Aiden ~ Book I

Chapter Eight: Pool Party

Thank you for returning for more of Aiden's story. It is two days after Aiden's birthday. He is now having the first big birthday party of his life and it turns out to be all he had hoped for and more.

Thank you to those who wrote to me. Your emails are truly appreciated.


Aiden sat at the kitchen table wolfing his breakfast cereal. It was Friday morning, the day after his birthday and the day before his birthday party. He was wearing his usual breakfast garb: t-shirt, briefs, and socks.

"Slow down, son. You're eating like you're afraid somebody is going to show up and steal your breakfast," Phil kidded his nephew.

"I'm hungry," came Aiden's garbled reply between bites. He finally finished his bowl of raisin bran and took a deep breath. "How come we only have cereal and toast this morning?"

"Since Uncle Larry has to work at school today, we decided to go with the standard school breakfast this morning. Get used to it; this is actually the standard fare for most mornings. The big, fancy breakfasts are for some weekend days and special occasions. Cereal, toast, fresh fruit, and sometimes muffins or other pastries are what we generally eat."

"I like the pancakes and French toast and waffles," Aiden stated, hoping his breakfast preference would spark a change in routine for his uncles.

"So do I, but on school and work days there simply is no time, and often on weekends we find ourselves pretty busy."

Aiden uttered a grunt of disappointment. "What are we doing today?" Before Phil could answer he flowed right into another question. "Do you think maybe you could teach me more about waterskiing?"

"I'd love to, but I need a spotter. I never take the boat out for waterskiing without a spotter."

"Don't you know somebody who can spot?"

"Not on a moment's notice. But the day is long, the pool is warm, and I am more than willing to swim with you."

"I wanted to go waterskiing."

"Aiden, an important thing for you to learn as you live here is when to accept a no answer. You just received a no answer. Without a spotter, there will be no waterskiing." Phil was certain he could get hold of a current or former baseball player to be a spotter, but he also knew that Aiden needed to learn about the meaning no.


"Aiden, what about the word no don't you understand?" Aiden slouched down in his chair, making sure his uncle could see his best sulky expression. "Let's get the kitchen straightened up and then figure out what we're going to do today."

"I don't want to straighten the kitchen."

Phil gave Aiden the look that made more than one of his summer league baseball players quiver with trepidation. "Let's get to work, son."

Aiden looked away from Phil to avoid his uncle's intense stare. "No, I don't want to."

"And here I thought you and I would have fun in the pool today. Now it looks like you're going to spend a beautiful day in sitting in your room instead."

"I'd rather read than go swimming."

"Fine. Head on upstairs and read. I'm going to clean and straighten up the kitchen." No matter how Aiden tried to avoid Phil's glare, his uncle's eyes kept finding a way to be in the path of his vision.

Aiden pulled his chair away from the kitchen table and stomped out of the room. "I hate it here and I hate you," he yelled as he pounded his way up the stairs.

"I love you, Aiden," was all the boy could hear as he reached the small landing at the top of the stairs.

As Phil started clearing Aiden's bowl, spoon, and glass from the table he thought about how much work they had before them in order to bring out the boy with the bright smile and bury the boy with the sour scowl. There was so much to do with him he wondered how long it would take for them to accomplish anything. A simple thing, like eating some of the sliced fresh fruit in the refrigerator with his cereal, to a complex thing like understanding what was expected from him, would all take time to teach.

As Phil rinsed Aiden's bowl and placed it in the dishwasher he was glad that he and Larry had decided to have Aiden see a child psychologist who came highly recommended by the Mayfield School District psychologist. They could see that Aiden needed help in dealing with the loss of his mother--the kind of help they weren't capable of providing.

I thought I had rough edges as a kid, Phil thought. I had smooth going compared to my little nephew.

Aiden plopped on his bed and pulled off his t-shirt. He looked at the sports posters he and Uncle Larry had carefully hung on his wall. He pulled "Flush" off of his desk and remembered where the book had come from. He remembered his uncles and Pete, the waiter, singing Happy Birthday to him at the restaurant the night before.

