Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dear Jon - Issue # 25

Hello all! My name is V.L. Locey.  I am a self-published and traditionally published author that lives in the mountains of Pennsylvania with my husband of over twenty-two years, my daughter who is seventeen, a steer named after a famous NHL goalie, chickens, geese, ducks, one dog, two cats, and a partridge in a pear tree. For more info and links about me and my work, check out the Bio tab up above.

Enough about me, let`s get back to the romance.

Dear Jon

Chapter Twenty-Five


V.L. Locey


                "Why don`t you and Aunty Charlotte go see what those noisy birds are up to?" Charlotte asked, rising from her seat to take Andrew by the hand. The boy looked at me. I nodded at him. Out they went as Corporal David Brooks held the door open for them as gallant as any man could be. Andrew peeked back once through the dirty screen. I smiled to put the lad at ease.

            "Are you two queer?" David asked as soon as Charlotte and Andrew were out of hearing range.

            "Yes," I said as strongly as possible. Ross squeezed my fingers. I have never felt so vulnerable as I did at that moment. The radio was nothing but white sound now. I couldn`t tell you who was riding the air waves for all I could hear was my pulse pounding in my ears.

            "I just wish to say that while we may be homosexuals that does not mean that we are pedophiles. Those are two vastly different--"

            "I`m well aware of the difference," David said then came back over to sit across from me. "My brother is queer. I suppose I was just shocked to hear that two queer men were going to raise a boy in such a backwoods county."

            Ross had to speak. I was too overcome with emotion to form a coherent thought. His brother was queer. Oh, thank you God, or whoever looks down on men like me and Ross.

            "We had the secret well hidden," Ross explained. I nodded along as the whole story unfolded. I even smiled a bit when David choked on his bite of pie when the revelation about Charlotte was made.

            "I would have never guessed," he said after washing down the pie with some fresh coffee. "Betty never mentioned the fact that you were a homo. She just said you and her had harsh words the day your father died. She mourned the loss of your relationship, Jon. I can tell you that."

            "Yes, I do as well," I said timidly. "So, David," I began as Ross sat down on my left. We could hear Charlotte scolding the geese for splashing her dress on the hot summer wind blowing through the screen-door. "You said you had family in Boston? Is that . . ." I had to pause to force the query out. "Is that where you and Andrew will be going?"

            He nodded. My heart broke into several large chunks.

            "Yes, my family owns a large foundry that will employ over a thousand men. Most were off serving but now they`re slowly coming back. I have a managerial position waiting for me. My mother and father, they`ve opened up their home for Andy and me. I think, well, I think we`ll take them up on the offer. I had planned to buy a nice little house for Betty and me but . . ." he swallowed down his own ball of grief. Was it possible that this man, this shell of a soldier, this gaunt willowy man could need the uncompromising sort of love that only a child could give? Could he need Andrew now more than I did?

            "Would your mother take care of Andy while you were working?" I inquired. Ross now had my hand under his. Being open about our love made this a little easier.

            "Yes, she would. She`s looking forward to having us both back home. She, uhm, she said she feared she would never see her youngest  son again, and now she has a son and a grandson to coddle."

            Corporal David Brooks blushed. I could not help but like the man no matter how I wanted to hate him. And believe you me, I was trying to hate him to beat the damn band!

            "Your parents sound like fine, upstanding people," Ross said. "I know this is very forward of me, but do you think it would be possible for Jon and I to come see Andrew once in awhile?"

            David lowered his mug from his thin lips. "I should hope so. Actually, I was hoping you and Jon would come along. I think if you two were there, people he knows and is obviously close to, well, it would make things easier for the lad, don`t you think?"

            "Yes," I grinned, "Yes, I think it would make things much easier for him. Thank you, thank you so much," I said then began to cry despite all my efforts not to. Ross handed me his hankie.

            "Betty would never forgive me if I cut off her Jonny. Tell me, did she leave any kind of letters for me with you?"

            I shook my head as I blew my nose. "No, there was only one letter. I`m ashamed to say that I haven`t read it yet. Life has been quite a whirlwind since I learned about Andrew."

            "Ah," David said, looking rather crestfallen. "Well, if you should ever come across any addressed to me that she wrote while she was ill I`d be glad to have them. How much is it like her to not share that sort of news with those she loved?" he asked with a wistful smile. "Damn, she was one strong woman."

