“We are sending you on the bus to Washington, DC to see the National Zoo today. Here’s enough money for food and whatever else you may want. After it closes, go to the movies and watch a show and eat dinner. We’ll be at the theater to pick both of you up tonight. Be safe, ladies, and have fun!” Nicholas said.
“Thank you for letting us do this. It’s been a long time since we’ve been allowed to do anything fun. We’re going to the bus now,” Casey said. “See you guys later.”
“We better get a move on so we can fit everything into the schedule I have planned for my sweet boo,” Griff quipped.
“Just wait a few minutes. Come here. We haven’t gotten to kiss and cuddle yet. I missed that today,” Nicholas giggled.
The two kissed and shared affections for a few minutes. Then Nicholas bounced up and headed out the door. Griffin paused for a minute, though. “I have to go to the bathroom. Go ahead outside, and I’ll be right with you, Nicholas.” He was kinda embarrassed at the effect the short make-out session had on him, so he used the bathroom excuse to let things calm down a bit. He had become really excited, and the necessary pause allowed things to return to normal once again.
Back outside, they started their journey for the day. “Where to first today, Griffmeister?” Nicholas laughingly said.
“Keep up with me, and you’ll see. You’re goofy,” he chuckled back. “Griffmeister? Really?”
The boys rode and took in all the different sights and arrived down by the bay at a big store full of everything for surfing. “We’re here. Let’s go inside,” Griffin said with a big smile.
“What are we doing here?” Nicholas asked, puzzled.
“Well, we’re here to buy you your own bodysuit for surfing. I’m not the only one wearing this today,” Griff explained.
“I’m not wearing a wetsuit all day! You look hot in yours, but I’ll look silly, Griff. Why should I wear one of those? We’re only going to be in shallow water today,” Nicholas pleaded.
“Ummmm, I fibbed to you last night. After we visit the museum, we’re going to a surfing training center, and you’re going to be trained by the friend that taught me, Pablo. He’s turned pro and is ripping it up on the Pro Surfing Tour. He’s won many competitions, and I called him since we were here this week. So get ready! I want you feeling confident when we go out on the ocean together.”
“What!?! No way! You’re joking, right?”
“Alright, go try these on, and I’ll be over in a minute,” Griff said.
Nicholas went into the dressing room and started to try the first one on. He looked in the mirror and gasped.
“Come on out. Show me, babe,” Griff shouted.
“Uh, no way! We have a problem, so you come here,” Nicholas said.
“I’m not coming out,” he whispered when Griffin came to the door. “It shows off my package and butt too much! It’s embarrassing!”
Griffin grabbed the door that Nicholas was leaning on and suddenly pulled him out to see how he looked. “O M G, you look hot, babe! Damn, I should be worried because somebody will try to steal you from me!” Griff shouted, causing everyone in the store to look at Nicholas. Some of those people whistled at him.
“I’m gonna hurt you, Griff! But what do you think, seriously?” Nicholas said blushing.
“Try a few more on,” Griffin answered.
After trying on many, the boys picked out a very nice suit. They paid for it, and Griffin made Nicholas put it on.
They proceeded to the Bruce “Snake” Gabrielson’s Surfing Museum and Surf Art Gallery and started looking at all the artwork and surfboards and reading the placards on the history of surfing and how far it had progressed. As a matter of fact, it was now being talked about as a Summer Olympics sport. They lost track of time, but the curator came over and said that their time was up. It was by reservation only right now, and he was leaving for lunch.
“Wow! So much amazing stuff and so little time to see it,” Griff said.
“It is so very awesome, but I’m glad we got to see it today,” Nicholas said. “I’m hungry. Let’s get a bite to eat.”
The boys went to a little bistro and ate a light lunch together, their conversation going from the Casey and Jamie to Pablo to what to expect today in the training session. They cleaned up and headed off to the Pro Surfing Training Center that recently opened up.
“We’re here. Let’s lock up the bikes and head inside,” Griffin said.
Nicholas had grown quiet and followed Griffin inside to the front desk where they were greeted by the receptionist. “Hello, welcome to our facility. How can I help you?”
“We have an appointment with Pablo,” Griff said.
“Oh, hi! Welcome! You’re his VIP guests. He told me all about you, so let me take you to our training area. He’s doing a run in our wave generating machine.”
“Wow! That is so awesome! Look at those waves and tricks he’s doing. OMG, he’s outstanding Griff!” Nicholas said with excitement in his voice. “I’m humbled he would take time to help me. Look at that! Damn, he ripped that wave, and he’s riding the tubes so smoothly.”
“Yeah, he’s terrific and he teaches so well. He was patient with me and let me fail at stuff so that I could feel what it was like. He and I were friends early on, and he has gone on to win a lot of competitions,” Griff said proudly.
Pablo came over and introduced himself to Nicholas and hugged and banged chests with Griff. “What’s up, buddy? How’s life treating you lately? I’m happy to meet your Nicky, finally. The way you described him, I’m not surprised you have become boyfriends.”
“Dude, it’s great to see you. Thanks for helping teach Nicholas some new tricks,” Griff said.
“And now to Nicholas. What are some of your worries about the ocean and surfing?” Pablo asked with a smile. “I’m here to answer your questions and to help you.”
“I’m afraid I have no balance and will fall off and drown, or I’ll crash into some rocks,” Nicholas answered back. “And I’m kinda nervous about sharks eating me alive, or I might lose my board.”
“That’s awesome, you’re way ahead of the game. You’ve let your fears be known, and now we can address them,” Pablo said. “First, we will work on your balance with our simulator. Secondly, that fear of drowning is genuine. Always keep that but keep it under control. Fearing something is often a good thing. Now crashing into rocks and getting a concussion is only possible if you get into the wrong area. Always know your surroundings and avoid areas that can harm you unless you are more experienced. As for sharks, you may see them. The important thing is to not flail around. Most of the time they’re more afraid of us than we are of them, but it can and has happened to surfers. Just observe the area that you surf. Scout it out before starting.”
“Okay, sounds good, but it’ll take some time to feel confident,” Nicholas answered back.
They headed over to the simulator which consisted of a surfboard on a machine. It had virtual reality waves to surf, and it had different levels of difficulty, from beginner to pro expert. Pablo went through the instructions with Nicholas carefully. Then Nicholas laid on the board with something around his leg holding him to the board. That helped him conquer his fear of losing his board out in the deep water. Next, he went through the simulation of paddling out to the waves. Then he moved on to standing up on the board. Nicholas was picking all of this up really well, but it was all computer-based and not real water yet. Next up was balancing on the board and this took him about thirty minutes to feel comfortable with. Last up was turns and where to put his feet on the board to turn it direction-wise. His footwork took about forty minutes with Griffin helping Nicholas by holding his hips and moving with him and guiding him the whole time.
“Okay, now out to the water to put your training to the test. Don’t worry, Griff will be out in the water with me to help you. We’re putting it on beginner speed.”
First, Nicholas paddled out to the waves. He passed that challenge easily and was so excited that he kissed Griffin with such a force that he fell over and was dunked. All of them laughed.
