The Preacher’s Kid

A Sanitaria Springs Story

By Ryan Bartlett


I was sitting on the couch watching a baseball game when my neck was suddenly encircled from behind by a pair of slender arms. Soft lips pressed against my cheek and then Chase whispered in my ear, “What’s happenin, hot stuff?”

“Not much, sugar tits,” I giggled my reply.

“Ahhh, dude,” Chase exclaimed. “I thought you were Kale!”

“Well, that’s what happens when you sneak up on people,” I replied as I stood up. I found Chase and Kale’s friends, Alec and Sasha, standing in the entryway giggling at us.

“It’s not my fault you all look alike,” Chase pouted.

“Uh huh. I’ll go grab Kale. If mom and dad bring Jamie home before I get back don’t make out with him. You know, cause we all look so much alike,” I teased. Alec and Sasha doubled over with laughter.

I took a few steps towards the stairs but didn’t need to go any further.

“What’s so funny?” Kale asked as he descended the stairs.

“Your boyfriend’s confused,” I smirked.

“Whatever, I think you liked me kissing you,” Chase finally rebounded.

“It was better than Casey, I’ll give you that.” Casey is our family’s German Shepard. Chase’s kiss wasn’t nearly as sloppy as hers.

“Honey, why are you kissing my little brother?”

“I thought he was you,” Chase blushed.

“We all look alike you know?” I taunted.

“Awwww, did you have a blond moment?” said Kale as he crossed over to Chase and gave him a proper kiss.

Chase got a goofy grin on his face, and I think he and my brother were momentarily lost in their own little world.

“We’re going to be late,” I said, bringing them back down to earth.

“Right,” Kale agreed. “We better go.”

“Don’t worry, Chase; I’ll sit in the back with Alec and Sasha so you’re not tempted.”

“Oh whatever, Robin. Shut up and get in the truck,” Chase laughed.

Is it weird to be happy for someone and sad at the same time? A few months ago my brother Kale had a heart attack and ended up having open heart surgery. It was a shock to all of us, I mean he’s only 16, no one saw it coming. The good news is Kale’s okay. He made it through surgery and fully recovered, but the experience changed him. He used to be really shy and kind of quiet, but his brush with death seems to have brought him out of his shell. He and Chase came out at school, he has a bunch of new friends like Alec and Sasha, and he seems really happy. These are all good things.

The sad part comes from the fact I miss him. Kale and Chase had been best friends for a long time before they started dating, but their idea of dating used to be hanging out at our house playing video games or kicking the soccer ball around the yard. Now they always have something to do or some place to go and well, I miss Kale. We had our own friends and our own lives, but Kale was always there to hang out with, because he’d been a total closet case and he and Chase didn’t go out much. Jamie was a poor substitute, mostly because he usually falls asleep before 9:30.

I think the only reason they were including me tonight was out of habit. It was a Thursday and that meant we had youth group at Sanitaria Springs First United Methodist Church. Kale, Chase and I were all members of the Church, but the group was going bowling tonight and they’d invited their friends. I was happy to be part of the group but started feeling like the fifth wheel after we rented our shoes and picked a lane.

“Alright, fags versus flamers,” said Alec, as he started entering team names into the computer.

“Alec, you can’t use names like that,” said Kale. “You remember this is a church youth group right?”

“I thought Jesus loved fags, or was it figs?” Alec scratched his head.

“Talk to your man,” Kale rolled his eyes while speaking to Sasha.

“Chase and Kale are good church boys. Don’t upset them.” Sasha grinned.

“Fine, flamers versus figs?” Alec pouted.

“Whatever,” Chase laughed. “You guys are the flamers.”

“No way, we got dibs on figs,” said Alec.

“You wish! You guys are way gayer then us,” said Kale.

“Not even. What could be more masculine then a stud football player,” said Alec, flexing his bicep, “and his boyfriend?”

They would have bantered back and forth all night if I hadn’t interrupted.

“Um, what about me?”

“Robin,” said Kale as if he was surprised to see me. He’d forgotten I was there. “Um, it’s kind of hard to play teams with five of us. How about you sit this game out and take my place in the next one?”

“OK,” I sighed.

“You can take my place,” Sasha offered. “I’m a really crappy bowler.”

“Sash, you’re not supposed to admit that,” said Alec. “Now the figs are going to accuse us of hustling them when we kick their asses.”

“So you admit you’re the flamers then?” said Chase.

“I admit nothing!” Alec retorted.

While they resumed their playful arguing I thanked Sasha but told him I was okay, he should play with his boyfriend. He gave me an apologetic shrug of his shoulders and then jumped into the argument with the guys.

“I’ve got it! How about crusaders versus heathens? That’s got a nice biblical ring to it,” said Sasha.

I thought about wandering around and finding some of the other youth group members to play with but they’d all teamed up already. I sat there and twiddled my thumbs until Pastor Alan joined me.

“Howdy, Robin,” the pastor exclaimed as he clapped me on the knee.

“Hey, Pastor Alan,” I smiled.

I love Pastor Alan and his wife Marcia! They’re a young couple and have breathed new life into our boring old church. They have a 4 year old daughter named Molly who calls me “Wobin.” She’s about the most adorable thing there is except for maybe Jamie. My little brother might be a barbarian at times but he can really turn on the charm when he wants to.

“You look a little lonely,” said the pastor.

“I’m with Kale and his friends,” I nodded in their direction.

“Looks like the heathens are kicking the crusader’s butts.”

“The truth is none of them can bowl,” I rolled my eyes.

“Listen, I saw you sitting here by yourself and I was wondering if you’d do me a favor?”

