Finding Love: A Journey
By: Scotty
(Copyright 2007 by the author)

Disclaimer: This is a fictional story dealing with love and consensual sexual activities between males.  If you are not of legal age, reside in an area where viewing such material is illegal, or are offended by homosexuality and/or homosexual themes, leave this site now.

The characters in this story do not always practice safe sex.  Remember this is fiction.  You should always use a condom for the your protection and especially for the protection of the one you love.  The author recommends only safe sex.  Be wise and follow safe sex practices.

Several songs are quoted in this story. The copyrights to these are held by the artists or their publishers and not by the author. They are quoted as a tribute to the artist and the piece.

All persons in this story are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

All other disclaimers apply. The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at...

Without the intelligent and sensitive editing of Peter, this story would not ring as true.  I want to publicly express my sincere thanks to him for taking the time from his extremely busy and demanding professional life to edit Finding Love: A Journey.   Thanks, Peter, and big hugs.


"Bradley Mason, I love you, too.  Tonight has been magic and now more than ever, your touch excites me, calms me, makes me feel whole.  Let's take a shower and then get some sleep, that's if I can keep my hands off you.  We have school tomorrow and we have to be ready for anything and everything."

Brad laughed.  He rolled on top of me, our bodies sticking together from our recently expelled body fluids.  He kissed me gently, and softly ran his fingers across my  nipples picking up the cum that was there.  His fingers danced across my lips.  I licked them.  He then ran his fingers across his lips.  He licked them.  We kissed.

"Jake, you are the magic in my life.  Let's get showered.  I want to fall asleep with you in my arms."

We moved out of the bed and into the bathroom.  In the shower we washed each other, kissed, and caused each other to get hard again, but there was no more sex.

After we dried off,  brushed our teeth, and relieved ourselves,  we returned to the bedroom.  We picked up the remnants of our love making, secreted them in the wastebasket, hoping that Sadie or Diane would not find them.  We climbed into bed and after we found each other's embrace, and I was comfortably in Brad's arms, we fell  into the sleep of innocents.

 Chapter 20

It seemed only minutes after we had fallen asleep that the alarm clock beckoned us to the new day. The radio was playing an old tune which I had heard many times at home and now here, as it was one of Sadie's favorites.

Stevie Nick's was singing:

At last
my love has come along
my lonely days over
and life is like a song

At last
the skies above are blue
well my heart was wrapped up in clover
the night I looked at you

I found a dream
that I could speak to
a dream that I could call my own
I found a thrill
to press my cheek to
a thrill that I have never known well

You smile
you smile
oh and then the spell was cast
and here we are in heaven
for you are mine at last . . .

I couldn't explain it if I had to, but the lyric touched me and I was suddenly crying softly as I held tightly onto Brad. `Dear God,' I silently prayed , `thank You for bringing Brad to me. He is all that I could ever want, ever expect. He has made me happier than I ever imagined I could be. I promise You that I will take care of him, honor him, and above all else love him. Please bring peace and happiness to us. Amen'

"Are you awake, Jake?" Brad asked.

"Yeah, I love those lyrics. They sort of speak about how I feel about you."

"Why were you crying? I know you were." he chided.

"Too much emotion, Hon. Being here with you, last night, the lyric, it just all came together and it was too much," I said.

Brad rolled onto his side, now facing me. There were tears in his eyes and his face was streaked with tear paths. So he, too, had been crying. I chose not to say anything, leaving it to him to comment if he wanted.

He kissed me lightly on the lips, pushed some wayward hair from my forehead, smiled and told me,

"Yeah, I know what you mean, Baby. It was overload of emotion for me, too. I mean, last night alone was enough to make a person get emotional. But if you add our being together, loving each other as we do, the lyrics, and just you Jake; well, it was too much for me to take. I just love you so much, Jake. So much," he said and then giggled.

"What's so funny?" I asked.

Brad snorted, "I have one other thing that could bring tears into my eyes."

"What would that be, Hon?"

"I have to piss like a horse."

I joined Brad in laughter as we rolled out of the bed and raced to the bathroom. I arrived first and Brad stood waiting his turn, but I took his hand and pulled him to the toilet. He just stood there, so I reached over and took his cock into my hand. He laughed. I squeezed.

"Holy shit!" he said.

Two streams of overnight urine splashed into the toilet, and strangely enough, as we relieved ourselves, we kissed making the usual the unusual.

"You even make taking a piss, sexy," Brad said.

"I hope so, `cause you are one horny puppy." I said.

We moved in tandem to the sink where we washed our hands and then brushed our teeth. Brad kept stopping and looking at me, smiling. This caused the toothpaste to drip out of his mouth making a frothy halo around his lips.

I rinsed my mouth and spit in the sink, grabbed Brad and kissed him, Frenching him and sharing his toothpaste foam.

"Ugh," he spit out.

"Sexy!" I replied.

"Not so, Aquaman," he said with a laugh.

As I moved to the shower, I turned and said,

"Wait `til we get in the shower, Pigskin Player."

I was in the shower adjusting the water temperature when Brad joined me, pulling me to his chest and kissing me. He was all male, this lover of mine.

Soon, we finished our shower without any real sex, just a wholesale explosion of groping and feeling. It had been satisfying. I wrapped a towel around myself and went and unlocked the door to the suite. Brad was pulling on a pair of shorts and had selected a bright blue T-shirt that said, "Always a friend". I ran and jumped into his arms wrapping my legs around him. I kissed him and then dropped back down to the floor.

"Love your shirt, Hon," I told him.

"Love you, Baby," he said.

He ambled into the bathroom and began working on his hair. It made me smile as I pulled on my boxers and a pair of deep blue shorts. I grabbed a white T-Shirt emblazoned with the legend, "Waiting for the good stuff."

Brad came out of the bathroom, took one look at me, rushed over and hugged me, kissing my neck and ear.

"You little shit, I am the good stuff," he said with a laugh.

"I know, Hon, but I mean I'm waiting for the other good stuff. You are so studly, horny, and well endowed, I can't imagine that we did all the good stuff, did we?"


"Jake, baby, I want to ask you something, but I don't want you to get all frantic."

"For heaven's sake, Brad, what's the matter?"

"Calm down, Sweetface, it's just, just; well, my ass really hurts, does yours?" he asked.

I couldn't help it, even though I knew he would be pissed, I just laughed.

He glared at me, walked over and grabbed me. He shook me once or twice. I was still laughing. His red face began to return to normal color, and he was now laughing with me.

"Well, he said, "does your ass hurt?"

"A little."

"Fuck, mine feels like someone drove a truck up there," he said, with a slight laugh.

"Poor baby! I am a little bigger than average. I told you to be careful and I let you be in control. You were in control, well, until near the end when I lost it all and really pounded you. I'm sorry, Brad, I never meant that to happen."

Brad hugged me tightly and kissed me. He was smiling, his eyes were bright and filled with love. I clasped him to me and kissed him firmly.

"You didn't do anything that I didn't want to happen. It's just the first time, and well you are sort of a donkey dink, don't you think?"


"Yeah, I am big, I guess. Too big probably. Maybe I will have always to be the bottom and you will take over the top spot. I can deal with that. It will be okay."

"Bullshit! It's not okay. This is an equal treatment partnership. And besides that, I really enjoyed having you in me and I want you there again and again and again. Do you understand?" Brad demanded.

I kissed him again and I could feel his hardness against me. I had begun to respond to the kisses and his desire for me to make love to him. He was smiling broadly and my heart began a rapid little moment of beating too fast.

"You know, my hot lover, that I want the same from you. Look, here's the solution. Practice, practice, practice.!" I said.

"You dirty bird, how I like that idea. Hmm, when can we begin to practice? How about right now? I'm ready, how about you?" he asked.

I laughed, poked his arm and said,

"For you, Sweetheart, I am always ready."

Sadie's voice rang out,

"Breakfast in five minutes. Get moving, you two!"


Travis Mason had risen early and he was not in a particularly good mood. He hadn't slept well as he had pondered what Beth now knew about his plans for Brad. Had she been told more then she let on to him? He had tried to get in touch with Reverend Colechester after Beth had told him about the phone call, but he wasn't able to reach him. When he tried the school, the answering machine indicated that the switchboard was closed until nine the next day.

He would call later in the morning but from his office. Depending on what he learned, he might again change his plans and get Brad to the school sooner than Colechester wanted, but there would have to be a compromise, because if he didn't move soon, all would be lost. That little whore Jacob Neilson would have won Brad over to the other side just as Peter Li had stolen Chris.

He looked at himself in the bathroom mirror and wondered how such a straight, God-fearing man could have produced two fag sons. It had to be Beth's genes or whatever made a man a queer. Imagine, two sons who were cock suckers and worse. But he couldn't think about that. Chris was a lost soul, but he would save Brad. It was his duty. He knew deep in his soul that this was what God wanted. He had lost the soul of one son, he wouldn't allow that to happen again.

He washed the remnants of shaving cream from his face, and as he did, his thoughts drifted to Beth. If she knew what he was doing, she would stop him. But she wouldn't know about it until it was too late. He would deceive her as he had in the past, especially about their finances. She was gullible, so it was easy to put things over on her.

But maybe, maybe . . .


Sadie was bringing platters of eggs and ham to the table when we walked into the dining room. Diane and my father were enjoying a cup of coffee.

"Good morning, Dad and Diane," I said as we sat down. Brad joined me in wishing my parents a good morning.

"You two look happy and relaxed this morning," said a smiling Diane.

"Did you sleep well?" asked my father.

"Yeah, I slept like a log," I said.

"So did I, Mr. Neilson. I had a comfortable night. Thanks for letting me stay here and with Jacob," said a smiling Brad.

"It's good to hear that you boys got a good night's rest," said Diane, a small grin spreading across her face.

Sadie came back into the dining room with a platter of toast and English muffins. She also carried a pitcher of milk. I was already pouring Brad and myself a large glass of orange juice.

"Good morning, Sadie," Brad and I said in unison.

Sadie put the food on the table and then came behind our chairs, kissing each of us on the head.

"So how was your evening, boys? Did you get all of your homework finished?" she asked.

"Yes, our homework is all done, Sadie," Brad said.

"Well, eat your breakfast before everything gets cold," said Sadie as she left the dining room to return to the kitchen.

