Logans Living - Chapter 3


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Logan's Living - Chapter 3               by Wayne Telfer


Logan woke the next morning as he felt someone slipping into bed next to him. Well that certainly confused him since he could feel Phillip's arm draped over him. There was just enough light from the coming dawn so that as he opened his eyes he could see who it was.

"Reed," he whispered, "What in the world are you doing here so early?"

"Just got off of work," he whispered back. And then his eyes teared up. "I heard what happened, Logan."

Logan reached up and pulled Reed into an embrace, trapping Phillip's arm between them. "Shh. Nothing came of it. Jackson was right there and handled the whole thing."

"Yeah, but..."

"No buts, Reed. I'm fine now, really. But thank you for coming. That's really sweat."

"Yes it is," said Phillip from behind him. "Now, if I could please have my arm back?"

Logan chuckled as he eased up his hug so that Phillip could free his arm. "Sorry, Phillip. Reed needed a hug."

"So I gathered. Now, if the two of you will be all right, I'm going to get up and shower and get ready for the day."

"We're fine Phillip," answered Logan as he turned his head back. "But I want a kiss before you leave." They did. "Thanks."

"You're more than welcome. Just remember, I'm always here if you need me."

"I'll remember."

Phillip slipped out of bed.

"What do you mean you just got off work? I thought you worked for Ralph?"

"That's just part-time work, when he's got a big delivery like today. I've got a regular stocking job at the grocery. Keeps my days free."

"Shit, and I told my mom that I was staying over with you tonight."

"You did, buddy. I live here. Oscar took me in when my parents kicked me out after they found out I was gay."

"That sucks, Reed."

"Nah. They were always redneck assholes anyway. The last two years living here have been the best. Oscar's a great dad."

"So that's how you got started, eh?"

"Nope. I was already a seasoned performer of all of two weeks when the shit hit the fan at home. Oscar just stepped in and made sure I was taken care of."

"They ARE pretty terrific, aren't they?"

"The best."

"So, you hear about Saturday?"

"Yeah, Oscar mentioned it when I got up to go to work. Look, Logan, we can wait a bit..."

"Reed, I'm fine; completely fine. I just needed to be hugged last night. The jerk never got anywhere, really. Jackson had him off me in a microsecond. I'm moving on and it's not going to cost me this chance. Now, are we doing Saturday or not?"

"You damn right we are."

"Good, now you owe me and I want to collect." He then pressed his morning hard-on into Reed's crotch.

"Whoa, boy, you's gonna hurt some`un with that thang." But he immediately reached down and gently took that cock into his hand, while Logan rolled onto his back and pushed the covers off of them. "Man, that is some nice piece you got here."

"Hey, less talk, more action." Then he sobered and looked at Reed. "I really need this Reed."

His answer was simply to lean in and give Logan a gentle, heartfelt kiss. "Anything you need." And without any further discussion, he moved down and knelt between Logan's legs and slowly swallowed his cock. Reed understood, even though he'd never had to endure an encounter like that; Logan needed something positive right now. It was a simple act of a friend, but oh so necessary to erase the last vestiges of the memory of yesterday. And Reed was determined to give him the blow job of his life.

He had more than enough experience to be able to take all eight and a half inches down his throat. Once there, he held the position, simply inhaling through his nose, immersing himself in the aroma of morning teenage pubes, tickling the underside of that mammoth pole at the base with his tongue.

"Oh hell, Reed." That was followed by a lusty groan and his hands landing on the head between his legs. He couldn't remember the last time anyone had taken him all the way like this. The base of his cock hadn't seen attention like this in oh so long that it electrified his entire groin. Because of the lack of attention, the base was very nearly as sensitive as the head.

This wasn't going anything like he'd hoped. He could feel the swelling of Logan's cock almost immediately. Not much chance of prolonging this as he'd wished, so he chose a different tack and reached up and pinched his nipples, hard. And that did do the trick.


The first blast went directly down his throat. But he was able to force his head up, despite Logan's vice grip, so that the next volleys landed and rolled across his tongue, tasting oh so sweet. There was volumes of the stuff. It just kept coming and cumming. He reached one hand down and tickled Logan's nuts and that set the boy off again.

"Shit! Fuuuccckkk!"

It was unbelievable! The volume increased for several blasts. It was everything he could do to keep up and not lose any out of his mouth. It was glorious!

Reed hadn't tasted a teenage cock in...well, forever. This was exquisite delight. This was the taste of young, untainted boy cum...the best there was. Nothing tasted better than young cum. For it to be coming from this gorgeous boy beneath him was a heavenly touch. Never had he met such a beautiful guy his own age that wanted to share like this.

He felt tears running down his face. It was partly due to the fact that he'd failed to prolong the experience for Logan, but mostly because he felt a part of something amazing and special. Logan had needed solace and he'd come to HIM for it. He had needed to erase a negative experience with a positive one, and he'd come to Reed! He'd nearly begged him to help turn the entire episode around so that he could move on with his life without the baggage of fear and doubt.

Logan finally collapsed and forced his cock from that glorious mouth.

"Oh hell, I've never cum that fast," he breathed.

"Sorry, I'd planned to make it last."

"Oh shit, Reed. No apologies for that! It was incredible; the best!"

They looked down together and watched as his cock continued to spasm, dribbling the last remnants of his seed onto his stomach.

"Fuck, Logan," he laughed, trying to lighten the mood just a touch. "You better shut that thing off or there isn't going to be anything left for Saturday."

Logan looked at him for a moment in stunned disbelief and then suddenly broke up into peals of laughter, pulling Reed up on top and hugging him tightly. Leave it to Reed to see something funny in any given situation. But it was the right response for the moment. It's what Logan needed the most, above and beyond the incredible blow job.

After all, what had happened? Nothing beyond a terrible fright. His body hadn't been damaged. He'd not, after all, actually been violated. He'd been protected precisely as they'd promised. There was considerable satisfaction in the memory of the man's final condition. He was going to pay for that moment's attempt at pleasure for a very long time. The laughter continued.

And the lesson. Yes, there was the lesson never to be forgotten. He'd sensed something wrong but had not acted on that suspicion. He'd simply carried on and ultimately placed himself in a very vulnerable position. The lesson was to trust his instincts. Never again would he ignore the warnings his body gave him. The tear filled laughter was near hysterical.

And ultimately there was the love and compassion of friends. Phillip had offered consolation with open handed compassion. He'd asked, not forced. He'd been the most tender of friends. And Reed...and Reed. There'd been immediate tears...tears for his friend. The laughter began to abate somewhat.

When he finally got control of himself he locked his lips on Reed's and released all of his fear, and apprehension. All that remained was his love for this magnificent friend. That had been one rocking blow job, despite the brevity of it.

