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

The author reserves copyright privileges. This work my not be reproduced except for personal use, without the permission of the author.

Dedication: To Dan B. You make me happy.

If you would like to write to me, I’d be pleased.   HUGs, John Tucker


Chapter Eight

The door leading from the garage to the residence opened. Matt stepped through the doorway followed by Sterling and Ron. Sterling was carrying the small backpack as the men entered the kitchen.

“Hi Ron, hi Matt,” Mary said in greeting. “I’m getting a little something ready for our new guest.”

“Thanks Mary.” Matt replied. “ Mary I’d like you to meet Sterling Beck. Sterling, this is Mary Butler, the best damn cook in Las Vegas!”

Mary blushed, and smiled in appreciation.

“You give me too much credit, but thanks. I thought our young friend might be hungry, so I rustled up something. If you’ll give me a couple of minutes, I’ll serve it,” Mary responded.

“Make it about 10 minutes or so, if that’s alright. We’ll show him to his room, and let him clean up a little, then introduce him to Jason and Darryl.”

“Well, if I know those scamps, they’re about due for a snack. If they want, they can join Sterling in the breakfast room. Sterling, I hope you like hamburgers. I never met a young guy that didn’t”

“Yes Ma’am,” Sterling answered. “I’m sure I’d enjoy one.”

“One? I made four, two for you and one each for Jason and Darryl. I’m sure they’ll be hungry too. After all it’s been two hours since dinner. Oh, and leave some room for dessert. I made a couple of cherry pies today that will go good with a nice pile of ice cream. Ron, you and Matt are invited for dessert too. You guys are nothing but skin and bones!”

“Ha!” Ron laughed. “It’s a good thing we find a half hour a day for a workout or we’d both weigh 200 pounds, thanks to your cooking Mary.”

“Well, you go on and get Sterling settled. I’ll make sure that everything is piping hot.”

“Come on Sterling,” Matt said with a grin. “If we stay in here a minute longer, Mary will be tucking in our bibs.”

Sterling followed the older men as they exited the kitchen and headed for the elevator that led to the bedroom floors. The youth’s eyes were wide with amazement as he drank in the splendor of his surroundings. Only two hours before he was hiding his few possession behind a dumpster downtown, now he was nearly speechless as he beheld the luxurious and immaculate home of his hosts. The house even had an elevator!

“I’ll let Jason and Darryl know we’re back,” Matt said. “I’m sure they’re curious.”

“Ok love,” Ron responded with a quick kiss to his partner’s lips. “I’ll get Sterling settled. Oh, and if you see Parker, you might send him up. He’s got more shopping to do.” Ron winked.

“He’ll be in heaven,” Matt laughed. “I hope he’s taking his blood pressure medicine for all the excitement he’s had lately.”

Sterling looked at the two men with curiosity. ‘These guys are strange,’ he thought to himself. He was not sure of what he had gotten himself into. Following Ron he stepped into the mirror lined elevator that served the upper floors.

“Wow!” the youth exclaimed as he followed his host into the guestroom. “Is this where I’m going to stay?” he asked.

“Yes,” Ron answered with a smile. “I’m sure you’ll be comfortable. The bed area is behind the screen and the sitting area is fully equipped with a computer, stereo and full theater system for the TV. There are video tape and DVD movies in that cabinet over there,” he said pointing to a built-in unit.  Then indicating the location, “The bath is through those doors. There is an under-counter refrigerator with soft drinks and juice in the bar, and hard liquor too, though we’d rather you not touch it, considering your age. Now if you’d like to put your things away, there are dressers, then after you clean up Mary will have some dinner for you in the breakfast room off of the kitchen. Think you can find your way?”

“Yeah, I think so,” Sterling answered. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” Ron said smiling. “If an older man shows up, his name is Parker. He’s our valet, and will want to get your clothing sizes so he can see to your clothing needs. There is a built-in hamper in the bathroom where you can put your dirty clothes. When they are clean he will put them away for you.”

