"BOYS…? Are you up yet?"
Awakened by her call, Simon heard Grace as she shouted from the hallway. It was a bright day, with light pouring past blinds they’d never closed the night before, and he was thankful that, towards dawn, he’d slipped down onto his own mattress. Neither he nor Toby wanted to risk her finding them curled-up together.
“Morning, Mom!” Above Simon on his own bed, Toby sounded remarkably normal in the circumstances. “We’re just getting up!”
A bleary eyed face popped into view from above and Simon studied the face carefully as the familiar features yawned.
Toby rubbed his eyes. “Do you know what time it is?”
"Looks like it’s gone nine-thirty.” Simon sat up, but he couldn’t help but wonder what was going on behind those toffee-colored eyes that, without their contacts, scrunched up trying to read the bedside clock. Toby scratched his nose as if they were having the most normal conversation in the world.
“It's no good,” Toby announced. “I need a pee!" He didn’t seem at all self-conscious as he pushed back the sheets and, completely in the buff, climbed over Simon to take his morning woody with him to the bathroom. He put his head around the door to make sure the corridor was clear, then made a dash for it.
Some moments later, there was a tap at the door.
“Toby, are you decent?” It was Grace.
Simon doubted that any of a whole range of things that he and her son had been doing were activities she’d describe as ‘decent’! Pulling the bedclothes tightly around himself, he sidestepped the question.
“It’s just me Mrs. Skerrit. Toby went to the bathroom.”
Her voice filtered back through the panelled wood. "Well, I'm just going food shopping. I’ve left the cereal out for the both of you, and there's bread to make toast if you want it. I’ll be about an hour.”
Moments later, he heard the front door open, but she had one more parting shot. “And remind Toby to open the windows!" With that, the front door closed, and Simon heard the car back out of the driveway before accelerating down the hill.
Immediately, Toby was back, scurrying across the hall. It didn't appear that his piss had done much to minimize the rampant boner. It made Simon smile as he tried to take stock of the situation. Whatever it was that had gone on between them, he knew he didn’t want it to end—and by the looks of what Toby was blatantly sporting, he wasn't expecting it to, either! That and the look on his face put to bed any immediate doubts that what had happened during the night had been a big mistake.
“Move over!” Toby squeezed onto the small mattress and under Simon’s duvet, clearly without any concerns that they’d been in bed together most of the night, and obviously quite happy to get back there again.
"Don't you need one?" Toby asked, snuggling into him. As their bare skin moved together, Simon got excited pretty quickly
With some renewed confidence, cheekiness returned. "I think I already did it."
“In your mouth."
"I mean a piss, you asshole!" Toby pushed at him.
"So did I!" Simon’s reply turned into squealing laughter.
"Eeewww—that's fucking gross!" Toby beat him with a pillow until, still hiding under the sheets, Simon begged for mercy. Then Toby pulled back the bedding to take a look at what seemed quite ready for attention.
Past Toby’s shoulder Simon saw something move at the window, and he gasped. "Oh my God!" He quickly covered himself with his hand, pushed Toby away, and pulled the edge of the duvet protectively over himself again. Then he saw what it was and swore.
"Bloody hell, Toby—the cat's watching us!"
Toby turned and looked to the window from where, past the open blinds, Gizmo was staring at them. He burst out laughing. "I told you so! Now look—you've turned him gay, flashing your dick an' all!"
Still holding the blankets close, Simon pulled a face. "Get rid of him. And close the blinds. People might see us!"
"It's the backyard, for God's sake!" Sniggering, Toby crossed to the window and banged on it. Startled, Gizmo jumped off and scurried away.
"Come on,” Toby said, partially closing the blinds. “Mom’s gone out. Let's get a shower."
"Together you mean?" Simon swallowed, deliciously horrified. Without answering, Toby strode out, leaving the door open invitingly, and Simon stared at the waiting gap for a few moments. A sly smile broke out on his face. Pushing back the sheets, he hurried after him.
Who would have believed it? Toby Skerrit?
They turned on the shower and then cuddled while it warmed. Right here was everything Simon ever wanted, and he wondered if his dick would ever manage to go down again!
“Move over!” He giggled as, a few minutes later, they jockeyed for position under the refreshing water. Under the shared shower, the two of them bantered and played. Already totally stiff when he’d stepped into the shower alongside Toby, his boyfriend—boyfriend?—who’d then wanted to take time for another full examination! It was fun and completely frank, and washed away most of Simon’s lingering awkwardness.
From behind, Simon felt arms snake around his middle, with Toby clearly relishing the intimate body contact. Simon had to admit, it felt good.
“What’s that for?”
“Just checking you’re not some fairytale dream…” Toby wiggled his fingers, demanding attention. "Put some shampoo on my hands."
“Why?” Simon couldn’t be bothered to wait for an answer and poured anyway, going back to lazily rubbing shampoo through his own locks. A moment later, he started giggling. “What the hell are you doing?”
“It’s obvious isn’t it? Washing your hair!” Toby’s hands had dropped down to begin shampooing Simon’s curly light-colored bush. “The last I noticed, it was matted with jizz!”
“That was your fault!” Simon giggled. “That tickles!” Then he groaned. “Now what are you doing?” As if he didn’t know!
“Nothing…” Extending the lathering process, Toby kneaded him with his hands and began to work on him. “Like I said, I’m proving you’re not a fairytale dream." He paused as he continued to manipulate Simon through the shampoo. “Although, if you were, you would have to be Aladdin!”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
Toby sniggered, “Well I think you had to rub it a bit before anything came out—the lamp, I mean…!”
Simon hissed softly as he looked to where both hands were working him. Leaning outward as he did, his jaunty stick really did have the appearance of the spout of Aladdin’s legendary lamp. He was also more than happy for Toby to attempt to conjure something forth! He was getting really close, when Toby stopped. Simon turned and grunted in displeasure at being left high and dry. “Awe…come on. You can’t leave me like this.”
“Maybe later.” Toby wasn’t dismissive, but there was a glint of something unyielding in his eye. His tone became conciliatory. “Anyway, Mom will be back soon and the water’s getting cold. We’d better get out.”
The idea that Toby’s mum might return at any moment doused Simon’s excitement like a bucket of cold water, and they quickly got out and dried off.
