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


William Carson rapped his knuckles on the open door to Catherine's study at the house in San Rafael.  His father was seated at Catherine's desk working on some legal papers for an upcoming trial.  Ian's recent trip to Los Angeles for Alex's and John's funeral had put him behind in his work, and he was struggling to catch up.

Ian looked up and smiled at his older son, and beckoned him into the room, pointing to a seat.  He needed to work on the papers in front of him, but it was always "family first" for Ian when it came to priorities.

"Hey, Dad," William said.  "Can I talk to you for a minute?"

"Yes," Ian said, sitting back a little in Catherine's big leather chair.  Lord, he thought to himself as he looked at his son, William is handsome.  Every one of the boys he and Mary and Catherine was raising was really good looking.  Obviously all the girls who were constantly calling the boys' cell phones and the land line at the house all agreed about that.

"I want to ask for your advice about something," William said.

"All right."

William got right to the point.  "You remember Alicia McCaskill?  The girl I used to date?"

"Vividly," Ian said drily.  "But only by reputation.  I've never had the pleasure of meeting her in person."

"Well, sometimes we still eat lunch together in the cafeteria at school, and we were talking..."

Ian groaned internally but resisted doing so aloud.

"You're still friends, then?" Ian asked.


"That's good," Ian admitted reluctantly.  "And?"

"We'd like to date again."

"I'll just bet you would.  In your case, the word 'date' covers a lot of ground, though, doesn't it?  Didn't we have an agreement about you and the girls at school when it comes to 'dating?'"

William's face reddened. "Yes, we did.  And we do.  But this isn't what you think."

"What is it, then?"

"I like her.  Alicia and I just want to hang.  Go to dinner or maybe have her come to dinner over here.  Go to a movie.  Go to an occasional party.  You know.  I didn't want to do any of that behind your back, that's all."

"I appreciate that, William.  But let's talk about the elephant in the room.  Are you thinking about being 'friends with benefits' again with Alicia?  I think that's what you young people call it today."

"Well, I've thought about it, sure," William admitted.  "But I know we can't do that."

"No, you can't.  What is it you need my advice about?"

"I want to know how you think Alicia and I should approach her father about dating again.  'Dating' in the strictest sense of the word, I mean."

Ian studied his son and fell silent for a moment.

"Now that's a good question," he finally said, at a rare loss for an immediate answer.

The two of them sat there looking at each other for another long moment.

"The first answer that comes to mind is to approach Mr. McCaskill the same way you've approached me," Ian said.  "Be honest about what you're looking for in the relationship and what you're not looking for.  Assurances will have to be given by both you and Alicia that your relationship isn't going to be sexual.  That might give you a chance with Bill McCaskill.  He's a very good and very reasonable man, by the way."

William nodded.  "It's helpful to know that.  Thanks, Dad.  Alicia and I are willing to restrain ourselves.  We're willing to show some discipline in our relationship."  William paused.  "Does this mean that you and Mom will be OK with Alicia and me, uh, dating?  Just 'dating' in the strictest definition of the word?" he added quickly and smiled.

"If you're telling me that there won't be any sex in this relationship with Alicia, I'm good with it.  I'll talk to Mom, and I'm sure she'll be fine with it, too."

"I appreciate it, Dad," William said.

"Do you want me to call Mr. McCaskill and give him a heads-up that you'll be contacting him?"

"That would be really nice of you," William said.  "I don't want to surprise him."

"I can do that, then.  I'll let you know."

Ian stood up and walked around the desk as William got to his feet.  He took his boy in his arms and kissed his cheek.

"I love you, boy.  And I trust you," he added.

"Thank you, Dad.  I love you back."

Released from the hug, William started to walk toward the door when he stopped and turned around with a serious look on his face.  "I feel like I won the lottery when I got you for my dad.  All us guys feel that way."  Then he left the room.

Ian went back and sat down at the desk, rubbing away the sudden moisture that had appeared in his eyes.  How many fathers get to hear that? he asked himself.  Not many, I don't think.

In a good mood, William bounded up the stairs two at a time to the second floor and walked back to his and Berto's bedroom.  Berto looked up from the textbook he was studying.

"So?" Berto asked.  William had told him earlier he was going to talk to Ian about Alicia.

"Thumbs up!" William said with a grin.  "One dad down, one to go!"

"Damn!" Berto said.  "Well, no one ever said you aren't persuasive.  And persistent.  Is it 'Friends with benefits?'"


Berto grinned.  "Then just don't be wakin' me up in the middle of the night while you're strokin' it in the next bed, dude."

William smiled back.  "Let me make a note of that."  He sat down at his desk and pretended to write something and then read it back.  "Don't disturb Berto when he's jackin' off," he said.

Berto laughed.  "You're a dick!" he said.

*  *  *

Cam didn't have his Cinematography class that day at UCLA, and by afternoon was wandering listlessly around the house with Casey in tow.   Bored to death.  Maria was still catching up with her work after they'd had that house full of visitors before and after the funeral.

Cam and Kevin and Carl had arisen that morning at dawn's early light and run their 8 miles without much conversation.  They'd returned to work out in the little gym, then shower and dress, and the three of them had eaten some of Maria's spiced-up Huevos Rancheros, along with toast and orange juice.

Before leaving, Kevin had held Cam in his arms for a long time and soundly kissed him several times.  Then Kevin and Carl had picked up their book bags and headed for school.  Cam knew Kevin was still worried about his partner's state of mind, especially after Kevin had hugged him longer than usual and kissed him repeatedly before letting go of him.

Cam had followed them out to the driveway, staring at Kevin's Levi-clad butt as the two guys headed for Kevin's Mustang.  I do love that boy's body, Cam had thought to himself, picturing Kevin's rounded, muscular buttocks and that sexy crease at the bottom where his butt joined his legs.  His back and chest and abs and that butt and those legs are all beautiful!  Primo!  Fucking works of art!  Just like what's hanging between his legs!  I could perve on Kevin's body all day long and never get tired of it!  And that's just the physical aspect of our relationship.  I love his mind and his disposition and his spirit and his determination and his toughness and his kindness and everything about him.
  Thank goodness he loves me and gets off on our relationship just as much as I do.

Cam had sighed as the guys got into the Mustang and took off.

Casey spent most of the morning in his downstairs playpen while Cam studied his Cinematography textbook and Maria worked on getting the house back in order.  After having a bowl of soup for lunch, Cam rolled a rubber ball up and down the long downstairs hallway for a while, with Casey toddling along in hot pursuit and bringing the ball back to his dad, babbling all the way.  Eventually the little boy was worn out.  Cam checked the baby's diaper--it was dry--and then put him down in his upstairs crib for his afternoon nap.  He turned on the baby monitors and went downstairs to sit in the study at Alex's desk.

