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Fate Brought Billy Gilman to Me

Part #18

By Paul S. Stevens

The next morning, Billy woke up in a fairly positive state of mind. He had made up his mind that today was the day that he was going to take on the next hurdle of his therapy, which was to journey back home again and confront his Mom and Dad. The emotionally draining prospect of taking the final leap to repair the broken ties with his parents was something that had Billy's cage, undeniable rattled. As strong-willed and independent as Billy was, he found his feelings of extreme trepidation difficult to overcome. Even so, he was in good spirits despite the ominous task ahead. He knew that he had to complete this last phase of his therapy right away while the memory of his agonizing bondage breakthrough was still fresh in his mind. The longer he put it off, the more difficult it would become to follow through. Even though his bondage session with Hunter was `mentally taxing', while at the same time, `physically rewarding', he had no desire to repeat the process again anytime soon.

"Barrett?" Billy said as we lay quietly beside each other, shaking off the last bits of sleep from our waking bodies.

"Yes," I simply answered as I yawned and faced him.

Billy didn't even have to ask his question. I already knew what was coming.

"Would you do me the honor of accompanying me to my parent's house today?" Billy shyly requested.

"Yes, I'd be honored," I answered directly.

"I truly don't know what I did to deserve you," Billy said as he tenderly kissed me.

"A day doesn't go by that I don't ask the Lord that very same question about you," I softly said.

I was fortunate enough to have the day off so I could accompany and support Billy with his delicate and emotionally charged mission. Billy was going to ask Colin and Spencer to accompany us as well, so that all four of us could show that we belonged together. Even though Spencer expected to have the day off too, he got called into work early in the morning to cover for a sick co-worker and had already left for the day, so it was going to be just the three of us.

We each took our time preparing ourselves, both physically and mentally to undertake this daunting task. We also needed to prepare ourselves to do whatever it took to support Billy in his pilgrimage to make restitution for his wrongdoing. In so doing, we each needed to do our part to see to it that Billy didn't have second thoughts or tried to back out at the last second. Helping Billy mend the broken pieces that had splintered everyone's lives apart was going to be a challenge for all of us. No matter what, taking this step with Billy could only have a positive effect on all of us, whether he was successful or not. Making the Gilman family whole again was now our single-minded goal and we were determined that nothing was going to get in our way.

The three of us got into my car and we headed toward his parents 60-acre property in Richmond. Several times along the way, it seemed like Billy was going to change his mind, but between Colin and myself, we kept Billy mentally occupied so he couldn't dwell on the subject for too long. As we pulled off the expressway and into Billy's neighborhood, Billy told us to stay in the car so he could determine if it were a good time to come visit first before we all descended upon Billy's unsuspecting parents.

I pulled into the Gilman driveway and turned off the engine. Colin and I watched Billy walk up to the front door and ring the doorbell.

"Billy?" his mother gasped with surprise as she opened the door. "Is there something wrong? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine Mom," Billy sweetly said. "I just came by to visit you. Is it okay?

"Well, of course it's okay," she answered.

"I have two guests with me that are waiting in the car. Can I bring them in?" Billy said.

"Why yes, of course dear," she said.

Billy then waved us in. Colin and I got out of the car and headed for the front door. When Billy's mom recognized Colin getting out of the car, she realized that both of her sons had come home together and she started crying. She was so overwhelmed by seeing both of her sons together and that me tagging along was not an issue. If this was the reason that Billy had planned our arrival in this way, it was working perfectly.

As Colin and I reached the door, we all proceeded to enter. Billy's mom hugged Billy first as he came in. She kissed him as if he'd been away for years. Then Colin went in second and she hugged and kissed him in the same manner. Then, to my utter shock, as I came in, she hugged and kissed me as well.

I didn't even expect her to acknowledge me, and here she was, giving me hugs and kisses. This was totally unexpected and it completely threw me off guard. I was expecting a cold and detached greeting at best. I didn't quite know how to react.

"Mrs. Gilman..." I began.

"Fran," she asserted. "Call me Fran."

"Ah, yes. Fran," I corrected. "I don't know if you remember me but..."

"Barrett," she cut in. "You're Barrett. You're Billy's partner. You're part of the family you know. I know it's been a long time, but why wouldn't I remember you?"

