This is a work of fiction involving a young teenage boy and an older man. It's a story of love and devotion, not a recitation of gratuitous sex. The characters are all figments of my imagination. None are real people, although minor players in the story are based on experiences I have had, and may reflect my bias.

I claim exclusive copyright to the story, and have granted Nifty Archive publishing privileges. You may download or print it out, but you may not sell it or derive profit from it.

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From the end of Chapter Nine:

I awoke from a pleasant dream with the unmistakable sensation of a warm, moist mouth containing a very active tongue wrapped around my rigid cock, with the lips sliding slowly up and down while ten expert fingers caressed my pubic hair and balls. I started to panic. How could I stop this without hurting the feelings of whoever it was? More importantly, did I want to stop it? Was it Eric? I didn't think so after all the talks we'd had about sex. Bobby?  Possibly, but why? Sam? The most likely suspect. He was the oldest, and presumably the most experienced, and whoever it was, had lots of experience. But again, why would he risk something like this?

All these thoughts ran through my mind with the speed of sound as I looked at the clock, and reached up to turn on the light.



Chapter Ten

I noted in passing that it was almost three AM, and pulled back the covers. Sam's eyes stared back at me as I reached down and lifted his head from my crotch. "Why are you doing that?" I asked him quietly.

"I wanted to make you feel good," he said. "You're always doing nice things for us so I thought I'd do something nice for you."

"I won't question your motives," I said, "but your method leaves a lot to be desired. You didn't bother to ask me if I wanted you to do it, and you came into my bed while I was sleeping. I couldn't say 'Yes' or 'No'. You just assumed I wanted you to do it, and took it upon yourself to put us both in jeopardy."

"You're awake now," he said. "Can I finish doing it?"

"No, Sam," I said gently. "I won't let Eric do that, and I don't do it to him because I don't want to burden him with all the baggage that goes along with a sexual relationship. You're a lot older than he is, and I'm sure you've had enough experience that you know what I'm talking about."

"Yeah," he said sadly. "I just need a dick to suck on sometimes. I don't know why."

"There's nothing wrong with wanting that," I told him. "It's just that to be good for both partners, you need to know if you both want the same things. Sex is certainly a part of love, but it's just as  certainly not the only part. Sam," I said with some exasperation, " it's not even the most important part." I put my hand on the side of his face and said gently, "An affair that's based on nothing but a physical attraction is doomed to fail. "

"So what do you and Eric do?" he asked.

"That's really none of your business," I said, "but we enjoy each other's company, and we hug a lot. We don't have any sexual contact, but we do kiss. That means Eric doesn't have to worry about doing something he's not ready for just because he thinks I expect it.

"Your heart is in the right place, but have you thought about how Eric would feel if he came in and found you sucking on my cock?"

"No," he admitted. "I figured everyone was asleep, and he'd stay in his bed. I figured we'd be alone, and nobody else would know."

"He often comes in and sleeps next to me," I said, "and if not, he always comes in to wake me around four-thirty. We work out every morning."

"Really? That's neat."

"Yes, but it wouldn't be very neat for him to find you here. He'd be hurt and confused. So, it's time for you to go back to your own bed. We can talk more later if you want to, but for now, being here together like this is a bad situation waiting to get worse."

He got up and said, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make trouble."

I said, "I know you didn't. You just need to think things through a little deeper. Think of all the possible consequences of your actions, and who would be hurt if they found out."

He nodded, and left the room. I laid back down, but sleep was out of the question. I was wide awake. I wondered if I had handled the situation right, and thought of several things I could have said that would have explained my feelings to him in a better way. I decided to wait and see if Sam wanted to pursue the conversation at a later time.

Eric came in a little before four, and crawled into bed with me. "I had a bad dream," he said.

"What about?"

"I dreamed you didn't love me any more, and I was back on the streets."

Red flags popped into my head. Had he been on his way in, and heard the exchange between Sam and me? "Oh, my little love," I cried, "that can never happen. You are the light of my life. I will never leave you until I die, and even then you will not have to go back to the streets."

