Disclaimer: The following is a work of fiction and any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental. The story contains graphic descriptions of sex between men. Anyone who is forbidden by law to read such material must stop now. This story is being posted to the Nifty Archive solely for the enjoyment of its readers.


David's Initiation: The Partnership 09


The drive home was pleasant. The two men talked about their plans for the coming holiday season and considered how they were going to divide their time with their extended families. They laughed loudly when Dave pointed out that they now faced the same dilemma most normal married couples have to contend with.

Eventually Tony's momentary need to touch his mate was satisfied and he retracted his hand to his side of the car. But that didn't mean that he was totally satisfied.

Upon walking into the house from the garage, both men were filled with that comfortable, relaxing feeling of being home. Dave checked the answering machine and reported they had 14 messages. He was about to press the button to listen to them when Tony took hold of his hand.

"We have other business, Babe." Tony placed his left hand on the back of Dave's head, turned it and brought their lips together in a long overdue passionate kiss. Dave withdrew his hand from near the phone, turned toward his lover and returned the kiss. Moments later they were in the bedroom.

On this occasion Dave became the passive, compliant, obedient partner. Whatever Tony wanted Dave would give. In what seemed like seconds, Tony had them both naked. They stood beside the bed in a tender kiss. Tony's hands slid down Dave's back and over his ever so firm, tight buns, pressing their groins tightly together. He pulled Dave's cheeks apart allowing the cool air to caress the pucker. Dave shuddered with anticipation then lifted first his legs one at a time and wrapped them around Tony's waist. Stepping to the edge of the bed, Tony placed one knee as far onto the mattress as he could and then gently lowered his lover onto the sheets.

They caressed each other for several minutes, savoring the pleasure of naked skin against naked skin. Without saying a word, Tony lifted himself off Dave's body, grabbed the lube and a towel and returned to his lover. He folded the towel and laid it to Dave's right then he placed his right hand under Dave's left hip and lifted. Dave rolled to his right, onto his stomach and without instruction spread his legs wide apart. Tony crawled onto the bed and positioned himself on his knees between Dave's legs. He took a moment to gaze at the beautiful, completely submissive and vulnerable male figure that lay before him. Tony's eyes focused on Dave's neck, 'How seductive!' he thought. His eyes followed Dave's spine down past the broad shoulders and tightly muscled back that narrowed at his waist and then flared out at the hips in such an attractive display of masculinity. Dave's firm buttocks seemed to accentuate his slender runner's legs that were lightly coated with fine hair.

On an impulse Tony leaned forward, placed his hands on Dave's buns and lowered his lips to the top of Dave's butt, just where the skin begins to form the crease between his cheeks. Tony's lips pursed and he placed a tender kiss at that delicate spot. Once he'd gone that far his next act was to extend his tongue and let it slide into the beginning of that crease.

Tony never imagined he'd be doing anything like this. He remembered how surprised he was when Dave did it to him and how good it felt. His fingers slid between Dave's buns and pulled them apart revealing the fine light hairs guarding Dave's entrance. His tongue snaked out again making contact just above Dave's pucker and glided to the top of the valley. He couldn't believe he was doing this. And he loved it. He loved his mate. He couldn't resist. For Tony, he was about to go where he never before imagined he go. For him it would be the ultimate step in accepting to his lover. Dave lay before him completely relaxed and ready to willingly accept whatever Tony wanted to do to him. Tony marveled at the power he wielded at that moment and at the trust Dave was bestowing upon him.

Once again Tony's tongue snaked out and touched Dave's most private region. A moist stroke of the tongue, a moan from the pleasured recipient, followed by another moist stroke of the tongue. Tony went lower bringing Dave's smooth, tender perineum into the action. Then Dave began to giggle. It broke the spell and Tony raised his head.

"Okay, this is serious stuff here. What's so funny?" Tony was almost chuckling when he said that.

"Your whiskers, they tickle," Dave giggled again.

The humor of the scene caught Tony and he joined Dave in lovable laughter. As the laughter faded, Tony stretched out on top of Dave and their lips found each other in a kiss. Dave could feel Tony's hot erection pulsing along the length of his ass crack; precum was leaking onto his back.

"I'm way ready," Dave whispered breathlessly when their kiss ended.

