WARNING: This story contains scenes depiction sexual relations between males. For a time one of those males won't exactly be of legal age in some parts of the country. If this type of material is offensive to your or is not legal in your place of residence DO NOT READ THIS STORY.


TWO
HEAD GAMES

Fate sure must think throwing monkeys into the wrench of my life is fun because the new monkey showed up the very first day of school in my first class. World History. Her name was Riley Wagoner. She sat right beside me and I swear one look at her and it was as if I'd been struck by lightning. My mouth became dry, my knees grew weak and my head felt stuffed with cotton. It was a good thing I was sitting down before she walked over and sat next to me or I'd have fallen to the floor like the moron that I apparently am.

Her raven hair was long and lay in ringlets on her shoulders. She looked at me and I was struck by her eyes. They were shimmering pools of silver. She smiled and I thought my heart would stop. She had a peaches and cream complexion. Now I don't even know what a peaches and cream complexion looks like but I'm telling you that when I think of her that's what comes to mind. Her skin wasn't exactly pale, it seemed to shine. She had a faint rosy glow to her cheeks that I suppose could have been make-up. From my seat, two feet away from her, I could smell the scent of candy. It was love at first sight. All right, so it was lust at first sight. Whatever.

After that first look and smile she paid absolutely no attention to me. I learned from her talking with the girl on the other side of her that she was a transfer student from Bryarwood High School. She was sixteen and had a seventeen year old boyfriend who was still at Bryarwood High. He played football and she was in love.

I thought about her all through second hour while I worked out in the weight room. I thought about her in third hour while I tried to pay attention to the teacher as he talked about formulas and chemical compositions. Then I saw her again. She shared my fourth hour Mathematical Statistics class and sat next to me again. This time it was because she arrived at the class almost with the bell and the seat next to me was the only one open. She smiled at me again and the effect was no less potent than it was the last time.

I couldn't take my eyes off her all hour long. The teacher droned on about what we would learn and what she expected of us and I heard none of what she said. All I could think about was the scent of Riley Wagoner. She was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen in my life. I nearly jumped out of my skin when she looked over and caught me staring at her.

"I'm Josh Carson," I said stupidly.

"Nice to meet you, Josh Carson," she said, smiling again.

Then the bell rang and she got up, collected her books and walked away. I shook my head and gathered my books, thinking about what had happened. I'd made a fool of myself. I couldn't believe how stupid I'd sounded. I must have looked like a moron. For the rest of the day I moped. She wasn't in any more of my classes so I didn't have to face her until the next day.

To make things even worse she greeted me the same way every day. In first hour it was, "Hello, Josh Carson," and at the end of the hour it was, "See you in fourth hour, Josh Carson." In fourth hour it was, "Hello again, Josh Carson." Then at the end of fourth hour it was, "See you tomorrow, Josh Carson."

I got a full week of that and I was never so happy to see a weekend come in my life when it finally came. I was humiliated and love sick. It was awful. I really needed to talk to someone. Rex was gone for the weekend and Rob was still getting over Kenny. I didn't think he would appreciate talking about teenage drama.

When I got home that day there was an email from Pete Santos. I read about how his family was planning to take a trip to Washington to visit relatives and how he and his girlfriend had broken up. I missed Pete and I felt sorry for him that his relationship had ended. In reply I fully intended to be sympathetic, but I poured my heart out about Riley Wagoner instead. I told him how beautiful she was and how much just looking at her made me nervous. I told him about stupidly blurting out my name when she looked at me and smiled and how she was acting since then.

After I sent the reply I sat and waited, hoping that Pete was online and would read and respond to my email, but nothing happened. After a half hour I decided to go and spend some time with Rob. Maybe he would take my mind off of Riley. He'd probably have more biting comments about Kenny. I decided that was fine as long as it took my mind off Riley. Anything that could take my mind off Riley Wagoner and what an idiot I'd been was welcome.

"Hey, buddy," Rob said when I walked through their front door. They'd long since told me to stop knocking. "How was school?"

"Aggravating," I replied, noticing the opened box at his feet. "How was your day?"

"Oh, peachy," he replied. "Kenny came by to drop off my belongings. He said he didn't want them around for his new lover to see."

"What a jerk," I sighed as I sat down beside him on the couch.

"He's a jerk all right," he replied.

"Why do people have to play games?" I asked.

"Problem in the land of teenager?" he asked, putting an arm around me.

"Riley Wagoner," I sighed. "I think she's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life and she's playing with me."

"Tell me about this Riley Wagoner," he said, removing his arm from my shoulders and turning to lean against the arm of the couch so he could look at me.

