My Belovèd is mine, and I am his.
Song of Songs 2:16
Watching a monitor in a conference room at
the court house, Cam and Kevin had witnessed Superior Court Judge
Robert MacClaine sever Rory Lomer's case from those of Eric Clymer and
Peter Murtha in the brutalization of Cam down the beach from Cam and
Kevin's house. Lomer had agreed with the DA's office to plead
guilty to a reduced charge of sexual assault of a minor in the second
degree, and to serve as a witness in the trial of Clymer and Murtha for
murder in the first degree, and aggravated sexual assault of a minor in
"Read the charges," Judge MacClaine had ordered.
The three defense attorneys had stood up, and one of them had said,
Clymer and Murtha waive a complete reading of the charges of kidnapping,
murder in the first degree, and aggravated sexual assault of a minor in
"Defendant Rory Lomer also waives a complete reading of the charges of
kidnapping, attempted murder in the first degree,
and aggravated sexual assault of a minor in the first degree, your
honor," Lomer's attorney had stated.
"Very well," the judge said. "How do you plead?" he asked the
"Eric Clymer pleads 'Not guilty' to all charges, your honor," Clymer's
"Peter Murtha pleads 'Not guilty' to all charges, your honor," Murtha's
"Rory Lomer pleads 'Guilty' to a reduced charge of sexual assault in
the second degree, your Honor," Lomer's attorney said, "pursuant to a
pre-trial amendment of charges by the office of the District Attorney,
Los Angeles County."
"The plea of defendants Clymer and Murtha will be noted for the
record. The amended plea of defendant Lomer is accepted, and
noted for the record," Judge MacLaine had stated.
The conjoined trial of Lomer and Murtha had commenced immediately, with
sentencing scheduled in his guilty plea to take place following
verdicts in Lomer's and Murtha's cases.
The Lomer/Murtha trial had taken only two days to complete, with both
defendants found guilty of all charges in a unanimous verdicts by the
jury. Four days after the verdict had been handed down, Judge
MacLaine had sentenced Clymer to fifteen years in prison without
Murtha to twelve years, also without parole.
Rory Lomer, having fulfilled the terms of his deal with the DA's office
what proved to be very graphic testimony against his former companions,
was sentenced to five years in prison, with parole possible after
The metro sections of all the LA papers had covered the two trials to
the degree possible given the closed courtroom, and
fully covered subsequent sentencing in detail. This time they had
omitted Cameron's name as
the victim of the crimes.
Of course Cam's victimization had been
reported to the
community previously by the newspapers, but having had the support of
Kevin and Art and Carl
and the rest of the family in San Francisco, along with previous
therapy, at this point he refused to relive what had
happened to him down the beach. He had successfully put those
issues behind him. The past was now the past.
* * *
It was early on a Saturday morning several
weeks after the trial was over.
Lying in bed, Kevin was awakened by a sound from the speakers of the
surveying Casey's room, and he glanced at the little screen on the
table. He saw Maria go to Casey's bed, pick him up out of
the crib, kiss the little boy's head, croon to him, and take him into
the bathroom to check his diaper. Five minutes later, with the
little guy freshly diapered, she carried Casey out the door and down
the stairs to the kitchen for some breakfast.
Kevin silently gave thanks for the wonderful, loving care Casey
received day after day from his and Cam's housekeeper. He
promised himself he
would talk to Cam about what they could do, financially or some other
way, to return to Maria and her family some gift in response to the
blessing her presence brought to their household, and especially to
Adjusting the sheet covering him and Cam, a smiling, naked Kevin rolled
on top of his partner. The two of them
always slept au
except when the guys from San Rafael were
in town staying in their room with them, and then they wore boxers to
Cam labored a little to breathe as his
open. He looked up from his pillow directly into Kevin's handsome
face and dark brown eyes. Kevin began kissing Cam's face gently
rubbing noses with him.
Cam grabbed a breath. "'Sup?" he asked. As if he didn't
know! He repeatedly ran his hands up and down Kevin's sides and
his back, eventually coming to rest on his partner's muscular bubble
butt that always turned him on so much. He inserted a finger into
Kevin's crack just a little, and lightly rubbed his hole.
"Oh, yeah!! You're way too cute for your own good!" Kevin
"And too good in bed. Sometimes I just can't stand it."
"Well, you won't have to stand it for long if you don't let me breathe."
Kevin didn't answer except to pump his hips
once, where his rapidly inflating cock was planted firmly on Cam's
"Oh," Cam said in anticipation of what was about to happen. His
own cock started to harden as Kevin pressed against him. "Is
awake?" he asked.
"Yes." Kevin glanced again at the nanny speaker and screen on the
table. "Maria came up and got him a few minutes
ago. But don't change the subject."
"What is the subject?"
Kevin pumped his hips one more time. "You're the subject."
"No, you're the
subject." Cam ran his hands up and down Kevin's back and sides to
again, and began to rub his ass cheeks more firmly. A finger
found its way into
crack yet again, and entered him a little more deeply, this time to the
"You're so bold!" Kevin told him, pleased and smiling.
"You inspire me."
"Good to know." Kevin rolled over and pulled Cam on top of him,
and they began to kiss passionately with lots of tongue. They
were each fully hard in just seconds as they began to pinch each
"Do me," Kevin eventually told his partner after the touching grew more
insistent. "I want you in me, dude.
Fill me up." He slipped off Cam's body on to his own back.
Not needing to be convinced, Cam slid over to the drawer of his bedside
found some lube. Returning to the center of the huge bed, Cam
kissed his way down his partner's
awesome abs. He briefly mouthed
boy's long, thick cock, and then pushing Kevin's legs back, proceeded
to lube his hole, open him up with his fingers, and then lube his own
"Put it in me," Kevin demanded again, fisting Cam's slippery and erect
more than ready for business.