            "Yes, she was."

            "I can see that same kind of strength in you. I mean, moving out here to raise my boy alone, knowing how much the people here resent your kind. You gave up everything for Betty`s son, and that takes courage. I`m really glad Andy will have men like you in his life."

            I began sniffling again. I was glad Andy would have men like us in his life as well. And a father that was so open-minded. And an aunt who wore pumps and pin-striped frocks like no other woman.


Dear Jon,

I know this is going to come as a terrible shock, given how we ended things. You have no idea how many times I wrote letters to you, only to crumple them up. Pride. It is certainly a blessing and a curse and something you and I, and yes, Father, have in abundance.  Jon, no matter how you may feel about me, and the stand that I took that day, please do not let your hatred for me spill over onto Andrew. He is my darling baby boy. You are his uncle. He is all the family you`ll have left once this cancer takes me. His father is presumed dead, and that dream I had of marriage and a family is now gone. All that is left is sickness, hospitals, and a lost little boy with his uncle`s eyes and laugh.

Love him. Raise him well. Teach him about acceptance and forgiveness. Hold my baby close to you and never let anyone say that a man like you can`t be a good role model. I don`t care if you`re queer, Jon. I never did. Daddy did, I know, and I can only guess how much his disgust hurt you. But when I said those things about trying to be more like the rest of us, I only wanted to see you happy and safe. You took it to mean I was against your being a queer. I wasn`t. I was terrified of you being a dead queer.

Funny how when your time is near you see things with so much clarity, isn`t it?


            Your sister,


             I laid the letter on the counter. The sun was falling behind the trees. George and Gracie were resting beside the creek with their heads tucked under their wings. Andy and his father were sitting on the bank, talking to each other. The setting sun cast them in brilliant orange. I drug the back of my hand under my eyes. Someone big, firm, and kind slipped his arms around me.

            "I hear they have lovely landscapes in Massachusetts."

            My lips pulled up at the corners even though the tears weren`t dried yet.

            "I hear they have lots of wood there as well," I replied soaking all the strength I could from his embrace. "She never hated me for being queer," I choked out. Ross held me tight as father and son began to laugh out by the creek. We stood there in silence for several minutes.  "Will you come to Boston with me? With us?"

            "Just try to stop me," he whispered teasingly as a redhead behind us mentioned that she thought she might like living in Boston. 


The End


I hope you enjoyed Jon, Ross, and Andrew`s story. It has been a joy for me to write. I hope it has shown, in some small way, the steps that we have made in learning acceptance. Even today the war wages on but as Jon and Ross can attest to, love is love. It does not matter what gender or race those in love are. Let`s knock down those last remaining walls of intolerance once and for all. Support marriage equality.

I also have to pass along the news that this is my last post as a member of Storytime Trysts. I have enjoyed being a writer here, and have made so many wonderful friends. My leaving is simply due to having to streamline my free reads a bit more. 2014 is going to be a busy year as my To Love a Wildcat hockey romance series is being released by Secret Cravings Publishing. We are shooting for a novel to be released every three months. With all the work of promotion, marketing, writing, and editing for so many novels in such a short time I must step away from Storytime Trysts.

I`d like to thank Ellie, Tasha, Cathy, and all the other writers who were so warm and gracious over my time here. This is a wonderful group of highly skilled authors and genuinely great people. I hope I`ve been able to bring some love, laughter, and spice to you on my Saturday posts. May 2014 bring you and yours every blessing available! Thank you for your support. It really has meant the world to me.


V.L. Locey

Monday, January 13, 2014

Can't Get Enough

Can't Get Enough
Eva Rayne

I was surprised when I heard movement in the bedroom; foot steps and then my boyfriend calling out my name. I had just gotten out of the shower and, wrapping a towel around myself, I opened the door from the bathroom into our room.

Danny? What are you doing home? Is everything alright?” I asked when he didn't answer. The next thing I knew I was back stepping into the bathroom, Danny's body pinning me against the counter as his lips came crashing down on mine. 

