Castle Roland

A Special Place

by Sequoyah


Chapter 58

Posted: N/A

A Special Place--Part Fifty-eight--Matt

Early Monday morning, everyone gathered at the Andrews' for breakfast, since David and Margaret had decided it would be less strain on Margaret for them to fly up. They would fly into Cleveland Wednesday, after we had time to get to our place in Ohio. We were all very surprised when Bill's parents--Howard and Helen Lance--showed up, ready to go. The Fellowship ate outside so there would be room inside for the parents. "Bill, what changed your parents' minds?" I asked.

"I'm not sure. I think Jacob had something to do with it."

"Not really," Jacob said. "I just talked to your dad about how great it was to have parents who loved you, and how much I wished mine did and were going to Ohio to spend time with me and my friends. He looked a bit shocked and said, 'Excuse me,' got up and left. A few minutes later, he and your mom came to me and asked what all we would be doing and what they needed to take."

"I guess you reminded them that they had a son who needed them," Eugene smiled.

We had decided we wouldn't go Indian style but would camp on our way up, so Mom and Dad had gotten our camping equipment, the Andrews' and Larsens' and had packed it into their four-wheel-drive. Of course Eugene, Luke and I were driving our cars and truck up. Millie insisted on having her land yacht and Michael was driving his Tracker. Bill's parents were going with the Larsens. Since we had sent most of our things on ahead--except the tools, camping gear and those things we would need on the trip itself--none of the vehicles were really loaded.

"I don't think the newly-weds will want to be separated," Eugene suggested. "Why don't they drive Luke's truck? Bill or Jacob can drive Matt's Jeep and Paula and Linda can go with them."

"Think that's fine," Luke had eagerly agreed.

Millie insisted Janet and Douglas go with her and Larry's mom. "Douglas, you drive, and Mrs. Watley--Claudia--and I will sit in back like queens being driven by their trusty coach driver," she laughed.

We decided it was not really practical to try to keep together in convoy, so we planned meeting places along the way and took off. It was a very strange feeling, leaving the place we had known all our lives. "You can't go home again," I mused. "I wonder if that's just a book title or is really the way it is?"

"I suspect it's really true. Sure, we'll be back, and will spend a lot of time here in the years to come, but I suspect we can never go home again," Luke said, somewhat sadly.

"But we are going home, Yonghon Tongmu, to our home. We're a family now, aren't we?"

Luke took his eye off the road for a moment, kissed me quickly and said, "Damn right, Sarang Hanun Pomul!".

We stopped for lunch somewhere just inside the Kentucky line and did some switching around. We arrived at a state park somewhere beyond Cincinnati about 5:30 in the evening. Dad had reserved a cabin which slept eight, so all the parents slept in the cabin. The Fellowship had five tents which were quickly set up, and a campfire and the grills were started. While supper was cooking, we talked about the day and then the parents got started telling stories about our growing up. They, of course, embarrassed the fool out of us, but I noticed no-one protested since all of us saw Eugene and Jacob looking sad. There was no-one to tell their stories.

Supper was delicious as food always is at a camp. After we had eaten, we sat around the campfire a while longer and Millie excused herself and went inside to bed. The other parents followed suit and soon just the Fellowship was left. We all talked about Luke's and my ceremony for a while and then Bill said, "Look, I know we have all slept--and I mean slept--together before and I'd like nothing more than to hold Linda tonight--and maybe more--but I think, since my parents are here, it would be good if Jacob and I shared a tent".

"I was afraid to say anything, Bill, but I think that's a good idea. Mom's pretty uptight about my leaving and, as much as I'd like to have my redhead beside me tonight, I'd appreciate that," Paula said.

"Thank God, we're married," Douglas said as he kissed Janet, swept her into his arms and carried her to their tent.

"Amen to that," Luke said as he stood up, extended his hand and, when I was on my feet, picked me up and took me to our tent.

The day had been long and, frankly, the emotional strain had been more than I realized. I was tired and I knew Luke was, because he had insisted on doing all the driving. When we got to our tent, we undressed each other, lay down and cuddled, exchanged a few gentle kisses and that was it, because we were both asleep almost by the time our heads touched the pillow.

I hate alarm clocks big time, but Dad made me wish we had one because he aroused all of us by banging on a pot lid with a metal spoon. "Damn, Dad," I shouted, "how about a little peace and quiet?".

Luke looked at me as if in shock and said, "Matt! Your language!".

"Guess I've been spending too much time around you, Lover Boy. Think I need to cut back on that."

"Like frigging hell you will!" he said, and he gave me a passionate morning kiss.

We hopped out of bed, pulled on shorts and went into the cabin for a shower. There were two bathrooms and the parents were all up and dressed, so Luke and I shared a shower as did Larry and Eugene and Douglas and Janet. Sorry to say, the other three couples didn't get to enjoy the same privilege.

Breakfast was ready when we were all dressed, and we soon cleaned up, packed and were ready to go. The second day was not as long as the first and we arrived in Lorain early afternoon. Mom, Gabrielle and Paula went grocery shopping while Dad, Jens and I went to the home improvement place for things we knew we needed to buy. Eugene contacted Professor Roth-Batten and she said the house was easy to find, but she'd meet us in Loraine. Larry and the other guys took the pictures and drawings of the house to the paint store and bought paint for the exterior, as well as brushes and other things needed for that major job.