Phillip stood at the door and watched in awe at the way the boys kissed. He'd come up to get his forgotten clothes and had walked in just as Reed had gone down on Logan. He SHOULD have turned and walked away and allowed them their privacy, but the shock of seeing this so soon after the attempted rape had stunned him. He'd nearly broken it up, but then he'd seen the look of longing on Logan's face. It was the look of a young man determined to reverse the events of his life and regain the control. Phillip could only stand there and weep softly at the courage he was witnessing.

It had taken Phillip weeks to get over the effects of his similar experience. But Logan was obviously made of sterner stuff. All he could do was stand and witness it. And then it had happened. The hysterical release. The laughter and tears. The release and the healing. The crushing hug of someone clinging to a life line and then the slight easing of love accepted and cherished. And Phillip wept the harder.

Logan had caught a glimpse of Phillip at the door when he'd pulled Reed up. It was obvious, even at this distance, that he'd been moved by what he'd seen; the tears were clearly visible. But Logan wasn't embarrassed or offended by his presence. If anyone would understand what was happening, it would be Phillip.

He was definitely feeling much more himself when he finally broke the kiss...and just a bit impish.

"How much do they normally charge for a double?" he asked, as Reed looked down on him.

"It depends on the performers and the quality of the expected performance. Why?"

"Because we've had an audience, and I was wondering how much we could soak him for."

Reed laughed, as did Logan, as they looked back at the door. Reed knew what they'd see. "Gods, Phillip, you are such a pervert." They laughed even harder when they saw him blush.

"Oh come here and give us a hug," said Logan, holding out his arm.

It was a glorious moment for all three of them. They simply hugged in silence for several minutes.

"I'm sorr..."

"Oh, shut up, Phillip," interrupted Logan, hugging him tighter. "So, what d`ya think? Could Reed and I make a show of it?"

Phillip broke up immediately, whereupon the boys pounced and began tickling, first him and then each other. By the time they collapsed in exhaustion, Phillip and Logan were covered in cum and Reed's clothes were ruined because the cum had begun to dry. They showered together and then dressed for the day. They found Oscar in the living room as they descended the stairs.

"You're up early, Dad," said Reed as he went over and hugged and kissed him.

"Hard to sleep with all the racket." He was smiling, however.

"Sorry, got a bit carried away, Dad."

He patted Reed's cheek. "All in a good cause, son, all in a good cause. You think you could cover for Logan today?"

"No!" said Logan, with force.

"Logan, you need some time..."

"Oscar, what do you do when you fall off the horse? You get back on. That prick never got a chance to really hurt me. Jackson saw to that. Reed and Phillip have given me what I needed to put it behind me."

Oscar patted the sofa beside him and Logan went over and sat down. They simply sat there for several moments and looked into each others' eyes.

"All right, Logan, if you're sure."

"Very sure. You have to promise though that Jackson will be my body guard today. He needs to get back on that horse too."

Oscar smiled. "Good boy. He's taking entirely too much responsibility. Even threatened to resign."

"Bull shit! You tell him I'm not doing another performance until he's my body guard."

"Ooh, listen to the fireball," laughed Phillip.

Logan glanced at his watch and then looked at Reed. "We're going to be loading the flowers at noon. Shouldn't you be getting a nap?"

"Yes, sir! I'm on my way." He laughed as he hugged Logan. "Can't wait until Saturday," he whispered.

His morning was one of intense concentration as he strove to make the two spectacle pieces perfect. This was his big chance to impress Ralph and everyone else. It was nearly noon when he finally stepped back and took one final look.

"Well, I suppose it'll do," he said quietly to himself.


He jumped and turned around to find the entire staff standing together watching his final adjustments.

"What do you mean, do?" said Martha in exasperation. "Damn, Logan, that's easily the equal of ANYTHING Ralph's ever created."

He blushed as everyone began to applaud, even Reed, who was standing at the rear of the crowd.

"What's all the ruckus? Don't you all have somethin..." Ralph stopped dead in his tracks when he turned the corner and got a view of what everyone was looking at. It was the scrutiny of a professional. He stepped up and looked closely at each piece and then stepped back and took in the entire effect. He placed a hand on Logan's shoulder and squeezed in appreciation. "And this is why I hired you. An original and imaginative interpretation of the client's wish list." He then began applauding and everyone followed suit.

All work stopped for the next half hour as everyone leant a hand in loading the two specially equipped step vans with the large number of arrangements. Logan was relegated to standing to one side, checking off each piece as it passed him to ensure nothing got left behind. When the last piece was in place the eight employees headed back to their interrupted tasks, but not before they each stopped and shook Logan's hand or kissed his cheek in appreciation.

Ralph exited the building as the last woman was kissing Logan. He simply smiled and headed for the second van, only pausing long enough to whisper, "Told you so" as he passed Logan.

The wedding wasn't scheduled to begin until two, so they had more than ample time to unload and set everything up in accordance with Logan's original drawings. He stood back after everything was in place and scrutinized the overall effect. He repositioned a couple of the smaller pieces and then went to the altar area to take one final look at the largest pieces.

"My God, Ralph, you've outdone yourself this time. But should your young man be up there fussing with your creation?"

Ralph turned to acknowledge his long time friend. "I'm glad you're pleased, Winston. But these are not my creations, they're his." He pointed to where Logan was just stepping back from his work. "Logan! Could you come over here a moment?" he called out.

"He's the greatest discovery of my career, Winston."

"Logan, please allow me to introduce my good friend, Winston Franks, the father of today's bride. Winston this is my new partner, Logan Justice."

Logan held out his hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you Mister Franks." He didn't even blink at the term `partner'.

"Mister Justice, the pleasure is surely mine. This is far more than I expected. The only thing that's going to be more beautiful will be my daughter."

They laughed together.

"I don't want to seem rude, Logan, but how old are you?"

He smiled as he answered. "Sixteen, sir."

"Sixteen," he repeated in disbelief. "And Ralph tells me you created this all yourself?" The blush that resulted was as charming as it was unexpected.

"Yes, sir," he answered modestly.

"No blushes for this, Logan. It is spectacular." He reached out and handed him a folded bill. "Here, young man, you've made me very happy. My daughter is going to be thrilled with the backdrop you've created for her wedding day." He then walked off and began greeting his guests.

Logan pocketed the bill without looking at it. "Where're the cameras?"

"In the front of our van."

"Would you do some video while I get some stills before the place fills up too much?"

"Certainly." Ralph had to smile at his protégé's exterior calm.

To say that Logan was high from his success as they returned to the salon would have been an understatement. He'd had a very hard time getting the shots he wanted because guests kept coming up and interrupting him to congratulate and thank him.

Even Reed had stuck around. He'd been thrilled at all the attention being paid to his new friend. He also had to admit that Logan really did have a talent for flowers.

"You did well, my boy," said Ralph on the way back. "You created a fine background for a lady's wedding and garnered considerable attention and praise."

