My Belovèd is mine, and I am his.
Song of Songs 2:16
Cam, Kevin, Carl and Art Smith were sitting
study of the Malibu house on Saturday night before Thanksgiving
television when Cam's
cellphone rang. He checked the cellphone screen and recognized
for Assurances. It had to be Jeff Miller.
"Jeffie Miller," Cam said. "How they hangin', dude?"
Jeff laughed. "Side by side, one lower than the other. As
least the last time I looked. You ask me that every time we talk."
"That's called called 'continuity of care.'
If they were hangin' even, we'd have to get
you checked out by a balls doctor," Cam said. "So, what's the
good word about your furlough for this coming week?"
"I'm all set, starting tomorrow," Jeff said. "Do you think
somebody can pick me up?"
"I do think somebody can pick you up. Now that I think about it,
why don't we pick you up in time for church tomorrow? We're going
to the ten o'clock Mass. Father Ryan will be glad to see you,
think your parents will probably be in church. I know your dad is
in town, 'cause I saw him from a distance yesterday."
"You're the source of so many great ideas," Jeff said. "And
that's one of your better ones."
"Well, pack up your shit for the week, boy, let your parents know that
we're picking you up, and we'll be by to get you
"Capiche. And thanks."
The guys looked over at Cam as he broke the connection.
"Well?" Kevin said.
"We have to pick Jeff up at 9:30 at Assurances," Cam responded.
"But you knew that. You spied on every word I said."
Kevin smiled. "I know. But you're tricky. Sometimes
you say things to throw me off."
Cam looked over to see if Casey was awake. He was dozing.
"That's such bullshit!" he insisted to Kevin, speaking quietly so Casey
couldn't possibly hear. "Unlike yours, my
conversations are an open book."
Kevin grinned and shook his head in denial.
"Will you guys shut the fuck up!" Carl said. "I'm trying to watch
Cam and Kevin subsided, but each of them gave Carl the silent finger.
* * *
Cam and Kevin had Carl and Art Smith up at 6 a.m. on Sunday so they
Another beautiful southern California morning was dawning, a little
but cool enough for running on the beach without too much
discomfort. As usual, Alice and Samantha were ecstatic to be
running with their humans, and they
milled around while the guys did their warm-ups before hitting the
Because it was Maria's day off, Kevin stayed behind with Casey as the
other guys began their
run. He put the baby in a sling around his neck, and walked on
the beach with him for a half-hour before bringing him back to the
house for a bath, fresh diaper, and some breakfast. The little
guy talked a mile a minute all the way down the beach and back, and
Kevin noticed that more of his babbling was making sense as time
passed. Kevin smiled and stayed in a dialog with him as much
he could. Casey was going to be a talker, for sure.
Kevin put the baby in his upstairs crib after bathing and dressing him
while he got
himself showered, shaved, and dressed, then took him downstairs to the
study and played
roll-the-ball with him until the three runners returned from the
beach. By the
time they had showered, Kevin had fixed them scrambled eggs with toast
and bacon, and poured them tall glasses of cold water They were
trying to cut down on the orange juice because Carl had belatedly
learned on the internet that it quickly turned to sugar when
"Thanks, babe," Cam told his partner, and gave him a hug and kiss
before saying grace and sitting down to eat.
"Yeah, thanks, babe," Carl told Kevin, mimicking Cam.
"I didn't know you cared," Kevin told Carl. "Andy Helder will be
surprised to hear that."
"Andy knows he's Numero Uno with me," Carl said happily. "But I
my bro's." And that was true.
Cam cleaned up the kitchen after breakfast while Kevin checked out the
diaper bag to make sure everything Casey would need was in it when they
left for church. Cam set the house
alarm and the four of them went out to the
Kevin got the baby situated in his car seat--the little guy was still
in his usual good
mood--and they headed toward Santa
Monica with Carl at the wheel. They went
to Assurances first.
They pulled into the Assurances parking lot right at 9:30, and Jeff
Miller came out of the front entrance carrying a duffel bag on his
clothes for the week. Carl hit the button to open
the back hatch. Cam stepped out of the SUV to stow Jeff's bag in
the cargo area, and then greeted his friend with a hug and kiss on the
"Good to see ya, dude," Cam said as they got in the car.
"Back atcha," Jeff said.
Jeff said hello to Carl and Kevin, and Kevin introduced him to Art
"Art's staying with us because of a family situation," Cam said.
"I know how that goes," Jeff told Art. "I was fortunate enough
the get the same hospitality from these guys when I needed it, and it
literally saved my life."
Art talked with Jeff all the way to St. Dunstan's Church in Hollywood,
filled in on what Jeff was doing at Assurances to stay clean.
Traffic was light, so getting to church didn't take long. Carl
pulled into the St. Dunstan parking lot
at 9:45, found a spot to
park, and the
five of them headed for the front entrance with Cam carrying the
baby. Father Ryan was celebrating the Mass, and the altar party
was gathered in the
narthex. Kevin introduced the priest to Art.
"Good to have you here, Art," Father Ryan said, shaking his hand.
"And Jeff. I'm glad to see you," he said, giving Jeff a hug to
welcome him back.
The priest looked over at Cam. "I need to
ask you a big favor."
"Oh oh," Cam said.
"I need another acolyte to carry to carry the processional cross.
The person who was scheduled didn't show."
"Cam's your man, Father," Kevin told him. "He's a well trained
professional who's done this once before, and he's more than ready to
Cam gave his partner a dirty look, but then smiled and nodded
priest. "All right, Father. I hope I don't mess up, though."
"You'll do fine," Father Ryan said. He turned to one of the other
young acolytes. "Mike, take Cam back to the servers' vesting
room, and get him a black cassock and a surplice, and a pair of white
gloves, and hotfoot it back here. I want to start the Mass on
"Yes, Father," Mike said, and beckoned to Cam. They quickly
walked down a side aisle, through a door into a back hallway, and went
into a door labeled "Vesting Room." Going over to one of
many sliding doors in the room, Mike opened it and pulled out a
cassock, holding it up against Cam to check the fit. It was too
Putting it back into the closet, Mike pulled out another cassock.
Perfect. Cam stepped into it, putting his arms into the sleeves
and shrugging it on over his shoulders. He fastened the front
the young man went over to another set of doors and took out a freshly
laundered, glistening white surplice. He helped Cam put it on
over his head, and
smoothed out the wrinkles.