He got off of his bed and started to yank off his white briefs; he felt like being naked. As he placed his fingers under the waistband he looked out of his window and saw the blue sky, the lake, and caught a glimpse of the swimming pool. He pulled his hands out of his underpants and walked out of his room.

Phil returned to the table to get the cereal box and the sugar and take them to the pantry. He was surprised to see Aiden walk into the kitchen, his unruly blond hair seemingly facing every possible direction.

"Welcome back," Phil said, wondering what had motivated the boy to return.

Aiden didn't reply as he stepped in front of his uncle, picked up the cereal box and the sugar bowl, and took them to the pantry. Phil watched wordlessly as Aiden returned to the table, picked up the milk carton, and took it to the refrigerator.

Phil wondered why Aiden had peeled off his shirt as he admired the boy's pert ass, which was very noticeable through his tight white briefs. I don't think I'm ever going to tire of looking at that boy's rear end, Phil smiled to himself.

"Can we go swimming now?" Aiden asked with his usual bluntness.

Phil looked straight at Aiden, but his eyes were much gentler than before Aiden had stomped out of the room. "Do you have anything else to say?"

Looking sheepishly at the floor, Aiden barely whispered, "I'm sorry."

"It's always good to look a person in the eye when you speak to him."

Aiden took a deep breath and looked up at his uncle. "I'm sorry, Uncle Phil. I'm sorry I was being bad and yelling at you. I don't really hate you. Can we go swimming today?"

"As soon as we get things in place for tomorrow's party. That shouldn't take long if we both pitch in and work hard." Aiden grinned at the mention of his party the next afternoon.

Aiden did his share of the work and then some. He happily chattered with Phil as they took care of getting the house ready for the party, which included such things as vacuuming and straightening as well as some of the food preparations. They took the plastic lawn chairs stacked in the basement out into the yard to add seating. Aiden felt a thrill working out in the backyard wearing just briefs and socks and was surprised that his uncle hadn't told him to get dressed.

Finally, Aiden heard the words he was waiting for. "I think we've done all that we can do today, so let's change into our swimming trunks," Phil said as he ruffled his nephew's hair. "And Monday we get your hair trimmed."

"I don't want a buzz," Aiden insisted.

"Not to worry, but it's going to be cut enough to make it somewhat manageable."

As he stood in the big sun room, recreation room, den, or whatever purpose it served at the moment, Aiden noticed a car pull into the driveway. "Somebody's coming," he announced.

Phil looked out of the window and knew instantly whose car it was. "That's Marty," he said. The door opened and the big athlete exited his Honda. "I wonder what he's doing here."

Aiden knew he was supposed to be fully dressed when company arrived, but instead of climbing the stairs to his room, he stopped at the bottom step to see who Marty was. Phil opened the door before Marty could ring the doorbell.

"Marty! Wow, it's great to see you."

"Hey, coach," the grinning twenty-one-year-old replied. The two men exchanged a heart-felt hug. He entered the house and saw the scantily clad boy standing shyly at the bottom of the stairs. "This must be your new renter. I like his taste in clothes--it means he's comfortable here."

Phil had been certain that Aiden had gone upstairs to dress and was surprised to see him still standing in the living room area wearing only his briefs and socks. "Aiden, I thought you were going to get dressed--we do have company."

"No worries, coach," Marty chuckled. "He looks just fine to me."

Phil was a little flustered, but tried not to let it show. "Marty, meet Aiden. Aiden this is Marty, former Mayfield baseball player extraordinaire."

Marty pleased Aiden by offering his fist. Aiden's little hand bumped the big fist of the college ballplayer. "Hey, Aiden. Great to meet you after hearing so many good things about you." He looked over at Phil. "But nobody told me how cute you were. I'd run around in my undies, too, if I had a body like yours to show off."

