Chapter Two: Giving LOVE A Chance

a story by: Solace Lenity

This is a story about, well,  love and chance.  It is for the most part, a work of pure fiction, though some of the situations discussed are drawn from life experiences (particularly the romantic ones).  Though not in the beginning, this story will eventually contain sexual acts between consenting adults.  Gay characters have gay sex, so if this bothers you, or if it is illegal to read such materials due to your age or where you live, then please do not read further.  All copy rights are held by the author, so please do not duplicate, print, alter, or resubmit (or anything else I may have missed ) this story without first obtaining written permission from the author. 

Further notes:  This story will address several social issues in a perspective in which you may or may not agree.  It is also a story centered around life and love between friends, family, and partners, along with romance, and it is not intended to be a jerk-off story.  There are spiritual and paranormal themes which affect the lives of the characters.  Finally, the story is told in the various points of view of the characters involved.  (To make this process easier, each character's story is distinguished by a specific color and font style dedicated to that character.)

This is my first attempt at writing fiction of any kind.  If you have any comments, ideas, suggestions, etc., I would love to hear them. I have greatly enjoyed the comments I have received thus far and wish to thank you all for taking the time to send them.    Please contact me via solacelenity@yahoo.com


I entered the house in a stupor, to say the least.  I was totally lost in thought, replaying everything that had happened from the instant I walked into that bookstore over and over again in my mind.  Somehow, I had mindlessly dropped my books down in the middle of the foyer and walked into the living room, where I collapsed into one of the overstuffed chairs.  However, I really do not remember any of this, for I was deeply lost in my contemplation. 

I could see him, my little wizard, in all his splendid glory.  He was just so damned adorable... his hair, arranged so conservatively, and how it compared to it being messed up after the rain storm... his smile, with perfect pearls of white teeth, accentuated with innocence given by his dimples... his full, soft lips... and his body, as his rain-soaked clothes clung tightly to his well-developed form.  Then, there was his eyes... those emerald green windows that were illuminated by a soul so beautiful that it was beyond description.  My body reenacted other sensations as well, for I could feel the gentleness of his touch... the tingling sensations that raced up my spine simply from being near him... the sound of his soft, sexy voice and how it made my knees quiver... the smell of his cologne and his own scent that aerated during the storm and on the drive home... his lips grazing my own... the taste of him as we kissed... and the feel of him pressing against me.  The experience was just so euphoric.

To me, Killian is the embodiment of perfection.  I guess love can make you see things... make the person you fall in love with take on characteristics your mind wishes were there.  Someone on a more average range can rank much higher in the eyes of the one who adores him.  Then, when you take into consideration the heart of the man you love, that ranking becomes multiplied a million times over.  Having the love you feel returned?  Well that shoots the score up so high that no other man could possibly compete with the one you love.  I suppose that is what has happened to me in Killian's eyes, for I have never understood why someone so angelic... so special... so far beyond anything I could ever plausibly hope to be worthy of loving... chose to love ME.   But, as for my perception of Killian, well the reality of him is far more than I can fathom.  His beauty supersedes well beyond what my limited mind and heart can comprehend.  I could live a thousand lifetimes and never even begin to truly understand just how wonderful he really is.

I replayed all the events in my mind.  The more I thought about it all, the more I determined that this was no mere accident, no chance encounter at all.  These were not simple random forces that drew us together, this was destiny.  Even Valerie had said so, that God had fashioned us to be complementary to one another.  But, if it was in fact ordained for us to be together, then why was the message she gave us 'As God is giving your love a chance, so shall he give you both a chance to love'

Then it hit me.  Chance means more than a random accident of circumstance.  It also denotes more than experiencing windfalls of luck.  Chance signifies possibilities and opportunities.  In those terms, the message made sense.  We would need to be open to all the possibilities love would bring and seize each opportunity to express our love.  Feeling certain I had solved that riddle, I began my efforts to decipher the other cryptic messages Valerie had given us.

In my mind, I could hear voices echoing off in the distance, but I was too lost in my own world to give them much heed.   Suddenly, an ice-breaking chill drove me from my thoughts as I plummeted back to reality.  "What the Hell!" I screamed out in shock.

" 'Bout damn time you snapped out of  whatever it was you were in.  What the hell is wrong with you?" 
Jena asked in a firm, yet concerned voice.  "And if you're mad about the water, it was Ethan's idea," Jena said in a sudden panic, grabbing her brother and slinging him in front of her like a sacrificial lamb, "so go ahead.  Slug him!  Slug him good!"

"Why you lying bitch!" 
Ethan said in shock.  He then quickly maneuvered Jena back in front of him and held her steadily by the arms.  "Deck her 'Nawha.  She is the one who decided to douse you with the ice water.  Now you are gonna get what is coming to you, you lying little bitch."

To say I was pissed would be an understatement.  But as I looked at their faces, I could see the concern that brought all this on.  They had no idea what was going on in my mind, nor what events had transpired today.  In looking at the whole situation, I could not help but smile. 

I stood and both twins quickly made a break for it.  However, my long arms quickly grabbed each, and I pulled them both into a big bear hug.  Laughing, I said, "You guys just kill me sometimes.  You know that.  God, I am just so lucky to have two wonderful friends like you in my life.  I just don't know where I would be without you."  I truly felt this way, blessed to have them both. 

The twins just looked at each other perplexedly.  Then Ethan turned to me and said, "OK, who the hell are you, and what have you done with our roommate?"

I chuckled.  "What?  Can't a guy just have a good day and want to share it with his best friends?"

"OK.  Now you are really scaring me." 
Ethan said.  Then he looked at his sister.  "Girl, it is my professional opinion that he has totally cracked up."

Though it is true I would have normally pelted them both for this but good, I was different now.  Killian's effect on me, I surmised.  I just rolled my eyes at him.  Then Jena spoke up.  "OK.  If you have not totally lost it, then tell me what is wrong."

"Nothing.  Nothing is wrong at all, why?" 
I asked, in the most reassuring way I could muster.

"Don't you try and pull that shit on me Kanawha.  You have been slumped over here in this chair for a good twenty minutes while Ethan and I have been trying to get your attention.  We were worried sick about you!  Now, tell us.  What the hell is wrong with you?!" 
Jena demanded.

"I told you already.  Nothing is wrong.  I just..." 
I paused to collect my thoughts.  "I met someone today, OK.  There.  That is all it is.  I was just replaying it all in my mind, and I guess I just did not hear you guys.  I am sorry if I worried you, but believe me, nothing is wrong.  For once, everything is right."

"Oh, my God, Ethan!  He is in love!   Hehehe!  I never thought I would say that about you Stormy." 
Jena joked. 

"This morning, I would've never thought it were possible either.  But you are right.  I am.  I am SO in love!" I declared.

She then sat on the arm of one of the chairs and pat the seat beside her.  "So, park it and spill it.  I want to know all about how you lost your heart to... hell, I wanna know when you got a heart to begin with!"

I snickered at that one.  Then I sat next to Jena in the seat of the chair and Ethan sat on the foot stool.  So I told them about our meeting.  "Well, we met in the bookstore and it just happened.  We then had lunch and a wonderful time walking around campus.  I have never felt so alive in my life.  God!  I feel wonderful!"

"Oh!  Guy, you SO suck at this!"
Ethan interjected, while Jena shook her head in agreement.  "Details man...  you know... descriptives... what did they look like, what all happened, what was it like, where did you go, how did you feel... actually tell us about it."

I pondered on this a minute, trying to figure out what to say next.  How revealing did I really want to be?  You have to remember, I'm not one for opening up to people, especially about mushy shit like love and feelings.  I realized that Killian was part of my life forever, and I was overjoyed by this fact.  I quickly accepted that I wanted to sing it from the mountain tops.  So, I decided to tell Jena and Ethan everything.  " OK.  He is about 5'11" tall, dark brown hair with slight auburn highlights, a cute little button nose with a few freckles here and there.  He wears these cute little wire-framed glasses and has a smile that just melts your heart, especially with those dimples of his.  He's clean shaven, with smooth, pale skin.  Just one look in those beautiful emerald green eyes of his, and I was totally smitten.  There is just something about him... being with him makes me feel different.  Hell, it just makes me feel.  He makes me want to be a better person, someone worthy of loving him.  I have never been so alive!  When he touched my hand, I almost passed out.  That is how intense it was.  Like I said, we met in the bookstore, and I was instantly drawn to him.  I even initiated our meeting by getting his attention, if you can believe that.  Anyway, we then ate lunch at the corner café. Remind me to tell you all about that later. That was one weird experience... good, but weird.  Afterwards, we went for a wonderful stroll around the campus, and we even danced around in the rain.  Then, he dropped me off here.  Oh, and we have a date!  Me... I have a date!  I am so excited... and a little anxious to be honest. And, I almost forgot.  He kissed me!"

"What was the kiss like?  Did it get you all boned up or what?" 
Ethan enthused.

"Guy, you just don't know the half of it!  It was just so passionate.  And that firm ass of his, it just..."

"HE, huh!"
Jena interrupted.  Then, she slapped me on the arm.  "You fucking bastard!"


I was somewhat surprised when Kanawha came home the way he did.  He just dumped his books in the middle of the floor, did not take his shoes off at the door, and came into the living room and flopped down in one of the chairs with soaking wet clothes on!  You have to understand, he is one of the most anal persons I have ever met when it comes to being neat and tidy.  This was just way out of character for him. 

"Hey, big guy.  You feeling alright?"  No response.  "You know, you are gonna get sick, not to mention ruining your furniture, staying in those wet clothes, "  Still nothing.  I went over and tried to shake him, but zero reaction.  I was really worried by this point.  Kanawha was just sitting there with this glazed look in his eyes and this goofy smile plastered on his face.  I almost thought he was in some sort of epileptic seizure, but the signs and symptoms said otherwise.  So, I thought I would use the trump cards.  "Yo!  Injun boy!"  Still, no response.  "Hey!  Half-breed!"  Well, knowing how much he hates anyone making any kind of cracks about his heritage, I figured if neither of those worked, then nothing would, except for one thing. 

I then broke out my cell.  "Hey, Sis.  How soon can you be home?...  It is Kanawha...   I am not sure what is wrong with him. He is just acting really weird, and I cannot get a response out of him.  He came in, dropped his books in the middle of the floor, then flopped down in a chair with his shoes and wet clothes on... Yea, I realize that is not like him.  Why do you think I called you?...  Well, I called him 'Injun boy' and  'Half-breed', but nothing...  Yea, Sis, I realize that he would normally rip my ass into, but like I have told you before, he is not responding...  Yea, that is why I asked how soon you could be here.  I mean, if you cannot get a response from him, then he is lost forever...  Well, hurry up and get here, already!... OK.  Bye."

