My Belovèd is mine, and I am his.
Song of Songs 2:16
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving began for
when Kevin's phone alarm sounded at 7:30 a.m. Kevin turned it off
as groans from some of the
the master bedroom ensued. Cam and Kevin climbed out of their bed
over bedmates Dan Emrick and Mark Carson, and Cam headed for the
In a good mood, Kevin strolled down the
upstairs hall in his boxers, knocking on doors so the adults could get
ready for the
family's usual morning run on the beach. Cam was still brushing
his teeth when Kevin came back and entered the bathroom door, slapping
on his bare ass.
"Ow!" Cam protested. "What the fuck?"
"Just making sure your cute little butt is wide awake and ready to
"That hurt," Cam complained.
"I'll kiss it and make it well," Kevin responded, bending over and
kissing each of his partner's butt cheeks just as William Carson came
into the room to drain his bladder.
"Kinky!" William said with a raffish grin.
"Sorry," Kevin told William. "I
didn't mean to get you turned on."
"Dream on," William said, sporting his usual early morning hard-on in
boxers as he walked over and straddled the urinal. After he
finished up and shook off, he stepped over to the sink which Cam had
and, finding his toothbrush on the bathroom counter where he'd put it
the night before, slathered it with toothpaste and started brushing.
The other guys began piling into the bathroom to take care of business,
and in due time the whole family ended up on the front deck to do their
warm-ups before running. It was going to be another sunny,
California day from the look of things. Border collies Alice and
about in their
usual state of elation about the impending run with their humans.
"Everybody sleep well?" Father Mason inquired as he pulled first one
leg and then the other up behind him in a stretch.
Most of the guys looked like they were still half-asleep, and just
grunted in response to the priest.
Ian Carson laughed and shook his head. "Sometimes you have to
wait until after lunch before you get an articulate response from
guys," he said.
"I hear that!" the priest responded with a chuckle.
Warm-ups completed, the crowd was soon down on the hardpack by Santa
Monica Bay and getting up to speed. Kevin, Cam and William
"So, what do you have planned to keep us entertained today?" William
"It's 'Make Fun of William Carson Day,'" Kevin said. "There's
material to keep everybody laughing."
"No. Seriously." William said.
"Cam and I have to run an errand this morning, so we're leaving you in
charge of entertainment," Kevin responded.
"An 'errand?'" William said. "What errand?"
"None of your business," Kevin said. "If I told you, everybody
would know within five minutes."
"No, they wouldn't," William protested. "I can keep my mouth
"Yeah, maybe when your lips are on some girl's nipple," Cam interjected.
"If we tell you, the rest of the guys will be pissed off that we
didn't tell them," Kevin said.
"Well, fuck you both, then," William said quietly so nobody else could
hear. He was clearly a little miffed to be kept in the dark.
"You'll get the info in good time," Kevin said.
The subject Kevin and Cam were keeping quiet about was that they were
going to visit some jewelry stores on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills to
look at wedding rings. They had talked about it the previous
night when they walked the dogs before bed. They had concluded
then that neither one of them knew exactly what he wanted in a ring,
that they would know the right one when they saw it. They
wanted to get a jump on making a selection.
It was a great morning run, as usual, and they turned around at the
point and headed back toward the house. William hadn't said a
word to Cam or Kevin since they had refused to spill the beans about
Arriving home, the guys all piled into the huge master bedroom shower
space allowed, and
when they were cleaned up, hustled downstairs for breakfast.
Maria had made everybody poached eggs on cinnamon
toast, with crisp bacon. She pulled everything out of the oven
where they had been kept warm, and served everybody. Cam and
Kevin and Berto stood at the kitchen counter to eat because it was a
little crowded at the kitchen table. The
food was delicious.
The guys at the table took turns feeding Casey, who was his normally
After breakfast, Cam had a quiet word with Catherine and Maria to let
that he and Kevin were going out for a while. The two of them
kissed Casey on top of his head, and slipped out
through the garage wearing their usual attire of T-shirts,
Levis and sneakers.
"Let's take the Porche," Cam said. "The battery needs
charging. It's been a couple of weeks since I drove it."
"OK," Kevin said, starting to pull the tarp off the car. "Can I
"Of course. You know the car is half yours."
"Cool," Kevin said.
Cam folded up the tarp
and set it aside. The top on the 911 was already down.
"Shit! I forgot the keys," Cam said.
"I'll get 'em." Kevin ducked back into the house and took the Porche
off the pegboard for keys in the back hall, and went back to the garage.
They got in the car, and Kevin put the key into the ignition and
cranked the engine. It fired up right away.
"Good battery," Kevin commented as he backed out of the garage, the
mufflers burbling as he gunned the engine a little. He reached
the street, dropped it into first gear and headed for the service road
to the Pacific Coast
Highway. Once there he headed south to Santa Monica Boulevard and
I-405 heading north. Much to their surprise, the traffic on 405
toward the Beverly Hills area was actually moving, not the bumper to
bumper hot mess it could often be on a weekday.
"Hmmm, I think a lot of people took the day before Thanksgiving off,
wouldn't you say?" Cam observed. "Not much traffic."
"Yep," Kevin agreed, resting his right hand on the gearshift knob as
they tooled along. "This may not take us all morning after
all." The traffic was moving at a steady fifty-five miles per
Cam rested his left hand on top of Kevin's hand on the gearshift and
squeezed it. "I'm totally
excited about looking at rings."
"Me, too, bud. We've wanted to get married for a long time now,
I can't wait to start wearing a wedding ring. Then the whole
world will know you
and I have tied the knot." He paused and cleared his
throat. "You're a great partner and a great
lover, and a wonderful father to Casey. I'm so lucky to have you
in my life."
