Hannah patted my shoulder and went back into the kitchen, leaving me in the front hall with the bad news. Nancy had raced off yet again on the track of some mystery or other and left me with two tickets to the ball game. What did this make, I thought to myself? The fifth time this month? Or was it the sixth? I was about ready to give up on her but the reason I didn't had just come into view.
"Ned, have a date with Nancy?" Mr. Drew's voice came from his study doorway.
"I thought I did but Hannah said she took off an hour ago." I tried to be blasé about it but he could see right through me. "I don't suppose you'd like to go to watch the Rockets play the River Rats?"
He looked at me with those wise eyes of his and surprised me. "I'd love to go. I haven't been to a baseball game in almost two years. Am I dressed all right or should I change?"
I gulped and couldn't help but smile in relief. "You look great, Mr. Drew. We've got a half-hour until they throw out the first ball. I can drive unless you want to."
"You drive, Ned. I love having a chauffeur. Let me tell Hannah where I'm going then we can be on our way." He clapped me on the shoulder and headed down the hall to the kitchen.
Wow! This was better than going with Nancy. Half the time she didn't remember who I was or where we were, her mind was always busy ferreting out secrets and mysteries. Or she was shopping with Bess or George or one of her other girlfriends. I went out to the car, glad that I'd washed and waxed her before coming over. I wouldn't want him to think I was messy.
He came out of the house and I had the urge to get out and open the door for him but I stopped. I didn't want to make him feel uncomfortable. I wanted him to have a good time. In fact, I wanted him to have anything he wanted for as long as he wanted it. My stomach was flip-flopping but that might have been the effect of his leather bomber's jacket over those broad shoulders that tapered down to that slender waist.
I pulled myself together and returned his smile. "We're off!"
He laughed and settled back, partially turned to me and I kept from drooling by very carefully backing out of the drive and heading for the ballpark. No way was I going to risk a ticket when the best lawyer in town was with me. I kept sneaking glances at him, hardly believing that the man could look so good in khaki slacks when all I'd ever seen him in was suits, beautifully tailored suits.
"You're sure that I won't embarrass you, Ned?" He was teasing me in that way he had that gave me goosebumps.
I chuckled and relaxed a little. "I didn't know you owned a pair of slacks, Mr. Drew."
"Ah, the old fuddy-duddy look as Nancy calls my suits. Believe it or not, I do have some casual clothes, Ned. Just not much time to wear them." He sounded kind of sad and I risked another look.
He looked tired. Those lines around his eyes weren't just from laughter but probably fatigue, too. And that decided me right then to take a risk. "Then it's about time you took some time off. What do you think about fishing?"
An eyebrow quirked at me and I almost lost myself in watching that graceful arch. "Fishing? It's one of those quiet sports that makes me think of cool, clear water and arching trees overhead that lures a man to want to take a nap."
I gulped at the picture that painted in my mind. Him stretched out under a tree with his hat tipped over his eyes and those long legs of his resting on a blanket. Resolutely, I banished it to the back of my mind and turned into the half-full lot, parking the car in the last row so we'd have to walk together longer.
"Hope you don't mind, sir? I hate to think of her getting scratched by some careless driver." I smiled at him and he returned it.
"Very sensible, Ned. Do you think that tonight you might call me Carson?" He got out his side while I got out of mine.
"I'll try but it sounds really odd to me. Carson." I could feel myself blushing a little and it didn't help when he squeezed my arm gently. "So, if you're not busy tomorrow would you like to go fishing? I know a great place that's quiet and peaceful. I won't tell anyone if you take a nap."
"That sounds like a little bit of heaven, Ned. Could we leave really early so I can be gone before anyone has time to call and need my urgent attention?" He sighed again and I could see where the stress was taking its toll.
And that hardened my resolution to make sure that somebody took care of him. "You bet. When the game is over, I'll take you home and then put together a lunch for us. We'll be gone all day and let the rest of the world do without us."
"Heaven, indeed. I can raid our fridge, too." He smiled at me and I felt his hand on my back touch lightly and burn me all the way down to my toes. "Five a.m. all right?"
"Yep, it's a ... a date." I knew I was blushing again but couldn't seem to help myself.
And was his voice just a little caressing? "A date it is, Ned."
