his stomach as he waited for the light to change.
I'm just hungry, he tried to convince himself, Some Sesame Chicken and fried rice and I'll be fine. Maybe a glass of wine..yeah a glass of wine.
But when the light changed instead of speeding on through it he turned the corner and angle parked almost directly in front of where the boy cowered beneath the awning. He turned off the ignition and took a deep breath, What am I doing? he said in his head, I shouldn't get involved. Someone might see me and think I'm a pervert or something.
He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel and gave the boy an under the eyelid glance trying to pretend he wasn't looking, but as he did his eyes met the boy's and he was shaken when he saw the misery in the boy's eyes. Why me? he wondered, Why can't someone else do this? Someone with kids? I don't know anything about kids, I have no experience. How can I help this one? What can I do?
As the battle went on in his head the boy hugged himself and began to wail. His song was the sound of misery, the misery that only a small child can feel when there is no hope left. It was this song of misery that finally got John moving. Even through the glass he could hear the boy's cries of anguish and he moved quickly.
Stepping out and closing the door behind him he stepped up onto the curb. For one horrible gut wrenching moment he was tempted to pass the boy by, to go inside and order a milkshake or a sundae and just forget him, but as he neared the boy the most amazing thing happened. The boy stopped crying and held out his skinny shaky hand to the man.
If anyone had told John Meadows that he would be holding hands with a half drowned waif of a boy he would have laughed, but here he was and somehow it didn't seem that bad.
"What's wrong buddy?" John asked surprising himself with the tenderness and caring he conveyed in his voice. Then realizing that he really did care and had a softness in his heart that he had never knew existed he felt as if he had been transformed from the old uncaring man to this one who was holding the boy's hand in his own.
"I can't tell you..." he sniffed, "I'm not supposed to tell. Don't make me tell," he wailed then he began to cry again.
A week ago, an hour ago, ten minutes ago, John wouldn't have known what to do when the boy began to cry, but the new John knew exactly what to do. Pulling the boy to him he hugged the boy and patted him gently.
"Its okay buddy, no one is going to make you do anything you don't want to."
"Pro...om..ise?" he hiccuped out.
"I promise," John said sincerely, though he had no idea how he would keep such a promise if the authorities got involved, as surely they would eventually.
The boy nodded and wiped his nose with back of his hand. It was a cute nose, John thought to himself, then he wondered where that thought had come from. He had lived most of his adult life ignoring children and had no practical experience with them, but this one seemed to be awakening things in him that he never knew dwelled there.
"I'm John. What's your name buddy?"
"Jeremy," he said rubbing his nose roughly as if to take care of a annoying itch.
"Well, Jeremy are you hungry?"
The boy nodded. Somehow John wasn't surprised. The kid looked like he didn't weigh 60 pounds dripping wet and he could almost see the kids bones beneath his ragged clothing.
"Well, let's go inside and I'll buy you some dinner. How about that?
The boy shook his head negatively, "Uh uh, can we go to your place instead?"
John was at a loss for words. How could he possibly justify bringing a young boy home with him? What would the neighbors think? And yet he knew that was exactly what he was going to do and his mind was racing full speed to figure out just how to best accomplish that task.
"But, what about your folks? Won't they wonder where you are?"
He sniffed back a tear and brought his other hand to his face and wiped his nose again, "Nobody cares about me sir. No one will miss me or care what happened to me. All they want to do is hurt me and oh, sir.....I can't stand it no more. Please mister, take me some place safe. I will do anything you want me to do. I will be the best boy you ever knew. I will be good...so good, you'll see," he begged, the tears welling up in his eyes and to his surprise, in John's eyes as well.
"But I could get into trouble," John said softly, "its called kidnapping and I could go to jail if your parents reported you missing."
He let out a pathetic little laugh, then turned serious again, "They won't tell no one I'm gone cause they could be in bigger trouble. They are bad people and they do bad things. I don't never want to go back to them," he said hugging himself one handed as he continued to hold onto John's hand as if he was afraid the man would try to pull away.
John sighed, "All right, for now we will go to my house but we have to figure out what to do with you long term. You can't stay with me forever, eventually someone will come looking for you or figure out that I have a strange kid in my house and things will get bad, very bad. But for tonight you can stay with me."
The boy threw himself at John then and hugged him as if he were a lifeline and in fact he very well was. John had never been hugged by a child before and he thought it felt like the most wonderful thing in the world. How had he missed out on this little bit of Heaven before? He had nephews and nieces and there were always kids in their house when he was a teen, but he had never sought them out and he guessed they had sensed his indifference and kept their distance as well. Suddenly he felt cheated, as if he had just awakened today and realized his life had been empty and meaningless until now.
He managed to regain his composure long enough to get the boy to the car and as he was buckling him in he noticed the boy had a strong odor about him. It wasn't exactly unpleasant, it was just musky and thick, the smell of an unwashed adolescent, but for some reason it disturbed him in a way he couldn't explain. Of course he could explain very little of what he was feeling about the boy at this point, so this was no surprise and just one more thing to table until later.
As soon as the boy noticed the sack of Chinese food and smelled the delicious fragrant aroma his mouth began to water. John noticed his eyes kept darting to the bag and finally he could stand it no longer.
"There is a fork in the container, why don't you go ahead and eat the Chinese food I bought, no need to let it go to waste or get cold."
"I don't wanna take your food from you," the boy said sadly.
"It's okay, I'm not very hungry anymore and like I said no need to let it get cold."
The boy protested no further as he looked up at John shyly, "Thank you sir, you're nice."
They were simple words, but coming from the boy they seemed to express the greatest compliment anyone could give another human being and John felt humbled by them. He drove on in silence as the boy calmly and slowly ate the food, bit by bit, fork full by fork full until all that was left was the egg roll. He looked at it questioningly then held it out to John.
"You should eat this, I'm full now," he said sweetly causing John to tear up again.
"I'll eat it later," John said, "But thanks for saving it for me."
The boy smiled, "Welcome. Where do you live, in a house? Are you married, do you have kids my age?"
John laughed for the first time since meeting the boy, "No wife, no kids. I live alone and I have never even had company since....well, since I moved in."
"How come, don't you have any friends?" the boy asked innocently.
No, I don't, John thought bitterly. Because I am too afraid to risk it, too afraid to take a chance, too afraid to reach out to someone for fear they will reject me or take too much of me. Except for Amanda, dear Amanda. "Not many, and I'm pretty busy with work and stuff," he said not wanting to address the real truth with this little boy who had wormed his way into his life so abruptly.
He was saved further conversation by their arrival at his house. It was dark out now and the boy's head was barely visible through the darkly tinted windows so he didn't really worry. Still he had to be careful so opening the garage door remotely he drove the car into the garage and closed the door behind them. Now, no one would even know the boy was there.
"I like your house," Jeremy said as they entered through the kitchen, "are you sure you live here all by yourself? It's so big," he said as his eyes grew wide and he held his arms out to demonstrate just how big.
"I grew up in this house, then I went away to college and after I graduated my folks moved to Florida and gave me the house. That's why I live in such a big house."
"Oh, okay, that's cool. Ummmm...sir....do you have anything to drink? That rice made me awful dirsty," he said mispronouncing the last word cutely.
John laughed for the second time. What was it about this dirty little kid that made him suddenly feel very content and actually happy? He fished a soda out of the fridge and handed it to the boy who thanked him sweetly and drank half of it in three swallows.
"Wow, you were...dirsty," John chuckled, "Come on, let's go into the family room and talk a bit. Then I think you should take a bath and I'll find you something you can wear while I wash your clothes."
"Can I take a baff now?" the boy asked excitedly. John didn't know much about kids but he had always heard that boys especially didn't like baths.
"Well, sure. Come on I'll run the water for you and you can take a long hot bubble bath while I wash your clothes."
"You have bubbles?" the boy asked excitedly.
