This is the sequel to Dance of the Wicked Boys. It is not imperative that you read the first novel before reading this one as I have included enough hints throughout the first chapter as to what happened before that a new reader will not be completely lost. However, I would hope you would read the first one as it will help you understand the motivations and the feelings of the characters in the sequel. The story takes place in 1970, so the descriptions of New York City, Times Square, and the drive from New York City to the Hamptons may not seem accurate for a contemporary story, but show the way it was forty-four years ago. Times Square wasn't always a Disney Theme Park. Also, the use of anachronistic terms such as “Negro” or “colored” represent the thinking and ways of speaking of the America of 1970 and in no way are intended to be disrespectful to African-Americans. One of the themes of this story is opposition to bigotry and prejudice! Further, there may be things and ways of thinking regarding sex and intergenerational relations that many today would find abhorrent, but which, once again, reflect the way things were in 1970 rather than today. SPOILER: no adult men have sex with underage boys in this story, though it might seem that such might happen. However, the story does explore the feelings and the anguish such desires might engender.

Ballet Academy of America and Ballet of America are fictional entities and any resemblance to existing institutions is purely coincidental. Greensburg is a fictional city.

DANGER WILL ROBINSON! DANGER! This story may contain scenes of sexual activity between underage males. If it may be illegal for you for read this in your jurisdiction or if you are offended by the subject matter of this story, please read no further. I would be very grateful to hear from you about my story. Please write to me at:

frthnkr1957nifty <at> gmail <dot> com

And PLEASE contribute to Nifty! This is an invaluable resource for the GLBTQ community and a bastion in the fight for Internet freedom and Free Speech!

Act Two- The Dance of the Wicked Boys
by FreeThinker

Chapter Nine

Jeremy! Get naked with us!”

Jeremy and Conrad appeared on the veranda in the late afternoon and watched Dylan splash about in the pool with Dante and Andy. Alistair was sitting under the giant umbrella on the patio with Teddy and Jonathan, both of whom had switched from iced tea and lemonade to Scotch. Jeremy waved and then, as he and Conrad walked toward the three men under the umbrella, asked, “Where's Rafael?”

He's upstairs showering and changing,” Alistair replied. “I just came down. We spent a fantastic afternoon working on Gazelle. He's exhausted me.”

Jeremy smiled and said, “Rafael is the best dancer.”

Did you have fun at the beach?” Alistair asked, not looking at Conrad.

Jeremy nodded and asked, “Was that the beach in that picture on Teddy's desk?”

Alistair looked at Teddy and asked, “You have that picture on your desk?”

Teddy nodded and smiled as he replied, “I don't think I've ever seen the two of you as happy as you were that afternoon.”

Alistair smiled and nodded.

Yes, that's where we went. Rafael was twelve and he'd been in New York for only a few weeks. He'd been a terrible mess when he came, but we worked with him and by that day in August, he had stabilized and become a quite pleasant boy to be around. It was really a breakthrough day. That beach means a great deal to me.”

We had a wonderful time,” Jeremy said. “It's a beautiful place.”

Yes, it is.”

Conrad met Alistair's eyes and then turned to Jeremy. “Go get naked and play with the boys.”

Jeremy giggled and turned. He didn't run, Conrad noticed, as the man would have expected him to. At the pool, as Dante and Andy eagerly watched, Jeremy slipped out of his Topsiders and shed his Izod and his swimsuit before sitting on the edge of the pool and slipping into the water, rather than jumping in as he had the day before. He was also not erect, which seemed unusual for the boy with the perpetual boner.

Conrad turned to Alistair and said, “I explained to Jeremy why it was impossible for us to have sex. I thought you would be relieved.”

Alistair raised an eyebrow and asked, “And, why would I be relieved? I have no intention of pursuing a relationship with the boy beyond being a friend and mentor and being in charge of his training.”

Conrad sighed and sat down. Alistair sighed, as well, and muttered, “This event has not turned out to be the pleasant and fun gathering for which I was hoping.”

Conrad looked out at the water and said, “He's such a special boy, though he really doesn't see himself that way. I tried to explain to him that he's at the top and that he's exceptional, but I don't think he fully grasps just how good he is.”

Alistair frowned and said, “He seems subdued.”

Yes. He became so after the conversation. I wanted him to understand that, despite all the sex that seems to be happening around him in this moral cesspool, that would not be an option for the two of us because it would get in the way of the very important work we need to do to make him an extraordinary dancer. He understood, though he's not happy about it. He's a very...he's...naive and...”

He looked back at Alistair and Teddy and said, “I get the impression that this boy could be extremely sexual under certain circumstances and I'm afraid for him because of that. It wouldn't take much to push him in the wrong direction.”

Teddy sighed and said, “And, I suppose you blame Rafael for that?”

Oh, no!” Conrad quickly replied. “Not at all. I think it's that he doesn't fully understand the sudden rush of feelings he's having. I think puberty is hitting him all at once and it just happened to occur at the moment that he's being thrown into this new world of temptation, stress, and competition. I explained to him that he's going to be facing the most intense competition of his life and that some kids avoid nervous breakdowns byturning to drugs, as Andy Daugherty does, or to sex, as Rafael has. I don't condemn Rafael. I understand. After being mentored” he held up fingers to signify quotation marks around the word “mentored”—“by Alistair's father, I understand completely the attraction of that option. I reacted to the stress by completely shutting down. The point I want to make about Jeremy is that I think he's in a fragile place right now and it wouldn't take much to ruin all the potential he has to be the greatest dancer ever to come out of Ballet Academy.”

Alistair looked down and asked, “Do you think the trainees here are under too much pressure? I'm serious about this question. I've tried to change things here at the academy and in the company after my father died. He ruled by intimidation and cruelty. I've tried to motivate and encourage and nurture my dancers and trainees, but do you think the kids are under too much pressure?”

Yes,” Conrad replied, “but I don't know what to do about it. The competition at this level from other schools and other companies is just too great. I mean we aren't like the Soviet ballet schools. They're like the army, but we have to maintain standards and I just don't know what to do to relieve the stress except to be more careful about who we admit to the school. Andy Daugherty has no business here and he knows it, but nevertheless, here he is. Why? I think if he had his way, he wouldn't go through all this. I can't imagine Bobby Daugherty wants a ballet dancer son in his presidential campaign. I actually feel sorry for the kid. He's an ass, but there are reasons for it.”

Alistair sighed and looked away. Conrad frowned and added, “Of course, a lot of the pressure is put on them by each other and by themselves. They know that they're competing against each other. How can you be best friends with a kid who could knock you out of the competition at the next culling?

My God, Conrad,” Jonathan exclaimed. “I've seen you in interviews, on television, on stage, and I've heard about the Ice Prince, but you're actually nothing like your image. You really are a human being.”

Alistair smiled as Conrad shrugged. “Conrad feels things very deeply. He just learned under my father how to bury his emotions. It was the only way to survive back then.”

Conrad sighed and looked out at the pool where Jeremy was standing in the middle of the shallow end as Dante and Andy spoke with him and Dylan floated nearby. Alistair reached out and took Conrad's hand.

