Don Hanratty
My Belovèd is mine, and I am his.
Song of Songs 2:16


The sky was stained pink from the setting sun by the time Sean and Susan Miller walked from next door across the soft sand to Alex's house.  They were looking forward to supper with the MacKenzie-Carson clan and with their son Jeff.  They seldom admitted it, even to each other, but they still mourned Jeff's absence from their lives since he had entered the world of drugs.  They were pleased to have been invited to supper so they could spend some time with him, even in the midst of a crowd.

Smoke from the two grills on the back deck was spiraling into the air, borne upward by a warm, pleasant breeze off Santa Monica bay.  The Millers said hello to Kevin, who stood there monitoring the grills' warm-up process.   He was on top of things, as usual.  He greeted the Millers cordially and slid open the door into the hallway for them to enter the house.  Encountering Carl, Kevin asked him to take the couple inside and introduce them to the family.

Said family was in a good mood.

With the exception of Kevin, the guys had congregated in the living room with the two border collies, Alice and Samantha.  Samantha was sleeping in Cam's lap, seemingly unable to get close enough to him to make up for time they had been apart.  William Carson was holding Casey in his arms, rocking him gently as the child dozed, periodically bending his head to kiss the baby's forehead.  What a good dad William will be when his time comes, Cam thought to himself as he watched the boy's care for Casey.  It wasn't the first time that thought had occurred to him.

Jeff Miller stood up from the couch when Carl brought his parents into the living room, and gave his mother a kiss and his dad a hug.  He introduced them to the boys before Carl had a chance to do so.  The guys all stood up and greeted them cordially.  They all recognized Sean Miller from his movies.

Carl then took Mr. and Mrs. Miller over to the den, where the adults were chatting and having drinks. 
Mary Carson and Catherine MacKenzie had been shooed out of the kitchen earlier by Rosa and Yolanda, who were helping Maria fix side dishes for the upcoming steak dinner.  After the introductions, Ian fixed drinks for Jeff's parents and the conversation continued.  Ian made a point of sitting near the Millers, hoping to have a quiet word with them concerning his suspicions about Jeff's depressed condition and what it might lead to.

Back in the living room, after a few more minutes of listening to the guys banter with each other, Cam gently put Samantha down from his lap on to the floor and went out to see if he could help Kevin.  The dog followed him outside.

Cam gave Kevin's profile the once-over as he closed the sliding door on to the deck behind him.  Great pecs and a nice bulge in the front of his cargo shorts.  Cam never tired of looking at him.

He walked over to his partner as he stood in front of the grills, putting his arm around his waist, stepping close to him, hip to hip, slowly moving his left hand up and around the boy's frame until it lay open on Kevin's chest.  Cam felt Kevin's heart beating through his T-shirt.  A wave of love swept over them both, immobilizing them for a long minute as they stood there together.   It was a moment of perfect tranquility for them, perfect equilibrium, a moment full of tenderness and oneness that carried its own special sexual electricity.

Kevin's breath caught in his throat, and his knees got weak.  He turned his head and looked into Cam's eyes, brown into green, melding together.

Not yet finished, Cam used his right hand to reach down and give his partner's package a quick, firm fondle while he nuzzled his face and softly kissed him on the ear.

"Yow!" Kevin said, exhaling in a rush of air.  He gulped, feeling the kiss on his ear and Cam's fingers down in his groin start an erection.  Cam let go of his boy's crotch and put his hand on his ass.

"You need prior permission to love up the cook like this, dude," Kevin gasped, swallowing again, feeling Cam's hand, warm on his butt.  He grinned as he recovered.  "Ass-patting and other touching may be free for now, but a fee could be charged at a later date.  I'll have a decision on that by the time we sack out tonight."  He reached down and squeezed Cam's behind, then stuck his hand into a back pocket of his partner's cutoffs and left it there.

"I can't wait to hear the price," Cam said.  "You may have to take it out in trade, though."  He put an arm around Kevin's waist again and moved closer to him, kissing his cheek.  "Man, I'm loving this so much.  Having the family here, I mean.  Not that I don't enjoy having your big paw on my ass," he added.

"My hand has always had a good time on your butt."  Kevin bent down to look at the temperature gauges on the grills.  "Here we go.  Let the cooking begin.  Will you go get the steaks?"

"Well...your demands have always been pretty outrageous, especially when it comes to sex.  But have I ever said 'no?'  I don't think so."  Cam smiled and walked into the house and was back quickly with three huge platters piled high with T-bones and put them down on the little tables attached to the grills.  Then he went back inside and returned with two large bowls of whole potatoes, now wrapped in aluminum foil, which had already been partially pre-cooked in the microwave.  He added the bowls to the grill tables.

"Thanks," Kevin said, and began putting steaks and potatoes on the two grills, spacing them out for maximum exposure to the heat.

"Hey," Cam said.

"Hey, what?"

"What are we gonna do to keep everybody entertained while they're in town?" Cam asked his partner as the smell of cooking steak began making his mouth water.

"Well, for one thing, we're gonna run their asses off on the beach.  And I have some gym workouts planned for them that you won't believe.  The weak may not survive.  But Ian also mentioned something about taking the whole family to Disneyland."

"Great idea!" Cam said.  "That'll be a little pricey, though, doncha think?"

"Yep.  But well worth it if everybody has a good time," Kevin said.  "It's gonna get tougher from now on to get everybody together like this."

Cam grinned at him.  "You're right again, man!  And come to think about it, when haven't you been?"

"Uh huh.  Well, the truth is, you inspire me."

Cam had a wise ass comeback on the tip of his tongue when the sliding door to the deck opened, and Carl, trailed by Andy Helder, came out on the deck.

"You guys need any help?" Carl asked.

