"Look, Emerson, I'm sorry. I just don't feel that way about you. I know it's a stupid cliché thing to say but you're just not my type. I think you’re a nice guy and a good friend but I just don't have any romantic feelings for you."
"How can you say I'm not your type? We've never spent any time together outside of school. I don't think you're giving me fair consideration."
"I can't help how I feel Emerson, that's just the way it is."
"C'mon Daffy, you should at least come spend the weekend at our place and see me in a more relaxed setting. I'm never myself on campus. If nothing else you'll have a nice weekend, we've got all sorts of things to do."
"Emerson, I've asked you before not to call me that. It's Daffyd or Daf, not Daffy." I said tersely. But I will think about coming to visit. You might find that I'm not everything you want in a boyfriend."
"Sorry Daf, but great. I'd love to spend some time with you. If nothing else maybe we could be better friends."
"Okay, Emerson I'll let you know by Wednesday, will that do?"
"That would be great Daf, sorry about earlier. I just kind of like that nickname. It beats mine by a mile."
"I've never heard anyone call you anything but Emerson."
"I don't mind "Em" but "Emmy" is not cool, only my Mom can call me that without retribution. So I can see how "Daffy" would be annoying to you. You never call me anything but my real name."
"I'm glad you understand, but I need to get to the chem lab for class,. See you later."
"Okay Daf, I'll see you in the dining hall, maybe?"
"Probably, see you then."
Emerson was right in one way, I really didn't know him that well. We didn't share many classes before but now we had three. European history, Algebra and Phys Ed. He does ask great questions in history and he helps others like I do in Algebra. But he's a bit of a klutz when it comes to games. He seems to be passable at Soccer although he ran with a strange gait.
Since we play "Gentlemen's" Soccer we don't have a Ref and so everyone tries to get away with as much as possible. Conversely most guys own up to kicking the ball out or accidently tripping another player. Emerson was extremely good about passing the ball but he had only scored two goals. Both times he was out of position and the ball came his way. With no one to pass to he brought it on in and nailed the goal both times completely outfoxing the box man and the keeper. Since then he's been allowed to stay on the field longer. As a wing I appreciate his passing skills and he's really helped my goal count. So it's on that basis that we're friends. I don't suppose it would hurt to get to know him better and at the same time show him why I'm not the love of his life.
Frankly , after Torvo ripped out my heart and took it with him back to Norway, I didn't have a lot of interest in romance. "Jeg alskar deg" he said, just before he picked up his bag and left our dorm room.
I had flipped for "Torvo" or "Thorvald" as his full name went, he walked in while I was unpacking from the summer break and it was the same room I'd had the previous year.
"Heya, I'm Thorvald but everyone calls me Torvo except my Mom, she calls me Torry."
"Thorvald like the Norse god? It means Ruler of Thor right."
"Yah, how did you know that?"
"I lost a bet, I'm pretty good with languages and picking them up and a kid threw some words and names at me and wanted me to translate them. I did okay with the main languages and then he throws me the name Thorvald and I said: "Thor's forest" thinking that "Vald" was the same as in German. He made the buzzer sound and said thanks for playing."
"What did it cost you?" I mean to lose the bet?"
"Just a little pride and my last couple Kwikk Lunsj bars."
"You know about Kwikk Lunsj? They're so much better than the American Kit-Kat bars. I asked my Mom to send me a big box of them and some other stuff they don't have here."
I pulled out my snack drawer and took out a Kwikk Lunsj and handed it to him.
"My grandparents flew to Stockholm this summer and Gramma Astrid brought me back a huge case of these things. She's from Kristinehamn on Lake Vänern. Do you know it?"
"Oh yes, biggest lake in that part of Scandinavia you have to go east to Lake Ladoga to find one bigger. Ar Du Swenska elle Norsk?"
"Neither, actually, my heritage is Welsh and My name is Daffydd Llewellen-Jones."
"Heyer, my family name is Heyer, I forgot to say that. So I have to tell you something before I unpack. I don't want to be where I'm not wanted so I want to be honest with you." There was a long pause before he finally said, "I'm gay" is that going to be a problem for you, I'll understand if you don't want a fag for a roommate, they can get me another room."
"They don't need to, you're fine here. I was going to let you know before you unpacked as well, I'm gay too. And no more using "Fag" except as a name for a cigarette, this school is zero tolerance for any kind of hate speech. And anyway it's also non-smoking so that shouldn't come up at all. It's the Brit kids mostly that sneak off for a smoke."
"Oh man that's a relief, I was afraid it would be like Oslo was."
"Did they give you a bad time there?"
"Yes, the stupid hypocrites, they all do the same things with other guys but since Lars and I fell in love, that's somehow different. Not everyone was like that but the ones that were, they were pretty vocal. My Lars left mid-term and went to another school."
"Well that's one thing you don't have to worry about here. I don't know why but if you can get in here, you must be sort of evolved past that silly horseshit. Most of the guys know I'm gay but nobody has ever said anything bad to me about it here."
"Do you have a boyfriend? Oh, sorry that's not polite and none of my business."
"No, it's okay. I had one but his family moved east and he moved to a school back there."
"What was he like? What was his name, tell me about him?"
"Let's do that later after you get unpacked, we need to get to the dining hall if we're going to get lunch."
"Oh good, I'm starved, let's go eat and then I can unpack and we can trade stories."
And so we had our first meal together, we got close, and it quickly turned romantic. Really romantic. We did things that I figured were a long way off but it just seemed right. We thought we had plenty of time, my parents were happy where they were and His wanted him to stay until he graduated.
But it didn't last, his Uncle Erik showed up one Saturday and gave Torvo the news that his Dad had passed away suddenly. He was needed at home and wouldn't be returning.
We were both devastated; I felt his pain for losing his Dad and my own pain for losing him. I stayed out of classes Monday to see him off and my Dad and I went to lunch to cheer me up.
