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

CHAPTER 43

Vacillating between satisfaction about the family's visit and sorrow over their departure, Cam walked back into the Malibu house with Kevin and Carl and the two collies after the limos pulled away.  Sensing Cam's conflicted mood, Kevin put his arm around his partner and hugged him as they strolled into the back door.

"Was that a great week or not?" Kevin asked Cam, pulling him into his arms once they were in the back hall.

"It was.  But..."

"No 'buts,' dude!" Kevin told him, hugging him tight, speaking softly into his ear.  "We made the decision to be right here in L.A., and it was a good decision.  We need to be grateful we got to see everybody before school starts.  Now we gotta make the most of our opportunities down here."

"You're right," Cam admitted, smiling ruefully.  He pulled his head back and rubbed noses with Kevin, and then kissed him gently on the lips.  "I guess I needed to hear that."  Before letting him go, Cam raised his hand to Kevin's cheek, caressing it and then leaving it there quietly for a moment.  It was the gesture of a lover and a friend.  Carl smiled at them and thought about Andrew before walking on down the hall.

The three of them heard Maria Romero talking to Casey in the kitchen.  Peering in, they saw Maria feeding the infant some baby food as he sat in his highchair.  The child gurgled happily and pounded his little fists on his chair's table as he accepted baby sized bites of strained carrots.

"Thanks, Maria," Kevin told their housekeeper.  "Look at that boy eat!"

"He's hungry all right," Maria said.  "Do you want to take over?"

"Why don't you finish feeding him," Kevin suggested, "and we'll make a start on cleaning up the house."

"You don't have to do that," Maria said.

"I know," Kevin said, ignoring her protestation.  "Carl, why don't you start gathering up the sheets in the living room and piling them in the laundry room," Kevin said.  "Then start stacking the sleeping mats, and Cam and I will start stripping the beds upstairs."

"Cool," Carl agreed, heading for the living room.

"C'mon, Cameron, let's get busy."

Cam nodded, and he and Cam walked toward the stairs and then took them side by side two at a time up to the second floor.

"You start with the master bedroom, and I'll start at the other end of the hall," Kevin instructed.

Cam grinned.  "You're in command mode this afternoon," he noted.

"Yep!" Kevin said, walking toward the room which Carl and Andrew had used at the end of the upstairs hall.

"You may need tongs to touch Carl and Andy's sheets," Cam kidded Kevin as he walked away.

"Word!" Kevin said.

As he walked in, Kevin saw the room the two boys had used was fairly tidy.  The draperies were open, and the early afternoon sun was beaming through the sliding glass doors leading to the second floor deck.  The two easy chairs were in place, and the office chair was positioned neatly under the desk.  The bathroom fixtures needed cleaning, but the guys hadn't left any mess in there so far as Kevin could see.

Moving to the king size bed, Kevin grabbed the bed pillows and stripped off the pillow cases, throwing them to the floor.  When he pulled back the top sheet on the bed, Kevin saw how right Cam had been about needing tongs.  The bottom sheet was covered with large semen stains from Carl's and Andy's activities, the residue of what had apparently been an abundance of good sex.

Good for them, Kevin thought to himself, pulling the stained sheet and then the mattress pad off the bed and adding them to the pile on the floor.  The world would be a happier place if everybody was gettin' some!

He gathered up the sheets, mattress pad and pillow cases in his arms, and took them to the downstairs hall.  Opening the folding doors into the little laundry room, he dropped the load to the floor.  He checked to see if anybody was coming down the hall.  No one was, and to save Carl any embarrassment, he spread out the the stained sheet and the mattress pad and poured some some detergent and then a little bleach on the stains before scrunching them up and cramming them into the washer with the other sheet and the pillow cases.  Adding some detergent to the whole load, he closed the washer door and started the wash cycle.

Carl came tottering into the laundry room right then with a huge armful of sheets and pillow cases from the living room.  He threw them down on the floor and looked at Kevin.

"Uh, I was thinkin', maybe I should get the sheets off my bed myself," he said.

"Already done, bud," Kevin said.  "No worries.  They're in the washing machine right now."

"Thanks," Carl said, his face reddening as he started to beat a hasty retreat back toward the living room.

"Hey," Kevin said.

"What?"

"You don't have anything to be embarrassed about."  Kevin smiled at his friend.  "Real life is good.  And sometimes it's a little messy."

Carl grinned.  "Well, you're right about that.  The mess is half the fun."

Carl went back to the living room to continue working, and Kevin went back upstairs.  He stripped the next bed, and wondering where Cam was, dumped the sheets in the hall at the head of the stairs and went into the master bedroom.  The sheets from Alex's and John's king size bed in there sat in a pile on the floor, but Kevin didn't see Cam at first.  Then he did.  His partner was just inside the huge master bedroom closet fiddling with an electric switch on the wall which was almost hidden just inside the closet door.  The switch looked like a rheostat.

"Whatcha doin'?" Kevin asked.

"Look up at the ceiling," Cam said.

Kevin looked up.  The ceiling was composed of 3x3 foot square dull, glossy glass tiles on which clouds were portrayed.

"Yeah," Kevin said.  "So?"

"Watch this."  Cam twisted the rheostat, and the clouds slowly disappeared, leaving the tiles transformed into mirrored squares.

"Holy shit!" Kevin said.  "How does that work?"

"You're the physicist.  You tell me."

"Darned if I know," Kevin said.  He went over to the edge of the bed and sat down.  Looking up, he stared back at his face looking down at him from above.  "Hmmm," he intoned, his face breaking into a smile.  "I don't know how it works, but you don't suppose..."

Cam left the closet and sat down beside him on the bed, gazing up at Kevin's and his own faces on the ceiling.

"Booyah!!" Cam exclaimed, laughing.  "I'm sure Alex and John have put this little setup to good use.  Those randy old farts!  They can watch each other while they have sex!"

Kevin leaned back on to the bed, pulling Cam down beside him.  He swiveled his head and kissed Cam's cheek as Cam watched Kevin's mirror image overhead do that.

"I wonder if Ian and Mary found the switch when they stayed in here?" Kevin wondered.

"I don't think so," Cam said.  "It's recessed into the wall behind a little door, and pretty well hidden."  He grinned and looked over at Kevin.  "I bet Ian and Mary have a good sex life, though."

