The Knights of the Round Table

Part I

Author’s note: The following is a sequel to The Triumvirate, which the reader is encouraged to read first.

My family moved from the Houston area to a suburb northwest of Boston in the middle of the school year. I wasn’t happy about it. I was shy and I didn’t make friends easily. But my parents got new jobs and so I had no choice.

My Father was a pediatric oncologist. His new job was at Dana Farber, which is a world-renowned cancer hospital in Boston. Father could travel there from our town by train, and he didn’t mind the commute.

Mother was an obstetrician. Her new job was at Concord Hospital.

They were both very busy, so I guess you could say that I spent a lot of time alone. In some ways I pretty much raised myself.

Two years before we moved, when I was twelve, my mother let slip that I was a mistake. My parents didn’t intend to have a child, because they knew they were too busy to give enough time to a child. You’d think two doctors would’ve been able to prevent conceiving me, but they didn’t. So here I am.

Going to a new middle school was hard for me. I’d been in one school system all my life, so, even if I didn’t have good friends, I at least knew many of the kids. I ate with them and went to classes with them. I seldom said anything, and they usually just went on as though I wasn’t there. So in addition to being an accident, I was a ghost.

When I started at my new school of course I didn’t know anybody. A few of the boys tried to be friendly, but I’m really shy and I didn’t respond. Whenever anybody spoke to me, whether students or teachers, I just looked at the floor, not making eye contact. The kids tried, they really did. And so did the teachers. After a couple of weeks, I was sent to a counselor in the school who tried to get me to talk by asking me questions. I replied in monosyllables, again without making eye contact. After a couple of sessions she just gave up. She suggested I go to a psychologist in town, but I didn’t tell my parents and I never went.

In addition to being shy, my pale face is set off by a mop of bright-red hair. Yes, I’m pale. I blush noticeably and often. It always takes kids time to get used to that, but for the most part the students at my new school were very kind, kinder than some of the kids I’d known in Texas.

My parents had told me that I’d only be going to the new school until the end of the school year. They were planning on sending me to a boarding school the next year.

Aside from the fact that I didn’t want to go to a boarding school, I certainly didn’t want to have to change schools again so soon. It was just too stressful.

When I told them that, we had a number of family ‘discussions’. We called them discussions but actually they were civilized arguments. I’m pretty sure I’d never defied my parents before, but I dug in my heels and they finally agreed I could stay where I was.

Shortly after we moved to Massachusetts, I became aware of a boy who lived next door to me. He was considerably older than I was, but I thought he was the most handsome boy I’d ever seen. I secretly wished I could get to know him, but I was too shy to try.

Then one afternoon, our doorbell rang. When I opened the door, the boy was standing there. He seemed to ooze sexiness and confidence from his pores. In short, he was everything I wasn’t.

“Hi,” he said. “I’m your neighbor, Ryan Ackroyd. I wondered if you’d like to come over to my house and play some video games with me.”

At first, I didn’t reply, but then I nodded my head.

“Do you have to tell anyone where you’re going?” he asked.

I shook my head.

He laughed a little and asked, “Can you talk?”

I did see the ridiculousness of what I was doing, but I just nodded again, inwardly chuckling, outwardly blushing.

“Okay,” he said, shrugging his shoulders, “follow me.”

We went through the back door of his house and into the kitchen. When he asked if I was hungry, I nodded.

He laughed and made a sandwich for each of us. “Coke okay?” he asked.

I nodded.

As we ate, he talked some, telling me he was a high school senior. He said that his parents both worked so he was usually alone in the afternoons and he had observed that I seemed to be alone in the afternoons as well.

I wondered briefly if he’d been spying on me, but I thought he’d have no reason to do that, so I dismissed the question and didn’t think of it again for a long time.

When we finished our snacks, we went up to his bedroom and he set up a video game. As we played, I began to relax some. By the time the game was over we were laughing and enjoying ourselves.

