Collin talked to Ryan on the bus about what their Big Bro told him last night, and about what he thought was happening with Shelley and why she was acting the way she did.
As soon as the bus dropped them off at the high school, the two best friends headed off to meet with the rest of their 'gang'. As soon as Danny, and Damon, and Conner showed up, Ryan had to tell him what Collin said about "Shelley being on the rag'.
The three teens had a big laugh and, at the same time, Collin still didn't understand what it all meant.
"Come on, guys, why are you laughing like that. Just because I haven't a clue on what Mr. Ken explained to me last night doesn't mean you have to make fun of me. Maybe I should just cancel the barbecue for tomorrow. Since Shelley is pissed at me, and all you guys can do is only laugh at me and not even think to tell me what it means to be 'on the rag'!" a quickly becoming pissed-off Collin said.
"Whoa there, Collin," spoke up Conner, "yeah, we're laughing but we're laughing with you, NOT at you." As soon as he got it out of his mouth the other three lads burst out laughing and then some.
Collin was now really pissed that they continued to laugh at his expense, so he walked away from the group. The guys were laughing so much and looking at one another that they didn't even know Collin left, that is, until Nick came up to them and asked why Collin wasn't there.
The four guys looked all around, like they didn't believe Nick, and then they realized they went too far.
"Guys, we'd better spread out and find him and apologize and quick," hastily said Ryan. "He's had a lot of shit on his mind lately, now that his grandmother came back into his life. He really could be pissed enough that he would cancel the barbecue."
"But why…" began Nick.
"Don't ask questions, just go look!" yelled back Damon, as he took off looking for Collin.
Nick just stood there, as the four teens took off, trying to figure out why he needed to apologize to Collin. Just then, he saw Collin come out of the BOYS' restroom, and head towards him. The boys exchanged pleasantries and Collin just sat down looking pissed as all get out.
Nick saw the look on Collin's face, so he asked what was wrong. Collin filled him in on what the others had done, and why he was so pissed. Nick smiled some and sat down next to Collin and told him what he knew about girls being 'on the rag'. By the time Nick finished, Collin had a great big smile on his face and began to laugh out loud. Then the first bell rang and the two teens headed for their homerooms.
After their homeroom period, Collin saw Shelley walking to her first class and he tried to go over and hug her, but she was still in a bad mood and wouldn't let him close. Ellen saw Shelley put Collin off and, during the next break, Ellen saw it happen again, and figured she was the reason. She made it a point to confront Shelley the next time she met her in the hallway.
It was between the second and third periods that Ellen made her move. She saw Shelley in the hall and then went up to her from behind and pulled her around and said, "What are YOU doing to Collin? He's trying his damndest to hug you at every chance, and you just swat him away like he is a fly, or some sort of bug. That boy really cares for you … A LOT! My bet is that you're pissed at him because he hugged me, yesterday. Am I right?" yelled Ellen at Shelley, as other students began stopping to see what was going on.
"WELL, AM I?" again yelled Ellen. "I'll tell you what, missy … that boy really … really loves you and his heart is breaking because you have this … this stupid idea that somehow he and I have something going ON. All Collin did was Thank Me for apologizing to him for how I treated him after Brittany and Hannah were arrested. The HUG was my idea, because I was so happy he accepted my apology, and that he also invited me to the 'Schools Out' Barbecue, too. Now get your head out of your ass and find him and apologize to him, because if you don't, there are a whole bunch of US girls out here waiting for you to break up with the BEST GUY in this whole damn school!"
While it looked like the two girls might go after one another, someone went and found Collin and told him what was going on. They emphasized that he needed to get there fast, before something happened between them.
Collin came upon Ellen and Shelley just as Ellen told Shelley it was her idea for the hug. Initially, he wanted to go to his girl and protect her but then. because of the way she was acting towards him, he decided to wait to see what Shelley was going to say.
"Yeah, RIGHT!" yelled Shelley. "You've been following him where ever he goes, just looking for the opportunity to; to … find a way to take him away from me. I know how you and Brittany and Hannah and their posse worked. I've seen what you guys did to Damon. He still can't get a date because you all threw him under the bus. Yeah, I see what you're trying to do to Collin and me, and after he gave you that hug it was evident you succeeded in taking him away from me. So GO … and hug him some more, SEE IF I CARE!" yelled a crying Shelley. as she took off running.
But just as she turned to run, she bumped into Collin who held onto her and said, "It is NOT what you think … what you said about Ellen and me! She DID apologize to me … YOU WERE THERE and so was everyone else, including your BEST friend, Megan. I tried to tell you that, last night but … but, you wouldn't even listen! Did you ever ask Meg what she thought? I bet you didn't. … Am I right?" … Look, Shelley, I love you as much as I can, after what happened to me. You and I have a special bond, and I don't want that to EVER end between us," lightly talked Collin, as he hugged his girlfriend.
