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


Ian Carson hadn't slept well after going to bed late on Friday night after the confrontation with William.  Well, it had been an early Saturday morning confrontation, actually.  His talk with William about the boy's overactive sex life hadn't been unsatisfactory.  Not at all.  William had been honest and forthcoming in their discussion, and he had been accepting of his father's intervention.  What bothered Ian was what he felt had been his failure to teach William more than just about the biology and mechanics of sex.  Sexually active human beings, especially young people, also needed to know about the esoterics that come into play when human beings give themselves to another person sexually.

It wasn't that Ian himself hadn't gotten around with the women during his formative years during late high school and early college.  He had indeed done so, although nothing on the scale of William's activities.  But once Ian had met Mary and knew that she was "the one," his list of random conquests had come to an abrupt end.  >From his perspective, monogamy inside or outside of marriage carried its price, and could sometimes be physically and psychologically challenging, even frustrating.  But it was a price worth paying.

Against his will, Ian had had to smile to himself in the darkness of his bedroom, though.
  My cute little shit of a son has done all right for himself.  Too damn well!

Ian hadn't expected that William would immediately agree with his views about what activities were acceptable in a young man's dating life, but he did want William to understand that lining up the girls and mowing them down, so to speak, would not help him to find "the one" in his own life, or to be satisfied to be with "the one" when eventually she was discovered.  Sampling everything along the path wasn't the way.  Although Ian could cite Scripture and the Church's negative views on sexual profligacy, he was equally interested in the respect that could and should develop between individuals when a couple showed some discipline in their sexual practices.  In Ian's view, this was true whether the youngsters involved were gay or straight.  In William case, it would probably take some time and effort to bring him around to a better understanding on that issue.  It was an investment of time and effort that Ian was willing to make on behalf of his son, though, not out of a mistaken view that Jesus was more interested in our sexual practices than anything else on a human's 'to-do' list, but because it would ultimately lead to happiness in life and satisfaction with oneself.

Ian's tossing and turning in bed had eventually awakened Mary, and they held each other in a loving embrace.  And then they had made love.  It was just what the doctor had ordered for both of them.  Their lovemaking had matured over the years, but the the joy and satisfaction of it had endured and even improved.

The two of them had let go of all their worry about William and his situation and had fallen asleep in one another's arms.  Love was a great healer in more ways than one.

The next morning, when the family had all gathered in the driveway to do their stretches before running, Ian had seen William looking at him uneasily.  When Ian had finished limbering up, he had walked over to the boy and given him a silent hug.  That was it.  No words had been exchanged,.  No words had been necessary.

*  *  *

After their usual Saturday morning run, Ian had showered and dressed in a sweater, slacks, and a sport coat.  Then he'd spent some time alone in the study drinking a second cup of coffee before heading for Denny's to meet with David McCaskill about William liaisons with his daughter Anita.

He hadn't really spent any time on developing a strategy for the meeting.  He'd felt as if he owed it to McCaskill just to sit and hear the man out, to let him ventilate and even offer some abuse if that's what he needed to do.  Putting himself in the man's shoes, Ian had felt as if that was the least he do for him.

He had googled McCaskill, and found out that he owned several high rise buildings in San Francisco, all of them well known and populated with top drawer tenants.  That suggested that he was no dope.  And certainly not poor.

Ian had gone to Denny's expecting to meet an enemy.  But he had come away with a new friend.

The moment he had entered, Ian had spotted a well dressed, youngish looking middle-aged man sitting at a corner table away from most of the crowd in the smaller of Denny's two dining rooms.  He headed right for him.

"Mr. McCaskill?" Ian had said, approaching and offering his hand.

"Yes," the man had said, standing up and shaking hands.  "Mr. Carson?"

Ian had nodded and they both sat down.

"Coffee?" McCaskill asked, picking up a carafe and poising it over an empty cup.

"Please," Ian said.

The man poured and put down the carafe.

Years of lawyering had made Ian very astute about the moods of people with whom he was dealing.  A quick study of this man's demeanor had told him that whatever he had on his mind to say, McCaskill wasn't white-hot angry about what William and his daughter Anita had been doing.  Sad, yes.  Resigned, yes.  But not bubbling over with rage or animosity.

Ian took a sip of coffee.  It was good.  He had settled back in his chair and looked over at his table mate.

"Mr. McCaskill, I'm sorry we're meeting under these circumstances."

"I know."  He had paused.  "I don't know exactly why I asked for this meeting," McCaskill said.  "Your boy and my daughter could have been doing a lot worse, given the state that many young people are in today.  With drugs, and all, I mean.  I think I just wanted somebody to vent to about the situation.  My wife is so upset that she and I can't discuss it rationally."

"Well, I'm here because I owe you at least the opportunity to talk about it," Ian had said.  "I'm really sorry about what's happened."

"I knew you probably would be after you had a chance to look into what's been going on."

"I talked to William about it last night."

"And. . ."

"And what?"

"What did he say?"

Ian had looked down at his coffee cup in silence.

"Look," McCaskill had said, "you don't have to play the lawyer with me.  Yes, I looked you up, and I know you have a great reputation as a top-notch attorney.  But I'm not trying to trick you into admitting William's involvement with my daughter so I can find some grounds to sue you.  I'm the one who's failed Anita.  Her mother and I."

Ian had taken a deep breath and responded as a father.  An honest father speaking to a hurt father.

"Yes, William has admitted that he and Anita have been intimate.  She's not pregnant, is she?"

"No, thank God."  McCaskill drank some coffee.  "I'll give William this much.  Anita says that William insisted on being safe.  They always used a condom."

Hearing that had made Ian feel a little better.