I told him all about her. I told him about her beautiful hair, her amazing eyes, her intoxicating scent and her mind numbing smile. I told him about how I'd made an idiot of myself when I'd finally spoken to her and how she greeted me every single day with that smug little grin on her face.

"Sounds like she's used to getting whatever she wants," said Rob. "And right now what she wants is to make you miserable. It's a game all right."

"So what do I do about it?" I asked.

"Turn the tables on her," he said. "Completely ignore her. Josh, girls like her thrive on attention. She's probably gotten all the attention she could ever want all her life. Her parents probably think she's their gift from God and boys probably fall all over themselves in her presence. Just show her that you're not going to and she'll either act decent or leave you alone."

"What if I don't want her to leave me alone?" I asked. "Rob, she's beautiful. I want her to want me like I want her."

"She's stupid if she doesn't want you already, Josh," he said. "You're a fun guy, sexy and sweet. She'd be crazy not to want you."

Sexy? Rob had called me sexy. It made me feel funny in the pit of my stomach. At the same time it made me proud. I liked the fact that he thought I was sexy. All the work I'd done on my body, the supplements, energy bars and work outs were paying off if he thought I was sexy. I sure got a lot of looks from the girls at school. A lot of girls except the one I wanted to look at me.

I put Rob's plan into action the very next day. In first hour I switched with Cain Williams so that I could sit away from Riley. He thought she was beautiful and happily agreed to switch seats with me. When she came to class she saw him sitting in my seat and looked right at me. I pretended not to notice. I also made sure that I was the first one out of the class when the bell rang at the end of the hour.

I traded seats with another boy in fourth hour who also thought Riley was beautiful. These boys thought I was doing them a huge favor, but they didn't know her the way I did. She could play with them all she wanted, but her game with me was over. I went so far as to completely ignore her. When anyone talked about her I pretended not to know who they were talking about. Twice I replied that I didn't know who Riley Wagoner was when she was paying attention.

Then one day she decided to sit at the same table in the cafeteria. She looked at me the whole time, but I didn't say one word to her or even outright look in her direction. I struck up a conversation with the boy sitting next to me. It was easy enough. I knew a little about him. He was interested in computers and not much else. I talked to him about computer games throughout lunch. Then I got out of there as fast as I could. The next day I sat at a different table with a bunch of kids I didn't know.

It worked like a charm. Every time I saw Riley she was looking at me. I didn't know what to do next so I just kept ignoring her. Before I knew it everyone was talking about the junior/senior winter formal dance that was just around the corner. I wasn't sure I even wanted to go to the dance, but I listened to what everyone was saying. I heard through the grapevine that Riley would be going with her boyfriend from public school. His named was Danny Scavello and he was the Bryarwood High quarterback. After hearing that I decided I wanted to go to the dance after all.

"Ooh, Josh in a tux," Rex teased, smiling from ear to ear when I told him about the dance. "Do me favor though. Stop shaving your face the week of the dance and let me work you over the night of the dance."

"Deal," I said, wondering what 'work you over' meant.

"So who are you taking to the dance?" he asked.

"I have no clue," I laughed. "I only decided I wanted to go this morning."

"Well you have to have a date, Josh," he said. "That's what these little dances are about."

"I'll ask someone," I said without conviction. Having a date hadn't crossed my mind.

I got the task of finding a date over with really quickly though. Erica Davis sat in behind me in first hour. She was a pretty girl with long blond hair and blue eyes. She smiled at me whenever I looked at her, but we'd never spoken before. I don't even know where my nerve came from that day. I think it might have had something to do with Riley staring at me though. I turned around and faced Erica and smiled.

"Erica, I was wondering if you have a date for the dance," I said.

"Uh," she said, widening her eyes. She smiled after a moment though, so I smiled back. "No. No one has asked me."

"Would you like to go to the dance with me?" I asked, shocking myself with how easily the words came out of my mouth.

"Sure," she said excitedly. In truth her excitement made me a little nervous.

But that invitation to the dance changed things for me. To begin with Erica sat with me at lunch and I had to come up with things to talk about. I did learn a lot about her. She was the middle sister with one younger and one older. She lived across town and loved animals. She wanted to be a veterinarian. She told me about how she couldn't resist picking up wounded or abandoned animals and taking them home. Her family got a little upset with her about it, but she had four cats, two dogs and a bird.

Rex was thrilled when he learned that I had a date for the dance. He asked a million questions about her and I tried to answer all of them. He wanted to know if I was going to be her boyfriend and I admitted that I hadn't thought about it. He said that she might not have thought about it either so I put it out of my mind.

