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Lucas smiled, his eyes on the group surrounding him, the man pulling off the refilled coffeepot from its stand.
Breakfast was well in hand, everyone smiling with contented faces.
"I don't know how you do it, Luke? That was next to fantastic!" Roy said, Karen smiling and patting her husband's stomach, Roy smiling at her.
"I do it with love, Dad. I've always found happiness in making other people happy and contented with my fare from the kitchen."
Josh smiled, his blue eyes on his lover, Lucas winking at him.
Finn smirked, taking in the exchange.
"I think your man loves you cooking in other places also, Lukey. If last night's screams were any sign." Finn said, Trish, Andrew and Skyler beginning to chuckle, Josh's cheeks blushing, trying not to look at his lover.
Lucas smiled, walking up to the table, leaning down and kissing Josh's cheek as he poured him another cup of coffee.
"What can I say? My man loves it when I use my spatula!"
Finn burst into laughter, others joining him, Lance and Justin both laughing, Lance looking at Lucas.
"Kinky, Luke! I hope you use it hard?"
Finn doubled over, Josh's cheeks streaking with more redness, Lucas smiling around at everyone, Finn's blue eyes meeting Lance's.
"I'd never hurt my Beamy with my love, Lance. But wood is better than plastic, doesn't break as easy."
Josh laughed, Lucas winking at him again.
"Ah, so Josh has a woody every day?" Finn said, Josh blushing again towards his parents, Lucas laughing, winking at Finn.
"Stop, Finn. Wouldn't want Sky to get jealous."
Skyler laughed, covering her mouth when Finn looked at her, Lucas smiling at both.
"Thanks for the review, sweetie." Finn said, Lucas patting his shoulder and laughing, pouring his friend another cup of coffee as well.
"Sorry, love. But you walk into your own traps." Skyler said, Finn smiling and nodding.
"Yes, I do. Your heart trapped me a long time ago."
Everyone smiled, Lance and Justin both gagging, Lucas laughing and sitting down at the table, the young man smiling at his friends.
"Roy's correct, son. This is better than the hotel breakfast from yesterday." Henderson said, wiping his lips with a napkin, sipping at his orange juice, Vivian smiling beside him.
"Thanks, Dads. I just whipped it up." he said, Roy shaking his head in wonder.
"Whipped it up? Those omelettes were so delicious."
Lucas smiled, his eyes focusing on Justin.
"How was last night, Jus? Being alone for the first time, I mean." he said, diverting the talk away from his own culinary attention.
"Was okay, Luke. Slept right through." he smiled, everyone looking at him with love.
"You'll get used to it, Justin. And I know it won't be for long." Karen smiled, patting his arm, she seated beside him on his left, Lance on his right.
"Thanks, Mom. And I'm hoping the same."
Karen nodded, smiling, Lucas smiling at his friend as well.
"I'm certain of it, Jus."
Justin smiled, looking at his younger friend, Josh smiling between both of them.
"Seeing into the future again, Luke?"
"Perhaps, Justin. But the aura of your hopes blends well with your love. You're the type of man who'll never be alone. Whether you're with someone or not. Your love and friendship guarantees that."
Justin nodded, smiling at Lucas.
"Actually, I met someone last night. On the way home from here actually. I don't know if anything will come of it, but it was a surprising moment. I think fate follows me."
"Fate follows all of us, Justin. And perchance encounters--however wet or sudden--change the path." Lucas said.
Justin's eyes widened a bit, Lucas sipping at his coffee, Josh looking at him with confusion.
"Wet, Luke? What do you mean? What's he talking about, Justin?" Josh said, Justin's blue eyes on Lucas.
"You. . .you know? How. . .how can that be possible?" Justin stammered, everyone looking between Justin and Lucas.
"I feel all the feelings of those I care about, Justin. All of your moments of love and friendship. I believe it's the glow of the magic within me. And Sky will never be jealous, Finny. I felt your overflowing love last night."
Finn blushed, Lucas smiling at him.
"Besides, my Beamy wasn't the only one rather vocal last night."
Finn blushed deeper, Lucas leaning over and kissing his cheek, their eyes meeting.
"Love needs to sound out its beauty."
Finn smiled, his eyes looking at Justin now.
"So what's this about someone being wet?"