Just before I left for home, Ryan said, “You know, I don’t even know your name.”

“Teddy,” I replied shyly. “Teddy Brewster.”

“Well, Teddy Brewster, I’m glad you came over. Would you like to do this again sometime?”

I nodded, but then I gave my little smile and said, “Yeah.”

In the afternoons that followed, I was often with Ryan, and he began to help me with some of my homework. At first, I waited for him to come and get me, but after a while, I grew comfortable enough to go to his back door and into his kitchen, where we always had a snack.

One day, as I was preparing to leave, Ryan stood and hugged me. I was surprised, but I just sort of melted into his arms. Leaning down, he kissed me gently on my lips. I felt a tingle in my groin. I certainly had a crush on him, but I realized that this might be going farther than a crush.

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re beautiful?” he murmured as he held me.

“No. And I’m not. I’m ugly.”

“Well I disagree,” he said. “I think you’re beautiful and will grow to be even more beautiful.”

I just shook my head, thanked him for his help on my homework, and left.

Two days later, I was back at Ryan’s house with some math that was troubling me. We worked on it for a while, until I understood what my problem was. He was really a good teacher, and he’d helped me a lot already.

When we finished working, he stood and motioned for me to do the same. Standing close to him, I could feel the heat from his body and sense his sexuality. Slowly, he removed his shirt. This was the first time I’d seen his chest and I just stared. His pecs rippled under his skin. He didn’t have a lot of hair, but he had a nice little trail of it which ran from his navel down into his pants. I couldn’t help but imagine what was in there.

He gently took hold of my shirt and pulled it over my head. Then he held me so that we were touching, skin to skin. I was thrilled.

“Come,” he said quietly, and led me to his bed, where we sat, side by side. He leaned into me and his damp lips touched mine. Then I felt his tongue on my mouth and opened to him. All this time, I was growing more and more excited, harder and harder.

“Lie down,” he said softly. Neither of us questioned whether I would do what he told me to. I was completely under his spell.

He began gently rubbing me and licking, first my ears, then my neck, then my chest. When he got to my nipples, he fondled them with his tongue until they were hard. It was a sensation I’d never known before.

He loosened my belt and my zipper and told me to raise my hips. As I did, he pulled my pants off so I was just in my jockeys. After he removed his pants, I could clearly see the outline of his large, hard cock through his boxers. He lay beside me and gently took hold of my cock, right through the fabric. I was afraid I was gonna cum right then, but I didn’t.

Finally, he stood and removed first my undershorts, then his own. His cock stood proudly straight out from his crotch. It was huge. I just stared and stared.

“Wanna touch it?” he asked.

I nodded and he lay close enough that I could reach over and put my hand around it. I could feel the blood pulsing in his veins as I held his hard, silken member in my hand for the first time.

Gently, ever so gently, he took my cock in his hand and squeezed a little. “Oh, my God!” I exclaimed.

I didn’t know how much longer I could hold out before I came. But then he did something I hadn’t expected. He leaned into my crotch and took my cock in his mouth. At first, he just held it there. Then I felt his tongue begin to work up and down my shaft. He removed his mouth for a minute and licked the tip of my cock, which by then was very sensitive. Then he slowly licked it, starting at the base and working up until he came to that very sensitive spot right under the tip.

I cried out and began to throb, shooting cum into his face and onto my stomach. It was the best climax I’d ever had. He never stopped, and by the time he finished I felt drained.

We lay side by side for a few minutes before he suggested that I do the same thing with him. I wasn’t sure about putting my mouth on his cock, but I decided to try. Soon I was licking down his chest, and his stomach, and into his crotch. I loved the masculine scent of him there. I took his huge cock in my mouth and began to slide up and down it, using my tongue as well as my lips.

It didn’t take long. Soon he was moaning and then shooting great loads of cum into my mouth. When my mouth was full the rest drained down my chin and onto his belly.

I finally finished and fell back. We just lay there for a time. I was so happy. Now I know what love feels like, I thought. I’d never felt so close to anybody in my life.