Soon all of us were enjoying the eggs and ham. My dad kept looking at the two of us. I imagined he was wondered what we had done in bed last night. Diane just kept smiling at us. Finally my father said,

"Jacob, after school today, we'd like to take you out to look for a car. It would be nice if Brad could come with us. You should be thinking about what kind of car you would like to own. Diane and I are not placing any restrictions on you, although we would hope that it would be reasonable in cost. But don't let that be your first consideration. It's important that it's the vehicle you really want. See how happy Brad is with his Mustang because it's the car he wanted."

"I love my Mustang, Mr. Neilson. But I love Jacob much more," Brad said. I blushed.

"It will have to be after practice, Dad, because Brad and I have already missed some practices with all that has been going on. And while we are out looking, could we stop by and see Chris and Peter?"

"Yes, we also want to see them today," said Diane.

At that moment Mr. and Mrs. Li came into the dining room.

"Good morning everyone," said Mrs. Li.

"Did everyone get as good a night's rest as we did?" asked Mr. Li.

"The boys reported to us that they had a good night's sleep and Doug and I did," said Diane.

Brad and I laughed lightly. I was just about to speak when Sadie came into the room.

"Eggs and ham okay for you, Mr. and Mrs. Li?" she asked.

Sadie was now standing right behind my chair, her hands resting on my shoulders. I think I tensed a little, perhaps knowing that Sadie was well aware of how Brad and I spent our nights together.

"That will be fine for both of us," said Lorraine.

Then Sadie let us have it, both barrels:

"So, Jacob," she began, "you and Brad got a full night's sleep. Isn't that remarkable." She squeezed my shoulders tightly. She continued, "And you, Brad, you didn't stay awake with Jacob's snoring?" She smiled broadly at him. He turned bright red and immediately looked straight down at the table. He didn't answer. As she began to leave the room, she stopped, and with an unfamiliar giggle, added,

"It's amazing how everyone got such a good night's sleep; even our lovers here, managed to sleep. At least part of the night!" She disappeared into the kitchen.

<General Laughter.>

Diane could see that both of us were a little embarrassed by what Sadie had said. She reached across the table and took out hands into hers.

"Boys, you'll have to get used to little jokes such as Sadie's just now. It isn't to embarrass you, it's just to let you know that we're not stupid. Just forget it all, okay," she said.

My Dad was getting up from the table and walked over to Brad and me. He smiled a wonderful smile. He winked at us and told us,

"Whatever you did, lovers do all the time. So relax and let Sadie have her moment of fun. You know she loves both of you."

We both shook out heads yes, but said nothing.

Sadie stuck her head in the room and announced,

"Guys, you better move it or you're going to be late for school. Love ya."

"See," said my father.

"Let's get going Brad or we will be late and that wouldn't be the best way to start back at school. I imagine there will be lots of other problems," I said.

"Excuse us, please. We have to brush our teeth and get our stuff," said Brad.

"Go! Go!" said Mr. Li.

We hurried back to the suite where we fell into each other's arms. It felt so right.

After a few hot kisses, we brushed our teeth, gathered our things and headed to the dining room where we said good bye to everyone. As we passed through the kitchen, we thanked Sadie for a fine breakfast and we about to leave.

"Hold on a minute," said Sadie. "I want you to know I was a little out of line in the dining room a while back this morning. That little fun stuff should have been between just the three of us. I'm very sorry. Can you find it in your hearts to forgive me?" Her eyes were glistening, and we moved quickly to her hugging her and assuring her that all was forgiven and that we loved her deeply. For that we each got a separate hug and a wet kiss on the cheek.

Soon we were sitting in the Mustang looking at each other. For a long time neither of us said anything. Then I finally asked,

"Brad are you concerned about school? What I mean is, most everyone will know about us I would think. Does that mean we have to take a lot of shit? I'll be fine when I'm with you, but when we are in different classes, I'm not sure how I will feel? I guess I'm a wimp."

"You're no wimp, Jake. I'll be sure that someone is with you at all times. No one will hurt you physically, but what they might say about us will hurt. Try to ignore it as much as you can. i'll try not to smash anyone's head in, if you can just grin and bear it. I have friends who will be watching out for you. Now kiss me, Baby, and let's get going," Brad said.

The Mustang passed through the temporary gate, and we were on our way to Palm High School. No matter what Brad had said, there was a level of tension in the car that was unusual. Time would tell."


When Elizabeth Mason had called Principal Brackett, she wasn't sure what she would tell her. Actually it came easily to her as she was emboldened by what she had to do. This was the first step.

"Rosalie," she began, "I'm having some major family problems and I am going to need to take at least a week off. I'll bring in lesson plans for the sub. Rosalie, I wish I could tell you everything, but at the moment, I can't. You already know my oldest son was injured in an automobile accident yesterday. He's in the hospital and is doing well."

"It's good to hear that, Beth," said Rosalie Brackett.

"The other matters I can't discuss right now, but you'll be the first to know. Will there be a problem?"

"No problem. Just get things straightened out. Give my best to Chris and Brad. Travis, too," she added as an after thought.

"Thanks, Rosalie." and the connection was broken.

Beth was thinking about her second step. But who should she hire? Then it dawned on her; she would ask Roger Gimple. He was a detective and the father of Will Gimple, one of her students. She would call him as soon as she could. `Be careful, follow the usual routine, Travis can't know what I am up to,' she thought. That meant breakfast.

She hurried to the kitchen, got a pot of coffee brewing, put the dry cereal on the counter. She called up to Travis asking if he wanted eggs and bacon for breakfast. He said a couple of scrambled eggs would be fine, but not bacon. She went about her work and soon had the eggs cooked.

Travis came into the kitchen and poured himself some orange juice. He walked over to Beth and kissed her on the cheek.

"I'm sorry about yesterday, Beth. I was a real asshole. Can you forgive me?" he said.

"You're forgiven. Let's eat so that I can load the dish washer and get to work on time. Are you going to be home for dinner tonight or what?"

"Don't know about dinner as yet. I'll call you from work," he said.

Beth busied herself putting things away and cleaning the kitchen. Travis sat at the counter reading the morning paper and drinking coffee. She watched Travis trying to determine what his real reaction was to the front page story of yesterday's accident. He slammed the newspaper and his hand down on the counter,

"Goddamnit!" he shouted.

Beth jumped and spun around to face Travis. His face was was almost purple with rage. She imagined what he had read, but didn't know since she hadn't yet read the paper.

"Trav, what's the matter?" she asked.

"It's all over this morning's paper. My God, how are we going to live this down. It's all there."

Beth almost hated to ask, but she steeled herself with the knowledge that before long, things could be worse. If he ever discovered what she planned to do, he would be dangerous, to her, to Brad, and even to Jacob. But she knew something was happening and it had to do with Brad. She had to know what it was and she had to stop it.

"What's there, Trav, I haven't read the paper?"

"Our names, our sons' names, those damn homosexual's names; you know, Jacob Neilson and Peter Li. My God, this could ruin my career. Your career, too."

Trav got up and began to pace. He was agitated as much as Beth could remember, even more than yesterday in the hospital cafeteria. She thought carefully before she said anything; it was crucial that she not upset him anymore.

"Trav, it's just a news story about the accident. They have to list the names of the people involved. Didn't they identify the boy who was killed and the two boys who were in the truck with him? They didn't indicate what any of those listed had for sexual preferences. We know, but no one at the newspaper knows. Try not to make more of it than what it is, Hon. I know it's upsetting to you, but try to keep the proper perspective. Things are getting back to normal, you will be involved with a client and I'll be back teaching and our lives will continue. The situation with our sons will take our patience and understanding," she said.

Travis had stopped his pacing and was listening to what Beth was saying. At first he wanted to tell her she was a stupid woman. But then he thought the better of that; he could not give her any indication of what he was planning. He had to be careful.

"No, Beth, it didn't say anyone was gay. It's just that I'm a respected lawyer and you're an outstanding teacher. We don't need our names in the newspaper except for our social participation and involvement with charities. It upsets me that our two sons are involved with two gay guys. What happened, Beth, did we raise them incorrectly? Was it that or was it just something they learned from others?"

Beth's heart contracted in her chest and she felt light headed and ready to scream at Trav, but she controlled herself. Again, this was not the time.

"I have to get going, Trav, I don't want to be late for school. Kids will be there and I don't want them to be alone. Call me this afternoon to let me know about dinner tonight. I am going to try to get in touch with Brad to see if he needs anything. I'm also going to try to get to the hospital to see Chris,"

"Okay, okay! I'll give you a call later. I love you Beth," he said and then went to her and kissed her without passion on the cheek.


I was nervous as we drove into the school parking lot. We were both quiet. I could sense that Brad was uncomfortable, but not afraid. Brad was my protector so I knew that he would be there for me. I was eternally grateful for that. As the car came to a stop, Brad reached over and took my hand in his He squeezed my hand, turned off the ignition, and turned to me. His beautiful green eyes were sparkling with the joy of living.

"Hey, handsome, relax. I love you, Jake, and I know you love me. Let's take our strength from that, okay? Let's live our lives as best we can, not apologizing for who we are or what we want from life. It may be a difficult journey, but we are up to it. There will be tests, differences of opinion, but through it all, our love will be as a beacon in the dark times and our love will lead us to happiness. Just always love me, Jake," he said.

What he said took my breath away. I wondered if Brad realized how profound he had been. I was learning much about my lover. He had just demonstrated his intellect and maturity. I felt lucky to have found Brad. Finding him had changed my life forever. I now had a lover, a friend, an ally. For me he was the steadying force, the stalwart supporter.

"A long time ago, Sadie told me that happiness wasn't the destination but the journey. I think I believe that more now than I ever did. The test of us as human beings is not where we end up, but how we get there. How did we handle the obstacles, the defeats, the crises? What was our mettle, our stamina, our sense of right and wrong? How did we handle the need to affirm our beliefs? How did we carry out our search for the correct expression of love? Did we have the strength to get up when we were knocked down, and did we learn to roll with the punches. This is what makes us good people; and when we arrive at our destination, we will have proved ourselves to each other. If the world doesn't acknowledge us, it matters little, because we will know where we started, how we struggled, and where we arrived."

"That was, wow, just beautiful, Jake. And it's true. This is pretty serious stuff we're talking about, isn't it?"