Danny, what's going on?” I asked, gasping for air when he finally pulled away, one hand on his chest, the other clutching the towel to my own to keep it up. Instead of answering, Danny just pulled the towel from my chest and pushed me against the now closed bathroom door, moving his hot, urgent kisses to my neck as one hand found its way up my side to my left breast. As surprised, and somewhat concerned about his behavior, as I was, my body began to respond. My nipples hardened under his fingers and I could feel the my arousal growing and it wasn't long before a soft moan escaped my lips as his teeth nipped at my neck. 

Baby,” I moaned softly as he pressed against me, pushing me harder against the door and I could feel the cold of the doorknob against my side. This was unlike Danny; he was never rough with me, instead he was normally quite the opposite – gentle and soft – so when he spun me around, pressing me face first against the door I let out a small cry. He didn't acknowledge my surprise as he pressed his hips into my exposed backside, his hands reaching around and grabbing my breasts, squeezing as his fingers brushed roughly against my hardening nipples and his teeth found my neck once more.

After several long moments his hands traveled down, his touch rough and demanding as he pulled me closer to his as one of his hands danced over my opening. I moaned, squirming against him as his fingers found my clit. I could feel his name on my lips as my nails tried to find any part of him that I could get my hands on – his arms, hips, back – I couldn't keep still, not as two of his fingers pushed roughly into me. 

Bringing his hands back up to my hips he spun me around so that I was facing him once again. Before I could more the lose of his hot touch against me he curled his fingers in my hair and brought my mouth to kiss. His kisses were hot and urgent, all teeth and lust as he bit my bottom lip sharply. I was so caught up in the attack on my mouth I hadn't noticed that Danny had reopened the bathroom door until he was carefully leading me backwards into out room, not ceasing his attack on my lips. 

The next thing I knew the back of my thighs were bumping up against the bed and my fingers automatically found the button on his jeans. No sooner had I unfastened the button and tugged the zipper down I was being spun around again and he pushed me down so that I was on my knees and forearms. 

I let out a surprised gasp as I hit the soft mattress, hearing the sounds of denim falling to the floor as he kicked off his jeans. I couldn't help but jump as his hands grasped my hips, his erection pressing hard against my skin. And then he repositioned himself, thrusting into me deep and hard with no warning. I couldn't help but cry out and I could hear him let out a moan of his own as my muscles tightened around him. 

This wasn't like any other time we had made love, or ever any of the other quickies we had had on other days when he had come home on his lunch break. This was hard and fast, a different kind of urgency propelling him as not so gently massaged my breasts from behind, tangled his fingers in my long hair and pulled or pulled my hips toward him, meeting him in a thrust and pushing him even deeper. 

By the change in his breathing, and his grip on my sides I knew he was close, and I couldn't ignore the beginnings of my own orgasm. As the pitch of my moans grew higher, Danny's grip on my hips tightened, I was almost certain they'd be covered in light bruises by the next day. The thought was quickly wiped from my mind as my orgasm rippled through my body. As I tightened around him again I felt Danny finally giving in to his own orgasm, holding my hips close and leaning into me, his breathing heavy. 

As I began to finally catch my breath, I felt Danny's large hands resting softly on my back as he got his own breathing under control. Once his breathing had returned to normal to pulled out, causing a surprised mew to escape my lips. Hearing the sounds of rustling denim I rolled over and sat up facing him.

I looked up at him, my eyes wide in confusion as he pulled his pants up, fastening the button. Without a word he leaned down, kissing my forehead softly before walking out of the room, leaving me sitting on the bed, my fingers lightly brushing my sore, red lips. I sighed as I heard the front door open, and then close again seconds later. What exactly had just happened?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Dear Jon - Issue # 24

Hello all! My name is V.L. Locey.  I am a self-published and traditionally published author that lives in the mountains of Pennsylvania with my husband of over twenty-two years, my daughter who is seventeen, a steer named after a famous NHL goalie, chickens, geese, ducks, one dog, two cats, and a partridge in a pear tree. For more info and links about me and my work, check out the Bio tab up above.

Being a fan of music – and many other things from the 40`s - I thought it would be keen to include the links to the songs mentioned in this story. Here`s Dooley Wilson with As Time Goes By. Feel free to play them as you read for atmosphere or wait until you’re done.

