Sentinel Mountain

Chapter Fifty-two

Hash Browns or Grits
 By Sequoyah
          Edited by Jesse and Scott
           Prior warning apply.

Next morning, Josh awoke very early, twenty minutes before sunrise. Alex was sleeping beside him, looking peaceful, a half-smile on his face. They could always go back to bed and Josh had an irresistible desire to share the sunrise with Alex, so he leaned over and kissed him softly. Alex's eyes opened. He stretched, his hands joined above his head. “Let's welcome the new day, Barefoot Boy.” Josh said and kissed him again.

Alex smiled at his lover and said, ”I will as soon as I pee and slay the dragon that has been using my mouth for a lair.” They went to the bathroom, emptied their bladders and brushed their teeth. When they came back, Josh took Alex's hand and the two, still bare-assed, walked through the open French doors onto the small deck outside the master bedroom. The mountain air was quite chilly and Alex shivered. Josh pulled him to himself, wrapped his arms about him and rested his chin on his shoulder. “That better?” Alex nodded.

The lovers looked up the valley where the fingers of dawn above the mountains announced the pending sunrise. The few fluffy clouds were different pinks and oranges against the blue sky. As the sun peeped over the mountain, Alex turned to face Josh and asked, “Josh, did you ever expect to be this happy after we were separated?”

To be honest, I never allowed myself to think about it because I knew I would despair. Only once, when my entire world collapsed, did I ponder the idea that nothing might be better than the life I had, a life without hope, but had I allowed myself to think about what might be or, I guess, what might have been, I knew I would end up in my personal black hole.”

They exchanged a gentle kiss and Alex said, “But we ended up here in this paradise instead.”

Yes,” Josh said. He kissed Alex and said, “Barefoot Boy, will you make love to me?”

Josh was so serious and Alex's mischievous streak came out. He said, “Depends. What did you have in mind?”

Maybe the flip-flop of last night?”

Think I can manage that?”

Don't know, but you can try.”

Alex grinned, led Josh to the bed, and climbed atop him. He stuck his tongue in Josh's ear, then nibbled on an ear lobe. He was holding Josh's arms down on the bed and Josh was struggling, trying to stop his tickling, when Alex started licking his ear. Still holding him down, Alex attacked his nipples, first one, then the other. He finally released Josh and pulled his lover's lips to his. Their kissing became hotter and hotter until both were streaming precum. Alex took his time preping Josh's hole for his cock's entrance, but soon Josh was begging him to penetrate him.

An hour later, two very sated and very happy men lay side-by-side, fingers intertwined, both overwhelmed by the love each held for the other and the feeling of being loved in return. It was not quite six when the two men drifted off to sleep. They were awakened by small fists pounding on the door. Josh hopped out of bed, grabbed two robes, tossed one to Alex and put on one as he walked to the door and opened it.

Uncle Josh, we're ready for breakfast, come.”

Is breakfast ready?”

The two looked at each other and Alexander said, “'Most ready,” as Susan walked down the hall.

Sorry, Josh. Winston turned them loose. He said it was time you were up because he is,” she laughed as she herded the boys back toward the kitchen. “Only a few days more and you'll have peace.”

I'm afraid of that,” Josh chuckled.

The two showered, shaved and got dressed, and went to the kitchen where they were immediately attacked by two boys. They tossed them over their shoulders and carried them until they could get to the table and then slid them to their laps. After greeting everyone, Josh asked, “Susan, have the paint and supplies for tomorrow arrived?”

They have. Cam refused to allow me to sign for them until he had checked the paint to make sure it was mixed correctly. We have been to the storage building and found furniture and accessories. The kid is amazing.”

I shudder to think what a waste it would have been had Walt not taken him off the streets,” Alex said.

Indeed,” Susan agreed.

I'm sure we'll not be missed, but you're going to be a few hands shorter. Brenda and Sally have agreed to be in Boulder tomorrow to accompany the Mangalarga Marchador back, so the three of us will not be around to help get the house ready. Senhor D'cruz has had a mild heart attack and wants me to take the horses now, so I'm flying the two women out to accompany them back. Walt will be with me as co-pilot and so he can fly the turbo back here. At some point soon, I need to get to San Francisco.”

Alex was looking very pensive and finally spoke. “Josh, it's foolish for you to fly Brenda and Sally out, fly back here, then turn around and fly them to Utah. I'll go with you and see Shawn and Henry while you take care of business and you can fly the small plane back to pick up Sally and Brenda.”

Better yet, we can catch a commercial flight to Denver,” Sally said as she and Brenda joined the others. “When we get back, we all fly back to Boulder, drop off Alex, you fly us to Wellsburg and go on to San Francisco. You do what you need do there and Walt can fly out commercially when it's convenient and fly the turbo back with your things. You can then pick up Alex when he is ready to return or if he's staying in Boulder for an extended length of time, fly back yourself.”

You wouldn't mind?”

Heck no. In fact, it would be simpler -- and cheaper -- for us to fly out of Atlanta to Denver today, come back with the horses and you fly us to where we need to be.”

Let me see what I can do about a flight,” Josh said, and got up from breakfast and went to the office. He came back twenty minutes later and said, “You're on the flight to Denver leaving Atlanta at noon, arriving in Denver at one-forty-five Denver time. Pick up your tickets at the United counter. No first class available, but I did get two side-by-side in business class. Gertrude will meet you in Denver and you'll spend the night with Mavis. The horse van will arrive at eight tomorrow and you should be leaving Boulder at ten at the latest. We'll expect you here Monday afternoon.”

Sounds workable. We'll take two or three days to rest up before heading back to Wellsburg.”

