by David Lee

Chapter 63

At the store on Friday night, Bryan approached Jim, the manager, to ask about working hours in the near future.

"Are you going to need more help during the pre-Christmas rush this year?"

"Yeah," Jim replied. "Are you two available to put in more time?"

"Actually, we were thinking of cutting down some." Bryan answered. "But we know a couple of great guys who could use a job. I know you'd be happy to have them."

Jim maintained a straight face, but smiled inwardly. He could figure out the motive behind the guys wanting to reduce their hours. He would bet the store they were trying to help someone out. Well, if Bryan and Zeke recommended them, they should be keepers.

"I am going to need a lot of help between now and Christmas. Then, the new store across town opens in January. A couple or three guys have already talked about transferring over there since it's closer to where they live. I'm sure I'll need at least two or three new people. How soon can they come in and fill out an application?"

Bryan used the rest of his break to make the call to the apartment. It took four rings before Trevor picked up the receiver.

"What are you two horn-dogs doing at the moment?" he demanded with a laugh.

Trevor's giggle told him what he suspected.

"Are you doing THAT?" Bryan whispered into the phone.

Trevor giggled again and then answered.

"Well, there's not a lot on TV since you don't have cable and we've been deprived for a long time…."

This time it was Bryan's turn to giggle. He looked around to see if anyone was listening and then quoted something that Craig Adams had said his platoon sergeant in basic training had yelled every morning.

"Drop your cocks and grab your socks! I have a job interview for both of you."

It didn't take Jim Ackley a New York minute to make up his mind to hire the new kids. They interviewed well. Both had good manners. They were business-like. Neither seemed to have an "attitude," and they didn't appear to be strangers to hard work. Both were physically fit and carried themselves with confidence. They would no doubt charm the older ladies when they wheeled the groceries out to their cars and he expected to get compliments about them from his customers.

Jim would again bet the store that they were accomplished athletes, probably wrestlers. Before the interview was over, he had offered them jobs beginning in the morning. They would be assigned to Bryan and Zeke for a few days to learn the ropes.

Jim was pleased to welcome them onboard. He was not surprised to see that the phone number they gave was for the same land-line Bryan and Zeke shared. He smiled as he saw his newest employees give their two friends the thumbs-up sign. That was followed by some hand-slapping and arm-punching. Their exuberance warmed his heart.

When Bryan and Zeke arrived home at night, they were greeted by two smiling guests dressed in only their underwear. Trevor had purchased a half gallon of fancy ice cream to celebrate their new jobs. He didn't have a lot to spend, but thought he should contribute something.

At least he and Marc had a little money to tide them over, but they would have to watch every penny. Trevor had a small savings account which he had quickly emptied before his mother could get to the bank to make a withdrawal. She might not have gone that far, but he couldn't be sure. It WAS his money.

Marc had done the same thing. The banker was going to call their parents before letting them have the cash, but since both guys were 18, Trevor reminded him it wouldn't be legal to deny them access to their own accounts.

Though Trevor had been very distraught, he had kept his head about financial matters. Now they had to open an account in Cosgrove because they didn't like to have the money lying around even if it was only a few thousand.

The weekend went all too quickly.

Saturday was smooth. Marc had worked for a brief time in a food store before and Trevor picked up on everything quickly. By noon, they didn't need any supervision, but were functioning well on their own. Jim was very pleased as he kept tabs on the new hires from his office which was elevated above the sales floor. He would give these two raises as soon as they were eligible if they kept up their present pace.

On Sunday, all four boys attended church. Trevor and Marc had both been in school choir and read music well. The choir director was pleased at getting two low basses. He invited them to join the group. The Christmas cantata could use more bass.

After church, Grace invited the new boys to join them in the family dinner. Trevor and Marc were hesitant to impose, but Zach took Trevor by the hand, looked up into his eyes, and said,

"You come."

That was a good enough invitation to convince anyone.

Monday was there before anyone could believe it. Bryan and Zeke had to get up early to attend classes. Marc and Trevor were not enrolled yet, so they could sleep in. They were awake enough to appreciate the naked parade going by on the way to the bathroom. The aroma of breakfast cooking kept them from going back to sleep.

Marc reached under the sheet to squeeze his lover's hardon. Trevor returned the favor.

