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JacobMillerTex last won the day on December 25 2010

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  1. hello, I have spent the past week reading "shadow of my father".I am just wondering when the next few chapters are going to be posted?

  2. When Jacob and the guys drove up to pick Ethan, Chase’s eyeballs almost popped out of his head. At first, all the guys did a double take at Ethan because of how different he looked in jeans, a t-shirt and tennis shoes. There was no doubt that this guy had worked on a farm, by the way the clothes revealed his awesome body. It took everything in Chase, to not jump over the guys and sit next to Ethan, as they drove to school. Still, he stole as many glances of Ethan as possible. At one point, Ethan leaned forward to say something to Jacob, his legs opened, giving Chase a view he never thought he would be looking at. Either Ethan had a hard, on or he was really big below, but whatever the reason was, the jeans were showing Ethan’s package off. As Ethan sat back, he looked at Chase, he could have sworn that as he looked over; he caught Chase looking at him. The more that Ethan was around Chase, the more Ethan was confused about him. At first, he thought that Chase was the one that Jacob was talking about, but he saw Chase asking a girl out. And now he thought he caught Chase looking at him again. Ethan couldn't help but think that there was something going on here and he might have a chance with Chase. Ethan decided to drop it and let Chase come to him if he was like him. As they got their breakfast and sat down, a couple of girls walked up to Chase and he left with them. Once again, it caused Ethan to think that he was wrong about Chase. He looked down at his tray thinking that he would never get an answer to this, unless Chase and he talked. At the same time, Ethan knew there was no way he could ask the guys, if he was right or wrong without giving himself away. Chase returned fifteen minutes later as if he had never left. He rejoined the conversation and finished eating his breakfast. When they headed outside, Ethan noticed the same girls that Chase walked out with in the hall looking at him and he winked back. That did it for Ethan, he is going to move on and stop thinking he has a chance with Chase who is straight without a doubt. Jacob walked into the ROTC building getting ready to work on the next edition of The Eye of The Tiger, when Colonel Pigeon called him into the office. Unlike Major Moore, Colonel Pigeon told Jacob, when he is called him into his office, that he didn't have to wait to be invited in. He was to just come in and take a seat. After trading ‘good mornings’, and ‘how-are-you’, Colonel Pigeon got down to business. The main concern Colonel Pigeon had with Jacob was that he micro managed everything. This wasn't his fault at all, because that’s how Major Moore did it and trained his cadets to do it. Colonel Pigeon trained his high-ranking cadets to lead, by delegating to the lower ranking cadets under them to get the jobs done. “As you know Jacob I respect Major Moore, and I have known the guy for a very long time. He and I came into this program at almost the same time. Through the years of our friendship, I have noticed the way Major Moore ran his program. He trained you, the same way he did things and that was to micro manage everything. You are the battalion commander, and it's time to lessen your load by delegating the work. With that said; you got the program newsletter up and going. In fact, you did that for all of the battalions in the brigade. It is time for you to sit back, choose a new editor in chief. Turn over the newsletter to a captain to deal with. Once they put the newsletter together and before sending it off to the print shop, you approve it.” “Sir, have I done something wrong, that caused you to take the newsletter away from me? I know have missed a lot of school recently, but I promise, I will be here. From now on my attendance shouldn't give you any reason worry Sir.” Jacob felt as if he just went from one instructor that didn’t believe in him to another. Major Pigeon laughed in a friendly way, throwing Jacob a wink; “Jacob you have not done a thing wrong! You are the highest-ranking officer in this battalion. At the same time, you have so much on your plate; you won’t make it out of high school without suffering from a breakdown of some kind if you keep going in this mode. I'm just going to teach you a different way of running things; different than the micro managing style that Major Moore taught you.” Colonel Pigeon got up from his seat and walked over to the board. “You are part owner of what is becoming the largest corporation in the state. When you leave the program, you won’t only take the leadership we teach you, but how to run that huge company using the leadership skills and the ability to delegate responsibilities to others. When you take the helm of that company, you can’t have your hand in every single thing the company does. There is just not enough time in the day for you to do that. So what you and I are going to work together to put into play here, you’ll use when you leave high school. Delegation is the key that will make you a better leader here, and a highly successful business owner in the private sector.” Colonel Pigeon started to write on the board everything Jacob does for the battalion. On the other side of the board, he wrote down what his other battalion commanders do. The big difference between the two sides of the board was that on Jacob’s side, it was a long list of things. On the other side had the battalion commander on top and other officers under the battalion commander with the duties equally spread out between them. Jacob started to get the picture. Nothing was nothing being taken away from him, he just had to delegate the responsibilities to others and they would report back to him. If it didn't meet his standards, he would tell the cadet to do it again and provide the guidance that would lead to his goal. They talked, straight up to the bell. When Jacob walked out, he felt more comfortable with how Colonel Pigeon wanted things to run. Now all he needed to do, was to choose who did what from his battalion staff and company commanders. The first order of business they agreed on was assigning another cadet to run the newsletter. When Jacob reached his locker, he found Ethan standing there waiting for him. He looked around to see if any of the other guys were anywhere near, but Jacob didn’t see any of them. So Jacob walked up to his locker, figuring that if Ethan was there to talk to him, he would start talking the minute he reached the locker. At first, Ethan didn’t say anything to Jacob; he just stood there looking down at the floor. When Jacob started to close his locker, Ethan cleared his throat and started to talk with Jacob in a whisper. A whisper so low, Jacob couldn’t hear. Jacob placed his hand under Ethan’s chin and gently pushed his head up until they made eye contact. Ethan looked at Jacob like a lost puppy, which made Jacob feel badly for him. “There is something bothering you and I think you need someone to talk to. But if you are going to talk to the floor in a very low whisper, I can’t hear you. I know you are away from everything you know, and the friends you have grown up trusting. You have to trust someone, so you can talk about the things that are bothering you.” “Um, when you and I, um were um talking you told me that there was someone asking about me. I was wondering if you have talked to that person yet. Does he still like me and want to get to know me or has he moved on and I should move on as well?” “I'm sorry Ethan, I haven’t talked with him yet. It's kind of a weird situation with this guy, and I shouldn’t have said anything until I had a chance to talk with him. Since I put the cart before the horse, I'll talk with the guy tonight. No matter what the answer is, I promise you, that I'll tell you. It's better that you know if he wants to be with you or not. That way if he has moved on, you can as well.” Ethan forced a smile that Jacob saw right through. He felt really bad that he spoke about someone else before making sure he was right with what he was thinking. Now he had to not only talk with Chase, but the talk might push Chase into more denial of what he was feeling about Ethan. In return, he would have to deliver the bad news to a guy that was always having a hard time adjusting to a new school and city. Al scheduled a follow-up meeting with Ethan’s father for the first thing in the morning. He barely had enough time to grab his morning coffee before heading to his office to meet with him. As he passed the elevators, Al heard Dewayne calling out for him. He turned around and walked over to see what Dewayne needed from him. Dewayne explained to Al what had happened the evening before. As they talked, Al drank the entire cup of coffee and was about to head back to the break room to refill his cup when Dewayne asked him sit in on the meeting. Al asked about Major Moore, and Dewayne explained that he would be there, but didn't know that much about the law. So he wanted someone there that could ensure that he wouldn't break any laws. Al agreed to sit in on the meeting after he refilled his coffee. Dewayne waited for him at the elevators. As soon as Al came back, they headed down to Dewayne’s office. When they walked in, Al found Joe sitting there and the employee in question. “Sorry for keeping you waiting, but I needed to take care of a few things. This gentleman is Alfred Serna, the owner of our parent company. He wants to sit in on this meeting if you have no objection to it.” The manager shook his head in the negative. “Good let’s get down to business then.” Dewayne went over the circumstances of what brought them to this meeting. Every now and then, Joe chimed in with a comment, but Dewayne ran the meeting. Al just sat there and listened, and made sure that Dewayne was not saying or doing anything that could give the employee a leg to stand on in a lawsuit. To Al’s surprise and pleasure, Dewayne handled the meeting as if he had had hundreds of these meetings already. “Sir with all due respect, I had no idea you two were the owners of the company now. I truly thought that you were two teenage kids that wanted to steal gas and then rob my store. If anything, I should be here getting a pat on the back. Too many gas stations and c-stores get robbed and the employees killed when the employees believe a customer claiming to be the owners of the store or any lie that gets them access to the back room.” “I have no problem with you thinking that way to a point, but why didn’t you go and check the memo like I told you to do?” The manager just shrugged his shoulders up and down. “There is no way a person that was planning to rob a store would have known about the memo that was sent out.” “Additionally, no criminal would come back to a store that they just got away with stealing gas from. Even if they were dumb enough to do that, they won’t admit to be the ones that did the gas run. You are the store manager; you are supposed have and use common sense.” A look went across Joe’s face that Jacob was used to seeing, but not Al or Dewayne. Still, no matter what Dewayne or Joe asked or said, the manager kept going back to believing he was in the right. He contended that he shouldn’t be there getting the third degree, instead he should be getting a pat on the back instead. While Dewayne and Joe tried to get a straight, fact based answer from the employee, Al read his file. There was enough in the file indicating he should have been terminated a long time ago. He didn’t understand why the old owners didn’t terminate him until he got to the last page of the file. Al closed the file and looked up at the manager and interjected; “You have to know by now, that you won’t get away with the things that you got away with under the old ownership.” The manager looked at Al with a confused look on his face. “Right here in your file, is written that you are the husband of the daughter of one of the old owners. That is the only reason you have kept your job in spite of all the screw ups that would have gotten other managers fired.” Dewayne picked up the file and started reading it. At first, he didn’t find what Al found until he got to the last page. He handed the file to Joe and pointed out the information that Al just spoke of. While Joe read it, Al wrote a couple sentences on a piece of paper and handed it to Dewayne. After reading it, he nodded his head in acknowledgement before speaking again to the manager. “We tried to give you a chance to give us one logical explanation why you felt you were right with your actions yesterday evening. Instead, you kept coming back with, we should be patting you on the back for trying to get me and the other owner arrested. I know that I am speaking for Joe and Al when I say we don’t agree with you. So here is what we are going to do with you. You are demoted to assistant manager and will be moved out of the store you managed. If you mess up in any way that you have been written up for in the past, you will be terminated immediately. Now, if you feel you can’t take the demotion or you know you will make the same mistakes again, you better just resign your position here and now.” “I know I won’t make the same mistakes again, but I won’t take a demotion when I was doing my job! To the demotion I say stick it up your ass; I quit! I don’t need teenage punks that don’t have hair number one between their legs telling me what to do! No sir I don’t; so you can take this job and stick it up your asses!” The manager got up to walk out of the office when Joe stopped him. He told the manager that he could go after he gave him the store keys. He pulled the keys out of his pocket and handed them over before walking past Joe. Joe turned around and looked at Al and Dewayne. Al started laughing as he grabbed hold of his mid section. “I need to ask Jacob if you have more than hair number one between your legs.” Everyone started laughing when Al said that. “Look I have a meeting with someone upstairs right now and I think he would be a fine manager for that store. Why don’t you guys come up with me and I'll explain everything about the guy.” On their way up to Al’s office, Al told Dewayne and Joe about Ethan’s father. He explained that he was about to tell him that he didn't have a position for him, but if they agree to hire him for the open management position, the guy could walk out of there with a job. By the time they reached Al’s office, Joe and Dewayne knew everything they needed to know about Ethan’s father and agreed to hire him for the store. After introducing Dewayne and Joe, Al went straight to business. “I have looked over everything you put on your application. Before leaving last night, I got answers back from your bank and fellow farm owners. You didn’t lose your farm because of mismanagement; you lost it because the bigger companies were running the smaller farm owners out of business. They swallowed you up along with ten other farms this past year. Now I don’t have anything for you with your kind of experience, but Dewayne here and his vice president of operations do. My two sons’ own a separate company that owns all the Seven-Elevens here in El Paso. Dewayne and Joe have a job offer for you. So if you would go with them, they'll explain it and let me know what you decide.” Ethan’s father got up and shook Al’s hand as he thanked him. He walked out of the office with Dewayne and Joe. Once they left, Al got on the phone with his secretary to ask her to send in his next appointment. As sat back waiting for the next person to come in, he started thinking that he had another long day ahead of him. All morning long, Jacob couldn’t stop thinking about his conversation with Ethan. He opened a can of worms that he might not be able to close. If he is wrong about Chase or he pushed Chase to stand his ground that he is straight, the one that would come out of this as a loser would be Ethan. If Chase later on realized that he did like Ethan and Ethan had already moved on, Chase would be a loser too. So Jacob decided to sit down with Chase and go into the subject little by little. If he saw that Chase was getting uncomfortable with the subject, he would pull away from it. That way he didn't push Chase into a corner and chance damaging their friendship. On his way to lunch, Jacob caught up to Chase. He started off talking small talk, but little by little Jacob moved the conversation over to dating and who Chase was interested in. He started out with what he had heard from the guys about him asking that girl out yesterday and then moved on to who those girls were this morning. Chase had an explanation for both, but neither of the explanations got even to close to Chase getting a girl. “You know I consider you more than my best friend Chase and because of that, I worry about you a lot. Ever since Linda, you have locked yourself away from the dating world. I know I keep promising you, that I'm going to help you get a girlfriend, and I haven’t followed through on my promise successfully. But now I am serious when I say that we need to get you someone so you can get laid! You need to get rid of all those juices inside of you.” “There's no need to tell me that I need to get laid! Jeeze, I know that! It just seems I’ve been running into bad luck because I've waited too long to ask the girls out that have shown an interest in me. Now I'm standing on the outside looking in on people having loving relationships.” “Okay you got shot down by the girl yesterday and the girls today. Who else are you interested in? Maybe I can help you get the next one on your list to go out with you. Two heads are a lot better than one. Just point me the right direction and I'll go right to work on getting whoever that person is for you.” Chase looked at Jacob trying to figure out what his game was. His wording was different this time as he talked with him about getting a girlfriend. Chase thought back over the last couple days to see if he had given himself away to Jacob. Looking at everything they had done together, Chase ran it through his mind and didn’t see anything he did that Jacob could have caught on with. So now Chase was wondering what the meaning of this conversation was. “Right now I'm working through a couple of things Jake. Once I get a grip on what I'm working on, I'll get back to you.” Chase turned and pointed out to the cook, what he wanted for lunch. “Thank you for being in my corner. I know that whenever I need a friend, I can count on you to be there for me.” “You know it my friend. Just do me favor, whatever you are working through, try and get through as fast as you can. If you need someone to talk to, I’m here for you. You don’t want to wait too long and miss out again. You've already lost three girls in two days because, as you said, you waited too long. People lose interest when they don’t think they are going to get anywhere.” At that point, Jacob dropped the subject. He could see that he was making Chase uneasy with the conversation. If he pursued it anymore than he had, he was going to push Chase right into the closet. Chase would deny what he was feeling because he didn't want to be looked at, as a person that didn't know his butt from his face. Between fifth and sixth periods, Jacob ran into Ethan again. He tried to dodge the guy, but the poor guy stuck to Jacob like glue. It seemed to Jacob that Ethan could read him, that Jacob had already gotten the answer he asked Jacob to get for him. As they walked to their final classes for the day, Jacob tried to figure out a way to tell Ethan the bad news. After going over every way to break it to him, Jacob realized there was really no easy way to say it. He could simply tell Ethan that he hasn’t talked with the guy in question, but that wasn't fair to Ethan either. When they reached the halfway point between their two classes, Jacob broke the news to Ethan. He didn’t sugar coat it, Jacob just put it out there for Ethan. As he talked, Jacob felt like he was slugging Ethan over and over again. Just the expression on his face tore Jacob apart. He had seen that in others, and he had had the same look himself, Ethan was hurting. To Jacob’s surprise, Ethan thanked him and walked off to his class. Ethan didn’t get mad with him; he just said two words, ‘thank you’ and walked off. Jacob felt he'd rather have gotten yelled at or punched, than what Ethan did. Since Ethan didn’t react the way Jacob thought he would, he felt even worse. Jacob swore to himself right then and there, that from then on, he wasn't going to play matchmaker, even if he knew they liked each other. Following his grandfathers instructions, Jacob went home right after work. When he walked in and found his father in the kitchen getting something to drink. Trying not to disturb him, Jacob turned around as quietly as possible. Just as he started to walk off, Andy saw him and called him in to talk. They sat talking about how things were going in both of their lives. Andy wanted to know how Jacob was feeling now, after the surgery. Besides the pain where he got cut open, Jacob explained to his dad that he was feeling pretty good. After talking for a while, Andy got up and asked Jacob to help him with a couple of things. As they reached the part of the house that belonged to Jacob’s mom and dad, Jacob couldn’t believe his eyes. Although he hadn’t been in this part of the house for several days, he didn’t know that his parents moved anything in until then. There were several boxes in each room marked in big black letters the room names. “Your sister wanted to move as fast as we could, now that the house was done. I agreed with her so I came down with a load of boxes today to get the moving going. Hopefully I can borrow you and several of your friends over the weekend to move the big stuff. If everything works out, we should be moved in by Sunday night.” “I'll check with the guys this evening. You know I’m not able to lend my back right now, since the surgery. I know that Tom has a football game on Saturday morning that all of us are going down to support him in. After that, I'm sure all the guys will have no problem helping out. After all, we're the ones that moved mom and Fran into the house they are living in now.” Andy was surprised to hear that it was Jacob and his friends that moved his mother into the house from her apartment. His understanding was, at that time, Jacob wasn’t talking with Gloria. Now he found out that Jacob was not only was talking to his mother, he helped her move into the house that he had given her. Jacob tried to explain what was going on at the time. He did confirm that he and his mom were on rocky ground at the time, but they had been on rocky ground for the last couple years. The bigger fight at the time, was happening between him and his ex. Jacob explained about everything that was going on and that he and Joey barely got back together when they bought this house. “I never met your ex, but I'm glad I didn’t. No matter if you dated women or guys, no one treats my kids the way he did. Come on Jacob, you're a lot smarter than to hang around with a guy that treated you the way he did. From what I've been told about him, he cheated on you many times and you kept taking him back. It took until he literally tossed you to aside, for you to realize that he wasn’t the guy you thought he was.” “Dad, he helped me get comfortable in my own skin. I don’t think I would be where I am now if I hadn’t met him. I know that we went through a lot together, but I loved him and I still do. Don’t get me wrong, I will never get back together with him. If anything, we will be just friends. He's a good guy and I wish you had met him. That way you could see what I saw in him, and you'd know why I stuck it out with him.” Jacob kept talking as his father took the boxes to the right room. To make his point hit home for his father, Jacob used his and Gloria’s relationship as an example. Jacob put it simply to Andy, that a lot of people don’t understand why both of them were giving each other another chance, after what they did to each other. Andy saw what Jacob was saying. Only those in the relationship truly know the truth. Everyone else was looking in at the relationship with half-truths and assumptions. Those don’t paint a complete picture. Unless you are one of the two in that relationship, you will never really see why each of the two stayed in the relationship. After they finished up with what Andy had brought down, Jacob asked him to stay for dinner, but he declined. They said their goodbyes and Jacob watch his father drive off before walking back in and locking up the house. Jacob ran into Lorenzo, Ismail and Jeremy running down to the game room, so he decided to follow. He didn't want Alex’s brothers to get hurt because they did something that Jeremy took as a threat. They were too young to understand about Jeremy. All they knew was that Jeremy was different, and he was fun to play with. The evening went by fast, once the house filled up with the guys. There wasn’t a dull moment while they ate and when they ended up throwing each other in the pool. The only two that didn’t end up soaked was Jacob and Alex. If they were not recovering from their surgeries, they would have landed in the pool with the rest. Although they couldn’t get in the pool, they helped the others get their revenge on those that pushed them in. Once everyone landed in the pool, Jacob and Alex ran around shoving those that tried to climb out back in the pool. After tiring themselves out, Jacob and Alex sat down and started throwing the beach balls at the guys’ heads. Since they were having so much fun, they lost track of time. It took Franseca and Virginia to come out yelling at them, to get out and get ready for bed. When Jacob and Dewayne walked into their room, they couldn’t believe the time; eleven fourteen. They ran to the bathroom, stripped naked and jumped into the shower together. Both of them wanted to do more than shower, but Dewayne was afraid he might hurt Jacob. So they ended up going to bed with their dicks hard. Jacob felt Dewayne’s dick as he pressed his chest against his back. His dick actually slid between Jacob’s butt cheeks. Jacob turned his head to whisper to Dewayne. “If you go slow and gentle, I don’t think you can hurt me. I really want to be with you Dewayne and I can feel you want to be with me.” Jacob grabbed hold of Dewayne’s hard muscle. “Just go slow and we can be with each other.” Dewayne thought about it for a few minutes. “We better not do anything until Dr. Whitmore says we can. There's no way I could live with myself if I hurt you. I really do want to be with my handsome boyfriend, but we better wait. Just think when you do get cleared to have sex, the incredible kind of sex we are going to have with each other that very day. Trust me when I say, neither of us will leave this room for days!” They kissed for a while before settling in for the night. Jacob moved as close as he could to Dewayne before pulling the covers over them. Before falling asleep, Dewayne wrapped his arms around Jacob, something he hadn’t done since Jacob came home from the hospital. Dewayne feared that he might move down to the stitches and pull them out. The rest of the week, Jacob steered clear from Ethan and Chase. It had been hard since Chase lived in the same house and Jacob picked Ethan up every morning for school. Still Jacob had got his routine down at school and home, to get the job done. It made it a little harder for Jacob to get the job done, since he started giving other battalion staff members and officers more reasonability’s in ROTC. Tasks that were his that Major Moore wanted him to do, he handed off to subordinates; the newsletter, training for the pass and review, setting up the officers meetings and several others duties as well. Although he was not in the day-to-day operations of these things anymore, the duties he passed to other officers, still had to be monitored and had to get his approval, before the officer’s executed their plans. Jacob didn't want to be at fault causing Ethan anymore harm than he already had. The expression on Ethan’s face when Jacob told him that the person he was talking about was not interested in him, still haunted him. Jacob decided there was no way he would be part of or be the one, to cause that pain for anyone else, ever again. Although Dewayne could see that there was something going on with Jacob, he had his hands full. He wanted to help Jacob, but by the time he got home in the evening, they barely had time to say hi to each other, let alone to talk. Neither Dewayne nor Tony had any idea how hard and how much there was to running a company until they started dealing with theirs. When the guys headed to school, Dewayne would head to the office and then, not get home until late in the evening. Everything Joe showed him during the day Dewayne took the time to show Tony in the evening, since that was the only time Tony had a chance to work. Because of that, it put a double load on Dewayne’s back, but he wasn't complaining. When Friday finally came, everyone breathed in a sigh of relief. The guys went through their normal routines in the morning, from picking up Ethan to eating two breakfasts, to hanging out until the bell rang for first period. Just like the days before, Jacob kept the conversations light and away from Chase and Ethan. Both Chase and Ethan have noticed the change in Jacob and they both were trying to figure out why. When Jacob left to go to the ROTC building, Chase had enough and planned to confront Jacob. Ethan also had enough, but he decided to stay quiet about his frustration since he is the new guy and didn't want to rock the boat. Jacob heard Chase call out for him, so he slowed down allowing Chase to catch up. As he waited, another student passed him, stopped, looked at him, and walked back up to him and just smiled. At first, Jacob didn’t recognize the guy, but after looking at him for a few minutes, he placed him. “Oh wow, you are, man I am bad with names, but I met you over a year ago with Josh. You and Josh were going out when I met you.” Jacob kept snapping his fingers together trying to remember the guy’s name. “Man if my life depended on me remembering your name, I would drop dead!” “Don’t worry I didn’t recognize you at first either. I had to stop and look you over several times before placing you. My name is Chris and yes Josh and I were going out when I met you and your ex, Joey.” Jacob looked at him surprised. “Yeah I heard that you and Joey broke up. I thought if any relationship would have lasted, it would have been you and Joey. You guys seemed to be in so much love, every time we saw you.” “We were, but there was so much in the background that a lot of people didn’t know was happening, that finally pulled us apart. The good thing is that he and I are still talking. I still see you with Josh and the others, even after you guys broke up. For a while there, I saw you with another guy, what happened there?” “Yeah, his name is Rusty and we didn’t make it. I tried to tell myself he wasn’t a rebound from Josh, but I kept making the mistake comparing him to Josh. One day he told me he had had enough and called it quits and I don’t blame him. After that, I dated, but nothing serious. I didn’t want to settle down into anything serious again; at least until I got completely over Josh. Now that I have gotten there and I’m ready to date seriously moving toward a relationship, I can’t find anyone! If there are any more gay guys in this school, they are hiding from me. Maybe you can throw me a bone and point me the right direction.” Chris slapped Jacob on the shoulder as he started to laugh. Jacob started thinking maybe, and then he stopped himself. There is no way he was going to make the same mistake twice. He wouldn't open his mouth to Chris or Ethan. Plus Chris was younger than Ethan and that might be a problem for Ethan. “My friends that are gay are in serious relationships. The others that aren’t are straight as an arrow.” Jacob looked over at Chase and quickly back to Chris. “Listen why don’t you come down to my house tomorrow afternoon and hang with us at the pool. I don’t know anyone because I'm not looking, but who knows, perhaps David and Tom might know someone that you might like. They aren’t looking, but they might know someone.” “I will take you up on that Jacob, thank you very much for the invite. How about I come down around four or so in the afternoon?” “That sounds good to me Chris! If you show up any earlier, my parents might put you to work since they're moving. In the morning, Dewayne, Tony and I are going to go to the Jr. Sun Bowl and in the afternoon, we're helping my parents move. We should be done by three or so. That gives us plenty of time to get things ready for a cookout.” Chris pulled out a sheet of paper from his notebook for Jacob to write down directions to his house and his phone number. As Chris left, he thanked Jacob again for the invite to the pool party. Jacob turned to Chase to see what he needed since he was calling for him to stop in the first place, before running into Chris. “Whatever it is that you need to talk with me about, you better get out soon. Running into Chris and talking with him has pretty much taken up the time I have to work on the things I want done in ROTC. So if you can’t get whatever you want out by the time we reach the ROTC building, you will have to wait until later.” “What's going on with you Jacob? What’s with the way you've been talking to me, when you aren’t ignoring me? What did I do that has upset you, to be like this to me? For the life of me, I can’t figure out what I have done to get you so angry.” “Because you haven’t gotten me angry Chase and that's why you can’t figure it out. Whatever you're feeling or believe you're seeing, you're wrong. I just have so much on my mind right now; I really don’t have the time I would like to spend with my friends, more so, my best friend. Let me get through the weekend and I hope things will get back to normal, at least normal for us.” Jacob looked down at his watch and decided to spend the time that was left before first period with Chase. He followed Chase to the main building and over to the lockers. They leaned against the wall and talked until the girl Chase liked walked up to her locker with a couple of her friends. Chase pointed the girl out to Jacob to see if Jacob had any ideas on how he could go about asking her out. With a big grin on his face, Jacob walked over to the group of girls. He stood there until they turned and asked him what he needed. Ignoring the girls around the girl Chase liked, Jacob introduced himself to her. She in turn, introduced herself to Jacob; her name was Patricia. Once they got the introductions over, Jacob tried to help his friend. He found out that she wasn't going out with