"Well, thank you," was all I managed to squeak out. I almost started to cry from Fran's unexpected acceptance and openness.

As I walked in from outside, I beheld an incredible sight. Billy and Colin's childhood home, where the two of them had grown up together, was absolutely immaculate. It was literally a heavenly haven in the woods. The first thing I noticed was their gorgeous living room filled with overstuffed furniture and a baby grand piano nestled snugly near the ornate fireplace. The mantle was adorned with family photos and portraits along with Billy and Colin's scholastic awards and trophies. Prominently displayed on the piano was Billy's `American Music Award for Favorite Country New Artist' as well as his four individual `Billboard Music Video Awards', not to mention his breathtaking `Gold' and `Platinum' record album plaques that were encased in elegant glass frames. I felt I was standing in the presence of greatness. It was the first time I had ever felt intimidated by Billy's achievements.

Fran ushered us into the living room and had us get comfortable. I can see she was a little on edge as she sat down across from us. She didn't know what this visit was all about yet, and she prepared herself for the possibility of some bad news.

"Where's Dad?" Billy asked.

"He's still at work," she said. "He'll be home shortly. He's going to be so glad to see you both."

"Is he, Mom?" Billy questioned.

"Oh now, Billy," she said. "Don't be like that. I happen to know that your father misses you both, very much. A lot has happened since you and Colin moved out. When he gets home, give him a chance. Will you do that for me?"

"Sure mom," Billy assured her, "And how about you, Mom? Are you glad to see us?"

"How can you ask that?" she complained.

"Colin and I didn't really leave on the best of circumstances, did we?"

"No," she agreed. "It was all so sudden. You didn't give your father and I much time to process everything. I've missed you both so much, son, and so has your father, you'll see. I feel like such a fool the way I let things happen. I'm so sorry."

"Well Mom," Billy said. "It's me who has to apologize to you. I have a lot to apologize for. I've been selfish and prideful. I betrayed you and Dad both. You gave me the choice to be who I am. You stuck by me when things got unbearable. You helped me through years of agony when my voice changed and I was forbidden to sing when singing was my life. You were my coach when I had to fight my way back. You loved me and supported me all the way. You and Dad were my parents, my teachers and my best friends. You were my guiding light, my spiritual advisors as well as my emotional anchors. You loved me unconditionally... and I betrayed all of that. I came here to tell you, I was wrong to do that to you and Dad and I'm so very sorry. I want to make it up to you. I couldn't let this go on any longer, possibly living the rest of my life without you, having you and Dad die of old age many years from now, never having said I'm sorry. I want you and Dad to be proud of me again. I couldn't stand living another day without you and Dad in my life and Colin feels the same way."

Fran was silently crying with tears streaming fiercely down her face, not making a sound in fear that she might miss a single word of her son's heartfelt admission. Even though, as a mother, she was inclined to forgive all those things anyway, she was moved that her son was now secure enough, and mature enough that he could open up and voice his wrongdoing with such conviction.

Then Billy got up and walked over to the piano to play a song for his mother.

"When You Come Home"

My first day of recess

They all laughed at me

When I fell off the swing set

And scraped up my knee


The nurse called my Momma

To say I'd be late,

And when she gave me the phone

I could hear Momma say

"I'm so sorry, son.

Oh I think you're' so brave"

And she was smilin' when she said:


When you come home,

No matter how far,

Run through the door

And into my arms

It's where you are loved,

It's where you belong

And I will be here

When you come home


I waved good-bye through the window

As I boarded the plane,

My first job in Houston

Was waiting for me


I found a letter from Momma

Tucked in my coat

And as I flew down the runway

I smiled when she wrote:

I'll miss you, son,

You'll be so far away

But I'll be waiting for the day


When you come home

No matter how far,

Run through the door

And into my arms

It's where you are loved,

It's where you belong,

And I will be here

When you come home


Well, I don't think

She can hear you now,

The doctor told me

Your mother is fading,

It's best that you leave

So I whispered,

I love you

And then turned away.

But I stopped at the door

When I heard Momma say,

I love you, son,

But they're callin' me away

Promise me before I go


When you come home,

No matter how far,

Run through the door

And into my arms;

It's where you are loved,

It's where you belong,

And I will be here

When you come home,

When you come home.

