A Sanitaria Springs Story

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“Boy’s…Boy’s.”

“What, mom?” I groaned as I lifted my head from the pillow. I’d been sound asleep and having the best dream about blond triplets.

“It’s nine o’clock, I need you guys to get up,” said mom.

“Ok,” Sean yawned, stretched and began to rub the sleep from his eyes.

“Nine o’clock?” I exclaimed. “Mom, its summer vacation!”

“Be that as it may, I need you to get up.”

“But why?” I whined. I’ve never been a morning person and yes it was 9am but Sean and I hadn’t gone to sleep until 3am so it felt really early.

“I have to run over to Binghamton and run a bunch of errands and then I’m meeting your father for lunch. I need you and Sean to watch Linc while I’m away,” mom explained.

“Can’t Robin do it?” I asked, offering a last ditch objection.

“Robin got up and went to Lucien’s early this morning.”

“That tricky bastard,” I grumbled.

“Jamie, watch that mouth and get that skinny butt out of bed or I’ll come over there and get you out myself.”

“What if I’m naked?” I grinned wickedly.

“Then you’ll have a hell of a story to tell your shrink one day,” said mom, turning the tables on me.

“Mom!”

“Up, now, breakfast will be ready in five minutes,” said mom as she closed the door and headed back downstairs.

“She gets you every time.” Sean chuckled.

“Pssh, maybe I’m just letting her win.”

“Yeah right, momma’s boy.” Sean grinned.

“Oh you’re one to talk, step-momma’s boy.”

Sean got a good laugh out of that one and then we both, reluctantly, climbed out of bed. Needless to say I wasn’t really naked, sleeping nude with my brother in the next bed would just be weird. As it was we’d both slept in our underwear and as we walked over to our dressers to grab shorts and t-shirts for the day we caught a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror.

We’d gotten our hair cut a few days earlier and it’s amazing how much one simple thing so enhanced our resemblance to each other. Dressed in the same white Jockey’s and sharing the same black hair, blue eyes and body type, I almost had to pinch myself just to figure out which reflection was mine.

“So weird.” Sean yawned as he took note of the resemblance too. He shook it off and continued to his dresser.

“Yeah,” I agreed. Yeah, it was weird but also pretty cool. It’s hard to explain but then that’s not much of a surprise considering I don’t really understand it myself. I don’t know how I ever got by without Sean. I’ve always been a confident, and ok, cocky, person but ever since Sean came into my life, well…I don’t know. He really is like a twin brother, I feel like he completes me and I hope I bring as much fulfillment to his life as he brings to mine.

A few minutes later we padded downstairs in our summer uniform, t-shirts, basketball shorts and ankle socks. Lately we’ve had to be careful and go out of our way to wear contrasting colors or the twin jokes never stop. We followed the tantalizing scent of mom’s French toast into the kitchen and found her behind the stove and Linc sitting at the breakfast bar.

“Uncle Jamie!” Linc exclaimed when he saw us. He may be the littlest member of the family but he’s the only one who never has trouble distinguishing between me and Sean. He always knows who’s who. “I save you a seat.”

“Hey, what about me?” Sean pouted.

“Uncle Sean! I save you a seat too,” said Linc, patting the bar stool next to him.

“Thanks buddy.” Sean smiled and took his seat.

“What have you been up to this morning little dude?” I asked.

“Daddy and Papa called me from Indiana,” said Linc.

“You mean Kale and Chase called you from India?” I teased.

“Not Kale Chase, Daddy and Papa,” said Linc as he glared at me and forcefully pounded his little fist on the counter top. If I didn’t know better I’d swear he was Kale’s natural son. That glare was trademark Kale.

“Easy bro, you’re the boss, whatever you say.” I pretended to be afraid.

“I the boss.” Linc smiled satisfactorily.

Kale and Chase were off on some hair-brained adventure with Alec and Sasha. They were supposed to be in India for three weeks and then they were finally going on their honeymoon at the end of the summer. I’m sure they would have liked to have gotten away sooner but they married over Thanksgiving break, they had Linc to look after, not to mention school, there just wasn’t any time. Linc was staying with us while his dads were away and though I complained about having to get up early that morning I really don’t mind hanging out with the little guy.

I always have fun playing with Linc and Sean says it’s because we’re emotionally the same age. Sean’s teaching me how to be a calmer person and too think before I act. I’m teaching him how to be a smartass and so far I have to say he’s the better student.