"I do," John chuckled. Another of his little enduldgences. He loved a good hot bubble bath occasionally.
John led the boy to his bedroom and into the master bath. There was a huge corner tub with a built in jacuzzi as well as a separate shower tucked into the corner. He started the water, making sure it was just the right temperature and when he turned to tell the boy that he would leave him alone so he could bathe in private the words got hung up in his throat as he saw that the boy had already stripped off his clothes and stood naked scratching his little balls in the typical male pose.
"Do you like me?" the boy suddenly said causing John to frown. What did the boy mean?
"I'm sorry, what?" John stuttered.
"Do you like me?" the boy said spinning to reveal his skinny behind.
But it wasn't the boy's bottom that John noticed, it was the whelps there and as his eyes traveled up the boys back he saw more and some looked fresh. He felt sick at his stomach as he realized that someone had beat this boy and quite severely, maybe even as recently as that day.
"I...think you are a very nice boy," John managed to utter, "What..ummm...happened to your back?" he added nervously.
The boy frowned as he turned back around and shook his head from side to side as if to make the question go away. "No, no, no...you can't ask that. It's not fair. I told you...no, no, no!" he said getting more agitated with each word.
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry," John said reaching out to calm the boy down, but Jeremy pulled away from him and ran out of the bathroom in tears.
John jumped up and ran after him, but he didn't have to go far. The boy was curled up in the corner by his bed hugging his knees to his chest as he cried as if his heart was broken. And maybe it was, John decided. He had no way of knowing what sort of mental damage incurred because of such abuse, but he knew he had to try to find some way to get through to the boy and find out exactly what had happened if he was to help him.
Kneeling to eye level with the boy he spoke softly as he rubbed the boy's back soothingly, "Come on I'll help you take a bath. How about that, would you like that?"
The boy nodded, his tears drying now though he still had dry heaves when he spoke, "O..o..kaay, but no talking about bad things."
"I promise," John said reaching down to pick the boy up. He was so skinny that he barely weighed anything at all and John wondered if the boy was sick or if he had just been starved as well as beaten. He felt that sick feeling in the pit of his stomach again and as the boy wrapped his arms around him he kissed him softly on the face. Having never kissed a child before, John was amazed at how good something that simple felt. The boy smiled up at him and he felt a different sort of feeling in his stomach. It wasn't a bad feeling this time, just a flutter and he didn't really know what it was, only that it felt exciting and pleasurable like riding a roller coaster and that he liked it. Had he been a more worldly man he would have recognized it as the first pangs of love.
The bubbles were filling the tub now and in danger of spilling over the edge as John gently stood the boy in the tub. Turning off the water he helped Jeremy to sit and the bubbles came up to cover him almost completely causing him to giggle. The sound made John smile, he didn't know why but it was suddenly very important that he do everything he could to make this boy happy and to hear him laugh again and again.
"Will you wash me?" the boy asked sweetly melting John's heart
"Sure, buddy. Let me get a washcloth." Still dressed in his work clothes John was worried he would ruin his good slacks and dress shirt so he decided to strip down to his boxers before beginning.
He was aware of the boy shyly watching him as he undressed and he immediately regretted his decision. But he was already undressed now and anyway the boy seemed more curious than offended.
"Didn't wanna get my good dress clothes wet," John said as he knelt beside the tub.
"It's okay, I like you...so it's okay."
John thought that a little odd, but he guessed the boy just meant that he was comfortable with him and that was okay.
"Give me that little foot," John said smiling warmly. He was amazed at how comfortable he felt with the boy now but the most amazing thing was that he was happy. Against all odds he was happy, despite the fact that his usual routine had been disrupted and that he was risking a lot just by helping the boy. Yes, despite all that he was happier than he had been in a very long time. Was this what was missing from his life? Did he need a child in his life to make him happy? That was a strange thought considering he had no desire to have a wife to bare that child. In fact he had recently come to the decision that he might be gay even though he had never been with a man or thought much about it one way or the other.
Nothing had made sense before he met the boy and though he still didn't understand why, he realized that being with the boy was the most important thing that had ever happened to him.
He washed the boy's small foot marveling at the perfectness of his toes and he had the strongest urge to kiss that little foot, but he was terrified that the boy might misunderstand his intentions. He put the first foot down and started on the second paying special attention to those little toes counting them one by one as he washed them, one..two..three...four...five...six. At first he thought he had just miscounted or was seeing double but counting them off again he was amazed to find this tiny little boy had eleven toes. He didn't know much about human deformity but from what he could see the extra toe was as perfect as the other ten and for some reason it was more endearing than disturbing. It made the little guy unique and that made John smile.
"Do you like my toes?" the boy asked suddenly as he studied John closely. Perhaps others had made fun of his extra toe or were offended by it.
"I think they are perfect, just like you little one," John said smiling. And then to prove his point he brought the boys foot to his lips and kissed each toe individually causing the boy to giggle.
The boy tilted his head and smiled when John was finished, "I love you silly."
"I love you too silly boy," John said, the words coming out as easily and naturally as if he said them everyday.
"Can I just stay here with you forever?" the boy asked innocently.
"Oh, buddy, I wish you could, but that's not possible. I live alone, I'm not married and I don't know anything about kids and besides I don't think they'd let me keep you." But the amazing thing was, he wished he could keep this little boy, this sweet wounded little soul that he was getting more and more attached to by the minute. It was as if this little waif was transforming him and healing his own wounds and teaching him how to live. How could he ever go back to his old life once he had seen how wonderful it was to love and be loved by a child?
"You don't want me, do you?" the boy said sounding sad and near tears.
"Oh, yes...I do...very much, but I don't think I can...that's all. I would if I could. I swear."
"You promise, if you could, you would?" the boy asked sniffing back tears.
"I promise Jeremy but it's not up to me."
"But if it was up to you, then you would?"
"Yeah, I would...forever," John said and he meant every word.
"Well...okay, but I wish I could stay," he said sadly.
"Well, little man let's not worry about it tonight, lets just get you dressed and in bed."
Since he hadn't had time to wash the boys clothes he was at a loss for what to do about his nakedness but he quickly came up with a plan. Using a large bath towel he made the boy a sort of diaper like garment and using large safely pins he secured it to keep it from slipping off his slender hips.
"It's like a diaper," Jeremy giggled, "I'm a big baby....wahhhh..." he said giggling.
"Come here baby," John said holding out his arms for the boy, "and I'll carry you to bed."
Jeremy swarmed into his arms and rested his head on John's shoulder as he hugged him tightly. He closed his eyes and sighed contentedly. It was the first time in his young life that he had felt safe and happy and he never wanted this feeling to end.
John gently laid the boy on the bed in the guest room but he refused to let go of John's neck, "Can't I sleep in your bed?" the boy said sounding pitiful.
John thought about it for only a few seconds. He had broken about a dozen laws already while caring for the boy, what was one more?
"Okay, buddy," he said picking the boy up once more, "I guess it won't hurt."
Placing the boy in his own queen size bed he stood beside him for moment staring down at his beauty, "I'm going to go take a shower now, you try to get some sleep and I'll be back in a little while."
"Okay," the little boy said yawning, "but hurry, okay?"
John showered quickly, shaving in the shower to save time. Afterwards he brushed his teeth and combed his wet hair before getting dressed and going off to his bedroom. He expected his little charge to be asleep but when he crept in the boy's eyes were open and the smile on his cute face melted his heart.
"I waited for you," he said in a sleepy voice.
John smiled and crawled into bed next to the boy and pulled the covers up over himself. Immediately the boy scooted over until he was touching John, his small hand on John's chest causing him to shiver. John wasn't used to anyone touching him, let alone a small boy but it felt wonderful even if it was a bit confusing.
"Will you tell me a story?" the boy asked yawning once more.
"A story, well...I'm not sure I know any stories," John stuttered.
"Please," the boy begged, "you can just make one up if you don't know any."
