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  2. MacGreg

    Howl at the Moon

    It's unfortunate that you have to be subjected to ridicule from readers who obviously admire you as a writer and love your work but are too selfish to appreciate your right to express creativity in the way you choose. Keep doing what inspires you and f*ck those who can't be decent towards you. Perhaps one positive take-away from this experience is that you've developed a faithful readership, and some of those readers feel so passionate about your stories that they can't help but voice their disdain when something doesn't go their way. As the adage goes: you can't please everybody all of the time.
  3. Yesterday
  4. Onim

    Chapter 32

    AWESOME!!!!! Thank you for this one!!
  5. Carlos Hazday

    GMA XVIII

    @Bft I hope some vets have the type of support I've surrounded Brad with. I doubt there's many if any at all. People like CJ are more common. Problem solvers who rush in to fill the gaps left by others. Heroes Have on a macro scale and his interventions on behalf of Brad on a micro one proves the kid's willing to act to back up his words. Individuals like him should be admired and whenever possible elevated to positions of power in business and government.
  6. Dabeagle

    Chapter 1

    I believe that's a question that gets asked, at least rhetorically.
  7. Carlos Hazday

    GMA XVII

    @Nahrung Let me know what you think of the call CJ made after you read the next chapter. I know I can't even come close to what goes through the minds of returning veterans who've lived through what I put Brad through. Many crack, and I wish there was something we could do. Those who surmount their challenges should be cherished as much as those who don't.
  8. @davewri Thanks! Obviously, the story's moved along and CJ's now nearing the end of his time at Georgetown. I hope you and other readers come to enjoy the journey as much as I've had
  9. Bill W

    Eureka!

    Thanks tor.
  10. tor200534

    Eureka!

    Excellent chapter bill.
  11. If Michael hires Aidan away from his current employer, that would solve one of Aidan's moral dilemmas. ;–)
  12. Thirdly