The youth stood looking at the beautiful room and his eyes began to fill with tears. He looked at his handsome host and felt ashamed of his shoddy clothing and helplessness.

“I don’t know how I’ll ever pay you back for helping me,” Sterling said softly.

“Sterling, it’s not anything you need to worry about,” Ron told him with compassion. “I know you might find this hard to believe, but once when I was younger I needed help because my life was going downhill fast. A couple of guys literally plucked me out of the gutter and helped me get myself where I could face the world. I haven’t forgotten it, so now when I get a chance I try to help others as the best way I can repay those guys for helping me. For now you need some stability, care and education. We’ll help you with that too. Later, when you’re older you might remember this time and help someone you find to be in need. That’s all the repayment we ask.”

“Thanks Ron. I won’t forget,” Sterling said with conviction.

Ron stepped to the youth and wrapping the  small body in his arms, gave him a hug.  Then stepping back he smiled at the youth, turned and stepped to the door. With his hand on the handle, he said to his young guest. “Get cleaned up and hurry down. Mary will have food waiting.”

“K,” Sterling responded as Ron opened the door and disappeared through the opening.

            *        *        *

“Yeah, this place is some kinda cool,” Jason said in between mouthfuls of French fries. “We only got here ourselves yesterday, and you shoulda seen all the stuff that’s happened.”

“What kinda stuff?” Sterling asked as he gobbled the last of his first hamburger.

“Well, first we got here and before you knew it, Parker got us some clothes and we went to a party for Ron’s brother. This morning after breakfast we were rushed off to the courthouse to see Tyler get his name changed.”

“Who’s Tyler?” the newcomer asked.

“He’s Ron’s brother that the party was for. They had the same dad, but Ron’s dad never married Tyler’s mother. I guess Ron and Tyler didn’t even know each other existed. Anyway, when Ron found out about Tyler he made him his brother for real, and Tyler had his last name changed to Turner by the judge. There was a whole bunch of people there, including Tyler’s boyfriend Dan, who lives in New York.”

“What about Ron’s dad? Wasn’t he mad?”

“Nah, he’s dead, and both their mothers too.”

“We all went to a big lunch afterward. There were some cool younger guys too. Let’s see. There was Jeffrey King. He lives here in an apartment off of the garage and works for Ron and Matt taking care of their cars. He’s about 18 or 19, I guess. Then there is his boyfriend Robert. He’s about the same age and works in Ron’s office. There was a guy named Pete that works for Turner Construction. He’s 19, I think. He has another guy that lives with him that will be at Thornton with us too. His name is Cody. He’s real big for being only 13. He looks almost as old as Pete.  There were some old guys too, like a couple of Ron and Matt’s friends from New York, Alan and Bryan. Alan is real old. I think he’s 37 or something like that and Bryan is not quite so old, about Ron’s age.  There were some people from Ron’s office there too, but I don’t remember their names. Then of course there was Ron, Matt, Tyler and Tyler’s boyfriend Dan. All these people got together and the whole thing only took about 15 minutes!  After it was all over we all went to lunch, then everybody left. Tyler lives in California, but comes here on weekends. Dan, Bryan and Alan all live in New York. Everybody else lives here.”

“Wow! They came all that way for 15 minutes?” Sterling asked.

“Yeah, they’re all friends I guess.” Jason answered.

“What’s gonna happen tomorrow?” Sterling inquired. “Don’t Ron and Matt have to work?”

“Yeah, Ron goes to the office, and Matt works construction at the Thornton center. He promised that we could work there too until it opens. I’m sure he’d let you work there with us. It’s a chance to make some money and to check the place out. We’re gonna live there when it opens. We went to see it yesterday. It’s a neat place with houses, and lots of stuff for activities. Course it’s not as neat as here, but we can’t stay here forever.”

“That wasn’t half of the excitement though,” Darryl added.

“What happened?” Sterling inquired.