"Man, this thing is so stiff I'll never be able to piss through it!"

When their hosts left, the two boys climbed out of bed and hurried to the bathroom still erect. After some coaxing, the flow did start. Once they had relieved themselves, their cocks wilted to half-mast.

They decided to eat breakfast in the nude. If they were considered adult enough to be on their own, they would by damn do as they pleased! And it pleased them to walk around with no clothes on.

Bryan had cooked an ample supply of little sausages and scrambled eggs. There was plenty left over and Trevor warmed the food in the microwave while Marc got out plates and silverware.

Marc took one of the sausages in his mouth and began to suck on it sensuously. Trevor got a silly grin on his face as he started to stiffen up. He grabbed another sausage and began to mimic Marc's actions. They barely got their food down before they were snacking on each other.

"God, this is like a honeymoon!" Trevor exclaimed. "After all the longing for each other and having to go without sex so often, it's great to be able to make love whenever we want."

"You're so right. And I'm glad you said 'make love' instead of 'have sex'," Marc replied.

"Oh, Baby, you know I truly love you. It's not just about getting off. We've been close since we were little and I want to be with you for the rest of my life."

After that, all intelligible conversation ceased as the boys went to work on a couple of BIG sausages.

They were drifting toward sleep in the afterglow when the phone rang.

"Does that damned machine do this on purpose?" Marc laughed.

Zeke was on the other end saying that the counselor had received their transcripts by FAX from Bentonville High and was working on a schedule for them. If they came to school soon, they could sit down with her to complete registration. Then, they'd be in classes on Tuesday. The news was a mixed blessing. It would be great not to get behind in their school work, but also meant the end of leisurely morning lovemaking.

Within the week, Trevor's grandmother had returned from her visit to Florida. She listened to the messages on her machine and decided that none of them needed immediate attention except the one from Trevor. His voice had a sound of desperation in it although he was talking calmly. The number he had left was a local one.

When Zeke answered, Rena Kilmer wondered if she had the wrong number. Zeke quickly figured out who she was and said he would have Trevor call her back the moment he got home. Rena wondered what he meant by "home."

Just as they were about to end the call, Trevor and Marc came in, so Trevor got to talk to his grandmother immediately. The other three guys stood in silence as they listened to his side of the conversation.

"Well, it's because I'm living in Cosgrove now. No, they're still at their house. Marc is with me. It's hard to talk about. They threw us out because we're, uh, gay."

There was silence on both ends of the phone for what seemed like an eternity. It the little apartment, one could nearly hear the beating of four hearts.

"Are you still there, Grandma? Yeah, I suppose it is. I don't know how I would react if I were you. I had hoped you would understand and maybe let Marc and me live at your house until we go off to college. Oh, I see. Sure. I'll wait to hear from you. Thanks. I love you too."

"Not good news?" Marc asked as Trevor replaced the receiver.

"Well, it's not great, but it's not hopeless. She wasn't ready to hear all of it at once. I probably should have broken the news to her face to face. I don't think this is the kind of news you tell an older lady over the phone. I should probably go over there. I'd like you to come along, but I'm not sure how you'd be received." Trevor said to his lover.

"Would you like to invite her out to dinner or over here?" Zeke asked. "We could clear out for a while to give you some privacy."

"I don't know. We've imposed on you enough. If she doesn't take us in, we might be camped on you for a while longer. I'm sorry."

"Don't be!" Bryan and Zeke said in chorus.

Bryan went on to say how much they enjoyed having Trevor and Marc live with them. Zeke seconded everything Bryan mentioned.

Trevor sat down on the sofa and put his hands to his face. His shoulders shook as he began to sob. Marc quickly embraced his guy. He shed a few tears for his distraught lover as well as for their plight in general. Trevor was always the strong one, the one who could think on his feet. Now he seemed to be at the end of his rope. Marc felt suddenly depressed.

Zeke motioned to Bryan who followed him to the kitchen area. Zeke thought everyone would feel better on a full stomach; so, with Bryan's help, he began making dinner. The aroma of cooking food soon filled the small apartment.

Marc and Trevor got up and began to set the table and to do whatever they could to help. It was a needed distraction for Trevor.

In the midst of this, the phone rang again. Marc answered it.