Kevin laughed at his lover up on the ceiling.  "Well, you and I need to try this deal out and see what it does for our sex life."

Cam clambered to his knees, and dragging Kevin completely up on to the bed, lay down on top of him.  Kevin focused his eyes on the mirror image of Cam's Levi-clad ass above him, and grabbed the boy's behind with both hands.

"Oh, yeah," Kevin said, having a perfect view of his hands squeezing his boyfriend's firm butt cheeks.  "I like this a lot."

"Let's sleep in here tonight," Cam suggested, grinning as he nuzzled Kevin's face with his nose.

"I like the way you think, dude!  I'm so horny for ya, I can't stand it!"  Kevin was getting hard as they pressed together, and he could feel Cam doing the same.

"Me, too."  Cam swallowed hard as he looked down into Kevin's eyes.  "I love you, Kev.  I love everything about ya.  I can't imagine my life without you in it."

Kevin's face softened.  "I'm the lucky one.  You own me, bud."  He put his hand behind Cam's head and pulled his face down to his own, beginning a soft mouth to mouth kiss, with lots of tongue, that lasted several minutes.  They inhaled one another's breath as they became more and more aroused.  Cam finally broke the kiss.

"Let go of me right now, or you're gonna make me come in my pants," Cam warned him.

"We can't have that."  Kevin gave his partner's ass one more squeeze, slapped it, and released him.

Cam stood up, reaching into his jeans at the waist and carefully readjusting his equipment.  He gazed down at Kevin and pointed up at the ceiling.

"Listen, don't mention the ceiling to Carl, okay?" he said.  "It's sort of Alex's and John's private business."

"Yep.  Don't forget to turn the rheostat back to the cloud setting."  Kevin leaned down and gathered up the master bedroom's dirty sheets and pillow cases off the floor.  "I'll add these to the pile in the hall and take them down to the laundry room."

"Thanks." Cam walked over to the closet and reset the rheostat, then closed the little door over the switch.  The ceiling slowly returned to its innocuous cloud setting.  "You gotta find out how this works."

"Me?" Kevin said over his shoulder as he went into the hall.  "Why don't you do it?"

"No way.  You're the mad scientist.  You know how the Hadron collider works.  I don't know shit."

"You're overstating your case."

"I doubt that," Cam said. 
"Anyway, back to work!  I'll do our room next." 

Cam followed Kevin into the hall, went into their room, and began stripping the bed.  He was at work when Maria Romero came in carrying a sleepy-eyed Casey, and put him down gently in his crib on his back.

"Eh-h-h-h-h!" Casey complained.  Maria offered him a pacifier and started the mobile over the crib moving, and the little guy quieted down right away.

"He's good for a few hours," the maid said.  "He ate a good lunch, and I burped him and changed his diaper downstairs."

"Thank you, Maria," Cam said, piling sheets and pillow cases on the floor.  "You do such a good job with him.  And we appreciate it."

"Thanks," Maria said.  "I love him, you know.  He's such a good boy.  An easy baby.  We're lucky."

Cam noticed the "we" in what Maria said, and smiled approvingly.

"I know we are," he said.  "I give thanks for that every day."

After Maria fixed their supper and headed home to feed her own family that evening, Cam and Kevin and Carl ate in the kitchen and then kicked back and watched TV with Casey in the den.  They were in a subdued mood with the family gone, and were also feeling a little on edge about school starting the next day.  Then calls came from Catherine and from Andy to say they had arrived home in San Rafael, and the guys were glad to hear from them.

By ten p.m., the three of them were wiped out.  Cam took the dogs out into the yard to relieve themselves for the night, and then the boys shut off the television and the lights, set the alarm, and headed upstairs for bed with Casey.

Carl said goodnight to his friends at the door of their room and started to go down the hall to his own room when Kevin put an arm over his shoulder and held him back.  Carl and Cam looked at Kevin curiously.  He had a serious look on his face.

"Hold up a minute," Kevin said to Carl.  "I know you're probably feeling a little down about Andy leaving today.  I understand that better than you think, because I know what it is to need the support of somebody you love.  And fortunately, I know what it is to get that support."  He looked at Cam and then back at Carl.

"When you and I first met, I was still healing after my girlfriend's brothers busted me up so bad," Kevin told Carl.  "I almost died in the hospital.  I'm sure I'm alive today because Cam stuck by me when I needed love and support.  He held my hand when I wasn't even awake to know it about it, and he prayed for me.  A lot.  I know he did."  Kevin paused.  "He willed me back to life, and I know I owe him my life.  That'll stay with me forever.

"Anyway, that's the kind of relationship I see growing between you and Andy.  A one-ness.  It's so powerful it's hard to put into words.  So even though Andy's back in San Rafael now, I just want you to remember he's part of you this very minute and every minute until you see him again.  And you're part of him.  I know how important that knowledge is.  I survived because of it, and not a day passes that I don't think about what Cam did for me.  That kind of love and support can be your anchor until Andy's down here with you again.  I hope you know that."

Carl and Cam looked surprised.  It wasn't like Kevin to bare his soul that way.  Cam turned his head away so the others wouldn't see him tearing up.

Carl was moved, and his throat had tightened up.  "Thanks for that, man," he said in a gravel voice, eyes moist.  He stepped closer to Kevin and hugged him for a long moment.  Then he kissed him on the cheek and went on down the hall to his room with his sadness and loneliness lifted somewhat.

Kevin and Cam went into their room, shut the door, and put Casey down in his crib.  The little guy didn't give them any trouble.

"Just when I think I know you totally, you surprise the living shit outta me," Cam told his partner, pulling him into his arms.

"That's good.  I don't like to be too predictable.  Anyway, as I told you this afternoon, I'm so horny for you I can't stand it," Kevin said, nestling his face in the crook of Cam's neck and giving it a moist kiss.

Feeling Kevin's lips on him, Cam felt his dick start to harden and
took a deep breath.

"I'm horny, too," Cam acknowledged.  "Let's clean our teeth and use the bathroom.  Then I want to strip you down real slow and put my mouth and my tongue all over your body.  And that's just Step One."