"It started to get a bit much, though."

"I know," laughed Ralph. "There're only so many ways to say beautiful, but they all seem to want to try out new combinations of metaphors. But you handled it very well. You also ensured us more business. I got tentative commissions on one more wedding and two business grand openings. We're on our way, Logan."

"By the way, what was that business with `this is my new partner'?"

"Oh that," he chuckled. "It seems that someone, whom we won't mention, got himself assaulted yesterday. The parties responsible for that gross lapse in security have taken the liberty of purchasing a twenty-five percent partnership in Maxwell Creations for that person."

He sat there stunned for several minutes. "How am I supposed to explain something like that to my mother?"

"Oscar assures me that it's being taken care of; something about an anonymous donation to ensure artistic development...or something like that. I don't know what they have planned, Logan. But these people have been doing things like this for decades. I wouldn't worry about it right now. We don't have to say anything about it to anyone. Right now, the only one's that know are you, me, and Oscar. I don't even think Phillip is party to this one."

Well, Logan had no time to worry about it; he had to get gone as soon as they arrived so that he'd be in time for his appointment at the cottage. He arrived just moments before the client, after rushing to the residence for a hurried shower and change of clothes.

How they'd managed to get the place put back together so quickly was beyond him, but there wasn't one sign of what had transpired in there the previous afternoon, except that the furniture was clearly new and there was the slight scent of extensive cleaning.

He'd just gotten everything arranged to his satisfaction when he heard the car arrive. He went and opened the door and waited for the gentleman to make his way from the car to the cottage. Jackson was present, but he refused to look at Logan.

"Good afternoon, sir. It's a pleasure to have you here."

The man smiled and shook the offered hand. "My goodness, you are a beauty."

Logan laughed. "And you, sir, are a flatterer. Why don't you go on in and make yourself comfortable. I need to have just a word or two with your driver. I'll be right back."

"Take whatever time you need, son. I'll just make a coffee and nibble on some crackers."

Logan than grabbed Jackson's arm and yanked him, leading him to the bench they'd sat in the day before. When they got there he pushed the body guard hard, forcing him to sit.

"Damn it, Jackson, stop it, now!" He spoke just barely above a whisper, but there was such force behind the words that Jackson was shocked into looking up at the boy. "I've heard all kinds of crap about resignations and blame, and I'm sick of it. Now you listen to me and you listen good."

Jackson started to look away, but Logan put everything he had into the punch he landed on the man's shoulder. "Don't you look away, damn it." When he was sure he had the man's undivided attention he continued. "I wasn't hurt in the slightest yesterday, you hear me? Not one scratch, not so much as a bruise. I know, because Oscar gave me a complete physical when he got back to the residence. Now, you know WHY I don't have any physical evidence of the assault? Because of YOU!" {PUNCH} "Because YOU were there to protect me." {PUNCH} "Because YOU ripped him off of me in less time than it takes to blink." {PUNCH}

"I should have seen..."

"SHUT UP!" he hissed. "God damn it, Jackson. You aren't a fucking mind reader! How could you possibly have known what he'd had in mind?! Fuck, Jackson, I was suspicious, and I still put myself into danger! I knew there was something wrong with him, but I couldn't define it. But YOU were there in a flash. You did for me what I couldn't do for myself." He sighed. "I've never been much of a fighter, Jackson; could never stand to hurt anyone." He locked the man in his steely gaze. "But I didn't have to. You did everything I would have done if I could, and more."

"I was never more satisfied than when I saw the result of your protection of me. So you better get over this. You're not doing me any good by moping around. I need my champion in full control of himself so that I can get on with this business knowing that my back is covered."

"It's just that I've never had one of the boys attacked on my watch."

"Ok, I can see that," said Logan more calmly. "But now you know that you can deal with it. That man's not likely to cross anyone ever again."

"No, he definitely won't." The tone of that response gave Logan pause. "Doc said there was too much internal bleeding," he whispered.

"Ah, he didn't survive his injuries." Jackson shook his head. "Well, that's too bad, but I can't say that I'm sorry. And you shouldn't blame yourself. You were furious for my sake. So was I, once I calmed down. Now come on Jackson, please, get a grip, will you?"

A smile finally broke through. "All right, Logan." Then he rubbed his shoulder. "Damn, that hurt, boy."

Logan laughed as he began rubbing his hand. "Not nearly as much as it hurt me, you big oaf. DAMN, what have you got under that shirt, steel plates?"

"Just the skin I was born with, kiddo," he answered as he stood up and placed a hand on this remarkable boy's shoulder. "Now, don't you have a show?"

"Yes I do, come on."

It was a big success. He'd decided to do something similar to that first night at the residence, since the mirror he'd asked for hadn't been installed as yet. The gentleman was wide eyed in shock, and yes, approval too, within the first five minutes. And yes, Logan had been a bit apprehensive in the beginning, but as the man continued to sit and smile, he lost that nervousness and was able to relax into the performance. By the time he'd stripped he was feeling in complete control and began to put his best into the sex. When Logan could finally hold it no longer he let go and flooded the air with his seed, just as the man let loose with his own orgasm.

After a couple of minutes for recovery, Logan got up and went to the bathroom and dampened two cloths and returned to the main room, handing one of them to the gentleman.

"You look like you could use a little tidying up, sir."

He laughed. "You are a little scamp, you know that?" He accepted the cloth. "That was inspired, young man. I've never enjoyed a performance as much as I enjoyed that. Thank you very much for sharing that with me."

"You're welcome, sir." He pulled his bikini briefs on and waited for the gentleman to put himself back together. As they were heading toward the door the man handed Logan a folded bundle of cash, which he accepted and immediately placed on the stereo as they passed it. The man raised his eyebrows at the gesture of trust. Logan laughed. "Is it really necessary for me count it? You know perfectly well that if it's short, you'd be contacted."

He laughed. "You are correct of course. You're a refreshing change, young man. Good luck to you."

Jackson smiled over his shoulder and winked at Logan as he escorted his charge back to the car.

Logan headed straight for the shower. He needed to hurry so that he'd arrive home at a reasonable time. He was in such a hurry that he was half way to his car when he remembered he'd left the cash setting on the stereo.

Everyone was present when he arrived at the residence. But the first person he saw was Reed. He ran up to him and lifted him off the floor and whirled him around in a hug.

"Yes!" He planted a kiss on his startled friend, who quickly broke into a smile.

"I guess it went all right. Must've gotten a good tip."

"I haven't a clue," he crowed. Just then Oscar and Phillip came out of the living room to see what all the commotion was about and Logan ran over and gave them a group hug, which brought out smiles all around.

"Goodness," said Oscar. "How much did the old geezer give you, boy?"

"Don't know, haven't looked. It was great, though. Oh, and I got Jackson straightened out, too."

He then stepped back and dug the bills out of his pocket and counted out five hundred dollars. "Whoa!"

