Summers End

by Ryan Bartlett

Chapter 5

Jillian

What is it about teenage boy's that makes them think their parents are so oblivious? Don't they realize we were young once too? In the week since we've been at Summers End Alec has gone from sullen and mopey to lovesick. I think it's cute how smitten he is with Thomas and I think Thomas will be a good influence on him. They'd probably be mortified if they knew I was on to them but it's a secret I'm glad to keep so long as they seem happy. Frankly it's a breath of fresh air.

Alec has been so unhappy since being kicked out of St. Albans and I can't say that I blame him. I don't think he could have been more embarrassed then when the headmaster made him tell me why he'd been expelled. I wasn't concerned about his homosexuality. I think I've always known my baby was different. What concerned me was his casual attitude about sex. I've had the talk with him. I know he understands the dangers but that didn't stop him from having oral sex with a boy he hardly knew in a semi-public locale.

If Alec has a fault it's his hot blooded nature. He's always been a passionate boy and maybe that's my fault? I know I've over indulged him over the years but the truth is I do feel guilty for dragging him around the world covering one story to the next. Military school isn't the place for him. That was his father's idea and I made the mistake of agreeing. I'm sitting in the study again and I'm watching the boys play catch out on the expansive lawn. I haven't seen Alec this happy in a long time and I think maybe it's time to give up the life of the globe-trotting journalist and focus on being the mom he needs while I still can.

"Oh this is a good one," said Mrs. Lodge.

"I'm sorry, what?" I replied as she brought my attention back to the project at hand. We were going through decades of Lodge family photos that I might use for my book on Henry.

"This is a picture from Henry's first campaign for the House. His father promised he'd raise all the money Henry needed to win but Henry didn't want to run a flashy television campaign. I think he drove that silly little convertible to every town in the district but it worked. People really responded to him," said Mrs. Lodge as she handed me the picture of a smiling Henry waving from the driver's seat of a red convertible with a magnetic "Lodge for Congress," sign stuck to the door.

"He's always had a way with people. Even back in college," I agreed.

"I wanted to ask you dear, were you and Henry…"

"Ever an item?"

"Call it a mother's curiosity," said Mrs. Lodge. I think there was more to it than that. Helen Lodge was an astute woman and based on things Henry's mentioned over the course of our friendship, his mother is well aware of his promiscuous past.

"Briefly. If things had worked out differently Alec might have been his," I smiled. "But we discovered early on we worked better as friends then as couple."

"It's funny, you're just the kind of woman I've always wanted for him. Smart, pretty, and I'll wager you never put up with any of his funny business."

"I assure you Mrs. Lodge, I've never given funny business any quarter," we laughed together.

"I do so look forward to meeting Christine this evening," said Mrs. Lodge. Henry called earlier in the week to announce he and his fiancé would be visiting for the weekend. He said it was to go over some details for the book and make sure I was getting the information I needed but when we spoke I got the distinct impression he was worried about introducing Christine to his mother. It's so refreshing to see a grown man still afraid of his mommy.

"I think you'll like her. She's presented herself as a poised and confident woman, the few times I've met her. She'd be an ideal first lady," I winked.

Mrs. Lodge smiled and we continued to sort through pictures until I found one that caught my eye. It was a picture of a little boy, 12 at most, dressed in his school uniform with his short brown hair neatly combed and his bright green eyes sparkling with excitement. I was certain I'd seen those eyes before and I knew exactly where.

"Oh this one's cute," I smiled and handed it to Mrs. Lodge. "Is that Thomas?"

She put on her half glasses and laughed when she examined the photo.

"Heavens no! This picture's nearly thirty years old. That's Henry on his first day of 6 th grade," she explained.

"Oh, you know I thought the paper was a bit older. May I see it again?"

"Certainly dear."

I examined the photo closely and the resemblance was striking. The hair was the same color so were the eyes and there was a smirk that was trademark Henry Lodge but I'd seen that smirk several times this week on the face of Thomas Dufrain. My journalists mind started to churn and I set the photo aside as I took out a pad to take notes on.

"Alec is so taken with Thomas," I smiled and looked out at the boys playing on the lawn.

"That boy is the delight of my life," Mrs. Lodge grinned. "I'm glad he has your son to keep him busy this summer. A young man shouldn't spend all his time under an old lady's thumb."

"Come now Mrs. Lodge, you're not that bad," I grinned.

"I'm an old fuss budget and don't argue. It's the one thing I'm certain about."

"How did Thomas come to be in your care? Henry mentioned his mother was a friend of the family?"

"Actually dear it was his grandmother. We were old friends and when her daughter was killed in that dreadful accident leaving that boy alone in the world, well, I simply couldn't think of him spending one moment in foster care."

"What about his father?"

"Unfortunately I never met the man," Mrs. Lodge pursed her lips. "From what I understand he left the picture shortly after the boy was born. No, Summers End is Thomas's home as much as it is mine now."

"That's very kind of you."

"It was the right thing to do," said Mrs. Lodge.

"What was his mother's name?" I asked as I scribbled notes on the pad.

