The Man from Swift Current
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved




Chapter 84: The Kissing Contest

As Rick passed through the main gate of the Quantico Marine Base, he was still thinking about Glenn, and how much he was going to miss him.   Glenn was always so vibrant and full of life.   He had been totally serious when he told Glenn that he was only half alive when they were apart.   He felt so close to Glenn that not being near him created a huge empty place in his heart.   Rick thought of the clichés that he had heard in most of the love songs on the radio; but none of them came even close to expressing the profound feelings of love, respect, admiration, friendship, companionship, etc., he had for Glenn.   In short, Glenn was his soul mate.   They were meant for each other, and they both knew it.   Rick keenly felt Glenn’s absence as he drove through the base toward his barracks.   

Rick knew he didn’t have any real reason for being melancholy, because he would be reunited with his lover boy in a few short weeks.   However, right at this moment, he resented the fact that he had to be away from Glenn.   Rick gave himself a mental shake and told himself, “Snap out of it, Rick.”

He parked the Land Rover next to his barracks and got his gear, hauling it inside.   He unpacked his things and put everything away.   As he finished, his cell phone rang.   He pulled it out of his pocket and answered it.

“Hello,” Rick said.

“Sweetheart, we are getting ready to take off, and I wanted to tell you I love you,” I said.

“I love you and I miss you,” Rick said.  His voice broke as he finished speaking, as he tried to keep his emotions under control.

Trying not to break into tears myself, I said, “Don’t cry, Babe.   I miss you, too.”   I paused to gain better control of myself.   I tried to think of something to say that would console Rick or redirect his thoughts away from our temporary separation.   I said, “We will be back together in Atlanta before you know it.   I need you to be strong for me, Babe.   I’m sure that Aaron will be on the hunt, again.   He made it pretty clear he wasn’t giving up on me.”

At the mention of Aaron’s name, Rick’s whole demeanor changed.   He had forgotten that Glenn still had that challenge to face.   “Aaron won’t be a problem for you, Glenn, because you love me too much to hurt me by being unfaithful.”

“You’re right, Rick, but I still need you to be strong for me.   I worry about you being all alone on base.   I worry even more now that the Hursts know that we are a couple,” I said.

Rick responded, “Don’t worry about that, Glenn.   I’m sure that they will be very careful not to give us away, especially after what happened to Greg and Cory.”

“I agree with you about Greg, Cory and Mrs. Hurst.   The one I worry about is Joey and his boyfriend.   I’m afraid that Joey will slip and tell his wife,” I said.

“I don’t think Joey will slip up, because he doesn’t want Kathy to know he’s gay, as well, because of the custody battle he is going to have with her over their children.   The judge will surely deny him any contact with the children, if it gets out that he is gay.   I am pretty certain things will be okay for me here,” Rick said, trying to convince himself that what he said was true, despite feeling bereft of Glenn’s companionship.

“I have to go now, Rick.   I love you,” I said, my heart breaking for my sweetheart.   While I had lots of gay friends and a support network to help me, Rick had no one, and he had the added worry of trying to keep his fellow Marines from knowing he is gay.   Yes, Rick had the Hursts and the Stetsons, but it just wasn’t the same as living with roommates who love and support you.

“I love you, too.   Call me when you land in Minneapolis,” Rick said.

“I will.   Talk to you soon,” I said.

“Bye,” Rick said.

“Bye, Babe,” I said.  

Rick put his cell back in his pocket.   He leaned back against the wall, as he sat on his bed.   He had been fortunate that he didn’t have to share a room with anyone during his time at Quantico.   The barracks were set up dormitory style, with rooms with two, three and four occupancy.   His room had two beds in it, just like the room he had before moving in with the Hursts.  

He was staring at the ceiling, when there was a light tap on the door.   As he moved to get off of his bed, the door swung open to reveal a tall, young marine.   He was well built, as all marines are, but he looked like a body builder.   He looked like he was 198 cm. (6’4”) with dark brown eyes, jet black hair, a square jaw, a hawk-like nose, and a generous mouth, and obviously was very well endowed.   Rick thought, “Glenn would be drooling all over this guy.”

He stood up and extended his hand.  “I am Rick Lernier.”

The new guy shook Rick’s hand and said, “I’m Sean Lashenko.   I am just getting here.   Can you help me bring my gear up?”

“Sure.   Where did you park?” Rick asked.

“I’m parked out front,” Sean said.  Sean stepped back into the hallway, and retrieved his suitcases.   He brought them inside the room, and threw them on his bed.

Rick followed him downstairs to his car.   He asked, “Sean, where are you from?”

“I’m from Connecticut.   I grew up in Hartford,” Sean said.   Sean looked Rick over, and liked what he saw.   Rick met Sean’s gaze with a smile, realizing Sean had been giving him the once over.   He recognized Sean’s behavior from how Glenn gave guys the same look.  Sean blushed, and quickly looked away.   He popped open the trunk of his Honda Civic.

Rick noticed the Connecticut plates which confirmed what Sean had already told him.   “Are you in the reserves?” Rick asked.

“Yes.   I received orders to report here for the next six months.   I’m going to school at the University of Rochester.   I’m in the engineering program there,” Sean said.

They retrieved the rest of Sean’s gear, and returned to their room.   “Where are you from,” Sean asked again, giving Rick the “look.”

“I am from North Carolina, but I am going to school at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.   I am studying engineering, as well,” Rick said.

“That is really great!   I wish I could have stayed to finish out the semester.   I made arrangements with some of the professors to complete my course work on-line, but I had to drop a couple of the classes.   I am almost through my second year,” Sean said.

Rick said, “Same here.   I managed to finish my second year at Georgia Tech, before reporting for active duty last year.   I have two more months to go to complete my 12 months.”

Sean said, “You’re so lucky to be almost finished.”

Rick smiled. “Yes, I am very happy to be nearly done.”

Sean had started putting his stuff away.   When he finished, he sat on his bed and looked at Rick’s dresser and asked, “Who is that guy with you in the photo?”

Rick replied, “That’s my roommate, Glenn.”

“You guys look pretty happy in that photo.   He must be someone very special,” Sean said.   He pointed to the photo he had placed on his dresser, “That’s a photo of me and my best friend from high school.   We are very close.   He and I are roommates.   Barry is going to work for the next year, while I’m gone so we can still room together when I get back.”

Rick looked at the photo of Sean and Barry.   From Barry’s flamboyant dress, it was obvious that Barry was gay.   “Barry is very good looking.   Is he gay?” Rick asked, even though he knew the answer already.

Sean hesitated before answering, “Yes, he is.”   Sean watched Rick very closely to see his reaction.

Rick smiled, “I thought so.”   He saw Sean’s look and said, “You don’t have to worry about me, Sean.   I am not homophobic!”

Sean relaxed a little bit.  “I wasn’t sure.”