When we had everything we thought we'd need, we got back together just as Professor Roth-Batten arrived. We all reintroduced ourselves and introduced Douglas and Janet. "Well, I'm glad you had a safe trip and are here at last. I was at the house last week and was thrilled with the idea that it will once again be a living, breathing home. So let's go."

We drove maybe ten miles out of town and turned into a long, tree-lined drive. The huge old trees overlapped overhead, forming a beautiful avenue. The drive made a long, gentle curve and, as we drove around it, the house gradually came into view. Pictures failed to do it justice. We, of course, knew it was huge, but a diagram on paper just didn't convey the real thing--and it was beautiful! Victorian to the core, it had gingerbread all over it. Before the two weeks was over I would change my mind about how I liked gingerbread--the ornate wood trim was a real bitch to paint but, when it was finished, I would fall in love with it all over again.

There was a large circular drive in front of the house as well as parking places in front of the garage--actually it was a carriage house. When everyone had parked and gotten out of the cars, Professor Roth-Batten said, "I hope you don't mind, but I kept a set of keys and came out yesterday and opened the house to air it out. It had been closed so long I knew it needed a good airing." We assured her we not only didn't mind, but also appreciated her thoughtfulness.

She opened the leaded glass front door and we all walked into a large foyer, from which broad stairs went up to the second storey. We all walked through the downstairs and out onto the large--huge--sun porch. It overlooked a path leading down to a sandy beach and the lake. The lake was sparkling in the afternoon sun. "I doubt that you'll want to use it, but there has been a vegetable garden beyond the garage and, of course, you can see the flower gardens which, unfortunately, have been pretty much let go over the years. If you want to work on them, they could be beautiful again. Right now, I'm sure you all want to explore. If you need anything, give me a call. I'll run back to Oberlin, but you have my phone number."

"Seems a shame," Paula said, "that you can't stay and have supper with us on our first night. I'm sure it'll be nothing special..."

"Sorry, I'd love to, but I have an evening appointment."

"How about tomorrow evening?" Michael asked. "Mom and Dad will be here then and I'm sure that will be special."

"I'd love to," she smiled. "But right now I've got to run."

As soon as we said goodbye, we started exploring. Of course, the first order of business was checking out the upstairs. As soon as we looked in the bedrooms, one thing became obvious: there would have to be new beds. All four rooms had twin beds! Each pair of bedrooms opened onto a bath so Paula said right away, "I'm not sure who wants what bedroom, but I think it might be wise to put the two couples on the same side of the hall. That way all the heavy breathing and loud groaning won't disturb my sleep!" We all laughed, then she said, "As much as I hate to say this, since there are four of you and only one of me, I think you four guys should get the bedrooms overlooking the lake".

"No disagreement from me," Luke said.

When we crossed the hall, we discovered the other two bedrooms overlooked a garden which had seen better days. "I guess our having the lake view means we'll have to restore the garden so you can have a nice view," Luke said.

"Sounds reasonable," Paula laughed. "There is some method to my madness."

We were joined by the parents who were obviously awed by the upstairs and the view. "Everything Greywolf and I have checked out seems in perfect working order," Jens said. "I guess we need to unload the cars and see if we can get supper tonight."

While we unloaded, Dad called the phone, electric and gas companies and got the services switched--Professor Roth-Batten had said she had left them all on, since she occasionally came out, and saw no reason to have them disconnected. He also called the cable company and made arrangements for cable to be installed in all the bedrooms as well as in the family room.

While the guys were handling the unloading, the women were taking care of the kitchen. Almost everything had not been used in ages, so Gabrielle decided it all had to be washed. She was loading and unloading the dishwasher, using a short cycle since nothing was really dirty and, as I walked through the kitchen said, "My God, Matt, there's dishes, glasses and flatware here to serve twenty-four".

Just as she spoke, Mom called from the butler's pantry between the kitchen and dining room, "Gabrielle, you're washing the everyday stuff".

"This is everyday stuff? Then the special stuff must be something!"

"It is. Come here," Mom replied. "There's a complete service for twenty-four of fine china, silver and crystal here. I wish I had things as fine as these." Soon the butler's pantry was crowded, with everyone carrying on over the fine table settings.

The house kept revealing treasures of all kinds as the exploration continued. Between exploring and unloading, it was getting to be late afternoon when Luke said, "We haven't seen the carriage house". It held another treasure I thought Professor Roth-Batten would have mentioned, but I guess she wanted it to be a surprise. The downstairs was a garage housing all sorts of tools and equipment--including a practically new garden tractor with a mower attachment--but still having space for two, maybe three, cars. There were steps leading to the upstairs on the outside and when Luke finally found the right key and opened the door, he almost fainted. Obviously the place hadn't been used--even opened--in years, but at one point it had been a studio. As large as the garage below, it had an old-fashioned skylight covering one side--the north side--of the roof. It needed cleaning big time but it was a magnificent studio. "Holy shit!" Michael exclaimed, "Someone must have known you were coming, Luke". Luke just stood there, stunned, his mouth open.