Now for standing up on his board when the waves came. This took a little bit of time to master because Nicholas kept losing his balance but, after a few hard tumbles, Nicholas got this down and was ready to ride some waves.
“Boo, you’re doing so good! I’m so proud of you, and I’m confident you’ll get this down pat, too,” Griffin gushed which made Nicholas smile big.
“Oh, Griff, thank you for doing this for me! I’ve had the best day that I’ve had in a long time. I’m so ready for this part, and then I’ll be ready to surf with you for real! I can’t wait to tell mom about today.”
It took several practice runs before Nicholas got his turns and movements on the surfboard down as Griff shouted instructions on where to go to him. As the boys got out of the water, Pablo high fived Nicholas and told him what a great student he had been. They said their goodbyes as Pablo had to get going to another appointment.
“Thanks, Pablo, so much! It was really fun, and I’m not so scared to go out and do this with Griff now.”
The boys got on their bikes and headed back to the RV.
As they entered the RV, Nicholas got out of his bodysuit and laid back on the sofa. “No, sir! No time for rest. Go get your shower and change into these,” Griffin said.
“What? Babe, I’m tired, and I need a nap badly. You wore me out in training today.”
“Nope, hop to it. I have another surprise for you,” Griff said.
“Fine, but just know I’m exhausted.” Nicholas hurried into the shower and then dressed while Griffin showered.
“Alright, our Uber will be here any minute,” Griffin implored Nicholas to hurry. “Let’s go outside and wait.”
“Alright, already! Geez, such a tease. Now, will you tell me where we’re going?”
“Haha, not yet! That’s for me to know and you to find out,” Griffin teased.
The Uber driver showed up and took them to a very fine dining establishment. The boys ate a romantic candlelit dinner and kissed and played footsies under the table throughout the meal. Hand in hand, they left the restaurant. It was dusk now, and they headed off to their next destination.
“Okay, now I’ll tell you the surprise. I got tickets to an outdoor symphony tonight for both of us. But it’s not just a normal symphony. Queen is there tonight performing all their great music, and I know how you love old-time rock music. Afterward, there’s a fireworks show!” Griff proudly exclaimed.
“Awe, thanks so much!” Nicholas said. “This is so sweet of you, babe!”
They embraced in the back seat, kissing each other with so much love. They arrived at the outdoor theater and took their seats. The conductor came out, and the symphony played a few songs. Then, over the loudspeaker, he announced the special guests of the night, Queen with Adam Lambert.
The crowd went nuts as “Bohemian Rhapsody” played and everyone sang with them. About two hours later, both boys’ voices were cracking, and the fireworks started going off.
“Oh, Griffin, this is one of the best days I’ve ever had! I love you so, so much! Nobody has ever done so much for me,” Nicholas said with tears in his eyes. Nicholas and Griffin kissed a lot during the fireworks and then went out to their Uber that was waiting for them.
With both guys exhausted, they picked up the girls at the movie theater and headed back to the RV. The girls were so tired they passed out before they arrived home. The Uber got them home, safe and sound, and Griffin paid the driver, including a generous tip, and they all thanked him. Casey and Jamie went inside and went right to bed. “Night, guys, talk to you in the morning.”
As Nicholas and Griffin stripped down to their drawers, they wished they were able to get naked and truly share their love together. They were utterly drained, however, so they kissed each other and drifted off to sleep knowing they had another full day ahead of them tomorrow.
Griffin awoke with a jerk and sat straight up. Not sure why he was suddenly on high alert, he listened carefully but heard nothing except Nicholas’ deep breathing beside him. He’d had to practically drag him to bed when he woke up in the living room with Nicholas’ head in his lap. Had he dreamed the noise or had it been … NO … there it was again, definitely real! It sounded like it was just on the other side of the wall behind the bed’s headboard, the back end of the RV. He not so gently nudged Nicholas. “Nicholas, wake up!”
“Huh? What is it?”
“Shhh … listen. Something’s happening outside on the other side of this wall.”
Practically holding their breaths, the boys listened and, again, a sound like metal on metal and then a thump and a mumbled curse.
“Someone’s out there! Our bikes!”
Nicholas was the first to spring into action, but Griffin was right behind him as they jerked their shorts on and quietly padded to the door. They both grabbed the flashlights kept in the storage compartment beside the door and then looked around for something to use to defend themselves, if necessary, but came up with nothing. Nicholas quietly unlocked the door and began to ease it open as Griffin quickly scooted over to the kitchen to grab the largest knife he could find.
The boys tiptoed along the side of the RV, Nicholas in the lead, with flashlights pointed at the ground. As they neared the rear of the RV, they could make out frantic whispers. Holding up a hand to stop Griffin, Nicholas motioned that they would jump out on “three”, then held up three fingers and began to lower them one at a time. As the last finger went down, Nicholas jumped out and screamed “FREEZE!” with Griffin stuck like glue to him. A duo of yelps erupted simultaneously, and the boys hit the source of the yelps with their flashlight beams.
“Please don’t hurt us! We’re sorry!” Standing frozen in their beams were two boys appearing to be roughly the same age as Nicholas and Griffin, with the shorter one cowering behind his buddy.
“What are you doing?” Griffin asked.
“Uh, well … we … uh, we’re trying to get to Pennsylvania and we saw your bikes this afternoon and we thought maybe you didn’t really need them since you have this nice RV and all and we don’t have anything and Pennsylvania is a long way to walk and we’re so sorry and we’ll just leave and we won’t bother you …”
“Whoa, just slow your roll, OK,” Nicholas said, raising his hands. “Who are you and why are you trying to walk to Pennsylvania?”
“My name is Casey and this is … uh … my little brother, Jamie. Our mom died last year and our stepdad is a monster so we left home and we’re trying to get to our mom’s sister in Pennsylvania. We mostly travel at night and we spent yesterday in those trees behind the campground. We saw your bikes and waited until we thought you’d be asleep to come get them. We wrote down your license number so we could find you and send you money for the bikes after we got to our aunt’s house, honest! See?” He held out his hand with the number written on it.
“Look, let’s go inside and talk before one of the other campers call the cops. Of course, that option is still on the table,” Nicholas said. “Drop your backpacks on the ground first.”
All four sat on the living room floor, drinking Snapple, as a much calmer Casey explained their situation. They had snuck out of their house four nights ago after their stepdad had come home drunk and wasted and, once again, became verbally abusive and then physically abusive. When he knocked Casey across the room, Jamie had managed to grab a baseball bat and hit him hard enough to knock him out. They had stuffed some clothes in their backpacks along with all the money they had and could get from their stepdad’s wallet and took off.
“Wow,” an empathetic Griffin said, “that’s awful. You hear about this kinda stuff but, honestly, I’ve never known anyone in that situation. I never realized until now how fortunate I’ve been.”
“Yeah,” agreed Nicholas, “me, too. How old are you guys?”
“I’m 18 and Casey just turned 20,” answered Jamie, speaking up for the first time.