"Me too," Tony replied. He sat back on his knees, picked up the lube, squeezed a large amount into his hand and began working it into Dave's crevice. Squeezing more lube onto his finger and proceeding without delay, Tony inserted first one, then two, and finally three of them inside Dave. Next he spread copious amounts of lube over his spear, balls and lower abdomen.

Dave lay quietly, his eyes closed, waiting, anticipating, with pleasure what he knew was going to be a fulfilling experience. Tony moved forward, placed his hands on either side of Dave's torso and slowly lowered himself onto Dave's back. Tony's erection nestled comfortably between Dave's ass cheeks; it felt great.

Tony began moving, twisting, as if trying to use his entire body as a massager causing Dave great tactile pleasure. Tony moved like that for quite some time until he'd worked the head of his cock into position at the entrance to Dave's tunnel. Dave pushed out and Tony slid inside in one slow, smooth, continuous stroke until he was completely encased by Dave's chute. They both let out a sigh. Tony kissed the back of Dave's neck. Then he placed his tongue at the bottom of the back of Dave's left ear and slowly licked to the top. He felt Dave shudder. The back of Dave's right ear was the next target of Tony's tongue resulting in another shudder. Tony began to withdraw slowly but only for an inch or two before sliding back in. After a few moments he repeated the motion and then set up a pleasant, pulsating rhythm.

Surprisingly, for all the time they'd been together, this was a position they'd never tried. Dave quickly decided he liked it. The position afforded maximum body contact like no other. Dave turned his head as far to his left as he could and Tony's lips were there, waiting for him. Dave lifted his feet, which were outside Tony's, and slipped them over the top of Tony's heels. This seemed to lock them together and aid Dave's reverse thrusts back against Tony's invading love tool. They moved as one, they felt as one. Dave had folded his hands under the pillow. Tony reached under the pillow, found Dave's hands and moved them straight out away from their bodies, intertwining their fingers. If seen from above, they created the appearance of two Leonardo di Vinci Vitruvian men, one superimposed over the other, locked in the act of love.

As their passion intensified, Tony reached under Dave's chest and gently massaged Dave's ever-sensitive nipples causing him to moan with pleasure. Their passion mounted and expanded. Tony read the signs and knew they were near the precipice. He repositioned his hands out away from their bodies and again intertwined his fingers with Dave's. Seconds later they shared a new experience: one single, massive orgasm, a physical, emotional, spiritual event that caused both men to cry out in passion and left them gasping for air. It gave the two men a feeling of total oneness. Tony's love juices flooded into his lover and Dave released his fluid onto the towel.

Their post-orgasmic high seemed to intensify before it finally began to ebb. Dave was in no hurry for it to end because feeling Tony stretched out on top of him was a pleasure he wanted to last as long as possible. Tony almost couldn't believe the new high their coupling had achieved. Eventually Tony softened and no matter how tightly Dave squeezed his sphincter he couldn't keep his lover inside him. After several minutes Tony began to untangle their fingers in preparation for dismounting his lover.

"No." Dave pleaded softly. He felt Tony's body relax once more on top of him.

"No, what?" Tony asked quietly.

"Don’t go, I like the way you feel on top of me."

"I'm not too heavy?"

"It feels good; please stay a little longer."

"Sure." Tony turned his head to his left and lay it against the back of Dave's neck. Dave could feel the stubble on Tony's face scratching his neck and he loved it.

Several minutes later: "You're wonderful," Tony whispered.

"So are you."

"I mean making love with you is like…" Tony searched his memory bank for the right words. "…is like living a dream… only better." Tony's voice was filled with sincerity, conviction.

Dave immediately recognized that his partner had said 'making love WITH you' not 'TO you.' And in his mind there was a big difference. It meant that they were loving together, as one and that was something to treasure. Dave was ready to turn over so he untangled his fingers from Tony's and began to move. Tony quickly read Dave's body movements and extended his arms, lifting himself up off of his lover. Dave rolled to his left and Tony followed then Dave pulled Tony back down on top of him.

"That was a beautiful thing to say," Dave said softly as he gazed into Tony's eyes. "Have I told you that I love you?"

"Yeah, and in so many wonderful ways," Tony replied. (Long kiss.)

"How come we never tried it that way before?" Dave asked softly. (Short kiss.)

