Val 'n Tyne

by Hans Schreiber and Flip McHooter

Chapter 18

Warning! This story is a work of fiction written by a legal age adult. Any similarity between the fictional characters and any live person is purely coincidental. This story contains fictional descriptions of sexual activity between consenting minor youth. If you are under the age of 18, and/or if you are offended by this content, and/or if it is illegal in your jurisdiction to possess or read such material, please leave now and do not read this story as neither the internet host nor the author can be responsible for your actions. Please, always practice safe sex; no momentary thrill is worth your life.

All rights reserved. No part of this story may be transmitted or reproduced in whole or in part in any form or by any means, mechanical or electronic, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the Author or Publisher, except where permitted by law. Copyright (c) 2012 by Hans Schreiber and Flip McHooter.

Val pulled a pair of grey jeans and a black, button-down collared shirt out of his closet and placed them on the bed. He put his grey and black Air Jordan 5's next to them and, after looking at them for a second, nodded his approval. Val went to the chest of drawers to get his black cloth belt out and some black Nike socks. He saw his cell phone on top of the dresser where he had left it charging earlier. So few people texted him lately, that he hadn't even missed not having it with him on the mountain. He pulled out the charging cord and it lit up. He slid the security bar and entered his password. He saw he had four texts from Tyne. An uncomfortable knot started forming in Val's stomach as he was reminded of his need to provide Tyne some sort of lie.

It bothered him to lie. His conscience had been prickling ever since he realized, after accepting Sylvia's offer to go over to her house later that night, he had already committed to go to the early show with Tyne, Nick and Noah. He didn't think he should have to lie to a group of guys about getting a better offer from a hot girl. No guy would fault a bro for taking a shot at being home alone with a chick and having her fix him dinner and all. She'd practically spelled it out that this could be his big night. It could be the moment he would remember his whole life, ranking right up there with riding a two wheeler, catching your first fish, discovering orgasms and making the basketball team. Most likely it would top the list until the birth of his first child, if he decided to have any. His dick puffed up a bit at the very thought of being intimate with Sylvia. Val decided he would just text and ask Tyne for a rain check.

Val tapped on the first text and read, "Morning? What up? Besides that!!! Stoked 4 r d8 l8tr <3 Tyne." Val groaned. The next one read, "Dude, stuff the big trout back in ur pants and text me back!!" Val laughed at that one. The third one read, "Dude, u ok? What up?" Val sighed. Finally, the last one read, "WTF!! U dead? Text me back OR DON'T, whatever."

Val hit reply and pounded out, "went with Sylvia on car ride – didn't get texts." His hand hovered over the send button, but he stopped short of pressing it. He could imagine Tyne's next text asking him where they had gone. What could he say? He couldn't tell him they went to Makeout Meadow. The next question would be, 'what did you do there?' and what could he say back? He couldn't say they made out. Now if it was just a normal bunch of bro's, that would be exactly the thing he would brag about. But this wasn't your regular bunch of bro's, and Tyne was definitely more than just a friend from school.

Val deleted the reply and typed a new one. "Sorry," he typed, "not feeling good. Went to doc. I better skip 2nite. U guys go. Ima just sleep Hugz #3===>~ ~." Val's thumb felt heavy as he poised it over the send button. His stomach fluttered. He did not feel good about lying to Tyne but he rationalized that he had told Sylvia a little lie a few days ago about not feeling well. That night he'd wanted just Tyne's attention alone. They'd ended up snuggling together on Val's bed that night and sharing kisses on the lips and neck. They'd progressed to slipping off their shorts and stroking each other off while they kissed. It had been wonderful. This wasn't so different, and yet, Val knew it was totally different. In the end, the thought of finally doing it with a girl he really liked, and who truly liked him, was too much. He felt his thumb press against the glass screen as his small deception entered cyberspace, hurtling irretrievably towards Tyne's phone. He tossed the phone down and went to find his mom.

"Hey Mom, I'm going out with Sylvia tonight. She's picking me up around seven, okay?"

"That's nice, dear. Will you want something to eat before you go?"

"No thanks. She's making me dinner and then we're going to watch a movie. I'm kind of tired so I'm gonna go take a nap for a couple hours before I get ready. If Tyne calls by chance … umm … never mind." Val didn't think his mom would want to be part of his deception. She hated lying more than he hated it.

"Sounds good."

Val retreated to his room and stripped to his boxers. Then he slid out of those as well and sprang an instant bone. He retrieved a clean doodle rag from under his bed and then crawled under the covers with the blinds drawn. He imagined Sylvia's tight, soft body all naked, a small dark bush between her thighs and her perky tits in his hands. Pre-cum oozed from the tip of his engorged, monstrous dick and he gripped it firmly and began stroking himself. Then he laid his pillows end to end, placed the doodle rag under the upper one and crawled on top of them as he'd done so many times in so many fantasies. He slipped his large tool between the crack where the two pillows met and began furiously humping into them. Before he reached the point of no return and spilled his cum, however, he pulled out and thrust his hips high up off the bed to prevent any further stimulation so he could calm down. He badly wanted to shoot, but he didn't want to spoil it for later. He needed to control himself, he thought, and save it for the big event later on with Sylvia in person.

After an extended period of relaxation and mind control, Val's throbbing dick weakened and retreated and he rolled over, fixed the pillows, tossed the rag back under the bed and drifted into a half sleep. He hadn't been like that for very long when his mom barged into the room with the phone to her ear and found him apparently asleep under the covers. The sheet formed an outline of his chiseled, athletic form with a large bulge between his hips. "No, I'm sorry Tyne," she said softly, "Val's sleeping right now." Then he heard her say, "Yes, he had a rough morning, but he's doing much better now. There was a pause and then she continued, "Okay, I'll let him know you called and you'll see him tomorrow. Oh, he told me that he and Vi are attending church with Sylvia tomorrow morning from around ten to noon or so. Be sure to call before you come over to make sure he's home. If you want to stay for Sunday dinner, you're more than welcome to join us. We're having pot roast." Finally, after Tyne begged off, she said, "Bye. Thanks for calling." Val smiled inwardly. His deception had worked and he drifted off into a deep REM sleep.


"Where's Nick?" Tyne asked Noah as he hopped into the front seat of Noah's mystery-model, multi-colored beater. The seatbelt hook took a second to catch right, and after he wiggled around in his seat to make sure the belt was tight around him, he asked, "When are you going to get this freakin' thing fixed? It needs some serious major rehabilitation, dude. I swear I take my life in my hands every time I go someplace with you. And it stinks in here! Is this your and Nick's love pit?" The car made a hasty lurching sound and sick squealing screech trying to back down the driveway, stalling twice before it final took.

