The Potter's Wheel
Chapter Twenty One
The wind blew across the empty field from the west at a sustained fifteen miles per hour making it feel more like twenty-five degrees than forty. In the short time that Matt had lived in Delaware he was amazed at the how many windy days they experienced; he figured this was what it must be like living on the tundra.
As the calendar clicked down to Christmas the guys themselves pressed to complete their preparations in time. Tommy had traveled a few miles west into Maryland to visit a stable that came highly recommended to pick out horses for the boys. After getting to ride Chesty, all they had talked about was getting their own horses. Matt and Jim had resisted until Tommy arrived; now they not only had someone to teach the boys to ride but to teach them how to care for their mounts. They would be responsible for feeding and mucking out stalls on the weekends and when they were off school.
"We really appreciate this Al," Matt said, as he helped unload the last mattress from the truck.
"Whatta ya talking about, we're in this together," the hairy stud replied, grunting as they wrestled their cargo through the front door of the rancher, "but after this I have to get back to the house--I have a lot of cooking to do this morning."
It was the final push to get the rancher ready for the guests coming for Christmas and the New Year. There was going to be more than just a full house. In addition to their family, Jasmine and her parents were arriving Christmas Eve along with Travis and the twins; they would all be leaving the day after Christmas for a week in Florida. Brandon and his family were arriving right on their heels and staying until the New Year--they would also be housed at the rancher.
Dave and Scott would be flying east to meet Declan who was in Virginia working; all three spending Christmas Eve at the farm before flying to Connecticut on Christmas day to visit Dave's family. The ex-priest had spoken to the guys and explained that Scott had made wonderful progress in therapy and asked if he might bring him along. After consulting with Tim they decided it would not be a problem and to Tim's credit he told them that he was `over it' and the guy deserved another chance. They would be arriving later that evening.
"Well at least you won't have the boys under your feet," Matt said as they dropped the final mattress in place, "Tim and Derrick are taking them to the mall to help them shop; that should occupy them the better part of the day."
When they arrived back at the house they found Barry in the kitchen, pacing and looking extremely agitated. "What's up Bazza?" Matt asked as he took his lover in his arms and kissed him.
"My fucking parents," he said, still clearly agitated "My mum just called and wants to come Christmas Eve to see Ryan and I told her no, that we had a full house."
"Well I'm sure we can handle two more," Matt said trying to calm him.
"No fucking way!" Barry spat, "I haven't heard from them or from any of my family since September and now two days before Christmas they want to visit? No way, they can go fuck themselves! Besides, I'm not letting them near me or our son until after the adoption is final."
"Alright baby, it's your call," Matt said squeezing him hard, "whatever you want to do, Gunner and I are behind you."
"Come on downstairs boys, I have a nice minestra keeping warm on the stove, and you," said Al pointing at Barry, "need to eat and then go take a nap--you've been overdoing it."
"Thank you Uncle Buck," Barry said with a smile and headed downstairs while Matt went to round up Jim and the rest of the guys.
Al placed a bowl of soup in front of Barry along with a basket of bread. "I know this thing with your parents upsets you and you're probably battling with your conscience; you know the whole `honor thy father and mother' thing. Well I think you can honor them by being respectful--but parents who do wrong do not deserve to be honored. Don't let this wear you down, buddy, you have to stay strong for the next month--your biggest responsibility is to stay healthy for your son," Al said and squeezed his shoulder as the din of the arriving remaining guys reached their ears.
"Hey Al," Jim said entering the kitchen, "do you think we can handle three more for dinner tomorrow? I talked to the guy who runs the USO at Philly International; they have two Marines and a Sergeant Major who will be stuck there tomorrow waiting for their transport. They fly in tonight and will be sleeping there--I thought we could bring them down here for dinner so they won't be alone on Christmas Eve."
"Sure Gunner, with twenty six, what's three more?" Al said with a smile. Along with all the guests and family they had invited Ron and Jackie Leonard and their kids. They had always spent Christmas Eve with Al and his mother so the little stud asked if they could continue the tradition. Brett was very excited when he heard the news, it meant more time with Danny.