"Yes, ma'am, both of us. I feel responsible; it was my sister, Mindy, who told on us. That's very kind of you, but we are eating with friends and they're cooking as we speak."

Zeke nudged Trevor.

"Get on the phone and ask her if she would join us for dinner. Better yet, let me do it."

Marc explained to Rena that someone else would like to speak to her.

"Hello, this is Zeke. We spoke awhile ago. We want you to come have dinner with us. No, it's no trouble. It won't be done for half an hour. Yes, I'm sure. Do you like Chicken Marsala? Good! Now tell me where you live and I'll tell you how to get here. Come around to the back of the house, we live in the basement."

While Zeke gave Rena directions, Marc set another place at the table and Bryan went up to borrow an extra chair from Grace before tearing up more lettuce to extend the salad.

Trevor scurried around picking up things and making their bed. The place wasn't dirty, but it had become a bit messy with four guys rushing off every morning and coming home tired to face meal preparation in the evening before doing homework.

By the time Rena knocked on the door, the place was looking presentable if not perfect.

Rena didn't know what to expect. Why had she agreed to have dinner with her grandson, his boyfriend, and two complete strangers? She had been so concerned about Trevor's feelings after she had first talked to him that she was anxious to see him. The stress of the situation had colored her thinking. Also, that Zeke person had charmed her without her consciously knowing it. She felt like he could be her grandson too. What was she thinking? She should have her head candled!

Trevor flung the door open and embraced his grandmother. She was the first relative he'd seen in over a week. She knew about Marc and him and had come to see him anyway. He was feeling pretty emotional while trying to hide it.

His grandmother held him tightly for several minutes. Then she hugged Marc. There were no dry eyes in the room.

As the introductions were being made, Rena's eyes were taking in the apartment. It seemed rather well-kept for being inhabited by young males. The aroma coming from the oven was causing her mouth to water. This was a pleasant place. She could almost feel the love in the air.

When she came to take Zeke's hand, she embraced him as well.

"You are such a charmer! I don't usually allow myself to be lured into the apartment of young men who're strangers to me."

Zeke smiled, "Well, you're safe here. We're pretty harmless. This handsome guy over here is my boyfriend."

Rena didn't miss a beat as she hugged Bryan as well.

After settling Rena on the sofa with a glass of Marsala (the only alcohol in the apartment), the boys began to place the food on the table. They appreciated her offers of help, but said she should relax because they had it under control.

As was their custom at dinner, they said a quick grace and began passing the food. Rena was impressed to say the least. The food was excellent. Zeke explained that it was another of the no-nonsense recipes from his mother-in-law to be. Rena laughed at his use of words.

"So, you are like my grandson." she stated more than asked.

"Yup, we're about as normal as three-dollar bills."

"In my day, we didn't talk about such things out-loud," she mused. "I guess it's about time for things to change. I don't know a lot about the subject, but I got on a website after talking to Trevor and learned a few things. If they were telling the truth, sexual orientation is something people have no real control over. It is probably not correct to call it a sexual preference in that case."

"Wow, Grandma, you sound like a real liberal!" Trevor gasped.

Rena continued, smiling in amusement, "I'm really more of a moderate. But I'm not as conservative as your mother and certainly nowhere in the same ballpark as your right-wing father!"

For a split second, it crossed Trevor's mind he should be defending his father and then he remembered how accurate Grandma's assessment was. She had never agreed politically with her son-in-law. It had sometimes bothered Trevor that they disagreed; now he was glad.

When the table was cleared, Bryan and Zeke served small dishes of the fancy ice cream Trevor had bought to celebrate his job. (There was just enough left to feed five people.) Bryan had put the kettle on, so there was hot water for tea. Zeke put out a basket with an assortment of teas and instant coffee (that Grace had given them as a housewarming gift) so each could choose something to drink. Again Rena was impressed. It had all been done so smoothly and matter-of-factly as if they were accomplished hosts.

At the end of dessert, Zeke and Bryan cleared the rest of the dishes and put them into the dishwasher. Then, they asked to be excused to go to the bedroom to study. There wasn't much homework to do, but they wanted to give Trevor more privacy in case his grandmother had more to say.

Rena thanked them for their hospitality and thoughtfulness, but said they were welcome to sit in on the conversation.