Noah just sighed. "I know, I know. My dad's gonna work on it tomorrow for me. He promised. He's going give it a good douche, I think. Maybe an enema, too – I don't know. He brought some supplies home from work. Anyway, I talked to Nicky and when he found out Val wasn't feeling well, he decided to take a rain check too. His mom was riding his ass like crazy for never being home lately. He said tonight was a Law and Order SVU marathon and that's about the only thing they have in common. He said his mom goes all out and makes popcorn with garlic salt and anchovies. Ooohhh boy! Yum! Big deal. Remind me never to have dinner over there. She probably shoves corn kernels up the chickens butt and calls it poppin' pollo."

"Ick. That's just disgusting. Where do you come up with crap like that? It's not like that's gonna happen anytime soon for me, but you might get invited over for dinner. You're into all that weird, Whole Foods cuisine, though. Does his 'rents know you guys have hooked up?"

"Nah, no way. I don't think so. Nicky's kind of tight-lipped about them. I guess they had him late in life and when he popped out, fresh outa her hoo-haw, it kinda threw a wrench into their professional plans. It wasn't like they had mariachi's blasting in the delivery room or anything. He gets along with them okay, I guess, but not like we do with our 'rents. We're lucky like that. He really loves his housekeeper though – he can't stop talking about her. She sounds really cool and funny and he says she's the one who takes care of him. He wants me to meet her someday soon. So, it's just you and me, pussycat. What do you want to do tonight?"

"It's still kinda early. Let's go see your friend King out at the Commons. Maybe he can help me figure out my dilemma with Val and Dane, and at the very least, let's see if he can hook us up with that car wash idea we talked about."

"Yeppers. And maybe if you're lucky, Dane will be working at the Subway and you two can make goo-goo eyes at each other over the meat counter. Maybe you could sneak a peek at the 6" sub in his pants or just admire his fresh, warm buns."

"Ahhh, no. Let's just stick with the art gallery first, and see what happens next, okay?"

"My wish is your command, T-Bone. But seriously, you really should give Dane a try. He's the best thing you've got going. I mean, I'm not going to run off to New York and marry Nicky, but he's the hottest and coolest guy for me – for now at least. And that's how we both like it. No drama. We both get what we want out of it. You should give Dane a try. Try out some of that man-meat, girlfriend. It's so much better than the poppin' pollo."

"I don't want a wham, bam, thank you man. I want somebody to love. Full – On – Love. Is that too weird? I honestly think I have something real with Val, if he'd just get a grip and accept it."

"Yeah, well – oh god! look out! – that was a close one, yeah?" Noah swerved hard left into oncoming traffic and then back hard right causing Tyne's head to smack the passenger side window. "I hate running over squirrels. Val's never going to be your 'forever' husband, Tyne baby. Just not going to happen."

Tyne rubbed his head, thankful he triple checked his seatbelt, and said, "That wasn't a squirrel. That was more like a wildebeest. Pay more attention, will you? One rollover per year's enough for me. At least I'm not naked this time. But yeah, maybe Val won't be my forever husband, but why can't he be my 'for now' boyfriend? I want a real boyfriend with some real emotional attachment to it. Not just fooling around. I'm not stupid; I know high school romances seldom last forever, straight or gay, but at least I want to believe there's a shot for it happening. Otherwise, I'd rather just wait. If I can't be his lover, I still want to be his friend and sex messes that up. You know I'm right about that. That's why we've never done shit. You know those what-if's that always are in the back of your mind fifty years later like older people are always talking about? Why do I have to give up so easily on Val 'n Tyne and spend my life wondering 'what-if'?"

"I'm thinking, that forever love never happens, T," Noah said. "And so what? Chances are that those what-if's that they yack about wouldn't have been any better than what they ended up with. You gotta live in the moment. Dane is in the moment. King's one of those older people with the experience to help you out. Ask him about that whole regret issue you got going on in that Mongolian goulash brain of yours."

"Yeah, I guess. Dumbass, Mongol's don't make goulash, they make Boodog. Besides, you shouldn't be talking, your brains are like concrete, thoroughly mixed up and permanently set. You sure this King guy's cool?"

"Oh, yeah. You'll like him." The boys pulled into the Commons parking lot and Noah slipped his beater into an empty slot. They were out and walking almost ten feet away when the heap finally shut off, making them both laugh. No one was in the gallery, except they could hear King on the phone back in his office, so Noah showed Tyne some of the prints he and Nick had looked at earlier. They wandered around until King popped out.

"Noah! It's a pleasure to see you again," King said warmly, shaking his hand.

"It's good to see you, too. This is my friend Tyne."

"Tyne, what an interesting name. Any relation to the actress?"

"No, sir. It's actually Spaulding von Tyne, Junior, if you can believe it. But everybody calls me Tyne."

"Well, Tyne, it's very nice to meet you. Noah, how is that handsome boyfriend of yours? He didn't come along, did he?"

"No. He's doing fine. We've been seeing so much of each other lately that his mother put her foot down for some family time," Noah said.

"Still madly in love, I take it? That's just wonderful. I'm so happy for you. Tell him hello for me, will you? So, what brings you gentlemen out to my gallery today?"

"Two things, really. Our friend, Val, was in a roll-over accident – well, actually Tyne was with him too. He rolled his truck into a stream up in the mountains …"

"Is he okay? Tyne, are you all right?" the older gentleman asked, suddenly concerned.

"Oh yes. I'm fine. Just had a few cuts and scratches. Val didn't do as well, actually. He had some head trauma and he's still out from school. But I think he'll be all right. I hope so at least."

"He's very depressed," Noah added. "And that's kind of why we're here. We wanted to do something to cheer him up. Val took Tyne to go fishing and four-wheeling and when he rolled his truck it was totaled. They had to tow it out of the stream and now it's rusting in his backyard. We were thinking of having a car wash on Saturday to help raise money to get him a new truck. But we need a sponsor and Nick and I thought of you. Since Val is Captain of the basketball team, it would tie in to your sports exhibit if we had it out front of your store. It wouldn't cost you any money, and it might even get you some sales."

"Oh my, what an interesting offer," King said thoughtfully, stroking his gray goatee. Then, looking at Tyne, he asked, "Say, was that your naked bum on the news the other day?"

"I'm afraid so. I'm still chafed about that," Tyne whined.

"I wouldn't be. You have a marvelous tush. Seeing that on the morning news was better than three cups of coffee. Now if my wrinkly old butt was flashed on the tube like that, their ratings would drop all the way to Hades. Say, if you're in high school, you aren't 18 yet are you?"