“Two big old guys that were working at the center attacked Pete,” he responded. “Tyler took ‘em both on and kicked butt. They had to take ‘em away in an ambulance!”

“Wow! He must be big.”

“Nah, not really. I mean he’s real muscular and all that but he’s not even 6 feet tall. He’s strong and fast though and really knows how to fight. I’d sure hate to cross him,” Jason said. “I think Ron said he owned a security company or somethin’. He could protect me any time he wanted.  He’s gorgeous too.”

“This whole place and everybody here are really amazing. I’d sure like to be part of it. Can we go and ask Matt if I can work with you guys?” Sterling asked.

“Sure you can,” Matt answered as he and Ron walked into the breakfast room. “We start at seven, so you’ll need to set your alarm for 5:30.”

“Yikes!  That’s in the middle of the night,” Darryl said. “We’re gonna have to go to bed early!”

“Yep,” Ron said in agreement. “We get up early here, except for on weekends. That means if you want a full night’s rest you have to knock off early.”

“That’s ok by me,” Sterling answered. “I’m really tired. I think I’ll hit the sack right after dessert.”

“Comin’ right up,” Mary said as she brought in a tray laden with pie and ice cream.

“Man!  Look at that!” Darryl said, his eyes wide with wonder. “I’m gonna have to sleep on my back. My stomach is gonna be too round!”

Mary laughed. “It’s sure nice to have someone around who appreciates my cooking,” she said as she dished up the servings. “Hungry boys are my favorite customers.”

            *        *        *

The next morning the ‘work crew’ had dispersed. Darryl and Jason had been assigned to Matt as helpers, and Sterling along with Cody were Pete’s.  Both groups would be unpacking and setting up furniture in the first house to be finished which was called, ‘Thornton House.’  Later, furniture would be delivered to the second, named ‘Turner House.’  They would all help with the unloading when the truck arrived.

As the groups started out of the job trailer, Terry said. “Uh, Pete, can I talk with you a minute?”

“Sure,” Pete answered. Then speaking to Sterling and Cody, said, “Go on over to the Thornton House with Matt. I’ll join ya there in a minute.” The younger guys followed Matt and his group after picking up some tools at the job storage shed.

Turning to the job superintendent Pete asked, “What can I do for ya, Terry?”  

“I just wanted to say how sorry I am about what happened here over the weekend. I knew those guys were giving you a hard time, but I didn’t do anything about it. It was my mistake. I hope you’ll accept my apology.”

“It’s ok, Terry,” Pete said in response. “I’m not mad or anything, I just hope nothing like that happens again to anybody else. I never thought those guys would go off the deep end like that though. I got used to their giving me a hard time, but I never thought they would go crazy like that.  Have you heard how they are doin’?”

“George is in the jail wing at the hospital. They patched him up after making sure nothing vital was damaged with his stab wound. He’s doing well and waiting arraignment. Tracy is still in the hospital too, with a broken back. They don’t think he’ll ever walk again. His arraignment may be much later, depending on his condition”

“That’s really sad,” Pete said. “Even though I didn’t like the guys, I would never have done to them what they did to themselves. I sure hope Tyler doesn’t get into trouble over saving me.”

“I’m sure he won’t. The broken back was just coincidental. If they hadn’t attacked you, nothing would have ever happened. In the end, the bad guys always lose.”

“I wasn’t too sure of that Sunday,” Pete admitted. “I almost peed my pants with fright.”

“That’s nothing to be ashamed of; I’d have been the same way if it had happened to me. I sure hope I don’t get fired, for not stopping those guys earlier.”

“I hope so too,” Pete said surprised. “As far as I know, nobody even knows that you knew  those guys were giving me a hard time. No one will ever hear it from me. I don’t want to get you in trouble. I like working for you.”

“Thanks, Pete, I’ve learned a lot from this mistake. I just want you to know that you are welcome on any of my jobs. I can promise too, that you’ll never have to go thorough that kind of harassment again whenever I’m around, on or off the job.”

