Sunday morning found us at old St. Paul's, Clarisa in her usual place and Justin and I on duty. As soon as the procession reached the chancel, I saw Susan, John, and Bobbie had joined Clarisa. Thinking about that Sunday morning in Key West, I hoped John and Justin managed to restrain themselves and not announce to the world Justin and I were having great sex, and they did. I said a prayer of thanksgiving for Justin and his love as well as for friendship and a special plea for Adam to understand, but silently!
After church, Bobbie said, "Susan and I have made a picnic. Thought we'd take the boats out and picnic to gently let us down after Florida. School's back in session tomorrow and with the prom and AP exams, we'll not have a lot of time until summer. Well, until after AP exams, then we'll have a couple weeks to coast."
"Smart thinking, ladies," John said, then turned to us and asked, "You two up for a day in Tarheel waters?"
"Meet you at the marina," I said. "We'll get drinks." Justin and I went home, changed clothes and I got covered with sunscreen, put the cooler in the car and we were at the marina before the other three arrived.
We uncovered the boat, put the cooler in and started motoring out of the marina. No use waiting on the others since John's boat, even in the "no-wake" area was still faster than my sailboat under power.
Sure enough, we had just cleared the "no-wake" area when John cruised alongside. "To the island?" he called and Justin gave him the thumbs up.
John opened up his boat and was gone like a shot. We could have continued under power and perhaps reached the island in less time, but we were in no hurry and Justin and I both like to just go with the breeze, sailing under quiet wind power alone. While I handled the tiller, he hoisted the sails and we moved into the main channel, heading for the island we had enjoyed since we were old enough to be allowed to have the boat without adult supervision.
As we approached the island, I could see Susan and Bobbie were behind John's boat, water skiing. We had all started when we were still in grade school and we were all good, but Bobbie and Susan were definitely the best and they were showing it.
Once Justin and I reached the island, we put the cooler under the umbrella the three had opened, and went back to the boat. We caught a good breeze and sailed away from the island for a ways then tied the tiller and drifted. I was lying in Justin's arms and he bent forward and kissed me on the top of my head. I looked up, smiled and he bent over and kissed me on the lips, softly.
"You want to know a secret?" he asked, smiling. Before I could answer he said, "Lover boy, I love you twice as much as yesterday when I loved you more than was humanly possible."
"Not true, because I am human and I loved you the same." After that brief exchange, we were silent and just enjoyed being together and floating with the sea.
Since we hadn't eaten since breakfast, less than an hour after we left the marina I turned the boat and we sailed back to the island, landing just as the picnic basket was being opened. Susan and Bobbie passed around sandwiches as Justin opened drinks and passed them to the thirsty, seafaring folk.
After we had eaten, we just lazed around until school intruded. "Ok," Bobbie said, "Tomorrow it's back to school. We have the prom in two weeks and three weeks after the prom, AP exams..."
"So we keep being reminded," John said.
"Right, and we need to get back into the habit of studying," Susan contributed.
"You're right and I don't want my schedule to interfere," Justin said, "but it is going to be 6:15 before I can start. I promised I'd work until 6:00 every night except Friday when the store closes at 9:00 and I'll have to handle closing duties. I'll close at least two other nights and won't get home until probably 6:30, maybe a bit later."
"I'm sure we can find plenty to do until then," Susan said. "In fact, why don't we do our regular homework before we get together? That way, we'll have that out of the way, but still have an opportunity to help out anyone who gets stuck. When Justin gets home from the store, we can have supper and then do our group studying until 9:30 or later if needs be. Leaves you doing homework late, Justin."
"No problem. I'd have to anyway. If I do homework after we've done our group study, it should go faster. If I get stuck, Marc will have done it and can help out."
"Ok, so we just need to make sure when we have supper at 6:15 and when at 6:30. Can you get a definite schedule for closing? At least know a couple days before you need to do it?" Bobbie asked.
"Should be no problem," Justin said. "By the way, Bobbie, where did you bury the cotton-candy-for-brains cheerleader?"