After the shower, they’d made it back to Toby’s room to dress. Simon looked critically at the pair of white briefs he’d brought, and then started searching under the bed, where he unearthed the red boxers Toby had lent to him the previous evening. He found the jizz-covered green ones, too!
"You can have some clean ones, you know!" Toby said as Simon held up his prize.
"Are you kidding? These are cool. I'll have to bring them back unwashed, though." He flashed a knowing grin. "Mum might get a bit of a shock if they turned up in the basket!" With that he slipped them on, and admired them a moment before pulling on the rest of the clothes he’d brought with him, fresh for that day.
“Do you want tea?” Finally having made it into the kitchen for breakfast, Simon stood by the kettle, waiting for it to boil. Next to him, Toby was lining up two bowls with cereal, ready to add milk.
Toby shook his head. “Just juice.” He stirred the dry cereal in one of the bowls and seemed preoccupied. “Mom will be back soon.”
Simon sighed. "I wish it was just us…" He wondered if Toby was thinking along the same lines as him. “We’ll have to tell people eventually though, won’t we? What about her?”
“Mom?” Toby seemed unconcerned. “She knows.”
Simon’s eyes widened. “Your mum knows?” Suddenly he felt panicky. “Oh my God! About us?”
“No, just me.” Toby shook his head quickly. “She knows I’m gay.”
“Oh.” Simon found it almost impossible to compute. “She knows your gay?”
Toby’s reply had an edge of irritation. “Of course she does. I just said that!”
“Doesn’t she mind?”
“Why would she mind?” Toby’s reply remained sharp as he went back to the cereal, pouring milk into each. He took a bowl and crossed to park himself on one of the breakfast-bar stools.
“Ummm…” Simon bit his lip. He could think of lots of reasons why most mums would mind that their sons were homosexuals! Yet Toby was claiming Grace already knew. There suddenly seemed a huge amount he didn’t know about the Skerrits.
“I can’t tell mine. I mean I want to, but…” Simon trailed off as he began to take stock of some realities. “You won’t tell your mum about us, though, will you? You mustn’t!” The whole idea made him nervous.
‘Why not?” Toby was spooning cereal into his mouth and seemed unimpressed. "I tell her everything."
“Because she might tell my mum and dad, and I’m not ready for that. They’ll probably say I can’t see you.”
“Oh.” Toby seemed to consider it. “I never thought of that. Okay—no parents. Come on, stop worrying about it. It’ll be fine. Trust me.”
They finished their cereal and for a while Toby seemed happy to cuddle. In his head Simon considered the day in front of them. “What do you want to do today?” he asked.
“What do you think?” Toby sniggered, and it didn’t take much guessing what kinds of things he had in mind. His eyes took on a familiar glint. “You could always stay over tonight, if you wanted.”
Before Simon could respond, Toby blinked and said, “Oh—I completely forgot!” He jumped up, dislodging Simon from a comfortable position.
Animated now, Toby grabbed his hand. “I’ve got something for you! Come with me—there's something I want you to have." Determined, he pulled Simon towards his studio. At the door, they paused.
"I've finished it at last,” Toby said. “I was going to give it to you today anyway." With that, he pushed open the door and Simon followed him in and saw immediately what waited on the easel.
"I hope you’ll like it. Me and mom got it properly framed."
Simon studied it. The frame itself looked new, and the light-colored wood, though simple, was by no means cheap-looking. The painting was of the boy, sailing his boat on a lake.
Him. His boat.
“You finished it!” It looked so real. If anything, the colors had become richer since Simon first saw it, the energy more vital and the passion it exuded for the wind and wave, palpable.
"I picked the frame specifically for your room," Toby rushed with excitable pride. "Do you like it?"
Wordlessly, Simon crossed to the easel and reached out to touch the frame. Even when Toby stood behind him to wrap his arms around him, there were still no words, and none were needed.
It came on him powerfully, unexpectedly. What was in front of him was such a gift; something that probably few people ever received. A gift from someone he knew so well that made it al so much more precious. It burst out of him before he could stop it.
“I love you…”
At once, he winced, cringing at how silly it sounded. He turned fearfully to find that Toby didn’t seem either outraged or amused by his outburst. A satisfied smile reached Toby’s eyes as he murmured. “I so wanted you to say that first!”
Then the front door opened and closed and, reluctantly, they parted. Toby called out. "We're in here, Mom!"
"Give me a hand bringing in the groceries, can you?"
They found her in the kitchen, bringing in two of what turned out to be many bags. “I was showing Si the boat,” Toby said. His mom stopped what she was doing and looked genuinely pleased.
“It’s really fantastic, isn’t it, Mrs. Skerrit?” Simon bubbled.
“Mom helped choose the frame,” Toby said, his face redoubling in pleasure.
Grace smiled. “I’m glad you like it, Simon. Our little gift to say thank you for keeping Toby out of trouble!”
Toby rolled his eyes, and changed the subject. He seemed to be eyeing the bags. “You’re not feeding an army are you? How many more are there?”
“A few—be a good lad and bring them in for me.”
“I’ll do the dishes,” Simon offered. “Can I make you a coffee Mrs. Skerrit?”
“That, young man, would be perfect!”
Finally, all the bags were in. As Grace settled onto one of the breakfast-bar stools to drink her coffee, Toby started nosing through the bags. In one, he found burgers, sausages and chicken. Grace was watching him with a bemused look in her eyes.
“I thought we’d have a barbecue tonight,” she said. “You’re staying I hope, Simon?”
At once Toby seemed suspicious, though Simon jumped in with enthusiasm.
“A barbecue? Cool…I love barbecues!” Simon knew that their old gas grill rarely saw use, but it still worked well enough and they’d used it a number of times in the past. However, even he could see ttat it was a lot of meat.
Toby continued to glare at his mom with more scepticism and finally seemed to see it. “Mom who’s—”
“I met Marcus in the store today,” Grace interrupted, sipping her drink, observing them over the rim.
“Marcus? Who’s Mar—” Simon stopped and blinked in surprise. “Oh...”
“Marcus Daniels.” She confirmed his uncomfortable guess. “I met him at Publix—he was shopping, too.”
“Our Art teacher?” Simon was incredulous. “Does he shop?”