“Sure, pastor. What’s up?”

“We’ve got someone new joining us tonight. He’s your age, but he’s a little shy. I thought you guys might hit it off.”

“Yeah, okay,” I agreed.

I followed the pastor down a few lanes until we came to a stop by the shoe counter. There was a boy sitting there with his legs stretched out and his arms folded over his chest. He had his head down and didn’t look very happy to be there.

“Hey, Charlie,” said Pastor Alan. “This is my friend Robin Kirkwood. He goes to your new school, and I thought you guys could get to know each other. Robin, this is Charlie Cooper. He’s going to be staying with us for a while.”

“That’s cool.”

“Charlie just moved in yesterday. Charlie, don’t you want to say hi?”

“Hey,” said Charlie, looking up at me for the first time.

He had the reddest hair I’ve ever seen. You know how most people claim they have red hair but it’s usually orange? Not Charlie. His hair was a deep, rich shade of red that went perfectly with his emerald green eyes and the smattering of freckles across the bridge of his nose. He was really cute and that seemed weird. I can’t remember thinking of another boy as cute before. I mean sure, I think Jamie’s cute, but that’s different. He’s my little brother, and if I was 12 we’d look like twins. This was an entirely new experience.

“It’s nice to meet you, Charlie. Can I sit with you?”

“Sure,” Charlie mumbled.

“Thanks,” I smiled. I’m sort of a quiet guy, but I’m not what you’d call shy. I like making new friends, and Charlie intrigued me.

“I’ll just leave you guys to get acquainted,” said the pastor before he left.

“So you’re going to Columbia?”

“Yeah, I start on Monday,” said Charlie.

“That’s cool. I think you’ll like it. We used to have two high schools, Columbia East and Columbia West but now we’re one big happy Columbian family,” I rambled.

“Yeah,” Charlie acknowledged.

“So where did you move from?”

“Binghamton,” said Charlie.

“Shoot, that’s the big city compared to this town,” I smiled.

“I guess so,” said Charlie.

“You’ll really like living with Marcia and Pastor Alan. They’re so nice.”

“Yeah, they seem OK for foster parents.”

“They’re your foster parents?” I had no idea.

“Yeah,” Charlie nodded.

“How did you end up in foster care?”

“Um, that’s a little personal,” Charlie blushed.

“You’re right. Geez, where are my manners? Sorry.” I blushed in return.

I think my mild embarrassment set Charlie at ease, because he seemed to relax a little after that.

“So you’re a lacrosse player?” asked Charlie.

I followed his eyes and he was looking at my t-shirt. It read “Columbia High School,” across the top. There was a pair of crossed lacrosse sticks and then underneath them it read “Varsity Lacrosse.”

“Yeap,” I smiled proudly.

“You must be pretty good to make varsity as a freshman,” said Charlie.

“Well, I’m not the greatest player on the team, and a lot of seniors graduated last year making room for us younger guys.”

“That’s cool,” Charlie nodded.

“Do you play?”

“Me?” said Charlie; his green eyes widened a bit. “No way! I’m a terrible athlete, but I like watching. It looks like fun.”

“Maybe you can come over sometime and we can pass the ball around,” I offered.

“Yeah, maybe,” Charlie smiled for the first time.

“So you don’t play sports. What do you like to do?”

“I like to read and draw. I sing…” Charlie started.

“That’s cool. I love to sing. You should totally join the church choir,” I exclaimed.

“Maybe. Are you in it?”

“Yeah! We used to have a boys choir but you know, your nuts drop, your voice changes and they make you start singing with the grown-ups,” I laughed and Charlie laughed with me.

“Yeah, maybe I’ll check it out,” said Charlie.

“That would be great. It would be nice to have another guy my age to hang out with.”

Charlie smiled again and then looked down the lanes at Kale and his friends.

“Who’re those boys you’re with?” said Charlie. “I saw you sitting with them before you came over here.”

“Oh, the one with the black hair is my brother, Kale, and the blond is his boyfriend, Chase. The guy bowling is their friend, Sasha, and the dude with the reddish brown hair is his boyfriend, Alec.”

“They’re all gay?” Charlie exclaimed.

“I know, right? It must be something in the water here,” I snickered, then noticed the serious expression on Charlie’s face. “That’s not a problem, is it?”

“What?” Charlie looked at me wide eyed. “No, no, not at all. I’m just surprised. We didn’t have any openly gay kids at my old school.”

“Well, we’re a pretty cosmopolitan little backwater,” I smiled. Charlie smiled back. “So, you wanna bowl a few frames?”

“Sure, that sounds fun,” said Charlie.

I had so much fun with Charlie I didn’t realize how late it was until Kale came over to get me. I quickly introduced him to Charlie but then we had to head home. Charlie and I hadn’t really talked about anything important, but I enjoyed his company and felt like I’d made a new friend.

I looked forward to seeing him at school the following Monday, but that didn’t work out so well. He wasn’t in any of my classes, and he had a different lunch period. I would have texted him, but I’d asked for his number at the bowling alley and he said he didn’t have a phone. I was sorely disappointed with the situation, but got a nice surprise when I arrived at choir practice Tuesday evening.

Sanitaria Springs really is a small town. We live in the old part of town on a wide tree-lined boulevard. I love my neighborhood! It’s like a picture out of a post card. We live in a big white colonial style house surrounded by similar homes. In the fall all the trees on our street turn vibrant shades of yellow, orange and red, and I swear the air smells like apple cider. It’s also close to downtown and therefore a short walk from my house to the church.

