I probably should point out that I'm not anti-religious -- every modern religion teaches peace and love, and the repudiation of hate. Unfortunately, there are preachers, rabbis, and imams who claim hate and fear to be the message of their god; and, even more unfortunately, there are people who believe them. So, I'm nowhere close to repudiating the God of Christianity in this story; but hate-mongers who claim to speak for Him are fair game.
This story is gay fiction. It is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced in any medium without my express permission. If you are a minor in your country of origin, don't read.
I have two other series running on Nifty: GLOBAL ENTERTAINMENT appearing in the Incest folder and ILLUSIONS in the Beginnings folder. If these two stories don't give you enough hot vampires and mortals, Starbooks has just released my LOVERS WHO STAY WITH YOU, and that has 28 tales that'll have you offering your neck to the next guy who offers to lick it. <G> You can help Nifty by using its link to A Different Light Bookstore when ordering this book.
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We sat in the living room of the log house -- Sam, Paul, Ralph, Henry, and I. Henry had a fire going in the fireplace. Paul had taken a shower and washed his hair. I couldn't see where he'd been hit at all.
His maid crew and the leathermen he'd brought with him at the start of the weekend had left for Atlanta. The church crowd was no longer a church crowd and had left quietly. They and the Taylors were home and probably in bed. The revival had come to a screeching halt and, although nothing was forgiven, things were calm.
Brenda and her father were locked up in Seneca. She had charges of attempted murder against her; her father was in jail on charges of inciting to riot and conspiracy.
Ralph and I were sipping scotch while Henry was keeping a low profile in front of his father and drinking a soda. The vampires weren't drinking.
I was sleepy.
"I can't just drop both businesses, Sam!" Paul wailed from across the room. I came out of the stupor I'd been sinking into and started paying attention.
"Paul..." Sam began.
I smiled. At least, my great-grandfather wasn't freezing everybody else out of his conversation by using telepathy. Besides, I suspected Paul hadn't figured out how to use it yet. Henry, Ralph, and I were all ears -- even as we pretended to ignore the two vampires.
"You don't have to give up either business, Paul," Sam told him.
"You said I'd be toast if I went out in daylight," Paul grumbled, not yet willing to be mollified.
"You would," Sam admitted. "Just about like in those damn fool movies about that Count Dracula."
Paul shivered. "How am I going to run my businesses then?" he asked, his voice a lot more subdued.
"You don't really need them," Ralph offered.
"Shit if I don't!" Paul yelped. "I don't have a good nest egg I can rely on." He looked around the room and shuddered. "I live hand to mouth -- I'm a long way from having something like this."
"You've got Sam now," Ralph persisted.
"Shit! I've never seen a relationship that lasted -- not long term."
"You have, too," I told him. "Half of your maid service customers have been together for at least ten years. I've met a few couples at art shows who've been together more than twenty years."
"Maybe," he allowed.
I had a bright idea. "Why don't you teach Henry to manage your maid service?" I told him.
Ralph looked over at me and if looks could kill ...
Paul looked pretty dubious, too.
"I mean it. He's eighteen, in good shape, and has brains. Let him move to Atlanta with me and you can teach him everything he needs to know."
"Henry's still in school, Sammy," Ralph said and I could feel the cold steel in his voice. "And he's going to graduate. He's going to college and get a degree, too."
Sam sat back, making himself comfortable, and watched me. There was a little smile on his face as he took it all in.
"We've got high schools in Atlanta," I said.
"Henry's white, Sammy," Ralph shot back, then frowned. "I'm not racist, but I'm not going to have my boy be the token white in a colored school."
"There are predominantly black schools in Atlanta," I admitted. "But he could go to one of the private schools that emphasize learning -- and where race doesn't matter. I went to Cathedral School and I'm pretty sure he could get in there -- if his grades are up to snuff."
Henry's gaze moved from me to his father and back again.
Sam sat up and leaned forward, his elbows on his thighs. He looked directly at him. "What do you want to do, boy?" he asked him.
Henry met his gaze. "I want to move in with Sammy."
"Jesus!" Ralph groaned. "It's one thing to fuck around with your cousins -- that's pretty normal, but this..."
Henry turned and looked directly at his father. "I love Sammy, Dad. I want to live with him -- if he wants me."
All four of them were suddenly watching me. I forced myself to meet Ralph's gaze. "I'm really fond of your son," I told him. Tentatively.
"No!" I said then, a lot more adamantly. "I love him and I'd be happy as all get out if he came to live with me."
Ralph frowned, then nodded.
Sam chuckled. "I used to be a preacher in the old days. Think I should marry these two now so they can't back out, Ralph?"