Rick thought for a moment about whether or not he should push the gay issue, but then decided it would probably make things easier for both of them if they didn’t have to pretend they didn’t know that the other was gay.   He asked, “Are you gay?”

Sean looked like a frightened deer about to bolt the room.   Rick saw the look of pure terror that crossed Sean’s face, before he was able to mask his feelings.   Before Sean could answer, Rick said, “Don’t answer that question.   I shouldn’t have asked you, especially since I know the answer already.   You’re okay with me, but be very careful outside of this room, especially when you give guys the once over like you did me a little while ago.”

Sean looked relieved, but then he sat straight up and stared at Rick with an anxious look.  “Was I that obvious?”

“Yes, you were,” Rick said, nodding his head.   He grabbed his crotch and said, “You seemed mesmerized by this.”

Sean blushed.  “You are very well equipped in that department.”

“Yes, but you ‘outed’ yourself as a result of staring at my package so long,” Rick said.

Sean looked puzzled for a moment, and then glanced at the photo of Rick and Glenn.   “Glenn is gay, right?” Sean asked.

Rick laughed.  “Yes, he is.”

“But you don’t act gay,” Sean said.

Rick answered with a question of his own, “What does it mean to act ‘Gay,’ Sean?   Is there a set of specific behaviors that distinguish a gay guy from a straight one?”

Sean thought for a moment.  “No, but Barry is a flamer.   He is so outlandish in his behavior sometimes, he embarrasses me.   I have tried to get him to tone it down a bit, but he just laughs at me and keeps it up.   We haven’t hidden the fact that we are gay.   As a result, everyone in our dorm knows we are a couple.   The guys are really cool about it, especially since they know that Barry is taken and won’t be chasing after them.”

 “Glenn is like that, sometimes, as well.   He gets himself into trouble when we go out clubbing and starts flirting with the guys,” Rick said, laughing at the memory.

Sean asked, “Aren’t you afraid he will find someone else while you are gone?”

“No, because I know he loves me too much to hurt me in that way.   Glenn was just here.   I dropped him off at the airport a little while ago.   He is going to school at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities,” Rick said.

“I thought you said you were roommates at Georgia Tech?” Sean asked, with a puzzled look on his face.

“We are, when I’m not on active duty.   Glenn decided to room with his cousin, Ben, at the U of M, since I was going to be gone for year.   It has been a good thing for Glenn.   He changed his major, and seems to be very happy with the direction he is going in, now,” Rick said.   “Glenn is a fantastic musician, and has decided to major in music.”

Sean said, “I wish Barry would decide what he really wants to do.   He is in the engineering program with me, but doesn’t really like it.   He chose engineering, because he wanted to be with me.   I have tried to get him to talk to a counselor; but he won’t do it, because he’s afraid we won’t be able to room together.”

Rick asked, “But doesn’t your school allow you to live off campus after your freshman year?”

“Yes, they do, but that hasn’t changed Barry’s mind about engineering,” Sean said.   “He can be so stubborn sometimes.”

Rick and Sean continued talking about their boyfriends and their schools, until it was time for dinner.   Rick asked, “Do you want to get something to eat?”

“Sure,” Sean said.   “Can we go somewhere off base?   I want to keep talking, but I don’t want to have to watch every word I say.”

Rick nodded, “Understood.   Do you like Mexican food?”

Sean smiled, “Yes, I do.”

“Alright then, let’s go,” Rick said.

They left the barracks, and Rick volunteered to drive.   They had dinner and had returned to their room when Rick’s phone rang.

He answered it, “Hi, Glenn.”

I said, “I made it.   We are on the ground now.”

“Cool!   I have a new roommate,” Rick said, looking over at Sean.   “His name is Sean.   He is just like me.”

I thought for a moment while my little grey cells deciphered Rick’s comment.  “Do you mean he’s a reservist who has a special friend he left behind?   Someone like me?”

“Yes, exactly,” Rick said, smiling.   He loved how Glenn could read his thoughts, and how they seem to communicate almost without words sometimes.

“Great!   I am happy you have someone you can talk to without the fear of being discovered.   However, both of you need to be extra careful and not slip up, because you have someone you are comfortable being around,” I said, my concern showing in my voice.

Rick said, “I will remind Sean about that.   I love you.”

“I love you, too.   I’ll talk to you tomorrow, then,” I said.

“Bye for now,” Rick said.

“Bye,” I replied.

Rick cut the connection, and looked back at Sean, and said, “Glenn reminded me that we need to be very careful not to give ourselves away.   He thinks that we may be overheard, talking about our boyfriends, or something else that will give us away.”

Sean nodded his understanding.  “I agree with Glenn’s assessment.   It is a relief to know I don’t have to hide the fact that I am gay from you.   At least I have one safe place to be on base; but I totally get it that I can’t afford to be ‘outed’ until DADT is repealed.”

Rick said, “Let’s make an agreement that we won’t talk about our boyfriends outside of this room.   Okay?”

Sean said, “Agreed.”

Rick and Sean got ready for bed, and shut off the lights.   Sean kept talking until it was quite late.   Rick finally called a halt to it.  “Sean, we need to get to sleep.   We can talk more tomorrow.”

“I’m sorry for being such a chatter box,” Sean said.   “It is such a relief to know that I don’t have to be on my guard 24X7.”

“I understand.   Good night,” Rick said.

“Good night, Rick.   Thank you for being my friend,” Sean said, as he rolled over and tried to get to sleep.

I retrieved my luggage from the baggage claim and walked out to the curb, where Ben was waiting for me.   I had called him a few minutes ago, and he said he was at the curb, waiting for me in Zach’s car.   He told me to hurry before he was forced to move by the airport police.

As soon as he saw me, he waved me over to the car.   I threw my luggage in the back, then climbed into the back seat with Ben.   Zach and Todd both greeted me.

Todd turned around to look at me, and asked, “How is your lover boy?”

I grinned.  “He is doing great!   You look like you got plenty of sun.”

Todd answered, “We did, and so did the rest of the guys.   Your Grandpa is a wonderful guy.   We really need to do something special for him.”

Zach said, “We still can’t believe he paid for a week’s vacation for all three married couples to honeymoon together in the Bahamas!”

“It was totally awesome to be on our honeymoon with our friends.   Each couple had a beautiful honeymoon suite at the resort, so we had plenty of time to ourselves; while at the same time, we could be with our friends if we wanted some company,” Todd said.

“You won’t believe how tan we all are,” Zach said.   “Mark, Brandon, and Justin all look like gingerbread men, even Brian looks much darker than normal.”

Todd said, “We all got pretty dark tans.   We spent most of every day on the beach, or in the pool.   It took Brian a day or so to relax, because of his fear that someone he knew from India might be at the resort.”

Zach grinned and said, “The best part is, we got tan everywhere – no tan lines!”