"You won't get any argument from me."  Kevin grinned in anticipation, and they went into the bathroom together.  Half hard already, they took a leak simultaneously, the golden streams crossing over and over as together they voided into the toilet.  Drawing on their reserves of patience given what they looked forward to doing in bed, they washed their hands and faces and cleaned their teeth.

Going back into their bedroom, they checked on Casey one last time.  He was sleeping soundly by then, and his diaper was still dry.  Kevin bent down over the side of the crib and softly kissed the little boy's head.

Cam led his partner by the hand over the bed.  Grasping Kevin's T-shirt at the waist, he slowly pulled it up over his head and dropped it to the floor.  Facing that beautiful, muscular chest, Cam began to pinch Kevin's nipples, then lowering his head, he licked them and lightly nibbled them, scraping his teeth on the nubs just enough to be felt without hurting him.  Kevin let out a deep sigh and trembled slightly at his partner's touch.

Reaching down, Cam popped the top button on Kevin's worn 501's, followed by the buttons on the fly, and the pants fell to his feet.  Cam straightened up and ran his hands slowly down the long muscles of Kevin's back and then under the elastic of his boxers to grab his butt, and shucked the underwear down to join the pants puddled on the floor.  Kevin's hard cock, already leaking a little pre-cum, snapped up and hit his belly.  Cam pushed his partner down gently into a sitting position on the end of the bed as he removed Kevin's sneakers and socks, and then pulled the bunched Levi's and boxers off his legs.

Kevin lay there on the bed admiring his partner's body as Cam made short work of getting himself naked, stripping off his shoes, socks and clothes.  Kevin then stood up and went to the head of the bed and pulled down the bedspread and top sheet, climbing into his customary spot.  Cam's own dick was hard and pointing at the ceiling as he joined him.  The two guys lay down and turned on their sides, facing each other.

Cam pulled Kevin's face to his own and kissed him gently.  "I've missed this so much," Cam said.  "I've missed being with you in this bed."

"Ditto.  You don't know!" Kevin responded, reaching down and taking as much of Cam's package as he could into his big hand.  Cam's cock jutted out from between Kevin's fingers.  "I loved having the family here, but..."  He stopped talking and rubbed noses with Cam as he smeared the drop of pre-cum now at the end of Cam's penis over the head of it with his thumb.  Bringing his hand to his mouth, Kevin sucked the residue of Cam's sweet juice off his thumb.

"I love you so much, Kevin," Cam whispered.  He kissed him, a deep oral invasion, and explored his partner's mouth with his tongue, encountering the clean, fresh taste of the toothpaste they had used before going to bed.  Kevin returned the favor.

"Shall we use Alex's and John's room?" Kevin asked, pulling back and thinking about the mirrored ceiling next door.

Cam considered that proposition for a second or two, but demurred.  "I don't need no freaking mirror to get turned on by you, bud."  He slipped down in the bed and took Kevin's dick into his mouth.  In the process of deep throating him several times at a leisurely pace, he tasted his boy's sweet pre-cum on his tongue.

Kevin exhaled in a rush.  "Oh, shit!  Easy, stud!  I'm already close!" he gasped.

Cam pulled off Kevin's cock and began to lick his partner's hairy balls.

Kevin groaned, stopping Cam by pulling him back up so they were face to face, then grasping Cam big boner again, giving it a stroke.

"No more, man," Kevin instructed Cam.  "Any more foreplay, and I'm over the edge.  Put it in me. 
Make love to me."

"It'll be love for sure," Cam promised, studying the masculine beauty of Kevin's face.  Kissing Kevin's chest, he reached across his partner's body into the bedside table and rooted around in the back of the drawer.  At last he found the lube they had concealed back there while Catherine was using their bedroom.  Popping open the cap as Kevin pulled back his legs, he lubed Kevin's hole, gently penetrating him several times with one and then two fingers before he lubed his own erection.  Cam put a pillow under Kevin's ass and kneeling between his legs, worked his way into his lover slowly and then lay down flat on him, looking into his face and waiting until there was no sign of discomfort.

"Yes!" Kevin exclaimed as Cam began at last to slide in and out of him.  Kevin reached down and grasped Cam's butt, feeling his muscular glutes contract and relax over and over as he thrust into him and withdrew.  "Oh, Lord, Cam, you feel so good," he groaned.  Stretching, he snaked one hand down to his own hole, putting a finger in position to feel Cam's penis sliding in and out of his body.

Before long they were sweating copiously, Cam's perspiration dripping down and commingling with Kevin's own as Cam's stomach and abs rubbed his partner's rock hard cock, and his dick repeatedly hit Kevin's prostate.

Despite their best efforts to take things slowly, neither of them lasted very long.  After ten minutes, Kevin came first, groaning as his seed shot up between their bodies six times before he relaxed.  Cam ejaculated repeatedly a moment later after feeling Kevin's hole clamping down on his tool when Kevin came.  Cam uttered little muted cries as he flooded Kevin's insides with his cum.  Rolling partially off his partner, Cam lowered his head and licked Kevin's stomach and abs clean of the boy's juice, unfolding then to share face to face in a deep kiss what he had gleaned from him.  The two guys fell asleep immediately.

They awakened an hour later, and this time it was Kevin's turn to top his partner.  Despite their earlier release, they were both hard in seconds.  Kevin sucked Cam's cock for a while, lazily circling the head of it with his tongue and probing the slit, eliciting groans of pleasure, before he lubed Cam's rectum carefully.  After putting the pillow under Cam's butt, he worked his way into him very gently, very lovingly.

This time their lovemaking was more deliberate.  And again it was truly lovemaking.  They took the time to feel every nuance of their coition, every touch of flesh on flesh, drawing out their union for at least twenty minutes.  Mid-way through their coupling, Cam raised his legs and locked them around Kevin's back.  Kevin liked that, and tried even harder to confer pleasure on Cam with every stroke up inside him.  It was a long and pleasureful ride.

This time it was the slick movement of Kevin's sweaty body on Cam's that together with a recurrent internal prostatic massage, made Cam spurt just as Kevin unloaded into his partner's colon.  Still hard, Kevin lay on top of the man he loved for a few minutes after he came, enjoying him completely before slipping to his side and tongue bathing Cam's abdomen of the semen there.  Then they shared another extended, juicy kiss, tasting each other fully.

