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Chapter 86 – Happy Birthday, T.J.

 

“So much for tryin’ to keep it under our hats,” Tom muttered with resignation.

 

“You should know better than that happening around here,” I agreed.  “I’m actually kinda surprised they’re asking about our conversation instead of just divining the answer straight from our minds.”  Turning to face the boys, I answered Alex’s query with, “You guys know about the charitable foundation I want to set up to help gay kids find good foster families and their forever homes, right?”  With nods from all, I continued.  “Well, I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to devote to that since we’ll be quite busy with raising six of you and helping who knows how many other kids, so we offered the job of running the whole thing to Maureen.”

 

“Really?” Joey asked with surprise.

 

“Could she do that living in Chicago?” T.J. queried.

 

“Yes, Joey, really,” Tom replied before adding, “And we offered to help her and Harry move down here so Max and Maureen could work together closely as they get things set up and running smoothly.”

 

“That’d be cool,” Andy offered.

 

“But what about Harry’s girlfriend,” Mike asked.

 

“Well, we also suggested we’d be happy to help her and her family with a change of address as well,” I answered.

 

“Wow!” Logan exclaimed.  “First Aunt Arlene and Things One and Two, and now Harry, his mom, his girlfriend and her family.  How much land you got ‘round here, Dad?  You hidin’ some acreage you ain’t told us ‘bout?”  he added with a snicker.

 

“No,” I laughed.  “But we know Rick, Eric and Josh’s house will be coming up for sale pretty soon and I’m sure we’ll be able to find another one nearby for Angie and her family.”  I’d noticed Alex and Joey had been whispering between themselves and my curiosity couldn’t be held in check any longer.  “And just what sort of evil plans are you two hatching over there?” I asked the devious duo.

 

“Uh, nothin’, Dad,” Alex replied innocently.

 

“Don’t you start lyin’ to us now,” Tom admonished the pair.

 

“Well, if ya really wanna know” Joey began, “we’re just wonderin’ what with Harry bein’ as cute as he is, what he looks like naked.”  The rest of the crew let go of a little snicker at their interest in the young man.

 

“Um, you do understand he’s got a girlfriend, right?” Tom commented.

 

“Well yeah, Pops, we ain’t blind,” Alex offered.

 

“That doesn’t mean we can’t look, does it?” Joey added with a devilish smirk.

 

“No, I suppose not,” I chuckled.  “Just keep in mind, if Maureen accepts our offer and they do end up moving down here, you will not pressure anybody to do something they don’t want to do.”

 

“Yeah, we know, Dads,” the two chimed.

 

The door to the great outdoors and the pool opened as Ron came back inside and said, “Oh hey, didn’t know you guys were back already.”

 

“No problems, buddy,” Tom replied.  “Did you enjoy your quiet day?”

 

“Ya know, I thought I would, but it’s actually been too quiet and kinda lonely.  Guess I’ve gotten use to the three-ring circus that’s usually goin’ on ‘round here,” Ron answered with a chuckle.  “Did ya have a good trip?  And how’s that Harry kid I keep hearin’ about?”

 

“The trip was fine and Harry’s doin’ well,” I replied.

 

“Glad to hear it.  So, what d’y’all want for supper?”

 

“Somethin’ easy’s fine with us.”

 

“Pizza and breadsticks from Capone’s okay with everyone?” Ron inquired.  With cheers from the nine lads, he added, “Guess I better get it ordered, then.  I’ll even run over to pick it up since I don’t have to fix it,” he offered as he turned for the kitchen to make the phone call and place the order.

 

After he was gone, I said, “We didn’t have much of a chance to talk to Harry today, guys.  How’d your visit with him and Angela go?”

 

The crew spent the next twenty minutes filling us in on how the two were getting along.  The best news they shared was the fact that Harry was getting and feeling better day by day.  And while Maureen was being overly protective of her son’s health, her intense attitude was driving Harry crazy.  The only saving grace as far as Harry was concerned was Angela being there to help him and take some of the load off of Maureen who was still trying to keep her current employer happy.  It was a thin line she was walking, but thanks to Angela, Maureen was managing.

 

The one thing that got them all laughing was Maureen’s insistence that Harry would not be allowed to take a shower by himself since she was afraid of him slipping and falling, possibly causing even more damage than Hank has already done.  And since Harry wasn’t even going to consider his mom helping him, that task fell to Angela.  Though he was still somewhat embarrassed at not being allowed to shower alone, he didn’t seem at all bothered with Angela joining him.

 

The biggest problem they had all faced for that particular idea was the resistance they’d received from Angela’s dad.  He was fine with the idea of Angela basically moving in with Harry and his mom for a couple of months to help Maureen deal with things while Harry recuperated.  However, he was not at all pleased with the idea of the two teens showering together.  At first, Harry and Angela had promised to wear their swimsuits while cleaning up and when that didn’t appear to sway Mr. Magee’s thinking, Harry asked his mom and Angela to leave the room so he could talk to Angela’s dad alone.  With Alex and Joey taking turns to play the two parts, Joey using a deeper voice for Don’s part, the conversation between the two guys went something like this:

 

Harry – I really want to thank you for letting Angie stay with us and help me.

Don – Don’t worry about it, Harry, her mom and I are glad she’s willing to do it.

Harry – So, what’s the big deal about her helping me get my shower?

Don – I just don’t think it’s right for two young people to shower together.

Harry – But we promised to wear our swimsuits, so it’s not like we’d be naked in the shower, or even see each other naked.

Don – Doesn’t matter, young man.  It’s not gonna happen.

Harry – Well, I got a big problem, then, Mr. Magee.  Mom refuses to let me shower by myself.  And if Angie can’t help, that means Mom’s gonna insist on doing it.

Don – Sorry, young man, that’s my decision.

Harry – Can I ask you somethin’?

Don – Shoot.

Harry – If you were me right now, would you want your mom helping you in the shower.  Even if you were both wearing swimsuits?

Don – Hell no!  Ain’t no way that’d ever happen.

Harry – What about your dad?  Would you let him help?

Don – He’d be the more likely of the two I’d want, that’s for damn sure, but I still think I’d feel weird about him joining me in a shower on a daily basis.

Harry – So, you see my problem.  No way am I gonna let mom help, and since Dad’s in jail right now for being an abusive jackass, he’s out of the picture, too.  And since you don’t want Angie to help me out, I guess I got only one other option, then.

Don – What’s that?

Harry – How ‘bout you come over every night about nine so you can make sure I don’t slip, fall and kill myself.

Don – I like you, Harry, a lot, but I’m not climbin’ in a shower with you for the next couple o’ months.

Harry – Then please let Angie do it, sir.  I promise nothin’ll happen ‘tween us, we won’t ever see each other naked and I’ll wash my privates myself.  Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.

Don – You’re serious, aren’t you.  You sure nothin’s gonna happen?

Harry – Swear to God, man.  Angie and I love each other a whole lot, but we both know we’re not ready for anything more than a kiss here and there.

Don – I don’t know, kid.  Still sounds like a father’s worst nightmare come true.

Harry – Maybe with some other dude, but not with me, sir.

Don – Okay, okay, you’ve convinced me.  But know this, young man, if anything should happen between the two of you and I find out about it later, I will haunt you for the rest of our days on this rock we call home.

Harry – Thank you, Mr. Magee.  I really appreciate the trust you’re giving me and I won’t betray it.

Don – You better not or there’ll be hell to pay.

 

“And that’s how Harry talked Angie’s dad into her helpin’ him get cleaned up,” Alex said as the two wrapped up their tale.

 

“ ‘Course, they both promptly forgot all about their swimsuits,” Joey laughed with all of us joining in the hilarity.

 

“And even though Harry’s mom knows what’s happenin’, they ain’t sayin’ a word to Angie’s dad.  She’s just glad that Harry can get cleaned up and she doesn’t have to worry about him,” T.J. added with a giggle.

 

“Well, their secret’s safe with us,” Tom said with a sly grin.

 

“Did Harry really tell you guys about that?” I asked.

 

“Well, not out loud,” Alex hedged while looking to the floor.

 

“So how do you know that’s what passed between them?” Tom inquired.

 

“Harry and Angie were kinda droppin’ hints and skirtin’ ‘round the whole thing,” Joey began.

 

“But we dug a little deeper and pulled the real story out of him,” Alex concluded.

 

“Guys, you two know you shouldn’t be doing that,” I scolded the pair.  “Especially with people who don’t know about your mental abilities.”

 

“Sorry, Dads, but we’ve never tried shuttin’ it down before,” Alex apologized.

 

“Yeah, we’re not as smart as T.J.,” Joey complained.

 

“Sure you are,” Tom disagreed.  “You just need to try.  Since you two seem to have brought T.J.’s gift to the surface, maybe he can teach you how to exert some control over what you can do.”

 

The two shared a meaningful glance and finally chorused, “Yeah, all right.  We’ll try.”

 

“That’s all we ask for boys, that you at least give it a try.  If it doesn’t work for you like it does for T.J., then you’ve lost nothing but a little bit of time.”

 

We heard the door to the garage slam shut and Ron called out, “Time to set the table, munchkins!”  The crew jumped from their seats and had reached the kitchen before Ron even made it to the living room.  “Looks like they’re a bit hungry,” Ron chuckled as he passed us by.

 

“Uh, what was your first clue?” I asked sarcastically.

 

“The cloud of dust they kicked up in their wake,” he replied before stepping into the dining room and setting the food on the table.  After turning around and waving his hands maniacally to disperse the imaginary dust cloud, he inched his way back towards us and added, “You guys really oughta think about hirin’ somebody to come in and clean this dump every once in a while,” Ron laughed.

 

“Actually thought we’d already done that,” Tom retorted smartly.  “Maybe we should revisit that decision, babe,” he added with a smirk while looking to me.

 

“Oh, most definitely,” I immediately agreed.  “This first clown we hired for the job just doesn’t seem to be holding up his end of our agreement,” I joked.

 

“Oh yeah?” Ron asked half seriously.  “Good luck findin’ somebody else who’d put up with the insanity ‘round this place for more than a day or two,” he added with a hearty guffaw, knowing full well how right he was.

 

“Your job’s safe, buddy,” I commented as Tom and I finally joined the rest of the crew at the table.

 

The seating arrangement tonight was a bit interesting but not altogether unexpected.  I was in my regular seat at one end of the table and Tom was to my left as usual.  Next was Andy, then Joey and Josh.  Eric had taken the seat between his brother and Ron, who was at the far end of the table.  Running back down the other side, there was T.J., Logan, Brent, Alex and finally, Mike on my right. 

 

Despite the feeling I’d always had that this table was way bigger than I would ever need, at this particular moment, it was absolutely perfect and I silently thanked my lucky stars for having it.  And despite the number of kids crowded around the space, it was much quieter than one would normally expect for a group this size.  Of course, the fact we were all stuffing our faces with mass quantities of pizza and breadsticks may have had some impact on the expected noise level.

 

As the boys reached their fill, they began their after-meal cleanup with Josh, Eric and Brent joining in the task.  All three boys had truly become part of the family, whether they lived with us or not.  Once their own messes were taken care of, they disappeared into the theater and left the rest of the cleanup to Tom, Ron and me.

 

“So, have you given any serious thought to the sleeping arrangements tonight?” Tom asked.

 

“I haven’t, but I can guarantee you the boys have it all figured out,” I replied.

 

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Tom agreed.

 

“If they’re gonna be crowded, and it seems like they will be since there’s nine of them and only two beds, if one or two wanted to bunk with me for the night, I’d be willing to share,” Ron offered with a cheeky grin.

 

“Yeah, we just bet you would,” Tom chuckled.

 

“I promise I’d be good,” he offered with sincerity.

 

“It’s not you we’d be worried about, Ron,” I chuckled.  “Well, except for you actually surviving the night.”  All three of us enjoyed a good laugh on that comment.

 

After recovering our more serious sides, Ron lamented, “Well, I better get the rest of these dishes taken care of before I get fired, you know what tyrants my bosses are.  Will one of you take care of the empty boxes?”

 

“I’ll get ‘em,” Tom offered.  “Why don’t you go cue up the next Star Trek disc, babe, and we’ll join you guys for another mini-marathon in a few minutes?”

 

“Sounds like a nice relaxing plan to me guys,” I agreed, aiming myself for the theater as the two got up to take care of their tasks.  The herd was watching Animal Planet when I walked in, but with wholehearted agreement from the assemblage, I located the disc I needed, slipped it into the player and settled in my seat.  While we waited for the other two to join us, I asked, “So, have you guys figured out who’s sleeping where tonight?”

 

“Yeah, we had that settled before we left this morning,” Alex volunteered.

 

“And everyone’s in agreement with their berthing assignments?” I prodded.

