The last half of May, 1980, it seemed like Gina’s father worked seven days a week. His new TV station planned to go on the air June 1, and they still had a lot of work to do. Gina and I studied for our exams and looked forward to the end of school.
In addition, I spent as much time as I could at the construction site of the Coulters’ new house. Steve Easterbrook was often on-site, and I had a bad habit of following him around like a puppy. Gina and I stopped by every day on our way home from school. Gina wasn’t all that interested in the dirt and construction mess, but she knew how much I looked forward to our afternoon visits.
Every time Steve was there, I felt a rush of anticipation. He could tell how excited I was, and he always took the time to answer my questions, show me drawings, or explain what was going on. They were a little behind schedule because of rain delays (it was spring, after all), but the weather had turned nice and the house was finally “under roof.”
When the brick masons arrived to start laying the house’s façade, I immediately thought of Dennis Raeford. Watching the masons work was actually cool, so I asked them if I could try laying a few bricks. Since I was with Steve, the lead mason didn’t object. The man even took the time to show me how to do it.
It didn’t take many bricks before I gained an appreciation for how difficult their work was. It took me ten minutes to lay ten bricks. When I stepped back, proud of my line, I realized that in ten minutes, one of the professional masons had laid more than fifty bricks. And where his were razor-straight, mine were an uneven mess. In short, my bricklaying skills left a lot to be desired.
“You’d better go ahead and take those down,” I said to the lead mason. “I guess they’re a disaster.”
He grinned at Steve and then began pulling my bricks off his neat, orderly wall. “It takes practice, sonny,” he said with a grin. “Layin’ brick ain’t easy.”
“I bet you can lay bricks almost as good as he can,” I said to Steve, dismayed. If I couldn’t do something as seemingly simple as put one brick next to another, how could I ever hope to be an architect?
“Not on your life,” he answered immediately. “Oh, I can lay brick, but I’m not much better than you.”
“Then how’d you become an architect?”
“Paul,” he explained patiently, “I know how to do most of the different jobs, but I’m not an expert at any of them. My skill is design, and knowing what needs to happen, and when. I understand building codes, and design techniques to create a desired effect. I may not be able to lay bricks like Jimmy, but I can tell you about load-bearing walls, residential traffic patterns, and stuff like that. It’s my responsibility to get the overall project done, not each individual job. I see the whole project in my head.”
“I do that too!”
“See the whole thing,” I said, my excitement building. “The very first time I saw the plans, I knew what the house was going to look like. I could see it, in my head!”
“That’s what it takes to be a good architect, Paul.”
He nodded reassuringly.
When we looked up, Gina was grinning at us.
“Are you ready to go, pitter-pat man?” she asked me, her eyes twinkling. “We have an English final to study for. And I’ll be worse than Lady Macbeth if we don’t get to it soon.”
“‘Out, damned spot!’” Steve quoted with a grin, making a shooing motion. “‘Out, I say!’”
Gina and I spent the rest of the weekend studying. To my surprise, I actually made an A plus on my English final. I did well on my other finals too. And when it became clear that I was probably going to succeed at my parents’ car-for-grades challenge, I started looking in the newspaper for used cars. Mom and Dad told me how much I could spend, and I diligently began making a list.
At the end of the school year, when I got the rest of my grades, only one of them surprised me. Instead of making a B in Spanish, I actually made an A minus. I made an A in Honors American History, an A plus in Honors English, an A in Art, a B in Physics, and a B plus in Algebra II.
That was a 3.67 GPA, and I was getting a car!
Actually, I didn’t really want a car. I wanted a Jeep CJ-5. I found a couple I liked, but I kept coming back to one in particular. It was a ’74 CJ-5, with a V8 and a 3-speed transmission. It had bigger tires and a couple of inches of lift, but nothing too redneck-looking. It was midnight blue, with the original tan soft top, doors, and bikini top.
It was at a used car dealer’s lot, so my dad went with me to look at it. When we took it to our family mechanic, he examined it and said it was in good condition. It would need to have the brake pads and air filter replaced, but other than that, it was fine.
Dad started negotiating with the car dealer, and ended up getting the Jeep for $200 less when he agreed to buy a second car. Dad hated leaving his Corvette at the airport whenever he flew long trips, so he wanted to get something cheap to use as an “airport car.” In addition to my Jeep, we bought a ’65 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia (which the mechanic also said was in good condition).
Dad and I drove our new cars home and then I took him back to get his Corvette, which the dealer had diligently tried to get Dad to trade in. When we returned the second time, Mom and Erin came out to admire the two new cars.
Gina knew I wanted a Jeep, but she was pleasantly surprised when she saw it. I guess she probably thought I wanted some goofy Army jeep, or a mailman’s Jeep. When she saw what I had actually picked out, she thought it was cool.
“It fits your personality,” she said.
For my seventeenth birthday, we had another big party, this time at our house. Once again, we cooked out and invited Scott, Shannon, and Heather. The three of them seemed to be getting used to being nude—Scott and Shannon only had to slip away to the bathroom once.
Susan called while we were still cooking, and I talked to her for about ten minutes. She said she was looking forward to seeing all of us in a few weeks. And she said she had a big surprise—sort of a birthday gift—for me at camp. A few minutes later, Gina came into the office, so I let her talk to Susan for a few minutes.
When Gina handed the phone back to me, she looked around carefully. Our families and friends were all outside, so no one could see us. With a grin, she dropped to her knees and took my limp penis into her mouth. On the phone, I could almost hear Susan grinning at me.
“Is she sucking you?” the older woman asked.
“Oh, yeah,” I half-grunted.
“I asked her to give you a blowjob for me, since I can’t be there to do it in person.”
For the next few minutes, Susan merely listened as I groaned softly, lost in the sensations as Gina ran her lips and tongue over my length. Where we were standing—or kneeling—I had a good view of the back door, and I would probably be able to see anyone coming into the house before he saw us. But the danger added to my arousal, and I came quickly.
“Happy birthday,” Susan said over the phone.
“Happy birthday from Susan,” Gina unknowingly echoed with a satisfied grin.
Gina and Susan talked for a couple of minutes, and Gina lovingly described the taste of my semen. The two of them were teasing me, but I enjoyed it. Finally, Susan wished me a happy birthday again, and we hung up.
When we came back outside, Mom glanced at my red cock and then looked at Gina. Instead of reproaching us, Mom merely rolled her eyes and grinned.
Later, Mom and Erin put a big red ribbon on my new Jeep and my parents ceremoniously gave me the keys. The Coulters got me a really nice backpack with a compact aluminum frame. The new pack held twice as much as my daypack, and with the frame, the weight was distributed better, so it felt lighter.
Scott and Shannon gave me a couple of albums I wanted, Blondie and Queen. Heather’s present was the coolest “game” I’d ever seen, a Rubik’s Cube. My dad finally had to tell me to put down my new toy and pay attention to our guests. I hate to say it, but I think he only wanted me to put down the Cube so he could play with it.
And even though I expected it, I acted surprised when I opened Gina and Kendall’s gift, a silver ring with “P-G-K ’80” engraved inside it. Since Gina wore my class ring—heavily padded so it wouldn’t slip off her finger—she knew what size ring to get me. Gina and Heather also whispered that they had another gift for me, once again, “for later.”
A little later, Kendall called. I went inside to talk to her in private. She was home from school and was really looking forward to seeing me when her family came to camp.
“What are you doing before then?” I asked.
“Nothing really. Just helping around the house. Why?”