I got to choir practice and started chatting with some of the other tenors when Charlie walked in. He was wearing jeans and a green polo shirt that really brought out his eyes. I saw him looking around, and when our eyes met he smiled brightly. I excused myself from the guys and walked over to my new friend.

“Hi,” I greeted.

“Hey, Robin.” Charlie smiled.

“I’m so glad you decided to come tonight. I can’t believe the rotten schedule you got. I thought we’d be able to hang out at school.”

“Yeah, I was bummed about that too, but oh well. At least we can hang out here,” Charlie agreed.

“Or maybe you can come over sometime,” I offered.

“Really?” asked Charlie excitedly.

“Well, sure. It’s not like my dog bites or anything. My little brother might, but you just have to hit him with a rolled up newspaper.”

“You’re joking, right?” Charlie asked dubiously.

“Duh,” I smiled and we laughed together. “That never works, but don’t worry, we keep a squirt bottle handy.”

The choir director called us together then. Charlie still had something of a soprano voice so we couldn’t stand next to each other while we sang. That evening we ran through three hymns we’d be singing during the Sunday service, Nearer My God to Thee, Thy Word and Come and Find the Quiet Center. Charlie had a beautiful voice and it really came through on the last hymn, which is one of my favorites.

When practice was over, Charlie offered to put away all the music stands. He lived right next door with his foster family in the church parsonage, so he wasn’t in a hurry to get home before dark. I wanted to hang out with Charlie and didn’t have far to walk myself, so I volunteered to help him. It didn’t take us long to put the equipment away. When we finished we sat together on the piano bench.

“Do you always dress so formally in church?” Charlie teased.

He wasn’t exactly in formal attire, but he looked like a GAP model compared to me. I was only wearing another lacrosse t-shirt, a pair of basketball shorts and some flip flops.

“Shut up,” I grinned and gave him a playful shove. “I dress better most of the time.”

“If you say so,” Charlie grinned.

“Anyway,” I rolled my eyes, “you’re a really good singer.”

“Ah, I’m not that great,” Charlie blushed.

“You’re just being humble. You were good.”

“Maybe,” said Charlie.

“Do you sing other stuff?”

“What do you mean?” Charlie shot me a confused look.

“Well, like, OK, I love singing in the church choir, but the music can be pretty boring sometimes. What do you sing in the shower?”

“Oh, I get it.” Charlie grinned. “I don’t know, I like rock, you know, some classic but mostly alternative and a little pop.”

“Hey me too! What’s your favorite song?”

“Let’s see, my current favorite is probably, ummm, The Fault in Our Stars by Troye Sivan. Do you know it?”

“I don’t even know who the singer is,” I admitted.

“Check it out on Youtube,” Charlie suggested. “It’s really good.”

“Or you could sing it,” I grinned.

“What, here?” Charlie’s eyes grew a little wider.

“Why not? It’s a choir room after all.”

“Well, I guess I could,” said Charlie.

“Awesome! Go up on the risers. I want the full treatment,” I laughed.

“You are such a goof,” Charlie smiled. “I can’t believe I’m doing this.”

“Come on, I’m a great audience.”

“Alright,” Charlie climbed up on the risers and took a deep breath.

“The weight, of a simple human emotion, weighs me down, more than the tank ever did. The pain, it's determined and demanding, to ache, but I'm okay. And I don't want to let this go, I don't want to lose control, I just want to see the stars with you…” Charlie sang.

He had a great voice, and I was so moved by the song he’d selected. It was such an emotional piece I almost got choked up.

“So, what did you think?” said Charlie when he resumed his seat on the piano bench.

“Dude,” I breathed. “That was great. I really like the sound of your voice.”

Charlie’s a foster kid, I know that means he’s probably experienced some pain in his life, but it all seemed to come out in that song. He sang it as if he’d put his whole heart into it.

“It wasn’t anything special,” Charlie looked down at his shoes.

Silence fell over us at that point. We were sitting so close our knees touched. When he put his hand on the bench his index finger brushed against mine. When I didn’t move my hand away he began gently stroking the top of it with his index finger.

Something strange was going on. I was sitting there letting a boy affectionately pet my hand, and I wasn’t bothered by it in the least. Yes, my big brother is gay and I don’t care, I love him, but I’d never thought I might be too. Charlie sent all kinds of new thoughts surging through my brain. He was cute, his voice was beautiful, and his touch was soothing. I don’t know how long we sat there in silence but eventually there was a stirring in my shorts and my dick began stretching out my underwear. A boy had never caused that to happen before!

Charlie looked up and our eyes met. There was something there, something hiding behind the blazing emerald fire. I don’t know if it was fear, regret or what but the moment I noticed it Charlie seemed to sense it. He pulled his hand away from me and mumbled a hasty, “So Alan’s going to come by and lock up. I, um, I gotta go.”

He left so fast I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye. I did notice he was covering his crotch though. I wondered if he had a boner too. It would certainly explain why he took off the way he did. I was intrigued by this new development, but maybe it scared Charlie.

As interesting as my feelings for Charlie were, they were still confusing. I’d never had a crush on a boy before, and the longer I dwelled on it the more these feelings felt like exactly that, a crush. I turned to the one person I thought might understand. I just had to wait for the right opportunity and actually catch him at home.

“Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?” I asked after knocking on Kale’s door and sticking my head inside.

“Sure, Robin. What’s up?” said Kale. He’d been lying on his bed reading a book but sat up and patted the seat next to him. I sat in the offered seat and then took a deep breath.

“OK, so this might sound strange but um, how do you know when you like a boy?”

“Uh, what?” Kale’s eyes bugged out.

“Come on, don’t look at me like that,” I blushed.