 

“Sure, Dad,” Joey replied.  “Why wouldn’t we be?”

 

“No reason, I guess, just making sure.”

 

“The only one who might have a problem is Eric,” Logan commented.

 

“Why’s that?” I asked.

 

“Well, he said he’d sleep with us and Logan so the other four could have the room to themselves,” T.J. replied with a knowing grin.

 

“But if I think we’re gonna be too crowded, I’ll move to the couch,” Eric added.  I was sorely tempted to offer space in our bed to any interested party, but I bit my tongue and choked back the words before the thought could find its voice. 

 

“As long as you guys have it solved to your satisfaction and are happy with the arrangements you’ve made, we’ll stay out of it then.”

 

Tom and Ron finally joined us, and we were able to start tonight’s shows.  As had become our regular routine, after the first two episodes, we took a bathroom break, then arranged snacks and drinks for everyone before returning to the theater for the third show of the night.  With the exception of a few hushed giggles between Brent and Alex, along with Joey and Josh sharing similar snickers between themselves, the crew maintained their normal quiet and attentive demeanor throughout the evening.  On ending the third episode for the night, the boys knew what was coming next and with no prompting from us, they headed across the house to hop in their showers.  All except for Mike who was waiting patiently in the kitchen.

 

“What’s up, kiddo,” I asked as Tom, Ron and I ambled in to drop our own things in the dishwasher.

 

“Well, I thought I should maybe get help with gettin’ cleaned up again tonight,” he replied with a crooked smirk.

 

“Is this gonna become a regular habit?” Tom asked.

 

“Nah, I’ll probably go back to showerin’ with T.J. and Andy tomorrow night, but I’ve had so much fun with you guys the last two, I thought I’d try for one more go ‘round.”

 

“Well, who’s gonna be your assistant tonight, me or Pops?  Or you want both of us?” I asked.

 

“Naw, you guys already had your turns.  I thought Ron might want to help me this time,” he answered.  The tone of voice Mike used was quite innocent, but the big smile on his face sure wasn’t.

 

“Really?” Ron asked with surprise.  “You sure ‘bout that, dudelet?”

 

“Yeah, I’m sure or I wouldn’t’ve asked, ya goofball,” Mike giggled.  The little guy reached out his right hand, snagged Ron’s left in a firm grip and as he dragged the confused young man through the house, added, “C’mon, dude, we ain’t got all night.”  Ron turned his head and shot us a look of surprise over his shoulder that fairly screamed ‘help me’, but Tom and I simply grinned back at the duo and we both gave him a thumbs up and a nod as he was led away to an unknown fate.

 

“Have fun, guys,” I volunteered.

 

“Don’t do anything we wouldn’t do,” Tom added with a chortle.

 

As we strolled across the living room to settle into our chairs and read before checking in on the boys, I asked, “You think he’ll survive it?”

 

“We came through relatively unscathed, I’m pretty sure Ron can handle it,” Tom replied with a snicker.  When the two of us realized the inadvertent pun Tom had created with his word choice, we both cracked up.  Once our conniptions of hilarity were back under control, we picked up our books and dove in.

 

 

“C’mon, dude, hurry the heck up,” I complained to Ron as he was still resisting my lead.

 

“I ain’t too sure ‘bout this, buddy,” Ron replied with worry.

 

“Oh, don’t be such a big chicken,” I retorted.  “It ain’t like I’m gonna jump your bones.  Or even your boner,” I added with a giggle.

 

“But I don’t have a boner,” he complained.

 

“Not yet, but you pro’lly will ‘fore it’s all over,” I snickered as we finally reached his room and I pulled him into the bathroom.  “Go ahead and turn on the shower, dude.  I gotta take a piss,” I said as I stepped up to the toilet.

 

“You don’t just pee in the shower?” he asked.

 

“Yuck, that’s gross, man,” I hissed.

 

“No it’s not, Mike.  Think about it, dudelet, you’ve got warm water runnin’ everything right down the drain.  Besides, all guys do it.”

 

“Well, I don’t,” I replied as the waterworks started.

 

“You must have better control than I do, then.  Once the water hits me, I can’t help it.”

 

“Then get your butt in there and take care of it.  I don’t want you pissin’ all over me,” I retorted as I turned to face Ron and scrunched my face in disgust.

 

“Yo!” Ron yelled from inside the shower where he was adjusting the water temperature.  “Watch where you’re aimin’ that thing, keep it pointed at the bowl.”

 

“Sorry, man, my bad,” I yelled back as I looked back down and made a minor adjustment so the stream exiting my body was splashing lightly into the bowl below me.  When I was finally drained, I flushed the toilet and grabbed a towel from beside the sink to wipe up the little mess I’d made on the floor.  That done, I dropped the towel in the hamper, then turned towards the shower and asked, “You done bein’ nasty in there?”

 

“Yeah, it’s safe, kiddo.  Get in here and let’s get you ready for bed.”

 

I joined Ron in the shower and closed the glass door behind me before climbing up on the bench built into the wall away from where the water came through the wall.  Ron grabbed the showerhead on the hose and stepped closer before turning the spray on me. 

 

“Don’t forget ya gotta keep my butt dry,” I reminded him quickly.

 

“I got this, Mike, don’t worry” he replied.

 

He started soaking me by aiming the water straight into my face and running it down the front of my body, right over my tiny two-inch wiener that was already stiff with anticipation.  After setting the showerhead on the bench and making sure it was pointed away from us, Ron grabbed the bottle of body wash and squirted a line of the stuff from my shoulders to my toes.  He set the bottle on the bench next to the sprayer and started working the soap into my shoulders with his bare hands.

 

As he moved lower and lower over my chest and belly, I was practically vibrating with expectation when his soft, slick hands reached my waist.  I got really bummed out when he moved down to my feet and started working his way back up.  But, since Dad and Pops has done the same thing the last two nights, I was still anxiously waiting for his hands to reach my hard wiener to see what surprise he might have in store for me.  When he finally reached my crotch, he sure had a surprise for me, just not the one I was silently begging for.  He took two quick swipes over my aching dick and snug ball-sack before standing up straight and grabbing the hose from the bench. 

 

He quickly rinsed me off and when he reached my feet with the sprayer, looked up at me and said, “Done on the front, buddy.  Turn around.”

 

With a tight pout on my face, I did as he instructed and the sprayer was immediately aimed at my back, spraying from right to left across my shoulders to try to keep water off my aching butt.  As he moved down my back, he shifted the showerhead to the center of my ass, then back to the right as he continued on down my legs.  After setting the sprayer down on the bench again, he poured more body wash into his hands, then started working at my shoulders and quickly moved downward.

 

When he reached my behind, one hand slipped in my crack and I felt his fingertips brush my hole as he kept moving southward.  That was it as he didn’t stop moving on down to my legs, finally reaching my feet.  Grabbing the showerhead again, he rinsed my back from top to bottom, shifting the spray to the left again as it went over my ass.  As he put the hose back in its holder by the regular showerhead, I turned around and pushed my hips forward, straining to get Ron to give me some of the special attention I was craving.

 

He turned off the water, opened the shower door and grabbed a towel.  Stepping back to me, he started drying me off.  He ran the towel over my front side barley lingering over my hard as steel boner before turning me around and drying my backside, taking special care to only pat the big scab on my ass.  Done with me, he made quick work of drying himself and draped the towel over the glass door.  I was not a happy camper.

 

“All done, buddy.  Scoot on outta here and crawl into bed, okay?” Ron said.

 

“That’s it!?” I asked indignantly.  “But I still got a boner, man.  You gotta fix that.”

 

“No, I don’t,” Ron retorted.  “You let your brothers take care of it for you.”

 

“But I thought …,” I started before he interrupted.

 

“You thought wrong, Mike.  Sorry.”

 

“But why won’t you do it?”

 

“Because, while I thought I might have been ready for that, I realize I still need to think about it.  Again, I’m really sorry this didn’t go the way you thought it would.  Give me a little more time to wrap my head around the idea of playing with you little guys like that and we’ll see what happens.”  He wrapped me in real squeezy hug and kissed the top of my head before whispering, “I love all you guys and I don’t ever want you to think I don’t, Mike.  Just be patient with me, okay?”

 

“Yeah, okay, Ron.  Sorry if was too pushy,” I offered lamely, still disappointed I didn’t get rise out him.

 

“We’re all good, buddy.  Now, let’s get a move on,” he added as he picked me up off the bench and set me down on the rug outside the shower.  As the two of us went our separate ways in the hallway, Ron offered a lame, “Sleep tight, Mike, don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

 

“Whatever,” I grumped as I headed for my room, stiff and lonely little pecker pointing the way, and he strolled off towards the living room.

 

 

Ron joined us in the living room and flopped heavily onto the loveseat, a look of total exasperation filling his face.

 

“What’s up, Ron?” Tom asked.

 

“I think I just pissed off Mike,” he answered with a frown.

 

“What’d you do?” I asked with a slightly accusing tone.

 

“Not a damn thing, man,” Ron protested.  “Even though he made it pretty obvious he was waiting for me to do something, I just got him cleaned up and sent him on his way.”

 

“Yep, that probably upset him,” Tom snickered.  “Why didn’t you have a little fun?  We thought you’d come to terms with the problem.”

 

“Well yeah, I did, too.  I guess I’m just second-guessing myself.  For some reason I can’t quite explain, when it was time to wash his privates, I just couldn’t shake the idea that what I was thinking about doing was wrong.  So, like the idiot I am I just gave him a quick swipe and moved on.”

 

“Well, if you’d just brushed aside my hard dick, I’d probably be pissed at you, too,” I chuckled.

 

“Oh, don’t get me wrong, guys.  I’ve thought about it a lot the past few days, had convinced myself that if the little buggers wanted it, I’d be more than happy to oblige their whims.  But when I had the opportunity to actually do it, had Mike’s hard little pecker right where I thought I wanted it, I just couldn’t make my hand wrap itself around the spike that was vibrating under my palm.”

 

“You’ll get over your hesitation in due time,” I offered.  “I give ‘im a week before he caves, hon.  What say you?” I asked as I turned to face Tom.

 

“He won’t last anywhere near that long,” Tom retorted.  “Four, five days tops, before he lets the rugrats have their way with him,” he added with a laugh.

 

“Four days, huh?  I’ll take that bet,” I giggled.

 

“Okay, you guys are just bein’ mean, now.  I think I’ll go to bed,” Ron vented with frustration.

 

“See you in the mornin’, buddy,” I offered.  “Sweet dreams.”

 

“Get some good sleep, Ron, we’ve got a busy day tomorrow,” Tom added as Ron levered himself into an upright position and turned for his bedroom.

 

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” he grumbled as he disappeared down the hallway.

 

When we heard his door close, I turned to Tom again and asked, “You really think he’s gonna get a bit of sleep tonight?  You do know what’s gonna be happenin’ in the two rooms he’s between, right?”

 

“Sure, I do,” Tom answered.  “I’d be surprised if the four in the first bedroom aren’t already having howling monkey sex.  And I’m sure the other five will be going after it with wild abandon now that Mike’s joined the party in that room.”

 

“Be surprised if they weren’t,” I laughed in agreement.  “Think we should say our good nights before they all get too carried away?”

 

“We can sure try, but I bet we’re way too late,” Tom chuckled.

 

After marking our places and leaving our books on the table, we headed off to make our nightly bed checks.  When we reached Joey and Alex’s room, we hesitated for just a moment.  The noises we heard escaping from inside the room were nothing less than unbridled passion and we could practically smell the raw sex oozing through the closed door.  I was just about to knock when Tom reached over and grabbed my hand.

 

“What?” I asked as I turned to face him.

 

“Um, maybe we should just skip our regular visits tonight,” he offered quietly.

 

“But we always say good night and make sure everybody’s tucked in,” I retorted.

 

“Yeah, I know, but would you want them interrupting us in the middle of an intimate moment?”

 

“Well, they’ve done it to us before,” I countered.  “I don’t see why we can’t return the favor.”

 

“And we’ve done it to them, too, babe.  Just not with their boyfriends.  I think they’d much rather keep what’s happening right now between the four of them, don’t you?  C’mon, let’s go to bed and leave them be.”

 

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” I finally agreed, though with hesitation.  As Tom pulled my hand into his and we made the turn to the other end of the house, I realized we’d both developed erections as we contemplated the shenanigans the foursome were up to behind that closed door.  Whatever it was, it couldn’t be that much different from our own sexual explorations that kept the two of us entertained and intertwined for the next hour or so.  Physically exhausted but sufficiently sated, we stumbled into the shower to clean up and then fell back into bed where we both fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.