"Thank goodness you're here," Kevin said.  "Cam's been out here abusing me.  Feeling me up."  He grinned.  "He's good at it, too."

"I know exactly what you mean," Carl said.  "He doesn't have much self control.  But I'm always happy to contribute to a more civilized atmosphere."

Cam ignored Kevin and Carl and looked at Carl's friend.  "Andy, my man, you ready for school?"

"Yeah," the boy said.  "I'm registered and bought my books.  And my mom took me shopping for some clothes, so I'm all set."  Andy put an arm across Carl's shoulders, and he and the shorter boy smiled at each other.  Andy dipped his head and kissed Carl on the cheek and hugged him.  In the right company, he wasn't shy.

"Do you know what your major's going to be?" Cam asked.

"English lit, I think," Andy said.

"All right!  Have you talked to Catherine about that?" Cam asked.

"Not yet.  Maybe I can talk to her about it while I'm down here," Andy said.

"Yeah.  You want to teach?" Cam asked.

"That's one option," Andy said.  "Probably the best one.  It's that or journalism, maybe.  But there may not be any newspapers left by the time I graduate.  I could blog on the net about my life with Carl.  The site would be so fascinating it would crash all the time from popularity."

"Oh, fiction, you mean," Carl teased him.  "Why don't you post it on Nifty?"

"If you major in English lit, you just may turn out to be Catherine's fair haired boy," Kevin said.  "Especially since Cam's turned traitor in favor of the visual arts."

"Good!  I'll need all the help I can get," Andy laughed, and then his smile faded.  "My big problem
is being so far away from Carl this year."

"That's gonna be tough," Kevin sympathized.  "But you know you're welcome anytime you can get down here."

"Thanks," Andy said.  "I appreciate that."

He and Carl walked over and sat down in chairs next to the sliding door, taking in the beautiful sight of the bay at sunset.

Kevin opened first one grill and then the other, turning the rare steaks.  The smell made the boys' mouths water.

The door on to the deck slid open again, and one by one the rest of the guys walked out and sat down in chairs facing the ocean, their backs to the house.  Except for Mark Carson.  He walked over and wiggled his way between Kevin and Cam in front of the grills, putting his arms around them.  Kevin grinned down at him.

"Dude!" Kevin said to him.

"Dude!!" Mark said back.

"We're here to learn how to cook, Kevin," Dan Emrick spoke up from the row of boys against the wall.

"Cooking is power," Kevin told him.  "None of you morons can be trusted with the power of the spatula.  The power of creating nourishment.  The power to make people drool.  Especially not you, Dan.  We'd all be rolling around on the floor in agony after eating your cooking."

"That's kinda mean, doncha think?" Dan said.  "Anyway, I really don't think you could teach me much."

"You might be surprised," Kevin opined.  He turned his attention to Mark.

"Marky-mark, what's shakin', buddy?" he said, looking down at the boy standing between him and Cam.  He was a smaller version of his brother William.  Good body, handsome face, good butt, good legs.  Cute as hell.  The wound to his head from being shot by Alejandro Hernandez had healed up perfectly, with no further need for surgical intervention.

Mark had a special place in Kevin's affections.  There were a lot of reasons for that, starting with the way Mark had toughed it out after being shot right after the funeral of Berto Hernandez's parents.  And the way he gave his all in the gym whenever he worked out, and how he always stood up for himself whenever the older, bigger guys tried to give him any shit.  He was tough, and Kevin admired that.  Along with all that grit, though, was a beautiful, loving personality, so much so that ultimately no one could resist being his friend.

Cam smiled indulgently, not minding that the kid had wedged himself in between him and his partner.  He knew that Mark had a thing for Kevin, and vice versa.  And Cam couldn't blame Mark, surmising that he saw in Kevin what he himself did--a handsome, mature friend and, when needed, a protector and confidant.  Someone who could always be relied upon.

Oh, fuck it, Kevin thought to himself as he stood there.  He bent down and kissed Mark on top of his head right in front of God and everybody.  Just let somebody say something about that!  No one did.

Mark looked up at him with his usual aplomb.  "You've probably noticed that Dan's being an wise ass, as usual," Mark said, trying to stir things up a little.  "He thinks he's so macho."

"Don't worry, bud, by the time I'm finished making him exercise in the gym the next few days, he'll be too tired to harass us," Kevin told him.  "He hasn't seen macho yet."

Dan Emrick snorted dismissively.  "Mark's really gone to the dogs since you left San Rafael, Kevin.  He doesn't exercise, and he thinks he can get away with anything.  Sometimes I have to set him straight."

"Asshole!" Mark told him.  "Keep it up, and I'm gonna kick your ass."

The guys along the wall chuckled.  Over the next few minutes, they sat there watching the cooking process and kibitzing with one another.

"Where's Casey?" Kevin asked.

"My mom has him in the den," William said.  "He's snoozing."

"Did you say 'snoozing' or 'boozing?'" Kevin said.  "They didn't give him a cocktail, did they?"

"Does a Gray Goose martini count?" William asked.

The guys all laughed.

"When are we eating?" Berto asked, licking his lips.

"In about forty-five minutes," Kevin said.  He began to remove some of the already cooked steaks, the rare ones, and putting them on one of the platters, making room for the next batch.  "Berto, will you take these to Maria in the kitchen?  They can go into the oven to stay warm.  Tell her:  green platter, rare steaks."

"Okay," Berto said.  "Can I sample on the way?"

"You're not even allowed to salivate on these steaks, let alone sample them," Kevin said.

"Well, shit," Berto said, standing up to take the platter.

The sliding door opened just then and Maria Romero came out.

"How long?" she asked Kevin.