Todd laughed, “Our suites had a nice, private balcony, where we could lay out and tan without any clothes on.   It was kind of liberating, in a way.   I loved the fact that we could run around with nothing on, and nobody was there to tell us we couldn’t!”

I laughed, “I am sure that Zach took advantage of the fact that he didn’t have to get you naked.”

Todd blushed.  “Yes, Zach did satisfy me in every way imaginable!”

Ben laughed, and said, “TMI guys.   I don’t need you to say any more!”

I said, “They don’t need to say anything else, because you have the visual, already!”  I punched Ben in the shoulder.   “Besides, they didn’t do anything that you haven’t dreamed of doing with Janice.”

It was Ben’s turn to blush.  “Okay, you are right about that.”

We pulled up to our house.   We all jumped out, and Ben helped me with my stuff.   We entered the house, and we took my stuff up to my room.   I took a few minutes to unpack and put things away.   I made my way back downstairs, and found the rest of the guys hanging out in the family room, watching a basketball game.

Mark looked up from where he and Brandon were cuddling on the couch, and said, “Welcome home, Glenn.   How’s Rick?”

“He is doing well.   I miss him already, but it will only be a few more weeks before the end of the semester.   I think I can make it that long,” I said.

Brandon smiled.  “We need to call your Grandpa.”

“What do you mean ‘my’ Grandpa?   You heard him tell you that we have adopted all of you into our family,” I said.

Brandon said, “Yes, we heard it, but it is still hard to believe.   Not only do I have a new family with Mark and his parents, I have new grandparents, too.”

Mark looked around at the rest of the guys and said, “I think I speak for all of us when I say that we are overwhelmed at Grandpa’s generosity.   Not only did you and Rick give us a magnificent wedding gift, your family included us in your family’s business ventures; and, to top it off, your family pays for our honeymoon to a fantastic resort island.”

I looked around the room, and waited until they all returned my gaze.   I asked sternly, “Don’t you guys get it?”   They looked at each other, then back at me.   I continued, “You are part of my family, and in my family we take care of each other.  You guys are as much a part of my family as Ben is.   You need to get used to that fact.”

Ben looked at them and said, “Glenn is serious guys.   You know what Grandpa is doing for me and Janice, which is the same as he has done for each of you.”

Brandon had tears in his eyes.   “How do we ever repay you and your family for what you have done for us?”

I answered, “You do what any other family does – you stand by your family members, and look out for their best interests.   We, in turn, do the same for you.   Not only that, you love us and we love you.   It’s called being a ‘family,’ Brandon.   Grandpa included you in our business ventures, because you are part of our family.   He wants each of us to be financially independent, so we can pursue our dreams without worrying where the next meal will come from; or where we will find the money to pay the mortgage.   Grandpa expects that we will cooperate with each other, so that we all achieve our goals and reach our full potential.”

There was a momentary silence as the guys thought about what I said.   Zach cleared his throat, and said, “We still are working through it, Glenn.   The reality of it all still is so overwhelming to us.   I know that we have been part of the process of finding suitable properties for us to buy, and that we go to settlement next week; but the concept that you and your family trust us so much that you will help us get started out in life with the kind of investment Grandpa is entrusting to us, is totally amazing to us.”

Brandon nodded his head in agreement.  “I agree with Zach, and I think we all do.”   He looked around and the others nodded.   “However, I do see your point, Glenn.   We do need to adjust our thinking, so that we can take full advantage of what Grandpa is offering to us.   I, for one, intend to make sure that the investment Grandpa is making in our future produces fantastic results.”

Mark said, “We are very fortunate that we found an apartment complex that is in good shape, and is close to campus.   We plan to continue living here until we graduate.   That way, we can learn how things are done at the apartments, and learn to do the maintenance, etc.   The current manager, Mrs. Mahoney, has already contacted us, to begin our training.   She is looking forward to retiring to her new home in Florida.”

Ben said, “Janice and I will be moving into a new home a block over from here, after we are married; so we will be close to you guys, as well.”

I sat down next to Ben on the couch and said, “I’m very excited to see you guys get started into business with us.”

Justin said, “I talked to Grandpa about starting my own computer software firm.   He said he would talk to some of his friends, then get back to me.   He also asked me to draw up a business proposal, so I could work out all the details before we talk to anyone here.   I’m thinking of using one of the apartments in our new building as a business office, at first, so we can save money on rent.   Of course, I need to get feedback from all of you, as well as your agreement to let me use the space.   The agreement would be that you guys would become investors in my business, and would share in the profits, in return for the use of the apartment.”

The guys looked at each other, then Brian said, “I know we are asking you to trust us, but I think we can make a go of it.”

Todd said, “I think we are in favor of helping you out, but I think we need to sit down and work out how things will work; then document it, so there won’t be any misunderstandings.”

Justin smiled, “Grandpa said you might say that.   I’m glad to know he was right.   I would have been worried if you hadn’t asked to have an agreement, documented in writing.”

Mark said, “I am happy to see you looking ahead to the future, Justin.   I think we all need to be thinking about what we plan to do for a career.”

Zach spoke up, “I already know what I want to be when I grow up.”

Brian laughed.  “What?”

“I’m going to be a hockey player in the NHL,” replied Zach, with a grin.

Todd nodded his head.  “Yes, we have already agreed that Zach will pursue his passion for hockey.   I haven’t decided for sure what I want to do.”

Zach smiled. “I have already been approached by recruiters from a couple of major league teams.”

“They have talked to me, too,” Ben said.   “I have been talking to Janice about it.   She isn’t sure she wants to live that kind of life style.”

“I have the same concerns,” Todd said.  “But, I want Zach to be able to follow his dreams.”

Zach said, “I want Todd to be able to do the same.   We are looking at how we can accomplish both at the same time.”

Brandon said, “We haven’t talked about what we will do after graduating.   Now that my college tuition is paid for; and, with the income from the apartments, I can concentrate on getting my education, instead of worrying about where my next meal is going to come from, or how I am going to meet next month’s rent.”

“I have been thinking about sports medicine,” Mark said, putting his arm around Brandon’s waist.   “It would mean we would be in medical school for another four years after graduation, and I am not sure Brandon wants to wait that long for me to get out of school.”

“If becoming a doctor is what you want to do, I will support you all the way, Babe.   I just want you to be sure that going to four more years of school is really what you want to do,” Brandon said.   “Besides, I am not sure how I feel about being married to a doctor.”  He laughed, and said, “I never imagined I would be married to such a wonderful man, so I guess that being married to a doctor can only make it even better.”

Mark leaned over and kissed Brandon.  “I love you, Brandon.   You are always there for me.”

Brandon smiled and said, “That is why you married me, remember?”

Mark kissed Brandon again.   He looked around the room at the rest of us, and said, “I think we are the luckiest guys on earth, because each of us has found our soul mate.”