I want your help, Conrad. I need your help with Jeremy. We need to make sure he doesn't implode from all the pressure and all the new experiences here.”

I'll do what I can, but you know once school starts and the company returns, I won't have much time. It's impossible for me to see him during the week. He can't stay awake as late he would need to see me. He'll have class Saturday mornings and I'll have practice. The closer we get to performance, the less time I'll have on weekends. I may see him two or three times a month. It's really not until summer that I'll get to spend any serious time with him and even then, if I get an invitation to dance somewhere...”

I know, but the little free time you have may make all the difference. I know what you mean. I won't have that much time, either. It's really going to be up to Rafael and Teddy.”

You know you can trust me and I want you to know that you can trust Rafael. He worships Jeremy.”

Rafael appeared on the veranda at that moment and all eyes at the table turned to him as he approached.

Why do I feel like you were all talking about me?” he asked suspiciously.

Because we were,” Alistair replied with a smile. “We're actually talking about Jeremy and how Conrad and I are worried about the pressure he may feel and how neither he nor I are going to have enough time to devote to the boy and how a lot of the responsibility for helping and protecting him may fall on your shoulders, Rafael.”

The teenager sat down at the table and nodded as he replied, “You're right. No one seems to get how bad the stress can be and Jeremy's going to be under a lot because I think you people expect more from him than he might be able to give. He expects so much from himself, too, and never seems satisfied, no matter how well he does. Everyone keeps talking like he's the greatest thing since sliced bread and he's going to feel this extra pressure to meet everyone's expectations. But, there's something else to remember. He's been having terrible nightmares at night. He wakes up crying and screaming and jumps out of the bed like he doesn't know where he is. It's his parents. I think he's dreaming about his parents telling him how disappointed they are in him. He's got this thing about them and so you take all the pressure he's going to be under just from being a trainee at Ballet Academy, plus the pressure because you all think he sits at the right hand of God, and then the pressure from his dead parents...”

He looked down and said, “You know, I haven't really thought this before, but...I mean I wondered this weekend if it might be a mistake to bring Jeremy here and I talked about it with Teddy, and now... after that nightmare last night...”

Alistair looked at Rafael and Teddy with anger as he demanded, “Why haven't you told me about these nightmares?”

Rafael and Teddy looked at each other in confusion, but said nothing. Alistair glared at Conrad and asked, “Do you know about the nightmares?”

Conrad nodded and said, “I thought you knew.”

Well, he and I are going to have a talk tonight. I want Jeremy to know that he can come to the great Alistair Mountjoy and not feet intimidated and we're going to talk this over.”

He looked over at the pool, where Jeremy was smiling and seemed more relaxed than he’d been earlier. The man added, “It's so hard to deal with parents who aren't thrilled their sons want to wear tights, but when the parents are dead...”


So, did it feel good?”

Jeremy and Rafael were walking through the upstairs hallway after dinner toward their bedroom to change into shorts and tee-shirts, Alistair having relaxed his rules about tights for the evening.

Did what feel good?” Jeremy asked innocently .

Don't play that game with me,” Rafael said with a grin. “When you were standing in the pool with Dante and Andy and Dylan was blocking our view. Don't act like the three of you weren't having a circle jerk.”

Jeremy blushed as they entered the bedroom and said, “Well, Andy started it. I wasn't going to do anything, but we were standing there talking and I told him about my life in Greensburg and about Dad being a big lawyer and my grandfather being a judge and all and then we started talking about you and then it turned into talking about sex and...Well, I was already horny from being with Conrad at the beach and him not doing anything with me and when Andy started feeling me, well, I couldn't stop. I just couldn't stop, Rafael.”

Yeah, I kind of figured that.”

Rafael closed the door to the room and asked, “What did you think of Dante?”

Oh, man, he is sooo sexy!” Jeremy replied excitedly. “He says he thinks you're the hottest guy he's ever done it with!”

Rafael smiled and said, “I really like Dante. He's sexy and he's a great guy. Andy Daugherty's as ass, but I really like Dante.”

Man, his dick is big!”

Rafael laughed and said, “Yeah, lots of black guys have big dicks. At least that's what people say.”

The boys were undressing and Jeremy giggled. However, after a moment, he became serious and said, “Rafael, I'm wondering about something. Conrad told me he knows I want to have sex with him, but he can't do it with me because he's afraid it will get in the way of all the work he wants to do with me.”

Rafael nodded as he dropped his shorts and underwear to stand naked and partially erect in front of the younger boy. Jeremy, despite having found relief in the pool before dinner, was erect again as he pulled his shorts off and stood naked with Rafael. As they pulled their dance belts on, Rafael said, “I know. I think that's good. I know you want to do it with him, but if he's going to be teaching you and working with you, he could be right about sex getting in the way.

But, you and Alistair do it,” Jeremy said.

Once and that's kind of different,” Rafael replied. “It was three years ago and I was a lot crazier when I got there than you are—not that you're crazy, but...”

Jeremy looked down at the floor as he finished adjusting his dance belt. He frowned and said, “Rafael, I'm wondering if there's something wrong with me.”

Rafael took a deep breath and looked at the boy with concern. Alistair was going to talk with Jeremy later in the evening, after they had finished their practice, but Jeremy was forcing the issue. He had to be careful, not just because of Alistair's conversation later, but for Jeremy's emotional stability. The wrong comment, the wrong facial expression, anything could mess up Jeremy's equilibrium, particularly his feelings of self-worth.

So, what are you worried about?” he asked carefully.

Jeremy took a deep breath and replied, “I'm worried that it's like all I can think about is sex. I mean, when I got here, I didn't want to do it with anyone except you. I love you, Rafael. You saved my life. I owe you everything. I love you. But, I can't stop thinking about sex and I'm hard all the time. It kind of started last week when I did it with Benji. I really talked him into it and then when I came over to your place, I was afraid to do it because I thought you'd think I was a pervert and then when we did do it, it was so fantastic and wonderful and then, here, I mean in New York, well and here at Alistair's, when you and I do it now, I go crazy and I get just so wild and sexy. And, then I met Alistair and I want to do it with him and Conrad, oh, my God, Rafael, I want to do it with him so bad I can't stand it and I did it with Dylan last night and I went crazy with him and then I jacked off Dante and Andy in the pool before dinner and...”

He looked at Rafael with true fear and shame as he said, “Rafael, I think something's wrong with me. Why is it that I can't stop thinking about sex? Why am I always hard? Why am I so crazy about sex? What's wrong with me? Am I a pervert? Am I wicked?”

Rafael was on the verge of tears as he listened to the boy. He could hear the agony in Jeremy's voice, the shame and revulsion. He stepped over to him and wrapped his arms around him. He held Jeremy tightly and the younger boy hugged him back as he started crying.

My parents would be so disgusted with me,” he sobbed. “They'd hate me! I was always a good boy. I was always good and they never seemed to notice and now...they're gone and...”

There's nothing wrong with you, sweetheart,” Rafael whispered into his ear. “There's nothing wrong with liking sex, Jeremy. Besides, you've gone through some big changes and shocks, so you're nervous and anxious and...well, sometimes people turn to sex when that happens. You'll be okay. Once school starts, you'll be okay.”

