Sipping at a delicious percolated coffee, Lucy smiled as she watched the two boys playing in the water.
She sighed. It was hard to come to terms with the idea that the pair weren't kids anymore. Far from it, they were young men who were already driving their own cars! She was getting old, and not for the first time, she wondered where all those years had gone?
On the other hand… She pondered their hosts. It was afternoons like this that restored hope in the idea that getting old didn't mean you had no fun—and Brigadier and Alice Buford had turned out to be an absolute class act! She could see now where Ryan had got some of his ways!
Just then, their grandson was on his stomach floating on an air-filled pool mattress, drifting around at the far end. Luke was up to his chest in the water, and was leaning against him. They were deep in conversation, oblivious to the world around them.
"Isn't Ryan brown," she noted, noting his tanned shoulders. "He's really caught the sun."
"The lad spent a week at a tennis camp," explained the brigadier, though Lucy already knew that. "He came to stay with us afterwards, but we decided to bring him back here."
Alice’s eyes twinkled as she joined the exchange. "He'd never say it, but stuck with old fossils like us isn't the most exciting holiday for an energetic teenager."
"Away with you!" The brigadier pouted playfully. "Who are you calling a fossil?"
“I’m sure I said waffle, my dear…you need to adjust your hearing aid!” Alice chuckled and, as she had several times that afternoon, picked up the expensive looking Canon with its long lens. Framing the boys, the shutter clicked.
Her husband sighed. "As you can see, I only used to play at going out and shooting people. My dearest sweetness does it for real!"
Lucy smiled. She wished she had her camera too just then. She’d never been much into photography other than a few holiday snaps, but that didn’t leave much to look back on in later years. "We'd sure love to get a copy of the two of them from you, if that's at all possible, Alice."
"Of course, my dear. It would be my pleasure." It seemed Alice had been reading her mind as the older lady considered the boys over the top of her camera and added, "They're good together, those two, don’t you think?"
Lucy glanced over the water again. Alice was right, of course. "They've been friends almost since the time we first came over here from the UK. Ryan means a lot to us."
Slowly, Alice put down her camera and reached for her husband’s hand, as if some hidden cue had been detected. Something passed between them as they exchanged a look, and she said, "Our grandson speaks so very highly of you." She paused and it was hard to know if she'd faltered or whether she just felt her husband should take over. A subtle change had come over them, as though this was a moment they had been working up to.
"It's why we so very much wanted to meet you ourselves," said Andrew at last. "We realize that it hasn't..." Even he faltered now, his piercing blue eyes becoming rheumy and pained.
He straightened his back, and took control of himself with quiet dignity. "It hasn't been the easiest of upbringings for our grandson."
Lucy immediately wanted to jump in and respond with something; offer some words of encouragement or something, but the gentle pressure of Geoff’s hand on her knee held her back.
Alice continued for her husband, with the same quiet sadness as his, touching her face and voice. "From a distance, we've done what we can, and we get down here as often as we’re able.”
Or allowed, guessed Lucy with a touch of perception.
“And we've taken steps to protect his future," continued Alice. “That at least is something.”
A strange turn of phrase, but by it, Lucy suspected that they meant some kind of inheritance or financial support.
"We're not without resources. We bought his parents this house so that Ryan would have a good place to grow up in," said Andrew, confirming her guesswork as he gestured around them. It wasn't said in any boastful way, rather with a sadness that implied they would have preferred a better family and life for their grandson over a mansion any day.
"Is Ryan your only grandson?" asked Geoff, sliding gently and perceptively into the conversation before it became awkwardly one-sided. His ability not to get flustered was another thing she loved about him, as Lucy felt a little out of her depth.
She wasn't surprised as the old couple nodded. Though no one said it, they all knew the reason for Ryan’s less-than-ideal home life. It screamed at them like a parade ground sergeant, yet no one dared speak its name. She also had to wonder what the Buford’s relationship with their own daughter—Ryan's mother—was like. Was the woman a victim too, or just too useless to do anything about it?
"Look at me…I'm being foolish!!" Alice dabbed her eyes with a small delicate handkerchief. "I think what we mean is that we just wanted to tell you how eternally grateful we are that Luke—and you both—befriended our grandson."
"We haven't done anything more than any other..." Lucy began, shaking her head, uncomfortable with how little they did do, but Alice interrupted her.
"Oh, you'd be surprised how much Ryan has told us over the years." Her voice was soft and compelling. "You've opened your home so many times to him and given him a place to be; a family to be part of. Truly, you’ve no idea how important that’s been."