Cam obliged him, raising his partner's legs higher and moving between
them, then working his dick fully into Kevin. Once he was fully
at home inside his boy, he just lay
there on Kevin's body letting his boy become accustomed to the welcome
They lay there for several minutes, wordlessly studying one another's
face before Cam
pulled back from where he was buried inside Kevin's hole, plunged back
in, and started to
rhythmically pump his
lover's ass slowly and then with increasing vigor as minutes
groaned as his
began to respond to Cam's cock repeatedly massaging it. A pearl
pre-cum appeared at the end of Kevin's penis, which pulsed where it
After five minutes, Kevin groaned and reached down to grab Cam's butt,
in-and-out momentum. "Lord, you do know how to fuck!" he gasped
to his lover. "But let's make this last for awhile!"
"Yeah," Cam gasped back, slowing his tempo.
Eventually Kevin began tightening his hole when Cam thrust into him,
it when he backed out, multiplying the sensations that both of them
"Oh, yeah!" Cam said, and his pleasure increased even more when
Kevin began raising his ass to meet Cam's thrusts into him. He
encircled Cam's butt with his legs, locked at the ankles, pulling Cam
forcefully into his hole each time. Cam eventually
couldn't help increasing the speed of his thrusts to what they had
been before, and at the fifteen-minute mark he flooded Kevin's smooth,
his sperm. Then he lay there, spent, on Kevin's body as Kevin
lowered his legs to the bed. Cam softened, and his cock finally
fell from its favorite home.
"Sorry I couldn't last longer," Cam whispered when he finally
regained speech, gently kissing his partner's face again and again.
"You did great!" Kevin assured him. "You're so good at fucking I
let you out of bed again."
Kevin's abs were coated with his own pre-cum, but he had not yet
ejaculated. Cam scooted down in bed, and after licking up Kevin's
pre-cum, he put the still-swollen head of Kevin's cock in his mouth and
dick with his hand. Two pumps later he was swallowing as
fast as he could, bringing Kevin
off with seven
full shots of semen. Some of the thick juice leaked out of the
of Cam's mouth, and Kevin pulled Cam's head down and tongued his own
from his boy's face.
"Oh, man!" Kevin groaned, licking his lips when he finished.
"You always feel
so good inside me!" he said as his body relaxed. "And I taste
pretty good, if I do say so myself."
Cam smiled. "Yes, you do," he said.
The guys kissed each other deeply, sharing the remnants of Kevin's cum
before hitting the bathroom and emptying their bladders. Then it
was back to bed,
each other tight before they dropped off into a blissful, post coital
When they woke up twenty minutes later, Cam kissed Kevin and looked at
"I couldn't ask for a better lover than you, Kevin Stoltz,"
he said, looking him in the eyes.
"Likin' that!" Kevin said. "I love you so much,
Cam. Sometimes I could come in my pants just from lookin' atcha."
"Well, this bears a lot more discussion. But why don't we clean
wake up Art, and take a run before we shower and eat breakfast?" he
"You read my mind," Kevin said.
They bounded out of bed and into the bathroom, where they ran damp wash
cloths over other's bodies before putting on
jocks, running shorts, T-shirts and running shoes. They went
downstairs. Maria was sitting at the kitchen table beside Casey
in his high chair, feeding him.
"Morning, Maria," Kevin said, bending down and greeting the woman with
a kiss on the cheek followed by a kiss on top of Casey's head.
"Thanks for taking such good care of Casey."
"What brought that on?" Maria asked. "That's my job."
Cam gave her a sideways hug and kissed her cheek. "It may be your
what you do for Casey, and for us, is obviously more important to you
than just a job."
"Well..." Maria said, at a loss for words.
"Hey, Casey," Cam said, bending down and giving the little guy a kiss
on the head.
"Daddy," Casey said, not specifying who he was talking to.
"If you guys are going out today, will you stop at a hardware store
and get us some gates for the stairs?" Maria asked. "One for the
top and one for the bottom? I caught Casey yesterday trying to
"You're kidding," Kevin said.
"No, I'm not. He's strong, and he's active," Maria said.
"Thank goodness for that, but we don't want any accidents."
"We'll get the gates today," Cam promised. "Right now, we're
going for a run."
"All right," Maria said. "I'll fix you some breakfast when you
"Sounds good," Kevin said.
The landline rang just then, and Maria stood up and answered it.
"Good morning. MacKenzie-Stoltz-Emrick residence," she said.
"Good morning," a man's voice said. "This is Ralph Abernathy at
Rodeo Drive Jewelry, calling. Is Cam or Kevin available?"
"Yes, sir," Maria said. "One moment, please." She covered
the speaker. "It's Mr. Abernathy at the jewelry store."
Kevin held out his hand and took the receiver.
"Good morning, Mr. Abernathy," he said. "This is Kevin.
What's the good word?"
"We have your rings ready to look at, Kevin, at your convenience.
When do you and Cam think you might be able to stop by to see
them? I want to double-check that they're correctly sized."
"Hold on for a moment, sir, and let me talk to Cam."
Kevin hit the hold button, and the main line began to blink. "Our
rings are ready to check out," he said to Cam. "When do you want
to stop by the store?"
"Excellent!" Cam said enthusiastically. "What about two o'clock
"Sounds good," Kevin said, reconnecting with the blinking number.
"Mr. Abernathy, would you be available at two o'clock today?
We're eager to see the rings."
"I'll be on hand at two o'clock. I'll look forward to seeing you
both then," Abernathy said before hanging up.