"You're not exactly lacking in the good looking body department," Phil pointed out. Marty played third base for the Washington State Cougars. He had been All-Pac 12 the year before and honorable mention All-America. He had also been a twelfth round Major League draft choice by the Phillies. Instead of signing a contract, however, he elected to return for his senior year in college.

"I thought you were back in school," Phil said.

"Rich had some family business he needed to attend to, so I decided to drive across the mountains with him. My Friday schedule is light and I'll have nothing big to make up. Since I was in the neighborhood, I thought I'd stop by and say hello." Rich and Marty were engaged to be married over winter break. Phil knew that Marty didn't happen to be "just" in the neighborhood since there really wasn't anything in the area to interest him except right here where he ended up.

Marty looked over at Aiden. "Do you play sports?"

"I am on a soccer team," the boy answered shyly. He was a bit overcome by the gregarious presence of the powerful looking young athlete.

"I'll bet you're the star player."

"I never played before. I've only been to one practice."

"Okay, then I bet you'll become the star." Aiden flashed his wide grin. He liked Marty and was quickly developing a huge boy crush on him. "Do you play baseball?," Marty asked.

Aiden shook his head. "I like watching it."

"The next step from watching baseball, is playing baseball. This spring I expect to find out from the coaches that you're playing on a team." Aiden maintained his grin as the two of them bumped fists again. "Remember, the really cool studs play third base. Your uncles know a thing or two about the sport. It's never too early to start practicing, so get out your glove and get to work."

Aiden's grin fell away as he looked over at Phil, who was aware that Aiden didn't own a glove.

"Soccer is an okay sport, but baseball is the sexy sport," Marty went on.

"Aiden and I were just going to get our swimming trunks on and hit the pool. Do you want to join us?"

"You mean you haven't shown this studly dude how to waterski?"

Marty and Phil both saw Aiden's face light up again. Before Phil knew it, Marty had volunteered to spot for Aiden if Phil didn't mind taking the boat out on the lake. Phil and Larry had taken Marty waterskiing numerous times, as they had other former players.

Phil had no problem with Marty spotting. He had now run out of excuses to not take the boat out. Within a half-hour the boat was ready to go. Aiden was dressed in his board trunks, shirt, and life jacket. Marty had also become his friend for life.

After towing Aiden around the lake, as well as dealing with his falls, for a little over an hour, Phil brought the boat into the dock. Marty jumped out onto the pier and helped tie the boat. When Aiden got on the dock, he stood as close to Marty as he could, looking way up at his 6-1, 200-pound frame.

"Damn, dude, you were looking pretty good out there at the end," Marty told him. "You're going to be one hell of a waterskier." Aiden flashed Marty his signature grin--he now liked the big college boy even more.

"Are you coming to my party tomorrow?" Aiden asked.

"Is that an invitation?"


Marty tied the bow line tightly to the cleat. "Can I bring my man?"

"Your man?" Aiden asked confusedly.

"Rich, my boyfriend and soon to be husband?"

"You're gay?" Aiden had already caught all of the hints that Marty was indeed gay, but he wanted to hear it directly.

"Since the day I popped from my mom," Marty grinned as he and Aiden walked off of the small dock.

"He can come," Aiden conceded because it was the right thing to say, but he felt pangs of jealousy--he truly had a boy crush on the third baseman.

After they all entered the house, Phil told Aiden to head upstairs and shower. He then escorted Marty to his car. "Thanks for helping out."

"Hey, I had fun. Your nephew is a good kid--smart and pretty coordinated for a little dude, not to mention cuter than hell. I think you and Coach lucked out."

"He seems to like you."

"He seems to have developed a bit of a crush," Marty chuckled. "I am officially invited to the party tomorrow, so make sure you've got plenty of extra food."

Phil laughed heartily. "Is Rich coming, too?"

"Yes, Aiden reluctantly extended the invitation to his rival for my affections."

"Can you do me a favor?"

"You name it."