“Well, it’s only 3:30 so why don’t you guys stay here and we’ll talk more in the morning and figure something out. You can sleep on the sofa bed. The bathroom is over there.”
“Thank you for being so nice after what we tried to do … stealing your bikes and all.”
“It’s alright. Desperate times, desperate measures and all that. I get it,” Nicholas nodded. “You will still be here in the morning, right?”
“Definitely!” they both stated emphatically.
Griffin and Nicholas laid in bed, discussing the situation. Both agreed that they couldn’t just put them out but neither was completely ready to totally trust them, either.
“Well, assuming they’re still here in the morning, we’ll talk more with them and decide then what to do,” Nicholas decided. “Let’s try to get some sleep.”
Griffin fell asleep almost as quickly as he’d awoken an hour ago. Nicholas struggled a bit to calm his mind but, eventually, he also drifted off.
As usual, Griffin was the first to wake and, less enthusiastically than was typical, he made his way to the bathroom. Fortunately, halfway across the bedroom, he remembered their guests and pulled his shorts on. Opening the bathroom door to the sound of a squeal, he froze in place.
“OH! I’m sorry … what the … !” Griffin just stared.
Grabbing a towel, Casey wrapped up but not before Griffin got a very clear and very unmistakable look at everything that made Casey undeniably … a girl … uh … a woman, actually!
He stumbled backward, pulling the door closed with him, and just stood there … processing.
“What now?” Nicholas thought as he quickly came out of the bedroom to see a shook and wide-eyed Griffin standing rigidly in front of the bathroom door, just as it opened.
Casey sheepishly emerged and Griffin whirled around. “Lucy, you got some ’splaining to do!!”
“What the hell is happening?” an only half-awake and quite confused Nicholas asked.
“He’s a she!”
“Please! I can explain,” Casey pleaded. “We thought it would be safer to travel if we pretended to be guys. That’s one of the reasons we travel at night. We’re both pretty tall and … ”
“Wait! We?” a now completely awake Nicholas stuttered. “Jamie is … ”
“My little sister, not my little brother.”
Nicholas and Griffin collected clean clothes and performed their morning ablutions, while Casey dressed in the living room and woke Jamie. She explained to Jamie that their subterfuge had been exposed … quite literally … and they both fretted that they would be booted out to fend for themselves again.
Over breakfast, they discussed the situation more. Nicholas and Griffin talked it over while making their bed and straightening up the bedroom as Casey and Jamie did the same with the sofa bed and living room and washed the breakfast dishes.
“So … we’ve talked about it and this is what we’ve come up with,” said Nicholas, coming back into the kitchen with Griffin trailing close behind. “First, do you have ID?”
“Why?” asked Jamie. “You don’t trust us?”
“Uh … a few hours ago we caught you trying to steal our bikes! Trust has to be earned,” Griffin declared.
“He’s right, Jamie,” a more pragmatic Casey responded. “Yes, we have our driver’s licenses.”
“Good. I’m not wanting to get arrested for kidnapping or transporting minors over state lines or anything like that,” Nicholas explained. “If you are, in fact, over 18 you may join us in our travels and we will get you to your aunt’s house in Pennsylvania. That is, if you want.”
“But, we are taking our time and it will probably be a week or two before we get there. We thought we might try to make Philadelphia by July 4th because … well, that would just be a cool place to celebrate Independence Day,” Griffin added.
“OH, WOW!! Yes!!” an elated Casey burst out. “That’s a lot sooner than we could’ve gotten there walking!”
“Or riding bikes,” quipped Griffin.
“There are conditions, though,” a serious Nicholas interjected. “First, you will stay with us wherever we go. We are not comfortable leaving you here in the RV while we’re out for the day … at least not yet. As Griffin said, trust has to be earned.”
“Absolutely! Agreed! Right, Jamie?”
“Definitely! You guys are angels, aren’t you?”
Nicholas and Griffin just looked at each other, blushing, and said in harmony … “He is!”
David let the hot water cascade over his body. He watched the shampoo and soap mix with the reddish-brown water as it all swirled down the drain. He wracked his brain trying to remember where he had been tonight. His last clear memory was of Sky. They’d had dinner and then they went to the park and then… what? Had he hurt Sky? He couldn’t remember. Texting Sky would be the first thing he did when he was out of the shower.
Three nights, three blackouts, and three times waking up covered in blood. Matt’s idea was ridiculous and impossible, but it was also the idea that ran through his own head. Skylar told him not to think that until all other possibilities were ruled out. It looked like that time was now. A werewolf. Was it too late to convince Matt that he was just trying to fit his own nightmares into David’s reality? How much did Matt know? He’d have to have a long talk with Matt when he got out of the shower. He just couldn’t have that conversation standing there naked and covered in blood.
David stepped out of the shower and toweled himself dry. He slipped on a pair of sweats and went back into his room to talk to his brother.
As soon as David closed the door, Matt leaped to his feet. “David, you have to listen to me. I never told Brad that the wolf in my dream had blue eyes and now he says he has seen a blue-eyed werewolf and has pictures of it! And I know that it was a wolf and not a dog that bit you in the backyard. Add that in connection with what’s been happening with you and how can it be anything else?”
“Matt, werewolves don’t exist outside of stories. I can’t explain my lost time, and yes, I am very concerned about waking up covered in blood. But a werewolf? Come on.” David sat on his bed while Matt paced back and forth in front of him.
Mat stopped directly in front of David and held up both hands clenched into fists. He raised one finger with each point he made. “Gramps’s stories. My dreams. The wolf biting you. Your lost memories. The blood. The animal attacks in the park. And Brad seeing the blue-eyed werewolf.” Matt shook seven fingers in front of his brother’s face. “What more proof do you need, David?”
“I…” David sighed. “Ok. I have considered it. I’ve even talked it over with Skylar. I didn’t want to worry you. There has to be another more rational explanation.”
David sighed and looked up at his brother. “Stay with me tomorrow night. Record me all night. Brad too. Even if I’m not a werewolf, I may be dangerous in my sleep. The blood worries me most of all. Especially with the deaths in the park. I don’t want to believe that I’m responsible, but I guess we have to be sure. Will you do that for me? You and Brad record me all night?”
“Of course, I will, David. It’s kind of scary. We should do it somewhere else though. Not here. Somewhere safe just in case I’m right. Don’t you agree?” Matt asked.
“Yeah. I’ll meet you guys at the abandoned warehouse down by the school at six. Okay?” David ran a hand through his still damp hair, concern evident on his face.
Matt’s brow furrowed while he considered the meeting place. “That’s as good a place as any I guess.” Matt glanced at the clock. “It’s almost morning. Thank God it’s Saturday or it would be almost time for school. I’m going back to bed. I’ll see you in a few hours, David. Try and get some sleep. You look exhausted.” Matt turned and left the room.
David flicked off his light and lay down on his bed. He stared at the ceiling and thought about everything his brother told him. He was anxious to see the photos that Brad took, even if they were super blurry. David did not want to even consider the possibility that he was a werewolf. Not only was it ridiculous, but if it was true, then that meant that he had killed two or, more probably, three people. That was just unthinkable. There had to be another explanation.