“Why don’t you come spend a week down here? My dad’s got to fly about two weeks of trips, so we won’t be leaving for camp until almost the end of June. If it’s okay with your parents, you could stay in our guest bedroom.”
“Sure,” I said confidently. “I don’t see why not. I mean, I’ll have to ask my parents, but I think they’d love to have you.”
“Oh, my goodness, Paul, that would be wonderful!”
“I could even drive up and get you,” I said. Then I told her about my new Jeep.
“Let me ask my parents. Can I call you back? Later tonight?”
“Oh, Paul,” she said, “I love you so much.”
“I love you too, sweetheart.”
“I’ll call you. Later.”
After the party, all the teenagers hopped in my new Jeep and went to meet Kelly, Livy, Mike, and his new girlfriend, Debbie. At our favorite pizza parlor, we hung out for a while and talked about the end of school—which had been two days before—and what it felt like to be seniors.
Later, we returned to my house so Scott and Shannon could pick up his car. Then, Gina and Heather looked at me with matching twinkles in their eyes. Gina asked me to drive us to her house. Once there, we almost immediately headed up to her room. Her parents had taken Erin and Leah out to a movie, so we had the house to ourselves.
In Gina’s room, she and Heather showed me the first of their private presents, a pair of silk pajama bottoms. At their urging, I put them on. I especially enjoyed it when the girls decided to see how they felt and started fondling me. Then they pushed me onto the bed so I could watch their slow striptease. When they were nude, they dragged me into the master bathroom.
Once there, my second private present was to watch them shave themselves. Heather was getting comfortable with Gina touching her, but the blonde girl still didn’t seem to be interested in returning the favor. While they spread themselves open, I unbuttoned the pajamas’ fly and extracted my erection. Once they were both clean-shaven, they took me back to Gina’s room for my third and final private present.
Heather wanted me to take her virginity.
Over the final weeks of school, I had realized that Heather was working up to something big, but I had no idea how big. I thought it had been letting Gina go down on her, but I was wrong. I wanted to simply jump in bed with her and screw her silly, but my conscience kicked in, and I asked if she was sure.
“I’m sure,” she said.
She was as horny as I’d ever seen her, and I quickly realized that she wanted to have sex because she was ready, not because she thought that’s what I wanted. Heather had seen Gina and me together—many times—so she decided I would be The One.
The two girls had been using “Pinky” for several months. In addition, Heather had been giving me blowjobs and I had gone down on her almost as often. So she thought she knew what to expect. But when she spread her legs, she looked a little nervous.
I slowed down and kissed up her body, taking time to tickle the backs of her knees, the sensitive skin on her inner thighs, the insides of her wrists. With my erection bumping her inner thigh, I nuzzled her neck and kissed her earlobes until she gasped, clutching my head and grinding her hips against my stomach. Then I moved lower and sucked her nipples, marveling at how firm her breasts were despite their size. When I began licking her freshly shaved slit, she quickly grew slippery.
As I looked up, Gina was smiling at us and playing with herself. At her gesture, I returned my attention to Heather. Fifteen minutes later, the curvy blonde gasped and shuddered with her first orgasm of the night. When I continued licking her smooth pussy, she begged me to fuck her.
I moved between her legs and teased her with my hard shaft, rubbing its length along her channel. Then I set the tip at her opening and eased forward. She was so worked up that her pussy was practically gushing. My cock slid home with ease, spreading her virginal lips and caressing her sensitive inner ridges.
“Oh… my… God,” Heather gasped.
“See what I mean?” Gina asked the blonde girl.
“Oh, yes,” Heather hissed, lightly clawing my back. “This is so much better than your vibrator.”
She wasn’t on the pill, so I needed to be careful and not come inside her, but I knew I could keep things under control. Her pussy quickly adjusted to my girth and she urged me to start moving within her. When I did, her fingernails dug into my back and she moaned in pleasure.
For the next couple of hours, Heather, Gina, and I enjoyed ourselves. Heather’s pussy was a little sore after the second time we had sex, but she was more than happy to help Gina suck me off. Gina stayed dripping-wet the entire night, and once again seemed to be in sexual overdrive. When I finally drove home, a little before midnight, I was completely drained and Heather was a very satisfied non-virgin.
When Mom heard me at my bedroom door, she came out of her room and walked toward me, rubbing her eyes sleepily.
“Did you have fun tonight?” she asked, standing on tiptoe to kiss my cheek. Then her eyes widened as she smelled Gina and Heather on my face. “I guess you did.”
I felt my face heating.
“Kendall called,” Mom continued. “She sounded pretty excited. She wanted you to call her back, if you got home before midnight.”
I quickly looked at my watch. I had about five minutes.
“She mentioned something about coming to visit,” Mom prompted.
“Was there something you wanted to ask us?”
“Um, yeah,” I said. Then I asked if Kendall could come visit for a week and stay in our guest bedroom.
“Sure,” Mom said without hesitation. “We’d love to have her.” Then she paused, thinking. “Do you want me to talk to her mother, to make sure everything’s okay?”
“Do you mind?”
“Not at all. But I’ll do it in the morning.” She kissed me on the cheek again. “I don’t know how you keep so many women happy at once, but they’re certainly lucky you do.”
“I dunno how I do it either,” I replied with a shrug. “I guess my parents raised me right.”
With that, she squeezed my arm and silently padded back to her room.
Once inside my bedroom, I quickly called Kendall. She answered, sleepily, on the first ring. As soon as she heard my voice, she perked up. I apologized for calling so late, and explained that I’d been out with Gina, Scott, Shannon, and other friends. I decided to tell her about Heather some other time.
While we talked, I took off my clothes and climbed into bed. Kendall’s parents had agreed to let her come visit, as long as it was okay with my parents. I told her about my mom’s offer to call her mom, and she said it was a good idea.
Then what we both intended to be a short conversation turned into four hours. We talked about UT, about the end of my junior year, about my SAT exam—I was surprised that I scored a 1350—and more. We also talked about her parents. Her father still didn’t realize she was having sex, but her mother obviously knew what was going on.
“I had no idea that my mom understood so much about me,” she said.
“She’s been really cool about it too,” she said. “My dad didn’t want to let me come spend the week with you, but my mom talked him into it.” Then she sighed in wonder.
I chuckled softly.
“Yeah, Mr. Smug. I know, I know, you told me so.”
After that, we talked more about her relationship with her parents. With her away at school, she and her mother had grown very close. She still seemed to have a blind spot where her own emotions were concerned, but it was gradually shrinking as she began to “overcome some of her presuppositions,” as she put it.
Toward the end of our conversation, we were both joking about dirty phone calls, and one thing led to another. While I listened to her masturbate, I stroked myself. At my urging, she told me what she was doing, in a husky whisper. When the phone grew silent, I knew she was coming.
“It’s still better when you’re inside me,” she said, panting softly. Then, in exquisite detail, she told me how she wanted to straddle me and slide her pussy over my cock. She told me she’d hold my hands over her breasts and let me play with her nipples while she rocked against me.
“Oh, God,” I groaned. “I’m gonna come.” With a rush, I erupted, hot come splattering onto my stomach.
“If I were there,” she said, her voice sultry, “I’d clean you up.”
“If you were here, I wouldn’t need to be cleaned up. I’d’ve come inside you.”
She laughed tiredly and told me she loved me. I said I loved her and we talked for another fifteen minutes. But by then, 4:18 a.m., we were both incredibly sleepy, so we said goodnight.
My life was so hard. My parents were going to kill me for the four-hour long-distance phone call, but I was too happy to care.