"Good, man, I'll ask Derrick to drive up late in the morning and pick them up," he said taking his bowl of soup and grabbing a seat. "Oh yeah," he said to no one in particular, "I just talked to Rich and he's all set," he said with a wink. Rich Allgood had recently been hired by the guys to handle the books for the farm as well as the household accounts--he was recommended by Ron who also knew he was a biker and could help Jim with passing his driver's test. He was a big bear of man packed with muscle and judging from his well-filled jeans, hung like a horse. He was married with three children; two daughters, nineteen and twenty, and a sixteen year-old son. The big guy and Jim hit it off immediately--he even joked with Jim that as much as he liked pussy he could see the benefits of living without women in the house, "Maybe once a month you guys can let me hang out a few days," he joked.
His role the next night was to show up around 1900 dressed as Santa, mainly for Ryan's benefit, but he was also going to have a gift for everyone--he was even going to help Billy with his proposal.
"Well I hope Kelly is better with him than with the Santa at the mall--he wanted no part of sitting on his lap for that picture," Matt said.
"He may be a bit better here with the family around," Jim added, "I need to call Derrick and tell him to pick up gifts for the three extras. What do you think about noise canceling headphones--I know Travis loved them when he was deployed."
"Good idea, baby," Matt said as Barry nodded his head in agreement. Then looking at Al who was wiping his eyes he asked, "What's up Al?"
"Nothing, I'm Italian and tears come easy; you guys are about the most generous people I ever met, always thinking of others and how to make them feel welcome and accepted," he sniffed as he pulled a bowl of squid from the fridge to start cleaning it.
"Sorry to bother you guys with business so close to Christmas, but this will be my last trip east before we take over Stratton Engineering," Declan said to the assembled group--essentially the board of Reprisal.
"I've worked out a contract with Grant Belgrade who will become the CEO beginning March 15; we're leaving Clinton in charge until then; he has also agreed to stay on as COO afterwards," Declan announced.
Bringing Jim's former boss on board was a bit of luck. One of Finn's ex-partners was handling his divorce. Grant had asked for full custody of his children; something he never thought he would get, and then out of the blue his attorney received a call from his wife's lawyer. She was willing to give him sole custody of the children and seek no spousal support in return for a non-contested divorce. Grant would also be signing a non-disclosure agreement as to the reasons for the divorce. They accepted the deal with a few amendments, the important one being no restrictions placed on Grant and the children leaving the state. As soon as the agreement was reached he put in for his retirement--things were getting just a little too political for his taste anyway so it was a good time to get out.
The only reason for such a drastic turn around that he could think of was interference by his father-in-law--a man who would do anything to firstly, keep the secret of "the twins" from becoming public and, secondly, keeping Grant's homosexuality from the headlines as well. When he was offered the job at Stratton Engineering he jumped at the chance to go to Virginia; he was born and raised in Richmond so Virginia Beach would be almost home.
"Grant will be tied up with working the military angle for contracts while Clinton will deal with day to day operations. I'd like to leave Junior acting as CFO so that Clinton will have more time to figure out what he was up too. However we need to find someone to replace Mr. Flannery in March when Grant takes over," Declan explained.
"What about your brother Tom?" Jim asked Matt, "He's a CPA, maybe he'd like the job?"
Matt thought a minute and then asked his father's opinion, "Well he's certainly qualified and has experience in accounting and management. His girls are in college; and now that he is divorced he may want to get out of Savannah; he only went there because of his wife," Frank said and then added, "I would love it if he were closer. It would be nice to have all my boys nearby," he said, smiling.
"I'll call him tonight and see if I can get him to come up for New Year's," Matt said, "I wouldn't mind having him closer myself."
"So how's my recalcitrant brother handling the pending sale?" Jim asked.
"He's about the same, probably a 9.5 out of 10 on the biggest-asshole-in-the world scale," Declan said getting a laugh from the guys. "He seems to be despised by his own secretary and only really has three guys that he is friendly with; engineers that don't work with him or for him. According to Clinton, they are the core of a racist, bigot, homophobe crowd."
