A Storm Named Zach

by Flip McHooter

Chapter 9

Zach was laughing like crazy, and Indy was barking wildly as we raced through the house to my bedroom. Once there, I tossed the kid onto the bed, and he landed with a floppy bounce.

"That was super-fun. What made you do that?"

"Because it's playtime, buddy, and I knew it would make you laugh. You don't laugh nearly enough, so I'm making it my mission to fix that. I thought a reverse piggy-back ride would be just the ticket. You want to try that out with me? Let me jump up on you."

"Jeremy? Are you for real? You outweigh me by like, I don't know. A lot. I'm not that strong or muscular enough to carry you."

"Then we're going to have to address that. You're going to start doing laps with me in the pool every morning from now on. And you know what will be cool about that?"

"No, what?"

"We can do it naked. At least until everybody gets back in a few weeks."

"Oh my gosh. You're making me bone up."

"Good. Let's see it. Stand up. Strip for me, Zach. Show me that throbbing hard weapon of yours. I need to see that awesome sexy body you're rocking."

"Seriously?"

"Buddy, you should know by now I'm almost always serious. So, strip. Now. Show me those big, beautiful balls of yours. Let me see them swinging around. I need to give you a close-up inspection as well. With you standing on the bed, you're at the perfect level for me to sex you up and give you some extra-special loving."

"Oh, shoot. You keep talking nasty like that and I'm gonna blow in my underwear."

"Don't you dare do that! You save that for me. I'm going to rock your world right now. Strip, Zach. I mean it. Start with your shoes."

He tried, but he kept losing his balance until he finally fell over, laughing like crazy. I grabbed his ankles and yanked him to the end of the big bed. That made him laugh even more. "I love it when you manhandle me."

"Good. I love manhandling you, too. I don't know what it is, but you turn me on so much I can't keep my hands off you." I slipped one of his black and white checkerboard Vans off his foot and tossed it aside, and then the other. Unfortunately, when I tossed that one it went sailing over my head, it bounced off the wall and hit Indy in the butt, causing her to yelp in surprise. "Sorry, girl."

She got even when she started chewing it, but I wasn't going to stop her because I was too preoccupied with Zach.

"Jump off the bed and stand up in front of me. I'm going to sit here and watch you do a striptease for me. Do me your best Magic Mike impression."

"I don't even know who that is. Is he one of the new Dodgers? Or is he that guy on the Lakers they just got for like a trillion dollars? You know the one, the one they say has a horse-sized kielbasa?"

"You obviously don't know Channing Tatum, but you know King James? How is that? Good try buddy, but no. Totally no. We'll have to watch the movie. It's kinda good in a kinda bad way. Okay, so improvise. Show me your most sexy moves while you strip. I need you completely, positively, absolutely naked. Right f'n now."

"Oh my gosh. I love it when you talk dirty like that. You're getting me so horned up."

"Awesome. I love getting you all hot and bothered. Do you realize you're a completely different person when we do this? You're so sexy and cute, and you drop all your worries and inhibitions. I just want to eat you up. You totally turn me on, young warrior. There are so many things I want to do to you. There are so many things that we're going to do together and make each other feel so good."

"Oh, God. That sounds so great. But I've never really danced."

"You don't have to dance. Just do whatever comes naturally. Come over here. Pull your shirttail out. Stand between my legs. I want to feel your chest."

"Jeremy, you've got a huge wet spot on your jeans, and it looks like your boner is so hard it's going to break."

"That's you, buddy, all on you. Totally you're fault. Now start swaying around. Rub up on me, feel my legs. Yeah, that's it. See, you can do it and be spontaneous," I said while I slipped my hands up his chest. "Don't doubt me. You're great at this."

"Ohhh, I love it when you pinch my nipples. Jeremy, please, let's get naked. I'm, oh, God, I'm about to explode, I swear."

"Okay," I said, as I stood up. "Put your hands up. We have to get this shirt off."

He complied, but then started to giggle again. "You make me so horny. I can't believe we're doing this."

"Oh. You don't like it?"

"I freaking love it. Please don't stop."

"No worries. I couldn't stop now even if I wanted to. I'm going to unzip your jeans. Is that going to cause you to blow?"

"No. I think I can contain myself for a second or two. But hurry up, dammit! We've got to be naked!"

"Nope. Changed my mind. I think I need a nap first. Suddenly I feel very, very tired."

"You asshole. You're being silly. Strip me!"