 

 

I lay there for about fifteen minutes after Logan, T.J., Mike and Andy had all fallen asleep before I realized I wasn’t ready to join them in the dreamworld just yet.  I carefully slipped out of bed so I wouldn’t wake any of them and padded silently to the bathroom to take a quick leak before venturing out into the silent hallway.  As I headed for the kitchen, I noticed a light peeking out from the bottom of one of the other doors and knew someone else was still awake.  My mind raced as I drew closer and closer to the wooden slab and I surprised myself when I actually stopped and rapped lightly on it. 

 

I heard what sounded like some quick shuffling taking place inside before a simple but nervous, “Yeah?” slipped under the door with the light.

 

“Ps-s-s-st, Ron, it’s Eric.  Can I come in?” I asked.

 

“I guess,” he replied with a bit of an edge to his voice.

 

I pushed the door open, stepped inside and quietly closed the door behind me.  “Sorry to bug ya, man, but I can’t sleep, either,” I offered in the way of an apology as I crossed the room to sit on the edge of Ron’s bed.  “Hope I didn’t interrupt nothin’ important,” I quietly added as I looked down to the floor and away from the sheet covering his raised legs.

 

“No big deal, Eric.  What’s up, can’t sleep in a strange place?”

 

“Well, not really.  I mean, it’s never been a problem for me before.  Guess it’s just too early.”

 

“I’m with ya, dude.  ‘Sides, that shower with little Mikey has me really thinkin’ about some things.”

 

“Really?  Like what?” I pried.

 

“Like whether or not it’s right to think about doin’ certain things with ‘em,” Ron answered morosely.

 

“Dude, we already talked ‘bout this, ‘member?” I retorted with a chuckle.

 

“Yeah, I know, Eric, but it somehow seems different to think about doing those things with you than it does with them,” he replied with a tight grin.

 

“Why would it be any different?” I asked seriously.  “I’m not that much older than they are, ya know.  I’m still jailbait to an old fart like you,” I added with a laugh.

 

“Maybe, but at least you got some development goin’ on down there that puts you closer to a bein’ a man than a little kid.  For some stupid reason, I feel like doin’ anything with the others would be like molesting a baby.”

 

“But they aren’t babies, Ron.  Sure, they’re younger, but they know who they like and what they want.  Like I told you before, if they’re okay with it and ask you to have some fun, there’s no reason in the world you shouldn’t take ‘em up on the offer.  ‘Specially if Max and Tom have said it’s okay with them.”

 

“Well, they did, ya know.  And I thought I was cool with it, but I guess I’m not.”

 

“You’ll get there ‘ventually, dude.  Bein’ ‘round those six hot and horny little fuckers, they’ll wear you down at some point,” I giggled.

 

“You’re pretty hot, too, kiddo,” Ron muttered quietly.

 

“Thanks, man,” I blushed.  “Hey, would you be willing to do me a big favor?” I asked.

 

“Depends on what it is?” he answered with some serious hesitation.

 

“Well, I can’t ask dad for help since he obviously doesn’t do it, and askin’ Josh would be a complete waste of time since he’s not old enough yet.  I thought about askin’ Max, but with him bein’ so old, I thought he might feel a little weird about guidin’ me, even though he did give me a hands-on tutorial on how to spank the monkey.  That brings me to askin’ you for some assistance.”

 

“Okay, I’m intrigued, but you still haven’t told me what you want,” he replied with caution.

 

“Would you teach me how to shave?” I asked while looking directly into his eyes so he’d know I was serious.

 

“What, you wanna get rid of that wispy little caterpillar on your upper lip?”

 

“Well, yeah, that too, I guess.”

 

“Wait, what d’ya mean by ‘too’?” Ron asked with surprise.

 

“I was really askin’ ‘bout shavin’ these wispies,” I replied as I spread my legs and ran my fingertips through my slightly furry pubic patch.  “My pits, too,” I added as I raised my hands over my head to expose the meager growth under my arms.  Ron’s eyes flew wide open in disbelief.  Or maybe it was terror, I’m not quite sure how to properly gauge his response.  “Oh, c’mon, you obviously know how to do it.  Help a young pup out, will ya?”

 

“I don’t know, man,” he hesitated.  “Won’t the other guys at school think you’re a freak when you take your showers after P.E.?”

 

“Yeah, right, like anybody takes a shower at school any longer,” I scoffed.  “Too many prudish parents stopped that a long time ago, afraid their kid might get raped in the locker room or some other stupid shit.  I really wanna do it but I’m afraid I’ll screw up and cut my dick off.” 

 

Ron suffered through a little giggle fit before replying with, “Well, that’s always a possibility if you’re usin’ a straight razor, I guess, but not much of a risk with a regular razor.  Yeah, c’mon, Eric, let’s do this,” he finally gave in as he threw the sheet off his lower body and exposed his stiff cock to me.

 

“Oh shit, I really did interrupt somethin’, didn’t I?” I asked nervously.

 

“No biggie, dude.  Besides, maybe you’d be willin’ to help me finish off what I started,” he offered as he grabbed my hand and started pulling me towards his bathroom.

 

“I’m up for it if you are,” I giggled anxiously.

 

“Yeah, I can see that,” Ron retorted with a giggle of his own.  “Oh, this is gonna be some serious fun,” he added as he stepped into his shower and turned on the water.

 

 

When Tom and I woke up Wednesday morning, I was surprised we didn’t have an audience staring us down already.  With it being T.J.’s birthday, I’d have almost bet there’d be at least one kid anxiously champing at the bit to get the day started.  I was happy we were all alone, though, as that meant Alex and Joey could now return the birthday morning wakeup call the other monsters had given them.  After a quick stop in the bathroom, we left the bedroom to get the munchkins moving.  Passing by the kitchen, we found Ron was already awake and working on our morning meal.

 

“Mornin’, Ron,” Tom greeted as we stepped in and helped ourselves to a cup of coffee before moving on.

 

“Mornin’, guys,” Ron replied.  “Sleep well?”

 

“Like rocks, man.  How ‘bout you?  And are you ready for the busy day ahead?” I asked.

 

“Yes, and as much as I can be,” Ron replied.

 

“Glad at least one of is,” Tom grumbled sourly.  “We’re about to wake the boys, how soon for breakfast?”

 

“ ‘Bout ten or fifteen minutes.  Plenty of time for them to wake up and hit the bathroom,” Ron answered before adding, “Oh, and give Eric a bit before you try to roust him out of bed.”

 

“Oh, why’s that?” I asked with curiosity.

 

“Well, he, um, and, uh, I had, er, a bit of a late night,” Ron sputtered with a crooked smirk.

 

“So, he ended up in your bed for the night?” Tom quizzed the embarrassed young man.

 

“Yeah, he did.  Hope that’s not a problem with you two,” Ron retorted defensively.

 

“Not a bit, buddy,” I answered calmly.  “Like we told you before, Eric writes his own rules, even in this house.  I guess my only question is this; did you two have fun?”

 

“More than should be allowed,” Ron answered quite happily.

 

“That’s the way it should be,” Tom agreed while giving Ron a solid pat on his shoulder.  “C’mon, babe, let’s go roust the rest of the crew,” he added as he turned for the other end of the house.  I followed along and we were soon standing outside Alex and Joey’s bedroom.  “Should we knock or just go on in?” he asked.

 

“I usually never knock in the morning, but given the circumstances, they’d probably like a little advanced warning before we just barge in.”  That said, Tom gave the door a solid rap before turning the knob and pushing open the door.  The quadruple pretzel that greeted us this morning was nothing short of complete eroticism.  Arms, legs and torsos were entangled across the bed and the covers were kicked to the floor as usual.  And while all four munchkins were still sound asleep, we could make a pretty good guess as to the type of dreams they were currently enjoying. 

 

In the midst of the tangle mass of flesh covering the mattress, four prepubescent penises were standing proud and reaching for the ceiling, their owners completely unaware of the compromising positions they were in.  While I’d seen Brent up close and very personal on Alex and Joey’s birthday, this was the first time I’d really had a chance to pay attention to young Josh in this state.  The youngster was just a bit smaller than his older brother at about four and a half inches long, cut, of course, and, on closer inspection, not a hair to be found.  Pretty decent size for an eleven-year-old kid, but Brent was no slouch in that department as his four inches would surely put any other nine-year-old boy to shame.  Well, except for maybe Alex and Joey who were super proud their three-inch peckers were the biggest of the kids who actually lived here and they already knew that size doesn’t matter.

 

“So, how do we want to handle this,” I asked quietly while gazing longingly at the display before us.

 

“I think ‘handle’ is the perfect word to use to describe how I’d like to wake them up,” Tom grinned evilly. 

 

I looked at my honey, raised an eyebrow in question and after a quick nod, I shrugged my shoulders and whispered, “I’m in.  How about you take Brent and Alex on the other side of the bed and I’ll wake Josh and Joey?”

 

“Deal, babe,” Tom happily agreed as he moved around the foot of the bed and gently sat on the edge of the mattress.

 

As we each wrapped our hands around the trembling tumescent tools, eight eyes snapped wide open so fast you could almost feel the breeze they’d stirred to life.  All four moaned with intense delight at being woken in this manner.  As if to reinforce the fact the dreams they’d been enjoying were suddenly real, the quartet was soon quivering as one as they succumbed to their feelings and were quickly enveloped in the throes of ecstasy.  As soon as the boys returned to earth, there was a mad scramble for the bathroom so they could drain their bladders. 

 

While Tom and I waited patiently for their return, I felt obliged to use my tongue to clean up the miniscule deposit of clear fluid that had escaped Josh’s underdeveloped testes and landed on the web between my thumb and forefinger.  If the rest of him tasted as sweet as that treat, it would be a meal I’d truly enjoy devouring.  With their bathroom needs dealt with, they soon rejoined us and all four gave us a quick a hug and thank you for their wakeup call.

 

“You get T.J. up, yet?” Alex asked.

 

“Nope, we thought you guys would like that honor this morning,” I replied.

 

“After what they did to us on our birthday, you bet your sweet ass we do,” Joey agreed.

 

“What was that,” Brent asked.

 

“Dad turned ‘em loose on us first thing in the mornin’,” Alex replied.

 

“Yeah, I still don’t know how we survived the attack,” Joey added with a giggle.

 

“Well, time for you to get even,” Tom commented as he led the way out the door and down the hallway to where four unsuspecting rugrats still slept.  As soon as Tom opened the door, the four wild ones charged into the room, jumped on the bed and started dancing around as if their lives depended on how much mayhem they could cause.  By the time Logan, Andy and Mike had joined the feverish dance party, poor T.J. didn’t stand a chance.  Tom and I are still amazed the melee ended without requiring a trip to the emergency room to set a broken bone or two.

 

Tom finally called an end to the festivities when he called out, “Okay, you monsters, time to break it up and go help Ron get ready for breakfast!”  Joey, Josh, Brent and Alex left the room at a run, laughing all the way, while Logan, Mike and Andy hit the bathroom before making themselves scarce as well, giggling madly at T.J.’s misfortunes.

 

“Are those whack-jobs finally gone?” T.J. whimpered from under the blankets where he’d curled into a ball for protection.

 

“Yes, it’s safe to come out, T.J.,’ I replied.

 

“Good,” he retorted as he threw off the covers and jumped off the bed.  “I gotta piss, and like, right now.  Get the heck outta my way, you goofballs.”  As Tom and I separated, T.J. squeezed between us and darted for the open doorway.  As the sound of trickling water reached our ears, we also heard an audible sigh of relief from the young man as he emptied his bladder.  After flushing the toilet and washing his face and hands, T.J. rejoined and greeted us with a bright smile and cheerful, “Mornin’, Dads!”

 

“Good morning to you, too buddy,” I replied as I gave him a hug and kissed the top of his head.  “And happy birthday, too,” I added before handing him off to Tom.

 

“Happy birthday, T.J.  I love you, little man,” Tom offered during his hug with our now eight-year-old son.

 

“I love you guys, too,” T.J. replied as he climbed on the bed and sat between us.  “But let me tell you right now, you better hide on your birthdays if you know what’s good for you,” he added with a sweet giggle.  Tom and I joined him as we remembered how Alex had threatened retaliation for his and Joey’s rude awakening, as well.

 

“Oh, we’ll be ready for it,” I commented.

 

“Good,” T.J. retorted.  “I don’t want to sound greedy, but I hope I get the same special birthday present you guys gave to Joey and Alex.”

 

“I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about, T.J.,” I responded innocently.

 

“Like heck you don’t!” he protested loudly.  “I picked up what was goin’ on ‘tween the four of you the moment it started.  And I want the same ‘gift’ for my big day,” T.J. demanded.

 

“We’ll see what we can do, T.J.,” Tom agreed.

 

“Hey, and maybe Logan can join us, too, so he can finally get a turn with you guys.  You know how much he wants to do it at least once,” T.J. volunteered.