Alec

"Are you bored yet?" I asked as I threw the ball to Thomas.

"We have been at it for a while," said Thomas as he caught the ball with a resounding smack of leather on leather.

"We could go sailing," I grinned mischievously.

"There's an idea," Thomas smiled back.

"Race you to the boathouse!" I laughed and ran towards the waterfront.

Thomas grabbed his backpack and chased after me. We'd been planning to go sailing after our game of catch and the backpack contained towels, sunscreen and a couple of bottles of water. We've been sailing every afternoon since I got here and like a good little Boy Scout, Thomas is always prepared.

We took the same little sailboat we've been using all week and Thomas guided us to the cove near Sandkaty Lighthouse. We stripped off our clothes and skinny dipped for a while, splashing and playing in the surf. The first time we did this Thomas was shy and tentative but now he's more relaxed and carefree. We've agreed to take things slowly and I think that's good for both of us. Neither of us wants to get hurt. That said, I'm glad he's comfortable being naked with me. We aren't having sex but at least I get to peek at his lovely boy bits.

I'm falling for Thomas and hard. It's only been a week but just being near him makes me feel special and worthy. He's not just cute he's proven to be smart, funny, talented, kind, caring and loving. He's everything I've wanted in a boyfriend but never thought I deserved. It's only been a week but already I feel like I'm a different person. I'm not the guy that blows some random dude anymore and good riddance. I didn't like the way I felt when I was that guy. I like the way I feel when I'm with Thomas.

When we were done swimming we toweled off and rubbed sunscreen on each other's hard to reach places. Then we snuggled together on the deck of the boat, naked as the day we were born. We had our arms around each other and we kissed gently as the boat swayed on the waves. I put my hand on Thomas's firm stomach and luxuriated in the softness of his skin. I could feel him all over me. I breathed him in with every breath I took and all I wanted was more.

"Oh, I almost forgot," said Thomas as he pulled away and reached for his backpack. "I've got something I wanted share with you."

"What is it?" I sat up excitedly. I love surprises but I wasn't surprised when Thomas pulled out a book. He's so scholarly.

"I found a poem that made me think of you," he smiled.

I was touched. No boy has ever wanted to recite poetry to me before.

"It's called Longing, by Matthew Arnold," said Thomas.

"Come to me in my dreams, and then
by day I shall be well again!
For so the night will more than pay,
the hopeless longing of the day."

"Come, as thou cam'st a thousand times,
a messenger from radiant climes,
and smile on thy new world, and be
as kind to others as to me!"

"Or, as thou never cam'st in sooth,
come now, and let me dream it truth,
and part my hair, and kiss my brow,
and say, my love why sufferest thou?"

"Come to me in my dreams, and then
by day I shall be well again!
For so the night will more than pay,
the hopeless longing of the day."

"Thomas, that was really pretty but what made you think of me?"

"I think it's the "my love why sufferest thou?" part. All this time I've been so afraid of being gay. I just needed you to come and set me free," Thomas smiled.

It was the sweetest thing anyone's ever said to me. I started to get choked up and since I didn't want Thomas to see me cry I leaned forward and kissed him on the tip of his patrician nose.

"I'm happy to have been of service," I smiled at him.

We were both blushing and laughed when we realized how absurd it was so we went back to kissing.

Thomas

I've got a boyfriend! Ok, we haven't exactly called it that yet but what else do you call the most beautiful boy in the world when you're holding him in your arms? A boy you steal kisses from at every opportunity and swim naked with in a secluded cove along the sea? I wasn't prepared for Alec to come into my life but after the week we've had together I don't how I've lived without him all this time.

At first he was bold and brash but the more I get to know him the more he lets his guard down and shows me the tender soul inside. I told him I wanted to be in love and that's what's happening. I'm falling in love with a blond angel! It felt so good to have him in my arms, naked and vulnerable, without a care in the world. I'm as giddy as a school girl…er…boy, school boy.

I knew there were people in the world who experienced love and romance but I didn't think I would ever be one of them. With all my reading I'd begun to see myself as some kind of Dickensian character, the lonely orphan taken in by the generous wealthy family. It's a dramatic image but I'm sure you can see how I might feel that way from time to time. Not with Alec though. I can't explain it. He makes me feel like Superman! I feel like I can do anything when I'm with him. Well, almost anything. As much as I would have loved to kiss him all day I realized it was getting late and with Senator Lodge arriving Mrs. Lodge would expect me to be there to greet him.

"We've gotta head back," I panted as I pulled away from my angel.

"Do we have too?" Alec pouted adorably.

"Fraid so. Mrs. Lodge…" I began.

"Mrs. Lodge, Mrs. Lodge, Mrs. Lodge," Alec mocked.

"Yeah, yeah, I know, I sound like a broken record," I admitted, " but she does a lot for me and I hate letting her down."

"Thomas, I don't think you're capable of letting her down but I understand."

"I don't think I do, what do you mean?"

"Don't you see how she looks at you? She adores you!"

"She does not," I blushed.

"Whatever. You just don't see it."