"Lookin' good, dude," Mike said, reaching into a drawer for some white
gloves and handing them to Cam. "Put these on, and let's hit it."
"Why the gloves?" Cam asked.
"So you don't get fingerprints or sweat on the handle of the
processional cross. It's brass."
"Got it," Cam said.
They retraced their steps back down the side aisle, arriving just as
celebrant put incense into the thurible and made the sign of the cross
over it with the words, "Be blessed by Him for whom you are burned,"
and then the thurifer ran the thurible top back down the chains.
was billowing as Father Ryan offered an opening prayer for the altar
party and then pushed a button on the wall to signal the organist to
processional hymn. The thurifer moved into the main aisle,
followed by Cam with the processional cross, then Mike and another
acolyte side by side, and
finally the celebrant in cassock, alb, stole and chasuble. They
down the main aisle toward the altar. The choir in
the balcony sounded excellent, at least to Cam's untrained ear, as they
led the opening hymn for the congregation.
Cam glanced out of the corner of his eye at his family as he passed
them. Kevin, holding Casey in his arms, was standing beside Art,
Carl and Jeff, and Cam noticed that all the guys were singing from
hymnals, or at
least making an attempt to do so. Mr. and Mrs. Miller were
standing on the other side of Jeff, and Jeff looked happy to be with
them. That pleased Cam.
Father Ryan's homily presaged the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, making
case that we should not only be thankful for what we have in terms of
worldly possessions, but for who and what we are spiritually as human
beings and followers of
Christ. He didn't mention specifically the issues of race or
sexual orientation, but the implications were clear to all those who
knew the atmosphere of St. Dunstan's parish that parishioners here were
welcoming and thankful for all who came through its doors. Art
Smith, as he was to tell the
other guys later, was very impressed with the message and with the Mass
Cam stood in the sanctuary to the side watching the altar during the
service as the Father
blessed the elements of bread and wine. He was interested to see
acts which a priest used in creating the Blessed Sacrament which
be administered to the faithful. When he glanced out at the
congregation later during the Lord's Prayer, he saw Kevin holding their
and looking back at him. Cam's and Kevin's eyes locked in a look
of pure love, clearly thankful for the relationship
they had with each other and for the little boy they shared.
Kevin leaned over to Art in their pew just before Holy Communion
administered. "Are you baptized, dude?" he asked.
"Yes," Art said.
"You can received Holy Communion, then," Kevin told him.
So Art went up to the altar rail with the family to receive the
At the end of the Mass, Cam had a big smile on his face as, carrying
the crucifix, he led the
altar party back up the main aisle to the narthex
during the recessional hymn. At
least I didn't trip over my own feet
and fall on my ass, he thought to himself with satisfaction.
When the recessional hymn concluded, since their
was no Deacon present at that Mass, Father
Ryan offered the dismissal to the congregation:
"Go in peace to love and serve the Lord."
"Thanks be to God," the people
Cam fastened the cross to its holder on the wall in the narthex,
and turned around
to see Father Ryan offering his hand.
"Cameron, thank you for your help. You did a great job.
Would you consider becoming a regular acolyte?"
"Well, I do think I should
be doing more for our parish than just attending Mass. Let me talk it over with Kevin, Father."
"Good enough," the priest said. "While you're at it, ask him and
Carl if they'll serve, too, and
know." In for a penny, in for
a pound, Ryan thought to himself about trying to recruit Kevin
"I'll do that. Father, is your family all set to come over to our
Thanksgiving Day?" Cam asked.
"Yes. We're all looking forward to being with you. What
time do you want us to show up?"
"We're not going to eat until 4:00, but why don't you come over about
noon. Make sure you and Mrs. Ryan and the kids bring your
swimming gear. We're going to swim in the Millers' pool and maybe
play badminton or touch football or something on the beach. It's
gonna be a fun
"Excellent!" the priest said. "The kids are excited to be
spending some time with you guys."
"Same here," Cam said. "I think my family will probably all
come to Mass on Thanksgiving morning, but you and I may not have a
chance to talk then. So I just wanted to make sure we're on the
While Cam and the priest were talking, most of the worshippers were
through a side door in the nave into the parish house
for coffee and rolls. Father Ryan stayed behind at the front door
to say good-bye to
the few parishioners who didn't stay for coffee hour. Kevin,
Carl, Art and Jeff Miller went into the
with Sean and Susan Miller, and Jeff introduced Art Smith to his
"I've seen a lot of your movies," Art told Sean Miller, "and really
liked them." The two of them began
talking while Susan Miller and the other boys went to get coffee and
rolls for everybody. Samuel, Joshua and Rachel Ryan congregated
around the guys as they all found a vacant table and sat
down. Cam came into the
parish house a few minutes later and joined them after shedding his
vestments. Kevin had brought him coffee and a roll.
Rachel Ryan immediately took charge of Casey, and began her usual thing
of walking him
around the huge parish hall with the little boy standing on her
black patent leather shoes.
Casey loved doing that, and everywhere Rachel walked him the people
made a fuss
over the child.
"Kev and Carl?" Cam said.
"You rang?" Kevin asked.
"Father Ryan wants me to ask you something. And don't give me
attitude about it."
"Lay it on us," Carl said.
"He wants to know if you guys will join me to get some training and
serve as acolytes."
Kevin groaned and Carl moaned, "Oh, man. . ."
"Don't give me that," Cam said. "We should be doing something
here other than just showing up and dropping a check in the
"Why don't we talk about it at home?" Carl suggested. "That way,
if we say 'no' and you yell at us, you won't embarrass yourself."
"You better say 'Yes,'" Samuel Ryan, the older of the two Ryan sons,
told Kevin and Carl. "I know from experience that misery
"I'm with ya there, bro," Cam said, smiling. He was sipping his
cup of coffee
and looking around when he spotted
George Eisner across the room with a lady, his wife, obviously.
She was svelte and pleasant looking, and beautifully dressed. Cam
stood, picked up his coffee, and crossed the room to the
"Good morning, Mr. Eisner," Cam said.
"Hello, Cam," Eisner said, shaking hands with him. "I'd like to
introduce my wife, Karen."
"How do you do, Mrs. Eisner?" Cam said.