It took a long time to get over Torvo, the rest of the term most of the summer break before I felt like doing much. We Skyped ™and emailed but then Torvo told me that he found someone and that I should do the same. That was a blow in itself. But it kind of gave me the kick in the ass that I needed and my parents were reluctant to do. But now Emerson is pursuing me, actively. I'm not sure I'm ready, I haven't even thought of having another boyfriend until I'm out of school. Dad said the first was the hardest but after that broken hearts do heal, and faster if you get right back out there.
What have I got to lose except a weekend at a nice estate away from the City? So I called home and asked and they said it would be great if I got out with a friend and had some fun, but I waited until Wednesday to tell Emerson.
On Wednesday I told him I could spend the long weekend with him at his place. I didn't expect the response. Jubilation is putting it lightly, he was really excited and bubbled about all the stuff we could do together. His excitement was contagious and by Friday afternoon I was pretty pumped up to go too. My parents had decided that rather than using a car service to take us out to Emerson's place that they would make an evening of it with friends in the same general area.
It was a nice afternoon for January and we sat outside the Administration office and chatted.
"My family is kind of hugsy and kissy so if it bothers you just let them know. It's just the way they are."
"Mine's the same way, hugs and kisses for anyone who will tolerate it even my Dad and little brother. We're pretty close as a family," I said.
I saw my Dad's car roll through the gate; he drove around the circular drive and stopped just short of the walkway to the office.
"What kind of car is that?"
"It's a Bitter SC, but it's got a Ferrari V-12 in it and it's my Dad's favorite weekend car."
"That is so cool, it sounds evil. I bet it goes really fast."
"On occasion but Dad doesn't want to bend it so he's pretty careful. It'll be a little tight in the back seat with my brother but it's comfortable."
"It sounds nice, I don't mind crowding a little."
"There's my lad," said my Dad and this must be Emerson." Dad stuck out his hand to shake and when Emerson took it Dad pulled him into a one-armed hug. He had toned it down since Torvo had been here. Mom, not so much. She was her typical effusive self and bubbled at Emerson. "Hello dear you must be new here, Daffy tells me about all the cute boys on campus. Then she gave him a friendly smothering and a kiss on the cheek.
My mother is an unintentional fashion plate. She has natural good looks and is athletic enough to keep quite fit. Some of the straight boys I've brought home told me that they were sorry but they would be using her in their fantasies. That just made me laugh.
"Nice to meet you both and thank you for allowing Daf to visit our home."
"I hope we can return the favor soon."
"Um where's Ewan?" I asked.
"He's with David and Ross, they're going camping in Ross' pasture. "
"Sounds like fun, I hope he has a good time," I replied.
"Well, let's get your bags in the boot," my Dad said. I put your Saddle and riding boots in there with a bag your Mom packed with Levis and such."
"Thanks Dad, I appreciate it."
"Oh cool, you have a work saddle, do you rope and stuff?" asked Emerson.
"Yeah some, I do some trick riding too, the horn comes in handy for that." I answered.
"Maybe you can show me a little." Emerson said. "You can all call me Em if you like. Just please not Emmy."
"Fair enough," my Dad replied. "I think I can remember that."
I had to hand it to Em; he knew how to handle adults.
"Hop in lads, let's get going. I'm going to take the I-5 south to the 133 and then catch the 241 South, your parents gave me the address so I've already planned the route."
"My Dad insists on taking the 91 and it's always jammed in the afternoon," Em said.
"Well son, everybody has their own reasons for what they do. The way he goes is shorter but my route is faster," my Dad put in.
The drive went fairly smoothly except for an interchange with the 22, after that it was at least 55mph all the way and usually faster.
After Trabuco canyon I was lost but Em told me we were close. Dad turned up a narrow road and went up a hill. There were signs indicating the road would end soon.
Dad came to the end of the pavement and stopped at an iron gate. He leaned out and punched some numbers into the panel and the gate swung open.
We followed the road for half a mile and entered a small valley. I don't know what I expected, maybe a Mc Mansion or something ornate but it was actually like something from an old movie with a veranda all the way around and the second floor walls were shingled with a metal roof on top. I could see at least one massive chimney and three smaller ones. It was quite a place. A split rail fence surrounded what I could see with a nice lawn and garden.
As we climbed out of the car, people began to assemble on the porch.
"Mom and Dad come meet my friend and his parents please."
"We're coming dear, don't pee yourself."
I snorted and my Mom giggled. "I like them already," she whispered to me.
Hello folks, I'm John Grimaldi, this is my wife Esty and my daughter Monica. We've got another one running around but damned if I know where he got to."
Nice to meet you all," my Dad said. I'm Dylan Llewellen-Jones and this is my wife Esty and our son Daffydd."
"Well, it's good to meet you all too," said Esty. "I've heard a lot about Daffydd here."
"Most people just call me Daf ma'am, it's the Welsh form of David."
Well most folks on this place just call me Momma or Miss Momma. Either one will do.
"John do you mind telling me about the house?" My Dad asked.
"Not at all Dylan, I had it built about thirty years ago and almost everything that looks flammable isn't, the shingles are a concrete product and the railings are a type of wood that doesn't burn real well. Too much silica in it. And of course, the metal roof will last a hundred years or better in our mild weather."
"Sounds like our place except we went with Arts and Crafts style architecture. We live in a fire zone as well."
"Well, our closest call was when it burned right up to that gravel. But all the outbuildings and barns are concrete block with metal roofs so they were safe enough."
"That makes a lot of sense John. You have to make your home match the environment or it won't last long."
Meanwhile, I was beset by doting women being hugged within an inch of my life. Even Em's grumpy looking teenage sister hugged me and kissed my cheek.
We all turned to look when a young voice called from the porch, "Hey what's goin' on, nobody told me they were here."
"Where were you? We called, but you didn't answer."
"I was poopin' and I didn't hear you."
"This is my little brother Del it's really Delbert, but he hates that so just call him Del."
"Yeah or I'll kick yer butt," six year old Del asserted and then giggled. I could see he was going to be a handful.
He was a cute little spud; he looked like a miniature Emerson but with freckles.
"Del this is Daf, my friend from school," Em told him.
Del crooked his finger at me to come closer and when I bent down, he kissed my cheek. Then he threw his arms around my neck and hugged me. Cute, huh?