“Ok, who’s hungry?” asked mom.

“I hungry, grandma, I am,” said Linc.

Mom put a piece of French toast on his plate and I buttered it, sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on it and cut it up for him while she served me and Sean. Mom was in a real hurry so she didn’t eat breakfast that morning, instead she came around the bar to kiss each of us goodbye.

“Be a good boy for Uncle Jamie and Uncle Sean while I’m gone, alright sweetheart?” asked mom as she kissed Linc’s cheeks.

“I always good, grandma, always,” Linc assured her.

“That’s my little man,” mom smiled her reply, then she kissed me. “As for my other little man, be good for Sean?”

“Oh, ha, ha.” I rolled my eyes and she winked at me.

Mom kissed Sean goodbye too and then he and I did rock, paper, scissors to decide who would watch Linc and who would wash the breakfast dishes. I won and opted to let Sean clean the kitchen.

“So what do you want to do, Linc? Should we play Lego’s or should we go out back and play with Casey…”

“Blue’s Clues, Uncle Jamie,” Linc exclaimed.

“Deal,” I agreed.

I loved Blue’s Clues when I was little and was surprised to find they were still running it on Nick Jr. The family room is right across from the kitchen so Linc and I went there to lie on the rug and watch the big TV. I turned on the TV, found the right channel and then Linc and I became engrossed in the show.

“Don’t get up, I’ll get it,” said Sean sarcastically, when the doorbell rang half an hour later.

“Uh huh,” I replied without looking up.

A moment later Sean came back to the family room chatting with someone and when I recognized the voice I jumped up to say hello.

“Asher, my man!” I greeted him with a fist bump.

“Hey Jamie,” Asher replied.

“Asser!” Linc exclaimed. He looked over his shoulder to wave at our friend but quickly turned back to his show. He loved Asher but didn’t like to be disturbed during his program.

“Hey buddy,” said Asher, then he turned to me and Sean and whispered, “I’ll be so glad when he starts pronouncing “sh” sounds.”

“He’s trying,” said Sean.

“I know but Asser sounds so much like Asshole.” Asher snickered.

“Where’s Scotty?” I asked.

“Dentist. I was going to go with him but overslept so I thought I’d come see what you guys were up to.”

“Not much,” said Sean. “I just cleaned up the breakfast dishes and Jamie’s watching TV.”

“Yeah, grab a seat. Can’t do much of anything until the shows over,” I nodded my head at Linc.

“Right, Linc’s the only one watching.” Sean snorted.

“Well, this is a good episode,” I winked.

The guys laughed and then we made ourselves comfortable on the couch. Asher Romanski is another example of the good things Sean has brought into my life. I’ll spare you the details but sufficed to say Asher was one of those guys who flew under the radar and I probably wouldn’t have met him if he hadn’t had a crush on my brother and I hadn’t decked him outside the principal’s office. I’ll spare you those details too other than to say it was all a big misunderstanding with a positive end result; we got a cool new friend out of it.

“So, Asher, I’ve gotta ask, how are you doing at Scotty’s?”

“Great, Jamie, but it’s been a few months, why are you asking now?” he replied, a puzzled expression on his face.

“Well, I figured you were fine but Scotty’s always around and I couldn’t ask you in front of him,” I explained.

“Things are good, really good,” said Asher. “Scotty’s parents are cool and Scotty, we’ll, he’s just…”

“Dreamy?” Sean teased.

“Oh, he’s cute but hopelessly straight. Besides, he’s no you.” Asher grinned.

“Awwww,” said Sean.

“Oh please, Sean, Sean, Sean.” I rolled my eyes.

“What?” asked Asher.

“I don’t get why you’re so over the moon for Sean.”

“Ha, you’re jealous,” Sean exclaimed.

“I am not,” I protested. “But we do look alike.”

“Don’t get me wrong, Jamie, you’re cute too but Sean, he’s so…”

“Dreamy?” asked Sean.

Asher looked at him for a moment and then we all started laughing so hard Linc turned to admonish us with a “Shhhhh!”

“Anyway, how’s your love life going?” asked Asher.

“Pssh, what love life?” I retorted.

“He’s still grumpy because he hasn’t been on a date since he broke up with Elise,” said Sean.

“Yeah, I meant to ask you what happened with her, she was cute, for a girl,” said Asher.