"You and I know that what happened between these two happens all the time in today's world," McCaskill had said.  "It just doesn't--shouldn't--happen to my daughter at this young age.  I know she's 18, but I still think of her as my little girl."

"I understand.  I'm not not happy about what they've done, and this is a young boy we're talking with respect to my family's interests.  Young women mature so much faster than young men, but William knows better than to do something like this.  He's been raised in the church, and never misses Mass.  I've insisted that he make an appointment to see a priest and make his confession.  And soon."

"Your family is Roman Catholic?" McCaskill had asked.

"Used to be.  We're Episcopalians."

"I'm surprised.  It sounds Catholic to me."

"Many similarities," Ian had said.  "We share a lot of the Western Catholic tradition."

McCaskill had nodded.

"I know you probably don't want to hear any advice from me of all people," Ian had said, "but I'd like to go back to what you said about you and your wife having failed Anita.   To some extent I can't help feeling the same about my and my wife's roles with William.  Truthfully, though, I think it's a mistake for either of us to feel that way in the final analysis.  I've tried to teach good values to my children, and I suspect you've done the same.  We've done what we could.  But sometimes the best of teaching doesn't stand a chance against juvenile hormones and modern culture.  That's true for both girls and boys.  If anything comes out of our meeting today, I hope it includes forgiving ourselves for what happened.  And if our reaction to what our kids have done has damaged our relationship with them, we need to try to repair it.  Like it or not, we're bonded with our children for life, and we need to keep a good, healthy, and when need be, forgiving relationship with them.  We're all the losers if we can't do that."

"There's a lot of wisdom in what you say," McCaskill had admitted, studying Ian across the table.

"There's one other thing.  I'm not trying to make excuses for Anita and William, but from a religious point of view, there are a lot worse sins than illicit sex.  I know that's not the conventional wisdom, but Christianity's founder was very forgiving when it came to sexual misdemeanors.  And it doesn't damage our principles a bit when we follow his example and are forgiving as well.  I'm going to refuse to be permanently disappointed with William, and I hope you will take the same approach with Anita.  That's what real love in a family is like."

"I'm not sure exactly what I expected when I came to meet you, but I'm, well, I'm pleasantly surprised at your perspective.  I feel the same way about things as you do, but I never could have verbalized it as well as you have," McCaskill said.  "I just hope I can be as persuasive with my wife Ann as you've been with me."

"My Mary is still very upset, but she and I think a lot alike after all these years of marriage.  Down the road, if Mrs. McCaskill doesn't come around, I know Mary will be happy to talk with her."

"That's generous.  We may take you up on that."

"You work in the city, don't you?" Ian had asked.

"Yes.  I own some property in town, and have an office there."

"Why don't we have lunch in a couple of weeks and see how things are shaking out with our families?"

"I'd like that."

Ian reached into his breast pocket and brought out a business card and a small, black appointment book.

"How about Thursday the 14th?" he'd asked, handing the card to McCaskill.  "I'll make reservations somewhere decent down on the wharf," Ian had suggested.

"Sounds good," McCaskill had said.  "My name is David, by the way."  He gave Ian his own business card, and sat back in his chair after Ian had made the entry in his appointment book.

"I'm Ian, David."

They shook hands again.

The two men had continued talking, this time discussing the real estate business and about politics in Marin County and San Francisco.

"Does your firm do much with real estate law?" McCaskill had asked then, looking at Ian thoughtfully.

"Actually, we have a division staffed with a partner and several lawyers who do nothing but real estate law," Ian said.

"I may be contacting you sooner than the 14th, then.  I haven't been completely satisfied with our legal representation for some time, and wouldn't be averse to making a change."

"Why don't we do a conference call at your convenience?" Ian had suggested.  "I'll have the partner in our real estate division present, and let's see what we can nail down."

They had continued their discussion for another 45 minutes before they were finally talked out.  They'd consumed two whole carafes of coffee.  McCaskill picked up the check and insisted on paying it.

"Thank you so much for setting up this meeting this morning, David.  I'm glad we had a chance to discuss things, and I'll look forward to talking with you soon," Ian had said.

The two men left the restaurant together, waving at one another as they'd entered their cars to drive away.

Ian had been happy as he climbed behind the wheel.  He felt positive about the approach he was taking with William over the boy's ambitious schedule with women, and he might even get some new business for his firm.  It doesn't get better than that, he thought to himself.

*  *  *

After Jeff Miller had greeted everybody at Alex's house and gotten settled upstairs and eaten a breakfast feast prepared by Catherine, he had excused himself and hot-footed it next door to his parents' house to visit with his folk's longtime maid, Juanita.  He loved her like a another mother, particularly because of all the shit he'd given her when he was in the throes of his drug addiction.

He removed the hidden key to the pool and patio area behind the house, and went in the gate.  He knocked at the back door, and Juanita came and let him in.  No words were spoken as Jeff swept her into his arms and kissed her.  When Juanita saw how well he was looking she started to weep with relief.

"I'm so glad to see you," Jeff told the woman softly, kissing her again.

"Oh, Jeff, I miss you so much," Juanita said in her heavy Spanish accent.  "You looking so good!"

"You, too," Jeff said.

They walked into the den at the front of the house, and sat down across from each other.

"Are Mom and Dad all right?"

"Si.   You dad feels good, and has more work at the studio than he can do, and your mom feels good too and is still busy with her community things.  But what you are doing for yourself make them happiest of all, Jeff."

"I owe them and you a lot, Juanita.  And the guys next door.  If it weren't for all of you, I'd be dead now.  Without a doubt."  He smiled at her.  "Do you see the boys from over there very often?"