I watched the ball game with only a quarter of my attention. Most of me was watching Carson relax, talk and laugh at my jokes. I'd always known that he was special to me. While I was growing up, he'd always been there to answer questions and give advice. My parents were great but sometimes there were just things that I couldn't talk about to them.
Guy things that I knew would only embarrass my Dad, I had no problem talking to Mr. Drew about. He always listened and asked me questions that brought out the answers that I needed. I'd had a major case of hero-worship going when I graduated from high school and went off to the University in nearby Bensenville. After a year of testing all the rules and seeing what fit and what didn't, I realized that it wasn't hero worship anymore but a crush.
A fourteen caret, rock solid need to have him in my life anyway I could have him. My roommate had already done some experimenting in high school and he taught me a lot about what boys could do to boys. Maybe now, I was finally going to discover what men did with each other. The reason I kept going out with Nancy was sitting next to me and I silently blessed her for running off again.
Between innings, we talked as best we could while other baseball fans kept stopping to say hello to Carson. Everybody was amazed to see him at the baseball stadium and I watched him be charming to everyone. Some of them looked askance at me and I gave them my most innocent smile. That's the one that makes me look about sixteen and I used it sparingly.
But most of them relaxed when they saw that Carson was just being nice to the guy that Nancy stood-up. I didn't mind so long as they didn't give him the fish eye look. I needed him relaxed with me not tense. Finally the game was over and we filed out with the rest of the fans while I tried to see the bleacher board to see if we'd won or lost. I really hadn't been paying attention.
"We won." Carson told me quietly and accepted my blush as thanks. "I could see that you were thinking of something else." He hesitated. "Is it Nancy?"
"No!" I almost shouted but kept my voice down with an effort. Unlocking his door, I walked around to mine and unlocked it. "I was just thinking that maybe Hannah made cookies and you could bring them tomorrow?"
It was the best I could come up with and he grinned at me. "I think something could be arranged, Ned. Now you better drive me home so I can raid the kitchen before heading up for my beauty sleep. Don't want to scare the fish."
You don't need beauty sleep, Carson. You just need to make love to me, I thought to myself and bit my tongue to keep from saying something I'd regret out loud. So I just hummed and smiled at him before driving him very carefully home, wishing for a goodnight kiss but knowing that really was a pipe dream.
It was five on the dot when I pulled into the Drew driveway. Nancy's convertible was there but hopefully she was sleeping soundly after solving a mystery or something. He came out quietly with a large basket in hand and I mentally drooled over the worn jeans and sweatshirt that he was wearing. It was still balmy even though the leaves were beginning to turn color and a hint of autumn was in the air.
His basket joined the supplies that I'd brought and he slid in beside me with the air of a man who was escaping mortal peril. "Good morning, Ned. I'm ready to fish."
"Good morning, Carson, let's go." And I backed us out almost before he had his seat belt on. I wasn't taking any chances that somebody might stop us.
The roads were free of traffic and we made good time.
"Where are we going, Ned?" He partly turned towards me the way he had the night before.
"It was my grandpa's favorite fishing hole. He used to bring my mom out here until she got too big to want to fish. When I was five, he brought me out here for the first time." I thought back to my younger self. "It was heaven and I loved fishing even when I didn't catch anything. It's a spring fed pond and the water's always so clear that you can see all the way down to the sandy bottom."
"I can almost see it, Ned." He had a far away look and I smiled.
"When Grandpa died two years ago, he left me the thirty acres that included the pond. Dad was kind of upset but Mom reminded him that I was the fisherman in the family and he finally agreed." I still missed the old man who'd taught me so many of life's important lessons. "I come up here when I need to think or just be by myself. We'll have to walk a ways to reach the pond, I hope that's all right?"
"Sounds great. I need the exercise. Are you going to leave it undeveloped or is it the place where you want to build something?" Those blue eyes were trained on my face and I blushed.
"I've been kind of struggling with what to major in but I think I know what I want to do now. I thought about being a lawyer like you but I'd really hate to be cooped up in an office all day." I cast a quick look at him and saw him nodding agreement.
"It's true that a lot of my time seems to be at a desk."
I turned off and drove slowly over a rutted lane until I came to the old shed that Grandpa had used for storage and I used to keep the rain off my car. "If you'll get out here, Carson, then I'll put the car away."