The beautiful woman offered her hand with a smile. "Good
morning, Cam," she said. "George told me a lot about your visit
to the studio with your partner Kevin and another young man--was it
few weeks ago."
"Yes, it was Carl. We all enjoyed ourselves so much," Cam
responded. "We had a wonderful meal and got to see some of the
headquarters building. And we saw a preview of my
dad's last movie. The day was a real treat."
"I was so pleased you three joined us," George Eisner said.
"We loved it," Cam said earnestly. "You asked us
during our visit if we would let you know when the rest of our family
was going to visit us from San Francisco. They're flying into LAX
tomorrow morning, and will be here all week. I hope it's not
too late to set up a tour of Magnum Studios while they're here."
"Not at all," Eisner said. "Pick any day but Thanksgiving Day,
and I'll set it up. As I told you, I'd like to meet your
family. Just let me know how many there will be."
"Will it be all right if we bring our friends Art Smith and Jeff
along with the
Ryan kids and the Millers' maid,
Juanita, with us as well as the family?" Cam asked. "And our
maid, Maria and her two kids also?"
Eisner smiled broadly as the list got longer. "Absolutely," he
"I think it will be twenty-four people, then, including our son,
said. "What about Tuesday morning about
"Good. I'll alert our Tours Department staff. We can all
have lunch in our commissary after the tour. The food's not bad."
"I can't thank you enough, Mr. Eisner."
"I'll look forward to seeing you and everybody then, Cam."
Just then Rachel Ryan came walking by with Casey perched on her
shoes. Cam beckoned her over.
"Is this your son?" Eisner asked about the baby. "We've seen
Rachel walking this
little guy around before."
"Yes, sir. This is Casey."
"I thought it might be," Eisner said, bending down to look at the two
children. "Hello, Rachel. Hello, Casey," he said.
"Hello," Rachel said.
Karen Eisner squatted down to get a better look at Casey. "He's
darling," she said, looking up at Cam. "And he has such a pretty
tour guide this morning," she said, smiling at the girl. "How are
"I'm fine," the little girl said. "Casey is so cute. I wish
he was my little brother."
"You'll get to spend some time with him on Thanksgiving Day," Cam
After a little more conversation, Cam wished the Eisners a good
Thanksgiving week, and ushered Rachel and Casey back over to the
table where the boys were sitting. Kevin picked Casey up after
thanking Rachel for walking the little boy around, and she left.
"Eat up, you slackers," Cam told his bro's. "Time's wasting."
"Hit him!" Carl demanded of Kevin.
"I can see Holy Communion did you a lot of good, Carl," Cam
observed archly. "We do not
strike others when we're at church."
"Why not?" Carl said. "Where better? This is a place of
Kevin burst out laughing.
"I'll really be glad when Andy gets here and gets you calmed down," Cam
in a low voice to Carl so other parishioners wouldn't hear him.
"You haven't been getting enough sex."
Art was a little taken aback at such talk
in a church building, but Kevin laughed out
loud again and Carl
been more correct, Camarino. I really haven't getting enough
said. "But all that's about to
"Let's book," Kevin said before the conversation deteriorated
"Wait," Cam said. "I need to talk to Father and Mrs. Ryan before
"Hurry up," Kevin said, just to annoy him.
Cam walked over to the priest and his wife, and then came back smiling.
"What was that all about?" Kevin asked.
"We're going to tour Magnum Studios on Tuesday morning,
and Mr. Eisner said I could invite Jeff, Art, the Ryan kids and Maria
two kids to go with us," Cam
explained. "And Juanita, too, hopefully, after I check with the
Millers." He pursed his lips disapprovingly. "I suppose you
and Carl will
want to go along."
Kevin laughed. "You're such a busy little schemer, Cameron," he
told him as he stood up and
kissed Casey, who squirmed and tried his
avoid his dad's lips. Art stacked the dirty cups and dishes on a
took them to the kitchen, and then they all headed for the parking lot.
Art Smith and Jeff Miller had really hit it off, and they talked all
the way back to
"You've never met the rest of Cam's and Kevin's and Carl's family, have
"You'll like 'em. The guys are a gas!"
"Well, if they're anything like Cam and Kevin and Carl," Art said, "I'm
sure they are."
Carl filled Art the newbie in on some of the San Francisco guys' more
outrageous exploits, particularly those of William Carson. Art
couldn't believe some of the things he heard.
"You Episcopalians are pretty down to earth," he commented to
Jeff. "That's encouraging."
"'Down to earth' is one way to put it," Carl said with a laugh.
* * *
On Monday morning Jeff Miller had gone next door to talk to his parents
to Juanita Fuentes, his parents' maid. At Cam's behest, Jeff
parents whether Juanita could go with the family group which would tour
Magnum Studios on Tuesday, and Sean and Susan readily agreed.
They weren't going themselves because Susan had been there before, and
Sean said he had spent half his life there.
Art, Carl, Cam and Kevin sat with Casey in the study kibitzing while
they were waiting for the San Francisco contingent to arrive from the
Kevin's cell phone rang with a distinctive
whooping ring tone. He glanced at the ID and smiled. It was
"Marky-Mark! Where are ya, dawg?"
"Where do ya think? My feet are standing on LAX concrete right
now. And it's nice and warm down here in LaLa land."
"That's because we're a warmhearted people here in southern
California. Get your ass over to Malibu."
"Ass," Casey interjected from his crib, and Kevin smacked his own knee
in annoyance at himself that he wasn't better monitoring what he was
saying. The other guys snickered to themselves.
"If you're in that big a hurry to see me," Mark told Kevin, "you should
have come to the airport. I'm not in charge of transit over here."
"Yeah, yeah," Kevin said. "Have you been running every day and
workin' out, or am I gonna have to make you suffer?"
"I'm gonna make you suffer, dude. It's my mission in life. You're gettin' older and I'm gettin' stronger."
"We'll see who suffers and who doesn't," Kevin laughed. "Hurry up. I've been
missing you, bud."
"Same here. See ya in a little while," Mark said, and broke the
connection to get into a big, black stretch limo after helping load the
luggage. The guys from up north
were all amped
by now and all talking at once as the driver started the engine
and began to
maneuver his way out of the airport. The adults watched the boys
Kevin's phone whooped at him again forty minutes later. It was
"Well?" Kevin demanded.
"We just pulled off the Pacific Coast Highway. Get your ass out
in the driveway and make us feel welcome!"
