by Victor Thomas

Chapter 10

The days just flew by. The holiday season arrived with unbelievable speed. I mean, it was Halloween, and all of a sudden it was Christmas time. On Christmas Eve, my sister Janelle, and her son Colin flew in from California. Mom volunteered me to drive over to the Joplin airport to pick them up. She said that it was so that she could get everything ready for our big Christmas Eve dinner, but I suspected it was really so she and Carson would have some time alone together before the house got crowded. Janelle and Colin were staying through New Year's Day.

Carson was spending Christmas with us. His parents were taking off for Hawaii and leaving him behind. His dad had received free airline tickets and accommodations from his boss, who'd planned to take his wife. She had come down with the flu and the trip was nonrefundable, so it was Merry Christmas for his parents. They didn't have the money to take him, and he wasn't all that interested anyway. It was all arranged that he'd stay at my house for the duration of the trip. I bet they would have freaked out if they knew what was going on between him and my mom.

Christmas music appropriately played on the radio as I drove to Joplin. It had snowed the night before and was snowing again, but the roads were fairly clear. I arrived half an hour before my sister's flight was due to touch down. The airport wasn't large and there wasn't much to look at, but at least her flight was on time. I hugged her as best I could with a toddler in her arms. It was my first look at my nephew. He was a handsome kid and looked disturbingly like my baby pictures. Get your fucking mind out of the gutter! I love my sister, but I'm not into incest. You pervert!

One advantage of a small airport is that it didn't take long at all to get her luggage. It was a good thing I was buff, because otherwise I couldn't have carried all her bags. It looked like she'd packed to stay a whole year.

She strapped Colin into the baby seat in the back seat of the car. When mom found out they were coming, she rushed out and bought a baby seat as well as a lot of other junk she thought might be necessary for the visit of a toddler. The relationship between Janelle and our mother had been rocky when she'd left, but they'd more or less made up now. I was thankful for that. My life didn't need more drama.

I pulled out of the airport and headed back to Chouteau.

"There's something you should know before we get there," I said. "Mom has a boyfriend."

"Does she? That's wonderful."

"Well, he's kind of young."

"How young?"


"Sixteen! Are you kidding me?"

"Nope. Remember Carson?"

"Of course, I remember Carson."

"Well, he's her boyfriend."

"Bryce, I'm not that gullible."

"I'm serious! I swear to god I'm telling the truth."

"Whoa, little Carson."

"Yep, except he's not so little now."

"Neither are you, little brother. You were buff when I left, but damn… I bet the girls are all over you."

"Yeah," I said, grinning.

"Are you serious about mom and Carson?"

"I'm serious."

"This is… unexpected," she said. "Are you okay with it?"

"Yeah, mostly, sort of. I wasn't at first, but I got used to it pretty fast. He makes her happy, and they both seem a good deal happier now that it's all out in the open."

I didn't mention they'd started their relationship when he was fourteen. I didn't want her to think of our mom as a child molester. If mom wanted to tell her how long she'd been dating Carson, that was her business.

"He will be staying with us for the holidays. His parents have gone to Hawaii."

"That must be nice. Do they know about him and mom?"

"Hell no! No one knows except mom, Carson, me and now you."

"I guess it would raise eyebrows."

"It would ruin my life. Do you have any idea the razzing I'd take if the guys knew he was dating mom?"

"I can imagine," she said, laughing.

"Sure, you can laugh."

"This is going to take some getting used to," she said.

"I've managed, so I I'm sure you can, too. He isn't your best friend, after all."

"True, but I used to baby sit for him. This is a delicate question that I probably don't need to ask, but do mom and Carson have a physical relationship?"

"Duh! They fuck like rabbits."


"Well, they do. That's how I found out about them; I walked right in on them."

"That must have been embarrassing."

"Traumatic is more like it, for all of us."

"Well, I guess her secret is out and mine obviously is, too, since he's sitting in the back seat. When are you going to reveal yours, Bryce?"

A sense of panic engulfed me, and I'm sure my face paled. Before I could stop myself, I jerk my head in her direction. My reaction to her off hand comment was a clear admission of guilt. If I'd been cool about it, I could have just told her I had no secrets. I gave it a shot, anyway.