Cam's eyes misted up when he heard that. Kevin had never had a
problem being loving and physically demonstrative with Cam, but he was
usually more restrained when it came to putting his feelings out there
verbally than Cam was.
"Thanks for saying that," Cam said, swallowing hard. "I think
I'm the lucky one. Especially when I look around at the
haven't found themselves yet, let alone finding 'the one' to be in
They fell silent for a few miles listening to tunes on the radio, and
then Kevin broke the silence.
"I had a good talk with Mark Carson yesterday afternoon on the
beach. I don't want
to go into the particulars, 'cause I told him we were talking in
confidence, but when you get a chance to talk to him, build him up a
little bit. I want him to feel good about himself. And I
want Dan Emrick to to feel good about himself, too. Sometimes
older brothers can overshadow the young guys. Have you had a
chance to talk to Dan at all about how he's doing?"
"No, but it's on my list of things to do while the family's down
here," Cam said. "Older brothers sometimes cast a big shadow,
you're right about that. I love Mark and Dan a lot, so I'm
with you when it comes to encouraging them to have a good self-image."
"Yeah," Kevin said. "Fortunately, Berto really does a good job
mentoring Dan and Mark, too. He's just an all round good guy,
"He really is. I don't know whether I'd be the man he is today if
my mother and father had been murdered the way his were. When and
if he gets into Stanford and then goes to law school, I think he's
going to be one hell of a lawyer. Ian and Mary have done a
great job with him, and they don't hide the fact that they care about
him and they're
proud of him. I also have to say that Berto has managed to stay
in touch with his Hispanic culture without putting down Anglo
culture in any way. I really admire him."
Kevin looked over at his partner. "You've got that shit
I hadn't really thought about the potential cultural conflicts in
Berto's life. He's struck a good balance."
"Yep," Cam agreed.
After looking around to see if people in surrounding cars were
watching, Kevin reached down and cupped Cam's crotch with his right
gently squeezed his partner's package. Cam spread his legs a
"Liking that!" Cam said approvingly, and started to harden up.
Neither of them moved until an eighteen wheeler pulled up
next to them a few minutes later. The driver looked down into the
sounded his air horn when he saw where Kevin's hand was. Kevin
grinned and retrieved his hand as he gunned the Porche and quickly left
They neared Beverly Hills, and Cam reached into his pocket and pulled
map of the city he'd printed from his computer. Unfolding it, he
had Kevin make a right turn on to Sunset Blvd. and began to help him
find Rodeo Drive. Once there, they located a
parking spot near the first of many swanky jewelry shops.
"Y'know, I had an idea about our rings I want to run by you before we
shop," Cam said before they got out of the car. "It might be a
little more expensive because it involves two rings for each of us
and would require some custom work by a jeweler. But if you like
my idea, I think we should consider it."
"Dazzle me," Kevin invited as they continued to sit in the
"Well, once a man and a woman get engaged, only the woman wears an
engagement ring. I was thinking that you and I might change that
up a bit, and we should get each get a thin gold band with diamond
chips all the way around the circumference to serve as an engagement
ring would interlock with a broader band for our actual wedding rings
when we marry, and we'd wear both rings from then on. Does that
sound too over the top?"
"You little trendsetter, you," Kevin said, leaning over and kissing
Cam on the cheek. "I love that idea!"
"Me, too," Cam said as they released their seat belts, stepped out of
the car and headed down
the street toward an expensive, well-known jewelry store.
They entered a large, brightly lighted shop filled with showcases
exhibiting expensive watches and jewelry, and were immediately met by
a nattily dressed young man
who greeted them coldly with no smile. Cam and Kevin thought they
picked up a somewhat unfriendly vibe from
"Help you?" the man asked as he looked askance at the Levis and
the T-shirts the guys were wearing.
"Perhaps so," Kevin replied coolly, mirroring the man's attitude and
not to ingratiate himself. "We want to look at wedding rings,
or possibly have some wedding rings made to order."
"I see," the man said. "And what would your price range be?"
"We won't know that until we tell you what we want and perhaps look at
some rings," Kevin responded. "Why am I getting the idea you
particularly want our business?"
"I just don't want to waste your time. . ." the young guy said when a
beautifully dressed and coifed middle-aged woman walked over from a
desk at the side of the large room where she had been seated, and
"Thank you, John. I'll handle these customers." She held
out her hand to Kevin and then to Cam. "My name is Cecile Nolan,
gentlemen. How may we be of service?" She intuited that
despite their casual dress, these young men were not poor.
"I'm Kevin Stoltz, and this is my partner, Cameron MacKenzie," Kevin
said. "We're interested in wedding and possibly engagement rings which
probably need to be custom made for us. Our union will be blessed
on a date yet to be set in our Spring vacation."
"Excellent," Cecile said, her eyes widening slightly when she heard the
name MacKenzie. She looked at Cam "Are you related to the
late movie director Alex MacKenzie?"
"Yes," Cam said. "He was my dad."
"I see. I loved his movies," she said. "If you two will
step over to my
desk, and we'll talk more
about your needs." She led the way over to what appeared to be a
writing desk and chairs, and asked the guys to be seated.
"Now, tell me more of how we can specifically be of help," Cecile said.