“Ah, I had to kick her country ass to the curb,” I snorted.

“Come on, what really happened?” asked Asher, seeing through my bravado.

“She, well, she was dumb.” I sighed.

“Tell him how you figured that out.” Sean snickered.

“Yean, I’m curious,” said Asher.

“Ok, well, we were talking about World War II in history class and Mr. Pash gave this really great lecture about dropping the bomb on Japan. I thought it was interesting and was kind of excited about what I’d learned so I tried talking about it with Elise at lunch and you know what she said?”

Asher’s expression was blank and he shrugged his shoulders.

“She said, “Oh my God, was it on the news? Are they going to bomb us back?”

“Wait, she thought it happened that day?” Asher exclaimed.

“Yeah! She had no idea what I was talking about and that’s when I realized that yeah, she was hot but she didn’t have a brain in her head and I didn’t want to be with someone I couldn’t have a conversation with,” I explained.

“Wow,” Asher laughed. “I don’t know what’s more shocking, her not knowing how World War II ended or you being an intellectual.”

“Up yours, Romanski.” I laughed and hit him with a throw pillow.

“All done,” Linc exclaimed when his show ended. He walked over and sat next to me on the couch. “What we do now?”

I looked at Linc and then glanced at Sean and Asher, that’s when an idea struck me and a few minutes later we were walking to the park with our German Shepard, Casey.

“Explain this to me one more time,” said Asher as we headed down the block.

“It’s simple, girls like dogs and little kids, we’ve got both. We’ll take them down to the park and all the girls will think, hey, what nice sensitive boys, gee, I’d like to date them,” I explained.

“I don’t see how that’s going to help me.” Asher sighed.

“Gay boys probably think the same way,” I replied.

“Oh brother.” Sean face palmed.

“Um, you know just because a boy likes other boy’s that doesn’t mean he thinks like a girl, right?” asked Asher.

“Of course, what I mean is, if I was gay and looking for a guy I’d want someone sweet and sensitive,” I explained.

“There’s a little more to it than that,” said Asher.

“Yeah but we’ve already got the cute part down.” I grinned.

“Pssh, you guys maybe,” said Asher, looking down at his feet.

“Asher, come on, give yourself a little credit,” said Sean.

“What? You guys are the Kirkwood twins; all the girls in our class think you’re cute…”

“Oh yeah?” I asked, intrigued by that bit of information.

“I’m just stupid trailer trash from the wrong side of the tracks,” said Asher, finishing his thought.

“Whoa, don’t even think that,” I exclaimed.

“Asher, Jamie’s right, don’t think like that. So you grew up poor and in a rough neighborhood, so what? If anything your background and the fact that you’ve overcome it makes you more interesting than the rest of the clones at Columbia High,” said Sean.

“Maybe but still, attraction starts with first impressions and…

“And you don’t think you’re good looking?” asked Sean as he took Asher’s hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. “Asher, come on, your acne’s cleared up, you’re dressing nicer not to mention you’re about the sweetest guy I know. Any guy who is into guys would be stupid not to be interested in you.”

“Thanks,” said Asher, smiling a bit. That’s Sean for you, always there to give you a boost of confidence when you need one.

We came to the corner and started to cross but I sensed Linc wasn’t with us. I’d only gone half a step but panicked and turned to find him standing on the curb. I don’t know what scared me more, the thought of losing Linc or Kale and Chase killing me slowly if I let anything happen to their baby.

“Linc, what are you doing bud?” I asked.

“Daddy says no cross the street myself,” said Linc, holding his hand out to me.

“Oh, Kale said that?” I teased.

“No, Daddy say that,” Linc stomped his little foot. “I the boss!”

“You’re right, I forgot.” I chuckled and took his hand.

We crossed the street and entered the park. Sean found a nice spot in the shade and spread out a blanket so we would have a place to relax when we got tired or too hot. I let Casey off her leash and then we started tossing the football around with the dog chasing every pass. Obviously Linc couldn’t throw very far so I had him toss the ball to me and then Asher and Sean took turns catching passes. We played for about an hour before it got too hot and we returned to the blanket.

Why lie there catching our breath and cooling down. I was lying on my stomach with my face down when my plan went into action and a feminine voice drew my attention.

“Oh what a pretty dog,” she cooed as she knelt down and scratched Casey’s ears.

