Warning! This is a tale about men loving men. If you find this disturbing - click off. If it's unlawful for you to read this - click off. If you under age - good luck if you can get away with it.

This is not a story for getting your rocks off. Just thought I'd let you know so you won't waste your time if that's what your looking for.

Otherwise, I hope you enjoy my writing.

I appreciate feedback and do my best to respond to it all. I may be contacted at:


Billy's Story

Chapter 08

Note: A big thanks to Tim Mead, author of "Dr. Tim and the Boys", for taking the time to edit this for me.

The two of us were riding fences the day it finally happened. It was one of those late fall days that some refer to as an Indian Summer day. The sun was blazing hot and the breeze was cool. One could feel that winter would soon be here, despite the day's warmth. It was a Wednesday. Neither of us had classes on Wednesday afternoon.

We'd been riding about an hour when we found a broken strand of barbed wire. We dismounted and tethered our horses where they could munch the dry yellow grass while we worked.

The wire had snapped as cleanly as if some one had purposefully cut it. But you could tell by looking at the end of the wire it had just pulled into. It was old and rusty and it's tensile strength had been lost. I retrieved the roll of wire from the heavy canvas bag tied on the back of my saddle and uncoiled a length to go from one fence post to the other. Neil hadn't had much experience doing such work, but he was more than willing to learn.

With the sun beating down on us we were both soon hot and sweaty. Neil removed his heavy leather gloves, pulled off his shirt and wiped his brow with it. I was in a state of thrall staring at him. I hadn't seen him with his shirt off since he was a kid living with his dad. Now I was looking at a man's body, black hair across his chest and a thin line of it running down his belly and into his Levi's. In my mind he'd still been the little boy that left with his grandfather after his dad was gored. Now I realized he was a man. A beautiful man. He stared back at me as he slid his hands back into the gloves. He picked up the end of the wire and yelled at me.

"Take a photo! It will last longer."

I jerked like I'd been punched and then blushed a deep red. Billy was grinning at me. I had a raging hard on. I was glad he was standing far enough away that he wouldn't notice it. I got my mind on fixing the fence and hammered in a couple of heavy U-shaped brads over the end of the wire to hold it.

The breeze had died and the sun was sucking the sweat out of me, soaking the back of my shirt. I pulled it off and tied it around my waist. I made sure the ends of the sleeves hung in front of my crotch to cover my embarrassment. I ambled toward him, carrying the leather bag containing the wire stretcher, hammer and other tools.

Neil was holding the other end of the wire staring at me. He had sweat running down his face and neck, looking kind of over heated. When I took the wire from his hand, he looked everywhere, but not at me. I wondered if he'd figured out that I was queer, staring at him like I had, and was wanting to be elsewhere. But we had a job to finish, so I put my feelings of guilt aside, ignored him, and did the job.

Now I've been able to do this kind job since I was fourteen. It's just a matter of making sure your hammer is in easy reach and you have a couple of brads clinched between your lips before you start, and then wrapping the end of the wire on the stretcher, placing it against the post, and pulling the wire taut with your left hand while you jab the two sharp points of the first brad over the wire into the cedar post, pick up the hammer, and pound the brad in tight where the wire can't slip, and then doing it again with the second brad.

As I hammered the second one in snugly, I glanced at Neil, who was looking at me instead of what I was doing. His head snapped away and the color rose in his face again. He was sweating like I've never seen anyone sweat before.

"Wet your shirt with water from the canteen on my saddle and let the breeze cool you." I said.

He shook his head and stared at the horizon.

"No, I'm alright."

I don't know whether the sun was getting to him, or maybe he'd locked his knees as he stood there. Whatever the cause, he started swaying like he was being pushed by a strong wind. Sweat continued to pour down the sides of his face. I grabbed him just as he started to topple.

The only shade around was being cast by the two horses. I guided, half carrying him, over and set him down in the horse's shadow. He sat there with his head down for a few minutes, and then he shook himself and stood up. My cock had deflated with my worrying about him. I felt I could keep control of it now as long as I didn't consciously look at his body.

"I donÆt know what came over me." He said.

"The water tank is just a little more than a mile over that rise. Let's go cool off with a swim."

"That sounds good."

I put all the fence repair stuff back into the leather bag, tied it on the back of my saddle, and mounted. Neil was already headed to the water tank. I kicked my horse into a gallop and soon caught up with him. In a matter of minutes we were dismounting under the wheezing windmill.

