I couldn't help but wonder if I was still in wonderland, or had died and gone to heaven when something softly vibrating into the back of my ribs began to wake me up. A warm soft body was pressed tightly against my back, and two, maybe three arms draped over my chest and waist, along with what felt like a hand was cupping one of my butt cheeks. I was snuggled against someone on the other side, his warm sweet breath gently drifting across my face each time he exhaled. At the same time the vibration began again, it felt or sounded like a content cat purring, and seemed to go on as long.
After laying there for a minute or so I convinced one of my eyes to open, when it eventually focused Regan's face was an inch or so from mine, our facebows were all but touching. I enjoyed studying his high cheekbones and perfect skin, along with his sweet breath for several seconds hoping the mass snuggle I was in the middle of would never end. Does Roy have a cat? I asked myself when my shoulder blade was treated to another purr. I'm gonna stay here all day. I decided.
But, that was not to be. When I looked down and see who was hugging me from behind Regan and my facebows collided and I discovered another downside to wearing braces, pain, very intense pain. My back teeth where my headgear hooked on fired what felt like an electric shock into my brain, and several other teeth added their objections with painful throbs. An instant later my bladder chimed in announcing it definitely demanded immediate attention.
Somehow I managed to squirm out for under the mass of arms and bodies entrapping me without waking anyone up. I had to smile when I looked back and found out that it was Regan's hand nuzzling my backside. The purring must have come from Jack, who had been snuggled against my back, Roy was against his. Val was molded against Roy's body on the other side, and all three of them had their arms draped across each other and me. My bladder demanded that whatever I wanted to look at would have to wait, and I rushed into the bathroom.
A thin red and silver streak shot past me as I stepped back into Roy's bedroom. When I glanced around I noticed that a few of the nests Roy's guests had build last night had been emptied, others were still full of snuggling boys. At the same time my mouth pointedly reminded me my restroom trip had only solved half of my problems, and demanded immediate relief.
I started to take my headgear off, but realized that as soon as I touched the first strap Aunt Marge would come storming into the room and kill me, then ship me off somewhere. I gave the bed a wishful glance hoping Roy was awake, but no luck. My mouth sent out another painful throb letting me know I better do something, or I would pay dearly. That pill! She offered me a pill! Maybe if I go downstairs and look real sad and stuff, she'll let me out!
I started toward the door, but some movement distracted me. When I turned at first I tried to smile, Jack was bent over climbing into his shorts. Oh shit, she'd really kill me if I went down there in last nights Speedos. I groaned. I started toward the Blue room until I saw the little carrot top struggling to pull his wrinkled shirt, complete with a stain from last night's snacks on it, past his headgear.
I started to offer him some clean clothes, but realized my aunt would kill me once over for lending out her clothes, I felt privileged to get to wear them! Another pleading glance didn't wake Roy up, but my mouth said time was very short. A pointed throb from my teeth told me I was going to die whatever I did, but I was sure my mouth had a slow, painful demise planned, maybe Aunt Marge would make it quick, possibly even painless.
"Uh, you wanta borrow some clothes? I think they're clean and stuff." I offered. Smooth move stupid, you told a doctor's kid, a preppie that? I groaned. I guess he didn't catch it, or knew I was just a dumb street kid and flashed me a wide smile.
"Is this your room?" he bubbled as he followed behind. Afraid to open my mouth and make a fool out of myself again I just smiled and tossed him a pair of my bikini briefs, then a pair of running shorts. Another giggle told me he snapped to what I had said in Roy's room until he bubbled, "These feel totally neat!" Wow, they look more than that! I decided as I looked over his bikini clad torso.
What the hell, let's go for broke. I decided, and toss him a light blue sleeveless fishnet half-shirt. It wasn't until after I jumped into a pair of shorts and half-shirt that I realized I had tossed him some bright red running shorts, but my eyes thanked me for the treat.
"Let's go this way." I told him when he started toward the bathroom door. I put my arm around his waist to guide him toward the hall door, and instantly had a thin body full of freckles molded tightly against my side. I gave the Blue room's bed a glance, but my mouth told me not to even think about it.
What I was fairly sure was all of the kids missing from upstairs were seated at the breakfast bar when we entered the kitchen, Alexis waiting on them as they ate. My heart sunk into my groin when she told me my aunt was gone for the day to some social event, and my uncle was playing golf. That heartbreak started to turn to panic when I felt my mouth's reaction, and I could feel gears grinding in my brain as I tried to think of what to do.