"I can't believe it never occurred to me that Aiden doesn't own a baseball mitt." Phil reached into his wallet and pulled out a pair of twenties. "I know it's out of your way, but if you have the time and can head into Centralia..."

Marty pocketed the money. "No worries. I know exactly what to get a budding infielder." He told Phil what he had in mind.

"That will take more than forty bucks...pretty pricey for a beginner."

"I'll cover the difference. It will be good enough to last him into middle school. I'll call Hunter at the store--he can bring it home with him, save me a trip."

"What if they don't have one in stock?" Phil asked.

Marty climbed into the driver's seat of his Honda. "Oh, I'm sure they have one," he grinned. "That kid might not have played baseball before, but I have a feeling he's gonna be a good one. Just don't let him forget that real men play third base". He closed the car door and backed out of the driveway.

Instead of showering, Aiden had gone into the guest bedroom which had a view of the front of the house. He watched his uncle and Marty talk, wondering if they were talking about him. Phil handed Marty something and then Marty backed out of the driveway. After Marty had removed his shirt on the boat, Aiden had been awestruck by his chiseled torso. He went to his bedroom wondering what Marty looked like naked.

The first guests to arrive at Aiden's party were the ones who had traveled the farthest. Aiden had been bouncing around the house since the moment he'd popped out of bed at six-fifteen. While Larry and Phil still weren't tuned in to the behaviors of an overly excited young boy, they were familiar with waking up early.

Aiden chattered about his upcoming party all through breakfast. "My friend Gordy is coming and his friend Miles is coming and Gordy said yesterday that Rusty from our soccer team might come--Rusty is really cool and he has red hair. Miles is on our soccer team."

The newly-minted nine-year-old stopped to catch his breath, and then went on rapid fire. "And Hurricane Jeffrey, who thinks he's my baby sitter, and his brother Sammy will be here. So will my cousins Chase and Logan. Marty and his boyfriend are coming, too. And the sun is shining and it's supposed to be warm this afternoon and we can all swim in the pool, and Uncle Larry is going to barbeque."

Phil ruffled Aiden's already unruly mop of hair. "Why do I get the feeling you might be a little bit excited?" he asked.

"Because it's my first big birthday party ever," Aiden grinned.

"Marty's boyfriend's name is Rich, so you don't have to call him 'hey you' at the party," Larry reminded his nephew.

"I can still call him 'hey you', only I will have to say, 'hey you, Rich.'"

"Whatever works," Larry said as he started frying eggs on the griddle. The birthday party day breakfast would be eggs fried to order, sausage links, toast, and hash browns. Larry and Phil would have preferred a smaller breakfast, but this was Aiden's day, and they saw this as a compromise between plain cereal and pancakes.

That was the first time Aiden gave a summary of the party to come, but it wasn't the last time. Each new outline added a fresh embellishment. So, when the first guests arrived Aiden was more than ready for them while Phil and Larry were more than ready for some relief.

It was just after eleven when Troy arrived with his family. Aiden almost flew out of the front door without opening it. "It's Uncle Troy!" he yelled as he skidded to a stop at the door.

Once Troy entered the house he received a surprisingly big hug from his blond nephew and then proceeded to introduce Aiden to his aunt and cousins. Aiden had not met any of them. As instructed by his uncles, he politely shook hands with his Aunt Sue and cousin Lisa, but Chase substituted a fist bump for a handshake, accompanied by a smiling, "Hey, cuz, wazzup?" That elicited one of his younger cousin's signature grins.

Logan had just turned eight and Chase had turned eleven in May. Aiden immediately took a liking to his outgoing older cousin. Like him, Chase was blond, although he was a much lighter blond--a true towhead. He wore his hair shorter than Aiden and kept it reasonably combed. Like any boy his age, there was no way Chase was able to train his hair to lie perfectly, nor did he want to. But, unlike Aiden, Chase didn't have freckles; his face was clear of any marks or blemishes. Chase was about average size for his age, standing a little over four-nine and weighing in at 78 pounds.