The next week, I put the doors and top on the Jeep and then drove to Chattanooga to pick up Kendall. At first, my parents weren’t going to let me drive that far by myself, especially since I’d only been driving the Jeep for less than two weeks. But I promised to drive the speed limit and be careful, so they ultimately consented.
At Kendall’s house, we spent the afternoon with her mom and then had dinner with the entire family. Immediately after we finished eating, Drew got on the phone with his girlfriend. Adam, Melissa, Kendall and I then talked for a while in the living room.
About an hour later, we loaded Kendall’s suitcase into the back of the Jeep. When Adam asked me about it, I explained the car-for-grades challenge. Not only did he approve of my GPA, he even liked my choice in cars (since he drove a International Scout, which was similar to my Jeep).
After a little more small talk, Kendall and I said our goodbyes and climbed into the Jeep. It wasn’t the quietest or most comfortable car in the world, but Kendall thought it was great.
At my house, we unloaded Kendall’s things and I called Gina to let her know we were home safe. I invited her over, but she was cleaning house, and said she’d see us the following day. Lisa McGrath was supposed to come for a visit the next day. She planned to stay for a few days and then she and Gina were going back to Charleston for a week, to visit Lisa’s family.
After Kendall and I took a shower and got cleaned up, we fixed some popcorn and settled onto the couch to watch TV. My father had already left for his trip, but Mom joined us. On the way back from Chattanooga, Kendall and I had talked about how to ask my parents if she could spend the night with me. As it turned out, that wasn’t necessary.
“I saw you put your suitcase in the guest bedroom,” Mom said to Kendall. “Did you want to stay in there?”
“We thought… I mean…,” Kendall said.
“I guess we were wondering if she could just sleep in my room,” I said. “But we didn’t know what you and Dad would say, so…”
Then Mom grinned at us. “You know you’re going to cause all sorts of problems for me, don’t you?”
“If… I mean… um… if you don’t want us to…”
“It’s not that,” Mom said with a grin. “What am I going to tell Erin when she has a boyfriend she wants to sleep over?”
“Oh,” I said. “We hadn’t even thought of that.” Then I looked at Kendall. “Don’t tell me you did,” I accused.
Her shrug said she had thought about it.
“Don’t worry about it,” Mom replied, smiling to let me off the hook. “Your father and I have talked about it. When Erin has a boyfriend she’s having sex with, we’ll see. But he probably won’t be allowed to spend the night until she’s sixteen, and only if we know and trust the boy’s parents.”
“I guess it’s too bad Gina doesn’t have a brother,” I said.
“Good God, no,” Mom blurted. “Heaven help us if she did!” She and Kendall grinned at each other. “I’ll make sure Erin understands,” Mom continued. “So you two can sleep together, or not. You’re an adult,” she said to Kendall. Then she turned to me. “And you’re close enough. So I’ll leave it up to you to decide.”
“Oh,” I said. “That’s easy. I want Kendall to sleep with me.”
Kendall nodded in agreement.
The next day, Kendall, Gina, and I picked up Lisa at the airport. When we got back to Gina’s house, our sisters and a couple of their friends were there, lying out topless. As soon as their friends saw me, they immediately covered up. Erin and Leah merely grinned.
Since the four younger girls were at Gina’s, we decided to go hang out at my house. On the way there, I showed Kendall and Lisa the Coulters’ new house, which was still under construction.
Gina seemed bored with the house, but Kendall listened attentively as I pointed out little design features and details. Afterward, we climbed back into the Jeep and headed to my house. Mom was out shopping with Elizabeth and Scott Anderson’s mom, so we had the place to ourselves.
Since we had a privacy fence around the back yard, Gina and Lisa wanted to sunbathe nude. Kendall and I joined them. Soon enough, Gina and Lisa started fooling around. The rest of the afternoon was pretty much a blur of breasts, legs, and asses. I came three times and finally had to take a break. Kendall curled up in my lap and we snuggled as Gina and Lisa kept going.
The next two days were more of the same. One afternoon, when Mom and Erin were out shopping, Heather came over. I had my hands full with four girls. Fortunately, we only had a couple of hours. Otherwise, I think they would’ve kept going. Kendall realized I was getting tired and suggested that we relax and simply soak up the sun.
To be honest, it was a relief when we dropped off Gina and Lisa at the airport. Kendall and I spent the rest of our week relaxing. We enjoyed sleeping together and ended up talking about a lot of things: Gina, college, my last year in high school, wrestling, Kendall’s friends, her home life, and more.
When I finally drove Kendall home, I felt closer to her than ever. She wasn’t as sexually adventuresome as Gina, but we seemed to have a deeper connection. I loved both girls very much, but I was beginning to see major differences between them.
The last week of June, my family headed to camp. Susan was happy to see us, and I was looking forward to spending a week alone with her. The present she told me about turned out to be a new exercise building, on the shoulder of the hill the clubhouse sat on. Over the winter, construction workers had removed one of the shuffleboard courts and replaced it with a small, screened-in building with an Astroturf-covered floor.
In addition to a stationary bicycle, it had a complete set of free weights, with nearly a thousand pounds of plates and two racks of dumbbells. A friend of Susan’s from town had helped her pick out the equipment, including several weight machines and a treadmill.
It was partially a birthday present for me, but she knew the other camp members would benefit from it as well. She had even bought special chrome-plated weights and machines, to survive the humid climate in South Carolina.
After she showed me the weight room, we headed down to the lake to soak up some sun. We pulled loungers next to my parents and Susan told us about what was going on in her sons’ lives. She had gone to Annapolis for Kirk’s graduation and commissioning as a Navy Ensign. Following in his father’s footsteps, he had been selected for flight training, and was currently stationed at NAS Pensacola.
Once Doug graduated, he planned to get a job with a microchip company in Austin and work on his Masters degree at UT. (When Susan said UT, she meant the University of Texas. When I said it, I meant the University of Tennessee. We had a few interesting misunderstandings before we straightened out our vocabulary and decided to call them simply Tennessee and Texas.)
Susan also told us about Stacy and Jason. They were living together in a small apartment in Columbia. Stacy was doing well in school, and had made the dean’s list both semesters. She had also earned a second year of her scholarship. Jason had finished his MBA and was studying to become a CPA.
Then Susan told us about her plans for her house and the camp in general. At her house, she wanted to replace the back porch roof with a pergola—with latticework sides—for her jasmine to climb. She also wanted to buy a hot tub to put under the new pergola.
For the camp itself, she planned to remove the remaining shuffleboard court and add an in-ground hot tub. In addition, she’d have the space to add an outdoor shower, which would serve the volleyball court, the hot tub, and the exercise building.
She and Gunny had also decided to start installing window-unit air conditioners in the motel-style buildings. Air conditioning the cabins would be trickier, because they would require larger units, but she planned to add ceiling fans to all of them.
Finally, Susan wanted to completely remodel Bernie Kestrel’s old house. Dwight Delozier had offered to take a look and give her an estimate on the cost of the job. He owned a small construction company in Spartanburg, and he’d be able to tell her what she needed to have done. Dwight had also offered to tear down her porch and build the pergola for her. When I immediately volunteered to help, she grinned.
“I was hoping you would,” she said.
“I like working with Dwight. Besides, it’ll give me some good experience.”
Then I told her about how I wanted to be an architect. My parents had heard it all before, but they still smiled at my enthusiasm. Susan listened attentively as I talked about the Coulters’ new house, how cool Steve Easterbrook was, and how I’d already learned a lot about different architectural styles.