Man, sometimes she is so annoying!  I mean, she is my sister and all, and God knows I love her, but damn it!  She just gets on my nerves sometimes. 
Anyhow, within a few minutes, the bitch arrived home.  "So, what was he doing before he got here?"  She asked.

"Sis, if I could get that out of him, I would not have needed to call you in the first place." 
I said patronizingly.

"Well, Stormy, I can understand you ignoring Ethan like that and all.  I mean, who really wants to talk to that looser anyway, right?  But I am here now, so you can drop the act." 
No response.  "Well, I know you think I am beautiful, but really, you don't have to go all speechless on me.  Come on Kanawha.  Say something."  Zero reaction.  Let me just say here that part of me was really worried about my best friend.  The other part of me, however, enjoyed seeing that Jena, being such the cocky bitch that she is, was having no more success than I had.  After several more attempts, many of which were really good insults I plan on saving to use later, Jena just shook her head.  "Well, if you ask me, he is in some kind of a stupor or something, not responsive at all."  Jena said, stating the obvious. 

"Really?  I had no idea.  Thank you so much for pointing that out!" 
I growled.  "Don't you think I know that already?!"  I shot out.  Then, I took ten and calmed myself down.  "The question is, what do we do about it."

Jena thought a moment.  "Well, I think we should slap him."

"OK.  You wanna slap Kanawha, then be my guest.  Go on tough girl.  Slap the big hulk of a man that can tear you into a hundred pieces." 
I sneered. 

"Well, Psycho boy.  You are the one working towards being a psychologist.  You tell me what is wrong with him and what to do." 
She said, her temper rearing its ugly head.  Man, I hate it when she does that... belittles me and what I do.. dismissing it all as if I were nothing.  Lord, she can push every single button I have, and I just want to strangle her sometimes.  You have any family like that? 

"In all honesty, Jena, it could be any number of things. 
He could be in shock, but his breathing is normal, not shallow and labored, so I don't think so. 
He could have had some sort of mental trauma that brought upon a defense mechanism, like a conversion disorder.  Without more to go on, I just don't know." 
I admitted in frustration.  I was so worried and stressed.  "I just cannot think straight, Sis.  I mean, he is my best friend... my only friend besides you.  God, we can't loose him like this." I said, starting to tear up.  "Some psychologist I am going to make!  In the midst of a crisis and I panic."  I then sat on the love seat and rubbed my head in defeat.

Jena came over and sat beside me, rubbing my back gently"Look, don't be so hard on yourself.  You said it yourself.  He is our best friend.  You are just too involved to see things clearly.  And I for one think you will make a fine psychologist.  You have a good heart and you are intuitive.  I really think you will help a lot of people, and I... well I am proud of you.  Whether I show and tell you that or not, I am.   OK.  So don't be hard on yourself.  After all, it is my job to be hard on you, and I do it so well, don't I?" 

I had to laugh at that.  "The best."  I admitted eagerly.  See, it is times like this that I realize how lucky I am to have Jena.  The rest of the time, she is just a big pain in my ass.  But, in honesty, I would be lost without her.  We're soul mates, we both know that.  And I really do love her.  But she can be rather annoying regardless.

"Well, you don't have to agree so quickly, sheesh." 
Jena joked.  I could tell the wheels were turning in her head.  "I tell you Ethan, I am tired of just sitting here all helpless."  With that, Jena strolled into the kitchen and returned with a pitcher of  ice water.  She then said, "Well big guy, just remember I love you enough to do this to ya!"  She then dumped the ice water over Kanawha's head.

I was so relieved when Kanawha snapped out of his stupor.   Jena, of course annoyed me when she tried to blame it all on me.  Though I have to admit, it was clever and funny.  I just knew we were dead meat, but I did not expect him to hug us and tell us how lucky he was to have us as friends.  I mean that is not the Kanawha I knew for the past 18 years.  That is why I reacted as I did, that and to be a smart ass.
  OK.  I admit I like to joke around and be a smart ass sometimes.  Shoot me.  Anyway, I was torn with mixed feelings of excitement for Kanawha and a sense of loss for myself as he told us all about his new found love.  However, seeing as he is my best friend, I decided to be completely supportive.  Things were going well, when Jena had to open her big trap.

"He, huh!  You fucking bastard!"
she swore as she smacked his arm. 

I had to smile at that, because I knew why Jena was upset.  Kanawha, on the other hand, had no clue as to why she turned on him, and he had such an anguished look on his face.  I knew I had to intervene quickly.
  "Hey, big guy.  Don't get upset or worried.  It is not what you think.  We are both happy for you, aren't we, Sis."

"What?  Oh, Lord!  Stormy, babe, I am so sorry.  Of course I am happy for you.  I am just pissed because asshole over there was right!
Jena replied.  She then dug in her purse and pulled out a fifty dollar bill.  "Here!" she griped, slapping the money in my hand.

"Hehehe!  Right and fifty bucks richer, I must say."
I gloated.

Kanawha asked in utter confusion. 

"Well, see, we kinda had this bet." 
Jena started.  "I bet that you would never tell us you were gay or in a relationship with anyone, unless of course you were caught in the act.  In that case, you would only admit to what you had to..."

"But I believed you would tell us both, most likely together, as soon as you found that special guy." 
I smiled.  "See, big guy, I believed in you!  Hehehe, and believing in you got me fifty bucks!" I taunted Jena.

he Kanawha I have known was then back.  "So, let me get this straight.  You two made a bet about my sexuality and my coming forth about it?!"

"Well, not exactly.  I mean, we both knew you were gay.  We just bet on whether or not you would actually tell us of your own free will." 
Jena stated, and I shook my head in agreement.

"Some fucking friends you are!" 
Kanawha shouted.

"Oh, like you  and Ethan have never made bets about me, or you and I have never made bets about Ethan."
Sis, shot back.  "Face it.  If this bet had not been about you, you would have been all over it."

The big guy was silent for a few moments.  Then he began to chuckle.  "Yea, and I would have bet just like you did, Jena.  I would never normally have admitted anything like that freely.  It is just the effect he has on me."

I asked.

"What do you mean, Who?  Who have we been talking about this entire time?" 
Kanawha growled.

"That 's just it, smart ass.  You never told us his name.  I just want to know his name is all." 
I snapped.

"Oh!  Well, I didn't realize that.  His name is Killian.  Killian Anderson Lord."

"Ooh!  I like that." 
Jena enthused.  "It sounds so stately and, well, kinda sexy."

"Oh, Jena.  The name just does not do him enough justice.  He is so adorable.  I cannot wait for you guys to meet him!" 
Kanawha beamed.  "You guys and Grams will just love him."

"Well, anyone that can get you to open up and admit what is going on in there must be someone special." 
Jena said, placing her hand on his heart.  "Hey, have you told Grams, yet?"

"Well, no.  I am kind of dreading it.  I am just not sure how she will react to it all." 
he admitted, lowering his head.

"YES! " 
Jena shouted.  "Things are looking up!"  She then kissed Kanawha on the cheek.  "You just made my day, Stormy!"

Again, he was lost in confusion.

"See, Grams bet you would tell her first, but we knew if you ever told, it would be to us first...  her later, if you ever told her at all.  Hey, I am up a hundred bucks thanks to you big man!" 
I told him.  Noticing his reaction, I consoled him.  "Yea, guy.  She knew it, too.  So, at least you don't have to worry about her disapproval of you or anything.  But be sure and tell her you told us already... and tell her I want my fifty in cold, hard cash."

"Well, at least I broke even.  Poor Grams.  She lost one hundred bucks today.  Lord, though.  She should have known better!" 
Jena said.  "Well, I am going to my room to get cleaned up.  Be sure and tell Grams I want mine in cash, too.   K Stormy?"

"Do I have 'Big Fag' written on my forehead or something?" 
he sadly sulked. 

"Look, we are your friends and family.  We know you better than anyone.  Hell, probably better than you know yourself.  It is nothing that you did or said.  We just knew.  OK.  And no, I don't think anyone can tell just by looking at you.  And it has nothing to do with your being a man or being manly.  I mean, you are probably the most masculine man I know.  I just knew, maybe because I am a woman... Grams maybe because she is your Grams... and Ethan, well,..."
Jena soothed. 

"Hey, if you don't know your own kind, then who do you know?" 
Ethan interjected.  "Besides, who cares what anyone else thinks anyway.  We are the important ones.  We are your family.  And Killian I am sure is delighted that you are gay.  Otherwise, he would be out one handsome boyfriend.  And as for you, well you damn sure better be happy with it, cause you have yourself one hell of a case of love going on in there." I said rubbing his chest.

Kanawha pulled us both close into another bear hug.  "Thanks, guys.  You mean the world to me.  You know that, and I love you both."

It was kind of strange getting used to Kanawha expressing any kind of feelings openly, but I was really happy for him in finding someone.  I still had a few concerns eating at me in the back of my mind, but I would just deal with them in my own time.  Or, so I thought.  Jena went on to her room, and then Kanawha grabbed me into another bear hug. 

"So, tell me all the details.  You know, like on a scale of one to ten..." 
I started.

"Guy, he is so far beyond any scale..." 
He said, as he began to tell me in great detail everything that had happened.  It was so obvious just how in love he was.  Kanawha was just so animated in telling his story, I had to smile.  It was real love, the kind most people can only dream about... the kind you are willing to wait your entire lifetime to find, if only for one moment, and feel it was worth it all.  The whole thing just brought tears to my eyes.  'Killian sure is one lucky guy,' l smiled to myself,  'but it seems as though Kanawha is equally as fortunate.'

"... And then it happened.  We leaned in and our lips met.  His lips were so soft, and he tasted so wonderful.  I never knew kissing someone would be like this.  The feel of his body... and to have him feel mine... I was so close to the edge, Ethan.  But, we cooled things off, and just slowly came down from our hormonal high.  Then, he asked me out.  It was so cute, the way he bit his lip because he was nervous and all.  Now, I just miss being near him." 
Kanawha said, finishing his love tale up.

I just smiled at him, took his chin in my hand, and kissed him on the tip of the nose.  Then I gave him a big hug.
  "I love you, big guy."

"What was that for?"
he asked. 

"For rekindling my hopes and faith in love and romance, and for just being you... my best friend and big brother." 
I replied.

"So, you gonna tell me what is bothering you, or do I have to play the guessing game again." 
he asked.

"What?  Oh, it is nothing really.  I am so very happy for you, though.  You know that, right?  You are a wonderful guy, and you deserve to live a happy, full life with someone who brings out the best in you.  It seems apparent that you have found him." 
I replied.