    Day 16 to day 20

    First you confuse me, then you make me hungry, then you make me think of people that act the same way as bees with beer...then you make me wonder what happened to the witch and if bugs even know what naked means. Either way, I loved it.
  13. Think of how much easier this would have been if you had just said, ‘Wow, what a coincidence!’ or ‘It must have been the Imp who planted that line!’ ;–)
  14. I should be so lucky...
  15. Will and Fritz walked almost to Terlenehem, but the boy was reluctant to go into the town. Instead, he guided Will back along the river bank to his home, the two of them chattering merrily all the while. Fritz’s English was remarkably good for a twelve-year-old, and they swopped words for things such as trees and plants. Will’s vocabulary was swelling like corn in summer. None of it was dropping out of his memory, either. His brain seemed to have decided that acquiring Rothenian was its top priority. Will had read that this could happen, but he was astonished to find he had the capacity for it. There was every chance he could be fluent in a few weeks. ‘This was where the old castle was,’ Fritz said sadly. They stared at a field full of low ruins on a terrace above the river. ‘The Red Army had their tanks use it for target practice. But they didn’t blow it all up.’ Fritz led Will up a lane and showed him the remains of a handsome stable block, choked a bit by trees and ivy, the courtyard still clear except for a rusted and collapsing wagon. Will noticed an old stable clock, its green copper hands frozen at four-thirty, and the heraldry of the sculpture. He pointed to the carven arms above a tall arch: a lion on a field strewn with roses, the shield encircled by the imperial order of the Golden Fleece. ‘Is that the arms of Tarlenheim?’ ‘Yes,’ Fritz said. ‘You can see the date 1866 and the letters F III C, which stand for Count Franz the Third. I’m named after him.’ ‘Really? I thought Fritz was short for Friedrich, not Franz.’ ‘Yes it is so. But my first names are Friedrich Franz.’ ‘Ah. Is that because there’re a lot of boys called Franz in Terlenehem?’ ‘Only me,’ Fritz said, looking puzzled at the question for some reason. They walked on up the lane and came again to the cottage, where they found Helge and Oskar poring over a ledger and a pile of letters. Oskar was chewing the end of a pen, a preoccupied expression on his face. He smiled at them. ‘We’ll be a little bit longer. Maybe you can go and sit out the back until we've finished.’ They went to look at the chickens in the back yard. Fritz fed them, while Will collected a few eggs and put them in a dish. Fritz pointed out his favourite tree, which they climbed together. Oskar had knocked convenient nails in at intervals, allowing Will to reach the high platform that was Fritz’s eyrie. His brother had built it for him, as the boy proudly said. The view down the river valley to Terlenehem was excellent, and Fritz pointed out the church, the starostnjia (or municipal offices) and the tower of the fire station. He set up a small telescope, with which they amused themselves by training it on his school friends’ houses. It was a delightful afternoon, sitting high in the cool air among the rustling leaves, lulled by the gentle sway of the upper branches. Nothing detracted from Will’s sense of wellbeing, not even the persistence of the local wasps, and he was regretful when Helge called them down for tea. * * * They enjoyed a wonderful sleepy evening, Helge sewing on a table by a standing lamp, Fritz doing his homework, Oskar and Will listening to the radio and reading. Again, there was no TV in the Prinz household. Oskar said in passing that his parents had not approved of television, but he had not missed it as a child, apart from the cartoons. Fritz went to bed at what would have been a stunningly early time for a boy in Whithampsted, although Will reflected that perhaps country kids might be different, even in England. With Fritz in bed, the others sat out in the cool dark of the veranda, sipping wine and watching disturbingly large moths flit past. Will almost fell off his chair when an owl swooped down and snatched one. Helge was extremely interested in how they had met, and very distressed when she heard an edited version of the story. She did not like big cities, and worried about Oskar all the time, she said. Will privately agreed that she had good reason to be concerned. At bedtime, Will was touched when she gave them a formal Rothenian blessing and kissed both of them on the forehead, first Oskar then Will. They undressed in silence, Oskar looking disgruntled. ‘I feel we should be in pyjamas,’ he complained. ‘I think we should behave ourselves tonight,’ Will agreed. They kept their underpants on and hugged chastely till they fell asleep in each other’s arms. There was no breakfast when they woke, only coffee. ‘We don’t eat until church is over,’ Oskar grouched. ‘We have to keep fast till after mass; it’s a … bugger.’ He used the English word he had picked up from his lover. Will laughed, but his stomach did not laugh with him. They walked into town, where they joined the large numbers attending the nine-thirty mass. The celebrant was an intense young Jesuit from the college at Modenehem. Will found little problem in following the liturgy and managed a lot of the responses. He excelled himself in the hymns, all of which were to settings he recognised from his English experience. He stunned his neighbours by harmonising a Rothenian hymn set to the Ode to Joy. He quite enjoyed himself until he heard Oskar complaining about getting an earache. Fritz too gave him a quirky look, but Helge smiled at him in approval. Will did not communicate, knowing the Catholic Church regarded him as a schismatic. Helge pursed her lips when he explained this. Oskar did communicate, however, scared to cross his sister on her home ground. As the congregation spilled out of church, Helge was caught up in a group of young women while Oskar shook hands with some old friends. Will noticed at that point how deferential people seemed to the handsome brother and sister. Will and Fritz stood around and looked at the graves. Fritz was intrigued when the symbolism was explained to him. They went roaming up the rows till they came to a structure in the corner of the churchyard. Pointing to it in a matter-of-fact way, Fritz explained, ‘That’s where mum and dad are.’ Will’s heart almost broke as the orphaned boy gave the tomb such a wistful look. Studying the structure, Will was impressed at the quality of the workmanship. It was bigger than it appeared at a distance. He recognised it as more than a simple hypogeum, or vault chapel. It was the entrance to an underground complex that appeared to be of some size. On the Classical pediment at the entrance, he discovered a wreath of fresh flowers fixed to the wrought-iron gates. He looked above the arch for some clue as to how it was that Oskar’s parents had ended up in such a major monument. He found it and indeed found more than his head was willing to accept at short notice. He saw the carving of a familiar coat of arms, a lion on a field of roses, and the single word TARLENHEIM. He stood silent for a moment before letting the historian in him take over. ‘Fritz,’ he asked, ‘was Count Franz the Third your great-great grandfather, or your great grandfather?’ The boy thought about it for a moment. ‘I think he was my grandfather … er, three times great … yes, that’s right. Tatta – my dad – was the fifth Franz, if they’d ever let him be count and prince.’ ‘And Oskar?’ ‘Oh, he’s Oskar the Third, and he is the prince of Tarlenheim.’ * * * Will and Fritz walked silently back to the dispersing congregation. Will’s world had just done a complete belly-flop. Terry had been right. Oskar had certainly kept the big one back. On the other hand, he had done nothing to stop Will from finding out what was, it seemed, an open secret among his group of friends. Tomas had spoken of his ‘background’, and they had ribbed Oskar about his rural lack of sophistication, ironically, as Will now realised. No, he was meant to find the secret out. That was why he had been brought here. Oskar just did not want to reveal it himself. Will thought he could see why. It would have sounded like the bizarre fantasies of an unbalanced street gay, whereas at Terlenehem there was no doubting it. Oskar was leaving through the church gate as they caught up with him. Passing two ancient women in black sacking dresses, he looked round at Will just as one of the women took his hand and kissed it. After she let it go, Oskar turned back, laid his hand gently on her head and pronounced some formal Rothenian words. The other lady went through the same ritual. Watching the interaction, Will finally realised what he had seen in the face of the Prince Franz in Strelzen cathedral that looked familiar. It was the image of Oskar. Will said little on the way back to the cottage. Oskar too was silent, although Will caught the odd glance being thrown at him. Helge had gone on ahead with Fritz. At last Oskar took his hand and stopped him in the road. Will looked him full in the face and acknowledged something in it that he had only half comprehended before. This was not just a handsome visage, it was a noble one. And whatever the circumstances to which its owner was reduced, the nobility was still there, perhaps more of a burden for Oskar as a result. ‘So, my love, I think now at last you know me,’ he said in English. Will resisted the temptation to make a flippant reply. ‘Oh Oskar, what can I say?’ ‘Tell me again that you love me, my Will.’ ‘I love you, Oskar. But Oskar Prinz? Why not Oskar zu Terlenehem?’ ‘We had to give up the name under Horvath. After all, Oskar-Franz-Serge-Marie-Josef-Maximilien, ninth hereditary prince-count of Tarlenheim, count of Fürstenburg, not to mention landgrave of Klethgau, is – when all is said and done – something of a mouthful. ‘Grandfather took the surname Prinz as a sort of defiance, not that they could object. But I am a prince, a prince of the Holy Roman Empire as it happens, a dignity awarded to the Field Marshal my ancestor by Josef II, the emperor, my distant cousin. So Oskar Prinz is a true name, and good enough for these latter days in Rothenia. I am the original Student Prinz! Good, eh!’ He laughed in the old way, and there was no resisting his merriment. Oskar kissed him in the empty road, and Will took and kissed his hand. Will smiled. ‘Don’t I get a blessing?’ ‘Always, every day, when I wake up beside you, I bless you, Willemczu.’ Will believed him and it gave him a shiver. ‘My prince.’ ‘Your prince forever, English boy.’ ‘Do I make a good serf?’ ‘We can work on it.’ ‘Do they call you “My Lord” or something like that?’ ‘In modern Rothenia all titles are officially abolished, but when people want to recall the old days, they are supposed to call me “Durchlaucht” ... you would say, I think, “Serene Highness”. Cool, huh?’ ‘Cool is not the word I would use … scary or weird sounds more appropriate.’ Oskar stopped smiling and said, ‘There is a reason you must know all this, my Will. And it’s not just that I really do want you to know me as well as Tomasczu and my other good friends. I cannot tell you here and now, yet I will soon, I promise. Then you will need to be a loyal knight in my service.’ ‘This is so very … strange, Oskar.’ ‘I understand, but I assure you we will talk later.’ An early lunch was well under way when they got back to the cottage, the last refuge of the princely house of Tarlenheim, and clearly a happy one. There was a lot of quiet merriment round the dinner. Oskar sat at the head of his table, making the kitchen chair look like the throne of an affable king. So much about his lover now made sense to Will: the odd moments of formality and dignity, the unselfconscious courage, even the wild humour. All had their roots in the fact that Oskar was no common man and, as princes did, constructed life on principles different from ordinary people. Will reflected momentarily on what he had recently told his Year 10 GCSE group, that princes were dangerous because their morality was not that of the common man. * * * They left late in the afternoon on the train for Strelzen, Helge and Fritz waving from the platform. They waved back from the train window until they were out of sight. Oskar, a pleased look on his face, took a seat in the near-empty carriage. ‘Helge thought you were wonderful. She didn’t say it – she wouldn’t – but short of a marriageable and fertile girl, you are the next best thing as far as she is concerned.’ ‘Gee, thanks.’ ‘Don’t mention it. I knew it would go well. So back to Strelzen and another week at the National Library.’ ‘This week we start listing and assessing the secondary works, and you’re going to have to do most of that. How’s your speed reading?’ ‘We’ll see. You’ll get better too. Your progress in Rothenian is amazing. Are you even aware that you’re not talking English now?’ ‘Er, no,’ Will murmured, ‘I’d forgotten.’ ‘If only we could get your accent better. You say the letters “a” and “e” very oddly.’ ‘Oh well, practice will make perfect.’ ‘No doubt.’ Will thought for a moment. ‘Does Hendrik know your background?’ ‘No, none of them at Falkefilm have any idea, which is the way it needs to stay.’ ‘I agree with you. Excuse me, my love, but I have to ask you again: How could a descendant of the Tarlenheims get involved with the likes of Hendrik?’ ‘A courageous question to ask of me, Englishman,’ growled Oskar with more than a hint of formal frostiness in his voice. But his face soon cleared, and he added soberly, ‘Would it be enough, Will, to tell you that there was a pressing reason, which one day soon you will know?’ ‘If you say so, Your Serene Highness, I am content.’ ‘Hmm. So Will, you can do dignity too, I see.’
  16. droughtquake