Susan replaced Josh's cold plate with a fresh one of country ham, eggs over easy and hash browns. “You know your days with hash browns are numbered. Janie says any self-respecting Tar Heel eats grits,” she said and laughed.

Well, I happen to like grits, so maybe we can kinda change back and forth between the two,” Alex said.

I hate to say this,” Alma said, “but since you just put grits in boiling water and boil, I can't understand why I can't get them right.”

Janie, who had just arrived, walked into the kitchen and heard Alma's comment. “It's genetic,” she said. “Like using bacon grease. Southerners know what to do with bacon grease, but it's hard for outsiders to learn. Good morning all.”

Had breakfast?” Susan asked.

Not yet. The old man is working at the high school in Washington this week and just made himself coffee and left me asleep.”

Maybe hash browns won't poison you,” Susan said, fixing Janie a plate.

When they finished breakfast, Josh said, “We need to head for Atlanta shortly. Anyone want to make the trip with us?”

I assume I'm going,” Alex said.

Of course.” He was the only one besides the two women.

As Josh and Alex flew back into the valley, they could see Nelson and someone at the corral. They landed, Rob picked them up and dropped them off at the House. They went to the corral where they saw Nelson giving Cam a riding lesson. He was, of course, riding the sorrel which had claimed him. He asked Josh about several names and it finally came down to Cam's Challenge or Lady Challenger. He finally decided on Lady Challenger and called her Challenger “because she's always a lady when I am around her and always ahead of where I am as a rider.” He was right about that. As he progressed in riding skills, she moved just ahead of him, challenging him to take the next step.

Nelson said, “You know how I said we learned how to fall from a horse by being thrown? Cam is never going to learn so long as he is on Challenger. Do you realize the kid, a city kid who had never been on a horse, climbed on a captured, totally untrained Mustang and has never been thrown? Amazing.” It was.

As Alex and Josh approached the corral, Nelson said, “Cam, end of lesson. Why don't you ride out into the pasture and see how you do?” Nelson opened the gate into the pasture and Cam rode out of the corral. The horse didn't break into a trot, but she was moving at a very brisk walk, just below a trot. Cam was definitely learning from Nelson.

Why is Cam not in school?” Josh asked as they walked up.

Teachers’ workday,” Nelson said. “The boy’s going to be cowboy yet. Look at him ride.”

Thanks to you,” Josh said. “Your dad said you were the best teacher he knew and I accept that if you exclude Mavis. I hope you meet wonder woman soon.”

I'm looking forward to it. Jan's coming for lessons as well. Kinda hard to stay in the teacher-pupil mode, but we're managing. Just so you know, when I tried to really kiss her after her last lesson, she slapped me and reminded me North Carolina has very strict laws about the teacher-pupil relationship.”

Alex laughed and said, “Just remember Rob's arms and hands and it'll help cool your ardor when needed.”

You don't have to remind me,” Nelson laughed.

Friday all the adults showed up at the Mason house for the workday. Most of the painting had been finished by five when they called it a day, and several rooms were ready for draperies and furniture. Saturday, just as the Sentinel Mountain people arrived at the Mason house, a lowboy with a 'dozer and mini-excavator pulled up and a man hopped out. Rob greeted him and the two walked over the site where the apartment would be built and consulted a blueprint. Three hours later, the grading had been done and the footing dug and the 'dozer operator was on his way. After lunch/dinner, a ready-mix concrete truck pulled up, followed by a car with four men in it. They began pouring the footing and had finished in an hour and a half. Block masons would do the block work Monday. If everything continued to go well, the Mountain people could start building next week as other work permitted.

Susan had put a small ad in the weekly paper announcing Mason and Taylor Motor Service and had already had a flood of phone calls. One of the first was from Charlie Turner who ran Turner Builders. He had half a dozen vehicles which needed attention, but said, “Work has slowed down and my cash flow has about stopped, so I can have only a couple worked on.” When Susan told Winston, he got a gleam in his eye and Susan knew he was onto something. He called Charlie and started negotiating a deal and ended up exchanging mechanic work for carpenter work with Charlie and his crew. They got the house under roof in a week and Winston had worked on the crews' cars and the two of Charlie's without any money changing hands. The apartment enclosed meant the Mountain folks could work when the weather outside would have kept them inside, with little to do.

The horses arrived Monday afternoon and were very happy to be out of the van. Everyone stopped what they were doing and turned out for the unloading, including Charlie and his crew. Jan was immediately captivated by a dapple gray and Josh assured her she would ride the horse soon. “They are all broken so all can be ridden. One of the characteristics of the breed is their wonderful gait which makes them exceptional pleasure riding horses.”

Sally and Brenda had gone to see Senhor D'Cruz and he was champing at the bit to get home. Gertrude had found three nurses to stay with him so he would have someone around the clock. Josh had insisted they be at least experienced LPNs, preferablely RNs. All were male nurses and those on duty from eight to four and four to midnight were RNs. Josh told Gertrude he would pay the difference between what Senhor D'Cruz' insurance paid for sitters and nurses. When he saw the bill of sale for the horses, he knew he could do nothing less than see that Senhor had the best of care. He was sure the horses were worth at least seventy thousand dollars and the bill of sale was for a hundred each.

Wednesday night at supper, Sally said, “I hate to leave, but I guess Brenda and I need to be getting back. Things are going well, but we need to be there.”

I need to get back to San Francisco as well,” Josh said. “I think Alex has begged off about as long as he can. We'll leave in the morning unless Walt can't.”

Be sure and ask Cam if he wants to stay here,” Janie said.