When she asked me what made me decide to be an architect, I told her about how I could “see” the Coulters’ new house in my imagination. I couldn’t explain it very well, but whenever I thought about designing a building, or when I recognized an architectural style, it somehow felt right. Even though she grinned at my zeal, she took me seriously.
“So you’re really serious about becoming an architect?” she asked when I finally wound down.
“Oh, yes,” Mom interjected with a grin. “Sometimes, that’s all he talks about.”
Gina’s family arrived a week later. Unfortunately, her father had to stay in Atlanta and work. He would fly to Columbia and then drive to camp for the weekends, but he wouldn’t be able to spend more than a couple of days at a time. Kara was taking summer classes in order to graduate sooner, so Elizabeth, Gina, and Leah came to camp by themselves.
The same day, the Delozier family, the Dunbars, and the Nolan family arrived. Later that evening, Norm and Dee pulled in with their Airstream trailer.
Gina and I spent most of our time relaxing and enjoying the sun. We got together with Susan a couple of times, but Gina didn’t seem to be in sexual overdrive, which was nice. Mostly, we spent our time like the grown-up couples did: reading, sunning ourselves, swimming, and relaxing.
Dwight and I also took a look at the Kestrel house. Inside, he showed me all the things that would need to be replaced: most of the major appliances, most of the plumbing fixtures, and all the flooring. He explained each step of the proposed remodeling, which I soaked up like a sponge.
Then we locked the house and headed back to Susan’s. There, we looked at her back porch. Dwight said we could use the existing roof posts to support the pergola, which we’d build with pressure-treated four-by-fours for the headers and rails, and two-by-sixes for the actual rafters.
When Susan stepped outside, Dwight gave her a rough cost estimate on refurbishing the Kestrel house. Since the project would involve a crew of workers, Susan wanted it done in the off-season. She also gave us the go-ahead to build her pergola. That afternoon, Dwight and I borrowed Gunny Kershaw’s pickup truck and drove to town. At McMasters’ Hardware, we picked up the necessary building supplies.
As usual, Dwight had brought his tools with him to camp. (Since he often did projects for Susan, his family always stayed rent-free.) He even had an extra tool belt for me. In a day, we demolished the existing porch roof, squared off the support posts, and built the pergola. Susan and Gina kept us liberally supplied with lemonade, and we finished shortly before dinner.
Before the sawdust even settled, Susan thanked us with big hugs. Afterward, Dwight and I admired our work. He told me I’d be wasted as an architect. According to him, I needed to become a construction worker. At first, I thought he was serious, but then he clapped me on the shoulder and laughed.
“Son,” he said, “you’ve got a knack for seeing the big picture. Construction work’s an honest trade, but what this world needs is more architects with a good head on their shoulders.”
“Uh, thanks,” I said. “I guess.”
“Don’t mention it,” he replied as we cleaned our work area.
For the Fourth of July, we celebrated with a barbecue picnic and fireworks. The Fourth was on a Friday, and since Chris had the day off, he flew over early. Dwight and I cooked immense quantities of pork ribs, pork shoulder, and chicken. Dwight’s son Jonathan and Alan Nolan were our helpers. Most of the men in camp congregated around the barbecue, drinking beer and shooting the breeze.
Compared to the previous year’s Fourth of July, I actually enjoyed this one. The year before, Gina had been petulant and aloof. This year, she was as loving as ever, with no sign of the girl who’d once left the table in disgust. Obviously, I liked the new Gina much better.
Once again, my dad, Chris, Dwight, and I launched wave after wave of fireworks. Chris served as the emcee, announcing what we were about to fire and generally entertaining the crowd while we readied the next round.
When we lit the big finale, everyone applauded and cheered. Afterward, Gina neatly slid under my arm and put her arm around my waist. Later, we slipped away for a much quieter evening of our own fireworks.
The next day, Manfred’s family arrived. Later that afternoon, the Jordans arrived as well. Much to my relief, Jenny hadn’t called me again. I guess she had realized that I wasn’t interested in her. I certainly hoped she had, at least.
The Tharp twins and their family arrived too. Several families with younger kids also arrived, but I only vaguely remembered any of them.
In addition, two new families arrived. Edward and Deirdre Sullivan were from Charlotte, like Manfred’s family. They had a daughter, Maureen, who was our age, and a son, Sean, who was Erin’s age. Maureen had beautiful strawberry-blonde hair like her mother. She was also as sunburn-prone as Manfred was, with pale, smooth skin. Her brother had dark hair, blue eyes, and long, long eyelashes (the longest I’d ever seen on a guy—don’t ask me why I noticed).
The other new family was the Zacharys: Brad, Allison, Mark, and Todd. They had moved from Los Angeles to Atlanta, and the Jordans had invited them to camp. They were all blonde and tan. Mark was eighteen and Todd was fifteen.
With the arrival of new families, there were a lot of teenagers in camp. Unfortunately, trouble started almost immediately—Mark and Todd were arrogant assholes. Even though I was from one of the largest cities in the U.S., they treated me like a hick. As far as they were concerned, California was the center of the universe.
I would’ve been fine with them deriding me if they hadn’t treated my friends the same way. Worse, Jenny and Jill were obviously hot for the blonde brothers. I thought Manfred would be crushed, but he was mostly angry at being treated like a dumb redneck. Evidently, he and Jenny had drifted apart over the past year (which, knowing Jenny, was probably a good thing).
The group of teenagers quickly polarized into two cliques, which was fine by me, since Mark and Todd usually managed to irritate me whenever I talked to them. To make matters worse, every time I was around either of them, they inevitably muttered “hyuck, hyuck” (like the cartoon character Goofy) as soon as I walked away. They didn’t even have the tact to do it when I was out of earshot. So it was all I could do not to simply punch one of them.
Fortunately for Manfred, he was more interested in Maureen Sullivan. And boy, was she interested in him. Like the rest of us, she didn’t like Mark and Todd. Moreover, when she learned about Manfred and Jenny, she was livid. At first, I thought she was mad at Manfred, but I quickly realized that she thought Jenny was being “a no-good tramp.” Needless to say, I kept quiet on the issue, but privately agreed with her.
Things came to a head when I had to listen, again, to “the right way to do things, like in California.” When I tossed my pool cue on the table and turned to leave, Mark did his “hyuck, hyuck” thing.
“Gonna go screw yer sister?” he asked, in his annoying faux-hillbilly voice.
I don’t think he realized I could move as quickly as I did.
I’m ashamed to say that I lost my temper. Worse, I got a lot of satisfaction from seeing his alarmed expression when my arm shot out and pinned him against the wall, by the throat. He struggled for breath and tried to get my hand loose, but he might as well have been clawing at an iron statue; I was far stronger than him.
Before I could do anything more than glare at him, Gina pulled me off, telling me he wasn’t worth it. I stepped back and stared him down. Then I realized Manfred was right behind me, ready to back me up. He was glaring at Todd, making sure I wasn’t jumped from behind.
“As soon as I leave, Mark,” I said evenly, “you’re probably gonna spout some shit about ‘I was just about to kick his ass.’”
He didn’t say anything.
“But you and I both know the truth.” I paused to let that sink in. Then I continued coldly, “So if you really think you can kick my ass, now’s your chance. If you wanna start something, go ahead. But if you do start something with me, you can bet your ass that I’ll finish it.”
He simply glared.
“That’s what I thought,” I said contemptuously. Then I started to turn away from him. But before I completed the motion, I stopped and fixed him with a steely glare. “And if you think your little Goofy bit is funny, think again. If I hear ‘hyuck, hyuck’ one… more… time, you’ll regret it.”
