My Belovèd is mine, and I am his.
Song of Songs 2:16
Cam planted himself in the back seat of the
shiny, black limo in the driveway, put down his date's flowers, and
leaned forward to give the driver Teri McKee's address. The
McKees didn't live too far from the MacKenzies.
"Big night tonight, huh?" the young man dressed in a chauffeur uniform asked politely.
"Yeah," Cam said. "I hope so." He introduced himself, and
found out that the driver was named Steve. He appeared to be in
Cam wasn't in the mood to talk. He was focused on the dance and
what might happen afterward. He had butterflies in his stomach as
he reflected on his talk with Kevin in bed during the wee hours of the
It hadn't been an acrimonious conversation. Far from it. In
the end, sweet lovemaking had put a period to their whispered
discussion. But both boys were disquieted about the chance that Cam might have sex with Teri,
despite what Kevin had been saying all along in support of whatever Cam's
decision about that might be. Kevin's mouth had been saying one thing
in giving Cam permission to do what he needed to do, but his heart had
been saying something else. Confused and undecided at that point,
Cam had held Kevin's beautiful body close to his own in their bed while
Kevin's words of support and love, "no matter what" would occur with
Teri, were clearly causing Kevin pain.
Their partnership history had never to this point been characterized by
a lot of drama--no jealousies, very little anger and not much
selfishness, no deliberate provocations so that they could indulge
themselves emotionally in re-cementing their relationship, the way people in a faltering relationship sometimes do.
Their bond had been solid, secure, stable, loving. Although they
were young, each of them already had a pretty good idea of who he was
and what he prized in life--first and foremost each other, then that
beautiful baby boy they cared for, and then Catherine, Alex and their
extended family. So any sense of upset when it came to the
possibility of one of them having sex with a third party was unusual
and unwelcome. Within the stability of
their relationship, everything had always been pretty
straightforward. They said what they
wanted and did pretty much what they wanted. Cam's calm good
basic kindness for the most part kept him out of trouble with
people. Although Kevin could be the more abrasive of the two, he,
too, was basically a kind person, especially when it came to his
Moving Teri's flowers beside him farther back on the seat, Cam leaned back
into the plush leather of the limo after reaching forward and turning on the stereo,
scanning quickly through some FM channels. He found a folk-rock
station he sometimes listened to. Oldies. They weren't his favorites, but they did always
mellow him out. Scooting further back then, and opening his legs, he let
the cool breeze from the air conditioner blow up between his thighs. He
smiled, enjoying the unaccustomed feeling that came from wearing his
He was hoping that he wouldn't get too much flack from the guys at the
dance about the kilt. His soccer buddies all knew that he
was wearing it because he'd lost a bet, but the other kids at the dance
wouldn't know. He sighed. He knew some of the football and
baseball jocks wouldn't be shy when it came to giving him a hard time
about the way he was dressed. Oh well, fuck it, he thought to
himself, he could hand their shit right back to them with no
problem. Probably better, given the daily experience he'd gleaned
from trading barbs all the time with the guys at home.
His thoughts drifted to the boys he was living with back at the
house. He'd grown to
care about them. A lot. They really were like brothers, and
he loved them, even though usually he'd never say anything remotely
like that to them. But he was gradually getting more trusting
about sharing his feelings for them with the guys. They were good
one of them.
The boys were all still in shock about what had happened after the funeral for Berto's parents,
even Kevin and Cam, and they hadn't even been there. Cam thought
about Mark. What a cute, smart little wiseass kid he was.
Not really so little, now that he thought about it. The not-so-little shit was almost as tall as he was. It made Cam
shiver a little when he reflected on how close Mark had come to being
killed by Berto's uncle, and he momentarily closed his legs to stop the chilled air from blowing up into his crotch.
Cam wondered how Mark was
doing. If the boy wasn't allowed to come home within the next
couple of days, Cam decided to take Kevin and go into the city to see him
at the hospital.
He thought about the prom again. No, he decided, taking some
ribbing over his kilt wasn't going to bother him.
It was clear to him after his talk with Kevin that the big challenge
was going to be how to handle Teri following the dance when he and all
his buddies and their dates would go to the hotel to drink and party,
and eventually, in many cases, to fuck. He was now crystal clear
about his goal--to stay
faithful to Kevin, even though the latter had given Cam permission to
do what he wanted and needed to do, with no recriminations.
what Kevin had said, Cam knew his partner would be disappointed if he
had sex with Teri. And although Cam might enjoy the act itself
when it came to screwing Teri,
he sure as hell wouldn't like the aftermath with either Teri or
Kevin. With Teri, because of the expectations having sex with her would raise for
the future; with Kevin, the sense of betrayal deep inside him that Kevin would probably never talk about.
Fuck! He needed to be a Madeleine Albright to weather the diplomatic shoals this date would present! This is what he got for not coming out already.
They reached the McKees' house, and the driver pulled into the driveway.
"This may take a few minutes," Cam warned Steve as he opened the
back door and got out. "They're going to want pictures, I'm
"Yes, sir," the young guy said with a grin, maybe remembering his own prom.
Cam walked up the front steps and rang the bell. Mrs. McKee
answered the door, looking well coifed and well dressed as always.
"Cameron!" she said. "Don't you look nice! Come in. We haven't seen nearly enough of you lately!"