“Sorry, it’s just, wow, I didn’t see that coming,” said Kale.

“How do you think I feel?” I exclaimed.

“OK, OK, calm down. So you think you like a boy?”

“That’s the problem. I’m not sure.”

“Alright, let’s start from the beginning. Who is this guy?”

“Charlie. You know, Pastor Alan’s foster son,” I sighed.

“The pastor’s foster son?” Kale exclaimed.

“Yeap,” I nodded.

“Wow, Okay what makes you think you like him?”

“It’s hard to explain. I mean, I think he’s cute and I’ve never felt that way about a guy before, but it’s more than that.”

“More how, I mean like what?”

“He sang a song for me after choir the other night, and it was so beautiful! Kale, he touched my hand and I don’t know, it wasn’t a spark, that’s so cliché, but there was something there. I felt it.”

“Hmmm, how do you feel about girls?”

“I like girls.”

“OK but do you want to, you know, do anything with them?” Kale blushed uncomfortably.

“Uh, I have done stuff with them.”

“What? Really?” Kale exclaimed.

“Yeap,” I grinned.

“Like what? Please tell me you’re not having sex! Robin, you’re just a baby!”

“I’m not a baby and I’m not having sex. It’s mostly been kissing and stuff,” I explained.

“What stuff?”

“You know Cathy Peterson?”


“She put her hand down my pants at the country club Christmas party a few months ago and offered to suck my dick.” I grinned.

“Did you…”

“Gross! No! I like girls, not skanks!” I laughed. “I did get a boner though.”

“Does Charlie have that effect on you?”

“That night after choir practice, it was hard to walk home because I was so hard. You know what it’s like when your dick is so hard that…”

“I get it. You’ve painted a very clear picture,” Kale grimaced. “You know, you don’t have to choose. You don’t have to be gay or straight. You could be bi, or maybe there’s just something special about Charlie that puts the wowzers in your trousers.”

“Maybe, but what do I do about it?”

“That depends. Do you think he feels the same way?”

“Maybe. I mean guys don’t just stroke other guy’s hands like that. He ran out of the choir room so fast I didn’t get to say goodbye, but I think he was hard too.”

“OK, so that answers that. What do you want from him? I mean do you want to maybe date him, or are you just looking for some kind of sexual experience.”

“Kale, I’m not like that,” I blushed.

“I didn’t think so,” Kale patted me on the back. “But you are almost 15 and you know, hormones and stuff.”

“I think, well, I think it would be cool to be his boyfriend, but I don’t know how to approach it. I mean, how did you tell Chase?”

“Ha, I didn’t,” Kale laughed.

“Then how did you…”

“The cheeky bastard kissed me in the library at school,” Kale exclaimed.

“Wow, that was a bold move. Go, Chase.” I smiled.

“Yeah, it worked out for us.”

“You think I should do that?”

“I think you should do what’s in your heart. You’re a sensitive guy and…”

“I’m not that sensitive,” I blushed.

“Yes, you are, but that’s not a bad thing, Robin.” Kale rubbed my back. “You’re a great guy, and you care about people. That’s a good trait.”

“OK, but what does it mean now, in this situation?”

“It means if you like Charlie, if you have special feelings for him, then you should probably talk to him about it.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” I sighed. “Thanks for the talk.”

“Look, I know I haven’t been around much lately, but you know I love you, right?”

“Sure, Kale, I know that.”

“So if you ever need to talk, if you ever need anything at all, call me, okay? I’ll stop whatever I’m doing and be there when you need me.”

“Thanks.” I hugged my big brother and left his room.

Kale gave me a lot to think about. He was right; talking to Charlie was the most obvious thing to do and probably the most prudent. I’m still stunned by the effect that redhead is having on me, especially in such a short time, but what the hell, it makes me feel good. I just hope he feels the same when all is said and done.

The waiting was interminable. I tried to run into Charlie at school but with our totally different schedules and lunch periods that was basically impossible. I thought about going to his house but I don’t know; that didn’t seem quite right. If he didn’t like what I had to say, he’d be left with nowhere to run, and that seemed kind of messed up. I saw him at church on Sunday; that wasn’t the right time, not with the whole congregation watching. No, I didn’t get an opportunity to talk to Charlie until Tuesday night choir practice.

Practice went well, but I couldn’t tell you what hymns we rehearsed. My mind was focused on one thing, or rather, one person. When practice ended Charlie once again offered to put the music stands away and I volunteered to help him. I didn’t say anything until we’d finished the work and Charlie looked like he was going to leave.

“Hey, can we talk a minute?” I asked and took a seat on the piano bench.

“Yeah, OK,” Charlie sighed and sat next to me.

“Look…” I started.

“I’m sorry about last week,” Charlie blurted out. “I don’t know what came over me. I shouldn’t have touched you like that.”

“Charlie, it’s okay. I didn’t mind.”

“No?” he looked at me as if he didn’t believe me.

“Charlie, if it bothered me, I’d have told you to stop touching me.”


“I liked it,” I admitted.

“You did?”

“Yeah, I really did.”

“Oh,” said Charlie.

“The thing I wanted to talk to you about, well, Charlie it’s like this, I’ve never liked a boy before.”

“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean anything the other day. I shouldn’t have touched you like that. I …”

“Geez, will you quit interrupting me?” I pleaded. He was making this so difficult.

“Sorry.” Charlie looked down at his feet.

“As I was saying, I’ve never liked a boy before, but I like you.”


“It’s so confusing. I’ve made out with girls. I think about girls a lot, but since the moment I met you, I don’t know, I haven’t been able to think of anyone else.”

“We hit it off pretty good. Maybe our friendship is confusing you,” Charlie offered.