“Yeah?” Todd jeered. “What’re you gonna do?”
I leveled my gaze at him. “Do you really wanna find out?” I asked, still icy calm.
When Todd started to reply, Mark savagely cut him off.
“Shut the fuck up, Todd,” he said.
I smiled tightly at Mark, but the smile never touched my eyes. “Y’all have a nice day now, y’hear,” I said, mocking him with an exaggerated Southern accent.
After that, I stayed away from them and they stayed away from me. The Tharp twins, who’d seen the whole thing, avoided Mark and Todd as well. Maureen gushed about how Manfred hadn’t even hesitated when he moved to watch my back.
Gina was a little upset that I’d lost my temper, but she only mentioned it in private. Both in public and in private, however, she was grateful that I’d said something about the Zachary brothers’ arrogance and baiting.
Jenny and Jill didn’t want to have anything to do with us either, but I couldn’t have cared less. In the end, only the four of them hung out together. Basically, it was the California teenagers in one corner and the Southern teenagers in the other.
That seemed to be fine with everyone concerned.
A couple of days later, Gina, Maureen, Manfred, and I hiked to the quarry. Maureen and Manfred had grown very close, and I could tell they were looking forward to the time away from camp. On the hike up, Manfred pretended to re-tie his hiking boot and then hung back with me for a few minutes.
“Dude,” he said softly, “Maureen told me she’s on the pill.”
He nodded emphatically. “She’s really cute,” he said. “Don’t you think?”
“Yeah, she is, Manfred.”
“And she goes to school about fifteen minutes from where we live.”
Practically brimming with enthusiasm, he jogged back to the head of our little line. When he passed Maureen, he turned and trotted backward for a few feet, grinning like an idiot—until he tripped over a tree root, that is. He caught his balance before ending up on his ass, and he managed to look good doing it, even with the goofy smile he was sporting. For her part, Maureen turned to Gina and rolled her eyes, grinning and blushing as she did.
Once we reached the quarry, Maureen practically dragged Manfred into the water. While Gina and I swam out to the waterfall, the other couple made out in the shade of the big rock. After lunch, Maureen asked Manfred to show her the top of the falls.
“And maybe you should bring the raft,” she suggested.
Manfred, grinning from ear to ear, picked it up, grabbed a blanket, and took her hand. About an hour later, Gina and I smiled at each other as Maureen cried out in pleasure. When they came back down, shortly before we had to return to camp, Maureen blushed, but didn’t let go of Manfred’s hand.
All the way back to camp, Maureen and Gina hung back, chatting and giggling. Manfred was incredibly sanguine about it, merely grinning and looking over his shoulder occasionally. Maureen seemed to be a lot better for him than Jenny. And the perky redhead was enthusiastic about dating him after their families returned to Charlotte.
Good for Manfred, I thought. And good riddance to Jenny. I hope you enjoy her, Mark, ’cause sooner or later, she’ll screw you over, too. I guarantee it.
While we were at the quarry, Kendall’s family arrived. When we returned to camp, she greeted us warmly. After dinner, we filled her in on the Zachary brothers and then introduced her to Maureen.
When Drew heard about Mark and Todd, he scowled. Evidently, he thought he and Jill would pick up where they’d left things. Trish Delozier, however, was more than happy to fill the void. Over the past year, Trish had filled out a lot, and that seemed to suit Drew just fine. Erin and Leah were more interested in the quiet, sensitive Sean Sullivan, so everyone seemed happy.
Later that night, when Mark saw Kendall for the first time, he started hitting on her. I wanted to tell him to get lost, but Gina held me back and told me to just watch. From the way she was grinning, I think she had an inkling of how Kendall would handle herself.
Mark, looking confident as ever, chatted with Kendall for a few minutes. But when he invited her to join him and Jenny at the pool table, she laughed at him. Then she talked to him for a minute, looking as sweet as I’d ever seen her. But while she talked, Mark’s face got progressively darker. Then, with a flip of her hair she turned and walked toward me. I shook my head in wonder when I realized she was doing her “model walk,” more for Mark’s benefit than mine.
“What did you say to him?” I asked.
“I told him I don’t date boys,” Kendall said with an artfully innocent expression. “‘And bless your heart,’ I said, ‘but my boyfriend keeps me very happy, thank you.’”
She kissed my cheek, stepped close, and slipped her arm around my waist. Then she smiled wryly at Mark, lifted her hand, and waggled her fingers at him in a little wave.
“If I’ve learned nothing else in college,” she said, still smiling sweetly, “at least I know how to put frat rats in their place.”
I could barely contain my laughter as Gina, Kendall, and I headed to the lake to meet Maureen and Manfred.
For the next couple of weeks, the summer was mostly the same as the year before. While Gina, Kendall, and I didn’t relive the sense of wonder and discovery, we more than made up for it in the quality of the time we spent together.
Maureen and Manfred were inseparable, and I think it irked Jenny to see how happy Manfred was without her. Maureen sensed the other girl’s pique and doted on Manfred, who was obviously enjoying himself.
Manfred took to heart the advice I’d given him the year before—he actually paid attention to what Maureen wanted and liked. He didn’t smother her, but it was obvious that he was well and truly smitten.
The day before his and Maureen’s families left, we hiked to the quarry again. Maureen wasn’t the exhibitionist Jenny was, so she and Manfred fooled around in private. But from the sound of things, she was a very happy girl.
The next day, their families packed up and left, driving back to Charlotte together. I felt certain that Manfred had found happiness, and I was perversely glad that it wasn’t with Jenny. The Jordan family left as well, leaving two very lonely Zachary brothers.
I couldn’t bring myself to feel sorry for them.
Once again, Mark tried hitting on Kendall, but not only did she turn him down flat, she told him that she didn’t think he could “satisfy her” like I could. After that, I quit trying to protect Kendall, since she was doing just fine on her own!
When Dennis and Elaine Raeford arrived at camp, they were happy to see us. They were happy to see my parents as well. A few days later, they all got together for a party at Susan’s house.
Gina, Kendall, and I knew what was happening, so after dark, we snuck around to Susan’s porch to watch. To our disappointment, the curtains were closed.
The next day, Susan teased me about it, saying that she wanted the Raefords to have some privacy for their first time swinging. Susan, of course, knew about our peeping, but I didn’t realize she was so deliberate about leaving the curtains open or not. With a grin, she told us that the Raefords were coming over again, that night.
“And I think I’ll leave the curtains open,” she said with a wink.
Needless to say, Gina, Kendall, and I were there.
Elaine really liked having two men at once, and she clearly enjoyed my dad. After a while, Susan left the room. Then she nearly scared us out of our skin when she appeared behind us.
“I thought I’d come see what was going on out here,” she said mischievously. “Ooh, doesn’t that look nice,” she cooed, pointing at my erection. “Isn’t anyone going to do something about that?” When neither Gina nor Kendall uttered a word, Susan sank to her knees before me.
Gina and Kendall started fooling around as Susan expertly sucked my dick. With a muffled groan, I clutched her head and climaxed. Grinning, Susan gave my dick one final suck, wiped her lips, and stood.
“I’d better get back inside,” she said. Then she kissed me on the cheek and turned to the girls. “Take care of our man.”
“Oh,” Gina replied, “we will.”
Kendall nodded in agreement.
Once inside, Susan winked and surreptitiously waved to us through the sliding glass door. Then she and Mom double-teamed Dennis while Dad fucked Elaine from behind.