Considering the hour, he doubted that Sky would be awake, but he couldn’t fall asleep without sending his boyfriend a text. He was just too afraid that he possibly hurt Sky. He knew he would never be able to live with himself if that happened. He didn’t expect an immediate response, but he sent it anyway.
David: Hey. I need to hear from you as soon as you get this. I don’t care what time it is. I had another blackout. The same thing happened. I woke up the same way again. My brother found me this time. Please call. The last thing I remember is I was with you. I hope I didn’t do anything to you, Sky. I love you.
David set his phone on the nightstand and closed his eyes. He tossed and turned, trying to force himself to fall asleep. He nearly jumped out of bed when the text alert on his phone notified him of a new text message. He glanced at it. The message was from Sky.
Sky: I’m ok. I haven’t been able to sleep all night, though. I’m not hurt, but there is a lot that we have to talk about. I’ll be over your house in a few hours. Try and get some sleep. I’ll text you when I’m on my way. Good night, David. Or morning or whatever it is. Haha. See you soon. I love you, too.
David could tell that something had happened, but at least Sky was ok, and he was coming over to talk. David closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep.
After Matt left his brother’s room, he went to his own room to try and sleep. Before drifting off, he sent Elias a text.
Matt: I just found David outside in the bushes. He was covered in blood, dirt, and what looked like chicken feathers. We were right. He’s not ready to openly admit it, but even he knows that something is seriously wrong. I guess he’s already been talking to Skylar about it. He’s had blackouts and memory loss three nights in a row. I have to see Terrie first, but I’ll meet up with you later for sure. Things are starting to happen quickly. More and more people are figuring this out. Brad has pics, but I guess they are super blurry. I’ll see you soon. I miss your touch on my skin. (Blushing emoji) (Heart emoji)
Less than a minute later, Matt’s phone beeped with a text alert from Eli.
Eli: Wow. Things are happening quicker than even I expected. We can’t let word of this get out to the wrong people. We have to handle this ourselves. It’s almost morning. I’ll just get up now and get to the research. I miss you, too. See you soon. (Hug emoji)
Matt put his phone back on the nightstand, turned over, and tried to sleep.
Fresh out of the shower and still fiddling with his hair, Matt went downstairs and into the kitchen. David was already sitting at the table, eating a bowl of cold cereal.
“Where’s Aunt Nancy?” Matt asked.
“She’s in her home office. I think she’s going to go pick up Brad soon.”
“Did you get ahold of Sky last night?”
“Yeah. He was a little mysterious about it. I’m going to meet him in about an hour.”
“He was cryptic in his texts to me, also. He might have seen you transform. I know you’re not ready to admit what we both know you are yet, but too many pieces are falling into place. We have to decide what to do before the moon rises tonight.”
David sighed, his eyes downcast. “I know. I know. Let me talk to Sky, and then we will both meet up with you and discuss everything.”
“That sounds like a good plan. You talk to Sky, and I’ll find out exactly what Brad knows. I also have to meet up with Terrie and have a completely different kind of stressful conversation.”
“Everything ok, little brother? Trouble in paradise?”
“I…” Matt sighed, looked down, and blushed a deep scarlet. “I almost kissed Eli last night.”
“What?! I thought we always told each other everything. I didn’t know you were bi! What happened?”
Matt rolled his eyes. “You know I hate labels. I don’t think bisexual would fit me anyway. I’ve never been attracted to any other guy in that way. I mean I’m not afraid to admit that a guy is attractive, but I’ve never been interested in touching them or kissing them or whatever. There’s just something about Elias. The attraction is intense. He touched me and it felt like my whole body was on fire. I wanted him more than I’ve ever wanted anyone, more than I’ve ever wanted any girl, even more than I want Terrie. I guess, if you have to put a label on it, I’m pansexual more than bisexual. I want him because he is Elias, not because he is a guy.”
“And you’re going to tell Terrie?”
Matt shrugged. “I have to be honest with her. Hell, I don’t want to break up with her. I really like her a lot, but I really like Eli, too.”
“Good luck with that, little bro. I doubt that either one of them will let you date them both. I know I wouldn’t stay with Sky if he was dating someone else!”
“You’re probably right. I’m just going to talk with her, be honest, and tell her everything. I’ll see where things go from there. There’s other stuff that I need to tell you about Elias. He is deeply involved in all this werewolf and curse stuff. When I meet up with you and Sky later, I’ll tell you both at the same time. I might even bring him along.”
“It feels like we’re living in a movie. I can’t believe this is all real.”
“What movie are you boys living in now?” Aunt Nancy asked as she walked into the kitchen.
“Not sure what we’ll name it yet, but I’m ready to change the channel.” Matt quipped.
Nancy laughed. “Do either of you need to be dropped off anywhere? I’m heading over to the Hanson’s to pick up Bradley.”
Matt stood up. “I need to talk with Brad before I meet up with Terrie, so I’ll go with you.”
“I’ll just hang here and chill. I’m meeting Sky in an hour.” David said.
“How much trouble is Brad in?” Matt asked his aunt just as they pulled into the Hanson’s driveway.
Nancy’s expression grew thoughtful. “I’m not making a decision on that until I talk to the sheriff and see those alleged werewolf photos, but regardless, he’s in big trouble for running off and putting himself in danger without telling anyone.
“Such a crazy story.”
“People deal with tragedy in a lot of different ways.”
“I get that. So much has happened in the last six months. I can barely wrap my head around it.”
Nancy put a hand on her nephew’s shoulder. “If you ever need to talk, I’ll listen. You know that, right?”
“Of course. Thanks, Aunt Nancy. Anyway, we’re here. Let’s go get him.” Matt smirked.
Matt knew he’d get more information from Brad alone, so, while Aunt Nancy marched straight into the den to talk to Sheriff Hanson and Brad, Matt snuck off into the kitchen to find Terrie.
Terrie jumped up from the table as soon as she saw Matt enter the room. She rushed over and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Hey, you. I didn’t expect to see you for another couple of hours.”
“I came with Aunt Nancy to pick up Brad.” Matt rolled his eyes. “I didn’t even want to witness that reunion, though. I’m excited to hear about what he saw last night, but I’ll talk to him when we’re alone.”
Terrie huffed out a laugh. “You should have just waited for him at home then. Less chance of getting caught in the crossfire.”
“He texted me. He’s going to have her drop him off at the library. He plans to tell her it’s for a school assignment, but it’s for more werewolf research.”
“I still have a hard time believing that we’re seriously considering the possibility of werewolves. Did you find anything out from Elias last night?”
Matt couldn’t hold back from blushing. “I… yeah. A lot happened last night. We’ll talk at lunch. You’re still meeting me down by the lake at noon, right?”
She smiled up at him. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world! It’s our first real date.” She ran her fingers through his hair and pulled his face down to hers. Their lips met in a kiss that started tender and quickly turned passionate. The sound of someone clearing their throat from the kitchen doorway caused Matt and Terrie to separate and look guiltily toward the sound.
