Junior Year
Chapter 33: Man of My Word?

Copyright© 2016 by G Younger ISBN-10: 0-9988371-0-5

Coming of Age Sex Story: Chapter 33: Man of My Word? - David's Junior Year is beginning with a sharp edge to it. His best friend is dead. The girl he'd thought he would spend the rest of his life with is now lost to him as well. He's facing new challenges and pressures due to his rapidly increasing fame. He doesn't just want to survive - he wants to excel. He'll have to reach deep inside himself and find the inner strength and toughness, the resolve and focus, to achieve his dreams. Golden Clitorides: 1st Epic Erotic Story and Erotic Humor Story.

Caution: This Coming of Age Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including mt/ft   mt/Fa   Humor   Sports   School   Slow  

Saturday December 19

Jett left before I rolled out of bed. Fritz had made coffee and I actually drank a cup. Trip came down looking hungover. He’d been out to a party with Craig last night. I was surprised when he wanted to go surfing with us.

It was actually on the chilly side when we went out. The good news was there weren’t many other surfers catching waves. Towards the end I took a fall and was rolled underwater by the force of the wave; it’s sort of like being in the spin cycle of the washing machine. This time it wasn’t quite as traumatic as before, because I knew what to expect.

We took a quick shower and went to Rita’s house in the hills. When we got there I made breakfast for Rita and Halle. Fritz went off to his apartment over the garage.

“So what are we supposed to do today?” I asked.

“They’re having an adoption drive and we’re volunteering to help. There’ll be some press there to capture the event, and you’ll write a check as a donation,” Halle summarized.

“So, how many are you rescuing?” I asked.

“None,” Rita quickly said, and glared at me.

Halle bit her bottom lip.

“Mom has never let me have a pet. She let Trip have a goldfish when he was young, and it lasted about a week. I think my brother is irresponsible and shouldn’t be allowed to be in charge of a pet. He can barely take care of himself.

“I, on the other hand, am more than capable of taking care of a puppy,” Halle said.

“I seem to remember that you’re always losing your backpack,” I offered.

“Thank you,” Rita said.

“Mom, David’s just being a bully. You can’t listen to a word he says,” Halle moaned.

We sniped back and forth to the point where Rita made me sit in the back and Halle rode shotgun to NKLA (No-Kill Los Angeles).

We were greeted and given t-shirts to wear with ‘NKLA’ on them. They had us pose in front of a giant mural with ‘NKLA’ in block letters where they took our pictures. Then they asked us to write a check. One reporter turned out to be an animal-activist blogger who talked more than she listened. She wanted to make sure we were aware of the evils of most animal shelters. I nodded at appropriate times, which seemed to make her happy. The NKLA staff were shocked when I wanted to actually see their dogs and cats. From what I gathered, most celebrities just came in, got the recognition they needed, and left.

Halle and Rita joined me. We started to play a game of ‘what breed is it?’ I was willing to bet that over half the dogs there were either purebred pit bull or pit bull mixes. What I found amusing was that most of them were listed as some other breed.

I pointed at a puppy.

“Pit bull.”

Halle checked the tag on the cage.

“Nope. This is Madeline, and she’s a beagle/terrier mix.”

“I call bullshit,” I said, and checked the tag.

“Do you think it ate Madeline?” Rita asked.

Many of the pit bulls were sweet, but a few were aggressive. Those I stayed far away from. I wished the shelter luck getting those adopted.

Halle fell in love with a little black-and-white Chihuahua named Blackie. I had my doubts, because the dog shook the whole time and had crazy eyes. They brought her into an adoption room to see if Blackie and Halle would get along.

All was fine for about two seconds. The adoption lady put Blackie onto the floor and Blackie began to shake. Halle went to pick her up.

“It’s okay, baby,” she cooed as she bent down.

The little shaking dog suddenly leapt at Halle’s face and all I saw were snapping teeth. The little thing sounded ferocious. Even the adoption lady was up on a chair as the little terror ran around snapping at anything that moved.

“David! Be careful,” Rita warned.

