Chapter 26

Rich sat in the conference room thinking about the day before when he tried to meet up with Senator Cruz in his office. He did everything he could to ditch the press. However, the minute he arrived at the senator's building, the press was already there. He knew they weren't there for him because they had no idea he was coming, but they saw his car. That left him no choice but to get out and come up with a plausible story.

Not wanting the press to know the real reason he was there, he played off that he was there to meet up with another senator that had nothing to do with the hearing. When the press asked him which senator it was, he thought quick on his feet and came up with a senator that had already announced that he was going to confirm him if he gets to the floor. To his surprise, the press bought it. Without any more questions being asked, he walked into the building and up to the senator's office that he said he was there to see.

When he got there, he asked the secretary if he could speak with his good friend so the press didn't get any wiser to the real reason for his being there. His friend took the meeting and they talked for hours before he left. At no time in their conversation did they get near the confirmation hearing out of respect for the process of law.

By the time he and his friend walked out of the building, almost all the press had left. There were a few smaller local newspaper reporters there, but they didn't jump up and start asking questions when Rich and the senator walked out, which didn't bother them. They kept talking about their families until they reached Rich's car.

"Thank you for seeing me today, old friend!" Rich shook his friend's hand. "I know you are really busy and with me popping in on you out of the blue for no real reason took away valuable time that you need. If I can ever return the favor, please don't hesitate to call on me. I will do it if it is all possible." Rich smiled as he got into his car. He looked back at his friend and saw him smiling, but he knew he wasn't smiling for the same reason he was.

The senator looked around to make sure no one was looking or in earshot before he leaned in. "Rich I know the real reason you came down, and let me tell you Alberto has asked me about you the last couple of days. He doesn't let too many of us in his personal life. In fact, I think I am the only one up here that knows that he's gay. Anyways, he came to me knowing that you and I are good friends and asked what his chances were if he were to ask you out. I couldn't answer him then, but I can answer him now."

Rich really didn't know how to respond to his friend at first. He struggled to get his thoughts together, and when he finally did, his friend had already said his goodbyes and was heading to his car. He wanted to call him back and try to find out what he was going to say, but decided against it. Had he done so, he knew he was going to grab the attention of the few members of the press that were still there, something he didn't want to do.

Reluctantly he asked his driver to take him home. The rest of the evening, all through his prep for the final day of his hearing, all he could think about is Alberto. His staff had to keep bringing him back to the conversation at hand until they got tired of it and called it a night.

Now here he is thinking about Alberto when he should be thinking about what he is about to walk into. Pushing the thoughts of the senator he liked to the back, Rich started go over the information his staff put together for him that they knew was going to be asked on the final day of the hearing. Just as he got to the final page, the door to the conference room opened and a member of his staff popped his head in to tell him it was time.

As he got up from the chair, Rich straightened himself up. When he felt he was ready, he headed out to the lion's den. First, he went through the reporters, who were asking him the same questions they asked him every morning, which he didn't answer, like he did every morning of the hearing. Once he got through the reporters, he made his way to his chair, placed his black leather binder on the table before taking his seat for the last time.

A few minutes later, the chamber was brought to order as the eight senators made their way to their seats. Not able to help himself, Rich kept glancing over at Senator Cruz. A couple of times the senator met his glance. As he was taking his seat, the senator looked at Rich and smiled at him, which made Rich feel good. He knew he wasn't the only one with feelings and an attraction to the other.

Senator Perez pounded his gavel a couple of times to quiet down the gallery. "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the final day of this confirmation hearing. We would like this day to go as all the others, without a hitch. The rules that were put in place the first day of this hearing are still in place. If any of you break those rules, you know what will happen."

The room stayed quiet, with all eyes on the chairman. "Mr. Kewl you are still under oath and you must answer all questions truthfully. You already know if you are caught in a lie, we can shut down this hearing and go right to a vote." Rich nodded his head. "Okay, I believe we are ready to get this hearing underway. The same time allowances are in effect and we will start in the same order as we have done."

Senator Perez looked over at Senator Baker and gave him the floor. "Mr. Kewl I would like to go back to the subject I have been talking about with you all week, the gay rights bill. However, this time I want to get a little more personal with you on that. With you being gay, it does affect you on the way you go about dealing with this bill. How can this committee put you forward knowing that? I think we should hold off on your confirmation until we deal with the gay rights bill that is before us."

Rich biding his time picked up the pitcher of water that was on his table and poured a glass. After taking a drink, he cleared his throat and leaned into the microphone. "I understand your concerns, but they are not valid here as far as this hearing is concerned. Each of us have had something happen in our lives to someone we love or to us personally that might make us incapable to vote on a bill without bias or prejudice, but none of you have ever stepped aside when that happened.

And I know for a fact that you, Senator Baker, have pushed through bills that were close and dear to your heart. You championed bills that changed the laws in this state because of something that happened in your life to a person you love. However, no one questioned your impartiality or integrity like you are using my personal life against me.

Who I am and who I love has no bearing on how I am going to do my job. For those like you that believe that, you'd better look inward at yourselves. Somewhere in your past you have done what you are suspecting of me, something I haven't done and won't do. A guilty conscience plays tricks on a person."

Senator Baker was stunned by Rich's answer. He couldn't come back at him. It took him a couple of minutes, in which time there was nothing but dead air. Senator Perez couldn't have that. He knew he and his party members were walking a tightrope. By having dead air because Rich caught one of his party members by surprise will show those out there he is right and they are wrong.

"Mr. Kewl this will be the first and only warning I'm going to give you. You will answer the questions that are asked of you and nothing more than that. You won't throw mud in this hearing. If you do what you just did again, I will adjourn this hearing and keep it adjourned until the elections, leaving the voters to decide who they want in the Lieutenant Governor's office." Senator Perez had hate in his eyes as he looked at Rich.

"Sir, with all due respect to this committee and the job you have to do here, respect goes both ways. Not once through this hearing have I degraded one of you. The republican members of this committee have taken any and every chance to degrade me and question my integrity. Senator, if you want me to show respect as I feel I have then respect should be shown me. I know I have earned it."

Senator Perez didn't know how to respond. This time the silence in the room was because of him. Thankfully Senator Baker found his tongue and went back after Rich and Rich was able to deflect everything that was thrown at him. One after another, the republican senators, except one, tried to go after Rich. When it was all said and done everything they tried came back to make them look bad.

Senator Lambert surprised his party when he didn't go after Rich as the rest of them had. They had no idea that his office was flooded with calls in the last several days from the voters in his district asking him to stop playing politics. It was so intense that his phone lines crashed. He knew if he wanted to return to Austin, he had to listen to those that will send him back.

"Mr. Kewl I think this entire week has been a waste, at least as far as this side of the table is concerned." Senator Lambert pointed to his fellow republicans. "We didn't ask the questions we should have asked. Questions that matter for the position of Lieutenant Governor. For that, I apologize to the people of this state and to you.

It might be too late, but I am going to try and steer this committee in the direction it should have been going from the beginning, asking the right questions. If you are given a chance to be the next Lieutenant Governor, what do you plan to do? Will you be a puppet for the Governor, a puppet for your party or do what is right and listen to the people and your own conscience?"

