Castle Roland

Forever 1 - Beginnings

by Jack Schaeffer


Chapter 12

Published: 19 Feb 15

FOREVER 1 - Beginnings
By Jack Schaeffer
Copyright © 2014 - 2015. All rights reserved.

_"A beginning is a very delicate time."_
from Dune (1984) by Frank Herbert, David Lynch

From the previous chapter:

I plopped down on the sand and drew my knees up to my chest. I wrapped my arms around them and held myself tightly. Sam sat in a similar fashion next to me, almost touching shoulders. I wished they were touching. We sat there, in a surprisingly comfortable silence, for several minutes. Then Sam wanted to talk.

"How ya doin', Jack?"

"I'm a little cold, but I'm okay. Sorry about the freak out back there. I hate when I do that." I was almost in tears, but I held them back with everything I had.

"Here, don't move." He stood up and moved behind me, then sat down with his legs on either side of my butt. He scooched up close so my back was touching his chest. He leaned into me and put his long arms all the way around mine and pulled me close to him. I melted into his embrace. The silent tears fell. There is no way I could have stopped them. I had done the scariest thing of my life and I landed in the safest place I had ever known – Sam's arms.

"Jack, you don't need to say anything, just listen, okay?" I nodded silently.

"It was very brave what you did back there. You're a lot tougher than you think you are. Thank you for trusting me. My guess is you haven't trusted too many people, so I'm honored you shared your secret with me. I really am." He squeezed me a little harder to hopefully convince me he meant it. I believed him. I relaxed back into him and he held me firmly.

" more thing. You know the relationship I told you about – the one which fell apart?" Again I nodded silently. Sam leaned into me even closer and put his lips next to my left ear.

"His name was Jeremy."

Holy Crap! Did Sam just tell me he was gay? And he had been in a two year relationship with a guy? Like with a dick and everything?

He was still holding me tightly, and I never wanted it to end. For the first time I felt like I was finally where I belonged in the world. But I had no idea how Sam felt about me – not in that way. Up until 30 seconds ago, I was convinced he was straight!

"Talk to me, Jack." Sam said. "You okay?"

"Yeah, Sam. Just a little in shock. I had no idea you were..."

"That I'm gay?" He chuckled quietly.

"Well, yeah. Here I was, scared to death you wouldn't be my friend if you knew I was gay, and turns out, you're gay too!"

"Jack, I've been out to my family and close friends for years. It's so not a big deal for me anymore. I forget sometimes not everyone has the same supportive people in their lives like I do. And yes, Jack. I am your friend, at least I want to be. I think you're a very cool guy, and I like hanging out with you."

The tears started again, silent, embarrassing and a sign of my emotional state. I was trembling a little, from the breeze off the ocean and the long repressed passions rumbling through my soul.

"Jack, you're shaking. Are you sure you're alright?"

"Yes, I'm sure. But Sam?"

"Yeah, Jack?"

"Please don't let go of me yet." His answer was to hold on tighter, sheltering me in his masculine arms.

I don't think I could put into words the peace and the power I felt being swallowed up in those arms. I was safe, physically and emotionally, and I was being rejuvenated in some way – like a new inner strength was coming alive in me. From where, I had no idea, but it was there.

We sat there together on the sand in the dark for maybe 10 more minutes, me listening to Sam's breathing and relishing his tight hold on me. In all my fantasies I would have assumed being in this physical position with another man would have had my sexual motor in overdrive. But I was strangely indifferent to that part of me, concentrating on the security I felt. For the moment, anyway.

"Sam, as much as I really don't want this moment to end, I think I have a load of sand in my ass, and it's starting to hurt. I need to stand up."

"Good, cause I've got the same problem." He stood up, laughing a little. We were a sight, standing there in the dark, slapping our butts trying to get the sand off. I really did have some sand inside my underwear, but short of stripping down right there, it was gonna have to torture me for a little while longer.

We walked towards the street and sat down on a bench under a streetlight so we could empty our shoes of sand. I love the beach, don't get me wrong, and I had just spent the best moment of my life sitting on one, but that damn sand gets everywhere! Tonight it was literally a pain in my ass.

With the last of the sand banished from my toes, I slipped my shoes back on my bare feet and sat up to look at Sam. He was staring at me again, with those intense, piercing blue eyes. The look on his face was impossible to read, but he was studying me, almost like he was memorizing my features or something. Instead of feeling weird, I felt all warm inside and my dick trembled slightly. It looked like he was going to say something, but he stopped. I was curious. I wanted inside his head.

"What? What were you going to say, Sam?"

"Uh...well, it's just...uh...nothing really. Some other time, maybe." Clearly he had decided to postpone speaking his mind, whatever it was. I decided not to push it. We both had made some serious revelations, and we had more than enough to process already.

"Sam, I want you to know how you handled tonight was the kindest, most caring thing anyone has done for me. You are the first person my age I've told I'm gay, and you're still standing here. I didn't run you off, and even better, you didn't attack me."

"What? Of course not, Jack. I would never do something so mean. And I'm glad we both know where we stand on that front. It makes being friends easier." He really wanted to be my friend. It made me so happy.

Sam started yawning, and put his hands together and stretched his arms upwards over his head. He was clearly tired, and he still had to drive me home and then drive back to his apartment.

"Sam, you're exhausted. Why don't I take a cab home? You won't have to make the round trip." I was concerned for his safety. I didn't want him to have an accident, now that he was my friend. Geez, did my selfishness know no bounds?

"No way, Jack. I'm good. I'll get you home. But you're right, we should probably get going. I do have a long day tomorrow. Tommy and I have to go over to Maui and do a couple of hotel pools."

He stood up and put his hand out to help me up. It was a simple gesture, nothing sexual, but it was sweet. I took it and he helped pull me up. Since the adrenaline and emotions had faded away, I was now a little shaky on my legs. Telling Sam I was gay took a lot out of me, I guess. But I felt good about it. Really good. Free.

We walked back to Sam's truck parked under the street lights. Every once in a while, I felt Sam's hand near my back. I'm not sure he even knew he was doing it, but I was loving it. It was like he was protecting me, guarding me, making sure I was okay, unhindered and unmolested in any way. He was walking close to me, not arm-in-arm close, but close enough I was aware of his presence in my space. It was awesome.

Once in the truck, we started back towards Kailua. Traffic was much lighter at this hour, and we made good time. We didn't really talk during the drive, which was okay. It was a comfortable silence between two friends who didn't feel the need to fill every second with conversation. Very peaceful, so much so I fell asleep during the last part of the drive. I woke when Sam poked me gently.

"Hey, Jack," he whispered. "You're home, sleepy head."

"Huh? Oh, yeah, okay. Wow. I guess I'm the one who's tired, huh." I rubbed my eyes and stretched a little. We were parked in front of the house.

"I had a great time tonight, Jack. Thanks for coming out with me." I burst out laughing, and he looked at me like I was crazy.

"What? What'd I say?"

"Nothing, Sam. It's just funny the way you said 'coming out with me'. 'Cause that's what we did, didn't we?" He now had a goofy grin on his face, too.

"Yeah, I guess we did. Hadn't planned on it, but it's cool, right?" He looked at me for confirmation all was right between us. I'm usually the insecure one. Interesting.

"Cool by me. More than cool. I feel great about it, Sam. Seriously. You were awesome tonight. Thank you. For the movie, the pizza, and for understanding. But mostly for being my friend." I reached over and grabbed his hand closest to me and squeezed it, then let it go.