"That sounds like Junior," Jim said. Of course the irony was lost on Declan who had not been told about the sexual abuse of his nephew Shane.
"Have you decided what you are going to do about the embezzlement," Frank asked.
"Nothing," Declan answered, "Barry would you like to explain?"
"Yeah, so Clinton was able to gain access to Junior's laptop--easy job since his secretary hates him," Barry said, illuminating his million watt smile. "And he was able to copy the entire hard-drive onto a memory stick. Me and my guys were able to get all the information he had hidden away about the accounts he has in the Caymans. We also installed a RAT that if my mate is correct is impossible to find or trace."
"What's that and what will it do?" Matt asked.
"It's a remote access Trojan, it will let him keep an eye on what Junior is up to; we'll be able to track what he's doing from now on. Then we will be able to use his laptop just after midnight on the15th to transfer the money in those accounts to a new one--which he knows nothing about. It's just a tiny bit illegal, but then again what he has done wasn't exactly above board," Barry concluded.
"Can any of this come back on the company?" Frank asked, "and shouldn't that money be returned to the owner?"
"Not really, what's he going to do, go to the Feds and complain that the money he embezzled was stolen?" Declan answered. "And we ended up paying Mr. Stratton a little more than the actual value for the company so I think we're even."
"He's right Dad," Jim added, "we're not touching anything my brother earned legally, just what he stole. Frankly, he should be happy that's all that happens to him. And the money we recover will be funneled back into the company over time."
"Jim's correct," put in Finn. "We'll give him his walking papers along with a glowing reference and send him on his way--it's much more than the prick deserves.
Matt knocked on the boys' door. "It's Dad," Matt said. They had started to give some warning when the boys' room was closed--Jim thought it would be a good idea since they were getting near the age when kids began to mature and get curious.
"Come in," MJ called out. Matt found the boys drying off after a shower--they had been in the hot tub with the older guys. Danny and Duffy were already in their places at the foot of the bed. It was funny that Ian--originally MJ's dog always slept on Ryan's bed. Jim reasoned that since he was the `alpha' of the group he was protecting the two youngest.
"What's up, Dad?" Jimmer asked, standing up from drying his legs, his woody standing proud. Matt had noticed in the past few months that the boys were going through a growth spurt--both height and length.
"What's so funny Dad?" MJ asked
"Nothing sport, I was just thinking you two are growing up fast," he said and was rewarded by two proud smiles.
"Listen guys, you two are growing up and things are changing fast; just remember it wasn't too long ago that I was your age," Matt said and the boys sniggered and he squeezed them tighter. "Hey, it really wasn't that long ago. Anyway, nothing you two are experiencing--or doing is something that you invented or your Dad and I didn't do--we went through all the same things, so if you have any questions just come and ask. Deal?
"Deal," both boys said in unison.
"Just one more thing, right now while your bodies are going through these changes..." Matt stopped for a second to think of the best way to present his advice without getting into a long discussion. "Anyway, while you're turning into young men sometimes your emotions get a little out of control and your feelings get hurt easily--so it's okay if you guys tease each other but keep it in private for now; and always remember you are brothers and love each other. If something that is said bothers you, speak up--don't keep it in and let it come between you," Matt said remembering the long years he spent without Jim in his life.
"You mean like what happened to you and Dad--having a fight and not speaking for twenty years? Jimmer asked. Matt was astonished by what his son had just asked. He and Jim had never really told the boys the story; the boys must have gleaned the information from overheard conversations.
"Yeah sport, that's exactly right, if I had told him why I was angry that could all have been avoided," Matt said his voice thick with emotion. The memory of that time was still a little bit of a raw nerve, while the last year had done much to heal it--any reminder of that fateful day caused Matt a tiny bit of heartbreak
"Anyway, I just came in to say that with all the company in the house for the next week, try and remember to wear clothes," Matt said as he stood and kissed both boys on the forehead and made to leave.
"Don't worry Dad," MJ said, "it's too cold to run around naked."