Brad stood there, grinning. “You ready to go, Matt, or do you need a condom and another twenty seconds?”
“Shut up, perv.” Matt rolled his eyes. “Ignore him, babe.” Matt said, turning back to Terrie. He leaned down for one more quick kiss and then left with his cousin.
“The library closes at three on Saturday. You better be home before three-thirty, Bradley.” Nancy said just before the boys got out of the car.
“Yes, mother. I’ll go straight home when I’m done with my research.”
The boys sat down on the front steps to the library, and they both sighed. Matt looked over at his cousin. “You didn’t just lie to your mom, did you?”
“Nope. I said I’d be home when I’m done with my research. I never mentioned the library or what type of research.”
“Clever. So, I have a lot of news to share, but I want to hear about your close encounter first. Do you have the photos with you, or did you leave them with the sheriff?”
“I gave my thumb drive to Sheriff Hanson, but you couldn’t see much anyway. Just a big brown blur with two little blue blurs for eyes. Let’s wait on the story until Nate and Devon get here, so I don’t have to tell the same story two or three times in a row.” Brad laughed.
“That’s fair.” Matt said with a grin. “I feel the same way about my news. We really need to get everyone together. So much is happening so fast.”
“It’s so crazy. I can’t believe it’s real.” Brad looked at his phone. “Nate and Devon should be here any minute.”
Just then, Devon walked around the corner and up onto the steps of the library. “Are you using my name in vain again, Holliday?” He smirked.
“Every chance I get. It’s about time you got here.”
“Looks like I beat your boyfriend here, so shut your face.” Devon’s smirk turned into a wide smile. “Hey, Matt, what’s up?”
Matt looked surprised. “Boyfriend?” His head swiveled from Devon to Brad and back again. “I thought I only missed updates on research. What’s this about a boyfriend?”
“He’s not my boyfriend. At least not yet.” Brad blushed.
“Who? Who isn’t your boyfriend yet? What did I miss?”
“Well, duh! He’s the only other person who isn’t here yet.” Brad rolled his eyes.
“You mentioned someone named Nate.” Matt shrugged. “Have I met him? Does he go to our school?”
“No. That’s true. You probably haven’t met him. So much has happened, it seems like you’ve been here forever, and not just a few days.”
“So? Who is he?”
“He’s the assistant librarian now. He’s older than us. He graduated last year.”
“Did you guys ever date? Were you friends? Two years older isn’t really that much.”
“I barely knew him. I mean, I knew who he was, but we weren’t close. Now shut up, here he comes!”
Nate walked up and smirked at the three boys waiting on the steps. “Gee, I’m not used to so many eager faces waiting to get into the library on a Saturday morning.” His gaze stopped on Matt. “You must be one of the Montana’s. Matt I’m guessing. I’m Nathan or Nate. I’ll answer to either.” He stuck out his hand toward Matt.
Matt shook the offered hand. “Nice to meet you. We were just talking about you. You are everything that I expected.” Matt winked.
Nate shot a look at Brad then grinned at Matt. “I hope you were only told good things.”
Brad piped in. “I barely had a chance to tell him your name before you showed up. He’s exaggerating as usual.”
Nate winked at Brad as he finished climbing the steps. “It’s good to know that I left enough of an impression to be talked about.” Then Nate unlocked and opened the library doors. The other boys followed Nate into the library, and they all settled in at the same table in the research room.
“I may need to be out front from time to time, but I should be able to help in here again, too. What books do you need me to find today?”
Brad spoke up. “Anything you have on werewolves. Specifically related to this area if there’s anything, but werewolves for sure. They exist. I saw it again last night. Possibly a different one, I’m not sure. I took pics, but they are super blurry. The sheriff might try and get them cleaned up for me.” Brad looked right at Matt. “Johnny Hanson was there. He saw it, too.”
“Sky came home from his date early last night, and he was acting weird. He went right to his room. Matt, how was David acting last night after he got home? Did they have a fight?” Devon asked.
Nate was practically jumping up and down. “You saw a werewolf again? Did it attack you? How did you get away?”
“Loud music and yelling. He ran off. I probably got lucky; I don’t know for sure. I think it was a different wolf than the other one that I saw, but I don’t want to believe that there’s one, much less two!”
Matt sighed. “There are two. The monster that bit my brother, and my brother himself.”
All eyes turned to Matt. Brad spoke first. “Do you know for a fact that David is a werewolf? Have you seen him change?”
“I haven’t seen him change, but I dreamt about it.”
“A dream? Come on, Matt, that isn’t proof!” Devon said.
“Elias helped guide my dream last night. It was very vivid. Then, later, I found David outside our house in the bushes. He was nearly naked and covered in blood and what looked like chicken feathers. I’d like to think that the blood was chicken blood, and that my brother isn’t eating people. We need to find out exactly what is going on, and we need to do it fast!”
“Elias was in your dreams?” Brad asked, one eyebrow arched.
Matt blushed. “You were right. I was blind. There’s… something more there. I hope that’s ok with you?” Matt said, looking pleadingly at Brad.
“Oh, wow. I figured that he liked you. I didn’t expect you’d like him back. Yeah, it’s fine with me. No big deal. Terrie might have a different take on it though.”
“I will be having that conversation with her today.” Matt said with a worried expression. “Anyway, I did find out a lot from Eli last night. The curse is real. Eli’s magic is real. That’s where you guys should focus your research, in my opinion. Try and find out as much as you can about the witches. Elias will do research at his house, but the town records and newspapers may say things about the witches that they wouldn’t say about themselves. Knowing both sides is always best.”
Devon looked totally confused. “You’re gay? And you like his ex?” Devon pointed at Brad when he said “his.”
“I am not gay, but I’m not straight. I’m dating Terrie Hanson, at least for now, but I do have strong feelings for Elias Carrier. Call me bi, call me pan, call me whatever you like. I hate labels. I like who I like. That’s good enough for me, and it should be good enough for everyone.”
Nate stood and clapped. “Here, here! Great speech! Everyone should feel that way. I mean labels do sometimes make people comfortable, but if you don’t want a label, society shouldn’t force one on you.”
Matt cleared his throat. “Thanks, but right now the labels that matter are werewolf and witch. There’s a lot more that I need to share with you guys, but there’s also people missing that need to be told. It would be easier to tell everyone at once. For now, you guys research the witches. In particular the coven that lived here. If you happen to find anyone named MaryAnne Carrier, find everything that’s available. Eli’s ancestors were a big part of this. I’ll go have a talk with Terrie about everything. Obviously, I’ll have to talk to her about the Eli stuff, but also, the monster stuff. We need to find out if her father has found anything. I hope she’ll still help us after we talk. Hell, I hope she’ll still date me!”
Nate gave Matt a sympathetic look. “Figure out what you want,” he tapped Matt on the chest with one finger, “before you let other people’s decisions affect what you do.”
“I want them both, but I know that’s unrealistic.” Matt blushed.