I agreed, “That is very true.”   I heard Robbie and Adam coming down the stairs, and turned toward the doorway as they entered the family room.

Robbie saw me and smiled.  “Welcome home, Glenn.”

“Yeah, welcome home,” Adam said.   “We missed all you guys.   It really sucked that we had to stay here and go to school, while all of you were having a good time without us.”

Todd laughed.  “Don’t even go there, Adam!   You two are out of school this week, and Mom and Dad are taking you guys with them to Hawaii.”

Robbie laughed.  “We just had to give you guys a hard time for leaving us behind.   We are so pumped about leaving for Hawaii tomorrow morning.”

“Mom and Dad will be here in an hour or so.   Mom just sent me a text message, letting us know we need to be ready, since we are staying with them in a hotel near the airport,” Adam said.

Zach looked at his brother-in-law.  “So, are you guys all packed and ready to go?”

Robbie said, “Yes, we are all done packing.”

“Adam, did you remember to pack those bikini Speedo swimsuits?” Todd asked, grinning at his little brother.

Adam blushed.  “You weren’t supposed to say anything.   I wanted to surprise Robbie.”

Robbie put his arm around Adam’s waist and gave him a quick kiss on the lips, “It’s okay, Adam.   I can’t wait to see you wear them on the beach.”

Adam grinned, “I am not sure how my parents are going to react.”

Todd laughed.  “They will be fine, Adam.   Mom and Dad are pretty cool about things.   Look how they have accepted me and Zach.”

Adam replied, “I’m glad they aren’t upset about me and Robbie.   I was surprised that they invited us to join them on this trip to Hawaii.”

“They said they wanted to get to know me better,” Robbie said.

Zach laughed, “That may not be such a good idea, Robbie.   They may change their minds about letting Adam live here, once they get to know the real Robbie.”

Robbie stuck his tongue out at his brother.   “You’re such a comedian!”

Zach grinned at his brother.  “I’m glad that you recognize how great I am, ‘little’ brother!”

“I’m almost as tall as you are, Zach!” Robbie exclaimed, indignantly.

Todd said, “Enough, you two!   It’s a good thing that we aren’t going with them, because I am not sure I could handle both Anderson brothers at the same time.”

Zach said, “That would be true, if I were still just an Anderson, or must I remind you that I am an Anderson-Ingram now, just like you.”

“I haven’t forgotten, Babe.   However, you and Robbie are still brothers, despite the name change,” Todd said, smiling at his husband.

Robbie came over and hugged Todd.  “Thank you for reminding Zach that we’re still brothers.”

Zach smiled and said, “See Robbie, Todd is good for me.   He keeps me from picking on you too much!”

Robbie grinned.  “But it doesn’t stop me from teasing you, though!”

Zach went to grab Robbie who skipped out of his reach, and stood behind Adam, “Save me, Adam!   Save me from the big, bad Zach!”

Adam laughed.  “You will have to fend for yourself, Babe.   I am not about to defend you against my big, bad brother-in-law.”

Zach advanced on Robbie, who scooted out of the family room, and took off down the hallway on a dead run with Zach right behind him.   We all laughed, and shouted encouragement to Robbie.   We heard them race up the stairs, and soon we heard Robbie’s laughter, as he tried to keep Zach out of his room.   All of sudden it got really quiet upstairs.  

We looked at each other for a second, and Todd said, “I think we had better go up and see what they are doing.”

We all got up and went upstairs with Adam leading the way.   I wasn’t sure what to expect, knowing how those two liked to tease each other!   We reached the top of the stairs to see Zach standing outside Robbie’s door.   When he caught sight of us, he put a finger to his lips to let us know we needed to keep quiet.   We silently lined up behind Zach in the hallway to see what Robbie would do next.

Robbie yelled through the door, “Zach, are you still out there!”

Zach grinned at us, but didn’t respond.   A few minutes later Robbie cracked his door open to see if anyone was in the hallway.   When he didn’t see anyone, he opened his door even wider to allow him to see into the hallway.   That proved to be his downfall!   Zach jumped into the opening and grabbed Robbie.

Robbie shrieked, “Adam, help me!”

Zach laughed, “Your Adam can’t help you now, little brother.   I believe it’s been a while since you had to endure Zach’s tickle torture!”

Robbie looked imploringly at his boyfriend, “Can’t you stop him?”

Adam laughed, “No, but I can help him.”

Between Zach and Adam, they lifted Robbie onto his bed, and started to tickle him.   Robbie squirmed and writhed with laughter, and tried to get away from them.   Finally, Adam stopped and kissed Robbie on the lips.

Zach released his brother to his lover’s arms.   When their kiss kept going, we started whistling and giving wolf howls.   They ended their kiss, and they both stood up and took a bow.   We applauded them, as Robbie said, “Thank you, gentlemen, for recognizing our superior performance!”

Zach laughed, “I think we should have a kissing contest to see who the best kisser is.”

“But who will be the judge?    We need someone who is unbiased,” I said, laughing.

Zach and Todd looked at each other, then said, “I think Ben should be the judge.   He is the only one here who isn’t gay, and certainly doesn’t have any experience kissing other guys; so he wouldn’t be biased by his previous experiences with guys.”

I looked at Ben, who looked around the room at all the guys, “Are you sure this isn’t an attempt at trying to get me to take an interest in guys?”

Mark laughed, and said, “We know you too well, Ben.   You don’t have a gay bone in your body, so I wouldn’t worry about us turning you gay by kissing you!”

Brandon agreed, “True enough.   I tried flirting with you, when I first started dating Mark, and you were totally oblivious of me.   Of course, you had already fallen for Janice, so I didn’t even have a chance.”

Justin spoke up, “I think you would be a good judge Ben.   Let’s go downstairs to the family room, where there is more room.”

We all agreed, and followed Justin and Brian back down the stairs.   Robbie said to Adam, “I am going to win this contest.”

Adam grinned, “You are a good kisser, Robbie, but I think Zach may have you beat.”

“Why do you say that?” asked Robbie.

“Because I have watched Zach and Todd kissing, and I think they are both smoking hot and very sexy when they are making out,” Adam said.

As we entered the family room, Ben said, “No photographs!   Absolutely no recordings of any kind!   I do NOT want to have to explain to Janice why I was kissing a bunch of gay married guys!”

I laughed, “Okay, I will be the camera police!   Does everyone agree?”

After receiving an affirmative answer from them, Zach laid out the rules.  “Each guy only gets 30 seconds.”   He looked at Ben, and asked, “Tongue or no tongue?”

Ben thought for a moment, and responded, “I hadn’t thought about that.   I guess French kissing is okay.   Oh, I did think of another rule – no touching the goods!   I don’t want anyone messing with my equipment!”