"See? Look how you get. I love it. So, your royal highness, may I please, if you wish sir, unzip your jeans? I'll be ever so careful," I said, in my best English maids voice. Hah. Like I had one.

"Hurry it up, you wench, before I flog you and then toss you in the moat."

I totally cracked up over that. "Zach, you make me laugh. Get ready. I'm going in."


"That was the best one yet," Zach said, rolling over on his back, breathless.

"I know. You were like a rabid Bengal tiger on steroids. I like that side of you."

"You're too good for me. Sometimes I don't even know who I am with you. I'm like a completely different person."

"And you're too good for me, too. I shouldn't bring this up, but sex with Trevor was never like this. That was amazing. You are so special, Zach. I hope you believe that."

"I don't know about all that, but I do know that when we're together like this I love it. Well, I love everything when we're together. I can't tell you how happy I am now. Thank you, Jeremy, for everything you're doing for me. I'm so lucky."

"I'm the lucky one, buddy. You're the best thing that's happened to me in a long, long time."

"Aww, that's so corny."

"Yeah, and so are you, you weenie. Listen, we have a lot to do this afternoon."

"Why? What's up?

"A million things. First, I need to get the security company out here pronto. I'm not going to deal with that idiot Padula Danghardt and her posse of stupid reporters for one more minute. Second, I need to touch base with my sister before it gets too late over there in Spain."

"To talk about Bella?"

"Yeah."

"Okay, that's awesome. What else?"

"While I'm making all these calls, you need to go online and start a list of dance studios in Vegas. Begin with the more upscale ones, or ones that have a name that might include New York or Broadway or something like that. That's probably a longshot, but if there is something like that, that's where we'll start our search. I doubt your birth mother is teaching pole dancing."

"Makes sense. But gosh, I hope she's not doing that. That would be super-weird if she's a stripper, and I wouldn't want to walk in on that. Ick!"

"No kidding. Next, I need to call in to work and get some days off, and finally, we need to drop Indy off at my cousin Jenny's house."

"Why?"

"You ready for this?"

"What, Jeremy? Tell me!"

"No."

"Am I going to have to beat it out of you? I will, you know."

"I don't doubt that, young warrior. We're going to Vegas, baby!"

"Holy moly chocolate shit on a stick! Are we going to look for my mom? My real mom?"

"Yep. That's the plan. Tomorrow morning we're hitting the road."

"Yay! Super yay! Oh, my God! Oh, my God. I can't believe it! Do you think we can find her? Shoot, that would be so great."

"I'm not sure we'll find her, but let's give it a try. Anyway, we have to get out of here. Those reporters are way too much. If they show up again, I'm afraid of what I might do. Also, I need a vacation, and Vegas seems like a great place we can chill out and go incognito for a few days. School, work, the twins, reporters. I really haven't had any downtime lately. Plus, they have all those great celebrity chef restaurants we need to try out."

"You've just blown my mind. Where…what…wait! I can't even form a sentence here."

I was still laughing when I asked, "Have you been to Las Vegas before?"

"No, never."

"I've been a couple of times. I'm not interested in gambling even though I can now that I'm finally old enough to do it. But there's so much more to do there. We can get a cabana and hang out by one of their outrageous pools, or go on that ginormous Ferris Wheel. Wolfgang Puck has a couple of restaurants, and I've been to Bobby Flays once. It was amazing but ridiculously expensive for Mexican food. I went with Henry when he had a CPA seminar a couple of years ago. Boring! I think Giada has a restaurant there too, but I'm not sure."

"Let's skip that one. She's too…pretentious, maybe? I know chefs have big ego's, but she seems mean. Speaking of monstrous egos, does Gordon Ramsey have a restaurant there? That would be the bomb! He makes killer food."

"I don't know. We'll have to look it up."

"Oh, shit. I'm about to pee my pants, and I'm not wearing anything! This is so great. I can't even believe we're doing this."

"Please, buddy, I'm totally not into watersports. Where would you like to stay?"

"I know exactly where. That big one with the fountains out front that dance to the music. I don't remember the name, but I saw it somewhere, and it looked totally awesome. But if that's too expensive, it doesn't really matter to me. As long as I'm with you and the room isn't full of cockroaches and bedbugs, I'm happy. We can stay anywhere. Some weird Tiki motel for all I care. And we might meet my real mom! Super yay! This is so exciting I can hardly stand it."

