Logans Living - Chapter 7


by Wayne Telfer

Dear Reader: the following story is considered adult fiction and as such may not be viewed by persons under the age of 18.

I welcome comments. Please address them to waynetelfer@msn.com.

Some of you have expressed your enjoyment of some of my other works, and I appreciate your kind words. I have enjoyed responding to your messages, and will always do so.

Logan's Living - Chapter 7

The day was uneventful, really. Logan spent some of his perusing a few books Ralph had suggested that discussed the properties and symbolisms of the various blooms they used in floral arrangements. The rest of the day, he joined the other arrangers, assembling various orders for delivery.

Everyone noticed the slight increase in phoned orders, as well as the significant increase in walk-in customers. It seems the free advertising provided by the press conference was paying off, without the salon having to pay it off.

Logan got a call about two that afternoon from Mark. He listened carefully to the report. He thanked Mark for calling, and then spent half an hour thinking about it. Then he put in a call to Oscar.

"You've heard the security report on the activities of the PI?" he asked Oscar.

"Yes. What do you intend to do about it?"

"First, I'd like you to invite Mom and Benjamin to dinner tonight. This is something that needs to be discussed with everyone present at one time. I've got an idea I'd like to put out to everyone. All I'll tell you now is that I want to confront this problem head on."

"Is that a good idea, considering our little side line?"

"This won't implicate or interfere with any of that, Oscar. This problem concerns other issues entirely. I want to handle this in a way that will bring it to the public eye and will garner the public sympathy."

"All right, you have my attention. I'll call your mother right now. It's about time I had her over for something social anyway. You being careful?"

Logan laughed at that. "Brad took over for Jackson at one. The two of them have been like hawks all day. Nothing escaped their attention, I promise you. Oh, and I'm going to invite Ralph along. This could have an affect on business as well."

There was a pause at Oscar's end. "You sound like you've given this some thought."

"Not a lot. I've only just heard Mark's report. I'm still flushing out some of the details. I just know that I don't want to ignore this one. I want to open some eyes and this seems like an ideal way to make it happen." He paused a moment. "Oscar, you better have the head of the security group there too. He or she will want to be in on this from the beginning."

"All right, Logan, Phillip and I are on it. See you after work."

"Bye, Oscar."

Logan spent the last couple of hours of work simply going through the display coolers, rearranging them to present a slightly different look. One or two he took back to the staff and asked if they could refresh them a bit. This time allowed him to consider what he had in mind. There were many details that had to be addressed before he'd have a comprehensive, coherent plan of action. He knew that the more detailed his initial proposal was, the more likely he was to get approval to proceed.

Mom and Ben were already at the residence when he arrived after work, with Ralph rolling in right behind him. It was a marvelous dinner; the first time all the families had gathered on one place since all of this had started for Logan. He managed to maintain an air of fun and confidence throughout the social pre-dinner activities and then again through the meal.

Of course, Oscar had pulled out all the stops with dinner, knowing that whatever Logan had in mind, a fine meal would go a long way in smoothing what were bound to be ruffled feathers. There'd been an edge of fierce determination in his voice during their call earlier. He was proud of it, but he just knew that Margaret would have some issues; especially that she'd been kept in the dark all day.

Instead of the living room, Logan had asked everyone to retire to the parlor. It'd be, he thought, a much easier venue for his talk because it was so much smaller and he wouldn't have to repeat things.

"Oscar that was a marvelous meal," said Logan as he stood and walked to the fireplace and then turned to face everyone. "But now I have to admit to my mother that something happened at work this morning, and I'm probably going to get a scolding for it." He looked directly at Margaret. "This morning when I arrived at work I realized I was being followed." He then went on to detail everything that had happened and why he'd failed to inform her of the incident.

When he finished his recap, everyone remained silent, waiting.

"You're right, dear, I'm not particularly pleased to have been left out of this." She paused and looked at her son. "But I can see why you did it. I WOULD have worried. But I can see that you took all the necessary steps to be sure you were protected." She smiled slightly. "So, you're forgiven. But only if you promise to let me know about these little adventures immediately in the future. Yes, I'll worry, but not nearly as much as you think. I can see that you're handling them correctly and your support is immediate. So please, dear, don't leave your mother in the dark next time."

Logan stepped over and hugged her tight. "I promise," he whispered. He then moved back to the fireplace.

"There's more to talk about."

Margaret laughed. "I was almost certain that there would be. You've got that same look your father used to get when he'd made up his mind about something."

Logan smiled at that reference. He didn't know his father. The man had died when Logan was only three, so he only had vague images and memories of the man. But his mother had always praised the man he was.

Logan asked Edward McKensie to detail the information they'd gotten from the PI during their interrogation. While he did so, Logan watched everyone's reaction very carefully. The overriding response was shock, but it was backed with a fair amount of anger as well.

Silence prevailed for several moments after Mackie had finished his report.

"I don't imagine that you're going about this just so that we'll all know what's happened," said Oscar. "You have something you want to do about it."

"Yes, I do. I want to allow things to unfold just like they'd planned. When they do, I intend to bring the media into it. If I'm right, there will be a public uproar and they'll be forced to hold some sort of press conference to try and justify themselves. When they do, we'll be there to ensure the truth is known."

"We?" asked Benjamin.

"Yes, Benjamin, we...you and me."

"Alone?" There was definitely fear in that question from Ben.

"Not on your life," answered Mackie. "I don't know what you plan, precisely, but if you think you're going into a press conference without some preparation, you've got another think coming, young man."

Logan smiled at the owner of the security company. "That's why you're here, Mr. McKensie. I have no idea what the reaction will be and I'm not opening Benjamin and me to being harmed. All I ask is that whatever security you arrange, it will be behind the scenes but close."

"Why, son?" asked Margaret. "Why do you want to do this?"

"Mom, I'm sick and tired of having to justify my life. Well, not MY life, I guess. I've never openly declared myself as gay. It was no one's business. But I'm sick of having to deal with people like Benjamin's parents and these idiots. I want to put them on notice that we are not going away. We are going to stand up for the basics rights that ALL citizens are guaranteed in this country. Their bigotry has been confined to the shadows for too long. I want to bring it out into the open. I want everyone to see them for who they really are."

He then looked at Ben. "And I'll be right by your side the whole time, little brother. No one will get to you without going through me first. And somehow," he said, giving Mackie a sideways glance, "I don't think we'll have to worry too much. Mr. McKensie and his men are VERY good at what they do."

"Should you really provoke them, dear?"

"I'm not going to provoke them, mother. Well, not by being rude, anyway. I'm going to give facts to the media. Facts I'll get from research."