"You like?" (Short kiss.)

"It was wonderful!" Dave almost gasped. (Short kiss.)

"Then you'll have ta do me next time; I wanna know how it feels." (Short kiss.)

"I dunno, I may never want to top again," Dave chuckled. (Short kiss.)

"I love you, David Baker." (Short kiss.)

"And I love you, Anthony Mancuso." (Long kiss.)


Following several more minutes of cuddling the two men got out of bed. Dave picked up the towel and threw it in the laundry hamper on their way to the shower. Sophia had invited them for dinner that evening. Tony warned Dave to expect leftover turkey with some kind of pasta floating in maranara sauce but she crossed him up with a pot roast.

Of course Sophia expected a full report of how things went back home and Tony and Dave were happy to tell what happened. Sean and Sophia filled Dave and Tony in on how their Thanksgiving had gone and the evening passed quickly.

Sunday after church the five Platoon members stood in the parking lot and visited for a while before going their separate ways. After changing into more casual clothes, Dave and Tony departed for Kate's house and another home-cooked meal.

"Ya know Christmas isn't that far away," Dave asked as the BMW purred along the Interstate.

"Man how time flies!" Tony exclaimed.

"Have you given any thought about presents for our extended families?"

Tony looked at his love and smiled. "No, not really, but something tells me you have." Dave could hear the smile in Tony's voice. Tony knew it was Dave's anal-retentive nature that caused him to plan ahead and get everything organized. It was one of the main things he loved about Dave.

Dave glanced to his right and then back to the road, chuckling all the while. "Well, I'd like to bounce an idea off your noggin."

"This won't hurt will it?"

"No-o-o," Dave chuckled some more. "Not with your hard head." He chuckled again.

"Ouch, that hurt," Tony chuckled. "I know what I'm gonna get you, but go ahead."

"Oh? Whatta ya gonna get me?" Dave asked with a glance toward his partner.

"Just you never mind. Watch the road and tell me more about your plan."

Dave smiled. The way he and Tony played off each other was so much fun. "I've been trying to come up with some ideas for presents we can give our two families, Kate's and Sophia's."

"We?" Tony asked.

"Well yeah. Now that we're together, you know, a couple, don't ya think WE should be giving gifts?"

Tony pondered that for a moment. "Yeah, I guess you're right. So you been thinkin' and what have you come up with?"

"Well, they all have so much that it’s pretty hard to find something they need or want. And after each Christmas Kate makes the boys select a bunch of toys they no longer need and they give them to an under-privileged children's charity. So-o-o-o, what would you think… now this is a little complicated." It was like Dave was warning his lover.

"Yeah?" Tony asked with anticipation, indicating Dave had his full attention.

"Okay, here goes. Remember the condo in Vail?"

"The one you've never seen?"

"Yeah. Connie and Adam have used it a couple of times. Even Alex and Steve have been there a few times, also Art and Beth. But not I. So what would you think about us inviting Sean and John and the boys to join us in Vail after New Year? Like I mean, it would be just us guys. The boys have about a week and a half before school starts again. We could go skiing - I've never done that - and have a real great 'guy' time."

Tony sat quietly listening to his partner's proposal. His immediate reaction was to go defensive. It was Dave's condo and Tony didn't feel like he was actually contributing anything. It was always Dave with his money and at times Tony couldn't help feeling… how did he feel? Used? Worthless? Unimportant? Poor? Tony was about to turn and star out the window to his right but decided that the body language would be too negative. Then almost like he was reading Tony's mind, Dave continued without waiting for a reply.

"Ya know, that's Paul's condo, not mine; it's part of his trust. And there's no reason why we shouldn't use it. I could never think of proposing something like this if you weren't with me," Dave turned and looked at his man.

Tony gazed upon his lover's face. The serious look he saw matched the seriousness in Dave's voice. Tony's self doubts dissolved. He smiled.

"That would be so fun!" Tony exclaimed. But another thought popped into his mind. "But what about the women? Shouldn't we invite them too? Won't they be offended, insulted?"

"Well… I thought about that," Dave kinda mused. "I think sometimes Kate feels a little overwhelmed, always surrounded by the men in her house. I really think she'd like some time off for just her and Susan. And I was thinkin' we could give her a gift certificate to one of those day spas so that she could go get pampered while we're gone."