"Forty-five minutes," Kevin said.  "Too many steaks.  I have to cook two more batches.   He chuckled.  "Would you go tell the adults I said they should have another drink?  That'll keep 'em busy.  And happy.  It won't be a tough sell.  You can take this first batch to the kitchen, though. 
Will you fire up the oven to keep them warm while the second batch cooks?  Green platter, rare steaks."

Maria nodded, smiled and took the steaks, and retreated into the house.  His task pre-empted, Berto sat down again.

Kevin continued the cooking process, with Mark hanging-in between him and Cam.  Finally, at long last but within the forty-five minutes Kevin had set, all the steaks were done to the prescribed degree, and the potatoes were ready.  Kevin filled the platters and bowls, and shut off the grills.

"Okay, you yokels," Kevin told the guys.  "We're set.  Go wash your hands, 'cause I know you've been playin' with yourselves since you got here."

William laughed as he stood up with the others and headed for the door.  "You're such a nasty boy since you came down here to L.A.," he told Kevin with a smirk.

"I only know what I've learned from you, bud, " Kevin retorted, handing one platter of steaks to him, another one to Cam, and a huge bowl of potatoes to Mark and another to Dan.  They followed the crowd inside and into the dining room.  They put the food on the dining room table, now expanded with all the leaves to accommodate the crowd.  The guys fanned out to the various bathrooms in the house to wash their hands.  That proves my point, Kevin thought to himself with a grin.  They have been playing with themselves.

When everyone had gathered in the dining room, Cam put Ian at the head of the table, Catherine at the foot with Casey beside her in his highchair, Kevin on the other side of the baby.  Cam asked Father Mason to offer thanks.

"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," the priest began as they all made the sign of the cross and then clasped hands with one another around the huge table, now loaded with food and drink.

"Father, behold this your family as we offer thanks for the opportunity you have given us to come together around this table.  We're grateful for these great gifts of fellowship and the food you have given us.  Bless this food to our use as we bless you for our lives and for the abundance of goodness and grace for which we are truly thankful.  We pray through Jesus Christ our Lord."


The boys made sure all the women were seated first, including Rosa and Yolanda, who resisted at first eating with the family because they didn't want to intrude.  Maria resisted, too, until Cam found out that her husband and children were at a baseball game and she didn't need to get home to take care of her family.  He made her join them.

When everyone was seated, the diners began passing steaks, potatoes, vegetables and salad around the table, and the food began to disappear into hungry mouths.  After a request from Catherine, Father Jim opened several bottles of Merlot sitting on the sideboard, and circled the table filling the glasses of the adults.

"Kevin," Ian said into the silence brought on by the first bites of the meal.

"Yes, sir," Kevin responded.

"Terrific job with the steaks," the man said, holding up his fork with a piece of rare meat on it.  "Mine is melting in my mouth.  You can cook for me anytime."

"Thanks," Kevin said as the family put down their forks and began to clap for him.  "But don't forget Maria, Rosa and Yolanda.  And Mary and Mom.  They did everything else."

"Right on!  Thanks to the cooks!" William Carson said, lifting his glass of iced tea.  The guys seated near him clinked their glasses of tea with his, and the adults clinked their wine glasses.

Catherine smelled the bouquet of the wine, and took a first sip.

"Oh, my," she said.  "Who picked out the Merlot?"

"Guilty as charged," Mary Carson said.  "We have some in our wine rack at the condo back in San Francisco, and we like it a lot."

"I'll bet it's good," Kevin said with a grin.  Mary smiled at him, and passed him her glass.

"One sip," she told him.  He took a big mouthful, though, before passing back the glass, and swallowed the liquid slowly.

"Mmmwah!" he said, bringing his fingers to his lips and making a kissing sound.  "Perfection itself!"

"What about me?" Cam whined.

"What about you what?" Kevin asked.

"I should get to taste it, too."

"You don't need to," Kevin said.  "I already tasted it, and I pronounce it excellent."

Catherine smiled at Cam, and wordlessly passed her glass to him.  Like Kevin, he poured a mouthful past his lips, and rolled it around on his tongue before swallowing it.

"Hmmm.  Good wine makes the meal," he said.

Ian stood and went to the sideboard and brought glasses back to the table for Kevin, Cam, Carl Emrick and Andy Helder, skipping Jeff Miller.  He poured a little wine in Kevin's and Cam's glasses, and then more generous servings into Carl's and Andy's glasses.

"They got more," Kevin pointed out the obvious.

"Don't get greedy," Ian said.  "You already had some."

"What if the police raid us for underage drinking?" Mark asked.

"We'll call it communion," Ian said.  "And when we're together like this, that's what we're having."

"When do we get to have some wine with dinner?" Dan Emrick asked.

"After you graduate from high school," Mary Carson said.

The adults pretty much stopped eating after the first serving, but the boys continued eating and eating and eating until every serving plate on the table was empty.

Cam drained the last drop from his wine glass and looked at Mary.  "So good!" he proclaimed, putting his napkin to his mouth and stifling a belch.  "Uh, is it too soon to ask what's for dessert?"

"Ice cream and peanut butter cookies," Mary said.  "Why don't you guys clear the table and serve it up?"

"Sounds good!" William said, standing up and starting to stack plates and bowls to take them to the kitchen.  The guys all joined him, and went with Maria, Rosa and Yolanda to the kitchen.  The boys scraped plates, giving the two collies some bones as they did so, and put the plates into the dish washer.  The three women began dishing up vanilla ice cream out of several gallon containers into bowls, and putting peanut butter cookies on big serving plates.  They were all back in the dining room table within a few minutes and started passing around the dessert.  Nobody talked as they dug in.

"The perfect meal!" Berto finally broke the silence as he spooned ice cream into his mouth and chomped on a cookie.

"Really good!" Carl said.  "But the nutritionists would probably tell us we're eating too much red meat," he added.