Lucas smiled, remaining silent, another mirthful moment curtailed, his violet eyes looking at Justin, the man looking around.
"I met someone on my way home last night. Let's just say I gave him a wet introduction."
Justin looked at Josh's and Lucas' parents, the four staring at him.
"I have some truths to tell you, guys. And what my
path--as Lucas called it--now shows."
Justin began to reveal last night's moments of fate, and his recent truths.
Karen's blue eyes looked at Justin, the woman leaning to her right, kissing his cheek.
"Your love goes on its own journey, Justin. My son's
journey followed a similar path. We all only want happiness for you. If you can
find it in someone of your own sex, then that's your choice. Our love won't
change because of that."
Justin smiled, kissing her in return.
"Thanks, my second Mom. I wasn't sure how you'd react to that news."
Karen smiled, as did Roy, Justin seeing their unchanged love.
Vivian and Henderson smiled at Justin, the man seeing no change in their friendship for him.
Karen and Roy smiled at them, then at Justin, both looking towards their son and Lucas.
"We reacted to it a long time ago, son. Our own son's happiness never made us judge you or him." Roy said, Justin looking confused, as did Josh, Lucas smiling at Josh's parents.
"With age comes wisdom and love." Lucas said.
Both of Josh's parents smiled at Lucas, Karen looking at her son.
"We don't know--or need to know--the details, but we knew the two of you once shared a deeper love for each other."
Justin and Josh both looked shocked, everyone else staring in surprise as well.
"You and Josh, Justin?" Finn said in surprise, Lance looking at Justin.
"Yes, we once had a private deep relationship, Finn.
Josh respected me enough to never reveal its intimacy. The deepness of
that passion ended, but the love remained. Our friendship was strong enough to
last against the loss."
Josh smiled at Justin, the man smiling at him, everyone quietly watching them.
"There never was a loss, Jus. Your love and friendship never left."
"From first love, and then from tender protective love, friendship regained its loving core." Lucas said, everyone looking at him.
Both men nodded, smiling at Lucas' words.
Everyone realized that Lucas was aware of Justin and Josh's past, the young man's eyes staring at his Beamy with love.
"Yes, Lucky. I was there for Justin at the newness of his youthful needs, he was there for me later when I was hurting from Bryce's betrayal. We both have each other to thank for the path we now are on. I have your love, Lucky. And perhaps Justin can have just as great a love as well."
Everyone smiled, Lucas smiling at both men.
"I and Justin's mystery man are so damn lucky."
Josh smiled, kissing his lover's lips, Justin smiling at both.
"I've only just met him, Luke. Is he. . .could he be. . .the one?"
Lucas looked at Justin, his eyes going around the room.
"I have no say in that, Justin. At least not for now. As I said, you have to follow your own path. The future holds its own secrets."
Justin nodded, Lance looking at him.
"He sounds like a nice guy, Justin. Young, handsome, kind." Karen said, Justin nodding.
"I aim to find out, Mom."
Lance smiled at his friend, Justin's blue pools meeting Lance's green.
"I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to ditch you tonight, Lance. I think I'd like to call him and meet with him again."
Lance smiled, his hand going to Justin's shoulder.
"He does sound nice, Jus. I'm fine with being ditched. I can find something to do."
Justin smiled, thanking Lance, Lucas' violet eyes staring at both men.
Justin hung up his cell phone, Lucas walking into his bedroom, their eyes meeting.
Justin pocketed the card he held in his hand, smiling at Lucas.
"I'm meeting him for dinner this evening. I'm taking him to my
Lucas nodded, smiling at his friend.
"Lucky guy. The food's fantastic."
Justin smiled, looking around the bedroom, Lucas having told him to use it for privacy, the living room still filled with people.
"My best friend is even more lucky."
Lucas smiled, sitting down on the bed's edge, Justin smiling and joining him.
"So the path moves forward, Jus."
Justin nodded, their eyes meeting.
"Yes, it seems like it is." Justin said, Lucas nodding.
"Again, I want to apologize for what I've been
doing, Luke. I never should have tried to interfere with you and my Joshy. I'm
sorry I did that."
Lucas smiled, his arm going around Justin's shoulder, his lips kissing Justin's cheek.
"You don't have to apologize for loving us, Justin.
For wanting us to love you. We both do, deeply."