Jeremy suddenly pulled away and said, “You just say that because you're so sexual because of what your stepfather did to you. Maybe you want me to be as sexy as you. Maybe you just want to have tons of crazy hot sex with me and you don't care about how its tearing me apart. Maybe...”

He sat down on the bed and sobbed.

Rafael stepped in front of him and softly replied, “I just want you to be happy, Jeremy. I don't want you to suffer and beat yourself up and whatever. I love you, Jeremy. I love you more than anything. I love you.”

Jeremy wailed and said, “I know. I know you love me. I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I...”

Rafael turned around. He wasn't going to be able to handle this by himself. He pulled his shorts on and hurried out of the room.

Wearing shorts and a tee-shirt with his dance shoes, Alistair was just emerging from his bedroom and when he saw the distraught look on Rafael's face, he asked with urgency, “What's the matter?”

We need you. You need to talk to him now. You can't wait until later. You have to do it now. I don't know what to do. He's... I'm going to lose him, Alistair, and I can't live if that happens.”

Alistair quickly hugged the boy and kissed his forehead. “I'll take care of him, Rafael. Everything's going to be all right. Don't worry. I'll fix this.”

Help him, Alistair! Please!”

Rafael followed Alistair into the room and stood aside as the man approached the wailing boy, who was now lying in the fetal position on the bed.

It's okay, Jeremy. I'm here,” he said soothingly as he sat down and rested the boy's head on his thigh. Jeremy continued to sob as Alistair patiently caressed the boy's face and shoulder. “Let it out, Jeremy. Just let it out.”

Rafael sat down on the floor in the corner, cross-legged, and chewed on his knuckle, full of fear. Alistair looked up at him and nodded as he smiled. Rafael folded his hands and tried to relax as he watched the man stroke the crying boy's arm. Jeremy was dressed in only his dance belt, but Alistair seemed not to notice. He reached over to the nightstand and pulled several tissues from the box before he helped Jeremy to sit up. The boy's sobs had begun to subside and Alistair looked up and nodded his head toward the door. Rafael stood up.

Why don't you go start your warm up and Jeremy and I can talk for a while before we come down.”

I don't think I need a warm up,” Rafael replied. “I've been dancing all day.”

Alistair raised an eyebrow and Rafael said, “I think I'll go warm up.”

Thank you,” Alistair replied with a wink.

When Rafael left the room, Alistair kissed Jeremy on the cheek and softly said, “Now, why don't you tell me what's going on?”

Jeremy looked down forlornly at his lap, realizing he was naked, except for his dance belt, in front of one of the greatest men in ballet. He sniffed hard and said, “I'm so ashamed. I'm so sorry. I'm just being a woosie.”

No, you aren't, Jeremy,” Alistair replied. “You're not a woosie, at all. You're a strong boy who has survived so much and I am more impressed with you than you can imagine. You've worked hard over the last four and a half years and you've made yourself one of the finest dancers in the country. You're an inspiration to boys all over the United States, Jeremy. Strong, athletic boys can be graceful, beautiful, elegant dancers and I'm so proud you're going to train in my school.”

You wouldn't be proud if you knew what a pervert and sicko I am.”

Alistair hugged him tightly and whispered, “I know, Jeremy. I know, because I turn to sex when I'm lost, when I'm scared.”

Jeremy looked at the man with surprise and said, “You get scared? How? You're Alistair Mountjoy. You're the greatest man in ballet!”

Alistair grinned and said, “Well, Mr. Balanchine might disagree with you on that, but, yes. I get scared. It's tough being Alistair Mountjoy. It's tough always being strong and in control and always being there for my dancers and always knowing how to solve every problem. And, sometimes it gets too much and I turn to other menGeoffrey, dancers I know from the company or from other companies. You see, Jeremy, my father was a lot like Rafael's stepfather and, well, I understand Rafael. I also understand you. You're not a pervert, Jeremy.”

But, all I can think about is sex right now,” Jeremy wailed. “I need to focus. Madame Pulchova always said, 'Focus, focus, focus!' And, I can't! I'm just thinking about sex!”

It's just a case of nerves, Jeremy. Don't worry about it. The more you worry about it, the more it will be a problem for you. Now, tell you what.”

He smiled at the boy and brushed his hair from his forehead as he said, “You don't worry about it tonight. Tonight, you and I and Rafael are going to dance and work on your performance for tomorrow and we're going to have fun and you're not going to worry about anything, Jeremy, because we all love you and you're a fantastic dancer and your life is going to be wonderful now. All right?”

Jeremy sniffed and nodded. Alistair grinned and added, “But, before you come down, you know what I would do if I were you?”


Alistair winked and pointed to Jeremy's dance belt and said, “I'd take that off for a bit and take care of your hard-on.”

Jeremy blushed deeply as Alistair chuckled and stood. He leaned down and kissed Jeremy's forehead.

Oh, where are Rafi's dance shoes?” the man asked.

Jeremy pointed to the closet and Alistair gathered them up. As he walked toward the door, he chuckled and added, “Just don't take too much time!”

Jeremy giggled and Alistair walked out the door.


Amazing, amazing.”

Alistair stood beside Conrad as they watched Rafael and Jeremy dancing energetically across the studio and shook his head.

Rafael dances as if he hasn't already been dancing all day,” Conrad remarked.

And, Jeremy dances as if he's been doing this his entire life.”

The boys were coming up on the six Grand Jeté at the end and Conrad whispered, “Now, watch this.”

Alistair watched with a smile of joy as both boys spun and leapt with seeming ease, their legs and arms parallel to the floor, until they came together in the center, their inside arms thrown triumphantly into the air, looks of pride and joy on their faces as both fought not to seem to struggle for their breath.

Bravo! Bravo!” Alistair shouted as he clapped and ran forward. “Beautifully done! Perfectly executed! Brilliant! Both of you! Brilliant!”

He hugged Rafael tightly and kissed his cheek as the fifteen-year-old smiled with love and happiness, and then turned to Jeremy. Holding the boy's shoulders, he grinned into the boy's face and said, “After that, do you have any doubts about your abilities, Jeremy?”

No,” the boy replied, his face full of joy. “It was good, wasn't it?”

Good is an understatement,” Alistair replied as he stepped back.

Conrad smiled and winked at Jeremy, adding, “I think I'm a little superfluous tonight. I can't think of anything to suggest that would improve your performance, boys.”

I agree,” Alistair replied as he walked back to the wall. “I think one more time, just for good measure, and then you've earned an evening off.”

Conrad leaned over the turntable and reset the needle. He smiled as he watched Alistair laugh at Jeremy's impish Sasha coming out on stage and teasing Rafael's Prince Andrei. He watched Alistair's eyes moving in different directions, keeping tabs on specific points that needed to be monitored, and nodding when the dancer or dancers performed them correctly. The delight on the man's face grew as the dance progressed until, as the boys performed the climactic spinning leaps and ended in the center, he laughed with joy.

I only wish I had a bigger audience for you tomorrow!” the man declared as he walked back out. “Perfect once again! Jeremy, it's a treat watching you dance! Rafael, what can I say that I haven't already said about you a hundred times?”