"Hello, Mrs. McKee," Cam said with a smile. "I know I haven't
been around much, but things at the house have been kind of busy."
"I expect so," she said as she ushered him into a large sitting
room. "I heard that Kevin Stoltz had moved in with you and your
mother, and now with Kevin's baby..."
"Yes, ma'm," Cam said, not mentioning that the Carsons and Emricks and Berto Hernandez were living in the house as well.
Dr. McKee, a local dermatologist, put down his paper and stood up from where he was sitting to shake hands with Cam.
"Cameron!" he said, looking over Cam's attire. "Very nice.
You're going to get a lot of attention tonight at the dance."
Cam laughed. "That's what I'm afraid of, sir."
Cam had been sitting and talking with Dr. and Mrs. McKee for a few
minutes when Teri finally came downstairs and put in an
appearance. She looked fine! She was wearing a red silk
ball gown, gathered at the waist so as to emphasize her great figure,
and which contrasted with her black hair and blue eyes. Around
her neck she wore a necklace with a nice imitation emerald that Cam had
given her last year for her birthday. A pair of
shiny, red shoes peeked out from under her dress.
Cam stood up.
"Wow!" he said. "You look hot!" He meant it. She did.
"Thank you, kind sir," Teri said. "Your kilt is going to be a hit," she predicted.
"That's what I'm afraid of," Cam repeated to Teri. "I may get a few comments from the guys."
"Don't worry about them," Teri said. "The girls are gonna love those legs of yours."
Cam reached down to the couch and picked up the corsage and wrist
corsage he had brought for her, consisting of tiny blue and cream
flowers with a touch of baby's breath which would contrast beautifully with the red silk of her dress.
"May I?" he asked, moving forward to pin the corsage to her ample
chest, trying to be discreet about what he touched in the process.
After pictures, they received the usual parental admonitions about having a
good time, "but not too good." They said their good-byes at the front door.
"Grab my bag, will you?" Teri said. "I'm gonna change into my grubbies at the hotel."
"Shoot, I forgot my bag," Cam said, reaching down for Teri's canvas bag.
"Stop by your house and get it before we eat," Teri suggested.
They went out to the limo. The
driver was holding open the back door when they got there. Cam seated Teri in the
car, and went around to the other side of the vehicle and got in the
back seat. When the doors were shut, Teri immediately moved in
for a kiss.
Oh, Lord, Cam thought as the car backed out of the driveway and
headed back toward the MacKenzies'. Their lips touched, lightly, to avoid smearing
Teri's lipstick, following which she
began talking nonstop about how she'd been looking forward to the
evening for a
long time. There was no overt mention about what they would do after
the dance was over, but it was on both their minds. The cloud of
butterflies in Cam's stomach beat their wings wildly with no thought for their host's welfare.
Yap, yap, yap. Cam half tuned Teri out as he thought about Kevin
and Casey at home. He knew Casey was probably sleeping, and
wondered what Kevin was doing right then. It was supper time, and
he was most likely eating with the family, kibitzing with the
guys. Then, if Kevin was true to form, he would probably go upstairs
and check his email and then see if there were any new stories or new
chapters to stories he was already reading on some of the gay
story sites. Then, after he fed Casey (if the baby needed it, and put him down),
he would likely go into the weight room to supervise whoever was
scheduled to work out with him. Cam had to smile.
Kevin would make his victim du jour work on various muscles of
that kid's body until the boy was hurting. Sl-o-o-ow reps.
But Kevin's regimen had paid off for each and every one of the guys in
the house, certainly including Kevin himself and Cam. Even Dan Emrick,
a reluctant warrior at best, was fully committed and benefiting from
The limo pulled into the MacKenzie's driveway. The gate was still open, and Cam got out and ran
up the backstairs to the deck as silently as he could. The kitchen
light was on, but apparently everybody was still eating at the dining
room table. Cam opened the door quietly, and from the sound of
things, the family was having a good time, as usual. He found his
bag right where he'd left it on a bench in the breakfast nook.
Picking it up, he exited stealthily and went back down to the car,
placing it beside Teri's on the floor of the back seat. And then they
were off again.
After a fifteen minute drive, the car finally pulled up in front of their restaurant of choice, causing the sound of
Teri's voice droning in his ear to stop. The driver went around
the car and opened the door for Teri, and Cam slid across the seat and
followed her out. Cam told the driver they would likely be an
an hour and a half before they finished their meal and were ready to go
on to the dance. Cam would call Steve's cell phone when they needed
to be picked up. The young guy nodded, shut the car door and
drove off to park as Cam opened the door of the very nice restaurant he
had selected for their meal. Cam immediately checked out the
maitre d', a young guy in his mid-twenties, as he and Teri were shown
to their table. The guy was cute with a nice tight ass, and although clean shaven, had
the hint of a five o'clock shadow. Like Kevin's.
Teri began prattling again about things that had happened during the
last few days of the school year. Cam listened just enough to make
appropriate, monosyllabic responses as he continue to glance
occasionally at the handsome maitre d' and thought about Kevin. He knew
where he wanted to be right then, and it wasn't here. The V-8
cocktails Cam and Teri had ordered were delivered to the table. Cam reached into his sporran and brought out a
small silver flask full of vodka. When no one was looking, he made them real
cocktails. Fuck, yes! The butterflies in his gut concerning his and Teri's post-dance activities began
dying as he sipped his drink, and that was reason enough to take the edge off.