"Now, you need to go home, Sam. We don't need you crashing your truck tonight. You can't leave Tommy in the lurch with all those pools to clean tomorrow."

"Okay, I'm going. Thanks again, Jack. Hey, what are you doing Sunday?"

"Nothing as far as I know."

"Well, how about joining me and the guys at the beach? We usually hang out on Sundays and goof around, maybe get some dinner later. Whadda ya say?"

"Sounds good. Tell me when and where and what I need to bring, and I'll be there."

"Cool. I'll call you tomorrow night with details. Can you give me your cell phone so I can reach you?" I grinned. Finally got a guy to ask me for my number. We exchanged cell phone numbers – Sam's went into my phone under Friends. It felt so right to have it in there. There were three: Fred, Billy, and now Sam.

"Hey, Sam. Do me a favor. Call me tonight when you get home just so I know you made it, okay. Otherwise, I'll worry."

"You'll worry about me, Jack?" Sam was grinning. Smart ass.

"Not even a little bit, you jerk." I was grinning, too. I opened my door, and looked back at him one more time, then shut the door and stepped back. He grinned at me again, gave a short little wave through the window, and pulled out and down the driveway. I stood there and watched the taillights until they were gone.

It took all my reserve strength to open the friggin' huge front door. How big were these people who owned this house? Was he a retired sumo wrestler or something? I dragged myself through the enormous front room and into the kitchen, where I downed a full water bottle. I sat on one of the island stools, and felt the sand stuck in my ass. Time for a shower.

The jets were fantastic as always, especially the ones I aimed right at my crack to try and get the sand off. I don't know what's in beach sand, but it sticks to everything like it's coated in glue. I was rubbing soap all through my crack, up and down, trying to get the last few grains of sand from around my hole, and I realized I was super turned on. I leaned against the shower wall, my other hand doing what it had been trained to do. My release came while I was fantasizing about being in Sam's arms again.

As I was toweling off afterwards, I started thinking about Sam and me a little deeper. I was thrilled I had told him I was gay – I was really proud of myself. I imagined the curtain of fear I had hidden behind all my life was ripped down forever in one act of courage tonight. But I had never expected Sam's revelation that he, too, was gay.

I wasn't sure what it all meant for us. He said we were friends, and honestly, if that's all we ever were, I was cool with it. He was a great guy, and I knew he would be a great friend. But what if he wanted more? What if I wanted more? How would that work? And more importantly, what if one of us wanted more, and the other didn't. Would it kill the friendship?

Our future was unclear, for sure. On the one hand, Sam was everything I ever wanted in a guy. Beautiful, caring, a perfect gentleman. White hot body, gorgeous face, killer eyes, and his goofy, smart ass grin which made me smile and made my cock jump. And the confidence that turned me on so much. So there was a big part of me that wanted more than friendship. Sam was the kind of guy I could fall for, head over heels.

On the other hand, I also desperately needed him to be my friend. There was something so right about how he and I interacted. It was easy, and he made me feel good about being me. I didn't feel like a freak around him. Or someone less than normal – like I didn't quite measure up. He didn't just tolerate me tagging along. He really wanted me to hang out with him.

With Fred back in Chicago, who I did consider to be a friend, I was never really certain how he viewed me. Was he just being nice to me, since that's how his parents raised him to be, or did he really like hanging out with me? When we were with his other friends – they were never really my friends – he seemed okay with me being along for the ride, but he also seemed fine with me leaving early or bagging it when the tone of things changed. It was almost as if he liked me, but he could take me or leave me in those situations. Although to be fair, he said some positive things to me on our last evening together. Said he trusted me more than anybody else, which was cool. And he had known I was gay all along, I couldn't forget that. Plus I knew when it was just the two of us, we had a great time hanging out, just goofing around. So maybe my uncertainty was in relation to the other guys being around.

It would be interesting to see how Sam and I interacted when we were with his other friends. I was especially wondering about Tommy. Would he like me? Would he think I was "friend" material for Sam? He obviously knew Sam was gay – he had been there to help pick up the pieces when whatever happened with Jeremy happened. Would he be okay with me being gay? I wasn't planning on making a big announcement, but I had a feeling it might be obvious to the other guys. I wasn't hiding anymore, at least not consciously, so who knew what might happen.

I made a decision. No matter what, Sam and I were going to be friends, first and foremost, for as long as he wanted. Which I hoped was forever. I would not do anything to hinder that.

Just then, my cell phone went off. It startled me, since I seldom received calls. I answered it with a smile.

"Mario's Deli, home of the mile-high pastrami. Mario speaking. Howsa may I uh help you?"

I heard Sam's soft chuckle on the other end. "Cute, Jack. Real cute. Hey, I made it home in one piece. Gonna hit the sack now. I'm wiped."

"Great, glad to hear it, Sam. Thanks for calling, I appreciate it. Sleep well. Good night, big guy."

"Nite, little man." He hung up.

I stared at my phone, wondering what had happened in just one short evening. Sam had picked me up, ostensibly to take me to meet his gang of friends. We ended up sharing a movie and a pizza and a couple of secrets. Now I had just used a term of endearment to say goodnight to him, and he did the same back to me. It just slipped out. There was no thought to it. My guess was there was none to his either. Not sure what to make of it all.

I put myself to bed. I did my bathroom routine, undressed, and hopped under the covers. I lay there in the dark, my mind replaying the entire evening. I couldn't find one moment I would go back and change. It was a perfect night.

I woke up the next morning, Saturday, with the sun shining brightly through the bedroom curtains. My first thought was I would not see Sam today, and I was instantly depressed. So I spent the whole time I was doing my morning grooming ritual trying to encourage myself it was no big deal. I would see him for most of the day tomorrow. I could survive a day by myself.

Trying not to pout – there was no one around to invite to my pity party anyway, so why throw one – I went out to the kitchen and made some granola cereal with the usual fruit added in. I had a few things I really ought to do on a day when I had no other plans. Laundry was one. Wasn't sure I wanted to clean the house though. Maybe wipe down the kitchen? I should also check to see what of my food supplies were still holding their own, since some of it was a week old now.

I finished my breakfast and washed up the dishes. I emptied the dishwasher and put everything away as best I could. I wiped everything else down with some disinfectant wipes I found under the sink. They made the whole room smell like oranges, which was nice.

I gathered my dirty clothes into the usual two loads – hot and cold – and put them in the washers. I grabbed my IPad, pulled up the Kindle app and escaped back into my Ludlum spy novel. This sequel was better than the first one. I had seen the movie trilogy which was based on the books, but the books were very different – I usually liked the book better than the movie, and it was definitely the case this time.

I checked the washers 30 minutes later, and transferred everything to dryers, then went back to the book. An hour later the clothes were done, so I folded everything and put it all away. My chores for the day were complete, and it was only 11 o'clock.

Facing a day of boredom, I picked up the house "book" and started paging through it, trying to find something to do. Apparently there was another town, Kaneohe, near Kailua, which had some shopping and other points of interest. Might be a way to kill some time. I also saw a suggestion for a scenic drive down and around the Diamond Head volcano, which would put me back into Honolulu. I hoped Todd had paid for unlimited miles on the car. Seriously, I was ready to do anything to get out of the house.