Grace smiled. “You’ll find everyone shops, dear. Even teachers. He and I were talking about Iron Man.”
Toby snickered. “You’re kidding! Daniels is interested in Iron Man?” It seemed unlikely to Simon as well. "You're telling me that he actually watches movies?" Toby added.
“His name is Marcus, Toby. And yes, even teachers watch movies!” She paused and considered them. “We decided we might go this evening…to go and see the movie. It’s just out and everyone says its dynamite!” It hung there between them, gradually sinking in.
“You’re dating Daniels?” Toby screeched.
She remained calmly aloof. “Marcus," she repeated. "And no, I’m not ‘dating’ him. We’re just going to the movies.”
"There's a difference?"
Simon thought it was a fair point, but Grace ignored her son. “We’re going to the movies, that’s all. Now if you two want to come along, too, I’ll do popcorn, Cokes…the works.”
She seemed unmoved by Tony’s outburst and shrugged. “And it’s totally your choice,” she said, going back to sorting the groceries.
Toby glanced at Simon, silently questioning, and Simon shrugged. Both wanted to see Iron Man, and everyone was talking about it. But with Daniels? Toby seemed to come to a decision, and asked. “Do we have to sit with you?”
“Honey, you can sit where you like. Just be nice over dinner.”
Simon’s eyes flicked to the bags and back to her as the penny dropped.
“He’ll be here at four.” Her determined smile left him with no impression other than it was a done deal.
Toby let loose. “Daniels is coming for dinner? YOU CAN’T DO THAT!”
No—Toby didn’t sound too excited either!
“It’s Mr. Daniels, or Marcus, Toby dear,” she replied patiently. “And yes, I invited him for a barbecue. We can go to the movies afterwards.”
She returned to the bags, then paused, adding, “He’ll be bringing his daughter.”
Two chins hit the floor and both he and Toby squeaked in horrified unison. “DANIELS HAS A DAUGHTER??”
Grace couldn’t hold it in and, as they stared at her aghast, she creased up with laughter. Within moments tears were streaming from her eyes. She slapped the table with her hand, trying to get her breath as the two of them watched her, baffled.
“Oh my goodness,” she whooped. “Sorry, I just made that up! You should have seen your faces!” For a few moments, she lost it again, holding her splitting sides. “Oh gosh, that was priceless!”
She looked so hilarious, and it was quite funny and Simon fell to a grin, too, as Toby glared at him accusingly. Simon didn’t blame him. Toby was the one who was going to have to live with it, afterwards! Eventually, it seemed that even he was going to admit that it was funny and soon they were all laughing.
Before the feel-good factor passed, Toby made his bid. “Can Simon can stay over again tonight?"
Grace didn’t seem particularly bothered. “I don’t see why not. Would you like to stay over, Simon? You’re welcome to.” Perhaps she felt it was a fair exchange.
It caught him on the hop. “Oh…umm…yes. I mean…no…” OH CRAP! Now he sounded guilty. “I’ll have to check with Mum, but if it’s okay with her, that would be great. Thanks.”
He caught Toby’s eyes. They had that familiar glint again.
After they’d cleared up from breakfast, the first thing Simon wanted to do was to take the framed panting back home and mount it on his wall. So, wrapping it safely in a backpack, they biked down the hill. Once they got in, the downstairs seemed deserted, but noises of squealing laughter were coming from upstairs. It sounded like Luke, and probably Ryan.
He stood on the bottom step and shouted. "Luke....is that you?"
* * *
Later that same baking hot afternoon, the grills were on overtime at the Alexis home, and delicious smells now wafted across the pool as the mountains of ribeye steak grew. From behind the defensive buffer of a book, Ryan lazed under one of their sun canopies and studied the crowd. There were probably representatives from fifteen or twenty families that day. A big turnout. Children, young and not so young squealed, chattered and splashed in the pool. The beer flowed and juice stained the mouths of little kids.
After they’d been interrupted by Simon and Toby, he and Luke had got down to some study, but the sound of intermittent banging coming from Simon’s room as the pair tried to hang one of Toby’s painting was a pain.
Eventually they had retreated to the back deck and worked there. Over some hastily demolished sandwiches that Lucy had made for them all, it came out that Simon and Toby were planning to go to the mall that evening to see the new Iron Man movie. It seemed a great idea, and he and Luke had quickly decided to do the same. Finally, he’d had to leave for the cookout, and had last seen Luke getting ready to hit the garden again for some more pruning!
He peered out from behind his book again and pulled a face. In an ideal world it was meant to be perfect American pastime, but he hated the monthly regimental officer cookout with a passion. Not that it made any difference. Years ago, his father had made it abundantly clear that it wasn’t a tradition he had permission to miss.
The regular BBQ for the regimental officer 'elite' and their families was meant to be an informal, team building, social activity.
In truth, if you wanted to get on in your career, God forbid if you didn’t attend regularly. Informal though it was meant to be, it was just another war game, with all the rules of engagement in place. So, obeying orders, he was there, playing the game.
Glancing around at those who had invaded their backyard yet again, he could see most of the usual crowd plus a couple of new additions; young families, whose kids—still new to the game—played shyly to one side. Almost all the officers were family men, though theoretically it wasn’t a requirement. Across the scene, wives flirted shamelessly with younger models of their husbands, or sat together and exchanged army gossip. Several of the men jockeyed for position in a common field of conflict…the grills!
Top dog? The alpha male in this setting?
Without doubt it was always the guy who took control and wielded the tools. And, irrespective of whether he was the highest-ranking officer in play or even if the cookout was hosted at someone else’s house, his father invariably bullied the opposition and took charge of the grills.
Ryan was so tired of it all. All of it was so different from the type of family life he got to see at Luke’s home. Big place they themselves might have, but he’d exchange it all at the drop of a hat!
He’d been around there that morning. They had meant to be studying, but that had got put to one side when it became clear that Luke was keen to talk about other things! Staring at the pages of the circumcision booklet without really seeing the words, he shook his head and smirked.
Holy shit—hadn’t THAT had been surprise!
He’d stayed for lunch and they’d done a bit more cleaning up in the garden before it had come time to get home for the cookout. Upon hearing that his brother was planning on seeing the Iron Man movie that night, Luke had suggested they make a night of it too. Ryan had jumped at it. It was something to look forward to that balanced the distaste of having to sit through yet another one of these awful afternoons!