These people were amateurs. I’d dealt with the Cat from Hell, Precious. Blackie was no match. She did grab ahold of my pant leg and shake it. I just reached down and grabbed her by the scruff of the neck. She went limp. This was a natural reaction from when dogs were wild. Their mothers would pick them up by the scruff of the neck when they needed to carry them somewhere.

“Did you hurt her?” Halle asked.

“No, she’s fine. Do you want to hold her?” I asked as I pointed Blackie at her.

She had the same reaction my dad has when I try to hand him Precious. For some reason, Halle passed on getting a dog today. She did get a kitten, though. It looked like a small fuzzy ball of fun.

“This breed is a Ragdoll. They’re nicknamed ‘puppycats’, because they’re very social. You can even teach them to fetch, and they’ll come if called,” the adoption lady explained.

Even Rita fell in love with the beautiful kitten. He had a gray coloring around his eyes and darker gray on his ears and tail, but the rest of him was white. He was playful and full of energy.

Watching them bond made me miss my trusty hound. Mom told me he had a new fascination: Little David, Peggy’s baby. Whenever the baby made a noise, Duke would go get someone to check on him. He’d taken to sleeping under the crib at night instead of in his crate. I had a bad feeling he might not be my dog anymore if I stayed away from home much longer.

“What are you going to name him?” I asked.

“Bandit,” Halle said, and then looked at her mom.

“Yes, you can get Bandit. We’ll need to get him everything he needs,” Rita said.

Our next stop was the pet store. She even bought a kitty purse she could carry him around in. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Bandit would get big. I Googled the breed on the ride to the pet store, and he could get up to 20 pounds. I didn’t see a cat that large fitting into a kitty purse.

When we got home I sent Frank copies of our pictures at the no-kill facility and pictures of Halle with Bandit.

Halle had her kitty to entertain her, and Rita had lunch plans with Reese Witherspoon. They’d rekindled their friendship.

I was left with nothing to do. I did make some phone calls, and Tim updated me on the trainer they’d brought in. He’d created a plan to strengthen Tim’s knee. Tim said he worked with each player to develop an off-season plan to make them faster, stronger and quicker. For the linemen he was helping them bulk up. I told him about baseball and the possible chance to represent the USA on an under-18 team in Mexico. I also told him about my batting coach and the things I was learning.

None of the girls were home when I tried to call. I was told by Tom that Mary and Tracy were Christmas shopping. That reminded me I needed to do that, so I found Paul, who was on weekend duty, and he took me to Two Rodeo Drive. It was an outdoor mall complete with cobblestone walkways. I think Paul thought I wanted to spend a fortune, because there was Prada, Gucci, Valentino, Armani, Dior and Cartier. I did buy some Prada purses for my mom and grandma, and a backpack that looked like a robot for Angie. I felt a little guilty when I went into Jimmy Choo and found a pair of alligator embossed leather sneakers that I fell in love with. They were only $800. I had to get out of there before I went broke.

Paul showed me where he shopped. It was an outlet mall called Beverly Connection. Old Navy and the like at outlet prices was a much better deal. Poor Paul became my pack mule when I couldn’t carry any more bags. He gave me a dirty look, but I was getting everything out of the way in one trip. I even found the perfect gifts for my niece and nephews.

He became my hero when he pointed out they had a place where you could get everything wrapped and shipped. It was guaranteed to get home before Christmas.

While I was shopping, I received two texts. One was from Zak, who asked me to go to a party with him. The other was from Maria. She wanted to have dinner so we could talk about something important.

I dressed to go out. I wore skinny jeans and a black t-shirt. I put on my new $800 sneakers and grabbed a Dakora jacket. When Paul saw me, he went and changed into something nicer. I’d promised him dinner and an invite to the party.

I met Maria at a nice Italian restaurant, and we found a quiet booth so she could talk to me. Paul took a seat in the bar. I noticed he picked a table where he could keep an eye on me. As we walked to our table, people recognized me, and I even had a couple ask me to sign napkins or whatever they had handy.