"Si.  They come over to swim in pool.  I glad to see them, and fix them sandwiches sometimes.  My sister Maria and me--you know she works next door--we visit.  She loves that little Casey and those boys, and Cam and Kevin and Carl, they good to her.  Everybody happy."

Juanita asked about Assurances, and Jeff settled back in his chair and told her in some detail about the program he was in, and what "guests" like him were expected to accomplish in order to get well.

"You have good muscles now, Jeff," Juanita said.  "You look bigger."

"I work out every day in the gym," he said with a grin.  "It's paid off."  He bent one arm and the biceps swelled.

"How much longer you be there?"

"I'm not exactly sure," Jeff said.  "But giving me a furlough is a good sign they think I'm making progress.  So I hope it won't be too long now before they push me out the door."

"You go back to school then?"

"I'll either do that or get a job.  Jobs aren't plentiful right now, but Dad has mentioned that I could probably start an apprenticeship at the studio if I want to.  I'll have to talk to everybody in my support group at Assurances, and you and the guys next door, and see what kind of advice I get."

The two of them talked for another twenty minutes, and then Jeff stood up and said his good-byes to Juanita, hugging her and kissing her.  Then he headed back to Alex's house.

"I love you, Jeff," Juanita had told him as he walked away.  He turned around and went back to the woman, and hugged and kissed her again before leaving.

*  *  *

When Jeff walked back into the house, he heard weights clanking in Alex's little gym.  Peering through the door, he saw that Kevin was in his element making the guys sweat and suffer in carrying out various exercises he gave them to do.

Kevin saw him.

"Jeff, get your ass in here and get busy," he said.

"I only exercise in the afternoon," Jeff said.

"Tough shit.  It's almost noon, and that's close enough.  I have some exercises for your chest I want you to do."

"There's nothing wrong with my chest."

"It could be better.  Get in here, or I'll have to hurtcha!"

Jeff caved, and Kevin put him on a bench and machine to do cable chest presses.  It wasn't long before Jeff was sweating and groaning and bitching at Kevin like all the other guys.

Kevin was as ruthless and relentless with himself as he was with the others, and by the time he was finished with everybody, they were all dragging.  They downed some sports drinks out of the little refrigerator in the gym and went upstairs to shower when they were finished.

"You treat us worse than Berto does," Dan Emrick slammed Kevin as they all climbed the stairs.

"You couldn't tell me anything that would please me more," Kevin said.  "You pussies all need somebody to push you, and I'm your guy."

"Don't get him started," Carl told them.  "When you bitch at him, it only makes him worse during the next session."

"I push you all, yes," Kevin said.  "But I'm the soul of kindness and compassion while I do it.  Search your consciences, and you'll know I speak the truth."

Andy laughed out loud, and put his hand over Dan's mouth when he started to make a wise ass answer.

Andy and Carl went into their room and shut the door behind them.  A rivulet of sweat was running down Carl's face from the heavy exercise in the gym, and Andy pulled him close and licked it off.

"Yum," Andy said.  He grabbed Carl's soaking wet T-shirt and pulled it off over his partner's head.

"I fucking miss you when you're not around."  Carl pulled Andy's T-shirt off in turn, dropping it on the floor.

Andy knelt in front of Carl and pulled his boy's sweaty gym shorts and jock off him as Carl lifted his legs one at a time.  Taking Carl's penis is one hand, Andy gently pulled it toward him, giving it a lick on the tip and then a kiss.  The handsome appendage began to firm up immediately as Andy stood up.

"You're a freaking animal," Carl told him.  "And I love it!"  He knelt and began stripping Andy down, feeling the familiar jolt at the sight of the young man's package while untying the laces of his sneakers and pulling his size 12's and his sweat socks off his big feet.

Carl rose to his feet and toed off his sneakers and pulled off his socks.  They held each other and looked into each other's eyes as Carl slow-walked Andy backward until they fell on to their bed together.

"I have a plan for you," Carl said with lust in his eyes.  "First I want to eat out your beautiful, sweaty ass.  And then I want to lube you up and fuck that tight little hole of yours until I pass out.  How does that sound?" Carl moved back and knelt on the floor in front of his partner.

"It sounds outstanding.  I'm still motherfuckin' horny!"  He silently lifted his feet off the floor and spread his legs, pulling them back and exposing just the target Carl wanted to see--a perfect pink star winking and waiting eagerly for the attention Carl wanted to lavish on it.  Moving forward until he was poised at Andy's muscular ass, Carl spread the young man's cheeks wider and plunged his tongue into his boyfriend's butt.  The pungent smell of sweat and the musk of Andy's hole turned Carl on completely, and he went to work with gusto as Andy began to groan in pleasure.  Carl licked all around Andy's hole, and then got into a rhythm, alternatively kissing it followed by a serial tongue fuck.

"Oh, man, I freakin' love this," Andy said, lifting his head off a pillow to watch Carl diligently at work.  "I'll only give you about two hours to stop that."

Carl pulled back and gave him a smile, and then went back to work.  After a good five minutes, when Andy's hole was fully lubed with saliva, Carl moved up and began licking Andy's huge balls and then the underside of his hard cock as it lay pulsing on his abs, pointing at its owner's head.  A drop of pre-cum leaked out of Andy's dick.  Andy reached down with an index finger, scooped it up, and brought it to Carl's mouth.

"Sweet!" Carl said with obvious satisfaction.

Carl moved further up the boy's body, first kissing his inner thighs and his package as he went, eventually resting his head on Andy's chest.  He took in hand the organ which lay there throbbing on Andy's abs.  Turning his head to the side, he began to suck on it gently after running his tongue through the slit several times.  Now the pre-cum really began to flow, and Carl confirmed again that it was indeed "sweet" as he continued to run Andy's cock in and out of his mouth and throat.