I slathered on some sun screen, put on my shades, and with the top down and the wind blowing all around, I descended down the mountain into Kailua. I stayed on the main road until it dead ended at Kalaheo Avenue. I was in no hurry, so I thought I would take the scenic route over to Kaneohe, get a feel for how real Hawaiian people lived. Going north on Kalaheo, I was struck by the tightness of the street. It was a narrow, two-laned road, and the houses and small yards came right up to the street. So different from the Chicago suburbs, where you could drive three semis side by side down many of the "side" streets. But it was beautiful. The bright sunshine illuminated so many wonderful colors blooming on all the tropical foliage. Several varieties of palm trees lined both sides of the road, standing like sentries to show me the way.

I had a sense of where the ocean was on my right, but I could only catch an occasional glimpse of water between the houses on the waterfront. The dwellings were arranged in a dense assortment of architectures. Eventually I came to a short stretch where I could see more of the ocean, and the incredible mountains rising above the coastal towns on this windward side of the island.

Apparently I was driving on a major bus route. Every so often there was a short bus lane carved off the side of the road and a simple, triangular-roofed shelter with a bench for those waiting for the bus. Sure enough, a little farther up the road, I found myself behind one of the buses. It pulled off to one of these stops and I was able to get around it.

The mountains were closer now, and the clouds above them were obscuring the tops a little bit. I decided I really liked mountains – they certainly beat the flatlands of the Midwest. The most exciting thing to see back home was the corn changing colors in the fields. I thought briefly again about Denver and my upcoming relocation. Plenty of mountains around there, for sure.

At some point I realized the road I was on had changed names. Now it was Kaneohe Bay Drive. And I must have been in Kaneohe proper, as things started to look a little more commercial. I passed the James B. Castle High School, home of the Castle Knights. It was so different from my old high school. Here there were no multistory structures. Everything was spread out in single-level, flat-roofed buildings. Looked like the students would have to go outside between classes to get to their next one. Of course, with weather so perfect, I'm sure it was no problem. When I was in highschool, we had to move outside between buildings, too. But in February, when it was -15, we froze our asses off. You would spend the whole day alternating between frigid ice storms and overheating steam registers in the classrooms. You would sweat during class, then back outside your clothes would literally freeze to your skin between classes. Nobody would call southern Illinois a paradise.

I was trying to find the Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center. There had been a note in the "book" about a restaurant there with good food, and I was now getting quite hungry. I turned onto Kamehameha Highway and headed further north. I followed the directions in my memory, my internal GPS leading the way somehow, and I managed to find the strip mall housing my destination – Ichiriki Japanese Nabe Restaurant.

I had never eaten at a Japanese restaurant, so I had no idea what to expect. But the notes in the "book" had raved about this place, so why not? If it was terrible, there was a Subway a few doors down. I smiled to myself as I put the top up on the car. The only foot long I wanted was not a sandwich. I am such a perv sometimes, it shocks me.

It turned out to be fantastic. I had an appetizer called Tataki Cucumber. The waiter informed me they basically beat the cucumbers with a rolling pin, added some seasonings (salt, ginger, and soy sauce, I think) and then chilled it. Perfectly delicious. I sort of created my own main dish. I picked the Pirikara broth, just because I liked spicy sauces, and the ribeye Chanko. I do like my steak. It was all cooked together with an assortment of fresh vegetables, some of which I really liked. There was also a wooden skewer thing with a ground chicken sausage concoction stuffed inside it. It was delicious as well.

My hunger satiated, it was time for more wandering. I didn't want to shop, even though there was a good sized mall across the street. I put the top back down on the car and started driving back up Kamehameha Highway towards the southern end of town. Here the road was a divided highway, and traffic moved briskly. I passed a large cemetery on my left – it looked strangely peaceful in there. I had lived by two different cemeteries growing up, so I was not afraid of them like some. I liked to look at grave stones and wonder about the person whose last resting place was so marked. What kind of life had they led? Were they happy? Were they loved and did they love in return? I wondered who might be lying in the ground next to me when I passed. Geez, could I at least get kissed by a guy first before they put me in the dirt?

The road ended at the Pali highway. Now I definitely knew where I was. I had come full circle this morning. I turned left and then made the right onto HI-72, the Kalanianaole Highway, and headed east. I drove past the turn off to the house and kept going.

This was a beautiful drive. The mountains were soaring to my right now as the road settled down into the low lands in front of the ocean. I passed Waimanalo Beach, which looked amazing. Maybe Sam and I could find some time to come and hang out there. It looked like fun. The water was a brilliant turquoise blue. Breathtaking.

A minute later the road was running right on the water, with the mountains immediately on the right. It was a stunning sight for someone who never saw nature much beyond soybeans and corn fields. To be fair, I did on a rare occasion get to downtown Chicago and would see Lake Michigan, but it was a cesspool compared to the Pacific here. Maybe I should just relocate to Hawaii and Todd would let me work remotely?

I stopped at a lookout called Makapu'u Point. The views were amazing. I could see a large beach down to the left which I had passed on the way up the hill, and the mountains looked so majestic overlooking the green-blue ocean waters. There were several small little islands a short distance off shore, and I could see a long way back from where I had come. I was so glad I had decided to not stay home and sulk.

My next stop was something called the Halona Blowhole lookout. Apparently as the waves come in, some of the water is pushed underneath a large rock outcropping and shoots straight up through a hole in the rocks, much like a whale's blow hole. The ocean was fairly calm, so the geyser wasn't super high, but it was fun to watch people try to get close and get drenched when the water sprayed up and over them. There was a small beach down below as well, but it looked very rocky and crowded from where I was standing.

Looking around me, watching dozens of people try to take pictures and capture the water spouting up at the exact second it happened, I realized I owned no camera and had not taken a single photograph of Hawaii. I wasn't the kind of guy to keep scrapbooks or photo albums, but some of the things I had seen so far would be nice to have a visual reminder of later.

I pulled over at the Lanai Lookout just to stretch my legs. I had been in the car for a good part of the day, and I was getting antsy to move around a little. Plus I had been letting my mind wander to Sam again, and some of the thoughts were less than pure, which resulted in the hardon I was now trying to get to go down as I walked next to the car, hiding my crotch as best I could from the people milling around. I couldn't help it – the guy turned me on.

When I was finally less tumescent, I walked over to the actual lookout area. The signs said you should be able to see three other Hawaiian islands on a clear day. I could definitely see two – Molokai and Lanai – if I was looking at the map right. Supposedly Maui was right behind Molokai. I could maybe make out the tip of a mountain way out there, but I'm not sure.

I stood there and thought about Sam some more. He was over there on that island today, working with Tommy. I wondered how they got over there. I was suddenly jealous of Tommy. He got to spend today with Sam, and I didn't. I shook myself mentally for being silly, but I had to admit I really was missing him now. I had tried to distract myself with all the driving and sightseeing, but it was getting harder to keep my mind off of him. And that wasn't the only thing getting harder. Crap! The shorts I had on left nothing to the imagination, so I quickly slid back in the car and headed for Honolulu, shifting in the seat to try and get more comfortable.

To get down and around Diamond Head, I had to bale off of the Kalanianaole Highway onto Kealaolu Avenue. This street ran south toward the ocean past a golf course on the left. It ended at Kahala Avenue, which I followed, driving past some very beautiful homes. The homes were gorgeous, the landscaping even more so.