It was spoken with the same quiet dignity, yet suddenly Lucy felt close to crying herself. Beside her, she heard Geoff cough—probably swallowing the lump in his own throat.
What heartache this lovely old couple had been forced to carry!
Lucy’s eyes drifted to where the individual they were discussing was paddling along rapidly on the airbed, with Luke surging after him in the water. "Ryan is such a great lad," she started, then paused, shaking her head softly. What could you say? That his childhood had been marred by totally crap parents who probably kept the grandparents at distance too? Of course not, though they all knew the truth of it.
For the sake of the setting and to reassure the older couple, she rallied and forced her tone to remain bright. "It's been more than our pleasure to have him around at our place. He's always been a delight, and has been a great friend to Luke.”
Geoff took over. “When we first came over here, the boys didn't find the transition so easy, especially Luke. He was like a bear with a sore head for a while, so we were glad when he found some new friends. Especially Ryan. They’ve grown close over the years."
In the pool, as they watched the pair's antics, Luke caught up with the airbed. Squealing, Ryan got dumped in the water, and all four of them laughed at the priceless look on his face.
"Ooops..." Geoff's voice was awash with humor. "Friend fifteen, Ryan love!" It was opportune, pushing the sadness away.
Love? Lucy mused the thought. Yes, Geoff was right, though she realized he was making a tennis reference. The two had grown close, and there was a strong bond there and she was glad of it for both their sakes.
After the ditching, Luke hauled himself out of the water with alacrity, and bounded towards them with Ryan hot on his tail looking for revenge.
"Sanctuary!" Luke screeched, dodging around the chairs to hide behind the brigadier.
"Granted." Andrew Buford became the war hero, brandishing his cane at his grandson.
Their eyes still bright with fun, the two boys toweled themselves dry and sat down in their chairs for a drink. Out of the corner of her eye, Lucy noticed Alice deftly changing the lens on her camera. Sitting forward, Alice took a few shots, and then Ryan took control of the photoshoot.
"Come on, Luke," he grinned. "Smile for the paparazzi!"
Under his direction, the pair sat up and leaned together under the warm glow of the parasol. It was as if Ryan instinctively knew that the one gift he could give his grandparents were the memories and pictures of him in happier times. Behind the camera, Alice beamed with delight, and the shutter clicked multiple times as the boys ended up taking on different poses.
Lucy smiled at the playful antics. Oh yes—they were a keeper. She had to have a few of those!
After downing glasses of lemonade, the boys went back to the pool. Watching them create tidal waves as they bombed the surface, she was rather jealous. What she wouldn't do to get into that cool blue water herself!
Maybe it was time they had a pool?
The idea took shape quickly. They had the room and could certainly afford it right now. And it didn't have to be anywhere near as big as this one. She loved her garden and enjoyed tending the beds and seeing them bloom, but they had enough space for both didn't they?
She could already visualize where the pool would go, where it would pick up a lot of sun during the day. Keeping the deck as it was, they could then extend the patio to make more sitting space for when they’d invite friends around. It would need some extra shading, and she looked up at the parasols that were covering them that afternoon, wondering where they had been bought.
She'd mention it to Geoff, she decided—that was after she'd gone through some brochures and picked out something suitable! She smirked to herself. She'd get it for him for his fortieth birthday...he'd like that!
She went back to watching the boys. Her only off note on that beautiful afternoon was Simon. She was getting worried about him.
He was angry with them was for sure, though it wasn't as if he gave much backchat, nor could you say he'd been behaving particularly badly in any way the last week. Small stuff mostly; nothing that she could challenge and get to the bottom of.
Rather, he'd just shut them out. There was no other way of describing it. He never talked about the operation. Actually, he never talked about anything unless directly asked. Geoff believed it was just a teenage phase, but she wasn't so sure. Maybe he was right. All kids went through a rebellious stage at some point, didn’t they? She certainly had.
She looked at her watch. Time had flown and it would soon be time to head home.
"Luke..." She raised her voice so it would carry over the water.
From the poolside, Luke’s head turned, carrying a bright grin as she called his name. It made her smile and was worth a little extra time. "Maybe another half an hour, and then we'd better be getting back."
"Half an hour?" The Brigadiers eyes twinkled mischievously. "Perfect! Plenty of time for you to discover why I'm famous for my mint juleps!"
* * *
The sun was hot on their backs as Ryan perched on the edge of the pool, his legs dangling into the water. Next to him, Luke waved to his parents, looking delighted at the news that they didn’t have to go quite yet. Ryan stirred the water with his feet. He was happy with that, too. Half an hour was good—and maybe Luke would even stay longer. He could borrow a bike later in the day if needed to get home, though Papa could drive him home easily enough, too.