"But, nothing.  Look, it is no big deal.  Really." 
I avoided.

"Ethan.  Tell me already.  I cannot fix something if you don't tell me.  Look, I know I have not always shared every little thing going on inside my head, but with anything serious, like I know this is, I always turn to you.  Now, please, bub, tell me what is wrong."

I got all teary at this point and a few fell down my face.  Kanawha gently wiped each one from my cheek with the tip of his finger and held me close, sitting me on his lap.  "It is stupid.  Really, it is.  I love you, more than anything.  Not like sexually or anything.  I mean, you are a good looking guy and all that, but you are my best friend and more like a brother to me."  I paused and collected myself.  Then, I began again.  "Well, I guess it is a mixture of things.  For one, I realize that you will be spending a lot of time with Killian, which is totally understandable.  I guess I am afraid we will not be as close... and that I will miss seeing you so much...  Especially when you eventually move out and in with Killian...  That is what couples do you know, so don't look at me like I am stupid... Thank you, and don't roll your eyes at me either... As I was saying,  I also am a little jealous that you have someone special and I don't.  That one is totally stupid, but I am just being honest here...  But, the biggest thing is that you have always been there for me...  You are there to protect me whenever anything goes wrong... When I first came out to you, you never reacted in any way whatsoever other than being totally loving and supportive... When someone would pick on me, you would beat their ass...  You are my knight in shining armor, big guy.  But, now, you are Killian's knight... not mine anymore.  I am just scared I won't ever find my own knight."

"Oh, Eth.  Man, I swear it will be alright.  I will always be here for you, and even if I am not here in this townhouse, I will never be all that far away.  You are my best friend and brother.  I could never live my life without your being a huge part of it." 
Kanawha assured me.  "As for your knight, hehehe, I never knew you looked at me like that.  Now you got me all blushing and stuff.  I am really flattered by that, though.  But, hey, you are a great guy, and a fine looking one, too.  I'm sure you are gonna find someone terrific, and a lot sooner than you think.  Hell, all I did was go into the bookstore and look what happened to me."  he laughed.  "Hey, you might even be the knight for someone else, you never know."

I had to laugh at that.  "Kanawha, I am all of 5'7".  I seriously doubt I will ever be anyone's knight."

"I don't know, you have saved my ass a few times." 
he reminded me.  "All I am saying is that you have a big heart, and you try to always help someone in need.  That is just part of who you are, something I have always admired about you.  I don't think you have to be a big hulk of a man to be a hero.  You just have to care enough to try to help."

 "You know, I could really get used to you being like this, not that I did not love ya before.  But, I don't know... It just seems like there is more to you now... Something I always knew was there, but you always kept it tucked away behind the facade of, well, an ass."

Kanawha just shook his head and laughed
.  "I know what you mean.  Wow.  I have changed so much in just one afternoon.  I wonder what I will be like a year from now."

"Well, bub, this has been fun, but you have a date.  I figure you should go more formal for this.  You may want to call Killian to be certain.  You also need to call Grams.  I am going to lie down for a while, but if you need me, just yell.  OK." 
I said as I stood.   Kanawha shook his head in agreement, and I walked to the stairs and up to my room.


I'm not gonna give you a play-by-play of our conversation with Kanawha.  I mean, you already know what happened, right?  But I do want to clear a few things up.  I am sure you got the impression from Ethan that I am a bitch.  He probably even told you that.  Well, for the record, I am not a bitch, I am the bitch... there is a big difference! 

Now, as for Ethan, well he is my brother.  Of course I love him.  He just makes it so easy to press his buttons, and I just cannot help myself.  It really bothers me, though, when he starts downing himself.  He has always been such a small guy, and I guess that is the stem of it.  He always thinks he is inadequate for some reason.  I guess sometimes I don't really help matters, but I am the bitch, what can I say. 
One thing I find strange though is how he sees himself as a man small in stature, yet everyone who knows Ethan sees him as a man with a giant heart. 

Anyway, I really did mean what I said when I told him I was proud of him.  He just has no idea how much.  He got the big heart and great personality, and I got the big mouth and poor attitude.  What I am about to say is strictly between us, and if I find out he knows, then I know where to come looking, and who I am after.  The truth is I really admire him.  I know I make him mad to the point that he wants to kill me most of the time, but he is the first one there to pick up the pieces when my life falls apart.  He is my hero, my little knight.  And, he is my soul mate.  I just dread the day when he finds love and moves away.  I don't know how I will live my life without seeing him every day.

Now, Kanawha is another story.  He is this big lug, and despite his being a total ass, you just have to love him.  Even though we are all the same age, he is like our big brother.  Sure I bust his ass as often as I get the chance, but that is what sisters are for.

Again, between us, I could have slapped myself for making him feel like I disapproved of his loving Killian.  He has had enough pain in his life as it is, and to know that I caused even one moment more just made me feel terrible.  That is why I went to my room.  I went there and cried my eyes out for being such an inconsiderate ass.  If you could have seen the look on his face.  It just broke my heart. 

I could not believe his reaction to us knowing he was gay, though.  After all, we are his family.  But it honestly is nothing in what he said or did.  We just knew.  Kanawha is truly one of the most masculine men I have ever met.  I mean, would you want to take him on in a dark alley... A 6'4", 258 pound hulk of pure muscle... Three times state wrestling and boxing champion... with enough rage bottled up inside him to fuel a nuclear power plant for years on end?  What, no takers?  I didn't think so.

I will tell you that I had to laugh my ass off watching him get ready for his date.  After he talked to Grams (actually, it was while Ethan and I talked with Grams), he called Killian on his cell.  Well, Killian agreed that a more formal evening would be great (See, my little Ethan is very intuitive).  Poor guy.  Kanawha was so nervous he could not even get his shirt buttoned right.  As gross as it is, he puked three times during the process from his nerves.

And it was so funny watching little Ethan help big Kanawha get dressed.  I totally lost it when I walked by the bathroom and Ethan was standing on the toilet to reach Kanawha's neck to help him tie his bow tie.  I must admit, though that he was looking really sharp when Ethan was finished with him. 

Oh, and just so you know, Ethan told Kanawha about calling him injun and half-breed while helping him get ready, apologizing like a hundred times for "saying something so out of line."  It made no sense to me.  Hell, Kanawha was so far out of it, he never even heard it.  But, it bothered Ethan that he had even said it.  So, he continued to apologize, while Kanawha reassured him that there was no need to do so.  I just wish my little knight would get some self-confidence and not have the need for everyone's approval.


I was delighted that my grandson called me.  It had been almost a week since I had heard from him.  He was so nervous when he told me about meeting Killian and falling in love with him.  He also told me that Jena and Ethan wanted cash, and that he knew about the bets.  I just laughed it off and told him that I did not care about the money at all.  Every penny I had was nothing compared to his happiness. 

I swan to goodness!  I was just so happy to hear he finally found someone.  It was an answer to prayer that his loneliness would finally come to an end, and tears of joy flowed from my eyes like a river.  That boy has had such a hard life.  I would give anything if I could have bore the brunt of the pain he felt, but such is the way of life.  I was also thankful that he found this Killian when he did, because I knew that some hard days were approaching by the end of the week.  It was always hard for my grandbaby this time of year.  'Killian.'  I thought to myself.  'I knew a Killian once, and he was a fine man.  If this Killian is anything like him, then I have no worries whatsoever for my Kanawha.'

Kanawha told me a rather quick story of what had happened, and it sounded like a fascinating tale.  He then asked me if I was coming to see him, like I always do, and I reassured him I would be there tomorrow afternoon.  He was so excited for me to meet Killian, and I have to admit I was equally so.  He told me he needed to call Killian, so he had to go. 

Then I talked with my other grandson, Ethan.  He was filling in a few more details when Kanawha started calling for his help.  That boy just panics so easily sometimes.  Ethan just laughed and said his goodbyes, promising to be waiting at the front door for my arrival tomorrow.  He had a few new games for the PS2, and his challenge had been made with me.

I think Ethan is the sweetest little fellow I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  Kanawha could learn a few things from that one, but so far, nothing has rubbed off.  One could only hope it would eventually.

Finally, I spoke with my granddaughter, Jena.  She told me about how terrible she felt over hurting Kanawha when she had realized she lost the bet to Ethan.  I assured her that he was fine and that I didn't think it was really anything to worry about.  For a girl who puts on such a brave front, she does have a soft heart. 

Jena relayed a play-by-play of events while Ethan readied Kanawha for his date.  I swear that girl can tell a tale!  She just has such a funny persona about her.  I do not think I have ever laughed so hard.  And it was as if I were there watching everything going on, the way she told it.  Jena promised to take pictures with her digital camera, so I could see how handsome my Kanawha looked when I arrived tomorrow.

After our goodbyes, I finished fixing dinner and ate.  I cleaned up everything and finished packing.  Then, being an old lady, I went to bed.  I had a very long drive ahead of me and I would need to be up really early to make it there on time.


Kal came home just bubbling with excitement.  He called everyone into the living room to make an announcement.   We all knew it must be important, because Kal would never want to intrude upon or purposely bother anyone.  Not that we would mind, he's just like that.  Most mornings, he quietly creeps downstairs and into the kitchen so as not to disturb anyone.  I guess you could say he is ultra-considerate.

As everyone gathered around, Kal started, "Guys, I have the most fantastic news!  Wait.  Let me call Nanna so I can tell you all at the same time."  With that, he picked up the phone and called.  "Hey!  Nanna, I have some wonderful news, and I just could not wait to tell everybody... yea, they are all here waiting... Yea.  Let me put you on speaker phone, so you can join in on the conversation, OK?"  Once done, Kal was free to pace the floor.  It is funny, but he does that every time he gets excited.  He just gets so wound up and fidgety, he cannot sit still if his life depended on it.  I thought he was the cutest little thing when we were in kindergarten, with all the little nervous ticks he had.  And he has never outgrown them.  He is still in many ways that same little five year old boy.  Not that Kal is childish, I would say he is child-like.  He just has this innocence about him that most of us loose as we grow up and become jaded and bitter towards the world.  Kal is the most optimistic person I have ever known, and I love to be around him because of it. 

"OK.  Now the big news.  Guys, I am in love!"  he enthused and was met with nothing but positive, joyous response.  I really cannot say who was more excited, because Kal is special to all of us.  In his own unique way, he had changed our lives and made us into better people.  We were nothing but a rag-tag bunch of misfits, but Kal believed in all of us.  And it was that eternal optimism that transformed us into better people.  See, Kal saw us all as friends, whether or not we acted like a friend to him.  Gradually, we one by one accepted his rose-colored perception, and that became our reality.  He is the glue that holds us all together... our rock during times of trouble.