Just then a teacher came up from another direction wanting to know why everyone was stopped and holding up the other students from getting to their classes. The teacher couldn't yet see Collin and Shelley hugging and they parted smiling at one another, as the teacher told them to get a move on, before the class bell rang.
The two lovey-dovey kept smiling at one another as they left, their fingers slowly slide along each other's before they finally parted. Then two silent kissed were sent by each one towards the other and then they went on to their next class, knowing they would meet at lunch.
During lunch, Collin and Shelley quickly found a quiet corner to sit in; away from the regular crowd.
"Hey, why are Collin and Shelley sitting way over there?" asked Ryan.
"Don't you know?" asked Conner. "Ellen saw Shelley during a change of classes and yelled at her for the way she was treating her boyfriend. People thought they were going to have a cat-fight, right there in the hallway, but that never happened. Then, as Shelley told off Ellen and began to run away, Collin stopped her and held her and told her he 'loved' her as much as he could."
Ryan sat there flabbergasted over hearing the story. Then Nick told him about his talk with Collin and explained he straightened Collin out on what the 'time of the month' meant when it came to women. Nick finished telling Ryan and the others, "Collin was really pissed at you four for laughing at him, the way you did. Then he said something about you four and a barbecue and not coming.
"Well, he said a lot of things, but, mostly, that he didn't know if there'd be a barbecue if he and Shelley didn't get back together. So, I guess there'll be a 'Schools Out Barbecue' after all. The questions IS … will you four be going? And seeing how those two are over there, you'd be better off letting them alone, for now, if I were you!"
Later, Ryan got on the bus to go home and he had his head down. He knew he treated his best friend real bad, that morning, and he deserved it if Collin didn't talk to him ever again. As he sat down, someone came up from behind and placed their hands over his eyes.
"Hey, who's that? It better not be you Georgy Porgy, because when we get off this cheese wagon you will be Swiss cheese, you hear me!" a gruff Ryan said to his tormentor.
"So, you're gonna turn me into Swiss cheese are you? Even after ALL those guys couldn't," teased Collin, as he took his hands away and moved around and sat down beside his best friend.
As Ryan heard Colin's voice and then felt him sit down beside him he wasn't sure what to expect. He decided to take his chances and looked his best friend in the eyes.
"Col, I'm sorry I did that to you, this morning. I didn't expect it to go the way it did, but me and those guys go way back, and we found it to be too funny. But the trouble is … we didn't think about how, what we were doing, how it would affect you. I'm really sorry, Col. Do you think you could ever forgive me?" soulfully asked Ryan.
"I hear Nick told you that you guys might not be coming to the barbecue and you want to come don't cha?" teased Collin, then left out a slight chuckle.
Ryan heard that slight chuckle and knew he was forgiven, so he said in a girly voice, "Collin, can you give me a hug? Like you did Ellen! I want to be forgiven the same way." Ryan then smiled at his best friend.
Collin heard what Ryan said and knew he was playing along but figured he took it, too, far when he mentioned Ellen, which started all the trouble between he and his girl, so instead of giving Ryan a hug he decided to swat him across the head, "There, that should make us even!"
"Oww, oww Col, that hurt. My head is still sore from when my mom hit me there the other day when your Grammy called," emphatically explained Ryan.
"Serves you right for what you did to me, then, and today. At least Nick explained what it all meant," said Collin.
"So … how's it with you and Shelley, now, Col? First she disses you and then she ignores you and then she almost goes to war with Ellen, and then, before we know it, we see you and her all lovey-dovey at lunch. Do tell, bro!" emphatically asked Ryan.
Collin finished telling his story, just as the bus came to Ryan's stop. Ryan knew it was all a misunderstanding, but it also had to do with the way women view things when it comes to 'their' man. Ryan promised himself to not get caught between two women, ever.
Collin walked into the Study with a much better attitude than he did the day before and it was evident to his Big Bro.
"So, what has you floating in here like that, 'lil' bro?" teased the lad's Big Bro.
"Women, I think I'm In Love."
"Whoa, hold on there, now. Don't go overboard just yet. You haven't finished graduate school yet. Remember me telling you to wait until then to begin starting a family," smiled Mr. Ken, as he teased Collin.
"Thanks, Bro, I might have forgotten. NOT!!"
"So, I take it you and Shelley are a couple again? Is there a story behind that, or do I have to wait for the book or the movie?"
"I think the book. We all know the movie is never anything like the book," laughed Collin, who then went on to explain the gist of the morning's laugh fest, at his expense, and then the confrontation between Shelley and Ellen and their making up at lunch.