I stopped shaving my face the Monday before the dance. My mother had a small fit about it, but she didn't order me to shave. I didn't particularly like the stubble that was growing on my face, but Rex insisted that I'd like what he had in mind, so I put it out of my mind. I did notice that Riley gave me funny looks once I stopped shaving. Erica asked about it and I told her I was thinking about growing a beard.

I volunteered to help with the decorations as well. Every day after school I rode with Erica to the Dolphin Hotel where the dance would be held. I was irritated to learn that Riley was also helping with the decorations. She and Erica talked and giggled the entire time we were at the hotel each day. Mike Santuci, the boy I'd struck up the conversation with at lunch the day Riley had sat at the same table talked to me the whole time.

Rex took me that same Monday to be fitted for my tuxedo. Erica had told me that her dress was pink that very morning. I didn't understand why that was important, but Rex seemed to think it was. I had to be measured and stand with my arms out a lot. The guy at the tuxedo store had me put on a pair of pants so he could pin them for the hem and make notes about how much the waistline had to be taken in.

In the end we paid for a black tuxedo with a black bow-tie. Rex explained that the carnation that I'd be wearing as my boutonniere would be pink to match Erica's dress. I just went along with it because I knew nothing about the etiquette of formal dances and dress codes. The tux was ready to be picked up on Friday so that was good.

Rex took me to pick it up and try it on. It fit perfectly and he kept smiling at me as he looked at me. From there we went to a florist and bought the pink carnation for my boutonniere and a mixture of pink and white carnations for the corsage that I would give to Erica the following night when I picked her up.

My mom was thrilled that I had a date for the dance. She gave me a lot of money for dinner and to pay for pictures that would be taken at the dance. She even let me have the car for the dance. Rex took her to work that Saturday morning and agreed to pick her up at the end of her shift.

I started to get nervous when it was time to get ready. I put on my tux at Rex and Rob's and then Rex started to "work me over" while Rob stood and watched, giving pointers and opinions as Rex worked. He put gel in my hair and slicked it back so that it could be tied in a pony tail at the nape of my neck. Then he used electric clippers to shave down the stubble on my face. He left a goatee though. Then he actually used an electric razor to shave my face for me. He wouldn't let me look at myself until after he'd pinned the boutonniere on my jacket. Then he let me go to the bathroom and look in the mirror.

They stood in the doorway while I looked at myself. The goatee looked nice and my hair looked good as far as I could tell. Rob and Rex declared me "hot" and laughed with me as I went to their kitchen to get the corsage. It was time to go and I was a nervous wreck. I almost left without the little piece of paper that Erica had given me the day before with her address on it.

When I got to her house I sat in the car for a few minutes to collect myself. My palms were sweaty and I felt like my heart was going to shatter my ribcage any second. With one last sigh I wiped my sweaty palms on my pants and got out of the car with the corsage. I walked on shaky legs to the front door of the two story brick house and knocked on the door.

Her father, a compact man with the same blond hair and blue eyes as his daughter answered the door and allowed me to step inside. He smiled and shook my hand as he introduced himself to me. I was nervous, but he seemed to be happy to meet me. His wife was a petite woman with the same hair and eyes as her husband and daughter. She informed me that Erica would be ready in a minute.

When she came down the stairs with her older sister I thought I would gasp. She looked beautiful in her pink dress. There was white lace around the bodice of the dress. It was sleeveless and backless. Her hair was a mass of curls that cascaded down the left side of her head. Glitter sparkled in her curls as she walked. Her make-up accentuated her features and really brought out her blue eyes. She smiled radiantly when she saw me.

We had to pose for her father's camera after I'd pinned the corsage to her dress. I put my arm around her and we stood close. I could smell the perfume she wore and loved the scent immediately. I didn't relax even slightly until we were in the car and headed for the hotel. We had a reservation in the hotel dining room for dinner. I was happy to see lots of our classmates already seated when we got there.

We talked about trivial things as we ate the meal. Afterwards we had our picture taken by the photographer and both paid for a package of pictures to be mailed to our homes. Then we were in the ballroom and the dance was under way. I got to see Riley's boyfriend for the first time. Danny Scavello was a little shorter than me with dark hair and eyes. He was attractive, but nothing overly special.

Riley looked stunning in her red velvet dress. Her hair was pulled up and back and she smiled at me when she saw me and Erica enter the room. I nodded back to her and made sure that Erica and I stayed as far from the pair as possible all night long. We met up with Mike Santuci and his date, Carla Flemming. Mike was just as tall as I was and unfortunately for him just as skinny as I used to be. His date was pretty with long red hair that she'd left loose on her shoulders. She was dressed in a black dress that hugged her perfectly.