Oh, I can think of a few things,” the fifteen-year-old replied with a grin.

Alistair winked at him and said, “Go drink water. You, too, Jeremy. You both have the rest of the night off.”

Do you mind if I work a little longer?” Jeremy asked. “There are a couple of things I want to work on.”

I think you should quit now. I don't want you to make your blisters worse before tomorrow night” Alistair replied, seeing the disappointment in the boy's face. “You'll have two more practices tomorrow before the performance, so don't worry. Take it easy tonight. You're just fine. You've nothing to worry about.”

Jeremy clearly disagreed, but said nothing to the “greatest man in ballet.” Instead, he nodded politely and followed Rafael to the corner for a drink of water.

I really want to dance all evening,” Jeremy said softly to Rafael. “I don't want to have to think about anything. I just want to dance.”

I know,” Rafael replied. “I know exactly how you feel. But, maybe we can all sit on the veranda and talk.”

He turned and called to Alistair, who stood by the door with Conrad speaking softly, “What do you have planned for us, tonight?”

Oh, I thought we could just relax on the patio and veranda and talk and have fun,” the man replied. “Teddy can regale us with one of his wild yarns and Daugherty can brag about living in the White House when his father wins the election. That ought to be hilarious all by itself.”

It'll be okay, sweetheart,” Rafael replied as he hugged Jeremy. The younger boy leaned against him and lay his head against Rafael's chest.

I said terrible things to you, a while ago,” he whispered.

It doesn't matter, sweetheart,” Rafael replied. “You're in pain and I love you and you can't hurt me because I know you're the sweetest guy in the world. Besides, I know where those words came from.”

Rafael caressed Jeremy's hair and whispered, “We can leave the patio early and head upstairs, if you'd like.”

Jeremy nodded, but whispered, “I just wish I didn't have to go to sleep. I can't take another nightmare.”

I know, sweetie. I know. Just remember, we all love you, Jeremy. Me, Teddy, Alistair, Conrad. Dylan. We all love you, sweetheart.”

Jeremy nodded and whispered, “I know.”


...and, well, you know what they say about Milton Berle! He's supposed to be hung like a mastodon!”

Everyone sitting on the patio laughed and even Jeremy smiled at Teddy's stories of Hollywood gossip. The sun had set and twilight was descending over the gathering as the boys ate chocolate ice cream and the men drank from Alistair's stockpile of Macallan. Alistair had begun a story about his father meeting Milton Berle once in New York, when some of his dancers had appeared on his pioneering variety show in 1949, when Dylan whispered to Rafael and Jeremy, “Hey, you two want to come over and join the fun tonight? Andy and Dante are staying in my room and we're going to have wild and nasty sex!”

Rafael sighed and shook his head. “Ordinarily, I'd be the first one there, but Jeremy and I need to get to sleep early. We're going to practice early in the morning.”

Oh, come on, Rafael!” Andy objected. “When have you ever turned down sex?”

Since I found the sweetest guy in the world and because we have practice in the morning and we want to get up early.”

Jeremy leaned over and whispered, “You can if you want to. I don't mind.”

Rafael shook his head and said, “I want to be with you tonight.”

He wrapped his arm around the boy's shoulder as Dylan sighed and said, “Come on, Jeremy. You were fantastic last night.”

He turned to Andy and Dante, explaining, “Me and Jeremy had a sixty-nine last night and he is boss! He sucks better than Rafael!”

Jeremy blushed and looked down as Andy and Dante grinned. “Come on, Jeremy,” Andy urged. “Don't make us wait until we're in the showers after school starts!”

Leave him alone,” Rafael warned with a smile on his lips that wasn't reflected in his eyes. “Besides, you won't be showering with him anyway. He's a first year.”

Well, that's an even better reason why Jeremy needs to come up and suck us!” Andy replied.

His comment was loud enough to stop the conversation among the adults, who all turned and looked at the boys. Jeremy lowered his head in shame and embarrassment and Rafael hugged him tightly as he glared at Andy.

Alistair gave Andy a deadly look before turning back to the men and continuing his story. Dylan touched Rafael's shoulder and whispered, “I'm sorry, man. I didn't mean to embarrass Jeremy.”

You didn't,” Rafael replied. “It was all the asshole's fault.”

Andy rolled his eyes as Rafael turned to Jeremy and whispered, “Why don't we head upstairs. We can make an early evening of it. Okay?”

Jeremy nodded silently before they stood and said their good byes to the adults. Conrad kissed Jeremy on the cheek and Alistair kissed Rafael on the lips. Teddy squeezed the hands of both boys and Jonathan nodded to each before they turned and headed toward the French doors leading to the atrium.

I can't get over how maternal Rafael has become now that Jeremy is in his life,” Jonathan remarked. “He’s a different boy.”

You might also note that Rafael has had no sex with anyone other than Jeremy for a week,” Alistair replied. “I think this is the real thing.”

It is,” Teddy declared. “Rafael's never loved anyone the way he loves Jeremy.”

What is it about Jeremy that has captured his heart?” Jonathan asked.

He's good and decent,” Teddy replied. “Jeremy is incapable of guile or deceit. And, Rafael remembers that seven year-old boy who came up to him four and a half years ago and declared that he was going to be a ballet dancer just like Rafael.”

What a wonderful love story,” Conrad said. “They're both very special.”

Alistair simply nodded stared at the door through which they had disappeared.


You didn't have to turn down Dylan,” Jeremy said softly as they walked through the dimly-lit atrium.

Yes, I did,” Rafael replied as he squeezed Jeremy's hand. “I don't want to do it with Dylan or Dante, and especially not with Andy now. You, Jeremy, are the only guy I want to be with tonight. I love you and no one else.”

The boys stopped by the koi pool and gazed at the fish as they slowly swam among the rocks and the plants. Jeremy whispered, “I don't deserve you, Rafael.”

Now, stop that!” Rafael ordered as he turned and faced Jeremy. He held the boy's face in his hands and said, “I love you, Jeremy, because you're the kindest and most decent guy I've ever met anywhere. I love you. Do you understand? I love you and you're good. You're a good person, Jeremy. The best. I could have any guy in New York I want. Any, but I fell in love with you. You, Jeremy. And, I will never let you go.”

Tears came into Jeremy's eyes again and he whispered, “I love you, Rafael.”

Rafael gave the boy a long kiss on the lips before pulling away and softly saying, “Let's go upstairs.”

He took Jeremy's hand again and the two walked to the stairs and up to the second floor. They paused at the small bronze of the naked boy with the curly hair and Jeremy tentatively reached out, running a finger over the smooth figure.

If Geoffrey only met Alistair a few weeks ago at a party, how come Alistair has a statue of him when he was my age?” Jeremy asked.

Oh, my God!” Rafael exclaimed. “That's who that is! It's Geoffrey! I thought he looked familiar, but I couldn't figure out where I had seen him before!”

Jeremy smiled at the older boy and then back down at the statuette. “He was beautiful. He could almost have been a dancer.”

Rafael nodded and said, “He and I were flirting with each other in the car when he picked us up. He didn't flirt, though, when we drove out here.”