"That is very good question Senator Lambert. Let me see if I can answer it as clearly. If given a chance to be the next Lieutenant Governor, I don't plan to be a puppet for anyone. If I like what the Governor is doing, I will back him one hundred percent. If I like what is going on in the state house, I will back that one hundred percent. I will make every decision on what I am going to support as long as it benefits all Texans."

"I like that sir, and that type of thinking is what we need in all of our offices. We all seem to forget why we are here; to serve the voters. Not just those that elected us, but all voters in our districts. At the end of the day, they are the ones that pay us, so we must respect what they want no matter if we like it or not.

With that said, I do have a concern weighing on me right now. You were the Governor's campaign manager, and you had a lot to do with getting him elected. You had to like his policies or you wouldn't have stayed on with him as his campaign manager and then taken the job as his Chief of Staff. The reason I am going there is because I am worried that it will be hard for you to say no to the Governor on things you might not agree with."

"I understand that concern and it is a valid one. I got to know the Governor through the campaign, and let me tell you, that man is down to earth, caring only for the people in this state. He won't do anything, push any bill or support any bill that would hurt one Texan, republican or democrat. That is just the kind of man he is.

However, if the day ever comes that he does do something that is not in the best interests of the voters in my estimation, I will be the first to denounce it. I won't go out to the first camera to do it. I will show him the respect he deserves and talk with him one on one. After all, he will need to go back to the voters for another term if he wants another term. If he does things that are not right for the voters, he won't get another term. The Governor knows that."

Liking the answer, Senator Lambert yielded the remainder of his time. He felt he did what he set out to do. Let his fellow republican senators know that he is not going to go along the party line as he originally promised. He plans to vote for Rich to be the next Lieutenant Governor. That is what his voters want him to do.

A few chairs down, Senator Perez had no idea what was going on. He thought he had his members in line and ready to do what it took to bring Rich down. Now he sees he is losing complete control of not only his hearing, but members of his own party. He can't afford this if he plans to make a run for the governorship.

Trying to not have any gaps in the questions, Senator Perez moved the hearing along. The democrats saw no need to waste time going over the same questions that they already gotten answers to. So they simply thanked Rich for enduring a week of Texas politics and yielded their time back. Since the democrats didn't ask any questions, the hearing came to an end a lot sooner than anyone in the chamber or in the press thought it would.

"Well, since all the questions have been asked and answered, there is no need to keep this committee in session. We are going to adjourn in order to come to a decision on where each of us is going to vote." Senator Perez looked directly at Rich.

"I echo a lot of what my fellow senators on the other side of the isle said here today to you. You went through a lot in this last week, but that's how it had to be done for the voters of this state could get to know you. Your name is known, but where you stand on issues that will come up in the next year that will affect all voters in this state, we didn't know. Now we do and can make an intelligent decision with all the facts.

On a personal note, I am sorry that we brought your personal life into this hearing. I and the rest of the senators here know that you weren't out. We knew of your personal life and felt it was necessary to talk about it here because of the bills about to before the state houses. You might not agree or believe us when we said you would be able to influence the laws if you become the next Lieutenant Governor, but you can and will influence them. You may not mean to, but you will." Senator Perez looked at his fellow senators on the committee.

"No matter what it looked like at times, I do thank each and every one of you on being on this committee. We are now half through our job here, but only halfway. The harder part is what we have to do next, and that is decide if this nominee will get put through for a full vote on the floor. Before we adjourn to start discussing that, I want to thank you all for your service to this committee. We all did our jobs with pride and dignity.

With that said, this hearing is going to be adjourned until..." Senator Cruz interrupted the chairman. "I am sorry for talking out of turn Senator Perez, but I don't see any need to adjourn to discuss what we think about this nominee. I feel we all already have our minds made up on how we are going to vote, so let's not waste anymore time and vote."

"Senator Cruz you're a junior senator and don't know the procedure yet on how things are done in committee. We need to follow procedure, adjourn, discuss and then come back once we all feel we had enough time to make a decision. That is how it has always been done and will be done here. So we are going to adjourn..."

Once again Senator Perez was interrupted, but this time it was a senator from his own party, Senator Lambert. "With all due respect Senator Perez, you are wrong. If a senator puts the motion on the table to vote, and if there is a second, then we vote. If the vote comes to a tie, then we adjourn and discuss what we need to discuss."

"I didn't hear anyone second Senator Cruz's motion. Is there anyone here that seconds Senator Cruz's motion to vote now?" Senator Lambert seconded the motion. "Since the motion has been seconded, we are going to move right to voting, not adjourning to discuss this nominee." Senator Perez looked at each of his fellow senators and knew by the way they were looking back; Rich had enough votes to get through committee.

Senator Perez started with the democrats, and each of them voted yes to put Rich through. He skipped Lambert, and got the other senators' votes from his party, and when they voted no, he hoped that was enough to bring Senator Lambert back on their side, but it wasn't. When Senator Lambert placed his vote, it stunned the gallery. Everyone was sure that this hearing was going to end up in a tie and be adjourned with not one republican switching sides.

Slamming his gavel down several times, Senator Perez was able to get control of the chamber. He didn't say a word. He just looked around the gallery and waited for everyone to quiet down and take their seats again before speaking. Once there was silence in the room, he cast his vote, a totally expected no.

"The vote stands as follows, the yeas are five and the nays are three. The yeas have it." The press in the gallery got out of their seats and got as close too Rich as possible. Once again it took Senator Perez to slam his gavel down several times in order to get everyone's attention. When he got their attention, he ordered them to take their seats.

"As I was saying, the yeas have it, which means, Mr. Rich Kewl, your nomination is going to go to the floor for a full vote. There will be some debate on the floor. I don't know when the voting on the floor is going to happen. Once it is on the docket, you will be notified ahead time. Congratulations and good luck on the floor."

Senator Perez once again thanked his fellow senators and ended the confirmation hearing. Rich got up and made his way through the sea of reporters, not answering one question. When he finally got the doors, he turned around and told the press to gather around him; he will make a short statement before he heads back to his office.

"Ladies and gentlemen, what just happened here today is step one of a very long process. I know you all have a lot of questions for me, but I won't answer them until the houses vote on my nomination for Lieutenant Governor. When that happens, no matter how the vote comes out, I will hold a press conference. There you can ask me the questions you have been wanting to ask, but not until then."

Rich thanked the press and then turned and walked out of the chamber. He knew what they were going to ask, and he didn't want to answer those questions, at least not now. If he did, he knew it might hurt him when it comes time for the houses to vote on his confirmation. He wasn't willing to do that in the past and more so now that he gotten over the first hurdle.

While Rich was making his way back to his office to call Governor Lopez, the governor's son Josh and his friends were heading to lunch. Josh and Cesar have been noticing that there has been something going on with Chris. More and more he has not been spending time with them. It started with just a few minutes of him disappearing, but now Chris isn't even making an appearance at the table. Today is no exception, Chris wasn't there.

Josh couldn't help but start thinking that Chris was reverting back to what he did at the beginning of the year. When things didn't work out between him and Angel, Josh was concerned when he started playing around. Josh thought that the talk he had with Chris several weeks ago stopped that, but now he's not sure.

He couldn't keep his mind in what was being discussed at the table because it kept wondering off to where Chris was at. When they made their way out to the stadium, Josh kept looking for his old friend, but didn't see him anywhere. Just as he was about to give up, he saw Chris running across the baseball field with another person, but the person was too much in the shadow for Josh to identify.