By the end of the night we'd each had a great time. I stood on the front porch of Erica's house to say goodnight to her. She put her hands on my chest, stood on her toes and kissed me lightly on the lips before I even knew what was happening. Then she was inside and I was standing there by myself. I'd had my first kiss and couldn't even tell anyone how it felt. I was too shocked for it to really register.

I told Rex and Rob all about the night's events the next day. They hung on every word and groaned when I described my surprise when she'd kissed me goodnight. I assured them that I'd purchased the large package of pictures. Mom wanted to send pictures to relatives we never visited and I wanted to send a picture to Pete. Rex and Rob both asked for pictures and I was happy to tell them that I'd make sure they each got a good size as well as a wallet.

As the weeks went by Erica called me quite often. I liked her, but had to explain to her that I didn't see us going anywhere romantically. There just wasn't any real chemistry between us in my opinion. She said she understood, but wanted to be my friend. I was happy to count her among my friends and even thought about introducing her to Rex and Rob.

Rex and I returned to the three work outs per week during the winter break from school. Rob had started dating again and was gone a lot. I wondered why Rex never dated, but when I asked he just told me that the wasn't really interested in anyone and we left it at that.

I met Doctor Curtis Birch two days before Christmas. Mom had the day off and she'd invited him to dinner at the house. She'd asked that I stay home that evening so I could meet the man. He was in his forties with chestnut brown hair and brown eyes. He smiled whenever my mother looked at him and I noticed that they held hands while we sat in the living room to wait for Mom's lasagne to finish baking.

"Your mother tells me you like to work out," he said, smiling at me.

"I work out every day in gym class at school," I replied. "Three times a week at the YMCA with my best friend while school's out."

"You look pretty solid," he said. "It seems to be working out for you."

"Thank you," I said, wishing that this night would be over. I wasn't sure why, but I didn't particularly care for Doctor Birch.

While we ate he talked about his medical practice. He dealt with cancer and that was all I really needed to know. He went on to tell me that he cared for my mother very much. I didn't know why he was telling me that, but I did notice that my mother smiled wide when he said it and her cheeks flushed. He shook my hand and then kissed my mother before he left that night. My mom was in a good mood for the rest of the night. I decided to sit in my room so I didn't have to look at her being so happy.

I didn't understand what my problem was with all of this. The man had been nice to me and I wanted my mother to be happy. It just felt like a punch to the stomach every time he touched her in my presence. In the end it was Rob that helped me figure out why it bothered me.

"He's not your dad," he'd said simply after I'd ranted about it for an hour the next day. "It's completely natural for you to harbor resentment for the first man to seriously catch your mother's attention since your father died."

"So I should lighten up and let my mom be happy?" I asked.

"That's the right thing to do," said Rob. "It might not be easy though."

"I'll try," I replied.

"You're a good guy, Josh," he said, smiling.

I did try, too. Mom had Doctor Birch over four more times between Christmas and my return to school. I was polite to him each time he was in the house. I hadn't stopped calling him Doctor Birch, though. My mom asked me to at least try to call him Curtis. I told her I'd try. I just couldn't like the man no matter how hard I tried. I kept talking to Rob about it, but it did no good.

In school things had changed for me a bit. I now had friends that wanted to hang out with me whenever possible throughout the day. Mike Santuci seemed to be around when I least expected it. I'd had no idea that he was even in my Advanced Chemistry class or that Erica was also in my English Literature class. I was also shocked to find out that Carla Flemming was in almost every one of my classes. We quickly became a foursome at lunch. When I found out that Mike was in my gym class I suggested that he ask to be reassigned to the weight room and I promised to help him if he got it.

Before I knew it spring was upon me and the Spring Party, a party thrown every year for all of the students to celebrate the end of the year was just weeks away. I learned that they would be holding the party at the Wentworth Swim Club that year and couldn't wait to tell Rob. Mike, Carla and Erica decided that the four of us would go together. The girls assured us both that we were all going as friends. I was happy to hear that.

Rob laughed when I told him that we would be having the Spring Party at the Wentworth. He said he already knew that. He'd been told that day that he had to work the day of the party. The problem was that he'd have to work with Kenny. He had made sure that he had no shifts with Kenny since they'd broken up. When I asked him if he needed to talk about it he assured me he'd deal with it and go on with his life.

It was clear that Rob was still in love with Kenny. It took me a while to understand how two men could love each other that way, but after a while I figured out that men were human. It didn't take a woman to make love happen. I was holding on to a very narrow view of humanity and let it go happily. Having two gay best friends taught me a lot.

