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


It was a Monday morning, and Cam's eyes popped open at 4:50, ten minutes before his and Kevin's alarm clock would begin signaling the start of their day.  The two guys were naked, lying close to each other in their bed, the sheets and their limbs entangled.  They were covered with splotches of dried semen from a very active love-making session before they had fallen asleep in each other's arms the night before.

Cam studied his partner's handsome face, perfectly complexioned but clearly needing a touch of the razor, as it did every morning.  That face was masculine, so masculine and so beautiful.  He moved his head closer to his partner to inhale the smell of Kevin's healthy male body.

Their passion for one another hadn't dimmed at all over the several years they had been together.  The physical urgency which still powered their lovemaking was as strong as it had been when they had first come out to each other.  Cam had no reason to believe that his own hunger for his partner's body wasn't fully reciprocated by Kevin..  They engaged in vigorous, raw sex almost every night, and to say that both were pleased about it was an understatement.  They were very good to each other in bed.

Undergirding their sex life, building on physical attraction but going far beyond it by this point, was admiration for one another's character and gifts, and a respect which allowed even perceived flaws and disagreements in daily life to be handled with equanimity.  There were rarely any long-standing arguments between them.  Above all there was a mature and still maturing love.

Cam continued to watch Kevin as he breathed, his sculpted, almost hairless chest gently expanding and contracting with each breath.  Yes, Kevin's good-looking face and muscular body was still a key attraction in their relationship.  But equally as important, he loved Kevin's confident personality and the power of his spirit.  Kevin could sometimes be tough and occasionally demanding, but always and above all, his personal qualities nourished everyone around him.  He knew exactly who he was in this life, what his commitments were, and how he was going to fulfill them.  Casey and Cam were always first in Kevin's affections, but Catherine and Ian and Mary, along with Carl and their other "brothers" back in San Rafael in their extended family were never far behind.  He had a deep reservoir of love for all those he cared about.

Lord, Cam thought to himself, I love this man so much.  There's no place in this world I'd rather be than right here, right now, lying right beside him, looking at him, holding him.  I'm so lucky.

Just before the alarm sounded, Kevin opened his eyes and saw Cam looking at him.

"Hey," Cam said softly.

"'Sup?" Kevin whispered, a little smile curling his lips.

"Just being thankful I'm here in this bed, looking at you."

Kevin responded by stretching himself taut, his body trembling with the effort before he relaxed and looked Cam in the face again.

"I didn't give you permission to look at me like that," he teased Cam, pulling his partner closer and kissing him on the lips before releasing him.  "You make my dick hard when you look at me like that."

"Yeah?  What are you gonna do about it?"

"I wish we had time to do what I'd like to do," Kevin said.  He grabbed Cam's hand and moved it over between his legs, where it encountered Kevin's rapidly hardening cock.

Cam gave it a squeeze.  "Nice," he commented.  "Better than nice."

"Thanks," Kevin said, reaching down and finding Cam's appendage in the same condition.  "Back atcha."

The alarm clock began to beep, and Kevin reached over and hit the bar giving them a nine minute reprieve before the beeping would start again.

"Let's use the bathroom and come back to the scene of the crime," Cam suggested, referring to the site of their extended love-making in bed the night before.

"Yep," Kevin said, rolling out of bed and pulling Cam after him.  They stood at the toilet together, the golden streams crossing one another over and over as they relieved themselves.  Then they ran back to bed, with Kevin trying to pinch Cam's cute, taut, rounded ass along the way.  They glanced down at Casey as they passed his crib.  The little boy was still dead to the world as they plummeted under the top sheet of their bed and held each other.  They kissed each other several times with liberal use of tongue.

Cam looked down at the stains on the bottom sheet.  "Look at the mess you made in the bed last night."

"That's your mess, not mine," Kevin said, chuckling.  "You're such a juicy little fucker."

Cam snorted.  "That mess has your name all over it."

"Maybe, maybe not."  Kevin rubbed noses with his partner.

"We have seven minutes left," Kevin announced, turning himself around in bed and then putting Cam's dick in his mouth.

Cam was instantly hard, and reciprocated.  He began working Kevin's cock vigorously, alternating with taking Kevin all the way down and pulling out and working his slit with his tongue.  Kevin groaned with pleasure.

Within five minutes they were tasting a fresh load and lying there quietly, each holding his partner's cock in his mouth with great satisfaction.

Kevin finally moved around in bed, clasping Cam to himself, and they kissed each other deeply, sharing what Cam liked to refer to as "the nectar of the gods."

When they finally turned one another loose, Kevin studied Cam's face.  "What are you gonna do today?" he asked.  Cam didn't have his only class for that semester, Cinematography, on Mondays.

"I think I'm gonna study this morning and have some play-time with Casey, and then call Assurances and see of I can have lunch with Jeff Miller.  I feel like we've been neglecting him lately."

"Shit.  I wish I could go with you," Kevin said, pouting.  "Maybe I should cut my classes today so I can monitor your activities a little more closely."

"I'd love it if you would.  We could spend some more time in bed.  But maybe you shouldn't.  You may really need a day off sometime when the guys are down here from San Rafael."

"You're probably right."

"When we get back from running this morning, I'm gonna start moving our clothes in the dressers in this room into our new bedroom," Cam said.  All of Alex's and John's clothes from the closets in the master bedroom had been given to charity except those that Cam, Kevin and Carl wanted for themselves.  A tailor in Santa Monica was already staying busy making alterations to some of the suits, sport coats, and slacks.