Seeing that Chris was okay, he turned his attention back to the guys and the conversation at hand. Their conversation was interrupted when they heard one of the football players yelling for everyone's attention. Once the stadium quieted down, the football player introduced Markus, one of the candidates running for student council president.

"I know you guys don't want to hear another speech, so I am not going to make one, at least a long one that is." Some of the students standing there started to laugh. "As you all know the election for student council president and all the other positions is just a week away. Next Friday you will be asked to vote for the best person to run things next year.

I know many of you are looking long and hard at the ones running for all positions. The most heated election is the one I am running in. Arturo Medina is out, and we all know why. Victor Valenzuela just announced a couple days ago that he was dropping from the race, leaving just two people for you all to choose from; me and Jacob Hernandez.

You guys are looking at both of us and probably thinking that the best person for the job is Jacob Hernandez because he can deliver a lot more than I can. Well I am here to tell you that thinking is wrong, unless he is going to use his own money that is. The guy can't deliver one thing he has promised otherwise.

I, on the other hand can deliver what I have promised because I know what can be done and what can't be done. Jacob doesn't. He is trying to shine up a rock and tell all of us it is gold in hopes we buy that lie. Well I'm not buying that lie. Are any of you?" Those in the front yelled no, but the majority in the stadium stayed quiet.

"I did not hear you guys. Jacob is more interested in what he can do for the ROTC program than he is with every other sport that actually makes this school money. There is no problem with that. Let him do those things for the program he loves and leave everything else to us. Put the right person in the job for the student council president that can do more for the programs that matter. That isn't Jacob. That is me!"

The more Markus talked, the angrier Josh got. He knew by what his brother did, it opened the race right up. Now Jacob has to really fight for every vote out there, which is hard when Markus has all the athletes out there campaigning for him. His message is getting to more people than Jacob's, causing people to rethink their decisions.

"If you want nothing done for an entire year, go ahead and vote for Jacob because he can deliver on that. If you want things to continue the way they have been going. Football, Basketball, Baseball and all the rest of the major sports funded and the other minor sports like chest club, vote for me because it will get funded."

The students in the stadium started to really listen to what Markus was saying. They started question what they really want; the devil they know, or the devil they don't know. At least with the devil they knew, they know exactly what they were in for. The devil they don't know, they had no idea what they were in for. All they knew for sure is that Jacob did love the ROTC program and he might work to give all the funding to them.

"So I am standing here telling you guys the truth. It is up to you what you want to do with the truth. Are you going to stay with what works, or are you going to try something that is for sure going to fail. I really hope you all decide to stay with what works and vote for me. By doing so, it will send a clear message that we are not going to be fooled by a shiny rock. We are a lot smarter than that."

Josh had enough. He wasn't about to let Markus or anyone for that matter stand there with a straight face and lie the way he is lying about his friend. He made his way through the students over to Markus and the other football players. At first they weren't going to let Josh talk. Even a couple of them tried to put their hands on Josh to push him off, but they got a wakeup call.

When the security removed those that were standing in Josh's way, he walked over to Markus. Markus looked around for his friends who promised they were going to make sure nobody would interrupt him, but he didn't see them anywhere. He then looked at Josh and saw the young Lopez boy smiling back at him. Just as he was about to ask Josh to step aside and speak with him in private, Josh started to speak.

"There is no need for me to introduce myself. You all know who I am. Besides being one of the governor's sons, I am also known by you all as the soloist for Los Tigres and a pretty good swimmer." Everyone cracked up laughing. "I was standing over there listening to this guy speak and I almost hurled my lunch! I don't know about you guys."

Josh put a finger in his mouth and pretended to throw up. "This guy has the balls to stand before us and say that Jacob is lying to us. Well that is just plain bull and we all know that." Josh looked at Markus. "You know the funny thing about your speech?" Markus shook his head. "You are making it when Jacob isn't around to come up and debate you on the merit of what you were spilling out here. We all know his schedule and where he is right now, so you took advantage of that. That leaves it up to his friends that believe in him; believe that he can do what he promises he will do just that if elected to set you straight."

Turning his attention back to the students standing there listening to him. "This guy when he gets out of high school should really think about a career in politics, because he would be very good at it." Once again everyone started to laugh. "He reminds me of the time me and my brothers were with our father when he was running for the governorship. The same despicable things those grown up politicians did out there he is doing right here in our school.

He is throwing mud at the very last minute and by the time Jacob has a chance to respond, it's too late. Markus here is taking a play out of the playbooks of those politicians we all make fun of and don't respect; plays we are about to fall for here with Markus. Let's not let him turn this student council race negative with lies timed so that by the time the other person has a chance to respond, we have already voted for this guy.

Jacob does love the ROTC program. He hasn't tried to hide that. He has done things for that program that no one thought possible. Like every other sport out there, they had to do fund raising in order to do what they wanted to do. Under Jacob's leadership, he was able to get sponsors for his program to make fund raising a thing of the past. I know, without a doubt, if elected, he will do the same thing for all the programs out there. Can any of you, including Markus and his buddies, say anyone else would have a better chance than Jacob to get that done for all of our programs?" Almost at the same time, the students said `no'.

"The statement about Jacob loving what he does in the ROTC program was the only truthful element in Markus's speech, everything else was a lie. If anyone would betray what was promised it is this guy because they have done it time in and time again. We can't take this one opportunity we have with Jacob to take back the student council president pass us by.

We have a chance here, if we do what's right and vote Jacob in, for all our programs to be funded right, not just the major sports like football, basketball and baseball. So don't you dare let this guy get you to change your mind. He is going to try over and over in the next week to get those that are going to vote for Jacob to move into his camp. Please don't let that happen because Jacob won't be only loser come Friday; we all will."

Josh looked at Markus and then over to his friends as the students started applauding and yelling out `no more lies'. By their chants, he knew he got through to them, unlike Markus' attempt. Knowing that, he starting to walk away from Markus, back over to his little corner of the stadium with his friends behind him and Cesar at his side.

As he made his way through the students, Josh looked back at Markus and saw how displeased he was. The look he was getting from the guy he knew he didn't want to meet him in a dark alley by himself because he wouldn't walk out. Ignoring him, Josh turned his attention back to his friends as they were all talking at once about what he had done.

Meanwhile, Chris didn't know what Josh had done. He had snuck off to meet Aaron to try and get to know him better. That has become their routine. The last couple of days, they would make up whatever excuses they had to in order to get alone time with each other. It was harder on Aaron to get away because of what had happened to him at Austin. The guys wanted to keep him safe, and that meant they kept a close eye on him.

The first time they got away from their groups, not meaning to, Chris asked Aaron what had happened to him. Chris tried to take back the question, but Aaron had no problem answering. By the time he told his story, Chris couldn't believe it. He thought he went through a lot, but he realized as Aaron was telling his story, he had it easy when he came out by comparison.

After finding out what had happened to Aaron, Chris was as protective of him when they were alone together, if not more so, than Joey and his group were. Aaron didn't mind, in fact it made him feel better with people actually watching out for him. He never had that, even with two brothers attending the same school.

Today was the first day they actually had more than ten minutes. They were both able to get away from their group and actually be together. Since they didn't go to the cafeteria to eat, they went down the street to the Seven-Eleven to grab a hotdog and a soda. The entire way down, they made small talk, but on their way back to the school, they were more comfortable with each other that they got past the small talk.