Three of us groaned. Paul looked from one to the other of us, unsure of how to react.
"I guess I'm not going to have a grandson after all," Ralph mumbled.
"Why not, Dad?" Henry demanded. "You've got Janet."
"Who'll soon be up north somewhere."
I looked over at Sam. "That brings up something that's been kicking around in my brain for a while," I told him.
"Taylor Mountain's about the most beautiful place in the world, Sam. A man -- any man -- can find peace here just looking out over the trees or walking among them."
"Let's build a resort here. Janet could manage it and Paul could keep it clean." I grinned over at my neighbor. "Seriously, it'd give young people growing up here on the mountain job opportunities right here at home. They wouldn't have to move to Atlanta or New York."
Paul's face lit up. "There's a place over in Tennessee -- real rustic -- that caters just to a gay crowd. They're open year round and I suspect they make pretty good money."
"A gay crowd?" Sam asked.
"Or we could go with a small village," I suggested. "Has anybody been over to Helen, Georgia?"
All four of them stared at me, waiting.
"They've done themselves up as a little Alpine village -- shops and everything from what I saw in their brochures," I told them. "They even have an Oktoberfest."
"They haven't levelled all their trees?" Sam asked pointedly. His eyes were slits, his expression unreadable.
"Not that I've seen in their brochures." I glanced at Ralph. "Maybe the council could send a delegation around to places like Helen and Dahlonega to see what they've done."
"You want to build a tourist trap?" Paul demanded.
"There'd be tourist trappings, Paul; but it'd be a tourist trap only if people like Philin Phredd ran it. With us, it'd be the council running it -- sort of like some of the stuff the Cherokee do up in South Carolina."
"That's gambling but -- yeah, the tribal council run those things," Ralph mumbled. "They oversee them anyway."
"So, what're you suggesting, Sammy?" Sam asked softly.
I pushed off the sofa, all thought of sleep gone. "What I'm really suggesting is that we have an open council meeting. Let's decide how we're going to keep young Taylors here on the mountain, and close to their families."
I looked directly at Sam. "Communities that don't grow, die," I told him. "Their children leave and their people get old and die off. I think that the idea of Taylor Mountain is that we have to stand and grow together -- as a family and as a community, like we did tonight."
Sam nodded. "Opening up the floor might not be all that bad," he said.
* * *
Troy was at the house Gospel Baptist had provided him, packing his few belongs Monday afternoon. He'd known it was going to be bad Sunday night when the first deacon had call him at nine o'clock and told him Rastus had been arrested. After the third caller had told him the Board of Deacons would be meeting the next morning, he knew he had to do something to protect himself.
He'd driven to the church and started rifling through Rastus' personal files. He hadn't really looking for any specific thing; but Rastus' discretionary fund jumped up and grabbed him by the short hairs. It had twenty-five thousand in it until the board could close it down. He took the records and the credit card attached to the fund when he left the church.
He was thankful now that he'd stopped into the bank early and made a hefty withdrawal from Rastus' little fund. By eleven, the deacons had found it and frozen it. Then, he'd been called to meet them.
Rastus hadn't just been arrested for trespass and inciting to riot. He'd been branded a queer as well. It was already all over the news. The long and short of it was that Troy was too closely tied to Rastus for Gospel Baptist to retain him as their youth minister. They were sure he'd understand and put another twenty thousand down to help soothe any hurt feelings he might have.
So, Troy was in the bedroom packing. The board had been kind enough to let him have the house through the rest of the week but the Ford dealer had taken the car back.
"What're you going to do now?" a voice asked from behind him.
Troy whipped around, and, seeing Johnny, grinned as relief flooded over him. "Thank God, it's you," he said and started toward the boy.
"What're you going to do now?" Johnny asked again as Troy reached him.
"I'm going to tell you how much I love you, first." He shrugged. "After that, I don't know ... I hope we can work something out together."
Johnny studied him closely. "You love me?" he asked, his voice tight.
"Damn straight, I do!"
Johnny laughed. "Never straight, Baby -- not ever again." He took Troy into his arms and hugged him. "I got a lead on what might be a good job in Atlanta," he mumbled, his lips forming the words against Troy's shirt. "Maybe we both can get on there."
"What do they do?"
"It's an all-male maid service." He pulled back and grinned at Troy. "They'll even clean in the nude."
"Do you want something like that if you and I are..."
Johnny laughed. "I don't care who sees you or me naked -- as long as nobody touches. You're mine."
"It could be okay ... What do they pay?"
"Nobody answered when I called. I left the number here at home ... Do you know how much I missed you this weekend?"
Troy felt the coke bottle inside Johnny's jeans swell.
"I hope as much as I missed you. Want to go to bed?"