"Are you sure you want to put your headgear back on before breakfast? I don't think you are suppose to wear it too much for the first few days." she began as she sat some orange juice in front of Jack and I. She told him he was to wait here until his dad finished playing golf before turning back to me. "Mrs Benton asked me to remind you to wear it a few hours this afternoon, but I'm sure the time you wore it before bed last night is enough for now." My brain didn't believe what it was hearing, but my finger went on automatic and began ripping the straps off my head.
"Oh, and thank you for finding Jack some clean clothes. Mrs Benton asked me to set some out of him, but I've been busy preparing breakfast." I tried to answer, but decided to drown my sorrows in the bowl of poached eggs she had slid in front of me.
Roy and the others drifted downstairs two or three at a time over the next few minutes. After enjoying their breakfast the other kids excused themselves and a few minutes later it was just Jack, Roy and I. When Roy suggested we kick back on the couch and watch TV I didn't argue, especially after Roy snuggled up against me on one side, Jack on the other.
* * *
"What are you guys going to do this afternoon?" Uncle Walter asked after lunch. I just shrugged, the couch looked good to me. "I know you had a busy day yesterday Tommy, but remember Margie wants you to get some exercise every day. Maybe get in the pool for a while, or go for a bike ride?"
His words struck me like lightening. I had completely ignored my faithful friend all day yesterday, and she was still locked up all alone in the dark, hot garage. God, I hope she'll forgive me! I prayed. I think I said something about wanting to go riding, but rushed toward the door to make sure she was okay, and beg her forgiveness.
"Tommy, aren't you forgetting something?" made me freeze in my tracks. No, not that thing again, not yet! I begged. "Remember to put your watch on." Uncle Walter suggested.
"Where you want to go?" Roy asked me as we turned out of the driveway. I really didn't care, the wind blowing in my face and through my hair was all I really needed. "You want go see if Val and Regan want to ride?"
"Let's go see the fishes!" I said before I realized it. "The one's that like to tickle you." I added when he gave me a questioning look. He coasted for a second then pulled to a stop.
"What about these things? They know where we are." he growled at his watch. It was my turn to share a lost look, were we doing something wrong? His eyes made me wonder if I had said something wrong, had somehow pissed him off until his he lowered his eyes slowly, as if looking me over. An instant later he began developing one of his impish grin, and seemed to focus on my shorts, or waist. "Screw them, let's go!" he announced I think to my belly button and took off down the street.
I grabbed a few gears as I took off behind him and managed to catch up. It didn't take long for my legs to object to the racetrack speed we were traveling, but the Starship like tractor beam from his tight firm bubble butt bouncing up and down as he pumped his bike locked on me and somehow I kept up. Oh My God! I silently screamed and closed my eyes when I realized my mount was about to jump off the suicide steep embankment going down to the creek, but she knew what she was doing, and skidded to a stop next to my cousin.
"I know you're not going to leave her here, come on." Roy snickered, and pushed his bike down the trail.
It seemed like the little guys knew we were coming. A split second after I put my feet in the water several dozen of them began tickling my toes, and right after that what had to be a million of them joined in around the rest of my feet and ankles. When Roy put his arm around my shoulder, pulled me against his side and guided me to lay back on the big flat rock it seemed like all was right with the world. We lay there silently for I'm not sure how long just enjoying the fresh air, sunlight and each other's cuddle.
"You want to do something really neat?" he asked the sky I'm not sure how much later. I let out a soft grunt and pushed against him as an answer. When he didn't continue I glanced over at him, and that trademark impish grin was back again. "If you take off your clothes and sit in the water, the fish like to nibble on other places too." he tittered. He glanced at me and his grin widened. "Well, fish like to pull on fishing poles!" made my eyes bug.
"But, well..." I didn't know how to finish.
"Hey, fish only eat little worms," he giggled. "Want to try it?"
Not EVEN! I wanted to tell him. "But, well, but what if their dad comes along or stuff? And he's hungry too?" I tried. He let out a soft groan then another giggle.
"This is so cool, everything is so totally cool now." he said after a long pause.
"Yeah, I wanta come here a lot," I answered toward the cloud I was studying.
"No, I mean everything." he said in a soft voice. He squeezed my hand and continued, "A couple of weeks ago I was wondering where you were, even if you were... were okay, and now we're going to be brothers, well we are brothers! And we're going to be together forever!"
I took a couple of deep breaths as I tried to digest his statement. "Yeah, well, I, well I don't know if it's gonna happen or stuff, I some don't think it's real even. I, I..." before I could continue he cupped the back of my neck and pulled me over into a long kiss.
"Was that real?" he whispered. I rolled on my side and snuggled under his arm as my answer, his long thin fingers petting the small of my back certainly were.