"I know you folks have something else planned but would you like to come in for some iced tea or a soda?" Esty asked.
"I think we've got time, Dylan does that sound good to you?"
"Sure hon, I wouldn't mind a glass of tea."
"Well, let's all go on in and the boys can get situated. Oh Daf, do you want your own room or will you be bunking with our Emmer?" John asked.
"I think we can share if that's okay, what do you think Em?"
"That works, I've got a huge bed, I've had four guys in it when we've had visitors stay over."
Del looked like he was going to comment but Monica had his neck in her hand and I saw an almost imperceptible wince on Del's face.
"Well now, that's settled why don't you boys take your gear on up. We can take your saddle to the tack room a little later, it'll be fine where it is as long as it's light out," John told us.
"Yes sir, that sounds fine."
"You can call me Pops or Grim whichever is easiest for you."
"Okay, um Grim. That sounds cool."
The adults broke off and headed for the kitchen, Del and Monica followed us up the stairs.
"Del you don’t have to announce to everyone that you were in the bathroom, did you wash up afterward and flush?" Monica asked her little brother.
"Sorry Moni, I'll try to not talk about it. But I wiped and flushed and washed my hands. Just like you showed me."
"Good boy, Del. Let's let Em and Daf get settled and then we can torture them with questions," Monica grinned right at me.
They stopped and opened Del's bedroom door and went in.
"Sorry about all that, I hope Del didn't embarrass you," Em said.
Huh no, we went through the same thing with Ewan. Little kids just haven't learned be discrete I guess. No edit button," I replied.
"Well here it is, my personal cave. Whatcha think?"
"It's nice, plenty of space and I like the color, mind if I look around?"
"Sure, knock yourself out."
I looked around the room, plenty of books and old toys on shelves. A dusty Accordion in the corner and a guitar on a stand. On one shelf I found two first place trophies in Show Jumping. Em had never mentioned that. Or the Nautical ropework that was evident on a board hanging over his desk. The lanyard with the Bosun's whistle was quite ornate.
"Did you make these Em? They're really nice work."
"Yeah, I learned to do it from a couple books while my leg mended. It got broke while I was jumping and the cinch on my saddle broke."
"Damn, I'm sorry that happened, was your horse okay?"
Yes, he cleared the gate, but I didn't, And I wasn't careless someone cut my cinch on purpose. There was video in the paddock and you could see him doing it."
"Why the hell would someone do that, you could have died."
"He wanted to win, instead he got banned, and I never went back to it. Those two trophies over there are the first and last first places I won. I was getting tired of it anyway, it takes up a huge amount of time and it wouldn't work with going to our school because we don't have an Equestrian Program. I'm there for the science now. It's a great school and nobody has called me a faggot or said anything mean or anything."
"It's a pretty good place, there's a couple guys that don't talk to me because I'm gay but they don't hassle me or try anything rough."
"They better not, somebody told me that you're pretty good at boxing and that stuff."
"Not actual boxing, we all go to the same gym and take an MMA course from Doug. Plus, I work the speed bag and heavy bag and I've let people see me doing it so they know not to screw with me."
"Could you actually mess somebody up if you had to?" Em asked.
"I suppose, but it's not something I want to do."
"I get that, I took karate for years but I don't want to hurt anyone, and I won't as long as they leave me and my family alone."
"Do you guys have pets?" I asked.
"Mom has an old cat, she's kind of picky about who she allows to pet her. And we have a couple of dogs. Me, I'm mostly into horses but the dogs can be fun. I'll take you out and introduce you when your parents leave and we put your saddle away."
"We should probably go down and check, they might be ready to go," I suggested.
"Good idea, we can check on Monica and Del too," Em added.
I knocked on Del's door and heard him scramble to get to it.
"Hi Daf, wanna see my room." He asked grinning.
"I'd like that but let's go say goodbye to my Mom and Dad if you want."
"Okay, I've got some great Lego stuff."
Well you sure have a pile of them in the floor there. I suddenly realized he was wearing just his underwear.
"You might want to wear some shorts, buddy."
"Oh yeah, I forgot. I usually don't wear much in my room. I like to be naked, do you?"
"Sometimes, it can be nice to just wear nothing at all."
Del grabbed a pair of shorts from the corner and practically jumped into them.
We met Monica and Em in the hall and went down as a group.
"Was he naked when you found him Daf?" She asked grinning.
"No he had his Wreck it Ralph undies on, what's wrong with naked?" I asked.
"Nothing I guess, but Mom wants him to wear clothes when we have company," Monica said.
"Well I understand, I wasn't a big fan of clothes when I was his age either."
"I bet you were adorable too," She said with a slightly evil smirk.
"My Mom thought so," was my answer.
"You don't blush easy do you?" She asked.
"Nope, I have an in house humility generator, we call ours Ewan and he's nine."
"Oh cool, are you close?" she asked.
"Yeah, I really miss him when I'm at school."
"That's nice, I love my little bros too, even if they are a pain sometimes."
"I like your hair, not everyone can pull off purple, and I'm not trying to be a douche. It really works for you," I said.
"Thanks, I've been thinking of getting my nose pierced but I don't know."
"I don't think you should, it would spoil the line of your nose and yours is quite elegant, if you want my opinion."
"Thanks, I still haven't decided. Maybe I'll get a tat instead, something the bitch princesses can see in the shower room."
"Is that why you rock purple hair and stuff?" I asked.
"No I like the hair and the clothes but I'm not Emo or anything. I'm going for a badass biker rocker-chick thing. It just happens that it makes all the little Princesses at my school steer clear. They think they own the fucking place."
"Is it a good school otherwise?"
"Pretty much, some of the teachers a little clueless, they think girls don't get up to anything mean or nasty. and they buy whole princess myth. Some of them I suspect are lesbians but the only one I'm interested is obviously into her husband a hundred percent."
"Are you into girls?" I asked.
"Whoa, straightforward that's cool. But yeah, actually I like both. What about you?" she asked.
"Well, I've tried both but I'm into guys," I said.
"So I can't tempt you at all?" She asked with a faint smile.