Cam looked at Kevin after he put the phone back on the wall.
really excited to see them!" Cam said.
"Me, too, man!" Kevin agreed. "Maria, I think we'll take Casey
with us when we go to the hardware store and the jewelry store.
We need to spend some time with him anyway."
"Well, if you're sure..."
"That'll give you some peace and quiet for a change," Cam agreed.
Kevin picked up the phone, pushed the intercom button, and punched the
number for Art Smith's bedroom. A sleepy voice answered.
"Yeah?" Art said.
"Throw on a pair of running shorts and meet us downstairs on the deck,
my man," Kevin said. "Let's run before breakfast, and then we'll
care of some errands."
Art groaned. "OK. Give me a couple minutes."
"Yep." Kevin replaced the receiver and went to the refrigerator,
grabbing three bottles of water, one each for himself, Cam and Art.
Cam and Kevin went out to the deck after some conversation with Casey,
where they met Art
Smith, greeted the dogs, and did their warm-ups. Thirsty, they
down a bottle of water before hitting the
beach along with Alice and Samantha. Running on the beach was dog
heaven for the two border collies.
Art glanced over at his two hunky companions as they all started their
run. It was one of those rare occasions when the wind wasn't
blowing off the bay, and when the three of them had been limbering up
on the back
deck, Art had caught a whiff of sex from his fellow runners as they
stretched their legs.
Cam and Kevin weren't making goo-goo eyes at
each other or anything like that. In fact they weren't looking at
each other at all. There was no overt communication between
them. But there was this aura surrounding Cam and Kevin that
morning that Art had seen before, but not all that often in public,
people who were deeply in love. It required no stretch of Art's
that the two young men had probably had physical relations that
They had likely been "one flesh," for damn sure. For a person his
Art was a keen
observer of social interactions and the vibes that characterized
them. It had always been clear how his two hosts felt about each
other. But this was one of those occasions when the solidarity of
Cam and Kevin's relationship, their deep love and respect for one
another, was on
perfect display for anyone paying attention. The partners
didn't have to work very hard at it. It was just there.
hadn't received a great deal of love in the bosom of his own family,
but he knew love when he saw it. And he was seeing it.
Despite himself, Art was envious. Who wouldn't be? Art
wanted a loving relationship like that for himself with
somebody. Whether that person would be a man or a woman wasn't
yet perfectly clear to him. Probably a guy. But
fortunately, thanks to running
the gym with
Kevin and Cam, he was starting to attract some attention in
public--from both males and
females--for his steadily improving physique. He was looking
better every day.
"I wonder how Carl and Andy and Father Mason and the San Rafael boys
along with the
move?" Kevin asked after the three guys hit their pace on the
had flown up to San Francisco to meet Andy and the priest, pick up the
Ian Carson had rented for them, and commandeer William, Mark, Berto and
Dan to load up Mason's clothes and furniture along with clothes and a
ready for the trip to Los Angeles.
"I'm sure they're doing OK," Art said. "But it feels strange not
have Carl here, doesn't it?"
"I know," Kevin admitted. "I miss that cute little shit."
"Me, too. He'll be happy when Andy moves in here with him, I know
sure," Cam said.
"Yeah," Art agreed.
"Art, have you talked to your parents at all lately?" Cam asked.
"I talk to my mom about once a week. My dad, never. He
hates me, for sure."
"I know from personal experience what a pain in the ass it is to have a
father who's an
Kevin told him. "Your dad ought to be grateful to have a son like
"Thanks, Kev," Art responded. Compliments didn't come along all
that often in life, and the boy was pleased.
Cam looked over at Art. "Are your classes going well?" he asked
"Yeah. I'm having a little trouble with chemistry, but I'll get
through it somehow."
"Don't fall behind," Kevin suggested. "I can give you some help,
y'know. The physical sciences are no problem for me."
"I know that," Art said. "I just may take you up on that offer."
"Yeah, I've noticed that nothing physical
is a problem for you," Cam told Kevin with a leer.
"Don't start!" Kevin warned, making Cam and Art chuckle.
When they reached the two and a half mile mark, Cam whistled at the
dogs, and the three boys turned around. Kevin had cut them back
miles a day, first to six and then to five miles daily, after reading
latest research on excessive exercise leading to free radicals in the
body. He'd not had blowback from anybody
about that decision, including Ian and the San Rafael boys, when he
during their last visit that they do the same after they went home.
They ran in silence back toward the house for a while, with the dogs
happily dodging in and out of the surf. Cam spoke up.
"Hey Art, Kevin and I are going out this afternoon to pick up some
safety gates for the top and bottom of the stairs. Maria caught
climbing up the stairs the other day, and we don't want any accidents
now that he's getting more mobile. Then we're going over to Rodeo
Drive Jewelry to look at our engagement and wedding rings. If
you don't have something else going on, why don't you come with us?"
"Thanks. Sounds like a plan," Art responded. He was always
to have an excuse to spend some time with the guys.
"We won't leave until after breakfast settles," Kevin
give us plenty of time to work out in the gym. You guys
are looking a little flabby." A blatant lie. "You need to
do more than just trot up and down the beach every day to stay in
"We gotta get a muzzle to shut you the fuck up, Kevin," Cam
"So we'll add a pet
store to our itinerary for this afternoon."
Kevin and Art laughed.
Arriving back home, they ate some of Maria's special huevos rancheros,
breakfast, after Kevin offered thanks. Cam went out to the garage
after they finished up and found a tape measure
in their tool box in the garage. He measured the width that the
stairway gates would have to cover, and wrote the figures down on a
sheet of paper.
Then they worked out and worked up a sweat in
the little gym after their breakfast had settled. Kevin
complimented the guys on how well they did with the weights.