From his quieter corner of the pool area, he watched his father as he presided over what he usually deemed to be lesser men, giving them instruction on how to properly cook the thick steaks.
As if nobody else knew how to grill!
Ryan studied his father through lidded eyes. He was a medium-sized bullish man, full of bile that was usually tempered in these settings. A mean man. Mean and powerful, he liked to see himself as the All American Man. And here Ryan was, too, the son his father required him to be. Ryan Alexis —All American Boy—doing what was expected as he played the game.
From where the twin gas grills sizzled on the patio, his father turned his dark gaze Ryan’s direction. The glower spoke volumes; he expected his son to engage the enemy, not hide behind a book. And, as far as Captain Ethan Alexis was concerned, everyone was the enemy!
Ryan looked away and back to his book. He had on a pair trendy dark swim shorts, but with Fern Blackman in the pool, there was no way he was going in!
He was tired of so many things, not the least of having to listen to his father who, at times like this, frequently bragged about his top class, winner of a child. The truth was, this was the only place—amongst his own army peers—that the bastard seemed to realize he even had a son, let alone recognize any of Ryan’s achievements. He grown up never expecting to be complimented or encouraged other than when it’s only purpose would be for his father to brag to those he saw as his beneath him, declaring that he, Captain Ethan Alexis, was a winner and sired only the best stock.
It was central to the less-than-subtle parental advice he picked up from his father, that mating with an Alexis was a goal for any reasonable woman to aspire to! And he made it rather clear that, the big man that he was, in his time he'd mated with many women other than Ryan's own mom.
Ryan had no doubt that he still did.
Whether it was because they wanted All American Boy sperm or not, Ryan often found himself besieged by girls desperate to date him, or at least get him onto a bed for however long it took to get shafted! Even that very afternoon—yet again—he’d been severely groped by the Blackman girl. At a cookout like this, she liked to play with any kind of meat, and he'd just about escaped with his manhood intact.
Still he played the game.
He spotted his mom.
She was about as manic-depressive as it got, but on a high now, flirting with some of the younger guys at the pool. Though she was well into her forties, she still looked good in the kind of bathing costume his father encouraged her to wear for others to see but not touch. She was a pawn in the game, too.
He guessed she probably knew it.
She would crash later and drink herself into oblivion.
He pitied her for what she'd become, yet despite it all, still loved her. Maybe he should have hated her for being weak, for not standing up to his father, for being unable to protect him, but he couldn't. And the few times when the real mom dared to surface into moments of clarity, he knew she needed him.
Alcohol, shopping and endless therapy were her life, and she could afford the best, bringing plenty of old family money into the marriage. It was that money that also put him through private education—and some indomitable part of her survived to resist putting her family money into her husband's name. He knew it because he'd heard the arguments. He also suspected it was a big reason his father constantly put her down and debased her—angry because he didn't hold all the strings.
Why the hell did they all stay together?
He had no fucking idea! He was just relieved she had already said he could go out for the evening.
So here they all were, basking in the sunshine and playing the game of the All American Family who had everything they could want, living with success and in luxury.
He often wondered what some of the other happy-looking families he watched around the pool were like behind closed doors. For the most part, the officers were old enough that their offspring were teenagers or grown up, although there was a scattering of babies that the girls cooed at. Even most of those came from round two or even round three marriages.
He wished Luke were here, though he knew it would never be allowed in a setting where the strict ‘Army Only’ policy applied. Even then, he'd never subject his friend to this world if he could help it. It wasn’t that the army was a bad idea in itself—no, just some of the people in it who were rotten.
A stentorian voice boomed over the lawn towards him. "RYAN!"
He put down the book and trotted over, the obedient son/slave. Even in swim shorts, he still turned out in front of his father with military precision.
"Yes sir?" He oozed parade ground like attention, putting his ‘All American’ qualities on display, ramrod straight and shoulders back. It was actually quite impressive he knew, and more than a few heads turned to watch him! Just play the game, he told himself. It’ll be over soon and you can disappear again. He watched his father study him, checking for the straight back and attentive demeanour. He seemed to be satisfied.
"What are you reading, Ryan?" The voice came from behind Ryan’s father and he leaned to one side to locate the nearby easy chair and the individual who sat easily in it. Colonel Piper missed little and seemed as hawkish and commanding as ever. Despite himself, Ryan grinned. The Colonel was one of the good guys and, from his father's rants, the reason why Ethan Alexis had never yet managed to advance past captain.
"Hello, Sir.” He relaxed a little. “It's called 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.” Luke had mentioned the book enough times that he'd finally stopped off at Waterstones and picked up a copy. It wasn't his normal genre, though he read voraciously. He'd been surprised at how good the book was.
‘Ah…” Piper’s eyes glinted with amusement. “So long, and thanks for all the fish!’”
Ryan chuckled and threw one back. “Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to pick up a piece of paper!”
He wasn’t surprised at the exchange. It was typical of the Colonel that he would think widely enough that he would know a book like ‘Hitchhikers’. His father on the other hand, looked fit to bust a gut. A man whose pastimes flicked between the channels and the bar, he clearly thought the two of them had lost it.
“DON’T PANIC!” The additionally quip came from someone else, and from the glare he got, Ryan could also tell Alexis senior didn’t appreciate not being in the know. It was time to high-tale it!
"You should read more, son,” Alexis declared, full of self-righteous shit. “It’s a good book!"
Ryan kept his face still, putting aside his irritation at the impression his father tried to give that he’d actually read it. He didn’t read anything except the TV listings! He shrugged. "Gum for the eyes, I guess. I was about to go in the pool, but can I get anything for you, father?"
His father seemed satisfied with the response. "Can you just go to the fridge and bring out some more beer. The coolers are nearly empty and I'm as dry as week-old camel dung."
"Yes, sir!" Ryan smiled widely, trying to sound appropriately amused at his father's predictably pathetic humor, relieved at the opportunity to escape.
Just play the game.
He about-turned as smart as you like and headed to the wide double garage where the oversized two-door fridge was stashed with slabs of drink.
There was nobody else there and he relaxed. He planned to hang around for a few minutes, killing time before going back outside. He was in the process of lugging a twelve-pack out of the fridge, when a pair of feminine hands snaked around his waist, resting just above the waistband of his shorts, caressing the bare skin over his tight stomach muscles.