While the women prepared supper, the rest of us worked on sleeping arrangements. Millie, of course, was given the downstairs bedroom, which had the only double bed in the house. The rest of the parents took the upstairs bedrooms, leaving one for David and Margaret when they arrived. The Fellowship--in spite of the fact that it put a bit of a crimp in love-making--got the air mattresses out and put them on the sun porch, but didn't blow them up, leaving the chairs in place for the time being.

Supper, it need not be said, was a joyous affair. When the table had been cleared, Dad--in his usual role as head of the family--called us all into the dining room--with the leaves in the table, I realized it actually did seat twenty-four people--for a planning session.

"Jens and I have taken a look at the outside of the house. We bought paint and scrapers today, but I think that is too much of a job for us to get done. Jens called the paint store and they recommended we hire a sandblasting crew to get the house ready to prime and paint."

Jens filled us in on the details, "I was lucky. The only crew anywhere near was finishing a job today and could start tomorrow morning. It will take a couple or three days to get the house ready. Since we don't want to have grit in the paint, we'll wait until they have finished before we start painting the exterior. The sandblast crew will bring scaffolding I rented so as soon as they are finished we can start. In the meantime, we can work on the inside of the house. And, if we get done, we can start work on the gardens and yard. Actually, maybe some of us can get the grass cut. I really don't like to have the place looking the way it does now and that would be a big improvement."

"I guess the Oberlin Five need to look around and make some decisions about interior paint colors, what you want where and that sort of thing," Dad said. "Then, the first thing in the morning, you can go to the paint store and get paint, rollers, brushes and drop cloths and we can start painting. Take the house plans with you so you can get enough paint."

"When you are deciding on colors," Janet said, "You need to think about what is already here--draperies, furniture, that sort of thing. They are all in good shape so you probably want to keep them and use colors which will go with them."

"Good idea," Paula said. "Also, I think we need to call a carpet cleaning company and get the carpets, rugs and furniture cleaned. The draperies need to be taken to the cleaners. They are in good shape, but are very dusty."

"Call the carpet people first thing in the morning, Paula," Dad said, "and make sure they know they will be dealing with very fine oriental rugs, as well as wall-to-wall carpet in the bedrooms. Schedule them for Friday at the earliest, but we'd like it done Saturday if possible. They probably don't work on Saturday, but try so the painting will be done."

"I hate to bring this up," Larry said, a bit ill-at-ease, "but who's paying for all this?"

"That you don't have to worry about," Millie said. "It's being taken care of."

"Millie, I feel like a freeloader again," Larry replied.

"Don't. The parents have worked it all out. We want this to be a special place for you five. Anyway, you have a good income from what Eugene has settled on you, so you can pay your part if there's something the parents are not paying for."

"Such as queen-sized beds!" Eugene said.

"Amen to that!" Luke said.

"Think I may as well keep my lonely twins," Paula said in a pouty voice.

"Damn," Douglas said, "I wish Janet and I were going to be here. This sounds great."

"Just wait until the first disagreement among these five hard-headed people," Millie laughed. I had never thought about that possibility.

There was another half hour planning--everyone got an assignment for the following morning and then Dad said, "Meeting adjourned". As we started getting up, Gabrielle and Mom went to the kitchen and came back with coffee and apple pie with ice cream. We all took it to the sun porch and watched the sunset, which was beautiful.

When we finished our dessert, we went for a walk on the beach. Even Millie walked down to the beach, but sat in a chair Eugene had carried down for her. Mrs. Watley and Mrs. Wright had taken towels and sat on the beach with her. I'm not sure who was most demonstrative of their love for their partners, the parents or the kids. It was a great feeling!

It was getting dark when we returned to the house. The air mattresses were quickly blown up and sleeping bags tossed on them. Again, Jacob and Bill slept without their lover beside them, but the two married couples and Eugene and Larry zipped their bags together and slept cuddled in each other's arms. Just before we went to sleep, I heard Michael say, "Something's got to be done about these sleeping arrangements before these two weeks pass". I smiled, knowing that I never had to worry about that again.

The sun woke me and, when I looked around, I saw everyone else stirring. I crawled out of bed after giving Luke a good morning kiss and he was right behind me. It was very early and the parents were all still in bed, so the Fellowship decided we would take a walk along the beach. There was a lot of hugging and kissing going on as we walked, watching the morning sun coloring the rippling surface of the lake. Bill and Linda were just ahead of me and Luke and they turned and waited for us. "Linda just had a great idea," Bill said. "Why don't we have a campfire tonight on the beach? Maybe the parents will decide to turn in before we do and we can get some making out done. Two weeks is a long time to go without at least a heavy make out session." Luke and I heartily agreed, as did the others when they were told.