"You are not going to believe this Chris." Chris looked at Aaron with his mouth full. "I have been hearing around the hotel that Judge Evans sentenced the guy the beat me up to the halfway wing of the hotel." Aaron started to shake so much, he almost fell. Chris reacted quickly and kept that from happening. "I don't know what I will do if that's true. There's no way I can see the guy that tried to kill me because he hates gays so deeply."

"I can say I know what you are feeling because I what I went through with my father. That is one of the reasons I was thankful that Coach adopted me because there was no way I could live in the same house with a guy that almost killed me. I would have to always be watching my back, wondering if this would be the day he was going to finish me off."

Aaron started nodding his head. "Look, it's just rumors right now, right?" Aaron looked over at Chris, nodding his head, trying to put on a brave face, but Chris saw through it. "I'm sure if this judge guy sentenced the very guy that almost killed you to the hotel where you are staying, he would have taken you to the side and let you know."

"I don't think he knows I am staying at the hotel." Chris couldn't understand how someone like a judge wouldn't know where the victim was living. That just wouldn't happen, Chris thought. "I moved in when he wasn't there and up till now I haven't seen him once. One of the reasons for that is that they have everything up there in their penthouses. At least I was told by others, but you know people, everyone likes to talk."

"That's true! By the time you weed through what you hear about someone or something, you are more confused than before you started." Chris started laughing as he held open the gate for Aaron to walk through. "That is why I don't listen to gossip. If I didn't hear it or see it myself, I don't believe what is being said unless it comes from Josh and a few of my other friends. What they have told me has never come out to being wrong or a lie."

Chris held out his hand to stop Aaron from walking. He looked over at the stadium to see if any of his friends were looking towards the baseball field. When he saw they were all facing the other direction, he started to walk across the field to the bleachers with Aaron at his side.

Just when he thought he made across without being spotted, he saw Josh looking his direction. He couldn't tell if Josh was looking at him or just in his general direction. No matter what he was looking at, Chris knew he had to come clean and soon with at least Josh about him and Aaron. If he doesn't choose when he would do that, Josh will choose for him.

Turning his attention back to Aaron, he helped him sit down before he sat down next to him. Neither spoke at first. They just sat there eating their hotdogs, potato chips and drinking their sodas. When they finished eating, they gathered their trash and put it in the bag they were given to carry their food. Once they had everything in the bag, Chris spoke.

"I know you're worried about what you have been hearing around the hotel. If I was you and wanted to know the facts, I would go and speak with the judge. Ask him if what you have been hearing is true or just gossip. I am sure he will have no problem telling you one way or the other if that guy that hurt you is going to live in the hotel."

"You're right, and I know that, but it is easier said than done. This guy is a judge that might feel offended being questioned by a kid. He doesn't sound like a guy that likes to be questioned by anyone, let alone a kid."

"Well if you don't go and ask him, you won't really know until you run into him in the hotel. That's a surprise I wouldn't want if I was in your shoes." Chris could tell Aaron was afraid approaching this subject with anyone let alone the judge. "Look, don't think about it so much. Be ready just in case he appears at the hotel, and hope he doesn't, okay?"

Aaron didn't say anything or move. He just sat there thinking about what Chris had just said. He didn't want Bill anywhere near him. Not only he was afraid of the guy, but he doesn't see the guy being nice to him because he is gay. There is nothing in the world that will change the guy's feelings from hate to like.

As Chris was trying to console Aaron, Daniel and Mercedes were down on the football field looking at the college applications they had just picked up from their counselors. Daniel Jr. knows he can get into several colleges he likes with a football scholarship, but he has no idea what Mercedes wants and where she wants to go.

"Man can you believe the amount of things we have to fill out for just one application?" Daniel asked as he tossed the applications to the ground. "By the time we get everything these guys need and these applications filled out, we won't make the deadline. Where would that leave us? I will tell you where; up the creek without a paddle."

"Come on Daniel. Try not to think so deeply about these things or they will drive you crazy, like it is doing already." Mercedes leaned in and kissed Daniel Jr. on the cheek. "We have plenty of time to get these things filled out and in the mail by the deadline. Just take one application at a time and before you know it, you will in front of the mailbox mailing them off."

"What are you smoking? I want some of it!" Daniel started to laugh. "Look at these Mercedes and tell me it won't take you at least two hours, if not more, to fill each of these out." He grabbed one of the applications up from the ground and started turning the pages. "I am surprised they are not asking for us to use our own blood to fill these things out."

Mercedes started to laugh. "I love it when you get all goofy on me Danny." Daniel stopped Mercedes and asked her not to call him Danny. "Come on, I know you like it when I call you Danny. Perhaps I should call you Junior." Daniel shot Mercedes a dirty look. "Okay, okay there is no need to blow your top. I won't call you either of the two names."

Daniel kept eye contact with his girlfriend for a couple of seconds, making sure she wasn't just saying what she was saying and then come right back and call him a name he doesn't like. When he was sure she wasn't going to, he broke eye contact and started picking up the applications. He didn't care what order the pages were in, he just wanted to pick them up and get them in his bag so he didn't see them anymore.

"How about I come down over the weekend and we both sit down and knock out our college applications?" Mercedes asked as she took Daniel's applications from him. "We will work on yours first before I even start on mine." Daniel liked the idea. It wasn't that he wanted someone to fill out the applications for him. It was that things like that he really didn't understand. "I take it by the smile on your face you like the idea."

"Yes I like the idea a lot! Thank you!" Daniel leaned in and kissed Mercedes on the lips. "The only thing we haven't discussed is where WE are going to college. I know we haven't wanted to think about that, but I think it is time that we do before it is too late."

"Let's deal with that while we work on the applications over the weekend. For now let's just enjoy the rest of the day. Okay?"

Daniel nodded his head as he got up from the ground and then he helped Mercedes up. Just as she started to dust herself off, the first bell rang. They grabbed their backpacks and started their way into the building. Along the way, they met up with Carlos, his girlfriend and the rest of the guys and joined into the conversation they were having.

Back in Austin, Al had just walked out of his fifth meeting of the day when he was told by his secretary that he had important call on line one. He had hoped to grab at least the next thirty minutes to relax and eat something, but it looks like it wasn't in the cards for him. He laughed as he thought to himself he will rest when he leaves this world.

As he sat down, he picked up the phone. "Yes, Mr. Serna; this is Castaneda." The voice and the name snapped Al to attention. "The reason for my phone call is to let you know that we are going to be turning over Beth Alvarez to whoever you have to pick her up at the border this afternoon. The President wants this to be over so things can get back to the way they were. Just tell me who you are going to send."

Al couldn't believe it. The President of Mexico is turning Beth over way ahead of schedule, but he is not about to not seize on this opportunity. "The ones that will take custody of Beth Alvarez at the border will probably be members of the El Paso Police Department. Jurisdiction of Mrs. Alvarez's case has been handed over to them."

"It makes no difference to us who takes custody of Beth Alvarez, as long as whoever it is has the documents we sent to you. They must present those documents to my officers in order for her to be turned over."

"That is no problem they will have the correct documents." Al started to go through his rolodex, looking for Judge Evan's number. "As we are speaking, I am getting the number to a reliable judge in El Paso. I will speak personally to him to make sure there are officers there at the border to take Beth off your hands."