On a whim he picked up the landline receiver and brought up the directory.  Scrolling down, he selected "Jeff Miller" from the list and hit the dial button.  Some beeps, and the Assurances telephone began to ring.

"Good afternoon," a pleasant, young-sounding female voice said.  "Assurances.  How may I direct your call?"

"Jeff Miller, please," Cam said.

"Who's calling, please?"

"Cameron MacKenzie."  There was a pause while the young lady apparently checked an approved caller list.  His name must have been on it.

"Please hold."  The line went dead, and some nondescript, elevator type music began playing.  Three minutes later, Cam heard Jeff's voice.

"Hello," Jeff said.

"Jeff!  It's Cam.  How the fuck are ya?"

"Cam!  Man, it's good to hear your voice!  I'm doing great!  How about yourself?"

Cam hesitated.  "I'm workin' on doin' better," he said.  "We're all still trying to get over Alex and John...You know."

"Yeah."  Jeff cleared his throat.  "I know that won't happen overnight.  Nothing worthwhile does."

Cam chuckled.  "You're sounding a little philosophical there, guy."

"I know it," Jeff said, laughing.  "I guess I'm learning something here despite my thick skull."

"Well, we miss you.  When are you gonna get another furlough?  We could use somebody who's upbeat around here.  You could share some of your new insights with us face to face."

"Yeah, I could share what I know.  Which is mostly what I don't know.  Anyway, I'm not sure when I can get away.  But I'll ask and get back to ya.  How are Kevin and Carl and Casey, by the way?"

"Kevin and Carl are sloggin' along.  We're all trying to heal up, I guess you'd say.  The Baby Face--well, he's great.  I just wore his little ass out chasing a rubber ball down the hallway today.  He's walkin' better all the time.  And he's starting to talk.  He already knows more words than Kevin.  The other day he said, 'Where's Jeff?'"

Jeff laughed.  "I miss the little guy.  And you're still on Kevin's butt, I see.  Some things never change."

"You're right about that."  I'm on his ass in more ways than one, Cam thought to himself, smiling.  "Well, listen, let us know when you're gonna get sprung for a few days.  You always have a bed here, you know that."

"I appreciate it," Jeff said.  "Thanks for calling me, bud.  I'll get back to you about a furlough.  Meantime, you hang in!"

"Take care, Jeff.  Laters."  Cam hit the off button and put the phone back on its stand.

Over in Santa Monica, Jeff hung up the phone and walked away with a new bounce in his step.  Somebody other than my mom and dad is thinking about me, he reminded himself.  Cam probably doesn't even realize how a little thing like a phone call can lift somebody's spirits.

Cam went back to studying his Cinematography text some more until later in the afternoon, absorbing facts like a sponge.  When he came to a good stopping point, he closed the book and took a small scratch pad out of a desk drawer.  He started making a list of things concerning Alex's and John's estate he wanted to ask Ian about, along with some personal matters.

First on the list was how to get the title to the Highlander so they could sign the vehicle over to Carl.  For whatever reason, Carl really liked the SUV hybrid.  He and Kevin didn't particularly want it, and there was no reason their bro shouldn't have it.  Cam had to admit it did come in pretty handy when Kevin's Mustang and his own Camaro weren't big enough to handle a crowd.  And the Porsche obviously wasn't built for group travel.

Second on the list was how he and Kevin could find a good broker to invest part of the $1 million deposits a year they each would be receiving in their checking accounts from the estate once it was probated.  Some of that money should be working for them.

Thirdly he needed advice on how to set up a not-for-profit foundation to promote education for children living in areas with bad schools, although he needed to discuss this at length with Kevin first.

And finally, he wanted to ask Ian for his advice on where he and Kevin should go to get legally married.  He wanted so much for that to happen, and he was certain that Kevin did as well.  The suit filed in Federal court to overturn Proposition 8, the plebiscite forbidding gay marriage in California, had not yet been decided.  And Cam was getting tired of waiting.

Cam knew additional questions for Ian would arise as things continued to settle down after the funeral.

He saw Maria go by in the hallway carrying Casey, heading for the kitchen to start cooking the boys' supper for that evening.  Cam stood up and went to the door of the study and followed her down the hall as she reached the kitchen and put Casey in his highchair.

"Maria, do you have anything I can help you with?  I'm bored."

"Of course," Maria said.  She hesitated.  "Are you all right?"

"I guess so.  I'm just wired and need something to do."

Maria nodded as they surveyed the kitchen.

"What do you want for supper tonight?" she asked, pausing in front of the refrigerator.

Cam smiled.  "What are my choices?"

"You can have beef or shrimp tacos with refried beans.  You can have steaks, either shark or T-bone, with a salad and baked potatoes.  You can have vegetable and beef stew, you can have fried eggplant..."

"Fried eggplant???" Cam said.  "What the heck is that?"

"It's a vegetable and very good for you."

"I think we'd have to get clearance from Kevin and Carl before we spring that on 'em," Cam said with a grin.

Maria laughed.

"Let's go with the tacos--half of them shrimp and half of them beef," Cam recommended.

"Sounds good to me," Maria said.  "Why don't you get the taco shells ready to fry, and start cutting up the tomatoes and greens.  I'll start thawing the shrimp and the hamburger.  The beans are in a covered dish on the bottom shelf of the fridge, and you can get them ready to heat up."

Just then the land line rang, and Maria answered it.  "MacKenzie residence," she said, pausing to listen.  "Good afternoon, Doctor...Yes, Cam is here.  One moment, please."  She hit the hold button and looked over at Cam.  "Dr. Martha Owens for you, Cam," Maria said.

"Thanks.  I'll take it in the study," he told her over his shoulder as he headed toward the door.  Sitting down at the desk in the study, he picked up the receiver and punched the blinking button.

"Dr. Owens, this is Cam.  How are you?"

"I'm fine, thanks," the familiar voice said.  "I'm calling to find out how you are.  I just returned from Manhattan.  I saw the article about your dad and his partner in the New York Times while I was therePlease accept my condolences."

Cam sighed.  "Thank you.  How am I?  Well, I'm functioning, I guess.  I think I'd have to say I'm still stunned by what's happened.  And depressed, but it's nothing like what I went through after being molested down the beach.  I'm pretty sad about things right now, though."

"That's understandable.  I'm sure all your family were down from San Rafael for the funeral."