Cam looked across the dining room and met the eyes of one of his former
teammates, Rafe Murrillo. The kid had graduated high school last
year and was in school at St. Francis University, but he was there
attending the prom with Cassie
Angstrom, a graduating senior. Rightly or wrongly, Cassie was
known as the high school slut. She loved
sex. Well, who didn't? Cam thought to himself. Rumor had
it, though, that Cassie was so loud during her trysts, she
could sing all of the vocal parts from the "Mad Scene" of Lucia di Lammermoor herself.
Rafe smiled and waved at Cam and Teri from across
the room. Rafe knew that he himself would really
be smiling after the formal was over and he and his date went to their
hotel room. Cam and Teri smiled and waved back at the couple.
* * *
The morning of prom night, Noah Smith, Walter Emrick's general manager at
Emrick Cadillac in Monterey, had stood in the showroom window looking
out at the parking lot. They hadn't been overrun with customers
thus far that day, and the huge room was quiet except for salespeople
on their telephones, drumming up business. Despite the bad publicity
engendered by Walter's arrest for the child abuse and sexual assault of
his son Carl, the dealership had continued to prosper. Most
people who were looking for a good deal on a car weren't all that
concerned about the owner's morals and actions, if they were aware of
the charges against him at all. So the cash register had
continued to jingle since Walter's arrest and pending trial.
Noah was not a happy man, though. Without complaint, he had
covered for Walter Emrick in some of the shadier deals the latter had
pulled off over the years, but providing Alejandro Hernandez with cash
out of the safe had bothered him at the time he'd done it, and bothered him even
more once he saw the man's picture in the paper as an alleged
murderer. He was surprised, frankly, that the dealership had not
been raided yet by the IRS, the California revenue service, the FBI and
the CHiP fraud unit. He couldn't believe that the police hadn't put together
Hernandez's actions of late and Emrick's apparent plan to rid himself
of his son as a witness against him in court. Smith knew it was just a
matter of time before the agencies paid them a visit, however, and then the dealership would be under close scrutiny.
Smith also knew that he would likely be swept up as an accomplice to
whatever Emrick and Hernandez had cooked up together, and then he would
be squeezed until he helped the authorities build a case against
them. His own reputation, and probably his own life, would be
ruined. He was uneasy about the future in general, not so much
because of what he had done, but because he was almost certain to be
caught. It would mean jail time. To give him credit,
though, he was more worried about his future, or lack of it, because of
what would happen to his wife and two daughters. He did love them
as much as he was capable of loving anyone. He was a manager, a
technician, an accountant, an unemotional man not prone to look at the
human side of life's equation very much except when it came to his
He hadn't known how prescient he was until he had seen the first squad car,
followed by five official, unmarked cars pull into the dealership and
up to the front door. Police officers and buttoned down FBI types
had alighted from their cars and moved toward the front door.
Smith had turned around at that point and walked quietly toward his office, once
inside shutting the door behind him. He sat down in his
chair and picked up a framed picture of his family. He could feel
his heart beating as he looked fondly at his wife and children.
Then he'd reached into a desk drawer, pulled out a loaded .38 police special
revolver, put the barrel into his mouth, and without a second's
hesitation, pulled the trigger. Blood spattered the civic awards
neatly hung on the wall over the credenza behind him, and his body had
slumped down in his chair.
The armed men who had flooded the showroom pulled their weapons and
crept toward the office from which the sound of the shot had
come, using the cars on the showroom floor for cover as they
advanced. They had listened carefully when they reached the GM's
office. A Monterey cop had finally flung open the office door
response from inside. When they had seen the body with blood
everywhere, the officers had
holstered their guns and called for a CSI team, their task of gathering
evidence against Walter Emrick and Alejandro Hernandez temporarily on
Walter Emrick had claimed another victim.
* * *
Cam and Teri were just finishing their excellent
pre-prom meal in San Rafael when Ian Carson strode into his son Mark's
room in San Francisco General Hospital. The police guard had
insisted on seeing his ID before admitting him, and that had given Ian
some comfort that Mark was really being protected.
Yolanda Vega was standing beside Mark's bed, making him eat a second
dish of jello she'd bullied an aide into bringing the boy. Taking
a napkin, she gently wiped the corner of Mark's mouth where a little
jello had squirted out.
"Dad!" Mark said with a smile when he spotted him.
"Marky-mark!" Ian said happily, bending down to kiss the top of the boy's head
where he was propped up in bed. "Hi, Yolanda. How are you
"Good, Mr. Ian," Yolanda said. "Mark ate good meal," she added.
"I'd have eaten more if you would have fixed it, Yolanda," Mark said. "You know, hot stuff--like yourself."
"You funny boy, Mark," Yolanda said, laughing.
"I see the bullet didn't damage your powers of speech," Ian told his son.
Mark grinned. "Not at all. I'm ready to go home now," he said.
But it was obvious to Ian that Mark was tired and a little weak, no matter how he tried to disguise it.
"Yolanda, thank you so much for staying with Mark," Ian said. "I appreciate it, and so does Mary."
"I appreciate it, too, Yolanda," Mark confirmed.
"I have a cab waiting at the front door for you," Ian said to Yolanda. He
pulled a twenty dollar bill out of his pocket. "This should cover
the fare and a tip."
"I no need money, Mr. Ian," the little woman said.