"Hey, that's a great idea! I'm sure Sophia would like that too. And if we gave them certificates at the same place, my nieces could take care of Susan while the two women had a day together. Man, that is way cool!" Tony was outwardly excited. He no longer felt defensive about his financial position in all of this. Dave had managed to erase those feelings by the way he'd framed his explanation and stating just how much he needed his partner.

"Another question!"

"Ask, oh great one." Dave replied.

"Well, I know we'll use our airline privileges to get there and Sean and Shannon can get passes. What about John and the boys?"

"Money's not a problem for John. I believe he'll jump at the chance to take the boys skiing."

"So I'm with you on this, Babe. Let's do it!"

"Great! We can start working on the details next week.


Their visit with John, Kate and the boys was especially rewarding because David's parents were there also. Everyone wanted to hear all about their Thanksgiving visit with Tony's parents and the two men had much to tell. Being with the three Close boys again made Dave and Tony realize just how much they missed them since they moved away. The opportunity to have all the men together seemed like such a terrific idea.



The month of December ushered in the social season. Dave's firm held its office party early in the month and Dave proudly introduced Tony to his business colleagues, their wives and partners. Mrs. Hastings was just as charming as usual and seemed to express a genuine liking for both men. That party provided the excuse for Tony to purchase a Tux, which he would wear many times that month. The two men spent one weekend in Dallas for the AANCF meeting and joined Alex, Steve, Connie, Adam, Art, and Beth at a black-tie Christmas affair. At 5-months, Connie was definitely showing but she didn't let that stop her from having a good time. This would probably be her last big social event before the blessed event in April.

Back home the semester ended and when grades arrived each of the three Platoon members collected two A's each, six total. The big surprise was Mike, the guy who never got better than a C in high school. Living with Dave had opened Mike's eyes about being a student. He'd seen how Dave focused so intently on his studies and for the first time in his life Mike had a role model of a serious student. Following Dave's example, Mike's focus and hard work paid off in spades. But the most important thing Mike learned was that making good grades wasn't really that hard, he just had to commit and apply himself. Of course, having the support and encouragement of his lover and the rest of the Platoon was a big help also.

Tony's reward went beyond the 'A' he got in his real estate class. Immediately after the final exam, everyone who wanted to was afforded the opportunity to take the State Real Estate License Examination. Two weeks later he received a notice that he'd passed the exam and would be granted his license.


THE social event of the year was next on Dave and Tony's agenda - attending the annual fundraising gala for the Municipal Symphony Orchestra to which Dave had contributed $20,000. This gave Tony another opportunity to wear his new Tux and he thought he looked really handsome in it.

They drove in Dave's BMW and as they approached Symphony Hall they encountered a slow-moving line of expensive cars. Dave explained that he'd stop in front of the Hall, they'd get out of the car and a valet service would park it. When Dave stopped in front of the hall, Tony opened his door and stepped out of the car. He was immediately blinded by the bright lights of TV cameras and photographers. Dave stepped out of his car, turned it over to the valet and walked behind the car to where Tony stood waiting, trying to grasp the magnitude of the scene. He grinned at his approaching partner and Dave grinned back. Standing side by side for a moment, they turned straight ahead and faced the cameras. As they took their first steps up the red carpet toward the entrance to the Hall, their hands touched briefly as though they were passing a message of support between them. At one point a young lady stuck a microphone in front of Dave's face and asked for a comment. Dave managed some brief words about how much he hoped everyone would support the symphony and was looking forward to a productive season, then they continued walking. Tony couldn't help thinking how much this scene reminded him of the zoo outside the Oscar Award Ceremony in L.A.

Inside Symphony Hall, Tony never left Dave's side. All the men looked handsome and the ladies were beautiful in their long gowns. As they nursed their drinks Tony was both impressed with his lover and nervous as he kept getting introduced to the rich and powerful people of the city and the state. He met the Governor, the Mayor, and several well-known government and business leaders and their wives. All that time, it was clear to Tony that Dave was proud to introduce him to those people. And even though Dave didn't say they were partners, it was obvious that many of those he met were completely cognizant of their relationship. He felt so proud.