Afterwards, they showered. Cam and Kevin washed each other under
the pelting water, as usual, and then dressed in their usual T-shirts,
Levi's and Skechers. Art jacked off in his own shower as he
fantasized about his hosts having had sex that morning, and was
in a good mood when he joined them downstairs after dressing.
Kevin checked Casey's diaper, found out the little guy was all right,
and after saying good-bye to Maria, the three boys loaded the baby, the
baby bag, and themselves in the Mustang. Cam sat in the back seat
to interact with Casey in his backward car seat.
"We have plenty of time before we have to be at the jewelry store, so
let's go to Lowe's first and see if they have the gates we're looking
for. If they don't, we can hit Home Depot," Kevin suggested.
"You're a master shopper," Cam told him.
"That's more satisfying than being a master bator," Kevin responded.
"Oh man! You should warn me when you're going to talk like that
so I can cover Casey's ears," Cam kidded him.
"Oops," Kevin said. He smiled. "You're right."
They found a pair of attractive, sturdy gates at Lowe's, and checked
carefully to see that all the needed hardware was in the boxes.
They rolled the boxes out to the car on a cart and loaded them into the
trunk of the Mustang.
Kevin had put the purchase on his credit card, where Ian Carson would
probably see it on the bill and ask him about it. Ian never
argued about any purchases the guys made, but he did monitor what the
boys spent, and
Kevin and Cam didn't resent that at all. They knew he was
watching out for them.
Heading out of the lot, they stopped at an In and Out Burger to get
burgers and milk shakes,
and drove toward Rodeo Drive. Cam had picked up a plastic spoon
at the cash register,
and he fed a couple of small spoonfuls
of his vanilla shake to Casey. The little guy had a sweet tooth,
and really liked that.
There were no parking places on the street near the jewelry store in
they parked in a garage.
"Why don't you let me carry Casey so you guys will be hands-free to
deal with the rings," Art suggested as they got out of the car.
"Thanks, Art," Kevin agreed, and helped Art put on the baby
They settled Casey into it and walked down the street toward the
store. Passers-by all smiled and checked out
the baby as they went by.
They entered the jewelry store and were promptly greeted by a friendly
female sales person. Cam didn't see the young man who had acted
homophobic to Kevin and him the first time they'd visited the
store, and he wondered if the guy had gotten the ax for his bad
"We have a two o'clock appointment with Mr. Abernathy," Kevin told the
young lady. He glanced down at his watch, and they were right on
"Yes, sir. He's back in the work area. I'll call him."
"Thank you, m'am," Kevin said.
Abernathy joined them shortly, and Cam introduced Art to him and
identified Casey. The little guy had fallen asleep.
Abernathy smiled down at the little boy, and said, "Beautiful baby!"
led them to a counter toward the back of the store. Unlocking a
glass cabinet, Abernathy pulled out four jewelry boxes and placed them
the counter. Kevin's name was taped to two of the boxes, and
Cam's name to the other two.
One by one the jeweler snapped open the boxes. Two boxes held the
wedding rings, and two, the engagement rings. Cam's and Kevin's
eyes were initially drawn to the engagement rings. As Abernathy
had promised, they were elegant and beautiful without being flashy or
overpowering. A sizable, flat cut ruby dominated the center of
two smaller emeralds bracketing it, but the gems all hugged the rings
protruding. Looking closely, Cam and Kevin saw that the gold
engagement rings had a filigree running around it which appeared to
the one on the wedding rings.
Even without trying them on, Cam's and Kevin's first thoughts were that
engagement rings would be comfortable for them to wear--not only
because of what they stood for.
Cam and Kevin looked at each other, and Kevin briefly put his arm over
Cam's shoulders and gave him a side hug before they reached down and
pulled the engagement rings out of
their respective cases. Cam took Kevin's left hand and put the
for him on his ring finger. It slipped over Kevin's knuckle with
just a little effort. Kevin put Cam's ring on his partner's
finger, and it fit perfectly without being too snug.
They each held out a left hand, and regarded them silently. The
had some heft, but they weren't overly heavy.
"Oh, my gosh," Kevin said quietly, eyes a little moist, before pulling
Cam into his arms and kissing his cheek. "They're perfect!"
"For sure," Cam said. He looked over at Ralph Abernathy.
"These rings are like our dreams come true, sir," he told him.
"You captured what we wanted perfectly!"
"Good!" Abernathy said with a smile. "I'm really pleased with the
product! The gems are all of high quality, I can assure you of
that, and they speak very well to your relationship."
Cam and Kevin reached down the counter to pull the wedding rings out of
their cases. They were gold, matching the gold color of the
engagement rings. The wedding rings were moderately wide,
and the guys could see clearly up close that they were indeed decorated
same delicate filigree which spiraled around the engagement
rings. A perfect match.
"Let me show you how the wedding rings interlock with the engagement
rings," Mr. Abernathy suggested. Cam pulled off his engagement
ring and handed it to the jeweler.
Abernathy lined up Cam's engagement and wedding rings, pushed them
together, and then rotated the wedding ring a degree or two, causing it
to seat firmly with the engagement ring. He handed the two rings
back to Cam. He put the rings back on his finger to check them
out, and then removed them. It took a firm twist before Cam could
separate the two rings
"Excellent," Kevin noted with satisfaction.
"The interlock will keep the engagement rings from spiraling around
from the weight of the gems, so
you won't have to be adjusting them all the time," Abernathy
said. "And by the way, your first names are inscribed on the
of each ring so they don't get mixed up. You wear different
The guys put the wedding rings back in their boxes and closed them up,
and but kept the engagement rings handy.