It's gonna be pretty lonely around here,” Nelson said. “The Masons will be in their place, Sally and Brenda are leaving. I guess you'll stay in Boulder awhile, Alex. Josh will be in San Francisco. Janie, I guess Cam, you and I can throw a party since we'll have the house to ourselves.”

Nelson, if you like, we can drop you off for a visit with your parents,” Josh said.

No, it's too soon. Maybe I'll go around Christmas, but right now I want to establish the fact that I am no longer living at home.”

Good point,” Janie said.

The three travelers left for Denver early Thursday morning with Josh flying and Walt in the co-pilot's seat. Josh told Walt he thought the strip in Longview might handle the turbo and Walt told him to try some other form of suicide. Josh listened and rented a small plane in Denver and he and Walt flew Sally and Brenda to Wellsburg. One of the men from the ranch met them and they said goodbye to Josh and Walt and headed to Wellsburg. Josh turned the plane, revved the engine and took off.

As soon as they were in the air Walt said, “Boss, if you ever, ever come up with some damn fool idea like landing the turbo in Longview, Utah, I personally will have you committed. Do I make myself clear.”

Sir, Walt, yes sir.” Neither was kidding.

They flew back to Denver, turned in the rented plane and flew the turbo to Boulder. When they landed, Gertrude and Alex were waiting for them. After kissing Alex, Josh asked, “How is Senhor D'Cruz?”

Much better now that he is home,” Gertrude said. “Of course, at ninety, even when you take care of yourself, every setback means you never return to as good a condition as you were before. The doctors have told him he is very likely to have another attack and he says that's fine so long as he doesn't become an invalid. He did hope to see photos of the horses at your place.”

We have plenty,” Josh said. “I am sure he will be happy for them when he sees the pictures.”

Josh had arranged a room for Walt at the resort where he and Cam had stayed. They stopped by the car rental and when he had a car, Josh told him they would leave for San Francisco Tuesday, which suited Walt fine.

Josh and Alex went to their room as soon as they arrived at Vic House. Two minutes after they entered the room, they had undressed each other and were in a sixty-nine position, both moaning and groaning as each made love to the other and his cock. Their climaxes were essentially simultaneous and they gifted each other with huge loads of man's seed. Since Helen had insisted Alex use a condom when giving head, both did, although neither liked it. Alex did slip the condom off and lick Josh's cock. They exchanged a deep kiss and Josh said, “Alex, you cheat.”

Yeah, but I love it and you do too.” Josh just got a silly grin on his face and kissed Alex again.

Wrapped in a tangle of arms and legs, they were two very happy men. Alex kissed Josh and asked “Beloved Boy, have I told you I love you in the last hour?”

It's been at least an hour,” Josh replied.

Did you forget I loved you?"

Never in a million years, and I love you, Barefoot Boy.”

They finally went to the bathroom, used a warm, wet cloth to clean up, washed their mouths with mouthwash, went back upstairs and got dressed. When they got down to the first floor, Mavis was there. “I hope you have pictures,” she said. “I am dying to see your horses. Senhor D'Cruz will have your heads if you came without pictures of your horses and his.”

We have tons, not only of the horses, but of the whole place,” Alex said. “Josh called Senhor D'Cruz' place and Mr. Pervis, the nurse on duty, said he had a bad day and suggested we not come by until mid-day tomorrow. When do you want to see the pictures? I put them into slideshows on CDs -- that's plural -- so we can all see at once. There's about three hours in all.”

You going to be around awhile?”

A while. I'm not sure how long. Josh has to spend some time in San Francisco and I'll be seeing my treatment team tomorrow. I doubt they will think I'll need to stay very long. So far my only problem is with nightmares and some of that might be drug related. Anyway, I'll be here four or five days at least, wouldn't you think, Josh?”

The man's doing amazing well. I'll be very surprised if he's here longer than a week. Of course, Henry may want you available if he makes major changes in your meds, which I am sure he will, especially if he thinks the nightmares may be related to them. I'd say he'll be here a week, week and a half. Of course, I'd like to have him in San Francisco part of that time. He has never been there with me, but Denver to Oakland is only a two-and-a-half-hour flight and I'll have the small plane so it won't be like we are financing a major middle eastern country. We'll both be here until Tuesday at least, maybe longer. That will depend on when I need to be in San Francisco and how soon Walt wants to get back to the Mountain. Since he knows Cam is in good hands, he may decide he'd like more time to himself.”

Well, Alex, do you have sort of a general collection so we can get some feel for how things look on the Mountain?”

I do.”

Then let's have a look at them after dinner tonight. I know Mavis is very interested in the horses, but I can wait on those,” Gertrude said.

Josh and Alex decided they would get out the bikes and ride until time for supper. Since they had been living in the country, they decided to ride downtown. When they arrived at the Pearl Street Mall, they parked the bikes and walked along the street, window shopping.

Without thinking, they had joined hands and aside from that, were strolling along like other men on the street. Alex noticed a couple coming toward them and punched Josh in the side with his elbow. The older fellow had a very sour expression on his face as he kept walking ahead of a woman. The woman obviously wanted to window shop while he, just as obviously, wanted to be somewhere else, probably bellied up to a bar. As they approached Josh and Alex, the man gave them the evil eye and just as they were about to pass him, he hissed to the woman, “See, God damn queers practically fucking on the street. I told you we shouldn't come here.”

Alex stopped, faced the man and said, “You know, maybe you wouldn't be so sour if you found out what fucking is. Holding hands is not fucking and, in fact, this queer couple never fucks. We make love and it sure looks as if this queer couple is a lot happier than the blessed straight couple facing us. Lighten up on the woman, make love to her. She'll be happier and that should make you happier. Good advise from a happy queer.” The fellow looked as if he had just gotten a mouthful of dog shit.