Dear Jon

Chapter Twenty-Four


V.L. Locey


                Dinner arrived with flair. Pity that pizzazz wilted as soon as Charlotte sashayed into my sister`s humble cottage. Andrew was on my lap, stuck to me like a dry burdock. Ross was filling a plate with some pie I had purchased at the diner. Coffee was percolating. Andrew`s father sat in one of the rickety chairs looking lost. His eyes would not move from his son. And damn me for being a bastard, I held onto my nephew as if he were my life. Well, he was.  Half of it anyway.

            "It`s not homemade, Corporal, but I wager even store-made might be tasty," Ross said as he placed the plate with the thin slice of cherry pie in front of the soldier.

            "Isn`t that just my luck?" Charlotte said brightly. Our guest glanced over at the stunning redhead and his mouth dropped open an inch. "A good-looking man in uniform drops in and I`m off fetching meals!"

             David stood up so rapidly his chair raced across the kitchen. He whipped his hat off his head.

            "My name is Charlotte," she announced after depositing our meals on the table. He took her gloved hand gently. "Imagine a lady having to introduce herself."

            "Sorry," Ross said as he moved to stand behind me. "We were still trying to recuperate from the pleasant surprise of Andrew`s father showing up."

            Charlotte`s smoky eyes went wide. She allowed the soldier to bow over her hand then tugged free, her usually composed features reflecting her shock.

            "I didn`t mean to cause hard feelings," David said. I pulled Andy closer. Ross placed a hand to  my shoulder where it joins the neck..

            "There are no hard feelings, Corporal," Ross said kindly as his fingers worked on the steel cords in my neck. "We are beyond thrilled to have our boys coming back home to their families."

            Charlotte took the seat next to me. She stared at our guest openly, trying, I was sure, to find the similarities between Andrew and David. She did not have to search long. I met her worried look with one of my own. Ross continued kneading the knot in my neck.

            "I just want you to know that I am thankful beyond words for what you`ve done for Andrew. Taking care of him as if he were your own son. I - well, when I was recuperating all I could do was worry about him and his mother. She never mentioned any illness at all. The letters . . . just stopped suddenly. Then when I got into town and started asking around . . . I am so sad that the good Lord took her," he said, his eyes growing dewy.

             Charlotte handed the G.I. a frilly pink handkerchief from her clutch. He politely declined the offer.  I turned my head so no one could see my tears welling up. I could not cry. Not in front of Andy. He had to know that his father coming to get him was a good thing. Ross rubbed harder to counter the emotional train wreck I was about to become. "We had planned to get married after the war and move to Boston where the family business is. Damn my stupidity for not insisting she marry me before I shipped out!"

            "Don`t berate yourself, Corporal," Charlotte whispered to the distraught man. "We all think that we have lots of time."

            "You`re very kind, Ma`am," he said thickly. I went to stand up. Ross kept me seated, fearing I would bolt. He was getting to know me rather well.  The geese were at the back door. Andrew wiggled free.

            "That`s George and Gracie," he informed the stranger with the same chin as his. My stomach cramped. Ross now had two hands on my neck. "They eat bread. You want to feed them?" David smiled weakly at his son then nodded.

             The two went outside, each with a slice of  bread in hand. As soon as the rickety screen door closed, I buried my face in my hands. Charlotte began whispering platitudes. Ross worked on my neck to the point of pain. I welcomed the harsh fingers deep in my knotted muscle. It kept me from breaking down into a blubbering blob completely. Ross bent down, his thick arms wound around my shoulders. I leaned back, sucking in rapid breathes to try to regain some control. The radio was playing a song from that movie that Bogie released a few years ago.

            "I know," Ross said as his rough cheek rested against mine. "I know how hard this is for you, but the boy has to be with his father, Jon. I will be right at your side. You know I love you, right? We`ll get through this together."

            I nodded. Ross placed his lips to my damp cheek. The door opened with a slam. I jerked sharply as did the man holding me so intimately. Andrew bolted up to the table with mud on his nose. Corporal David Brooks stood in the doorway, the smile he had been wearing slowly slipping as he spied me in my lover`s embrace. If not for the gentle music falling from the radio, the moment would have been unbearable. As it was, I knew any thought I might have entertained about asking for visitation was now gone.

            I took one of those strong, rough hands on my shoulder in mine and held on tight.


Issue # 23

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Storytime is Moving II

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Storytime is Moving!