When we got back to the house, breakfast was ready and we all enjoyed it tremendously. It was still early--7:15 to be exact--when two trucks loaded with equipment pulled up outside. The occupants quickly put up the scaffolding and started the sand blasting. The Fellowship got the table cleared in record time and we all met in the dining room again, after Paula announced there was a problem with the inside paint. "The draperies are really too heavy to take down and haul to the paint store. I suggest Janet, Luke and Douglas make some notes as we look at the rooms and then go get paint chips so we can decide on colors. Since they are artists, they'll have a better memory of colors than any of us, I suspect." There was immediate approval of her idea and we walked through the house, talking about colors. In some rooms we decided what was there was about right and in others changes were suggested. Fortunately, the house had twelve-foot ceilings downstairs and huge windows, so dark colors could be used if we wanted them. The library, where we would set up the computers and do much of our studying, was one room we all agreed would be a darker color. When we finished the tour, it was 9:00 and Paula called the carpet people right away.

David and Margaret were arriving at noon, so Millie took Mary Kathryn with her to the airport to meet them. Michael hit the yards with the garden tractor and its mower. Bill found a smaller mower to take care of smaller areas and places the larger mower couldn't reach. I found a weed-eater/edger in the garage and started trimming the flower beds and around trees and walks. Paula, Linda and Helen had taken down the sheers behind some of the draperies and were washing them.

Mom and Claudia were chosen to go to town and order queen-sized beds and linen for the two couples. We wanted something which matched the furniture already in the rooms so they could do that as well as we could.

Gabrielle and Sandra worked in the kitchen again. There were still things to get washed--the fine china, crystal and silver, they declared, had to be hand washed.

Dad, Jens and Howard made a careful survey of the house and made a list of small repairs needed--there were few--and started getting those done. When they finished, they were going to start getting the interior ready for painting.

When we broke for lunch, everyone was back except Millie and Mary Kathryn. The beds would be delivered Thursday and, after lunch, the Oberlin Five looked at the paint chips the artists had brought back, and made decisions about colors. After lunch, Douglas went back into town to purchase the interior paint. Luke joined the grounds crew and Janet helped with the curtain washing and ironing, getting them ready for re-hanging when the painting was completed.

We all took a break at 3:00 and, just as we picked up drinks and snacks and went to the front porch, Millie and Mary Kathryn arrived with David and Margaret.

"Looks like you have a winner here," David said as he got out of the car and helped Margaret out. "This is a beautiful place."

"Wait until you see inside and the lake," Michael said. "It's a dream place."

Millie insisted Margaret and David take the downstairs bedroom and that Margaret lie down for a while and get her feet up. Margaret offered no resistance. David changed into work clothes and asked if he could help outside. We welcomed his help. He found pruning shears and worked on the shrubs, making an immediate improvement in the appearance of the front of the house.

When all the grass had been mowed and trimmed, he was about half done with the pruning. He had always been in charge when pruning was to be done at home and he directed the grounds crew when we started helping him. By the time Douglas arrived with Luke's truck loaded with paint, we had finished the front. The place looked so different, it was hard to imagine how overgrown it had been the day before.

The sandblasting crew quit for the day at 5:30 and Dad suggested we do the same. It was only after we had all showered and were in the family room that Luke asked, "Weren't the movers supposed to be here today?"

"I can tell you," Howard said, "their schedule has been a guesstimate every time we have moved. They'll probably be here tomorrow--maybe." The parents were relaxing with a glass of wine or beer and Jens announced, "We have always given our kids wine on special occasions and I think this is one. Of course, if you rather your child didn't, then that's ok." No-one raised an objection and we all had a glass with our parents.

The women in the kitchen had prepared a great dinner and we were really just waiting on Professor Roth-Batten before eating. I think everyone was starved, but also so tired they didn't mind waiting. She arrived at 7:00 and we had dinner shortly after. Again, dessert and coffee were served on the sun porch.

"Professor Roth-Batten..." Luke started.

"I know that if I have you in class or see you on campus, you will call me that and I expect it but, since all of you seem to be on a first-name basis, call me Ruth here."

"Ruth, I hope you know how much we appreciate what you have done for us and I want you to know we love the house."

"That was obvious as soon as I drove up the drive. I was surprised at how much work you had gotten done and I thought how pleased my aunt would be to see the house regaining the glory it once had."

"Well, you surely kept one good surprise," Luke smiled. "I discovered the studio yesterday."

"It was an easy secret to keep," Ruth said. "It was built for my cousin when she took up painting in high school. Unfortunately, she died of polio a year after it was built. My aunt and uncle were so destroyed by the death of their only child that it was closed and, I suspect, not opened until you opened it yesterday. She died when I was very young and I never saw it, so I just forgot about it. Is it even usable?"

"It's fantastic," Luke said.

We talked about the house and its history and all the things that had gone on here, enjoying stories Ruth had to tell, until well after sunset. Finally Bill said, "We've gathered wood for a fire on the beach. Why don't we go down there?"

"I'd love to join you. I remember a lot of great evenings there, but I need to get back. We're getting ready for registration and the opening of fall session, and I have a lot to do."

"I hope you know that you have an open invitation here," Paula said, and the four guys echoed her statement.

"I may well take you up on that," she replied. "Being here tonight has brought back many happy memories and I am excited about seeing the house come alive again."