"You're such a bold little snot!" Kevin told him. "We'll be
and you better have cleaned up your act by then!"
Mark laughed and hung up on him.
Jeff had come back from his parents' house next door by then, and he,
Kevin, Cam (holding Casey in a sling), Carl, Art and Maria all went out
driveway with the dogs just as the huge black limo pulled in on an
and came to a
A back door opened, and Berto, smiling in the bright sunshine, his
white teeth contrasting
with the beautiful olive skin of his face, stepped out. Ever the
stood there and helped Catherine, Mary, Rosa and Yolanda out of the
vehicle as Father Mason, Ian and the young guys started pouring out of
other side of the car. Cam and Kevin surrounded Catherine first
and kissed her soundly many times by way of greeting before moving on
to the rest of the crew.
It was chaos. There was a lot of hugging and kissing going
on, and not just male/female, either. It was no surprise, of
course, when Andy Helder pulled Carl Emrick into a long hug, smooched
on the lips, and then held his hand as Carl moved around greeting the
new arrivals. Maria circled the group, meeting and re-meeting the
Beautiful, loving people, Cam
thought to himself as he looked around at his extended family as they
milled around enjoying the sight of one another. Easy to love. Easy to look at.
How could I be so lucky? He watched Kevin, who was
smiling and eating up the scene, both of them noticing how
healthy-looking and handsome all the boys were. These guys had
obviously spent some time in the gym since their last visit, and that
always pleased Kevin.
Mark Carson made a beeline for Kevin, and they embraced for a long
moment and kissed each other on the cheek.
"Glad to see ya," Mark said. "I don't know why, but I always miss
"Back atcha, Marky-Mark. I'm happy you're here," Kevin said,
hugging him again.
William went over to Cam. Bending down, he kissed Casey in his
sling, and then
put his arms around them both and kissed Cam on the lips rather than on
the cheek. Cam was a little taken aback by that, but responded in
"Dude," William told Cam. "Lookin' good! And so is
Casey. He's grown since I saw him, and he's as cute as ever."
"Yeah," Cam said. "Casey is talking, and even starting to make
sense, unlike yourself."
William laughed. "Cameron, Cameron, don't be a dick."
"Dick," Casey repeated.
William looked surprised.
"Now you know why we have to watch what we say when Casey is around,"
Cam admonished his friend.
William nodded. "I'll do that," he promised.
After all the greetings were made, the women headed into the house and
the men and boys went to the car and started unloading all the
luggage. When it was all piled on the driveway, Ian pulled out
his wallet and paid for their ride with a credit card. After he
signed, he pressed some additional cash into the driver's hand.
The driver thanked him, stepped into the car, and drove away.
Kevin saw what Ian had done, and looked approvingly at him. That's Ian, he thought to
himself. He always takes care
of people who work for a living. As Kevin walked over to
take some bags into the house, he patted Ian on the back. "Thank
you for bringing the family down here again, Ian. We really
Ian smiled. "Well, we appreciate your hospitality, Kevin.
We love you guys. You know that."
Once in the house, Kevin and Cam escorted the family to their
bedrooms first. All the young guys would
sleeping in the master bedroom--some in the huge bed with Kevin and Cam
and some on the floor on sleeping pads--so that the common areas
downstairs were free for eating and socializing. At her own
insistence, Catherine would sleep in Casey's room next door to the
master bedroom so she could monitor the baby. Yolanda Vega and
Rosa Mendez would
share a bedroom with double beds down the hall. Father
Mason would have
his own room, and Ian and Mary Carson their own room.
"Hmmm," Carl spoke to Cam quietly in the master bedroom. "How are
Andy and I gonna get it
on when all you guys are staying in here?"
Cam grinned. "Do it in the shower standing up. Just be sure
you wash you-know-what down the
"Call me Mr. Clean," Carl said with a chuckle.
When everyone had unpacked a few of their essentials, they all went
the large living room where Casey was the center of
attention. Before the visiting got out of hand, Cam informed them
that they would all be leaving for Magnum Studios at 9:00 the next
morning for a
10:00 tour, and then
have lunch with the CEO, George Eisner. Everybody seemed really
pleased about that.
"Cam, are we going to need a limo for tomorrow, then?" Ian asked.
"I guess we will," Cam said. "We could probably fit everybody
into our cars if we used all of them, but it would probably be more fun
to get a
limo and use the Highlander and maybe my car for the overflow.
The limo will be
though, Ian. This trip has
already cost you enough."
"No, I'll cover it," Ian said. "We'll just tap William's college
fund. He can get a part-time job when he goes away to school."
William blushed and gave that idea a thumbs-down as the guys all
laughed, clapped and whistled. "I'll be on a full ride football
scholarship anyway," he
asserted. "So I'm not gonna worry about it."
Cam looked at Ian. "Ian, while I'm thinking about it, we're going
to need an extra $1700
transferred into our household account this month," he said.
"Gambling debts?" Ian kidded him.
"No, we had a new door put into the wall between our room and Casey's
"I'll take care of it," Ian said. Then he went into the next room
for some quiet and called the limo
company about a ride to Magnum Studios. When he finished, he went
back into the big living room
and told Cam he'd asked for a small bus rather than a limo so they
could all ride together.
They all talked and kibitzed for about an hour, and then Carl suggested
that they change into swimming gear and go next door to the Millers'
house to swim. That got an affirmative vote, and they all headed
upstairs to change. The guys all crowded into the master bedroom,
and began stripping down.
Standing there naked, Kevin made a quick phone
Susan Miller to confirm that they had blanket permission to use the
pool for the week, starting immediately, and got the okay.
Shoulders to hips, his upper body formed a perfect V, he had a perfect
sixpack, and his legs were
muscular and in proportion with the rest of him. There
wasn't a guy in the
room who didn't
take a minute to admire that boy's body and all its parts while he was
on the phone!
Dan Emrick looked around with a grin. "There's an awful lot of
dick in this room," he said. "And the smell of testosterone in
"And some dicks are bigger than others," Berto said. "But no
The guys laughed, finished changing and grabbed towels out of an
upstairs linen closet before heading downstairs and out the door to the
front deck and the beach. They didn't wait for the adults.