"So what's going on with Simon, then?" Ryan asked, a quizzical expression on his face as he watched Geoff and Lucy chatting with his grandparents. "You said he wasn't good."
Luke sighed and slipped back into the pool. Ryan smirked. It was still a little too hot, and Luke probably didn't want to get burned again—especially where it happened the last time!
"Simon?” Luke pulled a face. “Hard to know where to start really."
Ryan slid down next to him and lowered himself until just his head was showing. He took a mouthful of water and squirted it out experimentally.
"The beginning?" he suggested. Backing against the side of the pool, he waited.
Luke frowned, maybe trying to decide where that beginning was. "The thing is, Si has—or had—that same phimosis problem as me."
"Has or had?" Ryan spotted the significance straight away.
Luke chuckled, appreciating the astute reply. Then, as fully as he could, he filled in the picture.
"Shit!" Ryan's expletive was murmured quietly when Luke was done. "I had no idea. That must have been awful!"
"You're not fucking kidding!" They were as far away as they could get from the four adults, yet still be in the water. Luke’s tone was just as discreet.
"But I don't get it." Ryan frowned, dropping in the water again until it lapped his chin. "Why didn't he just get a SmartKlamp like you? Wouldn't it have been done in a week. That's all yours took wasn't it?"
"Well that’s the thing. Si never wanted to be cut in the first place."
Actuality he didn’t really. A hospital emergency room all seemed so unnecessary in the circumstances. “So now he's mad?"
"Mad about it? Probably." Luke shrugged. "We don't know and he's not saying. Weirded out about something? Definitely!"
"And you say he's not speaking to Toby, either?" Ryan frowned. Simon and Toby Skerrit had lived in each other’s pockets. "What's that all about?"
"Beats me. They've argued before. Toby can be a bit temperamental. It’s probably nothing to do with it—I’m sure they’ll patch it up when we're back at school."
Ryan pushed out from the edge and commandeered the airbed. From his new vantage point, he watched his grandfather top up Luke’s mum’s and dad’s glasses with his mint julep mixture. "How many now is that they've had?"
"I make it three.”
“Do you think they realize the old coot stuffs it full of bourbon?" Ryan smirked and Luke sniggered too, but Ryan knew that there went any chance of Luke staying longer. “At least you’re driving."
Luke nodded. “True.”
Twenty minutes later, Luke’s mom called from the patio, and tapped her watch. Ryan sighed. Time was up.
"I better move,” Luke said. “Can I use your shower?"
"You know you can." Ryan pushed away and flexed his arms behind his head. "I'm gonna do some lengths."
In fact, he only did a couple before deciding to be more sociable. Pulling himself out of the water, he went to spend a few minutes with the oldies before the Summers had to leave. They chatted about this and that, and soon Luke was back down, dressed once more.
“Come on then, you two,” Lucy said. “We’d better be off. Alice, Andrew, Ryan, thanks you so much for having us around. It’s been a wonderful time.”
That it had! Ryan carried a satisfied smile as they all stood as the three began to make tracks. That it had!
After they had waved off Luke and his parents from the front driveway, Ryan followed his grandparents back in to help with the cleanup. Most of the dishes had already gone through the dishwasher, but there were a few stubborn pans and some glasses to do. His gramma liked to make sure everything was wiped down and tidied away. It wouldn't take long, and then he planned to go back in the pool fot a proper workout.
He felt her arms come around him as he stood at the sink washing the crystal glasses by hand. His papa was outside collecting the jugs and glasses from the patio table.
“What a lovely family,” she murmured, giving him a hug. “I can see why you like them so much.”
Taking his hands out of the hot water, he turned to face her. “Thanks for having them. It’s been a brilliant day.”
“Glasses first,” she said. “And then you can do the pans.”
“Yes, I know.’ He rolled his eyes. As if she’d never told him that before!
“And I can see why you like him too,” she added, a knowing—and rather teasing —grin on her face.
“Gramma! Do you have to?” Ryan laughed, but couldn’t help going a little pink.
“Oh, stop moaning—it’s your papa that’s an old fuddy-duddy, not me.”
“I heard that!” A voice drifted in from the patio.
She patted his backside through his swim shorts and left him to the sink to get on with how she’d always taught him. Glasses first in clean water, then everything else.
One-by-one he made sure each was squeaky clean as he lined them up on the draining board like little soldiers, and then he sighed. It had only been in the last week, straight after the tennis camp up at their place, that they had discovered he was gay, and it was still taking some getting used to!