anyone right now. Then Jacob found out what she liked in guys. As they talked, Jacob realized being an open gay guy had its perks. Girls open up to gay guys because they consider them to not be a threat. A normal guy, straight, normally only wanted one thing when they talk to a girl; sex! Just before the bell rang, Jacob pointed Chase out to her. Right away, she told Jacob she thought he is hot and she liked him, but she didn’t know if he liked her. Not putting his foot in his mouth this time, Jacob invited her and her friends over to his house tomorrow to swim and hang out. The girls giggled like girls do as they nodded their heads. After writing instructions to his house and his phone number down for the second time, Jacob thanked the girls. Before rejoining Chase, Jacob asked Patricia if she was sure she was coming tomorrow and she made it clear that she is. With a smile, he thanked her and headed back to Chase. As he walked away, Patricia looked at Chase and couldn’t believe that she might get the guy she liked. When Jacob told Chase what he had found out and that he invited Patricia over tomorrow, Chase couldn’t stop thanking Jacob. He walked to his locker with a huge smile on his face that could be seen a mile away. Unable to help himself, Chase thought for the first time this week he actually didn’t get shot down. Now he knew that there wasn't anything wrong with him since the girl he has wanted to date, even before he dated Linda, not only like him, but actually wanted to date him. By lunch, everyone at the table heard about Chase and Patricia. So when Chase sat down, they ragged on him until he finally told them if what they heard was correct. Even Ethan got into the teasing, but for different reasons. When Chase did confirm what they heard, Ethan knew once and for all, that he had been wrong about Chase. Before lunch ended, Jacob told the guys that he was going into the office today. So if they want, they could catch a ride with him. They immediately agreed and made plans to meet at the truck after school, before returning to teasing Chase. Just as they planned, they met at the truck and headed into work. The gang went into the side entrance to get to the print shop, while Jacob went up to his office to see if his grandfather needed anything. After checking in with Al, Jacob went down to Dewayne’s office to see how he was doing after completing his first week as owner. When he walked in, the secretary refused to let him go into Dewayne’s office. That angered Jacob, but he sat down in the lobby while she let Dewayne know that he was there. After thirty minutes had passed, Jacob went back to the secretary to see if she let Dewayne know that he was waiting for him. She looked up, said no, and that was it for Jacob. He walked past her and since she couldn’t stop him, she called for security. Dewayne was surprised when he saw Jacob walk past his office. He ran out and caught up to him as he turned the corner. They kissed each other before Jacob told him how long he has been waiting for him in the lobby. Dewayne noticed that Jacob wasn't happy, but before he could ask anything, the building security walked up with the secretary. “This is the guy that ran past me and didn't have an appointment.” The security looked at Jacob and back at the secretary. “What, are you guys just going to stand there and do nothing? Arrest this guy and remove him from the building.” “Ma’am there is no way we are going to remove the owner of the building, from his own building.” The secretary fell back against the wall being hit with that information. “Mr. Hernandez we're sorry for this. If we knew it was you, we would not have come up here like this. It's just that we got a panic call that there was someone making trouble on this floor.” “Don’t worry about it; you're just doing your job. I will let Mr. Jackson know how you guys did with this situation.” Jacob shook the guard’s hands before they left. “Now for you ma’am, I'll leave it up to your bosses, as to what to do with you. I told you who I was and yet you still ignored me. Still, as far as what to do regarding what you did, is all up to Dewayne, Tony and Joe.” Jacob turned to Dewayne and told him that he would see him at home and he walked off. Because he drove the guys to work, Jacob couldn't leave without them. Al didn’t want Jacob to work until he was one hundred percent. That put Jacob in the corner because he didn't have anything to pass the time with until the guys got off. So Jacob decided to pass the time window-shopping. He walked out and started going from store to store near his building. One thing Jacob noticed was that all the stores in this area of town were owned by Hispanics and the products were from Mexico. Nothing wrong with that, Jacob thought, but he knew that he could get the same thing in Juarez, but at cheaper prices. All he had to do was to go to Juarez. Just when Jacob was about to call it quits, his saw something that Dewayne had been looking for ever since it went up for auction. The window didn’t have what caught Jacob’s eye, it was a picture. That picture Jacob has gotten know really well ever since he started going out with Dewayne. Now that he might have found it, there was no way he was going to walk away without checking if the picture was real. Dewayne liked to play guitar and had a couple already, but he had been looking for a certain guitar ever since he heard it was being sold. The store Jacob walked into was a store of collectable’s and rare musical instruments that had been played by famous musical artists. This certain store had a copy of a white guitar made famous by no other than Prince. It was a beautiful guitar and Jacob could see why Dewayne wanted it. When he walked in, Jacob acted as if he knew a thing or two about famous instruments, but the storeowner saw right through him. Then Jacob started asking the right questions that got the storeowner thinking twice about cheating him. The storeowner took Jacob to the back, after locking the store, and pulled the guitar out of the safe. Jacob didn’t touch the guitar, he just looked at it while the storeowner pulled out of his files, the certificate that proved the guitar was an original and that it was the one that Prince owned and played. “I need to pick it up and look at it to make sure it's the real thing.” Jacob gently picked it up and looked at it like a diamond buyer looks at diamonds. “You know that I have to put insurance on this guitar. I won’t have a problem with the insurance agent when he or she comes down to appraise this and that it will be found to be the real thing.” “No young man you won’t. When the insurance company comes down and looks at it, they will see that is the real thing. I know anyone could make one of these guitars and a fake certificate, but I'm not one of those people. This store has been here for over two decades, selling the same thing I sell today and I plan for it to be here for my son to run someday. There's no way I would ever sell anyone a fake anything.” After haggling over the price for about ten minutes, they finally settled on a price that they both could live with. Jacob knew he was paying more than what the storeowner paid for the guitar, but he also knew that the storeowner needed to make a profit. That was why Jacob didn’t feel bad paying, what he paid for the guitar. Once the transaction was completed, the storeowner gave Jacob his receipt and proof of purchase when he bought the guitar. Although the owner didn’t have to so, Jacob was thankful he did. That put Jacob’s mind at ease that he did get the real thing. Now he needed to figure out how to get it to the house and surprise Dewayne with it. After sticking the guitar in the truck, Jacob walked back to the building just as the guys were walking out. When the guys saw Jacob walking up to them, they relaxed. They thought that they might have to take the bus because Jacob had gone home. All the way back to the house, they talked about the pool party tomorrow. When they drove up to Ethan’s house, Jacob made sure that Ethan and his brothers were coming to their party tomorrow. Ethan said yes, but his brothers said they would try. Jacob was fine with the brothers if they didn't make it, but Ethan was a friend and Jacob wanted him there. When they got home, Jacob went in with the guys to see where Dewayne was. The minute he walked in the door, Dewayne walked out of the TV room. As they kissed, Jacob thought to himself that he was thankful that he didn’t bring the guitar in with him. He wanted to give Dewayne the guitar with the family all there, because he had a big speech that he had put together in his mind for Dewayne. It was hard for Jacob not to jump out of his seat during dinner and go out to the truck to get what he had bought Dewayne, but he stayed in his seat. When they walked to the TV room, Jacob waited for everyone to make their way in. He didn’t want to go and get everyone because it would give him away. Finally, when Tom and David walked in, Jacob put his plan in motion. He got up telling Dewayne he wanted to make sure he locked the truck. Of course, Dewayne didn’t question Jacob and he knew Dewayne wouldn’t. After grabbing the guitar from the truck, he walked in and leaned it against the wall right outside of the TV room. Clearing his throat, everyone looked up to Jacob. “You know, it is very hard to find someone that you know that you will spend the rest of your life with. All you know where I am coming from, when I say that. A couple of us have found the ones they want to spend the rest of their lives with, and others are still looking. They will find that special person when the time is right; I know that for a certainty. The reason I know that, because I found the one that I want to spend the rest of my life with, when I wasn’t looking. When I thought I had lost the one that I thought I was going to spend my life with, I was proven wrong. I walked into the McDonald’s and a light shined on a guy that I just fell in love with that very moment. Boy am I glad he felt the same way about me, because I would still be there looking at this very hot guy.” Jacob walked in a little more, so Dewayne could see him. “I know I can be a handful sometimes, well most of the time. From me refusing to let you in all the way, to my short temper on certain things, you have put up with me. You have stuck by me when you really didn’t have to. I have said this before and I will say it again; I know you didn’t sign onto having a sick boyfriend, but I'm glad you stuck around. I love you so much, Dewayne. Just to say thank you for all that you have done for me, and for staying at my side, I have a little something for you.” Everyone watched as Jacob walked out into the hall and came back in with a guitar case; a weird guitar case that no one had ever seen before. Jacob walked over to Dewayne and handed him the guitar case. Dewayne just looked at it and knew what was in side of it. It’s the very guitar he had been trying to find, ever since he found out it was being sold. Although Dewayne knew what was in the case, the others didn't. They surrounded him and waited for him to open the case. When he did, Tom and Chase went to touch the guitar, but Dewayne slapped their hands away explaining to them why he did it. Jacob handed him the certificate and both receipts. “I really don’t know what to say Jacob, I really don’t. When I talked about this guitar, I thought that you were ignoring me. Now I see you actually do listen to what I say to you.” Dewayne kissed Jacob on the lips. “You didn’t have to give me anything; I know how much you love me; as much as I love you. There is nothing you can do, say, or go through, that would make me leave you. Like it or not Jacob, I am here for the long haul, no matter what.” Dewayne carefully pulled the guitar out of the case and showed the guys. None of them could believe that it was the real thing. They had heard of people that buy things like that, but they had never known anyone that did, until now. As they looked at the guitar, Tom, Chase and David teased Jacob, where was their gift, since they put up with his stuff too? Jacob simply replied that his friendship should be enough. After everyone had a chance to look at the guitar, Dewayne put it back in the case and took it up to their room. Jacob followed Dewayne, which pretty much started the clearing of the TV room. One by one everyone headed to their rooms, to turn in for the night. They all had to wake up early either to go to work or to the game. The only one that took the day off from work besides Tom was David. Everyone else got up at the same time, but the guys that had to go to work left first. After they left, Tom and David left to get to the Sun Bowl. Shortly after those two left, Jacob and Dewayne followed with the rest of the clan. When they arrived at the Sun Bowl, Al was invited to sit with the Governor and his family. But because he didn’t come alone, Al declined and went with Jacob and his family to their seats. A few minutes later, members of the Governor’s security detail came up and informed Al that the Governor would love it that he and his family would all join him and his family to watch the game together. This time Al accepted since the entire family got invited to sit with the Governor’s family. The security detail pointed where the seats were to Jacob as he left to join his school down on the field. Jacob thanked them as he went down and joined the cadets he chose to march in the pass and review. The minute he joined the others on the side of the field, Jacob went through one last time what commands would be given on the pass and review. Just as Colonel Pigeon walked up, Colonel May called him over. After they talked, they walked up to check to see if the battalion was ready for the pass and review. Jacob said yes and they took their spot on the right side of the field. The announcer got everyone’s attention, welcomed them to the first annual Jr. Sun Bowl, let the audience know about the special guest in the house and then brought their attention to the middle of the field. Governor Lopez, members of the military and other people that hold political office from the state of Texas stood up. Fierro gave the command to the brigade staff, which started the pass and review. Once the brigade staff reached a certain point on the field, Jacob gave the same command to his staff. The same command was given by each battalion commander until all the battalions were marching behind each other. As they reached the Governor’s stand, Jacob gave the order ‘eyes right’ and all the officers saluted and the non-officers just turned their heads to the right as they marched past the Governor. The military generals saluted as they passed. Once the entire battalion had passed the Governor, Jacob gave the order ‘ready, front’. They continued marching until they returned to the point they started. Governor Lopez said a few words before sitting down. Fierro turned around and gave the order to the battalion commanders to fall out. One at a time, the battalion’s commanders called their units back to attention and gave them the order to fallout. Since Jacob commanded the first battalion, they got off the field first. Jacob made his way back to his seat to watch Tom show his stuff on the field. When he sat down, Dewayne grabbed hold of Jacob’s hand and held it tight the entire game. No one said or looked at Jacob and Dewayne in a negative way. Several times through the game, the lead switched back and forth, but as the final seconds wore down, it looked like the west side schools were going to take the game. Instead of just kneeling, the coach of the west side school called in a play that didn’t make sense. With ten seconds on the clock, the coach called a “Hail Mary” when it wasn’t needed. As a result, the ball was picked off and run in for a touch down. The east side won the first Jr. Sun Bowl by one point from a touchdown that wouldn’t have happened if the coach had just kneeled the last possession of the game. Tony took off with Jacob and David as they went to get Tom. Al and the rest stayed behind with the Governor and his family. Due to time constraints, the Governor declined going and enjoying a relaxing afternoon at Al’s house. Governor Lopez needed to get back to Austin, because of pending bills that his own party was against. After seeing the Governor off, Al rejoined the others in the parking lot. Instead of fighting with everyone else trying to get out, Jacob and Al decided to wait until the traffic thinned. Jacob pulled the tailgate down to let the ladies sit while the others threw the football around until Al called for them to leave. Once they got home and changed, Jacob and the guys headed down to Gloria’s house, now Joey’s house once again. Andy Sr. already had pretty much everything ready to go. It didn’t take long to load Jacob’s truck and take the first load. Where it took time was in the new house because Gloria stood there directing where everything was going. That really wasn’t the problem; the problem was Gloria wanting everything perfect. By the time they brought the final load from the old house, most of the guests had arrived for the party. Ethan helped Jacob unload the truck with his father since the others disappeared. Jacob figured that they just were tired and just wanted to get ready to swim. Since he still couldn't swim, Jacob didn't mind being left to unload the final load but he had to limit his lifting. Ethan took up the slack very naturally. “Hey my friend, thanks a lot for helping me out here, but don’t you want to be with the others swimming? I invited you down to have fun, not put you to work. My father and I can handle what's left on the truck.” “No that's cool; I'd like to help you if that is okay?” Jacob shrugged his shoulders. As he and Ethan pulled down the couch. “Besides you are the one that invited me and I can’t sit over there while you're hard at work over here. Where did Dewayne go? I thought he was helping you as well.” “He was, but he got a call about something at one of his stores. I had to force him to take the call because he didn’t want to leave me alone. The others had already left and he felt bad that only my father and I would be left if he went.” “Sounds like he's really a nice guy, is he your first?” Jacob looked at Ethan with a look like, where have you been. “Please forgive me if I've over stepped the line. It's just that you guys seem to know each other very well; like you've been together for years.” Jacob explained to Ethan what his past had been like. Without getting into any great detail, Jacob told Ethan about Joey, how they met, what they went through and how it ended. Then he told him how he met Dewayne and he never looked back. Ethan listened the whole time as if he were going to be tested over what Jacob was telling him. Ethan didn’t understand how a guy would do what Joey did, after being together as long as he and Jacob were. But he listened to Jacob when he said not to judge the guy until he met him. And if he got to know Joey, he would see that Joey wasn't a bad guy at all. What happened between them was life, and nothing more than that. It took Ethan, Andy Sr. and Jacob a little over an hour, to finish unloading the truck with Gloria directing them. Once the final furniture was moved in, Jacob and Ethan started their way over to the pool. Gloria tried to talk the boys on staying to help her unpack the boxes, but Andy told her that it could wait until tomorrow. For now, they should all go out to the pool and have fun for the rest of the day, to which Jacob agreed. When Jacob walked out, he found everyone that invited already in the pool having fun, including Patricia and her friends and Chris. Before Jacob could make it to the door, Chase stopped him and asked him to introduce him to Patricia. Jacob agreed with a smile and walked him over to where Patricia and her friends were sitting. “Hello there ladies, thank you for coming. I hope you are enjoying yourselves. If you need anything, please feel free to get it. Treat my house as you would your own; just don’t do anything that I wouldn’t do.” The girls laughed looking at each other. “Patricia, I would like you to meet my best friend, the greatest guy I have every known. I'm sad that he loves women, but it's good for you ladies. Patricia this is my best friend Chase, Chase this is Patricia.” Patricia’s friends giggled like schoolgirls, while Patricia and Chase shook hands and started talking. Jacob could see that Chase liked this girl. That meant it wouldn't be long before the old Chase was back. The Chase that was fun to be around and liked to be the life of the party! Jacob couldn't wait to have his old friend back. As Jacob made his way in, Chris walked up to him. Jacob promised Chris that he would be right back, as soon as he changed out of the sweaty clothes he was wearing. Chris nodded and started to walk off when Jacob called him over. They walked upstairs talking about school, and how different it was being, who they were, there. While Jacob showered, Chris sat on his bed answering Jacob’s question about why he didn’t see him at the game with Josh. He was invited to go, but his foster parents needed him at home to help with things in the morning. Jacob understood that, since he just finished helping his parents move in. After showering and getting dressed, Jacob and Chris walked back to the backyard. When they walked out, Jacob saw Ethan sitting alone. So he excused himself and walked over to Ethan to see what was going on. He wanted to see if Ethan wanted to go out with someone or stay in closet and not let anyone know about him. “Hey Ethan, I am sorry for leaving you alone like this. I just had to shower and get out of those sweaty clothes.” Ethan just looked so out place, Jacob didn’t know what to do to help him fit in. “Hey, I have a question and you don’t have to answer it if you don’t want to. I was wondering if you want to keep it on the QT, about being who you are. I might have someone for you, but he is out and a year younger than you.” Ethan's mood changed when Jacob said he might have someone for him. “Well I don’t want anyone to know that I am gay, at least not yet. If this guy you are talking about doesn’t mind keeping it discrete, I don’t mind meeting him. If he wants me to be open like him, I can’t do it. As you know my parents don’t know and I would like to be the one to tell them, when I am ready.” “That isn’t a problem my friend. Give me a few minutes to find out if he would be willing to keep it on the discrete side without giving anything away. Because if he isn’t, I don’t want him to know that I have someone that is willing to meet him.” As Jacob got up to leave, Ethan asked him to point out the guy. Trying not to give him or Ethan away, Jacob directed Ethan’s attention toward Chris’ location. Ethan smiled when he saw the young Chris sitting there in his swim shorts looking hot. Ethan couldn’t help thinking that Chris looked like a swimmer. Jacob walked over to his grandfather to make sure he was doing alright. Al asked Jacob to get him more meat from the kitchen that was be ready to be put on the grill. As Jacob walked back to the house, he pulled Chris in to help him get the meat. Chris had no idea the real reason that Jacob wanted to have him away from the others. “Hey Chris, you told me yesterday that you don’t have a boyfriend and haven’t had any luck finding one. I know you are open at school, but would you be willing to get to know a guy that was not open and doesn’t want to be open yet?” “You have me wrong when you say that I'm open Jacob. If I'm asked if I'm gay, I answer the person either yes or no if I trust them. Really, very few people outside my circle of friends know that I'm gay. They've been told by others, but I never confirmed it to them. I don’t act it and I don’t plan to change who I am. As far as getting to know a guy that's completely in the closet, I have no problem with that. I've been where this guy is and won’t let anyone know or push him to be open. I’d respect his wishes.” “Good, I might have a guy that you might like. I need to check with him if he is willing to meet you since some people do know that you are gay. Let me make this clear Chris, both of you are my friends, but he doesn’t want anyone to know that he is gay. If you hurt him, you and I are going to have a problem. I don’t want to lose either of your friendships, so I really hope you can keep it to yourself until he's ready to tell people.” “I promise Jacob, I won’t tell anyone. You're a true friend and a friend I don’t want to lose either. I'm honored that you asked me and trust me to meet this guy if he wants to meet me. I won’t take this chance for granted.” That was all Jacob needed to see, not hear. He saw in Chris’s face that he was sincere and meant what he said. Words to Jacob, meant little, but facial expressions and body language told Jacob everything that people tried to hide. People didn't know that Jacob really didn't listen to a person as much as he read their facial expressions and body demeanor while they talked with him. It wasn't that Jacob didn't believe them; he had just been burnt in the past by people promising or saying they would or wouldn't do something. Just as Jacob and Chris grabbed the meat that Franseca and Virginia prepared, Dewayne walked in. Quietly he walked up and wrapped his arms around Jacob, kissing him up and down his neck. Jacob turned his head just as Dewayne leaned forward and their lips connected. All those in the kitchen watched as these two showed one another how much they loved each other. Dewayne explained to Jacob what was going on, but he didn’t require him to go into it all. The store manager of a certain store was the one that needed to give up her Saturday to go and fix the problem at the store; not the owner. That was one of the fist things that he learned from Joe was to let those that are in management, take care of the day-to-day operations. Trying to give equal time to all the people he invited to the pool party, Jacob finally gave up. Since they were having fun, there was no need for him to worry. Chase and Patricia looked like they were hitting it off. Ethan joined David, Tom and Tony in the pool and started fooling around. Shortly after they started playing volleyball, Alex Matt, Lorenzo, Ismail and Chris joined in to make two even teams. Dewayne didn’t leave Jacob’s side the rest of the evening. No matter how many times Jacob asked him to join the others, Dewayne remained at Jacob’s side. This time when Al called out that the food was ready. They all went up with their paper plates and cups to get what they wanted to eat and drink and they ate outside on the lawn chairs. Al felt it wasn't fair to Franseca to make a mess out of the inside of the house on top of the mess that was being made here on the outside. They all gathered around in a huge circle and talked as they ate. Not realizing that he was stepping in shit, Dewayne commented that this was a pretty cool first party here at the house. Those that had been their since they moved in, just looked at each other and started laughing remembering the first party that was held there. “What in the world is so funny? I don’t think what I said was funny.” Dewayne looked at everyone trying to figure out why some of them were laughing. “It isn’t what you said, well maybe it is.” Jacob started laughing again. “This isn’t the first party that has been held here at the house. When we first moved in, the football team had a party here. It was broken up by the police and I wound up getting arrested because of the beer. And adding insult to injury, I wasn’t even invited to the very party that was being held at my own house!” Everyone started laughing as they imagined the football players taking off and Jacob being pulled out of the house in handcuffs. What made it funny was the fact Jacob got arrested for a party he wasn’t even invited to attend. Franseca walked out and announced a new arrival. Everyone turned, but froze where they were at. Jacob dropped his plate to the ground and ran up to the new visitor. Al, Gloria, Andy Sr. and Marie just stood there stunned at the person standing before them. TO BE CONTINUED………………… WRITER’S CORNER: {A lot happened in this chapter. Where should I even begin to sum it up? Just as you thought you knew what was going to happen, here I go again switching things up on you. I have said it so many times, don’t assume a plot is going to go one direction, because I will surprise you and change the plot to go another direction. In the last several chapters I have been dangling a carrot in front of you about Chase, and then I go and take that carrot away, or did I? In this chapter, towards the middle and at the end, it looks like Chase got a girlfriend. Does that mean his was just lonely? What he was feeling for Ethan was nothing but his mind playing tricks? Or will he realize those feelings are real and try to go and get what he wants? If that happens, will Ethan be free for him to take? Ethan we all know is gay and doesn’t really want anyone to know. Jacob of course knows that he is, but Jacob isn’t going to tell a soul. He doesn’t want to hurt Ethan and he was where Ethan is right now. So that means he understand and will walk Ethan down that bumpy road. When they reached the fork of the road that Ethan has to make his mind up to tell his parents, how do you think his parents are going to react? Then how do you think the guys will react when Ethan opens up? Forget the guys, how about Ethan’s brothers, how will they react to the news on having a gay brother? Let’s talk a little bit about ROTC and how Colonel Pigeon wants Jacob to run things. Jacob is used to running things by doing everything himself, because that is what he was shown. Colonel Pigeon wants Jacob to delegate a lot of his responsibilities like the newsletter, running the meetings and etc. Do you think Jacob will be able to hand over things? Do you also think Jacob could change from one style of leadership to another? Al is keeping his foot down on not letting Jacob work. When Jacob went in to work, Al didn’t allow him to lift a finger. He wound up walking around downtown instead. But maybe Al did Jacob a favor because of him not letting Jacob work; he found the guitar that Dewayne has been looking for. These two love each other without question. I am glad that Jacob sees that he does run Dewayne ragged at times. I am also pretty sure Jacob knows that he didn’t have to buy Dewayne anything, but he did so anyway to show how much he is thankful. Still Dewayne made it clear that he knows that Jacob loves him and there is nothing in this world that will run him off. This relationship will last the test of time, I am sure of that. A couple others things that happened in this chapter is Gloria finally moving into her part of the house. What do you guys think will happen with her now living in the same house as Jacob? We also saw Dewayne in action at work once again. I think he has gotten pointers from Jacob on how to deal with things. Remember that Jacob went through similar things and he can give pointers to Dewayne when needed. Finally at the end of the chapter, who walked in? It could be many people that could have stopped by from the Governor, to Joey and all the way to Andy Jr. In order for you guys to get the answer to that questions, tune in for the next chapter. Oh yeah, the cliffhanger is back. Sorry about that, NOT! I am trying to put more juice back into my stories and one way to see if I get returning readers is by putting cliffhangers back in here and there. As always I can go on and on about the open plots in the story! If I do that, I can actually write several more chapters. There are so many plots that can take a turn at anytime. You might think it is going to go one way, but is lands up going another. Don’t miss out on anything, or you will be kicking yourself for it. I keep saying over and over again don’t forget about Chase. He will be spending time between two of my stories. I am giving that away, but look for him in “Beneath the Mask”. He is going to come back full and what is happening in his life will stun you. There is a so much to answer in the chapters to come. Stick around and keep reading the future chapters, and enjoy! Please email me and let me know how I am doing at jacobmillertex@aol.com, Thanks!} EDITOR’S CORNER: Yeah, I caught that nasty cliffhanger! I really think I have a solid idea who it is. Who do YOU think it is ? Chase is an enigma wrapped in a riddle! He is to us because he’s conflicted within himself! My guess is that Ethan and Chris are going to click and Chase is going to be left with “those feelings” to deal with all by himself. Chase needs to be more thoughtful about what he asks for. He gets what he asks for and it might be the wrong thing! The thing about Chase being conflicted is that it affects others feelings. He’s toyed with Ethan’s emotions, and now he’s going to be affecting Patricia. This sort of thing is just totally unfair to the innocent and forthright people he gets involved with. At some point, Chase is going to have to resolve his conflicted feelings and it may come in the form of his being hurt deeply emotionally. If that happens, it will be his own fault for not having enough brass in his Fruit-of-the-Looms to deal with his realities. He will have earned the hurt he’ll feel. Dewayne was masterful in his handling of the disciplinary meeting with the manager. I suspect he learned some of those skills from his former manager, Anna. Speaking of her, I wonder what she’s up to these days? I agree with Jacob about the depth of love between Jacob and Dewayne. They have what it takes to make it a lifetime. I also feel that they both have enough maturity to deal with negative outside influences should those land on their doorstep. Jacob and Joey weren’t well enough equipped in maturity to deal with outside negative influences when they confronted them. I’m really watching Gloria. Zebras just don’t change their stripes. Andy Sr. is doing an excellent job of channeling her, but I still am waiting for her usual behaviors to surface. My question is whether it will be Jacob or Andy Sr. that will be the one to put a foot on her neck should she make a bad move. Jacob is maturing and has learned to not take BS from anyone. Gloria might get a total shock if she messes up with Jacob! It’s interesting that Lorenzo and Ismail are interacting well with Jeremy. Having the companionship of the younger boys could really make a difference in Jeremy allowing him to grow more outward towards others. It would be awesome to see Jeremy become a bit more socially mainstreamed. Our esteemed author has been recognized by sites other than Nifty! These other sites host authors “by invitation only”. If you want to know more, write and ask for the details! Until next time, “Daddy” Rick
  3. Hi! when are you updating on your stories? Last you updated a lot of chapters at once and then... nothing :-( miss the stories...