"I'm getting close," Andy eventually groaned.  He reached down, grasping Carl under his arms, and pulled him further up on his body until he was full-out prone on top of him.  They stared again into each other's eyes, and they soul kissed until their jaws were tired.  Then Carl placed a pillow under Andy's ass so the trajectory for pleasuring him was perfect.

"Give it to me," Andy instructed.  "I need you, man."

Carl grabbed the Astroglide from the bedside table drawer, using a finger to add some of it for additional lubrication to the saliva already in Andy's back passage.  Then he put the head of his cock at Andy's entrance.  Popping through the sphincter, Carl moved up into Andy.  Home.  No place like it!  Andy took dick like a trooper, without noise or complaint.

His partner was as tight as Carl always remembered.  So Carl remained still for a long minute, letting Andy get comfortable with the big intruder.

"Go!" Andy finally insisted, and Carl began slowly moving in and out of his boy's ass slowly as they deep kissed each other again.  They continued in slow motion for a good fifteen minutes, with Andy groaning appreciatively as Carl's big cock found and repeatedly massaged his sweet spot.  The sweat from their bodies and Andy's pre-cum ran together and down on to the sheets as he reached around and inserted a middle finger to the first knuckle into Carl's thrusting ass.

"Likin' it!" Carl said enthusiastically in response.

Carl's body was sending him clear signals that his orgasm was closing in, and he increased the speed of his penetration into Andy.  Warp speed then, and Lord, did it feel good!

Andy suddenly gasped and cried out as his cock began spewing a mighty load between their bodies.  He came about seven times as his sphincter spasmed around Carl's dick in the process, and that brought Carl off as well.  He filled Andy with his his thick cum as his thrusting slowed and then stopped.  Carl collapsed on to Andy, reveling in the semen on his boy's abs and chest, and then went into his usual short-term coma after ejaculation.

Eyes closed, Andy put his arms around his partner, gently stroked his back, and then moved his hands down to Carl's muscular ass, leaving them there as they both took a nap.

Carl awakened first some minutes later, moving off to the side enough to start licking Andy's cum and their sweat off his partner's body before it dried.


When Carl was finished, he shared what he had collected in his mouth with Andy.

*  *  *

Andy and Carl showered together, washing each other tenderly.

"I'm sorry you have to travel to L.A. to see me every weekend," Carl told him.

"Well, you know I love being with you," Andy said. "And I mean with you, if you get my drift.  It might be a little more difficult to get our alone time if you were coming up to San Rafael."

"You have a point," Carl said as he washed Andy's cock.  "And I just found it."

Andy started to firm up, and pushed Carl's hand away.  "Don't get me fired up again, or it's back to bed for you."

Carl grinned.  "Would that be a bad thing?"

"No, but. . ."

Carl turned loose of his partner.

After drying each other with big, fluffy towels, they dressed and went downstairs to find Cam, Kevin, Jeff and Dan sitting in the den, playing with Casey and watching TV.  Catherine was out on the front deck getting some sun.

Kevin looked up and smiled as the two guys came in.

"Have mercy!  You boys sure are noisy and enthusiastic when you have sex!"

Cam and Jeff snickered.

Andy turned red, but the comment just rolled off Carl's back.

"Well, stop listening at the door, then," Carl said.

"We didn't listen at your door," Cam protested.  "We didn't have to, but I should add that we're not above doing that.  We heard you two all the way down here.  What sort of techniques do you use on each other, anyway?"

"I'd 'splain it to you yokels, but I can't in front of Casey," Carl said.  "You guys probably need some instruction, though, that's for sure."

"Not me," Kevin said.  "Cam's taught me everything I know, and he's a bona fide sex fiend.  A Kama Sutra on legs.  A natural born lover man.  He knows everything there is to know about sex and conjures up what he doesn't know, and uses it all.  That's why I'm smiling all the time."

Jeff laughed out loud and picked up Casey, who had toddled over to where he was sitting.

"Don't listen to your dads," Jeff told the child, now seated on his lap.  "Whenever they talk, just put your hands over your ears.  Like this!"  He demonstrated on Casey, and the boy laughed at him.

"Well, you guys look relaxed," Cam told Carl and Andy.  "You have 'that glow.'  And that's a good thing."

"No kidding!" Carl said.  "Uh, not to change the subject, but what are we gonna eat today?"

Kevin grinned at him.  "Uh, haven't you eaten already?" he asked.

"You're such a d-i-c-k sometimes, Kevin," Carl said, half laughing and half annoyed as he spelled out his word of the moment to describe Kevin's character so Casey wouldn't hear it.

"That's harsh," Kevin opined.  "To answer your question, Maria left us a huge bowl of paella in the fridge and a big loaf of French bread.  How does that sound?"

"Hmmm," Carl said, licking his lips.   "She's helped redeem your rep without you even knowing it."

"I'm drooling," Dan said.  "Maria's paella is the best!"

"We can eat the paella now and get some pizzas for supper," Kevin said.

Cam got up and went over to Casey, who was standing beside Jeff.  He picked him up and kissed the little boy's face repeatedly while Casey squirmed.  "Let's hit it, then," he said.  "My mouth is watering.  I'll tell Mom that luncheon is served."

Cam went out on the deck and gave his mom the word, and then carried Casey into the breakfast nook.  Putting him in his highchair, he fastened a bib around his neck.  Jeff and Andy and Dan sat down at the table while Kevin headed toward the refrigerator and Carl starting pulling bowls for everybody out of the cupboard and then silverware to set the table.  Catherine came in from the deck and sat down.