IÆm not shy around another naked guy. Tom and I had always been naked around each other. And when Joe was alive we'd go swimming naked with him and Neil all the time. Hell, none of us even owned a swim suit. In gym in my high school years I had compared what I had with the other boys equipment and never felt I had anything reason to be ashamed. I wasn't the biggest, but I wasn't anywhere near the smallest either. I'm telling you this because as I started to strip off my Levi's in front of an already naked Neil I was suddenly very self conscious. Wondering if Neil would find me adequate, if he was even interested.

I figured he wasn't, he had his back to me as he pulled his Levi's off and I got the feeling he was trying to pretend I wasn't there. He dropped them on the ground and ran to the ladder and climbed it. He didn't even glanced down at me as I stared at him while he dived into the water.

I froze on seeing his beautiful little bubble butt. The way the muscles in his back moved as he pulled himself up the ladder mesmerized me. He had a little patch of black hair at the base of his spine that disappeared between his globular cheeks. I was instantly hard again. I was leaning against one of the windmill's galvanized metal legs, standing on one foot while pulling the pant leg off the other. It took me a few moments to be able to move again after he'd splashed into the pool.

I didn't know what to do. I was afraid of him knowing I was queer for him. I wanted him to stay my friend. I couldn't not get into the pool, so I brazened it and climbed the ladder and dived in, hoping he didn't see my hardon.

As my head rose above the water Neil was right there grinning at me.

"My butt did that to you?" Neil giggled.

"What are you talking about?"

"Your stiffy."

"Yeah, right." I said derisively, like that was the last thing that would excite me.

He wouldn't let it go.

"You like my little white butt, you pervert." He laughed.

There was no malice in his voice, but it still cut me to the quick. I sunk beneath the surface and stayed there until my lungs were burning for air. I turned and swam to the edge. Bursting to the surface, I grabbed the ledge gulping air as I pulled myself up and out. Flinging myself over the edge I dropped to the ground and ran to my clothes. As quickly as I could get my legs in my pants and my feet in my boots I ran to my horse and vaulted into the saddle and kicked it into a hard gallop. I heard Neil yelling something at me as I disappeared over the rise.

Years ago, I happened onto this little dead-end box canyon a few miles from the ranch house. It was hidden by trees and bushes that grew along the base of a flat topped hill called a mesa, which is Spanish for table. I'd been chasing this half grown dogie, that's a motherless calf, when it disappeared in to the bushes. I followed it and discovered the entrance to the little canyon.

The trail leading into it goes through the bushes and along the base of the cliff for several yards before dipping through the entrance. So it's really hidden.

The canyon wasn't very big. Seventy-five feet wide and four hundred feet long, maybe. The walls were ninety or a hundred feet high. I've never been in a cathedral, but from what I've read about them, I think this little canyon had the same kind of feeling one would get inside of one them, kind of awe inspiring.

In the center of the canyon there was a long sand dune that ran the length of it. Around the edges, near the cliffs, grew trees and bushes and other plants. But in the center was the sand dune, and nothing grew on it. I guess it was one of those strange phenomena of nature. Sand blowing over the top of the mesa fell down the edge of the cliffs to settle in the center of the bottom.

That's where I headed. I didn't look back. If I had, I'd have seen Neil following me, riding hellbent for leather, naked as a newborn, flailing his Levi's to whip more speed out of his horse. He was far enough behind me that, although he'd seen me disappear into the brush at the cliff base, he didn't see exactly where I entered it.

I dropped out of the saddle and collapsed against a tree trunk with my knees pulled up to my chest and my head resting on them, wondering how I could ever face Neil again. I just knew that he'd despise me once he realized how I felt about him.

I guess my mind just kind of shut down, I phased out, only to be awakened by a quiet "Ow" and a hiss of pain. I raised my head to see Neil hopping around on one bare foot, dressed only in his Levi's. He pulled a thorn out of his foot and hobbled over to me, walking on his heel.

I turned my face away from him, hoping that if I ignored him he'd just go away. Of course, he did just the opposite and plopped down beside me.

"Wow, what a cool place. How'd you ever find it?"

I didn't answer. He was quiet for a couple of uncomfortable minutes. I was about ready to break and run again when he spoke again. Looking at his naked chest and feet had me hard again.