Gina, Kendall, and I wanted to watch, but we also wanted to fool around. We didn’t want to make too much noise—and alert the other adults to our presence—so I ran up to our cabin, grabbed a blanket, and met the girls at the nature trail clearing.
I wanted to take my time and get the girls really worked up, but they had other ideas. I lost track of who was fucking me and who was straddling my face, but I didn’t really care. By the time we took a swim to cool off and clean up, we were exhausted. I walked Kendall to the Winnie and then dropped Gina at her cabin. At my own cabin, I climbed into the upper bunk and was asleep in minutes.
Before Gina’s family left camp for the summer, Susan asked us if we wouldn’t mind spending the Saturday at camp, instead of hiking to the quarry. She had something special in mind. Then she talked to Kendall privately. Afterward, Kendall wouldn’t tell us what was going on, merely smiling and saying, “Wait and see.”
After lunch on Saturday, Susan asked us to come help her with some things around the house. I wanted to grumble, but I’d been raised to be more polite than that. I wondered what she needed help with that couldn’t have waited a day—Gina and I wanted to hike to the quarry with Kendall.
The surprise, however, was even better. Susan had decided she was ready for a foursome with us (since Kendall had turned eighteen). So she had talked with Kendall, to make sure the older girl was comfortable with it. Kendall still preferred men to women, but she was more than happy for the four of us to get together.
Most of the afternoon, Susan and Gina were together, but once, while I was recovering, the three women formed a triangle and ate each other as I watched. Afterward, I fucked each of them from behind, finally burying myself in Susan and shooting deep inside her.
We spent the rest of the afternoon together, fucking, sucking, and doing anything else we wanted. When I was finally too worn out to continue, Kendall and I took a shower together and then snuggled while Gina and Susan played with each other on Susan’s bed.
The next day, Gina’s family returned to Atlanta. She wanted to stay at camp and return with my family, but she and Leah were going to visit her grandparents in Richmond, so she had to go. Because we knew we’d be seeing each other again in a few weeks, her departure was less bittersweet than previous years.
Kendall’s remaining week at camp was a lot slower-paced. We got together with the Raefords once, but it was the same as the year before, with each couple simply watching the other. Elaine did come right out and tell me she was looking forward to when I turned eighteen. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why.
Kendall said she was looking forward to the same thing. To my surprise, she said she wanted to swing with the Raefords. She loved me very much, but she wanted to experiment with another man while I watched.
It was a fantasy she’d told me about when we spent spring break at Bridget’s cabin, so I wasn’t surprised when she told me she wanted the other man to be Dennis. For the same reason Elaine was attracted to me—she said I reminded her of Dennis—Kendall thought Dennis was handsome.
After my family returned to Atlanta, in August, the Coulters’ new house was ready to move into. It looked exactly as I had imagined it. The guesthouse, swimming pool, and hot tub were still being built, but they were shaping up exactly as my mind’s eye pictured them.
For the move from their rental house to their new home, the Coulters once again hired a moving company. Our family, of course, helped. Scott, Shannon, and Heather came over to help as well. The whole move took two sixteen-hour days, but by the time we were done, the Coulters were in their new house.
Gina and Leah had big bedrooms upstairs, with a large shared bathroom between them. There was also a guest bedroom with a private bath. The master bedroom, downstairs, was positively palatial, with twelve-foot ceilings (like all of the first floor), a sitting area, a walk-in closet with a dressing area, and a bathroom that had both a Jacuzzi tub and a large walk-in shower.
After the guesthouse, pool, and hot tub were completed, the contractor would install a privacy fence around the back yard. Since the Coulters had a double lot, with forest behind them, they would be well out of sight of the neighbors.
For my senior year in high school, I had registered for some challenging courses: Advanced Placement English, AP Physics, Pre-calculus, AP Government & Politics, Spanish II, and Typing/Drafting. Typing was a one-semester required course, so I opted to take Drafting opposite it. The class was geared more toward engineering than architecture, but a lot of the same principles applied.
Gina and I had three classes together: AP English, Pre-calculus, and AP Government & Politics. Her other classes were AP Biology, AP Latin, and the requisite one-semester Typing (which we didn’t share). She would spend the other semester as a teacher’s aide for Biology classes.
The AP classes were going to be tough, but if we did well enough on the official college board exams, we’d get college credit. We both had D lunch, along with Scott, Shannon, Kelly, Livy, Heather, Mike, and his girlfriend, Debbie.
In addition, Erin and Leah were freshmen and excited about the prospect of high school. I was torn between wanting to help Erin and not wanting my little sister hanging around all the time. Fortunately, she and Leah both had A lunch and our schedules had us in completely different parts of the school most of the time. So I could be a helpful big brother, but I didn’t have to worry about having two fifteen-year-old girls pestering me.
Since Doc Rivera had graduated, we had a new varsity heavyweight wrestler, Eric Greene. He had gained weight and muscle over the summer and would be taking Doc’s place on our varsity squad.
When I weighed in with Coach Simmons, I tipped the scales at 184½ pounds, almost the perfect weight for the 185-pound weight class. It gave me a little room for normal weight fluctuations (the class limit was 187 pounds), but still put me at the top of the weight range.
Over the past year, I had also increased my bench press to 275 pounds. Coach was impressed with both my weight and strength gains. Soon after school started, Scott, Mike, Eric, and I began strength training, three days a week.
In between practice and homework, Gina, Heather, and I got together as often as we could. Heather had gone to the Planned Parenthood clinic and gotten on birth control pills, so I no longer had to be careful when we had sex. She was as enthusiastic as ever, and even seemed to be warming up to girl-girl sex with Gina.
Over the summer, Heather told us, she had even pulled a monumental prank. She had been at a party where she realized she didn’t know anyone. She knew she’d had far too much to drink, but she was horny. So she gave blowjobs to the host and his two best friends. She had promised to fuck them, too, if they called her after the party. Then, as the coup de grâce, she’d told them her name was Becky “Blowjob” Leonardi.
Gina and I howled with laughter when Heather told us the story. Among a lot of guys we knew, the rumor was that “Becky Blowjob” was a major slut, who’d do anything. Needless to say, the story had grown in the telling, and when I actually heard it, “Becky” had sucked and fucked every guy at the party.
As with most rumors, the people telling it had a friend of a friend who said they’d been there and gotten blown, and swore it was true. But I never met anyone who’d actually been at the party in question.
The real Becky was incensed. Tony was almost as livid. In a way, I actually felt sorry for Becky. She was a caustic bitch, but she wasn’t a slut. Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring myself to actually downplay the rumors. I know it was petty of me to take such delight in Becky’s humiliation, but I guess I’m a petty person sometimes.
Wrestling season started with our customary invitational tournament. Emmett Carstairs had graduated, but I did get to wrestle Pete Yeager. Our match went the full three rounds. I beat him on points, and he was panting and drained as we walked off the mat together.
“You’re a lot stronger than you were last year,” he gasped, holding his side. “It was all I could do to keep from being pinned. And I know I’m a better wrestler than last year.”
“You’re really good,” I said, panting as well.
“Not as good as you. Not anymore.”
“Thanks, Yeager,” I said, “but you’re still really good.”
To my surprise, I ended up winning the tournament. Mike won the 167-pound weight class, and Scott took second place in his 145-pound class.
Whenever we could, Gina and I visited Knoxville. More and more, I was coming to love the campus, as well as the town itself. Knoxville was a lot smaller than Atlanta, and much quieter. It didn’t have nearly the number of things to do that a larger city would, but it was a very friendly place.