"Yes.  Thank God for every one of them, that's all I can say.  Ian and Mary and my mother and brothers and the priests have been great support, and Kevin has been my rock."

"That's good.  I was going to ask you how Kevin is doing."

Cam paused.  "I'm not sure.  He's grieving, I know that.  But he doesn't talk about his feelings like I do.  Should I be worried about that?"

"Well, be watchful," Dr. Owens said, "but not worried.  If you notice any negative changes in Kevin's demeanor over the next few weeks, you might think about letting me know.  And I want you to tell me if your own sadness doesn't start to abate over time.  That won't happen right away, and each of us mourns at his own pace.  But if you get worried about how you're feeling about things, please check in with me."

"I will."

"Is Carl all right?"

"Yes, I think so," Cam said.  "He was pretty broken up at the funeral, but he seems to be handling what happened pretty well."

"Good.  Are you going to classes?  And are you able to study?"

"Well, I still only have the one class.  Cinematography.  It didn't meet today, but I go when it does meet.  And yes, I can concentrate and study without any problem."

"Excellent."  Dr. Owens went silent for a moment.  "I want you to know that this call is more personal than it is professional.  You and I formed a bond and had a real connection and collaboration when you were in treatment.  I don't want to see anything negative come out of your grief about your dad's and his partner's deaths."

Cam was moved.  "I'll never forget what you've done for me, and I'm grateful you've been thinking about me and Kevin and Carl," he said warmly.  "I promise I'll call you if any of us starts having problems."

"Thank you, Cam.  You guys take good care of each other.  And please give your mother and the Carsons my best regards when you talk to them."

"Will do."

They hung up, and Cam returned to the kitchen.

"Now there's an amazing person," Cam told Maria.  "Dr. Owens gave me my life back earlier this year, without a doubt."

Maria nodded and looked him in the eye.

"You're right about that," she said.  "I saw that happen."

Cam removed some tortillas from the refrigerator and separated them, five for himself and five each for Kevin and Carl.  Then he put some vegetable oil in a deep skillet under a very low flame to heat up.  As soon as the oil was hot, he'd start frying the shells.

Next he started cutting up tomatoes and red peppers and stuffed olives along with lettuce to go with the hamburger and shrimp.  His mouth watered as he thought about how good supper was going to be.

Basic tasks completed, he sat down beside Casey and started to feed him some baby food which now alternated, from time to time, with just a very little solid food.  Casey was a very cooperative baby, a hungry baby, a healthy baby, and he ate his food like a champ.

*  *  *

L.A. County District Attorney Jim Nolan picked up the phone and rang his Chief Deputy, Ralph Caruso.

"Ralph, will you set up a meeting for the two of us with Aaron Petrie?  Say, this afternoon at 14 hundred hours in my office."  Nolan had been in the Marines as a kid, and liked to use military time.  "I want to talk about the Clymer case with him.  I gave my word to Alex MacKenzie, John Kelley, Ian Carson and Sean Miller that we were going to move expeditiously on this, and I want to know where Petrie is on getting this into court.  MacKenzie and Kelley are like gods in the arts community now that they're dead, and if we fuck up and lose this case, we're going to be crucified in the press."

Caruso said he knew that, said he would confirm the meeting after talking to Petrie, and they hung up.  Nolan's secretary received a call a few minutes later which said the meeting was on.

Caruso and Petrie greeted Nolan's secretary right at 2 p.m. and walked into the D.A.'s office.  Petrie was carrying a voluminous file which had grown from nothing over the past several months.

"Gentlemen!" Nolan greeted the two men, and motioned toward the conference table at one side of the large office.  "Have a seat."

Jim Nolan didn't waste any time with pleasantries.  Focusing on Aaron Petrie, he said, "Where are we on Clymer, Aaron?"

Clearing his throat, Petrie popped open the file.

"Eric Clymer's parents hired Jim Hughes to represent him; Murtha and Lomer are working with attorneys from the Public Defender's office.  Judge Morris Rogers has been assigned the case, and last week he heard a motion by Hughes to sever Clymer's case from Murtha and Lomer's, and grant him a separate trial.  But the three defendants were all physically present during the planning and the commission of the crime, and we opposed the motion.
  Judge Rogers ruled in our favor, so its back to the drawing board for Hughes.  The two public defenders representing Murtha and Lomer are young and bright, but they're so snowed under with cases that I don't think we can expect much of a defense from them.  Jim Hughes is no pushover, though, as you know, and he'll mount a good defense for Clymer, we can count on that.  If we can get all the facts of this case into evidence, however, we're going to get a guilty verdict on all three defendants."

"Who are the detectives?" Nolan asked.

"Sheriff's Detectives Simon Roker and Emilio Suarez," Ralph Caruso said.  "They're both senior detectives, both of them are good at their jobs, and they're reliable witnesses on the stand.  I've reviewed their reports, and they've dotted all the i's and crossed the t's.  They followed all the rules."

"Is there any chance we can turn one of the perps and have him testify against his buddies?" Nolan asked.  "I'm not terribly worried about the case, but having a witness who was an assailant will just make it that much stronger."

"Rory Lomer was allegedly raped shortly after he was incarcerated," Petrie said.  "At his request, he's been in solitary confinement for his own protection since then.  I've seen him twice in the last few weeks with his PD, and I think he's on the brink of pleading guilty and testifying for us.  With your permission, I'm going to sweeten the deal I offered him through his lawyer--from 7 years jail time without parole to 3 ½ years without parole and two years probation.  I'm sticking to seven years without parole for Clymer and Murtha.  What they did to the MacKenzie kid was heinous, no matter how you look at it."

"I think you should ask for 10 years without parole for all of them," Nolan said.  "Tell the lawyers that your prick of a DA changed his mind.  You can still go to to 3 ½ years for Lomer if you have to."  Nolan looked at Caruso.  "Ralph?"

"Sounds right.  And let's offer Lomer the deal," the chief deputy said.

"Do it, then," Nolan said to Petrie.  "I've told Ralph, and I'm telling you, NO SURPRISES AND NO FUCKUPS!  Let's move this case into the trial stage ASAP, and get a conviction!"

"Yes, sir!" Petrie said, standing and shaking hands with the D.A. and his deputy.  "I'll get with Lomer's public defender.  He'll be delighted with a deal."  He gathered his file and left the room.

"Can he get this done?" Nolan asked Caruso when they were alone.

"Without a doubt."

"All right.  Stay on top of it," Nolan admonished.

Caruso nodded, and left the office.