Rex went into overdrive when he heard that the Spring Party would be held at the Wentworth. He said that we needed to tan so that I wouldn't be so white when I was in my swim trunks. He paid for the tanning sessions and Mom gave me money to buy a new pair of trunks. I hadn't been swimming in so long my old ones wouldn't fit one leg.

After a week of tanning for thirty minutes each day in a bed that was guaranteed not to burn you, I was getting pretty bronzed. Rex looked awesome with his tan. Then we set out to find the perfect pair of trunks. I was prepared to buy the same kind I'd always worn. You know the kind that almost look like basketball shorts only made out of a thicker material with netting. Rex forbade me to even touch a pair of those. He reminded me that I was sixteen and at the end of the summer I'd be seventeen. I didn't need to wear trunks from my childhood.

"Try these," he said, pointing to a display of Speedos.

"Are you crazy?" I asked. "I can't wear one those to a school party."

"Why the hell not?" Rex asked. "I wore one of these to every school party that had anything to do with swimming from my freshman year of high school until I graduated."

"I don't know," I said, looking at them all and feeling my face heat up. Could I?

"Try this one," he said, holding up a white pair.

"Not on your life," I laughed. "White will become transparent when it gets wet."

"Well then how about red?" he asked, smiling wide as he held up a red pair.

"Somehow I don't think red will be a good idea either," I said. "If I was going to wear a pair of these it would have to be black."

I don't know how he talked me into it, but I ended up buying a black Speedo. I also bought a pair of real basketball shorts and a t-shirt to wear over it. He laughed at that, but I reminded him that I wouldn't be in the pool all the time. In truth, I doubted that I'd even get in the pool at all. I'd be too embarrassed to be seen in the skimpy Speedo.

On the day of the party I actually put on the Speedo and stood in front of the full length mirror on the bathroom door to look at myself. The pouch was barely enough to contain my equipment and the bulge was kind of big. I shook my head as I looked at myself. The problem was I didn't have another suit that would fit. With a sigh I put on my shorts and t-shirt, stepped into my sandals and headed across the street.

"Rob had to leave already," Rex said when I got there. "I'll drive you to the club. I'll even pick you up when it's over."

"Thanks," I said.

"So do you have the Speedo on?" he asked, grinning at me.

"Unfortunately I do," I said. "And I look obscene in it."

"Perfect," he chuckled. "You're going to drive Riley Wagoner out of her head with that Speedo."

"Oh I'm sure I'll be the center of attention if I take my shorts off," I replied as we walked out the door.

"What's the worst that could happen, Josh?" he asked as he drove.

"Oh I don't know," I said. "I could get kicked out of school, the others could laugh at me or I could get too excited and get an erection."

"I doubt seriously that any of those things are going to happen," he said. "There's nothing in the school rules that prohibit Speedos right?"

"Not that I'm aware of," I admitted.

"I don't think anyone is going to laugh at you," he said. "The other guys will likely be jealous as hell. The girls will stare and probably want to talk to you the entire time. You won't get an erection because you'll be far too nervous for the blood to leave your head long enough to engorge the other one."

I wasn't so sure of any of those things, but I didn't say anything. I was a bit more nervous when we arrived at the Wentworth. There was a group of students standing at the entrance of the building waiting to have their school ID checked against the list so that they could enter the building. I told Rex I'd be ready to leave at five and went to join the group.

"Hey, Josh!" cried Mike from the other side of the group.

I made my way to him and saw that he was dressed almost exactly like me. Instead of a t-shirt he had on a black muscle shirt and I could see that our work outs in gym class were starting to pay off for him. He was nicely toned, but not quite a muscularly defined as me.

"Hey," I said when I reached him. "Where're the girls?"

"Probably already inside," he said, smiling. "I talked to Carla this morning and she said they were riding together."

"Well, I guess we'll meet up with them when we get inside," I said, noticing that Steve Olin and Ralph Whitaker had arrived together in Steve's Jeep.

"Ah, the goon squad," laughed Mike as he noticed them too.

"Don't worry about them," I said as the group moved forward a bit. "We're here to have fun today."

"Right," he said.

Once we got inside we found the girls sitting at a table with sodas in front of them. We went straight for them and sat down at their table. They smiled at us and the four of us started talking about random things. I'd almost completely forgot about my nervousness regarding my Speedo. I was having fun so far. I even smiled when Missy Dunlap came over to take our picture for the year book.

"Well why don't we go swim?" Carla asked and the others agreed.