"I'm sorry," he said. "Didn't mean to embarrass you."

I stared at the cliff wall, wishing my woody would go down.

"So why'd you run away like that?" he asked.

I stood up.

"Don't want to talk about it," I mumbled.

I headed out of the canyon.

"Wait up. I can't walk that fast. I'm barefooted."

Suddenly, I didn't want for him to catch up with me. I had to think. To do that, I had to be by myself. I took off running, grabbed the reins of my horse, vaulted up into the saddle and headed for home. Glancing back just before I dropped below the rise, I saw Neil standing beside his horse staring after me.

Tom was in the barn when I pulled the horse to a dust raising halt at the corral gate. He came out and peered at me. I dropped out of the saddle and started taking it off. Tom walked over and patted the horse's wet rump.

"What's got into you? Why're you riding so hard?"

"Nothing's got into me, just felt like riding fast."

"Well, make sure you cool him down good. Get that old blanket and wipe him down with it. Don't let him drink too much water until he's cooled off."

"I know all that, Tom. You think I'm a city boy or something?"

"No, just worrying about the horse."

"I'll take care of the damned horse. Lay off me, will you?"

"Neil put a burr under your saddle, Bill? You want to talk about it?"

"I don't want to talk." I muttered.

"Alright. Alright. Where is Neil anyway?"

"I left him out by the tank."

"He's okay?"

"Yeah, just slow getting dressed."

"So what did he do to get you so riled, Bill?"

"I don't want to talk about it, alright?"

I'd almost finished wiping the horse down. It's breathing had returned to normal.

"Here, let me finish rubbing him down. You go find some place to fester."

I guess Tom knew me better than I knew myself. I wasn't going to be fit to live with until I got my thoughts all straight. He took the old blanket from me and nudged me out of his way. I stepped back, stuffed my hands in my pockets and watched him. He turned and looked at me.

"Go on, get out of here if you don't want to tell me what's got you so sore."

I turned on my heels and headed for the hayloft. I flopped down on a bale of hay and laid back. My thoughts were a dust devil whipping up debris as it wandered across the desert floor. It seemed that all the things I thought could go wrong, had. I wanted Neil to stay my best friend. I figured he'd find me disgusting if he learned I was queer for him. I damned sure wouldn't get into a situation where we were naked again like today.

No, naked around Neil wasn't good. Hell, I popped a boner just with him taking his shirt off. I thought about him climbing the tank ladder. God, how I wanted to touch him. Make love to him. Kiss that little beautiful pale butt. I never even saw him from the front. He, as sure as shit stinks, saw me that way and with a big old hardon. He must think I'm some kind of pervert, getting excited over seeing his butt. Just sitting there thinking about it I got all hard and leaking again. 'I am a pervert. But I can't let him find out. I need him as my friend.' I thought to myself.

I drifted off, remembering Joe telling me when I was little that one day I'd meet Neil and we'd be best buddies like he and Tom were. I knew now that they had been lovers. I still had a vivid image of Tom with his legs in the air making noises like he was in pain while Joe was moving between his legs. I didn't know then what they were doing, but I sure knew now. And I was wanting to do that with Neil. I wanted him as my best buddy like Tom and Joe had been. I thought about him doing it to me and that got me really riled up. But I knew it wasn't going to happen. That depressed me.

I must have dozed off dreaming about Neil. I woke up still dreaming I was hearing his voice. And then I realized I was hearing him. He and Tom were talking outside the barn. I got up and walked over by the big doors that we brought the hay bales in through.

"I didn't pay any attention to where Bill went." Tom was saying. "He might of headed up to his room. What's got him so upset, anyway?"

Tom was covering for me. He knew I'd headed up to the hayloft. That where I always went when I was riled about something.

"I don't know for sure. I was kidding him about having a hardon when he jumped into the tank. Hell, I had one, too. I don't know, he just spooked and ran. I caught up with him, and he ran again. I had to go back to the tank and get my clothes, otherwise I'd of chased after him again. He sure is acting weird."

I couldn't believe Neil was just blurting all that about hardons to Tom. But then, I think that the day Neil came back into my life I regressed back to being fourteen again, shy and insecure about my sexuality.

"What'd you say when you were kidding him?" Tom asked.