"Yeah, but our lives have taken some real hits in the last few days, and I think it has probably made us a little more serious than we were last Friday. Does that upset you?"

Brad moved slightly, sighed deeply, but didn't answer me for a long moment. He looked at me and smiled, then he kissed my hand which he had been holding for some time.

"There's nothing wrong with serious talk between friends and lovers, even when they're our age. I know I never have done it before because I never had anyone who would have cared about anything I had to say. But with you, Jake, there's so much we can share."

"Brad, have you ever wondered why God put you on earth? I mean, what do you think he had in mind for you?"

"God put me on earth to find and love you," he replied.

With tears in my eyes, I pulled Brad to me and kissed him gently. He quickly was returning my kiss but with increasing passion. We were enjoying our kiss when there was a rapping on the window. We quickly broke our embrace and looked to see Conner's smiling face. Brad rolled down the window.

Laughing, Conner said,

"Enough already, you two. Get a room!"


"Hey, Con, good to see you," said Brad.

"Sorry about your bro, man," continued Conner.

"Thanks, he's doing okay. He wasn't hurt too much, but his friend from Gainesville was hurt quiet a bit. He will get better but still has a long way to go."

"Hey, cute stuff, how you doing?" Connor asked me.

"Watch it, Con, Jake's mine," Brad said with a smile and a laugh.

"Oh, so that's the way it is, is it?" said Conner.

"Hey, you two, how about giving me a chance to say something?"

Brad and Connor waited, smiling.

"Hi, Conner, thanks for calling me `cute stuff'. And I do belong to Brad, so hands off," I said laughing.

"Let's get going, guys," said Conner as he started to walk away from the Mustang. We hurriedly grabbed our stuff and after Brad had locked the car, we quickly followed him. As we walking toward the front entrance to the school, two girls came running toward us.

I was not familiar with either of them, but they certainly seemed to know Brad and Conner. The blond ran and jumped into Brad's arms. She hugged him and kissed him on the cheek.

"Brad, I'm so glad to see you and know that you weren't hurt yesterday. God, I was worried." she said.

Brad looked at me his face flushed and concern etched across his face,

"Jake, this is Vicki Graham. You know, I told you about her. She's been a friend of mine for a long time. Vicki, this is Jacob Neilson."

"Hi, Jacob, nice to meet you. I did sneak a look at your records for Brad. If that upsets you, I apologize."

"It's okay, it helped Brad to know me better."

"And I'm Leslie Cavanaugh," said the perky brunette, "and I wanted to meet this super guy by the name of Jacob Neilson. He's cute, Vicki"

My face reddened, and I was lost for words. Brad came close to me, put his arm around my shoulders, and said in a whisper,

"He's taken, Leslie, so forget it."

"Does everyone at this school know about us, Brad?" I asked.

Just at the moment, Todd came running up to the group. He was flushed and out of breath. He came immediately to Brad and me.

"I've been busy, you two, letting our inner circle of friends know about yesterday and about your two. It had to be done, guys. Otherwise who knows what would happen?"

I turned and walked away from everyone. I was pissed. Why? Why? How would I handle all this shit now? I loved Brad, but this was almost more than I thought I would be able to handle. I wanted to run, and I almost did, but Brad was suddenly with me, his arm around my shoulder. He hugged me tightly and leaned down and whispered into my ear.

"Baby, everything will be okay. Todd has really helped because now we have someone of the group who will be with you all day to be sure that no one gets physical with you."

"I don't know if I can take all this, Brad. I'm scared, really scared."

To my surprise, Brad pulled me into a strong embrace. He didn't kiss me, but anyone watching would know that I was his and he was mine. Immediately I felt better.

"Jake, please let me take care of you. I love you, Jake. I won't let anything happen to you. Do you believe that?"

I sighed deeply and replied,

"I trust you, Brad, and I love you."

"Mason, Neilson. My office now." came the loud command from Assistant Principal, Everett Kinkade.

I was startled back to the reality of the day and the fear that I thought I had dismissed came flying back. I know I started to shake. Brad looked alarmed, and taking my hand led me away from the group and following Mr. Kinkade, we proceeded to his office.

When we arrived at Kinkade's office, he walked us past his secretary who gave us a quick smile before returning to her work. Once in his office, Kinkade went behind his desk and sat in the high backed leather chair.

"Sit!" he told us.

We sat in the two chairs on the front side of the desk. I was shaking but not enough for Kinkade to notice. Brad smiled at me and that lightened my tenseness a little. Kinkade opened a manilla folder, scanned it as he turned the pages.

"Are we in some sort of trouble?" asked Brad.

Kinkade looked up from the papers he was moving about, and stared at both of us.

"No, you're not in trouble, Mason and neither is Neilson. Principal Treadwell wants to speak to you this morning, but she's busy at the moment, so I'm keeping you here until she calls. We both want to be sure that you're comfortable here at school. There are rumors swirling about that might be cause for concern. She wants to get the facts about what happened yesterday and about the two of you. She's not on a witch hunt, believe, me. In fact, she just wants to help. I think . . ."

The ringing of the phone interrupted Kinkade. He quickly picked up the receive and spoke quietly.

"Yes, Delores, they're with me. No, we haven't discussed anything. Of course. Not that I'm aware of. Want me to ask? Okay. Sure. We'll be there shortly. Yeah."

While Kinkade had been involved with the phone call, Brad had reached out and taken my hand. When Kinkade finished and looked back at us, if he noticed, he didn't say anything. The moment Brad had taken my hand, I had begun to calm down.

"She was curious if anyone had said or done anything to either of you. She's really concerned." Kinkade said.

"No one has bothered us, but we had just arrived. Those four who were with us are all friends. They know most everything that happened yesterday, and they are aware of the relationship between Brad and me," I told him.

"Mr. Kinkade, Jacob and I are partners," Brad said.

Mr. Kinkade looked at us and smiled. I wondered if he thought that was a curious way to tell him about our relationship. I decided to make it clear even if it presented us with some additional problems.

"What he means, Mr. Kinkade, is that we're boyfriends," I said proudly.

"I assumed that, Mr. Neilson. But I appreciate your candor. Let's get going or we'll be late," he said.

As we walked out of his office, following him, Brad kept my hand in his. His secretary smiled at us as we passed and gave us a thumb's up. It made me happy.

Principal Delores Treadwell's office had all the trappings of the CEO's office. Even her secretary's outer office showed taste and a feminine influence. Her secretary, a Mrs. Shover, was a white-haired efficiency machine. She had been a secretary at Palm High School longer than Kinkade or Mrs. Treadwell had been principal and assistant. In fact, she had been there longer than any of the administrators and most of the teaching staff. She did smile at us when we arrived and instructed us to go directly into Mrs. Treadwell's office. Kinkade handed the manilla folder to Mrs. Shover, said a quick goodbye to us and left.

Brad, still holding my hand, stopped in front of the door to the office, took a deep breath and knocked.

A lovely female voice softly invited us to come in. I had never met or seen Mrs. Treadwell, but I assumed Brad knew of her. She was a striking woman. Although slight in build, there was an air about her that suggested confidence and authority. She was standing by the corner of her desk, dressed in a suit that was feminine and attractive. She smiled at us, and said,

"Please boys, come in and have a seat. Would you like something to drink, a soda, milk?" As we sat, Brad told her we were fine and thanked her for the kind offer.

"I hope that Mr. Kinkade made it clear to both of you that you are not in any trouble. I'm just a little concerned about you. I know a little about prejudice, bigotry and hate. So I want to help if I can."

As she spoke those words, I realized that she was an African-American woman. For some reason, her color had not been something that I focused on, or really cared about. I think that Brad wondered why I seemed a little removed from the situation. He poked me bringing me back to the immediate pulling me away from my daydream.

"Mrs. Treadwell, thank you for caring about us. We really appreciate it," said Brad.

"Thank you, Mrs. Treadwell," I said.

She walked around her desk to her chair and sat down. She smiled at the two of us, then leaned forward and asked,

"What exactly happened yesterday? I mean I have heard rumors and I read the newspaper account, but I would really like to hear from you two. Can you do that?"

We quickly filled her in with the details of yesterday. I watched her face and could see in it shock and disbelief. She listened patiently, revealing by her demeanor, that she was upset by the events. We finished, but at first no one spoke.

Brad cleared his throat, reached across the space between us and again took my hand into his. Then he smiled that smile at me and my heart jumped.

"Mrs. Treadwell, do you know about Jacob and me?" he asked.

"I think I understand, Bradley. You and Jacob are close friends."

"Yes," I quickly replied.

"There's more to it than than, Mrs. Treadwell," added Brad.

"And that would be what?" she questioned.

"Well, it's like . . . ," he began. I interrupted.

"What Brad is trying to tell you, Mrs. Treadwell, is that we're both gay," I offered. Brad blushed, but kept holding my hand tightly.

"Oh, I see. Would it surprise you that I already knew that you are gay? That's really the reason I wanted to see you today. I have no problem with your sexual orientation; in fact, I am worried about how you will be received by your classmates, your team mates. You must know that not everyone embraces the idea that it is acceptable to be gay."

"I know all about that. My father is a bigot and he is so anti gay that he kicked my brother out of the house. He knows about Jake and me, and I know that sooner or later he will take out his hate on me. My mom understands the situation better, but she is also prejudiced against gay people. They both think that we chose to be gay. They don't believe that people who are gay are the same as being heterosexual. We are what we are."

Delores Treadwell looked at the two young men seated in front of her. They looked like the majority of the other kids in the high school. Perhaps they might be taller or shorter; they could be smarter or less able; they might be gay or straight. These boys were, in her mind, normal. But she also knew that for many in the community they would not be considered normal. As she had, they would learn about hate and bigotry. It would be painful, but in another sense, it would build their stamina and courage. From the trials would come strength and a deeper sense of themselves and their place in the world. It would be a difficult journey, but one she knew would be worth the tribulations and setbacks. Her heart ached for them, because in their naivety, they had no real understanding of what might lie ahead of them.

"I grew up being hated because I was African-American. There were places I couldn't go, people I couldn't talk to, seats I couldn't occupy. It seems a lifetime ago, and in many respects it was. But I can remember it all vividly. I wasn't welcomed in the school I wanted to attend, and even when I was ready for college and was accepted at a fine school, I still had to endure the jibes and insults that were thrown at me every day. I was never physically hurt, but psychologically I was devastated. The South is better today than it was just a few years ago, but don't think that everyone accepts the African-American population, because they do not."