"That was worth waiting for," Cam muttered into his partner's ear, followed by another deep kiss.

Kevin held Cam in his arms for a long while, surrounded by the aroma of the sex they had enjoyed so much.

"You're my life," Kevin whispered to him.  But it was too late.  Lips curled into a soft smile, Cam had slipped back into a sleep from which he would not emerge until their alarm clock sounded the next morning.  Watching Cam's sleeping face in the moonlight from Santa Monica bay and counting the blessings of their relationship, Kevin followed him into his own post-coital coma shortly thereafter.

*  *  *

The three guys and the two dogs were out on the deck at 6:00 the next morning, the boys doing their warm-ups before running as the dogs milled around them.  Cam and Kevin had been reluctant to get up, having had such a great time the previous night with catch-up sex.  But obedient to the discipline which was now a part of their lives, they had crawled out of bed and showered together, enjoying the spray that moistened every square inch of their skin.

Kevin had silently pulled Cam's body to his own in the shower, running his hands up and down his partner's back before soaping a washcloth and washing Cam thoroughly.  Then Cam had done the same for him, his thoughts inevitably focusing on what they had done together the night before, and how fulfilling it had been.  They were both half hard by the time they had dried off and gotten dressed.


"You two look relaxed this morning," Carl observed with a smile as they all finished their stretches on the deck and trotted out on to the beach.  Maria waved at them as she stepped away from the sliding door and went upstairs to collect Casey.

"We are relaxed.  It was our turn for you know what," Kevin grinned at Carl.  He set the stopwatch on his wristwatch as they all started running on the hardpack at the water's edge.  Alice and Samantha forged ahead, galloping into the surf and then back on to the sand, running ahead of the guys and then doubling back.

"It's great having the dogs here," Cam observed, watching them have a good time in the water.

"We're gonna to have to hose them off when we get home," Carl said.  "Otherwise Maria will be cleaning up sand all over the house."

"Yep," Kevin said, smirking.  "Take care of that little job for us when we get back, will ya, Carl?"

"Cam'll do it," Carl shot back.  "It was his idea to keep the dogs down here."

"It'll be my pleasure to serve," Cam said, trying in vain to shame his companions.  "I want you guys to enjoy the dogs fully without having any responsibility for 'em."

"Low blow," Carl said, grinning.  "But thanks for the offer.  I think I'll take ya up on that."

"Shutup," Kevin said, shaking his head in pretended disgust.  "I'm tired of you guys' bullshit.  Concentrate on running!"  He kicked up the pace a notch, and they ran in silence for a while.

They had just turned around at the three and a half mile mark and headed back toward the house, followed by the dogs, when Cam spoke up again.

"I wonder where the four assholes are.  I figured we might see them out here running this morning."

"Prolly too early for homophobes," Kevin speculated.  "Only the pure in heart get up as early as we do."

Cam and Carl laughed, and Cam punched his partner lightly on the arm in approval.  "Right again, dude!  Are you ever wrong?"

"Not hardly ever," Kevin responded.  "Not in comparison with you two, anyway."

Cam and Carl hooted, and then they all buckled down to their immediate task again.

When they arrived back at the house, they stripped off their running shoes and socks, and Cam and Carl rinsed off the dogs and then tethered them to the deck railing to dry off.  Kevin got the dogs' water dishes, filled them up, and put them on the deck.  The dogs lapped up their water briskly and then lay down for a nap while the guys went upstairs to shower.

Cam stripped off his sweaty shorts, jock and tank top, and joined Kevin in their shower.

"I kinda wanted to shower alone this time," Kevin told Cam as the latter slid the glass door shut.

"Tough shit!" Cam said.  "I kinda didn't want to shower alone."  He reached out and took hold of Kevin's ample cock.  "It's just amazing what this little peanut can do in the throes of passion."

"Humph!  Don't get me fired up now, or I'll throw you down right here and have my way with you again."

"Promise?"

"Y'know, you're like the fucking Energizer Bunny," Kevin laughed.  "It's just sex, sex, sex with you.  You don't think about anything else, and you never wear out.  I like to think about spiritual things in the shower."

Cam laughed.  "You're very amusing this morning.  Especially coming from a sex hound like you."

'You resemble that remark.  Turn around, and I'll do your back."  Cam did, and Kevin did.  When Cam's back and butt were washed, Kevin did a reach-around with soap still on his fingers and began squeezing and rolling Cam's nipples.

"You dick!" Cam said, turning around at half mast with a smile on his face.  "That's wonderful, but stop it!  We don't have time for this right now."

Kevin pulled him into his arms, half tumescent rod and all, and held him close as the water pelted down on them.  "I know," he said.  "But you're pretty irresistible.  And that's the truth!"

They kissed, finished their shower in short order, and then toweled one another dry.

"Shall we strip the bed?" Kevin asked as they dressed in cargo shorts and polo shirts for school.

Cam thought for a minute, and then shook his head.

"Nope.  I'm sure Maria knows what we're doing up here.  Leave it."  He grinned.  "The sheets should smell pretty good by the end of the week, but w
e'll be changing them every day if we start off that way.  "

"Okay," Kevin said dubiously.  "Let's grab some breakfast, and bounce.  We have to pick up our ID's before we go to class."

They met Carl downstairs and scarfed down some pop tarts rather then the bacon and eggs Maria offered to cook, and left.  They all rode to school in Kevin's Mustang, and arrived in plenty of time to get their ID's and find their respective classrooms.  Before they parted ways they decided to meet for lunch at the student union at noon.

*  *  *

Cam's first class was Introduction to Cinematography.  It was a small class, probably 40 students at the most.  Cam looked around while the professor was getting his shit together down in front.  There were three or four especially hunky looking guys in the class, he noticed.  He was dismayed to see one of the obnoxious guys from the Disneyland confrontation sitting down the row from him.  To his surprise, the guy nodded at him before looking away.  It was Art Smith.

Art hadn't hung around with Eric Clymer, Peter Murtha and Rory Lomer since his recent disagreement with Eric over plans to fuck up those gay boys down the beach from Eric's house.  The truth was that he and Eric hadn't been seeing eye to about a lot of things lately, particularly Eric's relentless personal quest to make every interaction he had with people who might be homosexuals unpleasant.