*  *  *

The morning after he had talked with William about dating Alicia McCaskill again, Ian Carson pushed some of the papers on his desk at the office aside and leaned forward in his chair.  He buzzed his secretary.  "Bev, get me Bill McCaskill."

"Yes, sir."

Two minutes later his phone buzzed.

"Yes, m'am?"

"Mr. McCaskill on 48," his secretary said.

"Thanks."  He punched the line labeled 48.  "Bill, thanks for taking my call."

"Ian, how are you?  I was just thinking about you this morning when some legal issues came up."

"The planets must be aligned.  I'm wondering what your lunch schedule looks like this week.  I've been wanting to get together with you for a while to talk about letting our firm represent your company.  And I have a family matter I want to talk to you about."

"Uh, let me look...Well, today looks good.  I'm tied up the rest of the week."

"Excellent!" Ian said.  "Why don't we meet at SZQR at 12:30?"

"I love the place.  I'll look forward to seeing you at 12:30 today."

The two men hung up, and Ian buzzed Bev again.

"Bev, get me a lunch reservation for two at 12:30 today at SZQR.  Private room for us, if possible."

"Yes, sir."

Five minutes later, Bev told him that the reservation for a private room at 12:30 was confirmed.  It was amazing what Carson's name could accomplish at a wildly popular San Francisco restaurant, even on short notice.

*  *  *

Kevin and Carl arrived home from school about 5:00.  Maria was still in the kitchen puttering around with supper before leaving for home.  The guys would put the finishing touches on the food when they were ready to eat.

"What's for supper, Maria?" Carl asked.  "I'm starved."

"Shrimp and beef tacos," the woman replied.  "Cam cut up the veggies, and the shells are fried and ready to heat up anytime you want to eat."

"Cam did what?" Carl said.  "We won't have to visit the emergency room later, will we?"

"I don't think so," Maria said.  "He washed his hands this time."

"The menu sounds great!" Kevin told her, laughing.  "I love ya.  Will you marry me?"  He marched over to Maria, hugged her and planted a kiss on her cheek.

Maria laughed.  "That's tempting, but I think you're a little late with that proposal," she told him.

"Story of my life," Kevin said.

He and Carl bade her goodnight, and went down the hall to find Cam.  They found him on the big leather couch in the den with Alice and Samantha and Casey all on his lap together and vying for Cam's attention.  The new arrivals shrugged off their backpacks to the floor, with Carl sitting down in one of the leather swivel chairs across the room and Kevin moving the dogs and the baby over so he could sit astride Cam's legs, face to face with his partner.

"Hey, guys," Cam said before losing himself in Kevin's brown eyes.

"Hey," Kevin said, looking into his partner's green eyes and then kissing him tenderly on the lips.  With a little tongue, though.

"Where's mine?" Carl asked his bros with a grin.

"In San Rafael, fer sure," Cam said.  "By the way, is Andy coming down here this weekend?"

"Oh, yeah!" Carl said, thinking for the umpteenth time just that day about his boyfriend's body and what he wanted to do with it upon arrival.

"What did you do today?" Kevin asked Cam.

"Studied cinematography, thought about you; played roll-the-ball with Casey, thought about you; studied some more, thought about sex with you; helped Maria fix supper, thought about you and having sex with you again; and played with these dogs and this cute little boy here, and thought about you.  That's about it."

"Oh, man!" Carl told Cam.  "You've got it bad!"

"No lie.  But I'm not alone.  And don't deny it," Cam said back.

"When you're right, you're right," Carl said, chuckling.  He stood and picked up his book bag by the strap.  "Well, I'm gonna go upstairs and hit the books for a few minutes before supper.  Call me if you want some help with the food."

" 'K, bud," Cam said.  "Thanks."

Carl left to go upstairs as Kevin put his hand on Cam's neck and pulled his boy's face to him for another kiss.  Casey picked that moment to slither down off the couch to the floor and then stand there, wobbling a little.

"Oh, no you don't," Kevin told the child, and picked him up for some smooches.  That didn't last long.  The little guy began to squirm and fuss, and Kevin soon returned him to a standing position on the floor.  "Thank goodness you don't squirm around when I try to kiss you," Kevin told his boyfriend.  "I'd have to take strong measures with ya."

"Yeah, yeah," Cam told Kevin dismissively.  "Hey, are we gonna do a little more working out in the gym tonight?  I miss having you yell at me."

"I do not yell.  I patiently instruct."

"I could shoot a video to prove my point."

"You do that.  I'll be on my best behavior, at least while I'm on camera."

"You're way cute, even when you make me crazy," Cam informed him.

"I do what I can," Kevin said.

"You're very good at it."  Cam studied Kevin's face.  "Dr. Owens called today."

"Had you called her?"

"No.  She said she'd just gotten back from New York City, and had read about Dad and John's deaths when she was there.  She wanted to know how I was doing?"

"What did you tell her?"

"I said I'm a little stunned and depressed, but nothing like when I got fucked over down the beach by Clymer and his boys.  I told her I can study and concentrate.  When she heard that, she didn't suggest that I need to see her professionally."


"Then she asked about you, how you were doing.  I didn't know exactly what to tell her about that."

Kevin looked at Cam and didn't say anything, scrunching up his face.  He got off Cam's legs and sat beside him on the couch.

Cam turned his head and held his partner's gaze.  "I told her that the reason I didn't know how you're doing is that you don't talk about your feelings like I do with you."


"She told me not to be worried about that, but to be observant.  I think 'watchful' was the word she used.  She wants me to call her if I think you're really hurting and not letting on."

"So you're watching me now?"

Cam grinned.  "I've never stopped watching you since I met you in third grade.  Especially that sweet, tight little ass of yours.  Watching your butt has been my hobby for years."

Kevin didn't laugh.  He sighed, but didn't launch into an argument over what Cam was saying about his not sharing his thoughts enough.

"All right," he said, "what do you want to know?"

"I want you to tell me how you're really feeling.  I don't have a clue."

"You know I don't like to talk about my feelings.  At least not when it comes to what's happened lately."

"Indulge me."

There was a long pause.

"I am hurting," Kevin finally admitted.  "I get a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about not seeing Alex and John anymore.  Your mom and the Carsons and Alex and John basically took me in and formed a relationship with me and got me through some bad shit.  Catherine loved me even when I got Heather pregnant, and they all supported me when my own father was the biggest dick in the world to me about being gay and when he tried to steal our son.  I owe the family everything, and now I won't see Alex's and John's faces again.  I still need them in my life, but now that's not going to happen.  I'm pretty down about it, to tell you the truth."