Brad and I looked at each other, deeply touched by what Mrs. Treadwell was telling us. Would that be our experience here in our high school? My heart fluttered a little in anticipation of some difficult times.

"Do you think we're in danger here at Palm High School, Mrs. Treadwell?" I asked.

"I hope not, Jacob, but frankly there isn't much that I can do to prevent it happening. As you discovered yesterday, a person filled with hate can do most anything and no one, police, schools, clergy can really prevent it. I believe you will be safe here, at least physically, but I cannot guarantee that you will be safe from comments, social ostracism, and unkindness."

"It isn't fair; it's wrong, isn't it?" said Brad.

"Surely you understand better than most because you have seen bigotry in action in your own home. If it's possible for a parent to think as your dad does, then why wouldn't it be possible to confront the same in the general population."

"That isn't reassuring, is it?" I asked.

"No, I'm afraid it isn't. But here's my plan. Here are two small phones. When you are in trouble, push the red button and it will notify school administrators to come to your aid. I selected the people carefully in hopes of weeding out the bigots and anti gays. But who knows for sure what a person really thinks."

I shuddered and Brad saw it. He looked alarmed and I was afraid he would insist I stay with him the entire day. I knew I couldn't do that and get to my early classes which were different than his. I took a deep breath and in a barely audible whisper, I said,

"I'll be okay. And some of your friends will be with me when you can't be, Brad. I know they will protect me if it becomes necessary. Please don't worry."

Brad turned in his chair and faced me. I could read the anxiety in his face. He took both my hands in his, seemingly ignoring Mrs. Treadwell. Then he spoke softly in a voice so filled with love that my heart nearly broke apart,

"If anything happened to you, I don't know what I would do. You have to be careful, Jake. I think I can take care of myself, but you're smaller and a little more fragile. I saw you handle Kevin that night and that gives me some sense of calm, but I'm still worried. Don't brush my friends aside; be sure to stay with them. We'll be together at lunch and we both have a free period in the third hour this morning, so let's meet in the library. Is that okay with you?" he said.

Mrs. Treadwell interrupted us, saying,

"It sounds like a sensible plan to me. With those phones you should be safe. In a couple of days, we'll be more aware of how things will go. Now I have a difficult question to ask? Are you two planning to attend the dance Saturday night? I guess I mean are you going to attend as a couple?"

"Haven't thought about that to be truthful," Brad said.

Now I was squirming in my chair. I would only go to the dance with Brad, but I wouldn't want to spoil his fun if he wanted to go with Vicki. It would just about kill me, but I would endure. He sensed my uneasiness.

"Jake, what do you want to do?" he asked me.

I hesitated for a second and replied,

"I want to think about it and talk to you about it, but not now and not here. Can we get back to your about that Mrs. Treadwell?"

"That would be fine and don't worry about it. Whatever you decide is fine. It doesn't matter except we would want to make some arrangements if you plan to come as a couple, and dance together and such. Take your time."

I noticed that Brad's face had reddened as she had been talking and I was fearful of what he might say. I held my breath waiting for an expected explosion. Instead, in a soft but angry voice, he asked,

"Would you rather we not come to the dance as a couple, Mrs. Treadwell?"

"No, it's not that at all, Bradley. I just want to make sure that if you do that you will be safe," she said.

"I wouldn't want to come to the dance if our presence there might cause a danger to other students. It just wouldn't be worth it. We can dance at home," I said a little anger, but more disappointment tingeing my voice.

Mrs. Treadwell was now aware of the delicate nature of the whole issue of the dance. She had asked a difficult question of us, and our responses had been controlled but angry. She smiled broadly and said,

"Look, for the time being, worry about other things. It's only Tuesday, so there's plenty of time to think about it and decide. I just want to make it clear to you that I will support you whatever your decision is. I want you to be able to do what you want to do. Is that clear?"

"Yes," we said in unison.

She picked up two small pieces of paper from her desk. Again she smiled at us. I felt calmer, but not happier. I couldn't judge Brad's reaction.

"Here", she said, "this will get you into first period. You know what to do if there's trouble. Don't hesitate to use those phones. Finally, Jacob and Bradley, if you need me come to the office. My secretary knows to notify me immediately. I'm here to help you weather this storm. Now get going."

We thanked her for everything she was doing for us and hurried out into the passageway, now empty of students, and made our way toward the mathematics wing where I had a first period class. Outside the classroom we found Conner waiting for us. He was my guard for first period. After a quick hug from Brad and some fist knocking between Brad and Conner, Brad hurried away to the Fine Arts Wing where he had a course in oil painting.

"Get in there, Jacob. I'll be right here when the class ends, so don't worry," Conner reassured me.

"Thanks, Con, you're a great friend," I told him.

As I opened the door and went into the classroom, I wondered what the reception would be like. The class was working on problems at their desk. Mrs. Tisdale motioned me to her desk. I handed her the slip from the principal. She read it, and quietly told me to take my seat. I handed her my homework. She handed me the worksheet, and in the quiet of the room, I took my seat and began working.


The smell of coffee finally got through to Jim's brain. He opened one eye and slowly surveyed his surroundings. He was alone in a large king-sized bed and he was naked. He opened the other eye and he saw revealed a strange room, not his. He felt wonderful as he stretched his limbs and yawned. He smiled as he remembered last night.

"Well, I see my prince is awake," said Gary with a laugh.

Jim rolled to his side and looked at Gary standing in the doorway. He was in his boxers and had what Jim assumed was a mug of coffee in each hand.

"Are you ready for some coffee, Jim?" asked Gary.

Jim laughed and pushed his legs out of the bed, stood and faced Gary. He had a morning woody and made no attempt to hide it.

"Man, do I have to take a leak," he said.

"I can see that, Jim, or maybe I just made you horny again."

"Give me a minute in the bathroom, and I'll be back for some coffee and more of you," Jim said as he hurried to relieve himself, his hard penis leading the way.

Gary walked to the bed and sat down taking care not to spill the coffee. He smiled to himself remembering last night and the wonderful breakthrough in his and Jim's relationship. He felt completed now, and he cautioned himself not to fall too quickly nor too deeply in love with this exceptional man. As he thought about Jim, an intense feeling of calm overtook him.

Jim had stopped in the doorway to the bathroom and was enjoying looking at Gary. He was everything he had imagined he should be. He was falling in love and no matter how much he tried to prevent it, he couldn't. Gary looked up and saw him in the doorway and he smiled.

"You know that you are very tempting, don't you?" asked Gary.

"It's a mutual thing `cause you, too, are tempting. I would enjoy that coffee now." Jim said.

Gary laughed and told Jim,

"You'll have to come here and get it," said Gary.

Jim bounded across the room, stopped in front of Gary, leaned in and gave him a quick kiss. He took one of the mugs of coffee from Gary and then sat on the bed next to this now important man in his life.

"I like waking up in the morning and finding you here. It makes living seem so much more wonderful and certainly more important," Gary said.

Jim kissed Gary on the cheek and with his free hand he gently moved his hand across Gary's chest. Gary shivered with pleasure, his smile telegraphing some of his feeling. His gasp confirmed his reaction to Jim's touch.

"I want to wake up every morning and find you with me. Just holding you makes me giddy. You have control over me, dear one," said Jim.

Gary took the coffee mug away from Jim and put both of the mugs on the bedside table. He faced Jim, running his fingers lightly around Jim's nipples. He could see the goose bumps raise up on Jim's arms. He pushed Jim softly down on his back on the bed. He rolled on top of Jim, and with eyes alive with emotion, he said,

"I think I am in love with you, Father Jim. Does that scare you? It scares me a little. I don't want to frighten you away."

Jim pulled Gary down and kissed him lightly on the lips. He said,

"Gary, I'm not frightened and I'm not going anywhere away from you. I'm falling in love, too. I tried not to, but you are just too appealing, too right for me. I'm not sure how we are going to handle this, but I do know one thing for sure: I'm not letting you go."

A long passionate kiss followed their declarations of love for each other. Gary began to laugh a little, and then he began to tickle Jim. Soon they were rolling around the bed behaving like two kids having a wonderful time. Somehow Jim ended up on top of Gary, and as he looked down at his new lover, all the fun, the humor left him. Gary smiled up at him, and as he did, Jim felt his heart flutter and he knew he was in love.

"So what now, Jim? Are we going to make love, take a shower, or just dress and go about our business?" Gary asked.

Jim answered immediately,

"Let's make love, take a shower, and then dress and go about our business."

"You get no argument from me, " said Gary.

Suddenly, life was good for both of them.


When the bell rang signaling the end of the period, I wondered what would happen. To my surprise, four or five classmates came to me and told me they were glad that I wasn't injured yesterday. They also asked about Brad. I was relieved. Even Mrs. Tisdale spoke to me and told me if she could help in anyway to let her know.

Conner was waiting for me outside the classroom. I was happy to see him.

"How'd it go?" he asked.

"Everything was fine. I have to get to the Social Studies Wing, Conner, my next class is Economics. I have to get moving or I'll be late," I said.

"I'm walking your there, Jacob. Todd made arrangements for someone to be waiting there for us. Let's go."

We hurried to the classroom, and much to my surprise I saw Kevin waiting for us. I wasn't sure how to react to this development, so I decided to let Kevin take the lead. As soon as we arrived, Conner excused himself and left for his class. Kevin looked at me, a small smile on his face.

"Bet you didn't expect to find me waiting to be your bodyguard, did you?" he said.

I laughed a little, and then told him,

"Can't say that I did, especially after that night when we had a little scuffle. But thanks for helping; I really appreciate it."

"Look, Jacob, I was a real jerk the other night. I want to apologize for that. It's pretty clear to me that Brad really is into you. I'll respect that, and, in fact, I think you a really hot guy who I know could probably get any girl you wanted in this school. I freaked at bit when I found out your wanted Brad. Frankly it pissed me off. Brad is my example of pure male studliness. Then I learned that he wanted you, so here I am trying to help you and him. I hope you can forgive me for being such an asshole," Kevin said.