Art had sometimes wondered why Eric seemed so interested in making things tough for gays, and the thought had occasionally crossed his mind that Eric seemed a little too interested in homos and whatever it was they did with each other.  At any rate, Smith had concluded it was time for him to move on and make some new friends.  He'd had a lot of support and encouragement at home from his parents to do just that since the four friends, with Eric in the lead, of course, had gotten themselves into a scrape with the law not long ago.  Lately, Art's football buddies had been more than willing to hang out with him once they knew he wasn't one of Eric's confidants any longer.

Smith had seen Cam and Kevin kiss each other at Disneyland, but he had been more surprised than horrified by it.  They were normal enough looking dudes.  In fact, they were actually very good looking, Art grudgingly admitted to himself.  It was none of his fucking business how they got their jollies, or with whom.  Smith had long since decided that from now on, a "live and let live" philosophy was going to be his guide.  And if that didn't suit Eric, tough fucking shit.  So when he had recognized Cam, he had nodded at him and then concentrated on the cinematography lecture.

Art wasn't all that sure what he wanted to do with his life, but he had been considered a pretty accomplished writer in high school, and had served on the staff of the school newspaper along with playing football.  He wasn't too interested in journalism per se, but knew he wanted to explore writing for a living, preferably in the arts.  He knew he'd have to be grounded in a range of subjects if he wanted to write for movies or television, and thus his decision to start with a beginning course in cinematography.  He wasn't just another dumb jock.

The lecture was a good one, and a paper was assigned at the end of it.  Cam was excited about prospects for the course when he put his notebook and pen in his backpack and stood up to leave, waiting for the main aisle to clear.  When he looked around, Art was standing right behind him.  The two of them moved out into the main aisle and walked to the classroom door, shoulder to shoulder.  Cam glanced over at the kid, mentally readying himself to respond in kind if the guy said something nasty.  The young man was maybe an inch shorter than Cam, with longish, sandy hair, well set up and muscular from playing sports.  He had a good chest and a handsome face, and was wearing a polo shirt and cargo shorts like Cam was.  The guy stuck out his hand before Cam could look away.

"Art Smith," the kid introduced himself.

Caught by surprise, Cam shook hands with the guy without thinking.

"Cam MacKenzie," he responded grudgingly.

"Listen," Art said, "I want to apologize for the guys I was with at Disneyland the other day.  They--uh, we--had no business saying anything to you about...you know, kissing your friend."

"He's my life partner," Cam corrected him.  "And no, you didn't."

"I know that.  We were outta line, for sure.  If it makes any difference, I don't hang with those guys anymore."  Art looked Cam in the eye.  "They're nuts when it comes to gays.  I don't know why, but they are.  Especially Eric."  Art paused, looking down at the floor.  "And I really don't feel that way."

"Well..." Cam said, caught off guard and not knowing what to say.

"You need to watch yourself around those three, though," Art urged.  "They can be dangerous when they wanna be.  I'm not trying to scare ya, but just be careful..."  The kid stopped talking, embarrassed that he might seem to be lecturing a virtual stranger.

"Thanks, man," Cam said as he started to turn away, heading for his biology class in another building.

Art Smith nodded and started walking in the same direction as Cam, but at a slower pace to put a little distance between them.

Ten minutes later and Cam was standing in a science building lecture hall which held about 300 students.  He found a seat and looked around.  It was pandemonium, with kids wandering around trying to find seats, talking on their cell phones, and shouting across the room at friends.  Cam saw Art Smith come in and sit down towards the front of the class.  So we have two classes together, Cam thought to himself as he pulled a fresh notebook out of his back pack.  He labeled the notebook "Biology" with his pen and got ready to take some notes.

The lecture was rapid fire, with the professor seemingly taking it for granted that students had taken a biology class in high school.  Cam had.  At the conclusion of the lecture, the class was given a reading assignment in the textbook to complete before their next meeting.

Cam left the room without seeing Art Smith again and met Kevin and Carl at the student union at noon.  The three of them found an out-of-the-way table after they got some food, settled in after dumping their backpacks, and started to talk about their classes.  Carl didn't have too much to say about the first accounting class which kicked off his business studies, but Cam held forth at length on his cinematography class.  His first paper, due at the end of the following week, was supposed to deal with the history of cinematography stretching back to the first movie cameras.  Cam was enthusiastic.  Kevin talked about his first physics class.  He wasn't as enthusiastic as Cam, but nevertheless seemed interested in the subject matter.

After they exhausted that discussion, Cam recounted the conversation he'd had with Art Smith after cinematography class.

Kevin looked skeptical.  "Do you buy that guy's story?" he asked Cam.  Kevin popped a French fry into his mouth and chewed it, watching Cam's face.

"I don't know.  He seemed sincere enough," Cam said.

Carl didn't say anything, just listening to Cam and Kevin discuss Art's credibility, or lack of it.  He turned his head to look at the room when he spotted Eric and two of his Disneyland buds sitting down at a table part way across the room.  Carl motioned with his thumb, and Kevin and Cam looked over at the three guys.  Cam noticed that Art Smith wasn't with them, but that he was also in the huge room, eating alone at another table.  Cam turned his head back and looked at Kevin.

"I see Art Smith over there," he said.  "He's all by himself at another table."  He took a swig of bottled water as he chewed bites of his ham and cheese sandwich.  "He just may be telling the truth about not hanging with Eric's crew anymore."

Kevin grunted and munched on his hamburger.  "We'll see."

Cam saw Eric give Art Smith the finger as he and his two companions left the cafeteria after finishing their meal.  Art just looked at them without acknowledging either them or the obscene gesture.

By the time Cam, Kevin and Carl had finished their meal, Art Smith had also finished eating and left the dining room.  As they walked outside, Kevin got on his cell and talked to Maria about how things were going with Casey.  All was well at home.

*  *  *

The three guys met after their last classes that afternoon in the parking lot where Kevin's Mustang was parked, and headed for Malibu.  Cam, riding shotgun, looked over at Kevin.

"Dude, whaddaya think about trying out for soccer?" he asked out of nowhere.  "A highly skilled midfielder like yourself just has to be in demand.  They'll take one look at your cute little ass in those shorts, and you'll automatically make the team."