I finally came to the edge of the Diamond Head volcano. I was struck by two things: it wasn't as big as I had imagined, and it was nearly devoid of vegetation, unlike the other mountainous areas I had seen. It almost looked like a desert with a few scrubby trees spread around. I knew there was trail you could hike up into it, but hiking was not for me today. Maybe with Sam?

The road continued around the mountain, resting on a ledge above the ocean. From this vantage point, the ocean looked huge and endless. It kind of freaked me out a little – I felt so little in the face of so much water. I had the same funny, stomach-sinking feeling I got when I went up in a really tall building. But shortly thereafter I was back into Honolulu proper, and trying to navigate the busy streets. I drove through a huge park and passed the Waikiki Aquarium – another thing which might be fun to do with Sam.

Then it all got confusing. The road I was on dead ended on a one-way street, so I had to turn away from the ocean. Suddenly I was driving alongside the Honolulu Zoo. I had to laugh. I don't know why, but it seemed really odd to me to have a zoo on an island in the middle of the Pacific. Why it made more sense to have one in St. Louis or San Diego, I don't know. Just me, I guess. I actually really loved going to zoos. I could stand there and watch one animal for an hour if it was doing something besides sleeping. I wondered what kind of animals they had in there.

Just past the zoo I could turn left on Paki Avenue. My internal GPS was telling me I was going in the right direction, I just wasn't sure how to get back to the beaches of Waikiki. I took Ohua Avenue, the first street I came to which seemed to head back towards the water. I found a place to park the car at a meter next to this very odd looking building. It was a long, A-frame style building with a greenish metal roofing, probably copper that had tarnished over time. Along the sides of it were rows of triangular "dormers" which stuck out of the main building, each one sitting on the ground and extending upwards almost the full height of the main structure. It might have been a temple or cathedral of some kind – I wasn't sure. I knew I was close to the ocean because there was a long haired guy carrying his surfboard, walking down the sidewalk. He was sexy with his traditional surfer dude look. He smiled at me as I was putting the top up on the car, but then looked away. No flirting for me.

I could see the beach and the waves crashing into something a block down the road. After stopping to use the bathroom at a Burger King and getting a Diet Coke to quench my thirst, I crossed the main street and entered Kuhio Beach. There were lots of people about, on the sand and in the water. It was now about 4 o'clock, and the sun was quite warm. I regretted not having my suit as the water was looking very inviting. I didn't have flip-flops either, so I took off my top siders and walked barefoot in the sand and down to the water's edge. I could see bodyboarders trying to catch a wave beyond the breaker walls. A little further down from where I was standing, there was a big barge with a crane, sitting out in the ocean. Hoses and tubes were floating on the surface back to the beach, and it looked like they were pumping sand from out by the barge back on to the beach. Fixing erosion, maybe?

I stayed on the beach, walking back and forth with my naked feet in the water, thinking about my time in Hawaii so far and all the wonderful things that had happened. Sam, of course, was the biggest thing. I couldn't believe how excited I was I would see him again tomorrow. I hoped I wouldn't make a fool of myself in front of the other guys. Plus, I had promised myself I would do nothing to destroy our friendship, so I would have to be patient and wait to see if Sam wanted anything more with me than just being friends. I kept telling myself I would be satisfied with just a friendship, but there on the beach, alone with my thoughts, I knew I really, really wanted more.

Of course, I had no experience in relationships, unlike Sam. He had managed to have at least one which lasted two years and was quite serious. I had no idea what he had done for the last year, but being the young, virile guy he was, I couldn't imagine he had been celibate since Jeremy left him. But what did I know? Sam could be in a relationship right now with one of the guys I was going to meet tomorrow at the beach. Oh man, how would I react if it turned out to be true? That would bite, for sure.

The problem with coming out from behind the curtain and letting myself be gay was now that I had crossed the threshold, I wanted the whole enchilada. I wanted to know what it was like to be in a relationship, and yes, one that included sex. But I was also terrified of my inexperience. If Sam, or some other guy, gave me the green light and said he wanted to have sex with me, I would have no idea what to do. I had done nothing of a sexual nature. I knew how to jack off. That was it. I'd never been kissed, so I had no idea if I could do it so the other guy liked it. The closest I ever came to holding hands was on the beach last night, and Sam holding me, not the other way around. How do you even decide to start holding hands? Do you talk about it first? Or just reach out and grab his hand and hope he doesn't pull away?

Crap! Dealing with fear was like peeling an onion. Just when you think you've conquered one fear, you realize there's another lurking just beneath the last one. Oh well, I'd just have to keep learning and doing things afraid. Would Sam want to be my teacher?

I was getting hot. My sunscreen had surely long since faded away, so I headed back to the car. I put the top down and sat there, trying to decide what to do. I was tired and a little sleepy from all the sun. It was now just after 5 P.M. and I was hungry, too. But I didn't want to be around any more people, so I headed back to the calm oasis of the house.

It took a bit to find my way, but I eventually was on the Pali Highway and headed up and over the mountains to the house. My watch said it was 6 o'clock on the nose when I opened up the lanai and grabbed some water. I sat at the island counter and went over my options for dinner. I had a mix of side dishes I hadn't eaten, a bunch of olives and cheese, if it wasn't moldy by now, and some crackers. I pulled it all out – the cheese was still good – and made a full meal of appetizers. A little of this, a little of that. It was actually quite good and satisfying.

I was washing up the dishes when my phone rang. My heart started racing as I knew it was Sam. I had to take a couple of deep breaths while drying my hands and force myself to calm down quickly before I answered.


"Hey, is this Mario's Deli? I wanted to order two of those big pastrami monstrosities you sell." He was smiling – I could hear it in his voice.

"Hey, Sam. How are you?"

"Good, Jack. A little tired. How about you? You have a good day?"

"Yeah, I guess so. I ate lunch in Kaneohe – am I pronouncing that right?" He said I was. "And then I spent the day just driving around – I followed the highway around by the ocean and into Honolulu. Spent about an hour on Kuhio Beach. Then came home. Just finished eating dinner. How about you? Just work?"

"Yeah, your day sounds a whole lot better than mine. It was okay, nothing bad happened, just boring. We did two huge pools at a couple of the resorts over there. Normally we have four guys, but we were shorthanded today, so it was just Tommy and me." He sounded exhausted. I felt bad for him.

"Is there anything I can do for you, Sam?" My heart was thinking back rub, my head was thinking blow job. Like I would even know how to give him one. Sigh.

"Yeah. You can tell me you'll be there tomorrow. The truth is, I missed you today. I kept thinking about last night and I was worried you would start feeling weird about what we talked about and then think maybe you shouldn't have said anything and start second guessing yourself and then...well, you get the idea. I just want to see you and make sure you're alright."

"I really am fine, Sam, I promise. I wouldn't change a thing about last night. Well, maybe I wouldn't freak out on you so bad, but I'll get better. I hope so, anyway. You know, I missed you, too, today. I got a little jealous Tommy could be with you today and I couldn't." Oh crap! Please tell me I didn't say that out loud. How needy can one guy be? I'm going to freak him out in the first 24 hours.

"You did? That's cool, Jack. Thanks, it means a lot. You know, Tommy is my best friend, and my boss for now, but he isn't my only friend. You're my friend, too, Jack. And I can't wait to see you again tomorrow." He had said it twice. He missed me. Maybe as much as I missed him. Interesting.

"So...tell me when and where I am going to meet you guys tomorrow?" I wanted to get off the serious emotional talk before I really stuck my foot in it.