  4. Joey and Caleb went up to the penthouse two when they returned from eating. They sat alone in the living room talking about the move. Caleb asked Joey a lot of questions, and Joey tried to answer them all. However, Joey did not have answers for some questions. All he was able to tell Caleb is that they will find out together. The boys were brought out of their little world when they heard a light thump on the wall between the two pent houses. Joey walked over to the wall and placed his ear on the wall to try to hear what was being said. He could hear someone talking on the other side, but it was too muffled and low for him to make out anything that was being said. He walked over to Caleb and pulled him off the covered couch. They walked out of the penthouse, down one floor and over to the other elevator and back up to pent house one. Right when the door opened, they were greeted by Harold and Helen. Not asking any questions, Joey and Caleb followed Caleb’s parents into the living room. “Helen and I were discussing a few things while you boys were next door. We want to run this by you guys and see what you think.” They did not say anything, they just looked at Harold. “I take your silence as you want to hear what Helen and I have been discussing. It is very simple really. You two have the rest of this year and next year living at home. Joey, you have already been living on your own for a few years now. What we have to propose to you is that we do not knock down the walls between the two penthouses. You Joey, and my son, get your own penthouse to yourselves. When ever our daughter comes up to visit, she stays in one of the empty rooms in your penthouse, but other than that, you two have the place to yourselves. We have Fran and Alan in our penthouse since they are under age. Each of them will get a room for themselves.” Harold looked at his son and Joey and saw a look of confusement in their faces. As he got up from the seat he was seating in, he looked over to Helen for help. “You guys look confused. Maybe I can explain it a little better than your father did. We want to give you guys the freedom you should have, but with the security that if anything happens we are right next door, not blocks away. You will have dinner with the family every day, and breakfast before going to school, but other than that, you two will get privacy that almost all senior high school students do not have.” “I believe Caleb and I understand what you two are saying.” Joey looked over to Caleb for acknowledgement that he agrees on what he just said. “See, Caleb understands as well.” Caleb was shaking his head. “We have no problem with the ground rules you are setting. I would like to add one more rule and that your key cards also can access our room if you guys need to come over for any reason.” “That sounds fine with us.” Helen grabbed a hold of Harold’s hand and pulled him back down to the couch. “Unless an emergency comes up, we will not enter your penthouse.” “I like to add one thing to what Helen just said. We will not enter your penthouse for any reason unless there is an emergency or we see that you two are not coming home when you should or have a lot of people over. Also this doesn’t give you guys the freedom to have sex parties or any kind of major party.” Both Joey and Caleb looked at Harold as if he was talking out of his butt. Although they both wanted to say something, but they kept their mouths shut. Helen could see what her husband said bothered them and was going to talk with him about later in private. For now, she will show a united front with the boys. Thirty minutes later, Joey and Caleb made their way down to the first floor. They started to explore the lobby of the hotel. They walked into the restaurant and found everything covered with sheets, just like the penthouses. Figuring that they are not going to use any of this on this trip, they did not bother to uncover the furniture. They did though make sure that the appliances in the kitchen were working. As they walked out of the kitchen, they ran into a few of the guys from the shelter. They were looking for something to eat. Joey could not believe that they were already hungry. He told them that there was nothing in the kitchen to eat so they will go and get a few things from the grocery store to carry them over until they leave tomorrow. Before they could walk out the door, Angelo, Ray, Deejay, Shane, and Edmund asked if they could go. Joey did not see why not. They jumped into the truck and headed to the nearest grocery store, which was Furr’s. It did not take them long to get stuff to munch on through the evening and items for breakfast in the morning. When they got back to the hotel, Gary walked out and helped them unload the groceries. As soon as they put everything they bought away, everyone gathered in the lobby. Since Harold called for the meeting, he and Helen were the only ones that knew what the meeting was about. Joey and Caleb both hoped it was not going to be an embarrassing meeting as the private one they just had with them. Little did they know, while they were at the grocery store, Harold and Helen made all of the them their own key card for the elevator. The key cards restrict each of them to the floors in which they are allowed to be on since the hotel is big and there are too many floors that are empty, Harold did not want them getting lost or locked up anywhere. “Okay Helen is handing out your key cards to you. With these key cards, you do not need to find Joey or any of the adults to open the elevators for you. Just swipe your keycard at the elevator and you are good to go. One thing though, these key cards only give you access to the floors you have permission to be on. So do not try and push a button to a floor that you know you are not suppose to be on because the elevator will not open up for you.” Helen rejoined her husband once she handed the last key card out. “Also these key cards open your rooms. Since you guys went up and picked the rooms you wanted, we have assigned the door lock that is on the door of the room you chose to your key card. You guys can change rooms at anytime, but there has to be a good reason why you want to.” Angelo stood up and asked the first question. “I thought you guys were going to switch out the door locks to regular door knobs. By the sounds of it, you have done a one eighty and are going to let us have locks on our door, am I right?” Both Harold and Helen looked over at Gary and Janet, and Gary stood up. “We have discussed the door locks on your doors and came to the conclusion we need to trust you guys. First, you deserve privacy. Second, you haven’t shown us that we cannot trust you guys. If that happens, we will relook at the door lock issue again. Finally, we want to be fair. The adults get to have locks on their doors, why shouldn’t you.” “I would like to also make clear that Helen. Gary, Janet, and I have access to your rooms by master cards that are locked away in the safe. We can and will go in your rooms if we think there is something that shouldn’t be going on. Again, do not get what I just said the wrong way. We are not going to go into your room whenever we want to. The only time we will go into your rooms is if we feel something is not right. Beyond that, we will never enter into your rooms and that is a promise from us to you guys.” The other ones asked questions of Harold and the other adults to clarify what they believe warrant them to go into their rooms. Once they got that clarification, they dropped the subject. They had no problem with what Harold, Helen, Gary and Janet considers behavior that will warrant them to go into their rooms. Once they got through that hump, Harold went on to explain a couple more things. He told them that each floor would have a regular laundry room for them to wash their laundry. In return, they would not have any need to use the big industrial laundry machines in the basement. He also went over a few other rules that were not clarified in their first meeting and needed to be. Once Harold and Helen went through their checklist of topics they wanted to talk to them about, they opened the floor for discussion. No one really had anything to say, so they broke up the meeting. Joey headed over to the pay phone and ordered pizzas for dinner before joining Caleb, Alan and his sister. The following morning went by way too fast as Helen and Harold drove around to find the Albertsons that Helen is going to work at before going downtown. Since it is Sunday, the courthouse was closed. Harold knew that, he just wanted to see how far it was from the hotel and where it was. As far as the parking and everything like that is concerned, he will figure that out during his first days at his new job. There was also a need for Harold to go looking for the new gang dentition facility; he already knows where it is. The questions he has about that part of the job he will ask tomorrow when he accepts the position. He is sure that he will be spending some time down at the facility, but how much he does not know. Joey met with Al for several hours in the morning. They first took care of the paperwork of the hotel by transferring ownership from Al and Jacob to Joey’s foundation. When they got that out of the way, they talked about how they could fill the empty rooms in the hotel and some how to get paid for giving out room and board. “Joey I have an idea to fill almost all of the empty rooms in your hotel.” Joey looked at Al with an anxious look on his face. “Who are the hardest kids to place into foster care Joey?” Joey shrugged his shoulders. “Teenagers are the hardest kids to place into a foster home or get adopted. People that go out to adopt a kid, they want either a baby or a young kid around three or four. When a kid that is about to start high school, he can end up getting lost in the system and end worse off than a kid that is adopted. I am thinking that we set up your shelter with the state that will allow them to place kids from the age of thirteen all the way to right before they turn eighteen. If the kid is already eighteen, he is considered an adult and cannot be placed anywhere against his or her will, but the ages I just said would work out for you and the shelter.” “I see what you are saying and I agree. The only problem with that is I will have to hire more than just the two staff members I have on payroll right now to take care of all the new teenagers we will get. Plus there are other items to consider.” Joey went down a long list of items, and Al answered every one of his concerns. “One last thing, the name of the shelter cannot be the name we agreed on. The shelter will not be only gay teens; it is going to be a mixture. So maybe we should name it some thing simple that everyone can get behind. Something like, Shelter for El Paso Teens, simple and to the point of what the shelter is all about.” Al did not like the name at all. It should hold Joey’s name because it was Joey’s idea. To not put his name on the shelter is not giving him the credit he deserves. That alone is a dishonor and Joey is not seeing that. One way or another, Al is going to make him see it. “Joey you need to have your name on the shelter and let me tell you why. Those kids that are already living in the shelter are getting a chance to a regular life that they would not have had without you doing what you are doing. That is just the beginning because there are going to be hundreds upon hundreds more kids that are going to have a chance of a regular life because of your idea. You need to get credit and that is why your name needs to be part of the shelters name, it is that simple.” One thing Joey learned when he was with Jacob was do not argue with Al. When he has his mind set on something, it is best to just go with it. He knows what he is doing and the proof is in the pudding. Just look at what he has done as far as the investments he has made for him and Jacob. That is all Joey needs for proof that he knows what he is doing. “Okay I will agree with you on that. The new name now should be The Joey Alvarez Shelter for El Paso Youth, what do you think?” “I like it, I really do. It is general, but not too general. It covers what your shelter is doing, which is giving a helping hand to the youth of this city. I will work on getting the sign made and put up at the hotel. Also by the time you guys are back, I will have in place everything you need to open your doors, or should I say my attorneys will.” Joey thanked Al several times before they parted ways. When he got back to the hotel, Caleb had already packed their bags for the trip back home which Joey thought was weird. He explained to Caleb that they should leave what they brought here unless they need it to get through the next week. Caleb agreed with him and they both took their suitcases back up to their penthouse. By the time they got back down to the lobby, everyone was waiting for them. Joey saw that they had also brought down their luggage they came with. He could not help but chuckle as he made his way to the group. He explained to them that they are coming back up next weekend and should be staying after that. Just as he told Caleb, he told them unless they really need the clothes, there is no need to take it back with them. The answer Joey got from the guys made him feel like scum. The only clothes they had are what they have in their bags, something Joey did not know. He apologized to them and promised that once the move is done they will go to Wal-Mart and get more clothes and everything else they need and do not have. The trip back to Alamogordo didn’t drag on for Joey this time since no one fell asleep. They stayed up talking with Joey, which kept him awake. As well, most of the trip back the sun was up. Only the last couple of hours of the drive were done in the dark. When they walked into the house, Joey and Harold were both dead on their feet. They were both glad that they did not have any luggage to take down and unpack. All they want to do is take a nice warm shower and go to bed. Both of them know that they are squeezing a lot in the next week. They have no idea if they are going to be able to get everything they want done. The next morning Harold was the first up and the first out the door. He walked into his chambers before any of his staff did. The reason for that was that Harold wanted to look at his schedule and see if he could move things around in order to bring forward the cases of the parents that put their children in that brain washing camp. Just as he got into his schedule, the phone rang. Normally Harold does not answer the phone, but the voice inside of him was saying pick up the phone, so he did. The woman on the other end asked him to hold for the governor after confirming who he was. It did not take more than a couple minutes before Governor King got on the line. “Good morning you Honor, I hope you had a pleasant weekend.” Harold responded with greetings and answered yes to the pleasant weekend question. “Good, I am glad to hear that you did. As promised, I gave you the weekend to think about the job that Governor Lopez is offering you. He needs an answer in an hour, so I need it now so I can give it to him when he calls me.” “Governor King, thank you for giving me the weekend to talk it over with my family. After much debating, we decided I should take the job in El Paso. We made a trip down there over the weekend and got a few things squared away to begin the move.” “Good to hear that and I will let Governor Lopez know that he has his judge. Now you know after I give him your answer, he wants you to start as soon as possible. I will let him know that you can start a week from today, does that work for you?” “Um, I believe I can get it to work for me. The only question I have for you is all the pending cases on my schedule. I would like to finish any pending cases that are currently in front of me and as well the cases of the parents that were arrested that put their children in that brain washing camp.” “I understand you want to rule on those parents, but realistically you know that will be impossible with you accepting this new job. Even if I can get you a couple more weeks, it is not enough time for those cases. They are going to drag on for months, if not longer and you need to be up in El Paso in your new courtroom. Who ever I appoint to serve out the remainder of your term will be told that he or she needs to take these cases seriously. By Wednesday at the latest I will have your seat filled and you can talk to who ever it is about you concerns.” The governor stopped talking for a few second, leaving nothing but dead air. “Or you can hand over these cases to someone else you trust will do them justice, that I will leave up to you.” The governor and Harold talked for a few more minutes before the governor had to go. Before getting off the line, the governor thanked Harold for his service to the state of New Mexico and wished all the best of luck in his new job in El Paso. Harold thanked him and hung up. While Harold was at work, Joey and Caleb were barely waking up and pulling themselves out of bed. After taking a shower and getting ready for school, Joey went over his plans with Caleb about what he is going to do this week. Since Caleb is not in the same boat as Joey, he could not follow suit with him. Joey explained to Caleb that he plans to make Wednesday his last day of school. That way he could do what needs to be done to close off the two houses he owns here. The main worry he has is what furniture he is going to take and what furniture he was going to sell. Not only personal furniture, but also all the new furniture he had just bought for the guys to use at the center. “As far as the furniture you had in your house before it was turned into the shelter, you should take to El Paso. I love the furniture that was in your house more than the furniture that is in the penthouse. That furniture is too "hotel-like”. I want to feel and make our penthouse our home. By keeping the furniture that is in the penthouse right now, it will always feel like we are living in a hotel.” Joey could not agree more with Caleb on that subject. “Okay I will pack everything that was in my house on the U-Haul and take it with us. I am going to do the same thing with the new furniture I bought for the guys at the shelter. I spent money of the foundation on that furniture it needs to be used for the foundation.” “Now about school, are you sure you want to make Wednesday your last day?” Joey shook his head as he combed his hair at the dresser mirror. “That means you will be missing Thursday, Friday and maybe some of the following week to unpack in El Paso. Do not you think that is a lot of school to be missing?” “I do not plan to miss anymore school than just this Thursday and Friday. We should have enough time to unpack the U-Hauls on Saturday when we get to El Paso. Then we have the rest of Saturday and Sunday to unpack what we need to start school on Monday next week. The other stuff we do not need in a big hurry because we have the entire lobby of the hotel to store everything until we have a chance to move it to the right rooms in the hotel. That is the great thing about moving into the hotel.” As Joey explained what he meant by storing the furniture and everything else they do not really need right off the bat, Caleb saw where he was going, the main concern right now is getting everything to El Paso, and then after that, they will deal with moving things around. Right now, the penthouses and every room in the hotel have furniture. They have to clear out the rooms in the hotel that they going to replace their furniture with first. Then after that, they can start to clear out the lobby. “Plus I already spoke with your mom and made sure you understood that I am no longer going to go into work. I need all the time I can get after school to pack up the house and get things ready for the move. There is no way I can ask the guys to pack up my house when it is not their stuff. That is just not right.” Caleb understood why Joey told his mother that he had to quit and did not question Joey. When they walked into the kitchen, Caleb asked his mother if he would leave her in a bind if he quits working to help Joey. Helen had suspected that Caleb was going to quit once he heard that Joey had so she covered her bases by scheduling another employee for the video department just in case. “Hon I have no problem with you quitting as long as you help on getting ready for the move. I do not want you to quit and spend every minute of the remaining week with your friends since we have a lot of work to be done. I know this move is going to be hard on you because you are going to have to leave behind your friends that you have known since you were small.” Helen looked over at Joey. “Now you young man how are going to deal with moving all of your stuff. What I mean is that you have a lot more stuff now than you did when you moved down here. I understand that you and you mother rented a U-Haul in order to move everything, but I don’t think even the biggest U-Haul out there is big enough.” “That is true and that is why I am going to rent two of the largest U-Hauls out there. The only problem I have are drivers. Gary and Janet are going to be driving their own vehicles to El Paso. You and Harold will be driving in your cars. No one else has a driver license to help as far as the driving. So that leaves me short two drivers.” Helen sat down at the table to see if she could help Joey and Caleb come up with a solution to their problem. They came up with renting two towing units to attach to the back of the U-Hauls. On one of the towing units, Joey will put his truck and on the other towing unit, Helen will put her car. That frees them up to drive the U-Hauls. “As you can see when we put our minds together we can come up with a solution to any problem we are facing.” Helen laughed as she pushed the paper they were writing on over to Joey. “Now that we solved that problem, we need to get to work. I will be getting as many boxes as I can from work for us to pack things in, but I do not think I will get enough. So either you guys will need to go to other stores and get boxes or we buy them.” Caleb told his mother that he and Joey would go to other grocery stores to get more boxes before Joey could offer to buy them. In order not to get into a long, drawn out conversation with Caleb, Joey agreed. They need to get to school and if he opens that can of worms, they will never get out of the kitchen. As Joey and Caleb walked to the front door, Joey told Helen that they could put their stuff they are taking to El Paso in the trucks he rents. After all, they are not going to take their furniture, so it will be mostly boxes. There should be enough room in the trucks for their boxes and then some. When they got to school, Joey and Caleb grabbed their breakfast and joined Lonnie and the guys. Caleb asked Joey not to talk about the move just yet in front of them. He wants to speak with them in private to let them know that his dad decided to take the job offer. It is just that he doesn’t want to tell them as if their friendships were nothing. The only problem with that plan was that neither Caleb nor Joey had talked with Alan and Fran, so when Alan blurted out that they are going to move, it stunned Caleb’s friends. Before Alan finished talking, they dropped their forks on their plates and just starred at Caleb. Caleb could see anger and hurt in their faces. “What Caleb, were you not going to tell us that you were moving? When were you going tell as, or were you going to?” “Ivan, guy, I was going to tell you, just not like this. I wanted to tell you all in private before first period, but Alan here let the cat out of the bag. My dad decided to take the job and we are now in turbo mode on getting everything for the move and then doing the move. All week we are going to be packing and getting things done for the move. “So when are you going to move? Also when is your last day of school?” Lonnie looked over to Joey and gave him an ugly look. And one last question, since you are moving, what is going to happen with our planned trip during spring break? I figure that is now called off since you are no longer going to be living here.” “Not necessarily called off. Although Caleb will be living in El Paso, he can still go with you guys on the trip you have planned. I will even bring him over here the day before you guys are supposed to leave on the trip.” Kurt snapped back at Joey with anger and hate in his voice. “No one was talking to you Joey. Ever since you came into Caleb’s life, things have gone to hell. He no longer hangs with us like he use to. Now he and his family are moving to El Paso where you are originally from. That really sounds fishy to me, it really does. I don’t think there is a job offer. I think you guys are doing the move because of Joey’s crazy mother.” Joey looked over to Caleb to see if he would jump in to defend him, but Caleb did not. Since Caleb is not willing to stand up to his friends and tell them that they are wrong, Joey doesn’t want to be around those that are blaming him for the change in their friend, so he got up and left. Caleb did try to stop him, but not with a lot of effort. After throwing out his uneaten food, Joey headed over to the ROTC classroom. Out of respect of everything that the instructors have done for him, he wanted to tell them in person about the move. He just did not want to tell them this soon but he would rather face their angry stares than the hateful and anger stares of Caleb’s friends. As soon as Joey walked into the ROTC classroom, he headed straight over to Colonel Chandler’s office. He knocked and waited to be invited in. Colonel Chandler waived Joey in as he got off the phone. Every step Joey made closer to Colonel Chandler’s desk, he got more and more nervous. “The young man I had hoped to see this morning.” Colonel Chandler walked around his desk and sat in the seat next to Joey. “I was just on the phone with the DAI and he gave the green light to all the changes you recommended. Now all we have to do is implement them. That I will leave up to you since you have done it before.” Joey cleared his throat, but the lump in the middle would not go away. “Sir I have a bit of bad news to tell you. I would like to start out by saying I did not plan this, it just happened. There is really nothing I can do to change what is happening.” “Okay you have my attention more now than you did. What is going on Joey? You look like you are going to tell me that you ran over my cat something.” Colonel Chandler chuckled, but it was a fake chuckle, trying to lighten the mood. “Sir the family I live with is going to move and to all places they are going to move to El Paso. Harold, my boyfriend’s dad, was offered a judge seat in El Paso that he doesn’t have to run for every four years. It is a lifetime appointment. The governor of Texas called the governor of New Mexico and specifically asked for Harold. He told us about the job offer late last week, but it was not for sure he was going to take until Saturday. Since he has accepted the job, he has been asked to report to work in El Paso as soon as humanly possible. That means he will report to work on Monday of next week, leaving this week to pack and do the move. I am sorry, but I am going to move with them.” “I am a little confused here, forgive me, but do not you have your own house here? What I understand you moved into Caleb’s house in order to help as you healed. You kept your house and always had planned to move back into it. By the judge accepting the new position it just rushes your time line to move back on your own.” “You’re right as far as me owning my own home to a point. When I moved into Caleb’s house, I had always planned on moving back on to my own. That changed when I talked with Harold about my sister and Alan. He and Helen are going to adopt my sister and in return, we all would live in their house. It was easy that way. Since we decided on that, I went ahead and donated my house to the charity I started up to create a shelter here in Alamogordo for gay teens. That fell apart because my house is in a historical district here, but the house is no longer mine, it belongs to the charity. It will be sold and the proceeds of the sale will be put back into the charity. As you can see, I do not have a home to live in so I have no other choice but to move back to El Paso with Caleb and his family. This time though I am making sure I do not end up in the same position I am in now on not having a fall back. With what I have gone through already, I should have never done what I had done, but who knew that Harold was going to be offered a position he could not walk away from. In addition, Caleb is moving to El Paso. I already lost one boyfriend I thought I was going to be with for the rest of my life, I do not want to lose another. No matter how hard headed and at times stupid he is, I love him. He reminds me of when I first got with Jacob. All the crap I pulled on Jacob, I am getting pulled on me by Caleb, but again I love him.” Colonel Chandler got up from the seat and walked over to his filing cabinet. “When is your last day going to be with us Joey?” Joey said one word, Wednesday. “Okay why don’t you turn in your uniform and anything else we issued you tomorrow? I know tomorrow is uniform day, but do not worry about being in uniform because we need to clear. I am pretty sure right now everyone in your house is running around as if there is no tomorrow due to the move.” “Yes sir, it is a little crazy at the house right now. I haven’t even stopped by the shelter yet to see how things are running down there. It has to be even worse because the house was barely getting set up and now we are moving it. Plus none of the guys from the shelter showed up for breakfast, so I don’t even know if they are here at school.” “Sounds like you have your hands full Joey. I really am glad I had the opportunity to meet you even though it was for a short period. You showed me that things I had not even thought of to put in affect here, for that, thank you. So do not worry about your rank, you will stay at the rank I promoted you to.” Joey could not believe that Colonel Chandler is actually going to keep him at the new rank. He thought for sure he was going to be demoted back to Major since he is going to move to another school district. The promotion was for him to run Colonel Chandlers battalion, not another SAI’S battalion. “Thank you sir for that, you do not have to do it though. I will understand if you put me back to the Major rank and leave it to what ever school I attend to promote me or not. I know you wanted me to run your battalion and help implement the new procedures. For that I am truly sorry that I am leaving you and not following through on everything.” Colonel Chandler explained to Joey that he is not leaving him in the lurch; instead, he is leaving them with a lot more than what they had when Joey first came. The detailed instructions binders that Joey put together will help get the programs going and Colonel Chandler thanked him for getting them done as quickly as he did. Before heading to his locker, Joey gave Colonel Chandler Jacob’s number in El Paso. Just in case when they start implementing the programs and if they run into a problem, he can call Joey for help. Hopefully they won’t, but just in case if they do. When Joey turned the corner to the hall where his locker is at, he found Caleb waiting for him. He did not want to make a big deal on what happened earlier in the cafeteria dealing with Caleb’s friends. After all, he only has to deal with them for three more days. After that, they are out of his life for good, so there is no need in Joey’s mind to harp on it. “I am sorry for not backing you up at the table. You need to understand that none of them blames you for us moving, or how things have changed since you moved here. They just said those things out of anger and hurt. We always thought we were……” “Caleb there is no need to explain anything to me. I know your routine changed a lot when I came into your life, so they were telling the truth. I should have been more mindful of the friendship you have with those guys. The kind of friendship you have with Ronnie and the guys is very rare, it reminds me of the friendship I have with David and the others that live in Jacob’s house. So let’s just drop it and move on.” Joey shut his locker and pulled Caleb into him. “Heck if you would ever hear the crap I did to Jacob while we were together, you would think that who ever is telling you the story is lying. We all learn from what we do wrong. Trust me when I say that I will make mistakes with us in the future. When I do, just be there for me.” Caleb agreed and asked Joey for the same thing. Once Joey did agree, they dropped the subject. Joey told Caleb what had happened between him and Colonel Chandler when he left the cafeteria. Caleb was even happier than Joey when he heard that Joey was not going to be demoted. He actually hugged Joey in the hall, something they haven’t done at school for fear of what the other students might do or say. As Harold’s morning session started, he rushed through the pleadings in order to have time to talk with several of his fellow judges. He knows that no matter who the governor appoints to finish the rest of his term on the bench, they will not take seriously the cases dealing with the parents that put their kids in that place. Who ever gets the seat he is leaving will be too busy trying to make a name for him/herself. These cases can only be taken up by judges like him that have already made a name for themselves. Once he finished his last case, Harold quickly dropped off his robe in his chambers and ran up to Glenn’s courtroom. When he walked in, he found Glen still in session, so he waited. It was not long after Harold walked in that Glenn saw him and called his last case. Just like Harold, he disposed of the proceedings quickly. Judge Glenn said, “Good morning there Harold, I was wondering when you were going to stop by.” Glenn asked his secretary to make sure he is not disturbed on his way into his chambers. “I have heard through the grape vine here that you are leaving us in a week. Please tell me that is not true. I believe you and I have created a very good working relationship.” “We have Glenn, but I have been offered a position and it would be dumb of me to turn down. Before accepting it, my family and I had discussed it in length.” Harold went into detail what the offer is and what he will be doing. He told Glenn when he was leaving and everything dealing with the set up in El Paso. “I agree with you my old friend; it would have been stupid to pass up that position. If I were in your shoes, I would not have passed it up either. Now you do not have to worry about how you are ruling since you no longer have to run for your judge seat. By the sounds of the new pilot program in Texas, it will only succeed with an appointed judge, not an elected one. Simply put, an elected judge would be too concerned about getting his or her seat back come election time.” “That is very true Glenn. This court is going to deal with the worst of the worst. If you have to worry about getting elected every four years, the judge might let certain people go when they should be locked up or the opposite.” “I do not follow you on the last part Harold. What do you mean when you say the opposite of letting criminals go?” “I am a judge that rules on what is the law at the time. No matter what my personal thoughts are about the law, I follow it. Trust me when I say there are many laws on the books in this state and other states that really do not make sense. To give you an example I do not believe in one-punishment fits all defendants when they break the same law. Though I do not believe in that, I will follow the law that has been passed. With that said there are times a judge can look at the defendant and give that defendant a second chance if the judge sees it was a one-time mistake. I have had plenty of those kinds of defendants in front of me and I have given them a second chance.” Harold kept moving around Glenn’s lumpy chair. “You know every time I am in your chambers and I sit here, I tell you that you need to get new furniture.” Glenn started to laugh. “Since you are leaving I will tell you why I do not get new furniture. If the DA or defense attorneys know that my furniture is very uncomfortable to sit in, they will not prolong chamber meetings. You know as I do that lawyers love to hear themselves talk. I do not have time for that in my court room.” “Let me get down to business on why I am here. As you know, I had all the parents that put their kids in that camp arrested and already arraigned. I wanted to stick around and rule on the cases, but that is impossible now. The only other person I know will do justice with these cases is you and that is not blowing smoke up your butt. Can I transfer those cases to your docket, instead of letting who ever takes over my court room rule on them.” “Surely, I do not see why not. I will make sure to rule on the cases to the letter of the law. If they are guilty, they will be found guilty and punished to the fullest extent of the law.” Harold promised to have the files transferred to his office by the end of the day. They talked a little more in private before heading down to get something to eat. As they got onto one of the private elevators, they ran into several other judges and court staff. Before the elevator door closed, they started to drill Harold about his new job and how he got it. Joey was not surprised that Lonnie or the other guys did not even apologize to him about what they said during breakfast. Just as they ignored him, Joey did the same thing to them. Out of respect to Caleb, Joey did not say a word when he guys pulled Caleb off with them. He figured they should spend as much time together as they can this week because who knows when they are going to see each other again. While Caleb was with his fiends, Joey headed to the attendance office. He figured since he has this free time he should use it to get the paperwork going for him and his sister to transfer out of the school. They cannot afford to leave anything to the last minute. Whenever he gets into a rush, something slips through the cracks. Just as he finished up in the attendance office, the bell rang. On his way to his locker, Caleb was not anywhere to be seen this time. Joey waited as long as he could for him, but he had to leave in order to get to class on time. A little worried, Joey closed the locker door and went running down the hall to class. The afternoon flew by fast, something Joey really did not want to happen. As soon as the final bell rang, Joey got what he needed to do his homework before going to his truck. He waited for Caleb and a little less than five minutes later Caleb walked up to the truck. Instead of going to the passenger side of the truck, he walked and knocked on the driver’s side window for Joey to roll down. “I have a big favor to ask you Joey.” Joey did not say a word; he just starred at Caleb as he gathered his words. “I know this is asking a lot of you, but can you not go home right away. The guys invited me to hang with them for a couple of hours and I really want to since this is my last week here and all. Just give me a couple of hours and then come and pick me up here so we get home together.” Trying not to sound