"I'm not going to say anything you can't hear," she informed them. "My daughter in Florida has had a recurrence of cancer. It isn't good. I have to go back as soon as I can make arrangements."

Then she turned to Trevor, "Having you in town solves one of my problems. I don't like to leave my house vacant for a long period of time. I was going to call the college tomorrow to see if they knew anyone I could pay someone to house-sit. It won't be a fortune, but you'll have a place to stay, and the money I usually pay a girl should be enough to keep you in groceries. Marc will be expected to stay with you as well. There's a new queen sized bed in the guestroom. I assume you'll want to share it."

Trevor blushed furiously, and Marc lowered his eyes.

"Don't break any springs!" Rena laughed as their discomfort deepened. "I'm sorry; that wasn't nice of me. But, when you're in love, you have to get used to SOME teasing."

After hugs all round, Rena departed. But before she did, she insisted that the boys all come to her house for dinner the following evening.

"You can help these two love-birds get their things settled and I can try to repay your hospitality. I'm not sure my cooking is up to yours, but I'll give it a shot."

Rena left her grandson in a much happier emotional state than the one in which she had found him. Marc, too, was obviously relieved. He had nearly hit rock-bottom before dinner. The rest of the evening had progressed upward like an express elevator in the Sears' Tower. It had left him with a near sense of weightlessness. Things were beginning to fall into place for his lover and him. They WOULD be able to make it. Marc wasn't big on organized religion after his experience with his family's church, but he was mentally saying thanks to God.

Bryan decided they should celebrate with some hot chocolate. Zeke went up to take the chair back to Grace and returned with a bottle of peppermint schnapps.

"Mom was thrilled to hear the good news. She sent this down to 'sweeten' our cocoa, but she warned me that she knows how much is in it and we had better be good!"

The guys thought the addition of a little alcohol really made the celebration special. None of them was a seasoned drinker. Marc and Trevor had put away a couple of beers in their time, but had always been moderate. Zeke was almost afraid to drink after his experience over three years ago. Bryan had grown up with things like this offered on special occasions, so it didn't seem out of place to him.

Relaxed and happy, four guys hit the sheets a little early. It was comical to hear the excuses they were making for taking a shower before bed instead of in the morning. Finally, Zeke voiced what they were all thinking.

"Let's admit it, guys. We're all feeling good and looking to have some 'quality time' with our boyfriends. You two go scrub each other squeaky clean, but don't use all the hot water! We need to get just as clean so we can eat each other up too!"

Everyone laughed heartily. Marc and Trevor began to strip each other unashamedly on their way to the shower. Zeke and Bryan sat on the couch making out until the others were done in the bathroom.

Their guests came into the room clad in towels which were standing out like tents in front. The towels got tossed on the floor as the pair tumbled onto their bed.

Bryan and Zeke didn't take a long time in the shower; just enough to clean every crevice. They didn't bother covering up with towels as they ran to their room. Once in bed, the kissing and petting became heavy. Tonight was not one for the self-discipline of bringing each other to the edge and holding off. It was one fairly short trip to their ultimate destination. Once again, they had shared the gift of love. Once again, they knew that this was for keeps.

Author's Note: Here is my own (and Mary Stillwell's) original recipe that Zeke prepared. Sorry, I don't know how to convert it into metric measure.

Chicken Marsala

6 deboned, skinless ½ chicken breasts

2 cups chicken broth

2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder (Wyler's is one brand)

½ cup dry Marsala wine (or dry Sherry)

1 teaspoon rosemary

1 tablespoon fresh (or bottled) lemon juice

2 tablespoons dried parsley

½ teaspoon salt

6 ounces fresh or canned mushrooms

1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1/3 cup of water.

Pound chicken to flatten. Arrange it in a 2 quart rectangular baking pan or similar pan. Combine all ingredients (except mushrooms and cornstarch mixture). Pour over the chicken. Place the mushrooms on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes.

Just before serving, pour off the liquid into a sauce pan. Stir in the dissolved cornstarch mixture and bring to a slow boil over medium heat. When it is slightly thickened, pour to over the chicken (which you have arranged on a serving plate). Serve with cooked rice, slices of baby red potatoes, or pasta. A tossed salad and a French bread baguette complete the meal.

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