It had been his own fault, really. He should have been more careful around a tech savvy grandmother, and not left his browser open at a rather awkward window! They had been shocked. And him? Shit, he really thought his life was over!
Funny how it hadn’t turned out like that…
Still, it had taken him some time to stop considering throwing himself off a cliff, but then their shock had turned to questions. Good ones. They were experts when it came to drawing stuff out of him, but he’d balled his eyes out in the process. For God’s sake, he’d tried to tell himself, he was sixteen—though it made no difference. Finally, when it was all out on the table, he’d felt totally exhausted…and worthless. At least it was over.
Perhaps he should have known better.
At the sink, he picked up a tea towel that he didn’t even know that they had but that had mysteriously appeared at his side, and he began wiping the glasses dry as he thought back on that day.
He knew they were special, but his gramma and papa had really kicked into gear with him, and by the end of the day, life had returned. And more than life…hope, too. They picked him up and put him back on his feet. Knowing that they knew who, and what, he was yet didn’t seem to love him one iota less than before, was massive. He’d slept long and well that night.
However, he suspected that admitting to Gramma in a moment of weakness that he had it bad for Luke Summers, was something she was going to keep teasing him about!
Ah well, it could be a lot worse! And he guessed she'd already figured out that the teasing was actually quite nice!
He smiled to himself. Life was looking up. It really had been a great day with the Summers; everything he could have hoped for. Maybe it was how it should always have been, if only his family weren’t so messed up, and he’d have had parents more like Papa and Gramma. But he was past giving those thoughts the time of day. It was what it was, though it didn’t make that day any less sweet; it was the perfect end to the summer!
He was optimistic about a lot of things now. He was even toying with the idea of telling Luke about his sexuality. Having gone through that with his grandparents, he realized that it didn’t have to be a bad thing. Not if it was handled in the right way and at the right time. It just felt so good not to have to pretend with them—just like it did with Mel.
Maybe it was time to come out further…just to Luke? At least there would be someone else he could confide in, and he was pretty sure Luke wouldn't go off the deep end.
He'd have to think about it.
All in all, the summer had been pretty good, too. He’d done plenty of things, keeping himself busy and creating his own schedule. He’d holidayed with his parents for two weeks in the Bahamas. The hotel had been great, and he had managed to stay out of their way enough that everyone seemed happy. He’d taken a week trip with his mom to New York: a bit of shopping (actually a lot of shopping, and he really needed a clear out), a few shows, a bit of sightseeing, and some fabulous meals. She was different without his father around. more human as she drank less and talked more.
It was at times like those that she came out of her shell and they got on really well, though the thing he really wanted to say was never on the table. Like why the hell didn’t she just divorce him? The family was broken enough that that really wouldn’t make any difference.
Maybe she was just waiting until he left for college?
Still, they talked about plenty of other stuff over some great dinners and the odd glass of wine that she let him have. She wanted to know about him. How was school going? Who were his friends these days? Were there any girls he was interested in? Had he thought which college he might go to? Just normal, everyday stuff. With a glass in hand, he just had to be careful he didn’t get too chatty!
They needed more holidays like that together.
Later that evening, after watching something on the TV together, his grandparents retired to their room. He slipped upstairs too, looking forward to the end of a perfect day—to be made even more perfect in the next twenty minutes if he could manage to hold off squirting that long!
He closed the door to his room and turned the simple handle lock, just in case, though he didn't expect to be interrupted. Even Gramma hadn't pried enough to ask what a gay teenager did in the privacy of his room, though he bet she had his number on that one, too!
Either way, he knew that, once they'd gone to their room, they rarely resurfaced until early the following morning. Real early!
What was a relief was to discover how good it felt not to be pretending with them anymore. If anything, it actually made the moments of alone time even more enjoyable.
It was quite late and already dark outside, and soft light from his bedside lamp illuminated his well-browned frame as he knelt on his bed. He slipped down his boxers, squirted himself liberally, then leaned in. With his current favorite toy also lubed up and positioned under a mound of pillows in the way he like it, he applied smooth pressure until he slipped inside. Readusting the top pillow, he kicked of his boxers and made himself comfortable. Then, jamming headphone buds into his ears, he turned off the light and relaxed as his head was flooded with light, cool sounds.
He was in no hurry, and underneath him the clever sheath responded to his love-making as he settled into the tight latex that gripped him with subtle ridges and with well place nodules that massaged his head perfectly. He’d make this one last—ten or fifteen minutes at least!