"I asked him if he had a hardon because he was queer for my butt. And then I called him a pervert. I didn't mean anything by it, Tom. I was just joking around."

"Hmm." Was all Tom said in reply.

I know that I must have been a dark shade of crimson recalling the feelings I was having when he'd said that. It was quiet for a moment. I peered around the edge of the door. They were sitting on the top rail of the corral. All I could see was their knees and boot tips.

"Tom, can I asked something personal, something about my dad and you? You wonÆt get mad at me?" Neil asked. His voice was quieter. I had to strain to hear them

"No, I won't get mad at you, Neil. And if I can, I'll answer."

It was quiet for a few moments. I had to strain to hear the question.

"You loved my dad. Didn't you?"

"Oh, Yes. I loved you dad more'n anyone in the world."

"And he loved you?"

"Yup. He loved me. We loved each other."

I could see in my mind's eye that big ol' teddy bear sitting next to diminutive little Neil nodding his head and gazing off into the distance like he always did when he thought about Joe.

"So why did he marry my mother?"

"He loved you mother, Neil, and he wanted a son. He wanted a son more than he loved me."

"I don't understand. If he wanted me so much why did I end up with my grandparents raising me?"

"Neil, you know what your grand dad is like. When you mother died Joe was devastated. Your mother was delicate. When she got pregnant the doctor told her she should abort, that she would not likely survive the pregnancy. She knew how much your dad wanted a son, and when a sonogram showed that you were a boy she refused to abort. She would give Joe his son if it killed her."

Tom paused and let out a big sigh.

"And it did. Not right away. No, she lingered for four months after you were born. Joe was sick with guilt and your grand dad whipped him daily with that guilt, accusing him of murdering his daughter to satisfy his own lust. Joe caved in.

"When your mother died, I thought Joe would, too. Your grand parents took you because your dad was incapable of taking care of himself at that point, much less a new born baby.

"I took Joe in and nursed him back to health. I think if we hadn't loved each other so much to begin with, he'd have just let go and died. Over time, I learned that he had a great guilt about abandoning me for you mother. I never held it against him. He had a chance at a normal life with a wife and son. I wasn't going to get in his way.

"Anyway, we had a good friend who was close to your grandparents, that kept us informed about how you were doing. So when your step grandmother died. Joe drove up to Albuquerque and brought you back here. You remember that don't you?"

"Oh yes. My nanny would tell me about my dad and how handsome he was. She was always assuring me that he loved me very much and that one day he'd come get me. So I was ready to go with him when he came for me."

"So your remember Mrs. Ramirez, huh? She was the one that kept your dad informed about you."

"Yes, I remember her well. I loved her like she was my own mother. I skipped school to attend her funeral three years ago. I got a caning for that from my grandfather, but it was worth it. It's really good to learn all this, but we've gotten away from what I want to ask you."

"And what is that, Neil?"

"Well, first off I've got to tell you ---."

There was a pause. I thought I was going to fall out of the window at what I heard Neil say next.

"I'm like my dad, Tom. And like you."

"What are you saying, Neil?

"I'm queer. I think I'm in love with Bill."

"I see. So what is the question?"

"The question is.... I know he has a girlfriend, but I've watched them. IÆm thinking they are just close friends. Do you think Bill could love me like that? Like you and my dad loved each other?"

I was about to pee in my 501s knowing that Neil thought he was in love with me. My heart was jumping around in my body yelling out "He loves me. He loves me. And then the guilt hit me: I was just waiting for Tom to tell him about me trying to seduce him that time when I was sixteen. God I'm such a pervert.

"Well, Neil, that's a question I can't answer. First off it's not my place to say one way or the other even if I knew the answer. You're just going to have to ask him."

"I can't do that. What if he got pissed, me thinking he might be a queer. As big as he is he could squash me with one fist."

Tom started laughing.

"Wasn't it you who laid him out flat when you first saw him a few months ago?"

"Yeah, but I didn't know who had grabbed me. And he wasn't expecting it."

"I don't think you have anything to worry about. Bill may be a big guy, but he is one of the gentlest you ever met. And I don't think he'd quit being your friend if you told him how you feel. Of course, I can't say just how he's going to react, but I don't think you've got anything to be afraid of."

"Well, I guess I'll go see if he's up in his room."