It's a new year, a new look, and a new Attitude!  Join your  usual trysters at our new location.  You can find todays story here:

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Monday, January 6, 2014

As the Ball Drops

As the Ball Drops
Eva Rayne

I had told McKenna what felt like a dozen times that I didn't want to do anything this new years eve. My love life, hell my life in general, had been pretty dull since Braden, my boyfriend of two years, and I had broken up several weeks ago and the last thing I wanted to do tonight was go to a party, let alone our law firm's stupid annual new years eve masquerade ball.

But here I was, holding my breath as McKenna pulled up the zipper of the deep blue ball gown she had brought over for me.

"You look beautiful!" she cried, spinning me around to face her. "Wait, hang on," she adjusted one of my curls, "There, now you're perfect!"

I felt like I had been her Barbie all afternoon. It had started with "Let's just add a little wave to your hair," which ended up being completely curled. She had also insisted on doing my make up herself. I still didn't understand the point of spending almost half an hour perfecting my make up when I'd be wearing a mask for the majority of the night, but apparently McKenna did, and it was important to her at least, so that's what we did. 

"Now you just need your mask." Careful not to muss my carefully placed curls, McKenna place the mask over my eyes, pulling the thin black elastic strap around my head. "I thought it would go perfectly with the dress and it does! Go look in the mirror," she demanded before going back into the bathroom to change into her own dress. 

Following orders, just as I had all night I stood in front of my full length mirror. I had to admit, she had done a fantastic job, I almost didn't recognize myself. The deep blue dress hugged the curves of my upper body before it turned into a full skirt. I normally wouldn't have picked something out for myself with this much glitter - the skirt was covered in thin layer of it and my chest was decorated with an intricate pattern of tiny, sparkling beads - but I actually loved it. I couldn't help but think I looked like a princess. 

As much as I loved the dress, the mask was my favorite part of the costume. It was a simple black mask covering my eyes and part of my forehead. The black seemed to sparkle, but wasn't choked in glitter the way some of the masks I had seen at these parties were. There was a handful of white beads sewn into the mask, bright, shining, against the black. They looked like stars in a dark night sky.

"Are you ready?" McKenna asked, reappearing in my room. Her dress was a light purple, her mask was the same color and covered in sparkles. She looked young and flirty in all the ways I looked older, more mysterious. 

"Yeah, I'm ready."

It was only ten thirty and I was wondering yet again why I had let McKenna talk me into this. She had sworn up and down that it would be good for me, that I needed to get out there again, and that she wouldn't leave my side all night if I didn't want her to. But, in true McKenna fashion, the second we were in the door to the ballroom she had disappeared. She may be the world's best assistant, and a wonderful friend - for the most part - but she was still a little naive. She was still under the impression that no one knew she had started seeing the new intern up in legal, but I had known for weeks and I was pretty sure that's where she had disappeared to.

The expansive ball room was filled with our entire company, as well as what seemed like half the community. Our firm had been throwing this party every new years eve for as long as I had worked for them and all the proceeds from the tickets went to charity and every year the turn out seemed bigger than the last. 

I stood off to the side, sipping a martini that the very nice bartender had been kind enough to refill...again. It would have been easy to pretend that I was in a movie, some of the dresses and masks were definitely elaborate enough to be right out of a movie. It was almost eleven and I had started to wonder if anyone would notice if I slipped out a side door and took a cab home.

I had almost made up my mind to go when I felt someone step up next to me. I turned and looked and was suddenly very glad I stayed. The man standing next to me was wearing a well tailored black suit with thin gold trim around his jacket that matched the golden mask on his face. 

"What are you doing over here all by yourself?" he asked, not looking at me but out over the crowd just as I had been moments before.

"No date," I said shrugging, "I didn't think I was coming until the very last minute." At this the mystery man turned to face me and raised an eyebrow.

"Six hundred dollar tickets and you didn't know if you were going to come or not?"

I shook my head, "I work for the company, it's kind of expected of us to be here,"

"So you're a lawyer?" he asked, sounding genuinely interested.

"For a couple years now, I love it," I said nodding before bringing my glass up to me lips.

"Let me get you another of those," he nodded at my now empty martini glass, "And then I have a proposition for you." His mysterious tone had caught my attention and I handed him my glass, "Don't move." His bright blue eye sparkled behind his mask and I smiled. 

