Castle Roland

Dessert Fantasies

by Jack Scribe, of Honored Memory


Chapter 11

Posted: N/A

One Step Closer To Home

"What did she mean by 'try to stay clear of Judge Woods' just as we were leaving?" Bob asked as they got in Drew's car at the county building parking lot. The Friday afternoon child services interview had been very cordial and they both considered it a success. "I noticed you nod but indicate nothing more."

"Something that Mitch said when we first discussed getting involved was triggered at the mention of Judge Woods. That was early last month and it didn't register much at the time. Apparently this judge isn't very gay friendly and can be a little testy. The plan, as I gather, is for Mitch to monitor the calendar very closely with his contact. When we get near the point of petitioning the court, he'll be sure we're assigned to a friendly judge." Drew engaged the ignition and drove away. "Just something to be cautious about."

"Must be my trusting nature. I just remember that Mitch would handle everything. Do you think it's anything to worry about?" Bob was now emotionally invested in the foster parenting and was concerned about any roadblocks.

"Naw. Mitch has it covered." Drew turned onto the southbound I-15 and accelerated to merge into the early rush hour traffic. "Glad we got out of there when we did. Another 45 minutes and we'd be part of the longest parking lot in Vegas."

"I hear you. Between all the new condos and hotels, the traffic is just going to get worse and worse." Bob looked at all the construction cranes that were positioned up and down the Strip and added, "Wonder when this building boom will peak?"

"Ha. They were asking that question when I came here 10 years ago for school. I just hope we don't run out of water."

"As long as we've got enough to fill the hotel pool. It was my idea to rip off the Hard Rock's 'Rehab' concept for us."

"It's a winning concept, babe. And I've got some pretty aggressive revenue numbers riding on our success. I don't quite understand how ya get by selecting who gets in, charge an admission and have the balls to price cocktails at $17.00 a pop."

"With hot honeys in thong bikinis...that's how," Bob replied with a laugh. "Then, the stud muffins will line up in droves. We've got to go back to Hard Rock for another marketing survey. The hetero eye candy is fantastic."

"It's a shame we can't tap into the gay community by having a special night at the pool every Sunday night in the summer. The eye candy would be just as fantastic...except all the guys would be wearing Speedos and AussieBums rather than board shorts." Drew eased over to the right lane so he could take the Flamingo exit.

"However, we are locked in on hosting the White Party a year from now. The contracts were just signed. That's a big statement for us to make to the enlightened community - worldwide."

"Even if it is only for a weekend. It will really be fun but the promoter needs to control the drug thing," Drew replied as he turned into the gated construction entrance to the hotel. "Nick won't have any tolerance for that."

"The promoter cleaned up the Palm Springs event. It's like everyone's finally figured it out: you don't need to do drugs to have a good time and get laid." Bob laughed and added, "Funny...except for a little grass, I never could figure out why anybody needed that shit." Bob looked around at the almost-finished hotel edifice before the car cruised down the ramp to the sublevel garage.

"I've still got a few more hours of work before I can call it quits. What's your schedule?" Drew asked as he slid into his assigned parking space.

"S.O.S. We're working on firming up New Year's Eve plans so that Nick can approve it next week. Remember we've got dinner plans with two of Vegas's finest." Bob was very fond of Officers Wes Jackson and Justin Morley, the two policemen who responded to their home invasion and assault a couple of years earlier. Wes and Justin had become good friends with both guys.

"Oh, completely slipped my mind," Drew said as he got out of the BMW. "We're going to meet them at a restaurant around 8:00 p.m., right?"

"Lesbian cuisine at the Border Grill in the Mandalay Bay," Bob replied with a laugh. "Then, a late-night cocktail at Charlie's while we check out all the cowboys." Bob pushed the call button by the elevator.

"Cowboys dressed in tailored A & F and Dan Post Caiman alligator boots, ya mean? So I guess it'll be a jeans night for all of us?" Drew rolled his eyes as they entered the elevator cab.