Before I left, Ryan took me into the bathroom and washed the cum off both of us. While he gently washed my privates he asked, “Have you ever tasted cum before?”

I shook my head and smiled, saying shyly, “But I liked it.”

When he finished washing, he toweled me with one hand while he held my balls in the other. They were very sensitive by then, and I loved the feeling.

After we dressed, I kissed him long and hard before I left.


In the days that followed, I spent nearly every afternoon with Ryan. I couldn’t get enough of him, and he seemed to feel the same way about me.

One afternoon, he told me to lie on my stomach. When I did, I felt him spread my butt cheeks, and the next thing I knew, his tongue was on my asshole. It felt so good I nearly went through the ceiling. He licked around for some time and even stuck his tongue into my hole.

He got a tube of something which he squeezed onto his middle finger. Then I felt his finger on my hole, and very, very slowly, he shoved it in, eventually going as far as he could. Soon he was using two fingers and then three. My hole was stretched, but his fingers actually being inside me sent shivers up my spine.

Showing me the tube, he said, “Lube,” and then he put some on his cock. I wondered if he was going to stick that into me. It was awfully big and I wasn’t sure he could do it.

He had me get up on my hands and knees. Then I felt the tip of his cock on my hole. He waited a moment then began pushing gently. It hurt but not too badly. He kept pushing until he reached a point where it really hurt, and I cried out. Pulling back a little, he waited a few moments before pushing in again. This time he pushed through that point and kept going until he got to another painful spot. After withdrawing a little and waiting, he began pushing again, and finally he was in as far as he could go.

I felt very full back there, but at the same time I marveled at the intimacy of what he was doing. His fingers were wonderful but now his cock was actually inside me! I knew what he was doing. He was fucking me. I’d never known how two men did that.

By that time, I was very hard myself. As he began moving slowly in and out, just a little at a time, I began rubbing my own cock.

He began moving quicker and I began to rub faster. In no time I shot my cum while he came inside me. Surely this was the most sensual, intimate thing I’d ever done.

When we finished, he slowly pulled out of me, and as my hole closed, that too was a new, marvelous sensation.

Again we lay, side by side. Can it get any better than this? I wondered. Turning a little to him, I said, “Ryan, I love you so much.”

He smiled, hugged me with one arm and said, “And I love you, my little fuck-buddy.”

At last we rose and went into the bathroom. He turned on the shower and we both got in. We washed each other all over, even in our cracks. It was by far the sexiest day I’d ever had.

After that day, we fucked frequently. I didn’t go over to his house every day. He had told me he needed some time to himself and I respected that, but I did go at least three times a week.

My love for him grew stronger and stronger. I loved his body: the feel of it and the strength of it. but I also loved his gentleness, his kindness, and his willingness to accept me as I was.


One afternoon, we were on his bed and he was doing me as usual. We had tried various positions. I found I liked it best when I lay on my back with my legs in the air, because then I could see him and love him in so many ways.

I heard the door open but I didn’t think anything of it for a minute. Then I looked over and there was a boy with a camera, taking pictures as fast as he could.

“Shit,” muttered Ryan.

He immediately got off me. I grew very afraid and wondered if the boy might use the pictures for blackmail. Then I realized there were two other boys standing behind him.

Ryan was furious. I believe he thought about grabbing the camera and running, but there were three of them and Ryan was naked. Where could he go?

By then I was crying, great tears flowing down my face and onto my bare chest and legs.

One of the boys came to me and told me his name, but I was too scared and upset to hear it. When I asked him what I should do, he suggested I should get dressed and then sit at the desk.

I did that and he came and leaned on the desk. He put his hand gently on my shoulder and told me that I wasn’t in any trouble, that only Ryan was. He repeated that his name was Liam and asked what mine was. Then he quietly began to talk about Ryan and what Ryan had done to him and his two friends. As he talked, I began to see the similarities with what he had done with me. The video games, the homework, the hugs, the kisses, the blowjobs, and all the rest. By the time he finished I was crying again. I was so embarrassed, mortified really, to think I’d fallen into Ryan’s trap.