    Chapter 1

    Will Jared be okay with the idea of double dating with his baby brother, Luke, and Jack? ;–)
  17. It's one thing to ask - how will he feel when Heath says yes..?
  18. Ah, no. This beauty fell prey to four hungry, hairy gay men. What a way to go, eh?
  19. droughtquake

    Chapter 1

    While you were thinking that, I was thinking: ‘Quasar by Motorola.’ Back when Motorola had moved on from car radios to enormous console TVs with gigantic 27" CRT screens. Then Motorola sold their cheaper brand name to Panasonic who slapped the Quasar brand on all kinds of Panasonic products so they could sell things through additional channels. (We had a Quasar microwave.) This was back in the stone age (ie the seventies and eighties) – long before cell phones! ;–)
  20. Looks fantastic! Don’t suppose there were any leftovers?
  21. Actually, I prefer to listen to Ronan Parke while I fall asleep, but you're not too far off the mark. ;~)
  22. Jondon

    Alo Chapter 28

    Definitely I D TEN T type of people, that translates to complete IDIOTS. But another good chapter.
  23. The last chapter and Prolog is posted.

    Thanks to everyone for your support

  24. I can see it now. A typical day in the life of @Page Scrawler. Wake up to an Oscar Stembridge song. Eat breakfast. Listen to a random song on YouTube with a young male singer. Work. Come home for dinner. Read a new LGBTQ YA novel from cover to cover. Cuddle with hubby. Listen to another Oscar Stembridge song as he falls asleep. ;–)
  25. Justin returned to the waiting room where everyone was putting on their coats. “Justin, there you are,” Anton said. “Since Patrick is awake and out of danger, we’re going to get something to eat, do you want to join us?” Justin scanned the room and eyed Devin shaking his head. “You know, I’m beat. I’m just going to go home and sleep.” “Well, that sounds fine. After what you’ve been through you should rest,” Anton said. He turned to Devin who pretended to stare at the vending machine. “Devin would you like to join us?” “No thanks, but I’ll make sure Justin gets home and head back to my place to rest.” “Well, can I call you later?” Anton asked, disappointed he declined the invite. “Yeah, I’ll need your address and number if I’m coming to meet my other brothers.” Anton beamed when Devin said, brothers. “I’ll call around seven tonight.” “Sounds good.” He stepped to him and placed a kiss on his cheek. Anton lost control and out right, hugged him. Devin complied and hugged him back. When they parted, he turned to Troy and hugged him as well feeling a firm pat on the back. Molly glowed with pride when it came her turn. Devin hugged her and kissed her on the cheek. “I’m glad you’re safe,” he said. “I never meant for any of this to happen.” “You’ve done nothing wrong Devin,” Molly said, giving him a second kiss on the cheek. They all left. Devin stood watching Justin. “Why didn’t you go with them?” Justin asked. “I want to make sure you get home okay.” He stepped to the blonde and tried to kiss him when Justin turned his head. “What’s wrong too many blondes in the room?” “I heard you talking to Patrick.” “Eavesdropping? Did Adam teach you that?” “He shot you down.” Devin smirked as he dropped his head back before returning his green eyes to the blue ones. “You’re jealous?” “Fuck you.” Justin tried to walk away, when Devin grabbed his arm and yanked him back. “Let go or I’ll knee you.” “Well, at least I’m at a hospital.” “Smart ass, son of a bitch.” “Wow, language.” “You’re just like the rest.” “No, I’m not. Wait, okay, maybe…” Justin jerked from his hold and started for the door. “Justin, cut me some slack…” Devin couldn’t finish when he caught sight of a ghost. He grabbed Justin around the waist, dragging him back into the room out of sight. “I said fuck off,” Justin snapped. “Lower your voice, Justin.” “Why?” “Because I saw Piper.” “What, where?” “At the nurse’s station. He’s wearing a cop’s uniform.” “I thought you said he was dead?” “I saw Bayo shoot him.” “What do we do?” “I’m not sure. Call the cops, ‘’I’ll confront him.” “What, no you’re not.” “He might go after Patrick. I have to prevent that.” “Let the police handle it. If he’s dressed like one, he might have a gun. You could get killed.” Devin saw the fear on Justin’s face and smiled. “I promise you; I won’t get killed. Piper’s mad at me and he might use Patrick as a hostage. I found out I have a twin brother. I can’t let harm come to the man he loves.” “What about you?” “Justin, stay here and call the cops. I’ll be back.” “No, Devin,” Bayo said, interrupting the two men who jerked their heads towards her. “Bayo, great timing; Piper’s here,” Devin said. “I know. We got this.” “We? Who else is here?” The sound of shouting erupted in the hallway as they rushed out. To Justin and Devin’s surprise they saw Adam with his knee in the back of Piper Monroe and a gun to his head. ************** Adam drove like a mad man to the hospital. Bayo told him she was FBI and that she shot Piper with a tranquilizer, but Piper awoke and left before her backup arrived. “Alive, why would you keep him alive?” Adam said, taking corners and catching green lights. “He an asset and has information.” “Now that nut is on the loose