"We have recently become engaged," Cam told her, "and as Kevin said, we
are planning to be married on our Spring vacation at St. Dunstan's
Episcopal Church in Hollywood. Kevin and I are aware that it's
never been customary for men to wear engagement rings before marriage,
but we may want to do so. We're looking for thin gold bands
with diamond chips which we will wear to mark our engagement through
February. And secondly, we will require matching wedding bands
which will interlock with the engagement rings that we'll continue to
following the ceremony. Is that something you can do
"I'm sure we can," Cecile said with a smile. "Let me invite our
chief designer and gemologist who crafts special orders for us to join
us, if that meets with
Kevin and Cam nodded, and Cecile picked up an old fashioned, stylishly
thin, white desk
telephone and punched a button. "George, this is Cecile. Do
you have time to
join me and some customers for a few minutes about a special order?"
inquired. Receiving a positive reply, she hung up the phone.
"George Abernathy is a prize winning designer of jewelry whom we
recently hired away from a top Manhattan jewelry store to join our
staff," Cecile explained. "I'm confident he can develop a design
for your rings which will please you. Do you live in the L.A.
"Yes," Kevin said. "In Malibu." Cecile smiled, her
that these young men had money confirmed yet again.
A gray-haired, patrician looking man with a gray goatee and wearing a
suit came out of a door at the rear of the store and
walked over to
them. Cecile, Kevin and Cam stood up as the man approached them.
"George, may I introduce Kevin Stoltz and Cameron MacKenzie," Cecile
said. "Gentlemen, Mr. Abernathy."
"A pleasure," Abernathy said, shaking hands with them and then pulling
a third chair over
beside the two of them. "I understand you may have a special
order. Tell me what you have in mind."
Cam went over the details of slim, bejeweled engagement rings and
interlocking, broader, plain wedding
rings with the designer.
"What an interesting idea," Abernathy said when Cam was finished.
"This is a new concept for me," he continued in a positive tone.
"I've never heard of this being done before by men."
"Nor have I," Cam said. "It just popped into my head on the drive
down here, and Kevin liked the idea."
"I like it, too," Abernathy said, nodding his head. "How much
time do we have before you're to be married?"
"We have until our Spring break, possibly in February," Kevin
said. "We haven't tied down an exact
Abernathy smiled. "That gives us plenty of time, then. Are
you open to some additional possibilities for the rings?"
"Yes," Kevin said as Cam nodded his agreement.
"You might think about chips from other stones in addition to or
instead of diamond chips for the engagement ring," Abernathy
said. "For example, you could have emerald and/or ruby chips
alternating with diamond chips, or one or the other of the stones
featured alone in preference to diamonds."
Cam and Kevin looked at each other.
"I guess we'd have to think about that," Kevin said after a short
silence. "But you don't foresee any problem in designing
"Not at all," Abernathy said. "I'd like to have no less than
three weeks to actually craft the engagement rings for you once you
make up your mind on the gems. We'll have a
little more time than that to complete the wedding rings."
Kevin and Cam looked at each other and nodded in agreement.
"Can you estimate the the price for each pair of rings for us?" Kevin
Abernathy looked at Cecile Nolan and said, "Depending on what
select and whether you want gold or platinum rings, I would estimate
engagement rings which would interlock with the wedding rings at
something in the range of $3,000 to $6,000 for each set. They
could be a little more or a little less than that, however, depending
on the stones
chosen and the base material of the rings themselves."
Cam blinked, but Kevin didn't react at all. They looked at each
other for a long minute, and then nodded.
"We can do that," Kevin said.
Cecile smiled, her intuition about these boys having money
once again confirmed. "George, let me draw up a contract, take
measurements, and accept a down payment," she said.
"Excellent," Abernathy said, and looked at the boys. "I look
forward to working with you
on what I can promise will be beautiful works of art that you will
treasure. You'll let
me know about the ring composition and which stones you want for chips
within a few days?"
"Yes," Kevin promised. He looked at Cam. "Although there's
no reason why we can't choose the ring composition now, is there?"
"Fine with me," Cam said. "I'll be very happy with gold rings."
"Me, too," Kevin agreed. "Can we look at some wedding rings now?"
"Absolutely," Cecile Nolan said. "Why don't we step over to the
The four of them walked over to a brightly lighted counter, and Cecile
began pulling out displays of men's gold wedding rings. Cam and
Kevin studied them carefully and eventually chose a broad ring with a
pronounced filigree around the circumference.
"That's a beautiful ring," George Abernathy said. "And it's broad
enough that crafting an interlock with the engagement ring won't be a
problem. When you let me know what chips you want, I can begin
creating the engagements rings."
"We'll think about the chips over the weekend," Kevin promised.
Abernathy handed them each his card. "Gentlemen, it's
been a pleasure," he said,
offering his hand to each of them. "I look forward to hearing
"Thank you for your help, sir," Cam said. "We'll be in touch with
you on Monday with our decision about the chips."
"Good," Abernathy said, and walked away toward the door to his workshop
at the rear
Cecile then took their finger sizes, completed a standard contract with
particulars, and ran Kevin's credit card for a down payment of
$5,000 for the rings. After finishing up, she stood and shook
hands with them warmly and
thanked them for their business.
Really pumped, Cam and Kevin left the store and walked back toward the
"I'm glad we made a start on getting our rings," Cam said. "And I
think we stopped at the right store to get that done."
"Me, too," Kevin said. "And the more I think about it, the more I
like the idea of having engagement rings! You're so creative
sometimes you blow me away!"
Cam put his arm around Kevin as they walked along and gave him a little
shake, and then let him go.
"How do you feel about things?" Cam asked. "I don't mean just
getting the rings ordered. I mean about life in general.
"I feel good."
"You're gonna have to do better than that," Cam said.
Kevin stopped walking and turned to Cam, who also stopped walking and
pivoted toward Kevin. They looked each other in the eye.
