Everything But Love

by Joel Young

Chapter 9

An Unforgettable Night

When I learned that my biological father, Darren McCoy, was one of the judges for the country music talent competition, I freaked out! Justin took one look at me and realized that there was a problem. "James," he said. "What's going on? Are you okay?"

"I can't do this," I said as I felt my hands start to tremble. "You'll have to go on without me."

"Whoa!" Justin exclaimed. "That's not going to happen, Buddy. You're going with me onto that stage. You're just having a case of the jitters. Take a deep breath."

"You don't understand," I answered. "I can't perform in front of Darren McCoy. I just can't do it."

"Why?" Justin asked. "Do you know him?"

I had never told anyone other than my aunt and uncle that Darren McCoy was my real father. I knew better than to share that information with other people.

I spoke softly as I teared up. "I've never met him," I said in a shaky voice. "But before I was born, my mother dated him. He treated her terribly."

Justin put his arm around my shoulder. "James," he said. "Whatever happened between Darren McCoy and your mother was a long time ago. We're not going to let that keep us from singing our song. You're going out there, and you're going to blow the roof off this place! I'll be right there with you. We're a team, James – you and me. We can do this - together!" He pulled me into a hug, and I let his arms surround me. "Don't even look at Darren McCoy. Pretend he's not here."

Justin and I were scheduled as the seventh performers in the lineup. So I had about forty-five minutes to pull myself together – or run out of the door!

I listened to the first three performers. They were good musicians and singers, but not great. I thought Justin and I could certainly do as well as they did. But then, an unexpected thing happened that shook my confidence again. The fourth singer, a lady named Brenda Bailey, took the stage – and sang the same song that Justin and I were going to do!

"Oh, crap!" Justin said. "She's doing 'We'll Sing in the Sunshine,' too!" We listened to her closely, and it was clear. The girl had talent! She sounded like a professional singer, and she had great chemistry with the audience. Unfortunately, next to her, Justin and I would come across like the rank amateur high school kids that we were.

"What should we do?" Justin asked.

Since learning that Darren McCoy was one of the judges, I didn't want to perform at all. And now that someone else was doing our song – better than we could do it – any confidence I had left disappeared. "Do you want to withdraw from the competition?" I asked Justin. I was hoping he'd say, "Yes," and we'd tell the competition staff and quietly head home.

"No!" Justin exclaimed. "I really want to be part of this. I bragged to almost everybody at school that we made it into the top twelve. I don't want to go back home as a quitter!"

I sat down and tried to think. "Justin has become my best friend," I thought to myself. "I promised that I would be more supportive and caring toward the people that need me. I've already broken that promise with Mark, and it ended our friendship. I've got to perform – for Justin!"

" Dream ," I said to Justin. He looked puzzled.

"All I Have to Do Is Dream," I said. "We can sing it almost as well as the Everly Brothers do."

Justin and I had sung the song together several times, but we had not seriously considered choosing it for our performance in the talent contest. "Do you remember the words?" Justin asked.

My confidence was starting to return. "Oh, please!" I said, pretending to be insulted. "It almost all chorus – with 'dream, dream, dream' repeated like 50 times. Do you remember the music?"

Justin frowned. "Oh, please!" he shot back at me. "If you can remember the words, I can remember the music. Just follow along – and don't get lost!" We smiled at each other. I raised my hand, and Justin and I high-fived.

A program staffer rushed over to us. His name tag read Rick. "What's the name of your group?" he asked. "The MC needs it for your introduction."

Justin and I were both caught off guard; we had never even thought of picking out a name for ourselves. "The Pack?" Justin suggested to me.

"That's good," I said. "But there are only two of us. Maybe we could change it to something along the same line – like – maybe …."

"The Alliance!" Justin said. "Because we're allies."

"I like it," Rick said as if it were his decision. Then, he started to walk away.

"Wait," I said. "We changed our song. Someone else already did the one we were going to do." I gave him the name of our new song. He walked away while writing on his clipboard.

I took a deep breath when it was our turn to perform. "Don't even look at him," I thought to myself, referring, of course, to Darren McCoy. Justin nodded, and we walked out onto the stage together.