"We were planning on hitting Waimanalo Beach Park. It's over by you – you probably passed it today on your drive."

"Yeah, yeah. I saw it. Cool, I know where that is."

"The guys normally get there around noon. We hangout, lay in the sun, swim, play volleyball, Frisbee maybe. Whatever. You game?"

"Sure. Do I need anything besides a suit and flip flops?"

"Sunscreen, Jack. Lots and lots of sunscreen." He chuckled. He was always looking out for me. I loved it.

"I'll get some more. I used most of mine up today. Hey, what do you guys do for food and drink?" Why my head always went to food, I'll never know. It always seemed like an important part of get-togethers.

"Not much. Everybody usually eats before, and then we may get pizza or something for dinner later. I usually bring some water. The other guys might have a cooler with beer. You okay with that, Jack?"

"Yeah, I guess so. As long as they don't push it on me, I don't care. For me, it's mostly bars I can't stand. I'll tell you why some other time."

"Cool. Hey, would you want to get some lunch with me before the beach? I could pick you up and we could hit some place in Kailua and they head to Waimanalo."

"Sounds great, Sam. Call me tomorrow and give me a head's up on when you'll be here."

"Awesome. Can't wait. See you tomorrow, Jack."

"Good night, big guy."

"Nite, little man." He hung up.

My heart was flying inside my chest. Talking with Sam was like nothing I had ever done before. I knew it wasn't totally true, but it almost felt better than an orgasm. Seriously. Just the sound of his voice, talking about nothing important, reassured something in my soul and brought an internal peace I had never known.

I had trouble falling asleep. I got myself all tied up in knots for fear I would do something stupid with the guys and they would try to convince Sam I was bad news and he should cut me loose. I didn't know how tight they were as a group, and I was never very good at social scenes, anyway. Plus, Sam made it sound like they liked to do a lot of sporty things at the beach, and I was road kill with sports. Total ineptitude. I might be able to still throw a Frisbee though. I used to be okay with that at least.

I woke up Sunday morning full of apprehension and excitement. This conflicted state of emotions was starting to feel familiar – like a new normal for me. It beat being in a constant state of fear, though, that's for sure. I was also in a bit of a hurry. I wanted to get into town to get some beach supplies before Sam called me. So I showered, shaved, and dressed in cargo shorts and a t-shirt and headed into Kailua.

I hit Longs Drugs - the local pharmacy - for more sunscreen. I bought a lot as I still had two weeks to go, along with two more cases of water. They also had a small, flexible cooler with carrying straps. I grabbed one of those as well. It had a couple of plastic tubes I guessed you could freeze and they would keep things cold. I found a fairly large beach towel in a big pile up near the registers. It wasn't fancy, but then I was just hanging with a bunch of guys. They wouldn't likely notice. Then I saw these small beach bag things with drawstring and shoulder straps. I grabbed a blue one and added it to the growing pile and then paid for it all.

Across the street was a place called Lanikai Juice. It looked busy, always a good sign for good food, so I walked over. I was hungry, having skipped my usual cereal for breakfast, so I had them make me a Pineapple Power smoothie. It was delicious, with it's tropical flavors, and really hit the spot.

Back at the house, it was time to face my next dilemma – which swimsuit to wear. I had the smaller red suit or the standard blue board shorts. I really liked how the red suit showed off my ass in a respectable way, not slutty. The board shorts were sort of boring, but in the end I opted for those. I was hanging out today, not cruising. Keep it in your pants, Jack.

Sam called around 10:30 and said he was on his way and would pick me up around 11. I threw some cut up fruit, cheese, and crackers in little plastic baggies I found in the pantry and put those plus four water bottles in my new cooler. The freezer tubes had actually frozen in the big freezer in the kitchen quickly, so they were at the bottom, keeping the water cold.

I put my sunscreen and towel in the beach bag, along with my top siders, a pair of cargo shorts, and a clean t-shirt. I thought I might need a change of clothes later. I decided to wear my new Blue Hawaii flip flops. I had opted for a matching blue t-shirt to go with my board shorts. When I put my shades on, I was ready to go.

Sam pulled in and was at the door in a hurry.

"Sorry, Jack. Gotta pee. Where's the closest bathroom?"

"Nice to see you too, Sam." I was laughing as I pointed him to where he needed to go. I thought about following him and seeing if he needed any help, but reined myself in.

It didn't help he was looking hot in his board shorts and leather flip flops. And the ripped t-shirt which showed off his chest hair at the top. Except for our movie night, I had really only seen him in his Paradise Pools uniform, as it were, and while he looked great in it, there was something over the top when it was his own choice for casual beach day. I was in trouble. My dick was already straining in my board shorts. I looked down, hoping it wasn't too obvious. Thankfully there was a little room in the crotch, so it wasn't too tight down there. Another reason why they were the better choice for today.

Sam came out of the bathroom. "Oh man, that was close. I drank two bottles of water this morning and forgot to go before I left. There was an accident on the Pali and I thought I was gonna have to bail onto the side of the road and find a tree." Oh how I wished I could have seen that. Get a grip, Jack. It was going to be a long, horny day.

I grabbed my beach bag, Sam grabbed the cooler, and we jumped in his truck. We headed down to Kailua.

"So what's in the cooler, Jack?" asked Sam.

"Water and some fruit and cheese. I thought maybe the guys might get a little hungry – okay, I might get a little hungry – and besides, if it doesn't get eaten today, I think it's history."

"Nice. Thoughtful, Jack. Did you bring sunscreen?"

"Enough for a small army." I really liked how he was concerned for me. Someone else might think it was smothering or over the top. Not me. I was craving his attention.

"Good. Could I borrow some? I left mine at home, I think."

"Of course. Take whatever you need." Maybe he would let me put some on his back. I could rub it in slowly and he would feel my need for him through my hands. Yikes! My dick was gonna rip out the front of my shorts if I didn't stop perving on him. But it put a big smile on my face.

"You sure seem happy this morning. What's gotten into you, Jack?"

"Oh, nothing. Just glad to be getting out of the house and being with people. Looking forward to meeting the guys." I was, sort of, but mostly I was looking forward to my first full day with Sam.

"Cool. It'll be fun, I promise. But Jack, if you start to feel weird or uncomfortable or just want to leave, you tell me, okay. I'll get you out of there right away." He would do that for me? Make the day all about me? Hmmmm. What was he really thinking about me? It was almost like I had become more important to him than his friends. Certainly different than how Fred had handled things with his friends and me. I didn't know what to say, so I just nodded to him in thanks.

"So about lunch, Jack. How about some burgers? There's a great place here in Kailua. Sound good to you?"

"Great. Count me in."

A few minutes later we were standing at the counter of Teddy's Bigger Burgers, me ordering a bigger Original burger, Cajun style with grilled onions, while Sam ordered the biggest Original and some spicy tater tots. We both had Diet Coke to drink. They had a place where you could put ice cream in your drink and make it a float, but I never really liked floats. Besides, I was choosing to avoid the ice cream and potatoes today. I had been eating way too much and not getting enough exercise. Hopefully today I could be more active.

As we sat there enjoying our lunch, Sam filled me in on who was coming to the beach. In addition to Tommy, a couple of other guys he worked with, Stanley and John Paul, would also be there.