"Do you remember the first time I came into your bedroom in San Rafael
to get in bed with you, back when we were in high school?" Kevin
"When I was getting in bed with you for first-time sex, I mean?
make love to you, as clumsy as I was back then?"
"Yes. I was so excited I could hardly breathe."
"Me, too," Kevin admitted. "Well, that's the way I feel right this
minute. Except that now
more deeply in love with you than I was back then. Now
I've learned what loving another person, namely you, really
means. And I hope I'm more ready and skillful and determined
love when we're in bed." He smiled. "Or even at times like
this in public, standing on the street in
downtown L.A." And Kevin put his arms around Cam and drew him in
and kissed him on the mouth right there on Rodeo Drive. And
didn't let go of him for a long
When he did let go, Kevin added with a grin, "Just to keep things in
you always make me hard. And Casey always helps me remember that
real love also
a pure and innocent component to it. That's a royal flush in the
card game of life if I ever saw one."
"Yeah. I agree," Cam said. He looked tenderly into Kevin's
face, and was stunned to see tears in his partner's eyes. "Kev,
what's the matter?"
"Nothing's the matter. I just have never been sure that you were
absolutely, completely healed from what those assholes did to you down
the beach--until we sat down in the jewelry store to order our
rings. Now I know for sure. So I'm totally happy and in
love with you and confident about our future."
"Kevin, I am totally
healed. I didn't know you
were still worried about me."
"I didn't want you to know. It's really behind us now, and once
the upcoming trial is over, the thought of what you went through is
to enter my head again. Or yours, I hope. You're so strong,
you amaze me."
They embraced and kissed again, and the two of them resumed
walking back toward the
Porche hand in hand in silence. Cam felt weak in the knees that
had confirmed his love for him and his confidence in their future the
way he had.
* * *
After Cam and Kevin had left the jewelry store, Cecile Nolan walked
over to John, the young man who had first greeted Kevin and Cam so
coldly when they came into the store. She gave him hell for being
judgmental and unpleasant.
"This is the twenty-first century, young man! You can't tell from
the way people are dressed when they come in here how much they may
spend. You'd better change your attitude and sharpen up your
instincts about people if you want to continue working here!" Cecile
told him. "You could have had a commission on seven to twelve thousand
dollars worth of jewelry, and now you get no commission at all."
John grimaced and started to walk away.
"Oh, and by the way, when you see gay couples come in here, you'd best
give them a
warm welcome!" Cecile had continued. "If you can't do that out of
plain decency, just remember that their money is as
John slunk away, hanging his head.
* * *
The ride back toward Malibu was uneventful. Cam found a pop
on the radio, and the two of them sang along to some of the songs they
knew. Cam reached over when they re-entered the I-405 and
held Kevin's hand, relinquishing it only when Kevin needed it to shift
gears and maneuver around other cars.
Cam called Maria to check on whether they needed to stop at a grocery
for any last minute items for the Thanksgiving meal. Maria said
they were in good shape and didn't need anything. Cam glanced at
his phone, and saw that
it was almost 11:30 by the time they were back on surface streets in
"You hungry?" he asked Kevin.
"I could eat something."
"There a Mickey D's up ahead on the right. Let's stop
"You're a good co-pilot, dude," Kevin said, downshifting as he slipped
into the right
lane so he could enter the parking lot.
"You're too kind," Cam said. "Let's go inside to eat. I
don't want food spilled on the seats."
Kevin pulled into the parking lot, and found a space. He locked
the glove box and made sure he and Cam had their sunglasses, and the
two of them walked through the drive-in line of cars and into the
building. They each ordered quarter-pounders with fries and
soon were sitting in a booth and
"I hope this meal doesn't make you fat," Cam kidded his partner.
Kevin laughed. "Not when we're running eight miles a day, it
"Speaking of eight miles, I read an interesting article about exercise
the other day online."
Cam drank some coke.
"Are you going to enlighten me?" Kevin asked.
"Well, some researchers are saying that extreme exercise may
some harmful free radicals in the body, and that's not good."
"Motherfucker!" Kevin said quietly. "Isn't there anything in life
that doesn't have a down-side to it?" he demanded.
"I don't know," Cam said. "But maybe we should cut our usual
eight miles down to six. And make sure we don't overdo it in the
"Can you find the article again? I'd like to check out the info
before we make a decision about that."
"I can find it."
"Good deal," Kevin said. "I'll read it tonight."
They finished up their meal and Cam belched quietly but unmistakably
into his fist as they threw out their trash and stacked their trays.
"That was good," Cam said.
"Tasty!" Kevin agreed. "Bad for us, but tasty."
When they went out into the parking lot, they found a small group of
boys standing around the red Porche, admiring it.
"Sup?" Kevin asked the guys as he and Cam approached.
"This yours?" a tall, athletic-looking black kid wearing Adidas running
shorts and shoes asked him.
"Yeah," Kevin said. "You like?"
"Fucking beautiful," the kid said. "How fast will it go?"
"I don't know," Kevin said. "Cam?"
"I don't know either," Cam said. "It was my dad's before he died,
and I've never had the pedal to the metal."
"What's the top speed on the speedometer?" the kid asked.
"250 kilometers/hour and some change, and the
speedometer says in
smaller numbers that's about 160 mph."
"Holy shit!" the kid said.
"Fer sure!" Cam said.
Kevin went around the guys and got into the driver's seat, and Cam in
the passenger seat.
"Have a good day," Cam told the boys as Kevin started the engine, which
burbled and then growled as Kevin backed up and pulled away to get back
on Santa Monica Boulevard.