Tears sprang up in Kevin's eyes as Cam took his partner's hand and brought it to his lips, kissing it.  Cam's eyes watered.

"Are you having any trouble studying or concentrating?" Cam asked, echoing Dr. Owens' question about his own condition.

"No, I'm good on that stuff," Kevin said.  "It's when I'm not studying and concentrating on school, or having sex with you, that I have problems."

"I'm in the same shape you are, then," Cam said.  "But Dr. Owens didn't seem alarmed about what I'm feeling, so I don't think she'd be worried about you, either."  He squeezed Kevin's hand.  "By the way, please don't think she called to solicit business.  She told me that her call was more personal as it was professional.  I know that she cares about me, and about you, too."

"Good to know."

"But I want your permission to share with her what you've told me if she and I talk again about how we're doing."

"All right."

"Thank you for talking to me, Kev.  I love you.  I don't know how to tell you how much."

"I love you back, dude.  I know I must be hard to read sometimes, but I'll try to do better about sharing things with you."

"That's all I can ask."

"Let's put the dogs outside and take Babyface upstairs," Kevin said.  "I'll think of some way to please you while we're up there, and take our minds off Alex and John."

Cam smiled.  "It's about damn time."

Cam put Alice and Samantha on their chains in the front yard as Kevin carried Casey to his upstairs playpen, where the little boy lay on his back watching his mobiles and then, for the moment, closed his eyes.

The two guys stripped each other slowly and deliberately, and then stood at the foot of their bed holding one another's naked body.  Kevin pulled Cam tighter against him as their cocks touched each other and began to firm up.  Kevin lightly stroked Cam's back from shoulders to ass with both hands as they stood there facing each other.

"You have such an amazing body," Kevin told Cam. "It's perfect.  How should I describe it?"  He chuckled, and changed his voice to sound like a beauty pageant announcer.  "Muscular but willowy, with just the right amount of definition."  He went back to his own voice.  "I'd like to touch you and hold you 24/7."

Cam swallowed hard, dipping his head to kiss, nibble and suck on Kevin's right nipple while squeezing his pec and then letting go.  "Back acha," he said, raising his head.  "You're the one with the great muscles, bud.  Perfect proportions everywhere!"  He kissed Kevin while reaching down and palming his partner's dick, which was now starting to reach for the ceiling.  "I want to make love to every inch of skin on your body.  No lie, I think about you all day and dream about you all night."

Kevin smiled.  They let go of one another, and Kevin turned down the bedspread and lay down on his back, spread eagle, and held up his arms to receive the precious cargo of the man-boy he loved so much.  Cam lay down on top of him, and their kissing grew more insistent.

After a time, Kevin reached over and took the lube out of their bedside table, handing it to Cam.

"Do me, Cameron.  Except during Physics class, I've been thinking all day about having sex with you."

Cam smiled.  "First things first," he said, pushing Kevin's legs back, raising his butt, and scooting down to spread his lover's buttocks and kiss him down there in his crack.  His tongue was soon at his hole, circling around it, moving the little tuft of black hair residing there around before repeatedly plunging it into Kevin as far he could get it.  Kevin groaned with pleasure as Cam alternated tongue-fucking and licking and kissing him down there with increasing speed and vigor.  Cam loved the clean, musky, earthy smell emanating from Kevin's hole.

"Oh, yes!" Kevin said, lifting his head and watching Cam at work.  Kevin's now fully engorged penis had produced a glistening pearl of pre-cum at its slit as it lay there on his abs.

As he returned Kevin's ass to the bed, Cam kissed his inner thighs and continued moving up, kissing and laving his balls and his dick, relieving the latter of its pearl of pre-cum before moving to his abs and then his pecs, where he squeezed and licked and nibbled first one hardening nipple and then the other.  He finished up by sliding up further and deep kissing his partner as Kevin held and caressed his partner's butt.

Squeezed between them, Kevin's dick was now copiously leaking pre-cum.

"You're so fucking hot," Kevin said.  "Use a rubber to fuck me right now so I can have your stuff afterward."

"I wanna bareback," Cam protested.

"I know.  But I want to taste you.  Please..."

"All right.  I can't say 'no' to you."  Cam reached into the drawer of the bedside table and removed a package of seldom used condoms from a box.

Kevin took a condom from it, tearing it open with his teeth, and rolled the rubber down Cam's throbbing dick which was leaking like his own.

"Get inside me, dude, before I come all by myself," Kevin said.  "You've got me so fucking turned on..."

"Don't you dare shoot!"  Cam raised up on his knees, hand on his cock, as Kevin pulled his own legs back, exposing his hole still glistening with Cam's saliva.   After lubing his condom-clad dick, Cam worked his member into his lover slowly so as not to hit his hotspot too vigorously and cause him to orgasm.  When he was fully inside, he lay down on Kevin's body, and Kevin rested his legs on Cam's shoulders.

They lost themselves in each other's eyes yet again, just enjoying the sensations of the moment before Cam began to thrust slowly in and out of his lover.

As Cam did so, Kevin pulled down that handsome face hovering over him, and they kissed again, swapping saliva.

When they stopped kissing, Kevin looked up and whispered softly, "Right now, just for this moment, everything--everything--in this world is perfect."

"Yes," Cam breathed as he thrust into his friend, his companion, his confidante, his mate, his lover.  They were truly one.

Escalating ever so slowly, wanting to make this moment last, the two of them ministered sexually to one another as they had grown so adept at doing.  Their surroundings faded away as Cam gradually increased the pace, feeling Kevin's opening to sexual heaven grasping and then easing the pressure on Cam's rampant penis again and again.  Cam moved inexorably toward planting his seed into the condom inside Kevin as he simultaneously created sexual sparks in Kevin's body by massaging his prostate as he thrust.

The sexual tension built for twenty minutes, culminating when Kevin reached down and inserted a middle finger into Cam's hole.  Ten seconds later they finally nutted at the same time with groans and exclamations of pleasure.  Kevin shot cum between their bodies, hitting his own face and hair before his force abated with each shot, then pooling on his belly and abs.  Cam collapsed on his lover's body as Kevin slowly lowered his legs and clasped them around his lover's ass, ankles hooked together so Cam remained embedded in his partner.

They were comatose for the next ten minutes as their breathing slowed and they regained their senses.

"Cameron," Kevin whispered.


"I love you."

"I know."  Cam looked affectionately into Kevin's face.  "I told Dr. Owens today that you've been my rock.  And that's been true with every challenge I've ever had in my life.  You've been a rock.  My rock.  I love you back."