"Doncha wanna wait 'til I can help you?" Kevin asked.

"I can handle it."

Kevin nodded.

The clock began to beep again, and Kevin shut it off for good this time.  They got out of their bed, and began stripping it of its sheets so Maria could put on clean ones.  Even though they realized Maria knew what they did in bed, they were still a little embarrassed about letting her see copious cum stains on the sheets.

"We're gonna have to shower before we run," Kevin observed, sniffing Cam's chest.  "I don't want Maria to smell the love juice you shot all over us last night."

"Me?!" Cam protested.

"Yes, you!  I know your cum when I smell it.  Get your ass in the shower!"

Cam grinned in agreement, and they went into the bathroom and stepped into the shower together, and began washing each other's body as they always liked to do.  Touching each other never got old.  After washing quickly and then toweling each other off, they cleaned their teeth.  Kevin shaved while Cam took Casey out of his crib, removed his dirty diaper, and washed the little guy in the bassinet before powdering and re-diapering him.  Casey was in his usual good mood.

"Daddy," Casey said to him as Cam put the baby back in his crib for a moment so he could put on his running clothes.

"Hey, Casey," Cam said to the little guy.  "Kev, did you hear that?" Cam asked as he pulled on his jock strap and started dressing for their run.  "I didn't even have to ask, 'Who's your daddy?'"

"I heard him," Kevin said, emerging from the bathroom, gloriously naked with a clean shaven face.  "He already enunciates better than you do," Kevin said.  "He's really growing up fast, and now the fun begins."

"You ain't kidding,  You think you're up to the job?"

"Without a doubt!  Are you?"

"That's clear enough," Cam said.  "Starting with the fact that I change this boy's diaper more often than you do."

"Well, keep up the good work.  You have a talent for it."

Kevin pulled on his jock, shorts and a raggedy old T-shirt, and sat down on a desk chair to put on his sweat socks and running shoes.

There was a knock at the door right then, and Carl, dressed for their run, opened it and stood there looking at them.  "Come on, you slackers, let's hit it," he said.

"Well, aren't you bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning!" Cam observed.

"Yep," Carl confirmed.  He smirked at the pile of sheets on the floor beside the bed.  "What happened, did somebody have an accident in bed last night?"

"Nothing happens in our bed by accident," Cam said.

"Just asking," Carl said.

"We're ready," Kevin said, scooping up Casey and heading for the bedroom door.

They clomped their way down the stairs, where Maria was waiting for them at the bottom.

"He's cleaned up and hungry," Cam said as Casey raised his arms for Maria to take him from Kevin.

"Thanks," Maria said.  She rubbed noses with Casey and kissed him on top of his head.  "Are you hungry?" she asked him.

"Yes!" the little guy said, pointing toward the kitchen.

"My gosh!" Carl said.  "He already talks better than you two guys do," he told Cam and Kevin as the three of them headed for the front deck, where they started to do their stretches as the dogs milled about.

The sun was shining brightly, and there was a warm breeze off the bay.  They were limbered up when they finally went down to the hardpack by the water.  Kevin set his pedometer and they started their run.  He knew right where the four-mile mark was where they would turn around to come home, but he still liked to check his pedometer for accuracy.

Thank you, Lord, Cam thought to himself as he took in a big lungful of air.  There had been a long time after he'd been attacked down the beach, and after Alex and John had been killed in the plane crash, when life hadn't seemed so good, and he hadn't been all that thankful about the way things were going.  But as the days had succeeded one another, he'd found that Dr. Owens and Kevin and Ian had been right about life eventually getting better.  Even with his attackers' trial coming up, Cam was feeling positive about things.

Dr. Owens had told Cam that he was "resilient."  And by now he guessed she'd been right, especially after he'd given his challenges some long, hard thought.  His conclusion had been that he wasn't going to let his dissatisfactions over the negative things that had happened in his life of late rule him and put him in a bad mood.  He had determined that being thankful for all the good things he had experienced until now and the good things that lay ahead would be his guide to a positive attitude.  And that change in thinking was already having the desired effect.

He glanced over at Kevin and then at Carl as the three of them ran side by side. These are two sweet-assed guys for sure.  I know that because I'm a connoisseur of fine male asses, Cam thought to himself.  That's something to be thankful for right there.

Kevin speeded up their pace as they started to get into their groove, and he and Cam looked at each other and smiled.  The endorphins were flowing and life was good.

Cam glanced up at the house where he had been raped, beaten and tortured as they passed by it, and felt nothing.  On one occasion, not long after he had been assaulted, he had passed out when he'd passed by it, and for a long time he had trembled whenever he'd gone by it.  But not any more.  Life had moved on.  The house was occupied now, and a woman was out on the front deck watering boxes of flowers secured to the railing.  She waved at the three of them, and they waved back.

Their run was uneventful and both pleasantly exhausting and stimulating.  Once back at the house they all headed for the showers, again a quick one this time for Cam and Kevin.  Dressed in T-shirts, shorts and tennis shoes, the three of them went down to the kitchen.  Casey, still in his high chair, had long since eaten some cereal and was still playing with the remnants along with using crayons on a coloring book Maria had given him..  He picked up a spoon and banged it on his tray when he saw them.  Carl smoothed the little boy's hair and kissed him.

"You wanna go to school with us today?" Carl asked him.

"NO!" Casey said.  Responses, usually one word, were becoming more frequent all the time.

"Why not?" Carl asked, chuckling.

"NO!" Casey repeated without explanation.

"What would you like for breakfast?" Maria asked the guys.