"Probably not, I really haven't been looking for a while."
"Did you get your heart broken, cos that's what it sounds like?" Her eyes were sympathetic.
"Yeah, he had to go home to Norway. I'm still a little sad about it."
"I understand, I'm sorry it happened. That's the trouble with being a kid. We don't get to decide much." Monica reached out and pulled me in and kissed my cheek.
"Thanks Monica, that was really nice."
"No probs bro, anytime."
Mom, Dad and the Grimaldis chose that moment to join us in the family room.
"Ah here they are, conspiring mischief no doubt," My Dad said.
"Funny Dad, we just didn't want to interrupt your conversation."
"Well, come give us a hug and we'll hit the road, we're going to be a little late to Sue and Jeff's but it'll be fine," he said.
"Thank you for your hospitality and you can count on us coming back, with luggage," my Mom said cheerfully.
"We'll look forward to it, and I know John want's to show off his toys to Dylan," said Esty.
"You bet Dylan, once you see my car barn you'll want to build one just like it," said John.
"I can't wait John, we'll talk soon and work something out."
Mom and Dad hopped in the car and made the loop back to the gate and soon only a plume of dust was left to show they had been there.
"Okay kids, tie him up and take him to the basement, we'll get to work on him before dinner," John said sounding perfectly serious.
"Not funny Dad, and not a good idea, Daf is good with his hands and I don't want my nose broke," Em complained.
"Sorry son, just my weird sense of humor. Good with your hands eh, what do you study?"
"Well, it's a studio run by an ex MMA fighter, he teaches boxing technique and bits and pieces from various styles."
"That sounds like what Em was looking for when he dropped his Karate class, he said he wasn't learning anything useful," John said.
"Precision board kicking won't save your ass in a fight Dad, that's why I left."
"So Daf, is this a school-sponsored thing or something you do with your Dad?"
"Well, my whole family goes, we get bruised up sometimes but we have a good time, see we don't spar, we wear gloves and booties and go full contact. But that's just punching and kicking, we also practice throws and escaping holds and disarming techniques," I explained.
"Well, next time I talk to your Dad I'll ask him about that. He's quite a guy, do you get along okay?" John asked.
"Yeah, my Dad's pretty cool. We do a lot together and I love him."
"That's how it should be young man. I found myself liking him almost instantly, he's pretty easygoing."
"That's just how he is, people really seem to like him," I said.
"Well, you boys should get Daf''s saddle into the Tack room before the critters start chewing on it. It looks like a nice rig too."
"Can I come too?" asked Del.
"You have chickens to tend before it gets dark Del so you need to come with me."
"Okay Poppa, I better put on my jeans first," said Del as he scampered up the stairs.
Em led me out the door and I flung my saddle over my shoulder and followed him to the horse barn. It was a nice set-up with a nice neat Tack room and the stables were clean and orderly. Em lead me to one stall.
"This is Roscoe, he's my old Jumper but I don't let him jump anymore. He's really too old and we're both out of practice," Em said tenderly.
"He looks pretty nice is he still healthy?"
"Oh yeah pretty much, he doesn't get as much riding as he deserves. Monica takes him out when I'm not here."
"Your sister is pretty cool, is she always friendly or is she just being good for company?"
"No, she's cool all the time, we've hardly ever fought about anything. She's really great."
"I'm glad for you, I know a couple guys whose sisters do their best to mess with them."
"We should get inside for dinner, I hope you're hungry because Mom made a roast, and she's a great cook."
"Sounds good to me."
Dinner was great, Esty was a great cook and like to provide a good meal. I discovered she grew most of her own produce and had a large green house in addition to a regular spring vegetable garden near the house.
We all sat in the family room and watched a Disney movie since it was Del's night to pick. It was an old one about the Charlie the Cougar. Del had squeezed himself in between Em and I but when he got up to use the bathroom, he just climbed into my lap when he came back. He never saw the end of the movie because he conked out in my arms.
"Hey Em, I think he's got the right idea, let's head, for bed unless you're real keen to stay up," I said.
"No, I'm with you, let me wake Del so we can get him upstairs."
"That's okay he doesn't weigh much more than my saddle," I stuck out a hand for Em to help me up and I just lugged his brother up with us. John had gone to sleep when the movie started and Esty just smiled as we headed for the stairs.
"I got him Em, go kiss your Mom goodnight and I'll get him to his room."
Monica heard me on the stairs and came to her door.
"That's so cute, he's really hooked on you. He's really out too. He plays possum on Dad so he'll carry him up. Isn't he a little heavy for you?"
"No, he's fine, I do a lot of stock work when I'm home."
Monica opened the door, and I lugged Del to his bed and laid him down.
"Does he sleep in all this stuff or do you skin him out like my little brother?"
"He likes to sleep nude, but then so do I. It must be a family trait," she explained while I undressed little Del and tucked him in.
"You got skills Daf. Most boys I know would freak out before they would strip a little kid for bed."
"Oh the old, 'That's women's work crap? Yeah, I don't buy into that. I can cook and sew and change diapers. Even though I'm gay, I still want kids someday."
I bent down and kissed Del's temple and turned to follow Monica out the door.
"Hey Monica, does he sleep with a bear or anything?"
"Oh crap, Henry, is his buddy doll. It's that stuffed one with the yellow yarn hair."
I tucked the doll under his arm and pulled his covers up and left the room.
"Is everything okay?" asked Em. "Mom wanted to talk a little, was Del any trouble?"
"Nope, Daf got him ready and plopped in bed like he'd been doing it for years."
"Well, I have, just not with Del."
"Oh, just take the compliment ya bum. Goodnight you guys, see you at breakfast," Monica said laughing.
I followed Em to his room and started shedding clothes.
"What do you wear to bed?" Em asked.
"Usually nothing, but I thought I'd leave my underwear on tonight."
"You can take them off if you want, I prefer to sleep naked too. Do you want to shower first? I'd join you but my shower is way too small for two."
"Yeah thanks, feel free to brush your teeth while I shower and I'll do mine when I get out."
"I'll do that, the towels are on the shelves across from the shower," Em said.