The first half of the evening's program consisted of selections from Berlioz and Schumann. Following the intermission the symphony played Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 in E minor. By the end of the performance, Tony felt like he was going to burst. He'd spent the entire evening elbow-to-elbow with the man he loved and listening to a superb performance of music he loved. A tear rolled down his cheek as he stood applauding. 'I must have a guardian angel,' he thought. The evening had far exceeded anything he'd ever imagined he'd be doing just a few months earlier as he left the Marines in what he considered a shroud of shame.

Tony's life would change again on Monday morning. He'd been at work less than 15 minutes when one of his co-workers approached him.

"Say, Tony."

"Mornin', Grove, 'sup?"

"Oh, not much," Grover acted like he was uneasy about something. "Say, uh… I don't mean ta trouble ya or nothin'…" he paused as Tony turned to give Grover his full attention. "Uh, did ya go ta that orchestra thing Saturday night?" Tony just nodded. "Uh, my wife, she likes ta read the society pages in the paper. An' uh… this mornin' she was a lookin' through the paper… an' she was talkin' 'bout these two guys in the paper an'… she wanted me ta look at 'em and see how good lookin' they were… an', ah, she said the two guys were definitely in love with each other… an' ah… she showed me the picture… an' it was a picture of you. You an' Mr. Baker. Y'all were all decked out in fancy duds and goin' to the concert. I didn't know you two were such good friends."

"Yeah, Grove, we are," Tony replied as he looked directly at Grover, strengthened by his love for Dave, unashamed and unafraid of where this conversation was going.

"Well, uh… ain't none of my business and uh… it don't bother me none… but some of the other guys? Well, they, uh… they might not take too kindly to ya if'n they saw that picture. I mean, like… well, I think ya know what I mean."

"Was there anything wrong with the picture, Grove?" Tony had seen the picture and it looked just fine to him. Two men, walking side by side and grinning like two Cheshire cats as they walked toward the concert hall. The more he visualized the picture in his mind the more he began to see what Grover was getting at - the two guys in the picture were 'an item.' It showed in their smiles. It showed in their body language. Anybody could see it.

"Uh, never mind, Grove, I think I understand what you're saying. And thanks, I appreciate you coming to tell me." Tony extended his hand, which Grover shook before turning and returning to his work. Tony stood still for a moment watching Grover walk away. He was curious about why Grover had come to him with such a sensitive issue. Tony immediately went to the construction office trailer looking for Sam.

"Mornin', Tony." Sam looked up from his desk as Tony entered the trailer and closed the door behind him. "I saw your and Dave's picture in this morning's paper. You two really looked happy."

"Yeah, Sam, that's what I came to talk about. Grove already told me his wife showed him the picture and he kinda hinted, well, warned is more like it, that some of the other guys might not be too friendly if they knew about me and Dave."

"I see," Sam thought for a moment. "Well, I do see Grove's point." Sam stood from his chair and began to pace the floor. "I suppose this was bound to happen sooner or later. What would you propose we do, I mean how would you like to handle this?"

"I suppose I ought to leave, Sam. You've been awfully good to me and I don’t want to do anything that'll cause a problem for you and your crew, especially leave you short handed. But under the circumstances… besides, I just got my real estate license so I guess there's no time like the present to start finding out if I can make it in that business."

"Well, Tony, I understand. And you KNOW I understand. I'm gonna miss ya but I think you're right, the timing is right and this is an opportunity ya can't pass up. It's not like we won't be seeing each other again. Dave's like a son to me and I've come to see you the same way. So we'll be in contact through Philos, at least." Sam stepped forward, Tony extended his hand, which Sam grasped and used to draw them into a hug. Smiling at each other as the stepped back, Sam said, "I'll have your check sent to you and include any bonuses you might be eligible for."

Tony, thinking their business was concluded turned and stepped toward the door. "Hold on there, son." Tony stopped and turned back toward Sam who was fishing around in the middle drawer of his desk. "Here," he said as he extended his hand offering Tony a business card. "Look these folks up and tell 'em I sent you. And don't be too bashful to tell 'em you're Dave's partner, they'll understand." A smile spread across Sam's face.