From behind them, Geoffrey's voice said, “It was because I knew by then how much the two of you loved each other...and how much Alistair loves you both.”

The boys turned around in surprise and saw Geoffrey approach, once again in his briefs and a tee-shirt. Jeremy couldn't help glancing down at the slight tent in the young man's underwear. Rafael kept his eyes on Geoffrey's as he replied, “If it wasn't for Jeremy, I'd have moved heaven and earth to get you in bed.”

Geoffrey grinned and said, “I know and it wouldn't have taken that much.”

He stepped over to the statuette and said, “I was a few weeks away from my thirteenth birthday when my art teacher made this bronze of me. He saved my life. I was suicidal because of the way my family had rejected me over my homosexuality and he became my lover. He quit teaching a few years later and made his living doing bronzes. Alistair still doesn't know that's me.”

Why not?” Jeremy asked.

Geoffrey smiled and Rafael cocked his head as he said, “Because Geoffrey doesn't want to embarrass Alistair for not recognizing him.”

Geoffrey nodded and Rafael added, “Like everyone else, he's fallen in love with Alistair.”

Geoffrey looked down and said, “I'm just his houseboy, but if he ever wanted to have a relationship, I'd die for him.”

I understand,” Rafael replied. He looked down at Jeremy and added, “I would still feel that way if I hadn't met someone else I'd die for.”

Jeremy looked up at him and smiled.

Geoffrey nodded and said, “Alistair loves you both. You know, someday, you should think about maybe... well... you know...”

Maybe,” Rafael replied, “but, right now, Jeremy is the only guy I want.”

Geoffrey nodded and said, “I wish I'd have met my own Jeremy—or my own Rafael—when I was younger.”

It's not too late,” Rafael replied. “You're only twenty.”

Geoffrey smiled sadly and said, “Maybe Alistair will decide someday that I could be more than a concubine.”

Rafael smiled as he and Jeremy started down the hallway to their room and said, “You're a lot more than a concubine.”

Yeah,” Geoffrey replied as he followed them. “I'm also his driver.”

Rafael smiled encouragingly as they reached their door and said to the young man, “Have fun tonight.”

I don't know,” Geoffrey replied. “I may have to compete with Dylan and Dante and that arrogant little snot Andy.”

Oh, I don't think so,” Rafael replied. “ Not a four way with them.”

Geoffrey nodded and said, “Yeah, you're right. He wouldn't include Andy Daugherty. He wouldn't want to give him something to blackmail him with after he kicks Daugherty's shitty little ass out of Ballet Academy.”

Rafael chuckled and kissed Geoffrey good night before he and Jeremy entered their room and closed the door.



He and Jeremy were lying naked in the garden outside Alistair's house, the brilliant midday sun shining down on their skin, his a light and glowing olive, Jeremy’s pale, reddish and freckled. He could hear the trickling water of the fountain in the center of the garden and the raucous calling of several seagulls in the air. He felt such a sense of peace and joy holding Jeremy's hand. The younger boy smiled at him and Rafael knew that all was right with the world.

Except for that damn whimpering. Was someone crying? If so, who, and where were they? He looked around and couldn't see anyone. He looked down at Jeremy and asked, “Who's crying?”

I think it's me,” Jeremy replied uncertainly.

It can't be,” Rafael replied. “You're right here. You're not crying.”

Jeremy frowned and replied, “I think I'm over there, on the other side of those bushes.”

Rafael shook his head and asked, “How can you be over there when you're over here?”

Rah-fay-el! Go see what's wrong with me!” Jeremy cried with frustration.

Rafael opened his eyes and looked around the bed. The covers had been pushed back and the space beside him was empty. With a sinking heart he realized, searching through the dark bedroom, that Jeremy had suffered another nightmare. He crawled from the bed, a cool breeze blowing across his skin from the open doors to the balcony. He looked out and saw the first glow of the morning sky. He sighed with frustration and fear as he crept toward the door.

He couldn't see Jeremy anywhere but heard whimpering to his side. He turned and found the boy curled up and shivering on the concrete as he stared ahead at the balustrade.

Oh, sweetheart,” Rafael said softly, “sweet Jeremy.”

He bent down and whispered, “Come inside, Jeremy. It's too chilly out here.”

Jeremy made no sign that he had heard the older boy. He simply sat shivering and whimpering as he stared straight ahead.

Jeremy,” the teenager repeated, but the boy didn't respond.

Rafael sighed heavily and returned inside. He pulled a cover off the bed and carried it outside. He draped it around the shivering form of the whimpering boy, pushed it down between Jeremy's back and the wall, and then sat down beside him, wrapped the blanket around himself, and then wrapped his arms around Jeremy under the blanket.

Oh, Jeremy,” he whispered in the boy's ear, “if only I could feel this pain for you. If there was some way I could take it away from you so you never had to hurt again. Oh, God, Jeremy, I love you so much. I love you, Jeremy. I love you.”


There you are!” Alistair exclaimed as he stood up from the breakfast table. Teddy and Jonathan were also there, drinking mimosas and eating scrambled eggs. Conrad came strolling in from the garden. Jeremy and Rafael had emerged from the house and were slowly crossing the veranda, wearing their shorts and tee-shirts.

I was about to go inside and throw ice water on all you sleepy heads. I can understand Dylan and the others—they were up past midnight making all kinds of disgusting sexual noises, but you two...”

He stopped when he saw the boys were covered with sweat.'ve been working out!” he exclaimed with surprise.

Jeremy and I decided to get up early and get the morning workout over with,” Rafael replied. “We may practice some more when the others get up, though.”

Jeremy wouldn't meet anyone's eyes as he walked to the buffet. Alistair looked at Rafael, who frowned and pressed his lips together. When Alistair started toward Jeremy, the teenager quickly shook his head and Alistair nodded. Conrad watched Jeremy in frustration as the boy poured a bowl of Total and took a cup of yogurt to the table.

We're going to have quite a crowd, this evening,” Alistair remarked as he sat back down at the table. “Teddy's Things are coming as well as a few dancers from the company. I also have a discaire coming in from one of those mysterious clubs that move from warehouse to warehouse on the lower west side so we can dance to some of the better dance music that we never hear on the radio. It should be lots of fun.”

It sounds like a blast,” Rafael said as he prepared a plate at the buffet. “Jeremy, this will give you a chance to really improvise the way you like to.” He looked at Alistair and said, “You should see Jeremy when he's improvising. He's amazing.”

He's always amazing,” Conrad replied with a grin.

The boy blushed and made an attempt at smiling at the dancer. Conrad gave him a wink and that did bring a smile in return.

So, is anyone heading into town today?” Rafael asked.

Geoffrey's running a shuttle service between the house and the station,” Alistair replied. “What do you need?”

Oh, I just want to roam around, check things out.”

You never had a chance to ride in the Porsche,” Conrad said with a smile and a wink. “I may need to run into town, as well. Why don't you ride in with me?”

Rafael nodded and said, “Cool. I'd like to experience a little German engineering…and driving.

Be careful,” Alistair warned. “I'm not bailing anyone out of the Suffolk County Jail.”

They have to catch me first,” Conrad replied, “and I don't think the fuzz has anything to match what I have under the hood!”