"I know, but take it anyway," Ian said, putting the bill into the pocket of her sweater.
"Gracias, Mr. Ian." She bent down and kissed the boy's cheek. "Mark, I see you tomorrow afternoon."
"Bye, Yolanda. Thanks again."
Yolanda picked up her purse, and with a smile at the patient and his father, walked out.
"Mark, do you want me to lower the head of the bed a little?"
"No, I'm good. Thanks."
Ian pulled a comfortable chair closer to the bed and sat down. There was a moment's silence.
"Do you want to take a nap or watch some television?" Ian asked his son.
"No, not really. Maybe we can just talk."
"I'd like that," Ian said.
"Are you all right?" Mark asked his father.
Ian laughed and shook his head. "That's just like you,
buddy. To ask about the other person instead of focusing on
"Well...I know you and Mom and everybody were under a lot of stress today."
"We're good, son, and counting our blessings that you and everybody
else weren't badly hurt. If I hadn't been a praying man before this
happened, I would be now. I'm so thankful..." Ian's words
caught in his throat.
"Yeah," Mark said. "But don't you sometimes wonder why God lets
things like this happen? And worse things even, like what happened to
"Yes. We ought to have Father Jim here to talk about this. But we all wonder sometimes. Sometimes terrible
things do happen, because God doesn't take away people's free will even if
they're not good people and they are doing the wrong thing. All we know is that God will compensate
some way, some time, for the evil human beings receive at the hands of others.
I'm just glad we were blessed right away, and didn't have to wait for
our blessing. Your being all right is our blessing. I don't have a very convincing answer for you about
why things happen the way they do. All I know is, our job is to try to stay on
the side of what's good in life for other human beings, and then we know we're on God's
side. That's not always easy to do." He paused.
"That's the only answer I can give you."
"Oh," Mark said. He smiled. "I thought you knew everything."
Ian laughed. "I held out for you and William to believe that as long as I could."
"Don't worry about William. He still thinks that."
Ian laughed again. "I'm batting .500, then. That's fantastic."
Mark studied his father's face. "Can I ask you something else?"
"I want to ask you about Cam MacKenzie and his prom date tonight," Mark said a little hesitantly.
"What about them?"
"Cam and Kevin are partners, right? They love each other."
"Then why is he taking a girl to the school dance?"
"My understanding is that the girl Cam is taking on this date was his
girlfriend before he and Kevin came out to each other and became
partners, and that Cam had promised her that he would take her to the
prom. So, he's taking her because he's keeping his word to her."
"I see," Mark said. "Doesn't this make Kevin, uh, jealous?"
"I don't know how Kevin feels about it, but they must have worked it
out some way. I say that because they haven't seemed angry at
each other about it, at least not that I've noticed."
"You're right about that," Mark agreed. "It just seems as if it would be hard for Kevin to accept it."
"I know what you mean. But when two people love each other
way Cam and Kevin do, or your mother and I do, sometimes you have to
work hard at accepting what you can't change in order to preserve the
relationship. Of course, it does happen sometimes that the people
involved in a
relationship believe some issue or other can't be resolved, and then
that relationship will be hurt or will end. I
won't lie to you, it takes a lot of work to keep any relationship
healthy. You'll find that out when you fall in love with some
"I'm not gay, Dad," Mark said.
"I didn't think you were," Ian said. "I'm glad you're not.
But I hope you've always known that whatever your sexual orientation
is, your mom and I would always love you, and love whoever your
partner is. No question there. I hope you'll remember
that fact when you get married and have children, and when you
interact with gay people you meet in your life, too. Nobody
should be judged by others when it comes to his or her sexual
fortunate enough to be living with our host, a woman who
believes, as your mother and I do, that God loves all his children, and
that we all should do so as well. We should all appreciate Catherine for that and for so many other reasons."
"I understand." Mark glanced at his father again. "Y'know,
we used to have a classmate in parochial school who would always make fun of guys he
thought might be gay. He'd prance around, and lisp, pretend to have a limp wrist, and stuff,
you know." Mark paused. "It's just hard for me to realize
sometimes that Cam and Kevin are...gay. They just don't act like
"Well, this is a good lesson for you to learn at your age. First
of all, it's never right to make fun of other people's mannerisms.
You know that. But equally important, stereotyping people is
never justified and seldom accurate. Cam and Kevin happen to be
very masculine in the way they act, but I take them at their word that
they're gay. If somebody were to try anything physical with them
because of their orientation, I have no doubt that they could handle
themselves very well. And if it were verbal, I know they'd do all right. But gay people shouldn't have to defend themselves, whatever their mannerisms may be. Would you agree with that?"
"As far as Kevin and Cam are concerned, both of them are capable of a
lot of love. The way they take care of Casey is evidence of
that. But they don't just love family, they love
people in general. I call it, 'having a fat soul.' They're 'low
maintenance' themselves, and have such a deep, positive psychological
reservoir that they can pass on their inner strength to other people."
"What's 'low maintenance?'"
"It means that a person doesn't require a lot of care and
someone else in order to feel happy and strong--a person who
doesn't require a lot of positive strokes from someone else in order to
feel good about himself or herself and about other people. Am I making
"Yeah, I get it," Mark said. "Y'know, Cam and Kevin are pretty tough guys. They aren't looking for
trouble from other people most of the time. And they probably
don't get much. They're really kind to people in general."