"Sure, Sam," Tony was suddenly excited by the turn of events. "And thanks again, I really appreciate this." He shook hands with Sam one more time before leaving the trailer. He got into his truck immediately and left for home. Once there, he called Dave and told him what had happened. Dave expressed surprise and then disappointment that the photo in the newspaper had compromised Tony's situation and he felt some personal responsibility. But Tony was much more positive about it. He viewed it not as a problem but as an opportunity, and, hearing the optimism in Tony's voice, Dave was quickly convinced.

Tony sat down at the kitchen table and took a sip of the coffee he'd just poured. He stared out the window and felt buoyed by his situation. But what would he do for the rest of the day? Then it came to him. He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out the business card Sam had given him. 'Bridgeman-Gill, Realtors', the business card said. The name had a nice ring to it and Tony liked it.

"Christmas isn't exactly the best time of the year to be getting onto the real estate business but on the other hand maybe it is. The housing market is usually slow and that should give me time to learn a few things with less pressure. And I can still go to school at night." He took another sip of coffee and let his impulse guide him. "By golly, I've got nothing else to do today; I'll change clothes and go have a look, maybe stop in and say hello." Excited, Tony dumped the remainder of his coffee in the sink and headed toward the bedroom.


"I'm home," Dave half shouted as he walked into the kitchen. He assumed Tony was home because his truck was in the garage.

"In here!" Tony called out, the sound of his voice coming from the library.

Dave walked into the library to find Tony still wearing his white dress shirt and a tie and seated behind the desk. Scattered across the top of the desk were all kinds of documents and thick books. "What the…" Dave began.

"I got a job, Babe!" Tony exclaimed grinning from ear to ear and appearing every bit like a little boy with a new toy. He stood up to greet his lover.

"WAY-TO-GO!" Dave almost shouted in disbelief. He thrust both hands in the air, palms out, and Tony raised his hands and they did a double hi-five, which quickly transitioned to a tight hug. "Man, that was quick!" Dave exclaimed as they kissed briefly.

"Yeah, it was," Tony agreed. "Let's go out to dinner and I'll tell ya all about it; I've been too busy to cook."


Since they were both dressed in suits, they decided to go to a nicer restaurant where they'd have a better chance to find a quite table. Tony explained how Sam had referred him to 'Bridgeman-Gill, Realtors' and with nothing to do for the rest of the day he'd decided to pay them a visit. Rusty Bridgeman, the senior partner in the firm, is a retired Marine. Tony's being a Marine definitely worked in his favor. Garrett Gill, the junior partner, is Rusty's wife's brother and he's gay, which was another plus to his resume.

Tony went on to explain how he'd followed Sam's advice and told them that Sam had suggested he contact them and he and Dave were partners. What started out as a tentative attempt at finding a job turned into a one-hour meeting, including lunch, and a firm job offer. Tony explained that he had a previous commitment after the New Year and Bridgeman said that was not a problem. Accepting the offer, Tony now realized that he was under the microscope to produce and he welcomed the opportunity.

The thing that excited Dave the most about Tony's good fortune was not only the positive attitude Tony maintained, but how he could act on an impulse and make things turn out in his favor. Dave always had to plan everything out and know what all the answers were before he asked the questions.


Christmas Eve, Dave's Platoon gathered at his house for their customary pitch-in dinner before going to an evening church service. But before the rest of the Platoon arrived, Dave and Tony decided to get their own gift exchange out of the way so they could enjoy everyone else's. Sitting on the floor in front of the tree and beside of the fireplace, they flipped a coin and Tony went first. He first gave Dave a new tie. He'd gone to Brooks Brothers and let Reuben advise him and the tie was perfect for Dave's wardrobe. Next, Dave gave Tony a new dress shirt, one of many he now had a need for. Then Tony gave Dave a new DVD/CD player that held five disks and Dave gave Tony a new Dell laptop. Rusty Bridgeman had advised him that the firm used Dell and then Rusty load all of the Company software so that the first time Tony booted it up it would be ready to go.

Until this year the Platoon had exchanged gifts with each other but with Tony joining the group and Dan being single, a gift exchange this year seemed both awkward and financially unfair, especially for Dan. But in spite of their agreement, Dan gave Mike and Todd a CD and another to Dave and Tony. The two couples, in turn, each gave Dan a CD and everyone had a good laugh at their failed attempt at canceling the gift-exchange. Dan, being the tech guy, hooked up Dave's DVD/CD player and they listened to their gifts.