Are you referring to the car or yourself?” Alistair asked with a grin.

Conrad simply smiled as Jeremy looked curiously at Rafael. The teenager gave the boy a smug smile and said, “Tiffany's doesn't have a store out here, so don't get any ideas.”

Jeremy blushed and smiled as he looked down at his cereal. Alistair watched the interaction between the two and rose. Looking at his watch, he remarked, “I think I need to throw a bucket of water on the Three Stooges.”

I need to run to the boys room,” Rafael said as he rose. Alistair gave him a significant look and followed.

Once inside the house, Alistair turned to the teenager and asked, “How did last night go?”

Rafael sighed and said, “He had an awful one. I woke up with him crying on the balcony. We didn't get much sleep and we finally just went down to the studio at sunrise and danced.”

Alistair exhaled deeply and Rafael added, “This is why he's always so much quieter and serious in the mornings than he is later in the day. It takes him a while to get over all the trauma of the nightmares.”

Would you say this is getting worse?”

I don't know,” Rafael replied. “Maybe.”

Will he be able to perform tonight?” Alistair asked with concern.

Oh, yeah! No problem,” Rafael replied confidently. “You've seen him dance. He won't have any problems.”

Good. Charles and Julian are coming tonight and I want my ballet masters to be awestruck with how good he is.”

Rafael smiled and asked, “Will Charles be sober enough to notice?”

Actually, the more important question,” Alistair replied with a grin, “is will Julian see anything other than Jeremy's sexy body?”

Rafael chuckled and Alistair asked, “Why are you going into town​?”

Rafael shrugged and replied, “I just want to get Jeremy some silly little something for his merde tonight.”

Alistair nodded and said, “I thought so.”

As he turned however, Rafael asked him, “Alistair, I've never asked anyone this and I'm really curious. Actors always say 'Break a leg,' because they think it's bad luck to say 'Good luck.' So why do dancers say, 'Merde?' Why 'merde' instead of something else?”

Alistair shrugged and said, “I'm not sure. Some people think it originated in Paris when dancers were crossing the street to the Paris Opera House and warned each other about the horse shit in the street. Or, there may be some other reason. You know how we dancers are—we always flaunt convention. Perhaps we need something shocking to say to each other before we perform. Thank God it's not, 'Kiss my ass!'”

Rafael grinned and said, “You realize of course that that's going to be my 'Merde” from now on!”

Alistair rolled his eyes and smiled as he proceeded on through the atrium.


Here,” Conrad said as he tossed the keys to his Porsche to Rafael. The two walked from the patio to the garage late that morning after another practice with Jeremy performing 'Dance of the Friends.' The teenager caught them, but looked at Conrad as if he were crazy.

Conrad, I can't drive,” he exclaimed. “I'm only fifteen.”

So what?” the man replied. “Surely you've practiced behind the wheel, snuck your mom's car out at night, something?”

Rafael shook his head and said, “When would I have a chance to drive? I live in Manhattan. Teddy doesn't have a car. Besides, I get home maybe twice a year and Mom would have a shit-fit if I ever even looked at her precious Cadillac.”

Well, then, I won't have you destroy my clutch and grind my gears,” Conrad replied as they walked through the garage to the driveway. “After all, I paid seven thousand dollars for this thing.”

Seven thousand?” Rafael exclaimed. “Damn, these things are expensive!”

What did you expect?” Conrad replied as he jumped into the car. “It's one of the finest cars on the road.”

Rafael jumped into the car, though more carefully than Conrad as the man added, “It's a shame you can't drive. Teenage boys always get the most amazing erections when they drive this.”

Oh, I'll get hard, all right,” Rafael said. “You just show me what you can do and I'll pop a serious hard-on for you!”

Conrad chuckled as he started the engine and revved it up.

Oh, yeah,” Rafael moaned, causing Conrad to laugh.

The man sped around the circular driveway and then out through the woods to the road, causing Rafael to whoop loudly. Conrad grinned as they sped along the narrow winding road through the woods. When they finally came to the intersection with Highway 27, Rafael grinned broadly and said, “Man, I need to get me one of these when I get out of training!”

Conrad chuckled as they turned onto Highway 27 and headed west toward East Hampton and said, “You might want to consider a driver's license first.”

Man, where am I going to take driver’s ed?”

Next August, during hiatus, you'll just have to find some private driver’s ed school, unless you want to go to Europe with Jeremy and me.”

Rafael looked at the man with shock. “Wait. You're in love with Jeremy,” he said.

Conrad nodded and said, “I know how much the two of you love each other. Where are you doing your summer training next year?”

Alistair's talking about Paris.”

Cool. I'm sure Jeremy will stay in New York, but we can meet you there when he's finished and then go on to Milan to visit some friends of mine and then find some nice beach somewhere to relax for a week or so before we return to the insanity.”

Rafael looked at the man with amazement and replied, “That...would be great, but...why? Why me?”

Conrad shrugged and said, “I like you. You're intelligent and decent. You haven't once hit on me since we got here. You're a lot different from your image.”

Rafael smiled and asked, “Would you have turned me down if I had?”

Conrad chuckled and replied, “I honestly don't know.”

With a smug grin, Rafael replied, “We still have a few days.”

I wouldn't have respected you as much if you had,” the man replied.

Damn. Now I can't put the moves on you. I have to wait for you to make the first move!”

Conrad laughed and said, “You have Jeremy and I think he's quite enough for one person.” He paused and added, “He certainly would be for me.”

Rafael nodded and said, “He is for me.”

Rafael looked out the side at the passing scenery of trees, wide lawns, and old houses. After a long moment, he said, “You know, I really don't want to be with anyone except Jeremy. I've never felt this way before. Of course, we've only been together a week, but still... Everything is different now. I love him.”

I know,” Conrad replied with a smile.

You know,” Rafael said as he looked at the man, “you're a lot different from your image, too. You're really a nice guy. You're not like Spock at all.”

Conrad laughed and said, “I've never seen Star Trek, but I understand what you mean. Yeah, I suppose the Ice Man warmeth.”



Jeremy grinned as Rafael handed him a special sack with a bow. They stood on the balcony outside their bedroom as the late afternoon sun shone down on them and Jeremy grinned as he replied, “It's not very heavy.”

Well, I can take it back,” Rafael teased as he pretended to grab the sack away from Jeremy.

No way!” the younger boy cried as he spun around. “This is mine!”

Rafael laughed and said, “I know it's a little early, but we might not get any private time again until after the performance. The other guests are already arriving. Charles Hadley and Julian Portman are here. They're two of Alistair's ballet masters. A couple of Alistair's friends from outside the ballet world are here. The Things should be here soon, too. We'll have to get dressed soon, so before it all starts Sweetheart, I just wanted to have some private time with the guy I love more than anything on earth.”

Jeremy smiled up at the teenager and said, “You're the most wonderful guy in the world for dealing with how crazy I am and for rescuing me and for inspiring me to become a dancer and...and...”

They kissed deeply and then, as they pulled away, Rafael grinned and softly said, “Open it.”

Jeremy smiled and tore the sack open. With a laugh, he cried, “It's Dancing Bear, from Captain Kangaroo!”