After a million questions at once, Kal began to tell us everything that had transpired.  "I was in the bookstore, squatted down in the floor, looking for my books, when the most gorgeous creature I have ever seen stepped in front of me.  His name is Kanawha, and he is just breathtaking.  He stands about 6'4", very muscular, and well tanned.  He has raven-black hair and the deepest blue eyes I have ever seen.  And his voice... oh Lord, his voice is so nice.  He has this southern accent that just..."  he blushed as he realized what he was about to say.  "Well, I won't go there, hehehe.  Let's just say, it is a really nice voice."  Kal wove a great tale of their experiences today, as they met, ate lunch, and got to know each other better.  When finished, everyone was so intrigued, especially with the parts about Valerie.  I noticed that even Hela was moved to tears a few times, particularly the part where Kal told Kanawha that he wanted to thank the good Lord for answering his long awaited prayer, and Kanawha responded by saying that he knew exactly what he meant.  Go figure. 

Anyway, I was totally thrilled for him.  He above all people deserves to be happy.  You may think I am biased, but you just have to know Kal to know that it is the God's honest truth.  See, he helped me through a very difficult time when I was 15.  I had a lot going on... an abusive boyfriend, low self-esteem, an eating disorder... my parents were getting a divorce... my grandmother was dying from cancer... and I felt like a complete failure.  I was on the verge of suicide, literally.  I was at the edge of a cliff, ready to jump, when out of nowhere, Kal leaped at me, knocking me back from the edge.  He talked me through it and secretly arranged for me to get some help.  He never once told a single soul about that night.  When we came to the university, he started volunteering at the mission.  With that way of his, he hornswoggled us all into volunteering, me as a peer counselor for troubled youth.  My very first day, I helped a suicidal girl, much like I was back then.  >From those experiences, my life course was set, and I am currently in the last stages of earning my Master's in counseling.  It was also there that I met my husband, again thanks to Killian.  (My husband, Thomas, is currently oversees serving a tour in Korea. He is a marine.)   So maybe now you can understand just how special that little imp is to us all.


Imagine my thrill when Kal called...  Oh, I was not surprised that Killian called me.  Lord, he does that every night.  I was just elated that he had found someone to love, and so quickly too.  As I listened to all that had transpired, I was reminded of the day Kal was born. I told his mother that I knew the Lord had a great purpose for this young mans life.  I could tell he had a destiny to fulfill.  Hearing what this Valerie had said just made my heart jump for joy. 

Listening to him describe Kanawha, I could tell he was truly in love, and it sounded like he had done rather well for himself.  I just hoped this Kanawha would take care of my little man.  He may be a fully grown man of almost 26 years of age, and he may be taller than his Nanna, but he will always be my little man.   Everyone had so many questions, but he thoughtfully answered each and every one of them.  It was time for him to get ready, so he excused himself from the others.  He took me off of speaker phone and talked with me on the hand held as he went through his wardrobe deciding what to wear.  The other line beeped, and he switched over.  A few minutes later, he came back on, apologizing for putting me on hold.  He said it was Kanawha, wanting to know what to wear.  It seems that one of Kanawha's roommates suggested a more formal attire, which I thought sounded like the makings of a very nice first date. 
Back in my day, we had many formal occasions, of which today are just unheard.  But I think the young people of our present society miss out on a great deal of learning the social graces by the lack of formality we now have.  Sure things are streamlined and much more quickly accessed, right down to divorce.  I guess everything has its pro's and con's.   As I was saying, Killian was looking for something formal to wear, and I suggested the tuxedo he had worn to Mic's wedding.  I also suggested some accessories to really bring out those eyes of his. 

He asked me how I was holding up, alluding to this coming weekend.  We assured one another that each was fine, but I promised him that I would be there tomorrow afternoon.  I also told him I expected to meet this Kanawha first thing.  He laughed and gave me his word that I would.  Before we said our goodbyes, I left him with some sagely advice.  "Killian," I said, "I know you love your friends.  I have grown to love them just like they were my own.  But I have to warn you son, if you ever want to see Kanawha alive again, then you best not leave him alone with Hela.  She will make short work of your fellow." 

He just laughed and conveyed the mental images he pictured when thinking about what I had said.  He also told me that was very sound advice.  With that, we said our goodbyes, as he needed to shower and get dressed.


I was overwhelmed when Kal strolled down the steps.  Man did he look fine.  I have always thought he was a handsome little devil, but he was truly stunning.  He was wearing his black tuxedo that was made in a roaring twenties style, with the usual white shirt.  However, he had emerald and gold cuff links that just sparkled class.  His tie and cumber bun were also emerald green, which really made his eyes stand out.  His shoes were so bitchin'.  They were black throughout the bottom, but white at the tops, like the ones you see in old gangster movies.  His hair was different.  Normally, he pastes it down flat to his head, but tonight, he just let the wild curly locks fall where they may, and it was one hot hairstyle for him.  'There's something else different.' I thought.  'Glasses!  He is not wearing his glasses!'  WOW!  What a difference that made.  Like I said, I have always thought he was handsome, but you could really see how well his features were fashioned without the glasses.  "Oh, Kal, babe.  You are such the fox!  And since when did you get contacts?" 

As usual, Kal just turned three shades of embarrassed.  "I've had them for a long time, just never worn them before for more than a few minutes." 

"Not that I don't like the glasses, but whew do the contacts make a difference!  You can see just how much of a work of art you really are!" I hormonally bellowed.  "Why did you break them out for this evening?"  I mischievously inquired.

The response was priceless.  Kal was so stunned and racked with embarrassment, he totally froze.  "W-w-wel-l-l." he stuttered. "I-I..."  He just hung his head as his cheeks burned even brighter.

"Hey! You leave my man alone." Hela warned.  "This is his big night, and nobody is gonna mess this up for him if I have to kick some serious ass to make sure of it." Hela did not offend me, because I new I had crossed her line.  No one would ever hurt Kal as long as she drew breath.  And to be honest, I not only respected that, I admired her for her resolve.  Kal had done a lot for her, just as he had done for the rest of us.  This was her way of paying him back, and I was smart enough to stand out of the way.

"It's alright Hela." Kal replied.  "OK.  While we were in the car, I whipped the rain out of my hair, and Kanawha seemed to really like it all messed up and curly.  In fact, he said I looked as sexy as can be.  So, that is what's up with the hair.  My glasses were fogging up, so I took them off to clean them.  Well, he totally loved that, telling me I looked breathtaking." he sheepishly admitted.

"Oh, gurl!  Are you trying to get you some or what?" the ever inappropriate Roe asked.  "He might just jump you in the car and take your V away, sugar."

*SMACK*  "I warned you, you perverted little slime!" Hela snarled as she prepared to pelt Roe for a second time.

"Ouch!  Bitch that hurt!" Roe whined.

"It wasn't meant to tickle.  Now, you will apologize to everyone in this room and then keep your mouth shut, or the emergency room can wire it back together for you!" she threatened.

"OK!  OK!  Sorry Kal and company.  I am just a filthy-mouthed fag who needs to learn to keep it zipped." Roe said.

"Y-y-your mouth or your pants!" Jew shot.  Everyone, including Roe laughed at that.   Just to clue you in, Jason has a small problem with stuttering.  It only happens now when he is really excited or really nervous.  When we were kids though, it was a terrible problem.  And with kids being kids, he got picked on a whole lot.  The more they picked, the worse he stuttered.  Kal, on the other hand, took to Jew immediately.  In a matter of a short time, when Jew was in smaller groups, he hardly stuttered at all... provided Kal was with him.  He drew his strength from Kal, an unending supply of support, encouragement, love, and friendship.  Soon, the rest of the group followed Kal's lead and took to Jason.  With the six of us running interference, his bullies learned to look elsewhere for their victims.

"Well, actually both, I suppose."  Roe laughed.  "You know my three biggest weaknesses:  any chance to be uncouth, jewelry, and men!"  Boy, was that the truth.  Roe is what I like to call a man-whore.  His DATES are just one-time encounters, and he has those daily, sometimes even more than once a day.  I guess it is all in what you want out of life.  Some people are like Roe and live in the now, hooking up with Mr. Right Now. Some people are like Kal, who save themselves for their destined soul mate, content to wait it out for Mr. Right.  Others are somewhere in between.  But most of them are like Roe but want to pretend to be like Kal.  One thing I can say is that at least Roe is real, and he is honest.  What you see is what you get.  No false pretenses whatsoever.  He does not simply exist.  He lives life.  He may not make great choices, but he is a great guy, regardless.  That's all that is really important anyway.

"So, what time is dream boy supposed to be here?" Shaft questioned.

"Actually, any minute now.  Guys, promise me you will take it easy on him.  At least give him a few visits before you drill him.  Please." he humbly begged.  We all reluctantly agreed, and Kal raised his eyebrow and scowled.  "OK, that was just way too easy."

Before anyone could respond, the doorbell rang and Kal dashed for the door.  As he peeped through the window, he stage whispered, "It's him guys!  Now remember you promised."

Kal opened the door and there he was.  I have to hand it to Kal, he definitely has fine taste.  Kanawha was one gorgeous hunk of a man. 

"WOW!"  they both said together as one looked the other over.  Then they laughed.  After a few awkward moments, Kal finally found his voice. "So, you wanna come in for a few minutes." Then, he leaned in and whispered.  "They are all dying to meet you and I don't think we will leave her alive if we try to make a break for it now."

Kanawha chuckled.  "I would love to meet them.  I hope you don't mind that I brought two uninvited guests with me."  Boy was Kal right about his voice.   M-m-m.  It is the stuff dreams are made out of.

Kal just peered out the door.  "Where are they?  I don't see anyone."

"Oh, they're there alright.  Over in the bushes.  They sneaked and followed me here.  I guess they were just as anxious to meet you.  So, is it OK if they come in?"  he asked. 

"Sure, love.  Hey, that will only leave us having to meet Nanna and Grams."  Kal replied.  "Nanna will be here tomorrow afternoon."

"So will Grams."  Kanawha said, wiggling his eyebrows and grabbing Kal into a hug.  "God, I missed you."  Then, he kissed him, and I was ready to ball.  It was just so romantic the way it happened.  Kanawha then turned to the bushes and yelled, "You two can come out now.  Killian has invited you both over to play at his house."

Two figures arose from the shrubbery.  "You're not mad at us, are you?" a shaky male voice asked.  "You aren't gonna pound us or anything, right?"