Justin nodded, looking into Lucas' violet eyes.
"Infatuation I think has given way to respect and love, Lucas. I do love both of you, as my best friends, the friends I should have always seen."
Lucas nodded, smiling.
"Damn! And here I was going to tease you for months. I had all the sexy outfits all picked out."
Justin laughed, Lucas smiling at him.
"You can still do that. I always love a good show."
Lucas laughed, the two smiling at each other.
"I love your Joshy, Justin. Now and for always. And he loves me. Sometimes I still can't believe that."
Justin smiled, his arm going around Lucas now.
"Believe it. I've never seen so much happiness in his blue eyes. He's totally, utterly, completely devoted to you."
Lucas smiled, his eyes going to the bedroom door.
"Can I tell you something, Jus?"
Justin nodded, smiling at his friend.
Lucas' violet eyes met Justin's, the man seeing a look of uncertainty there.
Lucas sighed, the young man rising and walking over to a dresser, opening the bottom drawer and pulling something out, walking back to Justin, sitting down beside him again.
Justin looked into Lucas' hand, seeing a small velvet box there.
"Lucas. . .you're. . .you want to?"
"I love him, Jus. I want to be with him forever. I bought this last week. I want to ask him to be mine forever."
Justin stared at Lucas in surprise, the man seeing the love and hope in the younger man's eyes.
"I. . .I know that the future for me is clouded, uncertain. There's so much of my life that's uncertain. But I know the one certainty in my heart. I love my Josh. I want to love him forever."
Justin nodded, looking into Lucas' violet eyes.
"When will you surprise him?"
"I'm. . .I'm not sure Jus. After the tour, perhaps before I go to my unknown family. I need his love completely to face that."
Justin smiled, kissing Lucas' cheek.
"You already have that, Luke."
Lucas smiled, Justin taking the box from Lucas' hand, opening it.
Inside the box was a silver ring, its center inlaid with a solitary diamond, its shade a soft violet hue.
"It's beautiful, Luke. He'll love its symbolism. The beauty of your violet eyes."
Lucas smiled, tearing up, his head going against Justin's chest.
"I'm his forever, Justin. He just has to say yes. He just has to!"
"He will, Lucas. He will. His love is yours." Justin said, his mind on the man he held against him, a single tear going down his own cheek.
You love him totally, Lucas.
I finally see that now.
And I couldn't be happier for my Joshy.
If I have to lose your total love, I'm so glad it's going to him.
Justin smiled, his soul accepting the truth of what lay before him.
Lucas would never be his.
Lucas would only ever love his Joshua.
Justin smiled, patting his friend's back.
"Come on, Lukey. Wipe those eyes. You don't want Joshy thinking something's wrong."
Lucas smiled, wiping his eyes, Justin wiping his own.
"You seem a little overcome as well, Jus. Everything
"Yes, Luke. Everything's fine. I just realized my friends are totally in love."
Lucas smiled, looking into Justin's blue eyes.
"We are, Jus. And you'll find that deep a love soon as well."
Justin smiled, his mind on the man he was meeting later.
"Here's hoping, Lucas."
Lucas smiled, leaning forward and kissing Justin on the lips this time.
Justin felt surprised by his friend's move, Lucas pulling back, Justin tasting the man's heat on his lips.
"No worries, Justin. I know the depth of your
giving, loving heart. Any man would be as happy as I am to know your total love.
Your love would reflect my own and my Beamy's."
Justin smiled, Lucas' hand going to his shoulder.
"Open your heart, be yourself, not the flashy ego of
stardom. The real you is so much better."
Justin smiled, Lucas winking.
"Besides, I've seen all of you. Someone's going to
have lots of fun loving the real you. Sexy ass and all."
Justin laughed, the man handing Lucas the velvet box, the door of the bedroom opening.
Josh's head popped in moments after Lucas had deposited the box into his pant pocket.
"Finn's looking for a fourth to play pool with, Jus. You and me against him and Dad?"
Justin smiled, standing up, Josh smiling at him, then at his Lucas.
"Unless you two are busy? The bed's still made, so
the sex hasn't gone too far."
Lucas laughed, Josh smiling at him.
"Too late, horndog! Justin's so clean, he insisted
on making the bed after."
Justin laughed, blowing a kiss at Lucas.