He snuggled up next to me and hugged me tightly. I put my arms around his shoulders and rubbed his back gently. The contact with my fragile little waif obscured the wanton release I had been so close to. Eric lifted his head and kissed me, gently at first, but with ever increasing ardor until we both went past the point of no return. He said, "I did it again."

"I know," I said. "Me too."

He was ecstatic. "Really?"

"Yes, really," I told him, "and I think I'll have to change the sheets there was so much."

He gave me his brightest smile and said, "I guess you really do love me."

"Was there ever a doubt?" I asked him.

"Sometimes I wondered if you wanted to do things with other boys, 'cause you wouldn't do them with me."

"If I do something with anyone," I said, "it will be with you. I don't want other boys. I want you, and someday I will do those things with you. I just don't think you're ready to deal with sex yet."

"I did it with Junior," he pointed out.

"I know," I said, "but that wasn't because you loved him or even because you wanted to. He made you do those things, and that wasn't right."

The conversation was getting away from me so I said, "Let's get up and go have a workout. I'm slept out, and I want some coffee."

He hugged me, kissed my nose, and said brightly,  "OK." He jumped out of bed and ran to his room to get something on.

I got up, and did my morning routine. On the way downstairs I checked to see that the evidence of our "tryst" was safely out of sight under the covers. We had a somewhat shorter workout because I was in need of my morning coffee, but Eric worked hard in the abbreviated time frame. I was pleased that he was beginning to show a little improvement in his muscular definition, and his ribs were no longer so prominent. He was putting on weight, but it was muscle mass and not fat.

After checking the markets, and making a couple of long term investments (I thought I might need more money if I was to support the shelter), I called the contractor on the coast and asked him if he could recommend a good architect in his area. He said, "I've worked with most of them, but for my money the best one is Norman Ackerman."

"Do you think he'd have time to do my remodel? I asked.

"I really don't know," he said. "Things are pretty slow right now, but he usually has enough to keep him busy. Let me give you his number, and you can call him."

He gave me the number from his Rolodex, I thanked him, and hung up. I called the number, and a pert secretary's voice said, "Ackerman Architectural Design. How may I direct  your call?"

"I'd like to speak with Norman Ackerman," I said. My name is Robert Llewellyn. "

"Please hold."

I waited for no more than a minute before a deep, mellifluous voice said, "This is Norman Ackerman. What can I do for you Mr. Llewellyn?"

"Hello." I said. "I just bought the old motel out south of town, and I want to do some remodeling."

"I know the property. In fact, my father designed it. What did you have in mind?"

"It would be easier to explain if we were there, but basically, I want to turn it into a four or five  bedroom home, but leave the office section pretty much intact as a caretaker's apartment."

"You want to add on to it then," he said.

"Yes, I said. "I thought if every second cabin was razed, the remaining ones could be expanded somewhat, and a common area built behind them - leaving the outside entrances and their porches intact."

"Interesting concept," he said. "I think it would be a great project. When do you want to start?"

"I'd like to have it finished by the middle of May," I said. "Certainly by Memorial Day. George Appleton told me he could have it done by the first, but I think that's a little optimistic."

"George is a good contractor," he said, "and his estimates are usually pretty accurate. I'll get a few drafts drawn up, and submit them to you for approval by the middle of next week. What's your address?"

I gave him the estate address, and said, "If you tell me what day, I'll make the trip down there so we can discuss it."

"That would be a good idea," he said. "Let's make it Wednesday around eleven in the morning."

"No," I said. "That won't work. I have to pick up some clothes for my son on Wednesday."

Well, I'm busy Thursday morning, but I have the afternoon free."

"That's fine," I told him. "We'll be there at one. Do you want to meet at your office, or the property?"

"Let's make it at the property," he said. "That way we'll be on the ground if the need  to explain anything pops up."