"I believe it was called Garden Key. Yeah, and I didn't have to swim seventy miles to reach freedom. All right, I'm glad I woke up, ok, really glad and would do it again. But I did love the big baby and I still do. Doesn't mean I'll go crawling back and that's the only way I could get back right now, but also doesn't mean it doesn't hurt."
"Yeah," Justin said and that was all anyone said for a couple minutes.
"Alright, next problem," Bobbie finally said. "Transportation. With Justin's new schedule and Adam out of the picture, the old system is not going to work."
"I can still take Justin to work as I go to tutor," Susan said.
"But he'll have no way home," John said. "I was thinking about it last night. Susan can pick Bobbie up in the morning and Justin will be coming with Marc..."
"No pun intended, I assume," Bobbie said as innocent as could be.
"Just a factual report," John responded as serious as he could be, but with a "jackass eating briers" grin on his face. "In the afternoon, I'll drop Marc and Bobbie off, Justin can drive Marc's car and Susan will have hers."
"Fine, except what about Bobbie? There's no Adam to bring her to study hall," I said.
"I'll pick her up on the way back from tutoring..."
"Could the kids use another tutor this late in the year?" Bobbie asked Susan.
"It's never too late and there are never enough tutors," Susan responded. "You volunteering?"
"Why not? Would solve a transportation problem and I think doing something worthwhile with my time would be good for me."
"Another problem solved," John said. "Next problem is Bobbie's date for the prom," John said. "Justin, Marc, any volunteers?"
"Sure," I quickly answered.
"Nothing doing," Bobbie responded. "I think you two should go as each other's dates."
"Only if we want to get beaten to a pulp," Justin responded.
"Bobbie, don't get me wrong. I don't want to push someone off on you, but if you want a date, I think I can handle it. My cousin, Kenneth Thurmond, lives in Raleigh and last year his sister needed a date for a big country club spring dance. I agreed to go and he owes me one. Hate to say this, but he makes me look pretty drab and ordinary, has a great sense of humor, is a great dancer and, right now, he's free. He finally got his fill of his perennial date after the third time she passed out drunk and he got blamed. How about it?"
"John, I don't have to have a date and sure don't want someone who is doing a duty."
"Well, of course, he will be in a sense, but I can guarantee he will be a great date. How about it?"
"Let me think about it. I'll let you know in a day or two, if that's alright."
"The Clan solves the problems of the world -- well, their very, very little world -- again," Justin announced as the sun was just above the horizon and it was time to pack up and go. The girls went for one last spin on the water skis as Justin and I turned the sailboat toward the marina.
Clarisa had already gone to her apartment when we got back. We raided the fridge and then went up. As soon as the door closed behind us, I went to the nightstand and removed the package. "Play time!" I said and watched a silly grin cover Justin's face.
We read the "instructions" from our friends in Florida. As we were reading, Justin started laughing like he had flipped out. Finally, he was able to speak and said, "You know, I don't think most folks need instructions for sex. Does that mean we are too dumb to know how to have fun?"
"Bet a lot of folks wish they had got instructions. Even with instructions, I'm kinda nervous about this."
"Don't be," Justin said, swept me in his arms and held me close as he covered my mouth with kisses. Still holding me, he reached out, took a bottle of lube from the box and handed it to me. "I'm not nervous -- well, maybe just a tiny little bit."
I started lubing his rosebud and after playing with it for several minutes while we exchanged kisses, slipped a finger inside. No need for a play-by-play description, just let it be said that we were learning and the lessons were enjoyed by all.
Monday dawned as I knew it would. Breakfast was waiting when Justin and I came down after showering and dressing for school. Clarisa joined us, of course. Breakfast finished, we were heading out the door when Clarisa said, "Be careful and keep your eyes open. You don't know what Adam's been up to."
We pulled into the parking lot and parked beside Susan. We had just parked when a red BMW convertible, top down, cruised in and parked beside Susan. As John turned off the car, Susan said, "I see, more hand-me-downs," and laughed.