"Me? I have no secrets. I'm merely the gorgeous hottie you see before you."

She rolled her eyes.

"You are such a bad liar. Spill it."

My panic increased. Yeah, I was going to tell my big sister my secrets. I could start with 'I'm gay' and go right into 'I'm blackmailing Paxton into having sex with me' and maybe throw in, 'I jerk off to the tape I made of Wyatt and him doing each other.'

"My secrets will be buried with me," I said.

"I'm shocked," she said, placing her hand on her heart. She laughed. "Well, if you ever have anything you want to talk to me about, I'm here for you, little brother."

I was a bit frightened she knew or suspected something, but there was no way she could know my secrets. My fear passed, and I smiled at her.

"Thanks, Janelle."

"The snow's really coming down. It was seventy-five degrees when we left this morning."

"It sounds like the life. I wouldn't mind hanging out on a beach on Christmas."

"I've missed the snow, and the cold. I bet you would too, if you lived in California."

"I sincerely doubt it."

We pulled up in front of the house about an hour after we'd left the airport. I could see Carson through the window stringing lights on the tree.

"Dad used to do that," I said, feeling a momentary tug at my heart.

"I'm sure Carson won't mine if you call him daddy," she said.

I flipped her off, then grabbed her bags while she untangled Colin from the back seat.

The front door flew open, and mom zoomed toward us like a hawk power diving onto a rabbit. She grabbed Janelle and hugged her so hard I thought poor little Colin might be crushed to death. He was next on her hit list.

She pulled him from her arms and said, "hello there, Colin. I'm your grandmother!"

Mom beamed at Janelle. Whatever argument there had been between them were obviously forgotten. It seemed grandkids solved everything. I hoped mom would be content with Colin, because she wasn't getting any grandkids from me, not on purpose anyway.

We were ushered inside where Carson left his task of decorating the tree and shyly wiped his hands on his pants, no doubt wondering if I'd told Janelle about his relationship with mom. I thought it might be fun to torment him.

"Janelle, you remember mom's boyfriend, don't you?"

He blushed and mom looked a bit stricken, but Janelle hugged him and all was well. He looked at me wide eyed as she squeezed him.

"You look so handsome in that sweater," she told him.

He blushed again.

"He's taken, Janelle," I said mischievously.

Mom shot me a look but quickly returned her gaze to Janelle. She was probably wondering if her daughter's acceptance and good humor would hold. Janelle smiled at her, and mom released an audible sigh of relief. I was willing to bet that mom had been wondering how she'd explain Carson to her. I'd said nothing about telling her, but it had been my plan all along. It was sort of an extra Christmas present to mom and Carson.

I took Janelle's bags to her old room. Mom fussed over her and Colin, while I was all but ignored. Mom had even temporarily forgotten about her teenage boyfriend.

I joined Carson in stringing the lights on the tree, while mom and Janelle made for the kitchen. Mom was still clutching her grandson, of course.

"Thanks for letting me be here," he said. "I know this is probably kind of awkward for you."

"It's okay, and besides, you belong here. I know how much you mean to mom, and don't forget you mean a lot to me, too."

He actually stopped what he was doing and hugged me.

"Isn't my mom enough for you? Get off me, you homo," I said, but I was smiling.

"Don't make me take you to the woodshed, boy," he said.

"Yeah, like you could handle me. Now, let's go bring up the boxes of decorations from the basement before I have to kick your ass."

Mom, Janelle, and Colin joined us in the living room a few minutes later as we began to place ornaments on the tree. Carson and I did most of the work. Mom was far too busy holding Colin and dashing off every couple of minutes to check on our Christmas Eve dinner. The scents of roast turkey, dressing, and apple pie wafted into the living room, making my stomach rumble. Janelle helped us quite a bit, except when mom handed off Colin for one of her trips into the kitchen. Anyone who didn't know us would've thought a mother was spending Christmas Eve with her three children while they all waited for their father to get home from work, a real Norman Rockwell moment. What they wouldn't realize is that the father was permanently gone, and one of the sons was actually the mother's boyfriend! If that wasn't enough to ruin the picture, the other son was as gay as could be! I nearly laughed out loud at the thoughts I was having.