"Absolutely. Ya gotta admit that Wes and Justin look hot in jeans."

"They do. However, if Wes accepts our job offer and resigns from the police department, we'll have to keep those thoughts to ourselves," Drew said.

"You think Wes will jump ship to work at Barcelona?"

"Chances are pretty good. He'd be the number two in Security and have a decent salary package. Plus, I'm pretty sure they've decided that it's too nerve-wracking for both to be officers. Justin's up for sergeant and he's encouraging Wes to join us."

"That would be cooler than cool if Wes was part of the team." Bob's memory drifted back for a second to the evening when S.W.A.T. partners Wes and Justin rescued them.

"Very cool. Maybe they'll have some news for us tonight." Drew moved closer and reached behind and casually squeezed Bob's backside as the door closed.

"Is that considered sexual harassment? An officer of the company hitting on a younger, innocent guy?" Bob turned, licked his lips and smiled. He was proud that two years later he still felt giddy when Drew 'goofed' on him in a private way. However, it was unusual for a deliberate, lingering touch to occur at work.

"Innocent, my ass...or yours. Actually, you have a good point and I apologize. It's just that I know the security cameras in the elevator aren't scheduled to be installed for a couple more weeks and I lost my self-control." Drew winked as the elevator opened on the Executive Office floor.

"Rain check, later?" Bob asked as they stepped out to the reception area.

"You bet your sweet..."

"That's the idea. Now I'm going to the office and work until about six before heading home. Meet you there?"

"I'll be back by seven so I can clean up. See ya then."

Bob waved and walked down the corridor to the Sales and Marketing suite. 'Christ, am I beat,' he thought. 'And it's not even 4:00 p.m.' The pre-opening projects with which he was involved were rapidly stacking up. 'Grand opening, New Year's Eve, winter poker tournament, spring fight...the beat goes on.'

After dropping off his backpack at the house, Cray continued on his bike to the hotel for his Friday night cleaning shift. He felt it had been a positive week. First on his personal hit parade were the new friends he had made. Tim, of course, had been the catalyst by introducing his buddies at school and Cray was becoming tight with the group. 'Chris and his Jeep are pretty cool,' he thought while peddling down Flamingo, 'but Michael is really neat. I wonder how good at Tai Chi and martial arts he really is?' Michael confirmed that he'd pick up Cray at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday so they could go to the gym and practice. 'I wonder what his deal is? He doesn't seem to have a steady girl but I don't get any vibes from him other than being a nice guy.'

When he got to Las Vegas Boulevard, he walked the bike the rest of the way to avoid a possible accident. 'Once I get all my personal life straightened out, I wanna get a real driver's license and figure out how to buy a car.' In that Cray had completed driver's education at high school in Provo, he was sure that it would be a breeze getting a Nevada license - if he seriously studied the manual. As much as he appreciated the gift of the bike, he had reached a point in his life where an auto of decent condition was really needed. He hoped that by next spring the bike would only be used for recreational activity. He was proud that his new bank account would be richer by another $100.00 by the following week. 'Maybe Mario or Drew could help me with a loan when I'm ready to get some wheels?' he wondered as he walked up to the security building.

He showed his I.D. card to a guard at the window, mounted his bike and rode on to a nearby light pole he that used to secure it. Major physical changes around the construction site now occurred every day and Cray was momentarily confused when some of the landmarks he was accustomed to seeing were gone. Galaxy Services still used trailers for the temporary office and locker rooms but the cleaning equipment was now located in the new hotel buildings. He had been told that all trailers would be gone by the end of the month and lockers in the sub-level of the hotel would be assigned by then.