"Do you want some help," Catherine asked Kevin.

"No, Mommy.  Today we wait on you."

"I accept," she said.

"Kev, I'm gonna feed Casey first," Cam said.  "Keep a bowl of paella warm for me, willya?"

"Yep," Kevin said, turning on his heel and going over to Cam.  He bent down and kissed him on the side of the head.  "Luv ya, dude."


"No, thank you!"

The two of them grinned at each other.

Cam stood up and pulled a jar of baby food from the cupboard and then got a baby spoon out of the silverware drawer.  He opened the jar of baby peas in strained vegetables as Casey banged his hands on the tray of the highchair in anticipation.

Cam started spooning the food into the little guy's mouth as Kevin heated some individual bowls of paella in the microwave, and Carl cut up the French bread and started toasting it in Alex's big toasters.  Casey was hungry, and ate the whole jar of baby food without giving Cam any trouble at all.  The baby's diaper was still dry, and so Cam let him continue to sit in his highchair as food for the adults began appearing on the table.

When all the steaming bowls of paella and bread slathered with butter were in place with the drinks of choice, Cam looked around for a victim to say grace..

"Dan, why don't you offer thanks?"

Catherine and the guys bowed their heads as Dan said:  "Father, we give you thanks for your many gifts, for good company, and especially for this food which we are about to receive.  Bless it to our use, and us to your service, and make us always mindful of the needs of others, through Jesus Christ our Lord."

"Amen," the guys said.

As usual, Maria's paella was superb, and the tabletop was soon bare of food.

Carl belched.  And then apologized to Catherine.

"Sorry, Mom.  I've fallen into bad habits down here."

Catherine smiled and didn't say anything.

"How crass!" Kevin said to Carl.  "I'm gonna send you back up to San Rafael for retraining.  Mary and Mom will straighten you out your butt real quick!"

The squabbling continued until Cam intervened and suggested that they go to a movie that evening.

"Mom, you wanna go?" Carl asked.

"Depends on what you're going to see," Catherine said.

"What about Casey?" Kevin said.

"He thinks movies are too long for his attention span," Carl told Kevin.

"You're an idiot," Kevin said.  "Casey's attention span is longer than yours."

"I bet Juanita would really enjoy baby-sitting him," Jeff suggested.

"I'll pay her," Kevin said.

"She'll be insulted if you suggest it," Jeff said.

"Well...maybe you're right," Kevin agreed.

"What movie do you want to see?" Andy asked.

"There's a movie called "In Time," starring Justin Timberlake, that's supposed to be good," Cam chimed in.

"Justin Timberlake," Carl mused.  "A triple threat if there ever was one.  Singer, dancer, actor--he's good at everything.  And cute as hell."

"And you know a cute boy when you see one," Cam ribbed him.  "Just look at this stud," added, pointing at Andy.

Andy blushed yet again.

"I'll go with you," Catherine decided.

"All right, if Juanita will watch Casey, we're in business," Kevin said.

Catherine asked for a few minutes of the boys' time at the kitchen table before they left to spruce up a little bit for the movie.

"Do you want some privacy?" Jeff asked.

"No, dear, thank you," Catherine said.  "I just wanted you boys to know about some changes that are going to happen with our living arrangements in San Rafael."

She had their complete attention and received some worried looks.

"I'm going to be teaching English Lit at Stanford this coming fall instead of at St. Francis, and with a promotion to full professor.  I talked things over with Ian and Mary, and I'm going to be moving into their condo in San Francisco while they continue to stay in San Rafael.  Yolanda may move into town with me, and William will probably move into town with us, too, if he matriculates at Stanford after his last year at San Rafael High.  So I won't sell our house, and the Carsons won't sell the condo, as least for the time being."

Cam jumped up from the table with a happy look on his face and hugged his mother.

"Mom," he said, "I'm really happy for you.  I've kind of had the feeling that you haven't been as happy, or maybe as challenged, at St. Francis as you used to be.   And I'm so happy you won't be selling our house.  I know some day it will happen, but not yet!  Right, Kev?"

Congrats on the new job, Mommy!  And I'm pleased about the house," Kevin said as he stood up as well and hugged and kissed Catherine. "It's our real home, you know that."

"I know, sweetheart.  I have to admit I'm relieved that we can keep it, and that people we love will continue to live there.  Everyone's all right with all of this, then?"

"Yep."  "You bet."  "Sounds good!" the boys chorused.

"If I had a vote, I'd vote 'Yes!'" Andy said.

Catherine was pleased with all the responses.

After the meeting, Jeff ran next door and checked with Juanita about watching Casey.  She was eager to spend some time with the little boy, so Catherine and the four guys were off for pizza and a movie as evening rolled around.

Even Catherine enjoyed the movie.  "In Time" was great, Timberlake was a hunk, and after their night out, the remainder of the weekend went well.

The guys ran early on Sunday morning, with Catherine walking while carrying Casey in a sling, and then they all cleaned up and went to Mass at St. Dunstan's.   The late Mass was packed.

Father Ryan was his usual cordial self, and Catherine enjoyed talking with Lisa Ryan and their kids at the coffee hour.  Father Ryan inquired about Father Mason, and Catherine told him that they saw him frequently for running and for meals.  John Ryan seemed pleased about that, knowing as he did that his friend was most likely going to talk to the family about his sexual orientation sooner rather than later.

That afternoon back at Alex's was spent talking, and the boys played Wii and some games on their telephones, and Kevin worked out in the gym with those victims he could corral to join him.

Kevin and Carl took Jeff back to Assurances on Sunday night with Dan, Andy and Catherine in the back seats.