“He doesn’t love us, you know,” said the boy. “He just uses us for his own gratification.”

“But I…I love him,” I said.

“That’s what I thought, too,” Liam said, “but I finally realized what he had been doing to me. Since then I’ve been hurt and ashamed, but I realized that what he was doing wasn’t out of love, it was out of lust.”

I heard the other boys talking with Ryan about going to the police. Suddenly, I was scared again. They assured me that, at least for the moment, I didn’t have to go with them.

As we left, Liam said he thought we needed to talk some more and asked if I would meet them at the coffee shop the next day or if I’d rather meet at my house. While he put it as a choice, he didn’t really leave any option for not meeting, so I said I’d meet them at the coffee shop.

A couple of hours later, the doorbell rang, and when I opened the door, there was Liam. He told me that they‘d been forced to tell the police my name and address and that he thought someone from CPS would come soon. I was sad and scared, but I thanked him for telling me.

I knew that I should fill my parents in about what happened before somebody from CPS showed up, so when they got home I asked if we could talk.

When we were sitting, Mother said, “Teddy, you seem upset. Has something happened?”

I nodded my head.

“Was it between you and Ryan?”

Again I nodded.

“Have you been to see him, to straighten things out? I know that’s hard for you.”

“No, I’m never going back.”

“Please tell us what happened, Teddy.”

“I can’t,” I said, beginning to cry.

“Why not?” my mother asked.

I sat, staring at my plate. I knew I’d have to answer, but I really didn’t want to tell them.

“Teddy?” my father prodded.

I sighed and tried to think of the least I could tell them and get away with it. Finally, I said, “Ryan tried to seduce me.”

“Oh, dear,” my mother said. “I’ll call the police.”

“No,” I answered quickly. “That’s all been taken care of. It’s just that I thought I loved him and he loved me, and then I discovered he was just using me.”

“The police have been informed?”

I nodded.


“Some friends of mine did it,” I went on. “Mother, I’m really sad and hurt.”

My mother came over and hugged me. That was very unusual, and I sank into her embrace and wept.

It took me some time to calm down enough that I was able to tell them what had been going on and what had happened that afternoon. At first they were shocked. Then they were angry, but more at Ryan than at me, although they did let me know they were disappointed in me for my bad judgment.

The CPS lady came in the evening, after dinner. Again I had to tell what had happened. I was red with embarrassment, but she was very kind. She spoke with my parents, saying that she wanted to be sure I was safe. She gave Father her card and a couple of pamphlets and then left.

My parents wanted to know more about the other boys involved, but I told them I wasn’t ready to talk about that yet because I wanted to respect their privacy. After all, they’d only been involved that afternoon and had almost nothing to do with me.

All through the next day, I was anxious, wondering if somehow other kids in the school knew what had happened. If word got around, how would I ever survive in the school?

Although I was reluctant to go to the coffee shop and meet Liam and his friends again, I decided I really had to. When I walked in the door, Liam came over to me, greeted me, and bought me some cocoa.

The other two boys rose and shook my hand when I got to the table. I felt very shy. That was, after all, my default setting.

First Liam asked me about telling my parents and about the CPS visit. I hung my head and told them briefly what had happened. Liam seemed happy that everything had at least gone smoothly.

Then the boys talked about their little group, how they had gotten together after discovering what Ryan was doing to each of them and how they were now there to support and help me. They invited me to join them at their meetings in the coffee shop.

They also told me that they were having sex together at one of their homes and said I would be welcome to join them. I said I’d like to meet with them at the shop, but I wasn’t anywhere near ready for the sex. They understood and when we left, I felt really relieved.

Because the boys were so discreet, word never did get around the school, and after a while, I stopped worrying about it.