"Would Huevos rancheros be too much trouble?" Kevin asked.  "I have an appetite this morning."

Carl added, "What he said," pointing at Kevin, and Cam nodded in agreement.

"Coming right up," Maria said, opening the refrigerator and taking out a dozen eggs and a package of tortillas.  She cracked all the eggs into a large bowl, beat them, and then began cutting up tomatoes and green peppers to add to tomato chili and sliced avocados.

Without being asked, Kevin got up and went to the stove.  Adding vegetable oil to a large frying pan, he heated it and began to cook the tortillas while Cam set the table and Carl poured big glasses of orange juice and put the glasses by the place settings.

"Chef Kevin," Carl commented.  "We need to get him a tall chef's hat."

Kevin grinned but said nothing, letting the tortillas simmer one at a time in the hot oil and then putting them on a plate.

Maria cooked the eggs on the grill of the big, commercial sized stove that Alex and John had had installed, gradually adding the other ingredients until the meal was steaming.  Then she put the tortillas on the guy's plates, topped them with the eggs, and put the plates in front of the boys.  Standing around the table, the guys bowed their heads as Cam asked a blessing.  Making the sign of the cross, they sat down, spread their napkins, and prepared to eat.

"Yum," Kevin said, mouth watering as he inhaled the steam and folded the eggs and other ingredients into the tortilla.  "Thanks, Maria!"

"You're welcome," Maria said.  She poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down on one side of Casey.  Kevin put a little bit of egg on his fork, and blowing on it to cool it, fed it to Casey before taking a big bite of his meal.

Chewing with gusto, Kevin looked at Casey.  "You want some more?" he asked the little guy.

"YES!" Casey said loudly and unexpectedly.

Kevin scraped the hot chili sauce off another small piece of egg and fed it to him.

"Good, huh?" Cam said to Casey, who didn't say anything as he finished gumming the egg and swallowing it.

"He's really late starting to teethe, and he's on the brink," Maria said.  "My guess is that it will be this week, so one of you might want to call his pediatrician and find out what he recommends to rub on his gums when he's in pain," she added.

"I'll do that today," Cam offered.  "I hadn't thought about it."

Kevin looked at Cam.  "Thanks, man," he said, putting a hand on Cam's neck and pulling his head over to kiss his cheek.

The guys finished breakfast, chatting about their classes, and then Carl and Kevin went to get their backpacks after saying good-bye to Maria.  Cam hugged Maria as she stood up to clear the table.

"Great breakfast!" Cam told her as he picked Casey up out of the high chair and went out to the driveway to see the guys off to school.

Kevin paused to kiss Cam and Casey as he went by them to get into his car.  Abruptly he turned on his heel and walked back to Cam.  He put a hand on Cam's neck, looked him in the eye, and kissed him again, this time on the lips.

"I love you more every day," Kevin said quietly before heading back down the driveway.

That was unexpected, and Cam was surprised.  He teared up a little and got a lump in his throat.  He watched his partner's broad shoulders and V-shaped back, tapering down to a trim waist, as Kevin walked away.  Inevitably, Cam dropped his gaze to the material of Kevin's khaki shorts, stretched taut over that beautiful, muscular ass.

Kevin's body was textbook perfect, shaped by a combination of hours of work in the gym and good genes when it came to his physique.  As usual Cam could feel himself chubbing up as he did almost every time he looked at Kevin on the move as he walked away with the grace typical of many athletes.  The fact that the two of them had a lot of sex never seemed to completely curb their feelings of lust for each other.

"Thanks, babe," Cam called after his partner.  He turned his head to look at Carl as he in turn walked by.  "Where's my kiss?" Cam kidded him.

"Right here," he said, smooching Cam on the cheek to the latter's surprise as Carl went by.

"'Bye," Cam said as he waved the little boy's arm at the two of them.

Kevin rolled down his window and said, "Hey, don't forget to call the pediatrician," before he backed out of the driveway in his Mustang.  The mufflers murmured pleasantly as he pulled away.

Cam nodded at him.

Carl climbed into the Highlander, driving separately because his and Kevin's class schedules were different on Mondays.  He followed Kevin out on to the service road which led toward the Pacific Coast Highway, and they were gone.

Cam sighed and took Casey back into the house and gave him to Maria.

"Will you watch him for a few minutes?" he asked.  "I'm gonna move some of our clothes into the master bedroom.  I won't be long."


When he finished emptying his and Kevin's things from their dressers and putting them in the next room, he went over to the closet and threw a previously discovered, hidden switch.  The ceiling over the bed turned from a decor of clouds on a shiny surface into a huge mirror.  Cam smiled as he thought about having sex with Kevin in that king sized bed so that whoever was on the bottom could watch every move.

Returning the switch to its original position, he went back downstairs and reclaimed the little guy from Maria.  Taking him into the study he put him on the floor.  Then he went over to the desk, and consulting a list of numbers, telephoned Casey's pediatrician.  He wrote down what the doctor told him, and secured the paper under the base of the phone.  It was an over-the-counter medication, and wouldn't require a prescription, the doctor had said.

That finished, he looked at Casey.  "Do you wanna play ball, little dude?" he asked.

"Yes," Casey said.

Playing with Casey was never a chore for Cam.  He loved that little boy totally, and enjoyed spending time with him, especially now that Casey was increasingly mobile and starting to talk.  Cam selected a red rubber ball from a basket of toys they kept in the study, and rolled it over to where Casey was sitting on the floor.  Casey sometimes rolled a ball back except, of course, for those times when he decided to keep it.  This time he put it to his mouth and gummed it, reinforcing the prediction that he would soon be teething.