He froze. Oh hell, not again!
"I heard that Fern was planning to have you right there in the pool!" crooned a silky voice.
Ryan relaxed, mad with her at first, but unable to hold it long.
"Don't be a tease Mel...and give me a hand with these drinks, will you?" He turned round to face Melissa Piper. "And do me a favor will you? Ride shotgun on me for a bit?" He grinned at an attractive, twenty-one-year old blond bombshell, acknowledging the only other human being on planet earth who knew that he, Ryan Ethan Alexis, preferred guys.
He lugged the twelve-pack onto a nearby table while she reached into the fridge and extracted a second slab, stacked it on top of his, and lifted the two effortlessly. He didn’t bother suggesting helping and had learned a long time ago that—despite the fact she looked young and pretty—there wasn’t a chance in hell of winning an arm wrestle with her! She was formidable! Those lithe, sun-tanned arms carried hidden strength, and God help the guy who got the wrong end of a pistol from her!
Feeling upbeat for the first time that afternoon, he held the door for her and said, “I was talking to your dad, but I didn’t see you earlier? I thought you weren’t coming!” Damn, was he relieved Mel had turned up. At last, the afternoon might even be bearable. “When did you arrive?”
“I told Daddy I would make my own way here. What can I say…traffic was bad!” She shrugged. “Rank hath its privileges!” she added, not hiding a smirking grin. He pulled a face, knowing she was probably the only one in the whole set that could get away with it.
Once outside, and after tipping the fresh cooled beer into the cooler, he abandoned his lounger and the pair settled down into a quiet corner of the lawn, where they could talk without being overheard.
They made a cute couple, he knew, though she was quite a few years older. A number of those around the pool were jealous of their easy-going friendship and made assumptions about what was going on between them, though he never saw Mel in that way. She was, however, a stunning good-looker, and more than one of his peers in the army set had challenged him, trying to find out if he was privately bonking her.
But what nobody else but Ryan knew was that, when it came to girlfriends—and Mel in particular—she already had one! How this unlikely partnership between himself and Mel Piper had come about was a long story, but suffice it to say, they both shared secrets and both played the game that was expected of them.
"And how is the delightful Ella?" Ryan winked knowingly, speaking softly and referring to the sparkling redhead that was Mel's love.
Melissa pouted. "Sadly, not here. Out of town all this weekend, I'm afraid."
Was that why Mel had ended up here again, he wondered? Probably not. In fact, he suspected the only reason she regularly came to the officer cookouts with her illustrious parents was to make sure he was okay.
"And have you snagged Luke with your boyish charms, yet?" She teased him playfully and he glanced around with a discreet eye to their surroundings. There was nobody in earshot, but it didn’t do any harm to be cautious. He saw Fern Blackman glaring at them from the other side of the pool; a look somewhere between distaste and frustration. A little obviously, he edged closer to Mel for protection.
They shared a real friendship that had come about in tough times for him. Times when he had gone as low as he’d ever known. Out of those times, he’d found the only friend that he could fully confide in.
A year or so later, he’d gone through a stage with Mel when he’d kept babbling on about Luke Summers. Luke was there, Luke did this, Luke said that, etc, etc. By then she already knew about his sexuality—as he did, hers—and had caught on fast as to what was behind his enthusiasm for the ‘Luke’ in question.
She could be quite persuasive and had cornered him in the pool one day at one of the cookouts. He smiled as he remembered the scene as she’d threatened him with a determined look in her eye; ‘Tell me about Luke, and the truth mind you, or I'm going to rip these trendy swim shorts off you and then call Fern over!’ He knew Mel well enough by then to know she would do it, too! He decided to be honest and had told her all about his feelings for the boy from England.
That had been nearly two years ago.
He shook his head. "Nah...just a dream I guess. Mind you," he added, brightening up and hoping to shock her a little, "he showed me his penis today!"
If she was surprised, she was far too skilled an adversary to let it show, and she just shrugged. "I never really grasped what you guys see in dicks. They seem overrated to me!"
He sniggered. She was good. Very good.
“He was just circumcised, wasn’t he…?” she said. She let it hang there until his eyes went wide and his jaw dropped.
“How did you—”
She smirked. “Ella was there.”
“Oh my God…I don’t believe you!”
Yet, damn her, he did believe her. How else would she have known anything about it? The pieces dropped onto the table and she waited while he arranged them into place. Finally, he figured it out.
“He went to see Doctor Tiberius!” All morning, Luke had never actually said a name. Just 'The Doc'. And Ella’s father, Doctor Tiberius, was a urologist.
Mel smirked, confirming it.
“At the hospital?” he demanded.
She shook her head.
“It must have been at his clinic then?” Ella was a med student and helped out there sometimes. Luke hadn’t mentioned any of this.
“So, Ella was on reception?” He pushed for more details.
“Oh, more…much more…” She leaned close enough to whisper. “My dear sweet Ella was in the operating theatre, assisting with his delicate little noodle!” Her eyes laughed as she floored him.
“Oh my God!!” Ryan groaned and fell back on the grass. Who would have guessed?
‘She took pictures.”
“Funny girl!” They both knew how unlikely that was.
Mel smirked. “She did say he was quite cute, though!”
“Don’t!” he moaned. “You’re not helping!”
“So he showed it to you then?” At least she had the decency to look surprised now.
“Yep…this morning!” He smirked at the sky with the memory. “He told me all about the op too, so don’t try and make anything up!” He sat up again. “He never said that a girl was in there, though!”
“Did Ella tell you about the procedure?”
Mel shook her head, though it was impossible to tell whether she was leading him by the nose.
“Well, they used some special kind of medical device for it. He explained it all to me.”
“And you were thinking naughty thoughts, I bet!”
He grinned, unabashed. “A few. It looks like something from a science fiction movie...quite sexy though!" It got them both laughing. “He said that it was still quite …errr…sore….”
Mel pounced again. “Ooohhh…Ryan Alexis—let me guess. You offered to make it better!”
“Behave!” Turning a little pink, he told her off, though what he didn’t tell her was that Luke had said ‘sensitive’ not sore, and had pulled a boner—he’d said, because of it. It was too much to hope that that wasn't the real reason! “I wonder how long it takes to recover from that kind of op?” The question was more rhetorical than anything else.