“I wouldn’t agree to that, but hey, you never know!” Nate huffed out a laugh.
“I’ll cross all my fingers and toes.” Matt laughed. “Ok, I’m gonna take off. You guys get to the research, and I’ll try not to get murdered by my girlfriend.” He looked at Devon. “Sky was going to meet up with David. If you hear anything, let me know. I’ll do the same if I hear from David. Later we all have to meet up somewhere and share all of our various stories.”
“Definitely, dude. Call us if you wanna bring you girlfriend back here or your boyfriend or both or your brother or whatever!” Devon giggled hysterically.
“On that note, I’m outta here!” Matt said and turned and started toward the door.
“Bye, Matt!” Devon yelled.
Matt turned just before he was out the door. “Later, guys. Good luck with the research!”
David was nervous and pacing in the kitchen when he heard the soft knock on the door. He raced over and yanked the door open. “Sky! David wrapped his arms around Skylar. “I’m so happy to see you! What happened last night?”
Sky hugged David tight, and then he stepped back. He looked at David with a worried expression. “You don’t remember anything?”
“It’s just like the two nights before. I only remember up until a certain point and then nothing. The last thing that I remember, I was with you. That’s why I was so worried and texted you.”
“You were with me. I know what happened. I know why you are losing time. Our worst-case scenario is true, David, you’re a werewolf!”
David slumped into a chair and took a long drink of water. “I kinda knew. We both did. I guess there’s no denying it now.”
Sky huffed out a laugh. “No. You can’t deny it now. Not only did I witness the transformation, but you also bit me!”
“I bit you? I thought you said you were ok. Sky, I’m so sorry! Are you hurt?”
“I’m fine. At first, I thought you were being a little too aggressive. You barely drew blood. We were kissing, and you bit my lip. I pushed you backward, and I was going to scold you for being too rough, but then I saw you transform. It was scary as hell!”
“I can never apologize enough. I don’t think Hallmark has a “I’m sorry I turned into a werewolf and bit my boyfriend” card. Now I guess I have to worry even more that I may have killed people.”
Sky sighed. “Even after seeing you change; I just don’t think that you would kill anyone no matter what form you were in. Have you checked out the news yet today? We know about the deaths from the other two nights, we should find out if there’s anything else today.”
The two boys walked into the family room and turned on the tv. They sat on the couch, shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip. They sat like that for a few minutes, not speaking, just watching the local news reports. David nervously drummed his fingers on his thigh and kept casting furtive glances at Skylar. Sky smiled and turned toward David then clasped David’s hand within his own. “It’s ok. I’m fine. We’re fine. I know you didn’t mean me any harm.”
“I could have hurt you, though. I could have killed you.”
“I honestly don’t think you would have. You said that your brother found you this time. Was there anything else different? Did Matt notice anything that you didn’t?”
He found me outside in the bushes underneath my bedroom window, so that was different. He also said that Brad took blurry photos of a blue-eyed werewolf. I guess people are starting to piece things together. I’m really scared, Sky. The only relatively positive thing that I’m holding onto right now is that this time, even though I was covered in blood again, there were lots of feathers around. Matt and I think they were chicken feathers. We hope that the blood was also from chickens.”
“See! It’s still possible that I’m right. Maybe all three nights all you did was raid farms and kill animals.”
“I guess so. We can hope. Hey, wait a minute. Let’s listen to this. The sheriff is on tv.”
The boys listened to Sheriff Hanson talk to the local news. He was standing in front of the park which was almost completely roped off with yellow crime scene tape now. The sheriff looked into the camera and began to speak. “Citizens of Roxbury Falls, it is with a heavy heart that I am speaking to you today. For the third night in a row there has been a vicious animal attack in the park. A third teenager is dead. For now, we are not releasing any names. We are giving the families time to grieve. I am extending the 8pm curfew indefinitely. We believe that there is a rogue bear coming into the park at night to hunt. We ask that you do not go and hunt this animal yourselves. We are searching for the bear, and we are confident that it will be found and destroyed very soon. If you spot a bear, or anything else suspicious, please report it to the sheriff’s office immediately. Thank you for your time.” The sheriff turned, ducked under the crime scene tape, and walked into the park.
“A third teenager is dead! There was an attack last night. What if it was me, Sky? What if it really was me?”
“You said that Matt has more information, and Brad has photographs, why don’t we chill here and try not to think about it until we hear from them. My brother is with Brad at the library, so I’m guessing that he’s in on the research. There’s more than just the two of us to figure this out, David. We’ll help you get through this.”
“Matt has been talking to some kid named Elias about this, too. I guess his family is also tied in with the story of the curse. A week ago, I would have laughed at the idea of a witch, but, hell, now I’m a werewolf. Witches probably exist, too.”
Sky pulled David in close and gave him a quick, tender kiss. “Let’s ‘Netflix and chill’ until they text us.”
David smiled for the first time since the new report. “That is a fantastic idea.” David slid his arm around Sky’s waist and snuggled in close to his boyfriend.
Sky leaned down and softly kissed the top of David’s head. “We will figure this out, babe. I promise.”
Nicholas woke up and groggily reached his hand out for Griffin. He felt nothing but an empty bed and struggled to open his eyes. 735 am. “Griff, where are you? Come back to bed!” He barely got the words out of his mouth and Griffin nearly bounced into the room and jumped on the bed.
“Get up, sleepy-head! The bus leaves in an hour!”
“The zoo. Ok, yeah, I’m up.”
“I’ll make breakfast while you shower, Boo. We should be ready in plenty of time.”
Nicholas heard voices when he turned off the shower. He cracked the door open, “Griff, is someone out there with you?”
“I’m FaceTiming with Emily. Make sure you put some pants on before you come out here.” Nicholas heard Em’s voice, “Does he usually walk around naked? You said you guys were together now, but you didn’t say you were like… together like that! I want details!” Nicholas closed the bathroom door. He knew he had plenty of time to get ready, those two could talk forever.
After double checking that the RV was locked up tight, the boys walked the half mile down the beach to the bus stop. Nicholas laughed as he sent one last text before slipping his phone into his pocket. “My mom said for you to take plenty of pics at the zoo. She said that she didn’t follow your Instagram to look at shirtless selfies.”
“I have my camera right here in my backpack.” Griff kinda chuckled, “And yeah I do need better content on my Instagram.”
Nicholas smirked. “Your content is great. Maybe you need variety, but it can’t get better.”As they approached the bus stop, a pair of guys slightly older than them approached from the other direction. One of them, a tall blonde, spoke up, “Hey! It’s the hero from the restaurant! How’s it going, dude? Off to save more lives?”
Nicholas blushed. “You were there? Thank you but I’m not a hero. Just in the right place at the right time. We’re going to DC today to visit the zoo.”
“A modest hero. I like that. Well this is a coincidence. We’re here to catch the bus to the zoo! Oh, hell where are my manners? I’m Ian and this is my boyfriend, Andy. Do you guys wanna hang out at the zoo today? I think it should be a blast!”
Nicholas shrugged and looked at Griff. “What do ya think, Griff?”