Cam took another ball out of the basket and rolled it over to Casey, who dropped the first ball and went for the second.  Cam crawled over to him and claimed the red ball and bounced it on the floor.  It flew up toward the ceiling as Casey watched it.  The little guy tried to grab it when it came down and missed.  The ball gave a second bounce, and Casey gave a little shriek as he crawled over to it after it landed for good.

"You're gonna be a little jock when you grow up, aren't you?" Cam told him.  Casey didn't answer, but this time he rolled the red ball back to his dad.

The two of them played for about a half-hour before Casey crapped out on the floor.  Cam got up and covered him with a light blanket and then walked to the desk to start studying when his cell phone rang.  The screen identified the caller as William Carson.

"Why the fuck aren't you in class?" Cam asked William when he answered the phone.

"Nice greeting," William protested.  "I'm on my way to my next class and had to take a leak," he said.

"In the bathroom, I presume."

"No, dipshit, in my locker."

"I wouldn't put it past ya.  'Sup?"

"We haven't talked for awhile," William said.  "I miss ya, dumbass, but I don't know why the fuck I should.  You're annoying as hell.  Anyway, are you guys coming up here for Thanksgiving, or are we coming down there."

"Well, the word hasn't come down from on high yet.  Have you asked the 'rents?  You live with 'em, for gosh sake."

"I thought I'd give you a chance to weigh in before I broached the subject.  I'd rather come down there.  It's gonna cool off up here before Thanksgiving, and I wanna run on the beach in some decent southern California weather."

"You're such a pussy.  But yeah, I'd rather have us get together down here.  You can quote me on that to the powers-that-be."

"Cool.  I will."  William paused.  "Are Casey and you guys good?"

"Yeah.  Casey's walkin' and talkin' a little.  He's asleep on the floor here in the study right now.  He's late teething, and Maria thinks he'll start this week."

"All right!  He'll keep your ass busy then.  And how are Kevin and Carl?"

"They're good.  They're at school, and probably asleep in class by now."

William laughed.  "On another subject,
do you know when the trial is coming up?"

"Soon, but I don't have an exact date yet."

"Are you feeling all right about it?"

"Yeah.  I'm feeling more like myself all the time.  That allows me to be really pissed off about what those guys did to me."

"Good deal.  You know I'll try to come down there to be with you when you have to testify.  If you want me to, that is."

"You know I'd really like that, William.  All kidding aside, I miss ya, dude."

"Same here."

I'll need all the moral support I can get when the trial starts."

"I'll be there for ya if I can be."

"Thanks, man.  How's football?"

"Good.  I'm still the starting quarterback, and we're undefeated, and it looks like we'll be regional champs again at the very least."

"You won't have a game on Thanksgiving Day to fuck up our plans, will ya?"

"No.  The two second place teams will duke it out on Thanksgiving.  We'll play the winner the following week."

"Excellent!  Are things good between you and Alicia?"

"Yeah, I love her to death. 
We're getting along great."

"Tell me you're gettin' some."

"You know that wasn't part of the deal when I started to date her again."

"So you're horny, then."


Cam laughed.  "Well, you breeders have to make some sacrifices, at least.  Anyway, being horny probably makes you more aggressive on the gridiron."

"You're such a dick!  But you could be right.  Are you and Kevin taking good care of each other in bed?"

"Things are awesome.  Couldn't be better."

"I'm jealous you're gettin' some and I'm not."

"Turn gay and I promise we'll make ya feel good about it."

William chuckled.  "I don't see that in the cards, dude."

Cam heard the warning bell at San Rafael High School ring over the phone.

"Hey, I gotta book," William said, pausing.  "Luv ya, Cam.  Give my love to Kevin and Carl, and kiss the little guy for me."

"Will do.  I'm pumped ya called.  Luv ya back, bud."

The connection went dead, and Cam sat there with a big smile on his face as he picked up his Cinematography book and opened it to a new chapter.

After two hours' study, Cam consulted his phone's directory and punched in the number for Assurances.  The operator sounded young and answered the phone with a pleasant voice.

"Assurances," she said.  "How may I direct your call?"

"Cam MacKenzie for Jeff Miller, please."

"One moment, please."  She put the call on hold, and Cam knew she was checking the approved list for those who could be put through to Jeff.

After a moment or two, Cam heard the connection being made and the electronic sound of a phone ringing.

"This is Jeff," a familiar voice said.

"Hey, man.  This is Cam."

"Cam!" Jeff said.  "I thought you'd deserted me."

"I know.  It took me a quite a while after I got assaulted to want to talk to anybody.  But I'm not finished heckling you in this life."

"I can take it."

"I know that.  Listen, can you go to lunch?"

"I could.  I have privileges, but it would have to be a short lunch because I have a group session here at 1:00 that I can't miss."

"Well, shit!" Cam said.

"Any chance you could come here for lunch?  Those with privileges can have people over."


"The food's pretty good here, and I'd really like to see ya."

"Can I bring Casey?"

"No problem.  I wanna see the little guy, and I'll arrange for a highchair.  Just bring the baby food with you."

"All right.  What time should I get there?"

"How about 11:30?  That'll give us more time to talk."

"Sweet!  See ya then."

*  *  *

Cam studied until 10:45.  Casey was just waking up.

"Baby boy!" Cam said, picking him up and feeling his diaper.  He needed changing, so Cam took him upstairs and did the deed.  The little guy was cooperative, as usual.  Cam checked out a diaper bag to make sure it had fresh diapers, wetnaps and baby powder in it.  Picking up the bag and the baby, Cam went down to the kitchen.