When they reached the end of the 'no traffic' zone of Pearl Street, they crossed the street and started back up the other side. They paused in front of a men's shop which had a sign in the window 'Expert English Tailoring' and Josh said, “Babe, you're needing new clothes again. Between Janie's cooking and all your work with the horses, you are in pretty damn good shape. You are very close to where you want to be and there will be little or no change in your size even as you continue to develop that beautiful body of yours. San Francisco will offer more in the way of clothing options, but I wonder if someone here could take your measurements and has fabric samples so he could email your measurements and fabric numbers to my tailor in San Francisco.”

They went inside and it was clear the store served a very limited clientele. A young man welcomed them and asked if he could be of help. “I hope so,” Josh said. “Would it be possible for us to pay you for a service? I need my husband's measurements taken and fabrics chosen and emailed to my San Francisco tailor.”

It can probably be done here, but I could never get away with it. My grandfather would have my head. He is a retired tailor and demands that such work be done by him or under his supervision. Who is your tailor?”

Cecil Bartholomew Hollyingberry, well, actually his son Andrew.”

The young man laughed and asked, “You are?”

Josh Taylor and this is my husband, Alex Bledsoe.”

Mr. Taylor, Mr. Bledsoe, I am Cecil Bartholomew Hollyingberry, named after my great uncle Cecil,” he said, extending his hand. “My grandfather is Reginald Alastair Hollyingberry and I know he would have my head if I didn't call him. Could you wait for fifteen or twenty minutes, or come back by? He would be delighted to assist you, consider it an honor.”

By all means. We are just out wandering around and saw the shop and I thought if you could do that for us, Alex could have his suits quicker. We'll walk up the street a bit and be back.”


They left the shop, Alex asked, “My suits?”

Sure. We won't be in the boonies all the time and there will be occasions where we need business and formal attire as well as jackets and pants as befits country gentlemen. I planned on waiting until we got to San Francisco to have your suits made, but this will give Andrew a headstart.” Josh had finally convinced Alex they had more money than they could spend and more pouring in every day, and that it did no-one any good in a bank, but he still had problems with Josh spending on him. However, if Josh could give a good reason, such as why he needed nice clothes, he accepted without complaint. Josh hoped Alex would always remind him that wastefully spending was just that, but accept the fact that their plans involved spending a lot of Josh's money, which Josh considered their money.

They walked up the street window shopping for few minutes then went back to the shop and browsed. Alex spotted some slacks he really liked and said so. Josh called Cecil over and he helped Alex find three pair which fit very well and showed off Alex's now-recovered beautiful ass. Josh found some very nice dress shirts and asked about monograms which, of course, were available. “They could be ready tomorrow,” Cecil said.

They are nice,” Alex said, “but have French cuffs.”

And?” Josh asked.

I have no cuff links.”

I'm sure that is a problem easily solved.”

Indeed,” Cecil said. He then showed Alex a number of both gold and silver ones. Josh had to insist that he at least get two in each metal. Just as Alex made his selections, a very dignified, but a bit stooped, man walked in from the back of the shop. “I understand a patron of my brother Cecil’s San Francisco establishment requires my services,” he said. “I am Reginald Hollyingberry.”

Joshua Taylor, Mr. Hollyingberry. I have been a customer of your brother’s establishment for a few years, referred by Mr. Julius VanWinkle. This is my husband, Alexander Bledsoe and it is he who needs your services. Mr. Cecil Hollyingberry suggested you might be willing to take Alexander’s measurements and allow him to choose fabrics and patterns for three suits, formal dress and a couple of jackets and appropriate pants. If you could, and would email the measurements and fabrics numbers to your nephew Andrew, who is my tailor, he could begin work on the suits. We, of course, expect to pay for your services.”

I would be delighted to help outfit such a beautiful young man as you are, Mr. Bledsoe. I will, of course, pass the charges on to my brother’s shop. My brother, unfortunately, is no longer with us. He has been gone for eight years now. He was post-war, you know, and things haven’t been made as well since the war,” he chuckled. “I was born a few years before your country officially entered the conflict. Mr. Bledsoe, if you will follow me, we will get on with the task.”

Three quarters of an hour later, the two emerged from the store. Alex said, “I think I have had everything about me measured twice except my cock.”

You’ll understand why when you slip into the new suits. You do know the old man would not allow us to take the slacks today. They will be ready in three days, altered to your measurements. You tried them on so you know how very well they fit, but when you get them back, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the difference. Also, do you realize how much pleasure you gave the old fellow by allowing him to display his considerable skill? Pride in skill and work is something I hope we can instill in Elijah’s sons.”

Elijah’s sons?”

Just trying it out as a name for the boys who will be in Boys’ Camp. What do you think?”

Elijah’s House for Elijah’s Sons or how about House of Elijah and Sons of Elijah? I like it. And, if Louise gets her way and there is eventually an Elijah’s House for girls, they will be Elijah’s Daughters or Daughters of Elijah. Yeah, I like that.”

Sons and daughters would also work with Elijah's Camp.” Alex nodded.

Next time I call Rob, I'll have him bring it up. You know they will have the final say.”

It was near supper time when they got back to Vic House, and Alex and Josh helped Gertrude and Mavis finish getting it ready and on the table.


Sentinel Mountain

Chapter Fifty-three

Blessing and Endings

After dinner, Alex put a DVD in the player and an hour and a half later, they had seen the general collection of photos. The presentation, which ran an hour, took over an hour and a half with the frequent 'stop’ and ‘stop and backup' requests and questions from Mavis and Gertrude.

It looks like a wonderful place to live and great people.”