It was still somewhat light when Ruth left at 9:30 and we all walked to the beach and lit the campfire. Soon it was casting shadows as the flames danced. It was still warm--borderline hot--so no-one sat close to the fire. Millie and Margaret sat in chairs Michael and Eugene had brought to the beach for them, the rest of us sat on blankets. There was a lot of discussion about the house, what had been done and what awaited us tomorrow. Finally, Millie and Margaret called it an evening and the rest of the parents left as well. When Jens, bringing up the rear, walked through the sun porch door, you would have thought the Fellowship was being attacked as each couple grabbed a blanket and headed in different directions, all well out of the feeble light of the dying fire.

Luke and I walked a distance down the beach, spread our blanket and immediately started undressing each other. This time there was no slow start. As soon as we were undressed, Luke flopped down on the blanket and pulled me atop his hard body. Our kisses were passionate and grew more so as he grabbed a handful of my hair and pulled my lips hard against his. Soon he rolled over and started kissing my body, nipping at my nipples while his hands never stopped moving over my body. His fingers moved to my crack and soon he was fingering my rosebud. Just when I was ready for him to do more he said, "Damn! I forgot again! Will I never learn?".

I laughed at his frustration and reached for my shorts and took a tube from the pocket. Even in the dim light of the night, I could see the smile on his face. We made mad, passionate love there on the beach until both of us were sweating profusely, our bodies emitting that delightful fragrance males have after exhausting themselves making love to someone they love deeply. We were so exhausted by our love-making that we fell asleep, wrapped in each other's arms.

We woke, refreshed, in the darkness of the predawn and made love again--as passionately and as completely as we had the night before. Just as the first fingers of light heralding the near-approach of the dawn colored the sky, we got up and, taking the blanket with us, started walking toward the house. We were joined by the others, all with a definite glow telling us they, too, had enjoyed making out on the beach. When I looked at Michael and Jacob, both grinned and said, "Not yet". Michael added quickly, "But that doesn't mean we didn't make some pretty mad, passionate love". Mary Kathryn smiled up at him as Paula laughed and tiptoed to kiss Jacob on the forehead.

As the five couples walked to the house arm in arm, Bill said, "I do think this bunch better hit the showers before breakfast". Jacob pointed out there were shower heads at the top of the walk leading from the beach, so we all had a cold shower.

As we stood under them, all naked, Bill laughed, "Even with a night of super love-making, I suspect we all really need a cold shower". When we finished, we realized we had no towels and that appearing at the house nude was probably not a good idea.

"Somehow or other, I think appearing in the briefs I wore last night is not a very good idea either," Michael said. We finally decided to just risk walking in without clothes on and, surprisingly, none of the parents were up yet and we were able to get towels and wrap ourselves in them until we could get to our clothes.

"Think we better do a better job of planning next time," Paula said, and we all agreed.

When the parents started coming down, coffee was ready and breakfast well on its way, being prepared by a dozen towel-clad teenagers. With the parents up, the Fellowship went to get clean clothes and, by breakfast, everyone was properly dressed in work clothes for the day.

We had decided to set the organ up in the family room since it was the largest room in the house, so the draperies and furniture were moved out of it soon after the sandblasters arrived. Drop cloths were put down and Jens took Bill and Linda, Janet and Douglas as crew, and started painting. The aim was to get the room ready before the organ arrived. Jens did the trim right behind the wall painters.

Since the beds for Luke's and my room, and for Eugene's and Larry's, would be arriving, those rooms were also on the day's agenda. We wrapped the mattresses and box springs for the twin beds well, in plastic, and stored them in the attic until we could decide what to do with them. The remaining furniture was moved to the middle of the room and painting started. Mom and Dad helped us with Luke doing the trim. Paula's room had Jacob and Sandra working with Paula. Jacob had become very good at painting, working this summer, and did the trim. David did the trim in what would one day be Michael's and Mary Kathryn's room, with those two as his helpers.

Howard and Helen were taking down draperies throughout the house and, when they finished, took them into town to the cleaners. By the time they got back, the upstairs bedrooms were almost done and it was time for lunch. Everyone had insisted that Margaret not take on too hard a job and she and Millie agreed to prepare lunch. We had a leisurely lunch but were back to work by 1:30. The upstairs bedrooms were completed shortly after. While they were being finished, Howard and Helen had started painting the upstairs bathrooms and were finished by the time the bedrooms were done. The hall took no time at all since as each group finished, they started working on the hall. Before the break at 3:00, the upstairs was done.

During the 3:00 o'clock break, Bill said, "Look, Dad and Mom know that Linda and I are having sex. Dad asked if I was 'fucking around again' and I told him, 'No, I'm making love to Linda'. When he asked what difference there was, I asked him if he and Mom were 'fucking around' and he got angry. I thought he was going to bust me one. When he finally calmed down, I asked, 'Do you still need to know the difference?' and he said, 'No, I get your point. But you are having sex?'. I said, 'Yes, we are, but it's love-making, not fucking'. He just nodded and said, 'I hope you are being careful'. I assured him we were. I'm saying all this because I don't think there is any real problem with the two of us sleeping together unless it's going to upset someone other than my parents."

"Mom and Dad know Mary Kathryn and I have slept together--hear me, I said 'slept together'--and I think Jens and Gabrielle know it as well, but I don't want to upset any apple carts," Michael said.