and Patrick’s in danger.” “We can’t be sure of that; he could go after Devin.” “Fine, you worry about him and I’ll worry about Patrick.” “Isn’t he your brother?” “A bother, who brought hell to my door step.” Adam parked his jeep at the main entrance and raced up to Patrick’s floor. He took the stairs and remembered an exit at the end of his hallway of Patrick’s room. “Let’s split up,” Adam said. “Fine, but if you come across Piper, Detective Potter do everything you can, not to kill him.” “I’ll do my best.” Adam raced off before she could say anything further. He moved without hindering up the stairs. When he reached the floor, he peered through the window on the door. Piper, reaching into his jacket, entered Patrick’s room. Adam opened the door without a sound and moved down the hall reaching the room. “No, not you,” Patrick’s voice cried. “I know you missed me,” Piper said. “Leave me alone.” “Where’s your hero? I guess it doesn’t matter which one; they look alike.” “Please don’t?” “It’s a pity. I would have treated you better.” “No, don’t!” Adam drew his gun and raised it to shoot Piper in the back when he caught sight of Patrick standing against the wall staring in fright. He couldn’t kill him, not in front of Patrick. “Hey,” he said, catching Piper’s attention who turned. Adam punched him across the chin with the handle of his gun, sending him to the floor. Patrick looked on as Adam kneeled and hit him three more times. He looked up at Patrick, who stood in awe. “Stay here Pat, I’ll be right back,” Adam said as he dragged Piper out of the room, turned him on his stomach and placed his knee into his back. He pointed the barrel of his gun to the back of Piper’s head. “Bayo I have him,” Adam called out. When Bayo, showed up Patrick approached the door, watching as Piper’s cuffed and taken. Adam was a blur at first, then he was in front of him again. “Pat, you okay?” Adam asked. All Patrick could do was nod his head. Adam moved to him and picked him up carrying him back to his bed covering him. “Here, you’re safe now, stay put until the doctors check on you. I don’t want you to have a relapse.” Patrick sat speechless as Adam fussed over him. There was no doubt the man by his side was his detective. When the doctor arrived, Adam stepped aside noticing a filled syringe on the floor. He picked it up and gave it to Bayo as evidence against Piper. When the doctor left Patrick sat watching Adam. “Now that Piper is in custody you can focus on getting better. I’ll just give you space and let you rest.” “Adam don’t leave me,” Patrick blurted out. “Just stay with me for a while.” He reached out his hand and Adam didn’t waver in grasping his soft fingers. “If it’s what you want?” “Yes,” Patrick said. “I went to see AJ. And I told him point blank I want to be with you.” “How did he take it?” “It upset him, I told him to either work it out with Artie or move on but not with me.” “How did you know I needed you?” “Bayo told me she only tranquilized Piper and that he escaped. I had a hunch he was coming for you.” “What about Devin?” “Bayo can worry about him.” “He’s your brother.” “That’s what I’m told.” “Adam…” His words trailed off as his eyes flickered and he fell asleep. The doctor had given Patrick something to help him rest, which took effect. With care Adam took his limp hand and kissed the back before placing it on his chest. He left knowing Patrick forgave him. When Adam reached the waiting room, Devin and Justin approached him. He smiled at his assistant. “I hope you weren’t going to confront Piper?” “Not me, your brother,” Justin said. Adam looked at Devin, whose hair matched his own. “I suppose telling you off would be pointless?” “It would be,” Devin said. “How many washes did it take?” he asked, referring to Adam’s hair. “Three.” “Are you staying with Patrick?” Justin asked. “Yeah; He’s sleeping now. Is Bayo gone with Piper?” “It was crazy how fast she and her colleagues cleaned things up,” Justin said. “Will you still have to testify?” “Yes,” Devin said. “I have things to do. Do me a favor. Don’t tell my…our parents. I don’t want them to freak out,” he said to Devin. “I won’t,” Devin said. Adam looked between the two and observed something odd. Justin avoided Devin’s glances. “Justin do you need a ride home?” Adam asked. “I already offered,” Devin blurred out. “How nice of you. But this is my friend, assistant and employee. And I want peace of mind that he’s home safe.” “How many guys do you need to be worried about?” “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Adam took a step towards him but Justin stepped between them. “Okay, enough, I’m not in the mood. I’m hungry and tired. Adam, Devin offered and I accepted. I’ll be okay. Just focus on Patrick, all right?” Adam saw the genuineness in Justin’s eyes. He reached and brushed a smudge from under his eye. Devin turned away annoyed that Justin held a flame for a man who had no love for him except friendship. “Okay, if that’s what you want, I won’t get in your way,” Adam said. He turned to Devin. “Make sure he gets home safe.” Devin turned and looked at his brother. “That was always my intention.” Adam nodded and returned to Patrick’s room. Justin stared at Devin, who watched Adam leaving. “I can