Maria recommended the lasagna. It was vegetarian and actually good. I could tell she was nervous.

“Just tell me what you want,” I said with a reassuring smile.

“About last week, I hope you don’t think I do that type of thing all the time. I’ve never been involved in something like that before.”

“Did you have a good time?”

“Yeah, I did enjoy it,” she said, and then shocked me. “What I’m about to tell you will make you think I’m a complete slut: I want to do porn when I graduate high school.”

I tilted my head and thought about what she just said, because I wasn’t sure I’d heard her correctly.

“And you’re telling me this because... ?” I asked.

“Because you’re the perfect guy to help me,” she said, as if that answered everything.

“Back home they call me a ‘stupid boy’. I guess I’m missing something. How am I supposed to help you with your desire to do porn? I mean, I can see having sex with you, but if there’s more than that you need to clue me in,” I said.

“I’m serious about doing porn, and I don’t mean just letting some jerk with a big dick fuck me on video. If I wanted that, we could go to the bathroom and you could film us with your camera,” she said.

I pulled out my camera, because I could afford to skip dessert. She shook her head so I put my phone away.

“I want to learn how to do it right. I Googled you, and you’re both a model and an actor. I bet you could teach me things like how to best present my body and stuff. Actually, I really don’t know where to begin,” she said; at that point she ran out of steam and looked at me expectantly.

Amazingly enough, I’d seen some porn. I wasn’t completely clueless about the subject matter. I thought about it, and recognized that most porn followed a formula. Sexy babe entices her partner. She takes off her clothes, except for her panties. She then blows that guy. He in turn eats her when he removes her panties. Then there are the obligatory three or four positions, with the guy ending up in some form of missionary. He jerks out, and she acts like she loves him cumming on her face and tits. Of course there are variations, but you will find at least 80% of that in just about every video.

I thought about it, and the better productions did show off the girl in a better light. I might have some ideas as to how to help her. I also thought about her hot little body. Of course I was willing to help with this.

“Okay, I’ll help you,” I said.

She was so happy she even paid for dinner, because as she explained it, it was a business expense. I just chuckled.

Maria followed me to Zak’s house and parked there. We got Zak, and the three of us and Paul went to the party. It was in Malibu. One of his friends had bought a new house. The home’s claim to fame was that Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston had lived there.

I was a little surprised that Zak hit on Maria the whole way there, but for some reason my alpha male tendencies seemed to be in check. I didn’t feel the need to claim her as my own. It might have been that the first time we were together she’d also slept with both Trip and Craig. When we got out of the car, Maria slid up beside me and grabbed my hand. She hadn’t seemed to mind that Zak had been making his move, but she made it clear she was there with me.

I just figured it was Zak being Zak. He was a confirmed Hollywood-actor pussy-hound. I understood why so many of them remained single for so long. I mean seriously, if you were George Clooney, why wouldn’t you be single for as long as possible?

I should’ve known that if it was one of Zak’s friend’s parties, it would be a target-rich environment. Zak took Maria’s rejection in stride. I could see why he got laid so much. He was easygoing and just shrugged it off and found another girl to charm. I knew that if my uncle and brother were single they would love this place. Maria squeezed my hand to remind me she was there.

“Hey, sorry about that. I just know Zak’s type, and even though he’s cute I didn’t feel like a quickie and then being looked at like a slut the rest of the night,” she said.

I looked over and he had culled one from the herd and taken her to a bedroom. The guy had been here less than fifteen minutes and was getting laid. I realized she was right when I saw several men take note of whom he had left with.

I wanted to talk more about her being a porn star. That was actually one of my bucket-list items, to sleep with someone in the industry, and I would count our time together if she actually became one.

“How do you see us working together to help you with your career path?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I was hoping you’d have some ideas.”

“Have you had a lot of experience with sex? I guess what I’m asking is have you been with different men?”

“Not really. I’ve had two boyfriends that I’ve had sex with, and then you were there last Saturday.”

“Did you like that?” I asked.

“I had a good time. Why? Are you planning on setting me up with some guys?” she asked.

“Do you want me to?”