"We call Stanley by his nickname – Stubbs. He says he's always been called that on account of his height. He's maybe 5'6", but he's all muscle. Looks like a little Hulk. Fun guy. Now, JP, that's John Paul, he's the opposite. He's like 6'4" and super skinny. He's tried everything to put on muscle and nothing. Oh, and his cousin Robbie might come too. I've met him once. Seems nice enough."

"Do you really think they'll be cool with me tagging along? I mean, they don't know me and I'm not very athletic so I hope they don't expect me to be good at volleyball or swimming or whatever. I mean I can throw a Frisbee, I think – I don't know – it's been a while." I was working myself up. Ugh!

"Jack, relax. Seriously, these guys are about as laid back as they come. Depending on how hung over JP is, he probably won't move for the first two hours. Stubbs is all energy, so if he can't find someone to play with, he just starts running around the beach. Robbie I don't know that well myself, but if JP lets him hang around, he can't be a bad guy. And Tommy – well, Tommy is Tommy. I don't know what to say about him. He's a serious guy, who also knows how to have fun. Don't worry about him."

"I'll try, Sam. I just don't want to reflect badly on you."

"How do you figure, Jack?"

"Well, I'm coming at your invitation. So I reflect on you as far as your choice in friends. If they don't like me or think you are some kind of idiot for dragging some guy you just met to the beach, then they will let you know, I would think. I don't want them to think badly about you."

"Jack, look at me." I did, and he was staring at me with those intense, deep blue eyes. "I did not make a bad choice. You...are not a bad choice. I'm your friend, and you're mine, right?" I nodded. Keep my voice out of it.

"Okay, then. I don't care what any of them have to say about it. You and I are friends, and they will like you. Besides, I liked you from the first time I met you, so I know you will make a better impression than you think you will. And by the way, dig those board shorts. Where'd you get 'em?"

"Some store in the big mall in Honolulu. I thought they were just okay. I liked the color."

"Well, they look great on you." I blushed, and he smiled at me. It was a comment which could be taken as he was just being nice, or maybe he was paying attention to how I looked for deeper reasons. I didn't know, and right then, I didn't care. I was just thrilled he thought I looked good.

"Come on, Jack. Let's go have some fun."

We picked up our trash, dumped it, and then hit the road. Sam and I in matching sunglasses, windows down, listening to some island radio station playing what could have been Hawaiian music, if there is such a thing? I just know it was the perfect accompaniment to a perfect day, so far. I relaxed knowing no matter how today went, Sam seemed like he was on my side.

We parked the truck and hauled our stuff to the beach. Sam spotted Tommy and another guy further down, so we trudged through the sand to get to them. Sam wasted no time on introductions. "Tommy Barlow, this is my new friend Jack Schaeffer. Jack, this is Tommy."

Tommy stuck his fist out, and I bumped his with mine. I hoped it was the right thing to do. I had seen other guys do it, but I never had.

"Nice to finally meet you, Jack. Sam here rattled on and on about you all day yesterday. Glad you could make it. Sorry about the other night, plans got changed last minute."

"No problem. Sam and I muddled through. Thanks for including me today."

"Sure thing. This here is Stanley, or as we like to call him, Stubbs." Stubbs gave me a big smile, leaped up from where he was sitting in the sand and fist bumped me. Sam was right – he was all muscle. They were bulging everywhere. Clearly this guy lived at the gym.

"JP and Robbie will be along a little later," said Tommy.

I busied myself putting down my towel – the other guys each had a towel on the sand already. I pulled out the sun screen. I had forgotten to put any on before we left the house and the sun was already getting very hot. Sam had his towel down next to mine, between me and Tommy. He saw the sunscreen in my hand and was watching me closely. Tommy was watching Sam. Stubbs was watching two girls in skimpy bikinis walk by.

I pulled off my t-shirt, hoping my lack of muscles wasn't too intimidating for Stubbs. I squeezed out some sunscreen and started rubbing it all over my face, neck, and head. Then I rubbed some in on my arms, legs, and stomach. I tried to reach the back of my shoulders – my back was hopeless.

"You want some help with that, Jack?" asked Sam. Oh, crap! He was going to touch me, wasn't he? Yes, I wanted help. For the sunscreen and for hiding my dick, which was now growing again.

"Sure, Sam. That'd be great." I handed him the sunscreen and turned around to give him my back, but not before I noticed Tommy still watching us intently. I saw Stubbs walking towards the two girls. No doubt he was straight.

When Sam's hands touched my back I was immediately transported back to the beach on Friday night when he held me. He had magic hands. His touch just infused me with peace, and I instantly relaxed. I stood there and enjoyed him touching me. I think he took his time, too, which was interesting in and of itself. But who was I to tell him how to do his business?

"There, that should do it for now. How about doing my back, since your hands are already greasy?" Sam asked. He didn't need to ask twice.

He took off his shirt and I didn't mean to do it, it just happened. I sucked in my breath in a short little audible gasp. His chest and abs were covered in the most beautiful coating of hair I had ever seen. It somehow accentuated the muscles instead of hiding them. I wanted desperately to run my hands through his fur. My knees were weakening. I hoped I wasn't drooling, but I couldn't be sure. Out of the corner of my eye I thought I might have seen Tommy chuckle to himself. He was still watching us. Sam acted like he hadn't heard me at all.

Sam turned to face Tommy and I squeezed some sunscreen on his shoulders and started rubbing it in. I decided to match his pace, so I took my time. I made sure every square inch of his back and sides was covered, paying very careful attention all the way down to the waistband of his board shorts. My hands were trembling more than a little being so close to his ass. I couldn't imagine what my face looked like. Breathing was a bit difficult, what with the racing heart and all.

Once I was done, Sam took the sunscreen and finished putting it on all his other exposed skin. When he did his legs, he bent over and his board shorts stretched tightly across the cheeks of his ass. I couldn't help it. I stared at the most beautiful thing in all of creation, hoping someday I could see it totally naked.

Sam straightened up and turned towards me to do his chest and stomach, and I nearly lost it altogether. His hands rubbing the sunscreen through his chest hair had my dick so hard I had to sit down. I'm pretty sure Tommy knew what was happening to me. I looked over at him, and he smiled a knowing smile. I blushed, feeling the heat all over my face and neck. Thankfully Sam was not paying attention.

Sam handed the sunscreen down to me and I tossed it near my beach bag. "Thanks, Jack," he said, as he slowly sat down on his towel next to me. I immediately turned over on my stomach to hide my raging hardon. It hurt to lay on top of it, but I was so embarrassed I barely noticed.

"Hey, where'd Stubbs go?" Sam asked.

"Chasin' tail, as usual," said Tommy. "You know how he is. He'll be back in a few, all smiles. I think he was following those two girls who have been walking back and forth for the last hour." Sam chuckled to himself, then looked at me. I looked back at him, and he smiled at me in a funny way, like he was thinking something about me, but I wasn't sure what.

Sam laid back on his towel, as did Tommy. Sam stretched his arms up and put his hands behind his head, exposing his hairy armpits and stretching his chest muscles, covered in all that magnificent brown fur. I had my head laying on my arms, and I was looking right at him. I'm pretty sure I was now actually drooling. I didn't think it was possible, but I felt my dick get harder under me. I knew if I humped my towel even once I'd cum. I closed my eyes and remained completely still because I honestly thought I couldn't take much more. That's what a decade of pent up lust did to a young man like me.

"Man, this sure beats digging crap out of pool filters, eh Sam?" said Tommy.