"Yeah, while we were gone, Lacy decided we had no use for that van and traded it in on a very sedate Buick sedan. She gave me a choice, knowing, I'm sure, she was going to be just another lady at the club with a Buick."
While we were talking, Adam came roaring in, and I do mean roaring in. It was obvious he had spent a good part of the weekend -- and his allowance -- on a new exhaust system for his car. If loud was good, his was top of the line. "Guess Mr. Sanford lost a round," John said.
We had all heard Adam complaining because his father insisted he have quiet mufflers on his restored Chevy.
When Adam parked, he gunned the engine a few times in case someone had missed his arrival. Car parked, Adam and his three jock buddies, Arnold Blake, Bear Gordon, and Kev Jenkins piled out. I was surprised when Kev's brother Sandy crawled out of the car as well. Kev was a fullback on the football team and built like a tank. I guess he got all the brawn because Sandy was slim and trim. Not scrawny, he had a swimmer's or runner's build. I had seen him in gym and he was a lot tougher and stronger than he looked, but he was definitely out of place with football types and that involved more than his build. Unlike the other three, he got out of the car and headed inside, almost as if he was afraid someone would think he was a part of the loudmouths he came with. Any conversation about Adam and his friends was cut short by the morning bell.
Our first class was small -- there were only twelve people in it -- and included the whole Clan. I wondered how Adam would handle that since there were none of his jock buddies in any AP class. While there were only twelve people in Mrs. Powers two AP classes -- one junior and one senior, American history and world history, respectively -- they were in her regular class room with twenty-five desks. Since the class was essentially discussion of materials we had read and researched, we usually circled our desks with Mrs. Powers in the circle with us. When Mrs. Powers gave the signal for us to "circle up," we did. When we had, I noticed Adam was missing. A split second before the tardy bell rang, he walked into class and took a seat in a desk at the back of the room.
Mrs. Powers is not known for suffering fools gladly and I had heard her argue pretty forcefully for the use of sarcasm in the classroom. I'm sure we were all braced for what was sure to follow. "Now, let me see if I can understand this, Adam. You are sitting back there as if you'd like not to be noticed, but then that can't be true. I, along with half the county, heard your arrival this morning. Just in case someone might have missed your grand entrance, you gunned the motor to show off your new exhaust system. "So it can't be you decided to sit in the back of the room to avoid being noticed. Oh! You've dropped out of AP world history and you're sitting back there waiting for the paper work. But no, I haven't had a drop slip from the office. I'm very confused, Adam." Adam didn't respond beyond dragging his desk in to the circle, making sure he was as far from Justin and me as possible. "That's more like it." He was, typically, one of the most vocal in the class, but he didn't say a word the entire period and as soon as the bell sounded, he shot out the door.
Second period was math for all of us, but Susan was in AP calculus BC which was a stiffer course than AP calculus AB which John, Marc and I had. Adam and Bobbie were neither math whizzes and were taking algebra II. Since the math hall was just down from social studies, we were in no rush to get to our lockers and stash the history texts and pick up our math books. As we strolled down the hall, Adam half ran by, tossed his history book into his locker and grabbed a math book, slammed the locker closed and ran before we reached our lockers beside his. "You'd think we had some disease from the way Adam's behaving. Surely he knows we're not going to bite," Justin said, a bitter tone in his voice.
"Look, he drove in this morning with Arnold Blake, Bear Gordon, and Kev Jenkins. What more do you need to know?" I responded, but thought Adam was pretty dense not to know who his real friends were. The rest of the day was the same with Adam avoiding us. I only wish his jock buddies had done the same. A couple of them said something to Bobbie when they passed her in the hall, but she said nothing about it until later.
When the five of us gathered in the parking lot after school, Justin remembered he would be working until 6:00. "I'll try to work out a regular schedule so we can plan around it."
"Ok," John said, "let's just make sure we know what's what. Bobbie, you're going with Susan, right?"
"Marc, you're coming with me and Justin's driving your car, right?"
"Right," I said, "and everyone at my place for supper at 6:30? Study after?"
"We'll be there," Susan said.