mad or petty, Joey spoke softly. “I am going to go to the shelter from here. I do not know how long I am going to be down there, but I am sure it is going to be a few hours, so why don’t you go over to the shelter once you are done hanging with the guys. That way I am not looking at my watch every five minutes.” Caleb smiled and thanked Joey as he started to walk away. Before Caleb got ten feet away from the truck, Joey yelled for him to come back. When Caleb walked back to the truck, Joey made it clear to him that he is not going to wait all night for him at the shelter. Once he is done there, he will head home no matter if he is with him or not. That took the smile off Caleb’s face faster than it went on. “Why are you being this way Joey? Now I have to be constantly looking at my watch to make sure I get to the shelter in a couple of hours. What happens if we run into traffic or I lose all track of time? You need to understand this is the last week I am going to see the friends I grew up with. I am leaving here for you, so you can at least give me this time.” “You are not leaving here for me and do not ever put that on my shoulders, NEVER! You and your family are moving because of the job offer your father got.” Joey stopped talking in order to settle down. “You have been listening to your friends and allowed them to influence you. Not once did I come to you or your family and ask you all to move to El Paso. So do not you ever say that shit again to me, you hear me.” Caleb shook his head. “I will make it easy for you so you do not have to be looking at your watch every five minutes. Do not go to the shelter once you and your asshole friends are done hanging out, just go home. When you walk in your house tell your mom and dad I decided to stay the night at my house, which I am.” Joey started his truck and threw it into reverse. “If you are feel that you are being made to do something you do not want to do, talk with your parents. Tell them you do not want to move to El Paso. Maybe Harold could talk with the governor and say never mind so you can stay here with your friends, or maybe you can stay with your sister and your family here. Either way, make sure you are moving because you want to, no other reason.” When Joey backed out, he speeded out of the parking lot, leaving Caleb in a cloud of dust. His friends walked over and tried to tell him not to let Joey get to him, he was just jealous, but Caleb knew better. Right at that moment, everything he did throughout the day was being played in his mind as if someone placed play on a VCR. He saw how much of an ass he has been with Joey and could not believe he took it. In order not to take out his anger on the wrong person, Joey drove around until he settled down. He felt bad because he went back on the promise he made Caleb earlier in the morning at their locker. Joey tried everything he could to keep his temper in check, but when Caleb said what he said, he could not hold back. There is no doubt in Joey’s mind that Caleb knows what he said is not true, but nonetheless he said it. Once Joey settled down, he headed over to his house to see how things were going. When he walked in, he found that much of the house is already packed up. The guys were in the kitchen eating what looked to be Subway. They stopped eating when Joey walked into the kitchen. He asked them to continue eating as he walked over to Janet. “Before you say anything, I know why you are here. We tried to say no, but the courts made us take him in.” Joey had no idea what Janet was talking about. When he started to look around, he spotted a new face at the table. “Don’t the courts know that this halfway house is pretty much closed? What are we suppose to do with the new kid. We cannot take him with us to El Paso, so that means he will need to be placed somewhere by Friday. Is that what they are asking of you and Gary, to house him until Friday?” “Asking me questions I really do not have answers for. You are the one that went down and had the paperwork done in order to move the shelter to El Paso. By the looks of it, you haven’t shut us down here. The reason I say that is the courts permanently placed the new resident with us. Once again there was nothing Gary or I was able to do to stop it.” Janet told Joey who the new kid was, which surprised him. His name is Cody Williamsons, the bank manager’s son where Joey banks. The kid was locked up in the same camp he was. To make matters worse, Cody’s parents refused to take Cody back once the camp closed. Since then he has been bouncing around in the system, until now. Right when Joey was going to ask to see the paperwork on Cody, Gary walked up with it. Joey thanked Gary as he took the paperwork and walked out of the kitchen. He headed to the living room in order to read the paperwork in private. It was not that he did not trust the other boys in the shelter, it was that he was still thinking about the fight he just had with Caleb. He did not want to be talking with someone and not really listening. So instead, Joey read the file on Cody. As he reached the end, he saw that the courts had transferred Cody over to Texas just like other guys. That told Joey that they know the shelter is closed, they just wanted to get rid of the last kid left over from the camp. At least Joey hopes it is the last kid remaining out there in the cold from the camp. He read the last couple of pages few times to make sure he was reading it right, which he was. After he was confident that Cody was transferred to El Paso, he closed the file. He just sat in the living room starring at nothing particular. Since he was lost in his own thoughts, he did not hear Janet and Gary walk in. “Joey, hey Joey, earth to Joey.” By the forth time Gary said Joey’s name, Joey snapped out of it. “Good to see you back on planet earth. We are sorry that we sprung our new guest on you the way we did, but it happened the same way to us this morning. The social worker showed up here this morning with him. She did not even bother to step inside. All she did is hand us his file, his bag and him before high tailing it out of here.” “No problem, I was just worried about having something else to do this week.” Joey handed Gary the file back. “I need you to compare the last three pages of the file to the pages we got the other day from the courts. Make sure I am reading it correctly. If I am, the courts here already transferred Cody over to El Paso with the other guys.” Gary opened the file to the last three pages to see what Joey was talking about. When he got the file from the social worker, he did not really look at it. He tried to talk the social worker on taking Cody back without Cody seeing or hearing him, which was hard since Cody refused to walk into the house until he was sure he was not going anywhere. “By the way you guys, why weren’t the guys in school today? We cannot afford to do anything to have this state or the state of Texas pull our licenses. That could happen if you guys do not make sure the kids in this shelter are going to school like they are suppose to.” Joey kept looking back and forth from Gary to Janet. “We called the school this morning to let them know about the move. They explained to us since they barely started classes, there is no need for them to do another week. They will not even bother to give us transcripts for the boys here since they haven’t attended their school for six weeks in a row yet.” “Okay I understand that. Let’s make sure we get that in writing from the school that they will not give the guys grades since they hadn’t completed six weeks yet.” Joey looked over to Janet. “Have you decided yet if you are going or not? I am not trying to rush you, but I would like to have an answer in the next couple of days.” “When we got back last night, I talked with my sister on the phone and then again this afternoon. Judge Evans asked her to go with him as his secretary and she accepted the offer. Now that she is going, I am going as well. So count me in, I am going to be around for years, at least until I retire or you let me go for some reason.” “I have no plans to let either of you go. In fact, you two are going to be in charge of running the shelter. If everything works out the way I think it will, every room in the hotel will be filled soon. In return, you guys are going to have to hire a staff according to the law of Texas as far as how many adults we need to every kid. I think it somewhere around ten kids to one adult, but I am not for sure. Anyways you two will find that out, hire the new staff, and be in charge of that staff. Plus you will be in charge of everything else in the shelter from the restaurant to making sure the residents have what they need.” Both Gary and Janet had a look of confusion on their faces when Joey said the last thing. “The guys clothes, school supplies and anything that they need to live and go to school, that spending will need to get approval from me or the person I put in charge of the money for the shelter, but do not worry about having to jump through hoops to get the money. As long as you bring back a receipt on what you spent the money on, there will be no problem.” For the next several hours, Joey, Janet, and Gary went over how the shelter should be run. They pretty much agreed on every topic, and those they did not, they found middle ground that worked for everyone. When it was all said and done, they had a shelter set up that gave the residents their freedoms, but at the same time had rules as any home does with under age teens going to school. Since Joey owns the houses, he did not ask permission to sleep over. His furniture was not moved out of his bedroom so that made it a lot easier. As well, no one took his room out of respect to him in case he did stay a night, so when Joey did not leave, no one asked him why, they went on with their normal routine. Joey on the other hand went out to the storage room and started to go through the boxes to see what he is not going to take. Ten before nine, he headed over to his other house to find most of the new furniture that was bought still wrapped in plastic in the living room. Since that furniture was never set up, it will make it a lot easier to load onto the truck come Thursday, Joey thought to himself as he walked around the bottom floor. “Gary and I took advantage of the boys since they were home today. We pretty much have the shelter all packed up and ready to go. For the next few days we are going to be eating off of paper plates and drinking from plastic cups so we do not have a lot of dishes to pack at the last moment. So you do not have to worry about the shelter, it is all under control.” “I know you guys have things under control here. It’s just I am getting more nervous as the moving day gets closer and closer.” Joey walked over to the front door. “Maybe you and the boys can go down to help Janet pack their house up. She is pretty much packing up the entire house all by herself since Harold is working and we are at school.” “I do not see why we cannot go down tomorrow and the next day to give her a helping hand. Even with the guys help, there was a lot of work to pack up this house, so I can imagine what Helen is going through right now. I have a question Joey, when are you going to rent the trucks? The only reason I am asking that is when we can help drive them down here and then to the judge's house.” Joey explained to Janet that he is going to rent the trucks on Wednesday morning so they have all of Wednesday and Thursday to load them. He then went on to explain that he wants to get on the road early Friday morning. The reason for that is he believes the trip going to El Paso this time is going to be long since they are taking a lot more vehicles and towing vehicles behind huge U-Haul trucks. After answering all of Janet’s questions, Joey headed back over to his house. He took a quick shower and went to bed, but he could not fall to sleep. All night long he tossed and turned. When he finally did doze off, it was a restless sleep, so when the alarm clock went off, he was more tired then he was when he went to bed the night before. Pulling himself out of bed, Joey got ready for school. He discovered that he had left some of his clothes at his house. It was done by accident since he was not the one that moved his stuff over to Caleb’s house, it was his sister. She must have been in a hurry or figured that he did not need all his clothes since she left some of them here. Once he was finished getting ready, he headed out. Not wanting to wake up anyone in the house, Joey did not have breakfast. Instead, he went through the drive thru of McDonalds on his way to school and grabbed himself a breakfast deluxe and a large orange juice. When he got to school, he did not go to the cafeteria; he stayed in his truck and ate his breakfast. Just as he finished eating, he heard the bell ringing. He tossed all the trash in the bag he got with his food in and headed in. As he walked through the double doors of the main entrance, Joey tossed his bag in the trashcan there. He was not surprised to see Caleb waiting for him at his locker. The minute Caleb saw Joey, he straighten up and met him halfway. When he reached Joey he apologized repeatedly to him, but Joey did not accept his apologies. Because Joey ignored him, Caleb started to tear up. He was already shaking when he started talking with Joey, barely holding it together, but Joey not talking to him caused him to fall apart. Joey closed their locker, but did not move. “Until we move I think it is best that I do not join you with your friends in the cafeteria. They bring the worst out of you. They bring a person out of you that I do not know and do not want to know. I love you so much! I will do anything to keep us together, even if that means giving you the rest of this week to be with your friends and not able to see you. I'd rather lose you for a week than for good.” Not letting Caleb say a word, Joey walked away. Caleb just stood there with tears rolling down his cheeks as Joey walked down the hall. He knew he screwed up yesterday, but he did not think he screwed up this bad. They have been through worse, so he did not think this little fight would have done what it did, separate them for a week, if not for good. All through his morning classes, Caleb’s head was in the clouds. He could not think straight. The only thing that he was able to think about is Joey, and what he can do to fix what he did wrong. Apologizing did not work, so what else can he do to show Joey that he made a mistake and will not do it again. When he joined his friends at lunch, they saw that he was not himself. At first, they ignored it since they got what they wanted, Joey gone, but after while they see that Caleb was happy with Joey gone. In fact, they have never seen Caleb this unhappy. “Caleb give it time and Joey will forgive you. Once you move to El Paso, things will get better for you guys. He will be back around his friends and will forget all about what happened here. You two….” Ivan was interrupted by Lonnie before he could finish. “Who cares about Joey? You now see how he truly is, a person that runs away from a problem instead of facing it head on. If you ask me, it is good that you see that now before you made the mistake and moved to El Paso. Now you can stay here with your sister and us. Let Joey go back to his friends who will probably not even show you any respect like we have shown Joey when he got here and look…..” Caleb slammed his fist against the table, shutting Lonnie up. “Fuck, I should have never allowed my relationship with Joey to get this point. You guys haven’t showed Joey any respect. Yeah you asked him to join the football team, but the only reason you did that is that you wanted to win, not because you wanted him part of the team. Other than that, you guys have done everything you could to make Joey look like the bad person here, but he is not the one, the bad people here are you guys. Hell, when Joey’s friends came to town when he was in the hospital, they accepted me as if I was part of their group since the beginning. They fucking did not even know me and they treated me with more respect than you guys have ever shown Joey. So you are wrong about them Lonnie and stop talking shit when you do not even know the people.” Caleb pushed his tray into Lonnie’s as he got up from the table. Lonnie and the others went running after Caleb, but Caleb would not listen to them. He finally realized that he has allowed his friends to influence his relationship with Joey. The influence was not positive, it was nothing but hate to separate him and Joey, and the only thing he could think of that made them do that is to try to make him be like he was, or thought he was. Looking everywhere he knew Joey hung out at in the school, Caleb did not find him. After checking the ROTC classrooms, he went out to the parking to lot to see if Joey had left for lunch, but he did not. Caleb found Joey’s truck in the same parking spot where he always parks at, but no Joey. He leaned against the truck going over where he went to see if he missed a room or a place where he and Joey hung out at, but he did not. He started to slide down the side of the truck and did not stop until his butt hit the ground. Once he sat down, Caleb started to pick up the little pebbles from the ground and started throwing them to the grassy area. He did not even bother to look up when he saw three shadows on the pavement because he knew who they were. “We truly are sorry for how we have treated Joey.” Caleb looked up, but could not see who was talking because the sun was shining in his eyes. Even though he could not see, he knew it was Kurt. “Ever since he started to come to this school, so many things have changed. Heck, we did not even know our best friend was gay. You came out to your parents and family, but not to us and not until you started going out with the new kid.” “The reason I never came out to your guys is because I knew how you were going to react to the news. Look how you are treating Joey and that should be proof enough. I thought you guys were going to treat me the same way. The only reason you guys are not is because of our long friendship. But if we did not have that, you guys would torment me to the point that I would have to transfer out of this school.” “That is untrue and you know that Caleb. Put aside what has been happening between Joey and us we haven’t treated anyone with that kind of disrespect you just described. To say other wise is completely wrong and hurtful.” “Come on Lonnie, you know what you just said is nothing but a load of bull crap. None of us knows or knew anyone that is gay until Joey moved into town. I have known for a very long time that I am gay, but I could not go to you guys. The things you all said in the past whenever we watched a movie with an actor playing a gay part, or whenever we passed someone in a store or the mall that acted gay, you guys said hateful things. Didn’t you guys ever wonder why I never got into the banter? There is no way I was going to bash someone over the head for being what I am, gay!” Caleb’s three friends just stood there looking down at Caleb. They know every word that he just said is true. It ripped right through them and now they know why one of their best friends could not trust them enough to tell them that he is gay. Simply put it is because of all the hateful things that they said not knowing that they were hurting someone close to them. Not once did they ever think twice on what they were saying. “The things we said wouldn’t have been said if we knew about you. Come on Caleb you know us better than that. We will never say anything that will hurt a person that we care a lot for.” Ivan looked at Lonnie and Kurt for them to agree with him, which they did. “All of us are more than just friends, we are more like brothers.” “If that is true you guys wouldn’t have tried to put a wedge between Joey and me.” Caleb got up from the ground and brushed himself off. “You would have accepted Joey because of our friendship being more than just friends, but to tell you the truth, the blame is all mind, not yours. I should not have ever allowed you to do what you did. Because I did that, I hurt my relationship with Joey, not you guys.” Caleb and his friends talked for a few minutes before he excused himself to go and find Joey. He went back to the cafeteria, but no luck, he did not find Joey there. Not about to give up, Caleb went looking in every bathroom in every hall in the school. As he reached the main hall, he saw Joey walking away from him. Not wanting to make a scene, Caleb started to walk fast, almost jogging after Joey. Once he reached Joey, he turned Joey around. He opened his mouth to speak, but Caleb put several fingers over it and pulled him into the nearest bathroom to them. “I need you to let me talk before you say a word.” Caleb locked the bathroom door as he spoke and looked under the stalls to make sure there was no one else in the bathroom. Once he was sure he and Joey were alone, he walked back over to Joey and pushed him gently against the wall. “I love you Joey and there is no way I am going to let you go without a fight. I have been a complete jerk, not only for the last couple of days, but since you have met my friends. I promise you……..” TO BE CONTINUED……………. WRITER’S CORNER: {Welcome back to Regrets and Heartaches, I hope you are enjoying this story as much as I am writing it. As I wrote out this chapter, I got several emails from readers that has written me that they will not read this story because how it ended with Joey and Jacob. I would like to say to those that are reading this story that after our breakup, we did become very good friends, and that is rare. He is a good guy and I do wish him all the best on what ever he does in his life. Now let’s get going on the summation of the chapter. In the last chapter, I threw in a very big curve ball. The relocation of the story will bring life back into it, just as I did with Beneath the Mask. Whenever I do not know much about a subject or a place, it is hard for me to write about it. So that is why this story started to drag on because I do not know anything about the city where Joey moved to except he actually in real life moved there. The curve ball opened up many new plots and is letting me close off some old ones. The chapter picked up where I left off in chapter sixteen, in El Paso. A lot was discussed and done dealing with the transfer of ownership, to the jobs as far as Harold and Helen, and how things are going to run in the new shelter. I really hope Gary and Janet are not making a mistake on letting the door locks stay on the doors. I understand why they are doing it, but these are teenagers. Remember back to when you were a teenager and you will see what I am talking about. I hope that these guys will respect the rules of the shelter so they do not lose that right with the locks. Joey met with Al before leaving El Paso, which I liked. They talked about filling up the hotel with other teenagers, and how they plan to do that. I like Al’s idea and it can work. Al seems to always have a solution to any problem that comes up. This solution will help Joey not only to fill up the rooms, but help pay the day-to-day operations of the place. When everyone went back to either work or school they started delivering the bad news. First let us look at Harold; he accepted the job first thing Monday morning. He was told he needs to report to work in El Paso the following Monday. That really puts him in a bind because of the time restraints. He also wanted to rule on the cases dealing with the parents that put their kids in that brainwashing camp, but cannot. I wish the ROTC instructors at this school were at El Paso High, because Colonel Chandler is very cool. He was dealt a blow in his next year’s battalion staff, but did not go all crazy on Joey. He did not demote him but let him keep his rank and wished him luck. I am glad Joey gave him Jacobs number so he could reach him in case anything comes up with the changes Joey was about to put into effect. I like the fact that Harold was able to choose on what to do with the cases he wanted to rule on. He decided to hand them over to a person that he knows will rule on them the way he would have. I can see where he is coming from as far as the new judge wanting to make a name for him or herself once they get there. They need to run for that seat again when Harold’s term is over, so they will not take chances that Harold would since they are just starting out. The issue with Caleb and Joey has been there in the background. Neither of them really dealt with it as it was coming up repeatedly from the vacation Caleb hasn’t invited Joey on, to the way Lonnie and the other two treat Joey some times. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that it came to the point it did in this chapter. I do not blame how Joey reacted, but he was worse at times to Jacob than Caleb is being with him. At least Caleb is not cheating on him or in a bathroom with another guy to name a few things Joey did to Jacob, but yet Jacob forgave him right away. I hope Joey remembers that and does the same thing for Caleb. After all, Caleb is new at this whole dating thing, unlike Joey and Jacob. I know the cliffhanger sucks, but I had to end that chapter there because if I did not, it would have gone on for several more pages. That scene is going to be a very emotional one for the both of them. They both are going to see the wrong they are both doing and hopefully they patch things up. After all, if they do not, it is going to be a very cold penthouse when they move to El Paso. There is so much going on in this saga. I can keep writing, but I won’t. You guys are going to need to tune in to the next chapter to see what is going on. More plots are going to open and old ones will be closed. This story, like my others, will keep you on your toes. Do not miss what is coming up in the chapters to come. I do not want to say too much more and spoil the future chapters to come, so I won’t. I warn you though! Do not skip a chapter, or you will be lost. There is a so much to answer in the chapters to come. Keep reading the future chapters, and enjoy! Please email me and let me know how I am doing at jacob@jacobmillertex.com Thanks!} EDITOR’S CORNER: This has been a powerful chapter with many significant decisions being made and interpersonal situations/relationships being faced much more directly than ever before! I enjoy such "active" writing and reading. Caleb has learned that several of his' friends' seem to have wanted to be his "keeper" rather than a caring and compassionate friend. Judge Harold had to make a major career decision for himself, which was even more difficult because his family and others were much involved. He also had his own judicial philosophy that was at stake, as he wanted to be sure that the parents who sent their boys to the "camp" were forced to face the Court for their actions. A new character joined the story family in a significant way. It will be interesting to see how he integrates and how the others respond to him. Sometimes the "new kid" has a very hard time "fitting-in" as those who were, themselves, once shunned, turn around and shun another. I want to follow this 'strand' of our story. Joey and Jacob have some interactions with each other over the life of this story, but now they will be around each other much more of the time. Will they be able to handle this? How will their own 'partners' react to J and J having to be with each other more? This could be a very painful time for all involved and/or a time of growing and maturing--perhaps both! Will we ever learn about Uncle Dominic and his trial? What about Joey's mother and her still being in Mexico? Caleb's plans for spring vacation with his friends has never been shared with Joey? Why not? Will this ‘fit hit the shan' at sometime? I want to know how Judge Harold is able to adapt to his new position and responsibilities. What impact will he be able to have on behalf of abused youth? Can he function effectively having to learn the laws and procedures of a new state? Finally, we have the siblings of Joey and Caleb who futures are also being disrupted by this move. Will they adjust? Will they succeed in their own lives and loves? Stay tuned. Please contact our author to share your answers to such questions as those I have posed above. He does read our emails and gives our views solid consideration. Best wishes! --Kent D. (sw Ohio area)
  5. Steve couldn’t stop thinking about what he had found out the day before on Alex’s curfew. Out of all of them that got released, Alex should be the one required to go straight home after school and not allowed to go anywhere else except school and that is it. In Steve’s mind Alex is a gang leader who tried to kill people. He kept banging his head against the wall until his parents asked him to go outside and find something to do. Steve doesn’t know what to do with himself; he just walked around the neighborhood with the same thing on his mind, the curfew. Steve somehow found himself walking up to Robert’s front door. At first he didn’t want to knock, and then he decided to knock and then decided against knocking. Steve decided to just go back home. He started to walk down the walk way when he heard the front door of the house open. Before he could turn around, Robert called out to Steve. Steve walked back up to the front door. “I am sorry for bothering you. I was walking and somehow I ended up here as I walked thinking about stuff. I am really bothered about what we found out about Alex’s curfew. I don’t like the idea that he actually……..” Robert put his finger against his lip to quiet Steve down. He closed the door and pulled Steve to the end of the walkway. As they walked underneath a huge tree, Robert looked back at his house to see if anyone is looking out of the windows. He didn’t see any of the curtains or blinds cracked open, but he knows that doesn’t mean they aren’t watching. “I don’t know what your problem with Alex and his curfew is Steve. Damn we are lucky that we got out of that fucked up place. I don’t care if my curfew is at six or ten, I am out of that place. If you keep this up, they might pull this from us. Do you want that Steve?” Steve stood there under the tree kicking the dirt around. “Robert you know that Alex is the worst of all of us. That is why this is bothering me so much. If any of us should get a later curfew it should be me, you and yes, maybe Matt but not Alex. This guy runs a gang, beats up people and maybe even has them killed. Yet, he has a later curfew than us.” “If I was you, I would just leave this alone and let me tell you why. Alex’s friend Jacob’s grandfather is a senior advisor to the Governor of Texas. Jacob’s grandfather is the one that got the ball rolling to get us what we got. It is because of Alex’ connections we are free. They wanted to lock us in protective custody and throw the key away. You and I have seen that the gangs in that place can touch people in protective custody.” Steve nodded his head in agreement to what Robert is saying. “The Governor himself gave Alex and Matt their walking papers because their judge wouldn’t sign off on it. Then the Governor asked the District Attorney to get our judges to sign off on us. The way the Governor asked didn’t leave it up to the District Attorney to say no. Now the District Attorney is the State Attorney. As you can see, Alex actually helped us get out.” “I didn’t know all this that you are telling me. I thought Alex and Matt had their judges sign off on their paperwork. Now what you are telling me makes a lot of sense why they have different rules than us. To tell you the truth I am surprised to see you defending Alex. You know what you have told me his gang had done to you in County.” “You just answered yourself, his gang, not him. When Alex found out, he took action to make sure it didn’t happen again to anyone else. Alex is not the one that did it to me. Yes, when I first saw him, I couldn’t move from where I stood. But it didn’t take long for me to see a side of Alex that no one talks about.” Robert and Steve stood under the tree talking a little longer. It is approaching six really fast and Steve needs to get home before six. They kissed each other before Steve took off. As he walked home, he felt good after talking with Robert about what is bothering him. It does make a lot of sense to him now about the difference between Alex’s curfew and his. Matt woke up from his nap to find Alex still asleep at his side. He crawled out of bed as softly and quietly as possible. He grabbed his running pants, put them on and left the room to head to the bathroom to take a quick shower. He didn’t even hear the bathroom door open and Lorenzo walk in. Matt started to shampoo his hair when he heard the toilet flush. Out of reflex, Matt opened his eye to see who is there, but ended up getting shampoo in his eyes. He started to curse as he turned around to wash the shampoo out of his eyes. Matt heard laughing which told him that the person in the bathroom isn’t Alex. He got most of the shampoo out of his eyes when he cracked the shower curtain open. Standing at the sink not doing anything but looking at himself in the mirror is Lorenzo. “Hey Lorenzo what’s up man? Did you need to something from me or your brother?” Matt spoke as he wiped away the water from his face. “You know you can’t hide behind that shower curtain because it is a see through. I can see you no matter if you crack the curtain or not.” Matt smiled and let the curtain close. He turned off the water so he could hear Lorenzo better. “Can I ask you a weird question Matt?” “You can ask me anything you want Lorenzo.” Matt reached to grab the towel. “When my brother got locked up, he liked girls. He dated girls and had sex with girls, but now he doesn’t. After being locked up with you, he now likes guys. Did you turn my brother gay? If so, can he go back to being straight again?” Matt dried himself off, wrapped the towel around himself and got out of the shower. “With what I know of you so far Lorenzo, you are a very smart guy. You know that a person can not be turned gay if they are straight. They might experiment with gay stuff, but not get into a full relationship like your brother and I are in. He loves me and I love him like a boy and girl do when they are together. I don’t know what to tell you about him having sex with girls before going in when he is gay. You will need to speak with Alex about that. I won’t even assume why, but with what I know. I can probably tell you the answer, but again you need to get that from your brother. He will answer anything you have to ask him. I guess what I am trying to say is that no I didn’t turn your brother gay. He has always been gay, but never acted on it. The answer to your other question is since he is gay, he won’t go straight. Just like I said you can’t turn a straight guy gay or a gay guy straight. No matter what you hear, you can’t do that.” “Oh, I just thought I would ask you. Do you really love my brother or are you using him? Because if you are using him, you will hurt him. I can see that he really loves you. You have to be blind not to see that.” Matt sat down on the toilet to put on his sweats. “I really do love your brother with all of my heart. The first day I saw him walk into the facility I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have such a hunk for my roommate. I never thought he was like me, but when I found out, I was the happiest man on earth. I am still the happiest man on earth!” Lorenzo didn’t say or ask anything else of Matt. He just walked out of the bathroom as quietly as he walked in. Matt just stood there not knowing for sure if he satisfied Lorenzo or not. All he knows is that he had a few questions and he asked them. Matt walked straight from the bathroom to his room. Matt walked in and closed the door with his back towards Alex. He didn’t even look to see if Alex is awake yet as he closed the door. That is why when he heard Alex’s voice, he jumped. “Hold on there Matt, what has you so jumpy? It is not like we have to sneak around my mother’s house. She and my brothers know that you and I are together. So what is going on that has you so jumpy?” Alex stretched as he stood up. “Sorry, I didn’t know that you were awake when I walked in. I just had the weirdest talk with your little brother Lorenzo. He walked into the bathroom while I was in the shower and started to ask me questions.” Matt walked over to Alex and sat down on the bed. Alex joined him on the bed as he told Alex everything that his little brother had asked him. He also told Alex how he answered the questions Lorenzo had for him. The whole time, Alex sat there just listening to what Matt had to say, not interrupting him once. “So that’s what happened between me and your little brother. I hope you aren’t angry with me for not only answering questions that your brother had, but being naked. I know I should have locked the door to the bathroom, I just wasn’t thinking at the time.” “Don’t worry about that Matt. I know you and it wasn’t like you walked into his room naked. He walked into the bathroom, used it and stayed to talk with you. None of that is your fault, nor is it really his either. I should have told you that my little brothers have been asking questions about us. It was just a matter of time that they would ask you questions. You did it right by answering them and sending them to me on questions that you don’t have the answer to. I want you and my brothers to get to know each other and that way you guys can get close. Now as far as the girls I dated and had sex with before being locked up I know I never talked to you about them. I did date girls and yes I had sex with them. As I had sex with them I thought about a cute guy from the neighborhood or TV. I never once got hard any other way. Like I have told you, I have known that I am gay since puberty. I just dated those girls and had sex with them to keep my standing with my father and the gang.” “There is not need for you to explain yourself to me about what you did before we got together. I never told you my past and you never have to tell me yours. We love each other and we are together. That is all that is to it.” Alex leaned over to kiss Matt, but Matt pushed him away teasing him. “You need to take your stinky butt to the bathroom and take a shower. There is no way I will have dinner with you smelling like you just had sex.” As they laughed, Alex leaned in and kissed Matt. This time Matt didn’t push him away. They kissed awhile without coming up for breath. Alex finally broke the kiss and walked out of the room to take shower before dinner. Matt couldn’t help himself from getting hard as he watched Alex walk out of the room naked. After dinner, Alex and Matt asked to speak with Al and Jacob. They agreed and headed to the study. Still not used to being in Jacob’s house, Alex felt weird whenever he walked around it. He knows it should be over it, but he isn’t yet. “So Alex what is it that you and Matt need to speak with me and my grandfather about? I hope everything is running smoothly with your printing company. With what I have been told, you guys have more business than you can handle right now.” “Yeah we do Jacob and thank you for your help. We should be independent a lot sooner than we originally thought. But for now let’s stay with the dates we already have.” Alex sat down in the chair in