Rafael grinned and asked, “Do you like it?”

I love him!” Jeremy cried as he hugged him. “He's the perfect merde!”

Rafael laughed and said, “I'm glad.”

They hugged again and Jeremy kissed Rafael's throat. “Can we cuddle with Dancing Bear for a while?”

Rafael smiled and nodded as he replied, “I think we may have time.”



All three Things shrieked as the teenager appeared on the veranda. They had been standing near the pool drinking Pink Pussies when he appeared, but they each cried out and ran toward him as the other guests watched with amusement.

We absolutely thought you had died!”

We did not! We thought you'd been kidnapped by some ruthless Duke or Earl and then spirited away to his castle where you'd been locked up in his tower and forced to perform all kinds of deliciously degrading acts!”

Rafael laughed as the three slim, effeminate young men gushed over him. “Well, I did perform some depraved and degrading acts...”

Oh, do tell!”

And, one of the trainees with me was a Viscount who took me home to see Mummy and Daddy one Sunday.”

Oh, tell us every filthy detail!”

Rafael laughed and said, “Well, I don't think the Countess was at all happy to see me, but the Earl was quite friendly and gracious.”

Oh, of course he was! He was remembering those cold winter nights at Eton or Harrow and committing all those wonderful sins with the other boys!”

Of course! He wanted to steal you away from Sonny Boy!”

How was London?”

How was the Royal Ballet?”

How was the Queen?”

Rafael grinned and said, “Which one?”

The Things twittered at his response and one declared, “Oh, Rafi! We've so missed your charming banter!”

And, your beauty!”

And, your big dick!”

Oh, come on!” Rafael chided. “You've never had my big dick!”

Oh, but we have!”

A thousand times!”

In our dreams!”

Well, I must say...”

Oh, my God! It's him!”

It is!”

It's Jeremy!”

Rafael had maneuvered the Things toward the patio as they gushed about him, but when Jeremy appeared, they immediately ran and surrounded the younger boy. He looked at them with wide-eyed horror, at first, which quickly morphed into amusement as they touched and caressed him and squealed.

Oh, my God! Jeremy! You are beautiful!”

You are drop-dead gorgeous!”

You're a walking sex-god!”

Jeremy raised an eyebrow and said, “I'm twelve.”

Oooh, look at that hair! Feel how thick and soft and silky it is! Oh, my God! What I could do with that hair! Jeremy, you have to let me do you!”

And, that body! He'd be perfect to model my boys spring line! Such nasty innocence in that face! Those freckles! Those eyes! Those lips just scream, “Fuck me!”

Oh, Jeremy, I could take pictures of you that would make the dead cum! You must let me shoot you!”

All right, girls!” Rafael declared as he walked up to rescue the boy, “let the poor kid breathe. And, Tommy, get your filthy hands off his butt!”

But, it's so firm and soft and cute...”

For God's sake,” Rafael declared as he pulled Jeremy away from them. “Get a hold of yourselves!”

I'd rather get a hold of Jeremy!”

Or you!”

Or both of you!”


Rafael shook his head as the other guests watched with amusement. He stepped to the side and asked Jeremy, “Are you okay?”

I...guess,” Jeremy replied.

Okay. Now, this is where we start learning one of the important parts of being dancers. We're meeting some of Alistair's guests and you need the experience of socializing with people. Are you up for this?”

Yes, of course,” Jeremy replied confidently. “I used to meet people at the receptions after performances back home and Mom and Dad always used me as a waiter at their parties. I can talk to anyone.”

Well, just in case, remember what they say about fighting stage fright. Just think of everyone naked.”

Jeremy giggled and Rafael added, “And, if it helps, by midnight, about half these people will be naked!”

Jeremy giggled again and Rafael led him out into the crowd.

Charles, it's good to see you again!” Rafael declared to a portly man with a red nose and thinning hair.

Rafael,” the man slurred, “I hear you wowed them in London.”

It was a tremendous experience. I learned so much there,” the teenager replied. “May I introduce Jeremy Fenwick? He'll be joining Ballet Academy this fall. He trained with my teacher back home, Anna Pulchova.”

As the two shook hands, Alistair turned to the boy and said, “Jeremy, this is Charles Hadley, our Senior Ballet Master.”

Jeremy!” the older man exclaimed, his breath smelling of strong drink. “I've heard Alistair singing your virtues!”

It's an honor to meet you, sir,” Jeremy replied formally with a nod of his head.

You're certainly a polite boy!” Charles declared, “and good-looking, too! You look like a young Alistair. In fact, I remember Alistair when he was your age and you could easily pass for him.”

Thank you,” Jeremy replied with a blush, “but I don't think I'm that handsome!”

Charles leaned forward and said confidentially, “Take every compliment you get, boy, and run with it! Besides, in your case, they'll probably be right!”

Jeremy smiled and said, “Rafael's already given me the speech about how there's no room for humility in ballet.”

He's right, and he's a perfect example of one who practices that philosophy!” Charles replied with a chuckle.

Rafael pretended to be offended and then pretended to bat his eyes flirtatiously at the man before he led Jeremy on to the next guest.


Are you ready?”

I'm ready.”

You're not nervous?”

Jeremy rolled his eyes as he and Rafael stood behind the stage on Alistair's patio, shaking their arms and legs to keep them loose and waiting for their cue to appear on stage. Both wore their gray tights and white leotards. Jeremy had made certain his hair was perfectly combed. Rafael had made certain his curls were properly gelled and shiny. Both were breathing deeply to give their muscles as much as they could get of the precious oxygen they would need later. When Rafael asked his questions, Jeremy grinned and said, “I'm fine, Rafael. You know I've performed before twelve hundred people four times. I think I can handle ten or fifteen at a garden party.”

Rafael grinned and said, “I have total confidence in you Jeremy and I want you to know how proud I am of you. Just think what you were doing a week ago tonight.”

We were practicing in your basement.”

Rafael nodded and said, “I love you, Jeremy.”

I love you, Rafael.”

Alistair appeared around the corner and asked, “Ready?”

Both boys nodded as they continued to shake their legs and arms.

Jeremy, I'm so proud of how professional you are. You're a credit to Anna Pulchova and her training.

Thank you, Alistair,” the boy replied sincerely, “and thank you for giving me this opportunity.”

Alistair winked and said, “Merde!”

Merde!” the two boys replied in unison.

Alistair grinned and stepped around the corner. The boys stood at the corner and breathed deeply as they prepared themselves for their performance.

The guests were all seated before the stage on pool and patio furniture and applauded politely—for the most part—though the Things hooped and howled lustily to the amusement of most. Alistair posed provocatively for them, provoking laughter all around, before he smiled and said, “Gentlemen and...everyone else...Welcome to my home and to our August Soiree! We have a special treat tonight. Whenever I have a gathering of the brethren and sisters”he held his hands toward the Things at that point—“I like to showcase some of our best talent at Ballet Academy and this evening, we are most fortunate. Every year, Ballet Academy of America attracts the finest young talent from across the United States and around the world and this year is no exception. You all know Rafael Colón, our gifted and beautiful dancer from Greensburg...”