"Yeah," said Phillip, "He called as soon as he got back to his hotel. He wants a repeat performance when he comes into town next month."

Logan glanced at his watch. "Good, I've got time for something to drink, I'm parched."

"Oh hell, Logan, did I forget to tell you that there's always some of the good doctor's after performance brew in the frig at the cottage?" asked Phillip.

"As a matter of fact you did forget," he laughed. Phillip left to retrieve a glass for him.

"I was just headed for my before dinner nap," said Reed.

"Well, get going then. You've got work tonight I bet, besides, you need your beauty sleep."

"Hey! You weren't complaining this morning."

"Yeah, but all I saw this morning was the top of your head."

Logan jumped behind Oscar when Reed lunged at him. "You little brat!" They all dissolved in laughter as Reed headed upstairs.

"You and I have to talk sometime about that partnership, Oscar. Sometime soon."

"It's happened?"

"According to Ralph it has."

"When we can be alone, please, Logan."

"I understand."

He found his mom in the kitchen when he arrived, putting the finishing touches on the spaghetti. He hugged her from behind.

"Hi, mom. Did you have a good day?"

"Not bad, dear. A couple of setbacks with that charity open house, but we got it smoothed out." She chuckled as she replaced the lid on the pot. "I hear you had a successful day."

"All right, mom, that's enough," he laughed. "You need to recall your spies. It'd be nice to tell you about my day myself."

She turned around and placed her hands on either side of his face. "Then, my dear, you should stop doing things that are so very public. I've gotten half a dozen calls this afternoon from people that were in attendance at the Franks wedding." Just then the phone rang. "You should go answer that, sweetheart."


"Is this Logan Justice?" asked a female voice.

"Yes, this is Logan."

"Oh Logan," she gushed. "I'm Abigail Martin...I mean Franks...oh darn it. Logan, you created the flowers for my wedding this afternoon. They were fabulous! Absolutely fabulous! Thank you so much for creating that marvelous floral church for me."

"It was my pleasure, Mrs. Martin."

"I know my father thanked you, Logan, but Steve and I wanted to thank you too." She laughed. "My Steve is not much of a frilly man, Logan, but he was very impressed and quite speechless." There was a moment of silence. "Thank you," she said breathlessly.

"Mister Justice," said a male voice, "Abigail is absolutely right, your creations took my breath away. But best of all was the look of awe on her face when she first saw it. You've ensured that our wedding will be a highlight of our lives. Thank you, very much."

"You're welcome, Mister Martin."

He returned to the kitchen where his mom was just dishing up their plates. The stunned look on his face was all she needed to see. She laughed. "That was her fourth call since the wedding ceremony. You've made her day very special, son. I'm so proud."

The highlight of his night was during the news hour. The society spot was all about the wedding of Winston Franks' daughter. It gave his mom the chance to see what all the fuss had been about.

"I'm a little surprised that Ralph gave you all the credit for that."

"But mom, it was all my work. Well, except for the corsages and boutonnieres." He paused to enjoy her look of surprise. "I think this was my audition. He's got a better idea of what he needs to teach me now."

After seeing those wedding pictures, Margaret wondered just what Ralph could teach her son. They'd both looked so proud in the one picture that showed the two of them with Winston. Although they'd never mentioned her son by name, the fact that the picture had shown Winston shaking her son's hand had been enough of a hint.

She worried about all this attention as she prepared for bed. True, the reporters had kept her son's name out of the report, but there were more than enough people at the wedding that knew the truth and the word would most assuredly get around.

He was only sixteen, for crying out loud. Could he be expected to cope with all the notoriety that was bound to happen? Any time a young person made a success of themselves, the public clamored for more and more. The spotlight would surely be pointed in her son's direction in the very near future. That was one of the reasons she'd never let out that her son had been doing her charity arrangements. It was an opportunity for him to hone a skill he seemed to enjoy without getting caught up in the stardom.

She concluded that she'd need to speak with Ralph right away. She couldn't prevent the exposure from happening. And truth be told, she didn't want to. Her son deserved a bit of attention. But she needed to be sure that she and Ralph moderated it so that it didn't suddenly consume his every waking moment.

Margaret had gotten a late start the next morning, so it wasn't until Logan had already left for work that she was able to contemplate that call to Ralph. Just as she reached for the phone, it rang. Oh bother.

"Good morning, Margaret," said Ralph Maxwell before she could say a word. "We have a situation this morning and we need to consult right away."

"What do you mean by `situation', Ralph?"

"It's a damn media circus around here this morning. Logan and I arrived to find the parking lot full of reporters and cameras. It took considerable pushing and shoving to get us inside. But I had to promise them a moment or two with Logan. I'm not about to do that, however, until you and I talk. Can you come down here?"

"I'm already putting on my jacket."

"Park in back, Margaret. I've called for some security and they'll ensure you get inside without any fuss."

"Thank you, Ralph. Uh, how's Logan handling all this."

"The poor boy is of two minds, my dear. He's as excited as any teenager would be. But he's also scared. I can see it in his eyes."

"I'm on my way." She hung up before Ralph could respond.

Damn! This was just the sort of thing she'd hoped to avoid. The vultures were too fast for her this time, though. She worried during the entire trip. She'd have to be very careful with her approach. Logan WAS sixteen, after all. Perhaps not an adult, but certainly on his way there. She decided that to unilaterally refuse this exposure would alienate her from the media and her son.

Yes, the alienation from the media would be a blow to her charitable efforts. But she could manage around that. It was the alienation from Logan that would be unbearable. No, she had to allow him his own say in the matter and just hope and pray that he'd make a reasoned, sensible decision.

She was surrounded by security people as they pushed their way through the crowd that were clamoring for her attention. She simply ignored them all. When she passed through the rear entrance she was assaulted...by Logan. He clung to her for several moments. The boy was actually shaking. But was it fear or excitement? She forced him away from her so that she could look at him. Just as Ralph had described it; a bit of both.

"Let's go to Ralph's office," he said a little shakily.

"Margaret," said Ralph as he came around his desk. "It is a real pleasure to see you again. I just wish it weren't under these circumstances. And I want to assure you I had nothing what so ever to do with any of this."

She laughed. "Oh come now, Ralph. I never thought any such thing. And it's nice to see you again too." She took the first chair that came to hand and became all business. "So, what are we planning to do?" She looked over at Logan.

"I'll do whatever you and Ralph decide, mom."

"No, dear. It's time I let you have more of a say in matters that will effect your life. You've made a spectacular splash into the public eye, sweetheart; we can not ignore that. If we refuse to acknowledge their interest, things will not be under our control."

"They're like a mob," he said. "Everyone wants to be first and to hell with what you or I want."

"Well, I'm not surprised by it. Successful teenagers are always media hits, son."