When Billy finished performing his song, there was a moment of silence. I was almost in tears, hearing Billy sing this gut-wrenching, emotion-packed song about a mother's love and sincerity for her son. I looked over at Colin and his face was filled with grief from being homesick. Then I looked over at Fran, and she started crying again. I felt totally out of place, like I was intruding on a deeply intimate family moment.

Billy then raced over to his mother and hugged her like she was the mother in the song, waiting for her son to finally `Come Home'.

"I'm so sorry Mom. Can you ever forgive me?" Billy tearfully pleaded.

"Of course, my son," She tenderly answered.

Billy waved Colin over to have him join together and spread the love between them that had been absent from their lives for far too long. The three of them hugged and cried together for a good long time, letting it all come out in their tearful and moving reunion.

Billy and Colin's touching homecoming was almost more than I could handle. I started getting homesick for my own mother. I hadn't talked to my parents since I visited briefly while I was in California, and that was only for a couple of hours before I was to hop a plane and be gone again.

A few moments later, Billy's father came home and walked in on the sight. He was genuinely surprised to see the three of us, not quite sure what to say.

"What's going on here," he asked. "Who died?"

"Come over here, Bill," Fran called over to her husband. "Billy has something to say to you."

Bill Senior hung up his hat and coat and walked over to the three of them as they finally broke their reunion hug to acknowledge their dad's arrival.

"What's this all about, Son?" Bill Senior asked Billy as he sat down in what was obviously the master's chair.

"I have something to tell you," Billy said.

"So, is it to apologize?" Bill Senior sarcastically huffed.

"Yes, Dad, it is," Billy answered.

Billy's direct and `matter-of-fact' answer, took his dad by surprise and he stared back at Billy, essentially speechless.

"As I told mom already, I've been selfish and prideful," Billy began all over again for his father's benefit. "I betrayed you and Mom. You've been my parents, my teachers and my best friends all my life. I was stupid to walk away from that. You were my guiding light and my spiritual advisors. Without that, I wouldn't be who I am today. You gave me the courage to be that person, and for that, I'll be forever grateful. You stuck by me when my voice changed and helped me see that there were other paths I could pursue until I outgrew that awkward phase. You loved me and supported me all my life, unconditionally... and I betrayed all of that. I'm here to tell you that, I was wrong to do that to you and Mom and I'm so very sorry. I couldn't stand living another day without you and Mom in my life and Colin is with me one hundred percent. I love you both, so much. I already asked Mom to forgive me. Can you forgive me too? Tell me what to do to make it up to you."

After an awkward pause, Bill Senior rubbed his chin and then spoke

"Well, Son," he said. "As I see it, there's only one thing that'll do it."

"What is it?" Billy asked. "Tell me what to do. I'll do anything!"

"Are you sure?" Bill Senior teased. "It's a pretty tall order."

"Dad!" Billy said with exasperation.

"Oh, Son, you were always so easy to tease," Bill Senior said.

"Dad!" Billy said louder, carrying with it a lot more angst.

"Okay, okay!" Bill Senior said. "You know that thing... you were doing with your mother... when I walked in...?"

Billy paused for a moment until he realized what his Dad was even talking about.

"Ah, yeah," Billy said in a daze.

"Well... That...!"

Once Billy realized his father was being serious and was only asking to be hugged, Billy leapt of the sofa and smothered his father with hugs. Once again, Billy waved Colin over to have him join together and spread the love between him and their dad this time. Fran watched the three of them make up and started balling tears of joy.

Now that everyone had done all the crying and hugging they were going to do, everyone took a seat to have a serious talk about where everybody stood.

"So, Billy," Bill Senior began as he cleared his throat. "You made history again in the world of Country Music. When you brought all those giants of Nashville together, it was just as monumental as when Michael Jackson brought all those rock legends together to make `We Are The World'. I have to say, I like your song better, and what a dynamite song it is too. I'm really proud of you Son. Interestingly, you named it, `The Choice'. Tell me, were you thinking about some of the choices you've made lately as you wrote that song?"

"Bill!" Fran chided her husband. "Billy has just come here with his heart and soul in his hands."

"You're right, dear" Bill Senior apologized. "Sorry Billy. Your mother and I love you and Colin very much. We know that you needed to be on your own for a while. We didn't like it, but we let you have your freedom so that both you and Colin could both `sow your wild oats' and get it out of your systems."