He nodded and grabbed his basket from the back seat. I carefully drove into the narrow space and squeezed out my side. Reaching up, I pulled two fishing poles off the wall and then I got out my basket of supplies and joined him. He was taking deep breaths and gazing around at the tall oak trees that grew thickly over most of the entire acreage. His smile was bright and I drank in the sight.
"This is paradise, Ned. Thank you for sharing it with me." He never quit smiling and I silently wished that he never would.
"I haven't brought anybody else out here. You'll be the first." I told him and began to follow the barely there path that snaked through the trees.
I could tell he was startled but he fell in just behind me. "Then I am doubly grateful that you are sharing with me."
The sun was just peeking over the horizon but here it was still that cool gray of predawn that seemed to hush the whole world. Our feet scuffed through the fallen leaves and underbrush. I cut the path back twice a year but the rest of the time, I figured it belonged to the forest and the wild creatures that lived here. Five minutes walk and the trees grew sparser and the ferns thicker while we descended into a kind of green bowl that led down to the pond.
I stopped to give him a chance to look around. I could still remember the first time I had seen it. It had the same hush that I'd felt once in our church when I was the only one there, almost a holy feeling. But here birds sang and small rustles told of wild creatures swarming away from the big humans.
"Grandpa called it his outdoor cathedral." I said quietly and watched Carson nod slowly.
"A place of refuge and hope from the world." He sighed and I could see his whole body relax. "Sanctuary."
I just nodded; anything I could say would be trite. The place spoke for itself. I started down the spiral trail and he followed me. Soon we reached my favorite spot, a kind of grotto made of tree and stone. On really hot days, I came here to dive off the jutting rock and swim lazily through the pure green-blue water. Probably scared the fish half to death but they soon grew used to me.
"The pond must cover an acre or more." Carson set down his basket and pole before moving to the edge of the pond and kneeling to scoop up the crystal clear water.
"Two point six acres to be exact. Grandpa measured it somehow, he never told me how but I've swum from one end to the other and I think he was pretty darn close." I set my own burdens down and pulled off my sweater. The walk had warmed me up and I knew short sleeves were all I needed.
"Good idea," he shrugged off his jacket and I took it from him to put with my sweater on a rock shelf behind us. "It's so peaceful here."
"Yes it is, Carson. If you don't want to talk, we'll just be silent." I offered him the gift of my acceptance and he nodded.
"To start, I would enjoy that but then perhaps you'll share what profession you have chosen?" He stood and looked at me with those wise eyes that saw so much.
"You've got a deal. Here's your fishing pole and some worms." I opened the jar of bait that I'd dug last night.
We settled in on top of my diving rock, side by side with our lines in the water and the fish swimming lazily by, ignoring our lures with the disdain they reserved for amateurs. I didn't really want to catch anything; well I wanted to catch Carson but that called for different bait. He kept taking deep breaths that almost hurt to hear. He was in serious need of this form of stress therapy.
Maybe I should become a psychiatrist, I pondered. But the only patient I wanted was the man sitting next to me so that wasn't very practical. Then again there was an intriguing report out by a team of sociologists and psychologists called William and Masters who was doing sex therapy and reporting on their studies. That would be fun and I could just concentrate on one case study named Carson Drew.
I was smiling when I caught him looking curiously at me. "Sorry, I was thinking something silly."
He chuckled. "You have a beautiful smile, Ned. Don't apologize for it."
"Thank you, Carson. I was just thinking that you don't smile enough. Yours lights up the whole world when you smile." I watched the sparkle in his eyes as they creased in laughter and wanted more than anything to be the one who put it there.
"I don't think I've ever had a nicer compliment." He looked back down at the water. "I guess smiling hasn't been on my schedule lately. I think I almost forgot how."
"Nah, you don't forget a thing like that, it's like riding a bicycle, you never forget." I laid my pole aside and stood up to stretch. "I don't think the fish are going to bite today. And I'm hungry, how about you?"
"I've developed an appetite." He laid his rod aside too and joined me in a good stretch. "Oh, that does feel better. I raided the fridge this morning and the cookie jar."