The MC introduced us. "Our youngest contestants tonight are from Tellico Falls High School," he said. "Performing 'We'll Sing in the Sunshine' is 'The Alliance.' Show'em some love, people!" The audience clapped, and Justin and I waived as we went center stage. I had not planned to speak to the audience before our performance, but apparently, Rick had not told the MC of the change in our plans. I had to explain that we were going to sing a different song.

I went to the microphone. "Good evening," I said. "I'm James Covington, and this is my friend, Justin Pennel. We are very pleased, and honored, to sing for you tonight – but there's just one problem. You see, the lovely and gifted Brenda Bailey, who performed for you earlier this evening, well, it seems she sort of beat us to the punch on song selection. So, if y'all don't mind, Justin and I will sing something else for you. This new one is for all of you out there who are missing a special someone. I hope you enjoy All I Have to Do Is Dream .

I stepped back, and Justin came up so we could share the one microphone. Justin played a short introduction to the song, and we began singing.

Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream, dream, dream

Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream, dream, dream

When I want you in my armsWhen I want you and all your charmsWhenever I want youAll I have to do is d rea-ea-ea-ea-eam

Dream, dream, dream

When I feel blue in the nightAnd I need you to hold me tightWhenever I want youAll I have to do is d rea-ea-eam

I can make you mineTaste your lips of wineAnytime night or dayOnly trouble isGee whizI'm dreamin' my life away

I need you so, that I could dieI love you so, and that is whyWhenever I want youAll I have to do is d rea-ea-ea-ea-eam

Dream, dream, dream


I can make you mineTaste your lips of wineAnytime night or dayOnly trouble isGee whizI'm dreamin' my life away

I need you so, that I could dieI love you so, and that is whyWhenever I want youAll I have to do is d rea-ea-ea-ea-eam

Dream, dream, dream Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam , dream, dream, dream Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam , dream, dream, dream

When we finished, the audience gave us a nice round of applause. But there was a group of young girls sitting in the front row who seemed quite excited about our performance.

We listened to the final five contestants, and only one of them, a college-aged girl named Dani Lynn, stood out. We waited for the judges to announce their decisions. "I bet we placed fifth or sixth," Justin said.

The MC reviewed the prizes for the top three winners - $100, $50, and $25. He also said that there would be a reception right after the program for the contestants, judges, and producers. "And now, for the results!" he said.

"In third place and receiving a $25 prize - from Tellico Falls High School – "The Alliance!"

Justin and I were shocked! We almost couldn't believe we placed in the top three. Rick from the contest staff had to give us a push to get us moving toward the stage. It was surreal walking up to the MC to receive a prize in a college-sponsored country music competition.

Not surprisingly, Brenda Bailey took second place, and Dani Lynn came in first.

As the audience began leaving the auditorium, the program staff ushered all of the performers to a large reception room. The judges and producers had not yet arrived, so Justin and I got to mingle with the other contestants.

"Sorry about stealing your song," Brenda said to us. "I had no idea that you guys had planned to use it."

"That's okay," I said."

"Actually, I think it worked out better for you," Brenda said. "The song you sang was much more age-appropriate for two high school boys. 'We'll Sing in the Sunshine' has all that stuff about a girl living with a guy for a year but telling him that she'll never love him." She paused before asking, "Can I give you guys some advice?" Justin and I nodded.

"You need to be careful," Brenda said in a hushed voice. "Sometimes, you guys looked like you were singing to each other – not to some girl you missed."

I don't know about Justin, but that comment from Brenda made me very self-conscious. I didn't want people thinking that I was singing to a guy!

The judges and producers came into the room and started greeting the contestants. It was exciting to meet Skeeter Davis and Charley Rich in person. Justin was a little 'star-struck.' But of course, I was too nervous about meeting Darren McCoy to concentrate on anything else. I saw him talking to the first-place winner, and then he walked toward Justin and me as he held out his hand.

"You boys did a great job tonight," he said. "I was impressed with how well you were able to change songs at the last minute."

"Thank you, Sir," Justin said. "It's an honor to meet you. I'm a big fan."

"Tell me your names again," he requested.

I let Justin answer. "I'm Justin Pennel, and this is my friend, James Covington," he said.

"Covington, huh?" Darren McCoy said as he looked directly at me. "I knew a Ted Covington years ago. The guy made millions selling toilets!"

