Journey to Love
Edited by Cole, Peter and Scott
Sam called the middle of October and asked if we were coming home for Thanksgiving. I glanced at the calendar above my desk and realized while the semester's schedule was posted there, time had slipped up on me. I was surprised when Sam asked and admitted I hadn't thought about it, but would talk to Jayden and call him back. When we finished talking, I looked at the schedule. Thanksgiving was five weeks away and classes ended two weeks after the break. Final exams were the following week and the semester would be over. Jayden's online courses also ended the day of my last final.
Jayden was at the undergrad library when Sam called and I went to dive practice before he got back, so we were having supper before we could talk. I asked him what his plans were for the holidays and he said he had none, thinking I'd want to go home. “Well, Sam called this afternoon, I have been thinking, Levi and Telvin will be staying here since this is home for them. We have been to Stanton. How about having Thanksgiving here?”
“Sounds good if the Stanton folks are willing. We'll probably spend Christmas there.”
“Well, I thought about that too. DeAngelo and Joe are going to St. Croix with Angelica's and Katrina's parents and we will have seen most everyone Thanksgiving. Maybe we could go to Stanton a couple or three days -- I'd like to attend the Christmas Eucharist in Waynesville -- then fly to Flagstaff and see about a ride to the Pueblo and the clinic for New Years. We'd have most a week before we start classes again.”
“Do you really want to do that?”
“Of course, don't you?”
“Sure, but you have family. I don’t.”
“Sure you do, Kathryn, Richard, Lupe.”
Jayden smiled, leaned over and kissed me. “You are a wonderful man, Derek, and I love you. Thanks for reminding me family means more than blood.”
I called Sam and Brad and suggested they come down for Thanksgiving and they were delighted. “I love your kitchen, so I’ll help with the cooking. How about we come down the day before? You have room for all of us? I'm sure Joe and DeAngelo will come attached to Angelica and Katrina if they come and I'm sure they will.”
“I thought about inviting Ms. Bianchi and Mr. Malik, Mr. Manning and Stu as well. We'll have room one way or another.”
“Sounds grand if you can handle it.”
The downstairs was as Auntie left it and I hadn't given it much thought, but I suggested Jayden and I look it over and talk about it. As we were walking through it, I said, “You know it would make sense for us to renovate this area and move downstairs.”
Jayden looked at me, grinned and said, “Yeah, it would, Sam, but what does Brad have to say to that?”
“Like hell it would!”
“Exactly. Glad you are a good blend of thinking Sam and feeling Brad, but if I get a vote, I vote with Brad on that.”
“That makes it two against one. So what do you think?”
“Well, there's no repairs needed, we know that. The kitchen is excellent, nothing needed there. The living room and dining room could have new paint and draperies.”
“And the living room furniture. What's there is certainly worth something and would be fine except it is uncomfortable as hell.”
“So we have three rooms and two baths to deal with,” Jayden said.
“Eloise is now a happily married woman and living in Hampton. We need to look into dividing the space and making two pairs of bedrooms with connecting baths. Wonder how much of that Jake could get done before Thanksgiving?”
“Give him a call.” I did and he said he would be over shortly.
“And we are going to pay for this how?” Jayden asked.
“For starters, we are going to get the house in both our names...”
“No, we are not. Derek, I love you to death and I plan to spend the rest of my life with you, but we are not even twenty yet. Let's be honest, you were planning on spending your life with Wolf so, no, we will not put the house in both our names.”
“Well, off the top of my head, I was planning on doing that and using our living expenses trust income to pay for it.”
“Fine, I'll pay room and board out of mine and you can put that into the renovations.” I started to argue and Jayden got what I called 'that Navajo look' in his eyes and I knew there was no use.
“And we need to call Peter.” I called and he said he planned on being down the following weekend anyway.
When Jake came he went over the downstairs, went into the basement and went upstairs to check the building’s structure again and finally was ready to sit down and discuss plans. His only suggestion for the living room and dining room was paint and I told him Peter would be down over the weekend and we'd make decisions about colors and all. “Good. Peter is a good man to work with. He knows his job and respects mine and my crew. He doesn't tell us how to do our job and often asks our opinion of his ideas. Even when he disagrees, he listens. Know a lot of decorators that could learn from him.