"That's exactly right in their case, Mark. Not even looking
at it in sexual orientation terms, Catherine, Cam and Kevin all have
what I call 'fat souls.' Look at the way our whole family, including Carl and
Dan and Berto, have been accepted into their household without any
trouble at all. It can't have been easy for the MacKenzies. It's just
been amazing that we've been able to live together without tension, and
that all of us have been able to make what I believe will be lifelong
relationships the way we've been
able to do."
"You're right," Mark said, looking at his dad. "I don't want ya
to get a big head or anything, but I think you and Mom have 'fat
Ian stared back at him. "You know, that's probably one of the
nicest compliments you've ever given me. Be sure and tell your mom
what you think about her. She'll really be pleased. And for
what it's worth, I think you're well on the way to having a 'fat soul'
yourself, Mark. It's a gift, believe me."
"Thanks," Mark said. His eyes looked heavy.
"You're tired," Ian observed. "But I just want to tell you one other thing while you're a prisoner in this bed."
"Just that you have to put your 'fat soul' to use in this world.
Never forget that you've been raised as a child of
privilege. And when you have wealth and privilege, you have some
obligations to the society that made that possible. Yes, we've
earned what we have. But we owe it to our brothers and sisters in
this world to be as good and generous and helpful and kind to them as we
can. That's part of being a child of God ourselves, according to Father Jim,
and he's right about that. So I hope you'll see that as part of
your mission in this world as a human being."
Mark looked at him slyly. "Will you pay me?"
Ian put back his head and guffawed. "If you weren't already hurt, I'd rough you up good right now, buddy!"
"Just kiddin'," Mark said. "I hear what you're saying."
"All right. Why don't you take a little nap? I'll be right here all night if you need anything."
"Thanks, Dad. Thanks for everything. I love ya, dude," Mark said with a grin.
"I'm a 'dude' now, am I? Well, I love you, too, Mark."
Mark closed his eyes with a smile on his face, and within a few minutes he was asleep.
Ian sat there just feeling his love for that sleeping boy until he fell asleep himself.
* * *
The pre-prom meal was great.
Teri ordered a seared salmon lightly encrusted with parmesan, and Cam
ordered free range chicken. When Cam got up to use the rest room
they had eaten their salads, Rafe Murrillo excused himself from his
and went into the men's room, too.
"Nice dress," Rafe grinned and told his friend, who had hiked up his
kilt at the urinal and pulled aside his jock so he could take a leak.
"Get bent!" Cam said, grinning back.
"So, Cam," Rafe said as they both relieved themselves, "how ya
doin'? I haven't seen you much since soccer finished up last year."
"I know it. Things are good," Cam said, shaking off,
repositioning his jock and lowering the kilt. He went over to the
sinks to wash his hands, squirting soap on them. "You probably
know that Heather had her baby, and
Kevin has custody of him. So things have been busy around the
"Yeah, I heard about the baby. What did Kevin name him?"
"Uh, Kevin. But we call him Casey."
"That's cool," Rafe said, not even asking what the name "Casey" had to do with "Kevin."
The rest room attendant handed Cam a towel, and he dried his hands, then put a couple dollars in the tip container.
"Are you gonna get some tonight?" Rafe asked, ignoring the attendant as he finished using the urinal.
"Well...." Cam reddened at talking about sex in front of the attendant, an older man.
"I'm lookin' forward to a little 'alone time' with Cassie after the
dance. She loves dick, y'know, my dick in particular, and I
wouldn't disappoint her for the world," Rafe said, shaking off the
appendage under discussion into the urinal.
"Uh huh," Cam said, looking back at his teammate. "I've heard that about Cassie."
"Yeah, she's been around the block," Rafe said, "but I don't mind
that. You usually have to teach a virgin what you like when you
first get her into your bed, and that cuts into your fun time, if ya know
what I mean. They don't always know how to suck cock right away,
for instance. But Cassie's had a lot of experience."
"That's true, I guess," Cam said, rolling his eyes at Rafe's words as
he checked his own appearance in the mirror. He also used the
to check out Rafe's crotch as the kid, wearing a powder blue tux with a
ruffled shirt and bow tie, approached the sinks. He could see the
outline of Rafe's dick in his pants, and it
looked as if the boy was throwing wood already. Cam knew
from the locker room that Rafe was hung like a horse.
Rafe reached the sink and rinsed his hands without using soap, taking a towel from the attendant.
"Cam, put a couple of bucks in the tip jar for me," he said, looking at the attendant. "I don't have any small bills."
Cam reached into his sporran, pulled out some cash, and put in a $5
bill. A little extra for the attendant's having to listen to Rafe's
"Thank you, sir," the attendant said.
"You're welcome," Cam said to the man. "You owe me," Cam said to Rafe.
"A small price to pay for having my company in the men's room," Rafe answered.
The two boys walked back into the dining room together.
"Well, here's to gettin' laid until we can't get it up anymore, dude," Rafe said, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, and
he grinned and dapped Cam before they went back to their respective
Heather had ordered them a couple more V-8's, and once again Cam
doctored them up with the vodka in his flask. They clinked
glasses and Cam took a big swig.
"What did Rafe have to say for himself?" Teri asked.
"Not much," Cam said. "He asked about Kevin's baby, and talked about his plans for after the dance."
"I know exactly what his plans are for after the dance," Teri sniffed.