Maria had finished cleaning downstairs, and was there emptying the dishwasher.

"It's early, but how about some lunch?" she asked.

"Thanks, but Casey and I are taking a road trip over to Assurances to see Jeff Miller.  We'll eat over there.  Why doncha give me some baby food to take with me, though?"

"Will do."  Maria went to a cupboard and removed a couple jars of baby food, put them in a small paper sack, and put the sack into the diaper bag.

"Here you go," she said, handing the bag back to Cam.  "Give Jeff my love, will you?  I'm glad you're going to see him.  I hear from my sister that he misses you guys."  Maria's sister Juanita worked as a maid for Jeff's mom and dad next door.

The traffic into Santa Monica was light, and Cam pulled into the parking lot at 11:25.  He unbuckled Casey from his baby seat, and picking up the diaper bag and the baby, went into the lobby of the rehab center.

The attractive young receptionist, spotting the handsome young man carrying a baby, went to the office window, slid it open, and greeted Cam with a smile.

"May I help you?" she asked, and studied Cam's face with an "I like what I see" look.

"Cam MacKenzie to see Jeff Miller," he told her.

"You're expected," the receptionist said, still smiling.  "What a cute baby," she added.  "How old is he?"

"A little over a year," Cam said.

"He looks like you," she said, trying to hit on him but not knowing exactly how to accomplish that in a business setting.

Cam smiled politely.  "So I've been told."  Genetics said otherwise, but Cam didn't try to set her straight.

"Just go to that door," the young woman said, pointing to Cam's left, "and I'll buzz you in.  A security man will check your bag, and I'll have Jeff come and meet you."


Cam went over to the door, now buzzing to allow entry, and walked through it into a large family visiting area.  He couldn't help thinking about the pretty girl at the front desk trying to hit on him.  Maybe I should start wearing a T-shirt that says, SORRY, GIRLS, I SUCK COCK, he thought to himself with a grin.  It would save the women that he came in contact with a lot of time and effort.

"Good morning, sir," a security man said.  "I'd like to look in your bag, if I may."

"Of course," Cam said, impressed with the lengths Assurances went to in order to see no illicit drugs came into the facility.  He handed it over.

The man unzipped it, ran his hand over what was inside, zipped it up and handed it back.

"Thank you, sir."

"You're welcome."

  Cam spotted Jeff, wearing an old pair of Levi's and a white T-shirt, striding down the corridor toward the big family room, his face lighted up with a huge smile.  He was the picture of a healthy, handsome young male with clear complexion, someone whose well developed body testified that he had been spending a lot of time in the gym.  He exuded self-discipline and a love of life.  Cam had a flashback of the wreck of a person he and Kevin and Carl had pulled out from under the Alex's back deck six months before--drugged out, emaciated, haggard, face and body covered with open sores, wearing a ratty topcoat over ragged clothes that stank of urine.  What a contrast!

Jeff swept Cam up in a big hug, kissed him on the cheek, and then kissed Casey on top of his head.

"You don't know how good it is to see you," he said.  "I miss you all so much!"

"Jeff, you look freakin' great!" Cam told his friend as they moved toward a cluster of upholstered chairs in front of a coffee table.  Casey began to squirm, and Cam put him down on the floor, where he stood unsteadily before hunkering down and crawling over to Jeff, who picked him up.

"My gosh, he's grown!" Jeff said.  Casey grabbed Jeff's nose, making Jeff laugh.

"He talks, he walks, and he's about to start teething," Cam told him.  "Casey, do you remember Jeff?" he asked the little boy.

"NO," Casey said, and the two guys laughed.

"He's brutally honest," Jeff observed as Casey got comfortable on Jeff's lap.

They sat talking as Jeff elicited reports on Kevin, Carl, on every one of the guys in San Rafael, and on Catherine, Ian and Mary.

 "I'm hoping they'll all be coming down for Thanksgiving," Cam said.  "I talked to William this morning, and that's what we're holding out for, anyway.  Any chance you can get leave for Thanksgiving week?"

"I think so," Jeff said.  "Maybe not for the whole week, but I'll give it a shot."

"If the family does come down, we're going to ask your parents and Juanita to have Thanksgiving dinner with us.  If you can be there, they'll be thrilled," Cam said.

"I'd really like that," Jeff said.  "You know, my mom comes over here every week to see me, and my dad, too, when he's in town.  They've been so good to me.  I owe them so much, and I love them both so much.  If I make it in this life, they and this place will be largely responsible.  Along with you and Kevin and Carl!  You guys saved my life when you pulled me out from under your deck that day.  I hope you understand how true that is!"

"You're giving us too much credit.  But what do you mean, IF you make it in this life.  That's a foregone conclusion."

"I appreciate the confidence, believe me.  But you have to remember that an addiction never goes away.  It's life-long, and every day is a battle not to use, at least in the early stages.  Only people who have a good support system outside of a facility like this make it."

"Well, you'll have that!  We'll always have your back."

Jeff blinked back some sudden moisture in his eyes.

A gong sounded over the PA system, followed by a female voice:  "Lunch will be served in ten minutes."  It sounded like the voice of the young woman at the front desk.

"Is that the girl in Reception?" Cam asked.


"She hot!"

Jeff looked surprised.

"What?" Cam demanded.  "Just because I'm gay doesn't mean I don't know a pretty girl when I see one."

"That's true," Jeff admitted.