I groaned and tried to ignore him awhile later when squeezed me and said we had to go home, but he wouldn't give up. When I finally sat up he gave his watch a nasty look and said, "Come on, if we're late they'll see where we are." He didn't wait for a response and walked over to the bikes.
He had already pushed his bike to the edge of the cliff by the time I got my sandals and helmet on, and when I told him I couldn't ride down it he just flashed me an evil grin. "Just stay in the riverbed, it's fun!" he declared, and pushed off before I could answer.
I looked back down the trail, but when I saw the tall bridge I knew I'd never be able to get back up the embankment; besides if I did I didn't know the way home. When I finally built up the nerve to look over the cliff I knew I didn't stand a chance that way too, but I didn't see much other choice. After a little reassurance from my trusty steed I told her my last goodbyes, and let her roll off the edge. An instant later she struck a big rock in the stream, and when we went airborne I closed my eyes and waited for the crash, but we kept bucking and bouncing for what seemed like forever.
After the tenth or so bone rattling bump I began to wonder what was going on. I was sure she was going to bike heaven, but were they making her go all the way down to hell to drop me off first? An entirety later everything seemed to calm down, and after a second I risked cracking one eye slightly to see where we ended up. When I did I saw us heading directly toward a huge tree, but my sure-footed steed swerved out of way just in time.
"Come on, we're going to be late!" Roy's voice rang into my fog clouded brain. You think I can restart my heart, maybe clean out my shorts first? I begged, but pumped the pedals as my mount fell in behind him.
Thankfully Aunt Marge wasn't home and we got to change into clean clothes, and of course redo my hair, without her seeing us. I even had time to give my bike a bath and massage and spent a couple of minutes praising her for not letting me crash. At first I groaned when my uncle reminded me I had homework from Friday and still more for the weekend to do, but when he reminded me I might want to do something tomorrow, and when my body informed me it was finished for the day, it lessons didn't sound like such a bad idea.
Well, I can live with this! I decided as Roy and I stacked our computers and books in front of us then snuggled against each other on the classroom's couch. My homework was easier than I thought it was going to be, I even finished before Roy. I curled up against him and watched him read for a few minutes, then leaned my head on his shoulder and closed my eyes.
* * *
Here we go again. I groaned as my uncle turned into the parking lot of the mediaeval looking church. This better be quick, get me out of this thing. my neck chimed in.
I took a deep breath as we walked toward the massive steps and felt a couple of dozen eyes staring at me, I even glanced to be sure my escape route between the building and the hedges was still clear, even though Roy and I were tightly stuffed between his parents. Just don't smile, don't open your mouth. I reminded myself over and over again as we followed the guard up the isle.
Val was sitting on our side of Miss Piggy's huge frame this time and flashed us a wide smile as Roy shoved me into the row. He and Roy whispered to each other a couple of times until his mother gave us a dirty look, and I felt Aunt Marge's death glare drilling into the back of my head. A second later I fought off panic when Miss Piggy leaned over toward her son's ear, if she lost her balance we would all be crushed to death. An instant later I knew the worst had happed when an explosion blasted into my ears, when it turned to ear piercingly loud music I was sure she had indeed crushed us, and it was announcing our arrival at the pearly gates.
Oh well, I groaned when I realized everyone else had stood, and that the boys in white robes were walking down the isle, with the old man swinging his smoking bucket right behind. I got a dirty look from my aunt, but somehow managed to get up before she killed me. After everyone dropped to their knees to pray then jumped up to sing a few times the old man started another lecture. I even listened to a little bit of it until Roy and Val's bodies pushed against mine distracted me. What seemed like all to soon he quit talking and both my friends sat up straighter in their seats.
"Before we close today, I'd like to ask you to join me in welcoming a fine young man that is the newest member of our flock." the old man began. Yeah, sure make it quick, let's get out of here. my neck groaned. "Thomas, would you and your father please stand up?" the preacher continued. That poor bastard, I'd die first. I thought. "Thomas, please stand so everyone will know who you are." Without thinking I glanced around to see who the poor sucker was.
My scan didn't go far, and I shuttered with shock when I saw my uncle standing up. Before I could react Roy and Val grabbed my arms and lifted me off the pew onto my feet. But that didn't last long either, as soon as they let go I crashed back into the bench like my knees were spring loaded.
It only took me an instant to realize how badly I screwed up when several chuckles rang through the big room and the preacher snickered, "Well, thank you." Hey, swing that thing faster, I need a buzz BAD. I begged a couple minutes later when the old man passed us in the isle, but no luck.