"Yea, and I guess if the parents saw us sleeping together, it might upset them," Linda said.

"I really don't know what Mom thinks about me and Jacob," Paula said. "I mean in terms of having sex. Otherwise, she thinks it's a great relationship. We haven't started having sex, but I sure would like to feel the body of my red-headed man next to mine," she added, kissing Jacob on the top of the head. He didn't think that was enough and engaged her in a full tongue lip lock.

"Seems there is a reasonable solution," Michael said. "I'll make sure we have an alarm clock tonight and we can get up and re-zip the sleeping bags before anyone is awake."

"Great idea!" Bill said.

"But you two married couples and two couples living in sin will have to keep the heavy breathing and groaning down!" Mary Kathryn said.

"Oh, I plan to have that over long before I crawl in a sleeping bag," Larry laughed.

Back from our break, the downstairs was a larger problem than the upstairs had been because it was necessary to get scaffolding in order to do the twelve-foot walls and the high ceiling. Michael and Mary Kathryn joined the family room crew while David, Luke, Greywolf, Howard and I started emptying the book cases in the library. They were only about half full as Ruth's aunt had given many of the books to libraries that wanted them. Nonetheless, it was hard work. Eugene and Larry moved the library furniture to the center of the room while Millie got everyone, not working, organized to clear the living room and foyer.

The long and short of it was that, by 5:30, a great deal of the interior of the house had been painted and it really looked great. Some of the rooms had lighter colors and all of them looked fresh. I was amazed at the difference in appearance of rooms in which almost the same color as the original had been used. The movers showed up at 6:30, ready to unload, but Dad and Jens told them, since they were already a day late, they could wait until the morning. They grumbled, but knew they had met their match. I had called the Rodgers dealer in Cleveland, Wednesday, and told him there had been a delay in getting the organ. He had given me his home phone number so I could call him as soon as the organ arrived. I called him and told him the organ was at the house and could be moved in the following morning. He said he'd come with an electrician friend so they could make any wiring changes needed and get the organ set up Friday. The furniture store also called and said they couldn't deliver the new beds until Friday, which was just as well.

Dad suggested we order pizza for supper and the delivery boy was amazed at the order he brought in. Dad had stocked the fridge with beer and sodas and that, with a prepackaged salad, was supper. Everyone was pretty tired from the day's work and some were sore from using muscles they hadn't used in a long time. Accordingly, the parents just relaxed on the sun porch after supper and the Fellowship went for a walk on the beach. When we got back, Dad had brought out my boom box and was playing some of his tapes he had made from old recordings. We all sat listening, holding our lovers in our arms, occasionally singing along when we knew the song. When THE SONG started, Luke stood up, took my hand, looked me in the eyes and started singing. Larry, Bill and Jacob did the same. When it finished, we all realized that Janet and Douglas had been left out. "Margaret, remember years and years ago when you 'lined out' our song for Michael and Mary Kathryn?"

"Heavens, it does seem years ago," she laughed. "And it was--what?--less than six months ago?"

"Yea, now do it for Douglas and Janet." She did and, before the night was over, Douglas and Janet were singing along with us.

After our songfest, the parents went off to bed. As soon as it was certain they were in bed, sleeping bags got re-arranged and Michael put an alarm clock beside his and Mary Kathryn's--set for 4:30a.m. I must say that the Fellowship had great respect for each other! Given the fact that we had two pairs of newly-weds and two couples who were getting it on big time, there was no loud groaning or heavy breathing--at least so long as I was awake--and, as tired as we were, Luke and I did an awful lot of loving before finally going to sleep.

As I have said, I hate alarm clocks but I was glad we had one for, when it went off, I was sleeping soundly--wrapped in Luke's arms--and knew that there were others doing the same who did not need to be seen sleeping together. Michael's "Holy shit" expressed his feelings about getting up and separating his and Mary Kathryn's sleeping bags. Bill and Jacob echoed his sentiments.

Later, we all woke up about the same time as the sun announced a new day. After a quick dash for a morning piss, we divided up for showers. Michael and I were ready before any of the other guys because we didn't have to shave. By now, Michael had a very respectable beard which Mary Kathryn kept neatly trimmed. I still don't know why women take so long to get showered and dressed.

When we had all finished, no-one else was yet stirring and the Fellowship fell to work preparing breakfast--the guys cooking and the girls setting the table and getting everything ready. When breakfast was about ten minutes away, Luke got an evil grin on his face, grabbed a pan lid and metal stirring spoon and ran up the stairs. The clamour he made could be heard clearly downstairs. Most of the parents came to breakfast in robes, not having time to shower. Breakfast was a jolly time, mostly because the Fellowship was wide awake. The parents were not so awake and ate somewhat silently. After breakfast, we cleaned up the kitchen and dining room while the parents showered and dressed.