"Well, maybe I do know one or two." As an avid reader he actually had several hundred stories in his head to choose from and he supposed he could modify one and make it appropriate for the boy.
He chose a sci-fi fantasy story that he had recently read that contained werewolves and vampires, unicorns and shape changers. He toned it down making it less scary and more entertaining and the boy listened with rapt attention for a few minutes until sleep won him over and he slowly drifted off to dreamland.
John smiled when he realized the boy was asleep and as he pulled the covers up around him the boy sighed. He couldn't resist leaning in and kissing the boy on the cheek and when he did Jeremy smiled in his sleep.
John felt a warmth and peace of mind spread through him that he had never experienced before. Was this how other people felt all the time? he wondered.
He fluffed his pillow and tried to get comfortable but thoughts kept racing through his head. He knew that what he had done tonight was illegal, and that he could potentially go to jail for it, but it still felt like the right thing to do and he supposed he would just have to live with the consequences of his actions no matter how noble.
But what about tomorrow, he wondered, what then? There was no way he could keep the boy very long without someone finding out and when they did, they were sure to call the authorities and his next bed would be in a cold dark cell somewhere downtown. Surprisingly that didn't worry him as much as the question of what would become of the boy.
He sighed in frustration and tried to think harder about what he could do to save the boy and keep his promise to him. He worried himself to sleep at last, but it was a troubled sleep.
He awoke a short time later with something warm and soft pressing against his backside. He was laying on his side facing the wall and Jeremy was snuggled up to his backside with his arm thrown around John's waist. Again he marveled at how wonderful it felt to have this small boy touch him, to trust him so completely, and perhaps to even love him.
If there had ever been any doubt in his mind concerning his own feelings toward the boy they were forever settled that moment as he realized that without a doubt he loved the boy as he had never loved anyone before. It was a bitter sweet revelation however, since he didn't know what tomorrow would bring or whether he would ever see the boy again.
"I needa go pee," a sleepy voice said form behind him, "will you go with me?"
"Sure, buddy. I need to go too. Come on. Want me to carry you?"
The boy nodded as he stood up in bed and John took him into his arms and carried him the few feet to the master bathroom. There was no need to switch on the light because John kept a night light burning near the sink. As he sat the boy down in front of the toilet he realized it would be impossible for him to pull his small penis out of the towel to urinate so he unpinned one side and pulled it down to allow him easy access.
Trying not to stare he noticed that the boy's penis was hard and this made it difficult for him to get started. But eventually he did start the stream and somehow managed to direct it toward the bowl and not the toilet seat. He emptied his bladder at last and sighed with relief then let John repined his towel and the boy stepped aside to allow John access to the toilet.
John has always been a bit bladder shy and when the boy walked around to the far side and stood staring at his penis he found it almost impossible to begin. He closed his eyes however and soon the piss began to flow and he didn't open them until his bladder was emptied.
"You got a big penis," the boy said sleepily.
"Not so big, average actually," John said blushing, "Someday yours will be as big or bigger....when you are older."
"Really? Cool. Will you carry me back to bed," he said switching gears easily as he held up his arms to John.
John smiled and picked him up and kissing the top of boy's head he carried him off to bed. Once they were both under the covers the boy migrated toward John and snuggled against him. It felt nice, John decided, and it was perfectly innocent. It was just a scared little boy finding comfort with someone who for once treated him as if he mattered and with kindness.
This time John fell asleep quickly and didn't awake till morning.
John awoke to someone patting his face gently and when his eyes popped open he was greeted by a smile from Jeremy, "Wake up sleepy head," he said in a soft melodic voice.
"Ummmmm...what time is it?"
"The clock says 8 o'clock," he said squinting to look at the alarm clock on the night stand.
"Are you hungry?" John asked stretching and yawning lazily.
"Yeah, but I need to pee first," Jeremy said hopping down off the bed, "Come on, you probly need to pee too. Don't ya?"
Not only did John need to pee, but he had major morning wood and he was reluctant to get up and display it to the boy, but when the boy grabbed his hand he allowed himself to be dragged out of bed, morning wood and all.
Jeremy took one look at the tent in John's pajamas and covered his mouth and giggled, "You got a pee boner too." and then he pointed to his own tent and John was helpless not to look.
"You understand what causes that don't you?" John said trying to down play the situation.
"Uh....not really," Jeremy said looking serious suddenly, "What makes my weenie get hard?"
"Well....sometimes, like this morning, it's the pressure of the urine on your bladder and something inside you called a prostate gland."
"Okay, but what about when I don't hafta pee? Sometimes when I think about stuff I get one and sometimes for no reason."
They had reached the bathroom and Jeremy ran to the toilet and again John had to help him remove the towel long enough for him to relieve himself. Once his towel was back on John took his turn and this time Jeremy didn't stare at him. Instead he perched on the edge of the bath tub behind John and waited for his answer. John took his time relieving himself, stalling for time to formulate an answer for the inquisitive young boy.
"Well?" the boy said as John was shaking off the last few drops, "Why do I get boners John?"
"Let's have some breakfast first and then we'll talk, okay. I'll throw your clothes in the washer and then dry them and after breakfast you can get dressed.
"Okay, but you gotta tell me, okay?"
"I promise, now let me get dressed, okay?."
After dressing John went in to start breakfast and Jeremy took a seat at the breakfast bar and was swiveling back and forth on the bar stool like most little boys do when confronted with such an opportunity.
John smiled at the boy and he grinned showing his small sharp teeth. Not having much experience with kids John marveled at how perfect this small person was. He had a warm happy feeling inside even though he knew this couldn't last, he intended to enjoy it while he could.
"How do you like your eggs buddy?"
"Uh...I don't know. At the home they were always scrambled. I guess that's okay."
"How about an omelet? I make a great omelet and you can pick and choose what you want in it. Me I like onions, ham, and cheese."
"What's an om-let?" Jeremy asked tilting his head and looking cute as a puppy.
"It's sort of like a pancake, only it's eggs with different ingredients."
"Oh, okay. I guess I'll have one of those with the stuff you said you liked. I like them too," he said grinning.
John thought to himself, The boy would probably try anything I suggested. He's really become attached to me in such a short time, but of course I'm become attached to him too.
John fried bacon and drained it on paper towels then beat up four eggs and added a little milk, salt and pepper while the butter melted in his omelet pan. When it was sizzling he poured the eggs in and slowly cooked them on one side before adding the onions, ham and cheese. When the omelet was firm on that side he carefully flipped it and turned off the burner.
He fixed toast while the omelet cooled a little then slid it out on a plate and cut it in two pieces giving the lion's share to the boy. Adding the bacon and toast to the plates he placed one in front of the boy and the other beside him.
"What to drink, milk or juice?"
"Ummm milk. Do you have any chocolate to go in it?"
"No, I'm sorry I don't. I guess you'll just have to drink it plain this time."
"That's okay, plain is good."
John poured himself a glass of juice and the milk for Jeremy then sat down beside him at the breakfast bar. He took a bite of his omelet and watched as the boy took a small bite of his.
Suddenly Jeremy's whole face lit up in a wide smile and he smacked his lips, "Yummm...this is good. I like it."
"I thought you might, do you want butter and jam on your toast?"
"Sure," the boy said enthusiastically, "can you put it on for me?"
John was more than glad to oblige and when he was finished Jeremy took a big bite of his toast and smacked his lips again.
John laughed and tousled the boy's long hair, "I'm glad you like my cooking. It's not fancy but it's good."
"Are you kidding? The food at the home was awful. This is wonderful."
"Well, I may have to go grocery shopping today. I usually do that on Saturday and since I'm feeding two I may need a few more things."
"Yeah! Can I go with you?"
John thought about that for a moment. What if the police were looking for the boy? Was he being paranoid or practical? Suddenly he didn't know what to do and that was so unlike him that it made him a little uncomfortable.
