The story below is a work of fiction. It may contain erotic or sexually explicit behavior between males. If you find this subject offensive or are too young, please exit now.

The author reserves copyright privileges as of May 2004. This work may not be posted on any other website nor reproduced, except for personal use, without the written permission of the author.

Continued thanks to my Editor Bill H. for his help in making this story good.

I’d you’d like to comment or just say ‘Hi’ My e-mail address is John Tucker


Chapter Forty-three

Wednesday Afternoon, Houston, Texas, M.D. Anderson Hospital

Dan joined Emma in the cafeteria after she had spent the morning with her grandson, and after he had paid a visit to a couple of potential customers. Then together they entered Jerry’s room.

“Hi Jerry,” Dan said smiling at the wan figure lying in the bed.

“Hi yourself,” the youngster said with a weak smile.

“Your Gramma told me the doctor said you’re doing fine,” Dan said trying to lift the spirits of the lad.

“Yeah? I don’t feel so fine,” Jerry responded somewhat sarcastically.

“Don’t be discouraged,” Dan admonished gently. “The illness you have doesn’t want to let go, so it takes some pretty tough medicine to chase it away. You have to trust in your doctor and in God.”

“Have you chatted with Ronnie yet today?” asked Dan, changing the subject.

“No, but he sent me an e-mail. I guess there’s been a lot of excitement at home. He promised to tell me all about it tonight.”

“Good or bad?” Dan asked full of concern.

“I don’t know. Bad I guess. He said something about Ron and Matt having to go to the hospital last night.”

“I guess I’d better find out what’s happening,” Dan said pulling out his cell phone. “I’ll be right back.”He turned and stepped outside the room into the hallway. He dialed the number of Ron and Matt’s house.

“Turner residence,” the voice of Parker answered on the other end.

“Parker, this is Dan. Is either Ron or Matt at home?”

“No sir Dan. I’m sorry,” Parker replied. “They’re probably at their offices.”

“Little Jerry here said that Ronnie had e-mailed him that Ron and Matt went to the hospital last night. I was worried.”

Parker told Dan what little he knew of the incident of Mabel’s attack and suggested that he call Ron or Matt for the whole story.

“I’m at the hospital with Jerry,” Dan informed the older man. “Is Ronnie around?”

“No sir,” Parker replied. “He’s at the stable. He really likes Ron’s horses and goes up there every chance he gets.”

“That’s fine Parker. I’ll talk to him later. Thanks for the information.”

“When will you be returning sir?” Parker asked.

“I’m not sure yet. I’m expecting a call from Tyler soon. If he’s returning right away, I’ll come back with him. If he’s delayed in Atlanta, I’ll probably come back commercially tomorrow, or Friday at the latest.”

“Very good sir. Is there anything further I can do for you?”

“Not really,” Dan replied. “I guess you could say ‘hi’ to Ronnie for me.I think I’ll take your suggestion and give Ron a call.”

“Yes sir, I’m glad to be of service.”

“Thank you Parker. Goodbye.”

“Goodbye sir.”

Dan disconnected the call and punched in the phone number to Ron’s office where Margaret answered.

“Hello Margaret, this is Dan Barnes. Is Ron available?”

“Hello Dan. He just got off the phone. I’ll find out if he can take your call. Please hang on,” she offered.

“Thanks,” he replied.

A moment later Dan heard Ron’s greeting.

“Hi Dan. How are things with Jerry in Houston?”

“As good as can be expected at this early stage, I guess. Jerry’s been admitted and is on chemotherapy. The doctor is pleased that his body seems to be accepting the medication without serious side-effects, but it’s too early to tell if the treatment is having the desired results, and of course he’s weak”

“It’s truly a shame that it had to happen to him,” Ron said. “Have you heard from Tyler yet today?”

“No,” Dan replied. “He played golf at Augusta with the Zekendorfs this morning, so I don’t expect him to call for a little while. That’s why I called you.”

“That’s why I couldn’t reach him! I left a message on his cell phone. I’m sure he’ll call you soon. Is there something I can do for you Dan?” Ron inquired.

“Jerry got an e-mail from Ronnie that said something about you and Matt spending a good bit of last night in the hospital. I called the house and Parker told me what he knew, which wasn’t much, so he suggested I call you at the office.”