What surprised Aiden the most were the strange feelings he was getting, feelings that told him he wanted to see his cousin without any clothes on, or at least to see his cock. He wondered where those feelings were coming from. They had been the strongest with Gordy, especially after he'd seen him naked.

There were also the feelings he'd had about Marty, although they weren't the same. They were more about Marty being a completely, totally, cool dude who was a star athlete who had been thoroughly nice to him--in other words he had a boy crush. But with Gordy, and now with Chase, what he felt was different. What he didn't know was that he was feeling some of the oncoming of puberty even at the tender age of nine.

Aiden was indifferent to his cousin Logan. He seemed to be very shy, and after the introductions, he hung back. Almost hiding himself behind his parents. Fortunately, Troy understood how different his sons were. He and Sue made sure Logan had plenty of things to keep her amused in what would essentially be a world consisting of young males.

But Chase was an entirely different matter, and he and Aiden quickly disappeared into the big multi-purpose room, where Aiden showed off his new video games. Troy found it ironic that Aiden latched on to Chase instead of Logan, who was close to his age.

"Wow, you've got some cool games," Chase gushed. "How good are you?" After Aiden confessed he had just tried learning about them on his birthday, Chase set to work teaching his cousin the finer points of a couple of the games. It didn't take long for Aiden to catch on, and soon he and Chase were busily competing.

Chase thought that his newly discovered cousin was one hell of a cute boy. Having two gay uncles who were married, he knew all about homosexuality--or at least he thought he did. He was no sexual neophyte, having been sexually active with boys since he turned ten. He and his friends had done everything except anal sex. They talked about "butt fucking" frequently, but had yet to work up the courage to do it. Chase didn't know if he was gay. In chats he had with his father about being gay, his father told him that it was okay to experiment with his friends and that doing so didn't mean anything one way or the other about his sexual orientation.

"You're young," Troy told his son. "Enjoy learning about your body." He also set down some parental rules and warnings about behavior and safety which Chase listened to with about a third of his attention.

Chase knew that Aiden was only nine, but that didn't stop him from wondering if his cousin messed around. After all, he thought, I was ten when I started messing around and nine is almost as old as ten.

With the party scheduled to start at one, some of the eager guests started showing up just after twelve-thirty. Marty showed up first, with Rich riding shotgun and Jeffrey and Sammy in the backseat--since Marty lived with their parents it made sense for him to take them to the party.

As soon as Chase saw twelve-year-old Sammy, he fell in lust. Sammy had close-cut brown hair, a slender, athletic body, piercing brown eyes, and an engaging, dimpled smile. He was five-feet tall, weighed 90 pounds and was a beautiful boy.

But then, so was Chase, and Sammy noticed. Sammy was straight and was the stud of the incoming seventh graders. He'd gone all the way with three girls and had made out with three others, getting naked with two of them. But, he had also lost his virginity to boys, having frequent anal sex with his brother, Jeffrey. He sucked a half-dozen or so cocks as well. While he much preferred the company of girls, he found it much easier and safer to have sex with guys. Looking at Chase his straight brain told him that if he was going to have sex with boys then this boy had to be one of them.

After introductions, everybody wanted to see Aiden's room, so he led Chase, Sammy, Marty, Jeffrey, and Rich upstairs. Since Aiden had occupied the room for less than a week everything was new. The five guests gushed their approval of Aiden's decorating skills.

Marty, Rich, and Jeffrey headed back downstairs to see what they could do to help with the party setup. That left the three preteens alone in the room. After a brief moment of silence leaving each boy feeling a little self-conscious, Chase broke the ice. Sammy tended to be reticent around people he didn't know well, but could be quite boisterous once he got comfortable with someone. Aiden felt a little intimidated around the older boys.

Chase, however, was an outgoing boy who displayed leadership skills. He had no problem getting a conversation started. He started talking about sports, which was a natural topic for boys who were obviously athletic. They had just gotten into the upcoming Seahawk season when they heard the doorbell ring. More guests had arrived and Aiden was the first one down the stairs to greet them.