"Okay, first, we may not find your real mom. You need to be ready for that. And secondly, if we do find her by some crazy twist of fate, she might not want to talk with you. If that happens, promise me that you will respect her wishes, no matter how hard that will be for you. Or her. It might be too overwhelming for her to be surprised like that. She might have her reasons, or she might be blindsided, or whatever. She may even have a family of her own that knows nothing about you. That would be difficult for everyone. Let's not go into this thinking everything's going to be rose-smelling farts. Unfortunately, life doesn't work perfectly the way we want. At the very minimum, we'll have a few days to do all kinds of crazy fun things and eat like kings. And I'll be right by your side for whatever happens if we find Eve, okay?"

"You're so great. Thank you for…all of this. But what do you want to do? There's got to be something special for you, too."

"There is. Ever been in a helicopter?"

"Oh, shit, no. That sounds so cool. They fly around the strip, right?"

"Yeah. That's on my bucket list. I'd like to do that with you. I think that would be so amazing and romantic, especially at sunset."

"Jeremy, I can't even thank you enough for all of this."

"Then don't. Zach, there's one more thing we have to do before we go. It's kinda awkward."

"What's that? Pack?"

"Well, yeah. But, that's not really awkward. In the morning before we take off, we need to get tested."

"Tested?"

"Yeah. Tested. Is that okay with you, or is this too fast? I thought Vegas would be a great place for us to go wild with the butt sex and give it a try. But only if you're ready. There really isn't any rush, it's just that –"

"Yes! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! I want to feel you inside of me like, I don't know what. I've dreamed about you doing that with me ever since we sat out on the curb all those years ago. I can't wait for you to fuck me."

"Hold it right there, buddy. Stop. I will never, ever fuck you. Get that word out of your head right now. What I will do is make crazy, sexy butt love to you, to use Bella's words, but I will never, ever fuck you. That, I guarantee. And, I expect you will do the same to me. It's not a one-way street here."

"You want me to do you? I just figured you were a top. And I'm pretty sure I'm a bottom."

"Truth?"

"Of course."

"Like I said before, sex with Trevor wasn't all that great. He was too rough, to aggressive, and very cold. I usually topped him, because that's what he wanted, and the couple of times he topped me I didn't particularly like it. To me, it was just sex, or fucking, basically to get him off. That's why I wasn't with him for very long, and why I haven't met anyone I want to be with since then. Sure, I got off, but when I went home, I felt…unfulfilled, I guess. Lonely. And cold. But with you, I know it's going to different. What we're going to be doing is making love. There's a big difference between fucking and making love. I want to make love to you, Zach. Plain and simple."

He didn't say anything, and instead landed on top of me and gave me the best kiss ever. It was so passionate that he looked like he was near tears. The right kind of tears for a change. That very second, I knew this relationship was going to be a fantastic thing.


"Zach! Ready to go? Are you packed? We need to pick up the pizzas from Carmine's and head over to cousin Jenny's house. Where are you?"

"I'm right here," he said as he came out of the bedroom. "Please don't be mad at me. It's a mess in there. I was going through all my stuff we brought back to make sure I had clothes that would look nice when we go out to all those fancy restaurants."

"And?"

"Jeremy, nothing fits, and they're too old anyway. I tried on a pair of nice pants, and I swear, if I popped a woody you could see it from space since they're so tight."

"Maybe we should keep those. I'd like to see you in them."

"No way. Anyway, my dad hasn't been around much since I was fifteen, so actually, outside of school, I haven't really been anywhere in the last three years. Weird question. How much would a hitman cost? Can we hire an Italian Mafia guy to do it? Sicily isn't that far from Malta, you know."

"It would cost way more than you have, and seriously, you don't want to do that. No offense, but you wouldn't last a week in prison. But I get that's wishful thinking."

"Crud. Do you think we can we stop at some mall before we make it to Vegas? I want to look nice for you. I have cash, and it's dry now."

"Yes, and no. Yes, we can stop at a mall somewhere and get you some new clothes. I think there's actually a couple of outlet malls along the way. And no, that's all the money you have, and I'm not going to let you spend it. You need it for culinary school. I'll take care of it."

"But –"

"No discussion on this, so just pull the car over and put it in park. I told you. I have the means to do things like this, and I want to do it. All I want is to see you happy. Besides, I get veto power."

"Huh? What does that mean?

"As an example, let's say you pick out some cheap-ass tighty-whiteys from Walmart. I'll vote nay, and instead, we'll go to Hollister and get you the sexy tight, colorful briefs that show off all your awesome assets. I'd love to see you dance around in nothing but those. Or better yet, a hot black jockstrap that shows off your amazing butt."