"No. Why do you ask?"

"Technically, I believe that video of you should have been blurred out. Pixilated, I think the correct term is. Anyway, you might have damages against the station since you're under age."

"Yeah, that's what Noah said too, but my ass is more than a little chapped over that whole ordeal and I just want to put it behind me," Tyne giggled, "so to speak."

"It may be worth having your lawyer write a letter threatening to report them to the FCC. Who knows? You might settle out of court and walk away with enough money to purchase a new truck for your friend. Just a thought."

"I'll think about it."

"Good. If you need the name of someone, just let me know."

"I will. Thanks. But what about helping out with a car wash?"

"We're hoping to get the whole team to help out wearing shorts and tanks. There would be some good eye candy for you, too," Noah said with a snicker. "And who knows? If it's hot out the tanks might come off!"

"Well that certainly adds to the mix. How could I possibly refuse having half-naked young men washing cars in front of my store? Boys, consider it a deal."

"That's fantabulous! Thanks, King," Noah chirped.

"Yeah, that's great," Tyne added.

"I'll have to check with the mall's security, but that shouldn't be a problem since the director is Yanis' nephew and Yanis set him up with the interview for the job. He can rope off an area right out front. What were you boys thinking in terms of advertising? I'll need the sponsoring charity's insurance information for the mall office as well."

"Oh. We really hadn't thought of that. We just wanted to get your okay before we go any further. As for advertising, I guess I could put it on my Facebook page. I'm friends with most of our class. And Nick will call the team and get them all involved," Noah said. "And there's not like an organized charity with insurance and stuff. It's just his friends doing it for him."

"The insurance thing could be a difficulty, though. Also, without an official 503(c) charity, I'm not sure you can get the one day business license from the city. The Facebook and word of mouth advertising sounds terrific though. Here's what else I can do. I can post it on my webpage and send an e-mail to everyone on my customer mailing list. We'll even offer free refreshments. Yanis will love to put that together and he makes simply wonderful snacks. I can also get the mall to put it on their webpage in the upcoming events section. Maybe I can dig around in the back and find an old basketball print that hasn't sold, and maybe we can auction it off. What do you guys think about that?"

"That would be terrific! But don't spend a lot of money," Noah said.

"Nonsense. I told you earlier that we were going to take you under our wing and I meant it. Let this old man live vicariously through you for just a moment, all right?"

"Yes, sir. Of course. Thanks," Noah said.

"Yeah, thanks King. That's great," Tyne added. "I didn't think there would be so many complications just to hold a car wash, though."

"Well, businesses exist to make money. And it's not all that easy, let me tell you! Especially in this day and age. Sometimes I think I should register this gallery as a non-profit. I'd almost vote Republican if I thought I could make some more money, as crass as that may sound. But there are so many other factors to think about. Anyway, the car wash businesses aren't super big fans of fundraising car washes because every car washed at one of those teen-aged boy-flesh or bikini-clad cheerleader spectaculars is one car not being washed by them. I drove past the local high school and the swim team was sponsoring one last summer, and they were working in their speedos. I washed every car I own and even borrowed one from the neighbor … An old man can dream, right? Anyway, they tolerate the youth groups and school car washes because they are legitimate charities and it's pretty unpopular to take on kids' non-profit groups. But, just a car wash without such a charity behind it is likely to get challenged. Besides, without insurance, the mall will definitely not let you hold it here in the mall's parking lot. So be sure and send me the particulars when you figure out what to do about that and I'll give it some more thought as well. So what's the other item you wanted to discuss?" King asked.

"Wow so much to think about, but we're pretty resourceful when we need to be. Tyne here is especially clever when he sets his mind to getting something done. We'll figure out all of the political dynamics of the car wash – don't worry. The other thing has to do with matters of the heart," Noah said, smiling over at Tyne.

"It always does, at your age, it always does," King said, putting a hand over his chest. "Let's go sit down and you can tell me all about it. I'm all ears."

The two boys and the older gentleman went to the back of the art gallery and took seats at King's huge Rococo gold desk. It was littered with art catalogues and an assortment of various expensive looking trinkets and nick-knacks, crystal doo-dads and porcelain gee-gaws. Obviously, he didn't really work at this desk, and probably everything was for sale. "I'm guessing this has to do with Tyne, since Noah, you seem to be getting along just fine with your paramour. Am I correct?"

"Yes. You got it. See, here's the thing. Tyne has it bad for Val, the big, hot bodied, eight pack packing, basketball stud, who took Tyne fishing and rolled his truck, which is why they were on the news. But Val thinks he's straight, even though he messed around with Tyne up at the lake, which is why they were naked on the news and …"

"Noah!"

"Wait just a second, gentlemen. Let me get this right. Val … and … Tyne? Like, Valentine?"

"Yeah, pretty strange, huh?"

"I'll say. The cosmos work in strange and extraordinary ways, don't they? So press on."

"Let's see, where was I? Yeah, they were messing around …"

"He doesn't need to know about that part, Noah," Tyne said. "It's embarrassing."

"Yes he does! Full disclosure, Tyne, so he can really give you good advice here. Where else are we going to get an unbiased opinion?" Noah asked.

"Really, it's fine with me. I told Noah and Nick that we'd love to be their fairy godfathers and matters of the heart like this certainly fall into that category. I promise to treat everything with confidence and the upmost respect. Don't be embarrassed, Tyne. Please. It's all right. Go ahead, Noah."

"So, like I said, they messed around some – I don't really know how far they went because a certain someone won't tell me the particulates – but Val seems to have a girlfriend now. Tyne thinks Val definitely has inner fuzzies for him, but the big stud can't, or won't, make up his mind. I'm guessing his outer fuzzies has the hot's for the girl. Val seems to think he can have both of them."

"Hmm, is that it?" King asked, sensing there was more to the story.

"No, this is the crazy part. There is another hot guy on the basketball team named Dane who has the spicy hots for Tyne, but Tyne won't have anything to do with him because he thinks he can still get Val. So can you talk some sense into Tyne and tell him to go for Dane and leave Val alone?"

"Oh, my goodness. I thought we had it difficult back in our day when it was nearly impossible to find men of our persuasion. Guys back then were always on the down low and never wanted to be in a long and loving relationship like I always wanted. Thank the goddess or whoever above that times have changed, and changed for the better. Well, let's see. First of all, I'm not going to minimize the, umm, discomfort that you're going through, Tyne. I know exactly what it's like to be in love with someone who can't, or won't, commit. It's sad, really, more so for him than for you. Yes, it hurts, but isn't it better to know upfront that that person isn't right for you from the very beginning before you have so much time and energy invested?"