"Good, very good. Things are working out just fine. There is really only one thing left for us to talk about and that is what is going on at the borders. I need you to talk with Governor Lopez and have him bring things back to the way they were before this whole mess started with these two. He will also have to get on the horn with the other governors that are following his lead and have them return things back to the way they were."

"As soon as I make the call to Judge Evans in El Paso, my next conversation will be with the Governor. He has already spoken with the other governors of the Border States and they are awaiting his call. As soon as we have confirmation from the officers in El Paso, the calls will be made to the other governors."

"Well I better let you go then so you can make the calls. Make sure you tell that judge you are entrusting down there to have the officers at the border at three. I have given strict orders to my men if there is no one there to meet them exactly at three, to turn around and come back with Beth Alvarez. If that happens, she will be released."


"If that happens, Mr. Castaneda, things won't return to the way they were before this standoff began and they will get a lot worse. So before you go around threatening, make sure you are the one holding all the cards. Right now, Governor Lopez is the one in the driver's seat and you have to either go along for the ride or get off."

"There is no need to go there when we are having a productive conversation. Things are moving along way ahead of schedule, so let's keep them going that way. Make the calls you have to make and I will make sure Beth Alvarez is at the border at three. Okay?"

"As I said before, I like everything you have said so far today except the part about the order you have given your men on leaving exactly at three. I am not saying I need more time, but anything could happen and you need to understand that. So if there is no one there exactly at three, give them a few minutes. I am sure that is all they would need."

Mr. Castaneda folded. He promised Al that he will take back the order to leave exactly at three if no one is there to meet them. Once they got over that hump, they talked a little bit about when things might get back to normal. However, that part of the conversation was short because Al couldn't predict the future and neither could Castaneda.

As soon as they hung up, Al dialed Judge Evans's number. A few minutes later, he was briefing Harold on what was going on. "So now that you have been brought up to date on the Alvarez situation, I need you to send several officers that you can trust to the border and take Mrs. Beth Alvarez into custody. The officers you entrust with this needs to have a set of documents that were given to the former police chief that need to be shown to the Mexican authorities in order for them to hand over Mrs. Alvarez. So there is no time wasted trying to find them, I will fax a copy over to you, Harold."

"Thank you for doing that. Things are still a little hectic around here and no one really knows where things are that the former chief was handling. It looks like he wasn't keeping anything filed in his office that he was working on personally, which is making it very hard to get things done; very hard, so I hear."

"I understand and I know adding this on your plate isn't helping any, but it needs to take priority over whatever else you have going on. This woman has caused an international standoff, and her being turned over to us today will end that standoff. Trust me when I say things need to get back to the way they were in our border towns."

"Oh I know there is no need for you to try and sell me on that. I have heard about the amount of business that has been lost since the standoff started. It's been more on the other side than on our side, but we still have lost some business. I will make sure there are officers there that we can trust to take Beth Alvarez into custody exactly at three."

"Time is an issue for some reason for the Mexican government. At first they were going to leave if there was no one at the border exactly at three, but I talked them down from that. However, let's not trust their word they won't leave exactly at three. Have your men at the border at least fifteen minutes before three so the Mexican Government can't say they tried to hand her over, but we weren't there to take her into custody."

"Again, no problem Mr. Serna, I will make sure there are officers at the border at two-thirty. If they were to try to pull that crap on us, they won't get away with it." Harold started to think who he can trust to pick up Beth and only one name came to mind. "I will have a detective in charge of the officers and he will be the one handling everything."

"That sounds like a plan Judge Evans. Let's get it done. I need to get with the Governor and inform him about what is going on, so I am going to have to let you go. If you need anything else, big or small, please call on me and I will do everything I can to help you. I can't stress enough how badly we need this win going into the shit storm we are going into with Rich's confirmation and the two huge bills that Governor Lopez has just sent to the legislature."

Harold promised everything would go smoothly getting Beth at the border before they changed subjects to a couple of personal items. They talked for a minute or so about the boys and how things were going at the hotel and then hung up. When they did, Harold got up and headed across the street to the downtown police precinct that in housed the detective floor to speak with Detective Alvarez. As he was on the elevator he couldn't help but think about the last names. The detective has the same last name as the person he is going to be sent to pick up. It would be weird that somewhere along the line this detective is somehow related to Beth's former husband.

The elevator sounded and the door opened bringing Harold out of his thoughts. He stepped out and headed down to Detective Alvarez's cubical. On his way, several uniformed officers and detectives bid him good afternoon and then went on with what they were doing. Not wanting to be rude, Harold responded, but didn't make complete eye contact for fear they were going to stop him and want to ask him a question or two. He didn't have the time to chit chat with anyone at that moment with everything that's going on.

He was thankful that no one did more than bid him good afternoon when he did get to Alvarez's desk. Alvarez was on the phone when he got there, but as soon as he noticed him standing there behind him, he got off and greeted him good afternoon.

"There was no need for you to end your conversation on my account, I could have waited." Judge Evans whispered. "Just like me, you have a job to do and you shouldn't stop doing it for anyone, and that includes me. Well unless I need you to do something that needs to be done." Harold laughed as he patted Detective Alvarez on the shoulder.

"When I noticed you I was pretty much done with the call anyway. What was left was just random things that can wait for another time." Detective Alvarez turned around in his chair where he was making complete eye contact with Harold. "So Your Honor, I know you didn't stop in just to talk with me. How can I help you?"

"That is what I like about you Detective, you get right to the point." Harold looked around for a chair, and when he didn't find one, he went to the cubicle next to Alvarez's and got one. As he sat down, he briefed Detective Alvarez about the phone he call he just had with Al. When he was done, it didn't surprise him that Alvarez was already familiar with the facts of the case and was more than willing to do what he could to help out.

"I never thought the day would come that our Governor was going to get the Mexican government to turn over Beth Alvarez, but I should have known. Governor Lopez is a man that won't stop until the wrong is righted. In this case it is Beth Alvarez being turned over to us so she can be tried for the crimes she committed in this country."

"You won't get any argument from me on that. I believe in this man, not just because he believes in me, but because I know he is the right man to be our governor and one day I really hope he sets his eye on the big house in Washington." Alvarez nodded his head. "I need you to select several officers that you can trust to go with you to pick up Beth. Are there officers that you can trust that won't take the law into their own hands?"

With a smile on his face, Detective Alvarez turned around and started to go through the paperwork on his desk. Once he found the paperwork he was looking for, he turned back around and handed the folder to Harold. Harold had no idea at first what he was looking at, but the more he went through the folder, the more he understood.

"This is that big sting you had been working on for almost a year, right?" Harold looked up from the folder to see Alvarez nodding his head. "These officers that are listed here, can you trust them with this job I am sending you to do?" Once again Alvarez nodded his head. "I can't stress enough that you need to select the right people for this because if you don't, we are going have mud on our faces, and trust me, I don't like mud on my face."

"Neither do I and that is why I am recommending these officers. First, I got to know them while running this sting. Second, they are all fresh out of the academy. I truly believe these guys are the future of our police department, and this one here..." Detective Alvarez pointed to Officer Mooney's name. "This young man I really believe he is going to be running the show when you and I retire."