It is and they are,” Alex said, “and it's home.”

Later, when the two were in bed, Alex said, “Josh, does this still seem like 'our room' the way it did?”

What do you mean, Alex?”

I mean, this always seemed like our very special place and it always will be because this is where we fell in love. Rather, I guess, acknowledged our love for each other 'cause I'm sure I have been in love with you almost since the first time I saw you, but it used to be more than that. It was our place where we were safe and could make love, it was our home, our real home, but it doesn't feel that way any more.”

Babe, we can love each other anywhere but, yeah, I guess I always thought of this as our place, our home, and you are right, it's not that any more. Our place, our home is on the Mountain.”

Yeah, that's what I mean, but we can still make love here,” and they did.

After being so busy on the Mountain breaking horses, getting houses ready and all, waking up with nothing that really had to be done felt strange. Of course, there were things which needed doing. Alex needed to call Helen and double-check on appointments with Shawn and Henry. He had asked for the appointments, but did not know when they were scheduled for Monday as there had been some tentativeness about when he would actually be in Boulder. He and Josh, as soon as possible, needed to visit Senhor D’Cruz. Josh probably had to spend time talking to Luc about what was going on with Kelly. When Josh would go to San Francisco and whether or not Alex would go with him would depend on his time with Shawn and Henry Monday but, after today, the weekend was more or less one for doing nothing.

They went to see Senhor D'Cruz mid-afternoon. When they rang the bell, Mr. Pervis, the RN on duty, let them in and said he had tried to get Senhor D'Cruz to stay in bed and he had absolutely refused. He also could not keep him from showering and getting dressed, “but, I guess,” he said, “that's more important than being safe. As he asked me, 'At ninety I should be miserable so I may live a month or two longer? I think not.' I have to agree with him.”

They found Senhor sitting in his comfortable recliner, reading, when they walked into his library. He was, of course, immaculately dressed. “I am delighted to see you!” He reached out his frail arms to embrace each of them and said, “Tell me how you are doing.”

We are both fine,”Josh said, “as are your beautiful horses. You wouldn't be interested in seeing some photographs, I suppose.”

Of course not!” he laughed. “Where are they?” Alex went to the DVD player and inserted a disc.

We have pictures of each horse, of their pasture and the stables as well as a few around the place. The first ones I'm sure are the ones you want to see.” The photos started with a picture of the van arriving and there was a photo of each horse coming down the ramp being led by Sally and Brenda.

Two wonderful young women. You are lucky to have them Josh.”

Indeed, but I won't have them much longer. I am working on a deal so they can purchase the ranch in Wellsburg. I never want to have to go there again.”

I can understand, but you mustn't allow the past to rule your future and that is easy to do.”

How well I know,” Josh said.

How well we both know.” Alex agreed.

After the pictures of the unloading, there were photos of the stable, the stalls, the pastures, individual horses and finally, a few of the House, the mountains and the valley. Senhor D'Cruz was nodding and smiling, and saying “Sim, sim.” When the photos ended, he said, “My children must think they are in paradise. Such a beautiful place, Josh, Alex.”

Indeed it is, Senhor. It is our home now. I will be doing very little with Blankenship and selling the ranch in Utah. Alex will be finished in Boulder soon and we will go home. Maybe as important as the estate are the people living there. We are a part of their family and they indeed see themselves as an extended family.” Senhor asked if he could see the pictures again and when the show finished, Josh said, “Senhor, you are getting overly tired. We will go.”

I'm sorry, but I am tired. Thanks for the pictures.”

The DVD is yours, Senhor and I have another one of the people and more of the place. It is narrated so you won't have to guess what you are seeing. Enjoy them.”

I will. Would you allow an old man to give you his blessing?”

We would be honored,” Alex said. He and Josh knelt before the old man who placed his hands on their heads and blessed them in Portuguese. He then lay back in his chair and closed his eyes.

They went to Mavis' and saddled Prince and Princess and rode for an hour before returning to Vic House. After they had showered and dressed in clean clothes, Alex lay down for a nap and Josh called Rob and found the Masons' house was much further along than anyone would have dreamed. “I'd hate to go up against Winston in any negotiating situation. I have always heard people talk about someone being dumb like a fox, I now have some idea of what that means,” he laughed.

The man saved Blankenship hundreds of thousands and came close to putting some in the purchasing department behind bars,” Josh said. “Rob, a couple people here have asked if Boys' Camp would still be called Boys' Camp. I told them we were considering a name change and they asked shouldn't it be given a new name honoring Elijah. I want to be very clear on this. I think that would be a good idea, but as I was once told about the Old Man when I first hired in at Blankenship, everyone gets one vote except the Old Man and he gets ten. The people at Sentinel Mountain who were there before I showed up have absolute say in the matter. I'd like for you all to bounce it around among yourselves and we'll talk about it later. When you do, put Alex's and my suggestion in the hopper. We both like calling it Elijah's Camp or the House of Elijah and the kids Elijah's Sons or Sons of Elijah. Alex, by the way, has aligned himself with Louise in thinking after we get the boys’ place going, we should add a girls' campus, but first things first. Think you can get the question tossed around among you all?”

Sure,” Rob said, “as a matter of fact, Janie raised that very question when she first heard Boys' Camp would reopen and, as you might know, we have been talking about it.”

Rob, I know it will take a while for me to really be a part of the Mountain, but if ideas come up, they need to be talked about.”


Monday, Alex had appointments with both Shawn and Henry, Shawn's early in the morning and Henry's just before noon. Henry asked Alex to bring Josh with him since they would be discussing Alex's medicine, and he wanted to find out from Josh how Alex was doing from his standpoint and to alert him to possible reactions to the changes he might make in his medicine.

