Since spring break began the next day and teachers and students would be setting on "Go!" long before the opening bell, there was no studying after school Thursday. Instead, the Clan got together to discuss what we would be taking, to make sure we had everything we needed and to make final arrangements for getting to the airport. Lacy, John's stepmother -- or as the two of them had decided to call her, his dad's wife -- had volunteered to drive the SUV to take us all to the airport. "Looks like things are working out with you and Lacy," Bobbie said when John told us.
"We're getting to be real friends," John replied, "now that the mother thing has been settled." He had told us a couple weeks ago that once they got over the idea she was to be his mother, things were improving. Seems she told him she was concerned they were not getting along. "Since we both live in the same home, we need to do something about it." John had invited her to his room, thinking it is always best to do battle on your own turf.
When she arrived, she had said, "John, for starters, I am not going to try to take your mother's place or be your mother. Not only would it be foolish, I know you don't like the idea and neither do I. How about us being friends?" John said he had been taken by surprise because he had thought she was trying to take his mother's place or, if not that, drive a wedge between him and his father.
After he gave the matter a moment's thought, he had replied, "Mrs. Thurmond, how about you being my older sister? I've always wanted one."
She had stuck out her hand and said, "Deal. Let's shake on it! And, by the way, my name's Lacy."
"We started developing a real good relationship after that. I actually like her and can see how Dad fell for her. Can't quite understand how someone as young as she is goes for someone as old as Dad, but good for them," John said.
Anyway, Thursday after school, we did what we needed to do to get ready and, after a final check of our lists, everyone left except Justin. As they left, Clarisa appeared and Justin and I packed under her sharp-eyed supervision, rechecked our lists, and she finally declared we were ready to go.
We went down with her and had a glass of juice while she finished supper. As we talked, it suddenly occurred to me Clarisa would be alone for a week. "You know, Clarisa, you will have a whole week free while we are gone. You'll be free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, Clarisa, you're free at last." When I started, Justin grabbed Clarisa and started waltzing her around the kitchen, holding her feet off the floor, as the two of us continued chanting. When he finally set her back on her feet, I asked, "Why don't you do something interesting, exciting, daring or, at the very least, different?"
"Yeah, Clarisa, why don't you?" Justin chimed in. "Have a wild adventure, climb a mountain, shoot the rapids, catch a whale. Well, at least, take a trip."
"Take Mother's car and hit the road. Or better yet, take my car. Yeah, that sporty WRX."
"Who'd take care of the house and all, child? I can't just walk off."
"Clarisa, the house won't need taking care of. It'll just sit here whether you are inside or not. There'll be no-one here you need to think about. Mother's in Europe somewhere, probably having a good time, Justin and I will be in the Florida Keys, definitely having a good time, so why should you sit here? Why shouldn't you be having a good time as well? Lock up the house, turn on the alarm, pile in that sporty car and take off! You never take time off and even when you have gone on vacation, it's been with us so you were just on duty somewhere else. How about it?"
"Well, I might think about it," she said.
I had a very generous allowance from Father -- Mother laughed when I called it hush money, but that was what it was -- and I never spent all of it. In fact, I spent very little of it, usually less than forty dollars a week, fifty dollars a week max. What would I spend money on? CDs? Occasionally. New game for the Playstation? Not lately. Gas? How much did I use? Very little. Food and shelter? I lived at home. Clothes? Maybe something special, but Clarisa bought my clothes and she knew more about what I needed and wanted than I did. Spoiled baby? Likely. Anyway, not only did I have money left from my weekly allowance, but also I hadn't spent any of the Christmas money from Father beyond what I had spent for Christmas gifts, so I had a healthy bank account and an idea.
"Justin, we need to go out for a while. Come on."
"Can we, maybe, eat supper first?"
I laughed. Supper was on the table, waiting for us to eat. "Never mind, I can just freeze it," Clarisa said.
"On pain of death," Justin said and he and I dug in when Clarisa joined us.