Kevin grinned.  "You forget that not everyone is as swayed by a cute butt as you are."

"Now, now, don't sell your ass short," Cam laughed.  "It's pretty irresistible, as you well know.  Powerful, even.  I know, because I've studied it very carefully for many years now.  Even straight guys like to look at it.  You're a cinch for the team even as a walk-on."

Kevin laughed out loud.  "You're so full of shit I should make you get out and walk home."

"See, you have a mean streak in you," Cam said.  "That's just one more reason to vent your frustrations out on the soccer field instead of on us at home."

"I used to have a mean streak until we started sleeping together.  Then it disappeared, practically over night.  That's because I get all the action I want in bed."

"Hey, hey!" Carl said from the back seat.  "TMI!  I'm jealous!"

"All the action you need, huh?" Cam said to Kevin, smiling.  "
That can change.  But seriously, whaddaya think about soccer?"

"I suppose we could check it out," Kevin said, "but we have an awful lot on our plate with Casey and our classes, doncha think?  And there's only so much time we can ask from Maria, y'know."

Cam studied the road ahead.  "Yeah, I guess you're right about that.  I just don't want you to let yourself go to pot physically, that's all.  Feeling a big gut pressing into my back when you try to spoon me in bed wouldn't be very appealing."

"If you ever feel some big gut pressing into your back, you're sleeping with someone else, I can assure you of that," Kevin said.

"Guys, I have no intention of going out for wrestling," Carl chimed in.  "I could watch Casey on nights you guys were gonna be late so Maria could get home to her family."

"Thanks for the thought, bud," Kevin said.  "But I just think soccer would be more than we could handle.  Cam, you can try out by yourself if you want to."

"Not without you," Cam said cheerfully.  "Whatever we do, we're in it together.  Casey, soccer, whatever.  And don't you forget it."

"You're a prince, dude!" Kevin said, grinning.  "Isn't he?" he demanded of Carl, looking at him in the rear view mirror.

"A higher rank, even," Carl said.  "I would have said at least a queen."

"You little fuck!" Cam protested.  "You're gonna pay for that later."

Kevin and Carl laughed, and the three guys continued to banter with each another until they pulled into their driveway at Malibu Beach.

The smell of good cooking greeted them when they walked in the back door, drawing them toward the kitchen where they heard Maria moving around.

"Maria!" Cam said.  "What smells so good?"

"I made you a gumbo, just like you boys talked about eating over in New Orleans."

"Oh, wow!" Cam exclaimed, going to the woman and giving her a kiss on the cheek.  "That's above and beyond the call of duty!"

Maria smiled.  "There's garlic bread ready to go in the toaster whenever you want to eat, and ice water, soda or orange juice in the refrigerator to drink.  And a pecan pie for dessert."

"Sweet!!" Kevin opined.  "Don't think we don't appreciate it!"

"Thanks, Maria," Carl said.

"De nada," Maria said, talking off her apron and hanging it in a little closet.

"Is the little guy sleeping?" Kevin asked.

"Yes," Maria said, taking her purse out of a drawer and hunting for her car keys.  "But it's time he got up, or he won't want to sleep tonight.  I'll see you boys in the morning."

"Thanks, Maria," Cam said, taking his backpack off his shoulder and lowering it to the floor as Maria walked to the back door and left the house.  Cam went over to the huge pot on the stove, and leaning down, inhaled deeply.  A shrimp bubbled to the surface of the steaming pot and then disappeared back into the depths.  Cam salivated and looked over at his buds.  "I don't know how long I can hold off from eating."

"Show a little self-control, boy!" Kevin said sternly.  "We just had lunch a couple of hours ago.  You need more discipline in your life."

Cam snorted.  "Putting up with your bullshit day and night takes all the self-control I can muster."

"Day and night?" Kevin shot back.  "I don't notice you showing much self-control in bed at night."

"Oh, no!  Not again!" Carl said, plugging his ears and walking away.

"Oh, yes," Kevin said, grabbing Cam and kissing him repeatedly on the face before letting him go.

After putting their backpacks in the den, the guys went upstairs.  Cam and Kevin took off their polo shirts and hung them up in the closet, putting on T-shirts.

"I 'spose you know that cargo shorts aren't in style anymore, according to the fashion gurus," Cam told his partner.

"Tough shit," Kevin said.  "I'm wearing these pants until until they're rags.   There's room for everything in these pockets."

They went over to Casey's crib and watched the little boy sleep for a few moments.  Kevin caressed Casey's head softly until he awakened, and then picked him up.  The little guy seemed pleased to see them.

"Hey, buddy, 'sup?" Cam said, kissing the boy's head.

"Time for a diaper change, that's what's up," Kevin said, walking into the bathroom and lowering the changing table from the wall.  Cam followed him and stood in the doorway.

"Ah, the aroma," Kevin said.  "Casey smells like you do before you shower in the morning," he told Cam.

"That's a shitty thing to say, if you know what I mean," Cam told his partner.  "Anytime I smell bad, one way or another it's your fault."

"You hear your other daddy talking nonsense?" Kevin crooned to Casey.  "Don't listen to anything he says."

"I'm gonna make you smell my 'pits later," Cam said.  "Meanwhile, I'm gonna start studying.  Somebody has to make the family proud."

Kevin grinned.  "Get out!" he said.

Cam went down to the den, and finding his cinematography text in his backpack, looked up his assignment and planted himself in an easy chair to read.  Carl joined him a few minutes later and sat on a couch.  Taking out his accounting book and some blank accounting forms, he began to jot down some numbers relating to test questions in the book.  The two of them studied silently for fifteen minutes before they heard Kevin bring Casey downstairs and put him in his playpen.

Carl looked up.  "Hey, little dude," he said to Casey.  The little boy gurgled as he began to crawl around the playpen, diverting himself by picking up random toys and slamming them down on the playpen pad.

"The kid likes demolition," Cam observed.  "If he digs cars, and he will, he'll be a NASCAR driver for sure.  A champion."

Kevin nodded and then took his physics book out of his backpack and began to study his assignment.

