Keagan woke up the next morning with the worst headache he had ever experienced in his life. As he rolled over in bed he opened his eyes, but immediately regretted doing that. It was far too bright in the room. He groaned and pulled the covers over his head and then realized that his covers smelled an awful lot like Chay. He opened his eyes again, but kept them squinted so it didn't hurt so much. He realized with a shock that he was in Chay's bed. With that surprise, there was a wave of nausea, and he started to run for the bathroom. As he rested on the floor beside the toilet after his dry heaves, he realized another horror. He had been naked in Chay's bed.
Finally giving up on feeling any better, he grabbed the robe from the back of the bathroom door and put it on, then climbed the stairs to his own room. The darker room was much gentler on his eyes and throbbing head, but he was shocked once again as he dug through the room growing more frantic with each passing unsuccessful moment of his search. His one and only pair of jeans was nowhere to be found. All he had to wear was the so-called dress pants that the children's home had gifted him with at his graduation. Unfortunately, they were a little too long for him, but as they were his only pants other than the much too small gym shorts, he had no choice. He grabbed his sole remaining t-shirt to wear with them and grimaced as he headed downstairs to the shop. Black dress pants and a bright orange shirt. He looked like a Halloween decoration.
"It lives," Chay announced as Keagan stepped into the pastry shop kitchen. The teen groaned and shielded his eyes from the harsh fluorescent lights. "Sit on that stool over there by the washer and dryer and I will get you some coffee."
Keagan obediently headed to the laundry machines, thinking to check in both of them for his missing clothes. "Umm... I can't seem to find my jeans or shirt that I wore to the party.... OH the party," he groaned. He quickly buried his face in his hands. "That must have been a bad party, because I don't remember much after I got there. Bad food, bad drinks, that's about it. I don't have any idea how I got home or why I was.... Shutting up now."
"Your clothes got ruined last night at that party that I rescued you from," Chay told him softly as he handed over the cup of coffee with plenty of sugar and cream just the way the teen liked it normally. "You were in no fit shape to climb up and down stairs, so I put you to bed in my room so you would be closer to the bathroom. I spent the night in your room after you fell asleep."
"So we didn't... I mean I didn't... You didn't..." Keagan forced himself to shut up when he realized two things at once. First was that he was babbling like an idiot, and second, that even he could hear the disappointment in his voice at learning that he had been alone in Chay's bed all night. Keagan jumped at the sound of the bell on the door of the shop combined with voices letting them know someone had just come in. He grabbed an apron and was out to the front of the shop before Chay could stop him.
"Oh, lookie lookie guys," a dark-haired young man said with a grin to his companions. "We followed the trail of donut crumbs and found Blondielocks and the bakery."
"Hey there, cute stuff," one of the other two leered at Keagan. "We found a box of donuts in the frat kitchen this morning and they were so awesome we had to find where they came from. We didn't expect to see you again though. Can we get another dozen of the killer sweets and a side order of your hot buns?"
"Get out!" Chay barked. "I won't serve you guys and I never want to see you here again. You or any of your frat brothers, and you all stay the hell away from Keagan, you understand?"
"Simmer down, Pops," the flirty college boy started. "We were just teasing the boy toy a bit. We get it. The boytoy is off limits, but he came to us on his own last night. Oh wait, no he didn't come. You snatched him out before the fun stuff could get started."
"Do I have to call the cops to get you goons out of here?" Chay demanded. "Because trust me I will call them and then while they're here, I might just tell them about how a certain frat lured an underage boy to a party, plied him with liquor and drugs, and attempted to gang rape him."
"Wait a minute," the first frat brother stepped closer to Keagan. "Underage? He can't be underage, he's in college, so he has to be eighteen."
"I started school in Mississippi at age 5," Keagan informed them. "I will be 18 on Thanksgiving Day."
"Oh shit," the first young man paled. "Damn Macon. I knew he liked the young ones, but I never thought he would go for chicken that tender."
"Well, Chicken Little here didn't seem to mind too much last night, and I know I sure liked what I saw of him after we got those yard sale reject clothes off him," the third guy finally spoke. Keagan suddenly recognized him as the rock candy pusher from the party the previous night.
"Those were the only jeans I owned, you jerk," Keagan snapped. "I would appreciate it if they were returned."
"What do you mean the only jeans you owned?" the first frat brother asked.
"Nothing left of those but threads, cutie," Rock candy guy retorted with a leer. He leaned in close to Keagan's ear and whispered, "You look so much better out of them, anyway. I know you prefer bears, but I'd be real happy to give your buns a nice cream filling, blondielocks."