When John dropped me off, I grabbed a glass of juice and sat down in the kitchen where Clarisa joined me. "Guess we need to talk about the new schedule, Clarisa. Justin will be working until 6:00 every night now -- he's training to take over as assistant manager of one of the stores," I said. "Couple nights week, he'll close and won't be home until 6:30 or later. Friday nights, he'll work until nine and then close."
"I hope he's not taking on too much," Clarisa said.
"I'll keep an eye out," I responded. "We're going to do our homework before supper, eat at 6:30 and do group study after. Think we can work with that?"
"I'd say you need to think about that some. 6:30 may be too early if Justin's working until 6:00."
"You're right. How about aiming for 6:45 until we see how it's going to work?"
"Well, I'm on homework."
"By the way, dinner tonight's special and Monday nights will be, so Justin needs to make sure Monday is not a late night."
"I'll tell him." I went upstairs and, before I started on homework, called the store and left a message for Justin about Monday nights. There was, as usual, a shitload of homework, but nothing difficult. I was finished before time for the others to arrive, so I checked my e-mail and had a great note from Martha. She congratulated me on my love and said things were going well with her, "but still no Prince Charming."
Justin was not home when the other three arrived, and the four of us immediately fell to work helping Clarisa finish up supper and set the table. "Set the dining room table, if you would," she said and gave very specific instructions as to how the table was to be appointed. Supper in the dining room meant a new dish was in the offing. Turns out a new dish couldn't touch it!
When Justin arrived, he gave me a huge smile instead of the kiss I wanted. We had agreed that a kiss was probably all right since Clarisa had already said so long as we knew what belonged in the bedroom, she had no objections to expressions of affection. I knew she had problems with Adam and Bobbie's carrying on, so kisses were probably borderline and maybe over the line when other than family was present. Anyway, we'd talk more about that but, tonight, I just got a Justin smile and that was definitely not to be sneezed at!
Justin ran upstairs to wash up and when he came down, Clarisa said, "Dinner is ready. John, if you would." I think we were all kinda confused, but John said the blessing and Clarisa continued. "German is being featured tonight. We will begin with Grundonnerstagssuppe -- Maundy Thursday soup. The entree is Sauerbraten mit Spaetzle -- German pot roast with egg noodles; and sides of Rotkraut nach Art des Hauses -- traditional German red cabbage; Karotten in Bier Gedunstet -- carrots in beer; and for dessert Apfelquarkkuchen -- apple and cream kuchen, accompanied by Kaffe mit zartbitterscholade -- coffee with semi-sweet chocolate. If you would be seated." I guess we were too stunned to do anything but obey.
Clarisa went to the kitchen and returned carrying a soup tureen from which she served our bowls, the beginning of a definitely different meal that we all enjoyed. After dinner, we cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher, then went to the library for dessert and coffee.
"Wonderful dinner, Clarisa," Susan said. "What inspired you?"
"There will be more. I got to thinking about the people in this town and all of you. Lot of self-satisfied people and more bigots than humans, I'm afraid. I wanted some way to expand all our horizons and hit up on this ethnic food idea after the sessions I attended in Asheville. Yeah, expand our horizons, something which is definitely needed in this town."
"If what follows is like tonight, our waistlines may expand more than our horizons," Bobbie laughed. "But the books call."
When we got upstairs and were ready to get down to studying, Bobbie said, "John, I think I'd like to take you up on your offer of your cousin as a prom sacrifice."
"Great! I didn't want to show you a picture until you had made up your mind, but have a look."
We all crowded around to see a picture John pulled from his notebook.
"Wow! He looks good enough to eat," Bobbie said.
"Don't say things like that in front of my boyfriend," Justin laughed, "but he is one good looking dude."
"Yeah, I'm sometimes jealous. He's not only good looking -- even as a straight dude I can see that -- but he's also very intelligent, charming, has a wicked sense of humor and is a really, really nice guy," John said.
"If that's all, I don't see why you should be jealous," Susan said. "After all, you are good looking, intelligent, have a wicked sense of humor and are a really nice guy," and we all agreed.