get home on my own.” Devin turned to him and touched the same spot Adam brushed. “I’m taking you home and that’s final.” “Fine, can we go? I wasn’t lying about being tired.” **************** Adam found out it would be a few days before Patrick’s release. Everything fell into place as day one he sent Patrick flowers with two of his favorite cupcakes and a card saying he missed him, Drucilla came by with Shilo to pick them up. Patrick never responded which was fine with Adam. With His father Troy’s help he installed a security system with motion detectors. “Are you sure this isn’t over kill?” Troy asked. “It’s to keep Patrick safe.” “Have you spoken to him today?” “No. I don’t want to pressure him.” “But you sent him gifts?” “Just so he knows I’m thinking about him.” “Okay.” “You and mom going home?” “Tonight. Molly is coming with us.” “What about Devin?” “He said he’ll join us this weekend to meet Paul and Kyle.” “Do they know yet?” “We’re telling them when we get home. We’re calling Damien as well so he’s not blindsided.” “That should thrill Paul.” “It will be a shock. It would help if you were there.” “I can’t leave right now.” “Then come down this weekend.” “I’ll see. Patrick has to heal.” “Well, try.” “I’ll try.” “Okay, this is the last panel all you need to do is turn it on and set the code.” “Thanks dad. Tell mom, I’ll call tomorrow.” “I will.” Troy left and Adam tested his system. When everything was in working order, he called in a favor to Patrick’s mother who sent Shilo to aid Adam in getting into Patrick’s storage unit. On the second day he sent Patrick balloons and a stuffed panda. Still no response from Patrick but Adam remained optimistic. On the third day Adam planned to visit Patrick but is awakened by someone breaking into his house. Adam moved through the house without a sound. The intruder was in the kitchen. He noticed something familiar in the air. A scent he smelled before making his heart pound. He lowered his gun and move in a jog to the kitchen. Patrick stood staring into the refrigerator with a confused, lost look; something he’s done many times when he wasn’t sure what he was looking for. Adam saw the coffee maker on but heard no brewing, a pan sat on an open flame with nothing in it. He turned off the machine then the fire and removed the smoking pan and placed it in the sink. The clank of the metal pan in the sink startled Patrick, who turned with a jump. “Adam,” he said not expecting to see him standing in his underwear. “Pat, your home?” “Well, I wanted to make breakfast, but I can’t find anything to cook. And I forget where you put the coffee.” Adam moved to him and stood in front of him. He searched his eyes and saw no hesitance in looking back. “How did you get here?” “My mother and Shilo dropped me off.” “I want to kiss you,” Adam said. “I want to kiss you,” Patrick repeated. They embraced and emotions spilled forth. Hands traveled over each other without shame. When they released, for air, a sigh of relief washed over them as their foreheads touched. “You have too much clothes on,” Adam said. Patrick laughed and allowed Adam to strip his body. His briefs were the only article remaining. Adam stopped when he saw the bruises along his thighs. “That bastard did this to you.” His words stung Patrick as his fingers traced his marked skin. “It’ll heal,” Patrick said. Adam realized he made Patrick feel self-conscious. “At least we match,” Adam said. Pointing to his many bruises. Patrick trailed his fingers along Adam’s defined body towards his briefs. “You know, it’s kind of warm in here,” Patrick said. “You think so…” Adam stopped talking when Patrick yanked down his shorts them pushed off his own. “Let’s skip foreplay, just this once.” Adam said nothing as he lifts Patrick to straddle him and carried him out the kitchen, and into the breakfast room. Where he pressed his back to the door leading to the garden. “We haven’t done it here yet.” “Fuck me Adam.” With the help of spit Adam lubes his cock and Patrick’s entry enough to enter. Patrick, feeling the fullness inside him held onto Adam as he’s bounced; their desire increasing with each thrust. Patrick could feel the chilled glass against his bare skin along with Adam’s fingers kneading his ass. Adam made sure Patrick’s own erection road against their pressed bodies as his pounding increased. Neither realized how stored up their lust was until Adam climax inside and Patrick’s spilled between them. Adam lowered Patrick and reached for a hand towel on the wall. He cleaned them and held onto Patrick as they kissed. Adam broke the embrace. “You’re just going to stop there?” Patrick asked. “For now. Because there’s something I want to ask you,” Adam said. “Well, ask, I want you.” They kissed again and Adam swooped him into his arms and carried him to their bedroom. Adam placed him down on the edge of his own side of the bed, then dropped to one knee. He opened his nightstand and removed a small box. Patrick’s body stiffened as he remained quiet. “Patrick Valdez, I’ve should have done this before we moved in and I apologize for that. But I want to make it right.” He opened the box and presented the ring to Patrick. “Will you marry me?” “Adam, I never knew you wanted to get