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Note: Thanks to Tim for feedback on the draft chapters.  I owe special thanks to Robb and Rock for doing the final proofreading and catching all those silly little errors I missed.

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Finding Family

by Jeff Allen

Gary Griffith's directions were easy to follow, and I found their house outside of Adams with no difficulty. After settling my gear into their upstairs guest bedroom I had some time to chat with Gary and Matt before I was due at Karl's apartment for dinner. When they learned a little of the history between Karl and me, they insisted that I invite Karl to have dinner with all of us the following night.  I told them I'd think about it and let them know in the morning.

Karl's apartment was cozy, clean, and crowded with Karl, me, Trey, Josh, Isaac, Tyrone, Ryan, Jonathan, and Wes. TJ, of course, was back in Carterville with Donnie. Karl prepared a baked chicken dish with wild rice, green beans, and salad. It was delicious.

From the conversation I knew that Ryan, Isaac and Tyrone had enjoyed their week on a college campus. They'd followed Trey, TJ, or Josh around to classes and soccer practice all week, visited the library, the student union, and several of the local hang-out places around town. To hear them talk they were ready to start college the next day.  Isaac would be starting at Adams State in August, but Tyrone and Ryan would have to wait another year to graduate from high school before they could enjoy the freedom and excitement of college life.

The guys stayed around for a while after dinner but soon left for a party hosted by some guys on the Adams State soccer team who lived just down the street a little from Karl's apartment.

That left Karl and me alone.

We finished cleaning up from the dinner and then talked while we each nursed a beer.  As I was leaving to go back out to Gary and Matt's I told Karl about the invitation for dinner the following night.  He quickly accepted. At the door we said good-bye and then he leaned in and kissed me.

It was a gentle kiss, somewhat tentative as if he was unsure of my reaction.  My reaction was strongly positive. I got hard as a rock almost instantly. When we broke the kiss, I glanced down at Karl's crotch. I wasn't the only one who was hard.

"I'm sorry.  I probably shouldn't have done that."

I pulled him into a full body hug. I could feel his erection pressing up against my own.   "No, I enjoyed it, but I think we need to stop with that one kiss. If you kiss me again, I'm not going to want to leave, and I don't think we're ready for that yet."

He rested his head on my shoulder. "You're right.  I'll see you tomorrow."


I met Trey and the guys in town for lunch the next day and then we went over to look at an apartment that Trey, TJ, and Josh were thinking about for the next year.  I was surprised when I met the current occupants of the apartment...C.Z. Johnstone, Andy Hatcher, and Andy's six-year-old son Greg. Small world!

The apartment was ideal. It was on the ground floor of a three story Victorian house about four or five blocks from campus and just down the street from Karl Henson's apartment. The apartment had three bedrooms. The guys planned to use one of the bedrooms as a study room with Trey and TJ doubling up in one of the other bedrooms.

While we were there I was introduced to Brian Barnes, Stephen Ngyuen, and Mike Hernandez. Brian and Stephen were on the soccer team with Trey and TJ. In the conversation I found out that the soccer team party had been at their apartment the previous evening. It also became apparent that Stephen and Mike were boyfriends.

Trey explained that the landlords, Kevin and Kathy Williams, lived next door in another slightly smaller Victorian house. Kevin Williams was also one of the guys' professors. There was another apartment above the detached garage at the Williams' occupied by Brian Barnes' brother Justin and his fiancée Megan Frazier.

Late in the afternoon I dropped the guys back at the dorm. They had plans for the evening, and I had a dinner invitation at Gary and Matt's.  I met Karl, and he followed me out to Gary and Matt's.

Matt broke out some chips and beers as soon as we got to the house. About half a beer later another car came into the drive and pulled up to the house.

I must have looked surprised because Matt said, "I can tell by your expression that Gary neglected to tell you that we'd invited another couple for dinner.  I think you guys might know them because they're from Carterville also.  It's Andy Hatcher and C.Z. Johnstone."

I laughed, "The world keeps getting smaller and smaller. I was just over at their apartment this afternoon because Trey, TJ, and Josh are going to take over their apartment next fall when C.Z. goes to Chapel Hill for med school.  Andy was my banker when he was in Carterville, and Karl and C.Z. were in school together."