“That’s not it. I don’t want to do this with any of my other friends.” I leaned in and kissed him on the cheek.

“You kissed me!” Charlie exclaimed. “I can’t believe you did that!”

“Me either. It wasn’t part of the plan, but it felt right. Didn’t it?”

“I don’t know,” Charlie blushed and looked at his feet.

“Hmmmm, maybe we need to try it again.”

I reached out and stroked his chin then gently turned him to face me. I put my hand on his cheek and pressed my lips to his. Whether he wanted to or not, instinct took over and he kissed me back. It was only when my lips parted and I gently lapped at his that he pulled back.

“Robin, stop,” Charlie panted.

“Sorry,” I blushed.

“Don’t be, it was nice,” Charlie admitted.

“Then what’s the…”

“There are things you don’t know about me,” said Charlie.

“Like what?”

“Things that, well, I can’t talk about it here. Would you maybe want to spend the night at my house Friday? I mean if it’s OK with Marcia and Alan?”

“Really?” I asked excitedly.

“Yeah, we can talk and, I don’t know, take things from there.”

“I’d like that Charlie, I really would.” I smiled.

“OK,” said Charlie. He reached out and squeezed my hand. “I gotta get home.”

“Alright,” I leaned in and he let me give him another peck on the cheek. He flashed me a bashful smile and then quickly ran off like a frightened rabbit.

Things hadn’t gone exactly as planned, but it was a start. He didn’t hit me when I kissed him or anything. Speaking of which, I can’t believe I kissed him! I’d planned to talk things out, but he kept interrupting me and I don’t know, kissing him felt like the quickest way to get my point across. Kissing him wasn’t any different physically then kissing a girl, but I felt more emotion from it than any kiss I’ve had before.

I didn’t have any idea what could possibly be in Charlie’s past that could change the way I felt about him, but I had to respect his position and see what he had to say. It goes without saying that the next three days were torture. I was so excited to spend the night at Charlie’s I couldn’t think of much else. When the day finally arrived I came home from school, packed a bag, slapped Jamie upside the head and kissed my mom goodbye. I all but ran to the parsonage.

“Wobin!” Molly exclaimed the moment Marcia let me in the door. The little girl threw her arms around my legs and I couldn’t walk.

“Come on, munchkin,” Marcia pried her away. “Robin’s here to spend the night with Charlie.”

“You like Charlie, Wobin?” said Marcia.

“Sure I do,” I smiled. “Don’t you think he’s a nice boy?”

“Charlie’s nice boy. He’s a good big brother,” Molly chirped.

“Hey,” said Charlie, sticking his head into the room from the kitchen. He must have over heard us.

“Hi,” I smiled.

“Alan won’t be finished up at the church for another hour or so. Why don’t you guys go out back and play with Buddy?” Marcia suggested.

“Yeah, that’s a good idea,” Charlie agreed.

Marcia patted Charlie on the back and gave me a warm smile as we made our way past her. We walked through the kitchen and out the back door. As soon as we were outside, Buddy, the family Corgi, started nipping at his heels. I love dogs and Corgis are especially cute, so I knelt down and petted him while he licked my face.

“I think he likes me,” I giggled.

“He has good taste,” Charlie smiled down at us.

“Are you ready to talk?”

“Tonight, after everyone’s in bed,” said Charlie. “In the mean time we might as well give this bum a little exercise.”

Charlie grabbed a Nerf football from a box on the porch and we started a game of keep away with Buddy. That dog ran around the yard like Jamie on a sugar rush until Pastor Alan got home and called us in to dinner. Dinner was great and afterwards we played board games with the pastor and his wife. It’s weird; Alan and Marcia are young and cool, but somehow I expected their house to be more formal and churchy. They were so casual and so easy going. You could tell that even though they hadn’t been together long, they adored Charlie and the feeling seemed to be mutual.

When bed time came I followed Charlie to his room. It was time to talk, and I was both excited and nervous. Hopefully I was about to have my first boyfriend, but the voice of caution kept whispering to take things slowly.

The parsonage wasn’t huge, but it was cozy and comfortable. Charlie had a nice sized room and a full sized bed.

“So why don’t we get ready for bed and then we can talk?” said Charlie.

“OK, that’s a good plan. Am I sleeping with you?”

“Unless you don’t want…” Charlie started.

“Nope, that’s fine with me,” I smiled.

Charlie started taking off his clothes, and I couldn’t help but watch. He really was cute. He was thin but not too thin, his body was just right. When he took off his pants I couldn’t help but giggle. Most boys I know wear boxers or boxer-briefs. Charlie’s tighty whities were the first I’d seen in a while.

“What?” said Charlie.

“Nothing,” I giggled.

“Come on, spit it out. What’s so funny?”

“Your undies,” I grinned. “They’re so cute.”

“Shut up,” Charlie blushed.

“What? They are,” I exclaimed.

“Yeah, yeah, let’s see yours then.”

“Right.” I giggled and stripped down to my blue boxer briefs. “Tada!”


Now it was my turn to ask, “What?”

“Robin, your stomach, holy crap!”

“What’s the matter with it?” I asked and looked down. It looked OK to me.

“I didn’t know you were so ripped!”

“Oh shut up, I am not,” I laughed.

“You have really nice abs. Can I touch them?” Charlie asked timidly.

“Yeah, sure,” I smiled.

Charlie walked over to me and reached out tentatively. His hand was moving so slowly I grabbed his wrist and pulled it against me. He let out a little snort of a giggle and started rubbing my abs. I didn’t think they were so great, they barely showed, but I was glad Charlie liked them. He kept touching me and I started to feel a familiar stirring in my undies. I think Charlie must have been experiencing the same thing because he quickly pulled away and suggested we get in bed.