"Thanks for a great time," Jeff told the guys and Catherine as they got out of the Highlander to say good-bye.  They all exchanged kisses on the cheek, and then Jeff went toward the building, occasionally looking back longingly at the truck.  He was pleased with his progress at Assurances, but he wanted to be done with his program and move on with life.

Then Carl drove Dan and Andy and Catherine to the airport.

Kevin was sorry to see his buddies go, and as usual, got a sinking feeling in his stomach when he hugged and kissed Catherine good-bye.  It always hurt him to see Carl and Andy say their farewells and cling to each other as long as they could.  He always thought about how low he'd feel if he were saying good-bye to Cam, even for a week.  Andy couldn't move down to Malibu any too soon!

Andy and Carl looked at each other as the travelers all headed for security and to their gate.  They felt so good right then, but knew from experience that the knife-edge of loneliness would be their constant companion during the week they were apart.

*  *  *

A week from the following day, Monday, was supposed to have been the time for Cam's final therapy session with Dr. Martha Owens, which was by mutual agreement to have been held at the house where Cam had been brutalized.  But Dr. Owens had run into a problem the previous Wednesday when she had contacted the realtor who had the listing to sell the house.  The realtor, declaring she wouldn't open up the house for non-business reasons because she was too busy, had declined to unlock the doors so Cam could have his last session. 

Dr. Owens had then asked to speak with the realtor's broker, who had given her the same answer as the realtor.  Too busy.  Much too busy.

Disappointed, Dr. Owens had contacted Cam with the bad news that they might not be able to gain entry to the vacant house the following Monday.

"Did they say why?" Cam had inquired.

"Too busy."

"Oh, for crying out loud," Cam had said, doing a slow burn.  "Tell you what.  Before we give up, let me make another phone call.  I'll get back to you.  Give me the names and the phone numbers at the realty."

Dr. Owens had done so.  "I'll keep my fingers crossed," she had said.  She didn't mention anything to Cam, but she had been very pleased to hear him not taking "no" for an answer.  Being assertive, even aggressive when need be, had been a very good therapeutic sign in Cam's case.

They had hung up, and Cam had consulted his cell phone directory.  Finding the entry he wanted, he'd hit "Send."

The phone had rung at the Sheriff's department, and had been answered immediately.

"Detective Suarez," a familiar voice said on the other end of the line.

"Detective," Cam had said, "this is Cam MacKenzie.  How are you?"

"I'm good.  The question is, how are you?"

"I'm good, too.  I guess you knew that I was going into therapy because of what happened down the beach.  I'm supposed to have my last session this coming Monday at the house where I got messed up, but the realtor and her broker told Dr. Owens, my therapist, that they are too busy to let us in.  I was wondering if you'd do me a huge favor and lean on them to give us access to the place next Monday afternoon?"

Suarez had smiled.  "I'll just bet I can.  I'll call you back.  What are the names of the realtor and the broker and their phone numbers?"

Cam had given the detective the information, and they had hung up.

Deciding to go right to the top, Suarez had punched in the broker's number Cam had supplied, and the man answered the phone.

"Mr. Granger, this is Detective Suarez at the L.A. County Sheriff's Office."

"Yes, Detective?"

"I believe your firm has the listing on the Malibu house where a young man who lives just down the beach from the place you've listed was brutalized.  Is that correct?"

"Yes, I believe we have that listing."

"We want the victim and his doctor to have access to the house one more time to see if making a visit there will elicit further details about the crime.  We hope more information will strengthen the prosecution's case.  You'll give them access, won't you?"

"We're awfully busy, Detective.  .  ."

"I'm sure you are.  But your cooperation will save me from going to court to re-take possession of the crime scene until we've completed this final part of our investigation.  Can you do that for us?  If I have to put up crime scene tape again, I just don't know when we'll be able to turn the property back over to you."

Knowing his balls were securely in hand and being squeezed, the broker gave in.  "Of course you'll have our cooperation, Detective."

"Good.  Then I'll have the young man's doctor call your office to make an appointment to visit the house.  The Sheriff's Department is in your debt, sir.  Thank you."

That hurdle overcome, Suarez had called Cam back.

"You're all set, Cam.  Just have your doctor call the realty office, and the broker will set up access.  Make it a time that's convenient for you and the doctor, by the way, not when the realty people feel like doing it."

"Detective, I can't thank you enough.  I really appreciate this."

"You're welcome.  By the way, your court case should be coming up before too long.  The D.A.'s office alerted us to have our notes on the case ready.  I'm sure they'll notify you soon about that.  You probably know that the three stooges who molested you are still in lock-up.  Rory Lomer is in solitary 23 hours a day for his own protection.  I guess you knew that, too.  I'm looking forward to testifying so these guys go away for a long time."

"I'm grateful for all you've done for me, Detective," Cam said earnestly.

"You deserve it.  Take care.  See you at the trial."

"Give my best to Detective Roker."

"Will do."

They'd hung up, and Cam had called Martha Owens to give her the good news and tell her to set the appointment at the house so it was a convenient time for her.

"How'd you manage all that?" Dr. Owens had asked.

"Oh, I have my ways," Cam had laughed.

It had been one more bit of evidence for the doctor that Cam was doing just fine in the recovery process.

When Martha Owens telephoned the real estate office again, the realtor fell all over herself to accommodate the good doctor and her patient.

Cam walked down the beach shortly before 2 p.m. on the following Monday to meet Dr. Owens.  Kevin had pressed him that morning to let him accompany Cam to the house, but Cam had gratefully refused his offer.  He tried to make Kevin understand that while he needed his partner's support, this wrap-up to his treatment was something he had to do on his his own.  Kevin had seemed good with that.