"I'll be there," I said, and gave him my cell phone number in case there were any changes.

I called George back, and told him of the meeting. I thought it would be a good idea to have him present when the architect and I went over the basic plans.

It was almost ten o'clock before Bobby and Sam came wandering into the kitchen looking for breakfast. Eric and I had eaten pancakes and sausage at six, but I handed them some Frosted Flakes and a jug of milk. "If you get up at a reasonable hour, you can eat what Eric and I eat, but I can't run a short order cafe‚ for you."

They looked abashed, and I added, "We'll be having lunch in a little while, so go easy on the cereal."

Their mood improved measurably with that news, and they began to make plans for the afternoon. I was about to suggest they go visit Josh when there was a timid knock at the door. Eric ran to answer it, and Josh stood there asking shyly, "Can I come in?"

Eric smiled, and pulled him through the entry. "Of course. You don't have to ask." He gave Josh a brief hug, and added, " You're always welcome at our house."

Josh smiled at this enthusiastic welcome, and Eric pulled him into the kitchen where he was greeted by the other boys. The four of them went into the game room, and started playing Eightball while I made lunch. I didn't fuss too much over it. Dinner would be Paella, and that would be rich enough for one day.

I called them for cheeseburgers and salad about one o'clock, and they ate as if they hadn't had anything in a week. Spirits were high, and they talked excitedly about anything and everything. After lunch, Eric asked if they could go out and build a snowman. I said, "I have no objection to that, but you're the only one with boots. If the others' feet or fingers get cold, come inside. I don't want to have to deal with frostbite."

Sam said, "Yeah, we got to think about the consequences of what we do." He cast a sly look in my direction, and smiled. It was his way of telling me he had learned a lesson, and wouldn't need to discuss it further.

They put on their jackets, and tumbled out the door. I could see them plainly through the kitchen window as they cavorted, throwing the occasional snowball, and cooperating in the construction of a rudimentary snowman.

It was time to get started on the Paella. I pricked a half dozen  chorizos with a fork, put them in a pot, covered them with water, and put the pot up to boil. It would reduce the fat that went into the finished product, and calm the heat of the sausages a bit.

While the chorizos were simmering, I cut up a nice chicken into portion sized pieces, and browned them in a mixture of butter and olive oil using a heavy skillet. When the chicken was nicely browned, I put the pieces in a large baking dish and drained the water off the sausages. I sauteed them in the skillet until they too were browned, and put them in the dish with the chicken.

I put a large stock pot half full of water on to boil, and started heating some rich chicken stock that I had in the freezer in a saucepan. When the water in the big pot was rolling vigorously, I dropped two of the live lobsters into it, and waited until they turned a bright red. I repeated the process with another two after first removing the first pair to a platter to cool, and waiting for the water to resume boiling. Ordinarily, I would leave the lobsters whole for the presentation, but I didn't think the boys would be too anxious to eat a bug that big, particularly if  the bug looked capable of biting back. As soon as I removed the second pair from the boiling water, I cooled all four under the tap and pulled the rich, white meat from the shells, cut it up into chunks, and put it in another bowl, which I stored in the fridge. I left the claws whole for the sake of their color, and added the legs and shells to the chicken stock.

The chicken stock was boiling so I turned down the heat to keep it hot, but not reduce too much. Then I scrubbed a dozen small clams, and debearded and scrubbed a similar number of mussels, which I also stored in the fridge. Finally,  I turned my attention to the rice, which needed constant attention if it was to turn out right.

I removed all but two tablespoons of the collected fat in the skillet, and added some chopped onions, shallots, green pepper, and garlic. I stirred the mixture constantly until it was translucent and just starting to turn golden, added a tablespoon of salt, and then dumped in a full cup of rice. I continued to stir the rice in with the vegetables until in was opaque, and then added a large can of diced tomatoes which I had drained in a strainer. As soon as the tomato pulp had heated, I poured the whole thing over the chicken and sausages, and added a cup or so of the now simmering chicken stock to which I had added a pinch of saffron. I covered the baking dish, and put it in the oven to cook.