"I guess," Tyne said, dejectedly.

"And you don't ever want to compete with a woman. It's my experience that you'll lose every single time. No matter how nice she may be, women can be ruthless when they spot husband material. That being said, today seems so much more unconventional than in my day. Have you thought of sharing him? What I mean to say is that you could have him on weekends, say, and she gets him on weekdays. That way, he can get all the sex he can handle and you and the girl both get the big stud. Maybe someday getting an apartment or loft downtown where the three of you could live? You could take turns with the holidays, hooking up with the in-laws."

"Umm, no. Are you serious? That would never work. I'm not that new age. I don't want to share anybody, and I'm pretty sure Sylvia wouldn't either," Tyne said, getting angry and scrunching up his face. "No way. I want a committed, long term, loving relationship someday, based on trust and complete devotion."

"Bravo! That was a little test. I would never suggest that. I hope I didn't make you mad, Tyne, but I wanted you to see my point. That would never work, in my opinion. I'm a hopeless romantic and sometimes this world seems like it's moving way too fast for an old man like me. Both you boys seem to be firmly in grasp of your sexuality and you seem to know exactly what you want in life. Just bite the bullet and go for it! You're no different than your straight brethren in that respect. We all want a loving, mature relationship, but you youngsters are so scared to commit. If he can't commit, he can't commit. Plain as day. There are so many other wonderful people out there just waiting for you to discover. You just have to get out there and meet them. It's difficult, and sometimes daunting, but I firmly believe the perfect person is out there just waiting for you to meet him."

"Yeah, I see your point. Unless he decides he's all gay, there isn't any point. I had a feeling that was going to be the answer," Tyne said. "It's just not so easy to accept."

"Please. Don't feel dejected. Tell me about this Dane boy. What's he like?" King asked, trying to cheer up Tyne. "What's he look like? Is he in school? Wants to make something of himself?"

"He's nice. He's cute, too. And he's on the basketball team. He's in an AP class with me."

"He has it really bad for Tyne," Noah interjected. "He pretty much came out of the closet just to get a date with Tyne. And he has the sexiest copper-colored hair. Hey! You remember you showed us those Tuke pictures and we looked at the one with the five guys? Dane looks exactly like the one with the red hair." Noah added, "He works at the Subway sometimes here at the mall. Maybe you've seen him."

"Oh, my. I have. The Italian BMT is one of my guilty pleasures. He's a splendid young man – so friendly and personable. And he's cute, too. He has the most sincere smile, and he certainly never lacks for things to say. He made me a sandwich just the other day. Tyne, in my opinion he'd be a real catch. Grab him while you can and see if he has the potential to be that long term love partner you want so badly. That's what dating at your age is supposed to be about – finding what you do and don't like in a person so when you're ready to settle down with someone, you know what you want. Don't get too hung up in forever after right now. Kids your age can be so impatient."

"Yeah, I know he is. It's just that until I know what's going on with Val, because I don't feel right going out with Dane. It wouldn't be fair to him, or to Val either, really."

"I understand, and totally agree. Well, why don't you do this: From here on out, keep close attention to the way Val behaves? Watch how he acts with you, and with his friend, the girl, whatshername. I think once you really pay attention, you will notice right away exactly where his heart lies. If it's with you, then we'll have a celebration. If not, then you're free to get to know Dane better – much, much better, if you get my drift. Which I have to say, though I've never met Val, I'm seriously rooting for Dane. He's seems to be such a wonderful lad. Just don't take too long in your evaluation or Dane may move on and you lose out entirely."

"I guess you're right. Thanks for talking to me about this. I just wish it was easier," Tyne said.

"Life is full of heartaches, I'm afraid, but they happen so we can revel in the great times when we can be truly passionate with the ones that love us unconditionally. There is no better feeling in the world, my friends. And that makes the heartache worth going through, as hard as it is sometimes."

"King, you're very wise. Yanis must be a very lucky man," Noah said, grinning and thinking of Nick.

"Oh he is. And I make sure he knows it, too," King said with a laugh, then added, "every single day."

"Well, we should be going. I'll send the information for the car wash when we get home and we'll try to figure something out for the charity thing. Maybe the basketball booster club could be the sponsor? Thanks again for helping us out," Noah said.

"That's exactly the kind of sponsor you need. Not a problem on the advice, it's worth every penny you paid for it. Let me know if I can be of any other help. And Tyne, please don't beat yourself up over this. If you ever need to talk again, you know where to find me."

"Thanks, sir. I really appreciate it," Tyne said, as the guys stood up.

"See you soon, then," He said, as he walked back into his office to answer the ringing phone.

As Tyne and Noah walked outside, Tyne asked Noah, "Can you take me by the market so I can get some stuff for my killer chicken soup? I want to put this to the test and drop it off at Val's later tonight. I want to see his reaction and see if King is right."

"Absolutely, sweetie. That's a marvelous idea. Let's roll."


The next thing Val knew, his mother was shaking his shoulder and calling his name. "Val, if you're going out with Sylvia at seven, you should be getting up." Val blinked into consciousness and peered at the alarm clock with one eye. It clicked over to 6:38.

"Crap!" Val startled awake and threw off the sheet and jumped out of bed, forgetting his nakedness. His mother took an admiring glance at her first born before retreating as Val rummaged frantically through his drawers for fresh boxers. He settled on Groucho, thinking he might be able to amuse Sylvia with the cigar trick. He rushed to the bathroom and pulled off a five minute shower. He slathered on some Axe under his armpits and then decided to spray on a little Fierce cologne, compliments of Tyne. He even sprayed some around his pubes and balls before he pulled Groucho on up over his dick and balls. He positioned his dick onto the cigar side of Groucho's face and trotted back to his room. He quickly dressed in the nice jeans and shirt he'd pulled out earlier and then opened the dresser drawer again. He pulled out the magnum sized condom and slipped it into his wallet. He rushed back to the bathroom and was just touching up his hair when the doorbell rang. Nervous anticipation like he hadn't felt since the first day of Kindergarten coursed through him.

He rushed down to find Sylvia in the entry chatting pleasantly with his mom. She looked up and smiled at her son and complimented how nice he looked. Then in her typical embarrassing manner said, "Stand next to each other and let me get a picture of you two. Something you can show to my grandchildren someday."