"Killjoys!  But they'd be right," Ian agreed.  "That's why we've been eating fish and veggies all week in San Rafael before we came down here."

The visitors laughed and nodded.

"You think he's kidding?" William said, looking at Carl.  "I thought I was gonna grow fins."

Kevin leaned over to William.  "Fins might cut down on your success rate with women," he told him quietly, fluttering his eyebrows up and down like Groucho Marx.

"I'd just look for a girl with fins," William whispered back.

After clearing the table, the boys headed for the deck again and the adults went back to the den.  Ian again sat near Sean and Susan Miller, and Father Jim joined the little group.

"Sean, Susan, I wonder if Father Jim and I could talk to you for a minute about Jeff?" Ian asked.

"Sure," Sean said, moving forward on the couch.

Ian cleared his throat.  "I went for a walk with Jeff late this afternoon on the beach so he could point out where the celebrities live.  We got to talking about what's been going on with him and how he felt about going into treatment.  I didn't like what I heard from him, and even less, his attitude about the future."

Sean frowned, looking worried.  "What exactly did he say?"

"He said that he didn't think he could stay clean after rehab.  And when I asked him what his dreams for the future are, he said he didn't have any.  Those two things are danger signs, in my opinion."

Sean Miller sat back on the couch with a sad look on his face.

"It doesn't sound as if he's a very good candidate for rehab, then," he said.

"That's not the conclusion I wanted to have come out of this conversation," Ian said.  He looked at Susan.  "One major objective of rehab is to turn him around with respect to what he thinks about his potential to lead a sober and productive life."

"I guess that's true," Susan said,  looking at her husband.

Sean nodded, reluctantly.

"I talked with Father Jim about my conversation with Jeff, and we agree that what's the most worrisome, though, is what he says about not having any dreams for the future."

"Why is that more worrisome?" Sean asked.

"It suggests Jeff may be suicidal, and I have to say I agree with Ian," Father Mason said.  "I think the potential is there.  We're just wondering if the people who selected him for admission at Assurances know this, and whether they said anything to you, Susan?"

"No," Susan said.  "And I'd remember that."

"We're concerned, because Kevin, Cam and Carl have been watching him like a hawk since they found him under the front deck," Jim Mason said.  "I've seen that for myself.  We're afraid that when he goes into treatment, the staff may not keep him under proper surveillance, at least for the first few weeks he's there."

"May I make a suggestion?" Ian asked.

"Yes," Sean said.

"My thought is that you tell the admissions people at Assurances there is a possibility Jeff may be having some suicidal ideation, and that they talk to him about the issue and keep a good watch on him."

"If Jeff admits he's suicidal, will they want to send him to a mental health facility instead of admit him for substance abuse treatment?" Susan Miller asked.

"The mental health and the substance abuse practitioners sometimes play games that way," Father Jim admitted.  "But the generally accepted practice is to address substance abuse issues first, and then the mental health ones.  That's because the use of substances skews a person's mental health so badly that mental health counselors sometimes can't diagnose what they're dealing with, let alone treat it.  In cases like Jeff's, though, you need to do a little work in both areas, simultaneously.  It's called having a 'dual diagnosis.'  Parents just have to ride herd on all the practitioners to make sure they don't use a dual diagnosis as a pretext for not giving someone any meaningful treatment at all.  Cam and Kevin and Carl can help you do that by staying in touch with Jeff about the treatment he's getting.  They're very committed to helping Jeff get well, as you probably know."

Sean Miller looked at the priest and the lawyer.  "I do know that.  I can't tell you how impressed I am with all these boys," he said.  "I don't know who gets the credit--Alex or Catherine or Mary or maybe you two guys, but somebody has done a heck of a good job of producing some fine young men."

Ian and Jim Mason looked at each other and smiled.

"Well, it's kind of been a group effort the last year or so," Ian said.  "Mary and I have only had Carl and Dan and Berto for a short time, but we've been living at Catherine's instead of in town.  I think we'd have to give Catherine the credit for Cam and Kevin--her involvement has been long-term.  Father has been a mentor to all the boys.  They respect him so much, starting with the fact that he's a runner."  Ian grinned.  "And I'm not kidding about that."

"Well, these boys are all easy to love," Susan said.  "You all deserve a lot of credit.  Anyway, we'll talk to Assurances about Jeff's mental condition.  If we have a problem, can we talk with you about this again?"

"Absolutely!" Ian said.  "They agreed to admit Jeff to their facility, and if you have a problem, I'll be glad to help you try to hold them to their agreement.  Potential suicide may be a mental health problem, but the source of it is very likely substance abuse in Jeff's case."

"All right," Sean Miller said, standing up with his wife.  "I hate to make an early evening of it, but I have some lines to learn for tomorrow's shoot.  Thank you so much for inviting us over for supper.  We try to grab every occasion we can to spend a little time with Jeff."

Father Mason glanced over at Susan, and she had teared up.  On impulse, he stepped over to her and gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

"We're all going to do everything we can to make things come out right for Jeff," he told her quietly.

"I know you will," she told him.  "Thank you."

"Let's say goodnight to Jeff," Sean said.

"By the way, the whole family is going to Disneyland tomorrow," Ian told them.  "We're taking Jeff with us, of course."

"Let me give you some money for him," Sean said, reaching for his wallet.

"No, it's all taken care of," Ian replied, "but thank you for the offer."

"By the way, all of you are welcome to use our swimming pool any time," Susan said as she and her husband walked toward the living room, where the boys were all gathered again.  The couple looked in the door, where some of the guys were talking, and some were playing cards, sitting on the floor.

Jeff looked up from the card game, and got to his feet and walked over to them.  He noticed that his mother's eyes looked watery, but didn't say anything about it.

"Thank you for coming over," Jeff told his mother.  "I miss you.  I love you."