His grin matched mine and we grabbed our baskets to show each other what we'd brought. Breakfast was an odd assortment of pudding, chocolate chip cookies, bananas and shredded wheat. He'd never thought of mixing the cereal with pudding instead of milk but once I got him to try it, I think he enjoyed it. There wasn't any left anyway. He'd brought a thermos of coffee but we had to share the cup because he'd forgotten to put in another.
My jug had lemonade in it and I stuck in on the underwater shelf to cool down for later. He kept stretching and breathing deeply until I could practically see the years dropping away from him. If it kept on, I was going to be picked up for seducing a minor. That thought made me laugh out loud and he looked quizzically at me.
"Sorry, inappropriate thought." I grinned shamefaced.
"Ah, I've had my share of those lately. May I ask you a question, Ned?" He held the cup in his hands and stared down at the faintly steaming coffee.
"Yes, you can ask me anything."
"Are you attracted to me?" He raised those eyes that I loved to watch and I felt the bottom of my stomach start to free-fall.
"Yes. I've wanted you since I turned sixteen, three years ago. I realized that Nancy was a good friend but I didn't want to kiss her. I wanted to kiss you, hold you and do all kinds of things but I didn't have a clue what they were. College helped me out quite a bit. My roommate is into men in a big way and I've learned a lot from him." I was babbling but I wanted that stunned look to go away and be replaced by one that said he wanted me, too.
"Your roommate?" He said faintly.
"He showed me some of the things that guys can do and told me about other things. Things that I only want to do with you. Please say that you don't hate me for saying that." I pleaded breathlessly with a gulp.
"Hate you?" Those eyes were shining into mine. "Never hate, Ned, I've been trying to keep from seducing you for almost the same length of time. Come here."
And I was in his arms and he was scattering kisses over my face while I hung onto him with all my strength. Then he slowly kissed my mouth and I felt like passing out. His tongue licked my lips and I groaned, allowing his tongue to surge against mine. He tasted of coffee and pudding and maybe just a hint of chocolate from the cookies.
He mapped my mouth as if there would be an exam later and I felt myself shudder under him. Somehow, I'd ended up flat on my back with him half over me and when one of his hands stroked my groin I almost came there and then. I think we may have both groaned because he was holding me tightly and we'd rolled to our sides after breaking the kiss so we could breathe.
"Good God, you taste of ambrosia." He said shakily, his forehead resting against mine, our breaths sharing the small space between us.
"You're all right with us then? We both want this?" I was panting a little and thinking that not even football practice had ever winded me this badly.
"We both want this. It's been a long time for me, Ned. I experimented in college also but not since then. After Nancy's mother died, I just ... put that part of me away. Until a towheaded boy started playing with my daughter. At first, I thought of you as the son I would never have but two or three years ago, you started invading my dreams. I'd wake up like some adolescent boy with a wet dream."
"You fought it hard and tried to back away from me." I'd known that something was wrong but I hadn't known what.
"I fought it." He nodded and stroked his hands over my back, down to my waist then back up again. "I thought I'd conquered it but when you left for University, I felt as if the world was a very cold place. Maybe that's when I stopped doing anything but work. I don't know."
"It will be better now." I promised him. "Now that we both know we want each other. Even if I have to go out with Nancy once in a while, she's just a friend and I think that's really all she wants to be. But I need you and I'll do whatever I have to do to have you."
"So brave, Ned, you're so brave." He kissed me again and this one was sweeter as he sucked my tongue into his mouth so I could explore him. We swapped tongues back and forth until we had to breathe again. "Exactly how much have you experimented?"
I blushed. "Um, Peter showed me how to masturbate. Then how to help another guy out with my hands and he went down on me once. I wasn't sure about sucking him so I haven't done that yet. And he told me about how men, um, make love and about the prostate gland."
His eyes gleamed and he pushed me over onto my back again. His hands unzipped my jeans and tugged them down over my hips taking my briefs with them. My cock was hard as a rock and when he ran a gentle finger from the root to the crown I just about came all at once.
"Circumcised and just the right size." He murmured and grasped me in a too light hold, slowly sliding down then up again. I was about to go insane from just that when I saw him lick his lips and that beautiful mouth descended on my cock.
I thrust up once and came all over him. I was shaking like a leaf but he just gathered me in his arms and murmured over and over. "Sweet Ned, my own sweet Ned."
Finally, I was his.
End Stood-Up part one