"I can't believe the things you just randomly blurt out," Val whined. Nevertheless, Val allowed himself to be lined up aside Sylvia and smile while his mom attempted to take a picture on her new cell phone. Finally after three failed attempts, Val snatched it from her and held it out arm's length and snapped a photo. His mom insisted on having Val show her exactly how he did it and she tried it again on her own, insisting that they kiss while she took the shot. Sylvia seemed a bit embarrassed, but thrilled to kiss her handsome date.

After the kiss, Val swept the wisp of hair from her forehead and smiled into her deep brown eyes and said, "You look beautiful." And she did. She had on new jeans, a beige sheer throw over a sleeveless brown, silky shirt that hung from her nice breasts. A gold necklace accented it along with small, gold loop earrings. Her makeup was simple but accentuated her high cheekbones and creamy complexion. Val started involuntarily boning up and quickly took her by the hand and pulled her out the door away from his mom in case she saw the growing bulge in his pants. He was afraid she was going to make some disastrously embarrassing comment like "judging from Val's expanding penis, he's excited for this date," or some equally ridiculous thing.

Instead, Val's mom merely gave the standard drive safe and be careful type comment as Val closed Sylvia's door and made his way to the passenger side. He stumbled briefly on a crack in the driveway and Val had a bizarre thought. He worried that if he did get the opportunity to have sex with her he might miss and stick it in the wrong hole due to his messed up depth perception. The bizarre part, he thought to himself, was that it may be more like having sex with Tyne than Sylvia if he did end up in the wrong hole. He shook the crazy thought, scolded himself, and got in the passenger seat. He waved goodbye to his mother who was standing on the porch with a goofy grin on her face. He didn't even want to imagine what may be going on in her head.

Once alone, Val turned the conversation toward Sylvia and asked what she had planned for the evening. She smiled and said, "Well, a wonderful dinner first. Then we can watch the movie and after that, we can just do whatever until you need me to take you home." She batted her mascara enhanced eyelashes at him as she emphasized the word, 'whatever'. He grinned back and the doodle bug in his pants jumped. He was pretty sure what 'whatever' meant and he was looking forward to it.

There was a lull in the conversation as the 'whatever' word hung awkwardly in the air and left them both a bit speechless, searching for an alternative line of conversation. Val had a momentary lapse of good sense and mentioned that Tyne was going with Nick and Noah to a movie as well. Sylvia seemed to bristle and turned the radio on and asked what time Val's curfew was.

"Eleven, normally. Unless I get advanced approval for later."

Sylvia smiled and said, "I think I can have you home by then."

"That sounds so wrong," Val protested. "It sucks rotten lizard eggs that I can't drive. I hate this crap. I should be picking you up and driving you out on a date."

"Ooooh, it sounds like you and LeBron have another really big thing in common."

"Oh? What else do we have in common?" Val asked with a smirk.

"A big male ego and yours is apparently bruised." Sylvia looked straight ahead as she let her tease settle in.

"Oh really? That's what you think, huh? Well now my feelings are hurt so just turn around and take me back home."

"Okay, if you say so." Sylvia turned on her left turn signal and checked her rear view mirror.

Val laughed, "Kidding! I was just kidding." Sylvia cracked up with him and he leaned over and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek.

"Don't distract me while I'm driving. It's dangerous," Sylvia said.

"I'm sorry. Did you find that distracting? What about this? Is this distracting?" Val reached over and put his large hand on her thigh and began caressing up and down. Sylvia shuddered under his touch and after a few strokes, pushed his hand away.

"Oh that's definitely distracting. Behave yourself," she scolded. Val laughed.

"So you said my ego was the OTHER really big thing that LeBron and I share. What is the first thing?" Val asked with a smirk. He thought he might as well charge up the conversation early and see if he could seal the deal.

Sylvia glanced at him with a demure little blush. "You know."

"No, I don't. Tell me."

She shook her head slightly and snickered.

"It can't be my bank account, that's for sure. So what exactly were you referring to?"

"Your shoe size," she blurted out. "You both have big feet and wear really big shoes."

"Oh. Yeah that's true, I guess." Val lifted one of his Jordan's off the floorboard and examined it, twisting it from side to side. Sylvia looked over and snickered. "You know what they say about guys who wear big shoes, don't you?"

Sylvia tried not to snicker but she tittered in spite of herself. "No," she said, shaking her head and stifling laughter, "I have no idea. Why don't you tell me?" She seemed a bit proud of herself at turning the tables on him.

Val recognized he'd been caught in his own little trap and decided just to try a little blunt shock value. "They say guys who wear big shoes have big sex organs. What do you think of that?" He stared at her intently, smirking.

"Oh that," she retorted without even a pause. "I already knew that, I dated a clown once. Hoooweee, talk about big!"

Val cracked up. He'd been whipped badly at his own game. Sylvia had won, game over, hand her the trophy and bow to the champ. They both were laughing so hard, tears were running down their cheeks. Every time Val would start to gain control, he'd hear her voice in his mind again saying 'Hoooweee!' in a high pitch southern drawl accent. Then he'd lose it all over again and start busting up. Finally, catching his breath he asked, "Shoes, right?" But she just remained silent, making him laugh even more.

He laughed all the way until they reached her house. He threatened her to shut her door when she started climbing out. He got out and went around to open her door for her and escorted her to the front door of her modest house, arm in arm. The smell of Italian seasonings and warm bread filled the space the minute they walked in. Val drew in a deep breath and sighed, "Mmmmm. Smells great. I'm starved. What is it?"

"Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread," Sylvia bragged. "I put my mom's secret ingredient into the meatball mixture. I found her recipe box in a cupboard a few years ago and started cooking some of dad's favorites for him. I called and asked your mom what your favorite meals were and she told me about this chicken casserole she makes that you really like, but it was over my head, so she said spaghetti and meatballs is your second fave. I know how to do that."

"Definitely. I'm totally into S&M. When do we eat?"

Snickering, Sylvia said, "Right now. I'll put it on. Have a seat." Val sat at the table. Everything was all laid out. There were three candles in the middle of the table and after she served up the noodles, sauce with meatballs and the Rhodes Bake 'N Serve rolls with garlic spread, she lit the candles and turned off the lights. She sat across from Val and smiled sweetly through the dancing candlelight. Val spun some spaghetti on his fork and slurped it into his mouth. It was delicious and he complimented Sylvia on it. She beamed. "I made the sauce from scratch, it's not from a bottle. I even made the meatballs by hand."

Val smiled. "Really? Do you enjoy handling meaty balls?"

Sylvia blushed. "You're awful. You're definitely your mother's son. Are all boys like this? And yes, I thoroughly enjoy handling meaty balls, just for your information. The meatier, the better."