I watched him jump off the rail and head across the yard to the corral. I ran to the ladder and climbed down. My heart was in my throat. Here I was acting like an idiot and all the time Neil was wanting me, like I wanted him.

I don't know what got into me, but as I faced the barn door I panicked again. I know I should have been joyously happy that he felt like I did. But instead it scared me. I saw his horse tethered to the fence, and not thinking, I untied it, mounted and took off back to the box canyon. The stirrups were too short for my long legs so I just gripped with my knees and rode like the furies of hell were after me.

I heard Tom and Billy both yelling at me as I left at a hard gallop, but I didn't stop. When I got to the brush at the bottom of the cliffs I guided the horse into and through it to the entrance.

Once inside I felt safe. I dropped out of the saddle, ran up the side of the big dune and flopped on my belly at the top, and lay looking over the other side. I turned over and stared up at the long narrow patch of pale blue sky surrounded by the cliff's. My mind was in turmoil. On one hand the dreams of having Neil as my lover like Joe and Tom had been was thrilling me. And on the other I kept seeing the looks that Gina would give me every time he was with us. She never said anything to me again after that one time. And maybe I was imagining it, but I swear I could feel her withdraw anytime Neil appeared.

I recalled that first day that Neil got on the school bus when he was six and I was eight. I wondered if I had been aware then that our destinies were bound together. All the years that we'd been separated he had never been far from my conscious thought.

And now he was back in my life. I knew I loved him. I knew I was excited by his body. Did that mean I was in love with him? I knew I'd do anything possible to make him happy. So why was I acting so stupid? Why did I keep running from him?

I'd just about decided to go back and talk to him when I heard the sound of horse hooves. Neil rode through the entrance riding bareback. He guided the horse up to where I sat gawking at him. He was looking unsure of what to do next.

"I didn't know you knew how to ride without a saddle." I said.

He shrugged.

"It's like a bicycle. Once you learn, you don't forget."

I nodded sagely while really I was just at a loss for what to say next.

Neil slid off the horse and settled next to me. I turned toward him feeling like I should be apologizing, But the words just weren't there. He was studying the tops of the cliffs.

"Bill I have to tell you something. And if you don't want to know me after I say this, well... I guess I'll just sell my ranch to Tom and move back to Albuquerque."

We were sitting shoulder to shoulder. I stared at him waiting for him to say it. He stared right back at me for several moments. Suddenly, he tilted his head and reached up, planting a light kiss on my lips. I'm sure my eyebrows nearly flew off my forehead. I turned and studied the cliff. I could feel my face burning. Did that mean what I hoped it meant? Why would he kiss me if it didn't? Right on my lips. What if I was misreading this. Oh God, just let me die and get me out of my misery. I stared at the bit of blue sky above us.

"Bill." he whispered. "I love you."

I turned and looked at him. Oh, fuck. He had tears running down his face. He was taking my confusion as rejection. This had to be rectified. I put my arm around him pulling him up against me. He started sobbing. I turned and lifted him into my lap and hugged him to me. He turned his face and burrowed into my hairy chest, wrapping his arms around me.

"I'm sorry, Bill, I didn't mean to do that." He sobbed.

I finally had gathered my wits. I chuckled.

"I'm glad you did."

He pushed back in my arms and stared at me, trying to figure me out.

"Will you do it again?" I asked.

His eyes got big. I leaned into him, tentatively touching my lips to his. I'd never kissed anyone before and wasn't sure about the dynamics of it. Neil's arms went around my neck as he pressed hard against mine. I guess it's just a natural thing wanting to taste the kiss. I darted my tongue out wiping his lips. The next thing I knew he was doing the same and soon our tongues were dueling, seeking entrance into each other's mouth. We eventually had to break away for lack of oxygen.

My hands were exploring his small muscular torso. One hand on his chest exploring hair covered muscles and his tiny nipples, the other was seeking out that little patch of hair at the base of his spine, following it down into his beautiful butt crevice.

He had one hand in my lap squeezing my cock through my jeans, and the other tangled in my hair trying to pull my face into his. I kissed him and buried my face in the nape of his neck.

"I've missed you, Billy. I've wanted you to hold me like this since I was six years old. I love you, Billy. I always have," he murmured.

I pulled back and looked at him.

"Since your were six?"

"The first time I saw you when I got on the bus that morning of my first day of school. Remember? You asked me to sit with you. You told me we were going to be best buddies. Just like my dad and Tom were."