"Will you just get your asses in here!"
Kanawha shot.  The two figures quickly complied.  Turning to Kal and the rest of us, Kanawha said.  "Hello everyone.  I am Kanawha Darkstorm, in case you haven't figured that out yet, and these two are Ethan and Jena Lafferty, my roommates and best friends."

Ethan ventured.

"Pleasure to meet you." 
Jena said.

"And this, guys, is my love, Killian Anderson Lord." 
he said to Jena and Ethan, as he pulled Kal into an embrace.  I could tell already I was just gonna love this Kanawha guy. 


As soon as I saw her, my mouth went dry, my palms became all sweaty, and my stomach churned.  It was just like being in the seventh grade all over again.  Jena Lafferty was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. She had dark red hair, not orange, but a deep RED, that flowed half-way down her back in ringlets.  Her eyes were jade, and they pierced deep into my heart.  Her skin was a pale, creamy color, that made her hair and eyes stand out all the more.  She stood about 5'9" and was so well proportioned.  She gave new meaning to the term hour-glass shaped.  I was utterly speechless. 

"It is a pleasure to meet you both, though I feel I already know you the way Kanawha has gone on and on about you two."  Kal said as he shook both of their hands.  Oh, to be his hand.  He then turned to us and made introductions.  "Love, Jena, and Ethan, this is my friends, roommates, and family:  Helaina Len
é aka Hela, Michelle Lawson aka Mic, Ryan Alexander Monroe aka Roe, and Jason Edward Wilson aka Jew from his initials.  And these two are brother/sister twins just like you guys.  This is Gabriella Nicole Romero aka Cole and her brother Carmine Romero aka Shaft.  To bring you up to speed, everyone, except you Love, calls me Kal, which, like Jew, is from my initials." 

Everyone gave their welcomes as they were introduced.  I just blushed deeply and waived my hand to them.  I just knew I would stutter if I said anything in front of her, and I did not want her to think I was a big looser.  'Man, this is hopeless.' I thought.

Everyone began intermingling, but Hela pulled shaft over to me and spoke quietly.  "You two have it bad, don't you?" she inquired. 

"Sh-sh-she is j-j-ju..." I stopped and hung my head.  Tears began to well up as I realized I would never be able to approach Jena.

It really shocked me when Hela hugged me and soothed, "Oh, babe.  Now don't you start.  I promise.  We will get through this.  Somehow, we will work it out.  Just relax and don't be nervous.  That is what makes it happen.  Besides, somehow, I just know you are gonna totally rock in her eyes.  It's a woman thing.  We can tell.  Trust me on this, Jew."  Lovingly, she wiped the tears from my eyes.  "You know, you were the first of Kal's recruits.  I have never forgotten what he did for me, but you were a part of it too, and I owe you big for what you did."

"N-n-no y-y-ou don't.  W-w-we are f-f-friends.  That is what w-we do f-f-for each other." I muttered.  "I-I-I love y-you.  Th-thats why I d-d-did it."

"And that is why I am doing what I am about to do for you. OK?"  This was something new, but I could tell Hela was completely sincere, so I agreed and did not ask any questions.  "That's my handsome man." she said, gently stroking my face. "Don't worry about a thing.  I have it now, so let it go.  Have a little faith in me, OK."

"I-I do.  Y-you are m-my f-f-friend.  Alw-ways.  I-I-I have t-t-total-l f-faith i-i-n you."
I stuttered out.  I hate it when this happens.  I feel like a mutant, and I know I sound like I am completely without any wit at all.  All those years of people laughing at me, putting me downYou just don't know how awful it makes you feel to be ridiculed, much less because of something so completely beyond your control. And adults are just as bad, if not worse than kids were to me growing up.  I pray so hard every day that God will help me overcome this little disability of mine, and I can be normal for a change.  But, then I think of how so many people are way worse off than I am, like the ones we help at the mission, and I ask God to forgive me for being so selfish.  It is just really hard sometimes, always living life on the outside.

"I know you do, babe.  I promise, we will get past this.  Just hang in there."  She comforted.  Then Hela turned to Shaft.  "Now, what about you?"

"Oh, Hela.  I mean, you saw him.  Ethan is just so hot.  And he is my size, too.  But I don't think he will be interested in me.  I'm pretty sure he is gay, but that does not mean he will want to have anything to do with me.  And I could not start something up without telling him first.  Then, I am sure he would walk away and never look back.  But, suppose by some slim chance he went out with me. How would I know it's not because of guilt or pity? I don't want to be anyones good deed."  Shaft sulked.

"Like I told Jew, just have a little faith in me.  I promise we will get through this, together. OK?" She consoled.

Hela had a resolve in her as she said, "Now come on guys, let's go mingle.  We wanna make a good impression for Kal."  I knew immediately that she had some kind of a plan forming in her mind. 


Kal looked so nice.  Well, actually, he looked like he had stepped right out of the pages of a men's catalog.  Then, when I saw him with Kanawha, I could tell just how made for each other they really were.   'Now that is one lovely couple.' I smiled to myself.  I was just wondering if the heavens above would ever give me a chance to find love when in walked Ethan Lafferty.  What a sight he was to behold.

Ethan stood around 5'7" tall, which is perfect for me, seeing as I am the same size.  He had on a pair of low-rise jeans and a blue wife-beater.  His skin was golden brown and completely flawless. His shoulder-length light blond hair was almost white from the sun's bleaching, and it was tossed about, loosely falling over his forehead and left eye.  His lips were thin, and when he smiled, his big white teeth illuminated the room.  He was very fit, and he had a really nice bubble butt. 

But, the most striking thing about him was his eyes.  They were just so unusual... a warm tan, almost golden color like my cat Aaron had, back when I was growing up.  They pierced the veils of my heart and beckoned me to follow him. 

Evidently, I was not the only one awestruck by one of the Lafferty twins, because Jew was beside himself over Jena.  Slowly, Jew pushed himself further and further away from the group towards the back of the room, trying desperately to become one with the rear wall.  Hela grabbed my arm and drew me with her as she approached him.  I just knew she was gonna start something, but I was shocked to find that she only wanted to help us. 

Poor Jew was suffering so from his affliction.  If anyone could understand what he was going through, though, I could.  What chance did either of us honestly have? We are both realistic.  People would make fun of him, if not to his face, surly behind his back.  As for me, well my affliction would cause people to handle me with kit gloves.  Most people would simply run when they found out about either of us.  Sure, they would be nice and act as though it were no big deal, but you would never see them again once they were gone.  With the exception of our friends, the few that remained, well they only did so as a means to feel better about themselves... the good Samaritans doing their civic duty.  Neither of us wanted that.  We did not want to be someone's cause.  Jew wanted someone who would see the wonderful person that he is, not his stuttering.  I just wanted somebody to love who love me because I was me, not because of... well, I just don't even wanna go there right now.  But, we both had learned that the reality of our situation was beyond hope.  We were destined to be either shunned or someone's cause.

Hela urged us both to have faith in her as she provided counsel to our emotional needs.  She had a plan brewing in her head, that was for certain.  I just resolved that a man without hope has nothing, so I willingly placed it all into her hands.  Hela then told us to go mingle, for Kal's sake.  Of course, she knew that we would do anything for Kal.  He is just one special guy.

Jena and Ethan had commented on the house, and Hela suggested Kal take them on a tour.  She grabbed Kanawha by the arm and told him he could stay and keep us company.  I guess he realized it was his time on the firing range, but he took it like a trooper.  He told Kal to go on without him, giving him a rather long, passionate kiss.  Kal then led Jena and the lovely Ethan upstairs to tour the old hotel which we called home.

Once they were out of ear shot, Hela seated Kanawha on the sofa.  Everyone gathered around, and she began her interrogation.  "So, what do you think of our little Kal?"

"He is the most remarkable person I have ever met.  I mean, sure he is hands down the most attractive guy I have ever seen, but there is so much more to his beauty than that.  I don't know what it is, but just being near him has changed me, somehow.  He makes me want to be a better person, and I think he has made me more of the person I should be, if that makes any sense." he replied. 

We all laughed and agreed, sharing our experiences with what we have coined The Kal Effect.  Kanawha beamed with love and pride as he learned more about the man he has come to love.  I could tell, he was scoring points big time from us all, including Hela.  Just by his reactions, it was so obvious the love he felt for our friend, which put us all at ease.  The biggest points he scored, however was when he answered Roe's question.  "So, what are your intentions towards our little Kal?"

Without any hesitation at all, Kanawha responded.  "I have thought about him all day, replaying everything in my mind over and over again.  I honestly do not understand why or how he could possibly choose to love me.  And yet, he does, with all of his heart and soul.  Of that, I have no doubts."  He paused, as tears began to flow down his cheeks.  "God knows I do not deserve him, but I plan to live each day trying to be worthy of that love.  And if I can give him back but just a fraction of the happiness and joy he has brought to me, then I know that day was not spent in vein.  What are my intentions?  I intend to devote my life to Killian... and love him with everything there is within me... praying that in every moment which passes, that capacity to love grows, if only to offer him more love... and to thank God for each blessed day he gives me to spend with the man I love."

Weeping, Hela drew Kanawha into her arms.  "See that you do." she said softly.  "I really like you, and I can see why Kal loves you so, but he is very special to me.  Take care of my little man, because if you ever hurt him... or cause him one moment of pain or sorrow... with my dying breath, I will make you sorry you were ever born.  I pray it never comes to that, but I mean every word of what I say."

"I pray it doesn't either."  Kanawha softly said, kissing Hela on the forehead.  "He is so lucky to have a friend like you to watch over him.  And, I can tell that you love him."

"Honey, we all do.  And, in that, I include you."  Hela replied. 

As the two hugged, Kal questioned.  "So, does this mean he passed?"  Behind Kal, Jena arrived.  Then, the world was once again illuminated by the presence of Ethan.

"With flying colors." Hela stated.  "Congratulations, Kanawha.  You have our blessings."  Looking at her watch, she cautioned, "Hey, you best be leaving guys, or you are gonna be late." 

Everyone said their goodbyes  and the eight friends watched the two lovers leave for their night of romance.  Hela then invited Ethan and Jena to stay.  Ethan laughed what a joyful sound it was, "Hey, we can all wait up here and act like the furious parents when they get back!"  Everyone laughed and agreed.  Now two plans were in motion, Ethan's and Hela's.