“This place has been a zoo since you and Tyler left,” Ron admitted. “First there was the bomb attempt, then the explosion that killed Christine and her cousin, and finally, last night the attack on Mabel.”

“WHAT?” Dan was aghast. “Tyler never said anything!”

“He didn’t know,” Ron admitted. “We decided not to alarm him, since we thought we had matters well in hand, and we didn’t want to distract from his business activities. Just gave him the news a few minutes ago in my message.”

“I can’t believe it! Tell me what’s happened.”

Ron proceeded to tell Dan of the previous days’ events, while Dan listened open-mouthed as the details unfolded.

“I’m sure Tyler will be upset that you didn’t keep him abreast of all you’ve told me.”

“Probably a bit,” Ron agreed, but it’s been a series of events that were over before there was time to call him. Besides, Wes Harper has been in on these things like stink-on-shit, so it’s been professionally handled. We knew that if we called Tyler about the bombing incident yesterday, he’d be back here like a shot, and we didn’t want to keep him from the great progress he’s been making in Atlanta.”

“I hope he understands that,” Dan said. “He should be finishing his business pretty soon, and I’m sure he’ll call me.”

“Either one of you can call here if there are any questions. Later I’d like to hear the progress of the day with the spot audit in Atlanta anyway,” Ron said. “As for now, everything is quiet, so there’s no need to rush back here.”

“I have to admit that I’m shocked by all that’s happened,” Dan said.

“I guess we forgot to tell you that there’s never a dull moment around the Turner boys,” Ron said with a laugh.

“Knowing how happy Matt and I are, and watching you guys operate, I’d say that was a true statement, in or out of the bedroom!” remarked Dan.

Ron chuckled at the compliment.

“Matt and I will be glad when you return,” Ron admitted. “We’ve gotten to really feel close to you two as members of our little family.”

“You won’t be happier than we,” Dan responded. “I love Las Vegas and you guys, to say nothing of how much I love your hunky brother.”

“Let me know what your plans are,” Ron requested. “And tell Tyler that we’re sorry for the delay in telling him about the bombs. We just knew that he’d rush home for no good purpose.”

“I’ll tell him,” Dan promised. “I’ll see you in a day or two. Thanks again for the information.”

“You’re welcome Dan. Take care of our friends Jerry and Emma, and give them our best wishes. We’re anxious about how they’re doing.”

“I’ll do that, Ron. Goodbye.”

“Bye Dan,” Ron responded before he hung up the phone.

Dan decided to try calling Tyler and began dialing his cell phone number. After inputting all the digits required, there was a pause followed by the ringing of the number at the other end.

“Hi Babe,” Tyler answered, recognizing the number on the caller ID.

“Hi yourself,” Dan answered.

“How’s Jerry?” Tyler asked, the concern evident in his voice.

“Fine so far. The doctor is pleased that there are no unexpected side effects. He’s weak, but seems to be all right, at present. We won’t know much more for a few days. I’ve got Emma settled in her apartment, and we’ve stocked it with the things she needs for now. There’s not much more I can do for her at this time.”

“How did your business meetings go?” Tyler inquired.

“Fine. I got some good leads and met some good people. We’ll send down sales reps next week to do some follow-up. They will come from the New York office though, since our staff in Las Vegas is stretched thin at the moment. I just talked to Ron in Vegas a minute ago and was shocked to hear all the news.”

“Yes. He left me a message a short time ago,” Tyler stated. “We’re in the car on the way back to Atlanta from Augusta. We should be at the office shortly. If the fact-finding is going well, we may have a late meeting tonight to iron out the major issues. Once that’s done, I can leave the details to Will and the Whiz Kids to review with the lawyers. I may decide to return to Las Vegas in the morning if all goes well. Are you ready to go back?”

“Yep,” responded Dan. “I’m more anxious to see the guy I love, though.”

“That had better be ‘yours truly’,” Tyler warned with a grin.

“None other,” Dan laughed. “I’d like to tell you what I’m thinking, but I’m afraid you’d be blushing in front of the guys there.”

“Heh, heh,” Tyler chuckled wickedly. “I’m sure I know. ‘Great minds think alike’.”

“I’d better let you get back to business, Mr. Hunk,” Dan said with a smile. “Call me when you know what your plans are.”

“Right Babe,” Tyler replied. “Love ya.”

Tyler disconnected the call and put his cell phone back into his pocket.

“That was your domestic partner?” Emmett asked.