When the guard showed up and let us out of our seats I tried to hide between the boards in the pew and stay behind, at least until everyone else had left, but Roy and Val kept me tightly trapped between them. I would have sworn half of the thousand or so pair of eyes had x-ray vision and were staring through my lips at my silver mouth as we crawled at a snails pace toward the back door, but fought off all the instincts in my body telling me to break and run.
Things didn't get any better when we got outside. I wanted to make a break for the parking lot, but Uncle Walter locked a death grip on my neck before I could try, and I spent what seemed like hours trapped between his wife and he while they greeted what seemed like half the church. I was tempted to bite some of the old ladies that ruffled my hair and squeezed my cheeks, but was too afraid to open my mouth.
Finally things seemed to settle down and I managed to escape my uncle's grasp. I started toward the parking lot to hide under my uncle's car until they were ready to leave only to be intercepted boy Roy and Val. Somehow Miss Piggy's huge limo didn't look as intimidating as it always had as they ushered me toward it, for what I was sure was the first time in my life the two cops standing next to it were a welcome site.
* * *
My neck seemed to forgive me the instant I released the noose it had been locked into all morning, I think my stomach even convinced it to forget about the mountains of food I had forced down it while it was tightly cinched into my tie. When Roy only picked out a pair of speedos and half shirt for me my body chimed in its approval, it was beginning to look like a great afternoon.
Even Aunt Marge flashed me one of her rare smiles as Roy and I walked toward the patio door, the day was looking better and better by the minute. Well, until I was about to step outside and she called me back. "I'd like for you to increase your headgear time Tommy, swim for an hour or so, then please put it on. You can wade the rest of the afternoon." Wow, thanks a bunch lady. I groaned, but managed a weak 'yes ma'am'.
Val and Regan showed up about ten minutes later and stripped down to their speedos without missing a step between the patio door and the pool. We swam a few minutes before starting another game of body-tag, hands and legs no longer counted, only body contact did. Everyone was a little disappointed when Uncle Walter joined us a few minutes later, until he began tossing us in the air and letting us dive off his shoulders, he even took all four of us on in a splash fight, or tried to.
A few minutes later Aunt Marge appeared at the door, I think to everyone's surprise carrying a large tray full of drink glasses. By the time we jumped out of the pool she had gone back inside, but returned a minute later with a big pitcher full of still more lemonade. I noticed her glancing at me several times, but she didn't seem mad or anything so I downed the rest of my drink and started to refill it.
"I thought you boys might be thirsty," she smiled. Looking directly at me she added, "After all, you have been out here a little over an hour." Oh. I groaned, and slithered in the house.
Everyone was back in the pool taking turns diving off of my uncle's shoulders when I came back outside, so I climbed in the pool and waded to the side wall. Yeah well, have fun, my fun's over. I groaned a I watched Regan fly into the air. Well, at least I get to watch, I guess.
I stiffened a second later when my uncle called me. I'm wearing it, all the straps and everything! I silently whimpered, but crawled to him. No, please, not in front of everyone! I begged when he took my facebow in two fingers and slowly turned my head side to side, inspecting my bridle as he did.
"If I remember correctly, these things are fairly waterproof." he began as he seemed to study the straps. "I know Roy used to swim in his, when we weren't around." caused a grunt from who I was sure was Roy. "Oh, that's right, we weren't suppose to know that!" my captor snickered.
The next thing I knew I went flying through the air and landed in the deep end. I was still trying to figure out what happened when my cousin landed next to me squealing like a stuck pig. Hey, it could be worse! I decided as Val and Regan landed on top of us, and everyone grabbed each other's bodies as we began wrestling.
All too soon Aunt Marge stepped outside an announced she had just ordered take out for supper. Everyone, even Uncle Walter's face melted a little, but we all climbed out of the pool and began toweling off. After Val and Regan said their goodbyes Roy and I started upstairs to change, but my aunt called me back before I could.
"Thomas, what have you done to your appliances?" she snarled. "I told you that you may only..."
"It's my fault Margie, I threw him in before I realized he was wearing it." her husband cut her off.
"His behavior was still very irresponsible, I..."
"Margie!" he barked. The rope size veins in his forehead told me someone was about to die as they exchanged death glares for what seemed like an eternity.
"Great, now I have three children to raise." she grumbled and stormed into the kitchen. I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head when my uncle winked and gave me a thumb's up.
* * *
Something brushing my banks pulled a fantastic dream about Roy and I cuddled together letting the fish nibble on our feet. I'm not sure if in my dream or for real mumbled something about not wanting to go home yet, but a kiss on my forehead made me wonder if I was really laying with him at our hideaway. "I love you Roy." I whispered.