We had barely finished when the movers showed up and wanted to know where things went. In the rooms which had been painted, we told them exactly where things went. In the other rooms, we had them add to the furniture which was in the center of the room. By 10:30 they had unloaded everything and were on their way just as the beds arrived. Right behind the delivery truck were the Rodgers man and the electrician. They got the organ set up quickly, doing very little re-wiring. The speakers were another question altogether. All the guys pitched in to move the speakers from one place to another until the Rodgers man and I were satisfied. He and his friend then went to work installing the speaker cables in a more permanent fashion. They finished just before 1:00p.m. as Linda called us all to dinner. The two guys who set up the organ ate with us and, when we finished, asked about a bit of a 'concert' to make sure of the speaker placement. It proved perfect. I guess the 'concert' would have gone on, but there was work to be done.

As I thanked them and showed them to the door a car, driven by someone I thought I recognized, pulled up. As soon as I saw a cane and a leg poke out the door, I shouted, "Woody's here!". Everyone came rushing to the foyer and, when Woody and I got inside, I introduced everyone.

"Did you bring all of Concord, Matt?" he laughed.

"Just the important ones. Want to see the house?"

"After I get a drink of water," he replied, and was handed one in short order by Paula. We walked over the house--all of us--pointing out first one thing then the other. I was really excited to see him and kept talking a mile a minute.

When we finished the survey of the house, Dad said, "Ok, back to work. Matt, you're excused to entertain our guest."

"Don't expect to be treated as a guest," Woody said, "but would like a few minutes to talk with Matt--and Luke. Then I'll change and pitch in."

We went into the family room and, when Woody saw the organ, he said, "First things first. How about a bit of Bach?" I obliged him and, when I finished a short piece, he said, "Still retaining the lessons Stinky gave you. That's good--not only for your playing, but it will probably keep you from getting your legs broken when he shows up here as he will one of these days. But tell me how things went after you left Sewanee. I expected a letter, phone call or something." Luke and I both hung our heads and I finally said, without looking up, "It was bad, Woody," and Luke and I told him the whole story. When we finished, Woody said, "Sorry about that. I would never have doubted that all would turn out ok with you two, but I can see I was nearly proven wrong. Well, let's get to work."

The sandblasting crew finished in mid-afternoon and left. The silence they left behind was welcomed. By the time they left, only the kitchen and butler's pantry, which were to be done in a different kind of paint, were left. The rest of the house was made ready for the carpet and furniture cleaners who had agreed to come Saturday. "Good," Helen had said. "The draperies will be done by noon and, while we won't be able to hang them until the carpet's dry, we'll pick them up." With everyone pitching in, the kitchen and butler's pantry were done in record time and the interior of the house was ready--even the new beds were in place.

Jacob announced that he and Paula had located a temple and they and Sandra would be going that evening. "Don't bother about dinner for us. I think we'll make the evening a date."

"Sounds like a good idea," Eugene said, "maybe we all should make it a date evening". His suggestion was welcomed by the Fellowship, but the parents all said they thought they'd like a quiet evening at home. Bill ran down to a convenience store not too far away and came back with a newspaper. We pored over the movie ads and finally agreed it was foolish for everyone to go to the same movie, since we couldn't agree on one. In the end, Eugene and Larry double-dated with me and Luke, and Bill and Linda with Michael and Mary Kathryn.

Eugene and Larry, Luke and I decided we'd do the early movie and have dinner later. I must confess, I don't think any of the four of us really saw much of the movie. There were very few people in the theatre and they were all down front. We parked on the back row where there was no-one around us and made out--being a bit careful not to be seen, and I don't think we were. After the movie, we went to an Italian place we had spotted and had a great dinner and sat talking for an hour or more.

When we got back, there was a Lexus parked in the drive with North Carolina plates. It was Uncle Michael's! As we rushed inside, I heard the organ and we found the parents in the family room and Millie playing away. "John!" Luke shouted and ran to embrace his former teacher. I grabbed Uncle Michael and then Larry and Eugene got in on the act. "What are you doing here?" Luke asked.

"We figured you would have just about gotten the work done and we decided to come celebrate," John laughed.

"As Millie says, 'There's no rest for the wicked and the righteous don't need it', so I guess you figured wrong," Luke laughed.

"Actually, Concord was so boring with all of you gone, we decided to join the fun," Uncle Michael said.

"Man, have I got a surprise for you," Luke said, grabbing John's hand and pulling him to his feet. "You too, Uncle Michael." The two followed Luke, with me bringing up the rear, out to the garage and up the stairs to the studio. Both were duly impressed.

By the time we got back to the house, everyone had returned and Practical Paula said, "Ok, what about sleeping arrangements?". It was finally decided that two of the stored mattresses would be brought down from the attic and put in the library. I noticed the next morning, when we were preparing for the carpet people, they had been shoved together. So much for only the young being passionate!

The carpet people suggested we take some of the oriental rugs to the sun porch so they could be cleaned there and left to dry and the rooms they were in would still be usable. When they suggested that, Howard suggested taking the rest of them to the large front porch. As a result, the living room, dining room and family room would all be usable. "With all the windows open and some fans running, the wall-to-wall carpets in the bedrooms should be dry by bed time," the carpet man said.

Dad suggested we wait until the following week to start working on the outside of the house, and spend that morning working on the gardens. "How about a crew working on the studio?" Uncle Michael asked.