"Bill!" Fran chided her husband a second time.

"It's true," Bill Senior said in his own defense, answering Fran's objection. "No disrespect to old Barrett here, or Spencer either, but that's exactly what Billy and Colin did."

"You make it sound so... sordid," Fran complained.

"Well, I'm okay with it now," Bill Senior acknowledged. "I confess, it was hard to take at first, but I've come to see that both Barrett here, and Spencer, love you two unconditionally."

All of a sudden, I felt conspicuous and put on the spot. I had no idea how Billy's dad could know the bounds of my love for Billy or Spencer's love for Colin either.

"You're right, they do," Billy confirmed. "But how can you know that?"

"Well," Bill Senior said. "When your mother and I bought that little shack you're living in, and threatened to make you all homeless, I watched all of you band together and work to support each other, emotionally and financially. If Barrett or Spencer had bailed, it would have proved that they were just fortune hunters or possibly even fair weather friends, ready to jump ship at the first sign of trouble. But, you all rallied together and fought through thick and thin to be there for each other. It showed me what they were both made of, and I learned a valuable lesson. I respect them now."

"So then, that whole `losing the house' thing was just a test?" I asked, somewhat shocked and at the same time, appalled.

"Yes. You see, I needed to know for my own piece of mind," Bill Senior said. "Not only that. Your old buddy `Derek Lester Stone', was trying to rip that house away from you at the time. Your mother and I weren't going to let that happen, so we snatched it up before he could get it. In a minute, you're going to be glad that we did what we did. Excuse me for a moment."

Bill Senior got up and left the room. A moment later, he came back carrying some paperwork. He handed it to Colin and then sat next to Fran as the two of them watched the drama about to unfold.

"Colin, please go over there and hand those papers to your brother," Bill Senior instructed.

Colin did as he was asked and handed Billy the papers. Then, he sat next to his brother and the three of us, sitting side by side, read the document and realized at virtually the same time, what it was all about.

"Th... Thi... This is the deed to the Charlestown house," Billy declared. "I don't understand."

"Your Mother and I are giving it to you," Bill Senior stated. "It's yours, free and clear!"

Billy and Colin both jumped up off the couch to hug and kiss their parents, and strangely enough, I found myself being caught up in the excitement and joined in on their emotional outpouring of love.

Once everything calmed down again, we all sat back down where we were sitting and tried to recover from the adrenaline rush that we all got from the Gilman's unexpected gift.

"Dad," Billy said. "When we transfer the title over, I want to put all of our names on it."

"You mean yours and Colin's?" Bill Senior was hoping Billy meant.

"Yes, and I mean Barrett and Spencer too," Billy added.

"Well," Bill Senior said with a little trepidation as he forced himself to answer. "It's your home now. You can do what you want with it."

"Great!" Billy cheered. "Then you can consider this our wedding gift!"

"Wedding gift?" Fran asked. "Who is getting married?"

"Barrett and I are getting married, if he'll have me!" Billy said as he pulled a small box from his pocket.

Then Billy got onto one knee in front of me and opened the box.

"Oh My God!" I thought to myself. "Did Billy just suggest he was going to propose to me?"

My heart started racing. I don't remember him saying or even hinting at the possibility that he might do this, today of all days. Somehow, I assumed it would happen in private, or at least at some romantic restaurant or something. Doing it in front of Colin was bad enough, but to do it here in front of his parents was insane.

I found myself thinking to myself - `Oh God No! Not Here! Not Now!' I started getting short of breath and I began to hear my heartbeat pounding inside my eardrums. Billy had just begged for his parent's forgiveness just moments ago and here he was, springing another surprise on them like the one that splintered the family apart in the first place when he informed his parents he was coming out and was taking me as his domestic partner and lover, whether they liked it or not.

I experienced my entire life flash before my eyes like so many people do when they're about to die, and then I started to feel queasy, as if I were about to hurl. My soul mate, friend, and lover was about to put himself out there for me once again and was ready to accept the consequences, whatever they would be.