“Well, I have looked at the structure of the house again and if I install steel I-beams and steel posts, Auntie's side of the house would be open except for the steel posts. I would reinforce the supports under the floor and the walls dividing the rooms. That would provide support for the upstairs. I'd not tear out a wall until the supports are in place.”
“How soon can you start and how long will it take?”
“You know renovations, Derek, so I can give you a guesstimate, but no guarantee.”
“Could it be completed before Thanksgiving?”
“Possibly, but that might involve paying some overtime.”
“Assume you had an estimate and contract, how soon could you start”?
“I'll get an estimate worked up in the next day or so -- work's slow, but I'm behind on paperwork and have to get it done because of taxes. As soon as I get the estimate done and contract signed, I could have a crew pouring the additional footing and preparing the other side of the house for painting.”
“What's your outside cost of getting the footing poured and the rooms ready for paint?”
“No more than two thousand, I'd say.”
“Jake, you've done quality work before and I expect it again. You have been reasonable and Auntie trusted you. If I wrote you a check tonight for twenty-five hundred, could you have a crew here in the morning?”
“By mid-morning, sure. I will need a contract, but it can read ‘not to exceed twenty-five hundred for the footings and prep for paint’.”
“Fine. Do it.” I anticipated giving Jake a deposit and instead wrote him a check for twenty-five hundred dollars.
Peter arrived Friday afternoon carrying a gym bag and a case. The case held all sorts of interesting stuff. I had called Jake to let him know when Peter would arrive and he got to the house before Peter. He inspected the footing -- because Norfolk is coastal, footing can be tricky, but Jake knew that -- then the prepped rooms. All were to his satisfaction.
When Peter arrived, they walked though the rooms and Jake explained what he planned on doing. Peter asked if there didn't need to be a bathtub downstairs and Jake said there should be. “Then how about a powder room off the hall and a small bath with a shower connecting the two front rooms? For the back rooms, do both a tub and shower.”
“Makes sense,” Jake said and made a note.
“Other than that,” Peter said, “I see nothing better than what's planned. I'll take a look at the rooms across the hall in the morning when there is more light and get you paint colors. I'm pretty sure where I'm headed with them, but I want to make sure.”
When they had finally decided they had seen all they needed to see, we all sat down at the kitchen table and Jake said, “Decision time, Derek, I can have a crew here in the morning to start installing the supports, but they will cost extra since it's Saturday. I know they'll leap at the chance to work because work has been slow, but they'll still expect time and a half. If all goes well -- and it never does when doing renovations -- the center support should be in place and the floor supports for the new supporting walls by quitting time.”
“Make it happen,” I said.
“We'll do that on a cost plus basis since I need to redo the estimate.”
The crew arrived at 7:30 just after Jayden and I had taken care of some bathroom business and were back in bed working up to some hot love-making. I threw on a robe, when downstairs and opened the door for Edwardo, the crew foreman. He glanced at my groin, grinned and said, “Sorry to interrupt playtime, but we're here to work.”
“Go to it,” I laughed. “Playtime can be resumed later.”
It was obvious there was no way we could get any studying done with the noise going on, so we showered, I shaved and we got dressed and went to IHOP for breakfast. As we were eating, Jayden said, “Kinda good thing we can't stay at home today. I can use the time in the library and working online.” Jayden had signed up as a casual student for a Mickey Mouse computer course which was worth a single hour's credit and required nothing except a multiple choice test, the 'When your computer won't come on, which of the following could be the cause? a) it's not plugged in, b) you have not turned it on, c) either or both of these,' kind, but it did give him access to the university computer network.
“Same here except I need to spend time in both the chem and biology labs.”
When we got home a week from Friday, the crew had accomplished more than planned and had all three support systems in place and Jake was inspecting the work. “Derek, Jayden, the crew did a good job. Monday the walls come down.” The painters had finished the living room in a pale, almost white rosy beige.
“I like the color,” Jayden said.