Christmas morning, Dave and Tony were up very early and drove to Kate and John's. Bob and Nancy Baker were there along with John's parents. Dave was able to slip two envelopes under the tree with anyone detecting him. After they shared the excitement of the boy's opening their presents the adults opened theirs. Everyone was finished when JD noticed the two envelopes.

"What're these?" JD asked. "One says 'Kate' an' the other says 'John, Mark, Matt, an' JD, that's me."

"Why," Kate remarked with interest. "Where did those come from? Let me see that." She took the envelope addressed to her and opened it. "OH… oh my, oh my, oh…" She grinned at her brother and his partner. "Dave, Tony, you shouldn't have!"

"What is it, dear," Nancy asked excitedly. "Here, Mother, look!" She handed the certificate to her mother.

"Oh that's wonderful!" Nancy exclaimed. "It's a gift certificate for a day spa in the city. A whole day of being pampered. Dave, Tony, how nice of you!

"Oh how I can use that!" Kate laughed. "John, what's in your envelope?"

John had delayed opening his envelope until he found out what was in Kate's. He tore off the end of the envelope and blew gently until it popped open then he reached in and withdrew the piece of paper. Dave and Tony had worked together on Dave's computer designing an interesting invitation. John just stared at the invitation then looked at Dave and Tony, then at the boys.

"I don't believe this!" John spoke quietly. "Are you sure you know what you're getting yourselves into?" He asked Dave and Tony with a grin.

"Well, we're waiting," Bob stated impatiently. "Is it a secret?"

"Oh no," John gushed excitedly. "It's no secret, I'll read it."













"You're kidding!" Kate exclaimed as she swiftly crossed the room and leaned over John shoulder to read for herself.

"We're goin' skiin'!" JD almost screamed as he began to jump up and down excitedly. Pandemonium broke out as the boy's level of excitement reached a fever pitch. For several minutes they completely forgot their other gifts as they began asking what seemed like hundreds of questions.


Following a late breakfast with the Close household plus parents, Dave and Tony drove back north where they had Christmas dinner with Sophia, Sean, and the family. The McGregor family reaction to their gifts was much the same as the Close family.


The rest of the week leading up to the New Year was punctuated by one surprise. Saturday afternoon, Tony picked up the TV remote and pressed the power button. The set came alive just in time for the introduction of the football game. Suddenly the picture went blank and the TV shut down.

"Dave!" Tony called out. Dave walked into the great room from the kitchen carrying two beers and some popcorn.

"What's up?" he asked.

"It's what down. The TV just shut down and I can't get it to power back up," Tony explained as he continued to press the power button.

"Really?" Dave asked with disbelief. "Let's have a look." He sat the beers and popcorn down and walked directly to the TV. Nothing he tried had any effect. The TV had expired. "Well Hon, you know any quick eulogies? This puppy is done for." Tony started laughing at the casual way Dave had pronounced the equipment dead. Then Dave began to laugh.

"Whatta we do now?" Tony asked. "The guys are comin' over here Thursday to watch Bowl games. We could ask Mike and Todd to host the gang."

"Try this." Dave suggested. "Our recreation room is finished but it needs a TV. So let's go get one of those big-screen jobbies and have our party up there."

"Wow! That'll be great."

"Besides," Dave continued. "I never liked having the TV in this room. I'll put the beer back in the fridge and we can take the popcorn with us."

The two men went all out. They purchased a large Sony entertainment system with surround sound. Tony proposed they move the DVD/CD player to the rec-room where it would be more useful. With a little monitory persuasion Dave managed to convince the video story to deliver the system that afternoon. They were excited to see the reaction of the rest of the Platoon.

Wednesday, New Year's eve, the members of Dave's Platoon served the evening meal for the residents of Roehl House. It was something they enjoyed doing for people who were in need of so much support. After the dinner the guys attended a party in the same apartment complex where Dan, Mike and Todd lived.

The next day the Platoon arrived early at Dave and Tony's carrying bowls and plates filled with food. Everyone enjoyed the large-screen TV and the comfortable lounge chairs in which to watch football. The men selected which team they wanted to support and shouted and booed and cheered, having a great time.

It was a super way to start a New Year.


(To be continued.)