"Research you're hoping I'll help you with," laughed Margaret.

"Well, you do have a reputation for finding facts and figures that no one's ever seen. I was thinking we could make this a real family project...all three of us."

"So," interrupted Mackie, "How long before you'll be putting this little scheme of yours into motion?"

"The next meeting is Wednesday. Benjamin and I have been away for several weeks, so it will be interesting."

"And just who did you have planned to go with you. You two ARE NOT going in there alone." Mackie was adamant.

Logan smiled again. "I was thinking that his new guardian, Brad Olson, could accompany us. You know, just to see where his new ward is spending his time."

Mackie laughed in return. "Well, that will certainly ensure that things remain `cordial'."

"If things fall out like I believe they will, it will then be up to Oscar to arrange for a news conference on Thursday where Benjamin and I can relate the events of Wednesday night."

"Logan," said Margaret, at her most serious. "Have you considered what Benjamin might prefer in all of this?"

"Yes, ma`am, I have. And I'll say here and now that if Benjamin would rather we simply ignore what's bound to happen Wednesday, then everything I've just said becomes null and void." He turned to Mackie. "If we let you know on Monday what we've decided, will that give you enough planning time?"

"Logan, this whole thing is going to be spur of the moment."

"All right, that will give Benjamin and me the weekend to..."

"I don't need the weekend, Logan," interrupted Ben. He stood and walked up to Logan. "My parents treated me like shit..." he glanced back at Margaret. "Sorry, Mom." She simply smiled. "But you and Mom have been the best. I know, now, that I don't have to be ashamed of my sexual preference. It's something that happens in the privacy of my home and it doesn't concern anyone but me and who I'm with." He hugged Logan. "I can do this if you're with me."

Logan looked over Ben's head as he continued to hug his brother. "All right, people, here's your chance to tell us we're out of our minds."

No one said a word, they simply looked at Margaret. She didn't say anything immediately; she simply looked from one to another of them. "All right, I'm not thrilled by this. It's a mother's job to protect her children. BUT," and she raised a hand to stop any interruption, "It's also her job to recognize when her children are growing up."

Margaret got up and walked over and faced everyone, an arm over each of the boys' shoulders. "Now, these two may not be adults as yet, but I'm very proud of the progress they're making." She looked into her son's eyes. "I've watched you, dear, always pushing to become all you can be. I have ALWAYS been proud of you. You've never disappointed me. You've always been the light of my life, and now I've watched you become the example for someone who hasn't had the benefit of your experience and backing."

She then looked over and down at Ben. "You, Benjamin, have been a delight this past week. You have had to endure things that no young man should ever have had to. The fact that it was at the hands of your parents is truly sad. You could have let it depress you. But not you. You have a strength that I've marveled at. You're also determined to take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way. I'm very proud of you as well."

There were definitely tears in Ben's eyes. Never had a parent spoken so positively to him. Never had one encouraged him as much as Mom Justice.

"So, this is a pronouncement of their manhood and I will not deny them the right to choose how they wish to live." The boys hugged her. "Having said that, you all better know that if you let anything happen to one of my boys, you'll be answering to me."

No one said a word as the three of them continued to hug.

Margaret could feel the emotions Ben was expressing. He was crying against her side, shaking slightly as he hugged her tightly.

She looked over at Oscar. "I think you can stop looking for a new home for Benjamin."

Though he was crying nearly uncontrollably, he heard what Margaret said. He pushed away immediately and simply stared at her, his tears increasing. "Mom?"

"Yes, Benjamin, if you'd like to stay with Logan and me, you can."

To his credit, Ben then looked at Logan.

"Yes, Benjamin...say yes."

Ben then turned and looked at Oscar. "Please?"

"Yes, Benjamin, I'll make it happen." He was instantly being hugged, with a fierce kiss upon his cheek.

Ben then ran back and hugged Logan and Mom. Mom. A real mom. This was the sort of mom that every boy should have. This past week she'd proven that she loved him and would be there for him, encouraging and supporting him. It'd been like a dream for him, having her come in and sit with him and simply watch what he was doing on his new computer. She seldom said a word, just sat and admired his progress. She'd occasionally leave and then return with a plate of snacks and a juice, kiss his forehead and then return to her own work.

The gathering broke up at that point. Mackie promised to have all his preliminary preparations done by Monday. "One question, Logan. Why Brad and not Jackson? Jackson's going to be a little disappointed that he can't be your protector."

"Just tell him that it's Benjamin that's being protected. Brad is Ben's champion." He laughed along with Mackie. "Besides, Jackson LOOKS too young to be a guardian. Brad looks VERY adult."

"True." Mackie simply looked at the boys a moment. "For what it's worth boys, I think you're making a good decision here. It's time someone forced the issues back into the limelight." He shook their hands and departed.

Reed stepped up at that point and hugged Ben quite firmly. "God, Benny, I'm so happy for you."

"Thanks, Reed. I'm pretty happy for me too." He stepped back and looked over at where Margaret and Oscar were talking. "I never dreamed Mom would do that." He then looked at Logan. "I thought she didn't want to have another boy around."

"She didn't," answered Logan. "I don't really know what changed her mind, Benny. It came as a surprise to me too, I promise you. She's hasn't talked to me about it once."

"You're not disappointed, are you?"

Logan smiled and ruffled Ben's hair. "Not for a moment. I like having you around, Benny. It's a lot of fun for me to have a little brother that I can spoil a bit. Especially one that's not really any younger. We can share a lot of things that way."

"Yeah, that's the best." He then frowned and looked from Logan to Reed. "You know, you guys haven't really had any time alone lately. Why don't you spend the weekend here, Logan. Patrick's coming over tomorrow for my weekly lesson anyway. I'm going to end up glued to my computer all day tomorrow."

"Are you sure, Benny? It'd be our first day as a real family."

"No it won't. I've felt like part of the family from the day I moved in." He smiled at the two of them. "Something special happened the other night between you two, and I know you haven't been able to spend any time together. Spend tonight and tomorrow night together, then come home on Sunday and I'll show you both all the new stuff I've learned."

Reed hugged Ben. "We'll do that. Thanks, Benny."

Ben chuckled. "Just save a little for me," he whispered. "I want a chance to get you off."

"Logan, I think we've unleashed a little demon here."

"Ah, but Reed, he's such a cute demon."

They laughed together as they walked over to Mom and Oscar.

"So, you boys ready to go home?" asked Margaret.

"Benny pointed out that Reed and I haven't seen each other all week," said Logan. "He suggested I spend tonight and tomorrow night here."