The party erupted into cheers and applause.

... and I would like to announce that our September Spotlight will be highlighted by Rafael performing the world premiere of my newest dance, The Gazelle, with superb music by Jonathan Durham. It is quite an achievement for a fifteen year-old trainee at any ballet school to perform a world premiere dance, but Rafael has more than earned this honor.”

More applause and cheers.

And, this evening, Rafael will be joined on stage by a new trainee, a truly amazing young man whom Ballet Academy is honored to train, who also studied, as did Rafael before he came to us, with the renowned Anna Pulchova! Jeremy David Fenwick!”

More applause and cheers—perhaps more enthusiastic than before.

And, so, gentlemen and...ladies... with me as, of course, as The Queen...”

Cheers and laughter.

Rafael Colón as Prince Andrei, and Jeremy Fenwick as Sasha... from Dmitri Koronov's masterpiece, The Ice Prince,...'The Dance of the Friends!'”

Rafael met Jeremy's eyes and they both whispered, “I love you.” Together they walked around the corner of the screen and onto the stage. They did not acknowledge the applause, but took their places, Prince Andrei in the center of the stage assuming a stance of regal rebellion, Alistair—in slacks and sport shirt—standing to his side with the haughty air of a Queen unaccustomed to being disobeyed, and Jeremy at the side of the stage, head down, simply standing in wait. At the piano, Jonathan waited for the applause and cheers to die down and when quiet had been achieved, he allowed a pregnant pause to build for several more seconds before he began to play.

The Queen looked at Prince Andrei with exaggerated outrage as Teddy said in a stage whisper, “Well, that was type casting.” Amidst chuckles from the others in the audience, the Queen stormed off the stage as Prince Andrei crossed his arms imperiously and looked around, his head held high as he pondered his victory over his mother.

Suddenly, there were chuckles from around the audience as Jeremy came to life, crouched, and now becoming Sasha, began to creep stealthily out onto the stage, silently giggling behind his hand, broke the fourth wall and nodded to the audience before pointing to Prince Andrei. He knew that his choice to portray Sasha in this way was a success and he was energized as he crept forward.

Teddy was sitting to the side with Dylan next to him. Behind Charles and Julian, the Ballet Masters sitting in the front row, were Andy Daugherty and Dante Robinson. At first, Andy snorted derisively, but as he watched Jeremy's performance, he became quiet and began to watch with increasing interest.

Sasha crept up to Andrei's left side and silently giggled again at the audience before be tapped on his shoulder and then leapt behind him with a spin to Andrei's right. The Prince looked to his left, but when he saw no one, he frowned and, following Jeremy's lead, looked at the audience with a arrogant lifting of his left eyebrow before he shrugged and resumed his thoughtfully regally stance.

The audience was enjoying the manner the boys were portraying their characters and the two dancers were both encouraged by laughter. Sasha repeated his earlier teasing, though in the opposite direction. Once again, Andrei could see no one to his side and gave the audience a perturbed, though still noble and monarchical, sigh and shrug before, once again, resuming his thoughtful pose. It was on the third try, however, as Sasha leapt behind Andrei to his right one more time, that Andrei turned to the right and caught his mischievous friend. Sasha looked frightened at first and then gave his friend an impish grin before the prince silently laughed and the two gave each other exaggerated hugs before they began to dance in a circle, holding hands.

Knowing that this was the part of the performance for which all audiences waited, Jeremy and Rafael began their competition, energetically and vigorously dancing about the stage in an increasingly frenetic mix of ballet moves that left the gathering before them amazed and literally sitting on the edge of the seats.

The two dancers were passing each other as they crossed the stage in a series of petit jeté. Teddy watched in joyful awe, his hands clasped together as Dylan grinned and even the Things watched in breathless astonishment.

Dante gazed at the dancers with his lips parted in amazement as he watched Jeremy's incredible performance and Andy shook his head in grudging admiration.

Wicked,” he muttered slightly louder than he realized he should have. “Fucking wicked!”

Jeremy was in mid-leap as he heard the word, “Wicked.” He landed roughly and stopped cold. Rafael's back was to him as he continued three more petit jeté before starting chaines tournes toward the center of the stage. With a sudden icy stab of shock, he saw Jeremy standing motionless on the stage, staring at a confused Andy Daugherty. As he had been trained to do, Rafael continued the performance as if nothing were amiss until a look of pain came over Jeremy's face and the boy, still looking at Andy, loudly exclaimed, “I'm not wicked, Mommy. Why would you say that?”

Jonathan watched in alarm, but continued to play. Rafael reached the center of the stage as Jeremy looked at Dante and said, “Daddy, tell her I'm not wicked! Please! Can't you see? I'm good! I'm good!”

The gathering looked at each other in alarmed confusion as Rafael quickly stepped over to Jeremy and wrapped his arms around him.

Jeremy! Jeremy! Look at me!”

The boy continued to stare at Dante and Andy.

Mommy! I'm good! I'm not wicked!” the boy wailed. “I've tried my best! I really have! I can't try any harder! Please Mommy! Please say I'm a good boy!”

Jeremy! It's okay!” Rafael said soothingly as Alistair rushed over. He, too, embraced the boy and as Jeremy struggled, he cried, “Tell her, Daddy! Tell her! I'm good! Everyone here says so! I'm good, Daddy! I'm good!”

Yes, Jeremy! You're good!” Alistair said as he pulled the struggling boy off stage.

I'm a good boy!” Jeremy screamed. “I'm good! I'm a great dancer, Daddy! Madame says so! Alistair says I'm great! I am, Daddy! Daddy!”

As Teddy rushed forward to assist, Alistair and Rafael dragged the screaming, crying boy through the kitchen door and held him tightly as he sobbed. Rafael kissed his face repeatedly as he said, “You're a wonderful dancer, Jeremy. Everyone knows it and everyone knows you're a good boy, Jeremy. You are. You're sweet and loving and good, Jeremy. We love you, Jeremy.”

Alistair kissed his forehead and said, “You are, Jeremy! You're a wonderful boy and an exceptional dancer. You're the best, Jeremy. You are!”

Suddenly, the boy looked up at the three, his eyes meeting Teddy's and then Rafael's before a look of absolute horror came over his face, a look that couldn't have revealed more shock and agony if he had actually witnessed his parents fatal accident. “Oh, my God!” he said softly. “What have I done?”

He shook himself free of Rafael and the two men, backing up in awful realization of what had just happened. “Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” he repeated over and over as he backed away from them. “What have I done?”

It's okay, Jeremy,” Alistair replied soothingly. “You'll have a glass of water and...”

No! No! It's not okay!” Jeremy cried as he backed into a closet door. He looked around him in horror and dismay. “I've ruined everything. Oh, my God, I've ruined everything! Everything!”

He turned and ran out of the kitchen.

Jeremy!” Rafael shouted as he took off in chase. “Jeremy!”

Alistair followed quickly and Teddy clasped his hands helplessly for several seconds until, tears flowing down his own cheeks, he followed.

He stopped in terror when he heard a scream from deep within the house.

I hope you are enjoying my story. Please let me know at: frthnkr1957nifty <at> gmail <dot> com