“Yes sir. His name is Dan Barnes. He’s in Houston with a young leukemia patient and his grandmother from Las Vegas. We stopped there on the way here and Dan stayed with the boy to get him admitted into the hospital, and his grandmother settled in a place to live.”

“I must admit Tyler,” Emmett said, “that I was shocked when Peter told me that you are…uh…”

“Gay,” Tyler said finishing the older man’s sentence.

“Yes. I suppose that’s the politically correct word these days,” the old man agreed. “I have to say that I’d have never guessed.”

“No reason for you to even think about it,” Tyler responded. “I’m a man, just like your son, with only one slight difference, and that difference is of minor consequence in the scheme of conducting business.”

“I suppose,” Emmett admitted reluctantly. “I just have a hard time imagining the attraction of a man to a man.”

“It’s a fact of life,” Tyler explained. “Gary and I didn’t choose to be gay. We just are. I like sports and the things that most men like. I don’t jump all over other guys any more than you come on to women who are not your wife. This is true no matter how attractive I think they are.”

Gary added: “Hell, I found your son attractive in school, but I didn’t jump his bones. He obviously wasn’t interested, and I’ve never done anything in my life with anyone who didn’t reciprocate my attraction to them.”

“I must admit that I wondered,” Emmett confessed.

“Dad!” Peter said with mouth agape.

“Well, you hear all kinds of stories,” the older man said with a look of embarrassment.

“I’m sure that’s true,” Tyler acquiesced. “Most of them are simply misinformation. I would guess that you personally know 20 or 30 people who are gay, but you don’t have a clue. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, being gay is still socially unacceptable to many straight people. Our society has been very slow to accept those of us that don’t fit the ‘majority stereotype’, whether it is because that person is of a different race, different religion or different sexual persuasion. Historically, even women were considered second-class citizens for a long time. It is far easier for many gays to ‘stay in the closet’. Second, the vast majority of gays are indistinguishable from straight people. While some choose to ‘wear their sexuality on their sleeves’, most of us just want to get on with life as a normal person.”

“I guess what I don’t understand is why some gays act so silly, you know with limp wrists and flamboyant clothes, and all that,” Emmett commented as he shook his head.

“It’s important to understand that there are all kinds of gay men, just like there are all kinds of straight ones. The stereotypical image of gays is as wrong to believe as the idea that all black guys are hung extremely large, or crave watermelon. Imagine that all women on the exterior looked just like men. How would you tell a woman from a man?That’s the kind of challenge that gays face who choose to appear ‘manly’ and blend in with other men, and want to partner with that same type of man. There are some who just say to hell with it, and let their sexuality show.Those are the ones you most often see portrayed on TV as the stereotypical gay male.”

“Are you saying that gay men are psychologically and physiologically the same as straight men?” Emmett asked.

“Not at all, at least psychologically. You see I don’t know all the answers. I only know about me, and even that I’m not totally sure of. I can tell you that all gay men are not like me any more than you are like every other straight guy. There are many gay men I choose not to associate with. It’s not because I think I’m better or that I’m right and they are wrong. It’s just that we often have little in common. That’s no different than straight relationships between men. You associate with people you relate to. That’s the bond between straight guys and their friends who are gay too.”

“It’s the way I feel about Peter.” Gary commented. “We associated in college on a non-sexual basis. He accepted me as a good person, as I accepted him.”

Tyler continued. “I know that gay men are considered by many straights as promiscuous, at least it’s how we’re popularly depicted. It’s probably true in many cases especially among the young, though I have no scientific evidence to show numbers. I think that today youthful promiscuity is common even in the heterosexual world as a means to gain acceptance by peers. However, I do have a theory or two about the difficulty of finding a partner amongst gays.”

Tyler smiled.

“I’ve already alluded to most of it. First, man is a social animal, and second, he seeks social acceptance. In a heterosexual world it is a unique problem for gays since so many of the heterosexual majority find homosexual activity unacceptable. This conflict between the desire to function successfully in a straight world on a business and social level, yet satisfy an inner need to find acceptance of others and love with another man creates difficulties that those in the heterosexual majority can barely conceive. Third, many gays, particularly those who ‘act straight’, and live their everyday lives in the midst of the straight world have difficulty finding a similar partner, as they are both ‘in hiding.’ Finally, many are unwilling to forego social acceptance by that same straight majority by exposing themselves should they take a very visible partner, and therefore are very often reduced to ‘one-night stands, as their means of satisfying their sexual needs, even though they have the same desire as straights for a permanent partnership.”