When the two arrived for the appointment, Henry was reading a report from Shawn. “I don't think I am revealing secrets when I say you two have been enjoying yourselves in bed as elsewhere and in just about all the ways possible,” he chuckled.

I think you would be on safe ground to say that,” Alex grinned.

And, Josh, there has been very little in terms of adverse reactions?”

Nothing major. I was afraid there would be when Alex seemed to be headed in that direction when we first arrived, but he came out of it or rather, shifted into perfectly normal sleep. He does have nightmares and one particularly violent one when he got wound in a sheet.”

I seem to recall his having reacted to being restrained at other times. Well, I guess you can cross sex with restraints off the list.”

No reason why I can't take Josh, spreadeagle," Alex laughed.

Well, I guess not,” Henry joined in the laughter.”I'd say so long as Alex in restraints is off the table, feel fairly safe to go at it, anywhere, anytime, anyway you please, but don't call me if you decide to do it at noon Sunday on the lawn of the First True Church of Jesus! Any questions about that?”

How soon can Alex abandon a condom when I am ... when I am giving him head?”

So far as I am concerned, there is little danger of contracting HIV/AIDS from giving or receiving head so long as the one receiving fellatio has no breaks in his mouth and the giver doesn't ejaculate in the receiver's mouth. Contracting other STDs is far more likely and you two know Alex is free of those. Alex, you want to avoid ejaculating in Josh’s mouth and Josh, you should be careful about having breaks in your mouth, but I think you’re pretty safe without the condom.

That’s what I thought,” Josh said.

Helen might feel otherwise and you can check with her if you want a second opinion. Returning to the particularly strong reaction you had when you were bound in the sheet, Alex, I suspect being restrained will produce a negative reaction for a very long time, maybe for your lifetime. Clearly being restrained caused a flashback to New Beginnings. The nightmares are another question altogether. They may be a result of your time in New Beginnings, but one of the two drugs you are taking may be contributing to or even causing them. I'm going to have you taper off of one as soon as possible and then taper off the second one as soon as you are settled for two or three days. It has side effects, of course, all drugs do, but none as severe as the one I believe is at least contributing to your nightmares, and there will surely be some reaction to the decreasing dose. How long will you be here?”

We plan on leaving tomorrow for San Francisco and will be there through the weekend, at least,” Josh said.

Will Alex be alone?”

At times. I have to see what is going on with a lawsuit lodged against Blankenship.”

Then I'll not start the taper, Alex. You will need someone with you for the first few days -- two or three -- to gauge and respond to your reaction. You are almost certain to become depressed -- sometimes patients become extremely depressed. While I suspect Josh will be busy much of the day, you certainly want to enjoy San Francisco when he is not and maybe on your own.”

How long will the taper take?” Josh asked. “I don't want Alex suffering any longer than he has to and he definitely suffers from the nightmares, reliving the unimaginable terror of New Beginnings. Blankenship can take a backseat to getting him well.”

If started today, you should be completely off the drug by Thursday, depending on how you react. I think I could safely say you would be ready for San Francisco by Friday.”

Then start today,” Josh said. “We'll wait until next week to go to San Francisco or longer if needs be.”

Alex, it's the rather large yellow tablet. You are presently taking two tabs three times a day. Beginning at lunch today, take only one, then eliminate the lunch tab tomorrow, the morning tab Wednesday and take none afterward. Josh, I'll depend on you as well as Alex to report his reaction to the withdrawal. Alex, I'm going to ask Josh to administer the tabs to make sure you don't forget to take one or take one when you're not supposed to. You're both probably in for rough week. A slower taper would make it easier, of course, but it would also mean you would have to endure the nightmares longer and the reaction to coming off the drug would be the same, just spread out. If I wasn't confident you two could handle it, I wouldn't suggest it.”

Exactly what can we expect?” Alex asked.

Reactions vary. In all cases, there is a slide into depression, sometimes deep depression, weeping and feelings of worthlessness are very common. Suicidal thoughts and, frankly, attempts to act on those are not unknown. Hallucinations are common and often involve being attacked with the patient responding violently. As I said, you are in for a rough few days, but the value of the drug previously outweighed the side effects. The sooner you are off of it, Alex, the sooner, I suspect, your nightmares will decrease and, I hope, end.”

They had lunch downtown and sat in the park afterward while Josh called Luc and told him they were being delayed and why. “I hope I am not needed in San Francisco for a week. Again, as I told you before, Alex comes first.”

I fully understand. I don't know what you would do here anyway. When I talked with Mr. VanWinkle, he said this was a lawyer's game and we had some good ones. He called back just this morning to say we had a new ally, James Davis. Davis feels Mrs. Blankenship's best interests lie in honoring the agreement. She is unable to go see Kelly now, so he can't get her all riled up over how unjustly he has been treated. Also, she doesn't really know she’s in this world as she has some kind of rapidly developing dementia as well as she keeps having small strokes. Basically, you and I let the lawyers do what lawyers are paid to do. He also said he had the company lawyers send a letter to Kelly stating that since he was disavowing the contract, all payments to him were being placed in escrow awaiting disposition of the case. Basically, we would all like to see you, but take your time.”

That's good news. I still need to come to San Francisco to see what I need to pack and send to NC and what I need to get rid of. I guess I may as well close the apartment.”

Monday night, Josh could see no change in Alex and he had only half the previous dose of his medicine. Their love-making was beyond passionate, as though they knew things would be different the rest of the week, and they were. Josh could almost watch Alex sliding into depression Tuesday afternoon and the crying started just before supper. He refused to eat. Josh thought missing one meal wasn't a problem, but called Henry Wednesday morning. “Did he eat breakfast?” Henry asked.