I surprised Kevin when I gave him a quick hug, saying as I did,

"I forgive you, Kevin. Brad was right about you. You're a nice guy. Will you be here when I get out of class?"

"Yeah, I have to take you to the library to meet Brad. I'll be waiting. You better get in there or you'll be late."

"Thanks, Kevin, I'll see you after class."

When I walked into class, the before-class chatter quieted down considerably. I took a deep breath and made my way to my seat. Mr. Kenison was busy at his desk, and I don't think that he really noticed me coming into the classroom.

After I sat down in my seat, it seemed to me that the classroom chatter picked up again. Thank god, Ken Whitley, a member of the swim team, was sitting across the aisle from me.

"Hey, Jake, how ya doin'?"

"I'm okay, Ken. It's been a strange couple of days, but I hope things will settle down now."

"You gonna be at practice this afternoon?" he asked.

"That's the plan, at least at the moment. I know I've missed a couple. Has Coach Kimball made any comments about my not being there?"

"Not a word. Some of the guys wondered what had happened to you. But nobody was upset," he said.

"Okay, class, let's get going," said Mr. Kenison, "be sure to leave off your homework in the box near the door. I'll check it tonight and return it tomorrow. Oh, glad to see you here again, Jacob. Now, turn to page 326 and quickly review that section before the quiz. It will help."

So started the class which passed quickly and without incident. The bell rang and I hurried outside to find Kevin waiting for me.

"How'd it go?" he asked.

"Fine. Have you seen Brad? I'm a little worried about him," I said.

"Don't worry that blond curly head about Brad. He can take care of himself, and if he had his way, he would be here right now to be sure you were okay. He'll be fine, Jacob. Please don't worry about him. Anyway, you're gonna see him in a few minutes. Let's head out for the library."

As we walked toward the library a few wolf whistles and comments like: `Hey, cutie whatca doing tonight?" and `I wonder what he sees in him." and the meanest, `So that's what a queer looks like.' Kevin turned and glared and looked directly at the young man, probably a freshman, who had said that. Kevin spoke quietly but firmly, saying,

"If you say anything like that again and I'm around, you'll be searching for you teeth. Understand?"

No more was said as the young man hurried away, now alone as those walking with him had not hurried away with him. Kevin smiled at me.

"Thanks, Kevin, I appreciate that more than I can tell you."

"It's nothing. That little bastard needs his head adjusted. "Here we are. Do you know where you're to meet Brad?"

"No, he just said at the library,"

"There he is. Let's go meet him," said Kevin.

I had to hold back as I wanted to run to him and jump into his protective arms and kiss him wantonly. I couldn't believe how handsome he was. He was hurrying toward me, too. We met in the middle of the passageway and stopped. Kevin moved a little away and left us alone. Traffic in the passageway moved around us and I wasn't sure what to do. Brad solved the problem for me.

"Come with me," he order, "Kevin your stand guard outside the boys' room."

We went into the library, Brad and I hurrying into the boys' room with Kevin as the sentinel. The first thing Brad did when we were in the room was to check to see if there were any other guys there. There were not.

"Come here," he ordered me.

I flew into his arms and we were embracing wildly and our kisses were on fire.

I broke away from him and said,

"I didn't know if I would be able to make it. Most everyone was fine with me. Conner and Kevin were great."

Brad frowned and looked at me carefully,

"Whatcha mean `most everyone'? Did some jerk say something that was mean or hurtful? I don't want you to take any of that shit. You understand? I'll knock the fuckin' head in of any asshole who hurts you in any way."

"Relax, Sweetheart, no one hurt me. Just some wolf whistles and some cat calls. One kid did make a comment but I thought Kevin was going to lay him out right there. He ran away, frightened as shit. He was only a freshman; he a jerk. He didn't really know what he said was not nice."

"What did that fucker say to you, Jake. I want to know and don't you dare sugarcoat it either."

I hesitated telling Brad what the guy had said, but I could see the red rising in his face as the tide rises. I knew I had to tell him. So I took a deep breath and said,

"He said, `So that's what a queer looks like'."

"That fuckin' little son-of-a-bitch. I'll cut his fuckin' nuts off for starters. Then . . ."

"Brad, Kevin took care of it."

"How?" he demanded.

"He told the kid, `If you say anything like that again and I'm around, you'll be searching for you teeth. Understand?' The kid ran away."

"I could kiss Kevin for that," Brad said.

"You better not, Pigskin Passer, or I will be fuckin' angry," I said with a genuine laugh.

The was a tap on the door, followed by Kevin's quiet voice,

"Mrs. Calderwall is headed this way, better hurry."

Brad grabbed me and gave me a quick kiss.

"You leave first and go to the study table at the back of the library, few people sit there. I'll be out next and will meet you there. You got your English assignment finished?"

"Yes, we can talk about it when you join me. I'm outa here."

Leaving immediately, I hurried to the back of the library and the table that Brad had indicated. On my way there, I passed Mrs. Calderwall. She smiled at me in the same sort of frozen way she always smiled. It didn't exactly make me feel welcomed.

I had barely sat when Brad appeared at the table and quickly sat down, not opposite me, but right beside me. He quietly stroked my thigh, smiled at me, and told me he needed some help with his English assignment. He'd been looking for a Shakespearean sonnet, but he couldn't find one that he liked or that he wanted to read in class. We went to the digital card catalogue and began looking.

We found a couple of books on Shakespeare's sonnets which we took back to the table. I gave them to Brad and let him search them for whatever he thought he wanted. I already had mine ready. It wasn't a Shakespearean sonnet, but it was a good one and I knew that Mr. Wiley would like my choice. I hoped even more that Brad would like it.

I kept glancing at Brad fascinated by the intensity of his approach to the problem. He scanned a number of sonnets, and finally, he smiled. Soon he was typing furiously at his laptop. copying the sonnet which had apparently met his test. I smiled, realizing that he might be a football guy, but he was no dummy.

"Which sonnet did you pick?" I asked in a library whisper.

"You'll have to wait `til class," he whispered in reply, grinning broadly.

Soon we settled into a quiet study time sitting next to each other. On occasion we touched each other to reconfirm our connection to each other. Sometimes it was only a shy smile that reaffirmed our feelings for each other. In that way the hour passed quickly and it was time for lunch. We didn't hurry to the cafeteria, but enjoyed the quiet and the peacefulness of the library which had become a sanctuary for us.

When we did arrive at the cafeteria, we were greeted by Todd, Conner, Kevin and Ashton who made it their business to usher us through the line and to the table. The table and the tables on either side of it were occupied by football players and members of the swim team. They formed a human fence, dividing our table from the rest of the cafeteria.

Two giant fullbacks from the team were guards at the ends of the table; no one could get to us without running the gauntlet. Both of us were astonished, but humbled by the attention and the obvious affection in which these guys held us. There was not a mean look from any of them.

After we were seated, Todd spoke,

"Hope you guys don't mind all the company, but we all wanted you to know how we welcome you back to school and to the teams. Not one single person declined to be here. The majority don't care about your inclination, but do care about you two guys. They know what happened at Jacob's house, and they want to support you two guys."

Brad looked at me, a forkful of spaghetti almost to his mouth. I stopped eating my ice cream. He smiled, lowered his fork and reached over and took the spoon from my hand. I wondered what was about to happen, but I trusted Brad completely. He stood and pulled me to my feet where we were now standing side by side. His arm went around my shoulders and he said firmly,

"Jacob and I want to thank all of you for showing your concern and caring for us. Yesterday was a terrible day for both of us and we want you to know that we really appreciate it. You have made this day a much better one. Thank you all."

I finally got my voice back and said,

"Brad and I are happy that you all thought enough of us to be here today as a sort of welcome back committee. Thanks to all of you."

Ashton moved closer to us and began to speak,

"Don't think that it's just your team members who care about you, most of the school feels the same. Here's the proof."

Ashton began to applaud and soon the cafeteria was alive with applause and shouting. Some students were standing on their chairs, and the ladies of the serving line had joined the others in the cafeteria. Even Mr. Kinkade was there and was soon at our table.

"Welcome back, guys. Let's hope things settle down for you. Better finish up your meals as the bell is about to ring for the next class," he said.

Neither of us had any designs on finishing out meals. We were too emotionally psyched to care about food. We were still standing in the middle of the cafeteria, trying to understand this outpouring of affection for us. Todd was soon shaking our hands, followed by Ashton, Kevin, and Conner. Then the bell rang and the cafeteria quickly emptied, our friends took care of the dishes and then accompanied us to our English class. No one could stay with us, so we entered the class just a few minutes late.
Mr. Wiley looked up from his paperwork, smiled and said,

"Welcome back, guys." Then he returned to taking the class roll.

Brad and I sat across the aisle from each other. Out came our books, and we settled into the routine of the class. Mr. Wiley began the lesson:

"You will recall, I hope, that we have been studying the sonnet. We should be able to distinguish between the Italian or Petrachan, the English or Shakespearean, the Spenserian, and the Indefinable or which Ozymandias was our example.

"Now let's review the rhyme scheme of these sonnets. You will remember that the rhyme scheme in the Petrachan sonnet consists of an Octave: abba abba and a Sestet which can take one of the following forms: cdcdcd or cddcdc or cdecde or cdeced or finally cdeede. Any questions? If not, let's review the English or Shakespearean sonnet rhyme scheme. This is one of the easiest to remember: ababcdcdefefgg. Miss Catherwood, what do we call those lines designated gg?"

Allison Catherwood, a shy redhead, attractive and intelligent, first looked directly at the floor. Then she raised her head and looked at Mr. Wiley.

"That's called the rhymed couplet, Mr. Wiley," she said.

"Very good, Allison," Mr. Wiley said, encouraging

"Finally let's take a quick review look at the rhyme scheme of the Spenserian sonnet. You will recall that the rhyme scheme is ababbcbccdedee. This can be a little more difficult to remember. But this is a sharp class, so I'm not worried about it. Any questions?"

"Yes, Mr. Shelbrooke?"

"Mr. Wiley, will you ask us to identify the rhyme scheme of and sonnets that are indefinable?"

"Good question, Wallace. No I won't do that, so don't worry. I wouldn't be that mean."


"You are terrible, Class, laughing when I say I wouldn't be mean. Let's get on.

"Mr. Mason, you weren't here yesterday to read your sonnet to the class. Are you prepared to do that today."