I grabbed my toilet bag and went to get my shower. It felt good to have a little solitude. But Em's family was cool, and I was seeing a side of Em I had never seen before.
"Man, you look good naked Daf, I can see why Del was no challenge to carry upstairs."
"You're not bad yourself Em, I've noticed your build in the showers but I never really looked closely, I probably would have noticed that scar on your leg. It must have been a bad break.?"
"Yeah, it was a compound fracture and came through the skin, there was muscle and nerve damage too."
"I had never seen my Dad cry before but he stayed with me and held my hand while they worked on me. Oh god how that hurt."
"I can't imagine it, I've only had a broken arm, and it was simple and I was out of the cast in time for summer."
"It took a long time to heal, I finished the school year from my bed. That summer was not great. I may have to have surgery when I stop growing to make that femur the same length as the other."
We climbed into his bed and got comfy.
"If I get too close during the night, just give me a shove," Em said.
"Don't worry about it, Ewan likes to cuddle up close, it's nice actually."
"Well, don't be surprised if Del shows up in the bed in the morning. It's sort of our weekend routine."
"Not a problem."
I don't remember much after that; I know we talked a bit longer but I couldn't begin to say what it was about.
The room was just getting a little light when I woke. Em was plastered up against me with my right arm pinned down and his very hard penis against the back of my hand. I wiggled my fingers, and he throbbed in response. With my left hand, I reached across and shook his shoulder, "Hey Em, shift over a bit please?" He groaned and rolled away. I got up and noticed my own morning wood and headed to the toilet. I had just slipped back in bed when there was a light tap on the door and it swung open slowly. Del poked his little head in and padded up to the bed with Henry and nothing else. I flipped down the covers and let him crawl over me to the middle and slide in between us. He wiggled his little bottom against my tummy and was still. He dozed off quickly with my arms around him. I couldn't resist giving him a kiss on the ear and then dozed off myself.
The next thing I knew was that someone was shaking my shoulder.
"Hey Daf, is that my little lump you have there?" Monica asked.
"Um yeah," I said. "He wanted a snuggle, and I invited him in."
"It's fine, I just need to get him to take his pill, he has a mild form of epilepsy but he hasn't had a seizure in several months. But if you see him standing like a rock and especially if he's peed himself get him inside right away, please," Monice explained.
"Sure, does he take the pills without a fight?"
"Yeah, they're chewable so he doesn't fight it. Can you roll him this way?" she asked.
I rolled over with Del in my arms and he giggled a little.
"That was fun, Hi Moni do you have my medicine?" Del asked.
"Right here honey," she said. Then she slipped off her robe and slid into bed with us.
"So you sleep nude too eh?" I asked.
"Huh? Oh yeah, since I was out of diapers. None of us wear anything in bed, we hot tub naked too."
"Sounds like my bunch, we're pretty much clothing optional at home unless there's company."
"So you're not shocked to have a naked girl in bed with you?"
"Not really, but you look good, you have a nice body, and I don't see it as an invitation."
"Do you mind if I take a look?" she asked. She didn't wait for an answer and whipped the covers off all three of us."
"Whoa, that's impressive, you're thirteen like Em right?"
"Yeah, sorry about the boner, it just does that," I said.
"He has a big one huh Moni, it's bigger than Embo's," Del said.
"Should I be flattered or do you just need to pee?" She asked.
"You can be flattered, but Em was up against me before Del came in, I didn't realize he had seen anything."
"Yeah, Emmy is a cuddler just like Del."
"You know we're not a couple right?"
"That's what he said, but I can see why he's interested in you."
"Del, did you know it was Daf that carried you upstairs last night and put you to bed?"
"Whoa, you must be strong Daf, I'm getting too big to carry, that's what Poppa says."
"I carry heavier things than you all the time at home," I told him.
"Like what?" Del asked.
"Hay and oats just like you guys," I answered.
"Oh, Poppa and the hands handle the feed, although Del does good with a ten-pound bag of chicken feed," Monica said.
"Who the heck are you talking to?" groaned Em.
"Your sis and your little brother, why don't you join us" I suggested.
"Oh geez, you're all in bed with us. Are you wearing anything Monica?"
"Not a stitch little bro, it doesn't seem to bother Daf so chill out."
"Fine, but I have to pee so if you'll excuse me." Em rolled out of bed and walked to the bathroom, with a nice-looking erection. Del scrambled out after him holding his little pee boner tight.
"Alone at last handsome, ya wanna fool around?" Monica giggled.
"You are kidding, right?"
"Of course, I know you're gay. I'm actually a virgin still except with girls. I've given two blowjobs, but that's it."
"Lucky guys, were they appreciative?"
"Not really, they just wanted more. But I'm sure there's a straight guy out there like you. You're a lot like Em but also very different."
"How so, I mean how are we alike. I've never inventoried my character traits."
"Well like that, you don't dumb anything down, even with Del if he doesn't get it you restate it in a way he can. You're kind and mostly unflappable. I haven't gotten a rise out of you yet. Those are all the same as Em. The way Del took to you means you're a good guy, his judgment is pretty good about people. We have cousins he doesn't like at all. He's getting a major crush on you."
"I noticed that his behavior doesn't embarrass you, and you really seem to care about our family including me."
"Let's see what else, you don't talk about yourself like you're hot shit and I heard your Mom tell mine some of the things you can do and how sweet you are to your little brother."
"I think Em just hopes you'll give him a chance, but I told him if the chemistry isn't there he can't force it."
"Whoa, you have a career as a behavioral psychologist or something, do you study people all the time?"
"Pretty much," she grinned at me.
"Well, I've been recovering from my last boyfriend leaving suddenly and I haven't been very receptive. Em has been persistent though. Maybe he could drag me out of this hole. He was right about one thing, I wasn't being fair to him."
"So you guys haven't done anything at all together except school stuff?"
"Not a thing, not even a kiss, although I thought I felt one on my cheek when I dropped off last night."
"Well Em is affectionate, it's the way we are around here. My Mom is probably the worst, she'll cuddle any kid that comes through the door."
"I meant to ask about your Mom's name, Esty?"