"He is that good?" Alvarez nodded his head. "If you trust these officers and you know they can get the job done, then they go and get them. Just make sure you are at the bridge at two and stay there until you get Beth Alvarez in our custody." Harold handed the file back to Alvarez and then he handed him the paperwork that was faxed to him. "When you meet up with the Mexican authorities at the border, you are going to need to give them these documents or they won't hand Beth over to you. Make sure they sign the areas they are supposed to before you let them go."

Alvarez took the paperwork from Harold and looked it over. "I will make sure this and everything else dealing with getting custody of Beth Alvarez runs as smoothly. As soon as we get her into our custody, I'll call you and let you know. Then I'll take her straight to county and book her in. Hopefully she won't eventually use the exit door."

Harold agreed with Alvarez about her not getting out. He saw firsthand what she did to her son and daughter and didn't like it. After she destroyed her family, he and his wife was there to pick up the pieces. Even today, Joey is not fully recovered. He hopes once they get Beth, they put her under the jail and throw away the key.

After going over the specifics of how things were going to unfold, Harold let Alvarez go to get the men he wanted. He didn't want them running tight on time or worse, being late arriving at the bridge. From what he was told by Al, the Mexican authorities are looking for any reason to not turn her over and make the Governor look bad at the same time. He's not about to let that happen with something he has been entrusted to get done this important. She did wrong, and needs to have her day in an American court.

While Detective Alvarez and the men he selected went and picked up Beth, Eric and Bernice were getting out of school. They were thankful it was finally the weekend because they were dead on their feet. Although their school day was over, they still had five hours of work ahead of them at Taco Bell.

After confirming their plans with Josh and the gang to be at his house to swim on Sunday, they said their goodbyes and headed off. When they walked outside, they didn't have to look for Father Gomez because he was parked in the student parking lot like has been since they started working. Thankful that he was there, they walked across the street with smiles on their faces. Father Gomez could see they were tired when they got in and wanted to say something, but he decided to keep his mouth shut.

All the way to Taco Bell, all that Eric and Bernice were talking about was what Josh did during lunch. Father Gomez listened to them as they told the story with a lot of energy. He couldn't help but think to himself with what he hears that Josh was going to be like his father when he becomes an adult. No matter how much the young guy fights it, he is getting to be more and more like the Governor every day.

When they got to Taco Bell, Eric and Bernice got out of the car before Father Gomez came to a complete stop. They went around to the driver's side to thank Father Gomez for the ride and then headed in. Just like the days before, Father Gomez waited outside and once he was sure that Eric and Bernice weren't coming out, he pulled out and headed home.

Eric and Bernice changed and once they put their bags away in the back, they were called to the office to count out their drawers to make sure the correct amount is in the drawers. Once they confirmed the amount, they headed up front with Teresa. She assigned Bernice one of the registers on the front counter and Eric to the drive through.

Bernice had hoped that Teresa would give her a chance to run drive through, but she wasn't about to take it from her boyfriend. If the day comes that Teresa does cross train her for drive through, she would do it as long as Eric had no problem with it. If he did, she would find a way out of it. However, knowing Eric the way she does, she doesn't see him putting up a fuss.

It wasn't long after they took over their registers that the evening rush started. Unlike the nights before, the evening rush tonight lasted a lot longer. Just when they though it was over, they found out how wrong they were; they were hit again. It didn't slow down until it was almost time for them to punch out. Even then, there was a steady stream of customers.

The next morning Josh got up before everyone else, including Cesar. He slowly crawled out of bed, trying not to wake up his soul mate. He thought he was successful, but he found out quickly that he wasn't. Cesar turned around and whistled when he saw his boyfriend changing out of his boxers to his swim wear.

"I love it when you're naked." Cesar whispered as he reached out and pulled Josh back onto the bed with his swim trunks at his ankles. "Please don't leave me like this." Cesar moved Josh's hand down to his hard dick. "You are a beautiful site to wake up to and be the last thing I see before I fall asleep. My dreams are always about you and all I want is to be with you."

Josh leaned back and kissed Cesar on the lips. "As you can tell..." Josh looked down at his dick that was pointed straight up in the air. "All I want is to be with you, but I need to get down to the pool and do a couple of laps. Ever since I quit the swim team, I feel I am getting fat and I know you don't want a fat husband. Right?" Josh raised his eyebrows.

"I don't care if you're fat, skinny, bald or whatever, as long as you're you is all I want." Cesar started to tickle Josh. "I love you for what is in here, not for what is outside. But it does help that you are one handsome son of a bitch! I won't lie there."

Josh tried to come back at Cesar, but he couldn't. Cesar had him going, laughing, so hard, that he could barely breathe let alone talk. When Cesar finally let up, Josh got up from the bed and finished pulling up his swim trunks. Once he had them on, he went to his drawer and pulled out Cesar's and tossed them at him.

"Since you're up, why don't you join me for a swim? Who knows, if no one is awake, we might be able to take care of one another in the pool." That perked Cesar up. "Again, if no one is awake. I don't want to be in the middle of making love with my handsome man and have one of our brothers or worse, mother or grandmother walk in on us."

Cesar scrunched up his face when he heard the last part of Josh said as he got out of bed and stripped off his underwear. Once he was in his swim trunks, he and Josh grabbed towels and headed downstairs as quietly as they could. As they made their way to the pool, they checked every room to see if anyone was awake, and there wasn't.

By the time Josh and Cesar got back upstairs, they had gotten more in than just a morning swim. They couldn't help but tease each other about who was going to drain the pool and clean it after what they did in it. When they joined the others at the breakfast table, it was hard for them to keep straight faces whenever someone would mention the pool. Daniel Jr. and Carlos knew something was up, but what, they couldn't figure out and weren't able to get anything out of Josh and Cesar.

They finally gave up when everyone got up and headed their own direction to get their chores done. There was no way they were going to end up in their father's study being told they weren't doing what they are supposed to do, so they won't get their allowance. Most of the family thinks that, unlike Josh, Daniel Jr., Carlos and Brandon depend on their allowances to buy their extras.

What they didn't know was that the money Josh earns with his sales of his CD and soon his concerts, he can't touch. Their father has all the money going into a trust account under his name that only Josh can touch when he turns eighteen. Now there are some exceptions to that, but no one wants to ever have to even contemplate those exceptions.

So just like his brothers, Josh depends on the allowance he gets from his father to get the things he likes to buy like video games. He doesn't want to lose that, so he is out with Brandon and Cesar cleaning the yard. Then they are back in the house to straighten up their rooms and then the game room.

Meanwhile, Patrick, his brother Antonio and sister Marlene were sitting in the living room of Father Gomez's house waiting for him. They knew the conversation was going to be about their father. They still weren't ready to press charges against their father for what he did to them when they lived under his roof and they thought Father Gomez understood that. So they don't know why they were there.

Father Gomez walked in and sat down in his chair. He was wearing what he normally wears, which always freaks Patrick out. Seeing the father as a priest wearing his white collar makes him feel that he can't tell a lie. Even though he wouldn't lie to Father Gomez if he was wearing plain clothing, but more so with him wearing the white collar.

"Guys, I know you are wondering why I have called you in here this morning. It is not to talk you into pressing charges against your father or what he did to you guys when you were younger, even though I would like it if you would. No, he is in a lot of trouble as it is so there is no need for you guys to go in and add to it."