Just then the office door burst open and in rushed Reed. "Logan! You okay? Ralph called dad and...oh! Oops, sorry," he finished, staring at the beautiful woman.

Before he could bolt, Logan grabbed his hand and held him still. "Jesus, Reed! You're like a run away train." He laughed as he turned to his mother. "Mom, this is the school friend you heard about from Ralph. Reed, this is my mother, Margaret Justice. Mom, this is Reed...well, damn, Reed, just what last name ARE you using?"

Reed stepped in front of Logan's mom and held out his hand. "I'm Reed Massey, Mrs. Justice. Logan's confusion comes from the fact that my guardian is Doctor Oscar Stewart, retired. We've just started the legal adoption process."

"It's very nice to meet you Reed. So, you and my son are school friends?"

"We were in junior high school, ma'am. But after I moved in with dad I started home schooling, so I hadn't seen him in a couple of years, until this past weekend."

"How'd you get past security, boy?" asked Ralph.

"It wasn't easy, believe me. Martha had to stick her head out and vouch for me."

"Well, since you managed to get here, why don't you go start cleaning up the back."

Margaret could not help but notice the look Reed and Logan exchanged. "Ralph, why don't you let Reed stay. It looks as if the two of them are a bit more than `friends'. Logan might like to have that support."

The look on her son's face truly was priceless. Wide eyes, open mouth; all the classic reactions. She reached over and gently pushed his jaw up.

"A mother knows, sweetheart. I've known for some time, actually."

"But...but, you never said anything," he whispered.

"It's not exactly the sort of thing a mother spouts off to her teenage son, dear. It was never an issue. You've always been discreet. In fact, I'm sure that few people suspect. It's just something your mother would notice. Why don't we discuss it later, say over lunch...all three of us."

"So, son, have you given any thought to how we should handle this mess?"

"Well, it's not likely to simply go away, so we need to do something. I can't hide. It's the nature of this job, and especially this salon, to be visible."

The three of them turned toward Ralph, but it was Margaret that spoke up.

"Well, Ralph, you've been dealing with this sort of notoriety for most of your life; could you suggest an approach that we can all live with?"

"I can, but you may not like it, at least initially. I suggest we let them have this one opportunity to talk with Logan. I believe you have enough maturity to handle it, Logan. I think you'll agree, Margaret, that we have to address this now." She nodded. "All right, the next thing I suggest is that we not try to hide him. That will only stir their curiosity even more. Let's go ahead and let him be visible." At this she frowned.

"I know, it's not the ideal solution. I want to give Logan one of my cars so that it will be obvious that he is now a vital part of my business. But I'm going to have you followed, Logan. We are going to make sure that you are protected until the media blitz calms down. These security guys are going to make it absolutely clear that the media have had their one shot at you...today. We will pursue any further contact as an invasion of your personal liberties. It worked for me when I was first making a name."

"Well, I can't say that I'm happy about it, but if you're sure that you can manage this, I'll allow you and Logan to work it out."

"I'm going to include a security watch dog for your home for the next week. They'll chase the hangers on away the minute they show their faces."

They briefly discussed what he would and would not talk about while the security personnel made the announcement that a statement would be made shortly and arranged for a podium, microphone and a security cordon. The podium and microphone were easy, because there was always the occasional requirement for Ralph to provide such things for grand openings and other such functions.

Ralph made a brief introduction and then Logan stepped up and recounted how he'd gotten started, doing the floral arrangements for his mother and then how he'd met Mister Maxwell. He was about to thank everyone for their attention when someone from the rear yelled out, "So, you a faggot too, boy?!"

There was a brief scuffle from the back of the crowd as security took the offending individual in hand. Otherwise, you could have heard a pin drop in the silence.

"Don't you just love bigots?" said Logan, very slowly. That elicited a few soft chuckles from the crowd. "Look at me." He stepped out from behind the podium and allowed everyone a good look before stepping back behind the microphone. "Do I LOOK like an English cigarette?" That got a genuine laugh from everyone and a smattering of applause.

"Look, ladies and gentlemen, my bigoted friend in the rear is obviously convinced that anyone working in this industry, and in particular, at this salon, is a homosexual. I'm sure that the spouses and children of the men and women who work behind these doors will be shocked to learn that `undeniable' truth."

They waited breathlessly as he looked slowly over the crowd. "You have all come here to meet the new golden boy. You've wanted to know how I got my start and how I met Mister Maxwell. Ladies and gentlemen, this is about me learning a career and perfecting my craft. There is much that I just do not know about the industry, despite my recent accomplishments. I'm going to spend the next several years picking this genius' brain."

Again they waited as he paused before his final point. "But any questions or continued investigations into my sexual preferences or activities would be offensive, rude and, since I'm a minor, probably illegal. Rest assured that we will be seriously put out if we discover any further reference to or speculation on that subject. You may report on what you've heard and witnessed here today, but DO NOT pursue this any further."

"Now, if you will, I have work to accomplish. Thank you for your interest and your attention."

The crowd immediately broke into applause, but did not attempt to ask any more questions. Logan simply smiled and waved in acknowledgement of their accolade, then turned and entered the salon. He ignored everyone and headed straight for the office.

Once the door was closed, he turned to the three of them, tears rolling down his face. But they were tears of laughter. "Damn! Could you believe that ass?!"

That got them all going and it took several minutes for them to calm down. They each assumed seats with Logan sitting close to his mother, holding her hand.

"You handled that very well, dear."

"Very well?!" said Ralph. "Damn, Margaret, it was inspired!"

She laughed. "Actually, Ralph, I have to agree with you."

"I don't know if that bit about `illegal' will hold up, but I'll contact my lawyer and have him investigate the issue," said Ralph in a more even tone. "I am NOT going to get caught unprepared again." He then looked at Logan. "I'm very proud of the way you handled that, bo...young man."

"Blame her," he said, pointing to his mother.


"Yes, you. I've watched you repeatedly handle the unexpected with grace and wit. I simply did my best imitation of you."

It was an unexpected accolade. That it came from her one and only son made it all the more incredible.

He turned in his chair so that he faced only her. "You know, I've never really told you what being your son has been like. Well, I'm very proud of that fact. You are the charity power house that EVERYONE comes to. You are always the gracious hostess; the lady's lady. But best of all, you're MY mother. You've always stood behind me and supported me, no matter what I was trying to accomplish. Look at the way you encouraged my passion for flowers. I've loved standing in the wings watching you work."

He leaned over and hugged her tight. "But I am most proud of being your son. I love you, mom."

After his mother left, Logan pushed the door to the office closed. He turned to Reed and Ralph. "Well, this is going to complicate things." The other two nodded. "Reed, I hate to ask it, but can you cover for me until after Friday? We can't allow the security guys to get wind of the organization's operation."

"Don't worry about the security. I'm going to specifically request the individuals that will do your tail. They were all once drivers for Oscar. But I still think you're right. Until we're sure that you're being left alone you're going to have to lay low."