Now I was nervous again. I got up and followed Mike to the locker room. They'd given us keys to assigned lockers when we showed our ID at the door. Mike's and my lockers were side by side. He quickly stripped out of his shirt and shorts to reveal a regular pair of trunks under his shorts. I was even more embarrassed when I saw his trunks. With a sigh of resignation I stripped out of my shirt and shorts and stowed them in the locker with my wallet and sandals. I closed the locker only to find that Mike's was still standing wide open.

"You know," he said with a shaky voice. "You're going to cause heart attacks out there dressed like that."

"Too late now," I said, wondering why he sounded so nervous. It wasn't like he was the one wearing the Speedo and showcasing his crotch for the world to see.

I held my towel in front of me as casually as I could as we walked out of the locker room and onto the cement that surrounded the pool. There were kids everywhere. Some were sitting on the lounge chairs, talking with friends. A lot were already in the pool and others were standing in groups. I noticed that every one of the guys I could see were dressed in normal swim trunks. I sighed as Carla and Erica came out of the other door and headed for us.

"There's a group of lounge chairs open on the other side of the pool," Erica said. "Let's head over there and put our towels down."

We headed over, but people were already looking at me. My towel was still in front of me, but I knew that they could see that I wasn't wearing the regular swimsuit. I saw Rob up on a lifeguard seat and smiled when he waived at me. He didn't know about the Speedo either.

We got to the open lounge chairs and I stood there like an idiot as the others put their towels on their chairs and pinned their locker keys to their suits. With a resigned sigh I put my towel down and pinned my key to the side of my Speedo. I heard a few gasps as soon as I put the towel down. I was mortified to realize that the gasps had come from Carla and Erica.

"Well," I said, trying to keep my voice steady. "Are we going to swim or not?"

I turned around and heard several gasps as the others followed me to the pool. I looked up at Rob and saw him staring at me with his mouth hanging open. I felt like I was under a microscope. It seemed like everyone was looking at me. I even saw Kenny standing just outside the entrance to the men's locker room and he was staring at me too. Then my eyes locked with the sliver-grey eyes of Riley Wagoner and she was looking at me with her mouth open too. I couldn't take anymore so I walked to the diving board as people moved out of my way as I walked. I climbed the ten steps, walked out to the end of the board, stretched and then dove into the pool. I swam out of the way just in time before Mike dove in almost on top of me.

"You're making quite an impression," he said when he came to the surface beside me.

"I noticed," I replied.

"Missy took your picture like six times on the diving board," he informed me. I noticed a group of girls standing around Carla and Erica and I was shocked to see Riley among them.

We swam to the side and got out of the pool to go back to the diving board. Everywhere I looked someone was looking at my wet crotch. I was so glad I hadn't let Rex talk me into the white Speedo or they'd have seen far more than I was prepared to show them. I dove into the pool one more time and then got back out and walked over to the lounge chairs and wiped myself down with my towel. I could hear Missy's camera snapping pictures as I dried myself.

As soon as I sat down on the chair and lounged back people started talking again. I couldn't believe that I had caused this much of a stir in the Speedo. It was making me more and more uncomfortable. Then a strange thing started to happen. Girls that had never said a word to me started to come over and talk to me about trivial little things. They giggled and blushed as they talked. I noticed that a number of the guys were watching as well. They gave me a dark look at first then I was amazed when Steve and Ralph came over to where I was lounging.

"How's it going, Josh?" Steve asked, sitting down in the chair beside mine.

"All right," I said. "How about you?"

"I'm good," he said. "Haven't talked to you in a while."

"Yeah," I chuckled. "The last time you talked to me you were driving your knee into my nuts."

"That was a long time ago," he said.

"So it was," I replied, getting up and heading for the diving board. I didn't know what to think of Steve. I didn't care to think about him actually.

I was standing in line inside the building to get a soda when Riley walked by me. She turned her head to look at me the entire time she walked. I smiled and nodded at her as she passed. Then I was sitting at a table with Mike and the girls, watching as people watched me. I couldn't wait to get out of there and choke Rex for talking me into the Speedo.

At half past four I went into the locker room to shower and get all the chlorine and sunscreen off my body. I noticed that Kenny walked through the shower room four times while I was in there. Each time he looked directly at me. The sight of him made my stomach roll. I really hated that guy.

I felt human again once I was back in my shorts and t-shirt. I sat with Mike and the girls at a table to finish my soda before heading outside to find Rex and give him a piece of my mind. Girls kept coming to the table to talk to me and I was getting annoyed with the attention. I finally drank my soda down and told the others I'd see them on Monday.

"How'd it go?" Rex asked, smiling at me as I got in the truck.

"Just get me out of here," I said, slinking down into the seat. "I might never go to school again."

"What happened?" he asked.