"Yeah. I so needed this today. I'm glad we came here. Not as crowded as Waikiki. When do you think JP and Robbie will get here?" ask Sam.

"Not sure. I talked to him last night and told him what the plans were, but you know him. He was going out with Robbie and some other dudes, probably a pub crawl. If he got wasted, then we won't see him for a while."

"Won't see who for a while?" said a new voice standing somewhere above us. I pushed up onto my elbows to see who was talking.

"And who do we have here?" asked the new guy. Sam sat up and turned to face him.

"JP, Robbie, this is my friend Jack. Jack, JP and Robbie." I started to get up to shake hands or fist bump or do whatever they did to greet one another, but thankfully JP stopped me. My swollen dick remained hidden for now.

"Don't get up, Jack. Nice to meet you," said the guy who was obviously JP. He was tall – very tall – and like Sam had said, very slim in build. Not sickly looking, just gangly, all arms and legs and not much else. He had almost no body hair, either. The muscles in his abdomen were pronounced, but not developed. It's like he had no fat on his body anywhere. Wished I could say the same, though I would not have wanted to be that skinny, either. JP had on cutoff jeans shorts which hung low on his hips. It looked like maybe he was not wearing underwear under them. Kind of hot.

Robbie looked more like me, but blond. Kind of average looking, but a nice package. He had on black board shorts, some kind of beach shoes which covered his entire feet, and no shirt. He had a light coating of blond hair rising from his crotch to just past his belly button. It matched the curly blond hair on his head. He smiled at me.

"Hey, Jack. Good to finally meet you. We missed you Friday night," said Robbie. He had a very deep voice, which was unexpected and didn't quite fit the young boy image I was looking at.

"Missed us? You guys ditched the plans to go drinking," said Sam, sounding slightly perturbed. I hoped he didn't make a scene. JP saved the day.

"You're right, Sam. I'm sorry, my bad. Robbie here wanted to celebrate his 21st and I thought he'd be safer with me watchin' out for him," said JP.

"Yeah, but who was watchin' out for you?" laughed Tommy.

"That's why we had you along," said JP, laughing.

"Sam, we didn't screw things up too bad for you, did we?" asked Robbie. He was sincerely concerned and was very sweet about it.

"Naw, it turned out just fine. Jack and I saw the movie and then grabbed some pizza. Don't sweat it," answered Sam. I for one was glad they ditched. I had the best night of my life.

"So did you two do a double header and go out again last night?" asked Tommy.

"No. For your information, we stayed in last night. Watched some ESPN, ate some pizza." JP made his voice sound like he was irritated at the interrogation, but I could tell he was really fine with it. Probably used to it.

"That was all me," said Robbie. "I was still not feelin' too hot after the night before. Don't think I'll be doin' that again for a long, long time."

"Yeah, junior here had his head in the toilet for half the day yesterday. But can it, let's have some fun now," said JP.

"Sounds good to me," said Stubbs, who had just returned from his quest to chat up the bikini squad. He seemed happy. Maybe he got lucky?

JP and Robbie threw their stuff down and headed for the water, Stubbs right behind them. I was still laying on my stomach, and that's where I was staying until my dick softened some more. Thankfully the interruption of my perving on Sam helped.

I must have fallen asleep, because a little while later I woke up, and was looking sideways at Tommy, who was looking at me from a similar position on his towel. Sam was no longer between us. I sat up and wiped my face, trying to get rid of the drool without Tommy noticing. No chance, he notices everything apparently.

"He's in the water with the guys," said Tommy.

"Who is?" I asked, trying to play dumb.

"Sam, silly. That's who you're looking for." He was smiling, no judgment in him. I just blushed again, something I seemed destined to do all day with Tommy.

I sat up on my towel and turned around so I was facing the water. Sure enough, Sam was running in and out of the waves with the other guys, all whooping and hollering and having a great time. I thought about going in with them, and started to get up.

"Wait a minute, Jack, will ya?" asked Tommy. I sat back down and faced him.

"Sure, Tommy. What's up?" I didn't sense a challenge coming, so I stayed cool for the moment.

"Look, Jack. We just met, so I don't want to get off on the wrong foot with you. And I don't want to interfere between you and Sam. I know he told you a little about what happened with him and that shit face Jeremy. It's just, I was there, and I can't see that happen to him again. It nearly killed him. I don't know what's goin' on between you guys, but Sam is my friend, and I don't want to see him get hurt." I could see the real concern in his eyes. This guy cared deeply about Sam.

"Tommy, I'm not sure what to say. The last thing in the world I would want to do is hurt him. He's like one of my only friends in the whole world." Crap! It made me sound like a total loser. But it was true. So be it.

"I'm not sayin' you would intentionally hurt him, Jack. You're not that kind of guy, I know. It's just...Sam...well, Sam doesn't always know what he's doin' with people right away. He can be his own worst enemy. He has this innocence about him. He always believes the best about people. I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but he's done nothin' but talk about you since he met you. He hasn't talked about another guy ever, since Jeremy. I don't know what all is goin' on inside that head of his – and I'm not sure he does either. He will eventually figure it out, but it may take a while."

"What do you mean, he doesn't know what he's thinking?" I asked.

"Well...I am assuming you are gay, too...right?" Wow! He went there like it was no big deal. I wasn't going to deny it, not at this point.

"Yeah, I am. We told each other on Friday night." I was getting a little nervous with where this conversation was going, but I tried to remain calm.

"Cool by me, by the way. Don't sweat it. Sam's my best friend. He's gay, I'm straight. Doesn't matter. What does matter is I think Sam is tryin' to figure out what he feels about you. He has some stuff to work through, I think. Jeremy really messed him up. I won't say any more about that, that's for Sam to tell you more if he chooses."

"So what do I do, Tommy? How do I help him? Or do I do nothing? I can't stand the idea of him hurting." I was getting concerned now for Sam. I could see what Tommy was saying, and it made sense.

"Well, Jack, if you don't mind my sayin' so, it's pretty clear you really like him. I've seen the way you've been lookin' at him. But can I ask you, is it more than lust? How do you really feel about Sam, Jack?" Now we were getting to it – the real thing Tommy wanted to know. The thing was, did I know how to answer him? I took a deep breath and tried.

"Tommy, I can tell you Sam has become very, very important to me in just a few days' time. He is the nicest, kindest, most thoughtful man I've ever met, and he makes me feel like a better man myself just by hanging out with him. Yeah, I think he's hot – and don't you dare tell him I said that. I have no idea how or if he thinks that way about me. And honestly, Tommy, even if he doesn't, I've already decided I will be his friend as best I can be no matter what. I want him as my friend more than anything else. If someday it turns into something more, then hopefully it will be a wonderful thing for both of us. But I promise you, I will never try to hurt him. I care too deeply for him to do that." I felt tears start to well up in my eyes. I barely held them in. My feelings for Sam were deeper than I realized myself.

Tommy's face softened. "Fair enough, Jack. Fair enough. I believe you. I'm sorry for putting you on the spot like that. It's just, I care about him, too. I don't know what's gonna happen between you two, but have you thought about what you're gonna do after you go back to wherever you came from?"

"Denver. Well, actually Chicago. But I'm going back to Denver. I have a house there now and a new job."

"And Sam will still be here. Did he tell you he starts law school in August?"