 

“We’ll think about it, buddy,” I replied noncommittally, unsure as to whether Logan was really interested in such a thing happening despite bringing it up a few times.  That would be a discussion to be had later.  “Well, you ready to get your day started?” I asked as I stood up.

 

“You bet!” T.J. agreed enthusiastically as he and Tom joined me on the floor.  “Let’s go!” he added as he charged out of the room, enthusiasm and excitement leaking from every pore.

 

As we followed behind, Tom asked, “You sure about Logan joining the three of us later?”

 

“Only if he truly wants to,” I replied.  “I know he’s brought it up a couple of times before, but I always assumed he was probably joking about it since I’m pretty sure he’s straight as an arrow.  All we can do is ask and see what he says.”

 

“Sounds fair to me,” Tom concurred.  “I’d hate to shut him out of the fun if he’s serious.”

 

“Me too,” I agreed as we reached the dining room to find all the food on the table and the rest of the crew diving into their meals.

 

Tom and I joined the crowd and soon had our plates filled with waffles, eggs, sausage and bacon.  Tons of praise were being heaped on Ron for the delicious food from all of us and he blushed lightly at the compliments.  It took me longer than it should have, but I finally realized we were short one person.

 

“Um, where’s Eric,” I asked.  The boys all laughed out loud at my question.

 

“I tried, guys,” Ron answered, “but he just wasn’t ready to get up.”  The snorts of laughter that quickly filled the room on that statement drowned out any possible response.

 

“He does know he’s missing breakfast, doesn’t he?” Tom inquired when things had calmed back down.

 

“I’ve got some saved back for him and it’s in the oven to keep warm,” Ron answered.

 

“I’m sure you’ll take good care of our guest,” I offered.

 

“I think he already did that last night,” Josh snorted loudly.  While the herd cracked up on that comment, Ron aimed his face at his plate and turned pink with embarrassment.

 

“Boys, that’s enough,” Tom admonished the group and they suddenly became very quiet.  “Would you like to talk about what was going on in your room last night Alex?” he asked pointedly.

 

“Um, not really,” Alex answered as he joined Ron in turning pink.

 

“How about you Joey?”

 

“Nope, ain’t goin’ there, Dads,” Joey replied as he ducked the question, too.

 

“Then leave Ron alone,” Tom reiterated.  “If you’re going to pry into anybody else’s private activities, you can be sure the others will stick their noses into yours.”

 

“Any one of y’all can stick your nose in my business.  I wouldn’t mind it a bit,” Brent snickered, drawing another loud gale of laughter from all of us, even Ron.

 

A very tired looking Eric suddenly appeared, still wiping the sleep from his eyes and he greeted us with, “Geez, think you guys could make any more noise?” before slumping into the empty chair next to Ron.  Ron quickly disappeared into the kitchen to retrieve the plate he’d saved for the young man.

 

Just as the Eric’s waist slipped out of sight below the top of the table, I noticed the physical change from before he went to bed last night and caught Tom’s attention.  After he turned to face me, I mouthed, ‘he’s shaved’.  At first Tom didn’t seem to register my meaning, but enlightenment slowly dawned on him and he shot me a knowing grin.  Ron returned soon enough with Eric’s breakfast and set the plate in front him so he could dig in.  I thought nobody else caught the lack of Eric’s body hair until Josh quickly and rudely disabused of me that notion.

 

“Yo, bro, where the fuck’s your hair?” Josh asked with a smirk.

 

“On top of my head, you obnoxious little dweeb,” Eric retorted angrily.

 

“Hey, you can’t say that!” Alex yelled as he pointed to Josh.

 

“What?” Josh asked.

 

“The f-word, dude,” Joey chimed.  “I warned you ‘bout that, man.”

 

“Oh yeah, sorry, guys.  I forgot,” Josh apologized.  He then turned to us and offered a sincere, “I’m really sorry, Mr. Wright, Mr. Sanders.”

 

“We’ll let it slide this time, young man,” Tom replied, “but try to get a tighter rein on your words, please,” he added in all seriousness.

 

“I will, promise,” Josh agreed.  He then turned back to Eric and continued his interrogation.  “That’s not the hair I’m talkin’ ‘bout and you know it, ya jerk.”

 

“Oh, that,” Eric grinned.

 

“Yeah, that!” Josh retorted.

 

“What’re you goin’ on about?” T.J. asked in confusion.  “I don’t see nothin’ any different.”  Eric grinned widely, silently thanking T.J. for his meager assistance.

 

“I dare ya to stand up, bro,” Josh challenged Eric who’s smile faded just as quickly as it had developed.

 

Resigned to his fate, Eric slowly stood up, raised his hands high above his head and performed a little pirouette to show off his new appearance.  Appreciative whistles and a few catcalls from the herd echoed around the room before he took his seat again and returned to his breakfast.

 

After stuffing another bite of waffle into his mouth, Eric mumbled, “Happy, butthead?”

 

“Yeah, I think it looks cool, bro.  I’m just surprised you’d do it.”

 

“Why?” Eric asked.

 

“Well, you were pretty proud of those hairs around your di…, uh, penis and in your pits even if you didn’t show them off too much the past few months until after our first time comin’ over here.  I can’t wait ‘til mine starts growin’,” Josh added with a little smile.

 

“Yeah, well, I just thought I’d try it and see if I like bein’ hairless like you again.  I like the way it looks on Max and Ron, but I ain’t too sure ‘bout how it looks on me.”

 

“I think you look hot,” T.J. grinned.  “I mean, you were already smokin’, but you’re on fire now, dude.”  Eric blushed mightily on T.J.’s compliments, but nobody contradicted the munchkin, either.

 

“He’s right, Eric,” Ron admitted.  “And I was happy to be the one to help you.”

 

“Did you shave everywhere, dude?” Andy asked.

 

“Yep,” Eric replied proudly.  “The only hair left on me right now is on the top o’ my head.”

 

“Are you gonna keep doin’ it?” Mike asked.

 

“Haven’t decided yet,” Eric admitted.  “Guess it depends on if I can find someone who’ll help me with a few hard to reach places.”

 

“Like where?” Logan asked.

 

“Well, my back and butt, of course.  I can get everywhere else just fine, but my arms just don’t bend the way they need to reach those two spots.  My eyes don’t either,” he added with a quick laugh.

 

“I’ll help ya, bro,” Josh immediately offered.

 

“I will, too,” Ron grinned.  “Especially when it comes to your cute butt,” Ron added while licking his lips.

 

“Guys, I think it’s time for us to get busy and prepare for the party that’s coming up really quickly,” I interjected into the conversation.  “How about you get started with your part of the meal cleanup and we’ll move on from there?”

 

“Sure thing, Dad,” Joey agreed.  “C’mon guys, let’s hop to it.” 

 

On that note, the herd jumped up from their chairs and started carrying plates into the kitchen.  All of them except for T.J., of course.  Following the precedent that had been set on the twins’ birthday, T.J. was exempt from any and all chores for the day.  When Mike came back into the dining room to grab T.J.’s plate, Ron called him over to have a little chat.  When Mike rounded the corner of the table with a frown on his face, Ron picked him up and set him on his leg before draping one arm around his shoulders and resting the other on Mike’s thigh, his fingers tracing little circles on the pale skin.

 

“Uh, listen, dudelet, about our shower last night,” Ron began.

 

“Yeah, what about it?” Mike retorted testily.

 

“I wanna say I’m sorry it didn’t go quite the way you hoped it would.”  Mike’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree on that and his demeanor made a drastic U-turn before Ron continued.  “If you’ll give me another chance, I’d like to make it up to you.”

 

“When?” Mike asked anxiously.

 

“Anytime you want, buddy.”

 

“Like, right now?”

 

After Ron stopped laughing at the youngster’s eagerness, he answered, “No, not right now, ya horny little rugrat.  We’ve got a party to get ready for, remember?”

 

“Then tonight, okay?” Mike prodded eagerly.

 

“Yeah, we can probably arrange that,” Ron agreed.

 

“Thanks, dude.  You better not let me down again,” Mike threatened seriously.

 

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Ron agreed.  “Now, get back to work,” he added as he set Mike back on the floor and gave the uninjured side of his butt a light swat.  Mike scampered off after grabbing T.J.’s plate and T.J. followed along to sit at the bar and watch the others do all the work.

 

When it was down to just the three of us still at the table, Tom quietly asked, “What brought about this sudden change in attitude?”

 

“Eric, man.  It’s all his fault,” Ron whispered.

 

“How so?” I asked with interest, though I was fairly sure I already knew the answer.

 

“Well, after showing him how to shave last night and providing a fair amount of hands-on assistance, neither one of us was really ready for sleep and what can I say?  One thing led to another which led to even more.  Suffice it to say that you two were on the money when you said that kid’s got a sweet ass.  In more ways than one,” he added with a lascivious smile.  “Fuckin’ insatiable, too,” he added while still whispering.

 

“Thanks, Ron,” Eric giggled as he led the parade out of the kitchen.  “I had lots of fun, too, man.”

 

I leaned over to Tom and whispered, “Sounds like we both lost that bet.”  Tom tried but failed miserably at reining in his snort of laughter.

 

“What’s next, Dads?” T.J. prompted.

 

“Why don’t you guys attack your bedrooms really quick and get that out of the way?” I suggested.  “Eric, Brent, Josh, would you mind grabbing all the towels from around the house and taking them to the laundry room.  We’ll get them going as soon as you have ‘em there.  Oh, and bring clean ones back out and drop them on the furniture as you pass back through.  Thanks.”

 

“We got our assignments, dudes!” Joey called out.  “Time to get busy.”  Our six headed for their rooms to give them a quick once-over while the other three turned for the theater to start retrieving towels.  Ron aimed himself for the kitchen to finish the work that needed to be done there and to make sure it was ready for Justine and her crew.  As for Tom and me, we headed for the living room to take care of the minimal cleanup needed to make the space presentable.

 

Just as we were about to finish tidying up the area, the drive sensor announced someone pulling into the drive.  Assuming it was just Dylan arriving to deal with some work before the party, we thought nothing of it and continued what we were doing.  It wasn’t until the doorbell rang a couple of minutes later that we came to understand whoever was here wasn’t someone we were expecting.  We both shared a nervous glance and as we were about to turn for the door, all the boys rejoined us.

 

“Is that Uncle Dylan,” T.J. asked excitedly.

 

“I don’t think so guys,” Tom answered.  “He doesn’t usually ring the bell, does he?”

 

“Oh, right.  So who is it?” Alex asked.

 

“Can’t be any of T.J.’s friends,” Joey volunteered.

 

“Yeah, way too early for any o’ them to be showin’ up,” Logan agreed.

 

“You guys duck down the hallway and we’ll find out,” I said.  “If we yell ‘shorts’, hit your rooms and get covered up.”  The herd backed up a few feet and while they craned their necks around the corner to keep an eye on things, I headed for the front door, staying as far away as possible from the glass on the left side.  Just before reaching the door, I caught a glimpse of Ron peeking out of the kitchen to see if he’d have to run for cover as well.

 

I nervously inched my head towards the window and when I could see the porch, I discovered a group of five or six people I didn’t know waiting to be allowed inside.  I was just about call out for everyone to get dressed when a familiar face suddenly appeared on the other side of the invisible barrier between us, big grin on his face and eyes filled with mirth at the potentially awkward situation he’d created by showing up unannounced.  Though I was somewhat surprised we’d forgotten he was coming today, I breathed a huge sigh of relief on knowing our guest and stood up straight to open the door.

 

“It’s okay, everyone, it’s LeVar and his group,” I called out.  Loud cheers of excitement rang through the house and threatened to shatter the glass of all the windows.  I could feel the wave of relief that washed over everyone as Tom and the boys joined me at the door.  When I finally opened it and welcomed our guests inside with a wave of my hand, LeVar and two of his group stepped over the threshold as if it wasn’t all that unusual to be greeted by eleven people who weren’t dressed.

 

LeVar turned back to the two who were still standing outside, hesitant to join their compatriots and gawking at the spectacle before them, and commented, “C’mon, people.  I told you what to expect before we left L.A. and gave you the chance to back out of coming with me.  You all said you wouldn’t have a problem with the lack of dress code around here, so hop to it.”  He then turned back to us and greeted us like we are all family.

 

“Max, Tom, good to see you guys again.  You, too, boys,” he added with a warm smile as he faced the munchkins surrounding him.  Levar introduced his co-workers, Rex, Greg, Stuart and Michelle, to us and all the adults shared quick handshakes with each other while the boys would settle for nothing less than their regular hugs, even with the four new individuals.  And despite some initial hesitation from two of those four, they still accepted the hugs from all nine of the boys.  When LeVar reached the end of the line and it was Logan’s turn, he knelt to his knees and pulled the young man into an affectionate and caring squeeze.