"That's amazing!  It's great that you all know each other.  Now we won't have to worry about `breaking the ice.' We can just have a great time."

In fact we did.  Doc...that's what everyone kept calling Gary...fixed a delicious herbed salmon with roasted potatoes and asparagus.  After dinner Matt and C.Z. tackled the dishes while the rest of us took advantage of the warm April evening and relaxed in the hot tub.

Matt and C.Z. brought out a fresh round of beers when they joined us.

Karl and I sat together on one side of the tub. Our hips and thighs touched occasionally. I was hot from the heat of the water and the heat of Karl's body next to mine made it even hotter.  Matt and Doc sat across and to our left and Andy nestled against C.Z. on our right.

The conversation ranged from current events to sports. At one point Doc mentioned how much he enjoyed having Trey, TJ, and Josh in his class.  "Those guys have really been there for Josh. Losing his mother was a hard blow, but having friends like Trey and TJ and being so quickly accepted into your group of guys has really helped him. It's been tough on him, but he's a resilient kid. You've done a good job with all of them, Parker."

I knew my guys were something special, but it was still great to hear someone else confirm that. My chest swelled with "parental" pride.

"Thanks.  I don't know that I've done all that much.  They're all pretty easy young men to love.  They stick together. Trey and another friend from home, Jonathan Pittman, made a deal with Coach Springer to get a soccer scholarship for TJ. After his father died and his step mother ran out, TJ was sure he wouldn't have the money to go to college. I was willing to help him out, but the scholarship really made a difference for him."

Andy leaned forward, "Wait a minute. What about the trust funds?"

"What trust funds?"

"The ones Dr. Ladd set up to pay for TJ and Ryan's education. He did that almost a year before he died."

"TJ and Ryan don't know anything about any trust funds. Angela Ladd was the executrix of the estate. She told them there wasn't any money."

"That doesn't make sense. John Ladd set up trust funds for both boys as well as for his stepdaughter. The bank was the trustee. He told me he didn't want his wife involved because she would just spend the money on herself and her daughter."  He stood up. "I may have said some things that I shouldn't have. Excuse me for a minute, I've got to check on something."

He swung his legs out of the tub, grabbed one of the towels, and headed into the house.

The topic of conversation moved on to other topics. When Andy came back out and rejoined us in the tub after a few minutes, he was quiet for a while but then resumed taking part in the banter and discussion.

When we got out of the tub everyone dried off, wrapped towels around their waists and retreated into the living room. No one made any attempt to put clothes back on so Karl and I took our cue from that and stayed wrapped in our towels like the rest. We talked for another hour or so and drank another couple of beers.

A little after midnight Andy and C.Z. began to get ready to leave. C.Z. had taken one beer after dinner and then had switched to colas since he was the designated driver. They offered to drive Karl back into town. Doc and Matt offered the couch in the living room.

Karl opted for the couch.

I couldn't get to sleep. Finally I got up, pulled on my boxers, and walked downstairs. Karl was still awake too.

I went over to the couch, grabbed his hand, and said, "The bed upstairs will be a lot more comfortable."

Silently he followed me up the stairs and into the bed. I turned him to face away from me, snuggled up to his back, and whispered, "Good night."

In reply he took my hand and kissed it before placing it back around his chest.

We were asleep within seconds.


Karl came back to Carterville the next weekend. He spent Saturday night out at our house. We had dinner with the guys, and then spent the rest of the evening watching a couple of movies.  When the second movie was over, I'd made up my mind. I stood up, grabbed him by the hand, and pulled him into a kiss.

"Would you like to spend the night?"

"Where am I sleeping?"

"With me."

He smiled.  "In that case, I think I'm ready for bed."

Our lovemaking was unhurried and gentle. It had been so long since either of us had been with anyone that we needed to take it slowly otherwise we wouldn't have lasted more than a few minutes.

Finally we both  needed the release. We moved into a 69 position and got busy. I felt my balls begin to draw up. I moved my mouth faster on Karl's dick. He was close too. I came...and came...and came.  Then he was flooding my mouth with his own love offering.  It tasted just as good as I remembered.