“Thanks,” I smiled then the girl lifted her head and I recognized her from school. “Oh, hi Emily.”

“Hey Jamie.” She smiled. “I was so distracted by your dog I didn’t even notice you guys.”

“Yeah, uh, this is my brother Sean, my nephew Linc and our friend Asher Romanski,” I replied, introducing everyone.

“Hey guys,” Emily waved.

“So what are you doing out here?” I asked, noticing that she was alone and dressed in gym clothes. She was really pretty with green eyes and shoulder length auburn hair. I had a couple of classes with her and I remembered her being on the track team.

“I was just out for a run and saw your dog and had to pet her,” Emily explained. “That’s not weird, is it?”

“No, Casey will love you forever if you scratch her ears like you were doing,” I replied.

“I couldn’t resist. I love dogs but we can’t have one because my mom’s allergic. Can I sit with you for a bit?”

“Sure, that would be great.” I smiled.

“So what are you guys doing out here?”

“We’re babysitting Linc and thought Casey might like to get a little exercise,” I replied. I noted that Sean and Asher were keeping quiet and watching me and Emily intently.

“Hey!” Linc exclaimed and put his hands on his hips. “I not a baby!”

“Of course not.” I smiled and turned to Emily. “Linc’s the boss, I just forgot.”

“I the boss.” Linc smiled.

“Hey, boss, what would you say to a ride on the swing?” asked Sean.

“Ok!” Linc exclaimed.

“We’ll be back in a bit,” said Sean. He winked at me then collected Linc and Asher and took them over to the play structure.

“Your nephew is adorable!” said Emily.

“Yeah, he’s a kick in the butt.” I smiled. “He’s my brother Kale’s son and almost as stubborn as his dad.”

“I thought your brother was gay?”

Columbia High, being a regional school, was pretty big but that didn’t mean everyone didn’t know everyone else, or rather didn’t know everyone else’s business. Once Kale and Chase, Robin and Lucien and all their friends had come out, everyone knew it.

“He is, he and Chase Dudley got married at Christmas, Linc’s their little boy,” I explained.

“That’s cool.” Emily smiled. “Do you spend a lot of time with your nephew?”

“He’s staying with us while his dads are in India so Sean and I have been watching him.”

“That’s really sweet.”

“It’s no big deal, I love spending time with the little guy.” That made Emily giggle. “What?”

“I never would have figured Jamie Kirkwood was the king of the kids.” Emily snickered. “They don’t cramp your style?”

“Nah, I love kids, and dogs,” I added as her fingers brushed against mine as we both continued to pet Casey.

“Well, you should meet my little brother sometime.”

“Sure, I’d like that.”

“Are you doing anything tonight?”

“Nope, haven’t got any plans.”

“Wanna come over, say around 6pm?”

“Sure,” I exclaimed.

“Great,” Emily replied cheerfully and then surprised me with a quick hug. “I’ve gotta get home but I’ll text you the address.”

“Cool, see you tonight.” I smiled.

“So, how did it go?” asked Sean when he and the guys returned from the play area a moment later.

“Got a date tonight.” I grinned like the Cheshire Cat.

“Right on,” said Sean giving me a fist bump. “I can’t believe that actually worked. She was totally lured in by our dog!”

“Linc too! We got to talking and when she found out how much I like kids she invited me over to meet her little brother. Not the first date I would have planned but it’s a foot in the door,” I said.

“Totally,” Asher agreed. “Why would she care about introducing you to her brother if she didn’t want to spend time with you herself?”

“Exactly!” I replied.

“Come on Linc,” said Asher, taking the little boy’s hand. “I saw some guys kicking a soccer ball around.”

“What are you doing?” asked Sean.

“Hey it worked for Jamie, some of those guys were cute…”

“Ok Asser, we go get you boyfriend,” said Linc matter-o-factly.

We nearly died laughing at that but headed over to the soccer field after we calmed down, after all, the plan worked, I had a date, it was Asher’s turn. Unfortunately the guy’s Asher had seen were gone so we ended up just going home. When we got back to the house I put Linc down for a nap which went easier than I expected, I guess the park wore him out. Asher hung out for a while but then he had to go home too. Sean talked about having him and a few other friends over that night and Asher had some things to do before he could sleep over.