 

When they finally separated a minute later, LeVar looked into Logan’ eyes and quietly asked, “How’re you doing, Logan?  I’ve been really worried about you and how you’re handling yourself.”

 

“I guess I’m doin’ al’right most days, Mr. Burton.  Still miss my daddy bunches, but least I get to stay here with my new dads and brothers,” Logan replied with a mixture of sadness and glee.

 

“I’m happy to hear that, young man.  I thought maybe you’d end up having to move away from your friends to live with somebody else.”

 

“Well, I was s’posed to go live with that lowlife dirtbag uncle of mine, but I done fixed that god-awful nonsense real quick-like.  ‘Course, now I gots to go to court on Friday ‘cause a what I did to that loser, but my new Dads and lawyer keep sayin’ it’ll all turn out just fine.”

 

“I’m sure they’re right, buddy,” LeVar replied as he looked to Tom and me with a questioning look.  I mouthed ‘later’ to LeVar and after a quick nod, he returned his attention to Logan and continued.  “You just let them take care of you and I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

 

“I am,” Logan agreed.

 

On that note, LeVar stood back up and asked, “Okay, we’ve met everyone but Ron.  Where’s he hidin’?”

 

“In the kitchen last time I saw him,” I answered.  “Boys, get back to your tasks, please.  We still have to get ready for a party, remember?”  As the herd disappeared down the hallway to return to their rooms, I added, “C’mon, LeVar, let’s see if we can locate the elusive Ron,” turning towards the kitchen with the rest of the adults falling in line behind me.  On entering the area, we found Ron still cleaning a couple of dishes at the sink.  I have to say we were surprised to find he was wearing an apron and Tom and I couldn’t control our burst of laughter when he finally turned to face us.  LeVar and the others joined us in our mirth.

 

“Nice, uh, accessorizing, Ron,” Tom finally managed to spit out when he’d regained control of his senses.

 

“Laugh it up, fuzzball,” Ron retorted.  “Who’s that?” he asked pointedly while aiming an accusatory finger to the group of strangers behind us.

 

“Ron, this is LeVar Burton and some of his people, Stuart, Michelle, Rex and Greg,” I answered.

 

“And what’re they doin’ here?  You didn’t say anything to me ‘bout ‘other people’ bein’ here today besides T.J.’s friends.”

 

“I was sure you were included when we found out LeVar was coming this week, but if I didn’t, I’m sorry.  As to why they’re here, LeVar is the man who’s going to turn my books into movies.  He’s also planning to create a new TV series about my life.”

 

“Oh, yeah, I do remember somethin’ ‘bout somebody comin’ for that.  Guess I didn’t realize it was today.”  Ron reached a hand over the counter and added, “Nice to meet you, Mr. Burton.  Sorry for the lousy greeting.”

 

“You’re fine, Ron,” LeVar replied as the two shook hands.  “And it’s LeVar, okay?”

 

“If you say so, man.  How long you gonna be around?”

 

“Probably through Saturday or Sunday to get everything we want,” LeVar answered.

 

“Well, if you or your people need anything while you’re here, just let me know,” Ron offered.

 

“I think the first thing I need,” LeVar began, “is a room where I can shed my clothes.”

 

“Wait, you’re serious about that?” Stuart complained.

 

“Of course, I am, Stuart,” LeVar retorted.  LeVar held out his hand holding the key fob for their car and added, “If you don’t think you can deal with it, here’s the thingie to the car.  Take it and go back to the hotel.  Just know that if you leave now, when you get back to L.A., you’ll be looking for a new job.”

 

“Oh, c’mon, boss,” he whined.  “You can’t be real.”

 

“You should know by now I don’t joke about things that serious,” LeVar replied calmly.  “Besides, if we’re going to be successful in pulling off this show about Max, his family and his life, you’re gonna have to get used to bein’ ‘round a whole bunch of naked people.  Whether it’s me or others.  This seems like the perfect opportunity for you to get over your hang-ups about the nude human form.  Good practice for when you’ll have to deal with it on a daily basis for ten to fourteen hours a day.  Your call.”

 

“Fine,” Stuart responded testily, crossing his arms across his chest in anger.  “Do whatever the hell you want.  It’s your damn company.”

 

“And don’t you ever forget that,” LeVar retorted seriously with a touch of anger.  “How about it, guys?” he asked as he turned back to Tom and me.

 

“Well, our room’s right down the hall and through the double doors on the right,” Tom answered while pointing the way.

 

“Excellent,” LeVar smiled.  As he turned down the hall, he asked, “Anyone else gonna join me in the most liberating experience you’ll ever have in your entire life?”

 

“I’ll give it a whirl, LeVar,” Rex agreed as he followed his boss.  The other three just milled about uncomfortably, none looking too happy about the situation they’d found themselves in.

 

In an attempt to help ease their minds, I offered, “Look, we know that family or social nudism isn’t for everyone.  And though we’re nudists, we’ll be willing to cover up if you’re that uncomfortable with it.  But, if you think you can accept us as we are, then we’ll accept you as you are.  We never force anybody to take off their clothes if they don’t want to.”

 

“Um, thanks, Max,” Michelle muttered unconvincingly.  “While we knew you and your family would most likely not be wearing anything while we were here, I think we were a bit surprised you’d actually answer the door that way.”

 

“Well, we were all ready to pull on shorts if we needed to, but once I saw who was here, we figured what the hell?  I mean, LeVar’s been here before and he certainly knew what to expect from us, and we could only assume he’d have properly prepared all of you for what you’d find.  Again, if you’d like us to get dressed, we’ll do so.”

 

“Doesn’t make much sense for y’all to do that if the boss is gonna be naked,” Greg offered lamely.

 

“Who knows,” Tom started, “by the time you folks head back to California, you might get just as comfortable being nude as we are.”

 

“Yeah, fat freakin’ chance of that,” Stuart scoffed. 

 

Realizing we were fighting a losing battle with these three, we decided to shut up and leave well enough alone.  LeVar and Rex reappeared soon enough, LeVar calm, confident and relaxed, and Rex trying to appear the same though his true feelings were given away by the light pink flush tinting his body.  Stuart made no attempt to hide his look of disgust on seeing his boss and co-worker without their clothes.  As for Greg and Michelle, they seemed to accept things as they were, though still a touch embarrassed at the situation.

 

“Why don’t we sit in the living room and chat for a bit while the boys take care of their work?” I offered.

 

“Sounds good, Max,” LeVar agreed and he was the first to turn that direction.  Tom and I ended up in our regular chairs, LeVar and Rex settled in on the loveseat and the other three filled the couch.  After everyone was comfortable, LeVar asked “So, what party are we crashing by being here today?”

 

“Today is T.J.’s birthday and we’re having a party with some of his friends from school,” Tom answered.

 

“Oh, man, I wish I’d known that,” LeVar responded, adding, “I would have brought him something.”

 

“Don’t worry about it.  He’ll get more than enough gifts from our families at his second party with them this Saturday,” I commented.

 

“Oh, good, so I still have a chance,” LeVar retorted with a smile.

 

“Well,” Stuart interrupted, “I hope to God you all get dressed before any more kids get here.”

 

“We’ll expect any adults will be wearing shorts at a minimum, for sure, but the boys and girls T.J. invited won’t be unless they want to,” I replied.

 

“Girls?” Stuart squeaked in horror.  “You’re going to have girls over here?  And they’re gonna be around all those naked boys?  That’s disgusting.”

 

“Well, not really,” LeVar countered.  “You only think that way because of your narrow and closed mind, Stuart.  Why don’t you give it a chance and see for yourself?”

 

“Besides,” Tom began, “we informed all the parents of the kids T.J. invited what to expect and I don’t think anyone else had a problem with it.  Why should you?” he asked pointedly.  Stuart quickly clammed up and kept his thoughts to himself after that as he pouted at the far end of the couch.

 

Our continuing conversation was little more than idle chatter as we tried to set a tone that what was going on was nothing unusual.  And to Tom, LeVar and me, it wasn’t, but to the others we might as well been having this conversation on Mars, or even Pluto.  I noticed Stuart could hardly stand to look at any of us and spent most of his time focused on something on the other side of the glass wall behind Tom and myself.  Shortly after we’d gotten comfortable, the drive sensor went off to let us know someone else was about to join us.  The house rumbled as the herd left their rooms and hauled ass into the living room.

 

“Is that Uncle Dylan?” T.J. queried.

 

“Probably,” Tom replied.  “You guys all done with your rooms?”

 

“Yeah, Pops,” Alex replied.

 

Soon enough, the front door popped open and Dylan stepped inside, already dressed in his usual work attire.  Which, of course, means he had nothing on.  With whoops of excitement, the boys hustled over to enjoy their regular hugfest greeting with the big guy.  When they finally broke up, the whole group ambled over to join us.  Rex, Michelle and Greg openly gawked at Dylan’s body and the prodigious pecker he packed between his legs, but otherwise kept their thoughts to themselves.  Stuart continued to stare outside, his discomfort growing with each passing second.  On reaching the living room, Dylan shared a handshake and cheery greeting with LeVar.

 

“Hey, LeVar, good to see you again.  What brings you back to this neck of the woods?”

 

“Just came to get some background info from Max, Tom and their sons for the new series I’m developing,” LeVar replied.

 

“Well, good luck with that,” Dylan chuckled.  “Those boys will drive you crazy.  If you can get them to sit still long enough to actually talk to you,” he added with a hearty laugh.

 

“Oh, c’mon, Uncle Dylan, we ain’t that bad,” Joey retorted, puffing his chest out with pride.

 

“No, you’re really not,” Dylan agreed with a chuckle while ruffling the munchkin’s hair.  “Well, I showed up early so I could deal with a little work before the party gets started.  Guess I better get to it,” Dylan added.

 

“Um, Dylan,” Tom began, “Are you planning to be here during the party?”

 

“Well, yeah.  I thought you and Max might like a little extra help this afternoon.”

 

“Oh, we will, for sure, but you do understand the adults will be wearing shorts when T.J.’s guests get here, right?”

 

“Well, du-u-u-u-h,” Dylan replied as he rolled his eyes.  “Wha’d’ya think I’ve got in this bag?” he asked as he held up his right hand.

 

“Just makin’ sure,” Tom commented.

 

“Look, partner, I may still be a bit of a newbie at this whole bein’ naked thing, but my momma didn’t raise a complete moron.”

 

“Oh, get outta here,” Tom replied, reinforcing his words with a little shooing motion of his hands.

 

“Yessir, massa,” Dylan laughed as he turned and headed down the hallway towards his office.  With the work on their rooms completed, the boys aimed themselves for the theater to kill some time before T.J.’s guests started arriving.

 

Once we heard the office door close behind Dylan, Stuart abruptly turned to face LeVar and said, “Okay, boss, I really tried, but I want outta here.”

 

“Well, the doohickey for the car is with my clothes.  Get it and go.  I’ll call you later so you know when to come back out and pick us up.  I am not going to have Max or Tom go out of their way to bring us back just to soothe your frazzled and fragile ego.”  Without further comment, Stuart hustled across the house and soon disappeared out the front door.

 

“You’re not really gonna can him, are you, LeVar?” Rex asked after Stuart was gone.

 

“Nah, but the possibility of that happening should give him something to stew on this afternoon.  I’d really like for Stu to be involved with this new series, but if he can’t handle bein’ around naked people for even a  few hours, I don’t know how the heck he’d survive dealing with it for days and weeks on end when we actually start shooting.  Bringing him along on this trip was really more of a test for him and I just had this feeling he was going to fail miserably.  Sadly, I was right.”

 

“Well, at least he’ll still have a job,” Greg commented.  “Are you testing me, Michelle and Rex, too?”

 

“Maybe a little bit,” LeVar agreed, “and I’m glad to see you three are at least giving things a fair shot despite how uncomfortable you are with this new situation.”

 

“What do ya mean?” Michelle asked.  “We’re still here, aren’t we?”

 

“And I stripped right off with ya,” Rex complained.

 

“And you were embarrassed as hell to do it, Rex,” LeVar countered.  “We could all see that; it was as plain as the nose on your face.”  He then turned to face the other two and added, “I’ve also noticed you two exchanging sideways glances between you.  But that’s cool, I understand it completely.  My first visit here was, um, how can I say this?  Oh yeah, weird but enlightening.”

 

“How so, boss?” Michelle asked with interest.

 

“Well, like so many other people, I’d always equated simple nudity with somehow being sexual in nature.  Despite being in a multitude of locker rooms with other naked men over the years, and there was absolutely nothing sexual about that, I fell into the same trap that so many of us do.  But, after spending a few days with Max and his family, I learned that isn’t the situation at all, it’s just living your life in complete comfort.”