He stood up, still holding Casey.  "Let's head for the dining room.  They'll have a highchair waiting for Casey."

"Good deal."  Cam stood, picking up the diaper bag, and he followed Jeff toward the dining room,  Casey was looking back over Jeff's shoulder to make sure that his dad was behind them.  Cam couldn't help but notice how good Jeff's ass looked in those Levi's as they walked along.  What a perve you are, MacKenzie, he thought to himself with a grin.

The large dining room was arranged with three long tables, with residents and therapeutic staff intermingling on both sides of each table.  Jeff spotted a highchair sitting halfway down one of the tables, and pointing at it, situated himself across from Cam and Casey.  Cam put Casey in the highchair.

With everyone standing, one of the residents offered thanks for the meal, and they all sat down.  Staff wearing large white aprons came through double doors from the kitchen and began putting steaming bowls of beef stew, baskets of hot rolls, plates of salad and glasses of water and iced tea in from of the diners.  Jeff introduced those in the immediate vicinity to Cam, identifying Casey as Cam's son.

"Cute baby," a guy about Jeff's age said about Casey.

"Thanks," Cam said with a smile.

Cam reached into the bag he'd carried in and took out a jar of baby food.  Opening it, he began spooning some strained carrots into Casey's mouth.  The little guy liked it, and eagerly opened his mouth when the spoon approached.  After Casey had a few bites, Cam picked up his own spoon and tried the stew.  To his surprise, it was delicious, so he dipped Casey's spoon in the bowl and gave the little guy some juice.

"Is that good?" Jeff asked Casey.

"Yes!" Casey said, and Cam gave him another spoonful of juice.  Some of the juice ran down the baby's chin, and Jeff reached across the table with his own napkin and wiped it up.

Once Casey had some food in his stomach, Cam got serious with his meal and soon emptied the bowl of stew.  The rolls were homemade, and between Jeff and Cam they ate them all.  Cam also downed the salad, and when he had finished, was tempted to let loose a satisfied belch, but restrained himself.

After the meal was consumed, the wait staff began clearing the table.  The dessert which followed was vanilla ice cream, and Cam and Jeff shared a little of it with Casey.

"That was good!" Cam told Jeff.  "You must work out like a demon so you don't gain weight."

"You got that right.  The food is always good here."

Cam glanced at his watch.  It was 12:30.

"You said you have a meeting at 1:00," Cam said.  "Can we talk some more before you have to go?"

"I'd like that," Jeff said.

They stood and excused themselves to those in the vicinity, and with Casey sitting on Cam's arm, Jeff led them into a small sitting room off the dining room.  Cam sat down with Casey on a soft couch, and put the baby down beside him.  Casey looked like he wanted to stay put, and might take a snooze.  He conked out in no time.  Jeff sat across from them in an upholstered chair.

"Has Father Ryan been by to see you?" Cam asked Jeff.

"Faithfully," Jeff said.  "He comes by at least every two weeks to give me communion."

"That doesn't surprise me.  He's a great pastor.  We're so lucky to have him at St. Dunstan's."

"I agree with that!  When I graduate back into real life, I'm going to ask him if I can learn how to serve him at the altar," Jeff said.  "Just a little payback for all he's done for me."

"That's an excellent idea," Cam said.  "You make me feel guilty, though, when I think of how kind he was to me after I got roughed up down the beach.  And I haven't done shit for him when it comes to pay back."

"Well, you and Kevin do have your responsibilities with Casey."

"True, but that's not really an excuse.  I need to think about this.  I could do something, fer sure.  I'm glad you mentioned your plan."

"We may get a chance to serve together if you decide to follow through."

"If I do that, you can bet I'm not gonna let Carl and Kevin off the hook," Cam said.  "They can get off their butts and get training with you and me.  St. Dunstan's has a good core of servers, but I'm sure they can use some more.  It may as well be us."

"You're right, dude," Jeff agreed.  He smiled.  "I'll check back with ya about gettin' on the stick about this."

They continued shooting the breeze, talking about Cam's Cinematography class and what Jeff was picking up in the various groups and classes at Assurances.  Before they knew it, it was 12:55 and time for Jeff to head for his group session.

They stood and Cam bent down and picked up his bag and the baby, who continued sleeping.

"Before I forget, Maria wanted me to give you her love," Cam said.

"Thank her for me.  You don't know what it means to me to know you all care about me.  I'm really looking forward to Thanksgiving with Mom and Dad and your family.  I hope that all works out."

"We're your family, too, man.  Don't forget that."

"Thanks, Cam.  I'm really cheered up that you came by."

Jeff coughed to try to hide his emotion.  He embraced Cam and Casey, and kissed them again before they left.  He stood in the doorway of the sitting room and watched Cam head for the front door before letting some pent up tears run down his face.  Pulling out his handkerchief, he wiped his eyes before heading for his group session. Cam's visit had meant a lot to him.

*  *  *

Maria met Cam and Casey at the kitchen door, and took Casey into her arms.

"How's Jeff?" Maria asked.

"He's doing well, and looks great.  He sends his love."

"Thanks.  You had a phone call while you were out," Maria said.  "From George Eisner at Magnum Studios.  He wants you to call him.  I left his number on the desk in the study."

Cam looked surprised.  George Eisner was chairman of the board and president at the studio, someone who had been a big fan and a big supporter of Alex and John's work.  He was one of the most powerful people in the movie industry.  Alex and John had taken Cam and Kevin to the studio for lunch one day, and they had eaten at one of the tables in Eisner's huge office.

"Did he say what he wanted?"