One evening a few days later, Mother asked again about the friends who had reported Ryan.

“Just some kids at school,” I mumbled.

“Are they nearer your age than Ryan was?”


“Can we meet them?”

“I don’t know. I suppose I could ask them.”

“Why don’t you invite them for dinner next weekend? Probably Sunday noon would be good.”

I just nodded and said I’d ask.

On Monday there were thunderstorms around, not a good day to be outside, so we met as usual at the coffee house. When we all had our coffees and were sitting at the round table in the corner, I told the others what had happened over the weekend. I asked if they would come to dinner on Sunday, and they said they would. Liam said he might be a little late because he would go to church in the morning. I’d never thought of that. I didn’t go to church myself and I guess I assumed that the others didn’t either.

“So what time would be good for you?” I asked.

“How about 1:00 o’clock?”

We agreed tentatively on that, and when I mentioned it to my mother that night, she said it was fine.

I had told the boys what my parents knew and didn’t know, especially that they didn’t know about the three of them also having had sex with Ryan. They said that wasn’t a problem. They’d figure out something to cover why they were involved.

Sunday morning I was on tenterhooks, looking forward to the boys’ coming but also worrying about what might happen. I guess that in addition to being shy, I’m a worrier.

Dylan was the first to arrive. My parents welcomed him and, while we were sitting in the living room waiting for the others, my mother asked him what grade he was in at school. When he said he was a sophomore, she seemed pleased. He told them that Howie was also a sophomore and Liam was a freshman. That pleased her even more.

The next to arrive was Howie. When he came into the living room, he instinctively went over to hug Dylan, but then realized that probably wasn’t a good idea, so he just shook his hand and said hi.

Liam arrived right on time. We all went into the dining room and sat while mother brought out the dinner, a pot roast with the vegetables cooked with the meat.

The table conversation was very general, and even I was able to join in. But when the meal was over and we’d had apple pie with ice cream for dessert, my mother said to the boys, “Teddy tells us that you were involved in reporting Ryan to the police. Can you tell us how that happened?”

The boys looked at each other as though not knowing who should answer, but I knew that Liam had been appointed to begin the conversation. Though the youngest of the three, he’d always seemed to me to be their unstated leader.

“Well,” Liam began, “Ryan had been helping me some with my writing and I’d gotten a really good grade on an essay. I wanted to tell him, so the three of us rode our bikes to his house after school and when he wasn’t downstairs getting snacks, we went up to his bedroom. We heard Teddu saying, “No,” to Ryan who was obviously hitting on him. We found Teddy in tears. He was naked and covering himself with his hands.

“When Ryan saw us, I suggested that Teddy get dressed while Dylan and Howie talked with Ryan. Ryan was angry and it took him time to calm down, but when Dylan and Howie told him they were going to the police and it might be better for him if he came with them instead of being hauled away in a cruiser, he agreed to go.”

“Will Teddy have to testify?” asked his father.

“No,” Dylan said. “We’d convinced Ryan that it was better all around if he confessed, which he did. There won’t be a hearing or a trial.”

“Well, thank you all for what you did for Teddy,” my mother said. “It sounds as though you handled it well.”

I knew that their version of the story wasn’t accurate. It said nothing about how the three boys had been taken in by Ryan and it said nothing about how Liam and Dylan found out what was going on. However, I didn’t say anything.

“Are you three Teddy’s friends? My father asked.

“We didn’t know him until that day, but now we are.” Liam responded. “We have a little group which meets sometimes at the coffee shop near school. There were just the three of us, but now Teddy has joined in.”

My mother asked, “What do you do there, just socialize?”

“We often work on our homework and sometimes we help each other with that,” said Howie.

After the boys thanked my parents and left, my mother turned to me and said, “You certainly seem to be comfortable with those three. That’s wonderful. But somehow I think there’s something they weren’t telling us. It was all just a little too pat.”

“You’ve gotta trust them,” I said. “They saved me and now they’re my friends.”

