Everything But Love

by Joel Young

Chapter 16


"You're kidding!" I said. Mr. Rasmussen had just told my mother and me that half of my father's estate would go to me.

"That's ridiculous!" my mother said to Mr. Rasmussen. "That's not the agreement that Ted and I made. James will just have to sign his share over to me, and I'll make sure my Will provides a reasonable amount for him."

"Mrs. Covington," Mr. Rasmussen said. "James is a minor. Until he is twenty-one, he does not have the legal right to manage his inheritance nor to turn over his share of the assets to you. That would have to be decided by me as the trustee of his financial affairs or by the courts. And since I have a fiduciary responsibility to your son, I cannot approve of such a transfer of assets."

"Well then, I'll just have to get a judge to overturn the changes to the Will," Mom said haughtily. "Please draw up the papers - immediately!"

"I can't do that, Mrs. Covington," Mr. Rasmussen told my mother. "Under the circumstances, I cannot represent you and your son at the same time. That would be a conflict of interest. And since I am in charge of Mr. James Covington's Trust, you will have to hire a different attorney. That is if you genuinely want to contest the Will in court and risk having the entire matter become fodder for the newspapers and tabloids."

"But it's my money!" Mom insisted.

Mr. Rasmussen sighed. "Mrs. Covington, even if the assets are divided as called for in your husband's Will, you would still have more money than a reasonable person could spend in a lifetime! You'd be the second richest woman in Connecticut."

Mom stopped to think about what Mr. Rasmussen had said. Then, she got a vengeful look on her face. "I've come in second before," she said. "And I'm not settling for that again! Good evening, Mr. Rasmussen. I am no longer in need of your services!"

Mr. Rasmussen let himself out, and Mom and I stayed in the Library. I was reeling from the whole situation that had just unfolded in front of me. "Mom," I said. "I had no idea about any of this. You're not mad at me, are you?"

"James," she said. "You know full well that your father intended that money to go to your half-brother. Your dad would be rolling over in his grave if he knew what was happening!"

That comment made me mad. "Why? Because he hated me that much? Is that what you're saying," I replied angrily. "If you and Dad didn't want me, then why didn't you just get an abortion?!?"

"Because they're illegal!" Mom said as she stood and left the room.

And there it was. Mom had just confirmed that she had never wanted to give birth to me. And Dad would be incensed at even the thought of me getting half of his money – let alone ownership of the Covington Preserve someday.

I was upset, and I had no idea why all of this was happening. It didn't seem fair that Mom was blaming me. I hadn't done anything wrong! In fact, I hadn't done anything at all!

I sat in the library by myself, trying to think through what was happening. But I couldn't come to terms with why my life seemed to be going straight downhill. Did I deserve to be kidnapped and beaten? Was I such a terrible child that my parents had good reason not to want me? Why had I been ripped away from my friends in Tellico Falls? Was it my fault that my dad's Will gave me half of his money? "And on top of all of that," I thought to myself. "Why did God have to make me gay?!?"

I sulked around the house for the next few days. Mom didn't speak to me - not even once. I did overhear her calling an attorney, but I quickly went to my room. She was going to do whatever she decided to do, and I wanted to stay out of it as much as possible.

Early one evening, I decided to call Justin. I needed to hear his voice, and I wanted him to tell me that everything would be alright. I hoped to hear him say, "I love you."

"Hi, Mrs. Pennel," I said when she picked up the phone. "This is James. Is Justin there?"

"I'm sorry," she said. "Tom and Justin are out with Babs and CeCe tonight. I think they went to a drive-in movie. Can I give Justin a message?"

"No thanks," I managed to say as my stomach sank and my heart shattered into a million pieces. "I'll call back later."

I had been holding in most of my emotions since coming home to Connecticut and facing one anguishing situation after another. But learning that Justin was out on a date with CeCe – probably in the back seat of a car at a drive-in movie – well, that was the last straw! I broke down sobbing on my bed.

When I had cried away all of the tears my body could make, I finally settled down a little. But then, I got into an argument – with myself. My overwhelming thought was that Justin was betraying me by going out with CeCe. After all, he knew I was jealous of her. And he had assured me that he wasn't interested in her. He said he loved me.

At the same time, I considered the fact that my expectations for Justin might be unreasonable. I was in Bridgeport, and he was in Tellico Falls. How long did I expect him to wait around for me? It wouldn't be fair if I wanted him just to stay home and sit around the house. I mean, he was the leader of the cool kids at the high school. And neither one of us knew when, or if, I'd be able to move back to Arkansas.