After supper, we went to an ATM and I got the max it would let me have -- $350 -- and asked Justin if he could get $150 more, which he did. When we got back to the house, I gave the cash to Clarisa and said, "Clarisa, I am ordering you to do something while we are gone and you have to spend this $500 on yourself -- not on family, not on friends, not on anyone except Clarisa. Every penny has to be spent on Clarisa." She protested, but I reminded her it was an order. "You better have a surprise for us when we get back," I said.
Clarisa didn't need any money from me to take a trip. Unlike the not-so-long-ago when "family servants" worked long hours seven days a week for little beyond food and clothes -- the latter usually hand-me-downs, Clarisa was paid a fairly decent wage and, like me, had room, board and clothing, except for something special she wanted, furnished. I knew she had a healthy bank account as well, but that wasn't the point.
After Justin and I had gone upstairs, John called to say his stepmother would pick us up, with our luggage, in the morning and drive us to school. "That way, the luggage will be loaded when she comes to get us after school. We'll be ready to head for the airport the minute the last bell rings. She'll meet us in the parking lot and that way we may be able to make the plane by 4:00."
Next morning, when Lacy came by my place, she had already been by Susan's and I saw Susan was bringing a great deal more than a medium suitcase and backpack, which was what Justin, John, and I had. When we got to Adam's he also had a medium suitcase and backpack, but Bobbie had more than Susan. I remembered Mrs. Crandall's warning, but said nothing, knowing it would do no good.
Friday, school may as well have been out before the opening bell since neither students nor teachers were thinking about anything except the last bell. Just after the roll had been checked in homeroom, Mr. Agnue, the principal, came on the intercom for the usual morning announcements -- to which not more than five students usually paid attention -- and began with, "Students, as we all know, next week is spring break. Please be careful, be safe and come back to school in one piece. To help you get off to a good start, we will be on short schedule today." Maybe only five students had been paying attention, but not one missed that announcement! Short schedule meant class periods would be shortened to the minimum the state would permit, time between classes reduced and lunch cut -- who could eat school lunch anyway when we'd be free for a week shortly? Short schedule meant we'd be out of school at 2:40 instead of 3:30.
John leaned over and said to Justin, "I'll call Lacy and tell her we're getting out early. Pass it on."
"Don't know that it will make any difference, but Mrs. Crandall gave me a number to call for directions to Flight Line Aviation," I said to Justin. "I'll call and let them know we'll be at the airport earlier than we thought." John and I asked to go to the restroom where, immediately, out came the cell phones and we made the calls.
When the last bell finally rang, we joined the mad rush to the parking lot where Lacy was waiting in the SUV. We all six piled in and were among the first cars leaving.
As soon as we were on our way, I punched the Flight Line Aviation number into my cell phone and almost immediately a voice answered, "Flight Line Aviation."
"This is Marcus Porcher again," I responded.
"Lucky you," the woman replied, "your plane is on the ground, taxiing toward the terminal as we speak. It will be ready to take off shortly after you arrive. When you approach the airport, look for the sign to our place. It's a right turn. See you in a few."
Thirty minutes later we were at Flight Line Aviation's terminal where a sleek jet was on the tarmac, wheels chocked, waiting. It took us, maybe, fifteen minutes to get our luggage stowed and climb aboard. Minutes later we were all buckled in and headed down the runway.
As soon as we were at cruising altitude, the hostess served food -- cold shrimp with cocktail sauce well-laced with horseradish; veggies with dip; finger sandwiches, fresh fruit and a selection of drinks. Since we had all skipped lunch, food disappeared rapidly. The hostess laughed and said, "We were advised to lay in more food than usual for six passengers. If someone had told us you were high schoolers, it would have made sense. Hope there's enough!" There was, more than enough, and when we had eaten all we wanted, we settled down -- Susan and Bobbie watching a chick flick, Justin and I reading, and John and Adam napping.
We were about half-way into the trip when the intercom clicked on and the pilot said, "Best get seated and seat belts fastened. We have just had a warning of the possibility of some rough air ahead." Bobbie woke Adam and John, and we had just gotten our belts buckled when the plane dropped and then slid sideways. "Folks, this is no joke. Stay buckled in
as I don't know how long this rough ride will last. I'm heading up, looking for smooth air." We had a rough fifteen or twenty minutes while the plane bounced around and climbed, looking for smooth air.