"Oh please. Like you girls don't ever go there. Hoooweee!" They both laughed easily. "I have to say though," Val continued with his mouth partially full, "these are some of the best tasting balls I've ever had in my mouth."

"Eww. That's so disgusting. I can't believe you said that."

"What?" Val asked all innocent like. "They are."

Sylvia just shook her head. "So you make it a habit to go around tasting balls?"

"Okay, okay, that's enough of that. Straight up, I love the dinner. The meatballs and sauce are really delicious. They're way different from my mom's. You're a really good cook and this was really nice of you to do all this. And you know, it was really nice of you to take me up to the summit today too. Thank you."

"You're welcome. I just wanted to find a way to say thank you for all you've done for me. You've helped me see myself in a different way. I believe I can be beautiful and that I'm worthy of being … appreciated. That is a special gift and it deserves a special reward." Val felt the strong feelings behind her words and her expression. It suddenly made him a little nervous as he realized she was falling, or had fallen, in love with him. That upped the stakes of what he was hoping for out of the evening. Suddenly he thought of the implications and what Tyne had so adamantly professed about sex messing with friendships. He wanted Sylvia to be a friend with benefits to be sure, but was he ready to have a deeper commitment that most certainly would be expected after going all the way with her? Val gulped and pushed the thought away and smiled back as convincingly as possible that he loved her too. In many ways he did love her. Did he love her as completely as his parents loved each other? Of course he didn't. Did he love her as much as he loved Tyne? When that question pressed into his mind, it shocked him to realize and face that he really did love Tyne. But, in what way and how much? Val stuffed another delicious ball, dripping with sauce, into his mouth and closed his eyes as he savored the flavor and concentrated on that, and that alone.


Tyne climbed from Noah's junker and carefully lifted the pot of soup, still very warm, from the floor of the unoccupied back seat. He carried it to the Hardcastle's front door and rang the bell with his elbow. He was excited to share his killer good, chicken noodle soup with Val. Tyne's mom often said it was so good, it could probably cure anything from the common cold to cancer and he should bottle it and sell it at the pharmacy. The garlic and cloves were his secret part of the recipe.

Mrs. Hardcastle opened the door and was surprised to see Tyne standing there, cast-iron pot in hand. "Hello Tyne. What brings you here?"

"I brought Val some of my amazing chicken soup. My mom says it will cure anything that ails you and if it doesn't, well it's worth trying anyway." He smiled brightly.

"Well that's very nice of you," Mrs. Hardcastle said sweetly. "I wish he was here." Vi slipped in silently behind her mom and smiled brightly up at Tyne. Tyne's countenance fell.

"He's … not … here?"

"No, I'm afraid not."

"Oh, did he go to see the doctor?"

"Mmm, I'm not sure what movie he was going to see. I think Sylvia might have been picking it."

"What? Sylvia? Movie?" Suddenly, Tyne's face flushed hotter than the soup in the pot. "Oh." Tyne struggled to hold composure, but was losing it fast. "I see. Well, here. You guys can eat the soup, I guess then." He thrust it forward and Vi took it by the handles. Tyne rushed off, jumped in the car and said, "Get me out of here, now!"

"Whoa. Okay, T, Settle down!" Noah put it in reverse and pulled out of the driveway and then sped off down the street, smoke pouring out the tailpipe of his ancient ride. Mrs. Hardcastle and her daughter Vi stood staring at them in wonderment as Noah's heap disappeared into the darkness, down around the corner and out of sight. Then it dawned on Mrs. Hardcastle what had just happened. She flinched awkwardly, and started fuming, telling Vi to go put the soup in the kitchen. She stormed off to find her husband, Buford. Then she thought better of that and turned around and frantically marched into Val's room, jerked open his dresser drawer, and pulled out the small sized condom that was laying there all by its lonely self, grabbing it and waving it around like a flag at a soccer match. Where the heck was the jumbo sized one, she asked herself?


After dinner, Val helped clear the table and then they washed the dishes together, against Sylvia's pleadings. "I'm not sticking you with the cleanup," Val insisted. "I do this at home. It's only fair, and no big deal." He grabbed a stained, flowered apron off a hook by the door and put it on over his broad shoulders and began rinsing the pans and plates, playfully laughing and lightheartedly splashing Sylvia along the way. Sylvia joked that he would make someone a good wife someday – if somebody had the cajones to take him. That made him think and wonder how much she really knew about him. Truly knew him deep down into his soul. Judging by his mom's antics recently, women seemed to have a sixth-sense about guys. They retreated to the TV room when all the kitchen duty was done and started the Princess in Paradise movie. Sylvia sat on the couch and snuggled up against Val. They both took their shoes off and stole little smooches now and then.

Val was surprised that even though it was a chick flick plot, the story line was pretty engaging and the characters were well played. A young couple went to Hawaii together so he could compete in a body building contest. During the preliminary competition, a young and beautiful European princess, who was a guest judge, became overwhelmed by the man. He was definitely the hottest looking body builder there competing in the championships. She pursued him relentlessly and the girlfriend became jealous. The body builder and the girlfriend had a fight and he took the princess up on her offer to join her for an evening. In the end, he realizes that the princess is out of his league and that she is mostly toying with him. He misses the real love from the girlfriend whose love is deep and sincere and not shallowly based on lust for his body. He skips his competition to seek his girlfriend out. He finds her on the beach and they fall into each other's arms. He apologizes, presents her with a flower lei and tells her she is his Princess Ka'iulani. Then they find a private cove where they make passionate love in the moonlight to the sound of the ocean waves in the background. Of course, there was no explicit sex portrayed, but it took no real imagination to know what the two shadows were doing together. "Ohhhhh. That was wonderful," Sylvia cooed. "Didn't you love it?"

"Yeah. I wasn't sure I would, but it was pretty good," Val admitted, really stretching the truth. He totally loved the ending and hoped his night would end the same way. Sylvia shut the TV down and turned on some music. It was a playlist of soft rock love songs. "What would you like to do now?" She asked.

Without answering, Val stood and pulled her into his arms. He kissed her and she melted into him. The kissing expanded to groping and soon both sets of hands were roaming freely. Val hardened up quickly while Sylvia moaned softly. Slowly and carefully, Val slid Sylvia's top increasingly higher. He slipped both hands behind her back and unclipped the bra. He waited for a reaction and he got the one he'd hoped for. Sylvia thrust her tongue into his mouth as Val slipped her top off her arms and pulled the bra free, discarding it. Then he broke the kiss and pulled her top over her head and tossed it onto the couch alongside her bra. Sylvia reciprocated and bared Val's strong chest. Now Val moaned as her soft breasts pressed against his naked chest while they made out even more passionately.