I flip-flopped between these two ways of looking at things. I tried to be rational, but the scales always seemed to tip in favor of my emotions.

I decided that I should talk with Mark. Not that I would share my feelings about Justin. All I wanted was to hear Mark's voice. I knew that would cheer me up. But I also knew that his mom wouldn't let me speak with him. "Maybe I could call - but hang up if his mother or father answered," I thought to myself. "Maybe Mark would answer the phone." I decided to risk it, and I dialed his number. I was thrilled when Mark picked up the line.

"Hi, Mark," I said. "This is James."

"Oh my God! James!" he said. "I thought I'd never talk to you again! My parents said I had to stay away from you. But screw them! Where are you? Are you okay? Can I come over and see you?"

When I heard how excited Mark was to talk with me, my spirits lifted immediately. "I'm okay," I said. "I'm at my parents' house in Connecticut. I want to come back to Tellico Falls, but my mom doesn't want me there. She blames my aunt and uncle for 'letting' me get kidnapped."

"Oh, God," Mark said. "I was scared to death when I heard about those two men taking you! You must have been terrified!"

"I was," I said.

"Is it true … I mean, if you don't mind me asking," he said. "Did you really do it? I mean, you know – kill one of the guys?"

"It was kill or be killed," I answered. "So, I grabbed his gun, and I shot him."

"Wow!" Mark said. "You're braver than I am! I don't think I could have saved myself like you did."

"You'd be surprised at what you can do when your life is on the line," I said.

I decided to change the subject. "So, what's going on in Tellico Falls?" I asked.

"Well," Mark said. "Mrs. Carter is no longer a Deacon at the church!"

"Oh my God!" I said. "What happened?"

"Well, from what I hear, your aunt went to Pastor John and told him that Mrs. Carter was the one who called the Jonesboro Examiner about you and your family," Mark explained. "Pastor John asked Mrs. Carter if she did that. At first, she denied it, but later she confessed. The Church Council got involved and removed her from the Diaconate. She hasn't been back to church since then."

"Wow," I said.

"She deserved it, James!" Mark exclaimed. "She was supposed to be a spiritual leader. And instead, she stabbed you in the back! I think they should have kicked her out of the congregation!"

"Maybe," I said. "But it sounds like the church did the right thing. I'm just glad she got caught."

I didn't want to talk about Mrs. Carter anymore. "So, what's new with you?" I asked.

"I got a job!" Mark said. "Next Wednesday is the last day of school, and I start work on Thursday as a lifeguard at the public pool. They're paying me $1.15 an hour!"

"Cool!" I said. "That's pretty good money for a summer job. And you'll have all the benefits, too."

"Benefits?" Mark questioned.

"Yeah, you know," I explained. "Being outside, getting nice and tan, having the girls fawn all over you."

"I do like being outside," Mark said. "And I've always wanted a good tan. But ever since the Debbie Dickson disaster, I think I'm done with girls for a while."

"Just keep an open mind," I said. "Having someone special in your life makes a huge difference."

"Is there someone special in your life?" Mark asked.

I felt a bolt of adrenalin shoot through my system. I certainly wasn't going to tell Mark about my relationship with Justin. And I wasn't ready to admit to him that I was gay. I wanted to tell Mark how much I liked him. But I was scared, so I held back a little.

"Just my friends," I said. "I mean close friends - like you."

"Are you ever coming back to Tellico Falls?" Mark asked. "I miss you."

"I'm trying," I assured him. "I've got to convince my mom. I haven't brought it up to her yet. It's just not the right time. I mean, since my dad just died."

Mark was shocked. "What?!?" he said. "You didn't tell me your dad died! When did that happen? Are you okay?

I realized that Mark had no way of knowing about my dad's death. So, I explained the whole mess to him. And I told him about my dad's Will – without mentioning the size of my inheritance.

"I'm sorry about your dad," Mark said sympathetically. "Should I congratulate you on your inheritance, or would that be, you know, rude?

"It's not rude," I said. "I may not get the money, anyway. My mom isn't happy that I might get half. She thought she was getting all of it. She might even go to court to contest the Will."

"Your own mother would take you to court?" Mark said. "That's not cool! You should look into becoming an emaciated minor - before she takes everything away from you."

"An emaciated minor? I said. "What's that?"

"It's where a kid goes to court and sues his parents so they can't control him anymore," Mark explained. "A friend of my cousin did it when he was sixteen. His dad used to beat him up, and he didn't have any family who could take him in. All the court wanted was to make sure he'd stay in school and could support himself. So, he got an after-school job and rented a room in a boarding house."

"I didn't know kids could do that," I said. "Maybe I should look into it."