"Ask me," Kevin instructed Cam, handing him Kevin's designated
Cam knew exactly what Kevin meant. "Kevin, will you marry me?" he
"I will," Kevin said, and Cam slid the engagement ring on the third
finger of his partner's left hand.
"Cameron, will you marry me?" Kevin asked in turn.
Kevin put the engagement ring on Cam's ring finger of his left hand,
and they kissed each
other lightly on the lips without making a big spectacle of it.
The store wasn't busy at the moment, and the staff had been watching
Cam and Kevin's reactions to the rings. They applauded when the
two guys kissed and embraced.
Mr. Abernathy beamed at them. "Gentlemen, congratulations," he
said, and then shook hands with each them. "I hope you'll invite
me to your wedding."
"Count on it!" Cam said.
Then Art shook hands with each of his roomies, and gave each a hug of
congratulations. Despite the seemingly casual exchange of rings,
was moved, though he tried not to show it.
After a little more conversation, they all went to the payment desk,
each pair of rings was charged to the guys' respective credit
The charges went through with no problem.
With final thanks to Mr. Abernathy, who said a special good-bye to a
sleeping Casey, the three guys left the store and
began walking back toward their car.
"Wait 'til Ian sees our credit card bills," Kevin said,
laughing. "He'll fall on his ass!"
"Well, it isn't as if we didn't tell him what we were going to
do," Cam responded. "But I do hope this is the last time we spend
this kind of money on each other just for 'stuff.' There are a
lot of hungry people on the street without a roof over their heads in
our country, for
to be this selfish. I love the rings, but y'know, enough is
enough. Let's make a good contribution to the Santa Monica
"I totally agree, Cam," Kevin said. "By the way, on another
subject, I think we
should do something special for the Romeros, especially for Juan, Jr.,
Roberto. Maybe make some substantial down payments on a college
fund for each of them. I know Maria and Juan, Sr., may be a
little reluctant to accept a gift like that, but let's make it
happen. And let's raise Maria's salary. When Andy moves in,
she'll be taking care of five of us now along with Casey."
"What a great idea!" Cam agreed. "Let's talk to Ian about what we
can do for the whole family. I know the Romeros aren't exactly
poor, and I think Juan is
going to end up being a highly successful contractor in the L.A.
area. But we couldn't buy the kind of care we're getting for
Casey and the rest of us for two or three times what we're paying
Maria. You know that's true."
"No doubt about that," Kevin said.
The guys couldn't help lifting their hands and inspecting the new
engagement rings periodically on the way back to the car, and felt a
deep sense of satisfaction with their beauty. Once at the
parking lot, they put Casey back in his car seat without waking him,
headed for Malibu.
Cam carried the baby into the house and put him in his downstairs crib
after they arrived home, while Kevin and Art brought the new gates for
the stairway inside. Maria came down from upstairs when she heard
the boys come in.
"All right!" she said. "Let's see the jewelry!"
Cam and Kevin extended their left arms, and she held their hands for a
moment while she inspected the engagement rings.
"Oh, my goodness!" she exclaimed. "They're absolutely
beautiful!" She gave each of them a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
"Thanks," Kevin said, pleased that Maria agreed with his own opinion of
the rings. "Mr. Abernathy did a great job."
"They're just what we wanted," Cam said.
"What do you think, Art?" Maria asked.
"I think they're beautiful!" Art said. "Outstanding!"
'Let's see the wedding rings," Maria said.
Cam and Kevin pulled the jewelry boxes out of the pockets of their
Levi's, and opened
"I see the filigree on the wedding rings matches the engagement rings,"
"It does," Cam said. "And the engagement rings and the wedding
rings interlock as well. Everything is perfect!"
"For sure!" Kevin said, ready to move on. "Now, on another
subject, as you can see from the big cardboard boxes, we got the
Kevin said. "We'll install them right away."
"That will be one less worry," Maria said. "I appreciate it."
"While you guys pull out the gates, I'm going to take pictures of my
rings and send it to Mom, Carl and Andy and Fr. Mason and Jeff Miller,
and the whole
crew in San Rafael," Cam said.
"I think he likes his rings," Kevin said, chuckling. "Well, get
it. Art and I will start on the gates."
Cam sent the picture of the rings with a caption to the family, and it
wasn't long before the accolades began pouring in.
* * *
The following Tuesday, Juan Romero pulled up to the the main gate
date that George Eisner's secretary had given him for a lunch
meeting. It was
uniformed, Caucasian guard came out of his shelter right away, looking
skeptically at Juan's beat-up old truck with the chipped paint.
"Romero Construction" was painted on the door.
"May I help you?" the guard asked, bending down to check out the inside
of the truck while not betraying a whole lot of respect for the
"Yes," Juan said. "I have a one o'clock appointment with Mr.
Eisner and Mr. Lazlo."
"Yes, sir," the guard said, his face suddenly looking more welcoming
and his posture straightening. "One moment, please."
The man went back into the guardhouse, picked up a telephone, dialed a
number, and spoke into it. Two minutes later, having received a
response, the guard walked back to the truck.
"Yes, sir," the man said, this time with respect. "Just follow
the signs that say 'Administration,' and park in the lot in front of
the Administration building. Go in the front door, and a staff
member will be waiting for you at the reception desk."
"Thank you," Juan said as the guard hit a button to raise the striped
pole blocking the entrance and touched a finger to his uniform cap as
the truck rolled by.
Damn, you just never know who the
fuck is going to show up here to see somebody important, even if
they're driving a piece of shit like that truck, the
guard thought to himself as he watched the truck pull away and he went
back inside his hut to await the
Juan followed the guard's instructions and pulled into the parking lot
of the main office building. Before alighting from his truck, he
took off his cap and studied his image in the rear view mirror.