I gazed out the window at the falling snow and stopped to put on a Christmas CD. Maybe our Christmas wasn't suitable for a Norman Rockwell painting. Then again, maybe it was; rarely was anything what it seemed.

I looked over at Carson as he hung a red ornament on the tree. I was amazed at how well I was dealing with the whole best friend dating my mother thing. At first, I thought I'd never grow used to the idea, but it really wasn't so bad after all. It was the way things were, and I could fight against it and make everyone miserable, or just accept it and go on. I made the same decision I did when I found out I was gay. It wasn't what I wanted, but there it was, so I sucked it up and went on my way.

I wondered how many people would totally freak out if they discovered I was gay. It wasn't going to happen, of course, but I was willing to bet it would floor a lot of people, especially the girls I'd done. A lot of my classmates would probably think I was bi since I'd gone all the way with girls before. There was a very short time when I'd convinced myself of that, but I knew it was bullshit. Yeah, I could get it up with a girl, but I was thinking of guys while I was doing it. I could father a kid, too, if I wanted, but I wasn't sexually attracted to anyone missing the Y chromosome.

We finished decorating the tree just before it was time for dinner and not a moment too soon. I was about ready to drop from hunger. In addition to the items I'd smelled from the living room, there were mashed potatoes, corn, hot rolls, cranberry sauce, a decorated Christmas cake, and some kind of caramelized cake with walnuts.

There wasn't a lot of talk during dinner. We were far too busy stuffing our faces, Carson and I particularly. The snow was really coming down outside. The view through the kitchen windows was nearly one of pure white. It was a good thing none of us had travel plans, because it looked as if no one would be going anywhere. If you've got no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. That would make a catchy song, wouldn't it?

After dinner, we sat around in the living room talking and dozing. It was an uneventful evening, and that was fine by me. I enjoyed being off work for once and having my big sister home for the first time in two years. Carson even seemed like family now. Christmas music played softly in the background, and the lights of the tree glowed in the growing darkness. Mom lit candles instead of turning on the lights. She sat on the loveseat with Carson. I think she truly appreciated the acceptance shown by Janelle and me. He was getting increasingly more at ease, too. We were sitting down into a nice little nontraditional family.

I wondered if my family would accept me if they knew the truth. What would they do if I brought home a boyfriend? I wasn't really the relationship kind of guy. I was more interested in hot, hard sex than holding hands and walking in the moonlight, but I would've felt more comfortable if I knew I could kiss a boy in front of mom, Janelle, and Carson without them keeling over from shock and disgust.

It was likely a forlorn hope, however. If you were gay in Chouteau Kansas, you might as well be a serial killer, a child molester, a rapist, or something like that. The things I heard said about fags in the locker room sometimes made my skin crawl. The way they talked about sex between two guys made it sound disgusting. They were such hypocrites. Let's face it, if homo sex is disgusting, so it het e ro sex. Some people are grossed out by the idea of a guy taking it up the butt, but hell, some girls do it, too, and what about a guy performing oral sex on a girl. Talk about gross! I don't even wanna go there.

We all turned in early, Janelle and Colin to her old room, me to mine, and mom and Carson to the room once shared by my parents. I missed the nightly service provided by Paxton, but I was giving him a couple of days off, and he couldn't have made it in any case due to the snow. Nothing was moving in the sudden blizzard outside. I drifted off to sleep so quickly I didn't have much time to think about him.

Since there were no young children in the house, we didn't get up to early the next morning. Well, Colin was young, but at just under two, he was too young to understand the concept of presents. Carson and I were the next youngest, and at sixteen we were more than willing to wait in exchange for sleeping in.

I made my way into the kitchen a little before nine. Janelle was feeding Colin, and I made myself a cup of tea. I wasn't used to sleeping in and was still bleary eyes. Why was it that I felt more tired when I got more sleep? I guess it was just one of the mysteries of the universe.