"Yes, I'm ready."

"Well, have a go at it," said Wiley.

Brad stood and turned slightly so that I could see his face, but not enough for everyone in the class to realize it. He began,

"This is a Shakespearean sonnet. In fact it's Shakespeare's sonnet 116. Here goes:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved."

Brad's eyes never left mine and I was certain that Wiley was fully aware of that. My heart was pounding because I knew he picked the sonnet for me, to tell me something. My reverie was broken when Mr. Wiley asked,

`Would you care to tell us what you think the sonnet is saying, Mr. Mason?"

Brad did not hesitate,

"I'll try, Mr. Wiley. Sonnet 116 is about love in its most ideal form. It is praising the glories of lovers who have come to each other freely, and enter into a relationship based on trust and understanding. The first four lines reveal the poet's pleasure in love that is constant and strong, and will not "alter when it alteration finds." The following lines proclaim that true love is indeed an "ever-fix'd mark" which will survive any crisis."

<Silence in the room.>

"That is absolutely excellent, Mr. Mason. Terrific! Thank you."

Brad smiled at me as he sat down even when he saw the tears running down my cheeks. I knew he smiled because he had picked the perfect sonnet to tell me he loved me constantly and strongly. I was almost overwhelmed. God, I was so proud of him!

"Well, I guess I have to ask you Mr. Neilson if you are ready to follow that? I hate to do that since Mr. Mason did such a masterful job. Are you ready?"

"Yes, sir, I'm ready. The sonnet that I selected is a Petrachan sonnet with the octave abbaabba and the last six lines cdcdcd. However, the author breaks away from the normal iambic pentameter by putting the stress on the first syllable rather than the weak stress followed by the strong stress. It is however, pentameter. The author also broke away from the traditional punctuation at the end of each line. By so doing the author accomplished a flow. That might indicate the ongoing love for this person."

I then turned and looked directly at Brad, not caring what anyone else in the room thought.

"I chose Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnet 43. Here goes,

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

<Here my voice almost broke.>

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

<Tears were running down my cheeks, my voice filled with emotion.>

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death."

Brad had tears running freely down his face. I was close to sobbing. I just stood there, mute. There was no sound in the room except for some shuffling of feet, an occasional cough, and one or two near sobs.

Brad stood and reached for my hands. He leaned in an whispered in my ear,

"Thank you."

We sat down.

Mr. Wiley cleared his throat, walked to the window and finally spoke,

"Mr. Neilson, that was an extraordinary reading of a beautiful sonnet. Obviously it filled you with great emotion as it expressed perhaps how you feel about someone. I am extraordinarily impressed. Amazing! Just amazing!"

The bell rang.

"Don't forget to take down your assignment from the board. You're dismissed. Could I please see Mr. Mason and Mr. Neilson at my desk. Have a good day," Mr. Wiley said.

The room emptied quickly as Brad and I walked to the front of the room and stood in front of Mr. Wiley's desk. He looked to the back of the room to be certain that we were alone. Then he quietly told us,

"You two gentlemen brought such intensity to the reading of your chosen sonnets that the entire class was in awe. I sense a strong bond between you two, and your readings added to that. I won't pry, boys, but let me say that I hope that you find the happiness that you are searching for each day. When you are morose or sad, remember the sonnets that you read today. I'm sure they will give you solace. Thank you for today in this class. It was a highlight of my career in teaching. Now, here are some late slips so that you can get into your next class. There a couple of guys waiting for you outside the classroom door."

"Thank you, Mr. Wiley," Brad said.

I waited for a heartbeat and said,

`You were right to sense a strong bond between Brad and me. Thank you for recognizing it and for today," I said.

We hurried out of the classroom to be met by Todd and Ashton. We both were smiling like Cheshire cats.

"You two look happy. What happened?" asked Todd.

I laughed and said,

"We told each other how much we love each other by selecting sonnets that expressed that. The class ate it up as did Mr. Wiley. It was great."

"Second that," said Brad as the four of us made our way to the locker room to change for phys. ed.


As Beth Mason drove up US 1 after delivering the lesson plans for her substitute, she thought about the best way to contact Roger Gimple. She could telephone him, but she was determined to get things moving quickly and she considered if telephoning him would be a productive as calling at his office. She decided to see him in person.

She had never met Roger Gimple, only talked on the telephone with him once about a school matter. She had met and knew better Karen Gimple, his wife, who was always the parent who showed up for parent-teacher conferences. That was no surprise as most mothers met with teachers because their husbands were at work or disinterested. If you wanted to meet fathers, you needed to go to sporting events.

She drove into the parking lot of the small office building where Gimple had his office. It was not one of the newer buildings, but it was well kept and did not look like a derelict. After locking her car, she went into the lobby; she read the list of occupants, noting that Gimple was on the third floor in Suite 6. She took the small elevator to the third floor and quickly found Suite 6.

There was light coming from the office through the glass window in the door. She read the sign, and smiled: it read, `Gimple's Detective Agency, Roger Gimple, Experienced Detective, Please enter.' She opened the door and walked into the dimly lighted room. It was the reception area, but there was no receptionist. Times were apparently tough for private eyes in this upscale area of Florida.

She stopped and stood near the center of the room. From the inner office, a voice she recognized as Gimple's, welcomed her into his office. There was a modest sense about everything in the office, no extraordinary furnishings, just what might be considered adequate. She was a bit startled when she saw Gimple. He was standing near the desk. He must have been well over six feet tall and he was rotund. He wore a suit which had been around a while, and his white shirt had a collar which didn't really fit his neck.
She wondered if this was the detective she wanted to help her. Gimple extended his large beefy hands to direct her to a seat in front of his desk.

"I'm Roger Gimple, and how might I help you?" he asked.

Beth Mason took a deep breath and then choosing her word with deliberate care, she said,

"Mr. Gimple, I'm Elizabeth Mason. I'm your son's teacher, but that's not what I am doing here. I'm here because I need some information which I don't know how to acquire."

"Oh?" said Gimple.

"It's not illegal, of that I can assure you," she said.

"Heavens, Ms. Mason, I didn't think that. Why don't you tell me what your problem is, and I'll tell you whether or not I think I can help you," Gimple said.

Beth Mason continued,

"I received a strange phone call last night, It was from someone representing themselves as a spokesman for a Reverend Colechester of the Regency Readjustment Colony. What he next said is what alarmed me. He suggested that my son Bradley would have to wait before he could enter the colony because Colechester was ill. Admissions would have to wait until the Reverend was better. I tried to get more information from him, but he hung up.

"My husband came to the bedroom and asked about the call. When I told him roughly the same as I have just told you, he seemed genuinely upset, but he hid it well and agreed that it must have been a wrong number or a crank call. I don't think it was either."

"Do you have any ideas about what's going on, or why you received the call?" asked Gimple.

"A couple, I guess."

"Is your son a drug addict?"

"Absolutely not."

"Does he have an alcohol problem."

"No, he doesn't."

"I'm a bit confused," said Gimple, "as to what readjustment your son needs."

Beth Mason's face reddened, and she put her hand to her mouth to help stifle a gasp or was it a sob. Gimple was well aware that something very emotional was happening and he was well trained enough to not interfere. Beth Mason lowered her hand and looked at Gimple. He smiled, hoping that it would help her to relax.

"This isn't easy to say. I know that you will keep whatever I say here confidential . . ."

"Absolutely," Gimple interrupted.

". . . my son is gay."

"Oh, I see."

"You don't seem shocked or upset," Beth said.

""i'm not. Sexual orientation is something that doesn't shock or upset me. The vast majority of these people don't choose to be gay or bisexual or even transgendered. It's the way they are. How old is your son?"

"He's eighteen and a senior in high school."

"I see."

"There's more," she added.

"Go on," he said.

"My other son, a college student, is also gay and has a partner. My husband is beside himself over these outcomes. It's against everything he believes. He kicked Chris out of the house and won't have anything to do with him. Our pastor has indicated to both of us that there are places which can cure homosexuals."

"Cure them?"

"Make them into heterosexuals."


"You don't seem to buy into that point of view, do you Mr. Gimple?"

"No, I don't, but that's beside the point. If you want to subject your son to their medieval tortures, that's your business. You do realize that your son, if he's eighteen, is legally of age. He would have to agree to this readjustment, but I'm sure that the Reverend isn't into that. Otherwise, anyone forcing him would be guilty of kidnapping and other crimes."

"What if it was his father who forced him to go to be readjusted?"

"He'd be guilty of kidnapping, and I am sure some other crimes."

"My, God, I wonder if Travis knows that?" Beth asked.

"Who's Travis?"

"My husband."

"Hmm, and he wants to send your son to this readjustment place?"

"Yes, he does. He wanted to send Chris, our other son, away, too, but he left for college so there was nothing he could do."

"Does you husband have any idea that you're here or that you're trying to get information about the reverend and his institution?"

"I don't think so, but I can't be sure. He enjoys being smarter than he thinks I am, so he may know, but is waiting until it will be to his advantage to let me know he knows."

"A charming man, your husband," said Gimple.

At first Beth was angry when Gimple made the remark. Then she thought, probably because of what she had told him of Travis, it would be no surprise he felt the way he did.

"He wasn't always the way he is now," she said.

"I apologize, Ms. Mason, I shouldn't have said that."

"It's okay, Mr. Gimple. Can you help me?"

Roger Gimple didn't hesitate for a second, saying,

"I'm sure willing to try, Ms. Mason. Probably you should know about my fees."

"That's not necessary. What's your retainer, Mr. Gimple?"

"It's three hundred dollars, plus two hundred for travel and other expenses which will be itemized on the final bill."

"Fine, let me write you a check," she said.

"Won't your husband notice that?" he asked.

"No, this is from my personal checking account. He doesn't interfere with my account. He has his own, too. By the way, he's an attorney, a very good one."

Gimple chuckled a little and then said,

"He may need a good lawyer if he's trying to kidnap a legal-aged young man to have him committed to a strange institution that tries to change a person's sexual orientation."

"So what do I do now?" she asked.

"You have to wait. Here's a card with a telephone number on it. Call it whenever you want an update. If there's an emergency, call me at this number. The message will get to me no matter where I am. Ms. Mason, I would advise you to watch your husband carefully, especially if he is going to be alone with your son. You might be able to prevent something."