“Personally, I’m entirely devoted to my mate, Dan, and our life together is much, much more meaningful than just our sex life, and our partnership is permanent. Even though we don’t flaunt our sexuality, neither do we hide it. If people don’t like us, it’s their loss, and they can go away. If some want to hurt us, they will find that we have teeth. It’s an advantage of having great wealth I must admit, that most gays don’t enjoy. As I said, I can’t speak for all gay men, I can only speak for myself.”

“You fellas have certainly provided me with plenty of new information to think about,” Emmett admitted. “You’ve given me a totally different perspective from anything I’ve ever been told.”

“Never ask a Gentile what it’s like to be a Jew,” Tyler advised.

The older man laughed. “Touché,” he said as the large Lincoln turned into the parking garage of their office.

Ten minutes later Tyler was sitting in a private office with Will and the analysts.

“What’s your assessment?” he asked the trio.

Will answered first.

“They’ve been very open with their books and operational information,” he said. “The price we’ve offered is a bit low if all their assets are included. For example, they own the office building that we’re in now. It has a book value of$5.5 million. The contents of the building are probably worth another couple hundred thousand. Is that all included in the purchase price? Most of their vehicles are leased and expensed off, so they don’t figure into the value of the business.

“What about their operation?”

“Their pay structure is competitive to ours, but a bit lower in total cost. The most notable difference is the compensation for higher positioned staff. We pay much better thorough bonus incentives. They produce less income per employee than we do. Some of it is that they’re not technologically as advanced as we are, but some of it is just lack of productivity. We could probably decrease their staff by 10% or more and still adequately handle the workload.”

“I’d rather get 10% or more business and keep everyone who is doing their best,” Tyler responded.

“I’m sure no one would disagree with that,” replied Will.

“Are there any real negatives?”

“Not that we’ve found,” Will said with the others shaking their heads in agreement. “There are a couple of lawsuits pending, but I’m sure we could work out an indemnity agreement with the Zekendorfs, to protect ourselves and our employees.”

“Are we ready then for our meeting?” Tyler asked.

“Yes,” Will answered. “I see no reason that we can’t proceed with a preliminary purchase agreement, subject to a complete audit of their books, and the usual escape clauses to protect us in the event we discover that things are not as they have been represented.”

“Good,” Tyler responded. “I think that Peter has ordered up some dinner which will be served in the small executive dining room. It is our wish to have a working dinner, where we can discuss any details you find relevant. I’d like to leave tomorrow morning, if at all possible.”

“I see no reason why that will be a problem as long as we don’t run into a major snag,” Will said in agreement.

“We can FAX and/or FEDEX a preliminary agreement for their review from Las Vegas,” Jeff Davis offered. “We can use the one used in St Louis for a guide, so it can be prepared quickly.”

“Good idea,” Will responded. “It’s already been reviewed by our legal folks, so it could be easily modified. The actual purchase agreement will take a lot more time of course, but once we have the preliminary agreement and earnest money out of the way, we can get down to brass tacks with the details.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Tyler agreed. “Let’s go find Peter and Emmett. I’m hungry.”

                                    *                      *                      *
Later that same night, Emma Thorsruud’s apartment.

“Thanks for bringing me home, Dan,” Emma said smiling. “Would you come in for a short while?”

No, really Emma, you probably need your rest.”

“I really need to talk with you,” Emma said pleadingly.

“In that case, the answer is ‘yes, thank you for asking,’ Dan said smiling.

The handsome man and older woman exited the rental car that Dan had leased for the older lady’s use when he was gone, and entered the apartment building.

“Would you like some coffee?” Emma asked as she unlocked the door to her unit.

“Thanks, no,” Dan replied. “If I drink that stuff at night I can’t sleep. A glass of water would be appreciated though. I can get it for myself.”

“Thanks Dan. If you don’t mind, I’ll just sit in this easy chair. My bones get more creaky every day.”

“I’ll be with you in a second,” Dan said as he headed for the small kitchen. “Can I get you anything?”

“Water would be fine for me too, thanks,” she replied.

A minute later Dan walked back into the room with two glasses of ice water, setting Emma’s on a small side table, and his on a coffee table in front of the sofa. As he sat down, he asked, “What would you like to talk about, Emma? Is there anything you need?”