“Sure. Why not.” Griff stuck his hand out to Ian. “I’m Griffin, and the modest hero is my boyfriend, Nicholas.” The bus pulled up and all four boys got on. They sat in the back, Nicholas and Griff on one side and Ian and Andy on the other.
“What do you guys want to see first when we get there?” Asked Andy.
Griff pointed at Nicholas. “He is the planner. He even printed a park map last night.”
Nicholas rolled his eyes. “You say ‘planner’ like it’s a bad thing. I just want us to maximize our time and get the most fun out of all these places. We may never do something like this again!”
“You guys on an extended road trip or something?” Ian asked.
“Traveling in an RV. Pretty much wherever we want to go, except we have to have Griff at college by late August.”
“Were you coming from the RV park when we saw you? We’re in that same park! How long are you guys gonna be in town?”
“Yeah we’re staying at that park. Staying another 4 or 5 days.”
“So, what was your zoo plan? We’re almost there.” Andy piped in.
Nicholas took the map out of his backpack. “It says to visit the pandas first or it’ll get too busy, and we’ll never see them. Also, the Bird House and part of the petting zoo are closed for construction. The map is color coded. Our entrance is halfway down the orange section. If we go from orange to green, we can eat next to the lions and then move into purple and back to the rest of the orange section and hopefully be at the bus gate on time.”
Andy was peering over Nicholas’ shoulder at the map. “I love how you organized it. That does look like the best route.” The bus stopped. They were at the DC National Zoo.
“Those pandas were so cute!” Andy cooed.
“Totally! The trip was already a success in my opinion!” Nicholas said.
“Where to next?” Andy asked.
“The bison then the elephants. See. It’s right here on the map.” Nicholas pointed at the map he had given to Andy. The two boys were shoulder to shoulder, peering at the map, walking a little ahead of their boyfriends.
Ian arched an eyebrow at Griffin and nodded toward Nicholas and Andy. “Should we be worried about those two?”
“Nah. Not at all. That’s just the way he is. Nicholas has my complete trust. It’s just that he’s never had a lot of friends. Especially not gay guys our age. That’s why we left our hometown.” He motioned toward the two boys ahead of them, “You have absolutely nothing to worry about.” Griffin stopped to snap a few photos of the bison. “They are such majestic and beautiful creatures. It’s so sad that humans almost wiped them out.”
“I agree. Humans are probably more destructive than anything else on the planet. So, you left home for college, right? Where are you going?”
“Good school. So, will Nicholas go back home after he drops you off?”
“Not right away. He wants to see the country. Our town sucks. We do miss our families, but they understood our need to get out.” Griff said, in between snapping pics of the elephants.
Nicholas walked up and wrapped his arms around Griff’s waist. He looked over at Ian. “Yes, we do have very understanding families. I miss my mom a lot, but like Griff said, I just needed to get out of there. I don’t know if I’ll hit all 48 states, but there’s a lot that I want to see before I even think about going back to North Carolina.”
“Oh awesome!” They heard Andy yell and they all rushed over. Andy was ahead of them at the tiger exhibit and one of the tigers was swimming in the river the zoo had made for them, right up close to the plexiglass enclosure. Griff hurriedly began taking both video and photos.
Nicholas, Ian, and Andy were all practically pressed against the plexiglass watching the tigers while Griff was busy taking pictures. Finally, it was time to move on. “That was so cool!” Nicholas said. “I can’t believe we saw them so close. They’re way bigger than I thought they’d be!” Andy shouted excitedly.
After they moved on from the tigers, it was time to stop for lunch. They all bought commemorative zoo cups, each with a different animal on it. They devoured a quick lunch of chicken tenders and french fries and iced tea. They began their return trip through the other half of the zoo. First stop: Amazonia.
“I only see one of the Andean bears. Do you see it, Griff? Can you get a good pic?” Nicholas asked.
“I got it. The design on its face and chest is very distinctive. I hope it shows up in the photo.”
“Too bad only one was out. The other one must be in the enclosure.” Ian said.
“I’m just glad you don’t have to quote my favorite Ian and ask, ‘Will there be any dinosaurs on this dinosaur tour?’ We’ve been lucky so far.” Griff laughed.
“Well, if I’m not your favorite Ian, at least you picked a good one in Ian Malcolm. I love ‘Jurassic Park.’”
There were a bunch of small exhibits with frogs and snakes and spiders that Griff was busy taking photographs of, so Nicholas walked with Andy. “Where are you guys heading, Andy?”
“Atlantic City next, then back south. We’ll stay near my parents in Savannah for the winter.“ “Cool. How long have you been together?”
“Three years next month. We met in college. I was a sophomore and he was a senior. This trip is my graduation present. How about you and Griff. Seems like you’ve been together for a while too.”
“We’ve been best friends forever. Literally since kindergarten. But we only recently, on this trip, took the step to be boyfriends.”
“That’s so sweet. You’re both so nice. And gorgeous.” Andy blushed.
“Thanks! You two are too, to be honest.”
Griff sauntered over, putting his camera back in his backpack. “If you two are done flirting, there’s something you should see over here.” Griff was giggling.
Nicholas looked horrified, “I… we… were… not!”
Griff stepped in close and wrapped his arms around Nicholas. He nuzzled his face into Nicholas’ neck and whispered in his ear. “You were, but I know it was innocent and I don’t care. You’re mine. Now come check this out.”
“And you’re mine. Equal partnership. Which exhibit?”
Ian was waving them over. “Oh my God! The sounds are what’s killing me!” He was nearly doubled over with laughter. Nicholas, Griff, and Andy joined Ian and looked into the exhibit. The scene below was of two red-footed tortoises putting on quite a show. The one in the back was obviously enjoying himself. The clicks and clacks of the shells banging together and the high-pitched moans of the turtle on the bottom was making quite the impression on all who witnessed it. Nicholas noticed a mother pulling her young daughter away from the exhibit and say, “Oh honey. look at these cute monkeys over here.”
The four boys were still laughing hysterically when they exited the other end of Amazonia. Griff looked at his phone. “We haven’t quite seen everything, but I think we should end this with the turtle sex show and get back to the bus gate.”
Andy grabbed Ian’s hand and pulled him along. “Today was really fun. We should hang out some more before we all leave.”
“For sure. We can exchange info on the bus. Speaking of which, let’s get on that bus before we get stuck in the city.”
After walking for eight hours in the hot summer sun, all four boys took naps on the bus ride back to Chesapeake Beach. The bus dropped them off just after 7 pm. and they headed back to their respective RV’s.
Once back in the RV, Griffin collapsed onto the couch and kicked off his shoes, while Nicholas started putting stuff away out of their backpacks. “What do you wanna do for the rest of the night, Peaches?” “Nothing that involves walking, Boo. I’m beat.”
“I’ll throw in some popcorn. You pick us out a movie.”
Nicholas slid in next to Griff. Griff wrapped his arm around Nicholas and pulled him close. “What’d ya pick?”
“It’s called ‘We Bought a Zoo’ I figured I’d keep our zoo theme for the day.”