I looked out the window at the boys, and they were standing in the driveway shifting from one foot to the other - a sure indication their feet were cold, but each was afraid to be the first to suggest they come inside. Kids!

I went to the door, and said, "You guys better come in now. I'll make some hot chocolate for you."

I think they were all grateful to have an excuse to come in, and they ran for the door. They sat around the island while I made the hot chocolate, and warmed their hands and innards with it when it was done. Their chatter was such a joy, I made a second batch of chocolate just to keep them near me. When they had finished the second cup, they thanked me, and went to the game room to resume their games of Eightball. Eric held back a moment - long enough to give me a hug and say, "I love you." Then he was off in the wake of the other three. I smiled with contentment, and turned my attention back to the dinner.

I heated a little water in a pot, and added a pound package of frozen peas. When the water reached a second boil, I removed them from the stove, and drained the water off. Taking the Paella out of the oven, I added the peas and fluffed the rice a bit. Seeing it was a little dry, I added a little more chicken stock, and returned the dish to the oven.

I went in and told the boys to wash up for dinner about five o'clock. They ran up the stairs, and I watched them go, smiling at their energy and anticipation. Eric came down first, and started setting the table in the dining room. I took the Paella out of the oven, and added the lobster chunks. I stirred the whole thing up with a couple of forks, and put the claws on top after cracking them, along with the clams and mussels. I put it back in the oven to cook the mollusks, and made a simple salad of lettuce and some of the Mexican tomatoes I had bought. I dished the salad up into individual bowls again. I heated a loaf of French bread in the same oven until the crust was crispy, and gave Eric a big bowl of butter to put on the table. The other boys wandered in one by one, freshly scrubbed faces aglow, and sat at the table almost drooling with anticipation. Eric brought a big pitcher of milk and four glasses, and put them on the table. I checked to make sure all the mollusks had opened, and brought the Paella to the table steaming hot, and spreading it's rich aroma through the room. I served each boy with an assortment of meats and shellfish, and a big helping of the rice mixture. A big slab of crispy bread was the finishing touch, and we all dug in. A chorus of "Mmmm" and "Oooooh" and "Aaaaah" made it worth all the time and trouble for me. Any cook likes a compliment, but the expressions on their faces were the best form of compliment I could wish for.

I wasn't really surprised that there was nothing left to put away when they were finished. Eric started clearing the table while I dished up some vanilla ice cream. Cleanup was easy with no leftovers, and we all went into the family room where the boys begged Josh to play the organ. He was a little shy at first, but finally sat down and began to play Claire d'Lune. Then he played an early Mozart sonata, followed by a Bach Prelude. Beethoven, Rachmaninov, a couple of Schubert songs, and his own 'Jeremy' completed the program.  He held all of us in thrall for more than an hour. I was amazed at his aptitude, and vowed to myself that this boy would get an opportunity to get a musical education as soon as he was ready to meet the world. He had the talent to be a successful concert artist now. I could only imagine what a little polish would do for him.

Tom and Carl came up to get Josh a little after seven. I was glad they did, and took Tom aside and told him, "He's been fine all day, but he just got finished playing his special piece for Jeremy. I think he needs to know he's wanted. It might be a good time to talk to him about the adoption tonight."

Tom agreed, and shortly, the three of them left for the gatehouse with Josh attached to
Carl's arm on one side, and Tom's on the other.

We watched TV for a couple of hours. The programming wasn't what I would have picked, but the boys preferred the inane half hour sitcoms that reversed the roles of children and adults. They enjoyed the time, and that's what the weekend was all about - the boys.

I sent them off ro bed at ten o'clock, and they went cheerfully. It had been a full day for them. I made myself a drink, and sat quietly listening to how much the feel of the house had changed. It no longer seemed empty. There was no sound to betray their presence, but just being there, the boys had made it a happy place.