He let his mind drift, carried along with the pleasure of the ersatz mating.
As far as the summer went, even the Nike Tennis Camp had been good. Jacko and Mason had been there too, of course, but that hadn’t really bothered him. They had been in a different set and he’d had his own instructors and players he was matched with. He and Jacko had practiced their doubles a few times during the week, but the kid was a lot more reserved in the unfamiliar setting—at least he wasn't trailing after him all day like some love-sick puppy!
The camp hadn’t been cheap by any means—not that that was really an issue—but the level of the instructors that had worked with him had been superb; guys who really knew their stuff. They were both patient, yet still pushy enough not to accept second best, and his game had improved no end. They even said that, if he really wanted it enough, with work and dedication, he could take it pro.
Maybe – but probably not. There were too many other things he wanted to do with his life.
There had been a couple of guys his own age that he’d teamed up with over the week, and they’d had a blast. He even wondered if one of them hadn’t wanted more. There had been the kind of glances and moments that hinted at someone who was interested in guys more than girls, but it was hard to tell. In fact, he found himself attracted to those hazel eyes. There was only so much you could know about someone in such a short time, but the guy was intelligent, and physically, he hit as many of Ryan’s buttons as he hit aces down the line!
Images of one or two times they had showered together teased Ryan and the gripping sheath responded to the quickening of his tempo. Pleasure rippled up his spine. Fuck—that was good!
He grunted with pleasure as he slipped into a slow easy rhythm, rocking back and to with the regularity of a metronome.
God, it was more than good, it was awesome!
When it came to hazel eyes, in another time or place other than the world he lived in just then, maybe he would have pushed that door further. However, his innate sense of wary protection stopped him risking finding out what had been behind that quite formidable serve. Jacko was probably safe, but with Mason on hand too, the last thing Ryan needed was any stray gossip getting into the wrong ears and back to people he knew.
On the plus side, they'd all swapped emails and stuff as teenagers did. He could look up the guy on Facebook easily enough. He’d befriend him. Who knew - if the guy indicated he was going to the same camp next year, it might well be worth attending too. A lot could change in a year.
Happy to let his imagination of what might have been—or might still be—run wild for a few moments, the sensations in his groin moved quickly past merely nudging him. The onset was coming too quickly, and any idea of making it last even ten minutes was evaporating fast!
And what about Luke that afternoon....
He didn’t really get further with Luke as he raised himself up on his arms. He stared down into the gloom, his eye locked at the place where, under the pillow, he was making love in the only way he knew without being judged. He didn't want to stop, but trying to keep the pace steady, he attempted to control himself...not that it did him much good!
The sight of his own coupling was as mesmerizing as the very first time he’d entered like this. Today it was a toy, but it wouldn't always be so. In time there would be arms and legs and...maybe a mouth...and...
It was too much and he squealed inwardly. His arms locked and his face grimaced in a rictus of pleasure as he started to ejaculate. Striving to keep his steady pace, he continued push in and out as spurts of his jizz mixed with the lube deep inside the latex toy. Before long, he became way too sensitive, and had to stop.
Breathing heavily, he let his weight drop, and lay there, still inserted and basking in the release. That had been freaking hot! As he calmed down, he grinned to himself as he remained mounted on his pillow. He couldn’t hold his liquor or his jizz! What a fucking lightweight he was!
He stayed there for a while, thinking and enjoying the state of comfortable relaxation astride the pillow. Stretching, he undid some of the kinks in his back that came from sixteen lengths and slowly unwound. After a while, he yawned. Perhaps it would be sensible to move. Even his Gramma might be a little taken aback if she poked her head in the following morning to see him like this!
He took a shower to clean everything up and mused on the day as the water washed over him. He idly rubbed body wash into his recently trimmed black curls and again thought of his time away this summer.
The Nike Camp had been another test in a way; a stepping-stone to a brighter, more focused him. And it had really helped—to the point where he was no longer thinking about himself when he'd stepped under the showerheads there. He grinned to himself as he washed away the soap and stickiness. The thing he’d actually begun thinking about had hazel brown eyes!
And then there was Luke. He was part of the recovery program, too, if you could call it that. Being able to wander his room buck-naked with his closest friend, and even talk about Luke's circ operation with ease, was refreshing. As always, the guy looked awesome, and his cut was perfect, though the stuff about him getting his dick burned had been hysterical!
Leaving his bathroom and toweling himself dry, Ryan slipped into a pair of clean boxers for bed. Reaching for the book he was currently reading, he got comfortable and picked up where he'd left off.