Keagan blushed and ran back into the kitchen to get away from them as Chay stepped closer. "He grew up in a children's home, you morons. He's an orphan and works here to try and stay in school and keep his scholarship. You idiots wouldn't know about responsibility though would you? I can tell just by looking at you. Everything's always been handed to you and you think you can get away with anything. Well, not this time. You won't get your filthy hands on him."
"You threatening us?" Rock candy guy sneered. His two companions stepped up shoulder to shoulder with him. The first guy didn't look comfortable, but he wasn't about to let a frat brother down.
"AIIIIEEEE!!!! Sugarman!" Everyone looked around to see Aunt Dixie walking into the shop with four of the biggest, strongest black men ever seen with her. She glared at the three guys from the fraternity. "My nephews came down to visit me, and wanted to eat the best beignet in town. Oh, are you having some trouble out of these little boys? I'm sure my nephews would be glad to help you take out some trash."
"We were just leaving," the rock candy maker snapped, but it was obvious he was nervous. He turned back to Chay and snarled. "Don't make threats you can't back up, old man. You don't want to cross us."
"And you don't want to cross me or my friends," Aunt Dixie said in his ear. How she had gotten so close to him so fast no one knew. "Maybe I need to introduce myself and my nephews. We're the LeVeau Family, direct descendants of old Marie. You know Granny Marie taught me an awful lot about how to deal with little punks like you. I get done with you, won't nobody find what's left. You understand me you nasty little piece of shit? You get on outta here like you been told, before I forget I'm a lady."
"Yes'm," the first of the frat boys whimpered as he grabbed rock candy and the other one by their arms and dragged them out the door quickly.
"They don't come back here, you hear me nephew?" Aunt Dixie asked the oldest of her entourage. "That fraternity gets shut down and them boys learn what it means to mess with my family. You see to that."
"Yes, ma'am," the man nodded and walked out of the shop, followed by his three companions.
"Do I want to know what they are going to do?" Chay asked quietly.
"Do you want me to stop them?"
"Not at all. I just wondered...."
"Best you don't know, and don't let my sunshine boy think on it, neither," the old woman said calmly. "Now, let me go see my little blond baby boy. He needs some loving from his Aunt Dixie."
"Miz..." At the growl and frown from the woman, Chay corrected quickly. "Aunt Dixie, are you really? I mean, you couldn't be, could you? You know what, I think that's something else for me not to think about."
"You finally starting to get some smarter, Sugarman," the old woman laughed as she walked through the door into the kitchen of the shop. A moment later she found Keagan crying quietly on his bed as his fingers rubbed little circles around the angel sticker. "They still watching over you, sunshine. Don't you never think they ain't." She walked over and sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed her hand over his back lovingly. "You don't worry about them bad boys, you hear? Aunt Dixie gonna took care of them and anybody else ever tries to hurt my baby sunshine." She looked around the room and then said, "I declare you the cleanest boy I ever seen. I ain't never in my life been in a boy's room what didn't have dirty dishes and dirty clothes scattered everywhere."
"I could never live in a pigsty," Keagan told her honestly. "I was always the boy that kept the group home the cleanest. Besides, you have to have clothes to scatter them."
"Well, then, I guess it's a good thing I bought this bag of clothes at the sale up at Baton Rouge yesterday," she told him as she held up a black garbage bag. "Nobody else seemed to want it, and I just knowed my baby sunshine would look prettier than a summer day in all this stuff. You get up from this bed now and put your birthday present away."
"It's not my birthday for another two months."
"Is that right? Well, then I got time to get you some more presents then," the old woman smiled.
"Oh no ma'am, this is more than enough," he protested as he dug into the bag. "I've never had so many clothes in my life. Well not since I left Grandma's house, at least." He turned around and hugged the old woman tight.
"You welcome baby sunshine. Aunt Dixie so proud to call you family, sweetie. I got to get on down the street to my own store, though. You remind Sugarman to come see me tomorrow. Me and him got to talk some business." She walked out the door leaving Keagan to stare in wonder at the treasure trove of designer jeans and shirts coming out of the bag.
A few minutes later, Keagan came down the stairs into the kitchen of the shop once again, but Chay almost didn't recognize the boy. He was in the latest preppy style clothes complete with the little alligator icon just over his heart on the pink short-sleeved shirt. The pants he had the shirt tucked into were somewhere between pink and lavender with just enough contrast to the color of the shirt to really look great together. They were slim fitting, but still comfortable looking, although Chay made another of his weak whimpers when Keagan spun around, showing how tightly they fit across the butt. On his feet was a pair of off-white deck shoes, similar to what Mr. Rogers wore in his neighborhood on television.