Several hours later the guys took a supper break, not being able to resist any longer the smell of gumbo which was circulated around the house by the air conditioning.  Carl took Casey into the kitchen and put him into his highchair, tying a bib around his neck.

"What should I feed him?" Carl asked Kevin.

"See if he'll eat some strained asparagus tonight," Kevin suggested as he pulled a platter of garlic bread out of the refrigerator and began putting slices into the two four-slice toasters on the countertop.  Cam began to set the table in the breakfast nook, using the extra-large soup bowls that Alex and John kept around for just such occasions.

After the table was set, Cam shut off the low flame under the huge pot of gumbo.  Taking a wooden spoon, he dipped out a sample and blew on it until the liquid was cool.  Sliding the spoon into his mouth, he let the gumbo sit on his tongue before he swallowed.

"Oh, Lord, this is SO GOOD!" he said.  "Thank you, God.  Thank you, Maria!"  Using pot holders, he moved the pot from the stove to a trivet on the table and began ladling out the aromatic gumbo into the huge bowls.  Kevin filled the toaster with more bread, and placed what he had already toasted over on the table.  While waiting for more toast to pop, he took a bag of dog food out on to the front deck, and fed Alice and Samantha.  He also filled their water dishes again.

"Go ahead and dish mine up to cool," Carl said.  "I'm gonna feed Casey."  He sat down and began spooning the strained asparagus into Casey's mouth, and the little guy ate it eagerly.  "Good boy!" Carl told the child repeatedly.  The jar was soon empty, and Carl wet a paper towel and wiped the little boy's face clean.

Cam and Kevin had waited for Carl, and they held hands around the table for a quick blessing before diving into the thick broth.

"Oh yes!" Carl said after his first spoonful of the shrimp, fish, crab, crawfish and lobster concoction.  "This is as good as we had in New Orleans!"

"Yep," Kevin said.  "I wonder where Maria got the recipe?"

"I don't know," Cam said, biting down on a piece of garlic toast.  "She sure knows her way around a kitchen, though.  Lucky us."

Four more pieces of toast popped up over on the countertop, and Kevin went to get them.  He spread garlic butter on them before taking them to the table.

The three guys consumed almost half of the huge pot of gumbo.  Cam covered the pot and let it continue to cool while he cleaned up the kitchen, filling the dishwasher and wiping down the countertops.  Kevin and Carl took Casey back into the den and started to study again, letting the little boy crawl around on the floor until he put his head down and took a nap.

Cam joined them a few minutes later after the kitchen was clean and also began to study again.

After two hours steady studying, Cam put down his cinematography text and stood up, stretching.

"I'm all keyed up," he said.  "Anybody want to join me for a short run on the beach before bed?"

Kevin looked up at him.  "Why don't you wait a half-hour or so, and I'll go with you?"

"Me, too," Carl said.

"I think I'll go ahead.  If I wait any later to run, I won't sleep tonight," Cam said.

"And that would be bad because...?" Kevin said, giving him a little leer.

"You wear me out, boy!" Cam told him as he headed for the door on to the front deck.

"And that would be bad because...?" Kevin said again, this time to his partner's retreating back.  "Hey, you want my stopwatch?"

"No thanks."

"Listen, you be careful out there," Kevin said.  For some inexplicable reason he had a nervous feeling in his stomach.

"Yep," Cam said.

He went out on to the deck, and the dogs crowded around him while he did his stretches, wanting to do whatever he was going to do.  Cam thought about taking them with him as he did limbered up, but decided against it because he'd have to hose the sand off them when they came back and let them into the house wet for the night.

Cam told them "No" when he finished his stretches, and the dogs lay back down on the deck.  Ignoring their reproachful looks, he trotted out to the waterline, and began running northwest.  It was pitch dark--the moon was covered by clouds.

Cam never saw it coming.  He was just getting into his run at about two miles and endorphins were flowing, when without warning something knocked him off his feet into the water.  He began to struggle when someone put a cloth over his nose and mouth, and a moment later he passed out.

He awakened to the pungency of smelling salts held to his nose.  He had been stripped naked and was hanging by his wrists by ropes from the beams in a room somewhere, his toes barely touching the floor.  His legs were stretched far apart by some kind of horizontal metal pole, ankles secured in the parted position with velcro.  To one side of the room he saw some leather implements--whips and floggers.  There was also a pile of dildoes, some of them quite large, on the floor next to some metal clamps of various sizes. 
A narrow strip of cloth between his teeth held his mouth slightly open, and was tied tightly at the back of his head.  He could make noise, but not speak.

"Ahhhhhh!" Cam tried to scream, but nothing intelligible came out.

"'Ahhhhhh!' is right, you fucking fag!" a voice said, and Eric Clymer's smirking face came into view.  The kid was stripped to the waist and wearing board shorts, as were his two buddies, Peter Murtha and Rory Lomer.  The three of them looked like the jocks they were, all ripped.  And at the moment, they looked potentially lethal when it came to their prisoner.

"Do you know why you're here, faggot?" Eric asked Cam.

Cam unsuccessfully tried to respond with a threat.

"We really don't care what you think of our little beach party, you dumb fuck," Eric said.  "You're here because you and your kind offend civilized society.  You don't have the right to fucking kiss other men in public, you insensitive prick, and we're going to teach you never to do that again.  Oh, and we're also going to teach you to never let your queer friends knock down somebody who's straight, just because they object to your antics.  God only knows what you queers do to each other in private, but we can guess.  We might try some of those speculations about that on you tonight."

Cam closed his eyes.  This had to be a bad dream.  A nightmare from which he would awake at any second now.

"Rory, get the flogger and let's make sure this asshole is wide awake," Clymer ordered.

The young man followed instructions, picked up one of the leather implements, and walked behind Cam, first sticking the handle in the Cam's crack and touching his hole with it before drawing back his arm and giving Cam a hard stroke across his ass.

Cam tried to scream though his gag, and couldn't.

*  *  *

Kevin didn't start to worry until an hour had passed.  He closed his physics textbook and went out to the deck, and was surprised to find Alice and Samantha there still tied to the railing.  He sank to one knee and began to pet them.

"Hey, girls, why didn't you run with Cam?" he asked.  Samantha swiped him across his face with her tongue.