She smiled down at Ben. "Well, since I'm a bit behind in my work and I know that you'll be all day with Patrick tomorrow, I think that would work quite well for us." She then looked at Logan and Reed. "You'll come home early Sunday, won't you?"

"In the morning," answered Reed. "It seems Benny wants to show off his new talents."

"Well, they're talents worth showing off," she laughed. She then hugged and kissed both the older boys. "You two have fun and we'll see you Sunday." She put her arm over Ben's shoulders. "Come on son, let's get our stuffed bodies home. Oscar, that was a simply marvelous meal. I just wish I had a chauffeur to drive me home." She immediately got a stunned look on her face and looked down at Ben. "Do you have your learner's permit, Benny?"

"No, Mom. My parents told me little boys didn't need things like that."

"Well, that's certainly not right. Tell you what, when we get home we'll go online and download the information you'll need to study and we'll get you a permit as soon as you're ready."

Well that got more tears and another hug, and then the two of them left.

"Well, that went a lot better than I thought it would," said Oscar. "I thought for sure your mother would go through the roof."

"She took it a lot better than I thought she would," admitted Logan.

Oscar then got a huge grin on his face. "I'm so glad that you and your mother decided to take Benjamin in permanently."

"I thought you said you had several choices," said Logan.

"I did. But that boy has rebounded so much faster than I ever expected. That is solely due to you and your mother, Logan. The families I'd found were alright, and there would probably have been a match that worked, but none of them were as well suited as you two. Despite all that he's endured in his short life, that is one very well adjusted young man...now. I think it would have taken a lot of work for any of the couples I'd found to reach this level of acceptance."

"Honestly, I'm really glad she did it. Benjamin's a lot of fun. I'm having fun spoiling him just a bit." Logan smiled. "You should have seen what I had to go through to get him to buy a computer." He then went on to describe how that shopping trip had gone.

"Hey, Logan, what would you think about me buying Benjamin his first car?" asked Reed. "I mean, you got him a killer computer, I'd like to do something for him too."

Logan laughed. "He's going to want your Vette, Reed."

"Yeah, well he can want in one hand and...well, you know. After all the hoopla dies down from this little project of yours, we'll take him out and let him choose something practical."

At that point, everyone was ready for their beds.

"Whoa, Reed, this is a killer room," said Logan.

The room they entered was huge. A king size bed sat in one corner with a computer set up in the opposite one. The computer looked to be as good or better than the one Logan had bought for Ben. There was electronics everywhere, it seemed. One corner was set up for TV and music, with components that were obviously top of the line. The final corner was set up for the production of music. There was a piano, guitar and even a set of drums. There was also a mixing board and recording equipment.

"Jesus, Reed, what do you do with all this stuff?"

"I design web sites," was his deceptively simple answer.

"And the instruments?"

"I compose original music for some of my customers' sites. Sometimes I just make new arrangements of popular songs."

"That's so cool, Reed. Can I see one of the sites you've designed?"

What Reed pulled up was a site for a local furniture store. It was certainly more than just a simple retail site. There were two screen shows playing on either side of the screen, displaying various furniture groupings. The music was nothing Logan had ever heard before, but it was very soothing. It made him want to sit and investigate the site more, just so he'd be able to hear more. And that, he realized was precisely the point of the music.

"This is my latest creation. It took me a month to create it and another week to educate them on how to use it. The music's mine."

"Damn, Reed, this is remarkable."

"Thanks." He actually blushed slightly. "Just how good is Benny with his animation stuff?"

"I couldn't tell you really. I mean, it's looks pretty killer to me, but what do I know about that sort of thing? Why?"

"Well, I've wanted to add animation graphics to some of my sites. They're kids' sites and the animation would really take them over the top. My clients want it, but I haven't been able to find anyone I could work with."

"Well, you can look for yourself on Sunday. You thinking about taking on a partner?" asked Logan.

"It's not something that's critical right now, but yeah, I'd like to be able to provide more options to my clients. You think he might be interested?"

"Knowing Benny, I can almost guarantee he'll jump at the chance. I think it'd be a hell of a good way to give him some experience and some exposure. I'm sure he'll need some of both before he can get into what he really wants. And no, I don't know where he wants to go with his CG."

"Well, we'll see what he can do on Sunday." Reed then reached over and disconnected from the internet and shut down his computer. "But that's not what I'm interested in tonight." He stood and pulled Logan into a feverish embrace. "Damn, Logan, I've missed you." His voice was choked slightly.

Logan simply held him for a minute or so, taken completely by surprise at the intensity of this moment. "Reed, what's the matter?" he whispered.

"I've missed you," he choked again. "I've missed you so much this week." Now he was weeping softly.

"Ah, lover, I'm sorry." This was so much more than Logan had expected. Reed always seemed so strong and self assured. Nothing seemed to faze him. This was certainly out of character. Then again, Logan had to admit that all he'd really seen of Reed was his public image. They'd never really had a lasting moment alone.

That thought brought Logan's thoughts back to that morning after the attempted rape. Reed had been so attentive and understanding. The tenderness had been such a balm for Logan's injured psyche. There had been none of the care free rascal in those moments. That had been pure intimacy.

But this...this was loneliness being expressed. It just didn't make any sense. He disengaged Reed and led him, not to the bed, but to the media area of the room. He pushed Reed onto the sofa, walked over and turned on the stereo and selected a radio station that he knew would be playing easy listening music without a lot of chatter at this time of night. He set the volume low and then went and sat next to his still weeping friend and pulled him into an embrace, forcing him to lay his head on Logan's shoulder.

"I'm sorry, Reed. It's been such a crazy week. But if it helps, I've thought a lot about you this week."

Oddly enough, that got a chuckle and a lessening of the tears. "God, Logan, I haven't been able to think of anything else."

"Haven't you gone and spent any time with your friends?" asked Logan.

"I...I don't...have any friends."

"What do you mean you don't have any friends?"

Reed sighed and there were several moments of silence; moments that Logan just let happen. He felt that this was going to be hard for Reed.

"Ever since I moved in here with Dad and Phillip I haven't been out with any of my old school friends. There were never that many of them anyway." Reed spoke softly and slowly. "Billy wouldn't have anything to do with me after that night we got caught by my father." That brought on another spate of crying.

"Billy was special?" asked Logan gently.

It took Reed a couple of moments to quiet his weeping. "I thought so." It was a struggle. "When I tried...to see him...after I moved...in here...he yelled at me...and hit me." Well, that brought out the tears in full force. There was no stopping them for several minutes. He relived that moment over and over again as he wept. `Don't you ever fucking talk to me again!' Billy had yelled at him. `I thought your asshole father was going to fucking kill me!' And then he'd slugged Reed in the face, knocking him to the ground. "I don't EVER want to fucking see you again, you faggot!"