“How about your butt?   Is it off limits, as well?” Mark asked.

Ben considered his question.   “I don’t see any harm in letting you play with my butt.”

Mark grinned and looked at Brandon, who returned his smile.   I wasn’t sure Ben knew what he was getting into, but I decided he was a big boy and didn’t need me to referee this contest.

Adam said, “I will be the timer, and Robbie can be the timer when it’s my turn.”

Ben nodded his head.  “Okay.   Let’s do it.”

Ben looked a little apprehensive, but he managed to smile, as Zach stood up.  “I’m first, since Ben is my best friend.”

Zach took Ben in his arms and Adam said, “Go!”

Zach kissed Ben.   He reached behind Ben with both of his hands, and slid them inside Ben’s pants.   Ben tightened his grip around Zach’s waist, as Zach pulled him closer to him.    By the time Adam called, “Time!” Ben was showing signs of getting a pretty serious hard on.   The tent in his pants was extremely obvious.

Zach released Ben and grinned.   “Okay, Ben, you have to give that kiss a score from one to ten.”

Ben looked kind of like he was in a trance.   Zach waved his hand in front of Ben’s face.  “Hello, Earth to Ben!”

Ben focused on Zach’s face and grinned, “Wow!   That was definitely a great kiss!  I’d give that one a ten!”

Zach pumped his fists in the air, and paraded around the family room.   Todd acknowledged Zach’s prowess with a big grin, “Zach is a pretty good kisser I have to admit, being his husband and all.”

Zach said, “Okay.   Who is next?”

Brandon said, “I’ll go next.”   Brandon looked Ben in the eyes.  “I have wanted to kiss you from the moment we first met.”   Brandon wrapped Ben in his embrace.

 Adam said, “Go!”

Brandon kissed Ben.   He pulled Ben’s shirt up and ran his hands up and down his chest, tweaking his nipples.   He pulled Ben closer to him and ground his crotch against Ben’s.   By the time Adam said, “Stop,” there was a little spot of pre-cum showing on his pants.

Brandon pulled back and smiled at Ben.   “Alright, sport, how was that one?”

Ben grinned, “Wow, again!   I’d give that one an eleven.”

Zach howled, “NO WAY!   You can’t give more than a ten!”

Ben said, “I can and I just did.”

Brandon grinned, and looked at Mark.  “You go next, sweetheart.”

After Mark, came Brian, Robbie, Adam and Justin.   They scored nine, eight, seven, eight, and ten respectively.   I was last.   I took my cousin in my arms, and asked, “Ben, are you ready for a last kiss?”

Ben grinned. “I sure am!   Bring it on!”

I took Ben in my arms, and gave him the kiss of his life.   I ran both my hands up and down Ben’s back, then into the back of his pants.   I squeezed his perfect glutes.   I rubbed my fingers over his very sensitive back door, then I pushed inside him, searching for and finding his button.   When I hit it, Ben started grinding his crotch against mine; and, by the time Adam yelled, “Stop,” Ben had cum.   The front of his pants had a huge wet spot on them now.

Ben had that look guys get just after they reach orgasm.   I let Ben go and he nearly collapsed, so I grabbed his arm to steady him.   “Are you okay?” I asked, looking him in the eyes.

Ben grinned.  “I’m more than okay!   That was a twelve, cousin!”

A shout went up from the guys, “Congratulations, Glenn!”

Zach had a big grin on his face as he came over to Ben.  “I believe you must be bi-sexual, Ben; because, from the looks of things, we managed to get you off!”   He pointed to the front of Ben’s pants.

Ben laughed. “I never would have believed that I could get that excited by kissing a bunch of guys.”

Brandon said, “You have to admit, we are a pretty sexy bunch of guys.”

Ben blushed, and nodded his head, “Yes, I do have to admit you guys are very ‘hot,’ and that I do like being around you guys.”

“We like you, too, Ben,” Mark said.   “We promise not to let Janice in on your secret, Ben.”

“That is until after you’re married,” laughed Justin, grinning from ear to ear.

Ben returned his grin.  “I will tell you right now that I won’t let any one of you ever kiss me again!”

“Why?   Are you afraid that you might like being with a guy more than being with Janice?” Zach asked, mischievously.

Ben nodded, “Yes!   In all seriousness, it’s a wonder I haven’t dated a guy, since I have been hanging out with all of you.”

Zach laughed, “Actually, it’s more amazing that you haven’t been propositioned by Devon.   He’s tried to get in my pants more than once.”

Ben nodded his head.  “Devon hit on me during our freshman year.”

“What did you do?” I asked.

“We played around in the showers that day, but we didn’t do anything other than watch each other jerk off,” Ben said.   That really got everyone’s attention.

Todd said, “Okay, true confession time.   Are you trying to tell us you are gay, and have been holding out on us all this time?”

“No, Todd, I’m straight.   I really like girls, and never thought I would enjoy kissing guys.   You guys really did a number on me,” Ben said, looking slightly confused.

I put my arm around his shoulders.  “It’s alright, Ben.   We know that you are straight, and always will be.   Don’t let this experience bother you.   We had some fun, and so did you.   It doesn’t make you gay, nor does it have to be something that you need to worry about.   You are very much in love with Janice, and I think that should be all you need to know.” 

Ben smiled at me, gratefully, “Thanks, Glenn.   I needed to hear that.”

We spent the rest of the evening joking around, and enjoying being at home among our friends.

Later in the week, Rick took Sean with him to work with the Boy Scouts.   As they got in to the Land Rover, Rick said, “Greg is the kid I told you about last night.”

Sean said, “I remember.   Isn’t he the one whose dad freaked out, and tried to kill him and his boyfriend?”

“Yes, that is Greg and his boyfriend, Cory.   This will be the first time they have been back to scouts, since it happened,” Rick said.

Rick started the engine and drove over to pick up Greg.   When Greg climbed into the backseat, Rick said, “Greg, I want you to meet Sean.”

Greg reached his hand out to grasp Sean’s.   Sean said, “Nice to meet you.”

Greg said, “Same here.   Are you going to help with Boy Scouts?”

Sean said, “Rick asked me to come along.   I don’t know if I will be helping out on a regular basis, since I still don’t have a good handle on what my schedule is going to be.”

Greg said, “Before we get to building #3305, I want to tell you that I’m gay.”

Sean smiled and said, “So am I, but I would appreciate it if you didn’t spread that news around to anyone, other than your boyfriend.”

Greg grinned.  “I promise I won’t be spreading that news around to anyone.   There are too many hateful people living around here to be openly gay.”

Rick asked, “How has school been going?”

Greg’s face fell.  “I’m afraid things aren’t going well.   The guys on the football team won’t speak to me, anymore.   Cory is having just as much trouble.   I never imagined that so many of the kids would hate us.   Their parents have poisoned their minds against gays, and they are very hateful to us.   I have asked Mom to let me be home schooled.”