"Oh, it's short for Estrella she's from Galicia in Spain."
"So her name is Star? That's cool."
"Tu sabes Espanõl?"
"Yeah, the peninsular type, the Mexican kids think I talk funny but our Spanish friends think they sound horrible, they call it charla basura."
"That's what my Mom says about the laborers."
We were interrupted by a very bouncy little boy flinging himself at us. So we tickled him without mercy, the bedding didn't last long and we were soon exposed.
"I'm going to watch Cartoons; do you guys want to come?" Del asked.
"Just get some clothes on before you go down okay?" Monica warned.
"Yes Moni, I will."
Monica turned to Em, and I and said, "well guys, let's get going on this three-way before Mom and Dad check on us."
I felt my cheeks get really warm.
"Finally, I got a blush out of you! You should see your face," Monica said. Em was laughing along with her."
"Jeez, you guys are something else," I said.
"Okay, I'm going back to my own room, see you guys later."
"Okay Monica, we'll be down in a while," Em said.
"Yeah, see you down there, don't forget your robe," I said.
Monica picked up her robe and stuck out her tongue at me.
"Interesting family you've got Em."
"Yeah sorry about that," he said.
"Don't apologize, your Sis is cool, completely uninhibited, and very nice. And she's got a great bod."
"Hey that's my sister man," Em said defensively.
"Well she does, that's just an observation Em, I'm still gay."
"I never think of her that way I guess. I see guys drooling over her once in a while."
"Well duh, you're her brother, it would be sick if you were horny for her."
"I'm sorry I crowded you I kind of do that whenever someone is in my bed, usually it's Del and sometimes Monica."
"No problem Em, I didn't mind that much, I just needed to get up and pee."
"So you really didn't mind me getting so close?"
"No, it was really nice and warm and kind of sexy. I don't feel that when my brother sleeps with me. You are really warm and comfy to cuddle up to."
"So are you, and you really made me feel good. I haven't slept with a guy my age since Michael moved away."
"Oh, I'm sorry, were you guys really close?"
"Kind of, but Michael said he was just fooling around because there were no girls nearby. But he treated me good, and we did all the same stuff for each other. But we weren't in love like you and Torvo. Kraz told me about him, not a lot just that it had happened."
"It's okay, I would have told you about him. It's kind of why I haven't been really interested in having a new guy in my life."
"Yeah, I understand Daf, that must have been hard on you. I just really think you're cool and I wanted to see if you might like me. At least we can be friends right?"
"Well, you were right Em, I wasn't giving you a fair chance. I've already learned a lot about you. And I like what I'm seeing, would you like to try a kiss?"
Em scrambled to turn around and brought his face up to mine. Since I was on my back I just tilted my head and he came in close and our lips touched.
It was warm and sweet and kind of innocent, but with a promise of things to come.
"That was nice Em, it's been a long time since I felt that. I think I've been a little scared to get involved with another guy because of how suddenly Torvo and I ended. Nobody's fault but it still hurt and still does a little."
"That's understandable Daf, but you can't just be alone all the time. Everybody needs human affection. No matter what you tell yourself, you want to love and to be loved."
"I suppose you're right, it's just hard to expose myself to that kind of pain again."
"Well, maybe after this weekend you'll feel different, at least that's what I'm hoping. And even if it isn't me I'd like to see you happy. You're a nice guy, I see it in the way you deal with our underclassmen and other students. Even a wack job like Kraz. He's a nice guy, but he's so flaky. How did he get that name, anyway?"
"Oh that, that was courtesy of Val, the kid from Russia, the one with the dreamy eyes and cute ass. Krazny is the Russian word for red and Mike has that red hair."
"Okay, that makes sense, I thought it was short for crazy boy or something." Em said.
"No, that's all an act, he used to get hassled at his old school for being smart and he developed that crazy pants act as a defense. He said it worked, but he's having trouble leaving it behind."
"Crazy pants?" Em asked.
"Sorry, that's my Dad. He adds pants to almost anything like that. Almost any noun or adjective., he calls us weasel pants and other stuff. It's just him being nonsensical, and it's funny in context."
"You'll have to come over and spend a weekend with us and see what it's like around there. I think our parents are going to end up friends whether we hit it off or not."
"It sure looks that way. So you want to get some breakfast and go for a ride? I'd love to show you the place."
"That sounds really cool, and I could definitely eat." I said.
"Good, cos my Mom won't let you out of the house without breakfast."
"That sounds familiar."
We dressed in our jeans and put on our boots; it was nice out so I went with a Tee and a light cotton shirt. I snagged my gloves out of my bag and we headed down the stairs.
Del was watching Sponge Bob in minimal clothing, I wasn't surprised.
"Morning Momma," Em called.
"Good morning boys, I was just going to send the terror to get you and Monica down here for breakfast."
"Did someone mention my name?" Monica asked.
"Oh hey Monica, are you riding with us?" I asked.
"Nope, I'm going to grab a gator and run Del over to see his friends at the Carson place. And then Missy and I are going into Irvine with her Mom."
"Roller skating, yeah I know it's corny but I enjoy it especially at a rink."
"Sounds okay to me, I like to do it at the beach in Hermosa, they have a nice skate path there."
"Skates or blades?"
"That explains that hot ass you've got."
"Eep, Monica!" Esty exclaimed.
"Well, look at the way he fills out those jeans Mom. He's fine."
"Thanks, Monica, nice of you to notice. I am actually kind of proud of my butt, and the skating helps keep it tight, you're very fit yourself, you've got nice tone and definition, obviously you get plenty of exercise."
"Wait til we hit the hot tub, it looks even better wet."
"At that point, Esty had heard enough and shooed us out of the kitchen and asked for someone to see about getting Del ready to eat."
"C'mon Daf, you can help me catch him and scrub those little mitts."
Del squealed with delight as he was manhandled up the stairs to wash and dress for breakfast.
When we returned breakfast was ready and Esty was grinning at me.
"You sure won our little Del over. He's usually standoffish with older boys that Emmy brings home."
"Well, maybe he can sense when somebody is uptight or doesn't know anything about little guys."