After more intense kissing, Val reached up and cupped a breast and Sylvia pushed him down onto the couch. Val lay on his back and Sylvia climbed on top of him. They kissed and writhed against each other. Val could feel the wetness of his pre-cum oozing from his massive erection. Sylvia was nibbling on Val's neck and they rolled off the couch onto the floor. Now Val was on top and pressing his crotch into Sylvia's. A moment of panic swept over Val as he realized he was near the point of no return. Sylvia rubbed and clawed at his back as they kissed and groped. Almost involuntarily, Val began a slow humping motion into her crotch. She squirmed beneath him. She took his face in her hands and said, "Let's make love. You light up my life like nobody else. I want you."

He gasped and rolled off her. He kissed her deeply while he fumbled with the snap of her jeans. She helped him and he pulled them free of her legs and feet. Then he took her underwear and removed the pink, silky panties down off her slender hairless legs and pretty little feet. Her toenails were painted 'Summer Love Red' and that made him catch his breath. He paused and inspected the first fully naked girl he had ever seen in real life. She was an amazing site. She gripped her own breasts and pressed them together as she lifted her knees and spread her legs, seductively showing off her body for only Val to see. Val stared in awe at the moist, quivering vaginal lips. He reached out with a quivering finger and caressed the slippery surface of the open flower. He thought of the many times he'd fucked his pillows and knew it had not prepared him for this moment. Then he caught a whiff of Tyne's Fierce cologne and he actually thought about Tyne's beautiful erection and balls. His firm, tender body and those compelling, sparkling, blue-green eyes. Val froze up tight. He wondered how in the hell he could think of that in such a moment.

Sylvia rose up and opened the front of Val's grey jeans with the wet spot in the crotch from his oozing, rigid dick. He remained frozen in place as this beautiful young woman, who he cared deeply for, spread open his fly and freed his erection. She gripped Groucho's cigar and looked up smiling at Val. "Hoooweee! Those are some big feet you got there," she said.

The humor broke the spell. Val realized he wasn't ready for this. He wanted it, hell yes. He so desperately wanted it, but he just couldn't do it. He just couldn't. No F'n way. Before he could put his thoughts into words, Sylvia scooted up on her bare ass and reached with her right hand to slide Val's boxers off, freeing his big throbbing boner. She gripped his naked shaft with her petite, soft hands and stared in awe and amazement at his huge tool, pulling it gently side to side while inspecting what most certainly was the first penis she had ever touched. The skin felt so soft and supple; stranger than she'd ever thought imaginable. She studied it like a scientist examining a revolutionary new discovery noting every nuance and detail. Val realized he had to stop things from going any further so he took hold of her hands to remove them and try to somehow explain that he couldn't go any further tonight. As he did so, a wave of panic shook him as he recognized the sudden loss of control and emerging orgasm. A moment of panic flashed over him as he realized his body had taken over and he was past the point of no return. His cum was already barreling down the tubes against his will. The first shot landed on Sylvia's neck and the second one shot across her perky breasts. The third shot hit her on her sweet cheek. Then the oozing began and covered her hand and the tip of his dick. Sylvia let out a surprised little shriek. He felt petrified.

"Oh my god, I'm so sorry. I just lost it," Val whined. "I'm so, so sorry."

"It's okay. I know it's hard for guys at first. I read this happens to a lot of guys on the first time. Don't worry about it. Really. I loved making it happen for you."

"This isn't how it's supposed to go. I shouldn't have let this go so far. I'm not sure we're ready to be doing this so soon. Oh god, forgive me, Sylvia." Then his eyes grew wide and he added, "Oh shit, don't let any get near your vagina!" He grabbed her shirt off the couch and stuffed it between her legs.

"Val, calm down. It's okay. Really. It's okay." She reluctantly released his dick that was still oozing and twitching and used his shirt to wipe the dripping cum from her belly, chest and tits. Val excused himself and went to the bathroom to clean himself up. He stuffed himself back into Groucho's face and his jeans that were still damp from the remnants of his leaking pre-cum.

When he came out of the bathroom, Sylvia had put on her panties, pants and another top and had a t-shirt of her father's for Val to wear home. Val hung his head in embarrassment and she moved in close and kissed him tenderly on the lips. "It's okay, Val. I don't care that we didn't do it the way we'd expected. I loved sharing that with you. It was a good first time. Please, don't be embarrassed. I love you."

"Thanks. I … I just didn't plan on that happening like that."

"Shhh." She pressed a finger to his lips. "No more talk about it. Do you want to go home now or just cuddle some more for a while?"

Val sensed her desire to cuddle and felt like he owed her that. She was visibly pleased, relieved, and excited that he didn't want to just rush off. Val left his shirt off and she spread herself across it as they lay together on the couch, quietly listening to the music and gently caressing each other. After a half hour or so, Val said he should probably get home. They kissed one more time and Sylvia drove him home. The conversation was a bit forced and awkward. As Val leaned over for his good night kiss, Sylvia said, "I love you, Val."

Val studied her deep brown eyes and knew he had gotten himself into a pile of something very, very brown. "You're wonderful. Thanks for tonight," Val replied and kissed her lips. Then he smiled tenderly and headed into the house, confused, frustrated and slightly upset to his stomach.

Val was shocked to see his mother up and waiting for him on the living room couch working a Sudoku game. She put down her book and stared at him. "Come here. We need to talk," she said coldly. Val gulped. He knew that tone and he knew he did something wrong.

He stepped off the raised entry way landing and plopped into an overstuffed chair across the room from his mother. "What's up?"

"Nuh-uh. Come over here and sit next to me." Mrs. Hardcastle patted the cushion next to her on the couch. Reluctantly, Val got up, walked across the room and slowly sat down next to her. He put his hands in his lap and dropped his head to stare at them. He sensed a lecture coming on and he was not in the mood. He was pretty much never in the mood for a lecture, but he definitely wasn't in the mood just then.

"Tell me about your date with Sylvia. What did you do?" She stared at the side of Val's face and he didn't look up.

"Ate dinner and watched a movie. Just like I told you earlier."

"Anything else?"

Val drew in a deep breath and let it out. "Not much. We just hung out together." Val almost smiled. Boy, was that ever the most misleading, yet true, statement he'd ever uttered to his mother. Then he added, "Why?"

Now his mother drew in the deep breath and released it slowly. "Tyne came by and brought you some chicken noodle soup to help you get better. He made it himself. I'm guessing he thought you were home sick. Any idea where he might have gotten that idea from?"