"Have the sheets cleaned, Joshy. I think I left half my heart on them."
Lucas smiled, Josh smiling at Justin.
"Nah, that's already in our souls."
Justin smiled, Lucas' eyes meeting Josh's blue.
"Go ahead, guys. I'll join you in a minute."
Josh moved forward, leaning down and kissing Lucas' upturned lips deeply.
"Hurry, my love. We need you to distract Finny."
Lucas laughed, winking at Josh, the two men walking out of the bedroom, Lucas remaining seated on the bed, Josh blowing him another kiss, closing the door.
Lucas stared at the door, his head lowering.
He pulled out the velvet box from his pocket, opening the lid, staring at the ring.
Forever, Joshua. I'll give you my soul forever.
Why does this feel like a dream?
Why do I feel like something's or someone's watching our love?
I feel your deep love, but I feel something else.
My soul needs you so much.
But why do I feel like something's going to threaten that?
Lucas sighed, walking back to the dresser, hiding the ring again, closing the drawer.
I love you, Joshua Chasez.
I'll fight heaven and earth to have your love.
Lucas' eyes stared at his reflection in the mirror before him attached to the dresser.
I feel a change coming in the path.
Or rather two forks in the road ahead.
Two moments of changing destiny.
One I've felt already.
His mind thought on the card he'd seen in Justin's hand.
Who are you, Justin's new friend of destiny?
I sense an underlying madness behind your envisioned blue eyes.
Lucas stared at his own eyes, their violet centers softly glowing.
Others of malice and change are walking upon the path.
I won't let anyone hurt those I love.
And my own heart will stand true against the dangers.
I love you so much.
I now realize how much, Joshua.
I won't ever let you go.
Lucas stared at his focused, unflinching reflection for a moment, the man silently walked out of his room in search of his Joshua's love.
Sacred Hearts Cemetery, Westonshire, Massachusetts
Earlier That Same Morning
Arlo sighed, the old man setting down his shovel, the man sitting down on the stone bench before the crypt.
The coolness of the moonlit night never entered his bones.
"Even in death I still can't let go of the shovel. At least the night holds no coldness." he softly said to himself, wiping his brow with a white handkerchief that he'd pulled from his back pocket.
The man looked around the quiet cemetery, his eyes scanning for any sign of life, no one showing themselves.
His eyes followed the slope of the grassy tombstone-covered hill, his eyes taking in a freshly turned mound of dirt on its far side.
Flowers lay upon the mound, even from this distance the man seeing that they were dying, their freshness gone.
He'd stood in silence that day a week ago, standing and watching his own self being lowered into that earthy final spot.
He's seen most of everyone from town standing around his grave, their respect and love for him showing in all their calm, silent, grieving faces.
His life had ended, the man silent and watching his passing into the void.
The people had left, his body left under its blanket of forgetfulness.
That was life gone from him, this shaded existence now his.
Living, then dying, then walking as a shade of nothing.
"It is not good to dwell on the past, my friend."
Arlo's eyes focused, looking upwards, a solitary man standing beside him.
"My old eyes look towards my end, my liege."
The man nodded, his eyes going to where the older man was staring.
Joshua then stared down at the man sitting beside the crypt, the man's face showing a look of knowledgeable compassion.
"Your end was dignified and respectful. Many
gathered to say farewell. You touched many lives. In friendship, respect and
giving compassion. You saw many of their own onto their next path. They wanted
you to go to yours with their love and respect."
"But I haven't gone, kind sir. I remain for your sake."
Joshua nodded, sitting down on the bench beside the old caretaker.
Arlo's blue eyes looked around the graveyard, Joshua quietly staring at him.
"The new boy shows no respect. To him it's just a job. He tends to those that sleep without caring. To me it was a calling. I called them forward to the next life. And I remained to care for their eternal sleep."
"You were and are a man of giving kindness, Arlo
Hammond. You shall walk the path of eternal happiness soon."
The older man nodded, his blue eyes staring into Joshua's green.
"So you have promised, kind sir. I shall abide by your promise."
Joshua smiled, patting the man's shoulder.
"So, what have you unearthed?"
The man looked towards the crypt before him, Joshua's eyes following him.
"Nothing much, my liege. Only old bones and silent tombs."
Joshua nodded, looking around the cemetery.