“Thank you, Terry. Is there anything else? I need to get with ‘my crew’,” he said grinning with pride.

“Nope, that’s it,” Terry responded. “Thanks for understanding.”

“Sure, no problem.”

            *        *        *

Tom Clark stepped up to the nurses’ station at University Medical Center. The large ugly man’s face was pocked with scars from youthful bouts with acne, and his left cheek displayed a scar caused by a knife blade earned in a bar fight.

“Where’s room 217?” he demanded. “I’m here to see Tracy Clark.”

“Mr. Clark can be found in the end room on the right,” the nurse indicated by pointing. “Please check-in with the Metro officer occupying the desk at the end of the hall.”

“Damned cops,” he muttered as he stepped away from the counter without so much as an acknowledgement for the help.

Walking to the desk, he announced his presence to the officer who was reading some paperwork. “I’m here to see Tracy Clark. I’m his brother.”

The officer looked up. “Please sign in with your name and address.” He handed Tom a clipboard with a pen attached with a chain.  The large man scribbled out his name and address and handed it back to the policeman.

“Please step to the machine and empty your pockets into the basket,” the officer directed.

“What gives?” Tom said angrily. “I ain’t done nothin’ wrong.”

“Sir, this is the security wing. All visitors are scanned for weapons or contraband materials. If you want to see your brother, you can’t take with you any prohibited material.”

“Yeah, like my brother is gonna escape with a fuckin’ broken back!” Tom shot back.

“I don’t make the rules buddy, I just enforce ‘em. Take your pick, either comply or leave.”

“And what are you gonna do if I don’t?” Tom said as he glared at the officer.

“See this button?” The officer lifted his hand to expose a button built into the counter.
“It’s a magic button. When I push it, you go to jail!”

The big man gritted his teeth, then after a moment of getting control of himself said,        “Alright, you get your way.”

Tom moved to the machine and began to empty his pockets. The officer stood and moved to the machine, picking up a wand connected to the machine. When Tom had finished emptying his pockets, the policeman moved the wand over the body of the visitor, then picked up the basket and looked at the contents.

“You won’t need this in there,” he said as he extracted a 5 “ switchblade from among the basket’s contents. “You can pick it up here on your way out.” He handed the basket to Tom who replaced the remaining contents into his pockets.

“217 is down the hall to the right,” the officer said.

“Yeah, I know,” Tom replied.

Less than a minute later, the husky man pushed open the door to room 217. As he looked in he saw his brother stretched out on a cage apparatus that kept his back immobilized and stretched with weights.

“You awake?” Tom asked.

“Yeah, for what good it does,” Tracy replied. “Sit down if ya wanna stay.”

“What happened to ya this time, little bro? Looks like you got the worst of it for a change.”

“Fuck you, asshole. Me and George was just mindin’ our own business when that little fag that we had workin’ on the job showed up. We decided to have a little fun, and would  have too, ‘cept some guy comes in and starts orderin’ us around. Fuck, he was just a wimp, couldn’t have weighed 200 pounds. I decided to stick him with my switchblade, but ol’ George was sneakin’ up behind the guy and just as I was swingin’ he pulled George in front, and I ended up sinkin’ that knife into George, right up to the hilt. Put him out of action, for sure. He was moanin’ and groanin’ and blood was pourin’ out all over the place. I was gonna hightail it outa there, but there was two more guys in the doorway. All of a sudden, the guy I was after plowed into me, and my back slammed into this big iron stove. I heard my back go ‘crack’, and …here I am.”

“That sucks, bro.” Tom said. “I can’t stand them cocksuckin’ bastards! I ain’t gonna let anybody git away with hurtin’ my baby brother, neither.  You just tell me who them guys are, and they will be suckin’ air through their assholes.”

“Don’t know the guy’s name that did this to me, I think I heard ‘Taylor’ or something like that. The queer that works at the job is named Pete. Ya better work fast though, the job will be finished in a couple of weeks.”