That was where Phillip had found him when he'd come to pick him up from school, surrounded by a taunting group of kids, weeping, curled up in a ball and bleeding from his split lip. It'd taken hours for Phillip to get the story out of Reed. Hours that they'd spent lying together on Phillip's bed. There was no consoling the boy, he'd been so devastated. That was when it was decided that he'd be home schooled. He'd never gone back to try and connect with any of this former friends.

Logan simply sat there and silently wept as the story slowly came out. First Benny and now Reed. Logan knew in that moment just how fortunate he'd been in his life. The decisions he'd made, about his sexual identity and needs and the decisions he'd made about preferring to learn from older men had prevented him from having to deal with peer issues. And now he knew that his mother had known about his homosexual leanings and had not been revolted by it. She'd continued to support and love him. Yes, he'd been pretty fortunate. It gave him the strength to be a rock of sympathy and understanding for these two great friends and brothers.

When Reed finally quieted Logan ventured some guesses on the rest.

"So, you took that job at the grocery, working nights so that you wouldn't feel left out when you saw the kids your age out partying and having great fun together." Reed nodded. "You buried yourself in your performing and your web designing. The busier you kept yourself, the less time you had to think about how lonely you were." Another nod. "It didn't help that Walt was such an ass and you were never able to be friends with another performer."

Reed actually managed to chuckle at that one. "All I ever wanted to do was punch him in the mouth. He was so arrogant and way too positive that he was the greatest thing that ever happened to the male species." There was more and Logan waited for it. "And then you walked into the living room." He was shaking slightly at this point. "I thought I'd died and gone to heaven, you were so beautiful. And then you smiled at me..."

"I smiled at you, shook your hand and we hit it off right away," finished Logan.

"God how I wanted to believe you were going to be different than Walt." He looked up then into Logan's eyes. "And then you invited me to your performance that night. I'll never forget what Phillip told me you'd said. `Reed and I are fellow performers, wouldn't it be nice if we were friends? What better way to start that than to let him watch me. And since he IS a fellow performer, I don't think it's right to charge him.'" He couldn't continue as his throat closed and his eyes filled with tears. But these were tears of joy and remembrance.

"And then I'd invited you into my shower," said Logan, smiling, realizing what that moment had meant to the older boy. "Now I see why you came so fast that night."

That got a laugh out of Reed. "I couldn't believe it either. But seeing you there on you knees, wanting me like you did...I've never gotten so hot so fast."

"So, was that when you decided you loved me?"

Reed blushed. "I tried to convince myself I was just infatuated because you were my age. I even believed what I told your mom at lunch that day."

"And then we had Saturday night with Benny watching," said Logan. "Fuck, Reed, that was glorious. I've never felt like this about anyone before. It's sort of scary."

"Yeah, it is. But, Logan...I don't want it to end."

Logan lifted Reed's chin and kissed him gently on the lips. "Neither do I, lover, neither do I."

"So how are we going to work this out?" asked Reed.

Logan laughed. "Well, the first thing you're going to do is quit that stupid grocery job. I can't see you needing the income. Between your performing and your web business you must be making enough money."

"I can't remember the last time I actually looked at one of my paychecks from the store. I just hand them over to Dad and he deposits them for me."

"Okay, that will put us on the same working schedule. That should make finding time for the two of us easier."

"God, that sounds great."

Logan stood up and pulled Reed to his feet. "Okay, that's enough for now. We can talk about it more tomorrow. I've got a couple of ideas, but right now I want us naked and in your bed."

Their loving that night, and all weekend, was the best of their lives. They explored each other fully, learning all they could about the others' body and reactions. They learned immediately that Logan definitely wasn't ready to consummate their love. So part of each time in bed was spent with Reed using various toys on Logan, easing him toward that ultimate moment between them.

They spent an hour with Oscar and Phillip in the office discussing Reed's work on Saturday afternoon. It was easy to convince them to let him quit the grocery job. Oscar had thought it a pretty pointless waste of time, but hadn't pressed the issue.

"Reed and I want to arrange things so that we have more time together than we've got now," said Logan. "I also think it'd be a good idea if you set yourself up in business, Reed."

"I AM in business for myself," Reed complained.

"No, I mean with an office and workspace in town."

Oscar and Phillip simply smiled. They both realized that Logan was onto Reed's tendency to hide himself.

"Look, Reed, you need to get the fuck out of this house and start being a part of the world again. You've got no reason to continue hiding here. And you most definitely need to start making more of your talents. I'm in business for myself and I'm loving it. I've got the responsibility for the employment welfare of a group of people that depend on me and Ralph to give them every opportunity to become all they can be."

"I wouldn't have a clue where to begin, Logan," complained Reed.

"Somehow I think you have some resources you can tap that will be able to get you started and teach you what you need to know." He looked pointedly at Oscar and Phillip. "There's the added incentive that they happen to love you and want nothing more than to see you succeed."

Logan reached over and took one of Reed's hands into his two. "Look, Reed, you need a real challenge in your life. You need to be able to look at yourself in the mirror each morning and be able to say `look what I'VE done.' Let me tell you, it's an awesome feeling."

"Dad?" It was a simple question, but one that he'd never really asked of Oscar.

"I believe Logan is right, son. You have a marvelous talent and it'd be a shame not to make the most of it."

"I'll tell you what, little brother," said Phillip, "I'll give you six months of my services for free. After that we can re-evaluate your needs and find a more permanent solution. You've done pretty well for yourself working out of your bedroom, but I think Logan's right, you could do so much better if you really made it a business."

"I'll chip in and pay your first six month lease on office space," added Oscar. "This way you can use your initial investment on equipment, employees, advertising and licenses."

"Employees?" This was moving awfully fast.

"Well, you should have someone with a bit of knowledge to act as your receptionist at least," said Logan. "You're going to be the sole creative talent...at least initially. You'll need to spend your time being creative, not answering foolish questions."

Reed simply looked from one to the other of them, finally settling on Logan. "You really think I should do this?"

"Not only that, but I'm going to keep kicking you in the ass until you make it happen." Logan then smiled wickedly. "You said you want to have Benny help you; well, I'm certainly not going to allow my little brother to get involved in some slip-shod operation. I think he's got talent and I'm going to make sure that he gets some real opportunities to exploit that talent. That means an established company with a proven track record of success. One with good people and a great boss."

"Oh, that's not fair, using Benny to force me into this," laughed Reed.