"We miss you, sweetheart," she said, hugging him and kissing her son's cheek.  "We'll talk to you soon."

"Good night, son," Sean said.  He shook hands, and then drew Jeff into a hug.  He cleared his throat.  "I love you, Jeff."

Jeff drew back and looked solemnly into his father's face.  "You've never told me that before."

"I know," Sean said, "and I'm sorry I haven't."

"Good night, boys," Susan said.  The young men all stood up and said goodnight.  "Thank you for a wonderful meal."

"Guys, we told Ian, but I'll mention it to you," Sean said.  "You're all welcome to use our swimming pool anytime you want to."

A chorus of "thank-you's" filled the room, and Cam went over to Mr. and Mrs. Miller.

"We're glad you came over tonight," he said.  He smiled.  "And thanks for the offer to swim at your house.  You can be sure we're gonna take you up on it."

"Anytime," Sean Miller said, and he and his wife left.

Cam and Jeff walked back to the card game, sat down, and Jeff picked up his cards.  He looked thoughtful.

"It's like fucking magic over here," he said.  "My father just told me he loves me.  That's a first, believe me!"

Kevin reached over and hit him lightly on the shoulder.  "We all love ya, Jeffy," he said with a grin.  "And that's no lie.  Especially when we can whip your ass at cards."  He looked at his hand, fanned the cards out, and laid them down on the floor.  "Gin, you assholes!"  Jeff, Carl and Cam groaned and threw in their cards.

A couple more guys joined the card game and played a few hands while the rest of the boys talked.  Finally Kevin looked at his watch.

"We probably better think about sacking out," he said.  "We're running at 6 tomorrow morning."  The boys all groaned.

"No exceptions," he continued.  "Ian tells me that the bus to Disneyland will be here at 9 o'clock, and we all have to shower and eat before we leave."

"Where are we sleeping?" Mark asked.

"Here in the living room," Kevin said.  "You can each get a sleeping pad out of the garage, courtesy of Cam, by the way, and get sheets, pillows and blankets out of the upstairs hall closet.  There's an open shower in the garage for those of you who stink and need to wash before bed--and that's most of you.  If you're shy about how small your dick is, you can find a shower upstairs for more privacy."

Several pillows cam flying in Kevin's direction, accompanied by epithets like "asshole," "dumb ass," "prick," "dickhead," "fuck face," "cocksucker," and such like.

"You guys are as crude as ever," Kevin responded, feigning a sad face.  "Nothing's changed."

Thirty minutes later, the living room furniture had been pushed back, and pads, blankets and pillows laid out, the guys were showered and in fresh boxers,  ready for bed.  Carl Emrick and Andy Helder had snuck out and gone upstairs to their own room without attracting any attention.  Lucky for them.

Cam and Kevin had planned to sleep next to each other, but before they knew it, Mark Carson had planted himself right between them.  Kevin looked at Cam and shrugged.

Cam caught Jeff's eye, and motioned for him to sleep next to him on the other side.  Jeff nodded, and came over and lay down, pulling a sheet and blanket over himself.

"You don't give up on the surveillance, do you?" Jeff said quietly to Cam, chuckling as he settled in.

"No way," Cam said.  He leaned across Mark and gave Kevin a peck on the lips.  "Mom has Casey?" he asked Kevin.


Cam got up to shut off the table lamps and the overhead light, then lay down again quietly and said his prayers.  He was just starting to drift off when he heard the adults leave the study and go upstairs to their rooms for an early night themselves.

One of the guys belched, followed by a prolonged fart.  General laughter, groans, then silence.  Within minutes the guys were all asleep.

*  *  *

Cam awakened the next morning when somebody touched his shoulder.  It was Kevin, smiling at him across Mark's inert body.  Cam checked his watch, and it was exactly 6:00.  The western sky at the front of the house was just beginning to lighten from the sun in the east.

"How did you do that?" Cam whispered.


"Wake up right on time."

Kevin pointed at his watch, which was still vibrating on his wrist, and shut it off.  "It's magic, Cammie," he whispered, yawning and smiling into Cam's face.  "I wish I had a bugle to wake these assholes up."

Cam put his head back on his pillow.  "Fake it.  But give me a minute to get ready before you get too loud," he said.

No such luck.  Kevin smiled and pursed his lips.  He began vibrating them as he loudly hummed Reveille.

The boys flinched and starting moving, and William Carson, sleeping in the middle of the pack, groaned and put his pillow over his head.  He said something muffled by the pillow.  It sounded like, "Oh, fuck!"

"Get up, you pussies!" Kevin told the group.  "It's time to run for your lives before the smog moves in and gets you!"

Cam watched as Kevin stood up, tucking his hardon under the elastic of his boxers and pulling a pair of shorts on over his boxers to go upstairs and wake up the adults.  Cam lay there watching him as he left the room.  Kevin's body looks awesome! Cam thought to himself.  And he's mine!

Kevin knocked on every door upstairs until he got a response from inside.  He waited until he reached Carl and Andy's door at the end of the hall before going in, after knocking, to use their bathroom to relieve himself.  When he came out of the bathroom, the two boys were awake but still intertwined in the bed.  Andy was touching Carl's face gently as they lay there.

"Come on, guys," Kevin said quietly.  "It's time to run."

"Okay," Andy yawned.  "We'll be down in a minute."

Kevin nodded and took off, closing the door behind him.

Having just arrived, Maria Romero met him at the bottom of the stairs.

"'Morning, Maria," he said.  "You're early."

"'Morning, Kevin," the woman said.  "Where's Casey?"

"He's with Catherine in Cam's and my room.  Will you go get him and tell Catherine she can run with us?  She was going to stay with him if you weren't here by the time we hit the beach."

"Will do," Maria said, starting up the stairs.