"No.  Just that he wanted you to call him."

"Are you good with Casey for a few minutes?"

"Yes.  Because he's such a good boy."  Maria hugged him and kissed the top of his head.

Cam walked down the hall to the study, sat down, and looked at the note with a phone number on it.  Picking up the receiver, he dialed the number.

"Magnum Studios, Mr. Eisner's office," the voice of an older woman said.  "May I help you?"

"Yes, m'am, this is Cameron MacKenzie returning Mr. Eisner's call."

"Yes, Mr. MacKenzie.  One moment, and I'll put you through."

"Thank you."

Ten seconds later Cam heard George Eisner's deep, bass voice on the line.

"Cameron, how are you?"

"I'm good, sir.  Thanks for asking.  How are you?"

"I'm good.  And Kevin, he's well, I hope."

Cam was pleasantly surprised that this important man remembered him, let alone his partner.

"Kevin's excellent, thank you, sir."

"I'm pleased to hear that.  The reason I'm calling is that we're almost finished with the final edit of your dad's and John's last picture they made in England.  I'm thrilled with what they did with the story, and I think it's really going to be a blockbuster.  Academy Award good.  The performances are all superlative.  We've pretty much completed our work, and I'd like to invite you and Kevin to come and see it here at the studio before we schedule a premier and start the distribution process.  Is that something you'd be interested in doing?"

"I'd be thrilled to death, and I know Kevin would be, too."  Cam took a breath, thinking, In for a penny, in for a pound.  "Is there any chance we can bring our roommate Carl with us?  He really helped hold things together for us when Dad and John were killed."

"Of course," Eisner said.  "No problem.  I know Kevin's last name is 'Stoltz.'  What is Carl's last name, so I can give your names to security at the front gate?"

"'Emrick.  Carl Emrick.'"

"Got it.  Why don't you three guys pick a date for us to get together and get back to me, and we'll set things up."

Cam swallowed hard.  "Mr. Eisner, I can't tell you how grateful I am.  This is totally unexpected, and means so much to me."

"It's the least we can do in return for all Alex and John did for us," Eisner said.  "After you know something, call me.  I'd like you all to come to the studio for lunch with me and the producers.  Now that I think about it, we'll send a car for you."

"Thank you so much, sir.  I'm overwhelmed.  I call you within the next few days."

"Thank you, Cam.  I'm looking forward to seeing you and Kevin and your friend Carl very soon."

The line went dead, and Cam put the receiver back in its holder.  Stunned, he sat there for a good five minutes without moving.  Glancing at his watch, he saw that Kevin would be changing classes.  Picking up the phone, he dialed Kevin's cell.

"Dude!" Kevin answered, sounding as if he was in a good mood.

"Kev, you couldn't possibly guess who I was just talking to."

"Don't be a dick, then, and tell me."

"None other than George Eisner at Magnum Studios."

"Don't tell me.  He wants to use you in a gay porno for beau coup dollars?"

"No, dumbass.  He wants you and me and Carl to come to the studio for lunch, and then preview Dad and John's new picture.  He thinks it's going to be a hit.  'Blockbuster' was the word he used, along with 'Academy Award,' and he wants us to be among the first to see it."

"You're shittin' me, right?"

"I swear it on Casey's sweet little cranium!"

"Well, wow!  That's really exciting, Cam!  That makes me so happy!  Listen, I'm just going into class, so we'll talk about it when I get home.  Can't wait!"

"Hey, ask Art Smith to follow you home for supper."

"Will do," Kevin said.  "Luv ya.  Laters."

The line went dead, and Cam replaced the receiver, stood up, and began to do a little impromptu dance around the study.  It had been a long time since he felt that good.

*  *  *

Classes over for the day, William Carson walked down the hall toward the locker room to suit up for football practice.  He pulled his phone out of his pocket as he walked, and looking at his list of phone numbers, called his dad's private line at his law firm in San Francisco.

"Are you at football practice?" Ian Carson asked when he picked up the phone.

"On the way."


"Dad, I talked to Cam earlier today.  He and Kevin and Carl want all of us to go down to Malibu for Thanksgiving week, and I think that's a great idea."

"You do, huh?" Ian chuckled.

"Yeah.  You know how much you enjoy running on the beach in warm weather."

"Well, that's true enough.  But I know you don't like the heat down there at all."

"Ha ha.  No, I like it.  But even more important, I don't think Cam and Kevin and Carl want to travel on a crowded plane with Casey if they have to come up here.  Cam didn't exactly say that, but I think it's true.  Those planes are full of germs, y'know.  Not good for babies."

Ian laughed.  "You really have to study law, William.  When it comes to the courtroom, you've got the 'devious argument' thing going for you already.  I know it when I hear it."

William had to laugh along with his dad.  He'd been caught.  "Come on," he said.  "You know you really want a change of scene, and Mom and Catherine do, too."

"I'll talk to them about it," Ian said.  "That's the best I can do for you right now."

"All right.  I called because I knew you'd really be interested in my thoughts about Thanksgiving."

"I always find your thoughts fascinating.  Good-bye, William.  Have a good practice."

William ended the call smiling.  He felt he'd just improved the odds for a nice trip to L.A.  He slammed through the locker room doors grinning like a Cheshire cat, and greeted some of his teammates who were there changing into their uniforms:  "Get moving, assholes, it's time to practice some FOOTBALL!"

The "assholes" cheerfully gave him the finger along with a smattering of "Fuck you's."  They really liked and respected William, but they liked to pass out shit as much as he did.