Just a slice of toast and a glass of juice.”

If he drinks enough fluids so he doesn't become dehydrated and eats anything at all today and tomorrow, that's ok. Otherwise, how's he doing?”

Weeping, sleeping. He doesn't want to get out of bed. Alex, who thinks a shower cures everything, wouldn't take a shower until I physically put him in one and bathed him. He's almost zombie-like except for the weeping.”

Hang in there. Today and tomorrow be prepared for hallucinations. Just let him ride them out, but make sure he doesn't hurt himself or anyone else when he attacks his monsters.”

Wednesday late afternoon, Alex was curled up in bed after almost an hour of sobbing and shaking. Josh had to answer a call of nature and went to the bathroom, which was on the second floor. When he came back upstairs, Alex was standing in a corner, a lamp in his hands, and said, “Keep back or I'll kill you. I'll kill you.” He started swinging the lamp violently then suddenly threw it at Josh, who managed to dodge, barely. Alex then crouched in the corner on all fours and started growling, deep in his throat like a wild animal making warning sounds. “You want to hurt me, but I'll kill you first.” Suddenly he sprang at Josh, hitting him full force, much harder than Josh thought him capable. He grabbed Josh around the throat and started choking him. Since Alex had been taken out of New Beginnings, he had regained much of his weight and strength, so he was well on his way to being as strong as Josh. Additionally, Alex was fighting a monster who threatened him and Josh was trying to keep from being strangled by the man he loved.

When Alex released the grip on Josh’s throat a bit, Josh managed to throw him off and roll him on his back. He grabbed his wrists and pinned them to the floor, a big mistake. Too late Josh remembered one of Alex’s terrors was being restrained. Alex’s reaction was swift and unexpected; he curled into a ball and wept quietly. Josh took him in his arms and carried him to the bed where he curled into a tighter ball as he had done when the two started making out when they first got to Boulder from New Beginnings. Stroking Alex’s arm, Josh pressed the intercom button and when Gertrude answered said, “Gertrude, I need you.” She came up the stairs much faster than she should have and Josh was much relieved to see her. “Please come and sit with Alex. I need to call the team.”

Henry answered and Josh described what had happened. “His hallucinations are to be expected and to some extent, his defending himself against them. The violence was more than I might have expected, but not unknown. I am more concerned about his reaction to your restraining him. Restraint is definitely a trigger for a flashback to his New Beginnings experience and will likely to be for heaven knows how long. How is he now?”

He's curled into a tight ball in a fetal position.”

Go ahead and give him a shot so he'll relax. As before, he will sleep for six to eight hours, if not more. He has taken the last of the drug and I don't want to start it again. If he's not significantly better tomorrow, I will consider something else, but since he is off that one, I sure don't want you two to have to go through this again.”

Josh swabbed a spot on Alex's beautiful butt with an alcohol swab and gave him the injection. Within minutes, he uncurled and was sleeping normally.

Gertrude kissed him on the forehead and said, “My poor beautiful baby. You know, Josh, I am a pretty peaceful, non-violent person, but I think if I could get my hands on Maria Crimshaw I would strangle the bitch!”

Believe me, Gertrude, I know the feeling.”

Thursday morning Alex was sleeping so soundly when Josh awoke that he wasn’t hesitant about going downstairs to shower and shave. When he came back up to get dressed, Alex was still sleeping soundly. Josh switched the intercom on in case he awoke and went downstairs for breakfast. When he returned, Alex was still asleep and looked peaceful. He slept until almost eleven and was lethargic when he finally got out of bed. He did, however, shower, shave and get dressed. “Beloved, I feel like I could go back to bed and sleep a week,” he said as he sat on the edge of the bed pulling on his shoes.

How about a ride instead? I'm afraid we have been neglecting the Royal Couple.”

I think I might handle that. I do need to talk to Shawn first, and I don't know how long that will take.”

Leave a message and give him my cell phone number and you can talk to him when he has time. Do you have another appointment with him?”

That's one thing I wanted to talk to him about. I guess I need to call Helen since I'm sure Henry will want to talk with me as well, maybe both at the same time. I guess I've been giving you a hard time for the last few days. I'm sorry, beloved, maybe one of these days I'll be normal again.”

Barefoot Boy, I don't much like that kind of talk. First of all, you’re normal. If how you are responding wasn't normal you'd be nuts after what you've gone through. And there's nothing to apologize for. After all, you had nothing to do with events which have resulted in a near emotional and mental collapse. This week has been the result of the side effects of drugs. Any drug we put in our bodies has undesirable as well as desirable consequences. Unfortunately, the consequences of the drug you have been taking are pretty severe, but also it, in combination with other things, has advanced you far beyond what your therapists thought would happen. So no apologies, Beautiful Boy.”

Beloved, I love you so much.” The two men embraced and exchanged a tender kiss. Alex had tears in his eyes, then, holding hands, the two walked downstairs. They told Gertrude they were going for a ride and she asked Alex if he thought he could ride a bicycle and still be able to ride. “Maybe not,” he answered.

Then I'll drive you out. I have nothing to do and I'm sure Mavis and I can find something to occupy our time.”

Needless to say, Prince and Princess were delighted to see Alex and Josh. When they were saddled, they were ready for more than an easy ride. Josh was hesitant, but Alex was ready to let the horses have their head. He seemed to come alive as the horses broke into a full gallop toward the back of the pasture. Once they were there, they slowed down to a trot and after circling the pasture once, settled down to a leisurely walk. Josh and Alex rode at that pace for half an hour.