"He wouldn't be the only guy with plans like that."
"He's here with Cassie for only one reason."
"I don't know," Cam said. "I think he likes her."
"I could just slap you when you're in one of your non-judgmental moods," Teri said.
"Never slap a Scot who's wearing his kilt," Cam said, laughing. "It brings
out the savage in him. Anyway, I'm never judgmental." A little exaggeration never hurt.
"Actually, you're right," Teri admitted. "I never hear you raggin' on
anybody or tearing down their reputation. That's just one reason why I love you
Oh, man, Cam thought to himself, trying to smile.
Their meals came, the free range chicken for Cam being served with baby potatoes, and
the parmesan encrusted salmon with white and wild rice for Teri. Both
had side dishes of broiled young asparagus, which would prove to be
tender, tasty and crunchy on the outside.
>From being in the habit, Cam offered grace
before they got down to serious eating.
"Since when have you been so religious?" Teri asked when he was finished.
"It's a habit now from doing it at home."
"Then why don't I see you at Mass anymore?" Teri asked.
"We've been going to the Episcopal church for Mass for a few weeks now."
"My mom likes their theological position on certain things."
"What's the difference?" Teri asked. "Nobody pays any attention to what the priests say anyway."
"Maybe," Cam responded, not wanting to mar their evening with a fight or even a serious discussion.
They ate with only sporadic conversation, but Cam could feel Teri's leg
rubbing against his
under the table. She wasn't wasting any time getting him warmed
up for after the prom, touching his hand occasionally when they talked. Oh
shit, he thought, she's really into me. How the fuck am I going
to get out of what she wants to happen later without hurting her feelings?
Their meals were delicious. Cam finished all his food, and then
helped Teri finish
the salmon. The balance between the natural taste of the salmon
and the parmesan was perfect. Compliments to the chef,
Cam said to himself.
Both Teri and Cam ordered praline sundaes for desert, with
After the meal, Teri excused herself to use the ladies' room.
stood and pulled back her chair for her, and sat back down as she
walked away clutching her purse, looking fine and curvaceous in that
red dress. Cam caught Rafe watching her, too, and when his date
wasn't looking, Rafe stuck out his tongue, wiggled it up and down and
laughed. His date Cassie didn't have a clue what Rafe was
a horndog, Cam thought to himself about Rafe, shaking his head as he
looked across the room at his former teammate. He couldn't really be too
critical, though. He knew that when he looked at Kevin, he had
the same thoughts.
When Teri came back, they sat for a minute, one of Teri's hands over his.
The check came, and Cam put the bill on his
credit card, including a nice, twenty percent tip for their server, a
lady who had done an especially nice job.
"You ready?" Cam asked.
"Yes. That was so good, Cam. Thank you." Teri leaned toward him and they kissed.
"It was good. I'm glad you enjoyed it," Cam said, tasting Teri's lipstick on his own lips.
He pulled his telephone out of his sporran and called the limo driver.
"Steve, Cam MacKenzie. We're ready if you want to pull around to the front door."
"Yes, sir. Be right there."
Cam stood up and pulled Teri's chair back for her, and waving to Rafe
and Cassie, they went to the front door. Steve pulled up in the
limo, alighting and coming around the car to open the rear door. Cam helped
Teri in, making sure her dress wouldn't get shut in the car door, and
then went around and got in himself.
They talked quietly about their plans for the summer. Teri's
parents were sending her, accompanied by several girlfriends who also
had well-to-do parents, to travel around Western Europe after graduation. That's
good news, Cam thought. That way Teri wouldn't be too
disappointed when Cam wasn't calling and pestering her for dates after
tonight--after whatever happened later at the hotel.
They arrived at the school, and the limo got in line behind a host of
other limos dropping off their young passengers at the entrance to the
gym. Finally it was their turn, and Steve came around and opened
the door on Teri's side so she and Cam could get out. Teri looked
good on Cam's arm as they made their entrance.
The gym was an explosion of vibrant color. The prom committee had done a great job. Blue and gold, the
school colors, were predominant, but a host of balloons, streamers and
banners assaulted and stimulated the eyes as Cam and Teri began
mingling with their classmates. The sight of Cam in his kilt drew
a crowd right away. As he'd expected, the football and baseball
jocks traded good-natured jibes with him about his costume, but a lot
of the guys were secretly jealous of the way he stood out in the
crowd. Girls and boys alike were checking out his legs and liking
what they saw sticking out from under that kilt.
Not only had the prom committee done an especially good job of
decorating, they had also booked a band that had had been an opening
act during the year before for the Black Crowes after they'd come out
of hiatus. This band had the same bluesy, hard rock jam sound as
the Crowes, and they soon had the crowd warmed up and dancing.
Cam and Teri were out on the floor looking good.
Periodically, when the girls went to the ladies room, the jocks would
congregate in clumps according to the sport they played and talk about the
after-prom party later at the hotel. There was no shortage of
predictions from the guys about how they were most certainly getting laid
later, although Cam himself made no comments or claims. Cam
continued to doctor his and Teri's drinks with vodka, but just to the
point that the two of them had a buzz on. Nothing too
serious. As they loosened up, the two of them started dancing
with other partners occasionally, never straying too far, though. Cam had
to admit he was having a good time, much to his surprise.