Colin was a messy eater. I didn't understand the allure of kids. They were expensive, loud, and they smelled bad. Colin was okay, but I would've have been happy if Janelle had just gotten a dog or something. A toddler wasn't any fun at all. Maybe I'd warm up to him eventually, but I doubted it.

Carson came in soon, poured himself a cup of coffee, and joined us at the table. He smiled at Colin and even held him so Janelle could make herself a cup of tea. He played with the kid as if he actually liked it.

"Do you think you might want one of your own someday?" asked Janelle.

"Definitely," he said, "but not too soon."

I didn't know if I liked where the conversation was going. His son could be my brother.

"So, what are your plans for after high school?" she asked.

"College, but I'm thinking seriously of attending school as close to Chouteau as I can. I used to think I wanted to get as far away as possible, but now… well, things have changed. Betsey is incredible, and I can't bear the thought of being too far from her."

It was surreal to hear him refer to my mom by her first name. Janelle seemed to be adjusting much more quickly than I was.

"Do you realize if you marry mom, you'll be my dad?" she laughed. "I sure never thought that would happen back when I used to babysit you."

"If I do marry your mom, there will be no babysitting stories, young lady," he said in what was apparently supposed to be his grownup fatherly voice.

"Just think, Colin will be your grandson!"

"Hey," I said, "you should marry mom now. You'd be the only guy in high school with a grandkid."

I laughed.

"I'd be dead is what I'd be if my parents found out."

"Ah, yes, Chouteau, the land of secrets," I said, wishing I hadn't.

Janelle looked at me oddly. I busied myself with drinking my tea.

"Do you really think you might marry mom?" she asked.

"To be honest, I want to. I know I'm too young right now, but someday, maybe when I finish college, yeah. I guess you think it's pretty stupid, huh?"

"I don't think that at all," she said, and she obviously meant it.

Mom rescued us from the topic by entering the kitchen. She set to making our traditional Christmas breakfast, or rather brunch. Ever since I was about ten and could be talked into delaying the opening of presents, we'd had a Christmas brunch mid-morning, followed by the opening of gifts. When I was younger, I'd been bribed into waiting be being allowed to open one present before brunch, but that was no longer necessary.

Mom always made French toast, omelets, hash browns, and bacon for our Christmas brunch. A late meal worked well because of the large Christmas Eve dinner we traditionally had the night before. The bacon smelled heavenly, everything did, really, but I always loved the smell of frying bacon. I didn't have it often because of the fat. I always made sure not to overeat. I wanted to be able to see my abs, after all. Christmas was an exception to the rule. On Christmas day I ate as much as I wanted.

We sat around the table as we had the night before and enjoyed a leisurely brunch. This was a more relaxed meal, as none of us was quite so hungry. We ate far more slowly and actually talked. The French toast was incredible. It was always good when mom made it, but on Christmas we had real maple syrup to go with it. The omelets were filled with green and red peppers, mom's nod to the season, as well as onions and chives. I liked mine with just a touch of hot sauce. The bacon was the best; thick and fried just right, not too crisp and not too limp. Christmas brunch just might have been the best part of Christmas day.

Once we all finished, which took quite a long time, we retired to the living room with cups of coffee or tea. I handed out presents. Colin didn't pay much attention to his. He was far more fascinated with the paper than the actual gift. I felt a touch jealous when mom opened a beautiful sweater, then a bottle of nice perfume from Carson, but I told myself I was being foolish. My position was not being usurped. It was hard not to think that way since he was my age, but his relationship with my mom was quite different from mine. I think I did a rather nice job of hiding my not so attractive feelings.

I gave mom a bread maker and she was quite pleased. I knew Janelle was into gardening, at least she had been, and things almost had to grow well in California, so I gave her some gardening books and a subscription to a gardening magazine. I gave Carson some CD's I knew he'd like. I thought of giving him a big box of condoms as a gag gift, but I was afraid mom would not be amused, and it would have been a bit awkward for all of us. It was one of those ideas better to think about than to actually put into operation.

I received a subscription to a fitness magazine from Carson and some cologne.

"Are you trying to say I smell bad?" I asked him.

"It wouldn't be polite to say," he said with a comical expression on his face.