Emily texted me her address and I got permission to go over to her house as soon as mom got home from Binghamton. Sean and I spent the rest of the day cooling off in the pool and after dinner I started getting ready. I took a quick shower, styled my hair and then wrapped a towel around my waist and went back to my room. I put on a pair of underwear and that’s when Sean started laughing.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Sean snorted.

“Come on, what?”

“What’s with the black underwear?”

“These are my date undies.” I grinned.

“I thought after the Hoover you weren’t looking for girls that concluded their dates with a happy ending.” Sean roared with laughter.

“I’m not, doucher,” I exclaimed.

“Then why bother with…”

“Because, what if I bend over or stretch and she gets a look? The black undies are sexier than my tighty whities,” I explained.

“You sure cover all the angles.” Sean laughed. “Think I could borrow those next time I go out with Ally?”

Ally Marcus was Sean’s sometimes girlfriend. They’d gone out a few times and gone to a few school dances but neither of them saw themselves as a couple and both saw other people.

“They came three to a pack, help yourself.” I snickered.

After that I threw on a pair of khaki shorts and an expensive polo shirt. It was a hand me down from Kale but that was ok with me. I’ll say this for my big brother, he has style and the way he shops, Sean and I get a new wardrobe every few months. Everyone always says what beautiful eyes the Kirkwood boys have so I checked myself out in the mirror, made sure the blue shirt I selected made them stand out and then I was on my way. It was a short walk to Emily’s and I was knocking on her door in a matter of minutes.

“Hi Jamie.” Emily smiled brightly when she answered the door. Her auburn hair had been pulled back in the park but now it was brushed out and framed her face. She was wearing a nice sun dress that brought out her green eyes. I felt my heart flutter, she looked beautiful.

“H-Hi,” I spluttered.

“Come in and meet my parents,” said Emily.

Emily’s family lived in a nice craftsman style house. I followed her into the foyer and then we stepped down into the living room where her mother was putting on earrings in front of a mirror and her dad was straightening his tie.

“Mom, dad, this is Jamie Kirkwood,” she said, introducing me to her parents.

“Jamie, so nice to meet you,” said Mrs. Baker. “Emily tells us you’re great with kids.”

“Well, my nephew…” I started.

“You babysit him often?” asked Mr. Baker.

“Sure, whenever my mom needs me too. He’s staying with us while his parents are away,” I explained.

“Our little Caleb can be a real handful but don’t let him push you around. He knows the rules but that doesn’t mean he won’t try to get around them,” said Mr. Baker.

“Uh, ok,” I replied, my confusion growing.

“Caleb, Jamie’s here,” Mrs. Baker shouted up the stairs.

“Be right down, mom,” came a little boy’s voice from upstairs.

“We better get going, we’re going to be late,” said Mr. Baker, then he turned to me and slapped forty bucks in my hand.

“Ummm…”

“Thanks so much for doing this on such short notice, Jamie,” said Mrs. Baker. “Make sure Caleb gets to bed by nine and we’ll be back from Binghamton before eleven.”

“Emily, don’t forget your curfew,” her dad admonished.

Her parents disappeared out the front door and before it shut all the way a horn honked from the curb out front.

“He’s here,” Emily exclaimed.

“Uh, what just happened, what’s going on?” I asked and shook my head trying to clear the confusion.

“I’ve got a date with Greg Beckett and I almost had to cancel because my parents had no one to watch Caleb,” said Emily as her little brother came downstairs and stood on the bottom step.

“So wait, I’m babysitting your little brother while you go out with Greg Beckett?” I asked, crestfallen.

“Right, wait…did you think I invited you over to…, Oh Jamie, I’m so sorry, I thought you understood,” said Emily.

“You asked me to come over and meet your little brother. I thought…”

“Oh God, I feel like such a jerk,” said Emily. “I’m just so excited about my date, I’m sorry Jamie, I didn’t mean to lead you on.”

“But Greg Beckett’s a junior,” I pouted.

“I know,” Emily squealed and Greg honked his horn again. “I gotta go, thanks so much Jamie.”

“Uh, yeah, sure,” I replied with a weak smile.

Emily left and my shoulders slumped. I felt so stupid. Here I thought I had a date with a pretty girl and all she’d done was use me in her excitement to see another boy. What could she possibly see in Greg Becket anyway? The jerk didn’t even come up to the door to get her, he just honked his horn. My mom would kick my ass if it ever got back to her I’d treated a girl like that.

“Well, I guess the black underwear really was a waste,” I sighed.

“Huh?” said Caleb.