"Actually," interrupted Reed, "You know, there is a way around this. Dad's done it on other occasions. Why don't we see if he and Phillip are willing to schedule your performances for the estate?"

"They can do that?"

"Oh yes. There's a back entrance that no one knows about. You'll use the main entrance when you come by to visit with your school chum. The drivers will deliver your clients through the rear gate and no one will know they're there. You can do your shows in the practice room."

Logan looked doubtful.

"Hey, don't sweat it, buddy. If they can't make it happen, you know I'll cover for you. That's what friends do, right?"

"Thanks, Reed."

"All right, get on home, Reed. You need to consult with your dad right away. Just make sure you're back in time for Logan to drive you to your lunch date."

When he and Ralph left the office the first evidence of how the staff felt was when Jake, the twenty-four year old arranger, who just happened to be the only other gay man in the place, stood up with his arms outstretched and said, "Do I look like an English cigarette?".

Everyone busted up and nothing got accomplished for several minutes. "Damn, Logan!" said forty year old Ben. "I thought I was going to bust a kidney when you said that! I'm going to have my friends each record a different network when that airs. I want to see it from every angle."

"I was ten when I heard it in a movie and was confused because they were passing a cigarette around. Mom had to explain it to me. I've never forgotten it. It's the image I get any time someone uses that nasty word. Look, people, I'm really sorry about the way our day has started, it really wasn't my idea. But you have to admit, it never hurts to have free advertising." Everyone laughed. "I just hope they calm down and let us do our job."

Business was brisk that morning, and all because of the society spot of the night before. No one made a big fuss, because, of course, Logan wasn't known as the new wunderkind as yet. But Logan noticed that everyone that entered the salon took a few moments to gaze his way. He started by cleaning his work space from the previous day's mayhem. That task had only taken an hour, so he spent the remainder of the morning walking from person to person, watching what they were assembling and asking questions.

Reed arrived just before lunch, dressed modestly, but nicely.

"Whoa," he said as they approached Logan's Lexus. "Wow, dad did you proud."

That brought Logan to an abrupt halt as he was opening the driver's door. It was obvious that he was embarrassed.

"Look behind you, buddy."

What was parked in the next slot was a pristine, nineteen sixty-eight Corvette, Sting Ray, in purest white.

"Now, get in," said Reed as he took his place in the Lexus. Once Logan was in place and the door closed he continued. "Look Logan, please stop worrying, will you? I promise you, you are not being treated any better or worse than me. I bet you didn't get any choice when you got this." Logan shook his head. "I at least got to choose my car. I've always loved the classic Vette. It took dad a month to find that one for me, and he had to have it shipped in from the other side of the country. Then he spent quite a bit of money making it the very best it could be."

"Look, Logan, my life is pretty fucking awesome. It's even better now that you've come along and we're friends. I don't begrudge you anything you can get from all of this. So you go right ahead and get all you can, while you can! I'll be there to cheer you on, ok?"

"I guess. It just seems too much, Reed."

"Oh, I get that, buddy. It IS extravagant, no doubt about it. But I promise, you'll get use to it. It took me a while too. Just know for now that I'm happy for you, ok?"


"One last thing. We need to talk about US. Your mother is pretty awesome, Logan. But she's going to assume that we're in love, I bet."

"Yeah, I've been thinking the same thing. But, Reed...I don't feel THAT strongly. I DO love you, but it's more like you're my brother than my great love."

That brought out a real sunshine smile on the older boy's face.

"I'm not anywhere near ready to be thinking about a `relationship'."

"Me either, Logan."

"But I AM ready to have a steady partner my own age."

"That'd be killer! I feel that same way about you."

Logan started the car then immediately shut it off. "Fuck! I forgot about security." Just as he was getting out to go check with Ralph, a man got out of a nearby car and approached, holding up some sort of ID. Just then, Ralph came rushing out of the salon.

"Hey, Brad."

"Hi ya, Ralph. How's tricks?"

"Yeah, right, like they're lined up for an aging old queer like me." They laughed.

"Sorry, Logan, meant to introduce you. Logan, Brad: Brad, Logan."

"Oh, that was imaginative," quipped Brad, turning to Logan. "Hi ya, Logan."

"Hi, Brad," he answered as he shook the offered hand.

"Here's how things work, Logan. First, take a good look at me. We all dress exactly the same." He was all in black and the t-shirt had a logo on the right breast of a striking cobra. "Second, we always drive black Hum V's like that one. All you gotta do is make eye contact with the driver when you're getting in your car. Make sure he nods. The only thing we ask is that you're very conscientious about using your directional, Ok?"

"Yes, sir."

Brad chuckled. "Already got a call from Jackson. He threatened some major body damage to me if I let anything happen to you."

"Yeah, he's pretty awesome. He got me out of sticky situation a couple of days ago. You friends?"

"Oh yeah, we grew up together. He's my baby brother."

"Cool." He glanced at his watch. "Shit, we gotta get going or I'll be late. Mom hates it when I'm late."

Margaret wasn't sure what to expect when the boys arrived. She'd forgotten to ask what sort of car Ralph had chosen for Logan. So, to see him arriving in the bronze luxury sports car was more than just a slight shock. If Ralph intended for her son to be visible, he couldn't have chosen more extravagantly. And then she noticed the Hum V pulling in behind them. That eased her mind, for though there was nothing obvious about it, she just knew that this was Logan's security.

"Hi, mom."

The hug was warm and solid. No hint that there had been any further problems. But when she turned and hugged Reed, she was surprised. The boy clung to her for a moment and when he stepped back there were tears in his eyes.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Justice. It's been a while since a mom...anyone's mom...gave me a hug."

She put on her most winning smile and hugged him again. "Well that's certainly their loss, Reed. You're a good hugger."

He chuckled.

"That's more like it. Now, how about we see about some lunch?" She turned and hooked her arms in those of each boy. "Isn't that car just a bit over the top, dear?"

Logan laughed. "It wasn't my choice, mom. You know Ralph has a certain reputation. This is what he had. But, gees, mom, it's one sweet car."

"I'm sure it is, sweetheart. It just seems a bit bolder than we need."

"It really isn't going to matter what sort of car he drives, Mrs. Justice. Anyone wanting to cause trouble will know what he's driving, no matter what it is."

She considered that a moment. "I suppose you're right. Is that Hum V your security?"

"Uh huh," answered Logan.

They were seated and had ordered before they could continue talking.

"It's nice to see you two happy."

They both smiled at this obvious ploy for information.

"Would you mind if I was blunt, Mrs. Justice?"

"Hmm. Let's try honest instead, Reed. Blunt implies more information than a mother really needs."

This time they blushed.

"Logan and I are friends. Very...good friends. But we are not looking for anything more. We enjoy each others'...company...very much. But we've agreed that we're too young to want a `relationship'." He smiled impishly. "How'd I do?"