Everyone was rather jovial about my good news.  Nanna killed me when she warned me not to leave Hela alone with Kanawha if I ever wanted to see him alive again.  She is so funny, and she is shining example of how lively elderly people really are.  I was rather calm getting ready for our date, but I guess I usually am.  Sure, sometimes I can get all bent out of shape, but it honestly does not last for very long.  The way I see it is that life is what you make of it.  Anyway, I decided to break out my contacts and wear my hair all curly and messy, seeing as how Kanawha reacted to these things earlier.  I really do not understand what all he sees in me.  I am just a plain-Jane kind of guy... Nothing special to look at really.  I eat a balanced diet and exercise, but I am far from a knock-out or anything like that.  I know that everyone seems to think I am charismatic or something, but I am not.  I just have faith in people.  Deep down, I think everyone wants to love and be loved in return, so people are really good at heart by nature. I think that if you are willing to trust them, people will guard that trust.  So far, no one has ever let me down enough to change my views upon that.  I know that we are all both good and bad, but I believe that the good in each of us far outweighs the bad.  Now, I am not naive enough to believe that evil does not exist, because it does.  But is there really more evil in the world than good?  I know that all you hear about on the news is the bad stuff, but the news caters to its audience.  In one day in a man's life, 1000 good things can happen along with one thing he sees as negative, and all you will hear about is that one negative thing.  I choose to celebrate the 1000 good things that happen, because to me, they far outweigh the one negative thing.  And no matter how bad the situation gets, there is always something for which to be thankful... just something to think about.

I got quite a reaction when I came downstairs, and an even better one from Kanawha when I answered the door.  Man, was he a vision!  He had on a well-tailored black tux with sapphire blue and gold cuff links, which coordinated with his sapphire blue tie and cumber bun.  Boy did that bring out his eyes.  It was so sweet the way he hugged me and told me he had missed me, and that kiss was extremely nice.  Ethan and Jena seemed to fit right in with the group, but I noticed that Jew and Shaft had a rather strong reaction to the twins.  I just hoped it would work out for them.  Lord knows, if anyone deserves to be happy, it is those two.

Hela played divide and conquer, so I took Ethan and Jena on a tour.  They gave me the grilling I knew Kanawha was getting.  They asked me a lot of really good questions, and seemed to like my answers.  I think the one that won them over was when Ethan asked me what my plans were for the future.  I responded, "Kanawha is my future, my destiny.  He is every hope, every dream, I have had personified.  My plans are to spend every second of my life devoted to him, the man I love... to make every moment count as if it were our last... to give him hope if ever he feels discouraged, faith if ever he feels lost, and love above all else.  Look, I really don't know why he loves me, but I do know why I love him.  And every time I think of him, or even hear his name, I am reminded why I am the most blessed man on this earth.  I have a wonderful man who loves me, unconditionally, with every fiber of his being... and until my last breath, I will honor that love, returning it with all that I have to give."

Jena just smirked and said, "Damn!  Your good.  We give you a loaded question, and you hit the nail on the head." 

"So, does this mean you like me?"  I asked.

Ethan turned me around in a circle.  "Well, let's just say that the big guy has fine taste in picking out his mate." 

I blushed, of course, and Jena giggled, "Lord, what is it with you guys?  You embarrass so easily."

Ethan gave me a hug and said, "Welcome to our little family.  I think you are gonna fit in fine.  But, there is one warning."

"Stormy has had enough pain in his life for 100 people.  If you ever hurt him, we will hunt you down, and then things get ugly.  Just don't let it ever come to that."  Jena finished. 

With the inquisition over, we headed down the stairs.  I suddenly remembered what Nanna said about leaving Kanawha alone with Hela, and was really starting to feel a touch of panic.  What a relief to see Kanawha kiss her head as they embraced.  "So, does this mean he passed?" I asked

"With flying colors." Hela responded.  "Congratulations Kanawha, you have our blessings."  She then noticed the time and told us we better get going.

We walked to the car, and Kanawha opened my door for me and then closed it once I was seated.  'What a gentleman!' I noted to myself.  As we made our departure, I had to laugh at the eight of them standing on the porch watching us leave.  I wondered if they would still be standing there when we returned.  It was like we had eight anxious parents waiting for their baby boys to come back home.  I shared this image with Kanawha, who also found it humorous.

We drove in relative silence.  It was not an awkward silence, just a pleasant stillness, one where you just enjoy being with the one you love.  Kanawha gently stroked my hand as it rested in his.  At every traffic stop, he would lean over and kiss me.  I was so glad there are a bunch of stop signs and traffic lights in my part of Raven Cliff.  We parked in the parking garage just down the street from the theater.  The musical, written by an acquaintance from the university, was called A KISS SAYS IT ALL.  'Well, that has proved to be true in my experience' I mused to myself.

Kanawha again showed his chivalry and opened my door for me.  We then walked to the theater hand-in-hand, soliciting many stares from passers-by.  I will say that no one made a comment about it.  But, honestly, would you say something out of the way to Kanawha?  So, I was not surprised. 

"Well, love, here we are." he commented.

"I hope you like musicals.  I really enjoy them, but if you don't, it will not offend me.  We can easily do something else.  I would be content to sit and watch the grass grow, so long as I have your company." I commented.

"Oh, now that is sweet of you." he said, taking my hand to his lips and kissing it gently.  "But, honestly, I enjoy a good musical.  I have not been to one in a couple of years, though.  Grams and I used to go to them a lot when she came to visit, but now Ethan has her hooked on PS2, so most of her recent visits were spent playing some mindless game.  Sometimes, I just wonder about her."  he chuckled.  "I was really excited when you suggested it, and I hear this one is fantastic.  Elliot Hoffman wrote it, a guy I know from the university... well, we had a few classes together over the years."

"Yea.  He seems like a nice guy.  I heard it was really romantic." I started, then blushed, realizing that my ulterior motives for the musical had been blurted out.

But, Kanawha spared me any embarrassment.  "Then it should make for a lovely evening.  An excellent choice for our date, my love." Then, of course, he kissed me... right there in line with well over 600 people... and I could have cared less what one of them had to say... because I was totally into that kiss.  When we broke the kiss, the line had moved quite a bit, so we had to move up a ways to catch back up to the line. 

I gave the man our tickets as we approached the front of the line, and he gave us our programs and started with general directions to where we were seated.  I explained that these were patron of the arts seats (it is a program where you pay a flat fee and have the same seats for two showings of each production throughout the year.  They were a Christmas present from the guys.), and he thanked me for my supporting the arts.  Kanawha and I purchased bottled water (at $3.00 each, I might add), and headed for our seats.

The view was fantastic in our little two-seater balcony (My friends believe I deserve the best for some reason.), and the acoustics of the theater were superb.  We snuggled together through the course of the production, as Kanawha wrapped his arm around me and I leaned my head against his manly chest.  What an emotional roller coaster that was.  It was such a good blend of humor, sorrow, and romance.  Suffice to say, the musical was everything we had heard and more.  It definitely paved the way for a romantic dinner for two, though I still had no Idea where we were going to eat.  Kanawha said it was a surprise. 

As we droned our way in the exit line, I noticed it.  The sign.  I knew that sign all too well.  I guess I should explain this a little.  Remember when Valerie said that I had a gift similar to her own.  Well... how to explain it... hmm... well, I guess the best way is to say that I see the writing on the wall.  It is in a language I do not know, nor do I know what language it even is, but I can somehow interpret the meaning.  The glowing symbols just appear in front of me sometimes.  It is not predictable or anything like Valerie's gift, because I don't think hers ever shuts itself off.  Mine just happens every now and again, usually when something needs to be done or in times of crisis.  The symbol meant danger, and the fact that it was glowing red meant that it was very serious.  I pulled Kanawha's arm with my free hand to bring us to a stop.

"Love, what's wrong?  You look like you have seen a ghost or something." he inquired.

"I don't know, but there is danger near.  Trust me.  Be extra careful, and stay close to me.  If I get anything else, I will let you know."  He looked kind of puzzled, but accepted my words without question.

As we began to exit the theater, another symbol appeared before me, but I did not know what this symbol meant.  It consisted of four ovals that were joined overlappingly as one, with no starting or ending point.  The oval closest to myself began to glow a bright blue.  I turned to Kanawha, but the symbol moved with my line of vision.  The oval that was closest to Kanawha began to glow now, turning a crimson red.  I was really worried, but I did not want to unduly alarm him, especially not knowing what the symbol meant.  But, somehow, I was certain that he was the one in danger.  Maybe it was the fact that the oval nearest him was red.  Everything in me just said to watch out and protect him. 

We were walking in the alley ready to enter the parking garage when the symbol of danger appeared again.  I froze in my tracks.  "Danger." I warned, looking around everywhere in search of some clue.  I then turned to Kanawha, who turned to look at me.

Suddenly, he tensed up.  "Someone is here."  He said.  "I can feel him.  Don't ask me how, but I can feel him, and he's close by."  He let go of my hand and took a few steps off to the side, casting his gaze about the area. The unknown symbol stretched out in front of me.  My oval was glowing blue, while Kanawha's was glowing red.  Suddenly, the oval opposite my own began to glow in violet.  Before I could say a word, Kanawha pointed in that exact direction.  "There.  He is there."

>From out of the shadows, a masked man stepped forth.  Symbols appeared all around him.  "Kanawha!  Don't move.  He has a gun!"  I shouted.

"So I do." the stranger stated coldly.  He then withdrew his pistol and aimed it back and forth between Kanawha and myself.  "And I am not afraid to use it." 
Kanawha edged his way back to me, moving himself in front to protect me.  I placed my hand on his shoulder and moved around him.  "No love.  It is I who must protect you."  There was no argument, for Kanawha was frozen in place, probably from shock or fear.  "Look, I will give you whatever you want.  Just don't hurt him, OK."  I pleaded. 

The stranger began to slowly move forward, and I stepped closer to him as I attempted to place a buffer zone between the stranger and Kanawha. He hissed, "Well isn't that just sweet.  Protecting... HIM!" I was not for sure, but I felt as if he had recognized Kanawha for some reason, which seemed to only fuel his rage, for the danger symbol grew even brighter.  "The little guy is pleading for a deal while the big, tough guy is scared shitless."
he shouted in anger, then looked at Kanawha. "What a pathetic looser!" 

"Look, I will give you everything I have, just please, please don't hurt him."  Despite my resolve to keep a brave front, I began to weep as visions of Kanawha's death flashed before my eyes. 

"Why?  What is so special about him?  He is standing there, frozen in fear, leaving you totally unprotected.  Why worry about him?"  he taunted.

"Because I love him.  He is my whole life.  I am begging you, please don't hurt him.  If you are going to use that gun, then shoot me, but please, leave my love alone."

"Love?  Oh, gag!  Like you mean any of that shit."  He growled.

"I would gladly die for him."  I softly said.

"You really mean that, Don't you?" he stated, more than asked.  I looked him in the eye and quietly shook my head yes.  His rage seemed to decrease, and the danger symbol began to dim slightly.  I  read the symbols about him, searching for the key, trying to find something to defuse the situation.