“I guess if it were part of my training I’d be okay with it. I just don’t want it to get out that I’m doing something like this. I don’t think the kids at school would take it very well. I don’t want to fight off every jock as I walk down the halls,” she admitted.

I could see that. If we had someone at Lincoln High who’d announced she wanted to be a porn star, she’d be flooded with offers, and it would all but be expected that if you dated her, you’d get laid.

“What do you think of Paul?” I asked.

Paul was former military and as such very fit. He was five-eleven, 185 pounds and in his mid-20’s, if I were to guess.

“He seems a little old.”

“From what I’ve seen of porn, it’s normally girls your age and men Paul’s age,” I said.

She seemed nervous, and the last thing I would ever want to do is to force anyone into doing something sexual if they really didn’t want to, so I dropped it. Maria hit the bar and I explored the party. I did my usual and met most of the people there.

I found that there were groups of girls who would hang with someone in the business. It was like Craig and his group of friends who followed him around. I understood why he did it, because I found that without some wingmen it would be difficult to get some alone time with someone.

When I came back, I caught sight of Maria as she led Paul upstairs. She was full of mixed messages. Zak had returned and found me.

“I need your help,” he started.

This had to be interesting.

“I’ve been in love from afar with this girl for ages. She was a senior when I was a freshman,” he said.

I did the math in my head and that would make her about 27. He pointed across the room and I saw Bec Carson. Zak filled me in that she’d started in the business when she was young. She’d been in one of his acting classes when he was ten. She’d started out doing a show on Nickelodeon when they were in high school. Since then Bec had started to get better and better roles in movies.

“So what did you want me to do?” I asked.

“Maybe we could go talk to her and you put in a good word for me,” he said hopefully.

As we walked towards Bec, a stunning example of a California girl joined her. She looked to be much younger. I’d already talked to Bec, so she smiled at me.

“Hey, David. I called my cousin to tell her you were here. She has a crush on you,” Bec said.

I saw the vision’s ears get a tinge of pink. Zak nudged my ribs as the cousin and I must have been staring at each other. I remembered why I was there.

“Uh, this is awkward,” I started. “I came over here to reintroduce you to Zak. He says you took acting classes together when you were kids and he was in love with you in high school.”

I grabbed his arm because I thought he was going to run away.

“Then I come over here and find you with your cousin. I’m David, by the way,” I said as I offered her my hand.


“You be nice to my boy Zak while Lisa and I get to know each other better,” I suggested.

I pulled her onto the dance floor and we lost ourselves in the music. After a couple of songs our eyes locked and she grabbed my hand. She pulled me upstairs and we found a vacant room. I didn’t even know this girl, and she had Mr. Happy out and had him all but swallowed.

The only thing this girl had said to me was her name, and we found ourselves having wild monkey sex. God, I loved Hollywood.

Monday December 21

After I’d gotten back from hitting practice and done a couple of scenes, I went back to my trailer and found Caryn with a smile on her face.

“You look happy,” I said.

“I think I solved our problem with the farm deal. I finally was able to work my way up the food chain at the bank until I found someone who knew what everyone was doing. She wasn’t happy when she found out what had happened. It also turns out she knew your grandfather; one of her first loans was to him for farm equipment.

“Anyway, she wants to work with us to make this right. She has a John Deere franchise owner they had to foreclose on. He’d been in business for many years, and has an inventory that they plan to liquidate. Your mom, uncle and grandma are going today to see what’s there. If they can find what’s needed, the bank is willing to work it out so you buy the two farms.”

I looked at Caryn in a new light. She hadn’t quit on the deal once it looked like it wasn’t going to work. I suddenly realized that she was much more valuable to me than Kendal had ever been. Kendal was good at keeping me organized, and made sure things ran smoothly. Caryn had just shown me that I was wasting her business talents to babysit me. Actually, Devin had missed it also, so I didn’t feel so bad.

Her working on one deal and having success didn’t mean she was everything I foresaw her eventually being, but I felt it was enough to give her a chance to prove me right. Before I got too excited, I needed to talk to my parents, uncle and grandma and get their input. I would need their guidance on how best to utilize Caryn.