As soon as we were under the covers he turned out the bedside lamp. We lay there in darkened silence staring at the celling for what felt like an eternity. I was beginning to wonder if he’d fallen asleep when he finally spoke.

“My mom died when I was 5,” Charlie sighed.

“I’m sorry. I had no idea.”

“Don’t be, it was a long time ago, and there was no way you could have known,” said Charlie. “Anyway, I lived with my dad and we were best friends.”

“That’s good. I mean at least you had him,” I reasoned.

“It was good, that is until a few weeks ago.”

“What happened?”

“I’m getting to it. It’s hard. Just let me get there, okay?”

“Of course.”

“Dad took me down into the City to see a Yankee game a few weeks ago. I’m not much of a baseball fan but I like going to the games. I used to like going anywhere with my dad,” Charlie began. I kept quiet. He said this was hard for him and I was determined to be patient and let him say what he had to say.

“I’d wanted to tell him I was gay for a long time. It really bothered me, keeping a secret from him. We were so close. I shared everything with him, and I felt like it was finally time to tell him who I was on the inside.”

“On the way home from the game I told him I needed to talk. It’s a long drive and I thought I’d be able to get it all off my chest. Dad was great he actually pulled over and gave me his full attention. Then I did it. I told him I was gay,” Charlie sniffled.

“Are you OK?” I asked tenderly.

“It hurts but I need to tell you,” said Charlie.

He choked back a few sobs before continuing.

“I told him I was gay and he tried to tell me I was too young to know that. I told him there wasn’t anything to know. It’s not something I decided to be, it’s just who I am. He told me I needed to give it some serious thought, and then he pulled back onto the road.”

“He didn’t say another word until we got home. He told me to go to my room and that he’d be up in a minute. I waited for him there. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but when he came in he asked me if I’d thought about everything I’d told him on the drive home.”

“I told him I’d thought about it but it didn’t change anything. I’m gay, it’s who I am,” Charlie choked on another sob.

“It’s OK,” I reached over and patted his arm.

“It happened so fast. One minute I was sitting there and the next; he grabbed my neck and threw me down on my bed. He yanked my pants down so fast I didn’t know what was going on and then, then he beat me.”

“What?” I exclaimed.

“He beat me with his belt. He said he didn’t raise any faggot, and he kept hitting me over and over again,” Charlie sobbed.

“Oh, God! Oh, Charlie…”

“He beat me so bad there was blood. I couldn’t sit down at school the next day because it hurt so much. The school called the cops, and they made me tell them everything, then they took me away. That’s when I came to live here.”

“Oh, Charlie, I’m so, so sorry,” I sniffled. I could feel tears leaking from my own eyes. It was such a sad, tragic story.

“I loved him so much. Why did he do that to me, Robin? Why?” Charlie sobbed almost uncontrollably.

I couldn’t hold back any longer. The boy I liked, hell, the boy I was falling in love with, was lying next to me in pain, and I had to reach out to him. I rolled on my side and pulled Charlie to me. I wrapped my arms around him and hugged him tight. I wanted him to feel safe. I wanted him to know no one would ever hurt him again, that I would protect him. His cries were powerful, and his body shook with sobs. I cried right along with him. I couldn’t imagine anyone, especially a parent, hurting this sweet, gentle soul.

Charlie cried for a long time, and then something strange happened. It was like his body purged itself of all its grief and replaced it with lust. Charlie’s lips found mine in the dark, and he kissed me with a hunger I’d never experienced before. I kissed him back just as passionately, and when he parted his lips and began to feed me his tongue I sucked it into my mouth eagerly.

I’d never experienced such intense passion before. Our tongues dueled in each other’s mouths and my hands ran up and down his slender back. Charlie reached behind himself without breaking our kiss and moved my hands down to his butt. I rubbed the firm buns through his tight cotton briefs and squeezed them.

Charlie rolled me onto my back and I felt his body slip between my legs. His erection pressed into my stomach and I could feel mine pushing into his legs. When Charlie started humping me as we kissed I couldn’t resist the urge and started thrusting my hips into his thigh. It wasn’t long and we both climaxed in our shorts.

It was an incredible, albeit unexpected experience. When it was over Charlie was exhausted and so was I. He nuzzled down on my chest and I wrapped my arms around him. We fell into a deep sleep and I can’t recall ever waking up feeling so rested and content.

When I woke up Charlie was on his side with his head propped up on his hand. He was staring down at me and playing with my abs with his free hand.

“Morning.” I smiled.

“Morning.” He smiled back.

“That was something last night.”

“Yeah, um, I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.” Charlie blushed.

“Don’t be sorry. It was wonderful,” I assured him with a peck on the lips.

“Thanks,” Charlie smiled.

I put my arm around his waist and drew him to me. I loved the feel of his warm skin pressed against me.

“There’s something I don’t get,” I said after a basking in Charlie’s touch for a moment. “Why did you think anything you told last night would change the way I feel about you?”

“I guess it’s because I’m so ashamed of it,” Charlie sighed. “I mean my own father beat me and threw me away like garbage. How would you feel?”

“I’d probably be devastated,” I admitted. “But for the record, it changes nothing. I want you to be my boyfriend, Charlie.”

“Really, you mean it?” Charlie smiled like a kid on Christmas morning.

“Of course I do.”

“Robin, you don’t know how happy that makes me,” said Charlie, sealing the deal with a kiss.

“It makes me happy too,” I smiled and pecked his lips.