Fifteen minutes later they were parking the Porche back in the
garage. Kevin killed the engine, and he and Cam re-covered the
car with the tarp and went into the kitchen. Maria, Catherine and
Mary Carson were sitting in the breakfast nook having a cup of coffee
"Hello, ladies," Kevin said, bending down to kiss Catherine's
cheek. "Everything under control?"
"Yes," Catherine said. "Hear the silence?"
"Yep, you're right," Cam said. "It's quiet. Where are
Casey and the savages?"
"Casey and all the guys are over at the Miller's pool, with Ian and
Father Mason," Mary said. "What
have you two been up to?"
Cam and Kevin looked at each other, and Cam nodded affirmatively at
"We were shopping for our wedding rings on Rodeo Drive," Kevin
said. "They're going to be specially made for us."
"Specially made wedding rings?" Catherine questioned. "I figured
you'd be getting married at some point, but I didn't know it would be
"Yes," Cam said. "We're aiming for sometime during Spring break
next year. And
we're kind of blazing a new trail," he added,
chuckling. "We're going to have engagement rings made for each of
us--very slim, with chips of diamonds, or rubies, or emeralds, set
around the circumference. They'll
interlock with broad gold wedding rings when we
marry. We have to call the designer by next Monday to confirm
what gems we want. We
can't wait to see the finished product!"
"You're engaged?" Mary asked, her eyes wide. "When did this
"A few days ago, just before you came down here," Kevin said,
smiling. "We were going to tell everyone at Thanksgiving dinner,
but what the heck..."
The three ladies stood up from the table, and Cam and Kevin were
enveloped in hugs in short order.
"I'm so happy for you two," Mary Carson said, kissing each of them on
the cheek. "But you haven't set a firm date yet?"
"Not yet," Kevin said. "As Cam said, it will be sometime in over
Spring break. We'll want to work with everybody's calendar
so there are no conflicts for the family, and we'll have to clear the
date with Father
Ryan so St. Dunstan's can be reserved for the ceremony."
"Father Ryan will probably want to have some counseling sessions with
you before the ceremony," Mary predicted.
"You're probably right," Kevin agreed.
"Oh, this is so wonderful!" Maria exclaimed, hugging the two of them
again and kissing them. "I hope my family will be invited.
My boys just think the world of you two, I hope you know that!"
"Of course your family will be invited," Cam said. "You know how
we operate here. We're all
part of one family, and the guys will all be in the wedding party."
Cam looked over at his mother, who stood there with tears were running
down her cheeks. He stepped over to her and put his arms around
her. "Please don't cry, Mom," he said, feeling as if he might
tear up himself.
"It's just that all my prayers for you two have been answered,"
Catherine said. "I'm so proud of you both, and I know you're
going to have wonderful lives with each other and with Casey."
She embraced Kevin then, and kissed him soundly on the cheek.
"Do you want to keep this quiet, or can we blab it to everybody we
know?" Mary asked with a smile.
"It's in the public domain now," Kevin said. "Just let us go over
the pool first and tell the rest of the family. The guys will be
mad if we aren't the ones to tell them directly, and I don't want to
find ourselves mano a mano with
William and Andy Helder."
"Of course," Mary said. "Shall we change and go over for a swim,
ladies?" she asked.
"I need to get busy making beds," Maria said. "Do you know what
you want for supper?"
"If we have shrimp in the house, let's barbecue those with some
potatoes au gratin and have
them with succotash," Kevin suggested.
Cam shook his head and laughed. "Succotash! You're weird,"
"That sounds good to me," Mary said, and she and Catherine and Kevin
went upstairs to put on swim suits as Maria headed for the freezers in
the garage to bring large bags of shrimp and succotash into the house
to thaw in the
Kevin and Cam petted and talked to the dogs while they waited on the
Catherine and Mary. Cam noticed that Sean Miller's deep frier for
cooking the turducken along with a third grill had joined their
own two grills on the deck.
Mary and Catherine soon came out of the house.
"You ladies look good in your swim suits," Kevin said as he and
Cam stood up. And he was right.
"You sure know how to talk to the ladies, Kevin," Catherine said.
"Well, Cam and I are gay, not blind," Kevin responded.
They all laughed and headed next door to the Millers' pool. They
went in through the gate to find Father Mason, Ian Carson and Sean
Miller and all their buddies all laid out in chaises or on the pool
"Hey, look who have finally graced us with their presence," William
said, looking up when he heard the gate open.
"The party can start now," Cam said as they entered the pool enclosure.
Cam and Kevin laid out their towels on the warm cement.
"Hey, Cam and I need to tell you all something," Kevin said after
getting a nod from Cam.
Everybody looked Kevin curiously, and he didn't keep them waiting.
"Cam and I are engaged to be married, and we'll be asking for the
time over Spring break next year."
The young guys all jumped up and mobbed the two guys, giving them hugs
and congratulations. Ian and Father Mason and Sean Miller
followed the pack, offering handshakes, hugs and congratulations.
"Father Jim, we'd like to ask you to hear our vows and bless our union
Dunstan's, if you'd be so kind," Cam said. "And we'll be asking
Father Ryan to offer the Mass."
"I'll most likely have moved down here to L.A. by then, and I
will be honored
to do that," Father Mason said. "And I'm sure you can count on
Father Ryan to celebrate the Mass."
Kevin looked at the boys. "You guys will all be part of the
wedding party. We just have to figure out a date that's good for
everybody, and work out how everybody will fit in."
"It'll be a party to end all parties," Berto said. "I can't
wait. And it won't hurt my feelings to be coming down here to
L.A. in the middle of winter instead of toughing it out in San Rafael."