At one point, the football jocks had cornered a nerdy little guy, Ralph
somebody, whose girlfriend had gone to the bathroom. He was a kid
that Cam had always respected for his smarts. The jocks had him
surrounded, and although they didn't touch him physically, were being
pretty mean to him about the way he combed his hair, about his tux (which
looked perfectly fine to Cam), and his dancing, which was, Cam had to
admit, a little spastic. There were no chaperones in the
vicinity, but Cam saw what was happening and went over, feeling no pain
himself from the vodka.
"Hey, you dumb fucks," Cam greeted the jocks, pointing at Ralph.
"It's good to see you mingling with somebody smarter than all you
assholes put together."
The jocks were stunned, their cruel good mood evaporating. They didn't respond at first.
"Fuck, MacKenzie, what's your deal? You're a soccer fruit, and that ain't nothin'," one of
the guys, Bob Connors, finally said. "I can tell from the dress
you're wearing. Where do you get off...?"
"Doesn't the muscle between your ears get a little heavy for you ta
carry around all the time, Connors?" Cam said. "It must put a
terrible strain on your neck." He reached over and pulled Ralph
the nerd out of the crowd, and the boy hauled ass out of there to find his date.
"Ya wanna step outside, you homo?" Connors said.
"I wouldn't want to mess you up, asshole. You'd end up having to
buy your rental tux tomorrow 'cause it would be in shreds when I got done
with ya." Cam locked eyes with his adversary. "And after I fucked you up, there
wouldn't be any tail for you tonight, either. You know, 'no hard feelings.'"
The captain of the football team put his beefy arm around Connors.
"Common, Bob, we're here to have a good time." He looked at Cam
before they walked away. "You're gettin' off easy tonight, you fairy. Look out the next time we see each other."
"It would take your whole team, dickhead," Cam shot back before they went their separate ways.
Cam went back to the table that he and Teri and Rafe and Cassie had
commandeered together for the evening. Rafe and Cassie were up and dancing.
"What was that little meeting with the football team about?" Teri asked.
"I was just complimenting them on the fine season they had last fall."
"Right," Teri said skeptically, taking Cam's hand. "It didn't look all that friendly."
"Those wieners are just jealous that they don't have the skills to play soccer," Cam said. "Or the legs to wear a kilt."
The two of them laughed.
"You lie so well," Teri said.
"Ya think?!!! Forget those jerks. How about a dance?"
The band was playing one of the Crowes songs from their Lions album, "Lay it All on Me."
"I'm feeling a little queasy," Teri said. "Let's sit this one
out." The band then moved into a big Crowes hit, "Go Faster."
"OK," Cam said. "Do you want something to drink?"
"How about a Coke?" Teri asked. "Maybe that will settle my stomach."
"You got it." Cam got up and walked over to the refreshment
table. The smart little nerd, Ralph, was there getting drinks for
himself and his date.
"Hey, man, thanks for saving my life," he said.
"No prob," Cam said, grabbing a cup of ice and a can of coke.
"No, really," Ralph said. "Those guys make my life miserable
whenever they get a chance. So I appreciate what you did."
"They can be jerks," Cam admitted. "And they're getting a little drunk, so..." Cam shrugged.
Ralph high-fived Cam, and they parted ways.
As the prom wound down, everybody was up and dancing, even Teri, even
though she wasn't feeling at all well by then. The band played one last
number, and then the chaperones started moving people toward the door.
"Whaddaya wanna do?" Cam asked Teri. "You're lookin' kinda peaked."
"Not good," Teri said. "But let's go to the hotel even if we don't stay long."
"Okay," Cam said, pulling out his phone and calling Steve to bring around
the car. A long line of limos was pulled up to the door, loading up,
and heading out. Cam and Teri leaned back into the leather seats once their car arrived for them.
"I'm sorry you're sick," Cam said. "Whaddaya think it is? Something you ate?"
"I used to be allergic to salmon," Teri said. "But I've been able
to eat it for years. What a bunch of crap this is, happening on
"Yeah, bummer." Cam hugged her gently and kissed her on the
cheek. She nestled into him and closed her eyes, remaining silent
until they reached the hotel. The limos were lined up under the
hotel canopy as couples feeling no pain from drinking at the prom alighted from
their vehicles and went in to pick up their key cards at the front
desk. Like Cam and Teri, many of them were carrying luggage so they could change into casual
clothes for the remainder of the evening.
"You sure you wanna stay?" Cam asked Teri.
"Yeah, but let's get upstairs. I think I'm gonna throw up," Teri said.
"I'll hurry. Let me settle up with Steve, and I'll let him
go. We can take a cab if we wanna leave later." Cam stepped
out of his door when Steve opened it.
"Steve, I don't want you to sit out here half the night, man. Let's settle up, and I'll let you go."
"All right." Steve gave him a printed statement, and Cam pulled out a
money clip and peeled off some bills, including a $50 tip, and handed
the money to the young driver.
"Thanks, man," Cam told Steve. "Good job."
"I appreciate that, sir," Steve said, looking at the money before
putting it into his coat pocket and going around and opening Teri's
Cam grabbed the two canvas bags off the back floor of the car, and
putting his arm around Teri's waist, escorted her into the lobby.
Rather than getting in the long line of prom-goers who were picking up
key cards to their rooms, Cam caught the eye of one of the clerks
behind the desk who wasn't serving clients and beckoned him over.