"I love you too Son." a deep voice answered. "But it's time to get up, rise and shine." snapped me wide awake. I sprang up in bed just in time to see my uncle leaving the room.
"I love you too," Roy giggled. "You're cute when you turn red, Sweetie!"
He pulled me into a long kiss before I could counter, then stuck his tongue in my ear before jumping out of bed and rushing into the bathroom. I started to protest, maybe spend a few more minutes in bed, but the sight if his firm, well tanned orbs bouncing across the room acted like a magnet and I followed behind.
Our shower was so fantastic I never wanted it to end, I even began lathering his lathe body a second time, but he stopped me saying we were out of time. I even tried to seduce him with a rubdown when it was my turn to towel him dry, but that didn't even work. It just took an instant to realize why I subconsciously had been stalling when I opened the Blue room's closet door and saw the row of puke green shorts and white shirts waiting for me. Oh well, maybe just Roy and Mister Arthur will see me. I prayed as I climbed into my zook suit.
"Yeah, now you're completely one of us!" Roy hooted when I walked into the bathroom a minute later. "Wow, they fit perfect, even better than mine!" he proclaimed as he cupped my butt. "Cutie!" he giggled. Before I could protest he pulled me into another long kiss, and when his tongue began exploring my mouth I forgot what I was going to object too.
I turned ten different colors of red after breakfast when Aunt Marge produced her camera and shot another series of super mug shots, but when Roy put his arm around my waist and pulled me against him I even gave her a wide silver smile when she asked. But, all too soon Roy was out the door and I was trudging upstairs to the new classroom.
Arthur had a mountain of work for me to do, but helped me a lot and most of it was fairly easy, especially after he showed me how to do different things. Sooner than I could believe he said those magic words, 'that's all for today'.
It took every bit of my inner strength to walk calmly across the classroom to the door, but instant I turned into the hall my legs went into hyper-warp as I ripped at my shirt buttons and went supersonic on my way to the Blue room. I grabbed one of my favorite pair of running shorts and started to climb into them, but paused. Yeah! I told myself, stripped out of my bikini briefs and hopped into a Speedo then my shorts. I picked out one of the half-shirts that just covered my nipples and started toward my first stop of the afternoon, the refrigerator. I was almost to the stairs when a little bell went off inside. Well, no point in pissing her off, I decided, and went back for my headgear.
Aunt Marge was in the den and I could feel her staring at me as I headed for the kitchen, and almost made it before she called me back. I'm NOT putting that stuff back on. No more Limeade kid! I declared as I turned around.
"Thank you for putting your appliance on, but you really don't have to wear it right now unless you want to." she said. Want to? I gasp. I managed to flash her a smile before launching myself toward the stair well. "I would like you to begin sleeping in it tonight, so you can put it on later." almost made me trip over my own feet.
The garage door burst open and Roy rushed in, Val and Regan right behind, just as I stepped off the stairs. All of them seemed to give me a slightly disappointed look for an instant then brightened and dashed past me and upstairs. After sighing I cast the refrigerator a longing glance, tried to reassure my stomach we wouldn't be long, and followed behind.
Roy was already squirming into a pair of speedos when I stepped into his room, Val and Regan were naked digging into their book bags. "Come on, go change, let's go swimming!" Roy exclaimed. I guess my grin answered for me and he put his arms around me, then pushed his hand inside my shorts in back. "What, no checkmark?" he giggled as he cupped my butt cheek.
I started to run over and hug Alexis when we entered the kitchen and saw the tray of chips and those little sandwiches cut in four pieces, but she picked it up before I could. All of us followed behind like puppies as she carried it out to the patio and attacked it before she could get her hands away. I was tempted to jump up and kiss her a few seconds later when she returned with another tray full of drinks and even more sandwiches, but my stomach made it clear it would not tolerate any interruptions.
Everyone wandered around the pool for the first several minutes, I think semi-full like I was, but soon another game of body tag broke out, and soon we were more bumping each other with our butts or hips for to make the next person 'it'. That soon evolved into another variation of the game, Speedo tag. Now only Speedo to Speedo contact counted, and although I had to jump up to tag anyone even near misses were fun. Our speedos even joined in the fun, soon each of our skimpy trunks grew its own battering ram pushing out its front, which caused more than one squeal as we jousted with each other.
We were in the middle of heated battle when Alexis came back onto the deck. When she called out, "Tommy, you have a phone call." I froze in mid-step, I barely noticed the warm stiff spear that pushed against my back an instant later. Not, she's not talking to me, no one calls me. I groaned. "Tommy, someone is on the phone for you, shall I take a number?" she demanded.