“You can count on me baby bro. When I get through with that Pete guy he’ll wish he was fucked by an elephant! Maybe that other queer lovin’ guy will show up too. I’ll have him for dessert.”

“Hey Tom, watch out for the other guy. Ol’ Pete he’s a pussy. He was beggin’ for his life. The other guy is a different story. Ya better sneak up on that bastard. He’s tough and don’t fuck around.”

“Don’t worry ‘bout nothing’. I never lost a fight yet, and I’m too fuckin’ old to start now. There’s no one that’s gonna ketch me nappin’.”

“Cool bro,” Tracy said. “Bring both their balls back to me on a platter.” That’s the only thing that’s gonna bring a smile to my lips.”

“You got it Trace,” I’ll do in memory of mom, one hell of a woman.”

“Yeah, for mom. Take care, bro. Drop in now and then. I’ll show ya the joys of bein’ a full-fuckin’-fledged crip. It’s gonna be a great life.”

“Hey, don’t worry, Trace. I’ll make you smile.”

Tom turned and walked to the door. As he reached for the handle he looked back at his brother. Shaking his head as he exited the room, he thought, “I really believed that Tracy was tougher than to let one wimpy guy get the best of him. Oh well, ya never know’.

The door closed with a thump as it hit the stops.

        *        *        *

The week passed quickly as the Thornton House, was completed. Even the yard that was primarily grass was accented with bushes and trees, with several planters of flowers that were already beginning to bloom. The house contained a small suite for the house parents that had, besides two bedrooms, it’s own living, dining and kitchenette rooms. A tiny outside patio, surrounded by a privacy fence allowed the couple their own outside space. The occupants of the small apartment, Tom and Shirley Anderson, a couple in their mid forties, were moved in as the weekend approached. Their belongings had been delivered, and Shirley would spend the weekend putting things in their proper place while Tom would be busy helping Leonard Johnson, the Director, get organized in the office. The occupants of the second house, Don and Pam Brown, in their early 30’s, would move in the following week.

Mabel had spent the early part of the week making certain that the houses nearing completion were cleaned each day, in spite of the mess that construction workers invariably created. Her son Tony was proud as he saw his mother arrive at the end of each day to supervise her small crew. The pride was in her eyes too, as she saw her industrious son working alongside of Matt and the other boys as they unpacked and placed the furniture, fixtures and appliances in their proper places.

Leonard had called a meeting of the staff for Friday morning in the conference room of the administration building. In addition to himself, the staff included Matt who was given the title of Youth Counselor; the two couples of house parents; Frances Peale, Leonard’s secretary and de facto Admitting Director; a youthful man of 25, Barry Young, in charge of sports and activities; an accountant named Rodney Jones on loan from Mr. Peterson at Turner Trust; and a part-time maintenance man, Sam Hobbs who was on loan from Turner construction. Missing from the staff meeting were the two house parents, Harry and Linda Garrison, the oldest staffers in their late forties, who were in the process of relocating from Minnesota. They would occupy the third house, the Jack Smith House.

Francis had made coffee and had set out soft drinks and bottled water for the non-coffee drinkers, while Matt brought pastries that Mary had made for the occasion. When everyone was settled around the table and introduced, Leonard started the meeting.

“I’d like to welcome you all to the Thornton Center for Boys. As you all know, we have our work cut out for us. It is our job to make this place a happy home for our charges. It is somewhat unique in that living here is voluntary with few exceptions. There will be some young men who are assigned here by the courts, or are sent here by their parents. In those cases, their remaining here until they are of age is mandatory.  Those who are here voluntarily are welcome, but if they choose to go elsewhere, or not abide by the rules, they will leave permanently. Many of our charges will be here on questionable legal status. Our doors will be open to those who need us in spite of their status. Some of the costs of our operation will be reimbursed by the State and in some cases by parents; however we are not dependant on those contributions. There is a sizable trust called the Thornton Trust, which has funded the construction and operations here. This trust was established in honor of Ted Thornton, a brilliant analyst for Turner Consulting, who was slain in a hate crime. His partner, Jack Smith, who also worked with Turner, set up this trust to help gay youths. The trust is administered by Turner Trusts, who have contributed heavily to make this dream a reality. For now we have nearly as many staff as we have initial occupants, but we will need additional staff as we grow.”