"Adores or not, the Senator will be here soon and if I'm not there she'll be disappointed."

"Ok, let's go home," said Alec, kissing me between each word he spoke.

We broke into a fit of giggles as we dressed and realized we'd put on each other's underpants by mistake but once that was sorted out we made pretty good time. We returned to Summers End just as Senator Lodge's black Chevy Tahoe pulled through the gate. Mrs. Lodge shot me a look as if to ask where I'd been but she was so thrilled to see Henry she overlooked my tardiness and led us all out front. We waited for the car to stop and then for Henry to open the door for his fiancé.

"Hello mother," the Senator smiled and hugged her.

"Henry, darling, it's so good to see you," she gushed. "And this must be Christine!"

"How do you do Mrs. Lodge," said Christine as she kissed Mrs. Lodge on each of her cheeks. "I've been so looking forward to meeting you."

"And I you dear, and I you," Mrs. Lodge smiled.

"Tommy! There's my boy!" the Senator greeted me warmly. He's always been kind to me. He's also the only one who can call me Tommy in Mrs. Lodge's presence without her pursing her lips.

"Hi Senator," I smiled up at him and then he turned to Alec and his mother.

"It's good to see you Henry," said Mrs. Carstairs.

"You to Jillian, and Alec," said the Senator and then he turned back to me. "Is this guy giving you a hard time, Tommy?"

"Alec? Not at all. We've been having a lot of fun together."

"Good because I've got something for you," said the Senator as he handed me an envelope. "I'm sorry I missed your birthday."

"That's ok sir, you didn't have to get me anything," I replied.

"Open it," the Senator instructed with a big smile on his face.

"What is it?" said Alec as I tore into the envelope.

"Red Sox tickets. Red Sox versus the Cubs tomorrow night at Fenway," I answered excitedly as I pulled the four tickets from the envelope.

"I thought you, me, Alec and Christine could take a chopper up to the city tomorrow evening and watch the boys in red stick it to the Cubby's," the Senator smiled.

"Thank you sir, thank you so much," I gushed. I was thrilled but I shouldn't have been surprised. Of all the Lodge children I like Henry the best and we've always seemed to click. He gives the best presents!

"Happy Birthday," said the Senator and then his fiancé joined us. "Tommy this is the future Mrs. Lodge, Christine DeLaughter."

"How do you do ma'am," I offered her my hand but to my surprise she hugged me instead.

"It's nice to finally meet you Thomas, Henry speaks so highly of you," said Ms. DeLaughter.

"Oh, well it's nice to meet you too ma'am," I blushed.

"Christine, please call me Christine," she smiled like a contestant in a beauty pageant. I'd seen her on the news when the engagement was announced but all I really knew about her was she was pretty and from the Midwest. I've meet dozens of Henry's girlfriends over the years and some of them have been real bitches. Christine DeLaughter, however, was charming and sweet.

"Let's all go inside, shall we?" said Mrs. Lodge. "Dinner will be served shortly."

"He called you Tommy," Alec giggled as we followed the adults inside.

"So, why's that funny?"

"I never thought to call you Tommy, you're such a Thomas," said Alec.

"You mean Thomas sounds more appropriate for someone as uptight as me?"

"Well, I'm sure it's perfectly tight," said Alec as he reached over and smacked my butt, "but I guess I've just never thought to call you anything but Thomas because it fits you so well."

"Mrs. Lodge thinks Tommy is to personal for most people to use but spend more time with the staff when she's not around; most of them call me Tommy. You can call me Tommy if you want," I bushed.

"Well Tommy," Alec snickered, "did you see where we're sitting tomorrow?"

He'd taken the tickets for me when Christine surprised me with her hug and handed them back to me now so I could read the seating assignment.

" This is right behind home plate," I exclaimed.

"Sure is a nice gift," said Alec.

"Yeah, it was really thoughtful," I gushed. "I'm so excited, aren't you excited?"

"Well, I'm more of a Nationals fan," said Alec, but then he leaned close and whispered in my ear. "But I like seeing you excited, it's cute."

I blushed ten shades of red and was grateful the adults were too busy talking to notice. Alec simply grinned that big happy grin of his.

It was a great night. Night's when Henry visits are always more casual. Rather than sit around the dining table that night we ate on the back lawn overlooking Nantucket Sound. Henry's favorite meal is a New England lobster bake and his mother organizes one every time he's here. Basically you build a fire pit on the beach, stack it with stones and set it ablaze. Then you collect seaweed and once the stones are glowing hot you stack the seaweed on top and then the food. Lastly you cover everything with a canvas tarp that's been soaked in sea water. The food steamed for several hours and when it was done we feasted on lobster, clams, sausage, potatoes and fresh corn.

I gorged myself as I giggled with Alec and Christine DeLaughter got the third degree from Mrs. Lodge. By the end of the night we were all stuffed to the gills and I think Christine came out of it with Mrs. Lodge's seal of approval.

It was the end of the week but the beginning of so much more. As I lie in bed that night my mind was occupied by two things, Alec and tomorrow night's baseball game. I was one happy boy.

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