"I thought for certain you'd find something. If anyone knows the layout of this place you do, Arlo." he softly said, the older man looking at him.
"It would help if I knew the trueness of what I'm supposed to find."
"I told you, Arlo. It is my soul."
The man nodded, putting his handkerchief back in his pocket, staring at the younger shaded apparition before him.
"A soul is intangible, sir. It exists only in the depth of a man's true self. It isn't something that can be found by a man's eye. I seek nothing and find nothing. As no one sees either of us." he said, his voice calm but uncertain.
"That is true, Arlo. But my soul is different, of that I have total assurance."
Arlo stared at the man, Joshua rising up to his feet again.
"The night wanes, dear friend. I think perhaps you are right. I believe only he is destined to bring to the day's light the hidden, lost part of myself."
The old caretaker stood up, brushing off his pants from the stone bench's dusty surface.
"I have half a mind to haunt that smart ass young whippersnapper. Leaving benches covered in earth and dust. Where are his ethics?"
Joshua smiled, staring into the man's blue eyes.
"Your mind wanders, dear friend. Leave the earthy existence to the living."
The man nodded, sighing.
"I shall keep looking, Joshua. There are only seven crypts left. What of the buried tombs?"
"I would not think he'd hide it there, Arlo? The lost one was never one for soiling himself."
The caretaker nodded, staring at the young man.
"You are a man of shadowy mystery, sir. I still don't recollect how you curtailed me into this endeavour."
Joshua smiled, Arlo smiling at him.
"By showing you the next path, Arlo. You well deserve the easy route."
"Don't we all, Joshua. Don't we all."
The young man nodded, smiling at the man.
"The night wanes, Arlo. Rest in the shadows until tomorrow's darkness."
Arlo nodded, Joshua's eyes looking past Arlo's grave, staring at the top of a half hidden tomb.
"Your path forward never was my path, Arlo. Existence forms many paths of truth."
The caretaker nodded, staring at the man whose soft transparency was now showing.
"Until next. . ." he started to say, the man before him vanishing.
Arlo stared at the empty spot, the man sighing.
"Go with God, lost soul. Go with God." he said, the man seeing the edges of dawn beginning to show over the grassy hill.
The caretaker picked up his shovel, the man vanishing as well.
Grayson Wainwright's eyes raised, the door of the library opening, two men walking into the room.
He stared at Carl, the young man's eyes drawn to him.
Around Carl's shoulder, Emerson's arm hung.
"You two have fun?" Grayson said, Carl's eyes lowering, Emerson smiling.
Grayson's eyes stared at his old friend, seeing the lightness of his step, and the strength showing on his face.
"Fun we had indeed, Gray. Your young friend here is invaluable."
Carl softly smiled, Grayson smiling at his old friend.
"Yes, his energy staves off the tiredness of life. To be that young again." Emerson said, Emerson releasing his hold on the younger man, the man walking up to his old friend.
"I've been showing Carl this old mausoleum, Gray. He seems quite taken with it."
Carl smiled softly again, sitting down on the couch beside Grayson, the man smiling at his young friend.
"This place is massive, Grayson. So many floors, rooms and hidden sanctuaries. It's the palace of a king!"
Emerson smiled, sitting down in a wing chair before the fireplace, smiling at the young man.
"It's only a home, Carl. My home, the home of my family's heritage." Emerson said, Grayson smiling at his old friend.
"Did he show you the baths?" Grayson said, Carl's blue eyes meeting his.
"Yes, earlier this morning." Carl said, his eyes not meeting Grayson's.
The man looked into Emerson's green pools, the man smiling at him, a calm relaxed look upon his face.
"The waters were very soothing, as was the company." Emerson said, Carl looking uncomfortable.
"I want to thank you again for bringing this young man to
this place, Gray. He energizes my soul."
Grayson smiled, his hand going on top of Carl's knee.
"I know of that truth, Em."
Emerson smiled, nodding.
"We old fools take in the youthful energy, Gray. He was telling me of your increased stamina. You amaze him, my old friend." Emerson said, Carl softly blushing.
"His energy flows through me, Em." Grayson said, his blue pools staring into Carl's raised blue eyes.
"So it does, my friend." Emerson said, his eyes meeting Grayson's.
"What news do you have?"
Grayson smiled, knowing his old friend was always one step ahead of him.