"I know what you mean," Cam told Berto. "Kevin and I really like
the weather down here."
"Do you have your rings yet?" William asked.
"Funny you should mention that," Cam said. "That's where Kevin
and I went this morning--to make arrangements for our rings."
"What will the rings look like?" Dan Emrick asked.
"We'll each have two rings,"
"Two rings?" Ian asked.
"What's the deal with that."
"Well, we decided that we're going to get engagement rings that we'll
wear 'til we're married, and then add the usual wedding rings to
them. The engagement rings will be thin gold, with diamond or
emerald chips around the circumference. We have to let the
designer know by Monday which gems we want," Kevin said. "The
wedding rings will be gold as well, but broad with a filigree.
with the engagement rings."
"That's new," William said.
"Cam's idea, and we really like it," Kevin said.
"That's so cool!" Art Smith told them.
"The jewelry stores will love you guys if the idea of men wearing
engagement rings catches on," Berto said.
Everybody laughed, and then headed for their sunbathing
spots. Cam and Kevin picked a spot, laid their towels side
by side on the warm concrete. They slathered sun block on each
other and lay down. Kevin reached
over and took Cam's hand and held it. "Love ya, bud," he told Cam
Cam's response was to pull Kevin's hand over to him and kiss it, saying
nothing. They lay there about forty-five minutes, and then Cam
got up went over to Dan Emrick, bending down and waking the boy up from
"Hey," Dan said.
"Let's take a walk on the beach," Cam told him.
"OK," Dan said, yawning. He got to his feet and stepped into his
The two guys walked down to the hardpack next to the water, and started
walking in the same direction the gang ran every morning. Cam put
an arm around his friend just to make contact, and then released him.
"How are things going for you?" Cam asked after a few minutes on the
Dan looked at him, and smiled. "Good, I think. No problems."
"How are your grades?"
"I'm doing all right. I got all A's except for one B+. I'm
on the Dean's list, but in our house, that's no big thing. Everybody's on the Dean's list, or
else they face the wrath of Catherine. She keeps pretty close
on all us guys on school issues. She always makes herself
available if one of us is having any problem with one of our classes."
Cam chuckled. "That's my mom. She was on my ass and Kevin's
ass all the time when it came to our studies. Are your mom and
dad OK with it when Catherine gets involved with you guys like that?"
"Mom and Dad love it!" Dan said. "To tell you the truth, Mom and
Dad and your mom are a troika when it comes to parenting. None of
us guys gets away with anything, not even William. And you know
how he likes to test limits."
"Yeah, for sure. So you're feeling pretty positive about
"Well, what aren't you
feeling positive about?" Cam asked.
"You won't say anything to anybody if I tell you?"
"I hope you know by now you can trust me to keep my mouth shut," Cam
Cam didn't say anything, walking along and waiting for Dan to feel
comfortable enough to say what was on his mind.
"I still don't know whether I'm gay or straight," Dan said. "And
bothers me. A lot."
"Are you dating anybody?"
"Yes. I'm dating a girl named Sandy Monahan. I don't know
whether you remember her or not..."
"I think I do," Cam said. "Cute girl. Blonde, about
5'7". Good personality, if I'm thinking of the right person."
"That's Sandy. She's cool."
"Sounds good. So what's the problem?"
"She wants to fuck, and I'm scared to go there."
"Well, I think you're right to be a little cautious," Cam said.
"I don't want to sound parental, but I hope you'll always use
protection when you're gettin' it on with somebody new. And don't
go crazy with multiple partners. Remember how much trouble
William got into when he was
fucking anything in a skirt?"
"I do. But I'm kind of avoiding the issue with Sandy. And
be honest, I still like looking at guys in the locker room," Dan said.
"Who do you think about when you jack off?"
Dan's face turned red, but he didn't hold back. "Sometimes I
about Sandy, and sometimes I think about the last guy I saw in the
Cam put his arm around Dan again and gave him a little shake.
"Listen, dude, I honestly don't think you need to be worried.
Plenty of guys your age haven't settled for themselves just where they
fall on the orientation spectrum. But either way you go, no
matter whether you fall in love with a boy or a girl, any relationship
needs a lot of work. Sexual compatibility and the attraction you
have for your partner's body is important, but there are so many other
factors involved that bring us happiness or misery in any relationship."
"Your relationship with Kevin doesn't seem to take a lot of
work. It looks like smooth sailing to me."
Cam laughed. "We make it look good, I'll admit, but sometimes we
could kill each other. But we make sure we get over it
fast. We do that for ourselves, but we also do it for
Casey. It's not good for kids to experience a lot of tension
in the relationship between mom and dad, or in our case, dad and
dad. Good sex helps keep things positive, but if that's all a
relatlionship has going for it, it's not enough."
They walked along as Dan thought over what Cam had said.
"One more thing," Cam continued. "I don't want to play the
religion card, but you need to have a little confidence that whatever
your orientation is going to be, you still belong to God, and He loves
you and wants the best for you. Along with that, remember that if
you're gay, you're fortunate to have a family and a church family that
will support you and
love you no
matter what. Take that to the bank."
Dan gulped and lowered his head. "I love ya, man," he said.
"You don't know how much it means to me to be able to talk to you about
all my shit. If I do turn out to be gay, I'll be wishing you
weren't already taken. I love ya to death, Cameron."
The boy stopped walking, and pulled Cam into an embrace and kissed him
on his cheek.
"I love ya back, Dan. You're my bro and I'll always have your
At that point they turned around and walked back toward the house, and
feeling good about things.
"Now it's my turn," Dan said. "How are you really doing?"