"Gordy!" Aiden yelled when he saw his new best friend, who was being ushered in by Marty. Gordon grinned when he saw his new friend and gave him a roughhouse hug that looked almost like a dance move. Aiden was surprised and pleased by the hug. Miles and Rusty waited their turns and soon fist bumps and "heys" were exchanged all around.

Miles, who had some Mexican blood in him, had thick dark hair that he wore so short it looked like he really didn't have to comb it, and golden skin. Rusty had bright red hair, a face full of freckles, and a quick smile. Both boys were nine and heading into fourth grade.

Marty told the boys that if they needed to change for swimming they could do so downstairs in the pool shower room. As six boys raced for the stairs, Aiden caught a glimpse of boxes in the all-purpose room, which meant that Uncle Troy had brought his belongings from storage. He would check it all out later, especially the one item he missed the most.

All six boys scampered down the stairs, almost tumbling into a pile when they entered the basement shower room. All of the boys, except Miles and Chase, already had their swimming shorts on. They set their bags and packs on the bench and pulled off their shirts and shoes.

Chase had no problem taking his clothes off in front of other boys and was quickly bare-ass naked. His nude body garnered some long glances from the crowd in the room, with Sammy and Aiden giving him an extra-long look. What they saw was a trim body with virtually no fat, a hairless pubic area, a thin, cut cock that dangled maybe two inches, and a hairless scrotum that was starting to descend. All of the attention didn't escape Chase as he pulled on his board shorts--he enjoyed the looks he was getting.

Miles was quite a bit more shy than Chase. He stripped down to a pair of Seahawk boxers and then stopped. Aiden detected his shyness and quietly told him it was okay to change in the toilet stall. Miles shrugged, faced away from the other boys, and pulled off his boxers, showing off his buttocks and a pair of well-formed, brown ass cheeks. He quickly yanked on his board shorts and turned to face the group, a big grin on his face. It was the first time he'd ever been naked in front of boys he didn't know.

"Did you know that was Marty Carlson who opened the door?" Gordon asked somewhat awestruck.

"I did," Sammy said, "he lives with me and Jeffrey."

"I just met him yesterday," Aiden told them. "I didn't know his last name was Carlson. Is that a big deal?"

"Big deal?" Gordy asked. "He's only the best baseball player to ever play for Mayfield. Now he's a star in college and he's gonna be in the major leagues. I can't believe he opened the door for me. I wonder if I can get his autograph later."

"He'll give all you guys autographs," Sammy informed them. "I know that for sure."

"How?" Chase asked as the boys started out of the sliding glass doors to the patio. Chase had never heard of Marty, but was now intrigued by him.

"Because that's how he is. Marty isn't stuck up like some jocks--just ask him and he'll sign for you."

All of the boys were soon in the pool. It didn't take long for splashing, dunking, and wrestling to break out. A game of tag was started and then dropped when everybody ganged up on Chase.

Some grab ass took place as the boys got to know each other better. Sammy was pleased when Chase swam between his legs and rubbed his hand on his crotch "accidentally on purpose." Sammy soon returned the favor by squeezing Chase's ass, which was the sign Chase was hoping for.

When Gordon grabbed Aiden's balls, Aiden got into an immediate wrestling match with his friend and soon had his fingers around Gordon's little cock. There was nothing new about Miles and Rusty grabbing each other's junk--they'd been doing it to each other since they were seven, only now at age nine, it seemed to be much more fun.

Logan came into the pool long after the older boys. He hung out at the shallow end by himself, despite Chase trying a couple of times to get him involved. Chase simply didn't understand Logan's shyness. He knew his younger brother had some good friends of his own, but when Chase had his own friends over, Logan seemed to disappear. Like his father, he was surprised that Aiden and his brother didn't connect at all.

"Man, I'd love to grab some of those little cocks and asses," Jeffrey told Marty. "That is one collection of cute boys in that pool."