married. And to someone like me.” “Pat…” “No, let me finish.” Adam obeyed. “I came into this relationship with a lot of baggage and I know you did too, but I never dreamed you would want to take this step. I need to know if you’re sure you want to do this?” “More than anything Pat, I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you.” “Then yes, Detective Adam Potter, I will marry you. Now put that ring on my finger before you change your mind.” Adam removed the three stone ring and slid it onto his finger. Patrick grin warmed his heart as Adam pushed him back onto the bed and joined him. “I have one other thing for you,” Adam said, reaching under Patrick’s pillow and removing a remote. “What else could you give me?” “You’ll see.” He pressed a button and looked towards the bedroom door. Patrick’s eyes followed and watched as an old friend rounded the corner. “Good morning Patrick and Detective Potter; shall I make breakfast?” “Poe?” Patrick said, sitting up. “Is it you?” “My readings say yes.” “Adam, you got him out of storage for me?” “Well, I know you miss him and I thought he could be useful around here.” “But he’s not equipped for this house.” “I know, I had to choose either upstairs or down.” “I can’t believe you did this for me. You weren’t sure I was coming back.” “I took a chance and…” “Excuse me Detective Potter, but you haven’t answered my question,” Poe said. “Oh, yeah, no, we want to be alone,” Adam replied. “As you wish.” With several backward and forward moves Poe left the room hitting the door frame twice. Patrick held a wide grin as he watched his android depart, then turned to Adam, who rested on one arm with one knee bent patting on the spot Patrick moved from. Patrick returned to his place and saying nothing. “Kiss me,” Adam said. Patrick obeyed. They parted and with a smile Adam tasted his lips. “How was that?” Patrick asked. “Nice, but I know you can do much better.” “Well, I haven’t had those lips in, some time.” They deepened their passion as Adam’s hand traveled over Patrick’s body. Prolog Devin stood in Sergio’s office watching Sergio direct his beauties. He admired Sergio’s take-charge personality. Sergio dismissed the beauties and as they filed out, some gave Devin a wave and other added a wink. When he was alone with Sergio the chic man turned to him and opened his arms. Devin didn’t hesitate to rush to him and hug him. “I’m so relieved you’re safe,” Sergio said. “Thanks to you and Bayo.” “Yes, she came through, didn’t she?” “Sergio, I have to tell you something about Bayo.” “What? That she’s FBI?” “You knew?” “There is nothing that can past my knowing. You of all people should know that.” “Was she investigating you?” “No, she was here for you. To keep you alive.” “So, you put her on your payroll.” “It kept her identity a secret and you safe.” “I don’t know how to thank you.” “I can suggest something.” “That I can believe that.” “But you’re involved with Detective Potter, assistant—Justin Shi?” “Well, not true. Justin has a crush on my twin and I feel he’s using me as a substitute.” “Is that what he claims?” “No, but he called out Adam’s name while we had sex but denies it.” “So, you’re through with him?” “I should say yes, but I haven’t told him yet.” “Should I be jealous?” “You, Sergio Blackheart, jealous?” “You’re right. I’m above that.” “You are. Anyway, about repaying you. Can I do it when I get back?” “Back, where are you going?” “Anton—well my dad invited me down to meet the family.” “You seem excited?” “Why not, Anton and Troy are nice people and Molly will be there.” “What about your twin.” “I’m sure Adam will come around. In fact, I’m going over to ask him if he wants to drive down together.” “Well, I wish you all the best and will see you when you return.” Devin kissed Sergio goodbye before walking him out to a waiting cab paying his fare with tip. ************** Patrick drink his coffee, watching Adam drag his knife with butter his toast for the past ten minutes. “Adam?” “Yeah.” “Your toast is falling all over your plate.” Adam glanced at the gathering crumbs on his dish. Then he noticed the hole forming in the middle of his bread. He dropped the toast and place the knife on his plate. “You’re not worried about Devin meeting your brothers?” “Why would I?” “Well, first you stalled getting out of bed by trying to dehydrate me.” “Well, that was because you won’t stop sleeping naked.” Patrick ignored him. “Second, You, showered, for two hours.” “A man can’t have a long shower if he wants in his own home?” Adam said raising his hands half way. “And Last, you’re not eating your breakfast and you murdered your toast.” Adam tried to respond when the doorbell rang. He glanced at Patrick, who rose to answer. “I’ll get it. Finish your breakfast,” Adam said. “Okay,” Patrick said, sitting back down. Adam opened the door and found Devin, dressed in jeans and a tee shirt with his black raven hair tied back in a pony tail. “Devin?” “Hey Adam.” When Adam didn’t respond, he sighed and continued. “I was wondering if you wanted to ride down together. I don’t own a car.” Adam sighed in the same way, blinking as he pondered an appropriate response when Patrick came up from behind. “Hi Devin,” Patrick said, flashing a