"I suppose, we really need to get you some new clothes as well. We'll find a Walmart and we can get everything there."
"Cool, I only been in a Walmart one time and that was when this church gave all of the orphans 5 dollars and let us go shopping."
John felt bad for the boy and decided that not only would he buy the boy some new clothes and shoes, but a few toys as well. What he didn't realize at the time was that he was planning as if he intended to keep the boy.
"Well, we'll have our talk first then we can go. Right after breakfast."
"Ah, I can wait for the talk. Let's go after breakfast, okay?"
"Well, okay if you want. I promised you we'd talk after breakfast and I always keep my promises, but if you want to put it off till later that's fine too."
"It can wait. Let's go shopping!" he said excitedly.
At Walmart Jeremy was so excited that John could barely contain the young boy. Finally he put the boy in charge of pushing the cart and he seemed to take that responsibility very seriously and calmed down some. In the boys department John had him try on jeans and shirts and Jeremy insisted that John go in the dressing room with him. John didn't mind since it made the process go faster and eventually he had three outfits that fit the boy well with a little room to grow. Picking up some underwear and socks for the boy John threw them in the basket and moved on. He decided the boy needed shoes as well and a quick trip to the shoe department netted not one but two pair of modestly priced shoes that fit him well.
"Now, that we have you a few new clothes lets see about something to keep you occupied," John said grinning, "maybe a few toys."
"Toys? Really?...oh John, you are the best...I love you soooo much," he said hugging John fiercely.
"Whoa, calm down. What kind of toys do you like?"
At first the boy stuck to the cheap plastic toys in the lower price ranges, but John moved him up in price and quality and eventually they had a nice set of cars, a hand held game, and some action figures for the boy to play with.
Stopping in the food section and HBA section they soon had all their purchases made and at checkouts Jeremy gave John another hug as his clothes and toys were bagged. In the car Jeremy pulled out one of the action figures and played with it the whole trip home.
John washed the new clothing as soon as they got home and Jeremy insisted on trying them on all over again this time with his new undies and socks. The boy's excitement was contagious and soon John found himself looking forward to each change of clothing.
The boy is so cute and sweet, John thought, and this is no more than he deserves, yet to him it is like a dream come true. How can I let him go back to that awful place when he could live here with me and be happy?
Around four o'clock Jeremy began to look tired and John suggested he lay down and take a nap. He was reluctant to do so until John offered to lay with him and he was soon asleep. John rose and decided to make a few phone calls.
He had over 60 hours of vacation coming and had been urged by his supervisor to take some of it over and over again, but until now he had never had the desire. A quick phone call got him a week off with pay, a week in which to solve the problem of what to do with his little charge, Jeremy.
He had a customer, a lawyer named Richard Downing, whom he had become quite friendly with over the years and his next phone call was to him. This wasn't exactly Richard's area of expertiese but he had mentioned once that he had handled an adoption for a friend of his and found it to be an interesting eye-opening experience.
"Hello, Richard. This is John Meadows with Century Insurance. No, no it's not concerning your insurance. This is a private matter. I'm afraid I may need a lawyer."
As quickly and honestly as he could John laid out the events of the previous 24 hours and waited for the young lawyer to reply.
"Wow, John, that's quite a story. Well....as a lawyer I should advise you that what you have done is not only illegal but dangerous, but as a father of two I applaud your attempts to help this boy. Now, as to what you should do next. Leave that to me...that is if you want to engage my services."
"Yes, of course. I'll pay whatever you ask."
Richard laughed, "Well, you are an easy client. But I won't be handling this myself. I know someone however who is very good at this sort of thing and he owes me a favor."
"Excellent, thank you so much. What should I do now Richard?"
"Just hang tight, I'll have my friend call you, his name is Jason Bartlett. Meanwhile just continue as you have been. I am going to make a few anonymous inquiries to see if anyone is looking for the boy, but I'd almost bet that if abuse has been going on that the authorities are the last people the home would contact. I'll get back to you later tonight or tomorrow, meanwhile good luck."
"Thank you so much Richard. I don't know how to thank you, perhaps by hiring you when I get arrested," John joked.
"Well, I don't think it will come to that. Just keep a low profile till we figure this thing out."
When John went in to check on Jeremy the boy was just waking up from his nap.
"Hi buddy, did you sleep well?"
"Uh huh, but I'm hungry. Can I have a snack?"
"You sure can buddy, let's go see what we can find."
"Gotta pee first John, then I'll be there."
When Jeremy joined him John suggested a PBJ sandwich and Jeremy excitedly agreed. While John made the sandwich Jeremy sat at the breakfast bar and watched with interest.
"Can we talk about what I asked you this morning now?"
"What's that...oh, the erection thing," John said frowning. He had hoped the boy had forgotten all about that, but he should have known better. He finished making the boy's sandwich and poured him a glass of milk and sat it before him before continuing.
"Well...first of all. Has anyone ever talked to you about...well, about sex?"
"Not really. I mean some of the boys at the home do stuff and they talk about girls and titties and stuff, but that's all."
"Well, for now let's just stick to the question you asked me earlier."
"Yeah, why does my wiener get hard when I don't need to pee?"
John launched into a rather boring and clinical explanation of what caused erections but Jeremy just seemed more confused with each word.
"I don't get it. So...if I see a pretty girl or something my wiener gets hard. Or sometimes for no reason?"
John shrugged, "Well, there's more to it than that, but let's just say it's your bodies way of...telling you that everything is in good working condition in case...."
"Oh! In case I wanna have sex..right?" he said beaming.
"Well, yes," John said blushing.
"Oh, okay...I get it now. Mmmm this sandwich is good. Thanks John."
John was relieved that the boy took his explanation so well and soon moved on to other matters. Not that those matters were any easier to deal with, but at least they weren't as embarrassing.
"What's gonna happen to me John?" he said looking small and sad suddenly.
"Nothing bad, I promise you that," John said instinctively hugging the boy to him.
Jeremy melted into him and sighed, "I wish you could be my dad," he said softly.
"So do I little friend, so do I," John said kissing the boy's hair. It felt so easy and so natural now to love the boy that he wondered why he had been so afraid at first. But now..now what would happen? He was sure the authorities would never let him, a single man, adopt a small boy, but that was what he wanted more than anything in the world right now. He couldn't imagine not having the boy around even though they had been together for only one day.
Jeremy seemed to recover quickly and soon he was off playing with his new toys while John tidied up the kitchen and thought his thoughts. He was just putting away a few dishes when the phone rang. It was the lawyer Richard had told him about, Mr. Bartlett.
Jason Bartlett was a young man as lawyers go, but he had a proven track record in child chases, especially with hard to place children. He seemed eager to discuss John's case and suggested he come in the next day to go over the details.
When John hung up he was optimistic for the first time since this whole thing had begun. He was smiling as he went in to find Jeremy zooming his cars around the living room floor.
"Wanna play with me?"
"I sure would buddy. I remember me and my buddies playing cars in the dirt when I was about your age and it was the best time of my life."
"Did you have a lot of friends John?"
"No, not really," John said losing his smile as he thought back to his childhood. He had never been popular and the few friends he had were mostly outcasts like him. But they had been good friends and true friends and to this day he still thought affectionately of them. He made a mental note to call his best friend Dale when he got a chance and catch up on things, "But I had a few really good ones and we had a lot of fun."
"I had a friend at the home. His name was Larry and he was my best friend in the whole world...until I met you," he said smiling.
John felt his heart swell with love for the boy, "And you're my best friend too buddy. Hey, is that a Mustang? I always wanted one of those...."
They played in the floor for an hour or so then retired to the couch and watched TV and chatted until dinner time. John fixed spaghetti and meatballs and Jeremy ate like he was starved. In his young life he had never eaten such delicious food or actually got his fill and he was still trying to make up for lost time.
"Mmmm....so good John," he said wiping away a little spaghetti sauce from his cute mouth.