My heart skipped a beat, and a huge lump formed in my throat as I beheld the modest and unassuming ring in Billy's hand that tugged at my heartstrings with unimaginable intensity. I stopped breathing as my eyes welled up from having been caught up in the overwhelming joy of the moment. Not once, from the very first day that fate brought Billy Gilman to me, did I ever imagine this could happen to me. Just being in Billy's presence has brought me so much happiness that I never dreamed this fairytale could become a reality. Then I made the mistake of looking up from the ring and into Billy's hypnotic eyes.

"Barrett," Billy said with the sweetest voice of an angel. "Will you marry me?"

Billy's words `Will you marry me?' resonated in my head and reverberated in midair as it floated somewhere between my conscious and unconscious mind. Time seemed to stand still as I looked around the room. Billy's eyes revealed the deep conviction that his proposal carried with it. Colin's face beheld a mystic image of shock from the audacity that Billy would propose to me here in their house and in front of their parents no less. Bill Senior and Fran's expression was caught somewhere between surprise and sheer horror. One of my favorite dreams was of me proposing to Billy, and having him say `Yes', to me. Well, here he was, proposing to me instead. My mouth formed the word `Yes', but no sound was forthcoming. I began to feel faint as the room started spinning. I felt strange in the pit of my stomach and a rush of chills ran down my spine. The room got dark as if someone had turned out the lights and everything went silent...

The next thing I knew, I was flat on the floor and facing up. Almost like in a cartoon, I saw Billy, Colin, Fran and Bill Senior, all looking down at me from above.

"Are you all right, Barrett?" Fran asked with a worried expression on her face.

"Yes!" I said.

"Do you need some water?" Bill Senior asked.

"Yes... Yes!"

"Should I call 9-1-1?" Colin asked.

"Yes... Yes... Yes!"

"No, wait, Colin," Billy instructed. "Don't make that call just yet. Don't you see? He's giving me his answer. He's telling me Yes!"

"Barrett, will you marry me?" Billy asked again, just to be sure he was right.

"Yes... Yes... Yes... Yes!"

I was caught in a loop. I kept saying `Yes', over and over. I was afraid I wasn't being clear enough or if I was even being heard at all. I didn't know if I was awake or dreaming. If I was awake, I didn't want there to be any doubt, whatsoever. I was so frantic to accept Billy's proposal because I felt that if I didn't acknowledge this opportunity right now, it could suddenly disappear like Billy's childhood music career, seemingly in an instant.

Billy pulled the ring out of the box and held it in one hand and with the other hand, he snapped the box closed and slipped the empty royal blue, velvet lined box, back into his pocket. Then Billy held out his hand. As I gave him my hand, Billy slipped the ring onto my finger. It was a perfect fit. It was just like Billy to secretly learn my ring size without my knowledge. I was about to cry as I laid there on the floor, flat on my back, looking up at the Gilman's flawlessly white stucco ceiling, realizing I had just been proposed to in front of Billy's entire family. This was not the ideal storybook way I had envisioned being proposed to all my life. And certainly not the way I'd imagined accepting a proposal. Even so, I thought it was the most romantic way ever for Billy, if not the most unusual. At least, there was no way I'd ever forget this experience. The most important part was the absolute sincerity of it. Then Billy took my newly ringed hand and helped me to my feet.

"Are you all right now, Son?" Bill Senior asked me.

I couldn't believe that Billy's Dad had just called me Son.

"Yes Sir," I answered. "I'm just a little overwhelmed."

"You're overwhelmed?" Bill Senior said.

"I think it was a surprise to all of us," Colin interjected. "Congratulations! Wow, my beloved brother and my best friend, marrying each other. How cool is that?"

"I'll tell you how cool," Bill Senior sneered.

"Bill!" Fran barked, grabbing her husband's hand and pulling him back to the couch. "We talked about this and we both knew this might happen. We have to be tolerant and learn to accept this."

"I know, but..." Bill Senior said.

"But what?" Billy asked.

"What your father is trying to say is, we still held out hope for some grandbabies," Fran interrupted.

"It still could happen," Billy said.

"Yeah, we know," Bill Senior said. "You can adopt. And we would love that child unconditionally, but it's not the same as having your own flesh and blood."

Billy expected his parents to think in an old fashioned and bigoted way about adoption, but it didn't matter. Billy had thought his plan through very meticulously.