His saw that his jet black hair was still neatly combed, parted on the
left, and his face neatly shaven. He was a handsome and
well-built man with light tan skin, neatly dressed in clean work
clothes with his company
logo over his left breast pocket. He had thought about wearing a
suit to this meeting, but had decided against it. He had surmised
that Messrs. Eisner and Lazlo weren't going to base their decision
whom to select for a building contractor on how much he looked like a
Leaving his Romero Construction cap on the passenger sear, he opened
the driver's door of his truck, got out, and snaked his way through the
cars to the main entrance of the Administration building.
Another guard greeted him inside the building at a revolving door, and
directed him to a reception desk where a well-coifed, middle aged
Latina greeted him in a friendly manner.
"Good day, sir," she said. "How may I help you?"
"I have a lunch meeting with Mr. Eisner and Mr. Lazlo." It was
'Yes, sir. Your name?"
"One moment, please." She stepped to a telephone and punched in a
number. "Stephanie, Mr. Romero is here for his meeting with Mr.
Eisner and Mr. Lazlo."
She nodded her head and hung up. "Señor Romero, if you'll
seat over there, someone will be down in a moment to escort you
upstairs." She gestured with a graceful wave at some leather
chairs at one side of the lobby.
"Gracias, Señora," Juan said,
and headed for a seat. He had only
been seated for about two minutes when a young woman emerged from an
elevator and approached him.
"Mr. Romero?" she asked, extending a hand. "Welcome to Magnum
Studios. I'm Stephanie Anderson, Mr. Lazlo's administrative
Juan greeted her and they shook hands.
"If you will follow me, I'll escort you to Mr. Lazlo and Mr. Eisner for
lunch in Mr. Eisner's office."
"Thank you," Juan said, and followed the svelte, shapely young woman to
the elevators. They made small talk on the way up to the top
floor. Without waiting after knocking, she opened a door labeled George
Eisner, Chairman. Two men rose from a couch where
they had obviously been waiting to greet their guest.
"Mr. Romero," the taller of the two men said with a smile,
"Welcome to Magnum Studios," he said, shaking Juan Romero's hand.
"I'm George Eisner," he identified himself. "And this is Rick
Lazlo smiled, and shook hands. "Glad you could make it.
Hope you're hungry. George sets a good table."
"I think I can sit up and take some nourishment," Juan said with a grin.
"Well, let's have at it, then," Eisner said as they moved over to the
Before they pulled out their chairs and sat down, Eisner offered thanks
over the food.
"I appreciate the prayer," Juan said when Eisner finished and the three
of them made the sign of the cross. "My family started saying
grace because the young men my wife works for customarily offer thanks
before meals. My family has gotten in the habit."
"I know who you're talking about, Juan," Eisner said. "Your
wife's employers attend my parish church."
"Excellent family!" Juan said. "They've been so kind to us."
"Good people," Eisner said. "Good boys with good friends.
They've experienced some tragedy at a young age, and come out of it
successfully. Cameron MacKenzie's father and his partner worked
and were killed in a
plane crash coming back from England. And Kevin Stoltz has had his own family
Carson, who recommended you for the construction
job we're going to talk about today, has been sort of a foster father
to the boys."
Juan smiled. "I met Ian and his wife, and their maid from San
Rafael, along with all the boys
in the Carsons' extended family, at Cam and Kevin's house on
Thanksgiving. Cam and Kevin had invited Cam's
mother and her maid, our family, and their next door neighbors Sean and
Miller, along their maid, who is my wife's sister, and the Miller boy
and another young man from college, for the meal. I should
mention that the maids were the guests of honor at that meal, and the
all the cooking and serving." Juan Romero looked at his
hosts. "I didn't think I'd have a good time because I'm a laborer
generation removed from being an immigrant myself, but we all had a
ball! They're all easy people to relate to. And I do."
George Eisner nodded in agreement. "You see what I see,
Juan." Eisner studied him for a long moment. "You speak
English well. Where did you get your schooling?"
"I attended an Anglican primary and secondary school in Mexico City
where my father was the janitor. I guess my schooling explains my
proficiency, and then I graduated from college at the National
Autonomous University, also in
Mexico City, on a scholarship in architecture. I immigrated with
my parents after
graduation, met my wife here in LA, and the rest is history.
Although I was a legal immigrant, the architectural firms wouldn't hire
me here because they thought I was a wetback and lying about being
George Eisner shook his head in shame. "Times have changed."
"To some extent," Juan said with a smile. "You wouldn't know it
to listen to some of the presidential candidates these days, though."
"I guess you're right," Eisner admitted.
Lazlo studied the two men as the three of them continued with the
might be true that hiring a building contractor was technically his
decision, but Lazlo also knew that Juan Romero was as good as selected
far as his boss was concerned. If he didn't get this particular
would most certainly bring him aboard in some other capacity.
When they finished their light noon meal, prepared for hot weather, of
cold vichyssoise soup, thin sliced veal cutlets, raspberry jello salad
with a dab of sour cream dressing and pecans, and miniature cinnamon
rolls, they moved right on to dessert: iced coffee with freshly
baked apple tarts. There had been no alcoholic drinks served, nor
the meal. And that suited Juan just fine. He wanted all his
wits about him for the conversation to come.
Two white-coated waiters cleared the table after lunch, and the three
men just sat there at the lunch table and got down to business.
Romero and Lazlo sparred over some of the costs and details of the new
construction that Magnum Studios had in mind as they looked at plans
and blueprints while George Eisner just sat there listening quietly and
patiently, but eventually Juan Romero got pretty much what he
wanted in the contract. He knew his stuff, and was happy
with the outcome
of their discussion. He knew that getting this contract would be a huge
step forward for Romero Construction.