When the UT Volunteers came to Atlanta to play the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, we invited the Paytons to come down and stay with us. They drove their RV and parked it in our driveway. While Adam and Melissa stayed in our guest bedroom, Drew was content to spend the night in the camper. Kendall and I wanted to spend the night together, but we knew it would cause problems, so she spent the night in the camper as well. Erin and Leah were excited to see Drew, and we spent a lot of time just hanging out together.
A few weeks later, we drove up to Chattanooga and then rode in the Winnebago to Knoxville for the Virginia game. Kendall was living in Clement Hall again, and we worked the scam whereby we told her parents that Gina was spending the night with Kendall and I was going to sleep in the men’s wing. Kendall and Abby were once again roommates, and Abby went along with the plan. (Since UT didn’t have sorority houses, Bridget and Toni were living on one of the sorority floors in another dorm.)
Susan came to visit us for Thanksgiving. Doug and Kirk flew in as well, but they stayed in the Coulters’ guesthouse. We had a huge Thanksgiving dinner with Gina’s family and then relaxed for an afternoon of football and friends. The Coulters had cable TV, of course, and since they also had a satellite dish, we had all sorts of channels to choose from, just in case we tired of football.
For the first week of Christmas break, Kendall came to stay with my family. She got to hang out with Gina, Heather, Scott, Shannon, and me. We had a blast. We went to a couple of parties, and Kendall wasn’t nearly as shy as she had been before. She thought our high school parties were a little tame, though. Compared to college parties, I suppose they were.
To my chagrin, Scott figured out that I was involved with both Gina and Kendall. (Although I think Shannon might have clued him in.) When he asked me about it, I simply grinned as enigmatically as I could.
His eyes nearly bugged out. “You mean you’re…?” he asked, incredulous. “With both of them?!”
I facetiously used my standard line: “C’mon, Scott. Do you really think I’m doing it with either of them? We’re just good friends.”
“Good friends?! Good friends?!”
I grinned and nodded. Then my smile widened further.
“You are doing it with both of them,” he accused.
“Yeah,” I admitted. “But you know how it is. Don’t tell anyone. Okay?”
“Sure, man,” he said, shaking his head in wonder. Then he gave me a bewildered look. “Both of them?”
I shrugged. “What can I say?”
“Holy shit, man.”
A week before Christmas, I lost my only regular-season wresting match. It was a fluke. At the beginning of the first round, I was controlling the other guy with an overhook that I quickly turned into a headlock. When I went to take him down with a hip-toss, I heard a loud pop. Pain lanced through my leg and up my side.
Gina heedlessly rushed to the edge of the mat as soon as I went down. Fortunately, my mom had the good sense to stay in the bleachers. I can’t conceive of the embarrassment I would’ve suffered if my “mommy” had come running to my aid. (Today, as a parent, I can’t imagine the willpower it must have taken for her not to rush to my side.)
I wanted to continue the match, but when I tried to stand up, my ankle turned and I collapsed under my own weight. I had to forfeit. Coach and Mike helped me hobble off the mat. Then Coach gingerly manipulated my ankle and quickly determined it was sprained. Mom, Gina, and Heather took me to the emergency room.
After x-rays, the doctors diagnosed a moderate sprain—not bad enough to warrant a cast. They simply wrapped my ankle and put a brace on it. I couldn’t walk on it, so they gave me crutches. They said as long as I stayed off the ankle, it would heal in several weeks.
Two days later, I had to skip an invitational tournament, which was disappointing. But I watched from the bleachers as Pete Yeager won it. When I congratulated him afterward, he even wished me a speedy recovery.
“I’d hate to win regionals if you weren’t there,” he said, grinning.
“Don’t worry, Yeager,” I assured him. “I’ll be there.”
“Good. I could use the competition.”
For Christmas, our family and the Coulters bought a big combined present: an airplane. Over the previous summer, flying back and forth to camp had really taken its toll on Chris. In addition, my dad was getting tired of the long drives to and from Columbia. So he and Chris became partners in a 1965 Cessna 182.
Chris planned to learn how to fly, so he and Dad could shuttle between home and camp. Within a one-hour drive of the camp gate, there were literally dozens of small airfields. My dad looked at his charts and found an airfield only fifteen miles from where the camp road met the main road.
Until Chris had his pilot’s license and a sufficient amount of experience to feel comfortable making the trip, however, the plane would be at my dad’s sole disposal. As soon as they showed us pictures of the plane, I had the urge to learn to fly as well. I can’t really explain it; I just wanted to fly.
My parents agreed to pay for my flying lessons, after wrestling season, and as long as I kept up my grades. Chris was going to take lessons at the same time, and my dad wanted to renew his Flight Instructor and Instrument Instructor certifications. Dad wouldn’t teach us, but he wanted to get some more time in light aircraft, which were very different from the commercial jets he flew for the airline.
The day after Christmas, our two families headed to Salt Lake City again. We stayed in a chalet similar to the one from the previous year. Because of my ankle, I didn’t get to ski at all, and I was pretty depressed about it. Fortunately, Gina spent a lot of time with me. She liked skiing, but not as much as I did. So she was more than happy to give up the bunny slopes and take care of me.
Since only my ankle was sprained, she spent a lot of time trying to sprain another body part. But try as hard as she might—and believe me, she did try—she couldn’t sprain my dick.
When we weren’t having sex, Gina and I spent a lot of simple quality time together. We had a hefty reading list for AP English, and we took turns reading out loud to each other. We also had fun cooking for ourselves while our families were on the slopes. Even though I was more than capable of taking care of myself, Gina pampered me.
We also explored Park City. The resort was fairly large, and included a number of shops and restaurants. Since my arms were so strong, I didn’t have any trouble getting around on my crutches. So Gina and I got to act like a grown-up couple. Almost.
We spent New Years Eve at the chalet and our families threw a big party. By then, Erin and Leah had discovered our parents’ swinging, but they were still more interested in each other. They both had boyfriends, but after a few hurtful incidents, they decided not to let the guys come between them.
I knew Gina still chafed at not being able to join the adults’ swinging, but she didn’t challenge her mother. We contented ourselves with remaining at the periphery of the group and fooling around with Kara. Actually, Gina contented herself. I just had fun. I learned long ago that Gina and I had an extraordinary number of freedoms, and I was happy with what our parents allowed us. Compared to most of our friends, we had blissfully enlightened parents.
Finally, however, our Christmas break was over. My ankle was still very tender, but at least I could put more weight on it, and I could tell it was healing.
When school started after the break, I was down to only one crutch, but walking to class was still tedious and painful. My classes were tough, but I really enjoyed them, especially English and Government & Politics. Where school was concerned, Gina was very good for me. She pushed me to do better, to work harder, and she helped me develop a lot of good study habits.
She might have been impetuous and constantly horny, but when it came to schoolwork, she was incredibly focused. She really wanted to be a doctor, and nothing was going to stand in her way. A lot of her drive and determination evidently rubbed off on me.
Once I was cleared to start wrestling practice again, I worked hard, both in the weight room and on the mat. Coach worked with me, showing me a lot of advanced take-downs. In turn, I practiced those moves with the other guys in the 185-pound and heavyweight weight classes.
Gina came to every match and Heather came to most of them. I went 14–1 over the season, suffering my only loss when I sprained my ankle, before Christmas.
In the regional tournament, I wrestled Pete Yeager in the finals and beat him. It wasn’t easy, and I had to work for the pin, but I won. A true sportsman, Pete congratulated me and wished me luck in the state tournament.