Mark and I talked for another hour, and I felt much better about things. We decided to talk again the next evening. "Call me at 10:00. My mom and dad will be asleep by then," Mark said. "I'll pick up right away, so they don't hear the phone ring."

"Maybe you should call me," I suggested. "I mean, once your parents are asleep."

"I can't," Mark said. "They'd see the long-distance charge on their phone bill."

"You know what we need?" I joked. "One of those phones built into your shoe – like Maxwell Smart uses on 'Get Smart."

The following day, I arranged for the chauffeur to drop me off at the YMCA so I could get some exercise. I always felt great after a good workout.

"Mr. Rasmussen called you," Mrs. Carlson said when I got home. "He wants you to call him back. He said it's important."

I called Mr. Rasmussen's office, and his secretary put me right through to him. "I received a phone call this morning," he said. "It was from your mother's new attorney. He wants to see if the issues concerning the inheritance can be settled without a contentious court hearing."

"That'd be great!" I responded. "I don't want my mother to sue me. That would be humiliating!"

"Well," Mr. Rasmussen said. "Your mother wouldn't actually sue you as an individual. She'd be petitioning the Probate Court to set aside the provisions of your father's Will that give you half of the estate."

"Sounds like the same thing to me," I said, somewhat sarcastically. "But how would a settlement work? Would I just give back the money?"

"Absolutely not!" he said. "I am responsible for the Trust that the Will creates for your benefit. I would never agree to giving everything back and leaving you with nothing. If I did that, then you could sue me for violating my fiduciary responsibilities – and you'd win!"

I didn't completely understand what Mr. Rasmussen was saying, but I let it go. "So, what do you think we should do?" I asked.

"Well, your mother wants the house – free and clear - in her name. And she wants to replace me and become the Successor Trustee. If the court won't give her control of your money, she wants all of your expenses and future college tuition to be paid out of your inherited assets. She doesn't want you to get half the estate, and then she has to use her money to support you."

"That sounds okay to me," I said. "What do you think?"

"Under the circumstances, having your mother take over the trust fund would be a bad idea. I would have to fight that in court, if necessary. And if she wants you to give up something as valuable as the house, then we need to get something in return," he said. "I haven't figured out what that might be."

"There is something I want," I told Mr. Rasmussen. "I want to be emaciated."

"Emaciated?!?" Mr. Rasmussen questioned. "Whatever do you mean?"

"I mean that I don't want my mother controlling me anymore," I answered. "I don't care about the house. I'd give it up if she agreed for me to become an emaciated minor."

Mr. Rasmussen started laughing hysterically. "You mean emancipated!" he said, barely able to control himself. "Emaciated means that you're all skin and bones from lack of nutrition!"

"Oh," I said, feeling quite embarrassed. "I guess I didn't know the right word for it." Then I saw the humor in my mistake, and I laughed, too. "So, just to be clear, I want to be free of my mother's control. I don't want to starve to death."

When Mr. Rasmussen stopped laughing, he took a deep breath. "Courts don't usually grant emancipated minor status to someone as young as you, James. There would have to be a compelling reason for a judge to do that. And the court would have to know that you could take care of yourself and that you have a means of support. Do you think you're ready to be out on your own?" he asked.

"Maybe," I answered. "But what I really want is to go back to Arkansas. I want to live with my Aunt Gretchen and Uncle Nathan on their farm. I want to go back to my high school and be with my friends."

Mr. Rasmussen and I talked the situation over for almost an hour. He said he could approve an allowance for me from my trust fund to pay for my expenses. He insisted that he, not me, contact my Aunt Gretchen to discuss how having an emancipated minor in her home would work. And he said he'd broach the matter with my mother's attorney.

That night, I ate diner by myself and watched TV until 10:00, when I was supposed to call Mark. I went upstairs, put on my pajamas, and sat on my bed to make the call. Just as he had promised, Mark picked up the phone immediately. "James?" he asked. "Is that you?"

For some reason, I felt like teasing Mark. "No," I said, trying unsuccessfully to disguise my voice. "It's Santa Clause, and it's past your bedtime! Now go to sleep – or I'll have to put you on my Naughty List!"

Mark had a quick wit, and he teased back. "You mean I'm still on the Nice List, Santa?" he asked. "Even after I screwed Debbie Dickson in her father's pickup truck while it was parked in the back of the church?"

I started laughing. "Okay! Okay!" I said. "You win! No more joking around! But you didn't really do that – with Debbie, I mean - in the church parking lot?

"Why do you want to know?" Mark asked. "Does thinking about it turn you on?"