The guilt crashed on top of Val and he fought back tears. Big boys don't cry. He shrugged a bit and said to his hands, "From me. I sent him a text."

"Because?"

"Because, I got invited to go with Sylvia over to her house. She's home alone and she made me dinner. But you know that part because you told her what my favorite meals are, right?"

"That's right. But why did you lie to Tyne?"

"She offered that we could watch this movie together. I wanted to go with her after she was so nice to take me on the ride up the mountain. So I got out of my date with … I mean, hanging out with Tyne and Nick and Noah by claiming I was sick. I just didn't want to hurt his feelings."

"I don't think you succeeded there. I think you hurt his feelings quite badly. He asked me if you went to see the doctor, and I thought maybe that was the name of a new movie that is out now. I told him I didn't know what movie you and Sylvia went to see."

"You told him that? Why would you say something like that?" Val complained accusingly.

"Hold on a minute, mister. Before you go using that tone with me, think about it. You didn't bother telling me what you were doing. You cooked up this little scheme and you created the problem. I'm a victim of your lying as well as Tyne. You crushed him. It was very unkind what you did. I'm seriously disappointed in you." That stung badly and Val did begin to cry. Big, stinging drops trailed down his cheeks.

"I didn't mean to hurt anyone, especially not Tyne. I care about him. I'm sorry." Val put his face in his hands in legitimate, heartfelt sorrow.

"Val, I tried to tell you that you were messing with people's feelings when you were in the hospital. It seemed like since you came home that you were keeping everything on a friend's only basis. I told you I would support whatever you felt right about, but I can't support you toying with Tyne's obvious affection for you while you're having sexual relations with Sylvia."

"We didn't."

"Didn't what?"

"Have sex! We didn't have sex."

"Don't lie to me. You took a condom with you and you came home in a different shirt that doesn't belong to you. I wasn't born yesterday and I don't expect you to stay a virgin in high school. I know most kids don't do that anymore. But I do expect you to behave decently and that means not getting it both ways from Tyne and Sylvia. That's wrong if that's what you're about. Tyne has suffered enough loss in his life. He doesn't deserve to be hurt by you."

"Mom! I can't believe you would think I would do that. You think you know everything, but you don't. I'm all messed up. Since my accident, I can't think straight. I like Sylvia a lot. I like Tyne a lot. I honestly think I love them both. Why do I have to choose? I can't choose." Val pulled his wallet out and fished out the magnum condom still in the wrapper. He tossed it on his mother's lap. "I didn't have sex with Sylvia. I planned on it and we even got naked together, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't go all the way because I couldn't do it and then not be fully committed to her. I couldn't stop thinking about what it could do to Tyne if I was nailing Sylvia. Tyne told me once that he and Noah never had sex together because he knew it would ruin their friendship if they did. They decided that it was more important to be best buds. I knew he was right. I couldn't go through with it. I couldn't do it."

"I see. So you spilled spaghetti sauce on your shirt or something?" She started to worry he hadn't used a condom and that scared her.

"No. I spilled my sauce on it." Val decided on full disclosure to his mom. She'd know if he lied. She always seemed to know, and besides, she'd been talking about sex so much lately, he didn't really care if she knew the truth. "Even though I didn't go all the way with her, when Sylvia touched my … down there, I just lost it and … you know."

"Hmm. So you did get sauce on your shirt, just a different kind. White sauce instead of red. Well, this complicates things. You can't keep doing this – stringing them both along. What did you tell Sylvia about why you didn't want to have actual intercourse?"

"Nothing. She just thinks I lost control before we got to it. She doesn't know I planned on stopping."

"Hmm. So do you see the problem you're creating here?"

"Yes! I get it. I hate it. I just F'n hate it. Why is it all so complicated? Was it like this for you and Dad?"

"When I met your father he was dating my roommate's best friend. I kicked that bitch to the curb and paid her cab fare. I knew the minute I laid eyes on him that he was the man for me. It doesn't usually happen like that, but it's been nineteen wonderful years. I love him more today than I did yesterday and I'll love him even more tomorrow. Sex isn't love, Val. Don't confuse that. Sex is a physical expression of love. Love is deep and internal. Tyne is right about sex messing up a good relationship. Be true to yourself. Sort it out. Make up your mind or don't. But be honest. If you can't decide, then be honest with both Sylvia and Tyne. Don't mess with their emotions for your own gratification. You can be friends without having sex. They'll understand. That's not who you are and it's not who we raised you to be. I love you, son."

Val looked his mom in the eyes and with a quivering lip said, "I love you too, Mom. Thanks. I'm sorry for what I did tonight."

"I know you are. Now do the difficult thing and make it right." Val kissed his mom on the cheek and cautiously made his way to his bedroom. He sat in his chair at his desk and stared blankly at his hands. He wondered if this Sylvia and Tyne thing was going to drive him crazy. He wondered why he had to deal with all of this now at his age. Maybe he needed to follow his own advice he'd given to Vi and put all sex off during high school. Couldn't he just be friends with everyone but not have sex involved? He always had his doodle time. That could be enough, or could it? Maybe Nick had it right after all. No strings attached sex. Just play around and not get so F'n emotionally involved in it. How could he know if he was straight or gay if he didn't sample the merchandise? You don't buy an F'n truck without test driving it first.

Val pulled out a piece of paper and a pencil and set his feelings to prose:

The Impossible Choice
By Val Hardcastle

I stand at a fork in the trail
And consider which path to take.
One choice less conventional,
The other I'm expected to make.

One leads to a strong and sturdy tree,
The other path, a flowering bush.
But which choice truly fulfills me?
Whom should my heart entrust?

I've crept slowly down each scary path
But retreated quickly in fear.
It's not like science or even math,
The answers are neither certain nor clear.

To enjoy the fruit of either journey,
The other fruit I must sadly lose.
If I choose the flower you see,
The tree's sweet fruit, I must refuse.

Should I poke out my left eye or my right?
Or does losing both eyes have any merit?
No, all these choices diminish my sight
What use is love, if I cannot share it?

With both eyes open, I choose not to choose,
My pathway perplexes, with no means to progress.
I'm accustomed to winning, neither will I lose;
I cannot love one more to love one less.

I simply cannot choose – such is my plight
So I'll ignore the future and forget the past.
What's left is wrong and there is no right.
I choose not to choose; my die, I will not cast.

Val sighed deeply, turned over the paper, stripped naked and climbed in bed. Sleep quickly overtook him. Tomorrow would be another day.

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