Then Cam moved down a bit and craned his neck, lowering his head, and ran his tongue up Kevin's abs and chest and neck and face, licking and sucking Kevin's ejaculate into his mouth.  "Yeah!" he exclaimed, tasting his lover's essence and then deep kissing his partner.

When Cam was finished, Kevin, smiling, said, "Alright, give me your stuff."

"Are you sure?"


Cam slowly pulled his penis out of Kevin's body and looked down at his member.  Not only was the large reservoir at the tip of the condom completely filled with his white cream, but some of it had migrated almost up to the root of his shaft.

Kevin rolled the rubber down a little until he could remove it from Cam's cock.  "Here, take this and feed it to me," he said.

Cam took it and inverted it over Kevin's mouth, squeezing it and letting the thick semen begin to drizzle out of the condom on to Kevin's tongue and down into his open mouth.  Kevin didn't swallow, letting it marinate where it collected.  When the rubber was finally empty, Kevin pulled Cam's head down and they soul kissed.  Only then did Kevin swallow.

"Awesome!" Kevin said.

Cam kissed him again before grabbing a kleenex out of the box on the bedside table, wrapping the sticky condom in it, and dropping it to the floor.

They lay there in silence again, still perspiring and intertwined, until they heard a quiet knock on their bedroom door.  They knew it had to be Carl, so they didn't even bother to let go of one another or cover up.

"Yeah?" Kevin said, turning his head to look at their friend as he poked his head in the door.

Carl grinned as he scoped out the lovers lying in the bed in front of him, their beautiful, muscular bodies shining with sweat.  "Hmmmm," he said.  "It smells like sex in here.  You guys make me so fucking jealous," he told them.  "And hard."  His hand unconsciously found it's way down to the crotch of his 501's and touched his incipient hard-on through the denim of his 501's.

"Andy'll be here in a few days, Carl," Cam pointed out, trying to assuage their friend's feelings.  He held a hand in the air over Kevin and himself.  "And starting next summer, you two will be doing this exact same thing we did every chance you get."

"You got that shit right," Carl said.

"Why don't you get Casey and take him downstairs to the kitchen?" Kevin suggested.  "Give us ten minutes to take a quick shower, and we'll finish working on supper together."

"OK."  Carl opened the door fully and went over to the playpen.  Gently scooping up a still sleeping Casey, he headed toward the hall.

"Hurry up," he said as he left.  "I'm hungry."

In the shower, Kevin showed his tender side as he gently soaped up his partner and washed him.  Cam returned the favor, and they kissed in the pelting water before they emerged and dried one another with the fluffy towels.  They watched each other dress, and then went down to the kitchen.  Carl was already feeding Casey, who was eating baby food like there was no tomorrow.

"I'm surprised Casey's eating," Cam said.  "I fed him earlier in the afternoon."

Kevin went over to them, kissed Casey, and then putting a hand on Carl shoulder, kissed their bro on top of the head.

"What was that for?" Carl asked.

"'Cause I love ya, man."

Cam smiled at the sign of Kevin's affection for their brother as he went to the stove and began to warm the hamburger and shrimp for their tacos while getting the tortillas ready to be filled.

*  *  *

Ian Carson had walked into SZQR precisely at 12:30 and had been warmly greeted by the maitre d' by name, along with a slight bow of the head.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Carson," the formally clad man said.  "Mr. McCaskill has already arrived."

"Thank you, Charles.  Good to see you."

"Thank you, sir," Charles said, palming two $20 bills that Ian had discreetly pressed into his hand.   "Please follow me."

Charles led the way through the already crowded restaurant toward the back of the large dining room and entered a small, private room.  Ian greeted Bill McCaskill with a handshake before Charles seated him and handed him a menu.  Ian put a carved leather letter case on the floor, leaning it up against a table leg.

"How are you, Bill," Ian said.

"I'm fine.  Good to see you, Ian," McCaskill said.

"Enjoy your meal, gentlemen," the maetre d' said as a waiter joined them and removed crisp, white napkins from the table, shook them out, and placed one on each of the diner's laps.

"Thank you, Charles," Ian said to the maitre d's retreating figure.

"May I offer you gentlemen a drink before lunch?" the waiter asked.

"You're speaking my language, Andre," Bill McCaskill said.  "I'll have a glass of Pinot Noir, please."

"Yes, Andre," Ian said.  "Make that two."

"At once, gentlemen," the waiter said, nodding and smiling before exiting the room.

"How's the family?" Ian asked as they waited for their wine.

"Good," McCaskill said.  "The wife is just getting over a cold, but other than that, we're in good shape.  Things all right at your house?"

"Couldn't be better.  But I'm playing catch-up at work because the whole family was in L.A. for a funeral most of last week."

"Anybody I know?"

"Our friends Alex MacKenzie and his partner John Kelley died in a plane crash returning from Paris.  Mary and I were close to them, and our kids and their kids are like brothers.  It was a great loss to us, and we had to be there."  Ian looked at McCaskill, adding, "I'm the executor of their wills."

"I'm sorry for your loss.  I read about the plane crash.  Do they know what caused it?"

"Nothing concrete yet," Ian said.

"How are their kids doing?" McCaskill asked.  He was an urbane San Franciscan, and not surprised to hear that two gay men had children.

"They're hurting.  But they'll make it."


Andre brought in two glasses of Pinot Noir and served them with a flourish.  "Do you gentlemen wish to order now, or would you like a few minutes?"

"Bill?" Ian asked.

"Why don't we order now?" McCaskill suggested.

The two men looked over the menu, and both ordered what they each claimed was a favorite pasta dish.

Andre thanked them, collected the menus, and left the room.  Ian reached down and picked up the letter case from the floor and unzipped it.  He removed some beautiful, glossy material describing the scope and depth of services offered by Ian's law firm.

"I'm remiss in not getting together with you before now, Bill," Ian said, handing over the brochures.  "I've wanted to make a pitch for your legal business, especially since you said a while back that your company was thinking of making a change of representation."

"We are.  Nothing terrible has happened to us, legally speaking, at the hands of our present lawyers.  But I feel that sometimes we don't have the full attention of our current firm when we need legal advice.  That's not a good feeling."

"No, it isn't.  As I think I mentioned to you in our last conversation, we have a real estate division in our firm which is exclusively devoted to that specialty.  I can assure you that we give our full attention to any client we take on, whether we're talking about real estate or any other aspect of the law, both state and/or federal.  And we have correspondent law firms in every major city in the the U.S. and Western Europe and Asia, with a concentration on China.  Take my word for it, you and your interests will be well represented.  You'll be important to us."