“So do I,” Jake said, “You chose well.”
“Actually, we're seeing it for the first time. Like you, we trust Peter. He knows us well, so we were in the library and lab when he decided on the colors. We're going to Richmond tomorrow to look at draperies and furniture. We sold the living room furniture to a dealer who tried to rip us off, but we knew its value and got eighty percent of what he'll sell it for unless he gets someone who knows nothing about the furniture and period.”
“He will,” Jake laughed. “Those guys love the 'amateur experts.' You're not selling the dining room furniture are you?”
“Hadn't planned on it. Thought we'd give it the round table treatment. Some beer and pizza should produce a good crew. I planned to get supplies today, but have been in the lab all afternoon.”
“Got time to pick it up tonight?”
“Sure.” He flipped open his phone and called the paint store and told the owner he knew he had just closed, but we'd be there in fifteen minutes. Since he had already made a nice sale to us today and knew others were coming soon, he was very willing to wait. We followed Jake and he told the dealer what we needed and we got it and headed home.
When we arrived, Jayden called Levi and invited everyone to come over for pizza and beer while I ordered the pizza. We ended up with the regulars: Louis and Caroline, Peter and Philip, Levi and Telvin and Jeremy, except Jeremy wasn't by himself. Janette was with him. We had run into each other a couple of times, but I had not seen much of her after last year. In fact, she kinda disappeared when Wolf came on the scene. I learned later he had put down the DVD of me put together by her and people from the study group. I had forgotten about the DVD and would show it to Jayden soon.
We were all sitting around the table enjoying the pizza and beer when I announced, “You all know there is no such thing as free lunch. That also goes for pizza and beer. Most of you know the house is undergoing renovation. This side of the downstairs will be redecorated and the living room will have new furniture. Across the hall, the three rooms and two baths will become two pairs of rooms with connecting baths and a power room opening off the hall. Now, the no-free-lunch pitch: this table and the chairs will get the same treatment the round table received. Jayden and I could do it, but we want it done for Thanksgiving.
“We will have twenty or so people here -- all of you who are not leaving campus are invited as are my dads and Mom, Jeremy's Dad and Mom and Jeremy’s and my spare dad and his partner. Jayden and I went exploring today and found more chairs in the attic. There's always been twelve here as now, but there are ten more in the attic. If you'll look, the table can be moved back several feet toward the kitchen and extended through the arch into the living room. Believe it or not, we can seat twenty-two people. Sooo, tomorrow, Jayden and I will start working on the table and chairs. We would welcome any of you who want to help. When we finish, we'll have a 'table's ready party.' We plan on starting at 8:00. If you are willing to help, we'll start with breakfast. Wear old clothes with long sleeves and long pants. We'll supply the gloves. End of speech.”
“I'll only add that if you can only work an hour, welcome. If you can't work that long from what Derek tells me, it's not worth your time getting dressed and cleaning up. Apparently this is a messy job.”
“Yeah, but think how beautiful the round table is,” Janette said. “Derek, do you have a before picture?”
“Sure,” I said.
“Let's see it,” Janette said.
When I brought down the laptop and showed the before pictures of the round table and chairs, those who had not seen them yet could hardly believe their eyes.
After we had eaten our fill of pizza and most of us had a nice buzz on, we all went upstairs and everyone was cuddling with their partner. Even Jeremy was cuddling with Janette, though he was not making out like the rest of us. When I had a call of nature apparently Jeremy did as well because we were sharing the toilet as we got rid of some beer. “So you and Janette....”
“Just a date. I hadn't seen much of her this year until last week. She showed up in a new study group formed to begin preparing for finals. We started having a coke afterward and I asked her to go out tonight. When Jayden called and offered pizza and beer, Levi told me about it and Janette heard and suggested we come over. She's already said she'd be here tomorrow and asked if I'd be here. Of course I will.”