Even with the rough weather, we landed in just over two and a half hours from our takeoff. As we came in, the plane was, I guess, caught by a sudden tricky wind and a wing dipped dangerously close to the runway. The plane quickly righted itself, touched down and bounced -- twice. The hostess looked at us from where she was buckled in up front, laughed and said, "A perfect landing to end a perfect flight. Welcome to the Florida Keys."
I was the first to bound down the steps where Antwon was waiting. "Good to see you again, Antwon."
"Welcome back to the Florida Keys, Marc," he replied as he embraced me.
"Antwon, these are my Clan members..."
"Don't like that word, Massa Porcher," Antwon whined in a good imitation of movie black face and laughed.
I laughed as well and said, "Understand, my man, understand. Nonetheless, my Clan: Susan and John, Bobbie and Adam and Justin." Antwon raised an eyebrow when I introduced Justin, as if asking a question, but I did not respond -- I didn't know what he was asking.
"Had a letter or two from Mother and she seems to be having a great time," I said while we waited for our luggage.
"Yeah, the staff got letters from Mrs. Crandall yesterday. She says your mom is doing well. She was looking pretty good when she left, but I think being pampered on a cruise and traipsing over Europe with Mrs. Crandall will speed her complete recovery. She came very close to going on to gloree ah," Antwon's imitation of a black preacher was perfect. "Well, let's get the luggage and be on our way." As he spoke, he pulled out a cell phone, hit a speed dial number and spoke into the phone, "You may bring the car around." I assumed Antwon would be driving the van, but apparently he was not as a Hummer limo drove onto the tarmac, headed for us. When it arrived, a fellow in a "Hummer Limo Service" uniform stepped out of the vehicle and helped get the luggage stowed. That done, Antwon got in the passenger's side up front and we were off.
The drive to the mansion seemed much shorter than when I had come down to see Mother. I guess it was because everyone was excited and talking at once, and the time before I had been anxious to see Mother. In what seemed no time at all we were at the front door. As we were getting out of the limo, Mrs. Metzer appeared at the door. I'm sure she had been alerted by Antwon and was waiting for our appearance. She was the house manager and a very nice lady. I had, of course, met her when I was down before. "Welcome back, Marc," she said.
"Thanks, Mrs. Metzer, looking forward to being here," I responded. "Mrs. Metzer, my friends: John and Susan, Adam and Bobbie and Justin. Clan, Mrs. Metzer who makes sure this place runs smoothly."
"Welcome, all of you. Just leave your luggage where it is. Antwon and Derick will put it in your rooms. Marc, you will be in the suite you had before. I put Justin in its other bedroom. John and Adam, you have the suite across the hall from Marcus. Susan and Bobbie, you have a suite in the East Wing. Marc, if you will show the fellows to their rooms, I will show the ladies to theirs. I have arranged for you to have dinner in the terrace room. Marc, after you and your friends have freshened up, show them there, if you would. Three-quarters of an hour enough time?"
"Sounds good," I replied.
"Mrs. Crandall wants you to have a wonderful time and if there is anything I can do to help, please let me know. Ladies, this way."
"Fellows, follow me," I said and headed up the stairs.
The seven of us walked up the central stair and separated at the top, guys to the left, ladies to the right. As we headed down the hall, the ballroom came into view. As soon as they saw it, Justin and John said "Wow!" in unison. "I could see this place was huge when we drove up," Adam said, "but at that I never imagined it was like a palace."
"Wait until you see your rooms. Here's our suites. John, Adam, that's yours," I said as I pointed across the hall. "There are two bedrooms off of the living area with a connecting bath. Do what must be done and come to our room in half an hour or so and we'll go down for supper. Justin, we are over here."
I was surprised that our luggage was already in our rooms, but then we had talked a bit with Mrs. Metzer and walked up. Antwon and Derick had taken the elevator. Justin, your room's through that door, but before you put your things away, take a look at this," I said as I walked into my bedroom and opened the bathroom door, revealing the Jacuzzi.