"Good idea," Luke said immediately. He and I joined Uncle Michael and John in the studio while the others started working on the grounds. By late lunch time, the carpets were done and the studio was pretty well complete except for getting the skylight clean. "I think a good coat of paint would help," John said. "Think you should pick an off-white. It will help with the light."

"Guess we can do that this afternoon," Luke said.

"And clean the skylight," I added.

A Special Place--Part Fifty-eight--Luke

When we went down, it was amazing how much work the crew had gotten done in the garden. Even Millie had pitched in, often having to separate the weeds from the flowers for the others. Inside, Mom and Gabrielle had set out stuff for sandwiches and drinks so lunch was ready. After lunch, we all gathered in the family room and the three organists entertained us for over an hour.

"Well, I guess it's back-to-work time," Matt said.

"Not before we think about tomorrow," Dad said. "I think we need to take the day off."

"I'll have to leave this evening or early in the morning to get back," Woody said. "I have a service to attend to."

"Why not wait until the morning and those who like can go with you?" Matt asked.

"Only if you'll play," Woody responded.

"Of course I will. Be happy to," Matt answered.

The carpet people had said they would come back and replace the rugs, but had been assured we could handle that. So that was on the agenda, but we would wait as long as possible to make sure they were dry. Millie suggested we have a picnic on the beach for supper and she and several others went off to plan that. Some went back to work on the gardens and lawn.

Michael, Jacob, Bill and Matt managed to get scaffolding set up so they could get to the skylight. While they were doing that, John and I went into town to get paint for the studio. By the time we got back, the skylight was almost finished and its crew soon joined us in painting the studio. I couldn't believe my eyes when we had finished. I never dreamed I'd ever have such a neat place to work. Once again, when we came down, another part of the grounds had been transformed. It was nearing 5:30 when everyone quit work, showered and dressed for the beach.

None of us had been swimming in the lake, but all jumped at the idea when Paula suggested it. Without thinking, we all started taking our clothes off until Dad said, "Hold it! This is not the falls!". I swear, every single one of us blushed, kept our clothes on and went to the house for swimwear. The water wasn't as cold as the river, but it was delightful. We played and swam for over an hour, then used the outdoor shower, went inside and got dressed again.

When Matt undressed, I could stand it no longer. I grabbed him and tossed him on our, as yet unused, bed and started covering his body with kisses. Matt started giggling and said, "Is this going to be our first quickie? They are expecting us you know."

"No quickie. This bed has to be properly christened. Just need a few minutes of making out with the man I love." After some passionate kissing, Matt finally said, "I think, if it's going to be properly christened, you'd better stop where you are for I am ready to jump your bones!".

After a few more minutes, we reluctantly got up, dressed and joined the crowd on the beach. I noticed Eugene and Larry were not far behind us. Both had grins on their faces.

It was still light when we ate, and we were just sitting around enjoying the evening and the company when I noticed Woody and Millie were ignoring the rest of us and talking up a blue streak.

"Guys, I guess we need to move the rugs so you kids can have the sun porch," Dad said.

"I have a better idea," Bill said. "Let's leave the rugs and set up the tents under those old trees. It's a nice place and it has been mowed and everything." He might well have added, "And it will be difficult to see what's going on from the house".

"Great idea, Bill," Jacob said, and I could see the wheels spinning in their heads! Before anyone could object, the Fellowship dashed to the house and got the tents from Greywolf's four-wheel-drive where they had been left, and had them set up in no time.

We went back to the beach and stayed until the parents left, then went to the tents. It hardly needs be said that Jacob, Bill and Michael didn't sleep with each other! Our sleeping bags had been christened long ago, but Matt and I practiced how we would christen the bed. Our love-making was getting better all the time, and I had thought it perfect ages ago!

Michael did bring the alarm clock and we all got up early and went for a run or walk on the beach in the early morning light. When we got back, Jacob, Paula and Sandra prepared breakfast while the rest of us got ready to go with Woody. I was surprised that even Janet and Douglas were going with us. They asked Woody if they could ride with him, and he was delighted.

St. Alban's was a small, carpenter gothic church, just what you would have expected in New England and, therefore, in the former Northwestern Territory. The organ was an electronic which, I am sure, Matt didn't like, but he got some fairly decent sounding music from it. there was no choir, but the congregation sang enthusiastically. Woody gave a surprisingly good sermon, using the Family as an example of what it meant to be loving and caring. Woody also surprised us by telling the congregation he would be with us the following week and said he'd leave a phone number on the answering machine.

At the coffee hour, everyone was very friendly and invited us back as often as we could come.

When we got back, Paula, Jacob and Sandra had dinner waiting. As we were eating, Douglas said, "Janet and I have an announcement to make. As you know, we were married by a judge but, after we met Woody, we decided we wanted our marriage blessed and asked Woody to do it. He agreed and we have decided to do it here. If it's ok, we'll have it next Saturday, since we will be leaving for Florida Sunday."

Needless to say, everyone was excited and made it known.

We lazed around Sunday afternoon and, Sunday evening, Matt, Woody and Millie all played for us after we enjoyed a delicious cold supper and a walk on the beach. We didn't even replace the rugs so we spent another night in the tents. In fact, when the rugs were replaced, no-one mentioned the fact that we continued to sleep in the tents.

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