“I’d like to talk to you about Jerry,” the old woman replied. “I talked to Ron’s attorney late yesterday. He got my old will and I informed him of the changes I want. I should have a copy here tomorrow, and I’ll sign it immediately.”

“That’s good,” Dan commented. “I’m glad we were able to be of help.”

“Yes, it was very kind of you. That’s not really what I wanted to talk to you about though.”

“I’m listening,” Dan said attentively.

“I’m afraid I haven’t been totally honest with you about my health,” Emma revealed. “I have a bad heart. I had an attack about 3 months ago. The doctor said my condition was degenerative and he didn’t give me long to live. I just had to go on, for Jerry’s sake.”

“Does Jerry know?”

“He knows that I have a heart condition, but he has no idea how serious it is,” she replied.

“Doctors have been wrong before,” Dan said.

“I think not in this case,” Emma replied. “I’m ready to go and meet my Frank again. I’m not afraid, and am at peace.”

“I hate to think of you being gone,” Dan responded honestly. “I know that Jerry will take it hard.”

“I thank the Lord every day for you and Tyler,” Emma said with a smile. “My only concern has been Jerry. He now has both a chance to live, and a pair of loving Dads to see to his upbringing. I’ve been truly blessed.”

“You know we’ve quickly grown to love him,” Dan responded, “but we’d never wish you gone so that we could have him.”

“I know that, silly,” Emma replied. “You can be sure that as long as I live, I’ll share him with you. He’s made the last few years worth living, but now he has you and my prayers have been answered. I only have one more prayer to be answered and I can go peacefully; that’s for his triumph over this terrible disease.”

“You know that Tyler and I, as well as Matt and Ron will do everything that’s humanly possible to make that happen.”

“I know that my dear man. You realize, of course, that he might die in spite of all our efforts?” Jerry’s grandmother asked.

“Yes, we understand that,” answered Dan sadly as tears appeared in his eyes. “God’s will be done.”

“You should know that I have requested the courts to allow you to adopt him. It’s in my will.”

“We’d be honored,” Dan replied. “No matter what happens as he grows older, we’ll never let him forget his loving grandmother.”

“If I go suddenly, I only ask that you tell him that my last thought will be of him.”

“That I can easily promise,” her friend replied.

“Enough of this talk,” the old woman said, struggling to her feet before Dan could reach her. “Now, get you gone. This old lady needs her sleep.”

“Yes Mom,” Dan obeyed as he bent down to kiss the old lady’s cheek.

“One last thing,” she said as if she had forgotten something.

“Ok,” Dan answered.

“I love you guys, and I love it when you call me Mom.”

“We love you too Mom,” Dan said with tender sincerity. “In the morning I’ll let you know my plans for leaving after talking with Tyler later tonight”

“That will be fine, son. I’ll be awake early, so don’t be afraid to call at any time if you want or need to.”

“Goodnight, Mom,” Dan said with another kiss before he turned toward the door.

“Goodnight son,” she replied. “Tell Tyler I love him too.”

“Yes ma’am,” Dan said as he stepped through the door and closed it behind him.

                                    *                      *                      *

Thursday morning, 10:30 AM, M.D Anderson hospital, Jerry’s room

“Tyler!” Jerry shouted with excitement as the handsome man entered the room. “I’ve missed you so!”

“What about me?” Dan asked as he entered behind his lover.

“What’s to miss?” Jerry kidded.

“Harrumph!” Dan said in mock indignation. “See if I bring you any more Big Macs.”

“Did you bring one?” Jerry said, his eyes wide in anticipation.

“Yeah, but the doctor said you’re too weak to eat it. Guess I’ll have to eat it myself,” Dan said.

“No way!” Jerry exclaimed. “I’m strong and tough.”

“Well, ok then. If you say so,” Dan said pulling the large sandwich from behind his back.

“Jeez, I feel slighted.” Tyler said.

“No need. I brought you one too, you horn dog,” Dan responded with a laugh.

“Shhhh. We don’t want Emma to know about us,” Tyler said winking at Matt.

“I already know,” Emma said as she appeared at the door smiling. “And I approve.”

“Thanks Mom,” Tyler said as he planted a kiss on her forehead. “We both love you.”