"No way!" I insisted. "The thought of doing it with Debbie Dickson is disgusting. Yuck!"

"Why is that, James?" Mark asked. "Don't you like the idea of fucking a girl?"

"Not Debbie Dickson!" I answered, avoiding his real question. "Even you said she's a bitch. No, I can do better than that. And you can, too!"

"True," Mark said. "But a pussy is a pussy, and any pussy is better than a hand!"

I was uncomfortable with how crude Mark was being. I don't know why, but I have never liked it when people use profane language.

"Did you enjoy that?" I challenged. "I mean working the word 'pussy' into one sentence three times?"

"I did," Mark said. "But not as much as I'd like working my way into three pussies - one at a time."

"What is with you tonight, Salinger?" I said impatiently. "I've never heard you be so crass before."

Mark was quiet for a long time before responding. "I'm sorry, James. I shouldn't talk like that. It's just that …" He stopped speaking without completing his sentence.

"Go on," I said. "It's just that … what?"

"It's just that," he said so quietly that I could barely hear him. "I get horny when …" He paused again.

"When what?" I asked.

"When I'm – around you," he said.

I almost dropped the phone onto the floor when I heard Mark say that being around me made him horny! I had no idea how to respond!

I had had a crush on Mark from the first day we met. And I remembered every detail from the night he had kissed me - even though he had said 'not to get the wrong idea' about it.

I surprised myself when I said, "Me, too."

"You mean you get horny when you're around yourself? Or you get horny when you're around me?" Mark asked with a mischievous tone in his voice.

"I'm fourteen!" I said. "Everything makes me horny!"

"Are you horny now, James?" Mark asked. "I am."

"Maybe," I answered.

"Do you want to pretend that we're on a sleepover?" Mark asked. "Like the time I slept in your bed, and we looked at dirty magazines together."

Mark's words were getting me aroused. But I wasn't sure where our conversation was leading. So, I punted the ball rather than go for the touchdown that I secretly wanted.

"I seem to remember that night ending with a lot of dead chickens," I said.

"Well, that's not exactly what I had in mind for tonight," Mark said. "So, let's pretend that we're having a sleepover more like our second one – when I kissed you."

"Aren't you afraid I'll get the wrong idea?" I asked.

"Just put your lips up against the mouthpiece of the phone," Mark said. "I'll do the same thing. And let's not think about what it means. Let's just think about how good it feels to be together."

I put my lips on the mouthpiece. I could hear Mark breathing into his phone. "Now, remember how it felt when I kissed you," he said.

I surrendered myself to the memory of how soft and exciting his lips had felt pressed against my own. It was almost as if Mark were really in my bed, staring into my eyes before kissing me. I wanted him to take me in his arms and whisper into my ear that he loved me.

When the long-distance, ethereal kissed ended, Mark whispered into the phone. "Let's take our clothes off and imagine what it feels like to hold each other – naked."

I slipped off my pajamas and stretched out on the bed, thinking about how much I wanted to wrap myself around Mark. I was short of breath and almost trembling with excitement. And I was as hard as a rock!

"Are you undressed now?" Mark asked. "I am, and in my mind, I'm pressed up against you, with our dicks touching."

"Yeah," I whispered. "I took everything off. Kiss me again!"

We both put our lips directly onto our phones, and I heard Mark moan. Then he said, "You've got me super horny, James. Let's imagine we're stroking each other's dick."

I reached down and took hold of my dick – trying to imagine that it was Mark's hand on me. I began stroking. Pre-cum was dripping out of me. I was so excited that I shuddered.

"You like that, don't you, James?" Mark asked. "We're lying naked and close together. I'm playing with your dick, and you're playing with mine. God, yours is so big! It feels so good in my hand! Talk to me, James. Tell me how it feels to touch my dick."

"Well," I said with my eyes closed as I thought about Mark's body. "It feels like - a pillar of firm flesh – capped off with a beautifully shaped helmet. And the pillar is rising up out of a blanket of fine wool."

"Wow! That's quite poetic," Mark said. "I'm flattered. Do my pillar and helmet make you want to do anything?"

"Like what?" I asked as naively as I could.

"Use your imagination, James," Mark said. "And let your primal instincts take over. Now, what do you want? Don't be shy."

"I want to – I want to put it in my mouth and suck on it until I make you cum!"

"Pretend that you are doing it, James!" Mark said. "And I'll do it for you!"

Mark and I cradled our phones against our shoulders. We stroked our dicks while breathing heavily. We could hear each other's excitement as we moaned with pleasure and whispered each other's names. And finally, we reached magnificent, overwhelming orgasms.

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