By 11:00 everyone had left and Jayden and I had the house to ourselves. We showered and I was surprised when Jayden picked me up and carried me to bed, something he had never done before and, to tell the truth, I would have doubted he could. He lay me on the bed, covered my body with his and my face with kisses. I started to place my hands beside his face, but he caught my wrists and forced my arms above my head and kissed and licked each of my armpits before moving his mouth to a nipple. He bit it gently and pulled on it before sucking it into his mouth. I don't know when I had been hotter. He had grasped both of my wrists in one hand and still held my arms above my head. He moved to my other nipple and manipulated it with his teeth and mouth as he had done the first one. Both nipples were hard as was my precum-streaming cock as Jayden released my arms and kissed his way down my stomach.
Because of his experience, Jayden and I had been together for almost three months and the most we had done was mutual masturbation. We tried forttage once, but Jayden didn't like it and I so associated it with Wolf that I felt like I was offering Jayden second-hand goods. I suppose for most couples sucking cock happens quickly in their relationship, but Jayden had had his cock sucked by some slimy old men and had a cock rammed down his throat too often to make it an easy option for us. Therefore, I was surprised when his kisses continued and then I felt his kisses on my cock before he started licking the precum from head and shaft. He looked up at me, grinned and covered my cock with his hot mouth. It didn't take long before I filled his mouth with my cum, which he swallowed. When we kissed, I could taste myself mingled with the taste of Jayden. We lay side-by-side grinning at each other, exchanging a kiss from time to time. When I made an obvious move to return the pleasure Jayden gave me, he shook his head and said, softly, “No, tonight was yours, but I would appreciate your stroking me off.” I obliged him and afterward, we slept.
Up at 6:30, we had no idea how many would be present, but I made two dozen biscuits, put two pounds of bacon in the second oven and started hash browns. Jayden broke a couple of dozen eggs and added the right amount of water and had cream of tartar ready to add when the eggs were beaten. It helped make fluffy scrambled eggs, a trick I had learned from Sam. We made twenty-four cups of coffee. Levi and Telvin were the first to arrive and they set out paper plates, but real flatware and coffee mugs, poured themselves coffee and sat down at the kitchen table. “I think everyone will be here except Peter and Philip. They are going to Richmond so Peter can look over furniture options for the living room and select fabric for the draperies. They'll be back with photos of the furniture and fabric samples mid-afternoon. Peter said by narrowing choices for the furniture, he could have showrooms set up when you go to look at it,” Telvin said. Jayden was taking biscuits out of the oven and I had starting scrambling eggs when the rest of the crew from Levi's place except Jeremy arrived. He and Janette arrived five minutes later. Since it was Sunday and a double-time day, no-one from Jake's would be working. We had a grand time at breakfast and were all having another cup of coffee when Janette asked, “Okay, how is this operation going to work?”
“Fortunately it is a beautiful day,” I said, “because we need to work outside otherwise I don't know how we would have adequate ventilation. So let's get the leaves out of the table and get the table outside first. I'll show you the process once we have it outside.” Fifteen minutes later, the table and its numerous leaves were outside being attacked by fine steel wool and the magic liquid. Once the worst grime had been scrubbed away, a second treatment followed by wiping with soft cloths revealed the beautiful wood hidden under old varnish and, frankly, ground-in grime. The table and leaves were left to completely dry before being wiped with the final finish.
The chairs, of course, were a slow go. By the time we stopped for a lunch of sandwiches, chips and soft drinks ordered from a deli we all loved, we had the table and eight chairs ready for the finish coat. We took an hour for lunch and while we were enjoying it, Janette asked Jayden where he was from and that started the whole story. When he finished, she said, “Wow. My dad's with Homeland Security and told me all the raids were really connected. I never imagined I'd learn more than that. You're a Navajo?”
“Yeah, mostly, like about eight-five to ninety percent and, by the way, Navajo is a name the Spanish gave us. We call ourselves Diné, the People.”
“How about the rest of us?” Jeremy laughed.
“Well, I guess you're not Diné, so I guess you're not people!” Jayden replied with a laugh. “Actually, many of the names Native Americans use for themselves mean 'people.' One I especially like is a tribe -- I can't remember which right now -- which call themselves a name meaning 'human beings.'”