"Look, I know that you are hurting.  Being alone is a horrible thing.  Believe me, I know." I said softly.  "So does Kanawha.  Our lives have been anything but easy.  Finally, though, we have found a little piece of happiness in one another.  Please, you can have whatever you want.  Just don't take that happiness away."

He was now standing before me.  "WHAT?  And that is supposed to do WHAT?  Make me feel pity for you?" He studied me eye to eye for a moment, then softly said, "What about me?" His resolve was beginning to waiver as he contemplated his own question.  Then, he studied Kanawha for a moment.  As he turned to face me, the symbol for danger began to glow brighter and brighter as his rage rekindled.  "Do you think HE would feel pity for ME?"  he shouted.  He drew up the gun and pointed it towards Kanawha.  Rushing towards him, he yelled, "How would you feel if I just blew your brains out right now?" 

I moved to stop him, but, alas, I was too late to save my love...


Finally.  I get to have my say!  So, I was excited for Kal in finding love, but I was kind of saddened at the same time.  I have devoted a part of myself to watching out for him, and I was worried that he might not need me anymore.  I knew it was silly, but I was worried none the less.  It sounded as though he had quite an adventure today.  I just could not wait to meet this Kanawha fellow and give him the once over.  As Kal stood before us in his formal wear, I felt such pride, like I was his mother or something.  Hehehe!  I guess I act like I am his mother most of the time.  Maybe that is why I thought to myself that my baby boy was all grown up.

When Kanawha arrived, I was rather impressed.  My little man has excellent taste for sure.  Kanawha started winning me over the moment he hugged Kal up and said, "God I missed you."  When they kissed, I could feel myself starting to swoon.  When I finally got to divide and conquer, I was happy that Kanawha passed the test.  He is truly in love with Kal, and I think I really like him.

Now, Ethan and Jena were an added bonus.  Matches made for two more of my special little guys.  Jew and Shaft seemed so lost in desperation, but I could see the pangs of love radiating from their eyes.  I knew if it were to happen, I would need to take action, because those two had all but given up on love a long time ago.  I could see two lovely little pairings in the making, and I was the bitch to get the job done right.  My aim in talking to Jew and Shaft was to let them know that I understood, and that I was there for them.  Not only that, but I was gonna move heaven and earth to push love on its course. 

My philosophy on life is this.  There are three kinds of people in this world:  drivers, passengers, and passers-by.  Drivers took charge of life and made things happen.  Passengers allowed life to take them where it may and let things happen.  Passers-by were totally clueless and just sat around wondering what the hell happened.  I am a driver for sure, and that night, my intended destination was to drop these four turkeys off at Lover's Lane.

With Kal and Kanawha out of the way, it was time to get things going.  Roe, as annoying as he is, can read me really well, and he knew what I had in mind.  He suggested we have a movie night.  He dragged Cole and the boys upstairs to the movie room to get things ready.  That left Ethan and Jena with Mic and me in the kitchen preparing snacks, a perfect partner for my little plan. 
He is a cleaver little shit sometimes, I will give him that much.

"Well, Ethan, do you know your way around a kitchen?"  I asked.

"I do OK, I guess.  Jena and I do all the cooking at home.  The big guy could not cook to save his life.  He even makes a lousy bowl of cereal."  He joked.  "Honestly, one time, he burned boiled eggs.  Yep, he let the water boil out of the pan, and then the pan caught fire."

Jena added, "And he ruined one of my good pans with that little stunt.  So, I set down the ground rules to the kitchen after that.  Stormy can fix anything that requires no cooking or is a microwavable dinner with instructions on the box.  Otherwise, he waits for us to cook or he gets take out.  Say, now this is a kitchen!"  She enthused as we entered the kitchen.  Being an old hotel, we had a restaurant sized kitchen.  We modernized it as we did repairs, but it still has a large, old fashioned cook stove that burns wood and coal.  It's great for when the power is out, though I like to use it for biscuits and cornbread as well.

"So, what do you guys want to snack on?"  Mic started. "I know Jew likes diced up pepperoni and pepper jack cheese cubes." 

"M-m-m.  That sounds pretty good." Jena replied.  "Add a few rye crackers, and I am there!"

"Well, then," Mic responded, "I'll leave that one up to you...  Pepperoni and the cheese are in the fridge, and the crackers are in the left-hand cabinet just beside it...  I know Jew will be happy enough with the snacks that he will not care if we watch some girly movies.  He is the only straight boy in the house.  Then, we will only have to worry about Ethan, here." 

'Roe, if I wasn't worried about getting sepsis, I would kiss you.' I smiled to myself.

"Oh, no problems here.  I am quite fluent in Fag."  He laughed.

"Well, if you ever need a date, we have two left to choose from."  I slid in.

"So, is Sha...  I mean, are they both single?" he asked, showing a little heat from embarrassment.

"Well, Roe is single about 22 hours out of the day.  The other two hours, he is hooked up with his latest conquest.  Shaft, on the other hand, has never really dated anyone, well not since we met in seventh grade anyway."  Mic answered. 

"Really?" Ethan asked, a little too eagerly. 

'Hell!  I will have to give you a kiss for that one, Roe.' I tallied to myself.

"Yea.  He is a great guy, just a bit gun shy is all.  Jew is the same way, and he is such a doll.  If things were different, I would have surely made a play for him... Ethan, can you cut up some fruit in the bowl behind you there on the counter. Thanks...  As it turns out, though, I  met Thomas four years ago, and we
have been happily married for 2 1/2 years now.  Being an active duty marine, he is currently oversees serving a tour in Korea.  He will hopefully get to come home for Thanks Giving.  Lord, I miss him...  Hela, if you cut up some veggies, I will make us that spinach dip you like so much...  But, I have always found Jew to be adorable.  Hey, I may be married, but I 'm not blind.  Not that I would ever betray my husband or anything."  Mic added.

"Well, I think he is kind of cute, I guess."  Ethan said.

"Kind of cute?  He is a total babe!" Jena corrected.

"HA!  Got ya!"  he taunted.  "I knew you had a thing for him!" he gloated.

"Oh, like your bulging eyes for Shaft were SO not noticeable."  Jena shot. 

Ethan blushed deeply and hung his head.  "Was it that obvious?"

"Yes!" the three of us replied.

"I am SO glad I am gay!" he glared at us, and we just laughed.

"Oh, don't worry, Ethan.  I thought it was cute.  Besides, I think he was kind of checking you out, anyways." I said matter-of-factly.

"Really?  Wow!  And he is my size!"  Ethan bubbled.

"A match made in heaven, if you ask me." I coyly stated.

Jena sighed.  "Well, Jew avoided me like the plague.  Am I man-poison or something?"

I just chuckled.  "No.  You just have to know Jew.  When he gets really nervous, he backs away and gets really quiet.  The moment he laid eyes on you, he was sweating bullets."

"So, how do I get him to relax and quit running from me?"  she asked.

Then, inspiration hit me, and I knew exactly what to do.   "You just leave that one up to me.  Trust me, this one will be easy."


I was so mesmerized by his beauty as soon as he answered the door.  Immediately, I noticed the hair and contacts.  'Now, how sweet is that!' I noted to myself, knowing that Killian was trying to please me.  He looked so incredible in his formals.  But truth be known, he would look incredible no matter what he wore.  Ethan and Jena, of course, followed me, thinking they were some kind of secret agents or something, like I would not notice that bright yellow car of hers.  Anyways, I introduced them to Killian and the rest of his friends.  Killian then introduced his crew to us.  I noticed that Ethan and Jena were awestruck by two of his roommates, Jew and Shaft.  I just hoped it worked out for them.  Everyone seemed very nice, and I think we three fit in well with them.  I really liked Hela, even though she grilled me.  If the situation were reversed, I would have been much worse on her. 

As we drove to the theater, I took advantage of every stop in traffic to kiss my beloved.  My hormones were roaring in overdrive by the time we parked the car.  I think Killian appreciated my southern gentleman qualities as I opened his door for him.  If it bothered him, he never indicated as such.  Hand-in-hand, we left the parking garage and walked through the alley way to the street.  Then, we headed up to the theater.  I have to say that people can be so judgmental sometimes.  The stares we received for holding hands was kind of annoying.  But, at least no one said anything out of the way to us.

"Well, love, here we are." I said, breaking our comfortable silence.

Killian studied me a moment and then replied.  "I hope you like musicals.  I really enjoy them, but if you don't, it will not offend me.  We can easily do something else.  I would be content to sit and watch the grass grow, so long as I have your company."

"Oh, now that is sweet of you." I smiled.  'Lord, I am so lucky to have this man!' I reminded myself.  Taking his hand to my lips, I gently kissed his fingers.  "But, honestly, I enjoy a good musical.  I have not been to one in a couple of years, though.  Grams and I used to go to them a lot when she came to visit, but now Ethan has her hooked on PS2, so most of her recent visits were spent playing some mindless game.  Sometimes, I just wonder about her."  I joked.  "I was really excited when you suggested it, and I hear this one is fantastic.  Elliot Hoffman wrote it, a guy I know from the university... well, we had a few classes together over the years."

"Yea.  He seems like a nice guy.  I heard it was really romantic." Killian blushed, which made me aware that he had ulterior motives to the musical. 

'Hey, I am totally game for a little romance with my Love.' I thought honestly, so I just found that to be even sweeter.  "Then it should make for a lovely evening.  An excellent choice for our date, my love." At that point, I just had to kiss him.  However, there was no embarrassment about public displays of affection this time.  I did not care who saw it or what they had to say about it.  I was kissing the man that I loved regardless.  The line had moved considerably during the kiss, so we had to play catch up.  Killian presented our tickets, and the man gave us our programs.  As he began to explain our seating locations, Killian explained that these were patron of the arts seats, so the guy thanked him for his supporting the arts.  We then got two bottles of water, and Killian grumbled about the price, which I just found amusing.  'He and Grams will get along fine' I inwardly laughed.  'She is big on pinching the pennies, too.'

Killian had scored us some very posh seats, to say the least.  As the program began, we snuggled together as he lay his head on my chest, wrapped up in my arms.  The musical was truly a masterpiece, a great blend of emotional themes.  I was so ready for our little romantic dinner, and I hoped he liked my little surprise.  I made special arrangements and would not tell him where we were going.

We were in the exit line, when he brought us abruptly to a halt.  I noticed a look of panic come over Killian.  "Love, what's wrong?  You look like you have seen a ghost or something." I asked.

"I don't know, but there is danger near.  Trust me.  Be extra careful, and stay close to me.  If I get anything else, I will let you know."  he responded.