"You look like a totally different person," Chay mumbled. When he saw Keagan's face start to crumble into that worried little scowl, he quickly added, "You look absolutely fantastic, Chipper. When I said you looked like a different person, I didn't mean that in a bad way. I know you didn't have any choice on your clothes before, but they really did make you look like a little kid playing around in your big brother's closet. Now, well now you look like a fashion model."
"Do not," Keagan whispered as he blushed profusely, but Chay saw the megawatt happy grin hiding as the teen ducked his head bashfully.
"You feeling better now, Chipper?" Chay asked him as he tucked a finger under that cute little chin and lifted the boy's face back up so they could look into each other's eyes. "I'm not mad that you went to that party, and I'm not disappointed in you for going either. I am mad at those drug pushing, boozing idiots for trying to take advantage of you, and I'm disappointed in myself for not getting there sooner to rescue you."
"Oh, but you did rescue me. That's what counts," Keagan assured him and grabbed the man and hugged him tightly. "I will get through the rumors and stuff. It's a big school, so it's not like everyone in school was there to see... well everything." The ring of the bell on the front door drew them back to the front of the shop, only to find another college boy standing there nervously looking around.
"Oh it's you," he said as Keagan walked out behind the sales counter. "I was hoping I would find you."
"Well, you found him, now what do you want?" Chay growled as he stood beside Keagan.
"Look, I'm not here to cause trouble, I promise," the guy put his hands up as if he were surrendering to a policeman. "I just wanted to tell you that I'm really sorry about what happened last night. It would have been wrong if it had happened to anyone, and it's more wrong that it was you, being as you're underage and all."
"I only have two more months until my birthday, it's not like I'm nine years old or something," Keagan grumped a little.
"Oh no, I could tell you're grown up," the guy said quickly then he blushed all over. "I didn't mean that the way it sounded, I swear. I just meant.... oh I don't know what I meant. Just... I'm sorry about the party, ok? It shouldn't have gotten that wild and it was wrong and scary and I was too freaked to stop what was going on until your big brother there rescued you."
"He's my boss, not my brother," Keagan corrected.
"Oh, not your brother," the guy sounded like he was disappointed by that news, then he brightened a bit. "But he's not your..." his voice trailed off as he looked at the two of them before he spoke again. "No, he is. I should have known."
Before Keagan or Chay could question what he meant, the shop door opened again and one of the men that had been in earlier with Aunt Dixie walked inside. Oddly enough for such a large, obviously strong man, he looked as nervous as the college guy he stood near at the counter. "We, umm... well, Aunt Dixie had said we would get beignet earlier, but we had to leave and I really wanted to.... I mean I was hoping I could...." He cleared his throat and straightened his posture up before speaking again in a much calmer tone. "I would like beignet and chicory coffee please."
"Sure thing, cuz," Keagan grinned happily and he ran to fill a coffee cup for the man while Chay got him the pastry.
"Cuz?" the big man and the college guy both asked in confusion.
"Aunt Dixie has claimed him, well both of us actually as honorary nephews," Chay explained.
"Tell me, did she kiss you on the forehead three times?" the big man asked suddenly very serious.
"Yes, she did as a matter of fact," Chay remembered.
"Oh and once on each cheek for me," Keagan blushed. "It was kind of embarrassing but really sweet at the same time, you know?"
"That explains the family visit today then," the big man mumbled. "You have the sacred blessing of the LeVeau Family," he told Chay as he bowed. To Keagan, he actually dropped to one knee. "You are close family of the Matriarch. The only thing closer is if she kisses your nose, which will make you her son in the eyes of the clan. My prince, I present myself to you as your kinsman, Cassius LeVeau."
"Oh...wow," the college boy gasped. "The LeVeau Family? Like the real LeVeau's, really really?"
"Yes and the boys who hurt and embarrassed our prince here last night have earned themselves the matriarch's curse," Cassius replied coldly. His eyes grew wide as did Keagan's and Chay's when the young man dropped to his knees.
"I beg forgiveness and mercy, Prince," the guy said keeping his eyes on the floor. "I know I don't deserve it because I didn't protect you last night, but I swear I was trying to get to you and help you get out of the house. There were too many other guys between you and me. Please forgive me, Prince. I will do anything for you to make it up to you."
"What is your name, boy?" Cassius asked him.
"Claude Lafayette, sir, your servant," the young man responded still not daring to look up.
"Do you bestow forgiveness and wish mercy for this man, my prince?"