Kendall’s nineteenth birthday fell between the regional and state tournaments, so Gina and I flew up to Knoxville for the weekend. Even though they no longer shared a suite, Kendall and Bridget were still good friends, and we got to spend the weekend at Bridget’s family’s cabin in the mountains. Bridget even let Kendall borrow her car for the weekend.
Gina baked Kendall a birthday cake and we celebrated Sunday morning.
In mid-December, Susan had found a 1918 edition of Gray’s Anatomy. She had originally thought I might like to get it for Gina as a Christmas gift, but I had already bought all of Gina’s presents. So I talked it over with Gina, and we got it for Kendall, as a birthday present. When Kendall unwrapped the present and read the book’s cover, she looked up with misty eyes.
“Oh, my goodness,” she said. “Thank you so much.” She looked up, beaming. “Where did you all ever find this?”
I explained how Susan found it at an antique bookstore.
Oblivious, Kendall reverently leafed through the book. She apologized for being preoccupied with it, but Gina and I didn’t mind.
Around noon, we fixed lunch and talked about school while we ate. The girls talked about how difficult it was to get accepted to medical school. I didn’t really have anything to add to the conversation, so I politely listened.
All too soon, however, Gina and I needed to catch our flight. We hurriedly cleaned up the cabin and then packed our clothes. We loaded Bridget’s car and Kendall took us to the airport. Then she walked to the gate with us. With hugs and kisses, we said goodbye.
Once again, the city of Macon hosted the state wrestling tournament. Like Pete Yeager, the year before, I made it to the finals. And also like Pete, I lost to the wrestler from Savannah. Unlike Pete, I didn’t get pinned. For a full six minutes, I gave as good as I got. But in the end, the other guy scored two take-downs while I only scored one. We each had reversal, near-fall, and escape points, but his extra take-down made the difference.
He won, 10–8.
Mike Gee was once again state champion, and he got scholarship offers to several Division I schools. Since his family had moved from Columbus, the only one he really cared about was Ohio State. He got a full athletic scholarship from them. After he signed the papers, he called his girlfriend, then me.
Surprisingly, I got a couple of scholarship offers as well. The scouts had come from all over to see Mike wrestle, but they’d also been impressed by my performance. When they talked to me, I was polite and interested, but I was still a little surprised. As much as wrestling meant to me, though, I didn’t know if I wanted to wrestle in college.
I thought about it a lot. I talked it over with Gina. I talked it over with Kendall. I called Susan to get her opinion. I even talked to my parents about it. In the end, my decision was heavily influenced by something Coach Simmons once said. He’d been berating me about my grades, and he said, “Wrestling is a good sport; it’ll teach you a lot of the things you’ll need to be successful in life, but you need an education if you wanna be something someday.”
I knew I wanted to be an architect. Since I first met Steve Easterbrook and saw the plans for the Coulters’ house come to life, I knew what I wanted. Architecture was a five-year degree. I’d talked to one of Kendall’s friends, an architecture major, who told me about long hours spent on projects and all the work involved. I wasn’t afraid of the effort, but it would take a lot of time and dedication.
Being a student athlete would divide my time and energy, especially if my scholarship depended on it. I enjoyed wrestling, both the competition and the strength training. But did I enjoy it more than the promise of being an architect? I could attempt both, but I felt certain that I’d quickly run myself ragged.
In the end, I turned down the wrestling scholarships. Fortunately, I had that option. My parents could afford to pay for college, and that gave me a lot of freedom. I didn’t want to capriciously spend my father’s hard-earned money, but my parents made sure I understood that I could attend any college I got accepted to. I knew they took good care of Erin and me, but never before had the evidence been so overwhelming.
My parents supported my decision, even if it meant they’d have to pay for college. Gina and Kendall supported me, of course. But to my surprise, Coach Simmons, Scott, and Mike supported my decision as well.
I knew what my goal was, I knew how to achieve it, but unfortunately, wrestling wasn’t part of the process.
All through March and April, Chris and I learned to fly. Three times a week, in the evenings, we drove to a local airport to attend ground school classes. The classes covered a wide range of general aviation subjects, from weather patterns to radio procedures. It was a lot of work and studying—on top of all my schoolwork—but I enjoyed it. I’d been around pilots all my life, and had heard a lot of the jargon, but I still got a thrill when I understood the reasons behind the procedures and terminology.
On Saturdays, Sundays, and a few Tuesdays, we took flying lessons. When Chris flew, I sat in the back. After an hour, we’d land the plane so Chris and I could switch positions. Then we’d spend an hour with me flying and Chris in the back. It was like a double lesson, with both hands-on and observational instruction. The lessons were designed to complement our ground school classes, and we quickly developed our skills. By early May, we were both ready to solo.
Gina, Elizabeth, and my parents came to watch. I didn’t realize how scared Gina was until later. Neither Chris nor I were concerned, since we each had more than twelve hours of flight time. That might not sound like a lot, but it is. I told Gina that our flight instructor wouldn’t even let us attempt to solo unless he thought we were ready.
Chris and I decided to let chance determine who would go up first. Grinning, Dad pulled out a quarter and flipped it into the air. Chris called heads. Dad caught the coin and slapped it against the back of his hand. Then he looked up, his grin widening. When he didn’t immediately lift his hand, Chris and I both glared at him.
“Boys,” Elizabeth chided as Dad continued to tease us, “if you want to be magnificent men in your flying machines, get on with it.”
Dad and Chris rolled their eyes and then smirked at each other. But Dad moved his hand and we all stared at the revealed coin.
I’d get to solo first.
Under the watchful eye of both the instructor and my father, I walked around the plane, doing the preflight check. Then I got into the cockpit, buckled the seatbelt, wiped my hands on my jeans, and began reading from the placard on the instrument panel.
Half to myself, half out loud, I repeated each item on the list as I did it: preflight, complete; seatbelt, adjust and lock; brakes, tested and set; avionics master switch, off; and so on.
When I completed the list, I silently went through it again, double-checking everything. At last, I glanced outside the plane for the first time in several minutes. Then I checked to make sure no one was near the propeller.
“Clear prop!” I called.
My heartbeat thudded in my ears as I turned the ignition switch to Start. The engine cranked once, sputtered, then roared to life. When I finished the Engine Start checklist, I glanced nervously at the empty seat beside me and then took a deep breath. After listening to the ATIS weather information a final time, I changed the radio frequency to ground control. Finally, I adjusted the boom mike and pushed the transmit button.
“Peachtree Ground, Cessna 4619 Tango,” I said in my most professional voice, “requesting clearance to taxi for takeoff with information Foxtrot.” I was nervous, but the familiar rhythm of the radio call focused my attention. I waited for what seemed like forever, but was probably only five seconds.
“Cessna One Niner Tango, Peachtree Ground,” crackled in my headphones. “You are cleared to taxi runway one six. Hold short of runway and contact Tower on 120.9 for takeoff clearance.”
“Peachtree Ground, Cessna One Niner Tango,” I responded, “understand I have clearance to taxi runway one six.”
The next few minutes were a blur of activity. I’d done everything before, but always with the instructor watching and listening, ready to take over if something went wrong. This time, I was alone.
At last, I received takeoff clearance from the tower and pulled onto the runway. I can’t really explain the nervous exhilaration I felt when the plane’s wheels left the ground, but it was heady and almost overwhelming.
That was a preview of Halcyon Days - Summer Camp Swingers: Gina Series Book 6. To read the rest purchase the book.