"He'll take it!" Roy answered for me. "Maybe it's one of your fans!" he snickered as he led me out of the pool.
I was disappointed when he didn't come inside with me, I started to go call him but Alexis impatient glare told me not to. Somehow I managed to grunt something when she handed me the phone.
"Tommy? This is Jack! Jack Frost." even over the phone his beautifully angelic voice made my heart race. "I was at your party, do you remember me?" Remember you, I can almost taste you! I gasp. "You loaned me some clothes, I was wondering if maybe I can return them." I heard him take a deep breath. "Or I guess I can give them to my dad. Or can I come over and give them to you?" he whimpered.
Why ain't you here yet! Hurry! I silently screamed. I opened my mouth to tell him to come quickly, but the realistic side of me took over. I can't invite someone to come to Uncle Walter and Aunt Marge's house, I was lucky I got invited. I glanced around as if looking for someone to answer for me, but there wasn't anyone. Alexis was busy at the stove, but I knew she'd say no so she didn't have to wait on him.
Roy! I'll go ask Roy! I started toward the door, but I was sure not even he would dare make such a decision. I even thought of my aunt, but knew that was an automatic no. A glance at the study door didn't even offer much promise, if my uncle was home he offered an outside change at least. But then I snapped I could get busted just for going near that sacred door. Oh well. I decided and started to tell him no, but I could almost see his timid little freckle face and tight little body through the phone's handset.
"Um, I gotta go ask." I moaned.
I stared at the door for a second or so before raising my hand, then paused a little longer as I built up the courage to commit myself before softly knocking. All too soon my uncle's voice rang through the door. I knew I had screwed up as soon as I peeked inside when I saw the stacks of books and papers on his desk, and the tightness of his brow, but shuffled in front of the desk.
"Hi Tommy." he said over a book he was studying. "Dad's a little busy right now, is there something I can do for you?"
I tried to answer, but all I could do was quiver my lips. After another try I shrugged and started for the door. I'm dead! I knew it! I groaned when he stood up and called me, but didn't resist when he walked around the desk and guided me to the couch.
"What's on your mind Son, why do you look so worried?" he asked. I stiffened when I felt his big hand wrap around my waist. "Come on Son, I'm your dad now, remember?" caught me completely off guard.
"Um, nothing Sir." I managed, but the memory of Jack's tight little body flashing into my mind made me continue. "Ah, well, Jack wants to..." I took a deep breath trying to keep going. "Well Jack Frost he's doctor Frost's son wants to, I mean he, I mean I loaned him some clothes and he's gotta bring them back if he can and stuff and he won't stay if you don't want and..." I blurted.
"Yes of course Jack can come over." he cut me off. "And I know who he is, his dad is my best friend! I thought something was wrong, is that all..." he paused. "Is Jack on the phone now?" earned a nod from me. "Yes of course, go tell him he is welcome." I think I managed a slight grin as I rushed out of the room.
Jack's happy voice, and assurance that he was on the way instantly snapped me back into a happy mood. I was a little worried Roy might not like it, but as soon as I hung up the phone I rushed toward the patio door to break the good news to everyone. I only made it about halfway before disaster struck.
"Tommy, can I speak to you for a second before you go outside?" my uncle's voice vibrated into my very bones. When I turned he was standing at the study door, and motioned for me to come to him. I swallowed so hard I thought my Adams apple was going to pop out my nose, but slithered to him.
He guided me back to the couch and sat down, pulling me in front of him. Oh God, I knew it. I groaned when he picked me up, but instead of bending me over his knee he perched me on his lap. Oh shit, he's really gonna kill me now. I thought when I realized my wet trunks were soaking his suit pants.
"I had intended to sit down with you soon and talk about a few house rules, but wanted to let you get settled in a little more, and didn't feel like there was a rush as you are almost always with Roy," told me things were worse than I expected.
"But, let's talk for a minute about one, no two rules. Firstly, if you..."
"Please Sir, I'm sorry I bothered you and stuff, I won't..." I cried.
"Didn't we already talk about interrupting?" he cut me off. "Will you listen to me?" Knowing I was very close to becoming the first kid to be condemned to serial death sentences I nodded is all, sure that even a yes sir would be the wrong answer.
"Rule number one. Never be afraid to come and talk to me about something, no matter how important or insignificant you think it might be. No matter how busy I might look, you are my son, and I always have time for you. No matter what you ask me, the worst thing that can happen is I'll say no. Okay?" Again I risk a head nod is all.