"Well, let's have a seat children Poppa is on his way," As she spoke I heard the approach of a quad-runner as it pulled up near the kitchen door."
"Morning all, is everyone in good spirits this morning?"
A chorus of assent was heard, and he excused himself to wash up.
Once he sat he asked if everyone was ready to start the day and got the answer he was expecting.
"Be sure and thank Momma for the wonderful breakfast, I could smell it from a distance."
There were fried slices of Linguiça and bacon as well as minced potatoes with green onion. There was also a wonderful corn chowder that really rounded out the meal along with the eggs. The freshly toasted bread was fantastic, and I was quite full in a short while.
I thanked "Momma" for a lovely breakfast and told her we would have to work it off in the barn.
Em and I prepared to leave and Del jumped up on his chair for hugs from both of us.
"See, now you have to come back, my little brother loves you."
I grinned and hugged little Del and kissed his cheek.
As we stood outside the kitchen Em's dad joined us.
"You've made quite a conquest with my little guy there Daf, I hope he's not driving you crazy."
No sir Grim, he's neat, he's a lot like my little brother. I enjoy being around him too.
"Well it's nice to see a boy who isn't shy about being affectionate."
"Thank you Grim, that's down to Mom and Dad and my Grandparents."
"Your parents are some of the nicest people I've ever met, and you're likely to see us coming for a visit soon."
"That would be nice, we have the room and Dad would love to show off his cars."
"Yes, we discussed that. Okay, boys have fun, I have a crew to get in gear. We'll see you soon."
"Bye Poppa," Em said as he hugged his Dad.
"Bye Grim," I added and stuck out my hand but Grim just gave me a hug and got on his Quad. We watched him ride away.
"They're putting some more drainage culvert pipe on the back road, we had a little flooding, and it washed out part of the road."
"Shouldn't we be helping?"
"No, Poppa will keep the crew working, they're getting paid well. He just likes to make sure they work accordingly."
"Hands on type, eh?"
"Yup, that's my Poppa."
We walked to the stable area and Em introduced me to some of the other horses. A dappled grey watched me but feigned disinterest. I liked his look, and he had great definition.
"What's his name," I asked pointing at the gelding.
"That's Chinggis he's a little stubborn, but he's fast and smart. Would you like to meet him?" Em asked.
"Yes, I think so, he's trying to ignore me but he's following me with his ears."
"Well, here's his halter why don't you take him to the corral and see if you get along."
I decided to just lean on his stall door with my back to him; it didn't take long until he nudged me with his nose. I turned around, and we looked at each other and then I put my forehead on his, just above his muzzle. Horses seem to like that, I see them do it as a sign of affection. I stayed that way until he pulled away. I held up his halter, and he bobbed his head and placed his muzzle into the straps. I clipped on a lead and opened the stall door and led him to the corral.
The rest was fairly easy; I walked him around and then let him trot and finally walked him to the rail. I retrieved my saddle and a blanket from the tack room. I put the saddle and blanket on the rail and then checked Chinggis' coat where the saddle would be. He had no knotted hair or defects that might make him uncomfortable.
I looked at his hooves and he was allowing me to inspect his shoes without resistance. Finally, I tossed on his blanket and then showed him the saddle. He turned slightly to give me access. At that point, I knew I had won him over.
After he was saddled he was anxious to get going, Em had saddled Roscoe and was waiting outside the paddock. He swung open the gate, and I mounted up and rode Chinggis right out the gate.
"I would never believe that if I hadn't seen it, we gotta ride by the back road near the bridge so my Poppa can see this. He's the only one that can mount that horse ordinarily."
"You just need to know how to ask them. You can force a horse to carry you but he won't work with you and you'll wear yourself out trying to control him. I like my method, it's how I treat every horse I ride."
"Have you met any that won't let you?"
"Sure, they've usually been bullied by some ignorant asshole, but if I work with them long enough, I can usually get them to cooperate."
"So you're a regular horse whisperer, eh?"
"I wouldn't say that, but we have a Navajo guy that works our place and he's the real deal. I've learned a lot from him but there's a lot I don't know still."
"Dad says knowing what you don't know is a sign of wisdom."
"So does mine, so does my Gramps too."
"Our Dads sound a lot alike," Em said.
"Well, are you ready to go?," Em asked
"Lead on Em, we'll never get there standing here talking."
"Hey Em, how did he get the name Chinggis?"
"I don't know, that was his name when he got here, why?"
"Well, Chinggis is how the Mongols pronounce Genghis. I learned that when I was researching the history of the Bow and Arrow, they had a recurve bow that was extremely powerful and very easy to use and they invented the stirrup as well."
"Oh cool, I thought it was Mexican Spanish or something, that's really interesting, I knew they came up with the stirrup but I didn't know about the other stuff."
We rode on and after fifteen minutes we saw a bunch of guys and a backhoe trenching across a road where it crossed a wash, and I recognized Grim immediately, he was the biggest guy there. He was holding a shovel and working on straightening the side of the trench to accommodate the culvert pipe.
"Hi Poppa, do you have this under control or do you need us to help?"
"Hey, boys ….what in the world?! How did you get that old boy to wear a saddle?"
"Daf asked him if he could ride him and Chinggis said yes."
"Well, I'll be damned, I thought your Dad was bragging when he said you were good with horses."
"It's all in how you go about it Grim, I just asked him the right way."
"Well, I can tell you he likes a nice run so you should get him over to the meadow Em. I think they'll both enjoy it."
With that, we rode on waving goodbye.
"Well, you sure impressed my Dad, you can wrangle kids and horses and those are skills he holds in high esteem."
"It's just me, I'm not trying to show off."
"I get that, and I didn't mean it that way. Hs respect for you is genuine. So's mine."
"Sorry, I guess I'm sensitive to that. I've had people tell me not to be a showoff."
"Yeah well, some people are just jerks."
I laughed in agreement. Em led us down a trail and after two miles we reached a long flat meadow.
"This is where I let Roscoe have his head, it's flat and too firm for gophers and there's no rocks."
"Well, lead on out and I'll give you a good interval before I let him take off."