“I know that, and I agree with you. I just think there’s something more to it, but I won’t pry. I know teenagers need their privacy.”

I thanked her and went up to my room, breathing a big sigh of relief. The pressure was off, and life with my parents became more relaxed for me.


As spring came, I started to feel a little more comfortable at school. I began to get to know the boys I had lunch with and even took a small part in conversations. I became a little more relaxed in my classes as well. We had some good teachers and I enjoyed much of what we were doing.

Since I’d grown up in Texas, I talked a little differently from the boys in Massachusetts. Sometimes the kids at my lunch table would try to imitate my Texas accent, but I learned I could get back at them by imitating their Massachusetts accents, like a broad ‘-ah’ instead of ‘ar’. While none of them spoke like the Kennedys, they all spoke more quickly and clipped their words more than we did in Texas. They talked about my Texas twang, and they picked up on some expressions I used which they thought were funny.

One day I said that I was “fixin’” to leave early that day. And they loved the word fixin. Sometimes I’d find myself saying, “Ya’ll,” which they thought was hilarious. Another expression I had was when I did something I hadn’t meant to do and said I’d done it “on accident.” They quickly said that the expression should be “by accident,” but it took me awhile to get used to that.

The kidding was in good fun, and as I began to relax with them, I realized that I wasn’t feeling as shy anymore.

I was, however, still shy with the boys in the coffee shop, who were all in high school and therefore older. They told me they had called their group ‘The Triumvirate,’ but since I’d joined them they had to find a new name, and names of groups that involved four weren’t as common as those for groups of three. They talked about ‘The Quartet,’ but that didn’t seem to work.

Dylan knew that there had once been a group of football players at Notre Dame who were called ‘The Four Horsemen,’ but that didn’t really satisfy us either.

Finally one day, Liam pointed out that we always sat at a round table, and suggested we call ourselves, the “Knights of the Round Table.” That way the number wasn’t important, so we agreed to it.

Sometimes, our conversations were just fun and silly. Boys our age still enjoyed being kids and being silly sometimes. We occasionally referred to each other as ‘Sir’─Sir Dylan, Sir Liam, Sir Howie, and Sir Teddy, but we tired of that quickly.

None of us ever saw Ryan again, and we had no idea what had happened to him. In the late spring, I reported that the Ackroyd house was for sale and his family was gone. Where, we didn’t know, but gone they were. The people who bought the house had younger children. I knew them well enough to say hello to them, but I never grew close to them.

One afternoon when we were sitting around our table, Dylan said, “Teddy, when we were at your house I noticed you have a swimming pool in your backyard. Do you swim a lot?”

“Well,” I replied, “You’re right. It’s a perfectly good swimming pool. That’s why there’s a fence around the yard. But my parents say I can’t swim alone. So, even though it’s there, I’ve only been in it on weekends when my parents were around.”

There was silence from the group, but their smiles began to grow wider and wider. Finally, Dylan blurted out, “Perfect. We can certainly help you out with that.”

The next day was a warm one, so after school we all gathered at my swimming pool. They’d brought bathing suits and when we arrived, they began to strip and put their suits on, but then Liam asked, “Why are we wearing suits? There’s a high fence. Your parents aren’t home. Nobody can see us. Why not just skinny dip?”

I was overjoyed. There was nothing like swimming naked. The feeling of freedom and the sensation of the cool water around my privates made swimming naked much more wonderful.

With a whoop, Howie dropped his suit and dived into the water. Soon we were all in the water, swimming around and laughing. Then Dylan organized some races. We were all pretty good swimmers, so the races were competitive, with different ones of us winning races using different strokes. I had a good dolphin kick, so I won the breaststroke. Liam was the fastest with the crawl.

I told my parents about the swimming (but not about the skinny dipping) and asked them for a pool volleyball net and goals for water polo. From then on, we played the games every time we were in the pool. Teams were always two to a side, but the teams changed so that I played with all three of the other boys.