All three Petrillo kids were confused by the direction the conversation was going. If Father Gomez didn't want to talk to them about pressing charges against their father, then what does he want to talk about with them about they wondered? And the part that `their father is in a lot of trouble as it is' is confusing them even more.

"Right now your father is in jail for battery on you Marlene, but I got a call yesterday from a detective of the El Paso Police Department saying that they are going to charge your father with a few more charges." That got the attention of the Petrillo kids. "I want to be the one to let you know this information, not you guys hearing it from a friend at school or on TV."

Father Gomez moved to the edge of his seat and looked straight at the kids. "Your father was caught on several tapes from a house that the police had under surveillance for several weeks. Although he wasn't there when they raided the house, he will be charged with certain crimes that they saw him commit on tape. It doesn't look good for your father. He's not going to get out of jail any time soon with what they have."

Patrick looked at his older sister and then over at his younger brother. By the look on their faces, they were stunned by what they were being told. Father Gomez doesn't need to go into detail about the house he is talking about because they all have seen it on the news. The only thing that is confusing Patrick is that his father was angry with him for being gay, but yet he was worse, touching young boys.

"Father Gomez was there any young girls in that house, or just young boys?"

"Patrick, I know you are trying to make sense of everything that is being thrown at you, but I won't have answers to some of the things you might ask me, like that. As far as I know is what you guys know, young boys. But that doesn't mean that is what your father is going to be charged with. I read in the newspaper about the kind of tapes they pulled out of there, which included a variety of young boys and girls.

That tells me that house must have had young girls there on other nights. It was just the night that the house raided they had the young boys. But it really doesn't matter in the eyes of the law if it is young girls or boys. They were under age and being taken advantage of. That means the charges are going to be the same no matter what."

Patrick understood what Father Gomez was saying. He sat back and didn't say a word or assume anything else. He now sees that he has to wait and see what his father did and that will only come out when he goes to court. The only problem he sees there is that when that happens, will he, his brother and sister be allowed around Josh and his family. There is no way the Governor wants to be associated with a family that has the kind of record they have.

The rest of the day Patrick walked around in a daze. He wanted his father out of his life, but not the way it is happening. By the time dinner rolled around, his thoughts went from his father to his mother. He wondered now that his father is out of the house, not there to make trouble for him and his brother, could they move back in.

There is no way his mother can live alone and he knows that. Every memory he has of her, she was in the background, letting his father make decisions on everything. Now that the decision maker is out of the picture, he wonders if his mother is able to manage things on her own.

As soon as dinner was over, he went to the living room and sat there thinking about whether or not to call his mother. When Immanuel arrived, he had made up his mind and was dialing his mother but was stopped by his boyfriend. They talked about it and at the end, he agreed with Immanuel to give it some time to see how things go.

Back at the Lopez house, the boy stayed up late watching television. Josh was the first to give up, with Cesar right behind him. They were turning in earlier than the others not just because they were tired because they got up early, but because Josh had a recording session early the next morning with his band. So reluctantly he turned in early.

When the alarm went off the next morning, Josh didn't want to get up. He wanted his Sunday, like every kid out there wants theirs; sleeping in and being lazy. By the time the alarm went off the third time, Cesar had enough and pushed Josh out of bed. After Josh got ready, he returned the favor and yanked Cesar out of bed.

"I want you to watch me sing because I sing a lot better with you there." Cesar looked at Josh still half asleep. "There is something about singing to you that makes me forget about everything else going on. It is as if you and I are the only ones alive in this entire world. Please, come down and be with me during this recording session."

Cesar nodded his head as he got up. Before doing anything else, he pulled Josh in to get his morning kiss from him. They held the kiss as they normally do, seemingly forever. And when they broke it, they felt empty inside. If it was all possible, all they wanted was to be in each other's arms, holding each other tight every second of every day.

Reluctantly, Cesar got dressed while Josh waited for him. Once he was done, they went to the recording studio where they found the entire band already there waiting for Josh. Cesar walked over to the side where there were chairs and sat down, while Josh went over what they were going to record with the band.

In less than two hours, they laid down two more tracks and called it a day. Josh walked them out their cars and thanked them for coming and the good work. As soon as they left, Josh and Cesar went and joined the family for breakfast and then back upstairs to get ready for their friends who were going to arrive any minute. Just as they finished putting on their swim trunks, the doorbell rang and they knew exactly who it was.

Running out of his room, Josh flew down the stairs and made it to the front door before his mother. Barbara just looked at Josh and wondered where he got all his energy. Remembering her youth and having her friends over, she quickly turned around and made her way back to the kitchen. She didn't want to embarrass Josh like her parents did to her a couple times when she was in high school and her friends came over.

It wasn't long before all of Josh's friends arrived. At the same time, several of Daniel Jr.'s friends and his girlfriend arrived. Brandon and Carlos's girlfriends came also. However, there were two big surprises as far as guests. The first was a surprise only to Josh when Markus walked in. He couldn't believe the guy would show up after what he did on Friday. The other surprise was Brandon's girlfriend. When he introduced her around to his brothers, they had no idea their younger brother was seeing anyone, and more so such a pretty young lady.

As the Lopez boys were throwing their pool party, the republican leadership in Austin called in their caucus. They knew it was Sunday afternoon and it was out of the ordinary, but it had to be done. Just like Senator Lambert, the phones at their offices have been ringing off the hooks with the voters in their districts demanding they to do the right thing with Rich.

Every republican state senator and congressman arrived reluctantly, but on time. When they all got to the floor the republican leadership walked out and looked at their caucus. They couldn't believe they were having this meeting because they were the ones in control. Not just by a small margin, but by a huge one that they can defeat whatever they want to as long as they keep their party together to get to done.

Putting that out of his mind, the Speaker of the House walked to the podium and tapped it a couple of times to get the attention of the others. "Good afternoon. I know all of us have things we'd rather be doing with our time on a Sunday than being here, but we had no other choice than to call this meeting." The state congressman looked around the floor, trying to read the faces of his fellow republicans, but all got was mixed signals.

"I know the phones in all our offices have been ringing off the hook since the confirmation hearing of Rich Kewl started. It has gotten so bad that my phones stopped working. I don't know about you all, but I want this to end. I also want us to keep control of the state houses and the only way I see us doing that is by going against what we said we were going to do with Mr. Kewl when he got to the floor."

"My phones have been ringing off the hook as well, but I am not about to change my mind on what I feel is the right thing. Rich Kewl can't be allowed to be confirmed. Put aside the fact the guy is gay, but we will be handing a victory to the Governor. We all agree we want the Governor out of the governor's mansion if it means handing it back to the democrats for a term."

The majority of those there stood up applauding what Senator Perez said. "Senator Perez I hear where you are coming from, but if we try to fight the Governor on this, we will lose. We will have a victory not confirming Rich Kewl, but in the long run everyone that casts a no vote will be sent home packing in the next election. I don't know about you Senator Perez and the rest of you for that matter, but I want to keep my job." The floor was dead quiet.

"We have no other choice but to confirm this guy. But that doesn't mean we are going to stop working to defeat everything else the Governor tries to do. He just sent down his gay rights bill and crime bill. I called up his chief of staff and told the old guy that these two bills are dead on arrival and there is nothing they can say or do that will get us to change our minds on that. He didn't like what I had to say, but he knew I meant business.