Ian had been smiling, too, when he'd finished the conversation with his son.  He buzzed his secretary, Beverly, asking her to track down his wife and Catherine so he could talk to them about going south for Thanksgiving week.  Five minutes later, Beverly buzzed him.

"Mrs. Carson on 47," she said.

"Thank you," Ian said, and punched the blinking button.  "Hello, sweetheart.  What are you doing today?"

"Rosa and I are at the grocery store, trying to figure out what we're going to feed the bottomless pits we call our children this week.  What's up with you?"

"I just got off the phone with William.  He was hustling me to make a commitment to take everybody to Malibu for Thanksgiving week.  Does that have any appeal for you, or should we ask Cam and Kevin and Carl to bring Casey up here?"

"It has lots of appeal for me," Mary said.  "Along with the fact that I don't want Cam and Kevin and Carl to have to travel with the baby."

"You and William think alike.  That's the argument he used on me.  I don't stand stand a chance with either one of you."

"Don't you want to go to Malibu?" Mary asked.  "The kids will all want to go, and every minute we spend with them is precious.  They're growing up so fast, and they won't be around forever."

"Well, when you put it like that, what can I say?  I know from experience the rest of the boys will probably side with William and want to go.  So if Catherine is up for the trip--I haven't talked to her yet--then I may as well go ahead and charter a flight.  Yolanda needs to be figured into the mix, and Andy Helder, too, probably.  And maybe Father Mason, if he can get some time off.  So the cost of a charter will likely be as reasonable as buying all those seats on a commercial flight."

"I think you're right, sweetheart.  Why don't you talk to Catherine and see what she thinks."

"Will do.  Buy us some good stuff at the grocery, please."

"Have I ever failed you?  You're hardly wasting away to nothing."

"So true.  Thanks for mentioning that."

"Love you, honey," Mary said.  "We'll have a good time in Malibu."

"I know.  I love you back. I'll talk to you after I run the trip by Catherine."

"All right.  Bye."

Ian reached Catherine in her office at the university after she finished teaching her classes for the day.  She was in favor of making the trip, and with that final OK, Ian called Cam.

"Cam, I have some good news for you or some bad news, depending on how you look at it," Ian told him.


"The family wants to come down to Malibu for Thanksgiving week.  Is that all right with you guys?"

"'All right?'  It's better than 'all right!'  I'm really glad to hear you all want to come down here, Ian.  Everybody will have a great time, we'll see to that.  Will you ask Father Mason if he can get some time off?"

"Yes, I plan to do that."

"When will you get here?  Do you know?"

"I'm going to charter a plane.  We'll go to church at St. Andrew's on Sunday, and then fly down to L.A. that afternoon."

"As long as you're chartering a plane, why don't you fly down on Saturday, and then we can all go to Mass at St. Dunstan's together on Sunday.  Father Ryan will really be glad to see you all."

"Are you sure you want all of us for even one more day?  You'll get sick of us."

"I want you all here as long as you can stay, Ian.  I shouldn't have to tell you that.  Please come on Saturday.  Kevin and Carl and I want to run you candyasses from up north into the sand every morning."

Ian laughed.  "You wiseass kid!  Talk's cheap!"

"Not in this case.  Just get yourselves down here on Saturday.  Do you want us to pick you guys up at the airport?"

"No.  We'll get a limo."

"Good deal!  I'm thrilled, man."

"We're anxious to see you all."

"I have one piece of exciting news for ya before I let ya go, Ian."

'What's that?"

"I got a call from George Eisner at Magnum Studios today.  Do you know him?"

"We've met, but I don't really know him.  He's a very influential guy, though, I know that."

"Well, he called to invite me and Kevin and Carl to preview Alex and John's last movie.  The studio has pretty much finished the final edit.  Mr. Eisner's invited us to lunch at Magnum and to meet the producers.  He thinks the movie is so good it's going to be a 'blockbuster,' as he put it.  He used the words 'Academy Award.'  He wants me to get back to him with a date to get together within the next few days."

"Oh, Cam, I'm so happy for you guys!  What a nice gesture on Mr. Eisner's part!  It just shows you how much he and the studio admired John and your dad."

"I know it.  Things are going so well right now that it worries me."

"Don't say that!  All you boys, and you in particular, deserve all the good things that come your way."

"Well, thanks."

"Is there a date for the trial yet?"

"No, but it should be scheduled any day now."

"You feeling all right about it?"


"Good.  We'll talk about it when I get down there.  You stay positive about it, you hear!"

"Yes, sir.  I've been doing a lot of thinking about my luck of late, and I've come to a conclusion."

"And what would that be?"

"That the positives always outweigh the negatives when that's what we focus on."

"Cameron, I can't tell you how important that insight is going to be in your life."

"I think you're right."

"Good!  See you soon.  Love you, boy!"

"Thanks, Ian.  Love you, too."

Ian ended the call, and then hit the intercom button for Beverly.

"Bev, please charter a plane for me from San Francisco International to LAX for the Saturday before Thanksgiving, with a return flight the Sunday afternoon after Thanksgiving.  There will be ten of us, give or take.  We'll want to leave San Francisco at about 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, and leave LAX for home about 3:00 p.m. a week and a day later on the Sunday.  We'll need a stretch limo at both locations."

"Yes, sir.  Any particular airline?"

"Our usual vendor."

"All right."

Ian hung up and thought about Cam, his insight about thinking positively, and his exciting news about Alex and John's movie.  It's about time that boy got a break.  I'm so happy for him.

© 2013 Don Hanratty

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