"I'll remember that," Beth replied as she handed Gimple her check for five hundred dollars.

"Ms. Mason, try to stay calm about all this. I'm sure we'll shortly have all the information we need to take care of the situation. I appreciate that you selected me to assist you in this matter."

Beth Mason got up from her seat, shook Gimple's hand and walked with him to the door.

"Good luck," said Gimple.

"I guess I may need it," she said as she left.


The four of us arrived at the lockeroom, but had to split up as Brad's and my locker was in a different area than Todd and Kevin's. Also, they were in a different class then we were. After some fists were knocked together, we parted.

"Are you going to be okay, Jake?" Brad asked.

I snickered a little and said,

"If you're with me, I'll be fine. I will only worry when we're alone. Mrs. Treadwell didn't help put my mind at rest. Did she help you?"

Brad had opened our locker and was removing his sandals and T-shirt. Just seeing his naked torso made me horny. As he threw his clothes into the locker, he said,

"Not exactly, Baby; oops, I didn't mean to call you that here in this public place. I like the fact that she gave us a way to contact help if we need it. That made me feel better about you, Jake. I don't want any assholes fuckin' around with you."

I laughed, "My hero!"

"It's not funny, Fishface; if anything happened to you because we're a couple, I would be devastated. I hope you know that," Brad said with a edge of anger in his voice.

"I'm sorry, Sweet . . . Brad; I was just trying to keep it light. I know you're concerned," I said and then I leaned in and whispered, "and I love you for that." I poked Brad in the naked bicep, and smiled.

"You're lucky I'm in a good mood, or else . . ."

"Or else, what?" I interjected as I stepped out of my sandals and pulled off my T-shirt.

Brad leaned down as if to pick up my sandals whispering as he did,

"You are so fuckin' hot, Baby."

"And you," I whispered back, "have given me a woody since you took off your shirt."


"Come on, guys," yelled Coach Kimball, "you're slower than a bunch of girls getting ready for the prom. Move it or the period will be over.

That took care of any other exchange between the two of us, as we and the others guys hurried into our gym clothes and ran to our station in the gym. We lined up as usual and awaited Kimball. He soon arrived and class began. We had a fun time playing dodge ball, Brad and I were on opposite sides. Brad took increasing pleasure as he tried to hit me with the ball. He did once and it knocked me on my ass. He ran to me and helped me up, his face red with embarrassment. Everyone was laughing, but no one said anything, except, Coach Kimball.

"Hey, Mason, that's not in the rules. You don't have to pick up the guy you knock down. You okay, Neilson?"

I snorted, but answered,

"Yep, I am now since the kind gentlemen helped me up," I said.

The gym was filled with raucous laughter.

Brad smiled at me, but I think he was a little pissed. I knew that was true when we ended class so that we could take the required shower. I got to the locker a while before Brad who had stopped to chat with Coach.

As I was striping off my gym clothes, Ken Whitley came up to me. He only stopped for a second and quickly told me in a soft voice,

"Jake, be careful around Taylor Grant. He's making some comments that worry me a little. I'll be watching in case he tries anything funny, but the best thing to do is to avoid him."

"Thanks, Ken," I said as he hurried away from my locker.

I was soon naked and was reaching for my towel in the locker when I felt a hand on my bare ass. I jumped and turned. There stood Taylor Grant, a member of the swim team, a shit-eating grin on his face.

"What the fuck's that all about?" I demanded.

"You know you liked that, Neilson. And by the way, you have one amazing cock. I wouldn't mind swinging on that. You are into gay sex aren't you, Jacob. I like it, too, so let's get together and have some fun," he said with a laugh and as he reached and grabbed my cock. I wracked his hand away and was about to say something, when I saw Brad standing there watching. He was seething.

He began shouting,

"What the fuck are you doing, you son-of-a-bitch? If you ever put your fucking paws on Neilson or anyone else in this class, I personally will cut your fuckin' nuts off. Do you understand that, Shithead?"

"Fuck off, Mason. Who the hell are you to tell me what to do? You're just a faggot cock sucker and you want to keep Neilson's cock for yourself. Look, Cumbreath, maybe you want some of my cock for yourself. If you're a good boy, maybe, just maybe, I'll let you clean it off after I fuck this cutie here. Neilson's a slut, so he'll pull his legs back for you or anyone else. I just . . ."

Brad flew across the space separating him from Taylor. He surprised Taylor knocking him against the lockers. But Taylor recovered quickly and was at Brad like a madman.

"Fight!" someone yelled and soon our section was filled with naked and half naked guys cheering on the fight. Brad got in two or three great punches and Taylor's nose was soon bleeding.

"I'll kill you, you fuckin' faggot," yelled Taylor as he wiped the blood from his face and spit some on to the locker room floor.

Brad had turned to look at me and when he did, Taylor sucker punched him, knocking him into the arms of a couple of onlookers who promptly pushed him back at Taylor. I didn't want this to go on any further, so I stepped between the two combatants, a major mistake. I got punched from both sides, knocking me to the floor where I hit my head hard on the tiled floor. I saw stars, and then blackness.

This so infuriated Brad that he became like an animal and was beating unmercifully on Taylor. I believe if Coach Kimball hadn't arrived and pulled Brad off Taylor, that things would have gone from bad to worse.

"Let go of me, Coach! That bastard had his hands all over Jake; he even grabbed Jake's cock. Nobody should have to put up with that shit. Let me finish the job, Coach That bastard deserves some a couple more good punches."

"Cool it Mason. Todd, Kevin, check on Neilson. Ken you check on Grant. The rest of you get your showers finished and get dressed and leave. Now!"

Everyone scattered. Todd and Kevin soon had me sitting up. They had covered my crotch with my towel, and were softly chatting to me. I don't remember anything that they said.

Coach had taken Brad some distance away and was speaking to him like a Dutch uncle. I sensed that Brad was not happy, but he stood there, sweaty and blood covered. I wanted to cry, but Todd and Kevin had other plans for me. They helped me up and got my clothes out of the locker. I got dressed and stood there totally out of sync with what was happening. Todd kept trying to calm me down, but it wasn't working.

Ken Whitley had taken Taylor Grant to the corner of the room where he was helping him by cleaning his bloody face. Taylor kept checking his teeth, although I didn't think that Brad had hit him there.

Finally Coach Kimball left Brad and went to Taylor. He didn't spend much time with him and sent him with Ken into another area. Then he headed to me. Todd and Kevin moved away allowing the coach and me some privacy. Brad waited where Coach had left him.

"Are you okay, Jacob. I understand you got hit from both sides," Coach said.

"I'm fine. How is Brad? He came to my defense, Coach.
Taylor was feeling up my ass and then he grabbed my cock. He's a real jerk. He also ran off at the mouth and said some wicked shit about me and Brad." I stammered out.

"I know that, Neilson. We'll take care of Grant," he said as he motioned Bard over to us.

I wanted to jump into Brad's arms and kiss him and thank him. I loved him more now that I had seen him take the initiative to protect me. He came and stood near me, his hand touching mine.

"Now listen up you two. It's going to be difficult some days when your classmates put pressure on you, either by trying some shit like Taylor did, or perhaps saying things that are offensive and which make you angry. What you are to do, guys, is push that red button, understand?" Coach said.

"Yeah, I understand that, but what happens if a guy doesn't stop. Are we to just stand there and take it, like when Taylor was fondling Jake? I couldn't just let that go on, and if I hadn't got involved and stopped it, what might have happened," said a near frantic Brad.

"Mason, I see your point, but let me ask you this. Suppose it hadn't been Neilson, would you have gotten involved?"

Now I was pissed at Coach and I said,

"What do you mean by that, Coach. Are you saying that because we are special friends that Brad got involved, but if it had been Todd or Kevin or Ken, that he wouldn't have done anything. If you think that then you don't know Brad very well. He wouldn't let a jerk like Grant get away with that shit," I said and I realized I was almost shouting.

Coach remained in control and said to both of us,

"I apologize if I suggested that Brad only got involved because you two are a couple. I didn't mean that, but there is some truth to it, isn't there. Brad has feelings for you that he doesn't have for any of the other guys in this school. Because of that, he's intent on assuring that no one pulls anything on you, Jacob. I suspect you feel the same way about him, and that's admirable. But you two have to understand that this is a school and we can't have fights breaking out regularly because some fool like Grant pulls the kind of thing he did.

"Grant will be disciplined and that will take care of him, but there may well be others who take liberties both physically and orally. And you have to understand that there might be groups who attack you. You need to use the red button, okay?" said Coach.

"I'll try, Coach, but I love Jake and I won't let anything bad to happen to him. I hope you can deal with that."

"I will try, Brad, I will try."

Finally I got it all together and decided to have my say. I moved between Brad and Coach. I stood as tall as I could and told Coach (and Brad, too),

"I just want you to know Coach, that nobody touches Brad and gets away with it. I might get kicked out of school, and I might get beat up, but I will get involved because I love him and I don't give a shit who knows it. I'd give my life for him, Coach; I really would."


"Get dressed, Mason and you two get out of here; forget practice today, I'll take care of speaking to your coach, Brad. I do understand more than you imagine. When you love someone then you want to protect them, but let's try to use the system that Mrs. Treadwell set up, okay. But that doesn't mean that I want you to stand by and have some disgusting thing happen to you best friend. Now get to it," Coach said as he left the area.

Brad just stood there, his mouth hanging open. I smiled at him. Suddenly he grabbed me and hugged me so tightly it took my breath away.

"You little shit! You wonderful little shit. God, I love you, Jake. You'd fight for me? Did I hear you right? You'd really right for me?"

I didn't care now what anyone saw or said, so I laid a hot kiss on my man, my lover, my Brad. He didn't try to stop it. When we broke out kiss, I snorted out,

"You bet your ass I would, Lover."


Gary woke up before Jim. He was on his side facing Jim. He turned slightly and raised himself on his elbows so that he could admire Jim. He sighed deeply as he looked at the face of this wonderful man. Last night had been a dream come true. When he and Jim and made love, he forgot that Jim was a priest and saw and felt him only as the man he was falling deeply in love with.