front of the desk. “The reason we needed to talk with you isn’t the amount of work we have. I know this might make me and Matt look bad, but we felt we needed to talk with you guys about this. As you guys know we had a problem setting the alarm as we left the building today. What you guys don’t know is that we found a couple of doors cracked open on the first floor in the back. We don’t know who did that or when they did it.” “You called me for help and I can’t ask for anything more than that. What your employees do I can’t really hold it against you two. What we can hold against you two if this keeps happening and you guys don’t try to fix it. So what do you guys plan to do to fix this problem where it doesn’t happen again?” Alex and Matt explained to Jacob and Al what they decided to do when ever they are the only ones in the building. At the same time they promised to find out who was the one that cracked the doors open and let that person go. “I really like your plan and it will work. No, as far as finding out who did this, you will never find out. You will get close, but you will never know one hundred percent you have the right person. Plus you guys don’t want to fire people when you can’t prove that person is the one that did it. Just follow your plans and it won’t happen again.” “Alex and I were thinking that maybe cameras can be installed in the lobby. The reason we are thinking that is because we didn’t even know that someone had left the print shop. Now this new plan we know it will work, but we want to play it safe.” Al looked at Jacob before answering the question that Matt presented. “We will look into that on Monday, but again. Jacob and I trust you and you guys will make sure this doesn’t happen again. If we go that route it isn’t because we don’t trust you guys, it is because of your recommendation to do so.” They all agreed to leave the cameras for a later date to decide on. Al felt good with the conversation he and Jacob just had with Alex and Matt. They all walked out of the study together. Al headed to his side of the house, Jacob and Matt went to the TV room and Alex went over to help his mother do the dishes. Before Matt could even sit down, Lorenzo and Ismail pulled him out of the TV room and down to the game room. Matt didn’t fight them; he walked down to the basement and joined the game they already had started on the Sega Saturn. Matt noticed that Lorenzo and Ismail started to act with him as they act with Alex. That is making Matt feel even more part of Alex’s family. He now has little brothers that he never had before. The next day, Ron sat with Alex and Matt to teach them how the accounts work. After spending the morning on the machines, Alex and Matt spent the entire afternoon in Ron’s office. By the time they left work, their heads hurt with all the information that had been given from Ron. The information that ranged from how to handle a client, the print jobs all the way to how to schedule the print jobs on the floor. This time they didn’t have a problem locking up the building when they left, which put Alex at ease. All the way to the house, they tried to make plans for what to do once they got there. “No matter what we decide to do you guys, it is going to take money that we don’t have. I think what we need to do is just hang around the house and maybe Jacob and Dewayne have plans that we can tag along on. Other than that, we are stuck hanging at home until we start getting paid.” David spoke in a mellow voice to the others. “I agree we need to see what Jacob and Dewayne have planned. By the time we get home, Dewayne should have been home for awhile. If they are going anywhere, they would have made up their minds already. Just maybe we can tag along with them if they will let us.” Tom spoke almost in a whisper. Alex couldn’t figure out why Tom and David are speaking so low. It isn’t as if they are talking wrong about someone and they are sitting near them. Alex just sat back in his seat and didn’t say anything. He just listened to them talk about doing something as soon as they get home. None of them, Alex included, wants to hang around the house. Tom drove up to the house and parked in the street. They got out and headed into the house to find no one downstairs. They know Dewayne has gotten home from work because both of Jacob’s vehicles are parked in the driveway. Still they didn’t find them or anyone in the rooms on the first floor. When they reached the kitchen, they suspected to find Franseca there, but she isn’t. Now they are jus looking at each other trying to see if the other might know what is going on. No one said a word, just stood in the kitchen thinking how weird this is. “My mom is probably at our house relaxing. Remember, on the weekends she only cooks and straightens up. She doesn’t stay here the entire day on Saturday and Sunday. Also we know that Jacob and Dewayne are here somewhere because their vehicles are in the driveway. Since I have been here, I haven’t seen Jacob go anywhere unless he is driving. I might be wrong on that because I have only been here for a month.” Alex looked at everyone as they nodded their heads in agreement except Matt. Matt just stood there in silence. Just then, Lorenzo and Ismail walked in from the basement. Everyone turned around to see the two younger copies of Alex’s smile with their cups of Kool Aid in their hands. “Where is everyone Lorenzo?” Lorenzo looked up at Tom and just shrugged his shoulders up and down. “I don’t know where Jacob and Dewayne are, but my mom is at our house watching TV. Mr. Al and Mrs. Virginia are over there.” Lorenzo pointed to their side of the house. “And you guys, well you are standing here in the kitchen.” Everyone laughed at Lorenzo’s remark. Tom even laughed at what Lorenzo told him. He asked a general question and he got a general answer to the question. Tom walked out of the kitchen followed by David. Alex and Matt walked over to their house and noticed that the back door to the house next to them is open. They turned and walked over to the house to see who or what is going on. Alex knocked on the back door, but didn’t hear anything so he walked in. “We shouldn’t just walk into the house Alex. We don’t know who is here or what is going on. Plus, if Gloria is in here she will think the worst of us being here.” Alex ignored Matt and continued walking in. Reluctantly, Matt followed Alex in the house and they started to make their way to the front of the house. They didn’t hear any noise at first, and then they heard voices coming from the back of the house. The voices didn’t sound like anyone they know. Alex turned and motioned Matt to stay. He kept walking down the hall, while Matt stood back near the front door watching Alex as he makes his way down the hall. Just as Alex reached the end of the hall, he slowly peeked into the room where all the voices are coming from. He sees four kids sitting there looking at a magazines. He looked over to Matt and put up four fingers to tell Matt that is how many that is in the house. Matt just starred at Alex not knowing what he wants him to do. Without warning, Alex walked into the room and scared the four kids. They jumped up from the floor and looked around to see if there is another way out, but they quickly realized that there isn’t. “What are you kids doing in this house?” Alex lowered his voice to sound angry. “Come on don’t look at each other for the answer, just answer the question. Why are you guys here in the house you aren’t supposed to be in?” One of the kids dropped the magazine they were looking at. Alex looked down at the magazine and couldn’t help but laugh. They are looking at Playboy magazines. Alex moved from the door over to the four kids at the far end of the room. “You guys shouldn’t be in here looking at these.” Alex bent down and picked up the magazine the kid dropped. “Nothing wrong about looking at these magazines, but there is something wrong looking at them in this house.” He noticed the kids shaking as he stood in front of them. “There is no need to be scared of me. Just do me a favor and don’t come into this house anymore. It won’t be empty much longer and I don’t want my friend’s mother to catch you guys in here. She is really mean and won’t give you a chance to explain why you are in here. She will shoot first and ask questions later.” All the kids nodded their heads up and down. Alex walked with them out of the house to the front door to let them out. He called the kid back that dropped the magazine and handed it back to him. He smiled at Alex as he grabbed the magazine from him. “You’re cool man, thanks for not going berserk on us. We were wrong about you and for that we are sorry. Tell Ismail that he can hang with us anytime he wants. We won’t get him into any trouble, I promise!” “No problem I will mention it to my little bro. You know Ismail and Lorenzo hang out together a lot? More than likely if Ismail hangs with you, my other brother will join as well. It is like a package deal with those two.” “Not a problem, we think Lorenzo is cool too. He wouldn’t become our friend because we didn’t want to let Ismail hang with us. We thought Ismail was like you and didn’t want anything to do with him. Now seeing how cool you are, we have no problem hanging with him or you if you want.” This time Alex laughed at what the second kid said when he walked up to him. “No that is okay, I have my friends I hang with. If you are around when I hang with my brothers, I have no problem on hanging with you guys. Just don’t keep going into empty houses around here. The next time you get caught, you might not be so lucky.” The four kids nodded their heads in agreement to Alex and walked down the street. Alex closed the door and locked it. They walked around to house to see how they got in. They found the screen to the kitchen window off and the window open. Alex closed the window, locked it. Before leaving, they made sure the entire house is locked up tight. As they walked over to their house, Franseca walked out of the back door. She looked at her son and his boyfriend as they walked towards the house. She waved them over to her so she could speak with them. “You guys worked a little longer than you worked yesterday.” Alex and Matt didn’t say a word as the reached Franseca. “The reason I need to speak with you is to let you know that you guys need to be careful. As you can see, the construction workers have the frame of the walls up. In the next couple of days they are going to have the walls up and they will start knocking down the walls in the houses. That means there is going to be a mess for a while. But by Wednesday the houses should be joined, at least that is what I understand. They have made this promise to Al several times in the past already.” “If they get the work done by Wednesday that will mean our house is going to be part of Jacob’s?” Alex pointed to his house and over to Jacob’s as he talked. “Yes that is what it means. It has been in the making ever since they bought this house. It never really belonged to Beth just as it doesn’t belong to me either. We get to live in the house rent free for my services over the weekend. I hope you don’t have a problem with that Alex.” Franseca asked with a worried look on her face. “No mom I have no problem with it at all. In fact I like the idea because that way people don’t see us walking back and forth from one house to the other. I just wondered why it took so long for it to happen, that’s all.” Franseca expression on her face changed from worried to happiness. She told the boys that dinner should be ready in an hour, so don’t wonder off anywhere as she walked over to Jacob’s house. Alex walked into his house and sat down on the couch. Matt joined him on the couch, resting his head on Alex’s lap. Before they knew it, they both dozed off on the couch. They didn’t plan it, but it happened. This time though they got woken up with knocking on the door. Alex got up to see who is banging so hard on his door. When he looked out of the living room window, he sees Carlos standing at his front door. He unlocked the door and let Carlos in. “Why are you banging on my door that hard? If my mother was here she would have gotten scared and then upset with you. As it is I am not too happy with you knocking on my door like that.” “Sorry about that Alex, but I needed to talk with you about something urgent.” Carlos walked over to the chair and sat down. “Our old gang found out that I moved in with my grandparents. When I got home, I found them waiting for me on the street in front of my house. We are in trouble Alex; I mean really big trouble now that they know where I live. It won’t take them long to figure out where you live now.” As Carlos told his tale, Alex couldn’t believe what he is saying. If they found out where Carlos lives, they will put together where he is going to school. If they can’t get him at his house they will try and get him at school. When that happens, they will find everyone they are looking for all in one area. “You need to call the police so they can clear the street for you to get home. If you stay here past your curfew, all of us are in trouble. In the mean time I will reach out and try to see if I can get these guys off of our backs somehow short of rejoining the gang. I know how they think and they will settle for something else if I can deliver it.” At first Carlos didn’t want to call the police, but finally agreed to. He got up and called them as Alex tried to figure out what to do from there. They will clear the street for now, but they will come back. When they can’t get Carlos at his house, they will try and get him at school. They won’t stop until they get the one they have found and then move on from him to whoever else Mr. Flores put a hit on. Matt tapped Alex on the shoulder to listen into Carlos’s phone call. The minute Alex started to pay attention to Carlos phone; it was oblivious that he isn’t talking with the police. In fact it sounds like he is talking either with his mother or grandmother on the other end. But whoever it is, it isn’t the police and that didn’t make Alex happy. Alex walked up to Carlos to see what he is doing. Carlos hung up the phone when he saw that Alex isn’t happy with him. Not saying a word at first, Carlos walked over to the chair where he was sitting and sat back down. “I talked with my grandparents and they told me that they went out and confronted them. They told them that if they are looking for me, they are looking at the wrong grandparents. I did move in with my grandparents, but my father’s parents in Florida. So if they want me that bad, they need to go to Florida to get me.” Both Alex and Matt looked at Carlos not knowing what to say. “Did they believe your grandparents or did they just look like they believe them?” “You know my grandparents have lived around that kind of stuff all their lives. They can read a gang member better than anyone can. They believed my grandparents and they left immediately afterwards. You know as well as I do if they didn’t believe them, they wouldn’t have left. Instead they would have stayed there demanding for them to bring me out. They aren’t afraid of what will happen to them with the police. They are more afraid of failing Mr. Flores.” “You are right on that Carlos, they are more afraid of the leadership of the gang than the police. At the same time, they really want us and they almost had you. You have to be very careful for the next couple of days. Find different routes home and to school as well if you see something that is out of the normal, report it. If you are found Carlos, the rest of us are found.” They sat there putting together different routes to and from school to Carlos house and at the same time what to do if he sees something that shouldn’t be there. By the time Carlos left Alex’s house they had a plan in place to protect Carlos and the others. They hope they don’t have to test it, but if they do, they will be more than willing to do so. Alex pulled Matt up from the couch so they could make their way to the kitchen for dinner. He noticed that Matt looked not only worried, but angry as well. He knows what Matt is thinking because he is thinking the same thing. Carlos’ hard headedness is putting everyone in jeopardy. No one really knows if the gang believed Carlos’ grandparents. They are hoping they did and won’t come back, but time will only tell. As they walked in, they found everyone walking in at the same time. Alex and Matt sat down and waited for the food. They served themselves as the plates of food went around the table. Before the last plate of food got completely around the table, everyone was talking to each other. There are four or five different conversations going on at once. All of the sudden Jacob asked for everyone’s attention. “As you all know since we bought the other house next door to Franseca’s, we are going to join that house with this house and my grandparents. Since we have knocked down the walls between all the houses, it gives us a lot more room in the back yard. One of the things that we have already changed is the size of the pool. It will be bigger and it will be heated as originally planned. We also decided to add a weight room off to the left of the swimming pool, against my grandparents’ house. I guess what I am trying to get to is that do you think we will get use out of that weight room?” All at once everyone gave their opinion about it. In different ways they all say yes that the weight room is a good idea to have. Jacob just nodded his head as everyone talked and eventually they returned to the conversations they were having before Jacob asked the question about the weight room. Not even planning it, they found themselves outside at the park playing basketball. Everyone joined wanted to play, and because of that they had enough people to make two teams. Once the teams were decided, they stayed out in the park playing several games of basketball. None of them felt the chill in the air. In fact they all taken off their jackets because they are playing full court and they are sweating up a storm. To Alex’s surprise he and Matt subbed out and sat down watching the others play. Alex still noticed that Matt isn’t himself. Every now and then he showed himself, but went right back into his protective worried mode. “I know you are worried about what is going on with Carlos. If I were to tell you I’m not worried, I would be lying to you. I love where I am right now and I don’t want it taken away from me. At the same time Carlos and I have known each other since we were in diapers. There isn’t anything we wouldn’t do for each other. With that said I know he is doing some dumb stuff right now. I don’t think he is going over to our old hanging ground, but I don’t think he is keeping a low profile either. He thinks he is luck y and that his luck won’t run out. I really hope for his sake and mine that his luck doesn’t run out. If it does we are both screwed.” “What I don’t understand is when you say you like it here, but yet you let Carlos do what he is doing. You need to call the police since he doesn’t want to. You need to make sure that they don’t go around Carlos’ house and follow him to you. This might get you mad, but I am going to say it anyways. I don’t care what happens to Carlos, but I care what happens to you. I don’t want to lose you now that we are free and able to really be together. That is what is going to happen by the looks of it. You will stand behind Carlos no matter what the cost is.” Alex sat there not knowing how to answer Matt on that. He knows that Matt is right, but at the same time he can’t kick Carlos to the curb. Right now Carlos is the weak link and he needs to find a way to strengthen him up. The others finished the game and they all headed home. Neither Alex nor Matt brought up the conversation again about Carlos. They dropped it as they joined the others in the TV room to watch a movie before heading off to bed. Once the movie was over, Alex and Matt headed over to their house carrying Lorenzo and Ismail. They had fallen asleep halfway into the movie. Alex didn’t have the heart to send them back to the house when he noticed them nodding off to sleep. Matt put Ismail in his bed as Alex put Lorenzo in his. Matt left Alex with his brothers so he can get them comfortable to sleep. Alex pulled off their shoes, but left them in their jeans and shirts. Just as Alex turned to leave, he heard Lorenzo mumble something to him. He turned and walked back over to Lorenzo to see what he had said. “You and Matt are good for each other Alex. I really do like him and I am glad he is part of our family now. He makes you happy all the time. I never have seen you like this before, but I like it anyways. You play with us a lot more than you did before and I like that.” Lorenzo whispering to Alex like it is a big secret. “Thank you for that little bro! I do really love him and he makes me feel things I have never felt before. I also know that I was wrong in the past when we lived in the old house not paying with you guys. I will never do that again I promise you that. No matter what I am doing I will always make time for you and Ismail.” Alex leaned in and kissed Lorenzo on the forehead. He made sure that Lorenzo and Ismail were completely under the covers before he left their room. He walked in to find Matt getting his shower things together. As Matt walked past Alex he told him that he will be right back after taking a shower. As soon as Matt left, Alex put together his shower stuff so he could take a shower once Matt is done. He didn’t even hear the tap on the door and the door opening. But once his mother walked in, he heard her clear her throat. “Alex, can I speak with you for a few minutes please?” Franseca asked as she stood at the door of Alex’s and Matt’s bedroom. “Sure mom; you don’t have to ask me to talk with you. This is your house, come in whenever you want to. I just hope you don’t walk in on me and Matt having sex!” Alex laughed as he sat down on the bed. “I really don’t know where to start but to just start. I walked in to let you guys know that dinner was almost ready when Carlos was here. I didn’t mean to over hear what you, Carlos and Matt were talking about, but I did. I am your mother Alex and I don’t want to lose you now that I got you back. I have told you that so many times already.” Franseca started to tear up as she spoke. “I don’t care if you get mad with me, but I will do whatever it takes to protect you. After dinner I spoke with Al about what I overheard. He right away got on the phone and got it taken care of. I won’t put your life on the line on a maybe. They are going to do a sweep and pick everyone up that they can. At the same time they are going to pick up patrols around his house, our house and the school. You might be angry with me, but I will do whatever it takes to keep you safe. You got a chance that no one ever gets and you know that Alex. Please don’t mess this chance up now that everything is going so well for you.” Alex wrapped his arms around his mother and pulled her into him. “Thank you mom for doing what we were too afraid to do. I know they won’t come around now that they see the police are everywhere. At the same time there will be no one to bother us. Most of them will be picked and in juvenile detention.” Franseca got up to leave, but be before leaving, she turned around. “Your little brothers look up to you Alex and they can’t get you back and then lose you again as well me and Matt. Please keep that in mind whenever you are faced with a decision like you had earlier. That way you will do the right thing because of your family and Matt.” She left leaving Alex actually feeling good about what she had done. He has always known that his mother will do anything to protect him. She won’t let anyone hurt her kids no matter who the person is. Although it wasn’t her fault, she blames herself everyday for letting his father turn him to gang life. Alex tries to tell his mother that it wasn’t her fault, but she believes it was. Every day she tries to make up for that. Matt walked in refreshed from the shower. He looked over to se Alex smiling at him. As he walked over to Alex, Alex got up from the bed and hugged Matt. Alex whispered in Matt’s ear what his mother did for him. Matt wrapped his arms even tighter around Alex once he heard the news. Alex let go to go take his shower, but kissed Matt before he left. After taking a long hot shower, Alex brushed his teeth and walked back to the room with his hair still wet. He still hasn’t got used to having long hair. Since he can remember he shaved his head, but now because of Matt he grew his hair out. He walked in, put his clothes in the hamper and walked over to the bed. Just as he sat down on the bed, Matt grabbed his towel and patted dry Alex’s hair. He kept saying over and over again as he dried his hair that if he goes to bed with his hair wet, he will wake up with a sore throat. Alex just sat there giggling as Matt treated him like a king. Alex leaned his head back, looking up at Matt. He started to kiss the air and didn’t stop until Matt leaned down and kissed him. They fell onto the bed kissing each other and stopped in order to crawl under the covers to get warmed up. Matt wrapped his arms around Alex as he laid his head as close as he could to Alex’s head. That way he can smell the greatest smell, Alex’s fragrance, as he falls to sleep. The next morning Matt woke up first like he did in the center. He reached around Alex and started to feel down his body. He stopped when he reached Alex’s morning wood. Gently Matt moved Alex until he got him on his back. He couldn’t believe that he didn’t wake up Alex as he moved him. Matt kissed Alex’s chest as he made his way to what he really wants, which is Alex’s dick. Very gently Matt pulled at Alex’s waist band of his boxers until he got it past Alex’s balls. Alex’s hard dick jumped right out of his underwear. He looked out for beneath the covers to see if Alex has woken up yet, and to his delight Alex is still sound asleep. He went back under the cover and slowly swallowed Alex’s dick inch by inch until he started to deep throat Alex. Slowly Matt came back up, but right when Alex’s dick almost came completely out of his mouth, he started to go back down. Loving the taste of Alex’s pre-cum, Matt swallowed every drop that Alex leaked. He didn’t even notice Alex had woken up. Matt just enjoyed what he has in his mouth right now. Alex peeked under the covers to see his boyfriend taking care of his morning wood. He just closed his eyes and laid back to enjoy the morning services that Matt likes to give. Trying not to moan with the pleasure Matt is giving him is taking every bit of his willpower. He started to feel that he is getting close to exploding; Alex didn’t know if he should warn Matt or not. He decided to just let Matt think that he is still asleep and he will get what is coming to him. Just as he finished thinking that thought, Alex started to cum into Matt’s waiting mouth. Matt swallowed every bit of cum that Alex shot. Even when Alex stopped shooting, Matt kept sucking on his dick in hopes to get more from him. It didn’t take long for Matt to actually get Alex to shoot another load down his mouth. Even Alex couldn’t believe that he could shoot that much cum in such a short period of time. He just laid there and let Matt suck him dry for the second time. This time once Matt realized that Alex got pumped clean, he let Alex’s dick slip out of his mouth. Just as gently as he pulled Alex’s boxers down, he pulled them back up. Once Matt made sure that Alex’s dick is nice and snug back in his boxers, he kissed his way back up to Alex’s neck. As Matt cleared the blankets, he looked own at Alex and kissed him on the lips. Alex still didn’t know if he should let Matt know that he is awake or just wait until Matt either lay back on the bed or crawls out. Alex didn’t have to think about that question very long because Matt started to pull out Alex’s lip. Alex opened his eyes to see a big smile across Matt’s face. He flipped Matt onto his back and returned the kiss that Matt is giving him. Kicking off the covers, Alex started to kiss down Matt’s chest. He glanced over to the clock on the end table knowing that he doesn’t have a lot of time to return the pleasure to Matt that he had gotten from him. He pulled Matt’s underwear down and deep throated Matt’s hard cock. Matt started to moan as Alex started to go up and down his dick. Matt wrapped his hands around the back of Alex’s head as he continued to blow him. Alex started to pick up speed making it very difficult for Matt to not cum. He wants this to last a little but longer, but Matt knows it just a matter of a moment or two now before he explodes. He tried to pull Alex off of his dick, but Alex refused. Alex wants his milk shake like he just gave Matt for breakfast. A few more times up and down on Matt’s dick is all it took for Alex to get what he wants. Matt’s toes curled up and he pulled on Alex’s hair. That let Alex know that he is about to get what he wants, which is Matt’s cum. Matt started to shoot cum shot after cum shot down Alex’s throat. Alex actually kept up with Matt’s explosion of cum. He loves every bit of cum that Matt is shooting down his throat. Once Matt stopped shooting, Alex made sure Matt’s dick is as he found it, nice and clean. Not a drop of cum or pre-cum was left anywhere. Alex jumped out of bed with a big smile on his face. He walked over to the closet humming as he got his clothes and got dressed. Matt has the same smile on his face, but didn’t hum like Alex. They got dressed and ready for school as quickly as they could. Once they got ready, they grabbed their book bags and headed to the kitchen for breakfast and catch their ride to school. Almost at the end of first period, the teacher pulled Alex into the hall. Alex walked out with him not knowing what he wants. He stood there as the teacher popped his head back into the classroom to quiet them down. Once he felt the other students are settled back into their seats, he walked over to Alex. “After our talk last week, I thought long and hard about what you said. You had a lot of good points in what you told me about the sheet I handed out on how I will be doing the grading. Since I had already handed out the ditto on how I do my grading, I will follow that procedure for now on. Next semester I will revise my ditto and start grading my students the way I wanted to start this semester. So you can rest assured that you will get the grade that you got on the assignment alone. Don’t think that you are going to make any friends in this class though. Once I let them know that I will be changing all the grades to the assignment grade, they won’t be happy. Most of them got lower marks on the assignment part than than they got on the verbal part. With the two grades added together gave them higher marks.” “I understand what you are saying, but this mistake isn’t mine. I should not be mentioned as the person that asked you to go by what you told us you were going to do as far as grading us. All you need to do is tell my classmates that you are going to only take the assignment grade because that is what you told us is how you grade.” The teacher opened the door to let Alex walk in. He took his seat and continued working on his assignment. As the bell rang, the teacher told the class about the change in their grades on last Friday’s assignment. They moaned and groaned as they walked out of the classroom, but none of them looked at Alex as the one that got the teacher to change the grades. He got up and walked out of the class with Matt right behind him. “Alex, don’t tell me that you are the one that got the teacher to change the grades. I know you were upset with your grade, but you got everyone’s grade to go down in the class. Some of them will find out that it was you, and….” “And what Matt? What are they going to do? Are they going to try and beat me up or run to the principal and tell on me for pointing out the wrong our teacher did. I got high marks on the assignment alone, but because he changed his grading procedure I got a failing grade in which I thought was unfair. You only lose what, two points off the grade you got for the assignment?” “Yes that is true, but you can’t be doing that. You should have taken the grade and told our teacher for the future assignments. Now we have more enemies and that is what we don’t need right now Alex.” “Matt, make up your mind on how you want me to act. One minute you are asking me to go to the right people and tell them what I feel is wrong. Then the next minute you are telling me to keep my mouth shut because you don’t want enemies. It’s one way or the other, but you can’t have it both ways Matt.” Alex walked ahead of Matt as they walked into their second period. Matt kept trying to get Alex’s attention, but Alex didn’t give him the time of day. Alex ignored him all second period and when the bell rang he took off without waiting for Matt. Matt had to actually run in order to catch up with Alex. “Come on Alex; please let me apologize for sending mixed signals to you. I was wrong for being the way I was with you before first period. I am….” “No need to for that Matt. We will fight here and there, that is what relationships are all about. I am trying to be what you want me to be, but I can’t keep wondering if what I am doing won’t get you mad. You knew who I was when we met and I have changed a lot from that person. I am doing that for you because I want to be with you for good. In the past I would have dealt with that issue differently if I even cared about it. I would have jumped our teacher in the parking lot to send the message. I am not like that anymore and you know that. Just don’t keep asking me to change when you keep changing the rules for me to follow.” Matt didn’t think that he was laying down rules for Alex to follow. He loved the fact that Alex is trying so hard to change into a different person, but Matt doesn’t want to risk their relationship. If he pushes too hard, he can push Alex to go the other direction. That won’t do him or Alex any good if that happens. They let go of the subject and by lunch time they talked with each other as if they didn’t just fight with each other. Jacob took everyone to Taco Bell for lunch in order for him to see Dewayne for awhile. Just like Friday, Dewayne couldn’t get away from the steam counter because the rush wouldn’t die down. They returned back from lunch as always rushing to make it in time for their fourth period. After the announcements, a student walked into the classroom to deliver something to the teacher. The teacher looked at what the student handed her and then walked over to Alex. She whispered to him that the principal needed to see him. Alex got up and walked out of the classroom. The same student that delivered the request followed Alex to the principal’s office. Every time Alex turned around to look at the student, the poor guy looked like he was about to shit his pants. Alex wants to laugh, but held it in so where he didn’t embarrass the kid. As soon as he walked in, the principal greeted him and walked Alex to the conference room. When Alex walked into the conference room, it is his turn to almost shit his pants. Two uniformed police officers and a suit are standing in wait for him. “Alejandro Garcia, please take a seat, we only have a few questions to ask you.” The one officer that is not in a suit pointed to a seat at the conference table. “I have a standing rule whenever a student of mine is being questioned, I stay with that student to make sure he or she isn’t being taken advantage of. In other words I am going to stay in here and will stop this if I think you guys are reaching too far. If you have a problem with that, then you can wait until I get his parents down here.” “I have no problem with you sitting in on this. In fact I would insist that you did. That way this student can’t say we did something or said something that we didn’t say or do.” The officers took a seat on the other side of the conference table. “Now Mr. Garcia, we rounded up members of your gang yesterday and they told us a lot of things about you. It seems that you have broken your agreement with the courts and stayed in contact with your gang when you were told that you aren’t allowed to do so. According to them you met with them three to four times a week at your old house and ordered them to carry out certain things from drug running to hits.” “Hold on before you continue with this line of questioning. Did these little kids say what time they met up with Alex on these occasions detective? Also did they say where exactly these meetings took place? Not a general location, but exact location.” “Liked I said Principal Michaels they stated they met three to four times a week at Alejandro’s old house. That is pretty precise if you ask me. The time these meetings always took place was always late at night so Alex could keep his cover with his family.” The detective looked up from his notepad to see what Alex had to say. “It is sad that you guys wasted your time coming down here. If you did your job right you would have found out that Alex has a monitoring device around his ankle. He has a curfew and if he is not in his house at that time, he would have been picked up for violation of his probation.” The detective stood up and walked around the table. Alex moved his legs out from underneath the table and pulled up his pant leg for the detective to see. The detective knelt down and looked closely to the device to see if it has been tampered with. He got up once he saw that the device hasn’t been tampered with. “I will check and see if his monitoring device ever went off on the dates in question. If it didn’t, Alejandro here is safe…..for now. But trust me Alejandro is just like his father and he will screw up and just like his father, when he does I will be there to put on the handcuffs. Once a person is a criminal, they are always a criminal.” Just then the conference door opened and Jacob walked in. Principal Michaels stood up and walked over to Jacob. He told Jacob what is going on and what the detective just said. The entire time the detective and the two officers stood there wondering who this kid is that the principal is talking to. “You guys don’t know who I am, but your bosses do. Before you leave I want your badge numbers and your direct supervisors. I successfully sued the city once and won and I can do it again. This time I will sue for the harassment that our police department is doing to a law abiding citizen. When I am done this time not only will Alex here walk away with millions, but your badges as well.” The detective wrote down his name, badge number and supervisor. At the same time the uniformed police officers did the same thing. They started to walk out of the conference room when Jacob stopped them at the door. “If you have any questions for Alex, you will go through his attorney of record. You aren’t allowed to ask him questions or say anything to him without his attorney present.” Jacob turned to walk over to Alex, but turned around again. “I would like a card from each of you. I know the police department makes out business cards for all their officers. They pulled out their wallets and handed Jacob their business cards and walked out. Jacob looked at Alex and smiled at him. Alex got up and walked over to Jacob and the principal to see if it is okay for him to go back to class. “Jacob, I’m sorry for pulling you