I had not planned to say anything to Darren McCoy about my family. I thought that might lead to a very awkward conversation that I was not ready to have. But he had opened the door, and I decided to walk right through it.

"My dad sells a lot more than just toilets, Sir," I said. "My mom and dad own a large manufacturing firm, and they sell a full line of plumbing supplies all over the world."

I don't know who looked more surprised – Darren McCoy or Justin.

"You never told me that you're rich!" Justin said.

"No!" Darren McCoy said. "You're Ted Covington's son? Wow! Didn't he marry a girl named - Andrea?"

"Angela," I said, annoyed that he didn't even remember my mother's first name. "Maybe you met her. She was Angela Price before she married my dad."

"Oh my God," Darren McCoy said. "I was a judge when your mother was in the Miss America pageant!"

"Your mother was Miss America?!?" Justin gasped.

I had to laugh. Justin's surprise at what I had shared was funny. "Runner up," I clarified.

"How old are you?" Darren McCoy asked me.

"Fourteen," I told him. "I was born in October of 1952."

I saw him doing the math in his head. I was pretty sure he was considering the possibility that I was his son.

"Well, it was nice to meet both of you," he said. "You boys are promising young musicians. If you want to make it in this business, just keep singing whenever and wherever you get the chance." He moved on to talk with some of the other contestants.

"Well, I guess that's it," I thought to myself. "I've met my father, and now he's moved on."

Justin and I helped ourselves to some hors d'oeuvres from the buffet table, and we mingled for a little while longer before it was time to get our guitars and head home. "As soon as we get in the car," Justin said. "You've got to tell me more about all these secrets you've been keeping."

We visited the men's room and then headed toward the door of the auditorium. Rick called my name. "Mr. Covington!" he hollered. "Wait. Mr. McCoy wants to speak with you."

Justin and I turned around and walked back toward the reception room. "No," Rick said. "Just Mr. Covington."

Justin graciously said he'd wait for me near the exit.

I entered the room, and Darren McCoy motioned for me to follow him. We went into a kitchen area; there was no one there.

"I think it would be best if you didn't mention meeting me to your parents," he said. "Things didn't – go well the last time I saw your mother. And there's no reason to upset her."

I didn't know what to say or do. Agree and just leave? Put him on the spot and ask why things didn't go well with my mother? Make a sarcastic comment that would let him know that I knew I was his son?

I thought for a moment and said, "I don't think I can keep that to myself, Sir. When my mom told me Ted Covington wasn't my real father, she said that she hoped you and I would never meet. Under the circumstances, I think she has a right to know."

Darren McCoy just nodded his head. "I understand," he said. "But let's look on the bright side. Things all worked out for the best, right? You have your mother's good looks. You've got my voice. And you have the benefit of Ted Covington's money. You've got everything a kid could want!"

I couldn't let that fantasy stand unchallenged. "Yeah, right!" I said. "That must be why my parents gave up custody of me and sent me to live here in Arkansas with my Aunt Gretchen."

I was angered by my father's response to hearing about my less-than-perfect life. Rather than acknowledge what I told him, he changed the subject. "I remember Gretchen," he said. "She was always so jealous of Angela. But I'm sure having you in her family is a blessing."

"I think I need to be going now," I said. "Justin and I have a long drive ahead of us. It was – ah, nice meeting you, I guess. And just in case you're worried about it, I won't come looking for you and mess up your life."

I turned and stepped toward the door. "Wait! I want you to have this," my father said as he took off his Stetson hat and handed it to me. "All guys who want to be country singers need a special hat. Take it. Maybe it will bring you luck!"

I had a snarky attitude when I was fourteen. "Thanks," I said as I took the hat from him. "At least now, I can't say that my real father never gave me anything." I left the room.

I was numb as I rode in the car back to Tellico Falls. I felt so many conflicting emotions at one time. I was happy that Justin and I had placed third in the country music competition. I knew how important that was to him. I was shocked that I had unexpectedly met my real father for the first time, and I was disturbed that he hadn't even remembered my mother's first name. At the same time, I was kind of hurt that he seemed so cavalier about meeting me. Any hopes that I had about my birth father being excited to meet me and wanting me to be part of his life were completely squashed!

I appreciated that Justin didn't ask me any questions as we started on our trip home. He didn't even ask me about the hat I brought out to the car. But I knew I had to give him some kind of explanation about what had just happened. I decided to tell him everything.