“That seems like a sound plan. Have them look to the future needs of all the farms. Maybe we can find some things we might want to add on, if the price is right.”

“I just told your mom the same thing. Sorry if I overstepped,” Caryn said.

“You know what? I don’t really have a handle on this, so there’s no reason for me to get in the middle of it. Take it and run with it. Just keep my family in the loop. My dad has final say anyways, so if he’s fine with it, I am too.”

“Do you want to know what I’m up to?” she asked.

“Well, it is my money,” I said with a smile, and then got serious. “You have a business education and access to people who have real-world experience. I’ve never done anything like this, so I hope you have my best interests at heart. I don’t need to be a bottleneck and have you wait on me to decide things I don’t really know about. That doesn’t mean that I’m not interested, or don’t want to learn. Does that make sense?” I asked.

She smiled and nodded.

“I appreciate your trust and the opportunity. I won’t let you down,” she promised.

There was a knock on the door.

“Ten minutes.”

I felt bad for being late a couple of times last week, so I’d asked the production assistants to warn me if I wasn’t on set ten minutes early. It was a Midwest thing. We hated to be late.

“I have to go and make movie magic. You do whatever it is you do,” I said waving my hands.

I left her with an even bigger smile on her face.

I received texts from both Ari and Kent. It looked like Ari had informed my castmates that we would be negotiating on our own. Kent was pissed. He wanted a meeting after work to discuss it. I quickly realized that I was about to break one of my life goals to be a man of my word. I’d promised them I would negotiate with the group to get the best possible deal. After seeing the movie, Chubby Feldman had advised Ari against it, and I’d agreed.

I called my uncle.

“I think we found some great equipment,” he started.

“That’s nice, but I have a real problem.”

He laughed at me.

“Let’s hear it,” he said.

“Is that David?” Mom asked in the background.

“Yes, and he says he has a problem,” Uncle John said.

“Just put me on speaker,” I said.

“What’s your problem?” Mom asked.

“I’m about to break my word, and before I do I wanted to get your take on it.”

“I think we talked about this,” Uncle John said.

“Yes, but this might mean millions of dollars.”

“What is your integrity worth?” Grandma Dawson asked.

“That’s a lot of money,” my mom reasoned.

“It’s a slippery slope. If his word’s only good until he’s offered money, what does that make him?” Grandma Dawson asked.

“Can I tell you what’s going on and give you an idea what I’m talking about?” I asked.

I explained why we’d originally agreed to the group approach. I also explained how women were treated differently, and how I’d agreed because I wanted them treated fairly. We’d come to a ballpark figure that we felt both the studio and we would find acceptable. I then explained how Chubby Feldman had seen the movie, and he felt I’d be viewed as more valuable than even Craig because of my physicality and how I came across in the scenes. Chubby had made some of the largest-grossing action movies in Hollywood, and Ari said that if he thought I was worth more, you could take it to the bank.

I also explained that Chubby thought the movie would gross more than originally projected. He surmised that we had a hit on our hands.

“So, let me understand this,” Uncle John said. “The studio was going to shortchange the women, and you agreed to do this group thing so they’d be paid more.”

“It was significant. I was going to be paid twice as much as they were,” I said.

“I think you can work this out without breaking your word,” Grandma Dawson said. “If you can guarantee them they’ll make at least what they would’ve with the original deal, would they be okay if you ended up making more? I think they’re worried that without you they’ll take a financial hit. In essence, you’ll keep your word to make sure they’re paid more than without you. If you guarantee them either you’ll make it up out of your own pay, or from the studio, you’ll have satisfied the agreement.”

“The key is you gave your word that you would work with them to make more money,” Mom said.

“Look, where you made your mistake was making this deal before you knew everything. I think one of your life goals was learning to say ‘no’. It’s not your responsibility to right the wrongs of the movie industry. I understand why you did it, and I can see you doing it again in the future. What you need to learn to do is to be patient. I would bet that you all talked about how the success of this movie would affect what you could possibly make on the next two. Am I right?” Uncle John asked.