"Thanks buddy, it's just canned sauce but I put a few extra ingredients in it to spice it up."
"At the home the spaghetti was gross. It was like all mixed together and hardly any meat in it."
"I guess it's harder to cook for a lot of kids and not just one," John said smiling, "but I'm glad you like my cooking."
"I like everything you do," the boy said grinning, "In case you don't know....I love you now."
John felt tears flood his eyes and his breath was taken away, "I..love you too. I guess I have since I pulled you out of the rain."
"I know," the boy said simply, "I think God wanted you to find me."
"Maybe so," John said wiping at his eyes, "and I won't let him down."
The next day John debated what to do about Jeremy while he went to talk to the lawyer. John felt he was too young to leave there alone, but in view of what he had already gone through a few hours alone didn't seen that traumatic. However as luck would have it, the perfect solution was just around the corner, literally.
Amanda Hillary was one of John's favorite customers and he considered her a close friend. When they had first met he got the feeling that Amanda saw him as more than a friend, but as their friendship grew she realized that would never happen.
Amanda was a smart women and more worldly than most of her friends believed and it didn't take her long to figure out the real reason John wasn't attracted to her sexually. When she confronted him he denied it at first, then in a very emotional session he finally admitted what he had denied even to himself for so many years, that he was attracted to men.
It seemed silly when he finally got it all out. After all he had never even been with another man and he supposed he never would be. He just couldn't see himself pursuing a man that way, but Amanda had certainly awakened something in him by bringing things out into the open.
Far from being upset or disappointed, Amanda embraced John's difference and vowed to help him learn to live with it. They became even closer and they saw each other often.
John was surprised that he hadn't thought of Amanda sooner, but when he did he called her immediately. She answered on the first ring and sounded happy and bubbly as usual. John debated whether to tell her the real truth or make up some story, but in the end he found himself opening up to her just like he had that evening when she had pulled his deepest darker secret from him.
As usual she was supportive and non judgmental and when John breached the idea of her staying with Jeremy while he talked to the lawyer she embraced it with enthusiasm. As soon as John hung up he roused Jeremy from bed and fixed breakfast while the boy got dressed.
At the table John briefed the boy on the day's activities, "I have to go see a man today about...well about you and what we can do to help you. I can't take you with me and I don't to leave you alone, so...a friend of mine is going to come stay with you."
Jeremy's bottom lip trembled, "Who....is this friend. Will I like him? Is he nice?"
"It's a woman, her name is Amanda and yes, she is very nice. She's a very good friend of mine and I hope you two can become good friends too."
"Is she....your....uh, girlfriend?"
"No, nothing like that. We're just good friends, but not that kind of friend."
"Oh, okay. Does she know all about me?"
"I told her as much as I thought she needed to know. I didn't want to lie to her, we don't keep secrets from each other..we're that kind of friends."
"Yes, like you and I. So don't worry, I wouldn't have told her if it wasn't safe. She will help us every way she can."
"Okay. When is she gonna get here?"
"Soon, very soon, she just lives around the corner."
The doorbell rang then announcing Amanda's arrival and Jeremy stopped eating and looked at John nervously.
"Do you trust me buddy?"
The boy nodded and managed a small smile.
"Okay then, let's go meet your new friend Amanda. You are going to love this gal."
Amanda was a pretty woman and at 23 she still had the girlish charms she had exhibited all through high school. She led a quiet life and seldom partied, though she did go on the occasional date when she could find someone she clicked with, which wasn't often. When she first met John she had thought she had finally met the one guy that she could spend the rest of her life with, but she soon discovered that she lacked the right equipment to interest him that way. Some women would have been angry and perhaps pushed John away, but not Amanda. In fact she and John became closer once he confessed his deepest darkest secret to her and now they were closer than brother and sister.
"So this is Jeremy?" The petite little blond said hugging the boy as if she had known him forever.
"Uh...yeah," Jeremy managed to squeak out as he was crushed against Amanda's perky little breasts.
"Don't smother the boy," John chuckled.
"Well, if you aren't something. Who would have ever thought of you as the parental type."
"Certainly not I, but there's something about Jeremy that brings out the best in me," John said smiling at the boy who had broke free of Amanda and was hugged up against John's leg surveying Amanda with a wary look.
Amanda made a pouty face then stooped down to be eye level with the boy, "Well, any friend of John's is a friend of mine. We're gonna get along just fine...aren't we?"
Jeremy nodded, but he still clung to John as if he were a life line.
"Come on in and let's sit down and get acquainted," John said guiding the boy to the couch.
They talked for a half hour or so and Jeremy seemed to open up more and more as they went along. He wasn't quite sure what he thought of Amanda yet, but she seemed nice and he figured if John liked her and trusted her then he should too because he wanted to please John no matter what.
When it was time for John to go meet the lawyer Jeremy hugged him goodbye, but he didn't whine or make a fuss and once John was gone he turned to Amanda and gave her a shy smile.
"You're such a good looking boy," Amanda said smiling back, "so what do you want to do?"
Jeremy shrugged then grabbed some of his toy cars and held one up to Amanda, "This is my favorite. It's a Mustang. John likes it too," he said smiling and Amanda could see the love in his eyes for her friend.
"Well, let's play cars then," she said holding out her hand, "You take the Mustang and give me something else."
Meanwhile across town John sat nervously in the lawyer's office waiting for the receptionist to announce his arrival. A few minutes later a burly balding man bustled in and shook John's hand and led him into his office.
"Mr. Meadows please have a seat. Would you like something to drink, soda, water, coffee?"
"No thanks Mr. Bartlett. I suppose Richard told you what my situation is..."
"Yes, but I want to hear it from you. Please start at the beginning...." Mr. Bartlett said grabbing a notepad and pen.
For the next half hour John told Mr. Bartlett the story of how he had found Jeremy cowering beneath that awning outside the malt shop and all that had occurred since. When he was finished he looked up to see Mr. Bartlett smiling warmly.
"You've become attached to the boy, haven't you?"
John sighed, "How could I not? He's so young and he's been through so much and he's such a good boy. It makes me happy to make him happy. You should see the smile on his face when he gets some small treat. Mr. Bartlett this boy has never had anyone to love him or care for him and well....I want to see if I can be the one to see that he has all that going forward."
Mr. Bartlett smiled and pushed back his chair, "It won't be easy, but I think we have a good chance of making that happen, but we have to follow procedures here. I'm going to call a lady I know at Children's Services and you can expect to be hearing from her in a day or two. I want you to cooperate completely with her and do whatever she tells you to do."
"Sure, of course. All I want is what's best for him. Do you, do you think they'll take him to a shelter or something or God forbid send him back to that horrible place he ran away from?"
"The Boys Home has been under investigation for quite sometime and I think with Jeremy's help we can fix that part of this. I think CS will probably let the boy stay with you until they figure out what's best for him. They may want to do a background check however. Is there anything in your past that I should know about?"
John laughed, "Not unless being boring and never taking chances is a crime. I'm afraid I haven't lived life to the fullest and up until now I guess I never realized what I was missing. Jeremy has brought out something in me that I didn't know existed."
"What about your love life John, are there any romantic ties at this time?"
John laughed, "No one. I'm not much for dating and well...quite frankly not self confident enough to pursue anyone."
"Okay, but I have to tell you this would be much easier if you were married or at least in a relationship with a woman. Now don't get me wrong, the courts have come a long way in the last few years and single men are being granted custody of their children and some even allowed to adopt, but it's not going to be easy."
"I'll do whatever I have to," John said with sad eyes, "I love that boy and I want to be his dad."
Mr. Bartlett smiled, "I can see that and hopefully others will see it too. For now go back to him and try to keep calm. When Ms Sanders calls tell her exactly what you told me and trust in her instincts, I do, and go from there."