Karl moved around to face me. We kissed sharing the remnants of our ejaculations and then went to sleep wrapped in each other's arms. 

It felt right.


The next several weeks were a blur of activity at the house and at school.  The soccer team was getting ready for the tournaments, the semester was wrapping down and Isaac's graduation loomed ahead, the college guys finished their semester with great grades and came home for the summer, and Ladd Brothers Lawn Care Services moved into full action mode with my house as the combined corporate headquarters and employee gathering spot.

Karl spent about half the nights with me before going back to Adams State for summer school. Donnie, TJ, and Donnie's boys occupied two of the bedrooms upstairs with Ryan and Nacio in the third, Trey and Josh in the fourth, and Isaac and often Tyrone in the last bedroom.

The house was crowded, noisy, and alive with activity.

Jonathan Pittman spent the summer in DC with his twin brother/lover Wes Dawson.  We all missed him, but it was the best thing for Jonathan at that point in his life. His parents had more or less disowned him when he'd told them he was gay. They'd even stopped paying for his schooling. Fortunately, the Dawsons picked up the shortfall so he would be able to continue his education.

As always the summer was busy. The house was full not only with the guys living there but with numerous friends and with one summer guest, Elijah Baker. His father was on a sabbatical from his duties as pastor of the Carterville Presbyterian Church and the family was traveling for the summer. Elijah had graduated with Isaac and was headed to Davidson College in the fall. He wanted to be able to spend one last summer in Carterville with his friends so his parents had asked if I would consider letting him stay with us over the summer. Of course we all said yes. Elijah added one more straight male to the household, but the breeders were still in a decided minority. They took a lot of good-natured ribbing from us, and they handed it right back.

Karl was in summer school at Adams State.  He needed the summer session and the fall semester before he would be finished with his degree and move back to Carterville permanently to work with his father in the hardware store. He came home about every other weekend and stayed with me. The other weekends I left Donnie, Trey, and TJ in charge and went to Adams to stay with Karl. Our relationship had come a long way since my accident and his explanation of why he'd left me before.  We had a way to go yet, but we were working on it, and working on it was turning out to be a lot of fun.

Donnie's business was back on track. In fact he was able to hire another mechanic and move one of his other employees into an assistant manager position allowing Donnie to take both days of the weekend away from work.  He was also able to replace his unreliable minivan with a four-year old Subaru Outback.

There was a new branch manager at the bank. Jonathan's disagreeable, bigoted father was suddenly gone from the bank, and the Pittman's house was up for sale. Trey called Jonathan up in Maryland and asked what was going on. Jonathan said that he hadn't talked with his parents in almost two months, and he didn't have any idea where his parents had gone. According to Trey, Jonathan didn't seem too concerned that his parents had apparently moved away without telling him.

A couple of weeks later I got a call from the new bank manager, Carole Hunter.

After identifying herself she asked, "Mr. Arnold, are you still the legal guardian for Tyler and Ryan Ladd?"

"I am for Ryan, but Tyler is 19. I'm not his guardian anymore."

"But both young men still live with you, correct?"

"Yes.  What's this about?"

"Well, it's a matter that I'd really rather not discuss over the phone.  Would you and the Ladd brothers be able to come into the bank sometime tomorrow."

"Can you tell me what this is about?"

"As I said, I'd really rather not talk about this over the phone, but I think you and the Ladd boys will be pleased with the news."

I told her that I'd check with TJ and Ryan and call her back with a time when we could meet her at the bank.

As soon as I got off the phone with Ms. Hunter, I called information to get Andy Hatcher's number in Carterville.

"Hello, Parker.  You caught us just at the right time.  We're moving to Chapel Hill tomorrow, and this phone will be disconnected. What's up?"

I related my conversation with Ms. Hunter at the bank and then reminded Andy of his mention of some sort of trust funds set up by TJ and Ryan's father.

He replied, "Remember back at Doc and Matt's when I left you guys for a while?  Well, I called a former colleague who still works for the bank and asked him to check on the trust funds. He called back a couple of days later and said he'd located the records of the funds, but that there were some problems that would take a little time to get worked out. The meeting with Carole Hunter may be the result of that."