Rick asked, “What does your Mom think about that?”

“She has called the principal, who has said that there is nothing he can do to stop the harassment.   He is just as prejudiced as the students.   The school is not a safe place for us to be, anymore,” Greg said, sadly.   “We’re going to move to Texas to live with my grandparents.”

“How is that going to help?” Rick asked.

“It will get me out of here, so I can finish school,” Greg said.

“Couldn’t you just transfer to a different high school in the county?” Rick said.

“I could, but Mom would have to drive me to the new school.   She says that we might as well move to Texas, if the only alternatives we have are to be home schooled, which Mom has ruled out, or transferring to a school that takes an hour to get to, because of all the traffic,” Greg said.

“Why can’t the school district provide a teacher to tutor you at home, like they did while you were recovering?” Rick asked.

“Because I am not under a doctor’s care, anymore.  We would have to pay for them to come and teach me.   Mom doesn’t have the money, and I would hate being home all the time.   I told Mom I could just take the General Educational Development (GED) test, instead of graduating from high school.   It would get me a high school equivalency certificate.   I can take it now, since I am over 18, and then I wouldn’t need a high school diploma,” Greg said.

Sean said, “I bet your Mom didn’t like that idea.”

Greg said, “No, she didn’t.   She wants me to graduate from high school.”

“What is Cory going to do?” Rick asked.

“I don’t know.   Cory hasn’t talked to me about what his parents want to do.   He won’t be 18 until next month, so he would have to wait to take the GED,” Greg answered.

We arrived at the scout building.   We entered the building to find the rest of the boys were already assembled, with Sgt. Mason addressing them.   Sgt. Mason said, “Welcome back, Greg.   Please find a seat.”   He waited for Greg to find a seat, then turned to Rick, “Who is your friend, Rick?”

“This is Sean Lashenko.   He arrived here this week from New York,” Rick responded.

“Welcome Sean,” Sgt. Mason said.   “Please take a seat, gentlemen.   I was just informing the boys that I have received a phone call from Cory.   He will not be attending scouts with us, anymore, due to the harassment he has received from members of this scout troop at school.   He does not feel safe here.”   He paused, and looked around the room.   “I am greatly disappointed that we have several members of our troop who have violated the Boy Scout law, and don’t deserve to be called boy scouts.”

One of the boys raised their hand, and waited for Sgt. Mason to call on them.   Sgt. Mason paused, and looked directly into Mark’s eyes, before he said, “Yes, Mark.”

“Isn’t it Boy Scout policy that gays can’t participate in scouting?” Mark asked.

“Yes, it is, Mark.   However, I am referring to the Boy Scout Law and the Scout Oath to which each and every one of you have promised to keep and uphold.   Oath breakers are not worthy of trust.   They do not belong in the Boy Scouts nor do they belong in other organizations,” Sgt. Mason said.   “I believe that Sgt. Slade reviewed those requirements with you a couple of months ago.   Do I need to review them, again, here?”

Mark replied, “No, sir.”

Sgt. Mason responded, “Then would you please review them with the rest of the boys, since you already know them.”

Mark stood and started reciting the scout law with its meaning from memory:

“A Scout is Trustworthy. A Scout tells the truth. He is honest, and he keeps his promises. People can depend on him.

A Scout is Loyal. A Scout is true to his family, friends, Scout leaders, school, and nation.

A Scout is Helpful. A Scout cares about other people. He willingly volunteers to help others without expecting payment or reward.

A Scout is Friendly. A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He offers his friendship to people of all races and nations, and respects them even if their beliefs and customs are different from his own.

A Scout is Courteous. A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows that using good manners makes it easier for people to get along.

A Scout is Kind. A Scout knows there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. Without good reason, he does not harm or kill any living thing.

A Scout is Obedient. A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobeying them.

A Scout is Cheerful. A Scout looks for the bright side of life. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.

A Scout is Thrifty. A Scout works to pay his own way and to help others. He saves for the future. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.

A Scout is Brave. A Scout can face danger although he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at him or threaten him.

A Scout is Clean. A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He chooses the company of those who live by high standards. He helps keep his home and community clean.

A Scout is Reverent. A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.”

Mark sat down, and Sgt. Mason asked the group, “Where in the Boy Scout Law does it say it’s okay to harass people because they are gay, or because they don’t believe in the same religious principles that you do?”

Mark responded, “The Boy Scout Law says to do just the opposite, sir.”

Sgt. Mason looked around the room, and looked each boy in the eye. “Is there any one of you who can’t obey the scout law?”

There were a couple of boys who looked away from him.   Sgt. Mason noted who they were, and decided he had the information he needed to take care of this problem.   He turned to Mark, “Thank you, Mark.   I am very impressed that you were able to quote the scout law and what it means from memory.   I hope that you are putting it into practice in your life, and that it’s not just empty words to you.”

The color rose in Mark’s cheeks and he looked like he was going to speak, but didn’t.   He stood there with his fists clinched.   Sgt. Mason saw his reaction, and asked, “Mark is there something you would like to say to the group?”

Mark nodded his head, “Greg, I am sorry I was part of the group of kids that were shouting obscenities at you this week.”

“Were you the only one of our group that participated in such unbecoming behavior?” asked Sgt. Mason.

“No, I was not, but I am not going to rat them out.   They need to come clean on their own,” Mark said, and sat down.

Sgt. Mason nodded his head.  “Thank you Mark.   Greg would you like to say anything to this group?”

Greg thought for a moment, then he nodded his head.  “Yes, I would.”   He stood up, and walked up to the front of the room to stand beside Sgt. Mason.   “First, I want to thank Sgt. Slade, Sgt. Mason and Rick for helping me get my Eagle Scout.   They worked hard to help me get there.   I also want to thank all of you for being there for me over the years.   Whenever I needed someone to talk to, you guys were there for me.   I have had a great scouting experience, and will never forget the many camping trips, hikes, and activities we have done together.   That said, I have to admit, that, after what has happened to me over the last few months, my faith has been shaken, in the Boys Scouts as an organization.   I used to think it trained boys to become upstanding members of their community.   I thought the Boy Scouts were the kind of people you could rely on to keep their promises, and to be there to lend a helping hand.   I was proven wrong by what I experienced at school at the hands of those who supposedly were my friends, and who have shown their true colors as people who are not trustworthy, loyal or kind.”  

Greg paused and looked around the room with over half of them avoiding his gaze.   “There is one thing the Boy Scouts claim they stand for and that is “Do a good turn daily.”  I found out that this slogan should be changed to – ‘Do a good turn daily for only those who believe the same as you do and who fit my definition of being worthy of being helped.’   To say I have become disillusioned with the Boy Scouts is an understatement.   The lip service given to the Boy Scout Law by many Boy Scouts and their leaders in scouting is a great tragedy, because scouting has so much to offer.   Sgts. Mason and Slade have done everything in their power to teach us correct principles, and I thank them for it.   I hope that each of you will reconsider your commitment to scouting, and decide to keep the Boy Scout Law the way it should be kept.   Maybe you can be an example to your parents of how a Boy Scout should act.”   Greg walked to the back of the room, and took a seat next Rick and Sean.