out of class, but I had nowhere else to go. As you know I like to have parents present whenever one of my students are being questioned by an outside source. I called and spoke with Franseca Garcia, but she had no way to get down here. So tried to get a hold of you grandfather, but couldn’t reach him. So she asked me to get you to stand in her place.” “Not a problem Principal Michaels, I have already finished my program. These police officers should know better than to question Alex without his attorney of record being present. In return they have to schedule a meeting, not just show up like this. To make a long story short, something happened over the weekend that has the members of the gang that Alex was a part of pretty angry. They are willing to say anything to get themselves out of jail and that includes lying. By the looks of it that detective has a hard on for Alex and will do anything to get him back behind bars.” Principal Michaels and Jacob looked at Alex as he nodded his head in agreement. Alex keeps thinking that it seems no matter what he does, he can’t get away from his old gang. Even when he doesn’t do something he gets the blame as if he did do it and the police believed that he is guilty of doing it without even needing proof. “Principal Michaels, by the looks of it you had things under control when I walked in. I will let Franseca know what you did for Alex.” “Yeah Principal Michaels, thank you for everything you did for me. Besides my family and very close friends, you are the only one that defended me without thinking twice about it. I know you have your doubts about me, but I hope I am proving to you that you have nothing to worry about with me attending your school.” “You have shown me and your teachers that we have nothing to worry about. I hate when a person starts to get railroaded right before my eyes. I couldn’t sit there and let these guys do what they came down to do when they could have simply looked at your file. Once they saw that you are on a monitor and then had they checked that monitor to see if you ever were where these guys said you were, they would have not needed to come down here like they did and treat you like a criminal.” Principal Michaels walked Jacob and Alex out of the conference room. He instructed his secretary to write Jacob and Alex a pass back to class. As they waited for their pass, they talked about what to do if they come back again. Alex walked back to class knowing that Jacob has his back. This is something he has known since Jacob stood up in court to get him a second chance. When Alex walked into the classroom, he noticed Matt looking at him with a worried look. As he took his seat, he whispered to Matt hat he will tell him after class what happened. Officer Jackson can’t wait to be released from the hospital. He is waiting is his doctor to sign his discharge paperwork and give him his prescriptions. Once that is done, he is ready to high tail it out of there and not look back. Officer Jackson got brought out of thought with a knock on the door. He looked up in hopes it is his doctor to bid him farewell, but it isn’t. He doesn’t recognize the older person standing at his door. Not getting up, Officer Jackson waved the older gentleman in and over to a seat. “Good afternoon sir, how may I help you?” Officer Jackson looked at the older gentleman with a confused look on his face. “Good afternoon Officer Jackson, my name is Alfred Serna.” Al extended his hand and Jackson nodded it. “I am sorry to bother you here on the day you are about to be released, but I have heard nothing but good things about you. You look a little confused on who I am and why I am here, so let me clear the air. I know one of the inmates you were in charge of while you worked at the Juvenile Detention Facility here in El Paso, Alejandro Garcia.” Officer Jackson nodded his head confirming what Al knows is true. “Anyway, he speaks very highly of you as do members of the Governor’s staff, which I am part of. I understand that they offered you the director position left vacant when Mr. Henderson got promoted, but you turned it down. May I ask why you did that sir?” “I don’t like what Mr. Henderson did and that he used kids to get promoted. He looks good on paper because he fixed the detention facility. The problem with that is that he stepped on the kids to get it done. I can’t do that and that is what they are looking for; someone to continue where Mr. Henderson left off at. Who better than his second in command to do the job? That is why I turned down the job.” “Okay, I see where you are coming from. Well, let me tell you a little bit about myself and what I would like you to do for me.” Al took Officer Jackson through the company he has started from his first buy which is the McDonalds to his most recent purchases. The problems that are going on as far as money issues in the restaurants and security issues he will need to have systems in place in the future with the new building purchase all the way to the land purchases. “So basically what I am offering you Officer Jackson is the head of my security. You will set up the security for my main building downtown and look over all what my grandson and I own. If we think there is stealing going on in the company, you will be the one we call on to look into it. Plus you will be responsible for a lot more that will be explained to you if you agree to take the job.” Officer Jackson thought to himself that he has been looking to get out of watching criminals and into actual security work. Not only is Mr. Serna offering him that chance, he will be in charge of the whole thing. He knows he won’t get this offer anywhere else because they will have him start at the bottom. He asked Al several questions from who does he report to if he takes the job all the way to where will his office be. Other things he needed to clear up such as who will do the hiring and training of the security staff and on and on. Al answered every single question that Officer Jackson asked to his satisfaction. “You have just hired yourself the head of your new security department, Al. Just give me a couple of days to finish clearing out my office at the Detention Facility and I am all yours after that.” Al got up and shook Officer Jackson’s hand and they agreed to meet on Wednesday to sign his contract with the company. Just as Al left the room, Officer Jackson’s doctor walked in with the discharge paperwork. Al and Jacob went back and forth about hiring a security firm to take care of their security or create their own. Just last night they decided to create their own security and who they wanted to ask to run it. They like to go to people they either know themselves or have heard good things about from people they know and trust. Officer Jackson has come to them highly recommended from so many of their friends and associates. TO BE CONTINED……………………. WRITER’S CORNER: {Welcome back everyone and thank you for reading another chapter of Beneath the Mask. When I first started writing this story, I thought I would have kept it in the detention facility, but it didn’t happen that way. Simply put, the plots were running thin and boring. I would have lost you as readers and that is why I chose to go this route. I lot happened in this chapter such as we read the first fight between Alex and Matt towards the end of the chapter. In every relationship you are going to fight. I believe if you don’t fight, something is wrong. We can’t always agree with our boyfriend, girlfriends, husbands or wife’s all the time. If you find a couple that can do that and never fights, that couple should get an award of some kind. The fight was small but you can see the little frustration Alex is starting to feel. He is getting pulled from so many people to do right. I know if someone keeps telling me the same thing over and over again it would get me angry even if they meant well. Alex knows what he needs to do and he is doing it. It is time to trust the kid. Don’t get me wrong here; this is not the beginning of the end of Alex and Matt’s relationship. They are going to be together for good and I have said that many times in the past. They are living together and seeing the pros and cons of each other and they see things they were able to hide before and now can’t. You know they love each other with all their heart by looking at the way they make love and when they are together. Let’s now move onto Carlos and what is going on there. I don’t know where to even go with this. It looks shady at the same time it doesn’t. I don’t think Carlos is working or part of the old gang because he had a hit on him before Alex got to the detention facility. It was Alex that removed the hit from Carlos. No I don’t think Carlos is doing anything wrong, but he is having some bad luck. Poor Alex needs to watch out because he now knows that he has a detective out to get him. I liked when the principal stood up for Alex. Also I liked it when Jacob walked in and told them what is what. Still Alex needs to watch his back and make sure that he doesn’t get into any trouble. I know he will stay clean, but he must stay extra clean. Alex and Matt are learning every part of the company and that is great. They need to know it that way they don’t have to depend on anyone. Give them a couple of months and they will be running the company without a problem. Steve oh Steve; what is going on in that guys mind. He needs to let things go about the curfew and other things he might find out. I liked it when Robert told him what he didn’t want to hear. Basically there is nothing he can do and if he tries it will come back to haunt him. I think Steve will let it go and come back in as a good friend to Alex. I really like it when I write about Lorenzo and Ismail because they are so young. They have so many questions and they are hungry for the answers. Lorenzo showed that in this chapter by talking with Matt while Matt was in the shower. Then he accepted Matt and told his brother Alex that. He and Ismail are so cute and adorable because of their youth. I like when we see Franseca reach out and help her children. She is a strong, tough woman and will do whatever it takes to protect her children. No one better mess around with her children or they will end up on the loosing side. All that she cares about in her life is her kids and that they have a better life than she did. Al appeared in this chapter at the end to hire Officer Jackson. Originally I had planned to write out Officer Jackson those several chapters ago when we found out he almost lost his life. Then I thought of this idea to bring him back into the stories. Officer Jackson will be in both stories; “Jacob Finding His Way” and this one. So once again here is another character that plots will open in one and continue in the other story. Since this story received a makeover in the last four or so chapters. It is going to be very exciting in the chapters to come, trust me on that. Right now, so many of the old plots in this story I keeping, has your head spinning on what is going on. As the chapters finish, you can’t wait for the next posting of the new chapter. I really thank you guys for coming back week after week, and reading my postings. I hope I will never let you guys down as far as the drama in the storylines are concerned. I don’t want to say too much more and spoil the future chapters to come, so I won’t. I warn you though! Don’t skip a chapter, or you will be lost. There is a so much to answer in the chapters to come. Keep reading the future chapters, and enjoy! Please email me and let me know how I am doing at jacobmillertex@aol.com, Thanks!} EDITOR’S CORNER: Alex and Matt had their first quarrel. I can see where Alex was getting mixed messages from Matt. I can see where Matt’s head is also. They resolved it the right way. They talked it out. Matt realizes he has to be more quietly supportive of Alex. Alex, generally, has good instincts and he has the motivations to live right. Matt needs to back off and let Alex have some wiggle room. On the other hand, Carlos seems to be a potentially dangerous wild card and Alex’s loyalty to Carlos may leave Alex and Matt vulnerable. I think we all knew that the gang influence wasn’t going to just die out. Alex needs to find a way to get Carlos channeled where he isn’t compromising their mutual safety and security. The police rounding up the gang members in the sweep will only be a temporary detour. Principal Michaels has shown to be a fair and honorable man keeping his fears about Alex and Matt at bay and letting the boys’ behavior and academic record become the proof they are no threat to his school and students. He also stood right up to the police when they started railroading Alex running on assumptions that were so left field from the facts. I was very pleased with Alex and Matt going to Jacob and Al about the security concerns. These guys are being so vigilant that nothing they touch compromises their reputation with those around them. Lorenzo and Ismail are great “warm fuzzy” factor! Their youth and innocence does for the story what kids to for real life. I could write pages on the wonder of young kids and the way that they show adults how living life should be done. Lorenzo is fast catching on to some adult concepts as he makes his observations about Alex and Matt’s relationship. He also shows that he has a backbone when he confronted Matt in the bathroom. He’s going to do what he can to protect his elder brother. I’m sure there’s going to be more fun and interesting exchanges as time goes on. Officer Jackson has gotten back to health finally. I’m glad this man didn’t suffer any permanent or debilitating damage. He proved himself to be a morally and ethically centered man. Now he’s going to go to work for Al and Jacob in what I am sure is going to be a lucrative position. He’s earned it and deserves a good break. I still wonder about Mr. Henderson and what justice will ever come his way. With all that said, I’ll say, Until next time! “Daddy” Rick
  6. The TV stayed on even after the concert ended. Chris just sat there thinking how he would have reacted if he and Josh were still together and he was in Cesar’s shoes. There would be no way he could have handled Josh bringing attention on him. On top of that, he knows he would not have sat there as Cesar did when Josh got off the stage and started singing to him as if they were the only two in the stadium. He knows he is not like Cesar, far from it. Now he can see why Josh and Cesar are suited for each other. Neither of them is weak; they are both strong. They aren’t afraid to show their love, even if that means trouble in the future and most importantly Chris saw they hold each other up. Together they are unbeatable and nothing will ever touch them or hurt them in any way. The commercial came on, bringing Chris out of his thoughts. Looking around to see if anyone was in the living room with him and when he saw no one was there, he looked over a the clock on the VCR. It is late, but not late enough for him to head to bed just yet. Since it is summer and he is not at home, he does not have to go to bed at ten as he does during the school year. Pretty much, he is able to go to bed whenever he wants. Because he does not have a bedtime, Chris has started to stay up late, and sleep in. He hasn’t made any friends yet and he does not have money to go to Disney World every day. In fact, since he has been with his foster parent’s family in California, he has only been to Disney World twice and that was the first week. Mostly he has been spending his summer in front of the television, like tonight. After going through the channels several times, Chris popped in a tape in the VCR; “Terminator 2” for the eleventh time. There is something about the movie has Chris watching it repeatedly. He loves the first movie and could not wait for the second movie to be released on video so he could buy it. Although he has seen the movie ten times already, he stayed awake through the entire movie for the eleventh time enjoying every action scene in the movie. When the credits started to roll, Chris turned off everything and headed to bed. Once his head hit the pillow, he was gone. He did not wake up again until after ten, and that was early for him. Dragging himself out of bed, Chris made his way to the bathroom to relieve his aching bladder, splash some cold water on his face, and rinse his mouth. As he started to rejoin the living, he was dressed and headed to the kitchen for breakfast. He found cold pancakes, bacon, and scrambled eggs on the table with a note near by the plate. As he stuck his plate in the microwave, Chris read the note. ‘Chris we are at church and will be doing some shopping afterwards. Don’t expect us to get home until this afternoon. We left you breakfast on the table and lunch in the refrigerator. Please get out of the house today and try to meet some of the neighborhood kids. You cannot spend the entire summer locked away from the outside world.’ Chris was about to crumble up the note when he saw on the bottom ps. ‘PS, we left you some money so you can get out of the house. While we are at the stores, I will see if any new movies came out so you can stop watching that action movie so much. You are going to wear out that poor tape. Take the money and have some fun.’ He did not see any money on the table, so he thought that maybe they forgot to leave it. Just as he started to look for it, the microwave went off. Turning around, he popped the door open and went to pull out his plate, but it was too hot. When he grabbed the dish towel from the table that was covering his food, the money went flying to the floor. Forgetting about his food for a minute, Chris picked up the money from the floor and put it back on the table. Then he grabbed his food from the microwave and sat down at the table. As he ate, he started to think what he wanted to do. He had enough to go to Disney World for the day, but he really is not in the mood to go. So instead, he decided to save it for another day to use since he was not in the mood to go to the theme park. At the same time, he was tired of staying inside the house. He wants to do more than just watch TV all summer long. By the time he finished his breakfast, he made his mind up to go outside and see if he can make friends with the neighborhood kids or at least explore the neighborhood. Back in Austin, Josh saw George, Dolly and Kenny off in the morning. All three of them told Josh if he ever wants to go on tour, he is more than welcome to join theirs. He knows he is not obligated to say yes to them, but he did, in a way, by promising if he ever goes down that road they will be the first ones he calls. They made it clear to Josh that they believe in him and they will be there if he ever needs advice or just someone to talk with. After seeing them off, Josh lazed around the rest of the day. A couple of times he tried to write a song, but could not get his head around it. Brandon saw Josh with his guitar, pen, and paper and was able to put together what he was doing. At first, he did not want to disturb him, but when he saw his brother getting frustrated with himself, he decided to see if he could help. Walking over to Josh, he sat down on the floor next to him. “Hey can I see what you have so far?” Josh looked up and handed him the notepad. Brandon looked it over several times before putting it down. “You know what I think you are doing wrong? You are trying to write a song that you don’t feel. You need to write a song that you feel here.” Brandon hit his chest several times. “What do you suggest then? I want to write for Cesar, but I just cannot seem to get the words to rhyme right. You know I love Cesar, so why cannot I get the song to work?” “Maybe you are putting too much pressure on yourself to have the first song you write to be a love song for Cesar. You should step away from that for now and just write. Write whatever comes out of you. From what I understand from Mr. Strait, a writer writes what he is feeling at the time.” Although Josh is always feeling love for Cesar, he can see that Brandon is right. Maybe he is putting too much pressure on himself to make the first song he writes a love song for Cesar. He decided to take his brothers advice and stepped back from the song he was trying to write. He just started to write whatever was coming into his mind. With help from Brandon, they started to piece together a song. The rest of the day, they sat in the corner of the room bouncing ideas off each other on where the song should go. By the time they were called in for dinner, they had a skeleton of a song. It needs a lot more work, but they are well on their way. After dinner, Josh and Brandon spent a couple more hours working on the song, but when they saw they were locked, they stopped. They joined the others in front of the TV for the rest of the evening. By eleven, everyone was fighting their sleep. They surrendered and headed off to bed at eleven-thirty. When Josh woke up the next morning, he was ready to start working on his song again, but his brothers had different plans. They wanted to spend the entire day at the pool. Since he was out voted, Josh agreed to go. After breakfast, they headed to their rooms, changed into swim trunks and headed out. At first, Josh refused to get into the fun, but Cesar was not going to let him get away with it. He went and picked Josh up and held on to him as he jumped in the pool at the deep end. When they hit the water, Cesar let go of Josh so he could swim on his own. When they both got above water, Cesar could see the anger in Josh’s face. Knowing Josh the way he does, he knew if he let him think about what just happened he would get angrier and angrier. That is not what he wanted to happen so he swam over to him, and pulled him into a kiss. They sunk under the water, but they did not break the kiss. Josh wrapped his arms around Cesar as they played tongue hockey in each other’s mouth. When they broke their kiss, they had no other choice. They ran out of air and swam back above water as quickly as they could. As they caught their breath, they looked at each other and started laughing and splashing water into each other’s face. “There is the guy I love!” Cesar said as water went into his mouth. “I knew you were there, I just needed to get you to come out. You need to stop being so serious all the time and be yourself. If you don’t, you are going to go bald and I am going to leave you if that happens.” Cesar started laughing at the face Josh made at him. “I don’t care if you lose all your hair and get wrinkly, you will always be handsome in my eyes.” Josh stopped splashing the water at Cesar and just starred at him. He could not find words that expressed what he is feeling right now. No matter how hard he tried, he could not so instead of saying it in words, Josh swam over to him and pulled him under the water as before, they started to kiss and held it longer. This time when they got above water, they found Josh’s brothers around them. “If you guys are done playing around by yourselves, why don’t you join us at the shallow end to play chicken fights? You two are a team of course. Carlos and I are a team and Brandon and Patrick are the third team.” Cesar looked at Josh to see what he thought. He nodded his head and that was that. They made their way to the shallow end and got into their teams. Since Josh was lighter, not by much, he got on Cesar’s shoulders, Brandon was on Patrick’s, and Carlos was on Daniel Jr.’s shoulders. Once everyone was settled in, they made their way to the middle of the shallow end of the pool. The fight was on. Josh and Cesar took the first blow, but were unable to push Brandon off Patrick. Before they were able to get their balance again, Josh and Cesar were hit by Carlos and Daniel, but were able to stay above water, but not the second hit. Josh actually fell back, but Cesar held on and kept Josh on his shoulders. As Cesar got Josh back up, they started laughing as they jumped right back into the fight. Heading right for Carlos, Josh and his older bother tangled it up on top and Daniel and Cesar were going at it on the bottom. They were laughing as they tried to get each other to fall into the water. Brandon and Patrick sat back at first, but seeing the opportunity, they headed into the fight. Now all six of them were going at it right there in the middle of the shallow end. Not mean or angry, they were having fun. Laughing and splashing up water as they fought to sink the other. Those that were swimming at the time got out and watched the Lopez boys have fun. Some of them actually took pictures. When Ross saw that, he went over and asked those that pulled out cameras to give him the film and put the camera away. Finally, after going at it for over ten minutes, Brandon and Patrick were the first to go down. They went charging at Josh, and Cesar just stepped to the side. Brandon put all his weight into the push and ended up pulling himself and his partner face first into the water. They came up, pushing their hair out of their faces laughing. Now it is just between Josh and his partner and Carlos and his partner. They circled each other, as fighters do in the first round of a fight. After sizing each other up, they met in the middle of the shallow area pushing. Josh and Carlos were once again going at it on top and Cesar and Daniel were going at it on the bottom. They each got in good hits, almost sinking the other, but at the end it was Josh and Cesar that won out. Somehow both Josh and Cesar pushed Carlos and Daniel at the same time, and they went falling back. Daniel let go of his younger brother’s legs as they went under the water. They came up astonished that they were actually beaten. Cesar knelt under the water, letting his boyfriend off his shoulders. When he came back up, he joined in with Josh teasing the other four. They jumped back into the water and ganged up on Josh and Cesar splashing waves of water in their face, in return Josh and Cesar returned fire. Even though they lost this battle, they had fun playing. Meanwhile the Governor was about to receive news that he had no idea was coming. His press security had the roughest press conference he has had since Governor took office. He was hit with question after question about what Josh sang and did at the concert on Saturday. Feeling he was doing a good job answering questions until he was blindsided with a question about the fan that gave an interview after the concert. “Have you had a chance to talk with the Governor about the comments one fan gave after the concert? He made it clear that if he had a chance he would get rid of all the people like Josh, the Governor’s son. How did the Governor react to hearing about the interview and what did he do, if anything, to keep his son safe?” “It always has to be you Linda throwing a question like that.” The pressroom cracked up laughing. “Being serious for a moment, the Governor is aware of that interview, but that is all I am going to say on the matter. As you know, I do not answer questions on what the Governor thinks. All of his personal thoughts are just that, personal.” “Come on, you cannot leave us with that. The Governor is known for jumping the gun when it comes down to his kids being threatened. In this case, it was a threat to his second youngest son. He had to have said something and done something once he heard the news. All we are asking is what did he say and do, not what he thinks.” As he was being asked the question again, a security agent gave him a note. The press secretary read the note before he commented on the question again. “I know you all saw I was just handed this from security.” The press secretary held up the note. “I was just informed through this note that there were several more men added to Josh’s security detail until the threat is resolved. At the same time, the Governor handed this matter over to the head of the family security. Governor Lopez felt he was too close to the issue and did not want his personal feelings clouding his judgment. From here on out, all questions concerning this issue, need to be directed to the security wing, not me or my staff. That will be all for today”. The reporters were not pleased with the answer and they showed it by demanding more information. The press secretary did not even look back once as he walked out of the pressroom. He had an appointment with the Governor and there is no way he is going to be late for it. Always Mondays around here are busy, and this one has been the worse so far. When he got to the Governor’s office, his secretary told him to go right in, the Governor is waiting for him. Straightening out his tie and jacket, the press secretary knocked on the Governor’s door and then walked in. He found the Governor on the phone, but he did acknowledge him and pointed to the seats in front of his desk. “I am sorry about that! It was my brother letting me know how everything is going with the house.” The Governor hung up his phone. “I know you have wanted to speak with me in private for several days now, but I was not free until now. What can I do for you?” “Mr. Governor I wish I was not here about to do what I am about to do. I love working here in Austin and being part of this administration. The minute you jumped into the race, I said to everyone that would listen to me that I wanted to be part of your campaign. I knew you were going to win and make a difference. When you brought me abroad as your voice of the campaign, I was honored. Then you humbled me even me when you asked me to be your press secretary. That is why this is hard for me to be sitting here telling you that I have to step down as your press secretary for personal reasons.” The way the conversation was going the Governor knew it was going to be bad news, but not this bad. He is not even past his first year and already has to face losing a top administrator. The press is going to have a field day with this no matter what the reason is that his press secretary is leaving. “Is there anything I can do to keep you here? I know you said it was personal, not another job offer, but can I do something to help you out to deal with the personal thing and stay on board as my press secretary.” Daniel looked straight into his press secretary’s eyes and knew that was nothing he could do to keep him there. “I am so sorry Mr. Governor, but I have to go back home to Florida and deal with a family emergency. It is not something that will just pull me away for a couple of weeks or months, it is going to be a long-term situation. As I said, I wish I were able to stay. I tried everything I could to make that happen, but it is all landing on me to do so I have to do it.” Daniel felt that his press secretary was being very mysterious on exactly what is going on, but he could not push for more information. Reluctantly he accepted his resignation and wished him the best of luck. He added that there would be job here from him if he ever wants to come back. That made the press secretary happy as he thanked the Governor for everything as he left the office. Daniel. Sr. asked his secretary to have Rich come down to see him as soon as he could. He did not want to lie this at his doorstep, but had no other choice but to do so. Already his plate is over flowing with to many things that he will not get to so there is no way he can take on hiring a new press secretary. Not only that, his chief-of-staff is in charge of the staff. Back in Lubbock, Texas, Johnny IV was woken up by banging of pots and pans. He looked over to his alarm clock and saw it was six after eight. Kicking the blankets off him as he stretched out his arms and legs, Johnny knew he had to get up. He knew that the noise in the kitchen is his father trying to get around without any help. Tossing his legs over the side of his single bed, Johnny grabbed his t-shirt he was wearing last night form the floor. He put it in and walked out of his room barefoot. The closer he got to the kitchen he could hear his father not cursing, but not happy talking either on under his breath. Peeking into the kitchen, he saw his father struggling to see the inside of the pan on the stove. Knowing his father, he will get angry if he tries to take over the cooking even though he is only trying to help. Johnny’s dad is a proud man. He has never depended on anyone in his life, and he will not start now, which confuses Johnny. His father is permanently now in that wheelchair and unless technology makes huge advances, he will never get out of it. His father, Johnny Walker III was in the military, under the current Governor of Texas. He was on Governor Lopez’s staff. Some said he was the Governor’s right hand man, his go to guy so to speak. Johnny the third respected the Governor so much he would follow him anywhere, even to Hell if he were asked to. When the Governor was pulled out of Iraq, Johnny III stayed with the Governor’s men. They continued on the objectives, but their new commander did not know his ass from his face. He was nothing like the Governor. He did not believe in leading by example. He handed out the orders, and sat back where it was safe as the orders were carried out. That is why no one respected the new commander. Most of the orders were changed in the field as to how the mission was going to be carried out, because the new commander had no idea what was going on since he hadn’t been out in the field. At first, they carried it out the way he wanted it, and many good men died and the objectives were not completed. Once they changed how the order was going to be carried, everything turned around. Men did not die and the objectives were successfully accomplished. The new commander found out that the way he asked his orders to be carried was being changed, he was not happy at all about it. He called in his staff and tore their heads off. One of them was Johnny III. He demanded that they are to execute his orders as written and then sent them out with the new mission. As Johnny III read the way the mission was to be executed, he knew that many good men were going to go home in a wooden box. There was no way he was going to sit by in the back as he sent his men to die so when the mission was on its way, Johnny took the lead with his men behind him. At first, everything was quiet, but that soon changed. Iraqi troops came out of nowhere and started to attack. Standing their ground, Johnny and his men opened fire, refusing to fall back. He radioed in for tanks, something he would have had in front of his men, but the new General felt it was a waste of a resources. The operator at the command center dispatched the tanks, but by the time they got to the battle, it was too late. The men were falling back, dragging their commander and several other soldiers on their backs or two soldiers were carrying a wounded soldier. Unlike the American troops, the Iraqi unit did bring tanks and used them to force Johnny and his men to retreat. Even when he saw the tanks coming over the hill, he refused to order his men to retreat. He hoped and prayed that his tanks were going to get here before the Iraqi tanks did any real damage, but he was wrong. They pinned them right off the bat and once the tanks started firing, Johnny was blown twenty feet in the air. One of the tank shells hit the ground about five feet away from Johnny, causing him to be thrown into the air. Although it did not hit him, the flying shrapnel of the shell did, right in his chest and back, knocking him out. His second in command ordered the retreat as he and another soldier went over and picked up Johnny III from the ground. When Johnny III regained consciousness, he was already in a hospital in Germany. The army doctor wasted no time giving him the bad news that several pieces of the shell that exploded in front of him hit his lower spine. As a result, he will never walk again. Johnny III refused to take that as an option, but as the days turned into weeks, and then months, and he could not move his legs at all, he became more and more bitter. Because of one bad decision made by his commander, he lost his career and his ability to walk. When he returned to the states, he was a shell of the man that left to Iraq. His wife and two children could barely recognize him. Unshaven, hair not cut in a military cut, but long and stringy and the love he had for life was gone from his face. The only thing that got Johnny III’s blood boiling was whenever he was in front of the television watching the news and seeing them pull apart his old commander or his family. There were times Johnny IV saw his father actually cursing at the TV when they were talking bad about the first family of Texas. Then one day one of the newscasters was talking about how disappointed, he and his family were with their Governor. It was not the way he was doing his job; it was him having a gay son. The newscaster called for the Governor to send his son away to a place that will make him regular. When Johnny IV saw his dad throwing a fit and almost falling out of his wheel chair yelling at what the newscaster said. He learned something new about his father that day. Just a couple years earlier, Johnny IV figured out something about himself; he is gay. At first, he thought it was just a phase, but more and more he realized he does not like girls. He only looked at boys in his grade, none of the girls. Several girls in his class this year has asked him out, but he politely turned them down. He never thought he could tell his father. Just like Josh, his father was gung ho military and thought that he father would not accept him. Then he saw how his father reacted when the newscaster was talking bad about the Governor’s gay son. Now he knows his father will accept, but he does not know how to come out to him. As he saw his father struggling with the pan on the stove, Johnny IV walked in. “Hey dad, why don’t we ever have our father and son mornings anymore? I loved it when we used to get up in the morning and let mom sleep in as we cooked breakfast. Why don’t we start that up again and make today the first one?” Johnny IV did not give his father a chance to respond. He lowered the flame on the stove before going to the refrigerator to get the eggs. Once he got everything his father needed to mix he eggs, he handed them to his father and went back to stove and before they knew it, they had breakfast on the table and were eating it. The only delay was them waiting for Johnny’s sister, Kelly. She seemed to refuse to get out of bed until their father yelled for her. Once she heard his voice echoing through the halls, she jumped out of bed and was in the kitchen in a flash. After eating and doing the dishes, Johnny IV headed out to cut his neighbor’s yard while it was still cool outside. To make a little money to help his mother out, he cuts neighbor’s yards, pulls their weeds or anything they are willing to hire him to do. There is one neighbor that pays him to come in and straighten up his house, but he thinks the old man is so lonely he just wants someone to talk to. As he headed out the door, his father yelled out to him. “Make sure you come home after doing the yard. There are things around the house that need doing and it is not fair that your sister has to do it all.” Johnny IV turned to look at his father as he was at the front door and nodded his head. Back in Austin, the boys had to head back to the mansion because Patrick had to change to go and see his therapist. He tried to get out of it, but Barbara would not allow it. She