Cam found Owens and the realtor waiting for him in their respective cars when he approached the back door of the house.  He and Dr. Owens introduced themselves to the realty lady, who was dressed to the nines.  She unlocked the back door and led the way into the house.  They all went into the family room where the assault on Cam had taken place.  Cam noticed that the rug soaked with his blood and other bodily fluids had been replaced.

The realtor stood there in the room and made no move to leave.

"Ma'am, I'm going to ask you to excuse us while I work with my patient," Dr. Owens told her.

"Oh," the woman said as if the need for privacy had never occurred to her.  "Of course."  She walked toward the back door of the house.  "I'll be waiting in my car so I can lock up.  Do you know how long you'll be?"

"Not exactly," Owens said.  "If you're unable to wait for us to finish, may we call you?"

"Of course," the lady said, not wanting any repercussions from the Sheriff's office to fall on her broker.  "Here's my card," the woman said, walking back into the room.  "Call me if my car is gone when you're finished."

"Thank you for your help," Dr. Owens said, watching the woman retreat toward the back door.  When she heard the door shut, the doctor, wearing slacks, went to the center of the room and sat down cross-legged on the floor.  She gestured at the floor in front of her, inviting Cam to sit down.  He did so, facing her.

Martha Owens looked up at the high ceiling, noting the heavy beams, and in particular the central beam where Cam had been strung up.  Cam followed suit, looking up.

"Cam, what are you feeling right now?"

"Not what I expected when I came here," he said.  "I thought my stomach would really be churning, but it's not."

"Not like when you first started describing in our sessions what had happened to you here?"

"No.  I'm surprised."

"It's a good sign."


"Yes.  But let's go over what happened to you in this room one last time."

"All right."  Cam began describing how he had returned to consciousness after being accosted on the beach and chloroformed by his three assailants.  How he awakened and found himself stripped and hanging by his wrists from the center beam of the room with his feet barely touching the floor.

He then began to talk about how every inch of his body was flogged as he screamed for help and begged for mercy, how his package and his buttocks and inner thighs were singled out for whipping with a switch, his nipples clamped with alligator clips.  He continued to have vivid and powerful visual flashbacks of what had happened to him.  Flashbacks of how he was sodomized with increasingly larger dildoes as he began bleeding from his rectum and passing in and out of consciousness over a period of time. How several hours of torture continued.   He remembered being lowered to the floor so he could be repeatedly fucked and then forced to fellate each of his three captors.  He finally recounted flashbacks about how he had finally awakened on the floor of the room, securely bound hand and foot and gagged, painfully weeping alone in the darkness until he heard Alice and Samantha barking and then felt Kevin's arms around him, comforting him.  And then the sight and sound of many voices as the EMT's gave him emergency treatment, hooking up an IV and loading him into an ambulance bound for the hospital.

"Tell me your feelings now," Dr. Owens, working hard to deal with her own feelings of dismay about what had been done to this young man of whom she had grown so fond.

"I thought that this session might destroy me.  Set me back, maybe.  But instead I'm really pissed off," Cam said.  "I remember clearly everything that was done to me, see it in my mind's eye, but I'm not internalizing my anger or letting it paralyze me, if that's what you're asking.  And I know for sure that what happened to me hasn't and won't affect my relationships with those I care about.  It doesn't have power in my life anymore.  I am so over being a victim.  But I admit I am still angry that anybody would do what these guys did to a human being."

Martha Owens reached out took Cam's hand, feeling no tremors there.  "I'd be more concerned if you were just passive about what happened.

"All in all, Cam, you've given me the best news I could have heard," the doctor continued.  "I think our goals for your treatment have been met.   To begin with, I think you'll be able to participate fully and effectively in the prosecution of the three men who did this to you.  I'm very pleased with how you're handling this trauma, and I sense that you are, too.  In my opinion, you're back to functioning at a high level, and will continue to do so.  You'll never forget what happened to you in this room, but it won't hold you back in your life.  It won't hold you prisoner."

She held both his hands in hers.  "You've been a great patient!  And truthfully, I'm going to miss seeing you every week."

Cam looked her in the eye.

"I'm really lucky to have had you for treatment!" he said.  "Out of the thousands of therapists out there, my mother found you.  You know your business, that's for sure.  I'm grateful, and I know my family is grateful, too."

Cam stood and helped Dr. Owens up off the floor, and they walked out the back door together with Cam's arm around her.  The realtor's car was gone, and Dr. Owens consulted the woman's card.  She called her cell phone, advising her that they were finished in the house, thanking her and telling her she could return to lock up.

Cam put his arms around Martha Owens, looking down into that kind, intelligent face for a long minute as they said good-bye in the driveway before they parted company.  Both of them were pleased with the outcome of the painful therapy they had collaborated on.

"Call me if you ever need me," Dr. Owens said.

"Will do.  Thanks again," Cam said.  He walked away toward home feeling good and free of the most terrible experience of his life.

Seeing the time and noting that Kevin would be changing classes at UCLA, Cam dialed him up on his cell phone rather than texting as he walked down the beach.

"How was it?" Kevin asked when he answered the phone.

"It was good.  And I'm good.  Laters, man.  Luv ya so much," he said before disconnecting.

The call left Kevin smiling and rejoicing for his partner.

Just the sound of Kevin's voice made Cam wish he were holding him in his arms and kissing his face right then.  And then taking him to bed.

*  *  *

Father Mason had been on edge all day because it was Monday.  THE Monday.

That night Father Mason was set to visit Catherine, Ian, Mary and the boys for supper. 
After previously informing Cam, Kevin and Carl about his orientation during his last trip to Los Angeles, it was the night for him to come out to the rest of the blended family he had grown so close to.