"Rick, do you have rough copy of a contract I can let my attorney take
a look at?" Juan asked when they had wrapped up.
"Let me re-work it to reflect the changes we've discussed today, and
I'll have one ready for you by the end of the week," Lazlo said.
"Ian Carson looked over the current draft of the contract and approved
it on our behalf, and I'll ask him to take a look at the changes as
"Sounds good," Juan said.
The three men removed their napkins from their laps, and stood up,
pushing in their chairs and then shaking hands.
"Thank you so much for joining us for lunch, Juan," George Eisner said
"Thank you for having me," Juan said, turning to shake hands with Rick
"I'll call you when we get a contract cleaned up and ready for you to
look at," Rick said. "We're looking forward to working with you."
"And I with you," Juan said.
The good-byes said, Juan headed for the door and then to the elevator.
"What do you think?" Lazlo asked, looking at his boss after Juan had
"He's a perfect example of the future of American business, Rick.
All our families were immigrants once
upon a time. I think this is going to be a good relationship for
"I do. I am a little curious about why you've taken such a
personal interest in hiring someone for this particular contract,
Eisner smiled. "Well, you're right. I admit I have a
personal interest in the Romero family because of my relationship with
Cam MacKenzie and his partner, Kevin Stoltz, and the little boy
with the help of Juan's wife. As I mentioned earlier, Alex
MacKenzie was working for us
here at Magnum when he and his partner were killed, and I feel we owe
their survivors, and those who help them, to do a good turn for these
folks when we have a chance. I hope you don't feel that I've
pre-empted your decision. That wasn't my intent. I do think
Juan Romero is our best option to be our principal building contractor,
being that he's an architect as well as a builder. He has the
skills and the
expertise to do the job. But if you don't feel he should be our
guy, I'm open to discussing it."
Lazlo was silent for a moment.
"No, I don't think we need to discuss it further," he said. "Juan
Romero has the personal skills and the organization which will best
our purposes. I can't quarrel with your analysis of
Romero's strengths, and I'm good with giving him the contract. I
was just curious, that's all."
"Good. Let's move ahead with the contract, then," Eisner said.
The two men shook hands, and Lazlo turned to walk away. At the
door, he turned around and looked back at his boss.
"Your loyalty to people who deserve it is a major reason this
organization is so
successful, George. And such a great place to work."
Lazlo stepped through the door, closed it, and went back to his office.
* * *
As he prepared to move to Los Angeles, Father Mason's good-byes to
Father and Mrs. Blackburn and to the entire
parish family at St. Andrew's church in San Rafael had been emotional
for all concerned. The parish had held a special dinner to honor
their departing curate on Thursday evening, and many kind words had
been said to and about
Father Mason. Among those attending the meal had been Catherine
MacKenzie and the
extended Carson family, of course. The parish hall was packed, a
testimony to the popularity and respect in which the priest was held.
The junior choir, which customarily sang at the nine a.m. Mass each
Sunday morning, sang several musical selections during the meal which
pieces which were known to be favorites of the priest.
Ian Carson had been one of the featured speakers, and what he said
about Jim Mason concerning his unfailing kindness to all he
encountered, his authentic spirituality, the special inspiration he had
provided to the young people of the parish, his powerful preaching and
his ability to evoke a real connection with God when he celebrated the
Mass was very moving.
Mason's response to the speakers had also been moving. The upshot
of his remarks was that whatever success he had had at St. Andrew's was
due to the deep commitment of parishioners to the faith, and to the
strong leadership of the Rector, Father Blackburn. He cited
several major steps forward for the parish due to the strong
partnership of the clergy and the laity in the San Rafael church.
"I know that I have been in your prayers during my time with you here
because I have felt the benefit of those prayers. Some of you may
know that my mother lives in the Los Angeles area, and is suffering
from Alzheimer's disease. Were it not for the rapidly
deteriorating health of my mother, I hope you know I would continue
working here with joy in my heart and love for all of you."
When Father Mason had concluded his remarks of
affection and praise for the parish, along with thanks for the many
kindnesses he had received during his time there, Father Blackburn
asked him to offer a final prayer and a blessing. Mason raised
his right hand over the crowd.
"O God of hope and author of our salvation, we thank You for the bounty
we have received from You in the lives of our families and our
parish, and particularly during this wonderful evening. We
for a continuation of Your grace, that the deep relationships of
kindness and esteem we have built with one another in Jesus Christ may
continue to thrive despite our physical parting of the ways. May
the Holy Spirit continue to bless the work we have all undertaken on
behalf of St. Andrew's Parish, our Diocese, and our national
church. May the doors which we have opened here to all God's children remain open and
welcoming. And now, may the peace of God, which passes all
understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of
God, and of His Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and the blessing of God
Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you this
night and remain with you always."
Mason made the sign of the cross over the crowd to a resounding "Amen" from the parishioners.
He saw Mary Carson, among many others, wipe some tears from her eyes,
and recognized anew that this was no casual parting of the ways for so
The priest had given the people his love during his time in San Rafael,
and it was being richly returned.
* * *
Carl Emrick stayed overnight with Andy Helder at the Helder family home
on Thursday night after the big church shindig. When they
stripped off their clothes and slid into Andy's big bed, the two guys
held each other for a long time just looking into one another's eyes
before they had sex.
"I can hardly believe that this is the first of so many nights we're
to be able to hold each other like this and make love," Carl told his
partner. "It's been a long time coming."
Andy grinned, and french kissed Carl. "Yeah. Coming.
Literally. I've missed you so much, Carl."