"Besides, his dick is so small it disappears when it's cold," Jimmer shot back getting his turn at being punched in the arm. Matt laughed at the boys as they wrestled on the bed as the two dogs barked and tried to join in, "Good night guys and behave--remember, Santa's watching." He left the room with the boys giggling and was sad for a brief moment; he knew that in a blink of an eye his boys would be all grown up and going off to college. He just hoped that they would always remain as close as they were now; but more than that he needed to tell Jim and Barry how perceptive their boys really are.
He opened the door to the bedroom and saw Jim and Barry already in bed--and making out. "What are you two up to?" Matt asked, as he started to strip.
"Trying to start a party, mate, I'm randy as hell--for the first time in a long while," Barry said, pushing his hardening cock into Jim's thigh, "I need both of you to fuck me tonight," he said before diving under the covers and taking Jim's cock in his mouth. Matt stripped as fast as possible and joined his lovers. He immediately dived face first into Barry's upturned ass and began to rim him. Matt's hot wet tongue and his quick nibbles on Barry's perineum caused him to moan around Jim's cock. He pulled off Jim and told Matt to lie on his back. He reached over and grabbed a small bottle of olive oil (it tasted better than K-Y) from the night stand and lubed Matt's cock and his own ass. Then, with his back to his man, he squatted down as Jim held Matt's cock straight up and slowly lowered himself. When he bottomed out, Jim moved in and began to suck Barry's hard cock, alternating with licking Matt's meat when he pulled up.
The lovemaking continued for a while like that; eventually Barry lay back on Matt as Jim lifted his legs and slowly entered his hole as well. This was what he loved most; both of his men in him at the same time--well, it was his second favorite because somehow both men seemed to be able to time their orgasms and fill him at the same time; that would cause him to spill his load all over his own muscled abs.
As the three men lay together afterwards, licking each other clean, Matt re-told the story of his visit with the boys. Jim, who had been lovingly cleaning under Matt's foreskin, pulled off and said, "Uh-oh, if they're anything like you they will spanking the monkey ten times a day."
That caused Matt to come up from between Barry's legs--where he had been saving the sheets from being stained. "Yeah right, you couldn't even make it through home-room in seventh grade." Moving up to kiss Barry he continued: "Every morning he was in the lavatory beating off. Sister Maryetta sent a note home to his mom suggesting a visit to the doctor to have his bladder checked," Matt said, and then he and Barry burst out laughing.
"Fuck off, Matty, I didn't have my own room like you--there was no way to beat off at home, remember I had to share a bedroom with my brothers and we only had one bathroom then."
"He's right Baz, first stop was my house every day after school. My mother thought we were in the basement working on homework--but we were busy pumping our cocks," Matt shared.
"It was even better after she left, then we got to do it laying on your bed," Jim remembered.
"What did Frank say?" Barry asked, already getting hard again from the story.
"His only rule was that we do it in my bedroom. He said he didn't want the family room smelling like cum all the time. Oh yeah, before my mom left he had walked in on me jerking off and from then on one of my chores was washing my own sheets. He told me later that he didn't want my mom freaking out over cum stains," Matt then moved down and started to lick Barry's growing rod.
"You guys were lucky, my dad would have flipped if he ever caught me wanking, especially with a mate," Barry stated.
"Well you don't have to worry about that now," Jim said as he knelt next to Barry and fed him his growing cock. Round two was off, and so were the three lovers about twenty minutes later.
On the morning of Christmas Eve it was Danny and Brett's turn to get the boys out of the house so their surprise wouldn't be ruined. Tommy's visit to a stable over in Maryland had resulted in him picking out two ten year-old mares for the boys. He had an instant connection with the owner of the farm, Ronnie--a woman he later described to the guys as being butcher than any one of them. She felt that the two horses would be gentle enough for the boys to learn on, while still having enough life in them to teach them how to handle a challenge. Tommy rode both horses and agreed with her.
Right on schedule the buzzer for the gate sounded. Al looked at the monitor and saw the horse trailer and immediately buzzed them in. "Come on guys," he said to the group at the table, the horses are here." By the time the group made it over to the stable the truck was already parked in front. The door to the dually swung open and out stepped a woman that matched Tommy's description: she was about 5'7" with short cropped hair, complete with jeans, a flannel shirt and cowgirl (or rather cowboy) boots. When she saw the approaching group she stopped and held out her hand to Matt who was first to in line.