I was immediately reminded of Valerie's words concerning one of Killian's gifts, so I became cautious.  'Why now?' I questioned to myself.  He acted strangely when we first made it out of the theater, but never said anything was wrong, so I did not ask. 

We walked down the street and entered the alley way towards the parking garage, when he again warned,
"Danger."  He was looking around everywhere for some sign of the danger he was sensing. 

We turned to look at one another.  Suddenly, my body tensed up as I felt a presence.  "Someone is here."  I told him.  Somehow, I could feel the presence of another man within our proximity.  "I can feel him.  Don't ask me how, but I can feel him, and he's close by."  I released his hand and walked a few paces about, relying on this new sense to help me find this presence.  Then, I felt it again, but way stronger this time, and I knew where he was  "There.  He is there." I said, pointing to the shadows across the alley. 

He then stepped from the shadows, clad in a full-face toboggan. 

"Kanawha!  Don't move.  He has a gun!"  Killian shouted.

"So I do." The stranger menacingly stated.   He then withdrew his pistol, waiving it back and forth between Killian and myself.  "And I am not afraid to use it." 
I carefully moved back to Killian, placing him behind me so as to protect him.  He then touched my shoulder and moved around me.  "No love.  It is I who must protect you." 

Before I could argue, a voice beckoned, "BE SILENT AND STILL." and I found myself unable to move or respond.  The voice spoke again.  "HAVE FAITH AND TRUST YOUR SENSES."  I was really freaking out, but the voice then said, "NOW, REMEMBER."

Immediately, my reoccurring dream ran through my mind.  As I looked at the scene in front of me, I saw Killian and the strange man.  Then it happened.  It is so hard to describe it in words.  I could feel this energy all around me, and it moved forth to rest in front of me.  The aura of this energy began to take shape and there in front of me was the image of a grizzly bear, standing tall, ready to strike.  I could then see energy swirling around Killian and the stranger, and it too began to take shape.  All about Killian stood the image of a fox, and about the stranger stood a badger.  I had no idea what was happening to me, and I was frightened. 

A calmness fell around me, as the voice once again repeated,
"HAVE FAITH AND TRUST YOUR SENSES."  The lower part of my abdomen began to burn and shot with pain.  The pain grew stronger and burned throughout my body.  I was assaulted by emotions:  rage, fear, sorrow, desperation, betrayal, shame, hurt, and a terrible loneliness.  The emotions grew more and more intense as the strange man drew closer.  The bear moved back and was about me once again, its energy coursing through my veins.  The dawning of revelation came upon me, and I finally understood.  The stranger raised his gun up to my head, and at that instant, my body was released.

With a speed I have never before possessed, I lashed out at the man's hand.  The blow knocked the gun free as it went sailing across the alley.  Just as quickly, I grabbed the man with both hands.  "How do I feel?  HOW DO I FEEL?" my voice bellowed.  I knew what must be done.  I drew the stranger into me, embracing him close to my chest.  "Sorry.  I am so, so very sorry."  I could feel his pain, his sorrow, his hurt, his shame, all the negative emotions that have plagued this poor guys life.  As the emotions reached their apex, release came, and we fell to our knees, while I held him close to me.  "And I feel ashamed that I added to your pain today, little guy.  Please, forgive me."  He began to weep, lying in my arms, and I shared in his tears.  "That's it little man, let it all out.  You're safe now.  I'm here for you.  Just let it go."  He cried a lifetime's worth of tears, pulling me tightly into his embrace.

Killian rubbed my shoulder, and I looked up to him and smiled.  Tears flowed from his eyes, as I knew he was giving thanks for our survival.  I reached up and took his hand, drawing him down with us into the huddle.  As he embraced us, Killian rubbed the little guys back, looking into my eyes questioningly.  The little fellow seemed to have calmed down some, so I raised him forward slightly and removed his mask.  "It's him."  I explained to Killian.  "The kid we met today in the university gardens."

Killian rolled his eyes and looked upwards, saying a small prayer.  When finished, he stood and pulled the little guy up to his feet.  He placed an arm around his shoulder and lifted the little guys chin.  "I think we need to talk."  He said calmly.


... because, in that instant, he had already saved himself.  As the stranger put the gun up to Kanawha's head, his hand flew up and knocked the gun across the alley.  In a blur, he grabbed the guy up by his shirt.  "How do I feel?  HOW DO I FEEL?" he bellowed.  Then his voice became so soft and tender.  "Sorry.  I am so, so very sorry." he admitted as he drew the guy into an embrace.  The two then fell to their knees, as Kanawha added, "And I feel ashamed that I added to your pain today, little guy.  Please, forgive me."  The two began to cry as the emotional pain this guy felt was released.  "That's it little man, let it all out.  You're safe now.  I'm here for you.  Just let it go."  and the stranger began to wail.

The sign of danger grew dim and disappeared, as the symbols about the stranger changed, indicating things were now safe.  I rubbed Kanawha's shoulder as I thanked God for leading us through this ordeal.  My love took my hand and pulled me to them.  I embraced Kanawha with one arm, and rubbed the little guys back with the other.  I could tell something major had happened to Kanawha during his 'time out,' and I knew he was aware of something else, so I looked at him questioningly.  It all made complete sense when he removed the guys mask and explained, "It's him.  The kid we met today in the university gardens." 

I looked above for guidance, and then arose to my feet.  I studied the symbols before me carefully and they confirmed my thoughts.  I pulled the young man up to his feet and draped my arm around him.  I lifted his chin and looked him in the eyes.  "I think we need to talk."  I stated calmly.

He kept trying to look away, but I kept bringing his eyes back to my own.  I could tell he was deeply ashamed for his actions, this act of desperation.  "I 'm real sorry about all this.  Truly I am."  His eyes filled with tears.  "I was desperate.  I needed some money, or they were gonna hurt me."

"Who was going to hurt you?" I asked, already knowing the answer from my reading.

"There's this gang of guys.  If you don't give 'em money every week, they hurt you... " he trailed off in fear and shame.  "Normally, I get lucky begging for food money.  But, not this week.  I have to have it to 'em by 10:30, or they'll come lookin' for me.  One of the kids last week didn't pay up.  They found him yesterday at the trash dump, beaten to death."

My heart ached for him, but I knew I had to hold my resolve and play this out.  "So, you decided to rob us, is that right?"  I asked calmly.

"Look, I don't wanna die.  I really wasn't gonna hurt nobody.  The gun ain't even loaded."  he rebutted.  "I was just gonna take what I needed, just fifty bucks.  You guys looked like you could've afforded that much."  He stopped and looked at Kanawha.  "When I got close enough to see you guys, I recognized ya, and I got real mad."

"I am sorry about today.  I feel just awful about it."  Kanawha replied.  "Hey, why did you say those things and try to hit me to begin with?"  he asked the question I was wondering myself at that moment.

"Look, every time I see ya, you look at me like I am some low-life trash.  I'm just a kid.  I can't help it that I ain't rich."  he retorted.

"I don't think I have ever seen you before today." Kanawha stated.

"Yea, ya have.  We see each other almost every day.  And it is always the same look you give me.  Like I am disgusting and you are so much better'n me." he shot.  "Well, I thought I'd return the favor today when I saw ya bein' all touchy feely with him." he said, pointing to me.  "I figured that most people look down on that sorta stuff, so I was in a position to look down on you for once.  Truth is, I don't really care 'bout that, you two bein' together and all.  I have too many other things to worry 'bout, like my next meal and stuff."

"Again, I can only apologize for my actions towards you.  I hope you can forgive me."  Kanawha said, obviously saddened by the effects his previous actions.

"Its OK."  he said.  Then he cast his gaze back to me.  "Like I said, I really wasn't gonna hurt ya', but I got all mad.  I'm real sorry about that now though."

"Let me say this, and you just think about it.  Now granted, you told us the gun was not loaded, and I believe you.  But what if one of the two of us had a gun, and ours was loaded.  What if we were so frightened that you were going to hurt us, that we shot you?"  he thought about that a moment and shivered.  I continued, "Yea.  Guns are weapons.  They are not toys.  Weapons are used to defend, protect, hurt, kill, and destroy. In every instance there, someone gets hurt or dies."  I let that sink in a moment.  "Now, as far as needing the money, I understand your motivations, but it is still wrong to take something from someone else, regardless if they can afford it or not.  There are other ways to get money, you know."  I said.

"I don't wanna do that stuff.  Some of the kids do that, but I don't wanna do that." he said, his eyes getting really big, and I quietly thanked God this poor kid had not traveled down that path.

"He is not talking about hustling, kid." Kanawha explained.  "What about getting a job, or doing legal things for people, like mowing lawns?"

"Who'd hire me?" he said sadly.   "If I came to your house and knocked on your door, just wantin' to see if you'd let me cut your grass, what would you do?  Look at me."  he said, with his arms raised, turning about in a circle.  "You would call the police, not even botherin' to answer your door.  You'd think I was some low-life thug tryin' to rob you or somethin'."
My heart broke knowing what he said was true.

"Is there no one at home to turn to? No one in your family?" I asked, again knowing the answer.

"What family?  What home?  Look, I don't have nobody.  I live on the streets.  They put me in those state homes, but the streets are better'n living there.  They've got so many of us orphans to look after, they prob'ly never even noticed I's gone.  No one came lookin for me anyway."  he sadly answered.

"Well," Kanawha said, "We'll just have to see what we can do about that.  Right now, though, I am kinda hungry.  We were on our way to go eat when we ran back into you."

"Oh, right." he said, looking to the ground.  "Well, maybe I'll see ya' around sometime." and he started to slowly saunter off.

"Well, kid." Kanawha beckoned.  "Are you not coming with us?"

He turned around, looking both shocked and excited.  "You mean it?  After what I did?  You want me to come with you?"

"To dinner for starters." I answered. "To live, if you like."

"WHAT?" he exclaimed.

"Yea, kid.  WE WANT YOU.  There is just something very special about you.  Somehow, I know we will never be able to live our lives without you being there with us."  He ran and hugged us both, tears streaming from his eyes OK, tears were streaming from all our eyes.  Kanawha kissed his forehead, headless of the dirt and grime that covered our little man.  "Well, kid, I think you are a little bit too old to be called kid, so I was wondering if you had a name."

I looked at Kanawha as if to say 'What?  You mean you have to ask?  You don't know?', but his responsive look assured me that he did.  Not surprisingly at all, the kid answered.  "My name is Chance.  Chance Samuel Givens."

Well, that wraps up chapter two.  Thanks for reading, and please let me know what you think.  Chapter three will be coming  soon.