“Mmmm, I could stay like this all day but we should probably get up and shower. You smell like cock.” Charlie laughed.

“Yeah, well, that happens when you make someone cum in their undies.” I laughed and gave him a playful swat on the butt.

“True. Next time we do this, no underwear,” said Charlie.

“I like the way you think,” I giggled.

We got up and took turns showering then joined his foster family for breakfast. It was a great day, a perfect day, and I think we were both profoundly happy. I hated to go home that evening, but it couldn’t be helped. I refused to leave though, at least until Charlie got permission to spend the night at my house the following weekend.

The following week dragged on but at least it ended with a nice surprise. Friday morning I learned that Jamie was spending the night at his friend’s house and Kale was going to the movies with Chase and the guys. Mom and dad felt Charlie and I were mature enough to be left alone for an evening. After checking with the pastor and his wife to make sure they felt the same way, mom and dad made reservations for dinner in Binghamton. Charlie and I would have the house to ourselves for the evening.

I was really excited. There weren’t many places for guys like us to go out on a date in Sanitaria Springs, especially since we couldn’t drive. When mom and dad left on their date I went to the kitchen, turned on the radio and started burning chicken. Desire doesn’t always bring knowledge. I was really excited to cook for Charlie but that didn’t mean I knew how. The chicken was almost black when Charlie snuck up and jabbed me in the ribs.

“BOO!” he shouted.

“JESUS!” I exclaimed and jumped ten feet in the air. Charlie roared with laughter.

“How did you get in?” I panted, hoping my heart wouldn’t burst out of my chest.

“Door was open,” said Charlie. “I knocked but I guess you couldn’t hear me over the music.”

“Oh, right?” I blushed and walked over to turn off the radio.

“So, what’s cooking?”

“Um, chicken,” I frowned as I looked into the pan. It had gone from almost black to black beyond recognition.

“That uh, it looks, uh…” Charlie stuttered.

“Appetizing?” I offered.

“I was going to say carcinogenic,” Charlie giggled. I pushed out my bottom lip and pouted.

“Awww, but it was a nice thought though,” Charlie kissed my cheek and hugged me.

“No, you’re right. This might kill us. Let’s order pizza.”

I called Nirchi’s and soon a large combination, no onions, was headed our way. The restaurant is in Conklin, but fortunately they still deliver to us, because I LOVE their pizza.

“So how come you never told me you were rich?” said Charlie as I guided him to the family room while we waited for our dinner to arrive.

“Er, because I’m not?”

“Uh huh,” said Charlie. “What’s your dad do?”

“He’s a judge.”

“Interesting, and who does the black Mercedes in the driveway belong to?”

“It’s mom’s. They took dad’s car tonight.”

“Of course.” Charlie grinned. “Doesn’t your brother drive a BMW?”

“Yeah, so?”

“Oh, nothing. You’re clearly not rich at all,” Charlie teased.

“Whatever.” I laughed and kissed his cheek. “I guess I just don’t think of it as being rich. I mean I grew up in this house so it’s just home. And as for the money, it’s my parents’, not mine.”

“I like that you’re so humble. Such a sweetheart.” Charlie smiled and nuzzled my neck.

“Stop it, that tickles,” I laughed. Charlie didn’t stop though and I continued to giggle until the doorbell rang. “Finally saved by the bell.”

I paid the middle-aged pizza guy, who I’m pretty sure was my substitute teacher in 8th grade, then carried our dinner to the kitchen. Charlie got us some soda from the fridge and we devoured our pizza. When we were through there was nothing left of that pizza but the fumes.

Charlie and I returned to the family room and snuggled on the couch. A few weeks ago the thought of doing this with a boy would have been so alien, but it sure felt right in the moment.

“So what are we going to do tonight?” said Charlie.

“I don’t know, there’s nothing on TV. Wanna play some X-box?”

“Hmmm, we could but you know, now that I think about it, you owe me something.”

“Um, I do?”

“You made me sing for you in the choir room. You know what they say about payback, right?” Charlie grinned.

“Oh no, I’m not singing,” I laughed.

“Come on,” Charlie whined. “You made me sing and I hardly knew you then. It’s your turn.”

“I didn’t make you do anything,” I smirked.


“OK, OK, what do you want to hear?” I conceded.

“I don’t know, you pick. Something romantic,” said Charlie as he snuggled closer and rested his head on my shoulder.

“Hmmm,” I struggled to think of a tune and then it came to me. “OK, here goes.”

““Something has changed within me. Something is not the same. I'm through with playing by the rules of someone else's game. Too late for second-guessing. Too late to go back to sleep. It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes... and leap! It's time to try defying gravity! I think I'll try defying gravity…”

“Awww that was really sweet,” Charlie practically whispered.

“It’s how I feel Charlie. You make me feel like I could fly.”

“I love you, Robin.”

“I love you too.”

We kissed and quickly became a tangle of arms and legs as the passion grew. After a while we moved the festivities to my room. We didn’t fuck. We didn’t have sex. Charlie and I made love to each other that night.

When it was over we barely had the energy to put on our pajamas. It wouldn’t do for my parents to find us naked in my bed. We were sound asleep when they came home.

The next morning, my parents seemed blissfully ignorant to anything that had happened in our home the night before, which is just as well. I don’t think they’d understand. Kale, on the other hand, was another story. He came down to breakfast around the same time as Charlie and I. We were giggling and carrying on as if we were Jamie’s age. Kale shot me a raised eyebrow, but I just shrugged my shoulders. I’m pretty sure he understood my body language as a bemused smile spread across his lips. I’d say he was happy for me.