"People saw me and went insane or something," I said. "Rob couldn't stop staring at me with his mouth open in shock. And Kenny kept watching me in the shower. He makes me sick."

"Well I bet you'll be the most popular boy in school on Monday," he said, laughing.

He was right about that. On Monday I had more friends than I knew what to do with. At lunch Steve and Ralph sat at the table that I usually only shared with Mike, Carla and Erica. They were friendly to everyone, but I still didn't like them. Riley made it a point to talk to me twice that day. The first time was first hour. She said hello to me. That same, "Hello, Josh Carson." I just shook my head and walked away from her to take my seat. The second time was in fourth hour when she said the same thing once again. I smirked at her and shook my head before taking my seat.

Girls started calling my house so much that I stopped answering the phone completely. They called at night, too. My mom got really mad about that, but I kept telling her I didn't know how they got the phone number. She ended up changing it to a non-published number that we gave only to specific people.

Two days before school was out for the summer our year books were passed out. I was mortified to find a picture of me on the diving board in the "School Activities" section. So many girls wanted to sign my book and have me sign theirs. By the time the last hour of the day rolled around I was sick of signing my name. I was sitting in the quad with Mike to wait for the final bell when Riley walked up to me and thrust her year book in my face.

"Sign this for me, Josh Carson," she said, smiling sweetly at me.

With a sigh I took the book from her and signed my name, leaving no note. What I hadn't realized until I was handing the book back to her was that she had also taken my year book off my lap and was writing something in it. She smiled at me when she took hers back and handed me mine. I opened it to the page she'd signed to find that she'd written something more than her name. "Stay sexy, Josh," she'd written and signed her name under it. I about had a heart attack when I noticed that she'd written her phone number under her name.

I was never so glad in my life when school let out for the summer. I wouldn't have to deal with any of them anymore. I would keep in contact with Mike, Carla and Erica, but that was it. I couldn't have cared any less if I ever saw Riley Wagoner again. But I did see her. Three days after school let out I watched her walk out of a house on the next block. Could she have lived this close to me all this time? I watched that house as the days went by and found that Danny came and went from there quite a bit. I learned that it was his grandmother's house and he visited frequently.

Then something strange happened. Kenny was at Rob and Rex's house quite a bit starting the week after school let out. Rex told me that Rob and Kenny were back together and I wasn't happy to hear it. He'd hurt Rob once and I couldn't figure out why Rob would set himself up to be hurt again.

Another strange thing that happened was waking up and going downstairs to have breakfast with my mother only to find Doctor Birch at the table as well. He'd spent the night at the house and I hadn't known a thing about it. It seemed my mother and the doctor were getting more serious than I'd realized. I wasn't sure how I felt about that. I wanted to talk to Rob about it, but with Kenny over there all the time I'd stopped spending so much time at Rex and Rob's.

Rex had noticed that. He'd come to the house after he was sure I was awake a few weeks after school let out. He asked why I didn't come over as much and I told him that Kenny made me feel uncomfortable. He asked me why and I couldn't tell him because I didn't know why. The guy hadn't really done anything to me. I just hadn't liked the look on his face when he walked through the shower room at the club four times.

I took up my mowing again when spring had hit. It was the only time I could really keep my mind off Doctor Birch having spent the night in my house with my mother and Rob and Kenny being back together. Rex and I had started going to the YMCA again right after school let out. My mom had given me a check to pay for another year's membership. He and I talked about a lot of things, but I wouldn't discuss Rob and Kenny with him and I still hadn't told him about Doctor Birch spending the night.

School had been out three weeks when Rex told me to hang out with him at their house. He assured me that Rob and Kenny were gone for the day so I agreed. We watched movies in the living room and it felt like old times again. He had to run to the store to get more soda and I stayed behind to finish watching the movie we'd been watching. He'd seen it already so he didn't care. The movie was just ending when the door opened. I fully expected it to be Rex, coming back because he'd forgotten something, but it was Kenny.

"Rob's not back yet?" he asked as he came into the house.

"No," I replied.

"Where's Rex?" he asked.

"He went to the store to get soda," I replied, doing my best not to look at him.

I got up and took the DVD out of the player and put it back in its case. I even put the DVD back on the shelf where it belonged and then took the other two that had been sitting on top of the television and put them in their places on the shelf. Then I had nothing left to do so I sat back down, using the remote to put the television back on a channel.

"So it's just you and me," he said, sitting on the couch a bit closer to me than I was comfortable with so I moved as far over as I could and was up against the arm of the couch.

"For a few minutes anyway," I said, hoping he'd move.