“Dunno.” Mel had a rather malicious glint in her eye. “Let’s ask Ella.”
“Nooo!” Horrified, he made a grab for the trendy phone she got out of her pocket, but she held him off and hit speed dial.
“Mel!” He pleaded and hoped there would be no answer, but before long, Ella was on the line.
“Hey, babe, it’s me.”
He couldn’t hear the voice, but he saw the broad smile spread over Mel’s face as she listened. In many ways it touched a sensitive nerve seeing the easy-going love between Mel and Ella. How long would he have to wait to get that, he wondered?
“Yep. I’m at the cookout…aha…same old same old. Ryan’s here, though…and he has a question…”
“Oh my God…!” Ryan muttered, looking around to ensure they were still alone.
“No…about Luke.” She grinned. “Yep, I just told him. You should have seen his face. It was priceless!”
Ryan buried his head in his hands.
“I’ve no idea why,” she continued, though her tone suggested otherwise, “but Ryan wanted to know if Luke would still be sore for a while yet?”
He gave up. She was SO bad! Teasing and relentless, yet she seemed to know that he needed this kind of thing. In the midst of living a life of secrets, just the occasional chance to be a lovesick teenager in front of somebody, was a lifesaver.
Mel listened to the voice in her ear. “Mmm…aha…really…” Her eyebrows flicked up and she smirked. Then she pulled a face. “That’s so, is it?” She snickered. “I’d better let him know—he’ll be devastated!”
“WHAT?” Ryan squirmed. It was unbearable not knowing what they had been saying.
“Well, there’s good news and bad news,” Mel said after she’d put her phone away. “Or maybe it’s bad new and bad news.” She paused, looking thoughtful.
“Come on…what did she say?”
“She said that the first week of wearing a SmartKlamp would be rather delicate for Luke. Then, after it comes off, his problems with sensitivity overload will really start!”
Ryan’s jaw dropped. He groaned and flopped back on the grass. “Please tell me she didn’t say that!” The whole idea of it was completely unbearable!
‘Well, maybe I jazzed it up a bit,” Mel giggled, “but that was the general idea.”
“And the bad news—or whatever’s left?”
Mel affected a pout. “She said that Luke was incredibly cute; that she liked him; he was lots of fun, and had a scorching-hot bod. She also said that when she’d finished with me, she was going to try to pull him!”
It was too much and Ryan was almost crippled with laughter to the point where it got the attention of others. A couple of girls swam over to their side and called for him to come into the pool.
“I’ll be there soon,” he replied. Though nowhere near as ferocious as Fern, those two were another pair into the dating scene, big time!
Mel grinned. “You know your problem, Ryan Alexis? You’re just far too ravishing for all these young ladies to ignore!”
“Oh, give over…don’t start that again!”
He lay on his back and stared at the sky. He knew he kept himself in shape, but it wasn’t for the likes of Fern and her posse! He tried so hard over the years to hide his real impulses, but always feared that Luke—or any of his friends for that matter—would catch on to him at any time. So, he played the game there too, employing an almost regimented discipline to steer away from anything that could be perceived as gay. The wrong words, careless glances; all carefully controlled to protect his image of ‘All American Boy’, in a world that would crucify him if it guessed any different.
But he’d been weak that morning, and because of it had almost paid the ultimate price.
Since the previous Monday, Luke had never mentioned his procedure again, and Ryan had felt uncomfortable at being seen to be nosey. Then, out of the blue that morning, the whole thing had come up—literally! Once they'd both got over that—and Ryan had spent a lot of time on his stomach on Luke's bed keeping his under wraps—Luke had really opened up and they'd got talking. It had been pretty explicit stuff. Holy cow, Luke even had a booklet with pictures!
Normally, with the dangers that kind of situation represented, Ryan would have made himself scarcer than hen’s teeth—and for good reason—but he’d got carried away and said something stupid. 'That one. That's hot. That's what I would choose. That's what mine's like.'
What the hell was he thinking? Why not just wave a flag? ‘Hey look, I think sexy dicks are hot!’
Luke had said something, but in his own distraction, he'd missed it. Ryan knew he was damn lucky that his friend seemed not to put two and two together, and he’d managed to brush the whole thing over with a joke. That was a friendship he never wanted to mess up. He would be more careful from now on. But he was so frustrated and wearied by the constant deception. And it just never seemed fair!
His friends—even Luke with this girl, Stacey—could lust after some sexy-looking chick without anyone thinking it off-beat. In fact, usually the reverse! But for him to show an interest in some nice-looking guy? You had to be kidding! That would definitely not be okay with his friends when they all went to an ‘all boys’ school!
And with his parents? Well, that just wasn’t even worth thinking about!
"I'm afraid it's just me and me for the foreseeable future!" he said at last. He shrugged and gave Mel a half-hearted smile.
"You know…” Mel looked thoughtful as she gently stroked his leg, "I've always found that when a boy decides to show me his willy, it's usually because he wants something!" She patted the top of his head.
Ryan had to smile. “If only it were that easy.” He suspected that if a guy risked flashing his kit at Mel, he’d lose it!
"Perhaps it is?"
"Maybe, maybe not." He tended to think the latter. “Anyway, thanks for coming this afternoon. Are you doing much, later?”
“Not much.” Mel grimaced and sounded a little morose. "I'm at a loose end. You?”
"I'm out with the guys for a movie tonight. We’re off to see Iron Man."
Her eyes narrowed. "Does 'the guys' include Luke, by any chance?"
He was way ahead of her as he caught the gleam. "Oh no…no way! Not a chance! I'm not letting you anywhere near him!"
Mel settled back on the grass, the gleam growing. It was as if she hadn't heard him. "Yes way! It's definitely high time I met this Luke Summers."
"Mel!" Ryan cringed at the implications.
"Don't worry. I promise not to embarrass you. Look at it this way," she suggested. "Count me as your ‘plus one’." She sat up and straightened her blouse quite provocatively. "I mean, come on…with boobs like these, what better cover could you ask for?"
He couldn't help it, and burst put laughing again. She was incorrigible! He sighed, realizing how much she had been a rock to him over the years, and how much he really cared for her.