“Look, I’m not trying to beat you up. I want you to learn from things like this. What I will say is that I think my mom is tap-dancing around the issue and finding a loophole for you to get out of your word. I would suggest that you talk to them, and if they insist that you work as a group, then you do it. If they release you from your commitment, you be sure to thank them and remember what you told us. If they take a hit because of you, you better step up and make it right,” Uncle John said.

“Yes, sir. Thank you for letting me talk this through. I think I know what I want to do. I’ll let you know how our meeting goes,” I said, and hung up.

As soon as Caryn and I arrived at Ari’s office we were sent to a conference room with Craig, Kent, Bree and Elizabeth. Bree and Elizabeth also had their agents with them.

“Can we talk without our people in here for a minute?” I asked.

They all looked at me like I was crazy.

“Let me talk to you and I think we can work this out,” I offered.

Caryn got up and joined Ari at the door. The other agents got up to leave as did Kent, but I motioned for him to stay. He’d been selected to represent us in the group negotiations. When the door closed, they all stared at me.

“I don’t know what you’re trying to pull. I thought we had an agreement on how to handle this,” Bree said.

I smiled at her.

“Hello to you too, Bree,” I tried, but failed at my humor.

I took a deep breath.

“Look, I’m sorry. There was a screening of the movie and Chubby Feldman was here. He advised Ari to break ranks and have me cut my own deal. I take my word seriously, and I made a mistake. I told Ari to move forward on Mr. Feldman’s recommendation. It was selfish and immature on my part. I’m sorry,” I said.

“It’s nice you’re sorry, but how does that help us?” Elizabeth asked.

“I never wanted to do this in the first place. I did it because Bree and Elizabeth were getting boned on their offers,” Craig said.

“So you think we should take the hit so you can make more money?” Bree asked.

Craig wouldn’t look at either of them.

“Chubby thinks we have a hit on our hands. If we’re patient, I think we can make even more money. What if I guaranteed that the two of you would make at least what we agreed to?” I asked Bree and Elizabeth.

“What are you saying?” Bree asked.

“I’m saying that if you let Ari work our deals, I’ll put my own money up if the studio shorts you on your contract,” I said.

“I don’t want Ari negotiating for me,” Craig said.

“Fair enough, then you’d be free to cut your own deal without interference from us,” I said.

“We already have agents,” Bree said.

“And yet you agreed to let Kent lead the negotiations. How would this be different?” I asked.

“You’re serious. You’d guarantee us what we had talked about, even if the movie fails?” Bree asked.

“Look, I gave you my word, and I didn’t live up to it. If you tell me you’d rather us all do a group deal, I will,” I said.

“I’m out,” Craig said.

“I would still do it with the two of you,” I said.

Bree and Elizabeth left to talk to their agents. Kent smiled at me.

“Actually, I think you did us a favor. We’ve heard similar things about it. The movie has tested well,” Kent said.

“Are we good?” I asked Craig.

“Hell, you got me laid last weekend. We’re good.”

“Where was I when all this was happening?” Kent complained.

I just shook my head. Craig and Kent left and everyone else came back in. Caryn had filled Ari in on what I’d proposed, so he wasn’t blindsided.

“We’ll take you up on the offer of a guarantee,” Bree said.

“Ari, I hope you can get them more than that,” I said.

“I have a deal with David that if I make him over what Kent negotiated, I get my fee on the difference. Will you do the same?” he asked.

They negotiated from there. Caryn and I got up and left them to it. Ari was in his element, and I knew they’d work it out. On the way home I received text messages from Bree and Elizabeth that they weren’t upset with me.

Tuesday December 22

We had a good day on the set today. Jessup was working us ragged so we’d be able to take a day off from work on Thursday, Christmas Eve day. The only negative during the day happened when Fritz sat me down and told me that Paul was no longer allowed to drive me. Having sex with Maria when he was supposed to be protecting me was a big problem. I told him I felt partly responsible, but Fritz wasn’t hearing any of it and told me to stay out of it; he was in charge of security.