explained that he would thank her once he sees therapy is actually helping him work through all the stuff life has already thrown at him. The funny thing to that is he is not telling his therapist anything because he does not trust him. There was really only one person that Patrick trusted and told everything to, Frank. Frank was always there for him when ever his parents got angry and took it out on him. Even before they were an item, Frank was the person he would go to when things seemed to get out of control in his life. When they were younger and his parents smacked him around, Patrick would sneak out of his bedroom window and run down to Frank’s house with tears rolling from his eyes. Frank would always keep his bedroom window unlocked so Patrick could climb in whenever he needed to get away from his house. This was, again, before they became boyfriends, and even after they became boyfriends, Frank kept his window unlocked for him. Before being an item, they would just sit on the floor or on the bed and just talk. Frank’s parents knew what was going on so whenever he would crawl through the window, they would come in and make sure that Patrick’s parents hadn’t hurt him. Whenever Frank’s parents saw that Patrick was bruised up, they would immediately go over to Patrick’s house and have it out with his parents. The agreement ended the same way each time. If they hit their son again, they will be arrested, but they never called the police because Patrick always begged them not to. Reluctantly they agreed each time as long as he would always come to them whenever this happened. Of course the beatings never stopped. Whenever the beatings resulted into breaking bones, Patrick would not go down to Frank’s house, which got Frank and his parents angry. It was just that Patrick did not want to be one of those kids in foster care. He did not want to be shuffled around from one house to another and never have anything stable. The life of beatings was a lot better than that life of being in a home of people that did not like him. At least that is how Patrick saw it. The day Frank was taken from him, he not only lost his boyfriend, but he lost the very foundation in his messed up life. He no longer had any one to go to whenever his world was falling apart that would listen and not judge him. Frank was more than his lover and his boyfriend. He was the center of his world in every sense of the word. Those days, weeks and even months after Frank was killed, Patrick wanted to join him. He could not see life without his Frank. It was Josh, his family and friends that made him see there was more to live for. Yes, it is going to take time to heal, but he knows that those that were there after he lost Frank will always be there for him in the future. That’s what he wanted to tell to Josh, at least, is why he came down to him and his family when things exploded at his house this time. When he was brought home by his father, the first place he went running to was Frank’s house. When he got there, he found the window locked and that is when it hit him that Frank was gone. The only other person he could think of that he trusted enough was Josh so he caught the first plane to Austin and showed up at Josh’s front door like a little lost puppy. They took him in without a second thought. Every day since, he has wanted to tell Josh and his father everything, but each time he thought he thought he gathered enough nerve to do so, he would chicken out. Frank would pop in his mind and he felt that he was betraying him if he would let anyone else in as he did Frank. After he changed, Patrick and Barbara left, leaving Josh, his brothers and Cesar at the mansion. Rose was off getting her hair done and Daniel Sr. was at work. Neither Daniel Sr. nor Barbara wanted Patrick to go alone to the therapist, at least his first couple of months. Once he gets used to going, then he will be going alone. While Patrick was gone, Josh and Brandon went to Brandon’s room to pick up where they left off yesterday with the song they were working on. By the time Patrick got back, they pretty much had most of the song written. All there is left is putting music to the words they wrote, which Josh hopes it is a lot easier than writing the lyrics. Usually when Patrick returns from his therapist office, he goes and to his room and hides away from everyone. He does not want them to ask him any questions, on how it went which they never do when he comes out. Today was no different. When he returned, instead of going to his room, he found Josh and them in the back yard. They immediately invited him to join in to what they were doing, not asking one question about his session. The rest of the day was gone in a flash before they knew it. It was time they were getting ready for bed. Josh and Cesar started playing around while they were in the shower and continued it once they got back into their room. They did not bother to put on any clothes because they knew they would be ripping them off each other anyway. Before making it to the bed, Josh had ripped off Cesar’s towel around his waist. Cesar’s dick sprang out leaking a steady stream of pre-cum. Josh fell to his knees and took his dick full depth in his mouth before he could object. As he went down on him, Cesar tried to grab a hold of Josh’s hair, but could not because he always keeps it too short. Just as he felt he was about to peak, Cesar pulled Josh up from his knees. “I love you so much! I don’t want just a quickie. I want to make real love to you as if there is no tomorrow.” Cesar reached between their waists and pulled off Josh’s towel. Josh’s cock sprang up just as Cesar has had only moments before. “Let’s make love to each other as it supposed to be done”; Cesar whispered into Josh’s ear as his had clasped both their wet, slick cocks together and stroked them firmly. Josh put his hand between them, cupped, and massaged their meshed sacks adding to the intensity for both. As if guided by radar, the pair’s lips found the others and they swapped tongues. They have unwittingly devised a system where each tongue gets equal time doing the probing of the other’s mouth. Gently Cesar pushed Josh onto their bed. Walking between Josh’s legs, he started to kiss up and down his chest. Cesar made sure he kissed every inch of Josh’s chest, stomach as he made his way back up to his nipples. He kissed, nibbled, and sucked each nipple just as he knew Josh likes it the most. The entire time Josh moaned, feeling as if he and Cesar were in an alternate reality all by themselves. Cesar began the trip back down Josh’s torso with his tongue. As he got about half way down, he dropped to his knees beside the bed giving him better access to his mouth’s destination; Josh’s moist and steely hard cock. Stopping for a moment to lavish some attention on Josh’s navel, he probed deeply sending a different sensation of delight through Josh. Cesar could feel Josh’s entire package pressing into his chest so he moved further down tracing Josh’s happy trail with his tongue until he reached the prize. He realized Josh is already getting close enough that if he is not careful, it is going to be over before it really gets going! Cesar grasped Josh’s cock and held it so that he could lick and nibble long the shaft. He knows that the spot just behind the head on the bottom is a real hot spot for his lover so he would concentrate on licking and nibbling the tender flesh. At the same time Cesar had a hand cupping and massaging Josh’s sack along with its’ tender contents. For just a moment, Cesar took Josh’s cockhead into his mouth, tongued the head, and probed the slit. He knew better than to take his lover’s cock all the way in because he is too close to going over the edge. Cesar does not want this to be over for a while yet. Sucking just the head and tonguing the slit will keep the passion up, but if he goes all the way down on Josh, it will be too much. Cesar was content with sucking and tonguing the tip and milking the sweet pre-cum which Josh was pumping in a steady stream. Keeping his milking hand still on Josh’s cock, Cesar pulled his mouth off the sweet cockhead and he moved down to Josh’s sack. As Josh felt the hot breath on his sack, he pulled his legs up, bending his knees, placing his feet on the edge of the bed. He spread wide to give Cesar easy access to everything he might want to get to. Cesar sensed the invitation and started licking and sucking on the sweet spot just behind Josh’s sack and working back further. As he was working toward Josh’s most private place, Josh reached down putting his hands behind his knees and pulled his legs upward confirming his invitation. As he pulled his legs up, the treasure spot came into full view and Cesar’s hunger peaked. With a hand on each side of Josh’s butt, he pulled the globes apart and without hesitation, dived in to start rimming Josh with total passion and intent. Josh growled in pleasure as Cesar’s tongue hit the target and began to lick and probe the rosebud. Cesar put a finger on each side of the pucker and gently pulled, prying the orifice wider open. Josh naturally relaxed and opened up for Cesar’s tongue to get deeply inside him. The texture of Cesar’s tongue on the tender flesh was heightening Josh’s desire for what was next on the agenda! Josh felt the fingers probing and opening him wider. He concentrated on relaxing and giving full access to Cesar. When Josh knew he was fully primed and ready, he gently dropped his legs a bit. Cesar got the signal and retrieved the KY from the bedside table drawer. Josh moved back to the center of the bed and decided that he wanted to have Cesar behind him this time. He rolled over and got on his knees with them planted in a wide stance. Cesar placed a generous amount of KY on Josh’s love opening and worked it inside to ensure that there would be no undue friction. He then liberally coated his cock and climbed onto the bed behind Josh. “Baby, give me all you’ve got. I want to feel you inside me with all the power you have!” Josh toned to Cesar. Cesar, wanting to please, placed his cock tip at the opening, which was seen to be open and ready. Cesar pushed in with determination and slid in to full depth without a pause. Josh was getting what he wanted indicated by the way he pushed back helping Cesar to penetrate to full depth! One in all the way, Cesar pulled back until the crown of his cock head showed and then plunged in again to full depth. He then began long stroking at a medium pace. As soon as he felt Josh synch into his rhythm, he added speed and intensity. Within a minute he was giving Josh exactly what he wanted just how he wanted it; passionate and intense! Josh came up off his elbows a bit which changed the angle and made it so that Cesar’s cockhead was firmly hitting his hot spot on both in and out strokes. This sent waves of pleasure through Josh’s entire body; sensations that caused him to tense up and his muscles to clamp down on Cesar’s cock. The combination intensified the experience for both lovers and brought them to the peak. Cesar was not quite ready to let this end, so he slowed the pace a bit, keeping them both close, but still not over the edge. “Oh, man! FUCK! Cesar, let me CUM!” Josh called out with desperate edge to his voice. Cesar took the cue and went back to full throttle. Josh was still intensely clamped down on Cesar’s cock. As the peak was approached once again, Josh could feel Cesar cockhead swell signaling the drop over the edge was very close. Josh put all his efforts into assisting in the making it intense and clamped down even tighter. That did it for both guys. Cesar’s head snapped back as a he emitted a low, rumbling growl as he power-shot his hot cum into Josh’s love channel. As the first volley of Cesar’s hot cum hit, Josh’s insides that triggered him and his cock started shooting blast after blast of his own cum all over the bed. The mutual orgasms went on and on! Cesar was still humping deeply until the last shot of his cum was pumped. Totally spent, with perfect timing, both lovers fell forward onto the bed. Cesar was still buried to the hilt in Josh. When he started to withdraw, Josh said; “Babe, don’t…push back in and stay there. Let me just feel you inside me. Stay with me as long as you can.” Cesar gladly complied as he pushed in deeper and stayed there. Like Josh, he was relishing the feelings of their bodies being joined. After a few minutes, both boys rolled in unison off to the side, Cesar’s cock still inside Josh. Cesar wrapped his arm over Josh and held him tight. There was nothing said; nothing needed to be said. What had just happened said it all. Words would have been less than worthless. Even though Cesar was still inside Josh, they had both come back to the fringe edge of reality but were clinging to the alternate reality of lovers. Finally nature had its’ way; Cesar’s cock softened and Josh’s body gently pushed him out. The moment of separation was when reality once again had control. As Josh’s cum cooled, it make them both uncomfortable enough to want to get cleaned up and move toward sleep. Cesar was the first to speak; “Well, I guess we’d better get cleaned up before these sheets become permanently glued on us. Would you join me for a nice warm shower lover? Josh replied slowly; “Yes, if we must, and we’d better make a change of sheets or the shower will be a wasted effort.” This time the shower was longer and there was plenty of touching and kissing under the warm water, but it was just warm and sensual and not geared toward more sex. Both boys, still naked slipped into bed and snuggled up to each other. Without so much as a kiss, both feel into that deep, wonderful sleep that follows perfect lovemaking. The next morning was pretty much a rerun as the day before. The boys went swimming and then went home at the same time so Patrick could go and see his therapist. Josh and Brandon locked themselves up in Brandon’s room to work on the song. Nothing changed or came up until the mail came in. Barbara knocked on Brandon’s door asking Bandon if he knew where Josh was. He opened the door and pointed to the floor where Josh was sitting with his guitar. She thanked Brandon, walked over to Josh, and handed him a letter he got in the mail. Josh looked up at his stepmother with a confused look on his face. “I know I had the same reaction you are having now. I am pretty sure it safe for you to open it.” She tapped on the envelope. “Who do you know from Lubbock? Is one of your friends from school vacationing there over the summer?” “Not that I am aware of. I know for sure Chris is in California and Eric, well I forget where he is, but it is not Lubbock. Bernice and the others had no plans to leave El Paso at during the summer. So I don’t have the foggiest idea who is writing me from there.” Josh held the envelope in front of him and just looked at it. “You don’t have x-ray vision; at least I don’t think you do. The only way you are going to find out who wrote you is by opening the letter.” Josh nodded his head as he giggles about the x-ray vision punch his stepmother threw at him. Carefully he opened the letter and unfolded it. At first glance at it, Josh was able to figure out that it was written by a young kid, the handwriting gave it away. He started to read the letter fast, but had to stop and start over again and go slower. The letter was a personal letter asking for help, which surprised Josh. He got up from the floor, laid down his guitar against the wall and walked over to his room to be alone. It is not that he does not trust his younger brother. He is not sure what is written in the letter yet. If the writer of this letter asks him to keep the content of the letter between them, he will like to be able to be truthful with the person that he did if he’ ever asked or he writes the person back. Dear Josh, You do not know me, but I know a lot about you. I think everyone that is alive today and either has a TV or is able to read, knows who you are. You are a person that many of us younger boys struggling with who they are look up to. Thanks to you, things for the kids coming up after you will have things a lot easier. Look at me, I am getting ahead of myself here, let me start over. My name is Johnny Walker IV. I know that is weird that there are four of us with the same name, but I kind of like it. I am thirteen years old and finally got used to the fact that I am gay. Because of what you have done, I am now ready to come out to my family. I do not know exactly how they will take it, but I have a feeling that they will take it good after seeing what I have been seeing lately. The only problem I am having is how to come out to my family. Should I just blurt it out at the dinner table, like ripping off a band-aid or should I take each of my parents to the side and tell them. What do you think I should do? The other reason I am writing you is about my father. Just like you, my father was in military. In fact, my father knows your father. They came up together. My father was under your father in Iraq and on his staff when they were in the military. The only difference between your father and mine was that your father had a happier ending coming out of the military. What I mean by that is that my father stayed in Iraq after your father was pulled back home. He got hurt and lost the use of his legs. That day pretty much ended my father’s life. He is now a ghost of a man than he was before he left. I can see that he is struggling everyday being in that wheelchair. He does not want to be the person he is now. I am so afraid that one day he is just going to give up and do something bad. I love my father very much and I don’t want to lose him. I also don’t want to see him hurting the way he is hurting. I am writing you for your help Josh. I know you don’t know me and I don’t even know if you will get this letter. Simply I am out of ideas on how to help my father. He really looks up to your dad. Whenever people say something negative about him, you, or your family, he gets very angry. There are times I think he is going get so angry that he might break something or have a heart attack yelling at the table. Please I am begging you to see if you can help me out here. My father is a proud man and will not take handouts, but he will follow your father to Hell and back if asked. I know it is asking a lot of you, but you and your father are my last hope to help my dad. Help me please save my father, I am begging you. Always in your debt, Johnny Walker IV Josh has tears rolling down his face by the time he finished reading the letter. He started to pace around his room trying to figure out what he could do to help out this young kid, but he could not come up with anything. The only thing that kept popping up I his mind is his father. He knows the best person that can help in this area, and maybe the only person that can, is his father. Josh folded back up the letter, slid it in his back pocket, and walked back to Brandon’s room. He tried to pick up where he had left off at before getting the letter, but could not. His mind kept wandering back to the letter he got. All he wanted to do is help this poor kid, but he could not figure out how without the help of his father. Finally, Josh gave up trying to work on the song. His mind was just not in it. He stopped for the day and put everything away. Brandon went down looking or his brothers, but Josh stayed up in his room. He knew he was not going to be any fun to hang around with right now since he mind is on the letter. So he did not get asked a hundred times what is wrong, he decided to just stay up in his room. Right before Barbara called the boys to dinner, Cesar went up to see why Josh did not come out to join them in the backyard. They needed all the help they could muster to finish building their tree house. They know they are a little to old to have a tree house, but they wanted somewhere to go beside the stuffy rooms in the mansion to be alone. The minute Cesar walked into the room, Josh knew what was up. He put on a fake smile and pulled Cesar into a kiss. Cesar could feel that Josh was forcing it, so he broke the kiss and asked him what was up. Josh lied to his boyfriend by telling him he wanted to be alone in order to work on the song he and Brandon are writing. However, he did not spend one minute on the song once he called it quits with his younger brother. Cesar knew when Josh was lying or not telling the truth. His face wrinkles up when he lies, which gives him away. Not to embarrass him, Cesar let it go. He pulled Josh into a hug and gave him a couple of pecks on the lips when they heard Barbara calling them down for dinner. All through dinner, Josh kept looking over to his father, hoping that he did not have any meetings to go to tonight. The sooner he talks with his father, the sooner they can come up with a solution to the problem the young kid is presenting to them. As soon as dinner was over, Josh helped clear the table and do the dishes. He tried to hurry, but by the time he was finished and returned to the dinning room, his father had already left. Josh quickly walked over to the green room, but did not find him there. Then he looked in the den, but again he was not there. Leaving only one other place for him to be at this time of the evening, his office. Josh walked over to the office and leaned against the door to see if his father was talking with someone. At first, he did not hear anything, but then he heard his father’s voice. Since there were no other voices in the room, Josh figured that his father was on the phone. Just as he was about to knock, Barbara saw him at the door. “Your father is on a conference call with several other Governors. Why don’t you wait for him to finish up that call in den with your brothers?” Barbara walked over to Josh and saw that he looked worried. “Sweetie, I promise you if you don’t catch him before going to bed, I will let him know you need to talk with him. I promise that he will see you before the night is over, okay?” Josh smiled at his stepmother as he nodded his head. “Thanks Barbara and please don’t tell him I was leaning against his door. I was not spying on him or anything like that. So I don’t want him to be angry with me for being outside his door while he was on the phone.” “I know you were not spying on your father sweetie, so I will not tell him you were here. You never have to worry about me jumping to conclusions. If I think you, your brothers, Cesar or Patrick are doing something wrong; I will talk with you guys first. I will not go running to your father. But if I find out you guys were doing something wrong, I do need to let your father know so he can deal with it.” Josh understood where Barbara was coming from and agreed with her. After thanking her one more time, he headed to the den to watch TV. Every so often, he would look up at the clock to see what time it was. When it was time for them to go to bed, Josh felt bad that he did not have a chance to talk with his father. He walked to his room with Cesar, but unlike the night before when he and Cesar got into bed, he was not happy. All that he could think about is the damn letter he got in the mail, causing him to toss and turn, not able to fall asleep. About an hour after getting into bed, Josh heard a light tapping on his door and then it opened. “Josh are you still awake son?” Daniel Sr. whispered as he popped his head in. Quickly Josh leaned up in his bed, rubbing his eyes. “Yes dad I am still awake!” Not whispering, talking at his normal level as he answered his father. He crawled out of bed and walked over to his father. So they did not disturb Cesar anymore than they already have, they walked out into the hall. “Barbara told me you were looking for me because you needed to talk.” Josh realized he did not have the letter. He ran back in his room, pulled the letter out of his jeans, and rejoined his father out in the hall. “Son we need to talk in whisper so we don’t wake anyone else up. As he handed his father the letter, Josh asked him to read it. Daniel looked down at the paper and looked up with a worried look on his face. His son did not say anything else but ‘read it’. Therefore, he unfolded the letter and started to skim through it. Just like his son earlier, he stopped skimming the letter and started over reading every word. When he was done, Daniel just looked down at the floor. He had forgotten about his old friend, which he now regrets. Although he came home safe, he heard rumors about his men and how many of them were coming home either in a pine box, or like his friend in the letter, broken, unable to come to terms with how their life has changed. “I am no longer his commander per se, but I am still in the military and still a four star general. If what Johnny’s son wrote here is true, I will be having words with this guy that he will not like getting from me.” Daniel looked at the letter once more before handing it back to his son. “As far as Johnny’s dad, I will do whatever I can to make sure he gets what he needs. Knowing the guy the way I do, I will have to figure out a way to do it without it looking like I feel bad, which I do.” “Dad by the sounds of the letter, I think if you would offer him to work with you, he would jump at it. That alone I think will be best medicine anyone could give him. No one can help him walk again, but rebuilding his confidence, you can do that.” “When did you get so smart Josh?” Daniel smiled at his son as he brushed his hand across the top of his head. “I will look to see if there are any open positions in my administration that fits his background. If so, I will then go down and present the position to him, but not in the normal way. I will present it as if I need a favor from him. We military guys, maybe even women, don’t like hand outs and will not take them.” Josh understood where his father was coming from. He simply asked his father once more to see what he could do to help the guy he once served with before heading back into his room to bed. Daniel stood there in the hall watching as his son closed the door to his room, thinking to himself what he can do for his old friend. Johnny Walker III is more to Daniel than just a guy he served with. They became very good friends over the years and in return, he is willing to do what he can to help him. The only problem he is seeing right now is what can he do to help his old friend a friend that saved him several times on the battlefield! As soon as Josh’s head hit the pillow, he was out. When he woke up the next morning, he felt refreshed and good about his talk he had with his father the night before. He knows when his father gives his word he will deliver on it. He can actually sit down and write Johnny back with good news. He wrote his letter back to Johnny after breakfast, but when he looked for the return address on the envelope, there was not one. Josh flipped the envelope over to see if maybe the return address was written on the back, but it was not. Josh skimmed over the letter several times in hopes he would find the address, but he did not. Angry with himself for not checking for the return address before writing the letter, Josh folded his letter and stuck it with the letter from Johnny in his sock drawer. He quickly changed into his swim trunks and headed over to the pool to join his brothers. He had skipped going with his brothers to write the letter, but if he had known that he did not have a return address, he would have gone with his brothers. The rest of the week flew by fast. Before everyone knew it, they were in front of the television watching “TGIF”, something they started to do as a family when their mother and father divorced. Whenever Daniel Sr. was able to join the family, he would, but nothing broke this new tradition if they could help it. The weekend went even faster than the week did. The boys found themselves falling into a routine the second week after the concert. They loved going to the pool, and so they spent most of their days there. It did not cost them anything and they had fun doing it. When they got home on Monday afternoon, Josh was asked to join his father in the living room after he changed. As he changed his clothes, he thought the talk he was going to have with his father is going to be about the letter he showed his father almost a week ago, but when he walked in, he knew it was not that. “Josh, please take a seat.” Daniel looked at his son at the doorway. “You know everyone here. They came down to let us know how much money was made from the concert and how you plan to give it to Habitat for Humanity” Josh has been wondering since the day after the concert how much money was raised. He figured that once they got the total, they would let him know. The only thing they did that surprised him is that they are informing him in person. He thought the most he was going to get is a letter in the mail. “Well Josh as we were telling your father, we have finally gotten the grand total of what was raised during the concert. First, there is the proceeds from ticket sales the concert brought in. Every seat was sold out including those we put down on the field. The concert almost beat the record, but did not quite make it. You all sold one thousand, one hundred four tickets, which brought you a grand total in those sales to three million, five hundred fifty thousand two hundred and ninety five dollars.” Josh was stunned hearing that number. He knew they sold out the stadium, but he had no idea they brought in that amount in ticket sales. The majority of the tickets were only fifteen dollars, but the closer you got to the field, those tickets were a lot more. “Now that is not all Josh. The vendors made a killing in sales on that day as well. In the agreement you made with them, they have given additional one million, eight hundred, sixty six thousand, four hundred and twenty two dollars. That money has been paid to us already and is in the account for you to give to Habitat for Humanity. The eight hundred numbers brought in another one million, nine hundred, seventy-nine thousand, and three hundred and forty two dollars. If I understand correctly that money, you intend to donate to the national office. Am I right about that?” “Um yes, whatever was raised with the eight hundred numbers goes to national, but I did not think we would raise the amount of money!” Josh looked at his father for support. “Maybe what we should do is donate a good percentage of the money from the concert tickets and vendors to the Texas offices, but some as well to national. That way a lot more people can be helped by the kindness the people of Texas showed that night.” “Since you already made it clear where this money was going, you need do it that way. More than likely, those that bought the tickets and the items at the stadium will not mind you doing what you are thinking, since it is essentially going to the same place, but there are those few that will raise a stink. Always it is those few people seem to hear. If you want the same result, if not better, next year, you will need to do as you promised.” “My son just was throwing out an idea, an idea that will never leave this room. He is not the expert in these matters, you people are. You gave your opinion and he will follow it. Since he already said where each part of the money is going, it is going to go there. Now how do we go about getting it done? Do you issue out the two checks or what?” “We will transfer the funds into the two accounts and make them account for every penny they spend. They must spend the money on what the concert was all for. Now we will not go into detail here about that. In fact, we will not ever talk about that because that something we will do behind the scenes that you two do not need to be part. The only question we have is how much you want the public to know. We can release a statement on how much money was raised, but as well have a ceremony of Josh and those that came in and sang free give a huge check to Habitat for Humanity. And what I mean by huge check is not just the amount of money; it will be a big check.” The one in charge of distributing the funds to the right places stretched out his arms showing what he meant by huge. “You know like the checks you see when ever someone wins a huge jackpot and they televise it. It is a fake, but it is done to show the public that the money is being donated where it was promised to go.” Josh, his dad and the ones they put in charge of making sure the funds are accounted for talked for a few more minutes. They decided on how they are going to have a ceremony, but the only question was when since they need to talk with George, Dolly, and Kenny. However, in the mean time, they are going to release a statement informing the public how much was raised. As soon as the meeting broke, Daniel senior headed back to his office. Rich was sitting in Daniel’s office when he walked in. Not surprised to see him there he greeted Rich as he walked over to his and sat down. Neither of them said a word after their greetings. “How can I help you Rich?” Daniel looked over to his chief-of-staff. “Well sir I have been working on the thing we talked about last Wednesday. There is not any open position at this time to put Mr. Walker in, except one.” The way Rich said it, grabbed the Governor’s attention. “As you know we put the assistant press secretary in the position of press secretary, but she cannot handle it. She has already exploded twice with the press, and that we cannot have. Besides there’s the ton of other mistakes she’s made.” “Does not it take time to adjust to that position? Heck I would not want that job going out every day to the press to be torn apart. It could be that she needs a little more time to adjust to actually being the press secretary.” “I am willing to give her that, but she came into my office this morning after the briefing and asked to go back to her original position. She made it clear to it will not matter how much time we give her, she does not have the patience for the job. So instead of getting fired from a job she never wanted, she’d rather stay in the job she likes and is good at.” Daniel did not like the news, but how no other choice but to accept it. If she does not want the promotion, he nor Rich can force it on her. That though leaves them in a bad spot because now they do have to go out and find a new press secretary. The Governor prides himself on promoting from within. “So that brings us back to what I was first talking about; Mr. Walker. Do you think he would be good at the job, and if so, will he accept the job? As you said, neither you nor I want to talk with the press everyday like the person in that position does. They get beaten up on things that they did not even do.” The Governor thought about what Rich was telling him. One thing is for sure, Johnny can handle the press. Whenever things needed to be released to the press while they were deployed, Johnny was the man who talked to them. The only time Johnny was not the face of his unit was whenever he went out and gave briefing to the press, which was rare. “I really do believe Governor that Mr. Walker can be a very good press secretary, even being in a wheelchair. With his background in the military talking with the press and knowing you, well it is a perfect fit. He can basically come in and pick up the reins and start running things in the press office.” “Funny that you mentioned his experience in the military, I was just thinking about that. If you are okay with him in that position, I will get him to come onboard. You are the one in charge of the staff. I do not want you to hire someone because he was an old military friend of mine. I want you to hire the right person for each job no matter what.” “Trust me Mr. Governor, I will never hire someone because he was or is a friend of yours. Not only I am responsible for the staff and helping you run things here in Austin, I have to make sure your image is protected. It would not look good if we fill all the positions up here with your old friends so that will never happen. Mr. Walker has the experience in this field and that is why I would like him in the position.” The Governor agreed with Rich before talking about who will offer him the position. They concluded it should be the Governor since he knows how to present the job to Mr. Walker in a way he will take it. At the end of the day, they do need him and the Governor speaks ‘military’, which makes it a lot easier to get a person like Mr. Walker onboard. After doing several yards, Johnny IV made his way home. He was dead on his feet, but he knew his day was not over yet. There are still chores to do at home and help his father cook dinner, since his mother caught another shift at work. As he walked home, pulling his lawnmower behind him, Johnny could not help worry not only about his father, but his mother as well. She never worked before until his father was unable to go back to work. At first, they tried to make it on the VA check, but it was not enough to support a family of four so his mother had no other choice but to go into the work force for the first time in her life. From the moment she left high school, she was married and had kids. Johnny’s dad brought in enough money being in the military to live comfortably. That allowed Johnny’s mother to stay home and pretty much be a homemaker, something that has gone away since the forties and fifties. Once again, all that changed when his father got hurt. His mother went out looking for a job, but had to settle for several minimum wage jobs cleaning because that is all she knew being a homemaker with no work experience. To make up the difference between the money Mr. Walker made in the military and his disability pension, she worked long days, and most of the time with no days off, making everything at the house even harder to run. Tonight is no exception to the change that has occurred over the last couple of months. Johnny’s mother will not be home until late, leaving him to help preparing dinner and cleaning up the house. His father tries to do what his mother did, but he is very limited due to being in the chair. In return, it all falls on Johnny to pick up the slack since his sister is only eight; way too young to do much of anything. As soon as Johnny got to his house, he put his lawnmower, rake, and the other stuff he uses to do the yards in his back shed before going into the house. After locking the shed, he walked into the house, leaving his shoes at the back door so he did not track in dirt and grass from the yards he just did plus he does not want to clean it up. After cleaning his hands, Johnny started to pull out dinner that his mother cooked last night for them to eat this evening. As he pulled the bowls out of the refrigerator, he heard a loud bang come from his parent’s room and then his father yelling out every curse word in the book. He closed the door to the refrigerator, and went running to see what was going on with his father. At first, he debated to knock on the door, but hearing his father screaming, he just walked in. Following his father’s screams. He found him on his side by the toilet bowl, with his pants to his knees and the wheel chairs on its side. His dad looked up from the floor with a look of defeat and embarrassment in his eyes. “Don’t move anymore dad, I don’t want you to hurt yourself trying to get up.” Johnny walked over to his father and helped him move from his side to his butt. Once his father was sitting down, he was able to help get him off the floor. Little Johnny pulled his father up with all his strength and some how got him on the toilet. Not saying a word to his dad, Johnny picked up his father’s wheelchair and rolled it over to him so when he was done using the bathroom, so he could get in the chair on his own. As little Johnny walked out of the bathroom, his father mumbled a ‘thank you’ under his breath as he gathered himself from the embarrassment of his son seeing him on the floor with his pants down at his ankles. He sat there on the toilet beating himself up for letting his son see him so defenseless. Then his anger turned to the VA for not installing the things that he needs to move around his own home without depending on people. He knows once the VA gets his house handicap equipped, he will be independent once again. TO BE CONTINUED…………………. WRITER’S CORNER: Welcome back to “Shadow of My Father everyone. You just had another chapter full of twists and turns. Something you know that I like to do to keep you all on your toes plus it brings flavor to the story. In this chapter, we learned a lot more about Johnny Walker IV and his family. In the last chapter, I threw in there at the beginning a little bit about him, and then I left it alone for the concert and never went back to it. In this chapter, you learned more, and what might be in store for them in the chapters to come. First, we learned a lot more about his father, and what happened to him. What a small world this is when you know the person that is writing your son like the Governor knows Johnny’s father. He not only knows him, they came up together in the military. His dad was pretty much the Governor’s second in command and dealt with the press for him. Therefore, it would be fitting the Governor to offer Johnny’s dad the press secretary position that came open. I’d say that good timing. I am glad the Governor left it up to Rich to make the decision though. That was the only way it would look right to the voters hiring an old friend like Mr. Walker is to the Governor. We also learned about Mrs. Walker keeping her family all together. It is a life-changing event when the breadwinner of the home all of a sudden can no longer be the breadwinner. Someone had to step up to bring in the money and the only one that could be that person was Mrs. Walker. Even though she could only be hired in the cleaning field, she did not complain or refuse to take the job, as some people would have. Now we know what the letter is all about that was mailed in the last chapter. The letter was sent to Josh and I really like seeing how Josh handled it. Man, he has grown up a lot and I cannot wait to see him as a man. He would be a perfect father and a perfect life-mate to Cesar. I really hope that is what happens as he gets out of high school and college. The boys like to go swimming. It seems they like to spend more time in the water than above water. I wonder if they are part fish or something. We got to see Josh once again being playful, like he should be at his age. He, his brothers, Cesar and Patrick played chicken fights in the water and just had fun acting their age. We learned something new about Patrick in this chapter. Ever since Frank was taken away, we have been getting to learn a lot more about Patrick. In this chapter we got to see what held him together trough the years of abuse was Frank. It was Frank that was there for him, and when Frank was killed, Patrick lost his only person that held him up. I am glad that Patrick did not go through with joining Frank. This world is a lesser place when a person takes his or her own life, even in this fictional world where Patrick lives. Barbara showed once again what type of person she is and will be as the boys’ stepmother. She is going to be there, but when they screw up, she will allow Daniel Sr. to handle the punishment, which is as it should be. I really hope Josh told his brothers that their stepmother told him, just to put their minds at rest if they had any lingering doubts about her. After all, she is going to split her time between Austin and El Paso when the boys go back to school. The song writing seems to be moving along. What I like seeing here is the relationship between Josh and Brandon. These two are really close and can work on anything without getting into a fight. With help from Brandon, Josh almost has his first song written. All he has to do is put the music to the lyrics. I don’t know about you but I cannot wait to see what they came up with. So much happened in this chapter, I am sure I forgot to talk about something here in this corner. If I did, I hope Rick catches it and covers it in his corner. I know there is a sex scene in this chapter, but I did not cover it because it is not written yet so Rick will take care of that also in his corner since he is the one that is writing the sex scenes. I could stay here all day long, with all the open plots already in this story, but I will not. I warn you though! Do not skip a chapter, or you will be lost. There is a so much to answer in the chapters to come. Keep reading the future chapters, and enjoy! Please email me and let me know how I am doing at jacob@jacobmillertex.com , Thanks!