"Mel…if we’d been born in a different world, and weren't what we are—if you know what I mean—I think I would have easily fallen for you."
She smiled. It was genuine and deep. "And that, coming from you, Ryan Alexis, means a lot!" She reached in and gave him a chaste peck on the cheek.
He grinned with pleasure and then smirked. "I could have fallen for you if you weren't so old, of course!' He discovered again how hard a punch she had, and rubbed his arm and changed the subject. "You're coming to the movies, then?"
"Of course I am—if only to make sure you behave in the back row! Do you want me to pick you up?" They agreed a time and, seeing that Fern had disappeared, both of them slipped into the pool.
Once the last of the guests had left, the house returned to its lonely emptiness.
His father had gone out to the bar and wouldn’t be back until the early hours. His mom had retreated to her own room. She’d be drinking and he wouldn’t see her again to speak to, until the following morning when, still playing happy families, they would all turn out for church. He’d pop his head in later that evening to make sure she was safe. It was fine. He’d long since stopped getting worked up at how fucked-up a house it all was.
Closing and carefully locking his door, he crossed his room and opened the big double doors that led out onto his own, wide balcony. There was well over an hour to kill and he was in no hurry. The afternoon sun was still gloriously warm, flowing directly into his room as he stepped out onto the private space. Though it wasn’t the master bedroom, his room—at least he felt—was the best in the house. It may not have been quiet as big as his parents, but it was more than enough for him, overlooking the pool and grounds and catching the best of the sun.
Some day no doubt it would be all his—his grandparents would see to that, though he didn’t care for it enough to feel thrilled. The patio and grass showed the remains of the party: dirty grills, un-stacked chairs and discarded waste. In the morning the landscapers would come and clear it all up, returning their grounds to a pristine condition. All at the expense of an army slush fund that his father would screw for all it was worth.
Back in his room, he stripped off the swim shorts and added them to the wash basket in the closet. Comfortably nude in the privacy of his own space, he examined himself carefully; it didn’t do any harm to make sure there weren’t any unexpected lumps growing in unusual places. Critically, he appraised himself, and a few provocative rubs made sure that part was working well enough, too. It had been an unusual day all round, and he knew he would enjoy some relaxation, though he held off touching himself more for the moment.
Studying himself in the sunlight, he considered his groin critically and smirked at the memory of his friend’s recent transformation around that same area.
Hell—for a first time under the blades, Luke hadn’t hesitated!
In comparison, it looked like his own pubes could do with a little attention, so he retrieved the rechargeable trimmer from where it was permanently plugged in, in the bathroom. He'd been trimming for a while, though had been careful not to make it too overt. Nothing that would draw attention as being anything different to any of the others.
With no fears that his balcony was overlooked, he stood at the doorway and tidied himself up, drawing the blades with confidence to return the look he preferred: trimmed back to neatness. He considered himself a few moments.
Damn—if Luke could do it...
Short, but hell, it was sweet!
The long treasure trail reached up towards his navel, and if it had been a piece of art, Toby Skerrit would probably have pointed out that the lines accentuated a much needed appearance of length. All he knew was it made him look good in the buff, and if Fern Blackman could see him now, she'd think Christmas had come!
He knew he was known as something of a 'babe magnet' with the likes of Fern Blackman—as Mel often liked to tease him—and he worked out on the equipment in their home gym, and used the pool almost daily. Maybe it would have been different if he had siblings, but being frequently ‘home alone’ there was often not much else to do. He was fit and healthy—in fact the only incongruous element in his whole physique was the size of his dick!
From the earliest time when, like with most guys, he was told that size mattered, he suspected he was undersized. While he wouldn't win a 'schlong of the semester’ competition, he strutted a passable two and three-quarter inches when soft. Not brilliant, but enough, and with a good solid girth, at least he never got sneered at in the lockers. Trimming helped, too, he found, adding that appearance of length.
It was a different story when he was fully erect. He'd seen enough online porn to know that most guys were growers, whilst he was…well, maybe it was kinder just to say he was vertically challenged. To call his three and a half inches measured from the base of his pubes to the tip ‘stubby’, would just be being honest. According to teen ‘average’ measurements that could be found in online fairly easily, he pulled up nearly an inch short of other guys his age.
It had started with puberty, and at first, he counted it as just a temporary delay as the gap between soft and hard took time to develop. But as the years progressed, he remained decidedly stumpy. He told himself he didn’t really care, and he'd certainly had plenty of time to get used to it. Like a mole, or the shape of his nose, it was what it was. A truce between him and his dick existed, though it was an uneasy one at times. He often wondered if his ill-tempered father was put together in the same way and that part of his problem came from the same shortcoming?
But he wasn’t his father, thank God, and the truth was, behind closed doors, he quite liked it; all those intense feelings crammed into one small, nicely-shaped package! Secondly, he had no plans that anyone would see it cheekily erect until it was a ‘somebody’ who was going to be interested in him enough that it really wouldn’t matter; that they would both enjoy it as much as he did.
In the end, it was just another secret, and he was good at those. He’d learned long ago to compartmentalize his life to not let one part affect another. Even then, at times when he felt particularly low, it was another secret that would nibble at his self-worth if he let it.
But today was not one of those days.
Today he was confidant enough in himself and of his privacy from prying eyes, to remain unabashed at returning to the balcony sporting his diminutive wanger. He leaned against the balustrade once more, surveying the property. A beautiful house, but not a home; not a place he loved to be.
It didn't worry him so much these days. He’d survived in it this long, and he knew he could last a little longer. In not many years he’d be going to college. Somewhere far away, he planned. Then his life could really start. He’d meet people. He could be who he really was. Even if his parents found out about his sexuality, he’d be his own man by then, able to do and live how he wanted, and fuck the money if that's what it came to. He'd find somebody, he had no doubt of it.
Just like Mel. And until then, he could wait.
His dick twitched, reminding him that he’d waited long enough.
On of the plus side of his current world was the amount of money in his bank account, provided by his mom and grandparents through a regular and substantial allowance. With it he clothed himself, and bought anything extra he needed for school or for his own personal use. Most of the extra décor in his room had been chosen personally by him, and fitted his style.