"Rule number two. Any friend of yours is welcome in our home, remember, this is your home too now. If it's after supper on school nights, or after, nine o'clock on weekends I would like you to ask first, but if Margie and I aren't around, use your best judgement. Understood?" He waited for a couple of seconds, kissed my forehead, and pushed me off his lap. "Jack's going to be here soon, go wash your face and jump back in the pool. Shoo, before I decide to talk about chores!" he smiled, and popped me on the butt.
Jack appeared at the patio door just a couple of minutes after I got back into the pool. As excited as I was to see him again something struck me a little out of place, out of the ordinary as my eyes soaked in his beauty. He was delicious looking though, wearing a pair of well-fitting light brown walking shorts and tailored white polo shirt along with ankle socks and leather sandals. It wasn't until I noticed his shirt, neatly tucked into his shorts that I snapped. From what little I knew about the rich kid dress code so strictly enforced around here, he was overdressed, wearing what any self-respecting preppie would to some social event like a party or trip to the mall, not relaxed after school wear.
His face was as bright as his blinding smile as he closed the door behind himself and turned toward us, but seemed to melt as he looked around the pool. It only recovered a little when he saw me climb out of the water.
"Thank you for the clothes, Tommy." he began in a soft voice as he offered out a small sack. "I'm sorry, I didn't know you had company." he whimpered more to the pool than me. He was already reaching for the door handle as he added, "Well, I better go."
"Wait!" I begged the back of his thin freckled neck. "Do you gotta? Can't you stay some?" was enough to make him pause.
"Well, you're with your friends and stuff I better." he seemed to tell the door.
"Please, don't you wanta swim or stuff?" I tried.
"Can I!" he exclaimed, his voice raising three octaves above its normal soprano. I had to squint when he turned around and the sun struck his ear-to-ear smile. "Can I really?" made my ears ring.
I was about to offer to loan him a pair of speedos when he stripped out of his shirt and dropped his shorts to his ankles at breakneck speed, then kicked his sandals and socks off like they were shower thongs. That'll work! I told the skin tight gold colored speedos so wonderfully accenting the million or so freckles on his hips and thighs. That will definitely work! I told his round little melons as they bounced toward the pool.
He seemed to relax just a few seconds after getting in the water and warmed up to everyone quickly, joining in some splash fights and playing around as happy as could be. It didn't take Roy, Val and Regan long to figure out that Jack and I were the perfect size to be the 'riders' in horse-fighting games. Soon we found ourselves perched on one then another of the taller kids shoulders and in the midst of heated battle, trying to pull each other off our mount's shoulders, or the boy we were riding off balance.
I think he surprised everyone else as much as he did me about how much of a scrapper he was, even when I was riding Val and towering above he and Regan or Roy by three or four inches he took us down several times. One time I grabbed him and tried to pull him off of Roy's back from behind. Roy seemed to have good footing and wasn't losing his balance but so did Val, who started pulling to pull Jack off of Roy's shoulders, but even though I was sure we were stretching the little guy so hard he was going to be a couple of inches taller when we were done he managed to hang on. We also ended up losing that match!
What seemed like all too soon Alexis appeared at the door and announced it was almost supper time. After everyone moaned and groaned a little we began toweling off and getting dressed.
"Hey squirt, where do you live?" Regan asked. I could feel a knot forming in my stomach when I realized he was looking directly at my little carrot top, and the little guy gave me a pleading look. The patio fell very quiet until Regan continued, "We're going toward Bear Cave Road, you want to ride with us?"
* * *
"Tommy, Roy, I have to leave early tomorrow morning on a business trip." my uncle announced as we finished eating our dessert. I didn't pay too much attention, assuming he was saying he wouldn't be waking us up tomorrow until he added, "I shouldn't be gone more than a few days, I'm sure I'll be back by Friday."
"Friday?" I whimpered before I realized it. I wasn't even sure what bothered me, but I didn't like the ring of the whole thing.
"It's not that long, I'll be back before you realize it." he answered. "I'll call home every night, and you can call me on my cell phone if you need to." made me feel a little better, until he added, "And, .Margie will be here for you." made my throat tighten like it had been cinched back into a tie.
Aunt Marge's sinister smile told me exactly what I didn't like about him leaving. "I'll be right here every minute, we'll have a grand time together, Tommy!" she bubbled. And I'm gonna spend a BUNCH of time in Mister Arthur's room! I decided.
After our traditional tooth brushing ceremony Roy and I settled onto the classroom couch and started on our homework. For the first few minutes I stayed pretty focused and finished several assignments quicker than I expected, but when I began reading I kept drifting away, something bothered me about Uncle Walter leaving but I had no idea what it was. He came up to I'm sure check on us an hour or so later, and gave me one of his business cards with his phone number and such on it. He even made sure I knew how to call the number which made me relax a little. I still felt uncomfortable, but in a way I couldn't explain, I don't think I had ever felt that way before.