John nodded, "Thank you Mr. Bartlett. I feel so much better about all this, but I realize we still have a long way to go. I uh, suppose this will be rather expensive before it's all over."
"Well, I won't kid you, there's a long way to go but I promise you I'll treat you fairly and we can work out something if you don't have the money up front."
"Thank you so much. I can give you a thousand today, will that be all right?"
"That's more than enough for now. Just stop by the receptionist's desk and Rita will take care of that. Remember John, just be honest with the social worker and do what she says."
On the way home John thought about how his life had changed in the last 48 hours and he laughed aloud. "I must be crazy or in love. In love with an 11 year old boy and I have never felt more alive or needed in my whole life."
He found that boy down on his hands and knees playing cars with Amanda when he got home and he smiled. He knew if Jeremy gave Mandy a chance he would love her as much as he did and here was the proof.
Looking up with a big smile Jeremy summed the whole matter up, "Josh John, Mandy is neat. She even likes to play cars."
"I told you she was special," John said dropping down to join them in the floor.
"Well, how'd it go?" Mandy asked looking impatient.
"Good, really good. For the time being Jeremy can stay with me...at least until Children Services figures out what to do next. I'm supposed to get a call from a lady tomorrow and the lawyer told me to trust her and do exactly what she says to do."
Jeremy frowned, "I wanna stay here forever."
"We're working on it buddy, but I can promise that whatever happens you'll be safe and well cared for."
Jeremy sighed, "Can we not talk about it right now?"
"Sure buddy, come give me a hug," John said holding out his arms. He felt bad for the boy and even worse for himself. How could he give up the only person he'd truly ever loved? If the courts decided against him he didn't know what he would do.
Jeremy melted into John's arms and Amanda smiled, "Wow, who would have thought," she said softly, "I just wanna cry when I see you two together."
"Well, come and join us," John said holding out his arms and grinning, "always room for one more."
Amanda scooted over and joined in the hug and Jeremy sighed contentedly, "I wish you were my mom and dad."
Later when Amanda left John fixed dinner while Jeremy sat at the breakfast bar and zoomed his cars across the bar top. John had much to think about. He knew his chances of getting to keep Jeremy would be exponentially better if he were married, but where could he find a wife? He laughed to himself at the idea. He'd never been with a women before or a man for that matter. No, the closest thing to sex that he'd had since he was a boy and messing around with his buds, was his nightly masturbation sessions, and since Jeremy had showed up he hadn't even done that.
"What, sorry..I was thinking about something."
"Do you love Mandy?"
"Well, yes...but not like a man loves a woman. We're more like really good friends."
"Like you and me?"
"Yeah, more like that. She's sort of like a sister and best friend I guess."
"Cause you don't like girls that way...right?"
"Sex, you don't like girls for sex...do you?"
"Uh, that's kind of a personal question...."
"Sorry...but if you liked girls that way then you would love Mandy that way I can tell. She likes you a lot and I bet she likes you that way."
John was impressed by the boy's insight into the situation after only meeting Amanda one time.
"Maybe, but what we have works really good for us."
"Well, she's my friend now too."
"That's good. I'm glad. She's a wonderful lady and we're both better for knowing her."
"Will you always love me?"
John walked over to where the boy sat and hugged him tightly, "I will always love you no matter what. I promise. Let me tell you a story...about how I was before I met you...."
Jeremy listened with interest as John told him about his boring life and how he never took chances and when he was finished Jeremy smiled up at him and said the most amazing thing. "I'm glad I was the first person you ever loved...cause you'll never forget me."
"Oh, I could never forget you. You taught me how to love and you've changed my whole life for the better. I never want to go back to being that person I was before. I want to love and take chances for the rest of my life." And John realized as the words left his mouth that nothing had ever been truer.
The next day Ms Sanders called and made an appointment at 2pm to see John and Jeremy. As soon as John hung up the phone he began to clean and tidy up the place even though there wasn't much to clean. He always kept a neat and clean house and Jeremy was an unusually neat little boy. Part of that reason was his desire to please John and his need to be accepted by the man. He didn't want to risk doing anything that would displease the man and he picked up after himself and kept clean.
At 1:30 John was literally pacing the floor and when the phone rang he almost ran for it. It was Ms Sanders saying she was on her way and would be there in about 15 minutes. When he hung up the phone Jeremy looked at him with worry.
"It's okay buddy. Ms Sanders in on her way. Now remember what we talked about....just tell her how you feel. She will do what's best for you and we just have to trust her...okay?"
The small boy nodded. He looked even younger and more fragile today. John's heart broke for him and for himself. What is Ms Sanders took Jeremy away? How could he live without the boy after all they'd been through together?
Ms Sanders was a slender black lady with big bright eyes and an infectious smile. Her demeanor was contagious and soon John began to relax. At first she sipped the bottled water John had offered her and just looked around. She liked what she saw. The house was clean and neat and John seemed intelligent and well mannered. She didn't worry that he was a single male. In her years of working for Children Services she could sniff out those who had the best interests of children at heart and those who would use or abuse them and she could tell that John fit the former category. The fact that he was single could complicate matters, but it was nothing that couldn't be worked out if John was patient and willing to see it through to the end.
"I'd like to talk to Jeremy alone now," she said smiling. Is there some place we can go to be alone?"
"Sure, I understand. Jeremy why don't you show Ms Sanders your bedroom and you can talk there."
"I think that's a great idea. Come on Jeremy let's take a look at your room."
She was impressed that so early on John had already made a place for the boy in his home and that spoke volumes of his intentions, and she believed they were as honorable as the man seemed to be. She started slowly with Jeremy asking him if he enjoyed being with John and the kind of things he liked to do. Jeremy relaxed and excitedly told her how much fun he and John had and how much he enjoyed just being with John.
"He's my best friend in the whole world...and Mandy is my second best friend," he said proudly.
"Oh, and who is Mandy?"
When Ms Sanders heard about Amanda she smiled. She knew it was important for a boy to have both male and female influences in his life and if Amanda could be part of Jeremy's life as well her chances of placing the boy with John were increased ten fold.
Next she moved on to the events that had driven Jeremy to run away from the boys home and how John had found him. She carefully asked her questions in a way that were not accusing and let Jeremy lead the way listening carefully for anything out of the ordinary. What she heard only made her more confident that John was a good man and only interested in what was best for the boy.
When they emerged from the bedroom John jumped up from the couch and nervously met them as Jeremy bounced in and hugged John. "She's nice John. Just like you said. I like her."
John smiled, "Well, you've passed the test," John joked, "If Jeremy likes you you must be okay."
"He's a very perceptive and sweet boy. I think the two of you make a good team. I'm going to do everything I can to see that you can stay together, but I won't kid you...there is a ways to go. For now I have some forms I want you to fill out. Assuming you can pass a background check these forms will make you a foster parent and you'll be able to keep Jeremy until a final ruling is made."
"I don't think you'll have any problem with the background check. I'm so squeaky clean I'm boring," John chuckled, "Heck, until Jeremy came along I never took any chances or did anything out of the ordinary. Now just look at me."
"All right then. Why don't we use the dining room table and I'll help you fill out the forms. That way I can take them with me and speed things up. I already have someone doing the background check. I may have jumped the gun a bit, but I assumed after talking to Mr. Bartlett that you were serious about this."
When Ms Sanders left that day she had the papers in hand and promised to get back with John in a few day when the full background report was finished. John didn't sweat the background report at all, but he was still a bit nervous.
"Does that mean you're my dad now?" Jeremy asked when Ms Sanders was gone.
"Well, not yet, but it does mean you can stay with me until the court makes a final decision about that."
"I know they will let you keep me..I just know it."
"I think we have a good chance kiddo. Now, how about we grab Mandy and go out and celebrate."
At dinner Mandy bubbled over with joy. "I just knew things would work out."
"There's still a ways to go, but I'm very optimistic."
"John's gonna be my dad...yah," Jeremy said excitedly.