He did move, but not in the direction I'd hoped for. He moved over until he was sitting against me. He put his hand in my crotch and squeezed slightly. I tried to get up and he squeezed a bit harder to keep me still. He put his face right in front of mine. The smile was still on his face.

"I saw you flaunting yourself at the club," he said. "You think you're a big man, so just sit there and take it like a big man."

"Let me go," I said with as much force as I could.

"Now that wouldn't be much fun, would it?" he chuckled and then he was kissing me so hard that my lips were ground into my own teeth.

"Stop!" I yelled as I turned my head. Then I yelped as he bit my ear. Hard.

"You're a fucking tease," he said. "I'm going to give you what all you little teasing bitches deserve."

His hand squeezed my crotch even tighter and I gasped from the pain of it. He started kissing my neck and I kept trying to twist my head away from him. Each time I moved he applied more pressure on my crotch. I tried one more time to get up from the couch and he squeezed so hard that I cried out in pain.

"Sit your ass on the couch, tease," he said. "This can be easy or it can be hard. You decide."

"Let go of me!" I yelled and then the door opened and Rob walked in.

"What the hell is going on in here?" he asked, looking from me to Kenny and back.

Kenny let go of me then and I bolted up from the couch, nearly knocking Rob over as I flew out the door and across the street. I let myself in the house, locked the door and bounded up the stairs to my room, slamming the door behind me. My crotch still throbbed in agony from his squeezing and I was shaking all over. I thought about calling the police, but then I thought about what would happen next. I'd have to face him and people would know what he'd done to me.

I sat on my bed, shaking and crying as I thought about what it would mean if people knew what he'd done. I had another year of school to face and I couldn't do that if people knew about it. I wasn't calling anyone. I made up my mind right then that I wasn't talking to anyone about this. Not the police, not Rob or Rex. No one.

I picked up the phone and dialed Mike's number. I asked him if he wanted to hang out and when he said yes I grabbed change out of the jar on my dresser and was out of the house in a flash. I had to walk three blocks to catch the bus and then I was gone. I sat on the bus and tried to get myself under control.

Mike and I hung out in his room, watching videos on his television and talking about how our summers were going so far. I was happy to be distracted, but said absolutely nothing about what had happened. He asked me about a bruise on my neck and I lied instantly and told him that something had been thrown up from the mower while I was mowing and hit me in the neck. He seemed to accept that so I hoped that everyone else would too.

I stayed there for as long as I could. His mom and dad both came home from work and invited me to stay for dinner. I accepted and silently thanked them in my head for keeping me away from home. Rob and Rex didn't know where Mike lived or even that I was there so I knew that they wouldn't come for me. My mom was at work so that wasn't a problem. Finally I couldn't stay any longer. I got on the bus and headed back across the city to my house.

Once I got off the bus I walked all the way around to the back of the house and let myself in the back door. I didn't turn on any lights because I didn't want them to be able to see them from across the street. I went upstairs to my room and crawled into bed with all of my clothes on. I pulled the sheet up over my head and just lay there in the silence.

I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I knew it was morning. I could hear voices from downstairs and that was what had woke me. I got out of bed, stripped out of my clothes and hopped in the shower, checking the bruise on my neck in the mirror first. It wasn't a big one and my story about being hit by debris from the mower would work. I just hoped it wasn't Rob or Rex downstairs with my mom.

When I got downstairs I saw that it was once again Doctor Birch who was at the table with mom. I was happy to see the man for once and even smiled at him and said good morning. I made my shake and sat at the table across from my mother and listened to them talk for a minute.

"Were you at Rob and Rex's last night?" Mom asked me suddenly.

"No," I replied. "I spent most of the day with Mike at his house."

"Rex called the police last night and had Kenny arrested," she informed me and my stomach sank. "He beat Rob pretty badly. Rex brought him into the hospital last night for stitches."

"Stitches?" I asked, horrified for Rob.

"He had to have twelve stitches in his right ear," she said. "I didn't know that Kenny was violent."

"Neither did I," I replied.

"This Rob and Kenny," said Doctor Birch. "Are they homosexuals?"

"Rob and Kenny were dating," said my mother, missing the dark look on the doctor's face.

"So they're homosexuals and you let your son consort with them?" he asked. There was no mistaking the disgust in his tone that time.

"Rob and Rex are my son's friends," she said, looking at the doctor hard. "They're good boys and I trust them completely."

I sat there and looked back and forth between them. I wondered just how long the good doctor and my mother would last after this. I could only hope she kicked him to the curb quickly. Just the look on his face was enough to make me hate the man. Rob and Rex were my friends and I wasn't going to sit there and let him disrespect them just because they were gay.


All I Want For Christmas
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