"Yes, and nothing can interfere, Tommy. He has to go. It's his dream. He needs to go to law school, finish at the top of his class, get hired and make partner in record time, and then become the youngest judge ever appointed to the bench. I won't stand in his way – I'll do anything I can to help him succeed." I said it with all the determination and steel I could put in my voice. I meant it.

Tommy looked at me with a serious countenance. Then he broke into a grin. "You really will do that, won't you?"

"Yes, I will. I mean it, Tommy. Sam has already helped me more than anyone else ever has. I have to try to do the same for him. Nobody deserves to have their dream more than him."

Then Tommy did a strange thing. He stuck his hand out, and I reached back towards him, and we shook hands. Like we were making a pact or something. "Alright, Jack Schaeffer. You and me, together. The Sam Wainwright support team. We do whatever it takes to make sure Sam gets through law school on schedule, at the top of his game." We were both now grinning at each other like we had done something incredible. I don't know – maybe we had. I knew now Tommy and I would be friends, too. And more, we were now allies in taking care of Sam. Man, some crazy stuff happens on Hawaiian beaches.

Tommy and I both stood up and headed toward the water and the other guys. I had never been in the ocean beyond just getting my feet wet. Sam was maybe 20 feet out from shore, standing about waist deep. I focused on his dripping chest and ran straight into the water. I made it about 10 feet further out before I fell forward and went under. It was a little cool, but after all the hot sun it felt good. I came up sputtering and spitting salt water. Damn! It was salty. Very different than a swimming pool, for sure. Sam was standing a few feet away, laughing at me.

"Oh, you think it's funny, do you?" I lunged for him and even though he tried to get away, I somehow got my arms around him and tried to throw him under. Instead, he picked me up and literally threw me a few feet away. I went under again. I tried three more times to get him under, each time paying for my efforts with a good dunking. It was hilariously good fun. And I loved the physical contact.

Stubbs came over and together we stalked Sam like prey. We eventually caught him and together we each locked our arms around a leg underwater and pulled up. Down he went with a yell. He came up laughing hysterically. Tommy was watching from nearby and smiling hugely at me. Everything was going to be okay between Tommy and me.

The six of us horsed around for a few more minutes in the water, then slowly we dragged ourselves back to our spot on the beach. Sam plopped down on his stomach on his towel. I looked for a few seconds at his marvelous ass, clearly outlined in his wet suit. The back of the suit had kind of settled into the crack of his ass, so I could see the shape of it. I so wanted to lay down and bury my face in there. Extremely tempting. But I resisted the urge and laid down next to him, facing him.

"Having fun, Jack?"

"A blast, Sam. The guys are great. Thanks for inviting me."

"I saw you talking with Tommy. Everything okay there?" He didn't seem worried, just curious.

"Yeah. I like him. He cares about you a lot. He's a great friend, Sam."

"Yes, he is. And so are you, Jack." He smiled at me. I melted on the inside. I closed my eyes, willing that moment to never end. I felt like my heart was on fire. I really, really, really liked Sam. And he seemed to really like me. I was happier than I had ever been.

"Hey guys, wanna play some volleyball?" That was Stubbs, the energizer bunny. "Come on, we need two more." He was so cute in his pleadings. Sam smiled at me, I smiled at him, and we both stood up at the same time.

"Yes! They're in, guys!" Stubbs yelled to the others. Turns out he had made friends earlier with another foursome on the beach, two guys and two girls. So we had enough for five on a side. We all walked over to the volleyball net which was strung across a flat part of the beach and chose up sides. JP was one team captain, Sam was the other.

My high school PE fears kicked in – going to be picked last, again. But surprise, JP picked me first. I felt proud to be picked first, but then I was bummed I wasn't going to be on Sam's team. JP must have seen the look on my face because he started laughing.

"Just kidding, Jack. You're on Sam's team. I wouldn't do that to you." He smiled at me kindly, and I nodded my thanks. JP was a nice guy. I practically skipped over to Sam's side. He was grinning ear to ear.

They finished picking sides and we started the game. I hadn't played volleyball since high school gym class, so when I say I had no experience, I mean absolutely none. I did manage to not screw up too badly. I missed a couple of bumps when I was playing the back line. Stubbs was serving rockets over the net, right at me. On the fourth one, I managed to get under it and instead of going out of bounds like the previous three, this one popped right up to where Sam was waiting at the net. He slammed it over and right to the ground on the other side. Our point! He ran over and high fived me, his eyes beaming blue sapphires in the sun. Took my breath away.

We played three games and called it quits. The other foursome was pretty good. I think the girl we had on our team may have played on a team before. She had some real skills. The guy was like me. All thumbs. But we had fun. JP's team was the victor by two shots in the last game.

It was now about 3 o'clock and I was thirsty, so I found my cooler and drank a water bottle, then started a second. I gave one to Robbie, who hadn't brought any with him. I saw Sam talking to Tommy at a distance. They were both looking at me as they chatted. I hoped it was a good conversation.

I was thinking about putting on more sunscreen and laying down on my towel, when Robbie pulled out a Frisbee from his pile of stuff and asked me to play. In for penny, I guess. He moved about 10 yards away, and let it fly. I had to run, but I caught it just before it hit the ground. Without thinking, I just did what I thought I was supposed to and flipped it in his direction. It sailed right for him in a straight line. He snatched right out of the air in front of him.

"Good one, Jack," said Robbie. "See if you can catch this." He flipped it and again I had to chase it. I caught it, but this time I stumbled and ended up somersaulting in the sand. I rolled right up onto my feet like I was some professional gymnast or something. I could not have repeated that move if my life depended on it. Tommy, Sam and Robbie were clapping and cheering for me. It was fun.

Sam and Tommy joined in then, and we started throwing the Frisbee in a square formation. I was able to catch it under my leg a couple of times when it was thrown right to me at the right height, which wasn't often. Sam's big trick was to catch it behind his back. I tried it once, but it hit me right on my spine and that hurt. I didn't try it again.

After an hour of Frisbee throwing, I was exhausted. We all dragged ourselves to the towel area and had some more water. After sitting around for 30 minutes or so, Tommy announced he was gonna head for home. Apparently he had a hot date that night with Annette, a girl he had only recently met. It was going to be their third date, a record according to JP and Sam.

After some good natured ribbing and laughter, Tommy came over to me to shake my hand again. "It was good to meet you, Jack. Hope you come around more while you're here." Then he leaned and whispered. "You and me, Jack. We support Sam. I'm counting on you." I nodded to him, somber in my promise.

"See ya guys. JP, stay sober tonight. I need you at the Erickson place tomorrow morning early, got it?" Tommy sounded serious.

"Got it, boss. I'll be there." With a final wave, Tommy walked off towards his truck.

"Well, guys, Robbie, Stubbs and me are headed back to my place. You wanna join us?" asked JP.

I looked at Sam for guidance. I had no idea what he was thinking. "You know what, JP. I think we'll pass this time. You guys go and have a good time. I'll get Jack back to his place and call it a night." I was instantly bummed. It sounded like he was gonna dump me off as quickly as possible. I started to protest but he gave me a look with a wink, and I shut my mouth.

Sam had a plan, and it didn't involve JP or Robbie or Stubbs. Just me.

Author's Note: If you are enjoying this story, please take a moment to comment in the Forum on CastleRoland – you can click the link labelled "Forum Discussion" just under the story synopsis at the top of this page. Or, if you prefer, send me an email to I would love to hear your thoughts about the story.

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