After dinner Mandy came back to John's place and they sat around and talked with Jeremy stretched out between them with his head in Mandy's lap and his small feet in John's. Soon the boy was snoring softly and Mandy leaned down and kissed his hair.
"He's so sweet John. You're a lucky man," she sighed, "I wish I had a little one like him to love."
"Well, in case you haven't figured it out already, the kid is crazy about you so....in a way you do have a little guy to love."
"Yeah, I just hope you guys don't get tired of me...cause I'm gonna spoil him rotten every chance I get."
John laughed, "You should just move in with us. You could have your own room and then the kid would have a mom and a dad." John was only teasing but there was something about hearing the words put out there like that that made him wonder if it was as silly an idea as he had first thought.
"Don't tempt me. Or we could just get married," Mandy teased back.
"That might be tough. Not consummating the marriage and all...."
"I've had sex. It's not all it's cracked up to be. I'd settle for a warm body to snuggle up to any day.....and a kiss."
"Well, I'll keep that in mind."
"Oh wow, look at the time...I should get out of here. I have to be at work at 7 tomorrow."
"Well, I had fun and I know Jeremy did too. Thanks so much for being there for us."
"It was my pleasure. I'll call you tomorrow and see if there's any news. Goodnight John," she said as she delicately swapped a pillow for her lap.
John lifted the boys feet and gently sat them down on the couch and followed her to the door. They hugged and John watched until she was in her car. When he closed the door behind him Jeremy was sitting up and rubbing his eyes.
"Hey, where'd Mandy go?"
"Home buddy to get some sleep and we need to get some too. Run in and brush you toofies and I'll come tuck you in."
The boy yawned loudly and hopped down and ran off to the bathroom. John checked the doors and turned off the lights and when he went into the boy's room he was already under the covers and grinning widely.
"Guess what John?"
"What buddy?" John said sitting down and pulling the covers up around the boy's shoulders.
"I'm all nekkid under here," he giggled.
"Well, that's fine by me buddy. As long as you put on clothes before you leave the room."
"It's more comfortable and I like it when the covers rub against my wiener."
"Well...I guess that's a guy thing. I don't think I'd go around sharing that though," John laughed.
"I know. I'd be embarrassed if anyone else knew, but I know I can tell you anything."
"That's right kiddo. Now, it's time to get some sleep. Goodnight buddy. I love you."
"I love you too....daddy," the boy said with eyes that expressed his love without doubt, "Will you lay with me till I go to sleep?"
"How could I resist those puppy dog eyes," John chuckled as he stretched out beside the boy.
It didn't take long for the boy to go to sleep and for a few minutes John lay there just watching the slow rise and fall of the covers and feeling the beating of his heart. He still couldn't believe how perfect and how wonderful the boy was. It humbled him to think that of all the people in the world God had chosen him to love and take care of this small perfect person laying beside him. Leaning in close he smelled his little boy breath tinted with tooth paste and he kissed his cheek. The boy smiled in his sleep and sighed contentedly as John quietly slipped out of bed.
Ms. Sanders called the next afternoon with good news. As expected John's background check came out squeaky clean and officially John was a Foster Parent.
"So Jeremy is mine?" John asked excitedly.
"Well at least until the court makes a final ruling, but as backed up as the courts are and since Jeremy is in a stable environment, it may take some time for that to happen."
"Well, you will of course need to enroll Jeremy in school. In addition we need to have Jeremy examined by a physician."
"Would it be all right if I had my own doctor examine him? I'd like him to get used to regular medical care."
"That's fine. I'll need his name and number for my records and he'll need to send us a full report."
"No problem, I'll let you know when I get his appointment set up. And Ms Sanders...thank you so much. You don't know how much this means to me."
"I have a pretty good idea since I have kids of my own. Just hang in there and keep the faith. I'm on your side."
John was smiling when he hung up and when he told Jeremy the good news they hugged and danced around like two little kids.
Days turned to weeks and John and Jeremy's bond grew even deeper. Jeremy was enrolled in school now and though he had some problems at first he was beginning to fit in with the other kids and had even made a couple of friends. One of these friends was a red haired freckle faced boy named Doug and he even invited Jeremy to his birthday party.
With John's help Jeremy picked out a gift for Doug and when John dropped him off at Doug's house he was all smiles. John watched him as he bounced up the sidewalk and rang the doorbell then drove away as soon as he knew Jeremy was inside.
He was glad the boy was making friends and exploring life more now, but in some ways he missed the closeness they had shared when it was just the two of them. He knew that was silly and that part of being a good parent was to help your child grow up and that meant encouraging them to try new things and make new friends.
Still he didn't feel like being alone so he called Mandy and then drove over to her place. She met him at the door with a glass of wine and ushered him in to her house.
"So Jeremy has a new friend huh?"
"Yeah, he's a little ginger named Doug," John said smiling, "From the way Jeremy talks about him he must be a funny kid."
"Oh, funny ha ha or funny weird?"
"Funny ha ha. He makes Jeremy laugh a lot. I think it's great that he has friends now, but I'll admit I miss him when he's not with me."
"I'm sure he misses you too, but it's good to have some private time...both of you."
"I guess, any more wine?"
"Yes, but I don't want you getting drunk. You have to pick Jeremy up later...right?"
"Actually no, it's a sleepover. I guess that's what's really got me bummed out. He won't be there tonight for me to tuck him in or kiss him goodnight."
"Oh, yeah..that is tough. Well, maybe you could call him and say goodnight."
"Naw, I don't what to embarrass him or make him fell weird in front of his friend."
"Well, it's just one night. So, how are things at work?"
"Don't get me started there....."
They talked for an hour and eventually they finished the bottle of wine.
"Shall I open another bottle of wine?"
"Hmmm...not unless you plan on calling me a taxi."
"Well...you could just stay here. I have the guest bedroom. That way we can drink ourselves silly and sleep it off."
"Why not? Since Jeremy has came into my life I'm all about trying new things. Let's do this...bring on the wine."
To soak up a little of the wine Mandy made some finger sandwiches and served them with chips and dip. John hadn't realized till then that he was so hungry and he gobbled the snack up voraciously.
"Slow down John, " Mandy laughed, "have you eaten today?"
"Not since lunch. I guess the wine improves your appetite as well. These are really good. And the wine is amazing. You're amazing," he said smiling at his friend.
"And so are you," she said touching his hand gently. No matter how many times she reminded herself that John was gay she still longed for him to love her the same way she loved him.
"We both are," John giggled, "A toast....to us, two amazing friends."
The clinked glasses and drank and suddenly as John gazed into Mandy's eyes he saw her in a whole different light. She was remarkably beautiful, he had never denied that, but tonight she simple glowed with love and peace and well being and it was contagious.
"I love you so much Mandy," he said softly, "I don't know what I would have done without you all these years. How long has it been....two years, three?"
"Almost four, but who's counting. I love you too John. You're the brother I never had and the friend any girl would be proud to have."
"But you wish it were more, don't you?"
She took a sip of wine and studied John's face for a clue as to what he was getting at. "There was a time when I thought we might...you know become intimate, then I figured out your little secret and well...that sort of put an end to that."
"I'm sorry. I...I just..I'm so confused. I'm not sure what I want to be honest. When I look at you...gosh, you're so perfect...so beautiful and I think...how could I not want to...well, you know?" John said blushing.
"Have you ever been with a woman John?"
He shook his head and blushed deeper red, "I've never been intimate with anyone....well, not since I was a boy...if that counts."
"It's a good warm up for the real thing..I've heard. So...how do you know you wouldn't like it...I mean being with a woman...being with me?"
"Can I have some more wine before I answer?"
"Of course, but I want you sober enough to give me good answers," she chuckled.
"It just help lower some of the...the in...inhibitions, that's all."
"Any lower and you'll be naked and doing the dance of love," Mandy giggled. The wine was affecting her as much as it was John and everything seemed funny.