"Morning," Matt said, taking her hand, "I'm Matt Leo, and these gentlemen are Jim Flannery, Barry Parsons, Al Calabrese and you've already met Tommy."
"Well ain't you a fine looking set of studs," she said with a smile as she shook hands with each guy. "So which one is your husband?" she asked turning back to Matt who couldn't hide the shocked look on his face.
"Ronnie, mind your manners, not every good looking man is gay," said a very pretty, petite, young woman that had just made her way from behind the trailer. She introduced herself as Katie.
"What?, there is no way in hell a group of guys their age would look this good without being gay," she explained with a twinkle in her eye. "And besides, if my gaydar hadn't picked up on it, I would just have to turn in my Rosie O'Donnell tool belt and all my Hillary bumper stickers," she added and roared with laughter at her own joke.
"Actually," Matt said putting an arm over both Jim and Barry's shoulders, "these two belong to me."
"Greedy fuck, aren't you!" she said with a smile. "You sure do have good taste. Well let's get these girls into their new home," she said going to the back of the trailer and unlocking it.
"Well whataya know, a dyke with a sense of humor," Al said in a stage whisper causing the guys to cringe.
"Ya got that right shorty, almost as rare as butch gay men," she said not missing a beat and with a huge grin. They each decided that they liked Ronnie; being new to the area and with such a unique family--they needed all the friends they could get.
Tommy and Katie backed the two saddlebred mares--one pinto and one chestnut-- out of the trailer; they were beautiful horses, both ten years old and each had been in foal four times. Ronnie claimed (and Tommy agreed) that both were very gentle and would be perfect for the boys to handle. They also would produce beautiful foals with the right stud.
While Tommy led Katie and the two horses into the barn, Ronnie stayed with the guys. "Listen boys, I don't mean to start any shit; but that kid Tommy is a gem--does he work for you full-time?"
"Actually he's kind of a rescue," Jim answered.
"Well I could use him part-time if you would agree," the use of the word `rescue' seemed to puzzle her but she asked no questions. As she closed the trailer and locked it she said: "It's hard to find smart help these days, especially someone who would take part-time."
"That would be wonderful Ronnie," Matt said genuinely, "the boy has had a rough time of it lately and I think it would really help him to be off on his own a bit--you guys work out whatever is good for you both. Listen, if you and Katie are free tonight we'd love for you to join us for dinner, there will be a few people here to celebrate," Matt said quickly thinking of a small gift for the Santa bag if she said yes.
"Well thank you, I'll talk to Katie first, but back to Tommy: it wasn't drugs was it?" She asked bluntly.
"No, he was kicked out of his home by his hyper-religious parents. He is my adopted brother's, sorry, our adopted brother's best friend," Matt said, "and I'm sure if you ask him he will tell you the whole story--he really is a good kid."
"By the way," Jim started, "did you really figure us out by gaydar?" he asked.
"Hell no, this is a small town; lots of people talking about the two guys who bought the farm--and brought back its old name," she said giving the guys a little lesson on how the local rumor mill worked.
After Katie returned from the barn and had agreed to dinner that evening, the two women were soon on their way saying they would see the guys at 1700.
Derrick arrived at the airport just after 1100. He was wearing his uniform with his newly-sewn Sergeant's stripes and carrying his ID from Lejeune for access to the facility. It was quite a long walk to the USO and there he found his three guests waiting for him.
The two Marines were Corporal Joe Nardone, a typical jar-head with dark brown eyes and the perfect Marine high and tight haircut along with a nicely tight and toned body. Then there was Pvt. 1st Class Wayne Evans. He was well muscled as well with short blond-haired and had intense blue eyes, but something about him worried Derrick. He had seen that look many times on guys he met up with in the Corp--that `I could go off at any minute' look. It was something he mostly had noticed on guys who had been deployed.