"I'll be right here,"

When my mystery man reappeared he handed me my glass, sipping on a tumbler of his own, filled with something amber colored.

"So, what is this proposition you have for me," I asked after a moment of silence, running my finger around the lip of my martini glass. 

"How would you feel about ringing in the new year with a bang?" he asked, turning to face me. His tone was mysterious but the excited twinkle in his eye made me feel bold.

"Let's do it." I couldn't help the smile playing on my lips. Setting his tumbler on a near by table he grabbed my hand. I had barely enough time to set my own glass down before he was pulling me after him. We slid through a small side door which led down a carpeted hallway. I couldn't help but laugh as we ran down the hallway, headed who knows where. 

After a minute though I had to pull on his hand, "Hey, slow down," I said through breathless giggles, leaning against the wall. 

"Are you okay?" he asked, coming to stand in front of me, looking slightly worried. 

"I'm fine," I said shaking me head, "The combination of vodka and heels and running though, recipe for disaster," he chuckled, shaking his head. 

"Yeah, I know, I'm adorable," I said, poking his chest, feeling bold.

"Have you seen yourself tonight?" he asked, raising an eyebrow again and I looked up at him confused. "That dress? You're gorgeous," as his eyes flickered over my body the excited sparkle turned dark with lust. 

"Thank you," I said softly, my hand now resting lightly against his chest. He was so close now, his scent invading my senses.

"You're very welcome," his voice was low and husky, his hands hovering lightly against my hips. Feeling bold I pushed myself off from the wall and his arm quickly found its way around my waist, holding me against him. His other hand gently tipped my chin up and before I could think of anything remotely witty to say his lips were finding mine.

What was that old saying, that one about doing on new years day what you wanted to do all year? If how I felt now - the butterflies in my stomach, the electricity racing along my skin where he touched me, the heat running through my veins, spreading through out my body - was any indicator, I was going to be in for a very good year.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Dear Jon - Issue # 23

Hello all! My name is V.L. Locey.  I am a self-published and traditionally published author that lives in the mountains of Pennsylvania with my husband of over twenty-two years, my daughter who is seventeen, a steer named after a famous NHL goalie, chickens, geese, ducks, one dog, two cats, and a partridge in a pear tree. For more info and links about me and my work, check out the Bio tab up above.

Enough about me, let`s get back to the romance!


Dear Jon

Chapter Twenty-Three


V.L. Locey


            I`m sure you`re familiar with the song about summertime and how easy the living is. Sometimes songs just can`t do reality justice. For seven weeks the lives of four men were about as easy as one could imagine. I would never be able to repay Charlotte for what she had done. In one glamorous swoop she had set both Ross and I free  in a way that we ourselves could never have accomplished. She would breeze in on the weekends, to see Ross or so it was believed, thus clearing any question of his masculinity. What a man he must be to have stolen such a looker from a young hep cat like me!

            "I only want them to get along as brothers," Charlotte would declare during her visits to anyone who would listen. So, when people saw my car parked in a certain drive, they assumed we were striving to become friends to please Charlotte, for no one wished to see her upset. God, she was good. You cannot imagine how wondrous it was not to have to sneak anymore. Sure, we still had to be discreet. My car there overnight for days on end would raise eyebrows, but most folks now assumed we were buddies working to get along and please the woman we both loved.

            Social Services had dropped by three times in those seven weeks. With the help of Ross as well as Charlotte, my little bungalow was now painted inside and out. It also had new draperies to match a spiffy new pull-out sleeper for Andrew and I to slumber upon. My chances of legal custody were quite good I was informed.

             Charlotte had brought my oils up from Greenwich a few at a time. I had sold several to tourists, and had three new ones with a decided rural feel hanging in my lover`s shop. She had also sublet my studio for me. Life was good. Ross and I had finally found some peace. We spent nights fishing or playing baseball with Andy, then we would retire inside to listen to the radio until Andy drifted off. Ross and I would then slip off to make love after the boy fell asleep. I never once felt like the pulse of the city was missing. I simply could not imagine anywhere else I would rather be, angry librarian aside.