So let's give the Governor this small victory because I know come election time the voters won't elect Rich Kewl back in. In the meantime it looks good to the voters that we were able to work with the Governor. Then we can pick apart his crime bill and then his gay rights bill and kill them. The voters won't think of us as the bad guys. They will look at the Governor as the bad guy because he refused to let us work with him to create the right balance when it comes down to getting out the final bill."

The chamber broke out into applause. "Tomorrow morning I will call for the vote to confirm Rich Kewl so we move his confirmation hearing off of our agenda. Once he is confirmed, we then take on the crimes and the gay rights bills. Together we pull the bills apart and kill them in committee. They will never see the light of day."

The chamber once again erupted into applause as the speaker of the house stepped down. He made his way out of the chamber looking back at his fellow republicans. There was no doubt in his mind that he had gotten through to them. Come tomorrow they will confirm Rich Kewl as the next Lieutenant Governor of Texas, but right after that they will come back and hurt the Governor by defeating a bill that is close and dear to his heart, the gay rights bill.


I have a home page for you to see what the characters look like or what the places look like. If you want to walk in their shoes, please go to:


{Welcome back one and all to another chapter of "Shadow of My Father". I know there was a small break between the chapters because of the holidays and I hope the return of the story was what you were hoping for, exciting and you unable to put it down. I touched a lot of plots in this story, I think it was the most I have ever done in one chapter.

Anyway, let's get to what this corner is all about; the summation of the chapter. I picked it up with Rich thinking back to the day before his meeting with Senator Cruz. Although he never got the chance to have that meeting, he did find out some things from his friend about the senator he likes. By the looks of it, the senator likes him as well. Come on back and see where that plot line goes, if it goes anywhere, LOL, wink, wink!

It looked like the Republican senators were geared up and ready to give the final blow to Rich on the final day of his hearing. Lucky for him a republican senator saw how wrong they were due to the voters flooding his office with calls, he changed his vote. Because of that, he was passed through to the floor to have a chance for a full vote.

It looked like at the end that the Republicans were ready to defeat him and had the votes, but one again the voters reached out and got their representatives to change their minds. You all know that Rich will be confirmed, or will he. Senator Perez voiced his opinion and by the looks of it he is not ready to give up any time soon. Will he be able to get to enough of the others to go along with him and defeat Rich? Who knows? Not me...yet.

Once again one of Jacob's friends was there to stand up for him when he wasn't there to speak for himself. This time it was Josh that stood up to Marcus when Markus tried to go negative. The last time it was Jacob's sister Marie who stood up to Victor. What is going on with these football players? They don't know when to quit or what? I really hope Jacob wins and wins by a huge number.

Oh man, it looks like things are going the right direction with Chris and Aaron. They were able to sneak off for more than ten minutes this time. They were actually able to spend lunch together. They only talked to each other, but for those two, that is a lot! I think they are great together because they are both damaged. They can help each other through what is bothering them and come out stronger on the other side.

Now there was something mentioned in the conversation between Chris and Aaron, that is Bill living at the hotel. It was mentioned here, but it won't be completed here. It is going to go to the story where Harold is, which is "Regrets and Heartaches". So if you want to know how that turns out, go on over to the next chapter of that story.

Eric and Bernice are doing well at their new job, which is good. They have been there a week now and in their last job by that time trouble had already started. It looks like they found a job they can work at without any problems while they are in high school.

The poor Petrillo kids, it seems that things with their father are not going to go away anytime soon. Now their father is going to be charged with more charges. What more they don't know. It would be weird that he is charged with child porn of a boy after all he has done to Patrick. The answer to that plot will be coming very soon.

Now that thing with Patrick about to call his mother, boy am I glad Immanuel walked in when he did. If he hadn't, I can't even imagine what Patrick might have agreed to. Yes his mother wasn't the one that did the things to him and his brother and sister. But she could have stopped it. If anyone that should have reached out and asked for help is her. I really hope that is what Patrick and Immanuel discussed and agreed upon.

Josh and Cesar are two very horny young boys. They are really in love with each other and we can see it through the words. From the morning exercise to Josh wanting Cesar there with him while he records his music, these guys are just getting closer by the day. I really hope they make through the test of time, I really do.

Now the ending I talked a little about it at the beginning of this corner, but let me touch a little more on it. The republicans were forced to change their minds on how they were going to vote for Rich. What makes them think that won't happen again when it comes to the bills? At the end of the day, if they want to stay in office they must not piss off the voters.

Almost forgot a plot I wrote into this story, Beth Alvarez. Finally she is being turned over. How many of you thought that day wasn't going to ever come? Let me tell you the one that is going to be very happy to hear the news is Joey. This is another plot that got started here, but won't be finished here. You need to go to the next chapter of "Regrets and Heartaches" to see what happens with Beth, which won't be a long wait. For the first time since I started writing the stories, all four of them are about a day apart from each other if not on the same day.

So much going on in this story and not enough paper to write it all on! I know if I forgot anything in my writer's corner about this chapter, "Daddy" Rick will take care of in his corner. There are still a lot of open plots out there that I have not even touched on, and many more new plots are to come. I hope that you all did not forget about any of those plots, and if you did, well then it will be a lot of fun when they come back up again. So hold onto your hats ladies and gentleman, the ride is just beginning!

I could stay here all day long, with all the open plots already in this story, but I won't. I warn you though! Don't skip a chapter, or you will be lost. There is a so much to answer in the chapters to come. Keep reading the future chapters, and enjoy! Please email me and let me know how I am doing at, Thanks!}


HAPPY NEW YEAR to each and every one of you! I hope that 2012 is happy, prosperous and that you have love and good health in abundance!

I think we can depend on Rich being confirmed as lieutenant governor. I don't think that if JPG were to take TWO evil pills, this will change. There are two things I sense the republicans are missing in their plans and expectations. In Texas, the Lieutenant Governor is the leader of the Senate. This is a powerful and very influential position. Rich will back whatever legislation he feels is right. There is also the power of voters that are being proactive in voicing their wishes. Those two factors will force the republicans to act responsibly if they want to not sacrifice their reelection prospects.

I would hate to be in the public's eye, being gay and having an interest in a man that is under the same scrutiny. Rich and Alberto are in just that situation. It will be interesting to see how these two high profile public figures can work things to get in contact and have some time to get acquainted.

Josh is already showing impressive leadership skills. His impromptu speech to the students on Jacob's behalf showed that clearly. He had the right mix of friendly familiarity along with a stack of irrefutable facts to make his points inarguable. As we watch our current political "circus" going on in the battle for the republican nominee for the presidential race, these factors come into play very clearly. It is going to be the qualities that Daniel Sr. and Josh are showing that will bring a candidate to being nominated.

I'm curious how things will come about with Markus at the pool party after the waxing he got from Josh? I can't imagine that the subject won't come up for discussion. It will be the "elephant in the pool" without a doubt.

I really feel for Patrick and his siblings. They are being hit with a bunch of crap they just don't deserve. I'm glad Patrick has Immanuel there to be a buffer and a counselor to help Patrick as he wrestles with the issues and his emotions.

Once again I wish each of you the best for 2012. I hope that you will keep up the e-mails to the JPG team. We truly appreciate every single e-mail we get. After all, we do this all for YOU!

Until Next Time,

"Daddy" Rick