"Ah, so I was right. You are 'floating' right now," laughed Ken. "Collin, I think this is your first experience with the opposite sex, and how easy they can get upset and how difficult it is to get things back to being 'on track'. Use this as a lesson, Little Bro and NEVER, EVER hug another girl in front of your current one." Ken then couldn't help himself as he burst out laughing hard.
"Okay, okay, so I had my experience, but I bet you had something similar happen to you so don't laugh too hard, unless that is what your laughing at," laughed back Collin.
"Not to change the subject, Little Bro, but … I AM" laughed Mr. Ken. "By the way, have you talked to your grandmother yet about this weekend? Please don't make another mistake as old ladies are much more difficult than these young cuties you're dealing with, now. They are 100 times more difficult to settle things with,"
"No, I haven't, but I am going to, after dinner. Now that my finals are over, and the thing between Shelley and me is fixed, I can now concentrate on talking to Grammy," explained Collin.
"And what, pray tell, are you going to tell her?"
"Just like we discussed, that we can be there this weekend, but after that, we had already made some plans. That you arranged for us to visit some of the manufacturing plants, and other headquarters, so I could see what they are all about, and get a good overview of Wilkinson from an owner's point-of-view," said Collin.
"Have you decided what you're going to say if she asks what we've planned for the 4th of July?" enquired Mr. Ken.
"Yep, I plan to tell her you already planned to have a 'Good Ole Neighborhood 4th of July Block Party'. I'm gonna tell her that just like what you did at Christmas, you are going to invite the local politicians and big wigs and all of your neighbors, and serve them brisket and chicken and ribs and hot dogs and hamburgers and all the fixin's.
"That you're going to offer fun games and prizes during the day, for the kids, and at night, you'll have the biggest fireworks display this side of Washington, D.C." smiled Collin, as he looked at his mentor and 'Big Brother'. Then he added, "And you better start getting it all set up and planned and catered, or you'll begging us to help you again as you had us do last December."
Ken started laughing and then slowly headed towards Collin, who sort of knew he was gonna get tickled if he didn't get out of there now, and fast. But it was too late, as Ken headed him off at the 'pass' and began tickling the teenager without 'mercy'. Even Chief got into the act as she heard them both laughing hard which meant it was all in fun, so she began helping Ken.
"Hey, that's not fair, two against one. And Chief, I thought you'd be on my side, you traitor," laughed Collin, as he was getting out of breath.
Then the tide turned as Ken's injured arm began to throb and, as he relaxed his grip, Collin got free and jumped on the twenty something man and began tickling him. Ken gave up and went flat on the floor, but getting tickled was an act of futility as Mr. Ken wasn't ticklish.
"That's so NOT fair. You're NOT ticklish … so how can I ever get back at you?"
"Find my ticklish spot," teased Ken, who then grabbed Collin and began ticking him again.
This wrestling went on for almost fifteen minutes, but Collin wouldn't have it any other way as this was what he knew he had missed back when he was growing up. He loved the fact that Mr. Ken treated him as his 'real' little brother and he knew he could never get enough of the man's attention, and the feeling of 'being loved'.
"What say we call a truce and get cooled down before Momma calls us for dinner?" said Mr. Ken to the teen whose smile was almost jaw breaking.
"Yeah," laughed Collin as he tried to get up only to fall back as he was still laughing so much.
"Thanks, Bro! That was great!" offered the sixteen year old who then went to his mentor and gave the man a big hug. "I'm gonna go upstairs and get freshened up. I'll be back downstairs in like fifteen minutes."
The twenty-four year old hugged his 'lil' brother back and thanked him for the fun they just had. He agreed he needed to freshen up as well and the two parted company until Momma Maria called them for dinner.
Later that evening, Collin came into the Study, carrying a notebook, to talk to his Big Bro.
"Bro, I just talked with Grammy. She is looking forward to us being there this weekend."
"Is she, now? How did she take it when you told her I would be coming with you?"
"Well, to be honest, she was thinking it would be just me and her, but when I told her about how I felt about seeing everything, and needing someone there that I knew, she relented," explained Collin.
"She said for us to bring our suits, as there will be a dinner party Saturday night to welcome me back home. I told her I would have rather liked a simple weekend to get used to what happened there. She said something that I didn't understand; something that has to do with me not recognizing the place. I tried to get her to explain it to me, but she said I'd just have to wait and see for myself, on Friday. Bro, did she mention anything about my home, to you, when you two talked?"
"I'm sorry there, Collin. I do remember she said something, to that effect, but she didn't tell me exactly what that was all about, other than she changed a few things," replied Mr. Ken.
"Are things ready for tomorrow?" asked Mr. Ken.