“Occupancy of the houses will be limited to 6 boys for each house in order to minimize the institutional feel often associated with operations such as ours. The most important people on our staff are the house parents. We are fortunate to have the Browns, the Andersons and soon the Garrisons as out first parents. Each couple has unique experiences and capabilities for their work. We have 10 boys ready to move in when facilities are available. Thornton House is complete and we expect to finish the second of our houses, the Turner house this coming week.  We will begin taking in our first boys toward the end of the week. As you are aware, construction will continue for the next 3 or 4 weeks, as the final three houses of the first phase are completed and the remainder of our facilities is finished. It is important that the boys remain out of the construction areas for their own safety. It will cause us a bit of inconvenience but it will be only for a very short time.”

“We’re very fortunate to have as a member of our staff, Matt Davidson, Mr. Turner’s life partner, who will be serving as a staff member for youth counseling. Matt, would you like to say a few words?”

“Yes, thanks.” Matt answered as he looked around the table. “On behalf of Jack Smith, Ron and Tyler Turner, those many contributors to the Thornton Trust and myself, I’d also like to welcome you. This facility is a dream made possible by success. To many that success is manifested in the wealth of the Turner enterprises, but to those of us in the Turner family, success is measured in lives that are touched. It is our hope that this facility will be a happy home for boys who are in need of love, affection, guidance and stability. It is an institution legally, but it is our wish that it be first a home. It is our goal that it becomes a home where youth can be free to develop in a family atmosphere. It will have one unique characteristic. All of the boys here will be gay or at least questioning their sexuality.”

“We believe that being gay is as natural as being heterosexual, however unpopular that notion may be to some in the community. We also believe that gay youth are still just kids: kids that need love and acceptance, kids that need an atmosphere where they are not scorned or ridiculed. They will find plenty of that lack of acceptance in the general community; they certainly don’t need it at home. In the beginning we will be faced with many challenges as all parents are. Nevertheless, we believe in sound moral values overruling the impulses of youth. It is our goal to help these youths become good adults, first. If they as people are assets to their friends, associates and their community, their sexuality will be seen as unimportant, except to themselves privately. A principle reason for this facility is to provide a place where their sexuality will not be a hindrance to their development as happy, productive adults.”

“I can’t begin to tell you how important you house parents are. You will, in most ways, become the parents of these youth. Kids need discipline and they need consistency. They also need freedom to develop. It is a tightrope that all parents face. It is vitally important that these young men feel parental love from you. They will need to trust you and you will need to give them trust that they may have yet to earn. It will not be easy, but it will be rewarding. I will be here to help or to get help if it is beyond my capabilities. Those of use in this room will need to give each other support and encouragement.”

“I’m sure that some of you are asking yourselves what I am doing here. I am probably the least qualified of all the people in this room. I have chosen to be here, at least for the foreseeable future because I believe in a hands-on approach to giving. Money is important in an enterprise such as this, but money only provides the opportunity to help. It, by itself, will not provide what is needed for these young people. Only you and I personally can provide that. I am not above criticism. If you think I am handling a situation wrong, tell me, and we will discuss it. I sure don’t know everything. You may also find out that we are lacking in some services or skills necessary to make this place successful. We are aware of several already, but solicit your input for things or people needed. Please give any such suggestions to Leonard who has the full support of the Trust and its members. He’s the Executive Director here, not me. After my little speech here this morning, I’d appreciate it if you just consider me another of the staff. I intend to take orders from Leonard just like anyone else, and if I don’t perform my job adequately, he’s free to ask me to leave. Finally, I’d like to say that I really look forward to working with you all, and want to thank Leonard for the opportunity to speak my piece. Thanks.”