Most of the spaces he was assigned to clean were still tracked up on a daily basis by the various 'trades' workers who were scrambling to finish on schedule. But his boss had been instructed to maintain housekeeping at a high standard as a subtle message that Barcelona was opening soon and a 'construction cleanliness' mentality was not appreciated. Strategically placed around the building were 'countdown' signs that indicated the number of days before the resort departments would take over the finished spaces for on-site training and an operations shakedown. Everyone knew that the resort and casino would launch with a 'soft' opening on October 21 - come hell or a 'royal flush'.

By 6:15 p.m., Cray arrived at the Executive Office suite with his cart, vacuum and supplies. 'A little early,' he thought, as he swiped his card at the door, 'but maybe Drew is still here.' He hadn't seen his dad-to-be for a week and wanted to say 'hi'. He stepped inside after the lock released and made sure the door was secure again. The quiet, empty office, now a construction-free environment, was to be 'glove inspection' clean every morning. Cray had started a system of going to the rear of the suite where Mr. Maggiano's office was located and cleaning forward. He smiled as he neared Drew's lighted office.

"Knock, knock," Cray said from the doorway. "Are you too busy to see me?"

"Hey, guy. Come on in. Just wrapping up a few things before I head out for dinner. In fact, it's good that we have a chance to talk. We can bring each other up to date with what's been happening since we last saw each other." Drew stood up and walked around to Cray. He held out his arms and gave the young man a warm hug that was instantly returned.

"Since last weekend." Cray released his arms and pulled away with a smile. "School is really neat and, after a few problems, everything seems to be working out fine." He sat down and waited until Drew eased back into his desk chair. Over the next 15 minutes, he gave Drew a brief picture of the new friends he was making. The mention of his new bicycle was a lead-in to the 'Vince incident' and how it had been resolved. He watched Drew's expressions while the tale was told and wanted to make sure there was no concern on his future dad's part by the time he had finished. Cray said that he hadn't told Bob about the incident when they had spoken on the phone earlier in the week because he wanted to tell either or both of them in person.

"Wow, my head is spinning at your ordeal with that goon. Guess Mario got through to the dad and what needed to be done was done."

"Most of the guys at school are happy that Vince isn't in the picture and I enjoyed a little fame...for a couple of days. It's pretty mellow now and I'm just trying to get into a routine." Cray paused for a moment and knew that he couldn't break his word to Mario concerning telling anyone - including Drew and Bob - all the details about Vince's dad. "Sunday, I'm going to work out with a new friend at the gym. He's also into Tai Chi and I need to get some practice in."

"Bob mentioned that. We'll probably be over there so say 'hi' if you see us. Probably best to just say we all work at the hotel where you have a part-time job."

"Cool. His name is Michael Turner and he's a nice guy. Kinda cute...but I don't know about anything else," Cray said with a grin and shrug. "It's neat to have a buddy who likes Tai Chi and Kung fu."

"I won't push it but if you ever want to invite him to come over to our place for a cookout, that's fine with both of us. Let me give you a little rundown on where we are in the fostering process." Drew leaned over the desk and said, "We both passed the test and have a certificate."

"That is good news." Cray felt a surge of energy shoot through his body at the thought he was one step closer to having the two guys as parents.

"Even better is that we had our interviews earlier this afternoon and seemed not to screw up anything," Drew replied with a chuckle. "At this point, we're waiting for the background investigation to be completed. It's just a matter of time while the paperwork goes through the government offices. Our lawyer thinks that we should be able to resolve this in the courts by the end of the month. Whaduya think about them apples?"

"I think that I've almost got two dads." Cray instinctively got up and walked over to Drew. "How about one more hug, then I gotta get to work." He smiled as Drew stood up and again wrapped his arms around the excited teen. Cray almost burst into tears when Drew placed a hand behind Cray's head and brought them closer together.

"Buddy, we're really looking forward to having you in our lives fulltime." Drew looked into Cray's eyes and added, "Bob and I are even going to look for a larger home so we can all have some growing room. The apartment was really just a starter place for us, anyway."

"In the same area of Henderson?" Cray was a little concerned he would have to change schools.