Kevin re-entered the living room just in time to see the boys in various states of undress as they took off their underwear and put on jocks, running shorts, and socks and running shoes.  Damn, they look good! he thought to himself about the guys as he checked them out.  If I weren't already gay, these guys look so good to me they'd turn me queer.  Right now!  Kevin pulled off his shorts and boxers, and put on a jock, a T-shirt, then sitting down on a chair to put on his socks and running shoes.  He looked up from his chair at Cam, who had just put on his jock.

"Nice bulge!" he whispered to his partner.

"Thanks," Cam said.

"Let's go," Kevin told the troops.  "We can do our stretches on the front deck."

"Slow the fuck down, Kev," William said.  "Some of us still need to take a leak."

"Well, hurry up," Kevin said just to annoy him.

William grunted something unintelligible and headed for one of the two downstairs bathrooms, where he found Mark, Dan and Berto all pissing into the same toilet.  He took over when they left.

Ten minutes later the guys joined the adults and Carl and Andy out on the deck, and some of them in the sand, doing their stretches and getting warmed up.  Kevin was pleased to see Rosa and Yolanda out there with everybody else.

It was warm but not humid.  It promised to be another hot, dry, southern California fall day under a cloudless sky.

When they all finally assembled on the hard sand next to the water, they fell into three groups:  most of the boys and Father Jim and Ian; Catherine and Mary and Jeff Miller; and Rosa and Yolanda.  The boys and two men would run, Catherine and Mary and Jeff would jog, and Rosa and Yolanda would fast-walk.

Cam, William and Carl all clicked their pedometers, and off they went, running northwest.

Cam experienced his usual delight at having the family together as they all took off.  The group that was running soon left the joggers and walkers behind.

Ian was running next to Cam.  "Have you and Kevin and Carl been running every day since you've been down here?" he asked Cam.

"Every day since Maria came to work for us.  Before that, one of us would take turns staying home with Casey."

"Y'know, I'm so proud of you guys," Ian said.  "I don't mean just for sticking with running.  I mean for approaching your life down here seriously, like adults.  And I mean for helping out Jeff, too.  I think you saved his life.  I know you three guys are gonna have a great year at school."

"Thanks, Ian.  That's a nice thing to say."

"It's well deserved.  We miss you all at home, though.  I've been watching over Catherine to see that she doesn't get down in the dumps because you guys have moved, but she's doing all right."  Ian chuckled.  "Believe me, there's plenty of challenge to go around for her and the rest of us just taking care of the boys we have left."

"Thanks for taking care of Mom," Cam said, surprised to find his throat tight with emotion over his mom, and his voice husky.  He cleared his throat.  "We miss everybody more than I can tell you.  That's why I'm so grateful you brought everybody down here."

"This whole family is important to Mary and me, Cam.  I'm just thankful we're a part of it."

"We all feel the same way."  Cam took in a big lungful of air as they settled into their pace.  "Has Mom said anything to you about what she's going to do next year after she leaves St. Francis?"

"I'm following her job search.  The truth is, with her reputation, she can pick where she wants to teach.  I'll be really happy if she joins the faculty at Stanford.  That way, we could all live together in the condo in San Francisco.  But she's keeping her options open right now, I think."  Ian breathed deeply.  "For now, Mary and I are putting the boys in school in San Rafael this fall and staying at your house," he continued.  "If Catherine does take a job at Stanford next year, we'll probably switch them into private school in town."

"Thanks to Mr. Montgomery's tutoring, their grades won't be a problem," Cam said.  "That's just one more thing we owe you for."

"I wish you wouldn't say that," Ian said.

"You want me to tell the truth, doncha, old man?" Cam laughed.

Ian chuckled, and they shut up and concentrated on their running.

Well, Ian concentrated on his running.  Cam, horny as hell in the back row, perved on the fine looking butts of the boys running ahead of him.  Grade A Choice, every one of them.  But Kevin had the cutest ass of all, in Cam's considered opinion.  Muscular, manly and cute, all at the same time.  Perfect for grabbing with Cam's very own paws and holding Kevin on top of him for dear life when they did the deed.

*  *  *

It was chaos at the house when the runners, joggers and walkers came back from the beach.  Maria Romero had just finished feeding Casey when they walked in.  Everybody was trying to catch a shower when and where they could, and trying to grab some breakfast as fast as Maria could serve it up once she made it to the kitchen.  She fixed bacon and eggs for those who wanted them, waffles for those who wanted them, and those who wanted cold cereal and toast served themselves.  Rosa Mendez and Yolanda Vega pitched in to help.

Kevin and Cam ate bacon and eggs first, then went upstairs to their/Catherine's bedroom after Catherine had showered and had gone downstairs to eat breakfast.  Cam watched Kevin as they stripped down, and when they were naked, Cam turned on the shower.  They stepped into the water when it had warmed up, and Cam pulled Kevin up against him and kissed him thoroughly.  They both threw wood.

"Man, you are one horny little fuck," Kevin said, rubbing noses with his partner and grabbing his ass.  "One short night away from my dick, and you're out of control!"

"Uh huh," Cam said, looking down at Kevin's turgid equipment.  "And what's this pressing up against my stomach, pray tell?"

"It's my dick.  It's in the throes of what's known as a 'sympathetic erection.'  It's a reaction to your hardon, not anything I really wanted."

"You're so full of shit, I can hardly stand it.  The question is, do you wanna get off or not?"

"Do bears fuck in the woods?" Kevin asked.  "I think they do."

Cam took the damp bar of soap from its holder on the wall and used it to lubricate his and Kevin's dicks, and then they each grabbed the other's penis and began stroking.   Cam snaked his free hand around to Kevin's backside, ran a finger down his crack, and then plunged it up inside of his partner to the second knuckle.  Feeling the intruder, Kevin stopped stroking Cam for a moment before resuming his hand job.