“Sounds cool. Here’s the popcorn.” Nicholas laid his head on Griff’s shoulder and yawned. “It was a really fun day today at the zoo with those other guys.”
“It was. You decide what you wanna do tomorrow yet?”
“No. We can look at the brochures again when we get to bed.”
Griff started the movie and Nicholas said, “Is that the guy from ‘Under the Dome’?”
“Yeah. Colin Ford. I’ve seen him in a few things. Great actor and pretty hot too.”
“Agreed.” Nicholas said, as he snuggled in even closer to Griffin. The popcorn lay at their feet, forgotten, and both boys were sound asleep in each other’s arms before the movie had ended.
“Good morning, my sweet love.” Griffin snuggled close to Nicholas and tried to wake him up. Griffin kissed Nicholas on his neck and chest. “Rise and shine, Boo.” As much as Griffin wanted to just lie there and cuddle with Nicholas, he knew they needed to get going. Time for the morning routine and then head out on another adventure. Griff headed into the shower and left Nicholas lying there thinking.
Nicholas thought about how much he loved Griffin. He wanted time to slow down. He was not ready to leave Griffin at school. Nicholas heard the always spunky Griff singing loudly in the shower and probably shaking his booty. He laughed as he heard Griff yell out ‘I’m too sexy for my body, too sexy yeah, yeah, yeah’ which was Griff’s version of the song by Right Said Fred. Nicholas couldn’t help but peek in and yell, “You got that right! But need to work on that voice a bit, Griff!”
“I’m just about done anyway. It’s your turn, Nicky-poo.” Griff said, teasingly. “Hurry up. We have a lot to see at the Smithsonian Institution today.”
“Stop with Nicky crap. You know how much I hate that!” Nicholas quips.
As Nicholas is drying his hair with a towel, Griff smacks Nicholas hard on the butt. “Hehe. Look at that booty. You can dance for me anytime but get your booty in gear.” Griff said.
“Smack me on my booty again, and I’ll show you who the boss is. We will just stay here all day and skip the museum.” Nicholas said.
“Is that a threat or promise? I’d rather stay in with you anyway.” Griff said.
Nicholas leaned in for one last kiss, and the boys headed out to have a full day of fun at the Smithsonian.
Once at the Smithsonian, they headed for the Air and Space Museum first. “Look at that model of the Wright Brothers’ plane. Can you imagine what was going through their minds? Yet they accomplished so much!” Griff said.
Nicholas said, “Look at this exhibit on the different crafts used in space. It’s so awesome, but also sad to read about disasters like the Challenger and the Colombia.” The boys wander through looking at different material and things until they come to the Hope Diamond and rubies and all the other beautiful gems. “With any luck maybe someday you will have a diamond on that finger of yours,” Nicholas says jokingly.
Griff drifted into daydream land thinking about that possibility. “That would be a dream come true for me,” Griff said. He grabbed Nicholas and planted a kiss on him when nobody was looking.
They headed over to the American History Museum next to check out some TV, movie, and music history. As they looked around, both boys got very excited when they saw all the pop culture items. Nicholas kept a lookout for anything music-related, while Griffin was more interested in the television and movie history.
As they started walking around, they saw huge displays of some of the greatest music of all time. They saw display cases of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Janis Joplin. Nicholas got lost in the section about Woodstock. He read all the placards that told the history of the event and the musicians who attended.
Griffin went towards the television and movie history exhibits. The display cases he enjoyed the most were the ones about Howdy Doody and some of the other old shows. He saw Fonzie’s leather jacket from Happy Days, the Conner’s couch from Roseanne, and a display case with stuff from the A-Team. Griff read the history placards containing trivia about Leave it to Beaver, and I Love Lucy. Griff needed a quick bathroom break and motioned to Nicholas where he was heading. While he was using bathroom, Griff looked down and noticed a wad of cash on the floor. He picked it up and ran out to find Nicholas to tell him what he found. “Nicholas, look what I found in restroom! We need to find a security guard.”
“There was one just down the hall. Who knows, maybe they’ll let you keep it!” Nicholas said, and they took off to find the nearest security desk.
“Excuse me, sir. Good day to you. I wanted to turn this in to lost and found. I found it in the men’s bathroom by the tv exhibits.” Griffin said, setting the money on the security desk.
The security guard smiled. “Thanks for turning it in! Too many people think they can just take it, but if we catch them, we call the cops. The good news is,” the guard said while sliding a piece of paper across the desk to Griffin. “if you fill out this form and then no one comes for it, we can mail it to you thirty days from now.”
“That sounds fair. I won’t be at the address I’m writing down, but my mom can forward it to me when I know my address at school.” Griff finished up the paperwork, and they were on their way again.
“Ready to stop and get a bite before we head over to see wildlife and dinosaurs exhibit at the Natural History Museum?” Griff asked.
“Ok I am hungry, and we need to eat, I guess.”
The guys stopped and grabbed cheeseburgers, fries, and milkshakes. “Omg, babe, I am having so much fun with you today I don’t want this to stop,” Griffin said. “It is so fun and special talking about all these amazing things that we are seeing. I love sharing this adventure with you.”
The boys got up and walked, hand in hand at times, other times with arms around each other’s waist. One time Nicholas slipped his hand right into the back pocket of Griff’s jeans and Griff quickly returned the favor, smirking at his boyfriend. They looked so happy as a couple, and everything just felt so right.
“Let’s look at this new exhibit on Planet Earth, Nicholas.”
“Sure thing, Peaches. It’s getting late though, so let’s hurry.” The information on the oceans being polluted by garbage was hard to read about. The video clips were disgusting. Now, there were current live reports of the fires in the Amazon Rainforest, and reports of some of the most massive icebergs melting. “This is so sad, Nicholas. Won’t there ever be a time when people wake up?” Griff said, almost crying. “We are killing Mother Earth more every day.”
“At least now, some politicians are listening to the younger generations, and we are educating people. So, I do see one day soon when a better life for our planet may happen, and climate change can begin to be dealt with.” Nicholas said, trying to put a positive spin on it.
“I hope you’re right, Boo,” Griff said as they shared a tender kiss and headed out of the Smithsonian.
Back in the RV, they picked out a movie on Netflix and cuddled together on the couch to chill out after their long but fun day. They spent more time laughing and giggling at the funny things that had happened that day, than actually paying attention to the movie. They were just enjoying some quiet quality time together.
“Man, I’ll be glad when your poison ivy is all cleared up,” Nicholas said with a grin.
“I will be too and not just to get rid of the itchiness, but to actually be able to do whatever we want without worrying about a nasty rash!” Griff leaned in for a kiss, and then they started to discuss their trip to the National Zoo the next day. They turned off the TV, stripped down and went to bed. Nicholas lay there thinking about leaving Griff at college. There wasn’t anything he could do about it, so he rolled over and pulled Griff close to him. He needed the closeness and comfort of his boyfriend right now. He lay with one arm draped across Griff’s chest and their legs entwined, and that’s how they both fell asleep.