"Hey, whatever works," grinned Logan. "I'll tell you something else, lover. If you get your ass in gear, I'll talk to Ralph about getting the Maxwell Justice Studios into the twenty-first century. I've been thinking we need to get a website, but wasn't sure where to go. I don't think it will take all that much to convince him, especially if you can demonstrate that you're a pure professional and totally committed to YOUR art."

"Fuck," said Phillip. "Think what having the Maxwell Justice Studios on your resume would mean to prospective customers, little brother."

Reed simply sat there in stunned silence.

"Come here, Reed," said Oscar. When he got around the desk, Oscar pulled him down to sit in his lap, despite his size. They looked into each others' eyes for several moments, both of them tearing slightly. "Son, I love you with all my heart. I love you enough that I've allowed you the space you needed to try and come to terms with all that's happened to you. But son, it's time to come out and join the rest of us. It's time to stretch your wings and fly."

"Do you think I could make this work?" choked Reed.

"Son, I've watched you working on your sites and your music. You've got an amazing talent." He paused. "Have any of your few customers been in any way disappointed in your results on their behalf?"

Reed shook his head.

"No they haven't. You've shown me their emails. They were, every one of them, simply astounded at what they got for their money. And not just what you created, but the time you spent with them making sure that they fully understood how to maintain what you'd created."

He pulled Reed into an embrace. "I'm not going to force you to do this, son. It's a pretty frightening first step after all you've endured. But you don't have to be afraid to try. We're here to help you in any way we can. Your brother and I will help you get set up and help you find the other resources you'll need to make this a success."

He pushed him back so they could look at each other again. "All you have to say is you want to try."

"Dad, I love you so much. I'd like to try."

"Yes!" cried Logan.

Oscar smiled. "That's another pretty terrific resource, Reed."

Reed looked over at where Logan was smiling fit to break his face, then looked back at his dad. "He loves me, Dad, and I love him."

"Duh!" said Oscar.

That got a laugh out of Reed.

"Is this going to cause you problems with performing?" asked Phillip as Reed went over and sat next to Logan, taking one of his hands in his.

Both boys shook their heads, but it was Reed that answered. "We've talked about it quite a bit. We both enjoy it, really. There just won't be any more sex with my customers."

"I was never all that thrilled with that aspect of your performing anyway," said Oscar. "But it was what you needed at the time."

"Well, no more. I've got Logan and Benny now."

"AND Benjamin?" asked Oscar.

"Oh yeah, we're not going to just push him to the side," answer Logan, Reed nodding his agreement. "We've agreed that he needs to be able to continue exploring this aspect of who he is and the two of us are going to make certain that he gets the experience he wants from two guys that actually care about him. There are just too many opportunities out there for him to get himself into trouble. If he needs to continue learning from us, then we'll continue being there for him."

"He's recognized what's happening between Logan and me," continued Reed. "Hell, remember, he's the one that suggested this weekend together. I think when he's finally completely comfortable with this side of himself, he'll start looking around for his own partner."

Oscar could only think that Benjamin was a pretty lucky boy.

"Okay, Dad, where do I start?"

They discussed business plans, space requirements, advertising and personnel for the next hour. It was decided that Phillip would obtain the services of a friend who was an expert in business proposals. Oscar would engage the services of a realtor that specialized in business spaces. Logan suggested that he and Reed go talk to Taylor and see if he knew where they might find someone who'd be interested in the support position, because they'd need someone that was already somewhat knowledgeable.

It was a simple matter to get Taylor's support, actually. Once he realized the quality of Reed's work he became quite animated and assured them that he could find several prospective individuals. He also made it quite clear that he was very interested in signing a contract to have Reed design a new website for his business. He even went so far as to show Reed the questionnaire he'd developed to help him determine the needs of each customer that came through the door.

"You'd have to customize one for your needs, but it's been a big help to me."

Reed left that encounter a bit dazzled. Taylor's instant enthusiasm went a long way in convincing him that he might just be making a wise choice to expand his operation.

"Not bad, lover," said Logan as they drove back to the residence. "You haven't even got an office yet and you've already got two prospective customers. Pretty good for half a day's work."

"God, Logan, this is exciting."

"I know what you mean, believe me. You know, though, this is going to be an awful lot of work in the beginning?"

"Yeah, I've been thinking the same thing."

"And it's only going to get worse when we begin our school work," said Logan.

"Shit, I'd forgotten about school. How are we going to fit it all in; work, performing, school, us?"

"Well, it's not going to be easy, I'm sure," answered Logan. "Neither of us is going to be able to dedicate as much time as we'd like in our businesses initially. We'll probably be on half days and some weekends. But if we put our best effort into the school work, maybe we can get it done quickly."

The boys spent the remainder of the day simply being in each others' company. Yes, they talked a bit about the business idea, but just casually; no decisions were made on what they discussed. Mostly they talked about themselves; bits and pieces of their histories as well as their hopes and dreams.

Logan convinced Reed that they needed to have a date, so they went out for dinner; just the two of them. They chose an above average restaurant that had a quiet, romantic feel to it. They got a table in the rear that overlooked the decorative garden in the back of the restaurant.

As they were walking through the restaurant toward their table, Reed was hailed.


It took a moment to locate the source, but Reed was surprised when he finally located the person.


"God, it is you!" Martin got up from his table and immediately came over and shook Reed's hand and gave him one of those manly hugs kids did these days. "Where the hell have you been?" he continued more quietly.

"Mostly at home."

"Oh shit, you're not back with your asshole parents, are you?"

Well that took Reed by surprise. He didn't realize that any of his old friends had any clue of what had happened.

"No, I've got a new home and a new family."

"Well, that's good. They must be treating you right, you look great, Reed." He clapped him on the shoulder. "You know, we've missed you at school."

Ok, that was too much. Reed couldn't respond, he was so shocked. Logan, on the other hand, was smiling at this unexpected turn of events.

Martin simply smiled at Reed's bafflement. "Ah, come on, Reed. Did you really think your friends gave a shit about what Billy thought? Fuck, I never thought he was right for you."

"You knew?" whispered Reed.

"Sure, Reed, we all knew. Well, we suspected, at least. And you know something? It didn't matter one bit to us." He then looked at Logan. "Hi, Logan."

Logan raised his eyebrows at this.

"Hell, Logan, everyone knows who you are. I still laugh every time I think about that English cigarette line." He held out his hand and Logan shook it. "Would it be rude to ask if you two are boyfriends?"

"It wouldn't be rude to me," answered Logan. "Yes, we are."