smile. “Hey, Pat-rick.” Adam heard the slip Devin made with Patrick’s name. “Your hair color’s back.” “Yeah, I missed it.” “Do you want to come in?” “Well, I came to ask Adam if he wants to drive down together.” “That’s a good idea. It’ll save time and you won’t risk getting lost. Right Adam?” Adam said nothing. Devin shifted from foot to foot. Patrick gave Adam a curious look before turning back to Devin. “Devin, come in for a cup of coffee,” Patrick said. This time Devin became silent as he stared back at his twin. “Devin…” “It’s all right Patrick. I can take a hint,” Devin said, turning to leave when a horn blowing caught all their attention. A truck pulled up and the passengers inside waved to the three men. “Mia,” Patrick called out seeing his best friend in the front seat of Paul’s new truck. He ran from Adam and Devin towards them as Mia climbed out and embraced him. “Patrick, I missed you so much,” she said, as they parted. “I missed you ten times more,” Patrick said. Both tried to stop the tears, but hugged again, sobbing into each other’s shoulder. “Wow, now that’s a greeting,” Kyle said, stepping out of the backseat. Patrick and Mia parted wiping tears away. “Kyle, it’s good to see you,” Patrick hugged him and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Careful, Adam will get jealous,” Paul said coming around his truck and receiving a similar greeting from Patrick. “You got a new truck?” Patrick said. “I picked it out yesterday. Mia chose the color.” “I thought we were meeting at the farm?” Adam asked, looking past Devin who kept his back to him. “Mia wanted to see Patrick; I figure we drive down and pick you up and I can take you home to come back for her,” Paul said, seeing Devin for the first time. He glanced at Kyle, who moved towards his brothers. “You must be Devin,” Kyle said, holding his hand out to him. “I’m Kyle, one of your older brothers.” Devin hesitated but shook his hand. “The third to be exact,” Paul said, coming up. “I’m Paul, the second to the oldest. Damien is flying in and will arrive we hope by dinner.” Devin shook his hand and relaxed around the two brothers. “Are you driving?” Kyle asked. “Well, no, I don’t have a car,” Devin said. “Well, there’s plenty of room in my truck, why don’t you join us?” Paul said. Devin smile at the offer from Paul and shook his head. “I don’t think Adam will want me to ride along.” “Why not?” Paul asked his question towards Adam. Adam said nothing. “Give us a minute with Adam, Devin,” Paul said. “Come on Devin I’ll get you a cup of coffee,” Patrick said. “Did you make the coffee?” Mia asked. “No, Adam did, but I can pour it,” Patrick said. “This I would love to see,” Mia said giggling. Patrick took Devin’s arm and pulled him inside past Adam, who avoided eye contact. When alone, Kyle and Paul stared at their younger brother. “You all right Adam?” Kyle asked. “Sure,” Adam said. Paul caught Adam discomfort and place his hand on his shoulder. “It’s going to be all right, Adam. Having another brother is better than losing one. Devin seems like a decent man and I look forward to getting to know him, but never think I or anyone in the family will ignore you. You are one of a kind and there’s no changing that. Even though growing up I wanted to.” This cause Adam to grin. Paul smiled with him as he hugged him. “I want some of this,” Kyle said, hugging both men. “We love you Adam. And soon we all will love Devin,” Kyle said. “Yeah, I guess I’m being selfish.” “Then go tell him to come on, we’ll grab coffee on the road,” Paul said. Adam returned to the kitchen and found Mia and Patrick mopping up coffee and a broken pot. “What happen?” Adam asked. “It slipped,” Patrick said, apologetic. “Okay, well, there’s a back-up pot in the bottom cabinet by the sink.” Patrick stood and looked at him pouting. “You knew this would happen?” “No,” Adam said, kissing his forehead. “It was a buy one get-one free.” “Oh well, okay,” Patrick turned to cleaning up his mess. Mia stared at Adam, who shook his head and mouthed ‘no it wasn’t’ to her. She chuckled and helped her friend. Adam saw Devin standing by watching. “Come to think of it, your idea of riding down will work. If you still want to Paul and Kyle are waiting for us.” “I don’t want to make you feel weird,” Devin blurted out. Patrick and Mia pretended not to hear as Adam sighed his frustration. “You don’t, and I’m sorry. I never expected to have a twin and now I do, I’m not sure how to deal. So, let’s deal with this in baby steps, okay?” “Okay.” “Pat?” Patrick stood and smiled at Adam happy he made the right decision. “You and Mia have fun.” “We will,” Patrick stated. “Mia,” Adam approached her and kissed her on the cheek and gave her a warm squeeze. “It’s always good to see you. Keep an eye on the kitchen for me.” “Hey,” Patrick snapped. “I swear I will,” Mia said, laughing as Adam turned to him and kissed him with shame before leaving with Devin. “Bye Devin, or welcome to the family.” Patrick said, flashing his ring catching Mia’s attention. “Patrick Valdez, is that what I think it is?” Adam and Devin left hearing the cries of joy coming from his kitchen. They boarded Paul’s truck and road for home. THE END
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