I’d almost forgotten he was there until he spoke. I turned to find the little boy, about seven years old, standing at the foot of the stairs in blue pajamas with puppy dogs on them. He had short brown hair and looked up at me through big green eyes. He also had a dusting of freckles across his nose and cheeks.

“Uh, nothing,” I replied. “Hi, I’m Jamie.”

“I’m Caleb,” he replied and then we stood there staring at each other in awkward silence.

“So, er, what do you want to do Caleb?”

“I don’t know.”

“Great.” I sighed.

“You wanna watch TV?”

“Sure, great, TV,” I replied. At least he didn’t expect me to entertain him. I didn’t know what to do with him and figured TV would make a better babysitter than me.

I followed Caleb into the TV room and my phone vibrated in my pocket. I pulled it out and read a text from Sean.

How’s the date going?

Don’t ask, I replied and put the phone away.

I sat down on the couch and Caleb flipped the TV on. I figured I’d have an easier time of things if I let him pick what he wanted to watch. I thought he’d pick some kids show on the Disney Channel but he ended up selecting The Peace Maker on HBO. It was an old action movie featuring George Clooney that they’d been running all month. It was pretty decent for an old flick but also violent enough that I felt compelled to say something.

“Are you sure you should be watching this?”

“Yes, I watched part of it with my daddy this morning,” Caleb assured me.

“Ok then.”

Caleb was engrossed in the movie and I sat back on the couch and pouted. I was really upset with Emily. I could believe being excited about a date and forgetting to mention some details but how do you invite another guy over and spring babysitting your little brother on him? I have to admit my feelings were hurt. I know I’m kind of brash and excitable and I know I have a reputation for saying whatever happens to come to my mind but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel things.

“What’s a nuclear bomb?” asked Caleb as the plot of the movie began to wrap up and George found himself on the streets of New York searching for a terrorist with a nuke in his backpack.

“Oh, it’s just a big bomb terrorists would use to blow up a city,” I answered without thinking.

“But my mommy and daddy went to a city,” said Caleb, his voice tinged with concern.

Shit, way to go Jamie, I scolded myself.

“They only went to Binghamton, terrorists wouldn’t care about a town that size. They’d go after Washington or New York or something,” I explained.

“But my granny lives in New York,” Caleb sniffled.

Damn it, now you’ve really done it.

“I’m sorry, I’m not picking my words right, Caleb. It’s just a movie.”

“I want my mommy,” said Caleb as he started crying.

Perfect, just perfect. I got down on the floor with him and put my arm around him. I tried to comfort him as best I could but it took a while for him to calm down. Once he finally stopped crying I put on the Cartoon Network. They were running the Sponge Bob movie and Caleb forgot all about The Peace Maker as he watched.

“Alright Caleb, its 9 o’clock, your mom said you should be in bed,” I informed him as I checked my watch.

“But I’m not tired,” Caleb insisted.

“Yeah, well, that doesn’t matter, your mom said 9 o’clock so come on let’s go upstairs.”

“No!”

“Yes!”

“You can’t make me.”

“Wanna bet?”

Caleb crossed his arms over his chest and glared at me. Ok, I felt bad for making the little guy cry earlier but I remembered what his dad told me. Caleb knew the rules and I wasn’t going to add to my crappy night by letting a 7 year old take advantage of me.

“You asked for it.”

I got up from the couch and marched over to him but Caleb didn’t show any signs of budging.

“I’m going to give you one last chance to be a good boy and go up to bed.”

“Hmpf,” Caleb pouted.

“Ok.” I reached down and grabbed him, gently but firmly, and tried to pick him up but he wouldn’t have it.

“No,” Caleb shouted and then the little brat punched me right in the balls. My eyes crossed and I choked for breath as I fell over. “Uh oh.”

Caleb got up and made a run for it. I couldn’t believe the little brat punched me in the balls! Not only did he punch me but he punched me hard! That’s it, this kid is going down I thought once I caught my breath and was able to stand.

Caleb was hiding somewhere and refused to come out. He knew what he’d done was wrong and probably figured I was pissed. Boy was he right about that one. I was just crossing the foyer when I caught him out of the corner of my eye. He tried to dart from behind a chair back into the family room but I caught him by the collar of his pajama top. I was careful not to hurt him of course but I wasn’t in the mood for any more crap either. I carried him up to his room over my shoulder and plopped him down on his bed.