"That's a very bigoted think to say," Billy huffed. "Besides, who said anything about adopting?" Billy asked.

"How else are we going to have any grandbabies?" Fran asked as she looked back and forth between Billy and I, looking for some miracle of an explanation.

"Camera and I can get engaged," Billy announced.

A deafening silence swept across the room.

I was in as much of a state of shock as everyone else was, although I did have a pretty good notion as to where he got that idea.

"I'm sorry, Son, but..." Bill Senior said, "Are you out of your mind?"

"I don't understand," Fran frowned.

"Gosh, Mom," Colin said. "Billy is going to marry Barrett and Camera. What was so hard to understand about that?"

"You can't marry two people, Billy," Bill Senior said.

"Sure I can," Billy answered. "Two very dear friends of mine, whose identity I won't divulge for their protection, explained to us how they did it so they could keep their public lives public, and their private lives private."

I was beginning to see what Billy was getting at. When I asked Hunter and Logan how they were able to keep the fact that the two of them were married, such a closely guarded secret, they clued us in. They told us how they had gotten secretly married in New York City, and then got publicly engaged to their girlfriends in Hollywood. When the time is right, they're going to get married to their girlfriends in Las Vegas for the whole world to see. The world will know about their public lives while Hunter and Logan live quietly and blissfully together in private. Their professional lives will be assured while their private lives remain private.

"Son... that's called bigamy," Bill Senior said. "It's a crime."

"Without naming any names, I've found out that dozens of celebrities have been doing this for years," Billy explained. "As long as all the parties are agreeable and they pay their taxes, no one has gotten in any major trouble over it. They've proven that it solves a lot of problems for them while the risk stays minimal. Barrett and I will be able to live together as a married couple, proving our commitment to each other. Camera and I would be able to satisfy our public image, while providing us with a living, breathing legacy. Camera will be well taken care of and get the public exposure she thrives on. Barrett and I will have a family to nurture. I know Colin will be a loving uncle and become a more responsible brother, and you guys will get your first, real, flesh and blood grandbaby. I've thought a lot about this and in doing it this way, everybody wins!"

"No they don't," Bill Senior growled. "Who exactly is going to raise the child? The point of marriage and procreating is to provide a stable home for the child. How confusing would that all be to a child, being raised by five people? I think in today's society, a gay couple adopting a baby has proven that it can work out, but what you're proposing here pushes things beyond an acceptable limit for me... For us!"

Billy's parents held hands, showing that they were in agreement with each other. For the first time, I found myself in agreement with them as well. It was my fault that I had allowed Hunter and Logan to put those ideas into Billy's head. Billy's plan to do this balancing act was not what was so shocking. What was shocking was that he didn't see anything wrong with it and didn't even talk to me about the prospect. I'm sure I wouldn't have agreed to it if he had, but now that I've found out about Billy's plan like this, I was totally against it. I believe that what Hunter and Logan did, and were going to do, was fine for them, but certainly not for me and Billy. I guess I should have stated that fact when Hunter and Logan were explaining it to us. It was apparent that Billy hadn't thought this through very carefully and he probably thought that everyone was going to be okay with it. Billy's strong desire to make everybody happy, only served to cloud his judgment.

As he looked over to me, I gave him a look that could burn a hole in his misguided soul. As the anger swelled up inside me, my hand accidentally brushed up against something and I became acutely aware of Billy's ring on my finger. As I touched it and looked at it as I rotated it around on my finger, my first instinct was to remove it and hand it back to Billy. I had been quiet through all this and needed to say something to Billy right away, but I wasn't going to create a scene in the Gilman home, especially not in front of Colin and his parents.

"Billy," I calmly asked, with fierce intent in my eyes. "Could I see you in private for a moment?"

"Sure," Billy said, not having a clue as to the volcano about to erupt inside me. "Let's go out back."

The Gilman's 60-acre backyard was so large, we could easily get lost in it. Nevertheless, we didn't get very far before I blew my cool.

"Have you lost your mind?" I exploded.

"You sound just like my dad," Billy said with a bewildered look on his face.

"How dare you," I said with my nostrils flaring up in a rage. "Where do you get off thinking you can propose to Camera after just having proposed to me," I began. "Did you even consider how I might feel about that? Did you really think that living our lives in a Billy Gilman commune was a good thing? Of course I sound like your dad. For once, I'm in total agreement with him. Sometimes, you are so brilliant, and other times, you act like you're ten."