"Oh, God. You keep turning me on. And you're way too nice. How can I ever pay that forward? I mean, everything you've done, and are doing for me. I don't have anything to give you."

"But you do! You just don't realize it. You make me happy. Happier than I've been in a long, long time. You're a great chef, and your kind, and funny, and sexy as all hell. Zach, you're beautiful, inside and out. You know how you can pay me back?"

"How?"

"Continue being you, just like you are. Do you want to know one of my favorite things about you?"

"Um, not sure, but go ahead."

"When I wake up in the morning, you've moved out of my arms, and you're practically on top of me. Your head's on my chest, and your arm is holding tight to my stomach. Sometimes, you have a leg over me too. Zach, that's the best way to wake up. It's nirvana for me. And you do it in your sleep. That says a lot. It's the most beautiful thing ever, and I want to wake up with you like that every day of my life."

"You do?"

"Yes! I want to protect you, and you do the same for me even if you're doing it subconsciously. Who do you know that has that kind of connection, that special magic? It's rare. So please, stop doubting yourself. Let me do my thing, and you do your thing. No excuses, okay? So, you be you, and I'll be me."

"Okay. I will. I promise."

"Awesome."


"I should warn you," I started, once we left Carmine's with the pizzas, "my cousin Jenny and her wife have five-year-old twin girls. Everybody calls them the Purple Princesses. For some reason, twins seem to run in our family. Just so you know, they're kind of a handful. So fair warning."

"What's that mean?"

"They like attention. A lot of attention. I'm glad Indy's here so they can play with her. Otherwise, they'd be doing our nails, making us read stories to them or play dress-up –"

"So just normal little kids, right?"

"Yeah, pretty much."

"No problem. I love kids. Bring 'em on, I say."

"Wow. Look at you!"

"Why are you surprised? I didn't have any brothers or sisters, and I missed out on all that. So, yeah, I can deal with this. No worries."

"You continue to surprise me, buddy, you really do."

"I hope that's a good thing."

"Oh, it is. Can you get Indy off the pizza box? She's going nuts back there because it smells so delicious."

"On it."

We hadn't even rung the bell when we heard the shouts from the girls running down the hall inside the house. "Mommy! Mommy! Cousin Jeremy and Indy are here," one said.

"Can we open the door?" the other one said.

"They're hard to tell apart, Zach," I said.

"No worries. Like I said, I got this." I gave him a quick kiss on the cheek when the door slammed open.

"Cousin Jeremy! Indy! They're here!" One of the twins shouted.

"Hey? Who are you?" the other one asked Zach. They were wearing matching lavender princess dresses with huge ruffles.

"Wendy, Lisa, where are your manners?" my cousin asked as she followed them out on the porch to greet us.

"Sorry, mommy."

"If you invite us in, pretty Purple Princesses, I will introduce myself. You must never, ever keep a Prince waiting." That got a snort out of me, and a bark of laughter out of Jenny. Zach was full of all kinds of crazy surprises I had no idea about.

"Guys, come in. Give me those pizzas, Prince, and I'll keep them warm in the oven," my cousin laughed and gave him a wink. "Hi, Indy-girl."

Once the door was closed behind us in the small, craftsman-style house, Zach leaned down in a bow of reverence and respect and said to the little ones, "To answer your question, I am Prince Zachary of Appolina. It is my great pleasure to meet the esteemed Purple Princess, Wendy and Lisa. I have heard much about you in my faraway land. If I am not being too bold, may I ask who is who?"

"I'm Wendy!"

"And I'm Lisa. Are you really a Prince?"

"How dare you scoff at me! Are you really Purple Princesses?"

"Of course we are! Can't you tell?"

"What's wrong with you?" Wendy said, or maybe it was Lisa.

"How come you aren't wearing purple?"

"That's the color of royalty, you know."

"Indeed, it is, beautiful princesses. Unfortunately, for the moment I am lost, sadly, without my kingdom, my castle and my wonderful subjects, so I must travel in disguise," he said. "But I do wear purple undergarments."

"Oh, you're good, buddy," I whispered.

"Told you so."

"Mommy, can we show Prince Zac-ray of Applesauce our room?"

"Of course. Be quick. It's going to be time to eat soon."