"Damn, that's big enough for the whole Clan," Justin exclaimed. but right now I have a more pressing need! I was so struck by this place I forgot," he said with one of his heart-stopping smiles as he rushed to the toilet, took out Mr. Smith and released a powerful stream. As soon as he started, you know what happened! I was beside him immediately.
That taken care of, we washed our hands and then splashed cold water on our faces. "Man, I am looking forward to that Jacuzzi!" Justin said. We each went to our own room and put away our things and had just walked into the living room when John and Adam knocked on the door and walked in without waiting for a response from us. As soon as they were inside, Justin said, "Come here and have a look. Man, you are not believing this."
The two took one look at the Jacuzzi and Adam said, "Holy shit! I can see where I'm going to spend some time. Just wait until I get Bobbie in that!"
"Later. Right now it's food time," John said.
We went down to the terrace room. I was surprised that the sun was approaching the horizon, as I hadn't realized it was as late as it was. Shortly after the four of us arrived, Susan and Bobbie appeared, escorted by Mrs. Metzer. "Mrs. Metzer, your timing is excellent!" Susan exclaimed. "We are having dinner at a beautifully appointed table and watching a spectacular sunset at the same time."
"Yes, it is quite beautiful and this is a great place to watch it," Mrs. Metzer replied. "Marcus, you know your way around so I'll leave you and your friends to your own devises. Again, if you have need of me, call. Dial 1 on any phone. If you need something -- linen, soap, anything, dial 5 and someone will bring you what you need. Mavis is on duty tonight. Ah, here she is now. I'll leave you in her good care. Enjoy your supper."
Mrs. Metzer left as a gray-headed woman, very stately in appearance, dressed in a maid's uniform, came bringing gazpacho which she served and disappeared. It shouldn't have taken long for six teenagers to devour the soup, but everyone was so excited and talking at once that it was a while before we were ready for the next dish. After she removed the soup dishes, Mavis served a very nice fish, accompanied by a green salad. For dessert we had lemon sherbet. All very light and in keeping with the warm spring temperature in south Florida. Everyone finally calmed down and relaxed and we took our time eating, still spending a lot of time talking as if we hadn't seen each other for a week.
By the time we had finished dinner, it was twilight. As we stood, Adam said, "I think I need a walk to take care of the kinks from the trip down and to work off some of the food I just put away."
Everyone seemed to be up for a walk as well. "You have a lot of walking space, I said. There's the beach, a garden and the area around the lake. By the way, if you walk around the lake," I warned, "don't get too close. It has 'gators. BIG 'gators."
The six of us walked down the steps from the terrace, and at the bottom, Adam and Bobbie, John and Susan headed for the beach but in opposite directions, Adam and Bobbie walking up the beach and John and Susan down. "The garden's over there," I said to Justin, pointing. "Mrs. Crandall says it is a great place for moon watching. The moon is just peeking above the horizon and, if I remember correctly, it should be nearly full."
Justin took my hand and said, "Then let's go wait for the moon."
Justin was still holding my hand when we passed under a rose-covered arch into the garden. As we entered, he dropped my hand and slipped his arm around my waist. I hesitated a moment, then put my arm around him. We walked toward a tree and sat down on a garden bench under it.
We sat in silence, our arms about each other and watched as the moon, bright orange, rose out of the sea. Soon it was high enough and so bright the garden was flooded in moonlight. For some reason, I suddenly realized Justin was not watching the moon, but me. I turned slightly and when I did, found myself looking deep into his black, black eyes, my heart pounding. As I continued looking into his eyes, I felt an almost irresistible urge to kiss him and was terrified by the thought. On the one hand, if I had any balls, I would, but on the other, to kiss him would surely end our friendship and that I couldn't endure. I was still gazing into his eyes when, before I could act one way or the other, Justin smiled, leaned forward until his lips brushed mine like the wing of a butterfly as his arms pulled me close to his body. I was so shocked that I instinctively jerked away.
Before I could say anything to explain my action, Justin cried, "I am so sorry! Shit! Damn, Marc, man, I'm so sorry, so very, very sorry. I don't want to hurt you or drive you away. Marc, please, please forgive me." Justin was crying, huge tears streaming down his face.