"So this sounds like it will be good news for the boys."

"I think it will be.  However, the bank `lost' those funds for almost two years. They're going to want to get this over quickly and quietly. I'd suggest that you have an attorney with you when you go to the bank."

"Thanks, Andy.  That's good advice."

My next phone call was to Theresa Cannon, the lawyer who had helped me with Isaac's adoption and getting custody of Ryan. She agreed to meet us at the bank.

I made arrangements for us all to be at the bank when it opened in the morning.  I figured that would be the best time since any later in the day TJ and Ryan would be dirty and dripping with sweat from their lawn care business.

Carole Hunter was a trim mid-forties woman with an expensive dye job and a pleasant smile.  Her smile faded momentarily when I introduced Theresa as our attorney.

Ms. Hunter led us into her office and closed the door.

"I'll get right down to the business at hand." She looked at the boys. "It seems that your late father set up trust funds for you and your sister about a year before his death.  The funds are to be used for your education and to provide a small monthly allowance for living expenses if you are enrolled full time at a college or university. If you do not attend a college or university or have finished your degree, then there is smaller monthly allowance, and a portion of the funds may be used as a down payment on a permanent residence."

Theresa spoke up, "Exactly what's the value of the funds?"

"Each fund was set up with $100,000. The interest on those funds over the past three years puts the value today at a little over $129,000."

TJ and Ryan exchanged open-mouthed glances at each other.

Theresa went on, "Who's the trustee for the funds?"

"The bank is.  Actually the funds were set up with the branch manager here being the primary trustee."

"Then they were set up when Andy Hatcher was the branch manager?"

"Yes, Mr. Arnold, that's correct."

Theresa took over again, "Quite frankly, Ms. Hunter, that doesn't sound like the best set up to me. I think it would have been preferable to have the bank's trust department handle the funds."

"Yes, I agree.  In fact, our records show that Mr. Hatcher tried to talk Dr. Ladd into doing just that very thing, but Dr. Ladd was insistent that the management of the funds remain with the local branch office.  He thought that would expedite delivery of the funds to his children."

"Why are we just finding out about the trust funds? Our dad's been dead for two years." Ryan looked puzzled.

"Well, that part's a little embarrassing. There was some confusion about the funds after your father's death."

Theresa was back in lawyer mode, "What sort of `confusion', Ms. Hunter?"

"It appears that the previous branch manager, Mr. Pittman, allowed the funds to be transferred to another bank. It also appears that the new trustee did not tell your clients about the funds."

"And just who was the new trustee and where were the funds sent?"

"Uh, the funds were sent to First Commercial Bank of Washington, and the new trustee was listed as Angela Ladd."

The boys groaned.

"Let me get this straight, Ms. Hunter. You're saying that Mr. Pittman, an officer of this bank, violated the conditions of the trusts and allowed the funds to be transferred to the control of Angela Ladd, Dr. Ladd's widow."

"Uh, yes. That's essentially correct. However, as soon as we became aware of the problem, the bank took corrective action.  Those funds have been restored with Dr. Ladd's children as the beneficiaries.  We would insist at the present that our Trust Office in Charlotte be the trustee of the funds. I have some documents prepared here that will do just that. All they need are the signatures of Tyler Ladd and Mr. Arnold as guardian for Ryan Ladd."

She passed some papers over toward me. "If you and Tyler would just sign where I've indicated, we'll be done here."

Theresa snatched the papers off the desk. "No one's signing a thing until I read every word on these documents, Ms. Hunter."

Theresa began to read. I smiled enjoying Carole Hunter's discomfort. I also smiled realizing that Lawrence Pittman, one of the world's most unpleasant people, had screwed up big time.  His sudden absence from the bank now made more sense. I also remembered talking with Jonathan on one of the nights he'd come out to our house to spend the night because his parents were fighting. Jonathan said that his mother was accusing his father of having an affair. Did Angela Ladd get her well-manicured fingernails into Lawrence Pittman?