"Oh yeah!" Kevin said, grinning.  And then he did the same thing to Cam with the middle finger of his free hand.

Within a few minutes, they were groaning and shooting hefty loads of sperm up between their bodies and on to the walls of the shower.  Legs weak, they held each other up under the warm spray of water after they came.

"Yeah!" Kevin said again with a satisfied little smile on his face.  "Where there's a will, there's a way."

"That's all you have to say?" Cam chided him.

"Uh...thank you for making me cum?"

"Better.  But we'll work on something more heartfelt later."

Once recovered, they washed each other thoroughly, making sure that all the semen on themselves and the walls was washed down the drain, and climbed out of the shower.  Snatching towels off the rack, they dried each other and went into the bedroom to grab some fresh clothes and put them on.  T's and cargo shorts, sandals and baseball caps were the uniform of the day.

"Out of gratitude for your little trick in the shower, I'm not going to shave today," Kevin said.  "It's my way of saying, 'Thanks.'  But when you get facial burn from my beard when we love each other up, that's your problem."

"'Love each other up?'  Who says that's gonna happen?"

"You'll be begging for it by nightfall, and you know it."

"Not!  I'm going celibate, starting now," Cam said, holding up his right hand as if he were taking an oath.

"You lie!  I'll make an appointment for you with Father Jim so you can make your confession."

They ragged on each other some more and then went downstairs, both in an especially good mood.  By the time they got there, things were shaping up.  Some of the guys had helped Maria, Yolanda and Rosa clean up the kitchen, and William and Berto had folded the sheets, stacked the pillows, piled up the sleeping mats, and were moving the living room furniture back where it belonged.

"You guys never fail to impress me," Kevin told William and Berto.

"It doesn't take much," Berto shot back.

"Are you gonna let him talk to me like that?" Kevin demanded of William.

"LET him?" William said.  "Hell, I ENCOURAGE him.  Somebody has to help keep you from indulging your 'domination fantasy.'"

"That's no fantasy.  It's gonna take more than you wimps to shut me up, that's fer sure," Kevin said.  "Just wait 'til I get you two in the gym and remind you who's boss!"

William threw up his hands.  "Don't hurt me, boss, don't hurt me," he said, followed by derisive laughter on his part.

Just then Ian stepped into the room.

"Let's go.  The bus is here.  Better bring some sunscreen."  The latter suggestion sent people running around to check out the bathroom cabinets.  Alex's and John's cabinets had everything, and Cam and Kevin found what they needed upstairs and stuck the tubes of grease into their cargo pockets.

There was a last minute squabble about whether Maria was going to go to the amusement park or not.  She wanted to stay and clean.  Cam told her she needed to go so she could trade off with Catherine, Kevin and him in taking care of Casey, so she finally agreed.

After Cam set the house alarm, they went out to the bus, with its motor set on high idle to keep the air conditioning running and the vehicle cool inside.

"Those of you who have sunscreen, share with others," Ian said to everybody as they boarded the bus.  He took a count of everybody going along so nobody would be left behind when they came back to Malibu.

The bus driver picked up I-10 in Santa Monica, traveled to I-5, and in the midst of moderate traffic, was soon parking in the bus section of the parking lot in Anaheim.  Before they disembarked, Ian walked down the aisle and gave everybody an e-ticket off the computer for admission and rides, and then handed each boy $50 for snacks and souvenirs.  Cam and Kevin protested and tried to give the money back, but to no avail.

"Hmmm," Cam whispered to Kevin as they clutched the currency.  "Now I'll have money to buy sexual favors from anybody I want."

Kevin smirked.  "You never give up, do ya, boy?  You're the horniest little shit I ever met.  Doncha think of anything but sex?"

"Hardly ever.  And I know you're glad about that," Cam whispered.  "I can see it in your eyes."

"I thought you were going celibate."

"Changed my mind."

Everybody stood in the aisle as they filed forward to get off the bus and on to people conveyors to go to the front entrance.  Ian told each person who disembarked that he or she was to be back to the bus by 4 p.m.

When Catherine got off the bus with Casey in a sling around her neck, Ian talked her into letting him take the baby.  He put the sling around his own neck, and put Casey into it.  The little boy was bright eyed and happy, looking around at everything that was going on.

"Ian, you don't have to take Casey," Kevin said.  "He's my responsibility, and Cam's.  We'll take him."

"He's the responsibility of all of us in this family, bud," Ian said.  "I want all you guys to enjoy yourselves on the rides, and I'll enjoy taking care of Casey."

Kevin dapped Ian.  "Thanks.  That's really nice of you.  Call my cell if you get tired, and I'll come get him."

They got on to what looked like a long series of people carriers hooked together, and ten minutes later they were handing over their admission tickets at the gate.   And thus began one of the best days with their brothers that Cam and Kevin had ever had.

The guys all clumped together and headed into Tomorrowland.  Space Mountain was their first stop.  The lines in the park weren't too long, because the public school kids were all in school, having started earlier that week.  Minutes turned into hours as they circled the park counter-clockwise, eating snacks and drinking soft drinks from time to time to keep their energy up.  It was early afternoon by the time they hit Critter Country, and then entered Splash Mountain.  They all got soaked, of course, especially Mark and William Carson, who had sat in the front car.

Kevin unfolded a fresh handkerchief and wiped off Mark's face.

"You look clean now," Kevin told him.  "About time!"  He handed the handkerchief to William, who dried his own face, and gave the handkerchief back to Kevin.

"Thanks.  Let's go again," William said.

So they did.  This time Andy Helder and Carl Emrick sat in the front seats and took their soaking in good spirits.