"Are you through?" Billy asked with disdain.

"I'm wondering if I should give you this ring back," I said.

Billy stared at me for a minute as we both stood on the verge of tears.

"Nothing is written in stone, Barrett, except for my love for you that this ring represents," Billy said as he took my hand and kissed my ringed finger. "I really thought you were on board with all of this."

"How can you think that, when we never even talked about it?" I questioned.

"Well, when Hunter and Logan explained to us how they did their marriage," Billy confessed. "You seemed to be agreeing with them as they told us about it. You even looked like you were willing to give it a try as you kept nodding your head while they justified their actions to us. It got me thinking and I got excited about it. But you're right. I should have talked to you about it first."

"First?" I growled. "You're missing the point. That's not how I want to live my life. I'm not interested in living a lie, living a sham, sharing you with someone else. I already have issues, sharing you with your fans. But your fans are something I could deal with, not this."

I could see the wheels in Billy's head start turning. That was a good sign. It meant that all was not lost. For Billy, this was a subject that was hard for him to understand. He really didn't understand Derek. Billy was actually partly responsible for what happened to Derek, although I would never tell him that. This was just like when Billy didn't think he was doing anything wrong when I caught Jesse McCartney fucking him in the hotel room. And I could see that he didn't really understand this. I wondered how someone capable of such brilliance could turn around and display such a lack of common sense.

"What could I do to make this right again?" Billy begged.

"Let's go home and talk about this calmly and rationally," I suggested.

"I am calm and rational," Billy began to protest.

"No you're not," I stated. "And I certainly am not!"

"Okay, let's go."

Billy and I walked back to the house and prepared to leave.

"Did you two have a good talk?" Bill Senior asked as we came back into the house.

"Yeah, Barrett put me straight," Billy sternly said, and then chuckled. "I mean, we came to an understanding. Actually, I came to an understanding."

"Sounds promising," Bill Senior said.

"So what have you decided to do?" Fran asked us both.

"Billy and I have some soul searching to do," I spoke up. "We'll get in touch with you in a few days and let you know."

"Okay dear," Fran said with a worried look on her face.

"Thanks you guys," Billy said. "Mom, Dad, I love you both. Thanks for everything. I'm sorry I came off a little strong today. I tried to do too much at one time. I'm thankful that Colin and I have you guys back in our lives again. Right now, Barrett and I have some things to work out. We're going to go ahead and go home now. We'll see you again, real soon."

I was a little concerned about leaving under the circumstances, but I had much more important things to think about. Colin was a bit confused as to what was going on, but he was going to find out soon enough.

Everyone got kisses all around and in a couple of minutes, we were on our way back home. As we headed back, I purposely avoided the subject that had my mind spinning and decided to save that discussion for when Billy and I could talk about the seriousness of what had happened, in private. The one thing I did feel good about was the fact that the word `home' had a whole different meaning to it now that Billy, Colin, Spencer and I were going to be joint owners. On our way home, the three of us talked about everything from being proud owners of the house to how Billy won his way back into his parents' hearts again. Then we even broached the subject of setting a date for our secret local Rhode Island wedding. At the time, my heart wasn't in it one hundred percent, but I hid my trepidation well. Under the circumstances, we both agreed to a private ceremony with only our most trusted friends and family.

When we got home, Spencer had already come home from work and we filled him in on our whirlwind afternoon, informing him about how Billy won his parents' heart, how they turned over the house to him, and how Billy was going to divide the house between us. Then he dropped the bombshell about how Billy proposed to me in front of his parents. Spencer was burning mad that he had missed all the action and couldn't be with us, but he was extremely happy that things went the way they did. Everyone congratulated each other as a warm and fuzzy feeling filled us all with hope for a promising future.

Billy and I went to bed early to begin exploring our feelings about what had transpired at the Gilman home in our own private, intimate chambers. I had hope that Billy would see a clearer path to our future, a future that we could all be proud of.

To Be Continued ...

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Special thanks to my editors, Hans Schreiber, Flip McHooter and some "manuscript assistance" from a correspondent in Vancouver for their invaluable editing skills that helped improve this story beyond measure.