"Darren McCoy is my real father," I said. "My mother married Ted Covington before I was born, and she gave me his last name."

"Holy crap, James!" Justin said. "You mean to tell me that one of the biggest country music stars in the world is your dad?"

"Yep," I answered.

"And your mother was almost Miss America?" he asked.

"That she was," I said.

"And your family is filthy rich? Geeze! What else haven't you told me?" Justin asked. "That you're secretly married to Elizabeth Taylor?!?"

"No," I answered. "I'm not married to Elizabeth Taylor. Liz and I were engaged, but she left me for Richard Burton. Now, I'm dating Sophia Loren."

Justin didn't laugh at my attempt at humor. Instead, he remained quiet for several minutes. "James," he finally said. "Was this the first time you met Darren McCoy?"

"Yeah," I said. "He figured out who I was, and he gave me his hat for good luck. I promised I wouldn't ever come looking for him, and he seemed fine with that. So, I left."

"Wow!" Justin said. "I'm sorry, Man. That must have been – ah, I don't even know what to say. Are you alright?"

"I'll be okay," I responded.

For the next ten minutes or so, I thought about all that had happened that night. Then, I thought about Justin and how good he had been to me.

"I noticed that you were very different tonight from how you are when you're with "The Pack," I finally said to him. "When you're with the guys, it's almost like you are a different person. Most of the time, you act like the leader of the cool kids – admired and feared by everyone. And you sort of look down on other people and call them nerds or geeks. But when it's just you and me, you're different. Why don't you let other people see what a nice guy you are?"

"Let's not talk about that," Justin said. "We've had enough drama for tonight."

"No, please. I want to know. Why are you different with me?" I asked.

"I don't know," Justin answered. "I guess it's because you're … easy to talk with. That's all."

"Thanks," I said. "I think you're easy to talk with, too. I would never have told you about my family if I didn't trust you."

"I'll keep my mouth shut," Justin said. "You have my word." He waited a long time before he said, "May I ask you a question, James? Something personal; something I know is none of my business?"

"Shoot," I said. "I'll tell you anything you want to know."

"Did you really … I mean, I was just wondering if it's true – that you and Mark Salinger kissed?"

Justin's question startled me! I didn't know what to say. I responded without even thinking. "Who told you that?!?" I demanded to know.

"I can't tell you," Justin said. "I promised I wouldn't say anything. But is it true? Does that have anything to do with why you guys aren't friends anymore?"

"What if it were true?" I challenged. "Would you quit being my friend? Would I be out of "The Pack?"

"No! None of that, James," Justin said. "I promise. I just want to know if it's true."

I had developed a huge knot in my stomach. I took a deep breath. "Yes, it's true," I said.

"Did you like kissing him?" Justin asked.

"Yes, I did!" I said impatiently. "Is that all, or is there anything else you want to know?"

"What if I wanted to kiss you?" Justin asked hesitantly. "Would you let me?"

"Oh my God," I thought to myself. "Is Justin serious? Is this some kind of trap?" I couldn't believe Justin would really want to kiss me! But then, I felt him reach over and put his hand on top of mine.

"Seriously, James," Justin said. "If I tried to kiss you, would you push me away?"

Justin's hand on mine made me shiver. I withdrew my hand from under his. I intertwined our fingers. "No," I said.

Justin turned off the two-lane highway onto a dark country road. He found a short driveway that seemed to lead into a cornfield. He backed onto the gravel driveway and shut off the car.

My heart was pounding, and I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. I was pretty sure I was about to get kissed. "Come here," Justin said. I slide over, right next to him. He stared into my eyes for almost a full minute. Then, he leaned over and kissed me on the lips. It was a soft and sensual kiss, and it sent tingles through my entire body. Justin opened his mouth, and I became lost in my first French-kiss. It felt wonderful - and exciting!

"I have a confession," Justin said as he broke our kiss. "I've had a crush on you since that first day we met in the cafeteria. When I called you a nerd, and you insisted that I call you 'Officer Nerd,' I thought you were so cool to stand up to me that way."

"But you were right. I am a nerd," I said. "Everybody knows it."