            It was on a sweltering Friday evening that three of us men -  Ross, me, and Andrew - were splashing in the creek that runs behind my place. George and Gracie stretched out their necks at us from time to time, but those two goofy birds in their down vests were too hot to honk. We were in shorts. I was seated on a large rock while Ross waded about in the swimming hole with his arms under Andrew`s pale belly. The lad was kicking to beat the band. His swimming lessons were going rather well. A car horn pulled my attention from Andy and Ross. I stood on the flat grey rock to see who was coming. Charlotte was sashaying across my yard, chunky heels to match her pink and black polka-dot dress. Even her hat had a polka-dotted band.

            "Well, well, look at all the wet, gleaming muscles!" the redhead announced when she arrived at the creek bank. A dragonfly zoomed past my face.

            "Aunt Charlotte! I got muscles too!" Andy yelled then flexed. Charlotte fanned her face with her gloved hand.

            "Why you`re another Johnny Weissmuller," she remarked, to which the boy did his best Tarzan call. The geese took exception to the lad being louder than they were. They flapped off to lounge in the shade on the other side of the creek.

            "I thought you weren`t coming up this weekend," Ross said then scooped Andy up for a ride out of the water. I followed behind in case the wild one toppled off Ross`s wide shoulders.

            "Yes, well, the man I had planned to go to Martha`s Vineyard with went with his wife instead," Charlotte said with a scowl. The wind tugged some red strands out from under her hat. "So, I decided to come spend the weekend with more faithful boys. Come give Aunty Charlotte a smooch."

            As soon as Andy`s bare feet hit the ground, he was kissing Charlotte dutifully on both cheeks.

            "He smells like frog spit," the ginger said as she straightened with some assistance from myself. She patted my wet arm then squeezed my bicep. "As do you. Tell me, Ross, do you smell of tepid creek water as well?"   

            Ross lifted his armpit then sniffed loudly. "Yes, Ma`am, I do."

            "Well to heck with all of you stinky men! I`m heading back into town for some food. What shall I bring us? No! Do not think to offer to pay Ross Coleman. I am celebrating getting rid of a philanderer!"

            Five minutes later Charlotte was speeding off to fetch us a rare take-out dinner. Cash wasn`t quite as tight now as it had been, but Andy and I were still living frugally.

            "Uncle Ross?" the boy pulled on Ross` hand. We both glanced down at the sodden young man. Water trickled from his sandy blonde bangs down his nose. "What is a philanderer?"

            "Don`t look at me, Uncle Ross," I chuckled then headed into the bungalow to gather some dry clothes for the three of us. He was on his own for that one.

            "Well, Andy, a philanderer is someone who collects dinosaur bones." Ross` answer drifted in the open windows. I snorted at the clever reply. That love of mine was one quick thinker!

            "Then I want to be a philanderer when I grow up!"    

            Ross laughed long and hard. There was no suppressing my laughter either. God, did we both love that child. Our lives could not be much better. We were no sooner dried off and dressed when we heard a car rolling into the drive. Andrew went barreling out the front door as he always did when Charlotte was expected.

            "That boy is infatuated with his aunt," Ross said as he pulled a sleeveless tee over his dark, damp head.

            "She`s a real doll," I said with a wink before grabbing a kiss. Out we went, to help Charlotte carry in her bounty. We both stopped cold. Andrew was still on the porch, the bare toes of his left foot fiddling with his old ball and glove lying beside his toy box.

            A tall man slowly opened the door of a rather rough Chevrolet coupe. He was fair-haired and lean. So lean that he looked like he was just this side of starvation. His once handsome face held the dark hollows of someone who had recently come back from emaciation. He was in uniform, although it hung off his once strong shoulders. I tipped my head as he limped across the yard. It was his chin that held my attention. And the bold stroke of his eyebrows. I reached out to find Ross`s hand. The name over his heart . . . Corporal David Brooks. My throat grew tight. My grip on Ross increased.

            "Evening," he croaked as he removed his hat, " I - I`m sorry I came unannounced but, well, you have no phone. I just had to come as soon as I was discharged. I never got her correspondence, not until I was released from the P.O.W. camp. I was too sick to come then, after the war. They gave me all her letters. I read them over and over in the hospital.  I never knew about him . . . My God, he looks just like her . . ."

            "No, he looks just like you," I told Andrew`s father.


Issue # 22