"Shame on you," Kevin told her.  "You know you're not supposed to lick!  What happened to all that training you got?"

Samantha barked once, and sat down.  Kevin thought she looked pleased with herself.

"Where's Cam?" Kevin said, standing up and going over to sit in a deck chair.  The dogs tilted their heads toward him inquiringly as if they were trying to figure out what he was asking them.

Kevin sat there for almost thirty minutes, expecting to see Cam running toward him across the broad expanse of beach and up on to the deck at any moment.  But he never appeared.  Sliding open the door to the house, Kevin called to Carl.

"Carl, commere, dude." he shouted into the house.

Carl appeared and came out on the deck.

"Sup?"

"Cam's not back yet," Kevin said.  "I'm gettin' worried."

Carl looked at him with a frown on his face.  "Y'wanna take a run?  Let's see if we can find him."

"We'll have to see if the Millers will watch Casey for us for a few minutes," Kevin said.

"Yeah," Carl said.  "I'll grab a Maglite out of the kitchen drawer while you get Casey."

The two guys ducked back into the house.  Kevin ran upstairs, gently picked up a sleeping Casey, and met Carl, a little flashlight stuck it into his back pocket, on the deck.  They walked over to the Millers' house and knocked on the beachside door.  Sean Miller slid open the door with a smile on his face.

"Hey, guys, what's going on?"

"Will you watch Casey for us for a few miniutes, Mr. Miller?" Kevin asked.  "Cam went out for a run on the beach earlier, and hasn't come back.  We want to see if we can find him."

"We'd love to watch Casey," Sean said.  "Give him to me."

Kevin transferred the baby into the man's arms just as Susan Miller joined them at the door.

"Hello, boys," she said.

The guys greeted her.

"We get to watch Casey for awhile, Susan," Sean told his wife.

"Well, don't feel you have to hurry back," Susan Miller said, pleased, taking the baby out of her husband's arms.

"Thanks so much," Kevin told them.  "See you in a few minutes."

He and Carl loped back over Alex's house, went over to the dogs on the deck and untied them.

"Find Cam!" Kevin told them, and they darted off the porch and started running toward the black waters of Santa Monica Bay.  It was dark as pitch out there, without a glimmer of light from the moon or stars.

"Do ya wanna change into running shorts first?" Carl asked.

"No.  Let's get going.  The dogs are gonna lose us if we don't."

"Well, at least let's do our stretches." Carl said, grabbing one leg and pulling it up behind his back, holding on to the rail of the deck so he wouldn't fall over.

Kevin followed suit.  After an abbreviated limbering-up session, they trotted off the deck into the darkness.  Kevin whistled for the dogs, and they suddenly appeared out of the night, their legs and bellies wet from running into the ocean.

"Find Cam!" Kevin told the dogs again, and they took off.

Carl and Kevin ran side by side up the beach, occasionally whistling the dogs back to them before letting them forge ahead again.  Still no sign of Cam.

"I don't like this," Kevin told Carl as they approached what Kevin realized from the lights from the houses was the two-mile mark on their usual run.

"Me either," Carl agreed.

Neither of them saw the dogs, but they heard one of them bark a short way ahead of them, over near one of the houses.  This particular house was dark.  Carl pulled out the Maglite and pointed it at the house.  The beam revealed a realtor's "For Sale" sign.  The eyes of both dogs reflected back at Kevin and Carl through the darkness.

"Let's check it out," Carl said, and he and Kevin veered off the hardpack by the water and ran on the loose sand through the gate leading to the darkened domicile.  The dogs, tongues hanging out of their mouths from their run, were circling around on the deck.  Samantha pawed at the sliding door.

"Back, girl," Kevin told her.  He tried sliding the door open, and to his surprise, it moved.  The dogs went around Kevin, nudged aside some drapes covering the opening, and went into the room.  Carl and Kevin followed them into the dark room, empty of furniture.  Carl panned the flashlight around.  They both spotted a tied-up, naked, inert body lying on the floor.  The two dogs were there, pushing their noses into Cameron's face and getting no reaction.

"Oh, God!" Kevin said, moving quickly toward the body of his partner, kneeling down and putting an index finger on the young man's neck, seeking a pulse in the carotid artery.  It was there, but faint.  Carl flashed the light around the room again until he found a light switch, and running to it, flicked it on.  Light from a chandelier flooded the room.  It allowed Kevin to see a small pool of blood on the carpet, apparently leaking from from between Cam's buttocks.

Moaning and cursing and beginning to weep silently, Kevin pulled out his pocket knife and cut through the ropes binding Cam's hands and feet, and sliced through the strip of cloth still in his mouth.  Then he sat on the floor and cradled Cam's upper body in his lap, rocking him gently as tears ran down his face.

Cam didn't respond to his boyfriend's ministrations as Carl stood there almost paralyzed, looking on in horror at his friend's condition:  Cam's back, butt, legs and chest were cherry red and also covered with serious welts.  His softened penis had several welts on it as well.  Although there was no bleeding from those wounds, blood continued to seep from between his buttocks into the carpet.

"Do you have your phone?" Kevin asked Carl, his voice shaking.

"Yes."

"Will you see if can open the front door and get this place's address?  We need to call an ambulance and the police.  Please hurry."

Carl got on it, and turning the dead bolt on the front door, opened it and quickly scanned it for a number.  Finding one, he stepped outside and dialed 911.  He collected his thoughts, and when the dispatcher answered, he asked her to roll an ambulance and sheriff's police to the scene.  He gave her the address in Malibu.

"What is the nature of your emergency?" the dispatcher asked.

"Male victim, age 18, beaten and unconscious," Carl said succinctly.

"We'll send an ambulance and a sheriff's car immediately," the dispatcher said.

"Thank you," Carl said.  "Please hurry," he added, echoing Kevin's earlier words to him.  He snapped his telephone shut and ran back inside the house to be with Cam and Kevin.

Sitting down on the floor, Carl watched Kevin, tears running down his face and dripping on to Cam's ravaged body, gently rock his friend and lover as they waited for an ambulance and the police to arrive.



© 2010 Don Hanratty

This chapter is later than usual due to computer problems I recently experienced.  These computers are sometimes a bane as well as a blessing, as you all well know.  DH

dhanr1@msn.com