"Yes, that was one of the most important days of my life." I told him.

Neil pulled back and studied me? I clasped my hands behind him. He leaned against the support they offered.

"Because that was the day we met?"He asked.

I nodded.

"Yeah, I met my best buddy that day."

"So why have you been running from me all afternoon."

I grinned at him feeling foolish.

"Because I'm stupid and scared."

"You're scared of me?"

"Of what you'd think of me when you found out I'm queer and wanting you."

Neil giggled.

"If you stayed in the pool a few minutes longer you'd have found out then that I'm the same for you. I'd decided that I was going to jump you even if you beat me up."

"I'd never do that, Neil."

"What about Gina? The two of you are awfully close."

"What about her? She's just a girl."

"You going to marry her?"

"I've kind of thought about it. I'd like to have kids of my own."

"Where'd that leave us? You and me?"

"I haven't thought about that."

We'd never talked about it, Gina and I. After that first time when she'd asked me right out if I if I didn't like girls, it had never been mentioned again. I knew she was always observing me after that. I tried to ignore everything around me except her when we were together, but with the advent of Neil coming back into my life it was hard to give all my attention to her when we were together. She had figured out immediately that I was in love with Neil. Yet she was still there for me. Yeah, I loved Gina. She was my dearest friend.

I thought about the difference of how I feel first thing of a morning seeing Gina versus seeing Neil. Gina would give me a warm glow of happiness. Neil made me feel like I just might burst from being filled with the joy of seeing his smile, his smile and the twinkle in his eyes that seemed to be for me alone.

Could I be satisfied with just a warm glow, when I knew that my heart and soul could be filled with Joy and Love every day for the rest of my life?

Neil grasped my wrists and pulled my hands apart. He slid off my lap and stood up. The pain in his eyes made them icy blue. The depths I'd felt I could drowned were now shallow. I couldn't help but notice how beautiful he was. His black straight hair stuck every which direction. A perfect frame for his perfect face.

I realized I hadn't answered him. I got off my butt and moved to kneeled in front of him. Neil was a bit taller than me that way. He was blurry through the tears in my eyes. I took his hand and kissed it.

"I love you, Neil. You've got to know that."

He stared down into my face a long time before he responded.

"I won't make you choose between us. I'll be waiting for when you need me. You know where I live. Come to me when you can. A few stolen moments with you now and then is better than not seeing you at all."

He pulled his fingers from my nerveless hand, turned to grasp his horse's rein and walked toward the entrance of the box canyon.

I crumpled into the sand and watched him disappear around the end of the dune. What the fuck was wrong with me. I knew that Neil was the one person I wanted in my life more than anyone else. So why didn't I just say that? Why had I let him walk away?

"Neil!" I cried out and scrambled to the top of the dune.

He turned and looked up at me.

"I love you! You."

He nodded and started to turn back to the entrance.

"I want you in my life. Every day. Every moment of every day for the rest of my life. I donÆt love Gina. She is just a good friend. I love you, Neil. I need you."

The words reverberated around the canyon. Neil dropped the reins and slowly walk to the base of the dune. He stopped and stared up at me.

"You mean that?" He asked.

I nodded.

"'Cause if you don't it just might kill me."

"I mean it, Neil. With my whole being I mean it."

I slid down the slope of the dune and wrapped my arms around the little guy. It felt so right to have him in my arms.

"I see you finally roped him." Tom said to Neil as we rode back into the ranch yard. Neil smiled and looked at me kind of shy-like.

"Yeah, I caught the big ol' galoot."

I just sat there on my barebacked horse grinning like the idiot I am.

Next morning Gina was waiting for me like usual when I drove into the campus parking lot. Neal didn't have a class until ten so he was driving in later.

Gina took one look at me and got a knowing smile on her usually somber face. I know I immediately blushed.

"If you say 'I told you so' I'm going to do something brash."

"It finally got through to your pea-brain, huh?"

I raised my eyebrows at her. She got a smug look on her face.

"See? I was right."

I grabbed her around the waist, lifting her into the air, I swung her around and around as she hung onto my neck. There were several kids around watching us. None were near enough to hear.

"He loves me, Gina. And, God, do I love him."

I put her down, and she wrapped her arms around me.

"I'm so happy for you, Bill."

End of chapter 8