"You know Sammy wouldn't stop you," Marty told his fifteen-year-old friend. He'd had sex with Jeffrey the Hurricane in one form or another when he was in middle school and high school.

"I'd take that Chase dude in an instant." Jeffrey jumped in feet first and managed to cop a feel of his brother Sammy's ass. He got into a little dunking match with Chase, and somehow his hand managed to find the front of his trunks in just the spot to give the eleven-year-old's junk an accidental squeeze. Chase knew fully well the grope had been intentional and he quickly managed to get his first feel of an almost fully grown teen cock through the fabric of Jeffrey's trunks.

All too soon, Marty, who had taken over as the boy herder, announced that it was time to leave the pool and get ready to eat. The boys grabbed towels and dried off. The temperature was warm for a September day, hovering in the lower eighties, so nobody bothered to put on a shirt.

Since it was Aiden's birthday, he decided he should be able to choose who would sit next to him. He felt comfortable with Gordon sitting on his right side and Marty on his left. Marty kept him laughing while Gordon kept him smiling, which sometimes made it hard to get his food chewed and swallowed.

Hamburgers, baked beans, fries, and other munchies were soon being devoured by the hoard of hungry boys and adults. Once the mess of eating was cleaned up, it was birthday present time. Aiden received gift certificates at both the Centralia sporting goods store and at the Barnes & Noble in Olympia. Word of Aiden's love of books had gotten around thanks to his uncles.

Chase gave him a book rather than a gift certificate. It was "The Cay" by Theodore Taylor. "It's one of my favorites," Chase told him. "My dad said you are a good reader, so I think you'll really like it."

When Aiden opened a box from Marty and pulled out a beautiful leather baseball glove he was awed. "Thanks, Marty," Aiden said with obvious emotion. He gave the big college boy a hug, rubbing his face into his muscular torso. "Now I can practice for baseball."

While Marty's gift had been requested by Phil, it seemed the rest of the boys missed the message about not giving Aiden presents. While Larry and Phil had said no presents, they had a feeling the request would be ignored.

"Be sure to double check the card," Marty told him. "The present is from your uncles and me together."

Aiden looked over at his uncles. "Thanks Uncle Phil and Larry."

"Just remember, third base," Marty reminded the nine-year-old.

"Right, third base."

"I Don't Know," Marty and Larry blurted out together. They looked at each other and broke out laughing.

"What are they laughing about?" Aiden asked Phil.

"It's an inside joke. We'll fill you in on it later."

"Don't forget Uncle Troy's present," Larry said, pointing to a box on the bench along the deck railing. "It's from all three of us, but your Uncle Troy did the work in getting it."

When Aiden opened it he found a laptop computer. "Wow, I get my own computer?"

"The teachers all tell me that even in fourth grade it makes life much easier," Troy said.

"We thought about you using our computer," Phil said, "but your Uncle Troy convinced us that having your own would be better for everybody."

Aiden fought back tears of emotion as he walked around the patio and hugged his three uncles. "I am the happiest boy in the whole world," Aiden sniffled. "This is the best birthday anybody ever had, ever. Thank you everybody, you're the best friends ever."

"Well, it needs one more thing to be the best," Larry said. It was then that Flo, Gordon's mother, wheeled a cake out on a cart. It had white icing with a Seattle Mariner logo on it and nine candles placed in the middle. "Happy Birthday Aiden" was written across the cake.

The group sang "Happy Birthday" and Aiden blew out the nine candles with one breath. Tears were dripping down his smooth, freckled face. He looked down at the gorgeous cake on the cart and at the incredible presents on the table. He saw the smiling faces looking at him and he felt embarrassed by the tears. The boy felt a sob forming--he tried unsuccessfully to fight it off, but it burst out of him with a loud "umffff". He turned his head and saw the blurry image of Marty next to him. He buried his head in the athlete's chest with its dusting of body hair and bawled his young heart out.

Next: What Friends Are For