Martin smiled and looked back at a blushing Reed. "You're coming up in the world, buddy. A much better choice than Billy." He then punched Reed in the arm playfully. "You know, we'd all like to see you again. You been getting home schooled since that day with Billy?"

"Uh, yeah."

"Come on, Reed, snap out of it, would you? Billy's a fucking prick and we haven't had anything to do with him since that day he hit you. We don't give a shit what you do in your bedroom, buddy, or who you do it with. But you disappeared after that and we couldn't ever find you to tell you so."

"I'm sorry, Martin, I just thought everyone would hate me after that."

"Yeah, that's what we figured." He laughed. "You should have seen Jessica. She tore into Billy the next day right in the middle of home room; called him every name in the book. When he told her to fuck off, she pulled back and slapped him so hard that his cheek was red the entire day."

"Yeah, that sounds like something she'd do. So, would you guys like to come over some time and see where I'm living now?"

"Hell yeah! You kidding? Your friends are going to go ballistic when I tell them I've finally found you again."

That got a smile out of Reed finally. "I still can't believe this, Martin."

"Well, believe it, buddy," he said, and pulled Reed into a real embrace. "We've missed you. Now come on," he continued, stepping back, "Let's reunite the crew." He looked over at Logan. "That'll include you too, Logan. You know, you're a celebrity with the school crowd. Everyone's going to be just as thrilled to meet you as they are to get back together with Reed."

"You got your cell with you?" asked Reed. They exchanged phone numbers and the two boys continued on to their table.

Reed continued to be stunned all the way through the appetizer. But he finally got a handle on what had just happened. "I still can't quite believe that."

"Pretty cool, lover."

"You don't mind?"

"Why the hell should I mind?" laughed Logan. "You planning to sleep with any of them?"

That got a laugh out of Reed. "No, I don't think that's likely to happen." He paused. "I think you'll like them, Logan."

"Well, if they're anything like Martin, I think I will too."

Oscar and Phillip were thrilled when the boys got home and told them about the incident. They insisted that Reed arrange to have his friends over as soon as possible. So, before the night was over, Reed called Martin and told him to arrange for everyone to come over on Tuesday. He gave directions and that stunned Martin when he realized that his old friend was living in luxury these days. Logan even promised to take off at noon from work on Tuesday so that he could be present.

They arrived at the Justice house first thing Sunday morning, each driving their own car. It was only eight o'clock, and already Ben was at his computer. He came racing out of his room when he heard the front door open and graced them both with a hug and kiss. Then he was off to his bedroom while Logan and Reed stopped to give Mom a morning hug and kiss.

Reed was duly impressed by what Ben was accomplishing on his computer, and told him so. But he didn't bring up the business proposition. There was a lot that had to be accomplished in getting set up before he was ready to think about the future.

Both boys had a performance on Monday, but Phillip had arranged for Tuesday to be completely free for the reunion. Everyone arrived at noon and there was much hugging and kissing, and even a few tears from the girls. They were Martin, Jessica, Helen, Arty (his actual given name), and Kris. They were duly awed by the surroundings and even more impressed when Reed led them into the formal dining room where a large lunch had been laid out.

Everyone had brought their swim suits, as Reed had suggested, so their next stop was the pool of course. Then they headed off for Reed's room and he impressed everyone with a display of his web building prowess and even played one of his original pieces for them.

It was a rousing good time and went a long, long way in healing Reed's wounded heart; especially when they all seemed to accept Logan instantly as part of the crew. When everyone finally left just before dinner, Reed was in tears of gratitude. No one seemed to mind in the least.

Wednesday dawned to a dreary, weeping mother nature. The rain was gentle, but persistent all day. It seemed a perfect portent for what the evening would bring to them.

Ben and Logan had spent many hours since Sunday talking about what they might expect and how they should react in each given scenario. They also made a special effort to ensure that their uniforms were in perfect order. The only concession they made to their normal routine is that they drove over in Logan's car; it being the most impressive one they had. They pulled into the church lot at five minutes to seven, knowing that this would ensure that everyone was present before they made their grand entrance.

The scout leader was Mr. Whitfield; Leopoldo Edgar Whitfield, actually. He seemed to think his name pretty significant, though he never said how. He was in his late thirties; a large man, in the same manner as Jackson and Brad, but not nearly as powerful.

The troop was just lining up to be called to attention and say the Pledge of Allegiance and the Scout pledge when the boys entered. Brad moved immediately off to one side, but stayed close enough to react to any threat.

There was absolute silence as Ben and Logan took their places, the boys shifting their position to accommodate their renewed presence. Mr. Whitfield stood before the assemblage and his eyes narrowed as he watched the boys take their place. He seemed to zero in on Ben, just as they thought he would.

"Benjamin Grice, you are no longer welcome here," he said through tight lips.

"I beg your pardon?" asked Ben, very calmly.

"You will have to leave. The Boy Scouts do not allow your kind in it."

"Really. And just what `kind' would that be Mr. Whitfield?" asked Ben.

"You know perfectly well what I'm talking about, boy."

"So, because I've missed five weeks of meetings you're expelling me?"

"This has nothing to do with how many meetings you've missed." He was becoming agitated and moved closer to the front ranks of the boys. "The Boy Scouts don't want faggots in their ranks. Now get out of here." That brought a couple of startled gasps from the gathered boys.

Logan was only a couple of boys away and was tensed to react to any aggressive movements.

"I see," said Ben calmly. "And what makes you think I'm a homosexual?"

"Don't you get mouthy with me, boy! I said get out of here!" He was now directly in front of the first rank of boys, and they were moving out of the way, seeing the rage building in his face.

Before he could get face to face with Ben, however, Logan moved over and put himself between the two of them.

"You need to step back, Mr. Whitfield," he said coolly.

"Get out of my way, Logan!" he yelled and pushed him to the side so hard that Logan tripped and fell to the floor.

Ben took another couple of steps back which bought Brad enough time to reach them and stop the man with a hand on his chest.

"You need to be very careful here." The steel in his voice brought the man to an immediate halt as they locked eyes. Brad could see the Scout leader's mind reviewing the possible courses of action. "Don't do it. I promise, you won't survive the encounter."

Mr. Whitfield stood there for several moments before finally taking a step back. "Just get him out of here, whoever you are, before I call the police."

"I see," said Logan as he picked himself up off the floor. "And just what will you be having Ben arrested for? Surely we haven't passed a law in this country that makes it illegal to be a homosexual; something I might add that you have yet to prove."

There was dead silence as Mr. Whitfield suddenly realized that he may have gone too far.