I was glad when we were done and Fritz agreed to take me surfing. There was still a crowd at our beach, so we packed up our gear and went down the road. A small car-park limited the number of people on the water. It was also rockier. Fritz warned me that I needed to be careful.

There were some docks down the beach and they were packed with sea lions. Fritz told me that boaters hated them. When we paddled out, I actually saw a few of them playing in the waves. Fritz and I made our way out and joined the four other people surfing. There was a guy just a little older than me that I talked to while I waited my turn.

“Have you ever hit a sea lion before?” I asked.

“No, they tend to avoid us, but that would ruin your day. The males can be 750 pounds.”

“You’re right, that would ruin my day.”

I liked our new spot to surf. The people here were older, and no one even acted as if they would jump a wave. I was more careful, though. I didn’t want to crash and get rolled if the bottom was mainly rocks. Everyone also seemed to know each other and accepted us.

I’d just finished a nice run and turned around to paddle back out when I saw a fin break the water near where we were queuing up to surf. I sat up on my board and began waving my arms to get someone’s attention. Fritz saw me and I pointed at the fin that was heading straight at them. I’d never seen a big shark close up. At twenty yards away, it was already too close. I saw the shadow of a female sea lion race along a wave in front of where everyone was.

Fritz had gotten everyone’s attention, and the guy I’d been talking to was up next. He aborted his run. The shark suddenly flew between us and we witnessed our own personal version of Shark Week. One of the sea lions was caught. Everyone made for shore. We watched as more sharks appeared. All I knew was that I was done.

“Did you see that?” I asked Fritz.

He was actually shaking. Of course, he’d been within twenty feet of the monster when it made its kill. It was more than a little unsettling to see all its friends show up so quickly. We had literally been swimming with the sharks.

“When a big shark attacks, how do you fight him off?” I asked excitedly.

Fritz finally realized I was pulling his chain. I was just glad he hadn’t been eaten. He had the car keys and I didn’t want to have to explain to Rita how I lost one of her people. I knew for a fact I would ‘forget’ to tell my mom about this.

In all seriousness, it had scared the shit out of me. Fritz would have to pull a gun and force me to come back to this beach to surf again. I’d take my chances with the girls at our beach. They seemed to be slightly less dangerous.

Fritz took me to the dojo because we needed to burn off some nervous energy after our scare. We spent our time pounding heavy bags. It was actually a good idea, because we were both a little hopped-up on adrenaline after what we’d seen. I don’t think it fully hit me until I was in the shower. I was almost shark food. Holy crap!

Wednesday December 23

When we prepared to go running, a large contingent of paparazzi greeted us. I’d started to get used to them being around. I wasn’t prepared for what they shouted.

“Were you scared when you saw the shark?” one of them yelled, which was followed up with variations of the same question.

Fritz and I looked at each other and had one of those ‘oh, shit’ moments. I pulled my cell phone out and Googled myself. Sure enough, there was a new YouTube video of the whole thing. Someone with a phone camera had captured the shark as it cut through the water close to us. It was hard to judge distance, but it looked damned close. The video already had close to a hundred thousand views. I called Frank, because it was going to be another media circus.

“Check out YouTube.” I said as I walked back into the house.

“Wow. You were in the water with all those sharks?” Frank asked.

“Yep. It was a good thing they were only after the sea lions, or things could’ve gotten interesting. If I’d known they might be around, there’d have been no way they could have gotten me to surf. The first shark was huge, maybe ten feet long,” I guessed.

Frank called someone at UCLA and they told him that the first shark was probably a blue shark and the ones that showed up later looked like mako sharks. All I knew was they were large and had big teeth. Frank arranged an interview during my lunch break with a woman from the State of California who was an expert. I did two minutes of what I saw, and then she talked for thirty on how we were probably safe since we weren’t on the menu.

I dodged my mom’s phone calls. I would see her after Christmas when she came for Devin’s wedding. After the whole fight incident, I really didn’t want to hear what she thought of me swimming with sharks.