I finished my drink, washed the glass, and climbed the stairs. It had been a productive day as well as a happy one. After checking on the boys, I slipped into bed gratefully, and was asleep in a trice.

The rest of the weekend sped by almost unnoticed. Almost before I knew it, Sunday dawned bright with the false promise of spring. Eric woke me at the usual time, and when I told him I was going to take a day off, he crawled into my bed, and entangled himself in my arms. "This is nice," he said.

I agreed. "Yes it is. We ought to do it more often."

We laid there, talking quietly for an hour or more until the sun turned the eastern sky gold and crimson. He sighed and said, "I suppose we should get up. Bobby and Sam will be getting up soon."

He had read my mind. I said, "Yeah, I guess we should. You're probably hungry anyway."

He giggled a little and asked, "How did you know?"

I chuckled and said, "When are you not?"

We got out of bed, and shared my shower. He went to his room to dress while I shaved and put on some clean sweats and a pair of Nikes. I started breakfast - waffles with bacon and real maple syrup I ordered from a friend in Vermont. The aroma of the bacon had the desired effect. Bobby came down rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, and Sam wasn't far behind.

After breakfast, I called Tom and invited him, Carl, and Josh up for dinner around two. When I mentioned Prime Rib, there was no argument - not that I expected any.

The boys spent most of the morning outdoors, running and jumping, pushing and shoving, laughing and shouting. The snowman had become a mere shadow of its former glory, and there wasn't enough snow left to build another one, but they found enough to have a good snowball fight. I wondered why Josh hadn't come up, but thought that maybe he was having some quality time with his soon to be foster parents.

Dinner was a great success, and Josh played for us again afterwards. Tom and Carl had never heard him play, and Carl was in tears by the time he finished with his signature piece - "Jeremy."

He turned off the organ, and crawled up on Carl's lap. In a different context it would have looked ludicrous. He was a fully developed fifteen year old young man, almost six feet tall, and about the same weight as Carl. As Carl sat rocking him in his arms, though, it seemed perfectly natural. Tom sniffled a couple of times, and wiped his eyes. He got up from the sofa and nodded to me to follow him. I walked into the kitchen behind him. He turned and said quietly, "Carl wants to go directly to adoption."

"What about you?" I asked. "That's a big step for a gay couple."

"I know," he agreed, "but I love the boy too, and I love Carl too much to pop his bubble."

I led him into the computer room, and called John. "I hope I interrupted something," I joked when he answered.

"Nothing that won't come up again," he said in a happy tone. "What's up?"

"Tom wants to adopt Josh without going through the foster parent thing," I told him. "Is that possible?"

"Technically, yes," he said, "but since they're gay, it would be a lot easier if they took it in easy steps. A six month foster program would calm the fears of the court that they aren't trying to proselytize Josh. Another thing is that if they try to force the adoption and fail, they will never get another chance - with Josh or any other boy."

"Tell that to Tom," I said handing the phone to the big man.

Tom said, "Hello," and then listened for a long time. The conversation was very one-sided - with Tom offering only grunts and the occasional "uh-huh."  He handed me the phone, finally, and said, "Thanks Boss."

I took it from him, and saw that he was sad about the news, but he put his head up and went back to the family room. Meanwhile, I asked John what the plan was.

"He and Carl are a young, sexually active, gay couple. That doesn't bother a lot of people, but the courts are not as understanding. A judge always looks at the worst case scenario, and it's going to be a hard pull to make it work as it is. He and Carl are going to come to the office tomorrow morning, and I hope we can get it all hashed out to everyone's satisfaction."

"Do your best for them," I said. "They are wonderful people, and would make great parents."

"I know that," he said. "Now what's this I hear about you threatening bodily harm to a store manager?" He chuckled.

"How did you hear about that?" I asked.

"The jerk came in to my office Friday. He wants to sue you for getting him sacked - pardon the pun."

I ignored the pun altogether. "Do you think he has a case?"