"You know, I believe we will leave," said Logan after a few moments of that prolonged silence. "I'm not sure I want to be part of an organization that talks so much about citizenship and yet seems to have some sort of vendetta against gay boys and men."

With that, the three of them turned around and headed for the exit. Surprisingly, two other boys joined them. It wasn't until they were in the parking lot that anyone spoke.

"You okay, Logan?" asked one of the boys.

"Huh? Oh yeah, I'm fine. Mark, Jess, why are you out here?" Mark and Jess were both sixteen.

"We've got some friends that are gay," answered Jess. "If what you said is true, I don't think I want anything more to do with the scouts either."

"Yeah," said Mark, "Mr. Whitfield has been making all sorts of comments about gays lately."

That got Logan's attention. "Would you guys be willing to talk about that to some reporters?" The perplexed looks on their faces prompted him to explain what he planned to do.

Just then, Jackson stepped around the corner of the church meeting hall.

"Hey, Jackson," called Ben. "Did you get everything?"

Jackson held up the camcorder and directional microphone he was carrying. "Got every word, little man. You all right, Logan?"

"You bet, Jackson. He pushes like a girl." That got everybody to laughing. When they settled down Logan continued. "Don't worry about it guys. We got more than enough with this. You don't have to say anything."

"No, no, Logan," said Jess quickly. "I think we'd like to, but our parents may not want us to get involved."

"Well, don't worry about it then. Hey, you guys want a ride home? I got plenty of room and that way you won't have to call your parents out again so soon."

"That'd be cool, Logan," said Mark as he looked around the parking lot. "Where's your car?"

"You guys saw all the stuff on TV, didn't you?" They both nodded. "Well, the job came with a hiring bonus." He pointed to his bronze beauty.

"No way!" said Jess.

Logan laughed. "Way, guys. Come on, let's get moving." He then turned to Brad and Jackson. "You mind following us home?"

"Come on, Logan," laughed Jackson, "We've gotten use to following you around town."

Needless to say, both sets of parents were shocked to see their sons home so early. But when they were told about the events at the meeting, they didn't quite believe it until Logan had Jackson come in and let them see the video recording they'd made of the meeting. At that point they became angry and agreed that they didn't want their boys associated with the group any longer. They even agreed to let the boys make a statement at the press conference.

The following day was a madhouse of activity as the security company got the meeting location set up with all the equipment, ensuring that none of the electronics and video people did anything other than what they'd been contracted to do. Margaret had already compiled quite a bit of information from her research and she arrived with spiral bound copies; enough for every news agency that had been invited. Oscar and Phillip helped the boys to make copies of the video to be included in each package.

The press conference began sharp at two o'clock. The hall was full to capacity; news cameras and microphones seem to have sprouted from every nook and cranny.

Oscar took the lead. "Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen of the media. I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedules to attend our little gathering." That got a chuckle. "We've asked you here today so that we can make you aware of a gross act of bigotry and prejudice that is being perpetrated under you very noses, day after day, by a very well respected organization in this country." That got the crowd to whispering.

"To present this information, it is my pleasure to introduce two young men who have recently been subjected to this bigotry and wished to address you on the subject. I am proud to present Benjamin and Logan Justice."

There was no applause, just more whispering. It was not Logan, however, that took the podium first, it was Ben. "Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. You'll excuse me if I seem a bit nervous, but I've never had to speak to so many people before. I had no idea there'd be so many of you." That got a laugh out of the crowd.

"You go right ahead, Mr. Justice," came a voice from the middle of the crowd. "We'll behave ourselves." That got an even bigger laugh.

"Ladies and gentlemen, last night at seven o'clock Logan and I arrived at our local Boy Scout troop meeting and I was told that I was no longer welcomed there because, and I quote, `The Boy Scouts don't want faggots in their ranks.'. Please turn your attention to the screen behind me and you will see precisely what happened."

The screen immediately lit up and played the video of the entire event. The picture was crystal clear and the audio was crisp. When the screen finally went blank there was total silence in the hall. That was when Logan took the podium.

"Ladies and gentlemen, since that incident I've learned quite a bit about the Boy Scouts of America that has shocked me. It seems that the prejudice expressed in the video is, in fact, a true account of the position this organization holds towards homosexuals." Hands went up all over the place, but Logan staved them off with his own raised hand. "Please, let me finish." The hands slowly lowered. "Thank you. Now, I'm not going to leave you in the dark about my findings, but to discuss them in this format would take us all day, and I'm sure we all have better things to do than listen to me rattle on." That got a laugh.

"No, people, I promise you that before you leave here today you will each be given a package that will have all the evidence we were able to find on the internet on this subject, as well as a copy of the video you've just seen."

"Now I know that the question in your minds is, `is Benjamin a homosexual?'. I'll tell you right now that this is irrelevant. Allow me to introduce two boys from the troop that walked out last night because they decided for themselves that they no longer wanted to be associated with such a bigoted organization."

Mark and Jess both made similar statements to the silent crowd. They were offended by the actions of their troop leader and shocked by the evidence of the BSA's position on homosexuals. Both of them clearly stated that they had no idea if Benjamin was a homosexual or not. It didn't matter to them because if he were, it'd never become an issue because he'd never given anyone in the troop cause to wonder. When they'd completed their prepared statements Logan stepped back up to the podium.

"So, ladies and gentlemen, there you have it. I'm going to refuse to answer any questions at this time simply because I believe that the video speaks for itself, and I know that the information in the packages you will be given will answer everything else that you might want to know. After you've had a chance to review all the information, if there are still relevant questions, you may call the number in the back of the package and we can arrange for another of these gatherings."

Just at that moment, Ben reached over and pulled a piece of paper from Logan's hip pocket and handed it to him.

"What? Did I forget something?" Ben nodded. Logan laughed and said, "Thanks, little brother."

"Ladies and gentlemen," said Logan as he turned back to the crowd and placed the unfolded paper on the podium, "there are two lessons here. First, younger brothers are, in fact, handy to have around. They keep us on our toes." That got a laugh. "Second, if you make notes to ensure you don't forget to say something, it's always a good idea to actually use the notes." He then consulted the notes. "Ah."

"Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my brother Benjamin is absolutely correct. The one point I didn't cover is why we were video taping what happened at the meeting last night. The simple answer is that we went to that meeting expecting something of this nature to occur." He raised a hand quickly to forestall any questions. "Unfortunately I can not tell you how we obtained that information because that is part of an on-going investigation that is not complete yet. So, all I can ask is that you be patient. As soon as this investigation is through, we will tell you what we can."

"Now, if you will please step to the tables that have been set up on either side of the auditorium, you can obtain the information packages I promised you, and we can conclude this program."