Sgt. Mason said, “Thank you, Greg.   Let’s break into our groups and work on those merit badges.”

The group broke up and scattered to different parts of the room.   Greg turned to Rick and said, “Please take me home.   I don’t want to be here with these guys.   After what they did to me and Cory over the last few days at school, they don’t deserve to be called Boy Scouts.”

“Okay,” Rick responded.   He walked over to Sgt. Mason and said, “I am taking Greg home.”

Sgt. Mason nodded, “I thought that might be the case.   I agree with Greg’s sentiments that the Boy Scouts have lost sight of their mission of training boys to be leaders.   They have begun brainwashing them with the doctrine that it’s okay to discriminate against those people we don’t like, or disagree with their beliefs.   This will be my last meeting as a scout leader.   I can’t continue to support an organization that sanctions discrimination, despite its stated goal of respecting other’s beliefs.”

“I understand,” Rick said.   “I have reconsidered my support of Boy Scouts, as well.   I am an Eagle Scout, but that accomplishment has been tarnished by the decision by the National Boy Scouts of America to ban gays from participating in the Boy Scouts.   They say they are there to support boys, and to help boys by providing positive role models; but they shut out those youth who need a positive role model the very most – gay teens.”

Rick and Sean accompanied Greg, as they left the scout meeting.   They climbed into the Land Rover.   Rick turned, and looked at Greg. “Have you eaten dinner, yet?”

Greg said, “No, I didn’t, because I was so nervous about coming to this meeting I couldn’t eat.”

“Are you up for getting something to eat?” Rick asked.

Greg nodded.  “Sure.”

Rick started the engine, pulled out of the parking lot and headed off base.   “Are you going back to school tomorrow?”

“No, Mom pulled me out of school today.   She told the principal off this morning, and called him a few choice words,” Greg said, chuckling at the memory.   “I didn’t know that my mother knew those words.”   He sat for a moment in silence, before he spoke again, “I hope I never lay eyes on those bastards, ever, again.”

Rick looked in his rearview mirror, and saw tears coursing down Greg’s cheeks.   He pulled into the local McDonalds, and shut off the engine.   “Are you going to be okay?”

Greg nodded his head, and answered, with a voice choked with tears, “I’ll be fine in a few minutes.   I am so angry with them, and the others at school who can’t leave me and Cory alone.”

Greg’s cell phone rang.  He pulled it out of his pocket, and answered it.   “Hi, Cory,” he said.

“Did you go?” Cory asked.

“Yes, and I wish I hadn’t gone,” Greg said.   “Those hypocrites sat there, and didn’t even acknowledge how poorly they treated us today.   The only one who had the guts to admit he was wrong was Mark.”

“I didn’t want to go.   I had enough of them at school today.   Mom and Dad are pulling me out of school tomorrow.   I will be finishing out school at a private school,” Cory said.

“That means the fuckers won this round, because we have both been pulled from the school.   I hope that they get theirs, someday.   I only hope I’m there to see it happen, so I can enjoy it as they learn what it’s like to be in our shoes,” Greg said.

“I asked my parents to talk to your Mom about sending you to the same school,” Cory said.

“Mom already said she won’t send me there, because of the cost.   We’re moving to Texas next week.   Mom doesn’t want to live here, anymore.   The people here are so prejudiced against gays that we can’t stay,” Greg said.

“Where are you?” Cory asked.

“I’m at the McDonalds near the base,” Greg said.

“I’ll be there in a few minutes, then.   Dad let me take the car,” Cory said.

Greg said, “You need to be driving, and not talking, Babe.”

“I know.   I’ll get off, and I’ll see you in a few,” Cory said, cutting the connection.

Greg looked at Rick and Sean, and said, “Cory will be here in a few minutes.”

“Cool,” Sean said.   “I was hoping I would get to meet your boyfriend.”

Greg laughed.  “You can meet him, but he’s taken!”

Sean said, “I see.   Well, if it makes you feel better, I have a boyfriend back home who is waiting for me.”

Greg smiled.  “Good for you.   I was just making sure you knew that Cory is all mine!”

Rick laughed.  “I think Sean got the message.”

Cory pulled into the parking lot and got out of his car.  He came over to the Land Rover, as we were getting out.   He hugged Greg and gave him a kiss, before he turned toward Sean, and said, “Hi, I’m Cory.”

Sean shook his hand, and said, “I’m Sean.   Glad to meet you.”

The four guys went inside and ordered their meals.   Sean talked about being gay, and how he had handled things after he had graduated from high school.   The meal ended, with Rick reminding the boys that they had been invited to stay with him and Glenn for the summer.   The boys agreed that, as soon as graduation was over, they would find a way to get to Atlanta.

I sat in the family room, with Grandpa Scarborough and the rest of the guys.   Grandpa had surprised us by flying into town for settlement on the properties we were buying.   He had brought his lawyer with him, and we were met by his real estate agent, who spent a great deal of time going over the paperwork with all of us, before we went to closing.   It had been a very long day for all of us.   We had missed our morning classes, and the guys had been excused from hockey practice, when Coach found out about the business deal Grandpa had lined up for us.

Each of the couples had already thanked Grandpa for his generosity, and the trust he placed in their ability to make this business venture a success.   Mrs. Mahoney had spent hours going over everything with the guys.   The apartment complex had six high-rise buildings.   The three couples had decided to pool their resources to buy one big complex, rather than purchase three separate properties.   It made sense to consolidate, since it appeared that Justin and Brian were the only ones with plans to stay in the area after graduation.   Justin and Brian had worked out the details of starting their own business.   Grandpa had advised them to write up a business plan, which they presented to Grandpa and his lawyer, Mr. Hawkins.   After making some changes, the plan was approved by all parties, then presented to all of us for our approval, as well.

We agreed to lease space to Justin and Brian’s new company, until such time as they outgrew the space and needed to relocate.   Grandpa also agreed to help them get started by lending them the money for their initial expenses, in return for part ownership in the company.

Grandpa had treated us to dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate.   We returned home to unwind, and visit with Grandpa.   We had dropped Mr. Hawkins off at his hotel, since he had other clients to attend to after dinner.

Robbie said, “Grandpa, will you do the same thing for me and Adam as you did for Zach and Todd, when we get married?”

Grandpa smiled, “Yes, I will, but you have to show me that you are level headed enough to merit having the same level of trust that I have in Zach and Todd.”

“How do we do that?” asked Adam.