Matt sat down to the applause of the attendees. Leonard resumed control of the meeting.

“Thanks Matt,” Leonard began. “I’m sure that your being a member of our staff will be a great asset that we intend to utilize to the fullest. Now, I’d like to get on with the business at hand. In front of you is a copy of the rules that we expect the youth to understand and live by. They are not etched in stone, so I think the first order of business will be to review them and make any modifications that we agree are appropriate. Once that is done we expect that the rules remain unchanged for some period of time, unless there is a specific problem with them in order for our kids to gain a feeling of stability. Now let’s look at rule number one….”

            *        *        *

“How was your day, my love?” Ron asked as he met Matt and the boys coming in through the door from the garage.”

“A bit tiring,” Matt said smiling. “I guess my days of being a laborer are over. There is going to be a lot of work to do to get Thornton up and running. I never imagined how much effort there would be in just making a home for boys. We had a meeting of the staff this morning and we spent three hours just going over the rules. There were a lot of differences in opinion, but we finally got it worked out. A couple of times I was really discouraged. I hope you don’t mind, but I made my own positions clear. I know that all the staff is gay friendly, but they’re not gay. Sometimes you’d think they consider it a disease.  I feel a bit silly now, but I’m afraid I had to be more than a little persuasive from time to time. They really mean well, and I think they’ll do well, but it’s amazing sometimes how easy it is to forget what it’s like to just be young, let alone gay.”

Ron smiled at his young lover. “I’m not worried love, you’re there. I’m sure that you’ll do what’s right for the boys.”

“I’m sure gonna try,” Matt said. “I’ll be glad when all this last minute planning stuff is over. Honestly, I think I enjoy the company of the boys more than I do the staff, even if it’s just shoveling dirt.”

Ron laughed. “Yes, sometimes leading is far more difficult that just being a part of the herd. Everyone who hasn’t done it thinks it’s a piece of cake, but when you accept the responsibility of leadership, you have no choice but to do the best you can in spite of what others think.”

“Well speaking for myself, I’m ready for the weekend for sure,” Matt remarked. “Just let me get a shower and put on some clean clothes.”

“Need a little back scrub? I’m volunteering!”

“That’s the best offer I’ve had all day!” Matt said smiling. “Let’s go.  What time is Tyler getting in?”  

“He should be here by 8 o’clock. I thought we’d let the boys go ahead and eat, then eat a late dinner when he arrives.”

“I’d like that Ron,” Matt said in agreement as they approached the elevator. “It will be fun just to be in the company of family for a change. We’ve got lots to discuss.” He reached for the elevator button.

As the door opened, Ron asked, “Oh? About what?”

Stepping inside with Ron following, Matt replied. “Ummm, about getting married for one, and two, you haven’t told me what the plans are for the company cruise.”

“Yes, I guess there are a few loose ends,” Ron said grinning as the door closed.

        *        *        *

The dinner had been wonderful. Mary had outdone herself with a beautiful meal, obviously intended for the more mature palates of the older men rather than the less refined tastes of the youngsters in the house. The boys, Sterling, Jason and Darryl had invited Tony, Pete and Cody over for an evening of movies in the home theater room. Mary had promised all the popcorn and snacks befitting the event. They planned an all-nighter with Ron and Matt’s permission on the proviso that they keep the noise under control around the guesthouse and Ron and Matt’s suite. Ron had asked the boys not to start the evening’s activities until around 9 o’clock, after Ron, Matt and Tyler had finished their dinner. The three boys had decided to wait in the pool pending the arrival of their guests.

The trio of men was enjoying coffee and dessert on the front terrace. As they were attacking the last bites of their desserts, Cherries Jubilee, Parker stepped through the French doors with the portable phone.

“It’s Pete Sigler,” he announced as he handed Matt the phone whose mouthpiece was covered with his hand. “It’s hard to understand what he’s saying…. I’m sure he’s crying.”

        *    *    *    *    *