Ian began to delve more specifically into first the benefits and then the costs of entering into an exclusive legal relationship with the Carson firm.  Their food came, but they stayed focused on the subject at hand while they sipped wine and ate.  Both men were clearly examples of leaders in their respective fields whose powers of concentration were deep and unwavering.

By the time they had finished eating, Bill McCaskill admitted to Ian that he was impressed with what he had heard and had seen in the written materials Ian gave him.

"I'll tell you what, Ian.  Give me twenty-four hours to digest what this relationship would mean to us, and I'll call you tomorrow afternoon with my answer."

"I can't ask for more than that, Bill."

Andre came in to remove their empty dishes, asking how lunch had been, and offering a dessert menu.

"The food was great, as always, Andre," Ian said.  "I'm going to pass on dessert.  I run every morning to keep my weight under control, so I'm not going to tempt fate.  Just coffee for me."

"Yes, sir."

McCaskill nodded in agreement about the quality of the food they'd consumed.

"Any dessert for you, Mr. McCaskill?" the waiter asked.

"Just coffee for me as well."

The two men sat back in their chairs smiling, appetites sated for the moment.

"I have one other matter I want to run by you, Bill.  It's personal, and has nothing to do with your legal business."

McCaskill nodded, looking at his lunch companion curiously.

"My son William--I know you remember him--came to me the other night and asked me for my advice about dating a certain girl.  He was talking about Alicia."


"William and your daughter Alicia have remained friends, although he assured me they've not been dating or engaging in physical intimacy of any kind.  William tells me that he and Alicia sometimes eat lunch together in the cafeteria at school."

Bill McCaskill frowned, but said nothing.

"I questioned him about what he had in mind when he told me he wanted to date your daughter again," Ian continued.  "He swears to me that their relationship would not be a repeat of "Friends with benefits" if we would allow them to date again.  I believe what he says, and he asked me how I thought he should approach you about getting permission.  I told him that you are, in my opinion, a very level headed man and loving father, and that he should approach you honestly and with full disclosure about what this dating relationship would entail if you permitted it to happen.  I told him that I would be willing to broach the matter with you if we should talk in the near future.  So there it is."

McCaskill looked worried.  "I wasn't oblivious to Alicia's attraction to young William and vice versa, Ian.  It's like fire and gasoline.  The prospect of their dating again scares me to death."

"I know exactly what you mean.  I won't advocate for William and Alicia to be allowed to date again.  I'll only say that William convinced me that the relationship would be a chaste one should they date again."

"What if I told you that if William gets to make his case to date Alicia again, I would likely not see my way clear to engage your firm for legal representation?"

Ian's face turned to stone.

"I would urge you to hear my son out and give him a chance to make his assurances to you and to Alicia's mother about his future dating behavior.  And if you agreed to do that, I would express my regrets that you and I can't do business together."

Bill McCaskill leaned forward in his chair and studied Ian.  "I was hoping you'd hang tough--because I want my attorney and his firm to have some values and some integrity no matter what.  I want them to stand up for those to whom they have an obligation, like you just did for William.  Please forgive me for posing a stupid test."  He paused.  "Without a doubt I'll let William make his case to date Alicia."  He paused again.  "And I can tell you right now that I'm going to accept your proposal to have you and your firm represent my company in legal matters.  Please get a written proposal over to me along the lines we have discussed, with a contract, and I'll sign on the dotted line."

Ian smiled and relaxed.  "You had me going there, Bill.  I'll get the proposal and a contract in the mail to you when I get back to the office."

"No, messenger them over.  I want this settled today.  Our contract with our present legal firm expires next week, and I need to call and give them the bad news."

"All right, if you're sure."

"I'm sure."

Andre poured the two men a second cup of coffee as they changed the subject and talked about San Francisco issues and the upcoming Presidential election.  Not surprisingly, they were on the same page in their political views.

Ian settled up the bill for lunch, including a nice tip for Andre, and the two men parted warmly.

*  *  *

William Carson walked up the front steps of Alicia McCaskill's house at exactly 7:30 p.m. and rang the doorbell.  He was wearing a turtleneck sweater under a tweed sport coat along with a pair of khaki dockers and polished brown loafers.

"Very preppy," his mom had told him when Ian and she had seen him off on his after-supper mission.  "You look very handsome."

"Thanks," William had said, kissing his mother as he headed for Catherine's back door.  He went down to the garage and got into Mary's little Mercedes convertible.  He put the top up--it was a cool evening--and then drove slowly to his destination so that he arrived precisely on time.

Prompted by his dad, William had telephoned Mr. McCaskill
at work several days ago.  He had been upfront about what he wanted, asking if he could stop at his house to talk with him and his wife about dating Alicia again.  Thanks to Ian's recent conversation with the man, Bill McCaskill was unsurprised and cordial, and agreed to the meeting.

Despite knowing the groundwork that Ian had laid at lunch with Mr. McCaskill, William was still nervous.  He could feel it in his stomach, and he was sweating despite the cool turn the weather had taken.

He remembered all too well the firestorm which had resulted when the McCaskills and his own parents had found out that he and Alicia were having sex.  Having sex regularly.  And he remembered just how pleasureful and satisfying those encounters had been, much more so than his liaisons with the other girls in his harem had been.  Once discovered, he had given all that up.  But he had realized early on just how much he missed spending time with Alicia.  Just being around her, and not just the sex part.

The door opened to reveal Mr. McCaskill, casually dressed in Levi's and a San Francisco Giants T-shirt.  Unsmiling, the man opened the storm door and invited the young man inside.

"Hello, William," McCaskill said.  "Please come in.  You're right on time, I see."

"Yes, sir," William said to his host.  They shook hands as he stepped inside and the man shut the door.

Alicia was nowhere in sight, and William was both relieved and disappointed about that.

"Right this way," McCaskill said, leading the visitor into a spacious sitting room which was beautifully furnished with antique furniture, lamps and chairs.  Evelyn McCaskill was sitting in there on a loveseat, and William went over and greeted her, shaking hands.  They had met before when William had picked Alicia up for their dates.  Mrs. McCaskill was cordial as well, and William began to have hope that this meeting might indeed turn out well.

"What may I offer you to drink, William?" Mrs. McCaskill inquired as her husband directed the boy into a gentleman's side chair..

"Just some water," William said, "if it's not too much trouble."

"Of course.  Would you like a glass and ice or a bottle of water?" 