"Why do you two keep calling me that?" Keagan asked as he squirmed nervously.
"When the queen of the LeVeau Clan marked you with her kisses, you became a prince of the LeVeau Family," Cassius explained. "Even I, as her blood kin, have only ever gotten the three kisses of the blessing. This matter requires your response, my prince," he added as he gestured to the young man who was now prostrate on the floor.
"Get up from there, what are you doing?" Chay demanded.
"The boy has submitted himself to the prince," Cassius said with a tone that showed that he was surprised by the actions as well. "Do you know what you are doing, Claude Lafayette?"
"I don't have the gifts of my family, but I know what I am doing," Claude told them keeping his face pressed to the floor. "I have by my inaction and stupidity brought harm and shame to a prince of the LeVeau Clan. This could bring a war between our families which I'm sure my family would not want, and would obviously lose. I offer myself to the LeVeau Clan and to this prince as his servant for life, in order that there will be continued peace between our people."
"I don't want a servant for life," Keagan squeaked in protest.
"Please, Prince, don't sentence me to death," Claude begged. "I swear I will be a good servant. You won't find anyone more eager to please you, well maybe one other, but I will gladly serve him as well if that is your wish."
"Claude, stand up," Keagan told him as firmly as he could while blushing. "You make it sound like you would be my slave or something."
"Yes, Prince," Claude agreed, still keeping his eyes on the floor.
"No, there will be no slaves or servants," Keagan snapped. "I forgive you because you came here today to make things right even before you found out all this stuff. I don't want you to get in trouble for something that only a few people were really responsible for doing. Cassius, is there any way to stop that curse or whatever on the frat? I don't want innocent people being cursed."
"I will let the queen know what has happened with this one, my prince," Cassius nodded.
"Stop that, stop calling me prince," Keagan blurted covering his face with his hands. "I'm Keagan, ok, just Keagan. I don't want any of you to call me prince ever again."
"Thank you, Keagan," Claude gushed. "Thank you so much, but I know both of our families will demand that I pay for my actions."
"I would rather have you as my friend, than a slave," Keagan told him. "I would like to have someone I can actually trust to show me around town and around the campus."
"I would be glad to do that," Claude smiled. "I grew up here in town, and I know the campus inside and out. What's your major?"
"I'm registered in the architecture program, but I will be changing that next semester to English and Creative Writing," Keagan answered nervously. "I want to be a writer, but to pay for that, I want to work as either a teacher or an editor."
"I have a cousin in the creative writing program. She's a lezzie though, so she can be kind of scary sometimes," Claude told him with a laugh. The two college boys wandered over to a table to talk more as Cassius and Chay spoke at the counter.
"I see why Auntie made him a prince," Cassius said softly as he looked at Keagan who was smiling and laughing.
"I don't think she made him a prince, I think she just recognized that he already was one and she just claimed him for your family."
"Our family, you mean," Cassius corrected. "You and I are cousins, now, Sugarman. I have a strong feeling that isn't the only thing we got in common, either."
"I don't know what you mean," Chay stammered.
"Yes, you do, but I know just from looking at the two of you that ain't nothing happened, yet."
"Nothing will, either," Chay said firmly.
"Not even when you finally realize that he wants it as bad as you do?"
"He doesn't," Chay denied. "He is constantly reminding me that I am an old man, and he is so innocent. He has no idea about anything."
"I would think that after that mess last night, he has a bit more of a clue," Cassius snorted. "And man, a blind and deaf man can tell that boy thinks you hung the moon and stars. He's got it so bad for you he don't know which end is up."
"And until he figures it out, nothing is going to happen," Chay reaffirmed. "Besides, I think you have a starry-eyed little puppy after you now too."
"What are you talking about?" He followed the twitch of Chay's eyes to see Claude staring at him. When caught, the frat boy blushed all the way down his neck and spun around to face Keagan again. "Well, now. I never expected that."
"You know, Aunt Dixie, seems to think I'm blind to a lot of what goes on around me, but I'm not that bad," Chay said as he refilled Cassius' coffee cup. "You didn't come back here for the coffee and beignet. You came back because you wanted to talk to someone that could understand you."
"You sure you don't have the gifts?"
"Just the gifts of observation and intuition," Chay chuckled. "You're welcome to come and talk anytime. Maybe you can keep me sane as well. Don't worry, though, I only have eyes for a bit of sunshine. No offense, but midnight is not my thing."
"You got one warped sense of humor, you know that?" Cassius smirked. "I think maybe I'm going to like hanging with you, 'old' man."