"Lucas left me a voice message. He comes to the Havens on July first. He intends to spend Independence Day in the history of his family. A touching time to walk the path of the past indeed."
Emerson's face broke into a wide smile.
"Lucas? Your grandson comes home?" Carl said, Grayson's eyes meeting his.
"Yes, Carl. My grandson comes home to his family's heart. A grandson of mystery, uncertainty and destiny. A destiny of his nonexistence." Emerson said, staring up at the portrait of his long dead wife.
"Did he give any reasoning to his coming here then, Grayson? It is a long seven weeks away." Emerson said, staring at his old friend.
"He gave no reason, except that he had to follow his own path first."
The older man nodded, smiling.
'A young man of determined strength. I long to meet him."
"He's an exceptional man, Emerson. Albeit mysterious and strange." Carl said, Grayson's eyes glancing at him.
"No stranger than myself. No stranger than all of my heritage." Emerson said, his words soft and seemingly spoken to himself.
"He is young and inexperienced. He needs your tutelage Emerson. A grandfather's guidance and wisdom." Grayson said, his old friend smiling at him.
"From what you have told me of the young man, it is not my wisdom he needs. He has his own quiet intelligence. I think he shall surprise even myself." Emerson said, his fingers gently tapping the armrest of the chair he sat in.
"What is his significance, sir?" Carl said, the older man's eyes meeting his.
"You said that he wasn't even supposed to be here, that his creation was in itself a surprise, Grayson." Carl said to the lawyer, Grayson's blue steely eyes staring at him.
"Yes, Carl. My grandson was unknown to all of us until recently. His father kept his existence secret from all of us." Emerson said, Grayson looking at his old friend.
"He must have had his reasons, Em. Tristan wouldn't have done this so haphazardly. There has to be a reason for his conceiving the child with Savannah."
Carl's eyes went between the two, his watchful gaze and ears taking all of it in.
"I have thought long and hard on it, Grayson. I might even believe that he did it to hurt me." the man said, lowering his eyes.
"That's nonsense, Emerson. Tristan loved no one as deeply as he loved you. You are--and will always be--his father. He left you for only one reason. Fear and cowardice."
Emerson's eyes met Grayson's blue, the two friends staring at each other with familiar judgment.
It was a topic that had long been discussed over the years between the two of them.
Reasoning had never clouded their friendship or loyalty to each other.
"I'm not so sure of the cowardice, Grayson. It takes a strong-willed man to remain hidden for so long."
"It only took a greater magic to conceal him, Emerson. You put too much faith in his shadowy loyalty."
The old man nodded, sighing and staring at his friend.
"A long talked discussion, old friend. We shall have to wait until Tristan makes his reappearance to find that answer, if he warrants giving us one."
Grayson nodded, Emerson's eyes glancing towards Carl.
"What of our raging tiger, Grayson? Any more movement on Haven's path of aggressive control?"
Carl quietly listened to the two men, both ignoring him.
"There's not much he can do, Emerson. And that's making him seethe. His hands are tied until the moratorium expires a year from October. Unless the agencies find glaring irregularities, which wouldn't surprise me. That man is nothing if not unscrupulous. I still cannot fathom that he came from your upbringing, Emerson. Where he got his tenacity and need for power I do not understand." Grayson said, Carl's eyes widening a bit.
"From Emerson's upbringing? He is a relation of yours, sir?" the young man said, Emerson's green eyes looking towards him.
"He is my ward, Carl. Or was. I raised him with honour and distinction alongside my own son. To my son's eyes he was brother, to mine another son. He learned well the business side of Belmont Industries, from my own self. Perhaps too well." Emerson said, Grayson's blue eyes staring at him.
"I heard through the company's vast channels of information that you were and still are a shrewd, focused executive, sir. It is easy to see how great Belmont Industries grew under your leadership." Carl said, Emerson's green eyes staring at him again, a soft smile crossing the older man's face.
"Tone back the flattery, son. I cannot abide a grovelling
Carl blushed, Grayson smirking.
"Ease up indeed on the flattery, Carl. He did the same with me at our first acquaintance, Em."
Emerson laughed, the younger man blushing more.
"Forgive me, sir. I meant no disrespect. I only ever idolized
men of power."
Grayson smiled, Emerson's eyes meeting his.