"That will be good for Roscoe's ego, Chinggis is only two and Roscoe is almost eighteen."
Em kneed Roscoe, and he took of at a respectable pace for an older horse, Chinggis really wanted to chase but I held him back so I could see the field and the line that Roscoe had taken. A little light goose with my knees and Chinggis took off like a rocket and was rapidly closing the distance between us, he was a fast horse and we caught Roscoe as he was slowing down to stop at the edge of the meadow , I let Chinggis swing past him and we did a lazy arc and rode back to the starting point and turned again, then we rode back to where Em and Roscoe were and I reigned Chinggis in and we stopped right next to Roscoe and Em.
"Damn, I've never seen anybody ride him like that. That was pretty cool and look how happy he is."
I slid off, and we led both horses to the stock tank for a drink. Both horses stopped mid drink and looked to the east, I followed their line of sight and saw a tawny flash in the scrub that grows on the hills around there.
"Hey, he's a big guy, I didn't know you had cougar around here. Biggest critter we've got is Bobcat. They keep the rabbit population in check."
"Well, Dad says he belongs here, there's a female around too, maybe more but they don't bother the stock, even if they did Dad wouldn't do anything to them."
"That's cool, they rarely attack stock or humans unless they're injured, you can't wipe them out just because they might. If you do, then the deer will breed out of control and eat your feed and your cattle will starve unless you cull the deer. Better to lose a single head occasionally than a whole herd to hunger and disease."
"You really get into this away from school don't you?"
"I guess, it's really just rational thinking. People tend to go off the deep end so easily and they want a black and white answer to a gray question. What's your take on it?"
"Well, the Cougars were here first, I doubt my kids, if I ever have any will get to see one, at least in the wild."
"Well, I hope you do, you'll be a great Dad, I see the way you treat little Del. Most guys keep their little brothers at arm's length. It's really cool, the way he looks up to you and the way you care about him."
"He sure has developed a crush on you Daf, he thinks you're great."
"He likes me because you like me, and he knows I like kids in general. If I spent a week here, he'd go back to idolizing his big brother. I'm just the new shiny toy."
"He likes you because you're good to him, he never paid any attention to other guys that visited here. You don't jerk him around like some older guys do little kids. And you're affectionate with him. Give him a week and he'll be in love with you."
Em dismounted and checked Roscoe, I heard him sniff and saw his eyes were a bit wet. I slid off Chinggis and walked over.
"You okay?" I asked.
"Yeah, I'll be alright, it's just Roscoe here, he has a problem with his spine, it's why we don't stud him anymore. It's a genetic defect that shows up in maturity. The vet says he's probably got a year on the outside. It's going to be hard to lose him, he's always been such a great horse. Sorry I didn't mention it when you asked, I just don't like thinking about it."
"I understand, did the jumping make it happen?"
"No, the jumping only accelerated the development. If he was a regular saddle horse, he wouldn't have shown any symptoms for several more years. But once it gets bad he'll be in terrible pain and it will be his time."
I put my hand on his shoulder and he turned into me and sobbed. Roscoe nuzzled him as if to say, "It's all right, when the time comes, it'll be all right."
I had never seen this vulnerable side of Em before, at school, nothing seemed to stick to him. Like he wasn't part of it but it was an act, I could see that now. I patted his back and kissed his ear.
Once he had collected himself, he turned and said "Thanks."
"Chinggis really loves that work saddle, Roscoe has never worn one. It would probably irritate him at this point. It's either an English rig or just a saddle pad. I use one when we go for short trips. He doesn't really care as long as I'm with him."
"It's good that you love him, you've been through a lot together, I know it will be hard to say goodbye but it's going to happen anyway, love him while he's here and have good memories of him after."
Em turned and hugged Roscoe's neck and the horse nuzzled Em's back in return.
"Well, let's get on with it, I want to show you the wall, it's just over the hill in the next meadow."
We got close and dismounted, there was good forage for the horses and Em said they would stay with us.
The wall was interesting; it incorporated all the available materials in the area, mud, rocks, Adobe and others.
"Is this from the Mission Period?" I asked.
"You'd think that but no, the archeologists say it predates the Spanish by centuries. They only just started studying it, they have samples of the organics in the lab for carbon dating. They said the construction was similar to a series of walls east of the Bay area," Em stated matter-of-factly.
"Sounds like you spent some time studying it yourself, who do they say built the wall up North?" I asked.
"They speculate that it might have been the Chinese, they're looking for funding for a survey and test dig. Then it really gets serious."
"Are you saying this is the work of Zheng He?" I asked in amazement.
"Oh cool, you know about him, but yeah that's what the thinking is. There's a lot of evidence that Asian people explored this coast and also South America. This wall doesn't match any pre-Columbian architecture in North, South or Central America, at least nothing they've found so far. That's why they're anxious to dig and why I need to ask that you don't mention this to the guys at school. You can tell your parents but we want to discourage amateur archeologists and treasure hunters who just want to dig up an artifact and sell it. The academic community at large doesn't know about it yet."
"That is so cool, you really sound knowledgeable on the subject. Do you hang out with them when they come out?" I'm really kind of in awe of you right now."
"Well I did kind of hit it off with Dr. Ericson from Cal State Irvine. He's really impressive, and he's not a stuffy old dick with a degree," Em said.
"Like Dr. Forsythe?"
"You mean Dr. Foreskin?"
That made me laugh, he was the stereotypical image of the smug self-impressed academic wastrel that Em had just mentioned. And he was a gigantic prick. Our faculty didn't have many, perhaps he fulfilled our quota or something.
"You're thinking something funny, I can tell. You have that look, your lip is curling and your eyes are sparkling," Em said.
I put my hands on either side of his face and kissed his lips; we did that for quite a while.
"Valentine's Day is in a couple days, do you want to go to a party with me?" I asked.
"Yes, as my date," I continued.
"Yeah, I think I'd like that."
We kissed a while longer and decided to head back and get lunch and see where the day led us.
Okay, I didn't read the challenge as thoroughly as I should have, but I hope people enjoy this all the same.
I thought it fit perfectly!