"Dang, I was going to ask you that," said Collin. "Since you're the one paying and all, I thought you'd tell me if there were any problems and since you haven't, I take it there will be no problems," continued Collin.
Mr. Ken laughed hard and said, "Boy, are you sounding like a big shot manager. You gave me a list and expected it to get done. It is good that I took your meager list and 'took control', otherwise, you'd have exactly one package each of hot dogs and hamburgers without buns and no ice for the drinks."
Collin, sat there with his mouth wide open. He couldn't believe what he just heard.
"But, I … I gave you the list that said there'll be something like 30 teenagers, there, and it gave a complete list of what Ryan and I thought we'd need. Here, here's the initial list I wrote before we decided on the numbers."
With that, Collin began to open the notebook, he brought with him, to show his Big Bro that first 'working' list. He opened the notebook so that page faced Mr. Ken. Collin couldn't see the page, but as he began to tell his Bro, that it was the one with only a few notations on it, and that he'd given the full list to his Bro.
Mr. Ken began to giggle to himself as he looked at the fully filed out page showing a fully planned out picnic, indicating the projected numbers for the barbecue. Then he opened a desk drawer and pulled out a piece of paper that was exactly the same as the ones in the notebook and held it face out to Collin. Then his giggle came to a full roar as the look on Collin's face became priceless.
"Bu … but I … I gave you the … the 'planning' list," came out of Collin's mouth as he turned his notebook around so he could look at the page. Of course, to his horror, he hadn't given the correct page to his Bro, but the original work page, with just a few names and columns with headings, but no numbers.
"Oh, Bro … you mean … I gave you the … oh damn! I'm really sorry, Mr. Ken, err, I mean Bro. Why didn't you say anything to me? I had the correct list with me all the time, and could have given it to you. I guess I wasn't that good of a manager if I didn't give the 'worker' the right list to work off of. Can you forgive me, Bro?" a very embarrassed young teen asked.
Mr. Ken sat there for a few moments and then said with a smirk on his face, "If I can get a hug and be invited to your barbecue, too."
Collin realized what his Bro was doing and doing a deliberate look all around the room he answered, "Yes, I can give you a hug, but I had to look around first to make sure no one was around so that when I hugged you that they wouldn't get 'on the rag' for me doing that to you."
Both man and teen shared a hug and had a big laugh over what the teen just said.
"So, how's the barbecue going, there, Collin?" asked Mr. Ken, about half way through the afternoon's BBQ.
"It's going great, Bro. I can't thank you enough for how things came together. I'm still embarrassed about the mix up in the lists, though," replied the teen.
"I see you have a nice turn out. I suppose everyone showed up, then," commented the young man. "And Ellen … did she come?"
"Oh, yes, she sure did! Look over there," said Collin, as he pointed Mr. Ken to look at the couple sitting close together, on the sand, at the edge of the water. "That's Ellen, Bro."
"And … is THAT who I think it is?" the disbelieving man asked.
"Yep … that's Ellen … and Damon," laughed Collin.
"Will wonders ever cease? I thought you said Damon couldn't ever get a date?"
"Well, with everyone knowing that Ellen was one of Brittany's and Hannah's posse, it was evident she wouldn't ever get a date again, either. So, well the two who couldn't get a date decided that maybe they should try to date, and see how things worked out between them. I think it is going very well," explained Collin. "Don't cha think?"
"I should say so! It's looking so good, it appears they could be attached at their lips," responded Mr. Ken, as he walked away laughing.
The day wore on and as the evening approached, Collin and Ryan got a beach fire going and the group of teens began to congregate near the warmer air. The couples, of course, held onto one another for more warmth, but most of the single teenagers did find someone they, too, could snuggle with. They all sat there getting warm and told each other funny stories they remembered from the past year. Then, someone brought out a guitar. They began playing tunes that most of them knew and with that, they all began to sing along with the songs. The 'Schools Out' barbeque surely was a night to remember.
It wasn't long before the teen's parents began to arrive to retrieve their charges. By midnight, the fire was out and the beach was as clean as it could be.
As Ryan was saying his good nights, to his Bro and Collin, he told his employer that he'd take care of finishing up the cleaning of the beach tomorrow, and not to worry about anything.
"Thanks, Ryan, I knew I kept you on the payroll for some reason," teased Mr. Ken, as he hugged the teenager before the lad headed to his mother's waiting car.
Mr. Ken told Collin to try and get a good night's sleep as they would be leaving at eleven AM for the drive to the lad's 'other' home.
"Don't remind me, Bro. I am NOT looking forward to this weekend at all. Do I really have to GO?'
"I'm afraid so, my 'lil' bro."
The two hugged and then they went off to their respective bedrooms. The night would be a long one for them both.