“Looks like we are about out of chairs here,” Levi said as a way to get us moving. We trooped to the attic and started bringing down the ones stored there, then it was back to cleaning them up. Wiping on the finish coat went quickly, so Janette and Jeremy said they would do that and had actually finished what we had done in the morning before additional chairs were ready for them. At 4:00 the table and eight chairs had been finished and the rest of the chairs were ready for finish. We took a break and afterward, Jayden and Janette went into the kitchen to make hamburger patties while the rest of us got the finish on the chairs.
The chairs had removable seats which were upholstered. When I said I'd call the upholsterer Monday, Janette and Caroline both asked me if I was nuts. “It's a very simple job,” Caroline said. “You buy foam and material, stretch the material over the foam and staple it. I'd go with you to buy supplies tomorrow, but I have to be at work early and work late. I'm getting extra hours so I can be off Thanksgiving.”
“I'm free,” Janette. “When are you free?”
“Not until late,” I said. “Monday is one of my hell class days.”
“Well, I could pick up everything except the material.”
While we were discussing that, Philip and Peter arrived. “Sorry we're late, but I think you'll like what we have. By the way, we hadn't talked about material for the dining room chairs -- which I see you have about finished -- but I brought samples for them as well, based on the color selected for the walls. Have photos of furniture we can look at later.”
We finished the chairs and took them and the table inside and realized we had a dozen chairs we had not had before. For the present, we put them in the living room. That done, Janette and Jayden started grilling hamburgers and the rest of us sliced tomatoes, tore lettuce, and did what was needed to have hamburgers. Twenty minutes later we all had hamburgers, chips and beer. Janette, Jeremy and Jayden and I were sitting together. “Janette, it's good to have you around again,” I said. “How has the semester gone?”
“Not too well. Met a guy this summer who goes to Wesleyan and we hit it off, I thought. He spent a lot of time here because Wesleyan is a bit stricter, or so he told me. The relationship began to look very one sided but, fool-like, I couldn't see what was going on. Then I came back to the dorm one afternoon and he was in my bed with a woman. Turns out she was his high school girlfriend and also a student a Wesleyan. They were using me so they could have a place for sex and I'm not sure what else was involved. Anyway, I was pretty broken up and my grades show it. I really have to buckle down if I am to pull decent grades this semester. I might even fail a course otherwise.”
“Sorry. Get a study group going.”
“I plan on it.”
When we had finished and cleaned up, we went upstairs so we could look at the photos of display rooms on the large screen. We were almost unanimous in our choice. “That was the first group Peter had set up and we both said there was no need to set up others,” Philip said. Fabrics for the draperies and dining room chairs were also easy to select. “I'll order the draperies tomorrow,” Peter said, “and FedEx the material for the chairs as well. It will be here Tuesday.”
The following week, the walls started coming down. It was a slow, messy job as they were real lath and plaster, not drywall. By Friday evening, the workmen had finished tearing out the walls and cleaning. Only steel posts and steel studs interrupted the completely open floor.
Jake decided he didn't need to have a crew work Saturday, so we set up shop in the space and started covering the seats of the dining room chairs. It went very quickly. Monday the plumber and helper arrived and by Tuesday evening, the plumbing was done, except for installing the fixtures which was done Wednesday and Thursday. The electrician was working as well and finished what he could do Tuesday. The walls went up quickly and were finished, ready for painting by Friday evening.
Jayden suggested we use the extra dining room chairs in the new rooms and that more or less dictated the furniture, but even at that, Peter was able to give each room its own personality. The weekend before Thanksgiving, we hung draperies, got furniture in place and four new guest rooms were ready.
When I mentioned renting motel rooms for the Stanton overflow, Philip said someone could use his room as he would be with Peter. They would drive down for dinner and return to Richmond that evening. “I know Steven keeps his room in great shape,” Levi said, “and he'll be gone. I know also he is pushed for money. Why don't I ask about renting his room for the holiday. Bit cheaper than a motel, convenient and I'm sure he'd welcome the money.” Steven was delighted and his room was, in fact, in excellent shape. So the 'adults' would stay in our place and DeAngelo and Joe with attachments at Levi's. So far as housing was concerned, we were ready for Thanksgiving.
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