"Not until the Columbia drains into the Atlantic," he said. "Besides, I told him I couldn't represent him because you are my client, and it would constitute a conflict of interest. He wasn't too happy about that, and he left somewhat subdued after I told him that the police officers who answered the call and his own employees would testify for you."

"He's lucky I didn't have Darrel arrest him for child abuse," I said.

"Well, no sense in borrowing trouble," he said. "How's the house hunting going?"

"I bought a place right on the beach last Thursday, but it needs a lot of work." I snickered a little at his surprised gasp, and added, "I should be able to move in by the first of May or shortly thereafter. I'm going down to see the architect and the contractor Thursday afternoon. Do you want to come along?"

"I wish I could, but I have to be in court most of the week," he said. "Maybe next time."

"It's your loss," I said. "I'll let you know what's going on. Talk to you again soon."

We broke the connection, and I went back into the family room. Tom and Carl had Josh hugged between them, and the other boys were gathered around trying to comfort them. I sat down and asked noone in particular, "Why all the long faces?"

Eric climbed into my lap and said, "Tom talked to the lawyer, and he says they can't adopt Josh."

"That's not what he said at all," I said a bit angrily. "What he said was that they would probably be turned down if they try to adopt him now. He told Tom they will have to take it slow, and start by being licensed as foster parents. The result of that is the same. Josh would be living with them, and they would be responsible for his welfare. Adoption is a step further, but all it really means is that he gets to change his name if he wants to." I didn't mention that a foster parent license could be revoked at any time. I didn't want Eric to worry about his status either.

Josh's head came up, and he looked at me. "Really?"

"Yes, really," I said. "You have all given up because you can't have it all right now. Have a little faith in John's ability. He'll make something work, and I'd be willing to bet he'll get it all done if you give him enough time."

Carl smiled weakly, "I guess you're right. We're not giving John any credit for knowing how to handle the system."

"Don't holler before you're hurt," I advised. "John has done this many, many times before." I looked at Josh, smiled warmly, and said, "He'll make you happy when all is said and done."

Tom got up and said, "Come on, son. Let's go home. We have to get you ready to go back to the shelter."

Carl looked at me and asked,"Do you want me to stop by and pick up Bobby and Sam when we go?"

"No," I said. "You need the time with Josh, and Josh needs a little extra time too, I'll take Bobby and Sam back. I imagine Eric will want to go too." Eric grinned like a Cheshire cat and nodded vigorously. "Just make sure you get him back before curfew. No sense in giving them an excuse to cause you grief."

Tom and Carl took Josh between them, and walked slowly down the hill. I watched them for a few minutes, and then turned to Eric and his guests. "You should probably go upstairs and get your things together," I said. "We're not leaving yet, but I don't want you to forget something you'll need."

The three boys climbed the stairs a little slower this time. They realized the visit was coming to an end, and they were a little sad at the prospect. They came dragging down the stairs about fifteen minutes later. Bobby and Sam stacked their few belongings and clothes in the mud room, and came back into the kitchen where I was preparing a small snack and some hot chocolate. Bobby came up to me and put his arms around me. "Thank you for a great weekend, Bob," he said. "I haven't had such a good time in longer than I can remember."

I hugged him back and said, "You're very welcome, Bobby. You and Sam were great guests, and you're welcome to come again."

Sam came over and joined the hug, and Eric made it a group affair. Sam thanked me too, and Eric thanked me for letting his friends stay over. Eric asked, "When can they come again?"

"Well," I said, "we'll be pretty busy for the next couple of weeks. Let's just play it by ear, and nail a time down before too long."

The mood was a lot lighter by the time we climbed into the truck at eight o'clock to make the trip to the shelter. It was a pleasant trip, although not as exuberant as the one on the way up. Eric and I signed the boys back into the shelter well before nine, and said our goodbyes. We drove home in silence, and I noticed the estate van on the way down when we were about half way home. I tooted the horn, and got a couple of toots in answer.