Cam chained up the dogs on the deck with fresh water in their bowls,
and then led the guys toward the
pool. Taking the gate
key out of its hiding place behind a brick in the wall at the Millers',
he opened the gate. The sun was shining brightly, and the emerald
green water in the pool awaited. Dropping
their towels on beach chairs, they approached the edge of the
water. William hesitated before diving in, and Cam gave him a
shove to encourage him.
William hit the water hard, turning his abs red. His face emerged
from the water with a shout, and with a look of
innocence Cam asked him, "Is the water warm?"
William laughed. "Oh, yeah! Revenge will be
sweet, too, Cam! Count on that, dipshit!"
Cam dived in and swam under water toward William, who also ducked under
the water, saw his antagonist coming, and swam away as fast as he
could. The two guys emerged about ten feet apart and eyed each
"Pussy," Cam told him, swimming away as William came after him.
Then other guys began cannonballing into the pool, splashing Cam and
William as much as they could. Things didn't calm down until the
adults finally walked onto the pool deck and staked out their
spots. Catherine was carrying Casey, dressed in his little
red swimming trunks. The child's skin gleamed with sunscreen that
Catherine had already applied.
"Mommy, come swim with me, and bring Casey," Cam said to
Catherine. "Protect me. William is trying to drown me."
"You're on your own, buddy," Catherine said. "Don't play innocent
with me. I know you did something to get things stirred up."
"She knows you too well," Dan Emrick said to the general agreement of
the other guys.
Carl swam over to his brother and threw an arm over his shoulder.
"How ya doin', Dan. I'm glad to see ya."
"Same here," Dan said. "You're lookin' all buffed up."
"I don't have any choice. Kevin is a tyrant in the gym."
"So was William when he was in charge of our gym," Dan said.
"Thank goodness he's too busy with football and his
girlfriend to spend much time with us peasants. Berto is in
charge now, and gets the same results in workouts without being a dick
Carl laughed. "Well, Berto's work with you has paid off.
You're lookin' good. How's school?"
"I'm doing all right. I'm on the dean's list, anyway. Mark
and I both are."
"Excellent! Are you dating?"
"No," Dan said. "I'm friends with some girls, but no girlfriends."
"Let's talk about that later."
"Okay. By the way, it's a good thing Andy Helder will be
transferring down here to UCLA starting next semester. He comes
to the house a lot for supper and to study, and kind of mopes around
because he's not with you. He's got it bad for ya, dude."
"How could he not?" Carl chuckled. No modesty there.
"Hey, did I hear my name taken in vain?" Andy asked, swimming over and
putting an arm around Carl's waist as they treaded water mid-pool.
"Yeah," Dan said. "We were talking about how UCLA has just
their admission standards, and you might not be able to get in after
"You better talk nice to me," Andy said. "I'm going to be your
brother-in-law before too long."
"I'll be nicer to you if you give me free martial arts lessons," Dan
said with a grin.
"Deal!" Andy said.
Carl studied his boyfriend's great physique, and started to get a
Just then, the Millers' back door opened, and Susan and Sean Miller and
their maid Juanita Fuentes stepped out on to the patio with heaping
trays of sandwiches and snacks and many pitchers of lemonade, and put
the goodies down
on the pool-side tables. The guys cheered, clapped and
whistled from the pool, and the adults stood up to offer hugs and
thanks to their hosts. Juanita went back
inside, and brought out a tray loaded with plastic glasses, hors-d'oeurve plates, plastic
utensils and napkins, and the guys piled out of the pool and walked
toward the food table.
"Let's offer thanks first," Kevin suggested, and he did so for the
group. Cam looked at him in amazement. His partner was more
religious than he liked to let on. Father Mason beamed--his
the guys hadn't gone to waste.
"Serve the ladies first, you klutzes," Berto told the first guys as
they strode up to try to pour themselves some lemonade. To their
credit, the guys listened to Berto, asking Mary, Yolanda, Rosa and
they would like glasses of lemonade. With that done, the guys
poured themselves lemonade, heaped up plates of fresh fruit, sliced
sausage and cheese and lunch meat sandwiches, and began to chow down.
After they had eaten and let their food settle for a few minutes, the
guys stretched a net across the pool and found a waterproof volleyball
the pool house. Game on!
"I pick Father Jim," Kevin said first as he and William were choosing
The priest stood up and grinned. "Excellent choice," he told
William chose his dad first, and then he and Kevin took turns picking
The teams alternated playing from the shallow and the deep ends of the
pool to even up the challenge, and were very well matched. But
eventually Kevin's team won, much to a competitive William's chagrin.
The game over, the guys ate some more food and drank more lemonade, and
then rested a few minutes before adjourning to the beach to play some
touch football. This time William's team won, and he felt
redeemed. Cam noticed that every one of the guys, young and old
alike, including Ian, Sean Miller and Father Mason, showed a lot
of athletic ability out there.
While the pool was quiet during the football game on the beach, Mary
Carson and Catherine
took Casey into the water,
and he loved it as they supported the little guy while he pretended to
swim. He fussed when they eventually took him out of the water,
but he soon calmed down and went to sleep in Mary's arms in the shade
of one of the large umbrellas.
"I wouldn't want to be pregnant and carry a child to term at my age,
but I sure do like taking care of a baby again," Mary confessed.
"I do too," Catherine agreed. "And Casey has such a good
temperament, it's really a pleasure. Cam was an easy baby, but I
think Casey even has him beaten on that score. Kevin's mom told
me once that she didn't think Kev was an easy baby, but he's turned out
to be a fine, even-tempered young adult. A tough guy, I guess
good-tempered. So apparently there's always hope."
"Well, William still has some rough edges, but I think being around
Berto and Cam and Kevin are good examples for him. Mark, on the
other hand, was an easy baby to raise."
"William is good boy," Yolanda Vega protested to Mary in her thick
accent as Rosa nodded in agreement. "All
these boys are good boys," Yolanda affirmed.
"I know," Mary said. "One of the reasons we like to come
down here is to see all these boys together and how they
interact. They give each other a hard time sometimes, but they
really love each other. I think they help each other become the
of people we can be proud of."
"You're right," Catherine said.
Just then the touch football players came roaring back on to the patio,
sweating and picking on each other about the game they'd just
played. After washing the beach sand off themselves with a hose,
one after another they dived into the pool.
Ian dived in and swam over to William and drew him into a hug. He
kissed his boy on the cheek.