"Would that be so bad?"
"Hell no, I'd pay money to see you naked John. My God, you're a freaking hunk and any girl or guy would be blessed to get with you."
"I...I don't think I'm that attractive," John said voicing his true feelings now that the wine had kicked in .
"Not attractive...whew...are you serious? You could model, that's how hot you are."
John sniggered, "Yeah, right. But you...you could be a swimsuit model or something. You're so...so sexy."
"Stop it or I'm going to drag you to my room and rape you and take your virginity away."
"Can't rape the willing," John snorted as he finished off his wine.
"I will. I swear to God I will John Meadows. You've been teasing me with that hot body of yours for four years now and I want me some of that."
John's eyes grew big, "But..will you respect me in the morning?" he laughed.
"Yeah, I'll respect you and do it all over again tiger."
"Then what are we waiting for?"
"What? Are yo serious? No..don't tease me John Meadows. I can't stand that...no, please...."
"I'm not teasing. I should at least try it..with a girl and well...you're a girl and a damn pretty one with all the right stuff you know in the right places."
"How would you know?"
"Well...I never seen them, but.....you do...don't you?'
"Well, I've never had any complaints. John...I don't want you to do this because you're drunk or lonely or just to please me, but if you really, really want to do it...well, I'm willing."
"Can I use your shower? I stink..."
"I have a better idea, why don't we both use my shower and we can check out each other's parts and go from there."
So together they showered and seeing Mandy naked was even better than he had thought it would be and Mandy...well, Mandy had always known that beneath John's stodgy exterior there was a hot man wanting to get out.
John was nervous at first but when he began to react as any male would to a beautiful woman he relaxed a little and enjoyed the closeness. They washed each other, taking their time caressing and touching and exploring until they finally dried off and moved to Mandy's bed.
"Do I need protection?"
"Naw, I won't hurt you," Mandy teased, "but seriously...I'm on the pill so no worries."
"I've never done this...I might screw it up."
"That's the idea...to screw," Mandy giggled, "Just relax, it's the most natural thing you will ever do..trust me."
And John did trust her and it did seem natural and soon he was moving with urgency as their bodies danced the age old dance of love. They kissed and it was amazing and John wondered why he had been so afraid. Maybe he couldn't have done this with just any woman, but this was Mandy who he already loved as much as he loved himself and somehow that made it special and magical and wonderful and suddenly he realized it didn't mater what sex the one you loved was, all that mattered was that you loved them completely and the rest would come easy.
It doesn't happen often, but it's highly sought after, but when it does it is magical. It of course is simultaneous orgasm and when it hit the two they both cried out as their bodies bucked and convulsed and pressed even closer together. When it was over they lay panting and John leaned down and kissed Mandy once more.
"Wow, that was intense," John said as he broke the kiss.
"Intense? That was fucking amazing. I have never come as hard and never...never at the same time as my partner. God John you are an amazing lover."
"You're not so bad yourself."
"So...not grossed out or anything?"
"No, God no...not at all. It was amazing. You are so beautiful and your body is perfect. I could stare at you all day and never grow tired."
"John...stop it or I'll think you're in love withe me," Mandy teased.
"Maybe...maybe I am. Maybe I have been all along and was just to confused or scared or whatever to admit it. Maybe I'm not gay at all, maybe I'm bi or confused or...or I don't know. All I know is what just happened was amazing and I think...no, I know...I want it to happen again."
"John...sweet John. Are you sure?"
John nodded and when he saw the tears in Mandy's eyes he didn't understand at first, "I thought you would be happy..."
"I am, you silly man. I'm so happy it makes me cry. Oh, please say you mean it...please."
"I mean it. I mean I think we should see where this can go. I think we can be happy this way, don't you?"
"I know we can John, I know we can. Oh this is so wonderful. Kiss me John and show me you mean it."
And kissing led to round two and when that one was over they lay in each other's arms and slept the sleep of lovers.
At first John and Mandy took it slow, but soon the aching need for each other convinced them that they were ready for the next step. They tried their best to keep their new relationship from Jeremy but he was a bright boy and had them figured out almost from the start. Far from disapproving Jeremy was elated. Now he would have both mother and father if he could convince them to get married.
"So why don't ya just marry Mandy and get it over with?" Jeremy asked John one evening as they sat watching TV, John's thoughts far away and on the very one Jeremy had mentioned.
"What? Why would you say that?" John said trying to play it off.
"Cause you love her...don't ya? And you two been having sex..right?"
John's mouth fell open, "Why would you think that?"
"Paleeeese dad, I'm not stupid. I see how she looks at you and how you look at her and they way you touch each other when you think I'm not looking."
"Well..as long as you brought it up....there are some things I'd like to talk to you about."
"Okay dad, shoot."
"Well, what happened with Mandy and me was just sort of..of an accident really, but I think I'd had some deeper feeling for her all along."
"So you're not gay after all...huh, dad?"
"I.....I'm not sure what I am exactly. I think maybe I like both, but it's Mandy I like right now and....oh, wow......It's amazing."
"So...you love her," he said checking things off on his small fingers, "you like sex with her, and if you married her I'd have a mom and a dad. Soooo...what's the hold up?"
John laughed, "Well, it's a little more complicated than that."
Jeremy sighed, "Adults, you make thing sooooo hard. Just do it dad. I mean she wants to..right?"
"I...never really asked her, but I'm pretty sure she'd say yes."
"Then ask her. If she says no I'll shut up, but I bet she says...HELL YEAH!"
"Language young man," John said trying to be strict but failing, "Maybe I will."
The ceremony was held in the small church that Mandy and her parents attended when Many was a girl. Her father and mother had come to love John and Jeremy and were looking forward to having a new grandchild in the family.
Jeremy acted as ring bearer and Mandy's niece Cindy was the flower girl. She was only 9 but she continually flirted with Jeremy causing him to roll his eyes and look disgusted. He hadn't quite figured out if he liked girls or boys yet, but he knew there was plenty of time to figure things out. After all it took his new dad 20 years to figure it out.
Since they had Jeremy to consider the honeymoon was short and sweet, one night in a luxury hotel while Jeremy spent the night at Doug's house and the next day it was back to the real world.
At first Jeremy was a little jealous, but in the end it was worth giving up some of his time with his dad for the love of a mother as well. And love him she did, fixing his lunch each day before he went off to school and having a snack for him each day when he got home and pampering him every chance she got.
Ms. Sanders was ecstatic when she learned that John and Mandy had married and she said she could almost guarantee that the court would afford custody of Jeremy to the newlyweds. She conducted a home visit two weeks after the wedding and when she left she made her final recommendation to the court stating that in her opinion it was in the best interest of the minor child Jeremy Miller, that he be allowed to be adopted by the Meadows family.
And the honorable Judge Larkins being a family man himself and after having talked to all parties concerned, especially said minor child, so ruled in favor of the adoption and as they say...that was that.
Jeremy is 12 now, almost thirteen and these days he has a new playmate, his baby brother Matthew. Born just six months after John and Mandy were married it didn't take a mathematician to figure out that he was conceived before they were wed. But these are modern times and who's counting any way? All that's important is that they are a happy family. A family that might never have been if one man who never took chances hadn't taken a change on love and let a little boy into his heart.
Okay, okay...I said there would be no more sappy stories built on the same old tried and true story line, but I found this one half finished and begging to become a sappy love story so in a moment of weakness I did just that. I think it has some merit, especially the first part, but maybe the ending is a bit too predictable or....sappy, but hey sue me. It is what it is. If you like it let me know, if you don't well..be kind anyway.
Thanks to all my loyal readers and the new ones who discover my little gems in the Nifty archives and dare to take a chance on them. And thanks for Nifty for providing authors like me a place to share our stories with the world. Adios...see you next time and hopefully with something brand spanking new.
* Denotes Series, rest are short stories