 

“So, did you lose your clothes immediately like I did,” Rex asked.

 

“Hell, no!” LeVar retorted.  “I was too worried about how I’d react to even think about it.  But after spending the afternoon and evening around the boys, and then going for a swim with Tom and Max that first night, I finally decided to risk embarrassing myself when it was just me and Max here.”

 

“How’d that turn out?” Greg asked with sincere interest.

 

“Well, I was still pretty wary when I came out of my bedroom the next morning, but I was also determined to give it a chance.  It took me, what, about an hour to feel really at ease with bein’ naked around somebody else.  Sound about right to you, Max?”

 

“Yeah.  And by the time we had lunch that day, you were acting like you’d always been a nudist.”

 

“So, you see, it’s not just you guys who feel like you do right now,” LeVar commented.  “How about you, Rex?  You doin’ okay?”

 

“Yeah, so far, I guess.  Though I tend to spend a fair share of my evenings at home in just my boxers, I live alone, so it’s not a big deal, is it?  This whole bein’ naked ‘round other people is still makin’ me feel a bit self-conscious, but I’m getting used to it.  Of course, I’ve never been really happy with my body and what I look like without clothes, so I’ve stayed away from pools and gyms because of it.”

 

“And why don’t you like your body?  Is it the lack of skin color since you spend most of your days in a building?  Or your little bit of a belly?  Or do you feel like you’ve got too much hair, or maybe not enough?”

 

“All of the above, really,” Rex admitted quietly.  “Put those together with my smaller than average size, uh, down there,” he added while tipping his head forward, “and you can see why I don’t think other people would want to see me without my clothes on.” 

 

Michelle couldn’t hold in the little giggle she let go and commented, “You’re bigger than my hubby, you bonehead, so you got nothin’ to be ashamed about there.”  Rex blushed yet again at being on display with his co-workers, but he kept any comment he may have had to himself.

 

“Rex, that’s nothing you have to worry about around here,” LeVar commented in an attempt to put the man more at ease.

 

“Look folks,” I interrupted, “it’s like this.  If you’re going to spend any time at all in a nudist environment, the first and most important thing you need to do is be happy with who you are and accept your body as it is.  From my limited experience with being around other people while nude, if you’re hung up on how you think you look, you’ll never relax enough to really enjoy the experience.  I struggled for years with feelings of inadequacy, but like Rex, I lived out here by myself, so it wasn’t that big of a deal.”  Rex, Greg and Michelle all snickered at my unintentional pun. 

 

“But after the boys moved in, and then Tom joined the zoo, too, we’ve had more people over who have wholeheartedly embraced the life.  That includes Dylan, his fiancé Malcom, Malcom’s son Damon, Ron, our parents, my sister and brother-in-law and several others.  After seeing so many naked bodies, you soon realize people come in all shapes and sizes, some flattering, some not so much.  But all of us accept everyone else for who they are in their hearts and not what they look like.”

 

“Or, as I like to say it, size don’t matter,” Tom interrupted my little soliloquy with a laugh which coaxed a large round of shared hilarity from everybody.

 

We spent the next couple of hours talking about a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  Ron finally joined us after having finished with his work getting the kitchen ready for Justine.  He even managed to screw up the courage to leave the apron behind, though he did hold the dining room chair in front of himself as he brought it with him so he’d have somewhere to sit since every other seat was already taken.  With the party supposed to start at one o’clock, at twelve-thirty, I recommended it was time we get ready for our guests.  While four of us who needed to cover up adjourned to our bedroom to do so, Ron turned for his room to do the same after informing Dylan it was that time.  We left Greg and Michelle to do a bit of exploring on their own. 

 

As I was pulling swim shorts out for us to don, Greg quietly slipped into the room and asked, “You got an extra pair for me?”

 

“I’m sure we can find something for you, Greg,” I replied as I continued to rummage through the dresser to obtain a proper garment for everyone.  Tom had already pulled his shorts from the dresser and passed a second pair on to LeVar.  I located my own, found another pair I tossed to Rex and continued digging.  Scraping the bottom of the drawer, I found an item that I thought would create a bit of humor and without looking behind me, pitched it over my shoulder towards Greg.  He grabbed the unknown article from the air and was soon holding my old pair of Speedos by the waistband at arm’s length, a sour look flooding his face.

 

“Oh, hell no!” Greg exclaimed.  “No way my fat ass is gonna fit into these.”  The rest of us cracked up in laughter and after a few moments of hilarity, I handed him another pair of gym-style shorts and retrieved the skimpy briefs from his tenuous grip.  “That’s much better, Max.  Thanks,” the very relieved man breathed.

 

“Sorry, man, couldn’t help myself,” I chuckled.

 

With all of us appropriately dressed for a pool party, we headed out of the bedroom.  While Tom and the others continued to the living room, I took a quick detour through the theater to let the boys know it was time to shut things down and come on out to greet T.J.’s guests.  Without hesitation, they turned off the TV and jumped from their chairs to follow me.

 

Crossing the dining room, I asked, “Are you planning to pull on shorts to greet your guests, T.J.?”

 

“What’s the point, Dad?  We’re just gonna take ‘em back off in twenty minutes to jump in the pool.”

 

“That’s your call, young man, but I expect you to answer the door to meet everyone when they get here.  If you feel comfortable enough doing so without shorts, I’m fine with it, too.”

 

“Well, you said you and Pops told everyone we’d be naked in the pool, so nobody should be surprised we ain’t wearin’ nothin’, right?”

 

“That’s one way to look at it, I guess,” I admitted with some reservation. 

 

While it was true we’d made sure everyone knew what to expect this afternoon, I was hoping none of the parents would be put off being greeted by a nude child.  We’d find out soon enough.  The first ding from the drive sensor at a quarter to one had T.J. charging towards the front door, bouncing with excitement as he waited for the car to pull up to the door.  I was surprised when he suddenly stood stock still and gawked out the window beside the front door.

 

He abruptly turned away from the door and headed our direction while announcing, “That’s not one of my friends.  It’s some truck pulling a trailer filled with a bunch of weird looking tools.”

 

Dylan was the first to react, commenting, “That must be the fence guys finally getting here.  They’re way later than they thought they would be.” 

 

On that note, he left the house to take charge of the group outside and get them started on their long project.  I didn’t envy them the task of trying to install a fence around our eighteen acres and having to deal with all the trees that would invariably be in their way.  But, considering how much they were charging for the job, that was going to be their headache to deal with and not mine.  I just wanted it done and done right.

 

Soon enough, the drive sensor announced another incoming vehicle and T.J. took off for the door again.  He waited patiently, peering out the window to see who was coming in.  We watched as a car pulled around the circle drive and stopped at the steps up to the porch and T.J. began dancing excitedly as his first guest climbed out of the car.

 

He threw open the door and yelled, “Ralphie, c’mon in, dude!”  We could all hear Ralphie laugh at seeing T.J. bobbing with excitement and by the time the boy stepped inside, he’d already pulled off his shirt and was working on dropping his shorts, too.  It was a difficult task with his shoes on, so he held on to T.J.’s shoulder for support as he doffed his shoes beside the door and then stepped out of the shorts that had already slipped to the floor and puddled around his ankles.  As he bent over to pick them up, his father stepped in behind him and Tom and I walked across the house to meet the first arrivals.

 

As the two boys happily hugged each other, Tom greeted the man with, “Good afternoon.  I’m Tom Wright and this is my fiancé, Max Sanders,” he added as he extended his hand.

 

“And I’m Ralph’s dad, Ralph, Sr.  Nice to meet you guys.”

 

“Pleasure to meet you, too,” I offered as we shared a handshake.

 

“What time should I come back to pick up my boy?”

 

“The party we had for the twins’ birthday last month wrapped up around six,” I replied.

 

“Sounds good.  You should know my wife wasn’t too thrilled about little Ralph comin’ here this afternoon.  She’s more than a little worried about the boys all swimming without swimsuits.”

 

“You have nothing to worry about,” I assured the man.  “We’ll keep a close eye on everyone and make sure all are safe.”

 

“We’ll see, I guess,” Ralph admitted.  He then turned to his boy, knelt down to his level and asked, “You sure you wanna do this, son?”

 

“Yeah, why wouldn’t I, Dad?”

 

“Well, you quit lettin’ your mom and me help with your bath when you were about four and a half, so I’m just surprised you’re so willing to lose your clothes around a bunch of strangers as private as you’ve become the past few years.”

 

“T.J. ain’t a stranger, Dad, he’s my bestest friend from school.  And if he ain’t wearin’ his clothes this afternoon, I sure ain’t goin’ to, either.”

 

“That’s fine, little buddy.  We talked about this and you’re welcome to do as you want.  Now, you be good while you’re here.”

 

“Aw, c’mon, old man.  You know me,” Ralphie replied with a little pout.

 

“That’s exactly why I needed to remind you to be good,” Ralph, Sr. chuckled as he gave his son a light swat on the behind.  He then pulled his son in for a hug and as soon he released the little scoundrel, he and T.J. disappeared down the hallway to drop Ralphie’s clothes in T.J.’s bedroom.  “Well, good luck this afternoon, guys,” Ralph, Sr. offered to Tom and me as he stood upright.  “I’ll be back around six.”

 

On that note, he turned and headed for his car.  Before we could close the door, the drive sensor went off again.  Since it was a warm enough afternoon, we left the door open as we backed away and T.J. and Ralphie rounded the corner at full speed to greet whoever was coming in next.  And that’s the way it went for the next fifteen minutes as parents arrived to drop their kids off, most of the boys shucking their clothes as they came up the sidewalk to the porch.  Surprisingly, only one parent showed any hesitation at leaving their child with a bunch of boys and one other girl who weren’t dressed.  As T.J., Ralphie and the rest of the party guests dragged Emily down the hallway towards the bedroom, her mother, Cassie remained standing just inside the front door.

 

“I hate to impose,” she began, “but I hope you don’t mind me staying to keep an eye on my daughter.  While she likes T.J. and I’ve heard plenty about him from her since he started going to school out here, I’m still rather uncomfortable with her being here.”

 

“We don’t have a problem with that,” Tom replied.  “The more, the merrier.”

 

“Thank you,” she sighed.  “I just don’t understand how anybody would think it’s acceptable to allow a group of boys and girls to attend a party while not wearing their clothes,” she muttered.  “Emily, of course, will not be joining that insanity,” Cassie added savagely as the whole herd reappeared in the living room, ready to start their swim.

 

“C’mon, Dads, let’s get this party goin’!” T.J. called out with enthusiasm as he led the crowd to the glass wall leading to the pool.

 

“Be right with you!” Tom yelled back.  “Does everyone have a towel?” he quickly added.

 

Twenty-seven hands, each tightly clutching a clean towel, were raised as high each kid could reach.  With everyone ready, we pushed through the crowd and led the parade outside.  I managed to unlock and open the shelter door in record time and the kids wasted little more in discarding their towels wherever they saw fit and jumped right in.

 

“Emily!” Cassie screeched in horror as she watched her naked daughter slip under the water for the first time.  As soon as the young girl had resurfaced, Cassie added, “Where’s your swimsuit?”

 

“In T.J.’s room, why?” the young girl replied nonchalantly.

 

“You agreed to wear it even if everyone else wasn’t wearing theirs,” Cassie admonished the girl who was now embarrassed at the scene her mother was creating.

 

“I changed my mind when I found out Chloe wasn’t gonna wear hers.  What’s the big deal?” Emily asked.

 

“It’s just not right,” Cassie retorted angrily.  “You shouldn’t be letting boys see you like that.”

 

Emily climbed from the pool, stepped over to Cassie and while looking her mom straight in the eye, said, “Mother, will you quit makin’ such a big deal outta nothin’?  We all know that boys got dicks and girls don’t.  We’re not the stupid little kids you like to think we are.”  Cassie blanched at her daughter speaking to her in such a manner.  “Go talk to T.J.’s dads or somethin’ and let me have fun,” she added flatly before turning around and jumping back into the water with the others.

 

Resigned to the fact she’d just been dismissed, Cassie finally joined me at the table while Tom and Ron lowered themselves into the pool to try to keep anyone from drowning.  When Dylan finally rejoined us, he climbed in with the others and soon enough, six to nine-year-old kids were flying through the air all willy-nilly and splashing happily back down, only to rejoin the lines for another toss.  Eric and Josh stayed out of the lineup, which I’m sure the child throwers appreciated.

 

“Well, this is a fun party,” LeVar commented with a laugh as he and his group joined us.

 

“Just who are you?” Cassie asked angrily as her frustration boiled over.