Eric and I fell back into our routine Monday morning. I was anxious to get the results of his placement test back, but didn't really expect anything until the following week. To get him on a school schedule, I gave him five words a day to look up, learn the definitions, and write two or three viable sentences using them correctly. I started him out on some simple ones so that he wouldn't look on it as a chore. I checked his work, and went over it with him to correct the grammar of his sentences and , occasionally, his spelling. I saw we would have a lot of work to do.

Wednesday afternoon, we went to town to pick up his new clothes. He was a little unhappy when he learned he would have to try everything on so the tailor could check the fit. By the time he got to the suits, though,  he was preening like a peacock, and started to enjoy the attention.

When we got home, Eric came to me with a tie in his hand. "Will you teach me how to tie this thing?" he asked.

"I'll be glad to," I said. "Let's go upstairs so you can watch what I do in the mirror."

We spent what was for me a very enjoyable half hour while I showed him the twists and turns of a Four-in-hand knot, and the additional loops of the Windsor knot. He learned quickly, and I watched as he practiced tying them on his own. I pointed out little things he could do to shape the knots better, and by the time we were through, he had become quite adept. He was smiling with pride with his new skill, and said, "It really isn't that hard to do, is it?"

"Nothing is hard to do with the proper instruction and a little practice," I said.

Thursday, we got dressed in our suits, and drove to the coast. We went early so we could have lunch at the same restaurant, and Eric actually mentioned how good the food was although he spent most of the time between bites watching the activity on the beach. There were a few men at the waterline with surf casting rods, and Eric became excited when one of them actually caught a fish. I smiled at him and asked him what he thought they were there for. He said he thought they were teaching worms how to swim. "Smart ass," I said. He giggled.

We arrived at the property a few minutes early. Both George and Norman were already there. Norman had several rolls of drawings under his arm, and we went through each of them walking over the ground, and discussing the advantages of the different options. I decided on one of the plans, and we all went back to Norman's office. Once there out of the wind, we firmed up several things concerning City codes, and the final appearance of the place. I didn't want it to look like a motel, but I also didn't want to lose the privacy incumbent in the separation of the individual units. Norman had some suggestions as to how that could be achieved, and we settled on a definite plan. George was helpful with suggestions of newly developed materials we could use to hold the costs down.

When I was satisfied with the design, I signed a contract to have Norman draw up a full set of blueprints, and one with George to build to those specifications. Norman said he would get the blueprints to George by the end of the following week, and George promised the completed structure by May 10. I was very pleased with the way things had come together, and we shook hands all around. Eric and I left them still talking, and started our trip home.

John had been busy as well, and called to ask Tom and Carl to meet him at the courthouse with Josh on Friday morning. I couldn't resist the temptation to go and sit in the back. Eric got spiffed up in his new suit again, and we were sitting quietly in the courtroom when Tom, Carl, and Josh walked in with John.

The bailiff stood up and said "All rise. The District Court of the State of Oregon is now in session - The honorable Judge Clayton Lambert, presiding." The judge entered as he had the last time we were there, and said, "Be seated."

The clerk read the first case on the docket, and  John got up and said, "John Bishop for the petitioners, your honor."

I was pleasantly surprised when Darlene stood and said, "Darlene Macy for CSD, your honor."

John started the proceeding with his opening statement. "The petitioners, Mr. Tom Coleman, and his domestic partner, Mr. Carl Reiner, come before the court to apply for certification as foster parents to Joshua Billings, a minor, who is currently residing at the Jeremy Shaw Memorial Shelter. We submit that both Mr. Coleman and Mr. Reiner are employed as caretakers of a large estate, and have been so employed in the same capacity for the past eight  years through three changes of ownership. They have a stable relationship, and are more than able to provide a good home to Mr. Billings."

The judge looked at Josh and asked, "Haven't I seen this boy before?"