"What was that for?" William asked his dad.
"I don't know. 'Cause I love you, and you just won that football
team. You have some moves out there on the gridiron, boy, I'll
have to give you that, even when the gridiron is California sand!"
To look at him, one would have thought that William just shrugged off
what his dad had said to him and had done to him by giving him a kiss,
it meant a lot to the kid. "Thanks, Dad," he said after a long minute.
Kevin and Mark Carson were standing on the edge of the pool. "You
did a good job out there on the beach," Kevin told Mark. Then he
picked him up and threw him into the water.
"Ow, ow, you hurt me!" Mark yipped when he came to the surface.
"You broke my ribs!"
"You little liar," Kevin responded, and cannonballed into the pool next
Mark, splashing him good. Mark laughed, swam to the steps at
the shallow end and got out of harm's way.
Cam swam over to Kevin and hugged him from behind with one arm while
reaching around under the water and rubbing his partner's
was an immediate reaction between Kevin's legs.
"You horny little shit," Kevin said to him quietly, swiveling around to
face Cam and giving him a kiss.
"I'm a horny little shit?"
Cam whispered to him. "I'm not the one getting hard."
"Everybody's watching you," Kevin said. "Now they know what kind
of person you really are."
"That hasn't been any secret for quite a while," Cam said.
"No, it sure hasn't," Dan Emrick agreed, bobbing in the water not too
Kevin and Cam went after him, but he escaped their clutches.
Cam pulled himself up and out of the pool, and went over and sat beside
his mother. He held her hand.
"Are you ready to move into Ian and Mary's condo in San Francisco when
start teaching at Stanford?" he asked Catherine.
"No," she said. "To tell you the truth, I haven't done a thing."
"Do you want us guys to come up to San Rafael to pack you up?"
"No. Part of my deal with Stanford is that they'll pick up my
moving expenses," Catherine said. "So I'll hire someone to pack
me up. There won't be any furniture involved in the move.
By the way,
we have to decide whether you guys are coming to San Rafael for
Christmas this year, or whether we're coming down here."
"Kevin and Carl and I haven't even talked about it. I guess we
should go north. All of you have been so good about coming down
holidays, I don't think it would be right to ask you to fly down
"Well, we'll make a plan one way or another before we go back,"
"My only problem would be what we do about Art Smith if we go north,"
Cam said. "I
you about his situation, but long story short, he can't go home for
"Bring him," Catherine said. "We can always find room for one
"You're a sweetheart, Mom. Thanks."
"I love you, honey," Catherine said. Then she looked over at
Mary. "What are we going to do about supper?"
"Kevin said they have enough steaks to feed us all. But they're
in the freezer, and need to be thawed out before we can throw them on
The upshot was that Cam and Kevin went back to their house and pulled
huge packages of filets mignon out of the freezer. Opening them,
they spread them out on plastic trays, and put them in the large shower
garage under a slow, cold spray to thaw.
"Looking at all this meat gets me hot," Kevin told his partner, kissing
him on the neck.
"Looking at your meat gets me hot," Cam said. "Without fail."
"You cute little shit. You don't know how much I love you," Kevin
"Oh yes I do."
They stood there kissing each other, exploring each other's mouth with
Kevin pulled back, and they were both hard. "We better go back,
or Dan and Mark
will be over here looking for us."
"Yep," Cam agreed. "But let's talk with Maria first, and see what
we're gonna have with the steaks."
After the bulges in their swimming trunks subsided, they conferred with
Maria in the kitchen, and decided they'd have baked potatoes with
sour cream, with fresh green beans, the latter first boiled and then
thrown on a
grill for just a minute or two to crisp them up. And salad.
"Thanks, Maria," Kevin said. "Call us when the steaks are thawed,
and we'll fire up the grills. If you
need help with anything else, let us know."
"By the way, bring your kids to work with you tomorrow so they can
with us at nine o'clock to tour Magnum Studios," Cam said.
going with us, too, y'know."
Maria teared up. "You don't know how much I appreciate
everything you do for me and my family," she said.
"We owe you a lot," Kevin said, and gave her a hug and a kiss on the
cheek. "You keep things running around here, and we appreciate
Cam did the same, and then they headed back next door to talk about
supper. The crowd was enthusiastic about the menu.
While they were at it, Cam and Kevin invited Sean and Susan Miller
along with their maid Juanita Fuentes to join the family for the
* * *
Supper was outstanding. Ian Carson and Father Mason
borrowed three grills from the Millers, making for a total of six
grills on Cam and Kevin's spacious front deck to cook steaks to order,
bake whole potatoes, and crisp up the green beans. The cooks, now
including Sean Miller, were
drinks as they cooked--all of them elected to have vodka martinis made
a large, lone bottle of Grey Goose vodka that Kevin had found at the
back of John Kelley's liquor cabinet. The three chefs were in a
very good mood
by the time they finished cooking.
Father Mason, surrounded by the extended family, said grace before
everyone sat down.
By adding all the leaves to the dining room table and opening two
aluminum tables in the study, they had enough room for everyone to sit
down and eat. The adults all had glasses of pinot noir with their
meal. Maria had tossed three huge bowls of lettuce and added
tomatoes and green peppers for the salad, and prepared four loaves of
garlic bread to complement the staples.
Kevin was surprised when Mark Carson offered to feed Casey, seated in
his highchair between the two boys. Kevin acquiesced, and Mark
got into it, patiently spooning baby food into the Casey's mouth along
with an occasional, very, very small piece of steak or piece of
potato. When he had
eaten most of his own food, Kevin took over the feeding duties so Mark
"Thanks for the help, dude," Kevin told Mark.
guys all ate like pigs until there wasn't a scrap of food left on the
Dessert was bowls of butter pecan ice cream scooped from several
two-gallon cartons out of the freezer in the garage. Casey got
little of that ice cream from his dad, and loved it, of course.
Mary, Catherine and Susan Miller helped Maria with the clean-up.
After clean-up was finished, the young guys commandeered the dining
room table to play
cards. Of the adults, only Father Mason and Sean Miller elected
the boys in what
was to be a half-marathon, low stakes poker game The other adults
in the large living room and talked.
Kevin and Cam
and Andy Helder managed to break even when the poker game ended about
while Sean Miller, Carl Emrick, Mark Carson, Jeff Miller, Art Smith and
modest amount. But
Carson and the priest were big losers. The big winner was Berto
"Can't you cast a spell on him, Father?" Andy Helder asked the priest
as they watched Berto count his winnings.