"One of the criteria is to find something in the Green Valley school district. But this isn't going to happen for a while. Just thought you'd like to know what our thinking is."

"Wow, I've got all kinds of things to think about while I do my job tonight. I'll get out of your hair and start cleaning the office."

"And I've got to put my papers away and go home." Drew gave Cray a thumbs up sign and added, "See ya Sunday."

Cray smiled, raised his thumbs in return and said, "Sunday." He waved and went back to his cart. 'This has indeed turned out to be a great week,' he thought as he moved to the back of the office suite to start his routine.

"Thanks for waiting until noon to go to the gym. I have a part-time job on Friday and Saturday nights and don't get finished until 1:00 a.m." Cray felt very comfortable talking with Michael Turner on a more personal level. Over the past couple of days, their friendship had blossomed to a stage just beyond 'casual acquaintance'. "I appreciate the lift," he said as they drove down Pecos Road on a rather warm Sunday afternoon.

"Where ya working? It's hard for someone our age to find a job."

"At the new resort, Barcelona. I worked there on the cleaning crew this summer and they asked me to stay on until the place is up and running. It's kinda crap work - in more ways that one - but the money's pretty good."

"That's wild. My dad started working there last week. He's a manager in charge of the slots operations. He was offered more money than he was making at the Hilton and thinks the Barcelona people are pretty nice."

"I'm really impressed with the people I've met so far...the bosses, I mean. Most of the guys I work with on the cleaning crew just wanna get the job done and split at the end of the shift," Cray replied with a chuckle. "Cleaning johns isn't a real career builder."

"Dad seems pretty pleased so far. And this is a good career move for him. Oh, by the way, I finally get what you meant when you said you have a 'crap job'. But I'm pretty sure the paycheck looks good at the end of the week." Michael turned onto Wigwam Parkway and headed for the large strip mall that housed the 24 Hour Fitness Agassi Sport Club.

"Especially trying to buy some new clothes for school." Cray looked ahead and thought back to his former life for a moment. 'If he only knew why I had to buy all new stuff.' He sighed, turned to Michael, and said, "Now, ya gotta remember that I haven't done much with Tai Chi other than doing meditation sets in the back yard. And my Kung fu moves are pretty rusty," Cray said as Michael pulled his truck into the parking lot. "I don't have anything pressing later, other than some homework, so whatever time you can spend will be great."

"It's just after 2:00 p.m. and my schedule is pretty loose. Dad just wants to make sure I have the truck back before dinner. We're probably going to eat around 6:00 p.m. Part of it is I haven't had my license all that long and he still gets nervous about his little boy driving." Michael laughed as he eased into a parking space. "After we get dressed, why don't we warm up and go through the forms? It'll give each of us an opportunity to check out each other's level."

"Good. Then maybe we can show each other some martial arts moves?" Cray asked as he grabbed his gym bag, opened the passenger door and got out. 'I wouldn't mind showing Michael some other moves,' he thought. 'Super guy...but I don't get any gay vibes.'

"Don't whip my ass too badly," Michael replied. "I'm just moving into an intermediate level." He got out, locked the truck and joined Cray. "Maybe you'd like to take some lessons with me this fall? There's a Chinese guy in Vegas who has a small school and teaches in the Wu tradition. I was in his beginners class last year and felt pretty good about his instruction."

"I learned the Yang disciplines so we're pretty compatible. I'd like that and there's a few bucks saved that I could use."

"Cool," Michael said with a grin. "It'll be fun and the class is on Tuesday nights."

"Do you have any idea why they call this gym the Agassi Sport? Is that the old guy who used to play tennis?" Cray opened the front door to the gym and nodded for Michael to enter first.

"First, the Sport means it's a fancier club than the regular 24 Hour Fitness gyms. Second, Andre Agassi is a Vegas native and very active in raising lots of dough for his charity. From what I know, he's a pretty neat guy. I think the gym decided to honor him...for a fee to his charity, of a marketing tool."