"Well, I've been talking to you and feeling good about it," Dan
said. "Who do you talk
"And what if the problem is with
"To tell you the truth, we don't have a lot of problems, but sometimes
I use your brother Carl as a sounding board. He has a good head
on his shoulders, and I can trust him not to blab anything I say to
"Wow," Dan said. "I didn't know that, so I guess that confirms
what you said about Carl being trustworthy. He's never told me
anything about you and Kevin and your relationship."
"Yeah, it does confirm that," Cam said.
"So you don't have anything you're worried about these days?"
"The only thing I'm worried about is the court trial for the
guys who fucked me up down the beach. It's coming up in a week or
so. The DA's
office is telling me that I probably won't have to testify because one
of the assholes who fucked me up is turning state's evidence, but we'll
have to see
whether that holds true or not." He gestured at one of the houses
they were passing. "There's the house where it all happened."
Dan studied the house before turning back to Cam. "As far as the
trial is concerned, you'll do all right, no matter what," Dan
insisted. He looked at Cam. "We were so worried about you
after what those guys did to you. When your mom got home to San
Rafael after she came down here to see you, she'd cry every night when
she thought no one could
hear her. And my mom would cry right along with her. We
all praying for you, even William. I'd hear him say your name in
the Prayers of the People at Mass."
"I'm grateful for the prayers, Dan. Thanks to those prayers, and
to Kevin, and
great doctor, I made it. But I was pretty messed up for awhile."
Dan looked at him. "You're back to being the same Cam I knew when
we were all living
together in San Rafael. Thank goodness for that!"
Pleased with their conversation, the two guys continued to walk back
toward the Millers' pool. When they got there, they turned to
each other before they rejoined the family.
"Thanks for talking to me," Dan said. "You give good advice, and
I appreciate it. I hope I can call you when I want to run
something by you."
"You know you can. And you don't have to have a problem to call
me. Just call to say, 'hey!'"
Cam pulled the boy into an embrace and held him and kissed him on the
cheek. "Love ya, dude."
"Back atcha!" Dan was all smiles when they walked back through
* * *
During the early afternoon, Susan and Sean Miller and their maid
brought out platters of cold cuts and rolls and condiments, along with
fruit juice for the guys and beers and wine for the adults, and
chowed down. After letting the food digest a little, Ian, Fr.
Mason, Sean and the young guys took a net out to the beach and set up
to play volleyball. Berto and William chose up sides, and the
Berto's team edged William's team for two victories, and the third and
final game was won by William's team. William was his usual
competitive self, but he didn't seem too bothered that his team had
lost two games.
They took down the net, and headed back toward the Millers' swimming
pool. After putting the net away in the pool house, they guys all
dived into the water to cool down. Kevin and William ended up
other, and William swam over beside Kevin. Uncharacteristically,
he put an arm around Kevin.
"Dude!" William said, "I'm really happy for you and Cam, and I'm really
looking forward to the wedding." He cleared his throat.
"There's no doubt in my mind that you two and Casey are going to be a
very happy family."
"Thanks, William. I feel the same way. I appreciate the
thought." Kevin gave William a hug. "What about you?
Are things going all right?"
"Yes and no."
"Are you and Alicia still tight?"
"Yes. I'm enjoying the relationship while I can."
"Well, we have one more year to enjoy high school together, but her
parents are pretty much set on having her go to Wellesley in
Massachusetts for college. That's where her mother went.
And I really want to go to Stanford. And to Stanford Law for
graduate school. So if we eventually end up together, it would
be a miracle."
"Oh man! How do you feel about that?" Kevin asked.
"Kind of down, to tell you the truth."
"Hey, a year is a long time. But things could turn
around. The unexpected can happen. That Cam and I are on
brink of being married is kind of a miracle. That we get to raise
Casey together is a miracle. Conventional wisdom says that people
sometimes aren't able to form relationships that last. But that's
always true. So..."
"We couldn't be that lucky," William said.
"Yes, you could," Kevin contradicted.
"I guess we can always hope."
"It'll take more than hope, I can tell you that. It will take a
lot of perseverance, but if you two really love each other, it could
"Well, thanks for the vote of confidence," William said, hugging his
friend and kissing his cheek.
As the sun began to set, Catherine looked over at Sean and Susan
Miller. "Why don't you come over for supper tonight? Kevin
decided we're going to have barbecued shrimp, potatoes au gratin, and succotash.
And ice cream for desert, if I know the guys."
"Well..." Susan said, looking at her husband.
"That sounds really good," Sean said. "I haven't had succotash in
a while. What time?"
"Come over at about six o'clock," Catherine said. "That will give
time for a drink before we eat. And bring Juanita with you."
"All right. You're speaking my language," Sean said. "Ian
and I will have a
chance to set up our schedule for cooking tomorrow."
"Good call," Ian said.
Ian, Mary, Catherine and Father Mason headed for home to get dressed
as the boys all jumped into the pool for one last swim before supper.
* * *
Supper was a big success. Kevin took over barbecuing, using three
grills to cook the large and juicy shrimp. Maria set the huge
dining room table, fixed the succotash and the potatoes, and at the
last minute created a huge green salad with tomatoes and green peppers
before she left for home to feed her own family.
They all gathered around the table, and Father Mason offered thanks.
"The Lord be with you." he said.
"And also with you," the family responded.
"Father, we are grateful for this repast, thanking you for your bounty
and praying that your generosity will also find those who who have not
been as blessed as we are. We are grateful for one another, and
especially grateful this evening for the news that Cameron and Kevin
are engaged to be wed. We ask for your continued blessings upon
us all and upon this food which we are about to eat. We ask these
things through Jesus Christ our Lord."