“Sorry it took me a few minutes to come in. I got the will documents signed and notarized by the accounting office here. Now the doctor wants to see us for a few minutes,” Emma reported. “Jerry, we’ll return as soon as we can.”

“K, Gramma. Sorry you have to rush off. I’ll be ok though. I feel bunches better today.”

The trio stepped out of the room and went into a small conference room behind the nurse’s station. On entering they saw the doctor looking at some paperwork and shaking his head.

“You wanted to see us all?” Tyler asked.

“Yes, please come in and sit down,” he said gesturing to chairs across the table from where he was sitting. “I have some remarkable news.”

“It’s your show,” Dan said, giving the doctor his full attention.

The doctor looked at Tyler and Dan, and began. “With Mrs. Thorsruud’s approval, we tried a new approach that was suggested by one of our researchers. First, we weakened Jerry’s white blood cells with chemotherapy. It was a fairly mild dose, not strong enough to kill them. Next we made up a cocktail of drugs similar to those used in treating AIDs. The results have been astounding! We have found evidence of rapid remission. It’s too early to say conclusively that the treatment will wipe out the disease, but we’ve never witnessed so much progress in so short a time. Jerry’s body is producing new, healthy white blood cells at a rate we’ve never before experienced. We’re monitoring him closely and not changing anything for now. I can only say that at the rate he’s improving, he could be ready to leave the hospital in days, not weeks or months.”

“Thank the Lord,” Emma sighed gratefully.

“Amen,” Tyler and Dan both added.

“Did you notice how much better Jerry looks today?” the doctor asked.

“I know he yelled at me,” Tyler said with a large grin.

“He wouldn’t have done that yesterday,” Dan commented. “I for one, was surprised.”

“Right on both counts,” the doctor agreed. “He’s showing remarkable improvement. At this rate, in a day or two we’ll decrease the treatment to see how his body responds. Then assuming his body continues its progress he might be off treatment entirely in less than a week. We’ll want to keep him here for a short while for observation. We’ve already decided to try the therapy on two more patients, one is a new case like Jerry’s, and the other is close to losing the battle. We’re ecstatic at the possibilities!” the doctor exclaimed.

“We hope for their sakes that it’s successful for them too,” Tyler said.

“There is a tremendous amount of work to do to prove the technique,” the doctor added. “For instance, we don’t know which of the ‘cocktail’ drugs are helping and which are unnecessary. Nor do we know if the improvement is permanent or if a long-term regimen of drugs will be necessary or even if the strength of the dosage is optimum. All we really know is that it appears to be working in Jerry.”

“You can’t imagine how relieved we are to hear that,” Dan said smiling. “Tyler and I have to return to Las Vegas today, but we’ll keep in touch with Emma on a daily basis. In the meantime, please know that we’ll monetarily support further research. Perhaps the days of death from leukemia are over. That would be a great boon to civilization.”

“Yes I couldn’t agree more,” the doctor said. “It’s especially painful to lose the young ones who’ve not had a chance at life. Now perhaps there is real hope for complete and speedy recovery. As I said there’s much we don’t know yet, but I can assure you we’re encouraged beyond belief. We thank you for your support too. It could speed the research and save many lives.”

“Is it alright to tell Jerry?” Tyler asked.

“Yes,” the doctor responded. “I’d not get him overly hopeful, or promise too much, but I think he knows he’s getting better.”

“Thank you so much doctor,” Emma said as she slowly stood with a great smile on her tired face.

“Believe me, Mrs. Thorsruud, it’s my pleasure,” he said returning her smile.

                                    *                      *                      *

4 ½ hours later aboard the RET G-V executive JET, above western Arizona.

The telephone at Tyler’s leather chair rang. He picked it up.

“Yes?” Tyler said into the mouthpiece.

“Tyler. This is Ron. We’re at the house getting ready to come and get you at the airport. We just got a call from Houston: I’m afraid that Emma Thorsruud has died from heart failure.”

“Oh no!” Tyler said, tears immediately springing to his eyes.

Dan looking at Tyler’s shocked and saddened expression, asked, “Tyler, what’s wrong?”

Tyler put his hand over the mouth piece and with constricted vocal chords croaked the difficult words, “I’m sorry my love. Mom Thorsruud is dead.”

Dan leaned into his lover and held him tight while tears poured from their eyes as the plane began its descent into Las Vegas.

                        *            *            *            *            *