Mason laughed. "I'm a priest, not a warlock," he said.
"Is that a 'no?'" Andy kidded him.
"That's a 'no.'"
Before Sean and Susan Miller left for next door, Ian talked to them
upcoming Thanksgiving meal. "Y'know, I've never tried this
before, but I was thinking about cooking a turducken to go with the
turkeys for our meal on Thursday," he said. "I know it's a little
late in the game, but do you know where I could rent a cooker and get a
Susan looked at her husband and smiled. "You're asking the right
"It just so happens that I have a cooker in my garage made especially
for cooking turducken," Sean said, "and I know where we can get the
birds, prepared Cajun style and all ready to cook. And I have the
cooking oil on hand all ready to go."
"Outstanding!" Ian said enthusiastically. "Fill me in on who I
can call to get
"Well, you're all going to Magnum Studios tomorrow morning, right?"
"Why don't you let Susan and me get the birds, and I'll move the cooker
to the deck over here while you're gone."
"That would be wonderful!" Ian said. "But I want to pay for the
"Let us supply the turducken so we don't feel like we're
freeloading," Susan suggested.
"You don't have to do that," Ian said.
"It's settled, then, Counselor," Sean said. "To be on the safe
medium-large turducken will take about 10-12 hours to cook, so we need
to be on the ball by say, 5 a.m., to start the process."
"I'll set my phone for 5 a.m. so I can start it cooking before the
family runs on Thursday morning," Ian said. "And we can leave it
while we go to church," Ian added.
"Sounds good to me!" Sean said. They shook hands, and Ian
on the cheek before they left.
* * *
By 11:00 p.m., all the guys and adults had gone upstairs to get ready
bed. Catherine had bathed and put Casey down earlier in the
Except for Cam and Kevin, the boys had each snagged a
sleeping pad to crash on the soft carpeting of the master bedroom.
William stripped off his clothes and went into the bathroom with a
towel over his shoulder to scout out the shower. After he checked
it out, he looked back into the bedroom with amazement on his
"Holy shit!" he said to Cam and Kevin. "Your fucking shower is
almost as big as the boys' locker room gang shower at San Rafael High."
"Yeah," Cam said with a grin. "Kevin likes a shower with lots of
room in case he gets hard. He has a big dick, obviously, and
doesn't like to
scrape it on the tiles in close quarters."
"The shower is humongous,"
admitted, laughing. "There are six overhead adjustable shower
there, plus six waist-high shower heads. You guys can all shower
at once, but no touching each
other, please. We do have some
Berto went into the bathroom to confirm what William had said.
There were two
sinks, a toilet and a urinal in there, a bathtub, and the immense,
shower had walls and
floors of marble tiles with rich brown, white and gold markings which
matched the rest of the bathroom.
Spot and flood lights beamed down on all the strategic places, and
heating and exhaust fans dotted the ceiling. Stylish benches
hugged one wall so that one could sit down and dry one's legs and
feet after bathing. A cluster of switches inside the bathroom
the lighting and the fans. A commodious linen closet
held wash cloths and what looked to be at least fifty large,
"Awesome!! You two must get lonely in there," Berto told Cam and
Kevin before pulling off his sneakers and clothes, and joining William
in the shower. The sound of water was making a hissing noise as
Mark also went in to shower with Berto and William.
Carl went into the bathroom and grabbed two towels. "Andy and I
are gonna use the garage shower," he told Cam as he and Andy headed
for the hallway and stairs. Cam gave them a smile and a
understanding that those two weren't shy and certainly not ashamed of
their bodies; they just needed some privacy.
Cam and Kevin first brushed their teeth, then stripped and joined the
other four guys under some as yet unused shower heads. This is pretty much a gay boy's dream, Cam
thought to himself as he and Kevin squeezed past William, Berto, Dan
and Mark to go to the far wall. The four earlier arrivals were
still soaping up their bodies as Kevin turned on the last shower
heads, and he and Cam let the hot water soak them.
Wetted down, the partners began to soap each other from a bottle of
liquid soap in a wall receptacle. Kevin grabbed a brush from a
hook on the wall and
began to scrub Cam's back and butt. When done, he handed it to
sighed in pleasure as Cam returned the favor. Paying no attention
to the others, the partners then began to wash each other all over,
turning to the wall when they washed one another's crotch.
By the time Cam and Kevin had finished washing everything except their
feet, the other
boys had rinsed off, dried themselves, and were just leaving the
smiled as he noticed that William's cock was half hard. The kid is well hung, Kevin
thought to himself. Really
well hung! No wonder
all the girls in his one-time harem doted on him so much.
Jeff and Art claimed shower heads after William and Berto had
finished washing, and before long they, too, had left for the bedroom.
Kevin and Cam took their time drying
each other, and then held either other and kissed deeply before they
emerged from the bathroom. They each pulled on a fresh pair of
boxers and then headed for the king-sized bed. The other guys,
some naked and some wearing clean boxers, were unrolling sleeping pads,
taking pillows from a pile, shaking out sheets, and staking out floor
space as Kevin and Cam turned down their bedspread and top sheet, and
climbed into bed, moving toward the center. There was plenty of
room for one boy on each side of them in bed, and Mark Carson claimed
the space next to Kevin. Cam beckoned to Dan Emrick, who smiled
as he moved on to the bed next to Cam. Kevin reached down and
covered the four of them with their top sheet.
The overhead light was still on for Carl and Andy, who arrived wearing
towels around their waists, fresh
from their shower in the garage. They looked happy and very
The two of them unrolled sleeping pads right next to each other on
the floor, got pillows and a sheet, and lay down naked together after
Carl turned off the light.
Cam and Kevin rolled to face each other and kissed softly before
preparing to sleep. They each gave thanks silently for
their family's presence before closing their eyes.
Within a few minutes, soft snores were the only noise heard over the
muted sound of cool air blowing out of the air conditioning vents in
* * *
Kevin's cellphone on the bedside table sounded an alarm at 5:30 the
next morning. Tuesday. Magnum Studios day.
Kevin yawned, reached over Mark Carson to grab his phone from the
table, and shut off
"All right, you lazy assholes, get the fuck up!" he said in his
gravelly, early morning voice. "It's time to run!"