Margaret couldn't help it; she laughed. "You are outrageous, young man. That was just fine; just enough information to satisfy a nosey mother."

The remainder of lunch was very enjoyable.

After they'd seen Margaret off for home they were approached by a very determined looking man of middle age. He looked, in fact, quite angry.

"Ha! Found you without your goons, boy! So, answer my question, boy, you a faggot like your boss?"

Logan grabbed Reed's arm as he made a move to confront the man. Logan smiled evilly as he saw Brad and his partner casually walking their way. "I see what this is about. You've got some perverted need to know the sexual antics of teenage boys."

That riled the man immediately. He lunged for Logan.

Logan had been prepared though. He'd been gathering himself as he had the previous day with Jackson. He took one step forward and put everything he had into the punch that landed squarely between the man's eyes. It was such a well placed punch that the man's upper body stopped dead while his lower body continued forward, coming off the ground and landing him on his back.

Brad and his partner ran the last few feet. The partner landed in the middle of the man's chest and quickly flung him over onto his stomach, wrenching his arms behind him and quickly securing them with one of those over-sized plastic zip ties.

"Damn, Logan. Jackson said you had a respectable punch in you, but hell, that was awesome."

Logan simply stood there shaking his hand. "Yeah, but damn it hurts."

"Next time clinch your fist tighter and don't stick your thumb under your fingers."

He laughed. "So what you're saying is I hit like a girl."

Reed busted up. Brad and his partner simply smiled.

"Hardly. But you keep punching people like that and you're going to break your thumb. You did everything else just great. You put your whole body behind the swing. You'll notice Eric hasn't even had to gag him. You knocked him senseless."

Eric lifted the man effortlessly and threw him over his shoulder and then marched off toward the Hum V.

"I think we'll have a long talk with him this time. We obviously let him get off far too easily the last time."

"You going to follow me back to the salon?"

"Oh yes, that hasn't changed. Eric is probably already calling this in and arranging for them to pick this guy up. We should know what the hell his problem is by the end of the day."

Logan shuddered visibly.

"Right, too much information. Sorry."

"No, it's all right. It's just a bit brutal, isn't it?"

"Nope. He attacked you, Logan. That sort of thing needs to be discouraged. We'll be a touch more subtle than Jackson, but not by much." He looked closely at Logan. "You going to be all right?"

"Huh? Oh...yeah. I couldn't have done that if I hadn't known you guys were here. I'm only good for one punch at a time," he laughed lightly.

"Well, we'll be quicker next time. I hadn't expected you to goad him like you did." Brad laughed hard. "That was priceless, Logan. It'll give us a place to start when we begin our talk, though. I don't know why, but I get the feeling there's something more going on here than some rabid gay hater."

"Just don't leave me in the dark, Brad. I may not be an adult, but I'm not a child either. I'd like to understand what's going on. You know that there are some sensitive issues. I don't want this interfering with my opportunities."

"No, I understand, Logan. I promise, I'll keep you in the loop."

"Good. Now, I believe I have a work day to finish."

The rest of the week progressed without media incident. No one seemed the least interested in invading his privacy. The one down point was that Oscar and Phillip cancelled ALL performances for the rest of the week. The media needed a few days to calm down and they wanted to hear what the security guys learned from that lone fanatic.

The night of the press conference was fun, though. Every news program had it as part of their human interest segments. Logan had to admit that he'd looked pretty good up there. What surprised him about the reports is that none of them...not one...edited them in the slightest. The videos he watched showed precisely what he'd remembered. All of them included the bigot's yelled question and Logan's complete response to it.

The part about the English cigarette had embarrassed him as he sat with his mother and watched. It looked so lame after the fact. The reporters all had essentially the same thing to say in their wrap ups. He was complimented for his quick wit and for not allowing anyone to think he was a child to be taken advantage of. He'd stood up for his rights and his privacy and they'd each congratulated him and wished him well in his chosen career.

It was bright and early on Friday. Logan and his mother were doing their typical morning routine, dancing around each other as they passed in the bathroom, then in the hall, and finally gathering at the kitchen table for their morning coffee and juice. They were shocked out of their serenity by the ringing of the door bell and simultaneous pounding on the door.

"Logan! Logan! It's Jackson, Logan!"

Logan and his mom raced for the door, Logan thinking something had happened to Reed or one of the others, his mother simply shocked by the loud intrusion. Why else would Jackson, of all people, be pounding away at their door? But when he opened it, he found not only Jackson, but his older brother, Brad. Both were outfitted in the security company's t-shirt and trousers. The real shocker for Logan was that both were clearly decked out for serious action. Both had on bullet proof vests and they were armed, nine millimeter hand guns at their sides.

Neither Logan nor his mother got to say a thing before Jackson started in.

"Logan! What do you know about Benjamin Grice?"

"Ben? He's in my scout troop."

"Anything else? Are you two close?"

"Jackson, what the hell is this about?"

"Bro! Calm down," said Brad, taking his brother by the shoulders and moving him away from the door. "I'm sorry, folks. Good morning, Mrs. Justice. We have a serious problem here that we think Logan can help us with. I'm sure you remember the man that was a nuisance at the press conference, Mrs. Logan?"

"Of course. And Logan told me you had to carry him off after our lunch on Wednesday."

"Yes, well, we decided that we had to learn what his obsession was with your son, so we detained him and questioned him for a few hours that day. It took some doing but we finally discovered that he blames Logan for making his son gay."

"Me?! I've never touched Benny. Never! Hell, he's just started puberty."

"Logan, we're not accusing you of anything. We know the kind of man you are." Brad paused and took a deep breath. "Calm down Brad," he said to himself. "Ok, Logan, here's the situation. The minute we learned about your connection we decided to investigate a bit further. Have you seen Benjamin lately?"

"Actually, no. He hasn't been to the last two troop meetings; some kind of medical problem."

"Not a medical problem. His father and mother have had him locked up in their basement. They'd intended to try and `cure' him. They hadn't counted on him fighting back. It seems that the basement is where they keep their guns and quite a bit of their food. Benjamin's been holding them off."

"The minute we learned this we called the police. They stormed their way in and arrested the mother. But, Logan, Benjamin doesn't believe anything he's being told. No one can get down the stairs. He actually fired into the stairwell when he heard it creak."

"The only thing he's responded to was your name. One of the officers told him what they'd learned from his father. The minute he heard your name he yelled out, `If that bastard has hurt a hair on Logan's head, I'm going to kill him! Logan's the best friend I have!'"

Logan was silent for a moment. "I suppose I am in some ways. I'm the only one he ever told about being gay." Logan blushed. "I even got naked for him one time so that he could see what the finished product looked like."

"Well, that's one way of putting it," laughed his mother.