We wrapped up the movie for Christmas. Everyone would be back next Monday. It finally sank in that I would be away from my family for the first time during this holiday. Of course, Rita invited me to their celebration so I’d have somewhere to go. I guess I was feeling a little sorry for myself.

I came back to my trailer and Caryn was working.

“We worked it out,” she announced.

“The farm deal?” I asked.

“Yes. They agreed to kick in tractors and implements to replace what was sold. John said you were getting newer equipment that hadn’t been used; they were mostly display items. They’re getting a mechanic to go over everything and make sure it all works. They also bought some things for your uncle’s farm.”

“So, I’m broke?” I asked.

“No, not even close, but your tax bill will be better. I have a call in to your accountant to see if he has any further suggestions.”

I just nodded. She seemed to have everything under control. I went to my bedroom and came out with her Christmas gift.

“I wanted to give you this before you go home.”

“Oh, I didn’t think to get you anything,” she said.

“Don’t worry about it. If I see something I want, I usually buy it. I just wanted to get you something as a ‘thank you’ for all you’ve done for me.”

She ripped the paper off the box.

“You could have waited until Christmas,” I teased.

She opened it and smiled. She was always playing tunes on her phone while she worked, so I bought her a pocket speaker system that used Bluetooth. It actually sounded great. All she had to do was connect to it with her Bluetooth and then hit her playlist. When I saw it in one of the gadget stores, I knew it would be perfect.

“Thank you. That was very thoughtful,” she said.

“Come on. Let’s get out of here so you can go home.”

I guess I was moping around, because Rita sent me to the beach house. Fritz then wished me a Merry Christmas and I was alone. In the mood I was in, it was actually a good thing. It gave me a chance to sit back and reflect on things. From the outside looking in, I’m sure most anyone would trade places with me. That was until they felt the crushing responsibility. I was supposed to be at home, tossing my big brother into a snowdrift. Instead, I was in LA all by myself. I knew what I needed. I called Tami.

“You home yet?” I asked.

“Yeah, Mom came and picked me up. How’s LA?”

“It’s been a learning experience. I can see how people let it go to their heads and get into trouble. It’s also a job. I’m currently on the roof of a beach house, looking at the waves, feeling sorry for myself,” I admitted.

“Missing home?”

“This will be the first Christmas I’ve not been with my family. I guess I’m a little homesick.”

“You could send me a ticket. I’d be willing to suffer with you,” she teased.

“I must sound like a real baby, complaining about my lot in life as you freeze your ass off.”

“No, I get it. Remember, I was the one that talked you into sending me a plane ticket last year so I could come home for Christmas. There’s just something about this time of year that makes you want to spend time with family and friends. I’m sure you’re feeling left out because everyone has their own thing to do,” she said.

“Do you think it’s worth it, though?” I asked.

She knew what I was thinking. She knew me better than almost anyone. She took a moment to contemplate her answer.

“You’d regret it if you didn’t do it. Remember when I predicted big things for you, once you grew up? Well, David, you’re having to grow up sooner than you want to. If you were older this wouldn’t be a big deal.”

“You’re right. It’s just that it’s so different here. Everything I do seems to be under a magnifying glass. Why do people even care what I do? I’m just a small-town kid who caught some breaks.”

“You’re being a baby,” Tami teased. “It all goes back to that ‘doer’ thing. Most people aren’t like you. They find reasons not to succeed. You, my friend, refuse to be stopped. If you find you don’t know something or can’t do it, you figure out how to overcome. Don’t think I haven’t been watching you. I know you’ll figure this out too. You just need to find balance.”

“I don’t understand what you just said,” I confessed.

“Think about what’s going to happen moving forward. I bet you’ll look back to a day like today and realize what a gift it is to have some time to yourself. There’s a reason people are starting to know who you are, and why you feel like your every move is watched. You’re special. You’ve been special for a while, and people have watched you. This is just on a larger scale. How did you handle it before?” she asked, and then laughed.

“I bet you didn’t even realize it, did you?” she asked.

“I’m still confused,” I admitted.

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