 

“Oh, right, we haven’t been introduced, have we?” LeVar replied.  “Hi, LeVar Burton, nice to meet you.  And these are a few of my people, Greg, Rex and Michelle.  And you are?” he asked politely despite her rather testy greeting.  You could see the surprise on Cassie’s face as she recognized LeVar’s name even if she didn’t recognize his face.

 

“I’m Cassie Sinclair.  It’s nice to meet you, too,” she replied with some deference.  “Why are you here?”

 

“I’m here to talk to Max, Tom and their families about a couple of projects we’re going to create together.”

 

“And you think it’s acceptable for all these kids to be naked and frolicking around like brain-damaged buffoons?”

 

“As a matter of fact, I do,” LeVar replied sincerely.

 

“So, you’ve been brainwashed too, huh?” Cassie pressed.

 

“More like converted, ma’am,” LeVar retorted.  “I was here a couple of weeks ago and learned for myself how normal and natural the nudist lifestyle really is.  Why, if it wasn’t for Max’s insistence the adults all wear these stupid shorts, I’d be just as bare-assed naked as all those kids right now,” he added with a devilish grin while tilting his head towards the pool.  Inserting a quick change of subject, he turned to Greg and Rex and asked, “Why don’t you guys join the party in the pool and send Tom out so we can talk for a bit?”

 

“Sure thing, Boss,” Greg replied as the two left their chairs and aimed for the crowded water.    When the pair joined the melee already in progress, Rex tapped Tom’s shoulder and once he had Tom’s attention, jerked his head towards us.  Tom nodded and was soon climbing from the pool, dripping water as he crossed the concrete to join us.  With the noise level in the shelter, I understood the need for efficient silent communication in the midst of it all.  After quickly swiping a towel across his head and shoulders, Tom settled into the empty chair next to me.

 

“What’s up, boss?” he asked.

 

“LeVar wants to talk about something, so ask him?” I replied.

 

Turning to face our guest, Tom reiterated, “What’s up, boss?”

 

“Well, besides this party, I wanted to see what else we might be interrupting with our presence.  I know we’re here to get those family interviews taken care of, but I also don’t want to put a crimp in any other plans you may already have.  Oh, and what was Logan talking about when he said he had to go to court on Friday?”

 

“Yeah, that,” I muttered.  We spent a few minutes bringing LeVar and Michelle up to speed on Logan’s issues and to say they were surprised at what the young man had been through the past few weeks would be a serious understatement.  More like flabbergasted.  I then told him about my appointment with Jason tomorrow and that we were planning to go to back to the church, and LeVar was about to have a conniption fit.  Cassie was looking just as surprised as LeVar when we ended the summation of our schedule for the next couple of days.

 

“Well, you guys sure know how to pack the action into life, don’t you?” LeVar whistled appreciatively.  “So, how do we want to handle things the next few days so we can still get our interviews accomplished?”

 

“Well, Tom and I can talk with you this afternoon while the kids watch their movie and again later tonight to get ours out of the way.  Then, while we’re gone tomorrow, maybe you could talk to the boys, Ron and Dylan.  As for Friday, our parents should be available to you as Tom’s mom and dad are coming up tomorrow night and staying with my parents until Sunday.”

 

“That sounds workable to me,” LeVar agreed.  “What do you think, Michelle?”

 

“Yep, all that works for me, too,” she concurred before turning to me and asking, “What about your sister and brother-in-law LeVar mentioned?”

 

“Saturday afternoon would probably be the best opportunity to talk to them,” I offered.  “They’ll be coming out for T.J.’s party with the rest of the family.  Carol Ward, who’s helping us with the adoptions, will be here as well.  Oh, and Dylan’s fiancé and son will be here Saturday, too, so you should be able to talk to them that night.”

 

“That sounds like we’ve covered everybody then,” LeVar responded.

 

Tom and I agreed with LeVar’s assessment, and it was then I finally noticed that Michelle had produced a small notebook from thin air and she’d been making notes during the entire conversation.  With our scheduling for the next three days more or less resolved, Tom jumped back in the pool and the four us still at the table continued to chat about a little bit of everything.  Cassie was finally calming down and slowly coming to understand that there was nothing inherently wrong with letting kids be kids, even if it meant they were doing so while nude.  As for her part, Michelle would occasionally put pen to paper and continue adding thoughts to her growing list.

 

We’d eventually reached a short lull in our ongoing chat and I turned to survey the action in the pool.  The kids had finally ended their flying lessons, though whether that was up to the kids or their instructor pilots was up for grabs.  I was happy to see all the older boys were mixing it up with T.J.’s guests and not just sequestered in a corner by themselves.  I also spied the birthday boy and his friend Ralphie sitting on the steps and they seemed to be involved in a pretty serious conversation of their own. 

 

I couldn’t imagine what the pair was chatting about, but that small bit of confusion on my part was cleared up when T.J. leaned in and planted a little kiss on his friend’s cheek.  While Ralphie initially registered visible surprise at the small token of affection, that feeling was quickly replaced with something altogether different as he leaned into T.J. and gave him a sweet little peck on the nose, followed by a very wide grin of understanding and acceptance.  Before I had a real chance to form my own reaction to these developments, the drive sensor blasted its announcement of someone new turning in the drive.

 

I excused myself and headed into the house to greet the new arrivals.  I wasn’t much surprised when I looked through the window and saw Justine’s two vans pull up to the sidewalk on the circle drive.  I opened the front door as she and her crew climbed out and began to haul what seemed to be an excessive amount of food into the house, followed by two tables and about a dozen folding chairs.  After the last person was inside, I followed along to make sure they had everything they needed.

 

“Good afternoon, Justine,” I greeted the leader of the pack.  “How is everyone today?”

 

“We’re good, Max, thanks for askin’,” she replied.  “How’s everyone out here,” she asked as her crew started working on the food preparations.

 

“We’re hangin’ in there.  Did you get the message I left this morning?”

 

“Yes, and just in time, too,” she replied.  “We should have enough with us to feed thirty-five to forty people.”

 

“Excellent,” I agreed.  “That should work out just about right.  Well, I better go out to the pool and see if we can get kids running through showers so they can be ready when the food is.”

 

“We’ll be prepared to serve in about thirty minutes,” she offered, swinging the ever-present and menacing hand towel over her head as if she were about to start whipping her employees into shape.

 

Accepting my dismissal, I headed back outside and after closing the shelter door behind me, let go a loud whistle to get everyone’s attention.  When the noise had abated and all eyes were focused on me, I announced, “Lunch has arrived and will be ready to go shortly.  Everybody out and hit the showers.”  A mass exodus from the pool ensued and as Emily and Chloe passed by me, I stopped them for a moment and said, “You two may want use the bathroom across the hallway from T.J.’s bedroom, okay?”

 

“Thanks, Mr. Sanders,” Chloe replied.

 

“Um,” Emily started nervously, “Do we have to get dressed after?”

 

“That’s entirely up to you,” I answered.  “I don’t think T.J. is planning on doing so.”

 

“Cool,” the girls giggled together before Emily added, “It’s a lot of fun not wearin’ anything.”  On that note, the two continued into the house.

 

As the adults started to follow the younger set, I asked, “Ron, would you please help guide the kids through the showers three or four at a time?  And have them use yours, too, so they’ll all be done before the food is.”

 

“No sweat, Max,” he assured me as he turned left after entering the house. 

 

With that handled, I suggested, “Greg, Rex, do you two mind sharing our shower?”  The two exchanged a quick nervous glance and finally nodded their assent.  “Thanks.  Tom and Dylan can follow you two, then, and Ron can clean up after all the kids are done.  I think that covers everyone,” I commented before turning towards the laundry room to start running wet towels through the washing machine again..

 

Cassie followed me down the hallway and commented, “I’m going to check on the girls and make sure they’re doing okay.”

 

“I’m sure they’re fine, but make sure you knock before you just barge in on them,” I replied.

 

“Why should I have to do that?” she questioned me testily.

 

“That’s one of the rules of the house, you have to knock on any closed door before entering.  And that rule applies to the people who live here as well as any and all guests,” I explained calmly. 

 

The scorching glare she gave me would have caused even the heartiest of flowers to immediately wilt, but I listened closely after stepping into the laundry room, heard her rap on the door sharply and wait for a muffled reply from within before she stepped inside.  After tossing a load of towels into the waiting machine and starting it up, I headed back towards the living room, passing Ron in the process.

 

“You need any help directing traffic down here or you got a handle on it?” I asked.

 

“Naw, I got this under control, Max,” he replied.  “You go on and make sure everything else is ready.”

 

“Thanks, buddy.”  When I reached the living room, I found LeVar and Michelle filling the loveseat, Tom and Dylan were sitting on the stone hearth in front of the fireplace, wet swim shorts leaving ass-prints beneath them as they waited for our shower to open up, and two of Justine’s crew were setting up the extra tables and chairs in the area to accommodate the overflow crowd.  I allowed myself to sit for a minute and let go a little sigh of relief that things had gone well so far.

 

 

“What do you want, Mom?” I asked after she closed the bathroom door.

 

“I’m just checking to make sure you two are okay, Emily,” she answered.

 

“We’re fine,” I huffed in reply.  “We’ll be back out in a few minutes.  We still have to wash our hair.”

 

“Do you want help with that?” Mom asked.

 

“We’re not little babies.  We can help each other if we need to,” I answered, hoping she would leave us alone.

 

“You are going to get properly dressed when you’re done in here,” Mom demanded.

 

I turned to Chloe and asked, “Are you gonna wear anything?”

 

“Nothin’ but my smile,” she giggled.  “ ‘Specially if none of the others are gonna get dressed.  I think it’d be way weird if I had my clothes on and none o’ them do.”

 

“Cool,” I agreed.  I turned back to my mom and answered, “Nope, gonna be like Chloe and stay naked.  Heck, bein’ naked is so much fun, I may never wear anything ever again,” I laughed.

 

“Now listen here you snot-nosed little brat …” she started before I interrupted her.

 

“No, Mom,” I retorted with some force.  “We all been naked for the last hour or so, so what’s the point of gettin’ dressed now?  It ain’t like they’re gonna see any more o’ us than they already have.”

 

“Well, we’re gonna talk about this when we get home, I hope you know that.”

 

“I just bet we will.  Now, would you go on and let us finish so we don’t miss lunch,” I said.  Mom left in a snit and Chloe and I started taking care of our hair.

 

“Aren’t you gonna be in deep you-know-what for talkin’ to your mom like that?” Chloe asked.

 

“Probably, yeah, but I’m having fun and I’m tired of her tryin’ to ruin it all,” I answered.  “Are you havin’ as much fun as I am?”

 

“Yeah, this has been the best day of my life,” Chloe gushed.  “I’ve never been swimmin’ naked before, but it’s a lot better without a swimsuit.”

 

“I think so, too,” I agreed.  “What about bein’ ‘round all the boys?  Did that freak you out?”

 

“For, like, ten, fifteen seconds, maybe,” my shower partner admitted.  “I mean, yeah, it was kinda weird seein’ all their dicks, but so what, right?”

 

“I’m with ya, Chloe.  Since I don’t have a little brother, I’ve always wondered what guys look like under their clothes and now I know,” I laughed.

 

“Yep,” Chloe laughed along with me as she started rinsing the shampoo out of her hair.  After I took care of my own hair, we turned off the shower, stepped out onto the rug and grabbed clean towels to dry off.  With both of us sparkling clean, we headed out of the bathroom to rejoin the party.

 

 

Kids started slowly filtering back into the living room, cleaned, dried and ready for food.  None of the adults were too surprised to see that each one of them had left all their clothes and cares behind in T.J.’s bedroom.  Soon enough, a rather perturbed looking Cassie came back from the far end of the house and she sank heavily onto one of the folding chairs at the table near the front door, resting her forehead on her forearms.  Feeling somewhat responsible for her being in this state, I decided to try to talk to her some more, so I left my chair and ambled over to join her at the table where she was sitting all alone.

 

“You want to talk about it?” I asked quietly as I took the chair next to her.

 

A decidedly surly look filled her face as she lifted her head and glared angrily at me.  “This is all your fault,” she grumbled.

 

“What’s that?” I asked with curiosity.

 

“My little Emily is becoming just like all those stupid little boys,” she retorted.

 

“And that’s a bad thing?” I asked in surprise.  “How so?”

 

“Kids their ages shouldn’t be willingly showing themselves off to anybody who wants a peek,” she vented.  “It’s just not right?”

 

“I happen to think it’s the most natural thing in the world, Cassie.  And the kids seem to think so, too.  If they’re all okay with being nude together, why should that bother us?  That speaks more to our own issues and ingrained attitudes about simple nudity than it does to theirs.”

 

“I guess I hadn’t thought about it that way,” Cassie admitted.  “I was just raised in a home where you never saw anybody else without their clothes on.”