“Well, first off, you have to maintain good grades in high school.   Then, you have to get into a good college, or trade school.   If you can prove that you can maintain good grades in college, I will consider doing the same for you two, as I have done for Zach and Todd.   Of course, I will speak with both sets of parents about your desire to follow in your brothers’ footsteps.   I have had many conversations with them, already; and I am sure they will approve of doing the same thing for you two,” replied Grandpa.

Robbie seemed happy with Grandpa’s answer.  “Thank you Grandpa.   I promise you we will do our best.   Won’t we, Adam?”

Adam nodded, “Yes, sir.   You can count on us!”

Grandpa smiled.  “Good.   Then, I will expect a phone call in the near future telling me that you have met my conditions.”   Grandpa turned to me and Ben.  “It seems that you two have been able to cultivate friendships with very high caliber people.   What about these friends of yours, Donica and Jimmy?   They seemed interested in working with the guys here.   What do you think about that?”

Ben answered for us, “I think they would make a great addition to our business team.   Donica offered to be our interior decorator, and help with remodeling the apartments.  Jimmy is studying to become an electrical engineer.”

Grandpa looked at me.  “Glenn?”

“I agree with Ben’s assessment.   I think we should bring them into our little business venture, as well,” I said.

Grandpa said, “Okay.   You had better call to see if they can come over to talk with us.”

I replied, “I’ll call them.”

I flipped open my cell, and dialed Donica’s number.   She picked up on the first ring, “Hey!”

“Can you and Jimmy come over to see my Grandpa, tonight?” I asked.

“Sure, let me check with Jimmy,” Donica said.   I heard her talking in the background to Jimmy.   Then she said, “We’ll be over in about 15 minutes, okay?”

“See you in a few minutes, then,” I said, and ended the call.

I turned to my Grandpa, and said, “They will be right over.”

We continued chatting with the guys about what role Donica and Jimmy would play in the business.   They arrived 15 minutes later, just as Donica said they would.   I answered the door, and let them in.

Donica gave me a hug, and said, “Thank you for calling us.”

I gave Jimmy a hug, then led the way into the family room, where everyone was waiting.

Grandpa smiled, and stood up to shake Jimmy and Donica’s hands.  “I’m Mr. Scarborough.   I assume that you are Jimmy and Donica.”

Jimmy grinned.  “Yes, that is who we are.”

Grandpa said, “Please sit down.”   He resumed his seat, and said, “The boys tell me that you two are interested in joining them in their business venture.”

Donica smiled, and said, “Yes, I think it would a great way to start my career.”

Grandpa nodded.  “I agree with you Donica.   And you, Jimmy?”

“I am not sure what I want to do with my degree, but I am interested in technology.   Electrical engineering is what I am studying, with an emphasis in telecommunications,” Jimmy said.

Grandpa said, “Maybe the best thing for you would be to complete an internship at one of the telecommunications companies, so you could decide for sure if that is what you want to do with your life.”

Jimmy nodded.  “My advisor has also suggested that to me.”

Grandpa looked at Donica, and asked, “Donica, have you thought about going into business for yourself?”

“Yes, I have.   It was that thought that motivated me to volunteer to work with the guys, so I could get some experience with interior decorating.   I would be able to use them as a reference, when I set up my own shop,” Donica said.

Grandpa looked around the room at all of us, and asked, “What are your thoughts?”

Justin spoke up first, “Why don’t we lease some space to Donica, so she can get started.   That way, she would have her materials available on site, and could work with us, as needed; while, at the same time, building her own clientele.”

Zach nodded his head in agreement.  “I think that is a great idea!”

Brian said, “I think Jimmy could work with us, because we have already contacted several telecommunications service providers in the area.   We are scheduled to meet with them over the next few weeks about developing software for them.   Jimmy could be our consultant on the technical aspects of the projects.”

Grandpa looked at Jimmy.  “What are your thoughts about Brian’s proposal?”

Jimmy didn’t answer at first, as he was deep in thought.   He looked up, and met Grandpa’s gaze.   “I think it would be a great way to get my foot in the door with these companies, especially if the software really works for them.”

Grandpa said, “I think you all need to talk about the specifics of how things will work.”  He stood up, and said, “I’m going to my hotel for the evening, but I expect a written proposal from both of you, after you have worked out the details with the boys.”

“When do you want to see our proposal?” asked Donica.

“The sooner the better,” Grandpa said, smiling at her.   “I will be here for two more days, before returning to Georgia.   Of course, if you need more time to put things together, you can send it to me after I return home.”

Donica smiled, and said, “Cool!   I’ll have it done before you leave.”

Grandpa said, “Good night, everyone.   Congratulations, boys!   I look forward to great things from all of you.”

Ben and I walked outside with Grandpa.   I hugged him and said, “Thank you so much for trusting my friends.”

Grandpa returned my hug, “It’s easy to trust your friends; because you are a good judge of character, and you choose your friends wisely.   I believe that your friends will be very successful.”

I nodded my agreement.  “I think so, too.”

Ben said, “Grandpa, we won’t let you down.”

Grandpa climbed into the front seat of the Ben’s car, and I climbed into the back.   Ben started the engine, and drove us to Grandpa’s hotel.   Grandpa got out of the car, and leaned back inside.  “I will see you boys tomorrow.   Thank you for the ride, Ben.”

“You are welcome, Grandpa.   Good night,” Ben replied.

I got out, and jumped into the front seat, after hugging Grandpa one more time.   “Ben, I am so excited, I can hardly sit still,” I said.

Ben laughed.  “I know what you mean.”

We chatted about everything that had happened earlier in the day.   We returned home, and joined the animated discussions going on in the family room, as the guys and Donica started mapping out their plans.   Jimmy was huddled with Justin and Brian, as they told him of their plans and how he could assist them.  

Janice had arrived while we were gone, and was listening to all of the excited chatter in the room.   She greeted Ben with a kiss, as we returned.   She pointed to the guys and said, “I’m just as excited as they are.”

Ben said, “I know what you mean; now that we have our own place, thanks to Grandpa Scarborough.”

Janice smiled.  “Glenn, you don’t know how fortunate you are to have such a wonderful family.”

“Yes, I do, Janice.   It has been nearly three years since my Dad finally relented, and let me visit my grandparents for the first time.   Prior to my graduation from high school, Dad wanted nothing to do with my mother’s parents; and wouldn’t let us spend time with them, other than a few hours, once or twice a year,” I said.

Ben said, “I can attest to that fact.   We were all amazed, when we heard Glenn was going to spend the summer with Grandpa and Grandma Scarborough.”

We stayed up talking, until the wee hours of the morning.   I think it was after 3 AM, when I finally went to bed.   I left the others, still talking, when I came upstairs.   I stripped down, climbed into bed and was out cold, as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Prev To be continued . . .

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