As they headed back to the stables, an ambulance went screaming by. A few minutes later while they were grooming the horses, it returned, sirens and lights on. “That ambulance couldn't have gone far,” Josh said, “as a matter of fact, I bet it was at Senhor D'Cruz'.”

Josh was proven right when Mr. Pervis called Mavis to say Senhor D’Crus didn’t make it to the hospital. “In fact, I’m sure he was dead by the time the ambulance arrived. I’m positive he had another heart attack, this one major.”

Friday, Alex seemed fine, was fine.

Saturday, Mavis got a call from a lawyer who was, no doubt, unhappy at having to give up his Saturday golf game, but Senhor D’Cruz' will was to be read the day of his visitation and before the funeral mass. No-one seemed to know why he made that strange requirement, but he had done so. He asked Mavis if she knew a Joshua Elijah Taylor and she said she did. He asked if she would contact him as he should be present, if possible. When the will was read, Senhor D'Cruz left his place to Mavis in return for her taking care of Meu Rei until his death. Josh was left the horses, 'free and clear' and the lawyer gave Josh a new bill of sale marked, “Paid in full.” He also left Josh his gaucho outfit, with instructions to "go Brazilian cowboy riding occasionally and remember our times together." Later, Josh was quite surprised when he found it fit. His housekeeper for many years was left a very generous bequest and the three nurses a small gift of a thousand dollars each. The balance of his estate was to be given to Sentinel Mountain's Boys' Camp. Josh was very pleased by that bequest and staggered when the lawyer said it amounted to some million to a million-and-a-half dollars. He would see to the transfer of the fund, stocks and bonds within a month.

Saturday afternoon, after a two-hour ride, Josh told Alex he was taking him to the outfitter where Mavis had helped them purchase cowboy outfits before they rode in the Fourth of July parade. They drove to the tack store and got Alex fitted in a very fancy black cowboy outfit, complete from boots to hat. The boots had silver tips, the chaps had silver decorations as did the belt and hat. Josh also insisted on silver spurs although both knew they would not be put to use, but they completed the outfit.

Sunday after breakfast, Josh suggested they pack a lunch and spend the day riding, picnicking and just enjoying the mountains. They loaded Prince and Princess into a trailer and drove into the mountains, parked the outfit and a cowboy and a gaucho rode until they found a choice spot with grass and water for the horses and spread a bedroll in the sun. Alex asked Josh about Senhor D'Cruz and Josh talked, at length, about his time with the man and, in doing so, was surprised to discover how much influence he actually had on his life.

Monday morning, Alex commented that there had been no nightmare, so apparently the drug causing them and the effects of being withdrawn from it were things of the past. Alex and Josh saw Henry and Shawn early that morning and were surprised that Helen was with them. All three said they thought Alex was ready to do whatever he wanted.

You’ll likely have flashbacks from time to time, especially if you feel you are being restrained,” Shawn told him, “but probably none as debilitating as the ones you have had.”

If you do, Josh knows what to do," Henry said.

I do."

However, hope you two will keep in contact with us. Of course, we’ll have to make a report from time to time concerning the long-term affects of New Beginnings on you, as we have to make reports to the court since it decreed treatment for the victims of New Beginnings was to be paid from the assets of New Beginnings and New Beginnings Clinic. Further, the three of us have come to appreciate you and Josh,” Helen said “and want to know how you are faring in the world. In other words, Alex, you are being discharged and, to be honest, long before we anticipated.”

Is there a problem? About the bills, I mean?” Josh asked.

Not at all,” Shawn replied.

Well, be assured money is never to be a problem.”

It wouldn't be.”

Helen hugged the two, Henry shook their hands and they left. So, what are your immediate plans?” Shawn asked.

I guess we fly to San Francisco tomorrow, I'll pack what I want to take to North Carolina, close the apartment and we'll fly home.”

Interested in sub-leasing the apartment? Luc says it is very nice and well located.”

You know Luc?” Alex asked, incredulously.

Shawn and Josh both laughed. “He's my brother-in-law," Shawn said. “I am married to his sister. Josh will tell you later about a bind the two of you put me in. Back to the apartment....”

It is both, I think, very nice and in a good location. Lease it? I don't see why not, although I thought about selling it. Sure. You have someone in mind?”

As a matter of fact, I do. My college roommate Gary Carson and his wife Judy have joined a practice there and they are looking for a place. Presently they are staying in an extended-stay motel.”

I'll be happy to get with them when we're in San Francisco.” Shawn gave Josh the Carsons' phone number and said he’d give Josh’s number to them.

After lunch, the two biked to Mavis' and rode for an hour. While they were grooming the horses, Alex said, “Josh, when are Prince and Princess going to the Mountain?”

I guess as soon as we finish in San Francisco. Maybe one of us can follow the truck this time.”

That means you would fly alone since the plane needs to go.”

Walt's here and needs to dig up a co-pilot. Maybe he can come up with someone to fly the small plane as well. I'll check on that.”

Josh and Alex said good night to Gertrude and went upstairs. They had a leisurely shower because, as Alex said, they loved horses, but didn’t like smelling like one. After they had dried each other, they went upstairs and crawled into bed. Josh said he needed to call Walt and did so, and found he had taken a commercial flight to Oakland and was in the process of getting his house ready to put on the market. He had lined up an agent and in a couple more days, he would be ready to fly the turbo to Sentinel Mountain as soon as Josh was ready for it to go. He was sure he could get both planes to the valley one way or another and reminded Josh that was his job and, in doing so, reminded Josh he did not need to micromanage. He asked Josh to give him a call when he got to San Francisco.

Alex's and Josh's love-making, as their shower, was long and leisurely. After a final soft kiss, they drifted off to sleep.

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