Mom and dad really seemed to like Charlie a lot and asked him if he’d stay for dinner that evening. He didn’t want to over stay his welcome, how cute is that, but I told him my mom was the best cook in western New York and he simply had to stay. That convinced him and a couple of hours we were walking to the store to pick up a hunk of blue cheese so mom could make her famous blue cheese mashed potatoes.

We soon discovered that the blue cheese wasn’t kept in the same section as the regular old cheddar and American and while we wandered the store searching for the fancy cheese section we came up with a little game. The store wasn’t very crowded that afternoon and as we wandered the aisles we stopped to kiss in every aisle void of shoppers. We were having so much fun until we stopped to lock lips on the canned bean aisle.

“Charlie,” a gruff voice exclaimed.

“Dad,” Charlie stuttered as he pulled away from me.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

“I, I, I,” Charlie spluttered.

I grabbed Charlie’s hand and squeezed it tight. I wanted him to remember he wasn’t alone. He didn’t have to face this himself.

“Answer me when I talk to you,” said Mr. Cooper as he grabbed Charlie’s arm and shook it violently. All poor Charlie could do was stare at him like a deer caught in headlights.

“Um, no, you’re not touching him like that,” I stated. I was almost as scared as Charlie was but I was doing my best to remain calm and not piss my pants. I grabbed Mr. Cooper’s thumb and peeled it back, forcing him to let his son go.

“This isn’t any of your fucking business,” said Mr. Cooper as he shoved me, hard.

I stumbled back against the shelves, and a can of creamed corn tumbled off the top and cracked me on the head. That seemed to snap Charlie out of his fear induced coma.

“AHHHHHHHHHHHH!” Charlie screamed as his fist connected with his dad’s jaw.

Mr. Cooper lay sprawled out on the tile floor. He wasn’t knocked out, but he was definitely seeing stars. Charlie advanced on him and might have kicked him to death if I hadn’t grabbed him around the waist and held him back.

“Let me go!” Charlie demanded.

“Charlie, I know he’s a bastard but he’s your dad.”

“He hurt you!”

“I’m OK, Charlie, I’m fine. You have to calm down.”

“I hate him,” said Charlie, then the tears started down his cheeks. “I hate him.”

“It’s alright. It’s OK,” I whispered soothingly as I rocked Charlie in my arms.

Someone must have seen what happened and ran to get the store security guard. Mr. Cooper was still dazed when he showed up so I told him what happened. Charlie was still clinging to me with his face hidden against my chest. The security guard listened to everything I had to say before calling the cops.

Sometimes it’s really great having a dad who is a judge. While the security guard called the cops I called dad and they arrived at the store about the same time. It turns out the whole thing was an unfortunate coincidence. Mr. Cooper had no idea Charlie was in Sanitaria Springs. He’d come out to visit a friend and stopped to grab something to snack on before heading home. The odds of him running into us the way he did must have been a million to one.

By the time the police hauled Mr. Cooper away, dad had arranged for a restraining order to keep him away from Charlie and slapped an assault charge on the bastard for shoving me. Charlie calmed down, and we dropped him off at the parsonage. I wanted to stay with him, be with him in his time of need, but dad explained this was a time for Charlie to be with his parents. I hated letting him go, but I knew in my heart dad was right. Charlie’s family, his true family, would take care of him.

The next day I was eager to get to church. Charlie was there with the Pastor, his wife and Molly. They always greet everyone before the service starts. As soon as Charlie saw me he nodded at a dark corner, and I met him there.

“Are you OK?” Charlie whispered once we were semi-alone.

“I’m fine. How are you?”

“I can’t believe I hit him,” Charlie exclaimed.

“I couldn’t either. You’ve got fists of fury, Charlie Cooper,” I giggled.

“I thought he hurt you. It’s one thing for him to do what he did to me, but there was no freaking way I could let him hurt you.”

“Well, I doubt you’ll have to worry about him again anytime soon.”

“Yeah, your dad was pretty awesome,” said Charlie.

“Don’t tell him that; he’ll start thinking he’s cool,” I snickered.

“You were pretty awesome too.”

“Me? I didn’t do anything.”

“You kept me from killing that son of a bitch. You kept me from hurting him, I mean really hurting him. Most importantly you kept me from being like him.”

“Charlie, I don’t know your dad but I can tell you’re nothing like him.”

“I’m not so sure. I was so angry; all I wanted to do was hurt him. That sounds a lot like what he did to me.”

“You’re nothing like him,” I repeated myself and hugged him. I didn’t care who saw.

I stood there holding Charlie in my arms and noticed something that struck me as funny.

“What are you laughing at,” said Charlie, when we released our embrace.

“Check it out. I think Jesus is OK with our relationship,” I nodded over his shoulder.

“I don’t get it,” said Charlie.

We were standing right in front of one of the church’s stained glass windows. I’ve been coming to this church all my life but never noticed this particular feature before.

“Check it out. He’s smiling at us,” I explained.

“Oh God, Robin, you’re so goofy,” Charlie hugged me again.

“I mean it. If Jesus approves, who cares what your dad or anyone else thinks?”

“You make a good point,” Charlie admitted.

Just then the church bell started ringing; the service was about to begin.

“Hmmm, sounds like Jesus approves but won’t have us delaying the service,” I giggled.

“Will you sit with me?” said Charlie. “I hate leaving your side.”

“Course I will, but just so you know, we’re going to be together for the rest of our lives.”

“You sound pretty sure of that,” said Charlie.

“There are some things I know. That’s one of them,” I grinned.

“What am I going to do with you,” Charlie rolled his eyes.

“I have no idea, but I’m dying to find out.”

The End