The two guys went up to the reception desk and were checked in. Cray was impressed at the size of the 24 Hour Fitness. He had done a brief walk-through with a membership director a couple of days earlier and had only a rough idea where everything was. He looked at the pool area as they walked by on the way to the locker room and said, "Maybe we could try the steam bath and Jacuzzi before we leave."

"I'm up for that. Especially if we get a good workout with some weights." Mike took the lead and walked into the locker room.

"Yeah. Weights and a few machines," Cray replied. He looked ahead of Michael and immediately recognized the two most important men in his life, completely nude, talking and laughing. 'Whoa,' he judged with a smile, 'I think I know what helps keep a spark in their relationship. My dads-to-be are definitely hot.' He laughed at himself for perving over the two men.

"Are these lockers okay for you?" Mike asked as he stopped.

"This is fine." Cray sat down his bag, stepped around Mike and said a little louder, "I want to introduce you to a couple of friends of mine from work. Follow me." He was relieved that both were putting on their briefs and it wouldn't be awkward to introduce Michael. 'On the other hand, maybe he likes to check out other guys.' He walked towards Drew and Bob and said, "Hey, guys... ya made it."

"Cray, good to see you." Drew reached out and shook hands.

"We decided to do an early workout cuz we both have work to do." Bob squeezed Cray's shoulder and then approached Michael. He stuck forward his hand and said, "Cray mentioned you guys were going to practice Tai Chi today. I'm Bob Harrington and that's Drew Reichardt."

"Michael Turner, sir." He smiled and shook hands with Bob. Then he turned to Drew and added, "Hi. Cray said you all work at the same place?"

"Guilty as charged. Bob works in marketing and I'm in the hotel part of things," Drew said as he pulled up his pants.

"The reason I ask is that my father just started a new job at Barcelona. He's going to be over in the casino area managing the slots."

"Turner? Hmmm, as in Miles Turner...but everybody calls him Bud. That Turner? He's a good man."

"Yes, that's my dad," Michael replied with a puzzled smile.

"Please excuse my friend," Bob said with a wink. "He's showing off his memory ability. Actually, we're all managers there and I happen to have met your dad, also." Bob slipped on his shirt and sat down to put on his shoes.

"Guess I've been caught pulling chain." Drew laughed and added, "Your dad has a big responsibility. We have over 3,000 of those slots and they help pay the rent - big time. I'm sure this pre-opening schedule is playing havoc with seeing your dad at home."

"Tell me about it. In fact, the reason I got his truck to borrow is that Dad is taking a nap this afternoon to recharge his batteries. But he's really happy with the new company and is proud to be part of it."

"All of our schedules are going to be pretty goofy for the next couple of months. As Bob said, we're both going back this afternoon and work for a few hours just to get caught up before Monday morning. I figure that things will mellow out after the first of the year."

"Same thing Dad says. He says that we just have to tough it out. But since it's just him and me, I've learned to keep busy with school, Tai Chi, projects and stuff like that."

"Well, if it's just you and your dad, maybe we could all get together for a casual dinner after we get opened," Bob said. "Michael, it really was nice meeting you."

"Same here, Mr. Harrington." Michael smiled and shook Bob's hand.

"The names are Bob and Drew. The 'mister' titles certainly don't apply to you guys. Have a good workout and don't do any damage on each other. We've got to head out." Drew patted Cray on the shoulder and added, "Talk with you this week."

"So long." Cray waved as the two left the locker room. He walked back to his gym bag and started to get undressed.

"They seem to be nice guys and they seem like they're very tight." Michael pulled off his tee and hung it up in the locker. "Almost like they were best buddies or something." He stepped out of his shorts and unzipped his gym bag.