“I didn’t mean too,” Caleb pouted.

“Yes you did. You can’t take a swing at someone and then claim you didn’t mean too when you hurt them,” I scolded.

“I’m sorry,” said Caleb. His tone was so sincere it was hard to stay mad at him.

“Why did you do it?”

“I don’t know,” said Caleb, as little children often do when confronted with their actions. “Are you gonna tell?”

“I should. I bet your other babysitter’s don’t let you get away with hitting them, do they?”

“No.”

“I’ll make you a deal, if you’re a good boy and go to sleep right now, I’ll let it slide this time.”

“Can I have Freddy?”

“Who’s Freddy?”

“My bear,” said Caleb as he pointed timidly to the ratty old bear atop his dresser. Clearly they’d been together a long time.

“Alright, if I give you Freddy you’ll go to sleep?”

“Yeah,” Caleb nodded.

“Deal,” I replied and tucked the bear under the covers with him. He seemed grateful as he thanked me and clutched the plush toy. “Good night Caleb.”

“Good night, Jamie. I’m sorry.”

“It’s ok, sweet dreams,” I replied as I shut the door and tiptoed down the stairs.

I thought about going to the kitchen and getting an icepack for my balls but I didn’t want to have to explain that if the Baker’s came home early. I knew I should tell on Caleb but the thought of explaining how a 7 year old got the drop on me and slugged me in the rocks was too humiliating. Instead I lay down on the couch and tried to find something to watch on TV. I’d been surfing for a good half hour when the front door opened then slammed shut, scaring the ever loving shit out of me. I jumped to my feet just as Emily stormed into the family room.

“Emily, what are you doing back so…” I started, then I noticed she was crying. “Em, are you alright?”

She didn’t say anything but she put her arms around my neck and sobbed against my chest. She was crying so hard I could feel tears leaking through my shirt. I put my arms around her waist and held her.

“Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be ok,” I said, offering what comfort I could.

“Greg Becket is such a jerk,” she choked out.

“What happened?”

“I thought I was so cool going out with a junior but all he wanted was sex.”

“What?”

“We were supposed to go out and maybe see a movie but he drove over to the ruins instead. We made out a little and then he, he, he…”

“He what?” I demanded. “Did he touch you, did he hurt you?”

“No, it wasn’t like that. I told him I wasn’t that kind of girl and he just got mad and drove me home. I tried to tell him I was sorry and he said that’s what he gets for dating stupid little girls,” said Emily as she broke into fresh sobs and buried her face against my chest.

“Hey, it’s ok, you don’t need him,” I said soothingly as I ran my hand up and down her back. “I’ll go find him tomorrow and kick his ass.”

“What?” Emily exclaimed as she pulled back and stared up into my face.

“I’ll find him and teach him some manners.”

“But he’s a junior,” said Emily.

“Yeah, he’s bigger than me too but I don’t care. That’s no way to treat a lady.”

“Thanks, Jamie, you’re really sweet,” Emily snorted and kissed me on the cheek.

“You’re welcome.” I blushed.

“Forget Greg, he’s not worth it,” said Emily as she wiped her eyes. “I’d rather go out with you then have you waste your time getting into a fight with that tool.”

“Yeah?”

“I really screwed you over tonight, sticking you with Caleb, and you’re still being so sweet to me. Yeah, I’d really like to go out with you tomorrow.”

“Ok.” I smiled.

She kissed me on the cheek again and then went to the bathroom to freshen up. Her parents got home as she was coming out. They thanked me for watching Caleb and Emily saw me to the door.

“I mean it, Jamie. Call me tomorrow, maybe we can get some ice cream or something,” said Emily.

“It’s a date.” I smiled. She’d kissed me twice already and I wanted to return the favor but thought better of it after the night she had. I wanted to show her it wasn’t just talk, that I really did know how to be a gentleman.

It was a short walk home and when I got back I checked in with my parents then found my brother waiting for me in the basement with our friends, Asher, Scotty, Trent and Teddy. They had their sleeping bags laid out for a sleep over.

“Hey guys,” I greeted them.

“Dude, how’d the date turn out?” asked Sean.

“Not half bad.” I smiled and grabbed the Xbox controller from him. “What are we playing?”

Sean gave me a quizzical look; after all he’d gotten my text earlier. I just continued to smile and shot him a wink. A gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell.

THE END