His father complained it was way, way too much, but it remained one of those things in which his mom was immovable, and she maintained the large allowance for him direct from her own accounts. It was nice to have the money, but he also knew it was her way of dealing with her own her sense of inadequacy, making up for everything important she'd been unable to offer him.
He knew he’d exchange it in a flash for a family that worked. A family like the Summers, for instance.
To him, money was just money; tit was o be used how it suited him—often on other people. That was something he certainly got from his mom's side. Of course, it also helped if you had plenty!
He spent it on things he liked. Clothing, books, food, friends. With cards and a PayPal account, he could get whatever pleased him. And it pleased him to buy certain items from online retailers that even he couldn't walk into the local stores to purchase over the counter. Alone at home much of the time, discreet delivery had never proven a problem. The things he bought were a distraction and a way to engage in a future that, in a few years time, would become more than just a dream.
His dick twitched again, demanding attention, and his neck was sore. Standing in the sunlight he stretched his neck muscles feeling the tightness there that the army cookout always left him with. Keeping secrets took its toll, but he knew how to deal with it.
Rarely now did he jerk off in the shower. Why would he when the stimulating tube starting with tight lips was quite therapeutic and definitely a lot more fun!
Retrieving the lifelike toy from the carefully disguised stash, he lubed it up with another of his purchases and sat on his bed, coating a part of him that hardly stretched more than a hands breadth, with a slick film.
He studied himself again. It was who he was. He'd seen plenty of ads for pills or pumps that ridiculously claimed to give him 'at least three more inches or your money back', but it never even occurred to him to invest. This reality was a bedrock of his life: that what he was behind closed doors here in this room would have no lies, no secrets, no trying to be what he wasn't. Having this one place of total honesty kept him sane. Though his manhood wasn't much over four inches, it was a yardstick in his life and he no plans to force it to change!
Set against that, he might not have length, but he could unleash copious wads and the soft toy was handy to keep in place what could become—to put it mildly—a huge fucking mess! So, taking his time, he buried the simulated anatomy in a stack of pillows on his bed and raised himself over the mound. Pausing, he reached for his expensive MP3 player and pressed the soft plugs into his ears. He searched the playlists for something he liked before lowering himself. The rich warm evening sunlight, still pouring through the open balcony doors, warmed the browned skin of his back and the music took him to better places as he pushed gently and entered, giving voice to his pleasure at the first feel of the soft vibrations.
Afterwards, relaxed again, he showered, enjoying the use of a proper walk-in wet room, rather than the shower baths that most homes tended to have. The dark granite tiling complimented the silver accessories and cooling tepid water washed away the mixture of perspiration and chlorine. The previous fifteen minutes had been hugely fulfilling, getting rid of the clutter in his head; relaxing and refocusing him. For him it wasn't about a (not so) cheap sex toy, it was a chance to assert who he was, and live his preference—even if only in his head—at a time when his peers were allowed the freedom to live theirs.
He grinned to himself as he towelled dry. Luke with his overly sensitive erecting dick had featured heavily during the past few minutes!
The poor guy! And from what Ella was saying, it sounded as if Luke was in for quite a ride the next few weeks! He wondered whether he'd get to hear about it? Much though he was dying to know, he knew he couldn't afford to ask. That morning had been risky enough! What he did know was that if he ever started dating a guy, it could easily be someone like Luke.
Sadly, love-struck teen that he was, and despite Mel's encouragement, if was only ever wishful thinking that it might be so.
Discarding the towel, he made a mental note to remember to get the borrowed clothes back to Luke. He'd wash them first—particularly the boxers that he'd leaked into. There was still plenty of time to get the tub on before Mel picked him up.
Opening another set of double doors back in his room, he accepted that he was probably a bit over the top when it came to clothes. The walk-in closet was well stocked; some would say, stuffed! He didn't care. There were worse obsessions in life! It was still neatly presented, but even he could see it was time for a cull.
Knowing they were going to the movies, he picked out a few things that worked well together: dark cargos, a designer tee. Then he changed his mind, opting for the jeans and a pair of the up and coming 'Converse' basketball sneakers. The boxer briefs nobody would see, but he chose them with as much care from a neat pile; ones that he would never be seen changing into in the school lockers! They fit well and looked hot. He loved them!
He often did his own washing, but even if not, the regular household laundry was done by a maid—an old one at that. She took no interest in his choice of underwear, and he could hardly remember the last time either of his parents had been in his room, let alone checked his drawers!
Tying off the sneakers, he didn’t really need to check himself in the in the full-length mirror to know he looked good…but he did so anyway. His washing basket was in the corner and he added Luke's borrowed items to be taken with the rest down to the laundry. On the landing, he paused, putting the basket down to follow the deep-piled carpet towards his mom's room.
One of the quirks of the layout was that his parent's private suite of rooms were on the ground floor, taking over a complete corner of the house. However, among several other unused bedrooms upstairs, his mom also had 'her' room—a place she retreated to, and where she often crashed.
He tapped at the door. There was no answer, so he opened it quietly.
"Everything okay, Mom?"
She was watching her TV and the table next to her Lazyboy was strewn with empty stubs and a bottle of vodka. Images flicked across the screen, but there was no sound to give them much meaning. It was a difficult room; a sad room, kept spotless by the cleaners as if even they were trying to wipe away what was left. Yet, alongside his own, it was the only room in the house that meant anything to him.
The glaze of her eyes as she turned to greet him made him suspect that, even now, she wasn't particularly seeing much. A couple more hours and she'd be blasted.
"I'm off to the movies with Luke soon."
He felt saddened; enough that it threatened the wellbeing his earlier private lovemaking had achieved. He pitied her, though couldn't despise her. Were they really so different—one thing in public and another, more fragile person behind closed doors? Both had their coping mechanisms for things that were outside their control.
"Don't be late.” Her voice was distant. “School tomorrow..."
He nodded without the heart to tell her it was only a Saturday. Gently, he pulled the door closed. It was just how it was. They survived by whatever means came to hand.
Leaving her, he carried the basket down the wide stairway and through an expansive hall that displayed the baby grand piano nobody actually played. In the laundry he loaded the washer and set it going. Next he used the phone down there to call Luke to let him know about his ‘plus one’.
He checked his watch. He knew he had another fifteen minutes before Mel came to pick him up and, rather than stay downstairs, he preferred to go back to his room.