A couple of people tried to shout out questions, but they were ignored as the rest of the crowd moved toward the tables. There they found security men and women with lists that they consulted to ensure that only those people who were legitimate members of the media received the packages.

"Thanks, Benny," said Logan as he stepped down from the podium. He then walked over to where Mark and Jess were standing with their parents. "Thank you all so much for coming and allowing Mark and Jess to speak."

"You're welcome, Logan," said Mark's father. "I'm not thrilled by the idea of having Mark become an object of media attention, but at his age he should be allowed to make some of these sorts of decisions on his own."

Jess' father spoke up then. "And they were both very insistent in wanting to do this."

"Well, I hope the media moderate their attention," said Logan as he began shaking everyone's hand. "So, since you wanted to go this far, do you two want to attend the Boy Scouts' press conference?"

"They're going to have a press conference?" asked Jess' mom.

"I don't think they're going to have any choice," answered Logan. "The media is going to have a field day with this information." He turned to Ben who'd followed him. "Could you see if there's an extra packet available?" Ben ran off. "The only thing I ask is that you do not allow this out of your hands, please, until after the media have had a chance to publicize what's in it."

Mark's father frowned. "What's going on, Logan?"

Logan sighed. "All I can tell you right now is that there's more going on than just one bigoted troop leader. We're orchestrating all of this to put certain people off balance."

Jess' father frowned now. "Is there a chance that there's some danger?"

It was only then that Logan realized the perhaps he hadn't considered all the consequences. But just then Ben ran up with a packet in his hand.

"They don't have many left over, but I managed it."

"Thanks, little brother. Now I need another favor; could you find McKensie and ask him to join us up here?"

"Sure. Be right back."

"Mr. McKensie is the head of the security company that's helping us out with all of this," he informed the families as they waited. "They've watched out for me a time or two and they are very good. We'll see what he thinks of the situation."

McKensie and Ben arrived and Logan explained the concerns. "I'm ashamed to admit that I hadn't thought about this, Mr. McKensie."

Mackie simply smiled. "That's why I'm the security expert and you're the top notch florist, Logan." He then turned to the families. "I've already made arrangements for your homes to be watched until this all blows over. There will also be units following you when you leave your homes."

At that point Ben and Logan left them alone to get all the information from Mackie. It took the boys a few minutes to locate their mother who was standing off in one corner simply watching as the last of the media people filed out of the auditorium.

"Oscar says that we can go home now," she said in greeting. "There's nothing more to do here except clear out the mess." She smiled at them then. "You both looked very nice up there."

Oscar walked up to them at that moment.

"Where's Reed?" asked Logan. "I expected him to be here."

Oscar smiled. "He had to stay at his new office to direct the contractor that's doing the modifications. Seems the man only had this time free to get with Reed to discuss his requirements."

"Office? You found one already?" asked Logan.

"Yesterday." Oscar laughed.

"Well, then," said Logan, "I think he needs some moral support." He looked over at Ben who was nodding. They got the address from Oscar and ran from the building, Jackson is not pursuit. The boys had enough sense to wait until Jackson had reached his vehicle before pulling out of the lot.

When they arrived, it was obvious that Reed was nearly at his wits end. He was standing in the middle of the room, his face as red as Logan had ever seen it. The contractor was walking around the space and `telling' Reed precisely what he would be getting.

Logan and Ben walked up and each put an arm around his waist.

"Not going too so well, it seems," said Logan.

"It's his way or no way," said Reed in frustration.

"Well, that's easy enough to handle," said Logan as he stepped away toward the man. "Excuse me."

"What! You going to tell me how to do my job, too?"

"Nope. I'm going to tell you you're fired, even before you're hired." The man got red faced. But Logan was persistent. "Get the fuck out of here!"

"That's fine with me," he said as he stormed past Jackson. "Bunch of fucking children."

"Where'd you find that asshole, Reed?" asked Ben.

"Dad said he came highly recommended."

Just then a man entered. "Hello. You Reed Stewart? I'm Charles Bingford, the contractor your father hired."

"Jackson!" yelled Logan, "Find that fucker that just left here!"

Jackson was out the door in a flash. He looked both directions and raced off to the left. Logan, meanwhile was on his phone, calling Phillip. There were two gun shots and then the sound of crashing vehicles. It was only a few minutes later that the place was swarming with police and security, inside and out.

It turns out that Jackson had simply shot out the man's tires as he tried to drive away; no one had been injured. The man was taken into police custody while the security team that had arrived pulled equipment out of their truck and began scanning the room with police following along to see the results.

They found four listening devices that the man had placed behind wall plug and switch plates. They also found one tiny camera just above the front door. All of this was placed into evidence bags and taken away for processing by the police.

They were still working on the scans when Phillip, Oscar and Margaret arrived a half hour after the boys' arrival.

It turns out that the real contractor, Charles, knew the man that had been giving Reed such grief. His name was Randy Sanders and he was a local contractor of very questionable reputation. It was also Charles that was able to bring some order back into Reed's day by simply pulling him away from the crowd and began talking to him about the space, just as if there wasn't another soul in the place.

When the last of the police departed, Charles and Reed rejoined the families.

"Hello, Oscar. It's been a long time."

"That it has, Charles. So, were you and Reed able to work out some details?"

"That we were," smiled Charles. "A very bright and innovative young man, your son." He clapped Reed on the back. "He's got some marvelous ideas. This is going to be a real treat to work on." He then proceeded to show them all the quick drawings he'd done as the two of them had been talking.

"What are those two large TV's for?" asked Ben when they were pointed out.

"I think it's going to be a remarkable innovation," answered Charles. "Reed wants to hook these up to the computers in back so that customers can watch the design processes if they want."

Well everyone agreed that the layout of the work and lobby areas were perfect.

"So, Reed, I'll get my architect partner to draw us up some detailed plans for city approval. Your father said I could use my favorite interior designer to help with that aspect. That all right with you?"

"That'd be great, Mr. Bingford. Thank you so much."

"I'm going to enjoy this. Now, I'm going to take a few pictures before I leave so that my CAD artist can do a rendering that we can play with. As soon as he's got it up and running, I'll give you a call so that you can come in and we'll sit with Lucius and start working on the details."

"Lucius your CAD artist?"

"No, son, he's the interior designer. You'll love him. He's as outrageous as they come."

As Charles finished his work, Oscar suggested that they all gather at the residence for dinner. Logan's thought as they were locking up after Charles' departure was, `Another day. More changes for us to deal with, and one more fucking encounter with assholes. Will our lives ever settle down?"