My stomach tied itself into a knot when I realized what I had done. My heart sank and a sick feeling swept over me. Justin thought I had jerked away from him because he had kissed me!
He was standing, facing away from me. I was sure he was about to run, so I grabbed his hand and held on tightly as I stood and turned his body to mine. I smiled and then wrapped my arms about him. He got a very surprised look on his face which quickly turned to a huge Justin smile. My arms wrapped around him, I pressed my lips to his in a passionate kiss. As the kiss continued, Justin's lips parted and I slipped my tongue between them. I was flooded with the taste of Justin, wonderful Justin who loved me!
We finally broke our kiss -- well, we eventually had to come up for air -- and sat looking into each other's eyes. "Marc, I have loved you so long and had no hope you'd ever love me -- I mean other than as a friend. I was afraid if I told you, it would be the end of our friendship. I was afraid you'd tell me to take my gay ass and get out of your sight. I feared what would happen if you knew."
"Justin, I'd never tell you to take your ass out of my sight! I want you and your nice ass with me always. I have dreamed of you, longed to hold you in my arms..."
"That's kinda strange. I mean I kept hinting every way I could, trying to get you to show how you felt, but you never seemed to catch on."
"The truth of the matter is I can be pretty dense. Looking back -- I mean that day with the crowns -- it was obvious to everyone in the mall, wasn't it?" Justin grinned and nodded. "Yeah, well, I still didn't get it. I was too frightened to see what everyone else saw. I never tried to make any move for fear you would discover how I felt about you and hate me. I knew I couldn't live without you. If that meant you were only a friend, I would have that at least. But I was so very afraid I would lose even that, and I'm not nearly as brave as you are."
"Two suffering guys too afraid to show each other how we felt. I guess the Florida moonlight finally gave me courage but, hey, we've got a lot of time to make up," Justin grinned, looking into my eyes.
"Well, we need to get started," I grinned back at him.
Now I need to take time out here to tell you why what followed immediately and in the near future wasn't entirely uninformed, just amateurish. See, while I had been more than a little reluctant to admit to myself I really was gay, I knew it and spent a lot of time on the Internet reading gay stories -- especially those that had more to them than "our eyes met, he sucked my foot-long cock, then fucked me with his fourteen-inch tool" -- you know the stories. I also read a lot of advise about being gay, gay sex and all, I mean.
I found out later the same was true of Justin. Of course, he wasn't as free to explore as I was. He had to be a lot more careful since he didn't have his own computer. After he was assigned to the new store, often he had been asked to lock up and after the store was closed, used the computer. So we knew some things -- in theory at least.
I guess I thought I had one up on him because a couple months before, I got up the nerve to subscribe to a gay porn site and had watched some porn while jerking off -- fantasizing about Justin, of course. Justin certainly hadn't watched porn on the store computer. So while we thought we weren't ignorant headwise, bodywise we were definitely amateurs, to say the least. But a lot of things in this world come naturally! It was not surprising, then, that our kisses were getting hotter and hotter as our tongues did battle -- the kind of battle in which losers are also winners. After a lot of kisses, Justin said, "I'm sure this bench is great for moon watching, but it's not very good for making love."
"So we are making love?" I grinned, looking into his eyes.
"Love-making requires a lot of practice," he laughed, "and we've hardly started, but yeah."
I suddenly remembered some of the porn I had seen. Some of it got me hot as hell, but there was some that just kinda disgusted me. It was not what I'd call love-making, rather, it was kinky sex. So there were some things I wasn't interested in trying now and some I'm pretty sure I'd never be interested in. I didn't know how much Justin had seen or what he had in mind. I loved him, but I realized there was a whole side of him I knew nothing about. Maybe he'd really go for some really kinky stuff but, then, he could say the same about me. Finally I asked somewhat hesitantly, "Are you ready to, you know, do it all?"
"Not sure what you mean by 'doing it all', but I'm pretty sure I'm not. We're new at this and have a life-time ahead of us. A lot to try and work on and I am going to enjoy every bit of it!" With that, he got up, took my hand, and pulled me to my feet. After a long, long, open mouth, busy tongue kiss, we walked, arm-in-arm, toward the house, stopping frequently for long, lingering kisses.