"Ms. Hunter, this is a settlement form, and I have to advise my clients not to sign it.  I think the bank could do better than this.  I propose several modifications to the agreement. First the bank should recalculate the interest on the funds. I think $129,000 is too low.  I propose that you recalculate the growth in the funds at a rate of 12% per annum compounded monthly. Second both TJ and Ryan Ladd have been denied access to the use of these funds since their father's death two years ago.  You should be aware that both boys have been working nearly full time to fund their own education under the mistaken assumption that their father did not provide anything for them in his estate. There needs to be some redress for their mental anguish. Third, it seems clear to me that Angela Ladd with the help of Lawrence Pittman sought to obtain control of the trust funds by fraudulent means.  We want the bank's assurance that they will pursue legal action against Ms. Ladd and Mr. Pittman."

"I can't agree to those terms."

"Then I suggest you contact someone in authority with our conditions. If you do not respond within twenty-four hours, we will contact the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve, and as many other regulatory bodies as we can in addition to the newspaper and television news media."

Carole Hunter looked like she was ready to get sick. "I...I'll do my best."

"See that you do, Ms. Hunter. I don't think the bank wants this information about mismanagement of funds to become public knowledge.  Good day."

With that, Theresa stood up and walked out of the office. The boys and I followed.

Out in the parking lot, Theresa said, "I think you have the bank over a barrel.  Pittman obviously screwed up. Since he was acting as an agent of the bank, the bank's responsible. I'll bet that you get a call from Carole Hunter this afternoon with everything we asked for."

She was wrong.

The call came before noon.

Ryan and TJ settled for $140,492 as the balance in each trust plus an additional $40,000 each for "the inconvenience." The bank also agreed to pursue legal action against Pittman and Angela.

They also asked our help in locating Ryan's half sister, Stephanie. Unfortunately for her, neither of the boys had heard from her in over a year.


We had the annual summer soccer team picnic the last weekend in July because Jonathan and Wes were planning on being in town that weekend. After spending the summer up in the DC area with Wes's parents, they were headed back to Adams State for the start of soccer practice for Jonathan and football practice for Wes.

Rashod Robinson was up that same weekend so my house was full to the rafters. Rashod had been accepted into the North Carolina School of the Arts high school program in music. He would finish his last two years of high school there. It was a wonderful opportunity for Rashod.  NCSA had one of the top high school music programs in the country. He would have his pick of any number of university music programs after graduation.

As always, the picnic was a great time. Robert Marquez and Joe May helped with the cooking, and this year Karl Henson and Donnie Micheaux helped also.

The day after the picnic, I managed to have some time with Jonathan, Wes, and Rashod. Jonathan wasn't sure where his parents had moved. He hadn't heard from them since the previous spring when he'd come out to them, and they'd turned their back on him.  Although his relationship with his parents had never been the warmest in the world, it still hurt him that they had turned their backs on him both emotionally and financially. On the other hand, he had been surprised to receive a phone call from Rick Springer, the coach of the Adams State soccer team, offering him a full scholarship.

I think I managed to keep a straight face as he was telling me about the scholarship.  I knew how it had come about.  TJ had decided that he didn't need his scholarship. He'd called Coach Springer and told him that he didn't need the scholarship but Jonathan did. He told the coach that he and Trey would agree to continue playing for Adams State without scholarships if Jonathan was given one. After blustering for a few minutes, Coach Springer had agreed.  Jonathan had his scholarship offer the next day.

The weekend of the picnic flew by. The next week Rashod drove back to Winston-Salem while Trey, TJ, Josh, Jonathan, and Wes all headed to Adams State. Elijah's family returned from their summer trip, and he went home to get ready to leave for college at Davidson.  I started another season with the high school soccer team, and two weekends later, I drove Isaac over to Adams State for his freshman orientation. Karl left to go back for his final semester the week after that.

My house suddenly seemed very empty.

(To be continued)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many of the characters who play parts in this story were previously introduced in either "When Love Comes" (last posted in the College section on Sept. 6, 2001) or "Love of a Lifetime" (last posted in the College section on May 19, 2003). While not necessary, readers may find it useful to read the two earlier stories posted on this site.  Both previous stories are also posted at

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