Somehow, he managed to look as if he did indeed think I smelled, but also that he was trying to hide the fact. Mom burst out laughing.

I think everyone was well pleased with their presents. We never went crazy at Christmas like some families. We tried to find things the recipient would really like rather than just buying a bunch of crap.

We were all quite drowsy by the time the last gift was unwrapped. Carson and I retired to my room so he could listen to his CD's. We lay back on the bed, and it wasn't long before both of us were snoozing. I awakened an hour or so later when he shoved me away.

"Get off me, fag!"

He was just joking around, but I had curled around him in my sleep. My front was pressed against his back, and my right arm was draped over him. I was embarrassed, but didn't let on.

"You wish!"

I looked out the window at the falling snow.

"Man, it's still coming down out there."

I paced around the room like a caged animal.

"I've got to do something. I can't stand being co o ped up in here like this. Want to go to the gym and work out?"

"It's closed."

"We both have keys, duh!"

"Oh, yeah!"

I rolled my eyes.

"I'm supposed to be dumb because I'm blond. You don't even have an excuse."

"Fuck you, Bryce!"

"Now who'd the homo?"

He punched me in the shoulder then went to look out the window.

"You think we can make it?"

"We're big boys, Carson; at least I am," I said, gazing meaningfully at his crotch.

He flipped me off.

"Got any boots I can borrow?"


Him and I suited up for our arctic adventure. It wasn't all that far to the gym, but it was icy out. We told mom and Janelle where we were going and took off. The snow was almost knee deep until we reached the street. The snow plows were busy even on Christmas, and the street in front of the house was reasonably clear. I took off running, then slid, turning a full circle before coming to a halt.

"I'm going to laugh when you fall on your ass," he said.

"It's not going to happen. I'm far to graceful."

It took us a bit longer than usual to get to the gym, but it wasn't a bad trip. Our cheeks were rosy, and mine were a bit numb, but otherwise it was just a stroll in the sunshine, or in this case, under a cloudy sky. I unlocked the doors, then relocked them behind us.

I flipped on the lights, and we walked back to the lockers. We stripped out of our heavy winter clothing, right down to our boxers and socks, then put on workout shorts. He wore Calvin Klein boxers, and he looked damned good in them.

Him and I had always been close, almost like brothers in a way. It was that closeness that kept my sexual desires from being aimed too directly at him. I must admit I'd thought about doing it with him, but it always somehow seemed wrong. He did have a nice body. He didn't have my size but he was lean and firm, and nicely shaped. It was easy to understand what my mom saw in him.

I pushed such thoughts away quickly. Parents and sex didn't mix. My mom had obviously had sex before. Janelle and I were walking proof of that, but I didn't like thinking of her as a sexual being. All humans were, but when it came to parents, most of us didn't want to think about it, and I was no exception.

I hit the ab machine first. For the last few months, I'd been using a set of ab crunches as a warmup for the rest of my workout. I still did my usual three sets of crunches at the end, but I started with them, too. They stretched me out nicely and warmed me up so I was less likely to get an injury.

Injuries sucked. I still remember when I pulled my left pec doing a butterfly with free weights when I was fourteen. I could feel something was wrong as I was bringing the dumbbells down and dropped them as fast as I could, but I'd already overstrained the pectoral muscle on the left side of my chest. I had to work out with light weights for a month while waiting on my muscles to repair themselves. I didn't want to go through that again.

I hit the bench press for my first exercise. I liked to work out my chest first, because that was the main area I was interested in developing. I liked to start with the bench press, go on to butterflies, then on from there. Carson did pretty much the same workout, mainly because his was patterned on mine. A lot of guys did what I did because they wanted to look like me.

Carson's bare chest looked damn fine as he worked out his pecs. I had a sudden urge to lick him. There are certain lines that shouldn't be crossed, however. He was dating my mom, and I wasn't about to put the moves on him. It would just be too weird. Damn, I needed Paxton's services. I hadn't realized how dependent I'd become on the daily blowjob I made him give me. He was getting damned good at it, too. Having a personal sex slave was a dream come true, and to think it all happened because Wyatt Maxwell couldn't keep his big mouth shut. I really should've been making him pay the price, too, but I wasn't hot for him, and he was still recovering from being shot by Shayne. Still, maybe it was time to think of making him serve me, as well. What use was power and control if one didn't use it?