"I'm an idol now, Gray. Should I start a fan club?"
Grayson laughed, Emerson joining him, Carl blushing more.
"What of Haven, Carl? You were employed by him. How great was your worship of him?" Emerson said, the young man's blue eyes meeting his green.
"He was a man of true power, and still is. But I sense in you an even greater power. And Grayson has my heart." the young man said, Grayson smiling at Emerson, the man smiling back.
"Clever answer, son. Coddle the tiger while pruning the lion." Emerson said, Grayson laughing again.
"Never, sir. I only have the utmost respect for you. My employment with Haven Marlowe is finished, as is my tenure at Belmont Industries."
"So Grayson informed me. Your credentials are exemplary, son. I'm sure Belmont Industries made a tragic mistake in letting you go. I do have influence with all the executives. Let us talk about your future. Grayson's taken a fancy to you, professionally and personally. Any friend of his warrants my own friendship."
The young man smiled at the older man, Grayson watching both of them.
"Thank you, sir. I would love to have your friendship. Your knowledge of industrial and economic strategies remains the best."
Emerson smiled, Grayson seeing the young man's delicate fawning of his old friend.
"There's a bottle of Napoleon brandy in the downstairs bar in the cavaedium, Carl. Please retrieve it for me. I think we all should partake of a drink before dinner. I think we all need a moment of solitude and refinement." Emerson said, the young man nodding his head, standing up and looking at Grayson with a soft look of confusion, the older man chuckling.
"Forgive Emerson's ancient words of lost translation. The cavaedium is the central courtyard where I showed you the marble statue covered pool."
The young man smiled, nodding, smiling at Emerson, then quietly walking out of the library, closing the door behind him.
Grayson's blue eyes went to Emerson's green.
"I'm sorry if he taxed you all afternoon, Em. I hope he wasn't too inquisitive."
"He was very quizzical, I give you that. Open questions with searching hopes. I see your truths, my friend. I'm sorry."
Grayson nodded, Emerson leaning forward, his hand going onto his friend's knee.
"Haven is indeed still his employer, I see that easily in the man's attitude. The tiger has let a fox into the henhouse. I think you may have to neuter him."
Grayson nodded, Emerson's face showing a look of quiet compassion.
"No worries, Emerson. I have not developed deep feelings for him."
Emerson stared at his friend, seeing the lost look hidden behind his blue eyes.
"You've always worn your heart on your sleeve, Gray. Forgive
me if in any way this hurts you."
The man nodded, seeing his friend's loving friendship in his green eyes.
"My heart's long tired of romance, Emerson. That fleeting hope has dwindled to its end."
"There is no such thing as no hope, Grayson. Life leads us down our paths."
The man nodded, sighing softly.
"How long do you want him to continue this charade? I can trump his hand at any time."
Emerson leaned back in his chair.
"Let him continue his path, Grayson. You and I will lead him on perhaps a grander path."
"Haven will know all our plans."
"Haven will know what we warrant him to know. He is another
who has to walk back onto my path. One day soon I shall deal with both of my
wayward sons. I only hope one won't crucify the other."
Grayson nodded, staring at his old friend.
"Tristan and Haven have to stand in front of each other and face their truths. And my grandson's just the man to see it done."
New York City
Josh smiled, the man driving in the late afternoon sunshine, softly humming to himself as he drove.
The man had volunteered to whisk out and pick up some groceries for Lucas, the man planning another meal for his friends and family.
Justin had left the condo, the man heading back to his place and his meeting that evening with his new acquaintance.
Josh smiled, thinking on his friend and his sudden look of happiness.
Perhaps Justin had indeed changed.
Perhaps his infatuation for Lucas had finally shown its true color.
Friendship had won over lust and need.
Josh smiled, believing in his heart that he could now trust his friend again as the friend he'd always been.
His Lucas wasn't focused in Justin's blue loving eyes.
Josh smiled, pulling down the street leading to the local grocery store.
His mind was lost on the man he'd left in the kitchen of the condo.
Lucas had kissed him deeply, Josh still feeling the softness of his lips against his own.
And the scent of his lover still hung in his nostrils as a smoking censer would hang from a priest's hands.
The sacrament of his lover's true self.
The scent of his existence.
Josh smiled, realizing that he missed the man he'd just left.