 

“Well, I was too.  But I eventually outgrew that outdated mindset.  And it’s been my experience that kids tend to be more accepting of new ideas and being nude together is one of those ideas.  If they’re happy and comfortable as they are, why should we put a damper on that enthusiasm?”

 

“No reason, I guess,” she finally admitted after some serious thought.  At that moment, Emily and Chloe returned from their shower and came over to join us.

 

“I’m sorry for being such an obnoxious little brat, Mom, but I’m really havin’ fun.  This is the best party I’ve ever been to,” Emily offered as she gave Cassie a hug.

 

“I know you are, baby,” Cassie acquiesced.  “And you’re fine, it’s just mommy bein’ a little crazy and uncomfortable with all this.  I’ll try to be better, okay?  You go on now and enjoy lunch.”

 

“We will,” Emily happily agreed as she grabbed Chloe’s hand and the two skipped across the house to rejoin their friends.

 

“I hope you’ll join us in enjoying lunch.  Justine says she has plenty of food for everyone,” I offered.

 

“I’ll be happy to do that, Max.  And thanks for talking me off the ledge,” she added with a weak smile.

 

“Food’s ready, kids!” Justine called out from the kitchen. 

 

The house vibrated as the oversized herd rumbled towards the kitchen and formed a line that snaked its way through the dining room and halfway across the living room.  T.J. ended up in the middle of the queue, but he was rapidly shoved forward by his friends until he was first in line.  As each one picked what they wanted to eat, Justine’s crew worked efficiently to fill plates with the requested foodstuffs and directed them to seats at the various tables.  Drinks were delivered to each kid to minimize the chance of accidental spills.  I was a bit surprised that none of Justine’s crew seemed too surprised to be serving food to a large group of naked kids, but they all took care of their tasks as if it was second nature.

 

Tom and I were the last to go through the line and the pickings were rather slim by that time.  We still managed to get full plates, though, and we retreated to the living room to sit on the hearth, allowing the other adults the luxury of eating their meals while ensconced on much more comfortable furniture.  I was glad Dylan and Tom’s wet ass-prints had evaporated before we settled ourselves into place.  Conversation was minimal during the meal and the kids, of course, rapidly cleaned their plates and returned their dirty dishes to the kitchen.

 

The crew retook their places, patiently waiting for the adults to finish eating so we could indulge ourselves with the cake and ice cream that is an obligatory part of any birthday party.  Soon enough, we were all ready for the main event and T.J. was ushered to a table in the living room since all thirty-six people wouldn’t fit into the dining room.  Justine set the cake on the table in front of the birthday boy, eight flaming candles in the middle of it, and the crowd broke into a boisterous rendition of Happy Birthday.

 

T.J. paused maybe five seconds after the last strain of the song had echoed around us before taking a deep breath and blowing out all the candles in one shot.  Though repeatedly prodded by his guests to reveal his wish, T.J. kept it to himself, which is rather uncharacteristic for him considering his normal outspoken attitude about almost anything else.  As soon as she could reach around T.J., Justine swept the cake back into the kitchen and her crew soon reappeared, delivering bowls of ice cream and cake to everyone.  Silence settled over us once again as everyone tucked into T.J.’s choice of a spice cake with maple frosting.  While I’d never had such a concoction before, I had to admit that it was quite yummy.  And judging by how quickly everyone finished their dessert, I assumed they all enjoyed it just as much as T.J. and I did.

 

With bowls emptied and the noise level starting to rise again, Tom quickly suggested the older boys start hauling dining and folding chairs into the theater so the party could continue in there.  Without argument, Eric led Logan, Alex, Josh, Brent and Joey to the dining room to attack the mission they’d been given.  While they took care of those arrangements, T.J. zipped down the hall to his bedroom to select the movie for the afternoon.  He quickly returned with The Last Airbender and I followed along to get the show started.  After waiting for everyone to find a seat and get comfortable, I punched play and left them to their entertainment.  Passing behind the hushed assemblage, I spied T.J. and Ralphie had settled comfortably into the chair I normally use and they had their arms tightly wrapped around each other’s shoulders.

 

Passing by the kitchen, I found Justine’s crew making rapid progress on cleaning up the space, Ron providing directions from the opposite side of the counter to make sure everything was put in its proper place.  I tapped Justine on the shoulder, and she followed me to my study so I could pay her.  After closing the door to drown out some of the noise, I settled at my desk and offered Justine a chair across from me.

 

“Another successful party, Justine, and we can’t thank you enough for taking care of it for us.”

 

“We’re always happy to help out.  I’m just glad we had enough extra hamburgers, brats and hot dogs on hand to make sure everyone got something to eat.”

 

“Well, you pulled it off and that’s all that matters.  When I gave you the headcount the other day, I wasn’t banking on three extra boys being here and we’d completely forgotten LeVar and some of his people were going to be here as well.”

 

“I’m just glad it all worked out.  Not many leftovers this time, was there,” she grinned.

 

“Nope,” I agreed with a grin of my own.  “What’s the damage,” I asked as I pulled my checkbook from the center drawer.  After hearing the total, I wasn’t too surprised to discover it had gone up about thirty percent from what she’d quoted me before considering the late addition of the extra people.  I happily filled out the check, signed it with a little flourish, then retrieved another five hundred in cash from the drawer before handing it all over to her.  A look of mild surprise flashed across Justine’s face at the unexpected windfall, but it quickly disappeared as she stuffed it all into her shirt pocket.

 

“Thank you so much, Mr. Sanders.”

 

“Oh no, thank you for taking such good care of us today.  And it’s Max, please,” I replied.  “And just to give you a little heads up, our next birthday is Mike’s on May fifth.”  Justine retrieved her phone from her pants pocket and quickly opened the calendar app to mark the date.

 

“The fifth is a Monday this year, Max.  Do you want to have Mike’s party the weekend before or the one after?”

 

“Why don’t we shoot for the Saturday before.  Tom and I are getting married on the seventeenth and I think the extra weekend between the two events will be much needed.”

 

“Yes, I know about the wedding and we’re looking forward to serving you that day as well,” she smiled in reply.

 

“Well, you know more about our wedding day plans than we do,” I laughed.  “We’ll have to see what else we can find out from our parents when they’re here this Saturday.”

 

“Okay, I have Mike’s party scheduled.  Same time and menu?”

 

“I think so on the time.  It seems to work out well for all the kids they want to invite to be able to be here.  As for the menu, we’ll check with Mike to see if he wants something different and let you know.  I’ll also try to give you plenty of notice with the number of guests well in advance this time.”

 

“And don’t forget to ask about anyone with special dietary needs,” she reminded me.  “We got lucky this time, but it probably won’t happen a second time like that.”

 

“Very true.  I’ll let you know what we come up with,” I added as I slipped the checkbook back into its place and stood up.  Justine followed my cue and we left the study.  On the way down the hallway towards the kitchen, I asked, “Is it going to be okay to keep some of the folding chairs since they’re in use?”

 

“No problem, Max.  And since we’ll be back in just a few weeks, we’ll just leave them here for that party and pick them up then.”

 

“Thanks, Justine.  We truly appreciate everything you do.”

 

“That’s our job,” she commented as she turned into the kitchen to round up her crew and I headed across the house to join the others relaxing in the living room.  Thirty minutes later, Justine and her people had completed their cleanup to Ron’s satisfaction and were ready to leave.  Tom and I joined them at the door and again thanked everyone for their fine work that allowed us to be involved in and enjoy the afternoon. 

 

As they started to file out the door, Justine hesitated for a moment, then turned and with a wry grin and a little chuckle, commented, “That young man, Ron, is quite the stickler for detail, isn’t he?”

 

“Yes, he sure is,” Tom agreed.

 

“Well, you guys are lucky you found him before I did.  I’d have snapped him up in a heartbeat.” 

 

With another laugh, she turned, crossed the porch towards her vehicles, climbed in and departed.  Tom and I shared a quick chuckle between us at our good fortunes of having hired Ron when we did, then closed the door and rejoined the adults and their ongoing conversation.  Despite wanting to begin our conversation with LeVar, we held off on any discussion of substance since Cassie was still with us.  The movie ended about five-forty and the herd let us know that when the doors to the theater banged open and the house rumbled again as they headed our way.

 

“Movie’s over?” Tom quizzed the leader of the pack.

 

“Well, du-u-uh!” T.J. groaned.  “You think we’d be out here if it wasn’t?” he added with a crooked smirk.

 

“Then everyone should find their clothes and get ready to go home,” Tom replied to the cheeky little bugger. 

 

The mass of human flesh paraded past us and on down the hallway to retrieve their clothes and be prepared to leave when their parents arrived to pick them up.  Just a few minutes later, the herd began coming back and was milling around aimlessly as they waited for their rides.  Surprisingly, Monica was the first to arrive to retrieve her wayward charge.  After sharing a quick kiss at the front door with Alex amid plenty of giggles from T.J.’s friends, Brent followed his mom to their car, and they continued on around the circle drive.

 

Cassie and Emily were the next to depart, both thanking us for a fun afternoon and Cassie apologizing for her reaction to something she was wholly unprepared for.  We impressed upon her how well we understood her reaction and we hoped she was feeling better about her decision to stay with her daughter and how the party had turned out so well.  With her assurance that she and Emily were going to be fine, the two took their leave as well.  Another twenty minutes passed before all the guests had moved on, every one of them leaving us with thanks for the best afternoon they’d ever had.

 

With all of T.J.’s guests on the way to their homes, Tom, Dylan, LeVar, Rex, Greg and I adjourned to the bedroom where we could finally lose our shorts and rejoin the ranks of those who preferred life without them.  We were still waiting for Rick to swing by to pick up Eric and Josh, but that was expected since Rick’s shift didn’t end until seven.  As the boys finally disappeared to their rooms to play Uno for a while, the adults settled into the living room and we shared a collective sigh of relief the afternoon was over and that we’d all survived it.  After about fifteen minutes of idle chatter, Dylan headed for his home and a peaceful night’s sleep.

 

The rest of us continued to talk as Michelle had produced her notepad again and continued jotting down little missives from time to time.  Though I knew LeVar was very interested in my appointment with Jason tomorrow, he thankfully stayed away from the touchy subject.  Rick finally arrived about seven-thirty and we said goodbye to the trio with our thanks to Josh and Eric for being so helpful during the party.  Shortly after Dylan left, LeVar had called Stuart to come back and he arrived about ten minutes later to pick up his boss and coworkers for the trip back to their hotel for the night.

 

With the house to ourselves at last, Tom, Ron and I collapsed in our seats and kicked our feet up.  It felt exceptionally good to just relax for a few minutes.  And a few minutes was all we got as Mike soon returned and carefully climbed into Ron’s lap to avoid putting any pressure on his still tender behind.

 

“What’s up, buddy?” Ron asked though he knew exactly what the answer was going to be.

 

“Um, are you ready to help me with my shower, Ron?” Mike asked innocently, though his innocence was somewhat tempered by the look of pure evil intent in his dancing eyes.

 

“Seems I did make you that promise earlier, didn’t I?” Ron replied.

 

“Yep, and now it’s time to pay up, dude,” the munchkin retorted while sliding off Ron’s lap, grabbing his hand and pulling him to his feet.

 

As the duo disappeared down the hallway, I turned to Tom and asked with a chuckle, “What do think of Ron’s chances getting through the night in one piece?”

 

“ ‘Bout fifty/fifty,” Tom answered with a sly smirk.

 

“How’d you come up with that?” I asked with curiosity.

 

“We-e-e-ll, if Ron makes good on the promise he made this morning, he’ll be just fine.”

 

“And if he doesn’t?” I prodded, dying to hear the other possibility.

 

“Let’s just say if he gets cold feet and backs out of it again, Sammy’s gonna have to make some space in that cemetery for a new neighbor,” the big guy chortled.  I lost it and practically fell out of my chair with the laughter I couldn’t hold in.

 

When we’d finally regained some of our composure, we were surprised to see T.J. and Logan round the corner from the hallway, evil grins gracing both of their faces.  They strolled over and stood directly in front of us, quite proud of the stiff little pokers jutting straight out from their skinny little bodies and dancing in rhythm to their heartbeats.  I’m not sure why I even bothered to ask the stupid question that popped in my mind since I already knew the answer, but it escaped my throat before I could exert any self-control.

 

“What’s up guys?”

 

“Can I get my birthday present from you and Pops now?” T.J. murmured quietly.

 

I shot a quick glance to Tom and his simple but clear response to the question was to snag Logan in his arms and turn for our bedroom.  I have to admit that I was right behind him after scooping up the birthday boy and I was really looking forward to giving our sweet young sons a present they’d never forget.

 

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