Groaning and complaints ensued.
"Shut the fuck up," William responded to Kevin before
covering his face with his pillow.
Kevin laughed. First kissing Cam on the side of the head, he
crawled over a supine Mark Carson and headed for the bathroom, his
clearly tented with his usual early-morning hardon. Fishing out
his cock, he stood over the urinal for a minute until his erection
eased and he could begin to urinate. He glanced over at William,
who had joined him and was standing over the toilet next to him, also
sporting big wood.
"You should have brought Alicia down here with you to help you out with
your 'little problem' this morning," Kevin suggested.
"It wasn't for lack of trying," William said. "Anyway, don't be
lookin' over here at my equipment."
"You're right," Kevin said, shaking off and preparing to vacate the
urinal to make room for the next customer. "But it is kind of 'hard' to miss."
"Try 'harder,'" William said with a grin.
Kevin went back into the bedroom to a tableau of built and athletic
young guys in various states of undress digging through their luggage
for jock straps and running shorts. Easy on the eyes! he thought to
himself. And stimulating.
Like the opening scenes of a male
Kevin discarded his boxers and pulled on his jock, running
shorts, T-shirt, socks and running
shoes, and went to the bedroom door. "We still have a few minutes
before we run, so if some of you want a bottle of water or piece of
toast or something
else before we leave, go down to the kitchen."
The guys responded with nods and a few grunts as Kevin walked down the
upstairs hall knocking on doors and inviting those inside to get a move
on if they wanted to run that morning. Then he went downstairs to
the kitchen and greeted Maria Romero and her two sleepy looking sons,
Jr., age 13, and Roberto, age 11. Both were handsome boys wearing
and khaki pants.
"Hey, guys," Kevin said, slapping hands with them. "I'm
Kevin." The two boys identified themselves with a smile.
"We're all gonna run in a few minutes," Kevin said. "We
go eight miles. You're welcome to join us, but you don't have
to--I guess you're not dressed for it."
Juan and Roberto looked at each other.
"Too far for me," Roberto said.
"I brought a pair of swimming trunks and a T-shirt, so I might give it
a shot," Juan said. "I do a lot of running for soccer. But
I might only do about five miles," he added.
"That's okay, man," Kevin said. "There's a bathroom right down
if you wanna change."
"Cool," Juan said.
Kevin took a loaf of bread out of a bread box and started putting
their four-slice toaster. Maria retrieved butter and apple butter
and grape jelly and orange marmalade out
of the refrigerator and put them on the counter so the runners could
slather toast with a topping of their choice before going out to the
deck to warm up. Kevin
introduced the guys to Roberto as they came into the kitchen, and then
to Juan when he came back from changing clothes.
When Berto came in and saw the Hispanic boys, his eyes lighted
up. Kevin introduced Maria's sons to him. "¡Hola!" Berto
said, and went and slapped hands with the kids. He spoke briefly
them in Spanish, and they grinned and answered him in Spanish.
Kevin kept making toast and supplying water until everyone who wanted a
little sustenance had something, and then they all went out on to the
deck and started warming up. Kevin unchained the dogs after his
stretches, and everyone headed for the beach. It was going to be
a hot, humid day--it was already very warm even though the sun hadn't
Berto talked to Juan Romero before they started running. "Why
don't you run beside me, and whenever you're ready to break away to go
back to the house, I'll eome back with you."
"Well, thanks, but you don't have to," Juan said.
"I know," Berto said. "But I want to. It won't hurt
me to do less than the usual eight miles."
Juan nodded, and then on a signal from Cam the whole crew began
running. Ian, Mary, Catherine, Father Mason, Kevin, Cam, Carl,
Juan, William, Mark, Dan, Jeff and Art spaced themselves out in two's
and three's so that everyone could run on the hardpack near the water
rather than in the soft sand. William had brought his
pedometer/stopwatch with him, and he clicked it during the first few
took so he could share the results with everyone when they arrived back
at the house.
Cam got a lump in his throat as he looked around at his extended family
as they ran. He always got a little emotional when the family was
all together, and counted his blessings that he was in such a close and
loving relationship with people who put themselves out there to promote
their health and strengthen their bodies. Exercising together
inevitably strengthened their bonds with
one another. They were people who had never, and would never, let
no matter what, Cam knew that. People who accepted him and Kevin
and Father Mason and Carl and Andy for who and what they were, gay men
in a world that
sometimes wasn't all that understanding when
it came to gays.
Kevin glanced over at Cam, somehow sensing what his partner was feeling
about the family, and patted him on the shoulder as they ran beside
Cam smiled at him. How does he
always know what's on my mind? Love vibes, I guess! he
thought to himself.
Everyone was starting to perspire before very long. William was
running just ahead of Cam, and Cam scoped out William's broad shoulders
and sturdy legs and
bubble butt as the boy moved along with long, firm strides. Looking good! Cam thought to
himself. William was wearing a pair of white, sheer polyester
running shorts which were becoming transparent as the boy sweat into
them, revealing William's jock and the contours of his ass. Cam
looked away before he fixated and couldn't look away. Then he
found himself staring at Berto's butt, another great example of jock
boy ass. Unfortunately, Berto's running shorts weren't turning
transparent like William's had.
Juan Romero looked over at Berto at about the three-mile mark, and
poked his shoulder.
"I think this is it for me," Juan said.
"Okay," Berto said, and looked back toward Cam and Kevin. "Juan
and I are going to head back to the house."
"All right, guys," Kevin said. "We'll see you later."
Berto and Juan swung out of the crowd and into the soft sand, and then
headed in the opposite direction on the hard pack.
William dropped back beside Cam. "Are Berto and Juan okay?" he
"Yeah," Cam said. "Juan is in pretty good shape for soccer, but
he's not used to doing eight miles. How far have we run so far?"
"Three on the button," William said, checking the pedometer.
Cam nodded. "Okay, then that's six for Juan and Berto. Not
bad for the kid."
"Yep," William agreed, continuing to run beside Cam.
Tongues lolling out of their mouths, the two border collies were
and out of the surf to cool off. Not a bad idea, Kevin thought to
himself. But he stayed the course and continued to run on dry
He smiled to himself as he thought about the upcoming trip to Magnum
Studios. He knew everybody would love it, especially the guys!
© 2014 Don Hanratty
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