Once Wendy and Lisa yanked Zach down the hall, Jenny asked me, "That's the poor kid with the idiot producer for a dad, right? The one that did all those nasty things to his actresses and then skipped the country? I saw your friend toss that reporter in the pool on the news. That was so amazing. I'd love to do that."

"Yep, that's him. And really was amazing. Zach totally surprised me."

"How do you know him? And how is he so mature and calm? I'd be a basket case if that happened to me. And his mom! Did she really commit suicide a few days ago?"

"Yes. Yes, to all of that. Jenny, it's been so tough on him. It really has. But he's a great, great guy, and seems resilient. There's a whole lot more to it, but we really don't have time to talk about everything he's been through because it's not for little ears to overhear. But I will say this. He's the most remarkable man I've ever met."

"What's that mean? Oh. OH! I get it now. You and him…you're in love! Jeremy! That's so great!"

"Yeah, I guess we kinda are, even though we haven't said it yet. We're working up to that. We met five or six years ago when Randy and Ricky were in AYSO and had pool parties after soccer practice. Zach was on their team. For some reason, he and I bonded back then, and now…well, it's just great. He needs help, and he has no one. That's why you're watching Indy. We're headed to Vegas tomorrow to see if we can track down his birth mother."

"That's huge! I'm so happy for you. Both of you! I can't wait to tell Mindy. She's going to be over the moon for you guys. She's also going to be jealous she wasn't here to meet him."

"Where is she, by the way?"

"Doing a double shift at the hospital. Mindy hates it, but the money is too good to pass up. So tell me, how did you find out about his birth mom? And does she want to meet him?"

"Fiona and I helped Zach go through his dad's mansion in San Marino before it got locked up in a foreclosure sale. I was lucky to find his birth certificate in his dad's office. Long story short, his bio mom was a twenty-three-year-old Broadway dancer when she had him. Zach's dad paid her a settlement and then kept the kid as his own. What a fustercluck."

"I'll say. Well, good luck. I hope everything turns out all right. You know, though, that it might not. She might not want anything to do with him."

"I know. I've been upfront with him about that, getting him prepared in case that happens. So we're taking a few days to have some fun, and if it works out with his mom, then great, and if not, well, maybe she'll come around some day. That's all we can do."

"Good call. He's lucky to have you by his side. And from the little I've seen of him, you're lucky too. Finding the right one is hard. I hope this works out for both of you. You deserve someone special in your life."

"Thanks, cuz. That means a lot."

"Hey! You're not going there to get married, are you? Your sister would be so pissed."

"No," I laughed. "We're not ready for that. Besides, if we should ever do that, we'd want the Purple Princesses in the wedding. One can walk Indy down the aisle, and the other could drop purple flowers."

"They would love that. And they adore you, so that would be fabulous. We better go rescue Prince Applecake before the purple monsters paint his fingernails violet."

"You're probably right. They've been awfully quiet."

We headed down the hall to the girl's bedroom, but stopped short when we heard Zach telling them a story. Apparently, they were mesmerized.

"…The little girls and boys ignored their parents, as they continued dancing and dancing and dancing. And sure enough, just like the elders had warned them, they began to rise up off the grass. They were slowly defying gravity and were floating off the earth because they were spinning and dancing so fast."

"They did?"

"They did. And you know what?"

"What?"

"Tell us, Prince Zach."

"They started to fly. Not so high at first, which was good because the parents could still reach their feet, but then, the little girls and boys continued to disobey their parents by singing and dancing, and twisting and turning as they floated higher and higher, so they were just out of their parents reach. The kids started to become a blur, they were moving so fast. The parents were so scared, but the boys and girls were filled with so much joy they couldn't stop. You know what happened next?"

"No. Please tell us."

"Well, this is the sad part, and why you should always listen to what your mommies tell you. They flew so high that you couldn't see them anymore. The kids flew way past the moon, and Venus and Mars, and then there was this terrific light in the sky. Kinda like fireworks but way better. Can you guess what happened?"

"They died?"

"Nope."

"They're with Jesus and his cousin Santa?"

"Oh, no. They turned into stars. And even though that was a thousand years ago, those girl and boy stars are still there, shining down on us and watching over us, and all their relatives. Both to keep us safe and to remind us that we have to listen to our parents and elders. So…what did you learn from that?"

"Don't dance and spin around too fast?"

"Very good."

"And listen to mommy and mama."

"That's right. You two are very smart. No wonder you are princesses. C'mon. Let's see if that pizza is ready. I'm hungry."

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