"No, you're not!" Justin said. "You're handsome and smart and talented. You're one of the coolest guys at school – and you don't even know it." He leaned over and kissed me again. "I've been hoping that you liked me, too."

I considered making a joke to break the tension I felt, but I realized that this was a time for honesty. Justin had just bared his soul to me, and he deserved to know how I felt about him. "I like you, too," I said as I initiated another kiss.

We stopped talking, and we started making out. Justin held me in his arms and kissed and nuzzled my neck. He unbuttoned my shirt and kissed his way down to my nipples. Nobody had ever touched me there, and I couldn't believe how thrilling it was. My dick was rock hard. "Let's get in the backseat," I said.

Justin looked me in the eyes and smiled. "You sure?" he asked.

I never answered. I just climbed over the front seat of the car and into the back. I finished taking off my shirt. Justin followed me into the back seat. He took off his shirt and laid me down before getting on top of me. We began making out again, and I loved every moment of it. Justin's bare chest against mine felt amazing! I couldn't believe this was happening!

Then, I felt Justin trying to unbutton my jeans. He looked me in the eyes as if he were checking to make sure it was okay. I didn't stop him. He quickly had the top of my pants open, and he pulled the zipper down. He slid his hand underneath my jockey shorts and took ahold of my throbbing dick. It felt so incredibly good that I gasped out loud!

Justin began stroking my dick as he continued kissing me passionately. When we came up for air, I noticed that the car windows were fogging up. "James," Justin said, "You're just one surprise after another tonight. God, you've got a big dick!" He sat up and tried to take my underwear and jeans off of me. I reached out and took off my shoes and socks. Then, Justin removed the rest of my clothes.

"Now you," I said breathlessly. We worked together to get Justin's clothes off. I looked at him, and I almost started panting. He had a perfect body. His arms were muscular. He had a smooth, hairless chest and an abdomen with the start of a six-pack. His thick, cut, seven-inch dick was hard.

We lay down again in the cramped backseat of Justin's car. It felt terrific to be pushed up against each other fully naked. Every part of my body wanted to pull as close as possible to every inch of Justin's body. My mouth sought his lips, and we shared an intimate, loving kiss as our hands found each other's dicks. We started stroking. I felt as if I were in heaven!

All of a sudden, I had a craving to take Justin's dick in my mouth. I sat up and guided his body so that his back was leaning against the driver's side back door. I kissed his lips, neck, and nipples as I traveled down his body. I was still stroking him as I got to his abdomen and then the top of his thighs. I stopped using my hand on him and placed my lips on the head of his dick. I loved its shape, its size, and how ridged it felt. I slipped my mouth over the head and took it entirely into my mouth. Slowly, I began going up and down on the thick shaft. It felt so good in my mouth! Then, I heard Justin moaning in ecstasy, and I had a moment of pure joy. I loved the fact that I could give Justin so much pleasure.

A few minutes later, Justin pulled away from me. "Your turn," he said. We changed positions, stopping long enough to kiss and hug each other some more. Then Justin reached down and started playing with my balls. He slid down and gently massaged my painfully hard dick. I felt his tongue licking me, and I almost lost it. I had never experienced anything that felt as wonderful as being with Justin like that.

As I let him go up and down on my dick, I seemed to go in and out of consciousness. I was overwhelmed by unimaginable physical pleasure. But every once in a while, I was keenly aware that Justin and I were having sex in the backseat of his car and that our friendship was changing forever. And I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

Justin took his lips off my dick, and he brought his face close to mine. He pressed his naked body against mine. We kissed as we rubbed our dicks together. "I love you," he whispered.

His words began to swirl around in my foggy, sexually frenzied mind. No one had ever told me that they loved me! I had cried myself to sleep many nights feeling lonely, lost, and unlovable. Hearing those words from Justin began to fill a void in my soul that had haunted me for years.

"I love you, too," I said."

We started making out again – this time with even more passion – a passion fueled by the words of love we had just exchanged. He took ahold of my dick and began stroking. I did the same to him. To me, it was magical, and I reached a powerful orgasm, shooting cum onto my abdomen and Justin's chest. I only paused a moment before going back to stroking Justin. Less than a minute later, Justin came, adding to the pool of cum collecting between us. Justin leaned over and kissed me. We held each other tightly as our orgasms subsided, but our bond with each other intensified.

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