Then there was Army Sergeant Major Kathy Deacon, a pretty blond with a button nose and a very serious look who was waiting for him in the lounge and who stood when he entered. Recognizing the senior officer, he nodded and said, "Good morning, ma'am," to the Sergeant Major, "I'm Derrick Leo, if you're ready we can be on our way."
When they got to the car Derrick slowly stopped; he was worried about the Marines' reaction to what they would find when they got back to the farm--especially Evans--so he decided to feel them out. "Hope you guys are hungry, my dads are putting out a huge spread," Derrick led with.
"Dads?" Evans said with alarm--or was it disgust?
"Yes, Dads. You have a problem with that, Marine? Because if you do you can stay here until your plane arrives," Derrick replied sternly.
"No he doesn't, we're really grateful for your family's invitation," replied Nardone quickly, "he was just a little confused," he said covering for his buddy.
It was a bit of a tense ride home, but Derrick held firm.
Dinner was amazing; Al had everything from stuffed calamari to lasagna and shrimp scampi and a ham for those who didn't go for Italian food. After dinner Jim pulled out his guitar, Jimmer and MJ took turns at the piano and Derrick played his violin. They led the more than two dozen guests through the usual litany of Christmas carols. Matt had been watching the guests from the USO, especially Evans after Derrick had shared his observations; he seemed to be a little flighty. The young man acted fine around Travis, Wolf, and Udo but was a bit cool to Derrick. At one point he managed to get Nardone alone and asked him about his buddy.
"I'm sorry about that, Captain, just between you and me--Wayne is suffering from PTSD and he refuses to do anything about it. You know what it's like in the Corps--the macho attitude. Well, they won't help guys like Wayne--they call them weak and shit. So the brass is ad-sepping any guy who goes for treatment--that means less than honorable--they've already taken his rank twice. We've done three seven-month tours over there with not much rest in between; some of us are okay, others not so much. He's got no family, that's why I'm taking him home to California with me--hopefully he will get some sleep."
"Okay buddy, but before you leave I have a name for you--it's an organization I work with to help guys like Wayne," Nardone looked skeptical. "No, they can really help him, and it is all confidential," Matt insisted to the young Marine. He was sickened by what he had just heard; he knew that the politicians had been trying to keep the real causalities hidden--especially the PTSD cases--but it was the Corps' treatment of the men that really pissed him off. He would have to set up a meeting with the Colonel to figure out a way to help these poor kids.
"But we're not gay, sir."
Matt laughed, "That's not a requirement, Marine, it's for any service person that needs help."
"Thank you, sir, I really didn't know what I was going to do with him."
A commotion at the front door interrupted their conversation; it was Santa arriving with gifts. They set him up in the family room and he began to hand out presents. When it was Ryan's turn he was a little shy at first but warmed up when he received his gift. The three guests from the USO were amazed with their headphones and iPods to go with them--Matt noticed that Evans was actually silently crying-- a classic sign of depression.
Everyone had received a present except Jasmine. Santa made a big show of looking in his empty bag. Finally he stood and whispered into her ear, she slowly turned around to find Billy down on one knee and everyone else very quiet but with big smiles on their faces.
"Jas, I've already asked your Dad," he said, as nervous as Matt had ever seen him, "and he said it's okay." He was like a teenager asking a girl to the prom and this caused a few giggles in the group. And then, opening the ring box, he asked, "Jas, will you marry me?"
She stared down at the ring, and then at Billy. She stuttered, "I...I..." She was utterly stunned.
"Honey, from the looks of that rock you better say yes quick or I might," Ronnie, who was standing just behind Santa, declared, and the room burst out laughing. It was clear that Jasmine was not expecting a proposal--and that she was even more shocked by the ring.
Finally, much to Billy's relief she uttered, "Yes" and pulled Billy up for a kiss while everyone applauded. The `oohs and aahs' could be heard as she was surrounded by everyone who rushed forward to see the ring at close quarters. The sound of champagne corks popping simultaneously filled the room and was accompanied by joyous shouts of "Congratulations!" Matt's gaze fell on Pvt. Evans and he noted the look of panic and confusion on the young man's face as Nardone had his arm wrapped tightly around his buddy's shoulder.
To be continued...