"Bottled water will be great."  His throat felt a little dry from the tension he was feeling.

Evelyn McCaskill rose gracefully from her place.  Except for their ages, she and her daughter could have been twins.  Beautiful women.

"How's school, William?" McCaskill said, looking over at the boy with a hint of a smile.

"Things are going well," William said.  "I'm feeling a little beaten up from some spring intermural football practice, but I'll be OK once I get back in better shape."

"Will you be quarterbacking again next fall?"

"I'm trying not to count my chickens before they're hatched.  There are a couple of other guys who will be vying for the quarterback position."  William smiled.  "It keeps me on my toes, believe me."

"You did so well last season," McCaskill said.  "I hope they don't change horses in the middle of the stream."

"Yes, sir.  Me too.  I'm going to be working hard to keep my job."

Evelyn McCaskill walked back into the room with a bottle of water and handed it to William.

"Thank you, m'am."

William unscrewed the bottle and took a swallow of water.  He looked over at Alicia's parents, uncertain of just where to start his pitch.

Bill McCaskill took him off the hook.

"From what your dad told me at lunch recently, and what you told me on the telephone, I gather that you want to date Alicia again."

"Yes, sir."

"Considering all that transpired the last time you two dated, why don't you tell us more."

William's face turned red, but he plunged ahead with his spiel.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  The kid had guts.

"Let me start by apologizing to you both for what Alicia and I did.  I hope what we did is water under the bridge by now.  But I want you to know I had feelings for your daughter then, and I have feelings for her today."  William paused, his face still red.  "No, that isn't what I wanted to say.  The truth is, I loved your daughter then, and I still love her.  I like her and I love her.  I know that's probably the very thing I shouldn't tell you, but I came here to tell you the truth, and there it is.  That's why I want to date her again."

The McCaskills stared at William, silent and expressionless, and he plunged ahead.

"If you'll let me date Alicia again, I give you my word before God that she and I will not have have sex as long as long as we're in high school."

"Only as long as you're in high school?" Evelyn McCaskill said.

"Yes.  If she and I are the people I think we are, and we continue to feel about each other the way we do, to say we'll never be intimate again--ever--would be a lie.  And I'm not here to lie to you.  I'm here to tell you the truth."

Bill McCaskill sighed.

"Is this something that you and Alicia have talked about?"

"Yes, sir."

"And what if we told you you couldn't date her again?" McCaskill asked.

"Then we won't date until she can make that decision for herself."

McCaskill sat upright in his chair.  "I respect you for for coming over here and facing us, William, and telling us the truth about your feelings--and her feelings as well, I guess.  But let me tell you something.  Your feelings for each other scare us to death!  I know you probably can't put yourself in our shoes, but as I told your dad, you and she are like fire and gasoline.  Think about how you'd feel if you and your wife had a daughter with a suitor like you.  Wouldn't you be scared to death about what might happen?"

"I would be unless I trusted the word of the guy about his intentions.  I'm asking you to trust my word that nothing is going to happen between us until we're adults under the law.  And I'm asking you to believe me when I say that I not only love her, I respect her, and I respect both of you as her patents.  That's the bottom line."

Bill McCaskill groaned and leaned forward in his chair, putting his face in his hands.

"Bill..." Evelyn McCaskill said.

"What?" McCaskill said, his face still in his hands.

"We both know that Alicia is of an age when she's starting to make important decisions for herself.  We're kidding ourselves if we think we really know everything that's going on in her life.  We obviously haven't known for a while, and we probably never will again.  Not completely.  I think William had been honest with us.  Brutally honest, actually, but I'll take brutal honesty any day over a slick sales job in which we only hear what we want to hear.  I think we need to make a leap of faith, and take William at his word.  And hold them both to that word.  Believe me, we could do worse."

Mr. McCaskill leaned back in his chair, taking his hands away from his face, and silently contemplated his wife over on the loveseat for several long minutes.

William started to have a bad feeling about the way this little get-together might still turn out despite Mrs. McCaskill's viewpoint, but the man surprised him.

"Evelyn, you're absolutely right."  He turned and looked at William.  "We do take you at your word.  And God help us all if you're not true to what you've told us."

The man stood up slowly and offered his hand to William, who also stood.  "We have a deal.  Thank you for being so upfront with us and toughing it out in this discussion.  I think you have a lot of your dad in you, boy!"

"Thank you, sir.  I can only hope I'm like my dad."

Evelyn McCaskill also stood up with a smile and silently offered her hand to William.  He shook the woman's hand, and then lightly embraced her and kissed her cheek.

"Thank you, Mrs. McCaskill, for your trust in me."

"You're welcome," she said.  "Would you like to say hello to Alicia before you go?"

"Yes, m'am, I would."

"Bill, ask her to come down, please."

McCaskill strode out into the hallway and called up the stairs as William and Mrs. McCaskill followed him.

"Alicia, William Carson is here, and would like to say goodnight to you," McCaskill called out.

William heard the sound of footsteps in the upstairs hall, and Alicia appeared on the stairway and came down into the lower hallway

And there she was, the love of William's life.  At least so far.  Long, shining hair and sparkling eyes  He walked over to her and gave her a hug, and then kissed her cheek.

"Hi," he said, swallowing the lump in his throat.

"Hi," she said, searching his face for clues about the way things had turned out.

Then he beamed at her, and she knew.

McCaskill cleared his throat.  "Alicia, after hearing William out, we've decided that you and he should be allowed to date if you both give us your word that the days of your intimacy with him are over until you're old enough to make that decision for yourself.  If you're willing to give your word about that, then your mother and I are good with you two as a couple."

"Daddy, Mom, you have my word," Alicia said.  "Thank you for trusting us."

William hugged and kissed her again, and then looked at her parents.

"Mr. and Mrs. McCaskill, thank you so much for your time, and again, for your trust."

They said their good-byes, and walking on air, William made his way to the car.  When he arrived at home, he found his parents and Catherine having a nightcap in the smaller of the two sitting rooms in the huge house.

"How did it go?" Mary Carson asked her son.

"It went well.  Alicia and I can date again.  Thanks for all you've done for me in my life.  You, too, Catherine."

After chatting for a few minutes, William went upstairs.

Berto was already in bed, drowsy.  "Well?" he asked.

"Everything's good," William said..

"Way to go!" Berto said, happy for his bro.  He watched as William stripped down to his boxers and headed for the bathroom.  The kid is fucking built! he thought to himself as he drifted off to sleep.  It's no wonder Alicia and the rest of the girls and all the gay guys have the hots for him.

© 2012 Don Hanratty