The family said "Amen," and made the sign of the cross as the men
seated the women first before sitting down themselves. Kevin had
moved the highchair between his own seat and Cam's so they could take
turns feeding Casey. After feeding the little guy some baby food,
Kevin began to give him little bites of shrimp, making sure that there
wasn't too much barbecue sauce on them. Casey liked the shrimp,
and eagerly accepted what his dad gave him along with small pieces of
potato and some kernels of succotash. The little guy banged his
fists on the tray when the food didn't appear in front of his mouth
fast enough to suit him.
Meanwhile, Cam continued to fill his and Kevin's plates with more food
as it was
passed around the table. He had eaten a large first helping of
everything without delay so he could take over the responsibility for
Casey. After Kevin finished his own first helping, Cam had
his and Kevin's plates, and they ate a healthy sized second helping.
In the midst of free-flowing conversation around the table, Sean Miller
offered to start cooking the turducken in his special cooker on
"Are the turkeys and the turducken thawed out?" Sean asked.
"They will be by morning," Catherine said. "Maria took everything
out of the freezer this morning, so they've been thawing all day, a few
hours on the kitchen counter alternating with a few hours in the
refrigerator. They're back in the refrigerator right now, but
they'll be ready to cook by tomorrow morning."
"I love it when a plan comes together," Sean said. "I'll start
the turducken cooking about 5 a.m."
"You don't have to," Ian said. "I can do it."
"I'm used to getting up early from working on movies that need morning
said, "so I'll do the turducken. I'll leave it to you to put the
turkeys on the grills at some point before we go to church They
have to cook as long."
"Getting up that early is the price of fame, I guess," Ian
"Anyway, you've got yourself a deal for tomorrow morning," Ian
said. "We'll leave the sliding doors to the deck unlocked, and
turducken will be in the kitchen fridge."
Sean looked at Ian across the table.
"Speaking of plans coming together,
did you and George Eisner at Magnum Studios ever get together when it
comes to your firm doing some legal work for them?"
"Not yet. We're going to meet at church after Mass
tomorrow. If we can make a deal, I'll have a lady staff member
coming down here
from San Francisco two
or three days a week, depending on the workload, to consult with
Magnum's in-house counsel. I think George will like her, and
things should go well."
The conversation turned to other subjects, and eventually the topic
moved around to football. William talked about San Rafael High
School's team for the following Fall and their chances for glory, and
then the discussion
moved to the NFL and the possibility various teams would have a
season in their various conferences. Kevin didn't add anything to
the discussion, and Mark Carson waited to see if Kevin would eventually
share his poor opinion of the NFL football under its current
didn't say anything.
After supper, all the boys cleared the table, scraped the plates, and
put everything in the dishwasher.
"Let's play some cards," Berto suggested after the kitchen was
"Oh, man!" William complained. "If you're the big winner again
tonight, the rest of us are going to kick your ass."
"Promises, promises," Berto said. "Here's my message to
you, dude..." Berto formed his thumb and index finger in a big
'L' for 'loser,' and held it up to his forehead. The guys all
laughed at William as they headed back to the dining room table.
The adults had all left for the living room by then.
Cam and Kevin took some leaves out of the table to make it smaller, and
the boys pulled chairs up to the table. Cam took cards and a
caddy full of poker chips out of the sideboard and put them in the
center of the table.
"You should ask the grownups if any of them want to play," Berto
suggested. "I don't mind taking their money. In fact, I
kind of like it."
"You're so freaking greedy I can't believe it!" Andy Helder said with a
chuckle. "No offense, but that's a fact." The boys all
laughed and nodded in agreement. Cam went into the living room
and issued an invitation, and Sean Miller, Father Mason and Ian Carson
took them up on it.
Kevin put a leaf back in the table to enlarge it for the newcomers, and
it was game-on.
By 11 o'clock, the time agreed upon for shutting down the game, Berto,
yet again, was the big winner. This time, Carl Emrick was the big
loser, with William Carson not far behind him.
"Hey, feel free to give me a call if you need
money," Dan Emrick told
his brother. "At a low interest rate, of course. We're
family!" Dan had
than break even.
The boys did a quick clean-up of the room, and then most of the guys
headed upstairs for bed. But Cam and Kevin put leashes on the
dogs and went out on the beach.
"Berto's smarts at poker is fucking amazing," Kevin said as they
walking toward the water. "Do you think he's counting
cards? I think that's what they call it."
"I don't know whether you can count cards in poker," Cam said.
"But if he's not, he's one lucky SOB.
At this rate, he'll die a rich man based on cards alone, that's for
The dogs both stopped to pee, and when they stopped walking, Cam
reached over in the dark and felt up Kevin between his legs. "I'm
horny for you, I can't stand it," Cam said.
"Ditto," Kevin said. "It's great having the guys down here, but
frustrating not to be able to have sex with you whenever we're in the
"When the dogs have done their thing, let's use the downstairs bathroom
again and do our thing," Cam
"I love the way your mind works," Kevin told Cam, and leaned over,
putting a hand behind his partner's head, and gave him a long, juicy
Their bladders empty, the dogs tried to get the guys to continue down
the beach, but to no avail.
Five minutes later, Cam and Kevin were in the downstairs bathroom,
naked, Cam on his back with his legs in the air, and Kevin's big, hard
dick was moving slowly up into his partner's body. When he was
in, Kevin lay down on Cam and looked into his eyes.
"I can't even begin to tell you how much I love you," Cam said.
Then Kevin began to pump, and the ecstasy began building for them both.
© 2015 Don Hanratty
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