One of the things I secretly liked about the games, especially water polo, was that they inevitably led to a certain amount of physical contact, skin to skin. The other boys were still having sex sessions, but I hadn't joined them, so the games were about the only time I had opportunities for touching the others.


There were many historic sites in our area, but I’d never seen any of them. When I mentioned that one day soon after school got out for the summer, the others said they hadn’t either. They’d always assumed they would visit the sites one day, but it had never happened. That got us trying to figure out how we could manage a tour without a car.

My mother agreed to let us ride with her to Concord one day. She dropped us in the middle of town, near the green. From there we walked out to the site of the battle in 1775. We strolled around the grounds a bit, read the marker where the British soldiers who’d been killed were buried, and stood on the bridge, which was a replica of the original, just watching the water flow slowly under us. After seeing and learning all we could, we walked back to the town center and then out the Battle Road towards Lexington, taking the route the British followed both when they marched from Boston and when they retreated. We noticed there were still stone walls along the road and knew that the Minutemen had hidden behind them and the trees, taking potshots at the British as they marched back to Boston.

In Lexington we visited the little museum (and inevitable gift shop), learned what we could and then walked to Arlington, still following the route of the retreat. No, we had no intention of walking all the way back to where the British landed in boats from Boston.

We waited in Arlington, grabbing food and iced coffee, until my mother picked us up when she finished work.

Another time we rode a train into Boston. I was surprised when the train went down into a tunnel. It was the first time I’d ever been on a subway and I was worried at first by the roar of the train in the tunnel before I relaxed, realizing it was normal. In Boston we walked the Freedom Trail, reading various markers and plaques. In a cemetery we looked for graves of some of the patriots. In the North End we saw the Old North Church, where the signal lanterns had been hung for Paul Revere, telling him that the British were on their way by boat. When we visited Revere’s house, I couldn’t believe it was so small! He must have been short because even I would’ve had to bend to get through the doors. The ceilings were low, and we were told that was to preserve heat in the winter.

Our final trip again by train and subway was out to Columbia Point and the Kennedy Museum. While we all knew some things about President Kennedy, we learned a lot more about him and his family. I guess, like everyone else, we wondered if Oswald, who had shot Kennedy, was acting alone or was part of a conspiracy, but we all concluded that he acted alone.

A few days later, Liam invited us all to a barbecue at his home. His family welcomed us and Dylan and Howie had a great time with Liam’s brothers. I was shy as usual, but Tommy, who was a year older than Liam, latched onto me, sitting beside me and just talking. He told me stories about himself and his brothers. Some of them were very funny, and in time he got me laughing. Then he asked me some questions, easy ones like where I had come from and why I talked funny.

I have to say that to a Texan’s palate the barbeque was pretty tame. The meat needed more spices and a smoky flavor, but I didn’t say anything.

By the time we left, I was feeling pretty comfortable with Liam’s family and I enjoyed the evening.

A couple of days later, my mother came home early from work and found us all naked in the pool.

Seeing her, I jumped out of the pool and cried, “Mother!” She just smiled and went back in the house. The boys all hastily dressed and departed.

When I was dressed, I went into the living room, where mother was sitting, reading. She looked up and said, “I rather wondered if you all were skinny dipping.” She paused for a moment, and then added, “It’s fun isn’t it?”

I stared at her. I hadn’t expected that reaction. Finally I said quietly, “Yeah, it is.”

“Well, I hope you boys won’t stop just because I saw you.”

“Thanks,” I said giving her a hug before going up to my room.

When I told The Knights about her reaction, they all laughed, and Liam said I must have a great mother.

I sort of hate to admit it, but in spite of my recent experiences with Ryan, I began to develop a crush on Liam. I thought he was cute and I loved the way he was developing physically, unlike me who was still scrawny and skinny and ugly.

In the pool I found ways to be near him and just casually touch him, but I never went any farther than that, and I had no idea how he felt about me.