He leaned toward Jim and kissed his shoulder. Jim moved slightly but didn't seem to wake up. Gary moved his head down lower to where the sheet met Jim's chest. Jim's nipple was exposed on the side nearest Gary. Gary couldn't resist, he licked Jim's nipple, then sucked on it. Now Jim squirmed. He opened one eye and sort of looked at Gary. Then the smile appeared on his face, now dark with beard growth. Gary kissed Jim's nipple.

"You devil, come here," said Jim.

Gary moved over and laid on Jim. They kissed. Then they just looked into each other's eyes.

"Thanks for last night, Jim; it was wonderful," Gary said.

Jim laughed lightly and gave Gary a quick kiss. Then he rolled over and ended up on top of Gary. He kissed him again this time more firmly and with more tongue.

"Last night was wonderful because of you, Gary. I care a great deal for you, and because of that, what we did last night was very meaningful."

Gary rubbed his fingers through Jim's hair and smiled up at him. Jim returned the smile. Gary could feel his erection and Jim's as they were rubbing together.

"I'm glad you care a great deal for me, Jim, because I'm falling in love with you," said Gary.

Jim rolled off from Gary and ended up lying on the bed beside him. He reached out and ran his hand over Gary's chest and nipples. Gary didn't respond. Jim pulled his hand back.

"You're not happy with me, are you Gary? I haven't said that I love you, but I think that I may be falling in love with you, too. You have to understand all the problems this will cause for me, and that means for you. I do know this, I want to live with you, do things with you, sleep with you. If that means I love you, then that's what it is."

"Jim, I'll wait for you as long as it takes. I'll stay in the background, keep our relationship secret, do anything that you ask me to do so long as it means I can be with you."

Jim climbed back on to Gary and kissed him firmly. He laughed and then said,

"Let's get going, we need to call Doug and get rid of the SUV. Then I have to meet with Father Crowley and you have to make arrangements to get your car repaired. I have a meeting later this afternoon with the youth group. Tonight at seven I have a church council meeting. I'll get out of that about nine. Then I'll be free."

Gary was laughing and Jim joined him. They lay there on the bed laughing like idiots. Gary spoke,

"Good grief, Jim, you are one busy guy. Will you have time for me?"

"Yeah, I will always have time for you. Just be patient with me for a few days until I can get things arranged. I want to be with you, Gary. I want that very much," said Jim.

Gary reached down and took Jim's semi-hard penis into his hand and stroked it. Jim sighed.

"For that, Jim, I will wait."


Chris Mason had awoken early. Perhaps it was the strangeness of the hospital room, or it might have been the recurring images from yesterday's accident. Whatever it was he had not had a good night's sleep, and his early morning awakening was in keeping with his nearly sleepless night.

He looked across at Peter who was sleeping soundly, no doubt from the pain killers that were administered to him during the night. He looked carefully at his lover, perhaps seeing him differently now than before the accident. He was handsome and virile. His sharply-cut features looked as if they had been chiseled from granite. But Chris knew that he loved Peter for many other reasons, not that his physique and handsome features weren't important; they had been what had attracted him at first.

Chris knew that the innate kindness, the caring, the love that were an integral part of Peter were the most important aspects of him. Man, did he love Peter. When he thought he might lose him at the accident, his entire being collapsed in an agony he had never experienced. Would he have been able to go on without Peter? Yes, he knew he would have to as he knew Peter's feeling and his, about the possibility of one of them dying early.

He reached across the small space between the beds and stroked the top of Peter's hand which lay outside the covers. He wanted to get out of bed and embrace him, but he took the sage advice of Father Jim and stayed where he was. Peter's eye lids flickered and a wry smile spread across his face as Chris continued to stroke his lover's hand.

"Are you getting ready to seduce me?" asked Peter.

Chris snorted, and replied,

"I might. I'm considering it, why?" asked Chris.

"'Cause I want you to seduce me, the sooner the better," said a laughing Peter.

"Could we wait for a more private time and place, you horny dog?"

Peter carefully turned to face Chris. He kissed his hand and then laid it back on the bed. Chris leaned out of his bed and was able to reach Peter's hand with his lips and kiss it. Peter shivered. Chris sucked in a huge breath.

"You'd better cut that shit, or I'll jump your bones, tubes and all and we'll make love like nothing before," teased Peter.

Chris sat up in his bed, looked across at Peter and made a decision that he might regret, but which he knew he had to do. Quietly he slipped out of his bed and went to Peter.

"Move over, dufus, if you want my company," said Chris.

With some effort, Peter pushed over leaving a space, albeit a small space, for his lover. Chris got into the bed and lay beside Peter.

"Are you okay, Hon?" asked Chris.

"Couldn't be better, hot stuff," came Peter's quick reply.

"Okay if I kiss you?" he asked.

"You'd better, laughed Peter, "or I may rip your cock off your body."

"Not a smart more," chuckled Chris, " 'cause if you did that I wouldn't be able to provide you with what you desire from me. You're not thinking clearly; must be the drugs."

"You fuckin' better kiss me right this minute or I'll scream bloody murder and have every nurse and doctor on this floor come running and I'll tell them that you were trying to rape me . . . and , , ,"

"Just shut up," Chris said as he rolled closer to Peter and with great care moved on top of him and kissed him with passion. Peter groaned in appreciation, and Chris found himself so emotional about this simple expression of love that tears began to run down his face. Peter did not miss this.

Peter broke the kiss and looked into the eyes of the man he loved more than life itself. When he saw the tears, his emotions, held together for so long, broke loose, and he began to weep. Holding each other, the two young men, experienced a kind of catharsis: a true understanding of the shortness and unpredictability of life. Without meaning to do so, the two lovers fell asleep, content in each other's arms.

"Hey, pretty boys," said a laughing Lorraine Li, " don't you think it's time to be awake? Peter! Chris!"

Peter opened his eyes and looked at his mother and father. There he saw love, deep and certain. Chris had his arm around Peter, and when Peter began to awake, Chris soon followed.

"Crap," said Chris, "I only intended to visit Peter for a few minutes and I guess we fell asleep. I apologize Mr. and Mrs. Li."

"Peter doesn't look upset," suggested Mr. Li, " so why would you apologize?"

Chris carefully extricated himself from Peter and the tubes and lines and slipped out of the bed. He stood for a second looking at the Li's and then a Peter. He felt embarrassed and that worried him. Finally, he spoke,

"It's just that, well it might not be the best thing if everyone in the hospital knew we were lovers and gay. I mean they might ask us to leave, and well, Peter is too ill to leave and it would be my fault and then you would hate me and Peter would be angry and I wouldn't know what to do to make it right. I'm so sorry for being such a fool."

"Christopher Mason, I wanted you here in my bed so that we could be close. We didn't do anything wrong, so cool it. If they want to kick us out, that's okay with me, but I should warn them that they would have to deal with my Dad and Mom. It wouldn't be pretty!"

Mr. Li was laughing softly. He looked at his son with total love and understanding. He reached out and took his wife's hand in his causing her to smile with pleasure.

"Chris, don't worry yourself about you or Peter being asked to leave this hospital. If you were, I would take care of the immediate situation. Then I would sue the hospital for a large amount of money. I know I would win in court so I would donate the settlement to some worthy organization that helps the indigents of this country. You did nothing wrong, Chris. You provided love and solace for our son and for that we are eternally grateful."

"Chris, come here!" Peter ordered, "now kiss me so that my parents will know you love me. Come on, come on, hurry before I change my mind," Peter said with a laugh.

Chris went to Peter's bed and sat on the edge. He leaned over and as he was to kiss Peter, he said `I love you, Peter Li', and then he kissed him softly at first and then with increasing passion. Peter had wrapped his arms around his lover and was enjoying the kiss. Mrs. Li, interrupted the moment.

"Peter, Chris, your dad and I have something to suggest to you. Chris, what's the matter?" Mrs. Li asked.

Chris was sitting on Peter's bed and he was quietly weeping. Peter hugged him. Mr. Li looked distressed.
Finally Chris said,

"You said that Mr. Li was our dad. That means that you and he want to be my parents, too. I don't deserve this. I'm not that good a person."

Peter pulled Chris roughly down to him as he, too, was now crying softly. The Li's looked on with glistening eyes but with broad smiles. The two young men clung to each other, understanding what love can mean, what love can do.

"Yes, Chris, Mrs. Li and I want to be your parents. We want to stand in for your own mom and dad until they get their heads on straight. We're not criticizing them; we just want to make sure that you and Peter are happy and have what you need to finish college. And we're starting by taking you two back to Ft. Myers to live with us while you recuperate. It's that simple!"

Chris was out of the bed in a flash and was hugging both of his stand-in parents. His tears had not stopped, but his smile was increasing.

"Bravo!" yelled Peter, "you see why I love my parents so much Chris. Now you get a chance to find out for yourself. Welcome to the family. You can't be my brother because i want you for my lover."


Nurse Wintergreen selected that moment to come into the room. She looked slightly aghast when she saw Chris out of bed, but she said nothing. Chris was quick to return to his own bed. Nurse Wintergreen was busy attending to Peter's tubes and lines giving Chris a moment to speak to the Li's.

"How can I ever thank you for what you're doing. I'm sure God will reward you, of that I have no doubt."

Mr. Li moved to Chris' bed. In a soft controlled voice, he said,

"You will be a wonderful addition to our family. We already considered you another son. Since Peter has met and fallen in love with you, he has become a different person. To be truthful so have Mrs. Li and I. Look, Chris, what do we do about your apartment in Gainesville? Your course work? Bills that need to be paid?"

"Someone will have to go up to Gainesville to close up the apartment. We can contact our professors by e-mail. We can notify the bursar and others either by telephone or e-mail. Our coaches all have e-mail addresses, too, so we can handle that from here or Ft. Myers. I'm a little worried about you, Mrs. Li, I mean Mom. Taking care of two difficult guys like Peter and me will be daunting,' said Chris.

"Not to worry, Chris, I will have all kinds of help. Your Dad has already been on the phone make arrangements, so please don't worry about that?"

"What about bills to be paid, son?" asked Mr. Li.

"The rents paid through June of next year. Peter takes care of all the other stuff. I guess we'll have to wait until we can talk with him. Will that be okay?"

"That's fine. Any suggestions of who you might think could close up the apartment and stuff?"

Chris thought for a moment, then brightened and told the Li's,

"How about Brad and Jacob?"


To be continued...

"The measure of love is to love without measure"

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