They made sweet love twice that night--once before they went to sleep,
and then again in the middle of the night.
They spent the next day, Friday, at Father Mason's apartment helping
him take apart his beds and finishing packing up the rest of his books
and miscellaneous stuff.
That night there was a big family meal with the Carson family at
Catherine's former home to which Father Mason and Andy's parents and
had been invited. Rosa Mendez and Yolanda Vega had prepared a
meal. The evening was fun, with the boys all talking a mile a
minute and insulting one another as usual as opportunities
presented themselves. Andy began to realize how much he was going
to miss Catherine and Ian and Mary Carson and all the boys as the
evening drew to a close.
"We'll see you at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning at Father Mason's apartment,"
told Carl and Andy as they left to go home. "After we load
Father's furniture we'll go over the Helder's house for Andy's
did pick up the
truck?" he asked Carl and Andy.
"Yes," Andy reassured him. "This afternoon. Complete with
the hitch for Father Mason's car. Thanks again for renting it for
us. We'll be ready for you bright and early."
"Remember, we're going to have breakfast ready for all of you when you
get to our place," Mrs. Helder told them all by way of reminder.
"Are you sure you want to feed this ravenous crew?" Mary Carson asked,
eying the boys. "We could stop at a McDonald's before we come by."
"No, we want to do this," Mr. Helder told them. "St. Andrew's and
your family has
done so much to help us understand the love that Andy and Carl have for
each other, and support them in their relationship. It's the
least we can do."
Everyone was a good as their word, showing up at Father's Mason's
apartment at 6 a.m. sharp on Saturday morning. It was an
unusually warm morning for northern California, and the boys began
shedding their T-shirts as they really got into moving the priest's
furniture, boxes of books, bedding, clothes, pots and pans, and other
stuff down to the truck.
Despite efforts to look away, Carl Emrick's eyes were repeatedly drawn
to the boys' bodies as they toiled away, sweating as the morning warmed
up. Starting with William Carson and Berto Hernandez, and
including his own partner and even the younger guys, the chests, backs
and butts on display kept Carl half hard in his shorts throughout the
morning. Andy caught Carl staring a couple of times, and grinned
at his partner. Carl blushed, but couldn't help himself.
These boys all had gym bodies, and were fucking beautiful. He
knew he'd like to lick the sweat off every one of them.
Once Father Mason's apartment was empty and the truck loaded, Ian
Father Mason hooked the hitch for the priest's car to the truck, and
drove the auto up the shallow incline until the front wheels were
seated in the wells provided, with the rear wheels remaining on the
The men then chained down the car, and they were ready to go over to
the Helders' house.
Andy's mother had been forewarned toward the end of loading the truck
that the moving crew would be on the road shortly, and she was ready
for the hungry crew when they arrived. She had fixed huge bowls
of scrambled eggs, platters of bacon and sausage, fresh fruit, pitchers
of orange juice, and carafes of coffee. Father Mason offered
thanks for the food, and then everybody found places around the
Helder's huge, expanded dining room table in the spacious dining
room. The house was large, in a neighborhood with many pricey
Except for the clinking of silverware, silence initially reigned at
stomachs were filled.
The boys were all refilling their plates and starting on seconds when
William Carson spoke up.
"Mrs. Helder, this is a delicious breakfast! Thank you so much
for going to all this trouble!"
Berto Hernandez began to clap his hands, and the other guys joined in.
"Wonderful breakfast!" Mary Carson chimed in. "We really
appreciate it. And your home is beautiful!"
"Thank you so much," Mrs. Helder said. "It's going to seem
awfully empty for us now that Andy is moving out." To her own
surprise, tears began to run down her cheeks.
Mary Carson was sitting beside her, and she reached over and held her
hand. "We're going to to be good friends, because Ian and I
are facing the same thing before long."
"Hmm," Mark Carson said between bites. "Well, there'll be a lot
of cheering at our place when William moves out!"
Dan Emrick began to laugh, and William scowled at both of them.
Before he could respond, their dad interrupted.
"All right!" Ian Carson told them. "Don't start! We're
"You're right, Dad," William Carson said, starting to laugh
himself. "I'm far too well mannered to respond in kind. Get
a clue, Mark!"
Changing the subject, Ian looked over at Father Mason, Carl and Andy,
sitting beside one another on the other side of the table.
"Have you three decided where you're going to stop tonight?"
"San Luis Obispo," Carl spoke up. "That's more or less half-way
"Did you already make reservations somewhere in town?" Mary Carson
asked. "There's a college there, and you don't want to have to
sleep in the truck if the motels are full."
"You're right, Mary," Father Mason said. "I'll get on the phone
before we leave." He looked at Carl and Andy. "I'll get you
guys a double room, and me a single."
"Thanks, Father," Andy said, appreciating the privacy for himself and
The serving dishes were all bare when the boys helped clean up the
table, taking the plates and silverware to the kitchen for the maid,
who had not yet arrived, to fill the dishwasher. Once they got
started, it didn't take long for all the boys to load Andy's computer
desk, desk chair, and some of his miscellaneous stuff into the truck.
Everyone gathered in the Helders' driveway when it was time for the
three travelers to go. There were lots of hugs and kisses
exchanged as Father Mason, Andy and Carl prepared to climb into the
truck after they had thanked
the extended family for all the help they had received.
a few minutes alone with his parents, during which his mother
wept again. Andy calmed her down by promising to email her daily
the time being, and call her at least once a week. He let them
know yet again how grateful he was for their financial support, and
their love and understanding for his and Carl's relationship.
They were on the road by 10:30, with Father Mason at the wheel for the
first lap of the trip.
© Don Hanratty 2016
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