When we climbed into bed later Uncle Walter's goodnight kiss, and Roy's warm body cuddling against mine were as wonderfully relaxing as usual, but even Roy's snuggle didn't send me off to dreamland like it always had. As wonderful as it felt I somehow still felt restless. I guess my bed mate picked up on it and asked what was wrong a short time later. I tried to answer, but really didn't know.
"You're going to miss Dad, aren't you?" he asked.
"No, I just, well, I don't know," was all I could think of. "But, why's he gotta leave, did your mom make him?" a voice that sounded like mine chimed in.
Suddenly I realized what was wrong, what I didn't like about all of it. I couldn't come anywhere near counting the number of times I had heard the same story when I lived with my mom, and usually from the better of her boyfriends, the ones that weren't too mean to me. 'Be back in a few days meant goodbye,' and most of the time it was after they had a fight. I felt my headgear tighten around my head like it was going to crush my skull as Aunt Marge's angry, hateful face when she stormed out of the den yesterday after my uncle saved me from getting killed for swimming in it played back into my mind like a movie.
"He's going to do some business somewhere!" Roy exclaimed, snapping me back. "He does every, I don't know, every few months, he won't be gone long!"
I tried to think of a way to tell him he was wrong, that I had heard that line too many times, but I couldn't bring myself to say the words. When he cupped the back of my head and pulled my face against his chest I closed my eyes and decided to enjoy being with him while I still could; I knew full well that as soon as she got rid of Uncle Walter, I was next.
* * *
I felt completely out of sorts when Roy woke me up the next morning, my head, my teeth even my stomach hurt. But, between having to sleep in my headgear and waking up what had to be a million times I wrote it off to a bad night. Even our shower didn't help much, and by the time we went downstairs for breakfast I had a knot in my gut that felt as big as a bowling ball.
The reality that my uncle really was gone, and the natural snarl on Aunt Marge's face didn't help, and I more picked at my food than ate, as good as breakfast looked my stomach wasn't interested. When Roy left for school I felt my spirits take a nose dive, but shuffled upstairs and where Mister Arthur was waiting for me.
I found it almost impossible to concentrate on my lessons as the morning wore on, Arthur even chewed me out a couple of times for not working or paying attention, but every time I tried my stomach turned over inside me or shot a painful cramp or two into my groin.
When Alexis knocked on the door and announced lunch was ready I felt a surge of nausea rush into my throat. I even felt a little light headed when I stood up, but followed Mister Arthur down the hall, praying Alexis had made us soup.
Thankfully a couple of steaming bowls were sitting on the breakfast bar along with some sandwiches, and after struggling a little to get on my stool I scooped a spoonful of the wonderful smelling broth, hoping it would sooth the burning beast inside me. Instead as soon as I swallowed it sprang back into my throat like it had bounced off a trampoline, along with what felt like everything I had eaten for all of yesterday. I started to run into the bathroom, but barely made it to the kitchen sink as a huge wave of vomit sprayed out of my mouth.
"Tommy! Tommy, are you all right?" Arthur's voice rang from behind. I felt a pair of arms wrap around me just as the second wave rushed up my throat, but didn't have time to see who it was. "My God, he is burning up with fever! Do you know where to find Mrs Benton?" he yelled out.
Just as my stomach seemed to have emptied itself someone picked me up, and the next thing I knew I was laying in the den on the couch. I felt something being pushed in my ear as I looked up, but Mister Arthur blocked my vision as he began washing my face with a cool wet cloth.
"A hundred-two point six," Alexis announced an instant later. "The hell with Mrs Benton, I'm calling EMS." I tried to ask what was going on, but a stomach cramp that felt like it was cutting me in half struck before I could.
I didn't pay much attention to what sounded like sirens outside until several men rushed into the room a couple of minutes later. Shit, I don't have THAT much fever! I groaned when I saw a couple of firemen, complete with their helmets and thick oversized pants and suspenders.
"Try to relax Son, and tell me where it hurts." one of them told me. I couldn't help but whimper when he began pushing on my body, but when he pushed on my waist on the right side it hurt so bad I screamed and was sure I wet my pants.
The next thing I knew they were strapping me on a small cot, then stuffing me in the back of an ambulance. Right after I felt the ambulance start to move I cried out when the cot began bouncing every few seconds or so, until it hit a bigger bump and everything went black.
To Be Continued…
Notes from the Author:
Sorry for taking so long to get this chapter out, but my computer ate the first writing of it (when it was all but complete!!) Oh well...