"Yes, your honor," said John. "He was recently before you on charges which were dropped by the District Attorney. He has acquitted himself well at the shelter in the intervening time showing himself to be polite and helpful, and has no further charges pending."

The judge harumphed, and said, "OK, let's get on with it. Am I to understand that the petitioners are homosexual?"

John said, "That's true, your honor, but their homosexuality is only relevant as to their own relationship. Mr. Billings is not expected to be a part of the sexual side of their relationship, nor would he ever be."

Darlene stood up and said, "Your honor, if it please the court, I have some knowledge of this boy. As I told the court at the previous hearing, his parents don't want him because he, too, is homosexual. He had been in a monogamous relationship with another boy for at least five years - the last three of which were spent on the streets. Sadly, his partner was found in a snowbank Christmas morning."

The judge held up his hand. "I remember the case now," he said. He looked at Josh and said in a very judicial tone, "I don't approve of your lifestyle, young man. Having said that, I know you had no control over the circumstances that caused you to come to your present situation. I'm sure you are aware that as a homosexual, you will be shunned, and at least verbally abused all your life because of it. This court will not join the masses, however. The Administrative Rules frown on relationships such as this proposal, but the Law does not forbid them. How old are you, son?"

Josh was taken by surprise at the question. He had not expected to have to say anything, and stuttered a bit. "F-f-fifteen, sir. I'll be sixteen on June 17th."

"Ms. Macy," said the judge. "Do I understand that CSD sanctions this petition?"

Darlene stood again and said, "No, your honor. CSD would be happiest if Mr. Billings just evaporated or disappeared. I, personally, sanction the petition as a Friend of the Court. It is, without a doubt, the best solution to an otherwise insoluble dilemma."

"I tend to agree," said the judge. He sat in thought for a full minute or more, and then said, "OK. Here's what we're going to do. The court will grant the petition for foster care, but there will be strict conditions. I want the petitioners to report once a month to you, Ms. Macy. If there is the slightest suspicion of sexual abuse, they will both be charged and prosecuted. If it works out, and for Mr. Billing's sake, I hope it will, I want the petitioners and Mr Billings to appear before me soon after his sixteenth birthday." He looked at John, and in an aside said, "You'll get a date at the proper time, Mr. Bishop," and then continued. "At that time this court will emancipate him, and grant the adoption petition I know you are preparing Mr Bishop." He picked up his gavel and slammed it down on its block. "Next case."

Darlene came forward and hugged Josh. "Let's get out of here before he changes his mind," she whispered.

They all got up and left the courtroom. Eric and I tip toed out too, and came upon them trying to explain what happened to Josh, who was still unclear about it because it had been over so quickly. I said, "Why don't we all go get some coffee. Courthouses give me the heebie-jeebies."

Everyone chuckled, and John said, "That's a good idea. We can talk in the restaurant."

When we were seated around a large table at a nearby coffee shop, Josh was still bewildered. I sat across from him so I looked him straight in the eyes and said, "Josh, you get to go home with Tom and Carl. You'll have to go back to the shelter to get your things, but then you will be living up on the estate."

It was wonderful to watch the light dawn on him. His face lit up slowly, and a smile started to form. He looked at Carl and asked, "Really? Today?"

Carl glowed with feeling, and said, "Really. You are our son now."

Josh exploded into Carl's arms, and began to cry with happiness. All the uncertainty of the past melted away, and he began to let go of his grief for Jeremy at last. Carl hugged him tightly, and wept openly. "Unmanly" as it was, even Tom couldn't keep from producing a couple of tears.

Eric sat in his chair with a silly grin on his face. He was beyond words, and simply put his hand on Josh's arm and squeezed.

We all finished our coffee, and left the shop - each group going their own way. Tom stopped John to thank him, and I did the same. John winked at me and said with a smile, "I love it when a plan comes together."


Well, things are shaping up for the estate. Eric has a playmate, and soon there will be a vacation home at the coast. I wonder what could possibly go wrong. LOL. And what can we expect for Bobby and Sam?

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