Absence did indeed make the heart grow fonder.
He sighed, his foot hitting the gas a little more, the man wanting to finish his errand quickly, so that he could be in his lover's arms again.
Karen and Roy had both smirked when Josh had left the condo, his mother kissing his cheek.
"Don't enter the 500 to get back here. He'll be here when you return."
Josh had blushed, Lance had laughed.
Finn behind them had giggled, Josh's blue eyes meeting his.
"Hurry up, Joshy Woshy! Lukey Wukey wants to play again!"
Lance and Finn had both burst into laugher, Josh shaking his head and leaving the condo.
Josh smiled, the man pulling into the grocery parking lot, parking by the front doors.
Other cars pulled in around him, Josh oblivious to those surrounding him, his hand picking up the list he'd set on the passenger seat.
The first sign of anything peculiar was the microphone pushed into his face.
"J.C., J.C.! Ryan Canyon from ET. What's the scoop on Orion? We know Justin's their manager and mentor. Has he written their new songs? Is this his foray back into the music world?" the man said, another man standing behind him, a video camera in his hand pointed at Josh as the man closed his SUV's door.
Josh suddenly realized that Orion's video debut had suddenly thrust them into the watchful, needful eye of the media.
"Justin isn't their manager, he is their producer. The band has signed under his record label. I'm sure you already know that." Josh said, beginning to walk towards the grocery store's front doorway.
"Who is this band, J.C.? They've seemed to come out of nowhere." the man said, following Josh.
"They're from Wales. Justin heard and saw their talent, offering them a chance at breaking out into the American music mainstream. They're very talented and they will do just that. Orion's star is rising."
"You seem well-acquainted with them. Do you know them
Josh's eyes zoned in on the man and his obvious goading words.
"They've become my friends, as have they Justin's. They're
four wonderful people. They'll show that friendship to the world."
Josh caught sight of the store's front doorway fifty feet away from him.
"If you'll excuse me, I'm heading in to do some grocery shopping. Goodbye." he said, the reporter and cameraman looking forward, seeing a security guard standing in the store's doorway, their presence obviously seen and the situation understood.
The two stopped, Josh walking through the store's sliding open doors, the guard smiling at him.
"No, I'm fine. Just please keep them out of the store. I'd like to shop in peace."
The large guard smiled, nodding.
"Sure thing, Mr. Chasez." the man said, nodding his head again.
Josh smiled at the guard, the man pushing a cart towards Josh, Josh thanking him and walking down the frozen food aisle.
Fifteen minutes later Josh had most of what he needed, the man smiling as he passed the bakery counters.
He spotted a large black forest cake in the presentation case, the man smiling and summoning one of the clerks from behind the counter.
He talked to the woman, the woman smiling and nodding her head.
Five minutes later Josh had the cake in his cart on top of the other food, the man heading for the checkouts.
He stood in line, softly humming, ignoring those around him, sensing a few people looking his way, and looking out through the store's large windows.
The reporter--as well as a few others--were still milling around Josh's vehicle.
Josh sighed, a voice behind him focusing in his mind.
"A beautiful cake. Someone's indeed lucky. And I see the fame
still follows you."
Josh froze, that voice sinking into his soul.
Josh turned around, his blue eyes locked on two other blue pools of quiet calmness.
In those pools Josh felt his own soul tighten.
Staring back at him was the handsome face of Bryce Hartwell.
End of Chapter 29
It seems Josh has come face to face with his past.
His former lover stands before him.
What is Bryce's game?
Is Adam behind this meeting?
Justin's taken the bull by the horns and called Sheridan.
Is that bull going to buck him or ****him?
What are his plans for Justin and for Lucas?
Arlo and Joshua have begun their search of Joshua's missing soul in the graveyard.
What is this graveyard's significance?
Joshua seems to think that Lucas may be able to find what he's lost.
Seems Grayson and Emerson are both well aware of Carl's involvement with Haven Marlowe.
The spy within the den of mystery.
What are their plans for the devious young man?
Is Grayson feeling more for him that he's letting on to Emerson?
Still seems to be a lot of mystery surrounding our main characters.
Food for thought as the path opens up on some answers.
Up next: Bryce's foray back into Josh's heart.
Let's hope Lucas lays claim to it.
Read on, looks like there's a lot more to come.