He'd run with the family that morning, wondering all during the time he'd spent with them if what he had to tell them would materially alter his relationship with them.  Given the family's non-judgmental views on homosexuality, he knew rationally that it was highly unlikely that his admission he was gay would adversely affect their deep friendship.  He was 99% sure of that.  But there was always that 1% chance that he would lose them.

The priest had gone home after his run, showered, and gone to St. Andrew's for the daily office and Mass before going to his desk.

In the Rector's absence, he was scheduled to preach again at all the Masses at St. Andrew's the following Sunday.  His
uneasiness over what he would reveal that night at supper had interrupted his concentration on the homily several times, sending him to the chapel to pray about what he would say to the family.  But he was resigned and committed to following through on the matter.  He remembered what he had told Cam, Kevin and Carl in Malibu during his last trip south--that it's necessary for our own happiness for us to be authentic about who and what we are in life.

As arranged, Mason arrived at Catherine's house at 6 p.m.  Dusk had just fallen.  He was greeted at the door by Mary Carson with the usual hug and kiss on the cheek.  She invited him in, and ushered him into the TV room.  Ian was there watching the news and waiting for him.  Carson shut off the TV as the priest came in.  They embraced, and Mary went back to the kitchen carrying a glass of Merlot with her.

"Father!  Long time, no see," Ian kidded the clergyman, having seen him just that morning when they had run.  "How about a drink?  We're holding supper for William to get home from football practice.  So we have time for a drink and a visit."

"Sounds good," Mason said.  "How about an Absolut martini on the rocks, dirty, olives?"  Some liquid courage won't hurt me, the priest thought to himself.

"Great minds running on the same track," Ian said.  "And in the same direction," he added.

Ian walked behind the bar, pulled two drink glasses off the shelf and loaded them with ice from the ice bucket.  Then he poured the vodka.  Heavy on the vodka.  A capful of vermouth covered the ice, followed by two olives for each glass, skewered with a toothpick.

Ian walked around from behind the bar and handed a glass to the priest.

"Cheers," Ian said as they clinked glasses.

"Amen to that."  Mason smiled, and they each took a sip before going over and sitting down at either end of the couch.  They heard the back door bang closed.  Ian looked at his watch.

"William's home," he said.  "Right on time."

"Where are the rest of the boys?" Father Mason asked.

"Upstairs studying, if they know what's good for them."

"Their grades are good, I take it?"

"Excellent," Ian said.  "I couldn't ask for better.  They're all on the Dean's list at this point."

"That's quite an accomplishment, especially since William and Berto are playing sports."

"So are Mark and Dan," Ian said.  "They've both started wrestling."

William stuck his head in the door just then, book bag strap over his shoulder, before going upstairs.  His hair was still damp from showering at school.

"Hello, Father," he said.  "Glad you could make it tonight."

The priest noticed for the second time that day how good looking the kid was.  Handsome, vigorous and built.  Great carriage.  Obviously no stranger to the weight room.  Father Mason stood up to shake the boy's hand and drew him into a hug.

"Hey, William!" he said.  "How was football practice?"

"Good," William said as they released each other.  "Football's winding down.  We have one more regular game, and then we'll go into finals for the regional title."

"I've been following your team in the sports section.  Predictions are that San Rafael will win the championship."

"We're working on it!  But as the coach says, 'One game at a time.'"

"Good advice," Ian chimed in.

William smiled.  "If you'll excuse me, I need to put my books in my room.  See you at supper."

"Great kid," Mason said as they heard the boy's footfalls on the stairs.

"Yes, he is," Ian agreed.  "Not perfect, but a good boy, really.  I have a lot of respect for him.  And for all our boys.  We're a lucky family."

Mason couldn't have agreed more.

"Has William contacted you about making his confession?" Ian asked.

Mason looked at him, not smiling.  "That's not something I can discuss with you," he said bluntly.  "You'll have to ask William."

"You're right, of course," Ian said, his face coloring.  "I should have known better than to ask that.  Please forgive me."

Mason nodded, bringing his drink to his mouth and downing a good slug of it.

"Great martini!" he said with a grin.

Catherine appeared at the door.

"Father!  Thanks for joining us tonight," she said, going over and hugging the priest as he stood up.

"My pleasure." he said.  "And if you knew what a bad cook I am, you'd understand how much I mean that."

"We're ready," Catherine said.

The two men downed the rest of their martinis, put their glasses on the bar, and followed Catherine toward the dining room.

The boys came clattering down the back stairs and through the kitchen, greeting the priest and standing behind their chairs as they waited for the prayer.

"Father, will you offer thanks?" Catherine asked.

The priest nodded.

"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

The family made the sign of the cross, saying

"Heavenly Father, we are overwhelmed by your goodness and thankful for your mercy to us, especially when we see the gifts you have given us.  We bless your holy name for the food you have provided, and ask you to inspire us always to be generous to those in need, though Jesus Christ our Lord."


Ian seated his wife and Father Mason seated Catherine, and then they sat down to one of the priest's favorite meals:  pot roast.

The priest praised the menu and the food, and then lapsed into what for him was relative silence.  Catherine noticed that, but didn't say anything.

After salad and the main course, Mary served the dessert, a delicious peach cobbler, one of Rosa's specialties.

When everyone had eaten his fill, Mark Carson asked if he could be excused to go back upstairs to his school books.  At that point Father Mason asked if he could talk to the whole family for a few minutes.

Mark kept his seat, and everyone sat looking at the priest.

"There's something on my mind I need to discuss with all of you. . ."

© 2011 Don Hanratty