I continued to gaze at Carson's sleek torso as he worked out. He was lean, with not an ounce of fat on him, and had bulges in all the right places. He caught me checking him out, but I was wise enough not to pretend I wasn't looking. That would have been an admission of guilt. As it was, I could pass my interest off as pure observation.

"You're getting pretty buff," I said.

"Yeah, watch out, Bryce; I'm gonna pass you up."

"In your dreams."

"In my reality."

"Don't make me laugh, you puny bitch."

"Paxton sure passed you up."

"He did not. He was always out ahead of me. If he wasn't a cheater, he…"

I stopped mid-sentence, realizing what I was saying.


"Yeah, um, he started working out younger than I did."

"That's not cheating, Bryce. That's intelligence."


"Can I ask you something about Paxton?"


"He seems kind of… well, it's like he's scared of you or something."

"Yeah, he's scared I'll pass his ass up. He knows I'm right behind him."

"No, it's not that. Sometimes he's got this look on his face when he's near you, as if he's afraid you're gonna belt him or something; then sometimes he glares at you when you aren't looking, as if he hates your guts. Did something happen between you two?"

"Nah, we're just rivals is all. Sometimes I hate his guts, too."

He looked as if he didn't believe me, but he let it go. I thought Paxton and I had been doing a damn good job of pulling the wool over everyone's eyes, but maybe we hadn't done quite as well as I'd thought. I wondered if anyone else had noticed the change. I guess it wasn't a big deal. There was no way anyone was going to find out what was really going on. Hell, they wouldn't even believe it if I told them.

Running my muscles through their paces gave me a heady sense of exhilaration. I loved feeling all toned and pumped. The only problem was it horned me up, too. I guessed I'd have to fall back on releasing the pressure the old-fashioned way. I knew it wouldn't be the same, however. I yearned for Paxton's talented lips. Damn, there had to be some way I could take him to college with me.

We finished our Christmas day workout an hour or so later and headed out into the snow again. There were a few cars moving about and a few kids out playing in the streets, but all the shops were closed, of course. We passed one Christmas display after another, their lights glowing through the shop windows. Once we crossed into the residential district there were brightly lit Christmas trees in just about every window. It was midafternoon, but the clouds, heavy with snow, made it seem more like twilight. I was usually all for sun and warmth, but on Christmas day the cloudy skies and snow were to my liking. It's just too bad winter couldn't be limited to just the week of Christmas. Yeah, fifty-one weeks of summer and one week of winter; that seemed about right.

The rest of Christmas day was enjoyable, but not exciting to hear about, so I won't bore you with the details. My need for Paxton's services increased exponentially as the hours passed. He was like a drug. I just had to have my fix, and when I didn't get it, I suffered from withdrawal.

The Ab Crunch opened back up the day after Christmas, but my hours were irregular since I had to take Ms. Peck's daytime shift while she was gone on vacation. I didn't mind because I was bored out of my skull at home and there was no school, but it did make hooking up with Paxton impossible. Carson had the evenings and nights so I wasn't there at ten p.m. as usual. I could've ordered him to meet me at the gym at closing, but that would've made Carson suspicious.

Ms. Peck had hired on a couple of college guys, Dan and Rod, to help out during her vacation. Apparently, they too, were bored at home. They went to school far away in Boston and New York City. If I'd come back to Chouteau from either of those places, I would've been bored too. Ms. Peck had already shown them the ropes, so they weren't much trouble. I was glad to have them available, however, because otherwise it would've been just me and Carson running the place from ten a.m. to ten p.m. every day of the week. I normally wouldn't have minded extra hours, but Janelle was only home for a limited time, so I wanted to see her while I could.

I didn't see Carson at work, since we weren't working the same hours. Ms. Peck had scheduled one or the other of us to be with Dan or Rod during peak hours. I saw him plenty at home, however. It was kind of weird to have him living there, even temporarily.

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