"Sorry, mom." Then he looked back at Brad. "But we never did anything. He just wanted to look up close, that's all. We'd talk sometimes, after that. He had all sorts of questions and I did the best I could to answer him."

"All right, gentlemen," interrupted his mom, "I see where this is going. What makes you think Benjamin won't just shoot first if you go sending Logan down there?"

"Mrs. Justice, I won't lie. We don't KNOW anything right now, except that Benjamin thinks the world of Logan. He's the best hope we have of salvaging this situation."

She thought a moment as she looked over at the concern on Logan's face. "All right, gentlemen," she said as she pushed Logan and herself out on the porch and pulled the door closed and locked it. "Let's go."

"Mrs. Justice?"

"You don't think for a moment I'm going to allow something like this and not be there do you? Now do you want to save this situation or not?"

"Yes ma'am!"

They were rushed into the Hum V and they sped off, escorted by two police vehicles; one in front, one behind. In a surprisingly short time they were being hustled past the barricades, under the yellow tapes and through the crowd of milling police, into the house.

They were met by the police lieutenant in charge and given an update. "Nothing's changed. He refuses to believe us."

In a flash Logan saw how to reassure his friend. He began to undress right there on the spot.

"Logan?!" asked his mother.

"I'm sorry, mom, but if I'm going to be the one to save Ben, then I've got to reassure him that it's really me as I come down the stairs." He blushed a brilliant red. "I need him to recognize the first thing he sees."

"Oh my," she laughed. "That must have been one very long look."

He blushed even brighter, if that were possible. "Uh, yeah, it was. He still comments on it when we're alone."

"Lieutenant," she said, "why don't we just let my son handle this his way. It's certainly unorthodox, but if he thinks it will work we should give him the chance to try."

"Well, if you have the courage to undress in front of your mother, Logan, I suppose we can agree that you have what it takes to try and salvage this for us. Now you two are sure about this?"

"I'm not," she said, "but he is."

Logan stepped onto the first tread into the basement and it creaked.

"I told you not to come down here!"

"Benjamin Grice! You shoot me and I'm going to haunt you the rest of your days!"


"Be absolutely quiet, Benjamin, I want you to hear something. Don't make a sound for one minute." He then turned around and nodded to his mom, and smiled. The door shut loudly and then there was an audible click. "Did you hear that, Benjamin?"

"They locked the door?"

"Yes, Benny," he said more quietly. "It's just you and me. NO ONE will open it again until I call to them. Now I'm going to start coming down the stairs. You should be able to recognize it's me right away." He hesitated a moment and then took the steps slowly. By the fifth step his waist was below the basement ceiling.

"Damn, Logan, your naked!"

Logan bent down so that he could look under the ceiling. "You know, I think you're right." He smiled. "Can I come the rest of the way, Benny? Please?"

Benjamin nodded, a glimmer of hope in his eyes.

When he reached the bottom he stopped and held out his arms and turned completely around. "See, not a mark on me. They said you were worried that your dad might have hurt me."

There were now tears slowly falling down his face. "You mean they were telling me the truth? They really arrested my mom and dad?"

"They were telling the truth. Your dad DID try to attack me, but he failed. Why don't you come out from behind the bar and we'll sit here," he indicated the old sofa, "and I'll tell you all about it."

"Logan, I'm naked."

He smiled and simply held out his arms again. That got a laugh out of Benjamin as he set the pistol down on the bar and walked around the bar.

"That was sort of stupid."

"Hey, not stupid. You've had a tough time from what I hear and you have a right to some caution. Now let's talk."

Logan gave him every detail about the press conference and lunch encounters with Ben's father. He finished with Brad and Jackson's arrival at his house.

"So, there it is. Mom and I got here and I got undressed."

"In front of your mom?!"

"Yeah, she was a bit shocked too," he laughed. "Now, do you have something you could put on?"

"No, they threw me down here naked."

"Where's your bedroom?"

"Second floor, top of the stairs, turn left, first door on the left."

"Ok, wait here, I'm going to call up to my mom and have her bring you down something to wear. That ok?"

Benjamin nodded.

Logan stuck his head into the stairwell. "Mom, open the door a crack, please."

She did. "They put him down here with nothing to wear. His room's..."

"I've already gotten some things for him. They mentioned that he'd be naked."

"Have them relock the door behind you. Benjamin would like to meet you, mom."

He turned to Benjamin. "You want to go stand behind the bar?" he asked as his mother slowly descended.

"She watched you get naked; I don't suppose anything I've got is going to shock her too much."

"Probably not, Benjamin," she said as she came down, "but you're entitled to your privacy anyway."

He stood and faced the bottom of the stairs. "It's all right, Mrs. Justice. It doesn't really matter. I'd just like to get dressed."

He'd intended to simply accept the clothes and dress, but the moment he looked up into those sympathetic eyes, he broke down and began to cry. He was immediately wrapped in her warm embrace.

"You poor boy." She held him and stroked his hair and back. "That's what's needed right now."

It was several minutes before he could calm himself. When he did and tried to apologize, she wouldn't hear anything of it.

"Not a word, Benjamin. You needed it. Now, why don't you get dressed so we can go home."

That stopped him dead in his tracks. He simply stared at her and looked over at where Logan was just finishing getting himself dressed.

"Hey, don't look at me. She's the boss. I'm just the live-in florist." He laughed. "Come on, Benny, if she says we go home together, then that's what we'll do." He looked over at his mom. "How'd you manage that anyway?"

"I made some phone calls and called in some favors. No way am I going to let your friend get lost in the system." She looked at Benjamin who hadn't moved. "Those would look better if they were on you, Benjamin."

He shook himself and laughed. "Uh, yeah, suppose so."

"I think it'd be a good idea if we had a doctor look you over, Benjamin. The authorities are going to want that information."

"Mom, I could call Reed. He says his dad still does exams for friends. He's a pediatrician." She nodded and he pulled out his cell phone and pushed the speed dial.

When they came out of the basement, the Lieutenant and Brad were the only two there. Mother stepped right in and took control.

"Lieutenant, I'm going to take my boys home. Any questions can wait until tomorrow. Let's give this poor boy a chance to recover just a bit before you start your interrogation. And one thing more, I'd like your questioning to take place at my residence, in the presence of Benjamin's lawyer."

"That would be just fine, Mrs. Justice. Benjamin, I'm very sorry that we frightened you. I assure you it was not our intention. It's just that the first officers here were so worried about your condition that they didn't think to go more slowly. I hope you can forgive us."

"It's ok." Then he blushed. "I'm sorry, too. I hope I didn't hurt anyone."

"Not a scratch. Just some shattered nerves. But everyone understands, son. Nothing will come of it, I promise."

"Thank you, Lieutenant." Then she turned to Brad. "Logan has made arrangements for Dr. Stewart to look over Benjamin here, and he's expecting us."

"Then let's get you there."