Continuing their relaxed circle of the park, taking the rides that looked challenging, they eventually came to New Orleans Square.  They got some food, and sat down for awhile.

"Looks familiar," William said, looking around.  "We had a good time down there in New Orleans.  It's the only time I've ever seen you wimps do a day's work."

"You're so full of shit!" Cam told him.  "We can always make arrangements for you to go back down there for a few more days of work before school starts.  They're not finished gutting houses yet, and it's hot and humid down there in the fall, dude.  Just what you need to shape you up and shut your mouth."

"I could go down there and work and never break a sweat," William said.

"I doubt that," Kevin said.  "I don't think you've been in the gym that much since Cam and I left.  You look kinda flabby, and you probably couldn't tough out a whole day down there."

Cam looked William over while the latter was protesting, and had to look away before he threw wood.  Man, this kid is a wet dream on legs, he thought to himself, and not for the first time.  Hansome face, broad shoulders, perfectly developed chest and abs, meaty, muscular legs, nice package, nice ass.  Only Kevin gives this kid a run for the money when it came to physical appearance.  It was close, but Kevin had him on personality.  Of course, I'm prejudiced, Cam admitted to himself.

They finished eating, disposed of their trash, and starting walking down the broad street leading to the Haunted Mansion and the Pirates of the Caribbean.  Cam and Kevin were walking ahead of the rest of their group.  The gap widened, and unbeknownst to them, a bunch of other guys fell in immediately behind them.

Cam looked over at Kevin, and forgetting momentarily where they were, he put his arm around Kevin's neck, pulled him close, and kissed his cheek before releasing him.

"Hey, look at the two faggots!" a loud voice said behind them.  "Why don't you two go in the bushes and blow each other?"

Cam and Kevin stopped in their tracks and turned around.  There were four muscular guys who looked like jocks, about their height, coming up behind them.  The one with the biggest muscles and a blond crewcut, wearing a UCLA baseball T-shirt, was the one doing the talking.

"Why don't you come in the bushes with us, and you do the sucking?" Kevin told the kid.

The four guys stepped closer to Cam and Kevin, trying to look menacing.

"Why don't I remove a few of your front teeth so you can do a better job of sucking me?" the biggest guy said, bunching his hands into a fists.

The four strangers never saw William, Berto, Andy Helder, Carl and Dan Emrick, Mark Carson and Jeff Miller walk up behind them.

"Hey, assholes," William said to them.  "What's your problem?"

"One of these faggots kissed the other one, and it made me sick to my stomach.  You got a problem with that?" the biggest guy said.

"I do," William said.  "Now you've made me sick to my stomach, and I may have to rearrange your face for ya, dickhead!"

The next largest guy put his arm across the bigger guy's chest and pushed his friend back.  "C'mon, Eric, let's move on."

"That's a really good idea, Eric," Andy Helder said.  "Closet queers like you are usually the ones who give gays a hard time."

"You motherfucker..." Eric said, and began struggling with the young guy holding him back.

"Let him go," Andy urged the kid holding back the other boy.

Eric broke away, clenching his fists and coming for Andy, who at the last minute before contact gave the kid a hard kick high in the chest.  It was like a pile driver.  His attacker stumbled backward and went down hard on his back and didn't move right away.

Eric's friends knelt down around him for several minutes, and the MacKenzie-Carson group stood by to see what was next.  The three jocks eventually raised their friend to his feet.  The big guy still looked dazed, and all the fight had gone out of him.  He and his three buddies wandered over to a bench, and sat down.

William high-fived Andy, and said, "Let's go, guys.  If we get arrested, my dad'll be pissed."

"Clean up your act, you prick!" Carl Emrick told the aggressor as the clan walked away.  "You're fucking lucky you went down when you did."

"Andy, you're awesome," Kevin told him as he patted him on the back.  "You haven't lost a step since you took down that guy who was hassling Carl in that gay bar in New Orleans."

Andy blushed a little and said nothing.

"Gay bar in New Orleans?" Berto asked.  "What's that all about?  I never heard anything about it."

"We'll tell you all about it when we have a chance," Cam said.  "Don't say anything to the parental units or to Father Jim, though.  It's water over the dam, and it'll just cause a lot of unnecessary trouble."

"I won't say anything," Berto said.

The guys ambled along toward the park entrance, spotting the adults when they arrived at the gate just before 4:00 p.m.  Kevin immediately went to Catherine, who was now carrying Casey around her neck in the sling.

"Hey, Mom, let me take Casey for awhile."

"Sure," Catherine said.  "He's been such a good boy for us today."

"Like father, like son," Kevin said, grinning.

Cam groaned, but Catherine said Kevin was right.

They got on the people carrier, and were soon back at the bus.  The motor was racing, promising a cool interior, and indeed it was cool when they got aboard.

When everybody was seated, Catherine beckoned to Cam, who went forward and knelt in the aisle beside her seat.

"Why don't we get some pizza for tonight so we don't have to cook?" she asked.

"Good idea," Cam said.  "I have the number of our favorite pizza place in Santa Monica in my cell phone.  Thin crust.  How many pizzas shall we get?"

"I don't know."

"How about ten large, with everything.  People can pick off the toppings they don't want."

"Sounds good," Catherine said.

"'Sup?" Kevin asked, cradling Casey in his arms when Cam went back to his seat.

"Mom wants to get pizza for tonight."


Cam got busy on his phone as Catherine walked forward and talked to Ian about having the bus detour into Santa Monica to pick up the pizza.  Ian nodded.

Cam closed his phone when he had finished ordering and looked at Kevin.  His partner's incipient black beard looked so butch that Cam stretched his neck over and gave him a kiss on the cheek.  And this time there was no one to object.

© 2009 Don Hanratty

Thanks to Beloved readers for their patience in waiting for this chapter.  I hope to be more timely with the next one.