"Best buddies is probably the best way to describe it," Cray replied as he slipped on a tank top. He sneaked as many glances at Michael's body as he dared without being caught. In a way, it was almost like looking at himself in a mirror...except for his improved muscle definition that resulted from the bodybuilding over the past month. "I've really come to look at them as big brothers I never had." Cray put on his gym shorts and sat down to slip on his shoes.

"So what's with their family life? Neither one mentioned their wives." Michael sat down with Cray and grabbed his Nikes from his bag.

"They're both single and...share an apartment together. Guess it works for them." Cray turned to Michael to study if this news had any impact. He noticed a slight shift of eyebrows that indicated contemplation than anything else and then an affirmative nod.

"If they're good friends, sharing a place is probably a good idea. Bob and Drew probably save money and don't risk being lonely. Ready to warm up?" Michael asked with a smile as he rose from the bench.

"Warm up and everything else." Cray put his bag in the locker and closed the door. He slipped his combination lock in the door handle and secured the lock. 'Was Michael trying to send me some sort of message that he had figured things out between Bob and Drew and didn't see anything wrong with their being together?' he wondered as the two left the locker room. 'Or was he just saying stuff as a harmless observation? ' He hated to think the worst and put it out of his mind.

Over the next one and a half hours, the two guys went through a very strenuous routine of Tai Chi sets that gave the new friends a good understanding of each other's training and expertise. Later, in combative Kung fu and kicking roles, they fed off each other's strengths and honed in on their sensitivities to their opponent. Cray and Michael had been taught not only to know the opponent and avoid his power but also to know where to apply their own powers to the greatest effect.

The light, 'teen' banter moved into the background as each seriously observed and analyzed each other's forms. Cray was clearly more advanced and played the role of advisor. Michael respected Cray's talents and listened with rapt attention to suggestions of advanced techniques to try. Cray enjoyed playing the role of teacher and mentor to his friend. He also began to pick up on something developing that was more than simple friendship.

After a satisfying routine with weights and the state-of-the art Cybex machines, the guys had a thorough stretching session and went back to the locker room.

"This has been an awesome workout, buddy. I haven't been this wiped out in a long time." Cray pulled off his sweat-drenched tank top and tossed it on the floor.

"I think we'll both be sore tomorrow...but a good sore." Michael took off his tee and dropped it next to Cray's top. He sat down and unlaced his Nikes. "I wouldn't want to be the guy who made the mistake of trying to take you on. If we ever get in a rumble, I want you on my side."

"Defensive strategy comes in handy. I'd only kick butt if someone was coming after me." Cray sat down and toed off his shoes. He noticed that Michael had added his socks to the dirty clothes pile and did the same.

"Like Vince, Jr., and his homies?" Michael asked with a grin.

"Fortunately it didn't come to that. But you know what's strange? His homies - Tim calls them 'goombas' - have been very friendly to me since that whole deal with the bike."

"Who knows...maybe they'll change with their asshole leader no longer in the picture."

"I'm not holding my breath but we'll see. It's about 4:00. We still have time for some steam and Jacuzzi?"

"Yeah...plenty of time and my muscles are really hurting. Um, we should probably slip out of our underwear and put our gym shorts back on. They really get pissed off if a guy is in the pool or Jacuzzi wearing underwear underneath."

"Works for me. In fact, my little guy is feeling awfully confined down there." Cray shrugged with a smile and pulled down his shorts and briefs in one motion and stepped out of them. He added the wet briefs to the dirty clothes pile and put on the shorts. He turned just in time to see Michael get back into his gym shorts. 'Looks like there's something else we have in common,' he thought as he quickly checked out a similar-sized penis hanging over two plump balls. The dusting of light brown hair above Michael's flaccid cock framed a package that Cray found quite tempting. He quickly moved his eyes away before he could be caught checking out his friend.

"Grab your towel and we can take a shower afterwards." Michael opened his locker, took his towel and re-secured the door.