"Hi," Cam said. "I wonder if you can help us. My date isn't
feeling well, and we need to get up to our room as soon as we
you check us in real quick?"
The young guy took one look at Teri's face, and seeing she was in discomfort, nodded his head.
"Of course, sir. What's the name on the reservation?"
"MacKenzie. Cam MacKenzie."
Typing into an idle computer, the man nodded. "Here we are. How will you be paying for the room?"
"Credit card," Cam said, handing over his MasterCard. The man ran it and handed back the card.
A printer began whirring, and the clerk proffered a printed page for
Cam to sign after a few seconds. The clerk made two keys and put
them into a little envelope with the room number written on it.
Cam took the cards. "Thanks, man, we appreciate this."
"Not at all, sir," the young man said, and Cam steered Teri toward the
elevators. Teri may have been sick, but plenty of eyes, male and
female, were checking her out in that red dress as they walked away
from the desk. They went into the elevator alone, and Teri leaned into Cam, groaning as she did.
"Oh, shit," she said. "Why did I have to get sick tonight of all nights?"
Cam put his arm around her. "You'll be all right. After we
change clothes, I'll run down and get some antacids in the gift shop. Maybe that
"You're a sweetheart," Teri said quietly, and a moment later they had reached their floor.
Cam picked up their bags, and they walked down the hall until they came
to their room. Cam pulled one of the key cards out of its
envelope, and inserted it into the slot. A little green light came
on, and the two of them went into the room. It was nice.
Queen size bed and a separate little sitting room with a 27 inch TV in
it. Teri ran for the bathroom, going down on her knees in front
of the porcelain god, and a moment later she was puking her guts out.
She hadn't shut the bathroom door behind her, and Cam went in. He took a
wash cloth, moistened it with cold water, and waited until Teri tried
to get to her feet. He helped her up, and gently wiped her face
with the cold cloth.
"Thank you," Teri said, clinging to him. She still looked sick.
"Do you want to change clothes?" Cam asked.
"Yes, please," Teri said. "If you'll unzip my dress and bring me my bag, I can do it."
"Okay," Cam said, unzipping her and then stepping back into the bedroom, picking up her bag and taking it to her.
"Thanks," Teri said. She was out of her prom dress by then,
standing there in her bra and a half slip in the bathroom. Hot girl, Cam
grudgingly noticed yet again.
Cam took the dress from her, shutting the bathroom door behind him, and
over to the closet and hung up the gown. This is one hell of a
nice dress, he thought to himself as he used the clips on the
hanger to ensure the garment didn't fall to the floor.
He took off his kilt, jock, shoes and knee socks, dress shirt and white
T, and hung up the clothes in the closet. Opening his bag, he put
on clean boxers, his "Free Frances Bean" T-shirt and his jeans, then sitting on
the bed to put on short sweat socks and white running shoes.
He walked over to the bathroom door and tapped on it. "I'm going down to the gift shop for some antacids," he told Teri.
"OK. Thanks." Teri didn't sound good.
He went downstairs, and after looking through the gift shop's selection
of over-the-counter medications, bought some Tums and some Mylanta.
When he arrived upstairs, Teri was in their bed, lying curled up on her
side. Cam could see she was shivering, even under the
covers. He sat down on the edge of the bed she was facing.
"I have Tums and Mylanta. Which would you like?"
"Let me try the Mylanta first," she said.
Cam opened the package and the bottle, and raising and supporting Teri's head, let her take a drink of the viscous substance.
"That's enough," Cam said after Teri had taken a couple of
swallows. He gently lowered her head to the pillow, and pulled up
the comforter over her. The girl was still shivering.
He capped the bottle, put it on the table, and went over to the wall
switch, turning off the overhead light before going around to the
vacant side of the bed. Toeing off his shoes in the light of the bedside table, he pulled back the
comforter and got in the bed with her, spooning her for warmth and
putting his arms around her. Her shivering abated somewhat.
"Thanks," Teri said.
"You're welcome. Maybe you can sleep a little."
She didn't say anything at first.
"How did I lose you?"
Caught by surprise, Cam didn't know what to say.
"Whaddaya mean? I'm right here."
"No, I mean, when did you stop loving me?"
Cam sighed. "I have to be honest with you. You're right. I have fallen in love with someone else."
"Who is she?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
"I love you so much," Teri said. "You're everything that I ever
admired and wanted in a boy. I wanted to be in your life. I
even thought we might get married some day after college and have kids
together. I wanted to make love to you tonight."
Cam sighed again. "I'm sorry, Teri."
"Did I do something to turn you off? I've always thought we've been good together. I don't understand..."
Cam took a breath.
"I'll always love you, Teri," he said. "But I'm not in
love with you. There's a big difference. You know that. I hope you know
that I'm not trying to 'dis' you in any way. I hope you don't
hate me. We've had a date to go to the prom for a long time, and I wanted to keep my
word to you and take you, even though I'm with someone else now.
But things just can't go any farther for us than this. Not now or any other
The girl said no more and began to cry quietly, burying her face in her
pillow. Cam reached up behind him and turned off the light over
the bedside table, and then he put his arms around Teri again and held her
tight, feeling terrible.
It wasn't long before they were both asleep, one of them feeling
bereft, and one of them more committed than ever to being faithful to
© 2006 Don Hanratty
My thanks to Craig K and Dan for their excellent proofing of this chapter.