Cray grabbed his towel and they went through the shower room to the pool wet area. They both hung their towels by the sauna door and entered the hot, wood-paneled room. Both went up to the top area of the multi-tiered seating and sat down. Within moments, both started to produce a sheen of sweat on their bodies.

"Man, this was a good idea. Would it sound too strange if I asked you to massage my shoulders and back? I'm really tense."

"Hell, no. But payment is that you do the same thing for me. My body is really wracked with major aches. Turn around and I'll work on your back." Cray couldn't believe what was being proposed but he wasn't going to complain. He placed his fingers on Michael's shoulders and dug his thumbs into his friend's traps. He slowly moved his hands back and forth to include the deltoids and applied more pressure.

"Ohhh, criminy...that feels great," Michael moaned. "You know what you're doing."

"I'll work the lats next. Let me know if I'm pushing too hard." Cray lowered his hands and applied pressure to the lats in the mid-back area. Mischievously, he took his fingers and tickled Michael's sides.

"Ieee, stop with the tickles," Michael shouted with a laugh. "You bastard. Wait until it's my turn on you."

"Just wanted to make sure you're still awake," Cray replied with a snicker. "I promise I'll be good. Let me take care of your lower back and glutes...then you can do me." He smiled at the double meaning of 'do me' and moved down to the lower back and the top portion of Michael's buns. 'Damn, this is tempting,' Cray thought as he started to be concerned about a stirring of his cock.

"Man, that was terrific. Turn around and I'll try to duplicate what you did."

"Okay. Then we can jump in the Jacuzzi." Cray started to rotate so his back would be ready for a massage. As his friend turned, Cray caught a view of a tenting protrusion in the crotch. He settled himself, waited for Michael's hands and smiled at the encouraging sight. "Oh, yeah, you're right there." Any erotic thoughts were pushed back in Cray's mind as the pleasure of the massage took over.

"I feel the knots. Let me work them out," Michael said. As he worked his fingers and thumbs into Cray's flesh his breathing became heavier and erratic. "How am I doing?" he asked in an almost seductive tone.

"Fingers from a friggin' god. You're terrific. The lats really need some help. Mmmm." Cray was happy that no one else was in the sauna and that Michael couldn't see his full-blown hardon. Michael dug his thumbs into Cray's upper glutes and quickly brought his fingers around each side so that they were occasionally brushing onto Cray's groin area. On the last pass-by, one of Michael's fingers briefly touched the tip of Cray's covered, leaking erection. Cray let out a quiet groan and said no more as Michael's fingers went up to the lats again. Neither said a word for the next few minutes.

"I think you're all set. How about we jump into the Jacuzzi and then call it a night with a shower?"

"Let me just relax for a sec. Um, why don't I join you in the Jacuzzi. I want to spend another minute or so in the heat." Cray desperately wanted a chance for his body to calm down.

"Got it, dude. See ya in the water." Michael slapped Cray on the back, eased himself off the tiered seating and left the sauna.

'What was that all about?' Cray thought as Michael closed the door. Was he literally feeling me out about being cool with 'stuff'?" Cray didn't know exactly what to think but decided to 'go with the flow' and savor the moment.

Michael was submerged in the hot, bubbling water with his eyes half-closed. He smiled and winked when Cray joined him.

"This is a great final touch," Cray said as he found a forceful water jet and slid down so that the pulsating water would work on his back. "I gotta tell you...this has been a terrific afternoon." He stretched out a little and felt his foot accidentally graze Michael's toe.

"Michael and Cray's excellent adventure," Michael said with a snicker. "Buddy, you're really fun and I think we'll have a good year." He moved his foot across Cray's foot and added, "But I think we need to take a shower and boogie. Dad probably needs to wake up and I'll probably do dinner."

"Here's to new friends." Cray pulled away, smiled and stood up. "The showers await." He got out of the Jacuzzi and waited for Michael to join him. 'What was that foot thing all about?' he wondered as they walked back to the locker room.

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