} EDITOR’S CORNER: Chris made an appearance in this chapter. It would appear that the example Josh embodies is making an impact on him. He is beginning to see that standing up without apology, as his own man is not going to bring disaster upon him. He has also seen the light as far as how incompatible he and Josh were as a couple. They were an oil and water mix. He clearly sees the rightness of Josh and Cesar as a couple. It seems the concert was a smashing success no matter what measure you apply to it. Tons of money was raised for a very good and noble cause. I cannot wait to see how the HFH folks thank Josh for his efforts on their organization’s behalf. I am sure that the organization has never seen the likes of the single fundraising event that raised so much pure cash! I am sure that in-kind donations are up there too, but now the national and local offices have some serious cash resources to further their work. The stars left Josh with invitations to join each of them on their respective tours at any time. I hope that Josh will take a slight detour in his life and at least give that a shot. I cannot see him just ignoring such a chance. One thing I would suggest to him would be that he has his first album of music together before he goes out on tour. That would be a true measure of his popularity with the public. The two Johnny Walkers are going to bring some interest to the story! Josh getting the letter from Johnny IV was interesting and then the Governor realizing whom the man was the letter talked about was a treasured friend and compatriot from his military days. Johnny IV showed incredible love and devotion toward his father, taking up his cause. He had no idea if his letter would reach Josh or that he would act on it. His was a leap of pure faith. It was a blow to the Governor and Rich when the Press Secretary abruptly resigned. They were faced with case of being handed lemons and needing to make them into lemonade. I hope that Johnny III will clean up his act, get his head on straight, and accept the job he is going to be offered. By the way, JPG where did that plot line about the reasons for the Press Secretary come from. Sounds incredibly like a yarn I heard woven in real life somewhere. Until next time, “Daddy” Rick
  7. Al looked up to see Joe standing at the door of his office. He waived him in as he gathered the files on his desk to give his secretary to file. Once he organized his desk, he walked around and joined Joe in the chairs in front of his desk. Al didn't want Joe to feel as if he were talking at him or down to him since, for the majority of his life, had been the one sitting on that side of the desk, as the one in charge. “Thank you for coming in so early in the morning Joe. I have a lot going on this morning, so forgive me if I seem to be in a rush. As soon as I am done here, I am heading down to help Dewayne settle in on his first day. As of today, he and my son officially own all the Seven-Elevens here in El Paso. They are very nervous about taking this on.” “No problem Mr. Serna; let me know what you want me to do and I will do it.” Major Moore pulled out a notebook to take notes. “I Know I need to learn the business from the ground up in order to train others to be in the stores. In order for me to be good at that, I need to get my hands dirty, as they say.” “Well first we don’t even know what we have as far as staff is concern with the Seven-Elevens. Of course, the employees at the stores will be there, but with office staff, we don’t know who is coming over. As far as I know they had one of their stores as the training store and we are going to take that away.” “Under new ownership there is bound to be changes. If anyone thought that things are going to be the same when your son and Dewayne took over, well they are in for a shock. I don’t care in the Army or here in the private sector, when you get a new owner or leader things change and you just have to go with the flow.” “I truly hope they understand that and if they don’t they can take the door because it swings both directions. What I would like you to do for now is come with me and meet up with Dewayne. You two can go to the stores and see what we have out there. Dewayne is young and so is my son; they need someone to help them that has life experiences. I know you are hired as the trainer, but that doesn’t suit you. Right now, I can use you more with Dewayne and Tony. They are not going to get the respect they deserve unless you help the staff see that no matter their age, they are the bosses. You guys learn the business together and at the same time give Dewayne and Tony lessons of leadership like you did with my grandson. After they get comfortable with their positions, you will stay on as Vice President of Operations of the Seven-Elevens. You will help Dewayne and Tony run the every day business of their stores. They are the owners, but I want you onboard with them because of your experience in leadership. They need a strong person in the ranks to help them get to the point they can make the hard decisions like firings. They're teenagers that have never had to do that and you have been through that in your life.” “I am honored that you and Jacob believe in me to get this job done and I won’t let you or Jacob down.” Major Moore closed his notebook. “I will help Dewayne and Tony as much as I can to get to the point of making the hard decisions. At the same time I will keep in mind that they are my bosses and I won't over step that line.” “Yes they are your bosses, but they will be looking up to you for leadership. Help them see their errors in private and when out in the stores, still show that they are the bosses. If you do that, Dewayne and Tony will learn so much from you that I can’t teach them. I just have my plate full right now and you are the man I am turning to for help.” Al and Joe walked out of the office and met Dewayne on the floor where the offices of the Seven-Elevens were going to be. The first thing Al did when they met up with Dewayne was to let him know what he did with Major Moore. Not only did Dewayne accept that Joe was going to be on the team, but loved the idea. He felt that now, with someone with Joe’s background, things would move along smoother. “Okay I’ll leave you two to get down to business. Remember Dewayne this is your company and the quicker you, Tony and your vice president get out there and show them you guys are the owners and bosses, the quicker you can get control of things. Don’t be afraid to make an example if you are not being respected like you should.” Al headed back to his office, leaving Dewayne and Joe to make plans. “I think what we should do is spend the morning going to as many stores as possible. We don’t have to worry about gas because we can fill up at the stores when we need to. Then we can come back and start hiring office staff because by the looks of it none of the office staff decided to come to work for the new ownership.” “Maybe they have no idea where the new offices are. Why don’t we check downstairs and see if there are people just wondering around. Remember your offices are not set up yet. All they know is the building address, but not the floor. They maybe as nervous as we are. We however can’t show that we are nervous. We are in charge and no matter if we make the wrong decisions, they are right because again we are in charge. We will learn as we go. No matter what, we will make mistakes on the way.” Dewayne agreed and walked with Joe to the elevator with his head up high. Joe liked seeing that in his boss. That he wouldn't show fear even though he was terrified. When they got to the main floor, they found a group of people just standing in the lobby. Just like Joe had said, they look terrified of being in a new place. Once Dewayne and Joe confirmed their suspicions, they took their staff up to the new offices. Before heading back out to visit a couple of stores, Dewayne was told by the secretary, that they needed to get things from the old office. As a result, Dewayne and Joe decided to take several of the employees to the old office to get everything. When the bell rang, Chase walked out and right into Ethan in the hall. Ethan looked over at Chase and smiled. Something about that smile of Ethan’s made Chase feel weird feelings in his body. He looked away trying to figure out what was going on with him. The more he tried to ignore what he was feeling, the more the feelings got stronger. Just when Chase started to talk, David and Tom walked up. Right away Chase started to get into their conversation in hopes that the weird feelings he was feeling would go away. But when he reached his second period, it was worse. Not only were the feelings still there, but Chase felt even worse because he didn’t get a chance to talk with Ethan. David and Tom let Chase and their other classmates walk in as they stood in the corner of the hall. Tom grabbed a hold of David and pulled him close into himself. They stood looking into each other's eyes, not doing a thing. Tom started to lick his lips back and forth, causing David to giggle as he did it. “You know I have missed being with you David? We are acting like old married couple already and we are not. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with that because I love being with you no matter if we are fooling around or not. Still I want to be with you, I mean with you, so bad that it hurts. It's time that we do something and I mean tonight.” “Tonight, after everyone heads to their rooms, we will be together. No matter how tired I am or you are from school and work, we will be together. The only thing I want is that we don’t think too much, into how we are going to do it. When a person plans things like that, it normally fails because something doesn’t go according to plan.” Tom nodded his head, kissed David on the lips and started to run to class. David laughed and cussed at Tom all the way into the classroom, causing those already sitting down to look at them. Both Tom and David ignored them and made their way to their seats. It wasn't any news to anyone at school, that Tom and David were an item, so it shouldn’t have shocked them when they showed the affection they had for each other. Chase just looked at Tom and David and wondered when he would get that again. It had been way too long since he had felt the love of another. Yes, the break up with Linda still hurt. It was not so much that he had lost Linda; it was more because of the loss of their baby. A baby's life that would have been part of his since Jacob and Joey were going to adopt it. Halfway through the second period, Jacob got called out of class to the attendance office. As he made his way to the office, he really didn’t think much about why he had been called down. All he thought was that they needed more documentation from his doctor for missing the three days of school last week. He was surprised when he walked up to the office to see Dewayne standing there. Pulling Dewayne into the bathroom, Jacob started to kiss him. No matter what Dewayne wore, Jacob found him to be very hot. He had a body that fit whatever he put on, no matter if it was shorts, jeans or dress clothes; it all fit him well. Although, Jacob loved him best naked. “What are you doing here Dewayne? Is everything okay at work?” Dewayne had to put his fingers over Jacob’s mouth in order to get him to stop asking questions. “I have a big favor to ask you. Feel free to say no since you’ve done so much for me already.” Jacob just stared at Dewayne wondering even more, what was going on with him. “We needed to move things from the old Seven-Eleven offices to our new offices downtown. Joe didn't have a truck, so I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind me using your's . I know you lending me your car is a lot already, but….” “There's no need to even ask me this Dewayne and stop calling it, 'my car' and 'my truck'. We are together, and what I have is yours and what you have is mine.” Jacob squeezed Dewayne’s butt, causing him to jump. “Just park the car where the truck is so I can find it when I am heading home.” Dewayne kissed Jacob several times as he said thank you, over and over again. As he went down the fourth time, another student walked into the bathroom. They smiled at the student, but the student just looked at them with disgust in his face. Dewayne had to pull Jacob out of the bathroom in order to save the kid from him. Jacob gave Dewayne the keys to the truck, but didn’t need Dewayne to come back to give him the keys for the car. Although Dewayne didn’t carry a set a keys for both vehicles, even after Jacob asked him to do so several times, Jacob did. It was just for occasions like these or if somehow the other set got locked inside or lost. During lunch, Jacob saw Chase looking over at Ethan. The look in Chase’s face was a look he had seen before. It was the look he used to have when he looked at Linda; when they first got together. A look he himself had on his face whenever he was around Dewayne. It was a look of love and that struck Jacob weird, because Chase wasn't like him. Leaving that alone, Jacob decided to find out more about Ethan! They really haven’t had a chance to talk since they met. Even if his best friend was like him, he wanted to make sure Ethan was like him before Chase threw himself out there and got hurt. Jacob knew that his best friend couldn't take another hit when he wasn't even over Linda yet. Jacob moved over to Ethan and leaned in. “Hey there, can you and I talk in private before lunch is over?” Ethan looked over at Jacob with a worried look in his face. “Oh no, don’t worry it isn’t anything bad. I just wanted to get to know you a bit better and make sure that you are cool about certain things.” “Sure, why don’t we go somewhere now and talk? I know that everyone takes their cues from you and it was just a matter of time before you and I had a chat. Just do me a favor, if you don’t like me, let me be the bad guy here.” “You are getting me all wrong Ethan. If I didn’t like you, I would have already told you. There is one thing I am very proud of and that is my ability to read people. When I see someone, I don’t usually even have to talk to them; I can tell if we could be friends. The way a person walks and presents themselves, tells a lot about a person’s character. The day I met you, I didn’t get a bad feeling about you, so don’t worry.” They got up, excused themselves and walked out. Chase sat there watching as Jacob and Ethan walked out wondering what was going on. The only thought that kept crossing his mind as they walk out was that Jacob saw something that he didn't like about Ethan. He wanted to follow them and find out, but he knew the others would get suspicious. When they reached the stairwell, Ethan leaned against the wall. As Jacob leaned against the other wall, he looked Ethan up and down trying to measure him up. He could see why Chase would be looking at him the way he was, the guy was hot. Not as hot as his Dewayne, but he was hot. Still Jacob was confused about what was going on with his friend. Again, Jacob pushed that out of his mind and got down to business. “By now you know that David, Tom, Dewayne and I are gay. It took a long time for me to come to grips with being gay and if you can’t handle having friends that are openly gay, you should leave this circle of friends before you do or say something wrong that might cause more problems in the long haul.” “Look I don’t care about all that Jacob, truly I don’t. You guys are great and have shown me more respect than any of the others have in this school. Ever since I transferred in, I have been treated like crap. Back home my group of friends and I were those that ruled the school. Still we never treated anyone like crap like they have done to me here.” “Yeah Chase told me how he met you. I'm sorry that you got to see the negative side that this school has to offer before you got to see the good in it. Chase also told me what happened that caused you and your family to move here. Later we can talk about how I might be able to help your family in that area. For now, I want to get to know Ethan, the real Ethan. Not the guy you want to be, but the guy you are.” Ethan slid down the wall and didn’t stop until his butt hit the floor. He stretched his long legs out, causing his pants to pull up his legs, showing Jacob how muscular they were. As Jacob looked, he couldn’t help but wonder why Ethan would take the punishment from the other kids when he was obviously a very strong kid from all that farm work. “I don’t know where to start because I don’t know what you are searching for. You already know that I grew up on a farm and my family recently lost it. I'm not used to a big school like this because the high school I came from wasn’t even half the size of this one. So of course, everything here is new to me, from the way people group up to the way people dress. Things that I never cared about, I have to suddenly care about now. Back home we all hung out at lunch. No matter if you were a jock or a nerd, we all hung out. No one cared about the way the other dressed. Most of us lived on farms and headed to school right after morning chores. So we all wore the same thing I'm wearing now and no one cared. All we cared about was hanging out and just having good old fun like you guys had last weekend at your house. Don’t even get me started on this city, because I'm lost the minute I leave my house. Before I met Chase and you guys, I stayed in my house all the time. Your party was the first party I had been to since I moved here. In fact, it is the first time I had left my house besides going to school, the store or helping my dad make some money doing odd jobs around the neighborhood. I don’t smoke, drink or do drugs. I really don’t party because I never did at home. There was too much work to do on the farm, there was no time left over to party. My family is big; most families in farm towns are. I have five older brothers and sisters, plus two younger brothers. With a family that size, my parents don’t have time to spend with each one of us. We know what we are supposed to do to help the household and we do it.” “Wow, I never thought there were huge families like that anymore in this country. Now I know big families are still alive and well in farm towns, not in big cities. At least with a huge family your father didn’t have to hire out help to run the farm.” Ethan looked at Jacob and started to laugh. “You know before meeting Chase and then Chase introducing me to you guys, I thought I was alone. What I have heard about big cities is true. Everything is more open and no one really knows your business unless you tell them. Back home, everyone knew everything about everyone. I really started to hate that.” “You think we are a big city, you haven’t seen anything yet. Go down to Dallas, Austin or San Antonio and see if you can get around in those cities. Put aside the bigger cities like New York that are not even in this state. Just like you, I moved up here from a smaller city. I was originally from Cheyenne, Wyoming.” “Now that is small compared to here. Were you open down there as you are here? I mean since where you are from is more like where I am from, they couldn’t be as accepting of gays like here, you know being stuck with the mind set of the forties and all.” “No I wasn’t open down there because when we lived there, I was still in elementary school. I kind of knew I was gay, but not a hundred percent. I also didn't think being here was going to be easy being gay. We live in the Bible Belt and man do I have stories to tell you, but that's for another time when we have more of it. I have a question for you and you don’t have to answer if it makes you uncomfortable. First, let me make it clear this isn’t for me, because I’m head over heels, deeply in love with my boyfriend and Tom and David have been together for a while. Those guys have been through a lot and are still together. I am asking for another friend that sees something, but isn’t sure if he's reading things right. Do you date girls or guys?” “Wow, you're right. That's a question that would make anyone uncomfortable. I had a girlfriend back home, but when we moved, I had to break up with her. With that said, I have to say I have been forcing back feelings I have been having about other guys since it wasn't at all accepted back home. What I mean is that you didn't see same sex couples like here. The few that had the guts to show themselves were run out of town.” “Okay you have me lost here. You date girls and that’s it? Or you have dated girls because that is what the norm was back home, but you like guys? Again you don’t have to answer if this really makes you uncomfortable.” “No that's okay, I'll answer it. Something about you makes me want to open up and let you in. Don’t know what it is, but I know I can trust you. All I have dated is girls, but I think, I mean I know I like guys. Right now, I don’t know if I just like guys or I like guys and girls. Its just when I am around certain guys my insides comes alive. I know you know what I am talking about Jacob.” Jacob looked at his watch. “Look we better catch up with the others before they start thinking I killed you and buried somewhere here in the school. Plus I need to pop my head in at the ROTC building before lunch is over. Oh, to hell with popping my head in over there. I want to hang with my friends and have some fun.” Jacob got up and helped Ethan up from the floor. “Listen, I won’t push you one way or another with what you are going through. I have been where you are right now and know what you are feeling. There are so many thoughts going through your mind from how you act on the feelings to if you act on them, how your family will respond. I'm here whenever you need someone to talk to. No matter what it is, I'll try and help you through it.” “Can I ask you about the guy you were asking on behalf of, about me? What I mean is, is he cute, will I like him and will he like me? I know you don’t know me really well, but can you at least tell me who he is?” “First let me tell you I know he likes you. You can see it in his face no matter how much he tries to hide it. Now as far as me telling you his name, I will need to get his permission. Do you want me to tell him that you are willing to go out?” Ethan stopped walking and just looked at Jacob. “He's cute and a very good guy. There's nothing you'll have to worry about; he's like me, friendly, and if you two hit it off, you'll make it together.” “Find out if he wants to go out with me. If he does, get his permission to tell me who he is. If he refuses, try to talk him into coming to me and telling me what’s up. At the same time, tell him that I want this to stay between him, you and me. No one else can find out about it, or I'm dead. In order to make sure that doesn’t happen; I'll have to deny that this or any other conversation ever took place.” Jacob agreed as they walked out to the meet the others. Once they reached the gang, Jacob couldn’t help looking at Ethan and seeing himself in him; the way he was his freshman year! Jacob could see that he had come a long way from then and still had a long way to go. He still didn't show the love he had for Dewayne in public. Chase felt relieved when Ethan and Jacob rejoined them. Every minute that they were gone, made him worry about what was going on. Knowing his friend, he knew he wasn’t going to do anything to make Ethan feel bad. There was something that they needed to talk about in private, and if he and the others needed to know what it was about, Jacob will tell them. After the bell rang, and everyone parted ways to their lockers, Chase kept looking at Ethan. At one point Chase got caught, but played it off. At least he thought he played it off where Ethan didn’t think anything bad about him. Ethan on the other hand started to put one and one together, and thought that maybe Chase was the guy that Jacob was talking about. During fifth period ROTC, Jacob noticed that nothing really had changed with Colonel Pigeon in charge. It confirmed that it didn't matter who sat in the SAI chair, they all had to follow the same training schedules. The only ones that would see the difference was those on the battalion staff and all the officers. “I am starting to really dislike that guy. He thinks he can miss all that school and come back in and not have to explain why he wasn’t here last week. He has another think coming after I get Colonel Pigeon to wring his neck.” “Who are you talking about and why do you need Colonel Pigeon to wring his neck. If there is a cadet that needs to be dealt with, you deal with that cadet. After all, you're the company commander. If you can’t handle the duties of that position and need to go and have our SAI do your job, maybe we need to look at finding someone else more suitable for the position.” “Alejandro Garcia, that dumb gangster shouldn’t even be in this class. Major Moore didn’t want him here and I'm pretty sure once Colonel Pigeon knows about him, he won’t want him here either. He missed almost all week last week and then came in here and told me that he couldn't march for a couple weeks, screw that.” “Did he show you a doctor’s note that stated that he couldn't march?” The company commander handed the note to Jacob. “There you have it then, you can’t make him march when his doctor made it clear that he isn't permitted. Now, as far as him not belonging in this class, you better check that attitude. Everyone is given a chance here and doesn’t get looked at any differently unless they give us a reason to do so.” “He has Jacob; he doesn’t want to tell me why he missed. Plus this note could be a fake. He is the type of person that would do something like that, in order to get away with things. He thinks he's dealing with someone stupid and he isn’t” “You two come in here and let me see that note.” Colonel Pigeon looked at the note several times. “I don’t know if this note is fake or not, but we must give him the benefit of the doubt. I will call the doctor that signed this note and make sure it is real. As far as knowing where he was, if it was one or two days is one thing, but he missed most of last week. We can’t have cadets ditching this class.” Jacob got up and looked at the company commander. “Please get up and get out of this office.” Both Colonel Pigeon and company commander looked at Jacob. “Will you please get up and leave this office. I need to talk with Colonel Pigeon without you present. Once I am done, I will have words with you.” The company commander got up, unsure, but left the office. “Don’t fall in the same trap that Major Moore did. You need to believe in the cadet until the cadet has shown you that you can’t. You both are great instructors, but you forget the things that you taught us. How can we learn when you're not willing to follow what you teach? Alex missed last week because he did something that most people wouldn’t even think of doing. I wouldn’t be standing here if he hadn't donated one of his kidneys to me. So I am not about to stand around and let little punks like that company commander talk bad about my friend. Neither should you, not because of what he did for me, but because he hasn’t shown you that you couldn't trust him.” Colonel Pigeon folded the note back up and handed it to Jacob. “When you're right, you're right Jacob. You're so different since the first day I met you. Back then, you were afraid of your own shadow and now you're willing to stand toe to toe with me when you know you are in the right. That is what I want; leaders that will stand up and lead, not follow. I had no plans to call the doctor nor go and ask Alejandro where he was. First, it isn’t any of my business. If the attendance office excused him, I don't have the right to ask him where he was. And second, I really wanted to see if you had it in you to stand up to me and tell me that I was wrong or would you just sit there and take it. You and I have a lot to catch up on. We met when you were barely beginning and you never worked with me as an officer. I need to find out how the officers are in this battalion; whether they lead or follow. You showed me you are, in fact, the kind of officer that I knew you would become. Now that the test is over, it's time to get down to the business of running this battalion. When you talk with the company commander you sent out, be nice, yet firm. What is going on in the leadership of this battalion was shown and taught by the other instructors. They were not taught wrong overnight and it can’t be corrected overnight.” Jacob agreed and walked out of the office. He sat down with the company commander and handed him Alex’s doctor's note to give back to Alex. Before letting the cadet go, Jacob made it clear that he needed to change his thinking; not only about Alex, but all the cadets under his command. Until they have shown that they lied or can’t be trusted, the benefit of the doubt must be given. After work, the guys headed home. As they walked in the door, Franseca started to warm up dinner for them. Tom came running down the stairs and joined David and the guys in the kitchen. He didn’t eat earlier because he wanted to eat with David, even though he got home several hours before they did, since football practice got out early. Alex also joined the guys at the dinner table. He didn’t go to work either because of the doctor's orders. Because Alex couldn't go to work, he felt that he was letting Ron down. He had promised Ron that he would cover Tom’s shifts since Tom had to go to football practice. Now they were both out and Ron was down one guy on the floor. When they finished eating, the guys headed over to join Jacob and Dewayne in front of the television, all except David and Tom. They snuck upstairs before anyone noticed. Even after they left, no one noticed them gone. They all sat down in front of the TV and didn’t much care what was going on around them. David walked into the room to find that Tom put his time to good use while he was at home. The lights were off, but candles lit up the room from the door to the bed. The bedding looked like black silk, brand new. David couldn’t believe what he saw. He turned to look Tom in the eyes to see if what he was seeing was true, but all he could see was Tom’s eyes glittering with the light from the candles on the floor. “I love you David and there is nothing I wouldn’t do for you. This last year I know has been very hard on you. Even after the way I treated you, you took me back, all the way to what had happened to you that ugly night. I want you to know that you mean everything to me. Without you, I would be nothing and I need you to know that. This big dumb jock that stands before you is putty whenever you are around.” David pulled Tom into him and held him tight. “Not matter what you think Tom; you never have to show me that you love me.” David started to hit Tom’s chest softly. “I can feel how your heart beats whenever we are together and that's all I need. That tells me that you love me, and I love you.” David pulled Tom’s hand from his side and placed it over his heart to feel it's beat. Neither of them said another word. They slowly made their way to the bed, holding tightly on to each other. When they reached the bed, Tom gently laid David down. He fell to his knees and placed his hand again on David’s chest. Slowly he moved his hand down David’s chest, then to his stomach and stopped at David’s waist. Then he made his way back up to David’s chest again. Tom got off of his knees, walked between David’s legs and slowly leaned down until their lips touched. At first, Tom pecked David’s lips, licked them and then pressed his lips against David’s again. This time David opened his mouth, letting Tom’s tongue enter. Tom did the same thing for David, and they both let each other in. Neither wanted to let the other go, they lay on the bed, kissing each other as if they had never kissed each other before. Tom broke the kiss and got up from the bed. He pulled off his shirt, shoes and socks before he pulled David off of the bed. Not letting David work, Tom unbuttoned David’s shirt, slid it off his shoulders before pulling his t-shirt off too. Tom gently laid David back on the bed and took off his socks and shoes. David slapped Tom’s hand away from his belt, because he wanted to take Tom's jeans off of him. He finished undoing his belt, pulled it off, and unbuttoned the first button of Tom’s 501s. Grabbing both flaps of Tom’s jeans; David pulled them apart, making sure that he undid every button. Then he slowly slid Tom’s jeans down his thick thighs and calves letting them fall to the floor. David lifted Tom’s right leg, pulled off the pant leg, and did the same thing to the left. As David tossed Tom’s pants to the corner of the room, he put his hand in the waistband of Tom’s boxers. Before removing Tom’s underwear, David could see that his dick was fighting to get free. Just as he started to pull down Tom’s underwear, Tom’s dick jumped out of the boxers through the pee hole. David licked his lips as he finished pulling off Tom’s underwear. Just as David reached out to take Tom’s dick into his hand, Tom lifted him off the bed, turned him around and sat down, leaving David standing. Not waiting for David’s reaction, Tom started to undo David’s belt, pulling it off and throwing it where David threw his pants. Then he unbuttoned David’s pants, undid his zipper and pulled them down noticing his nicely defined legs. After getting David out of his pants, Tom threw them over to the corner of the room. Slowly, teasing David’s sensitive dick, Tom pulled down David’s underwear, and just like him, David’s dick jumped out. Tom pulled David into him as he fell onto the bed. David leaned in and started kissing Tom as Tom wrapped his arms around David to bring him in even closer. Their naked bodies rubbed against each other as their hard dicks stuck up between their legs. Every time that they rubbed against each other, their dicks would jump and leak more pre-cum. “I want to have sex with you David. I want you inside me so bad, I can’t wait any longer.” Tom reached down and pointed David’s dick at his hole. David spread Tom’s legs until he could see Tom’s hole. Then he bent down and started to lick around Tom’s hole, causing Tom to moan in pure lust. Once David felt that Tom was nice and relaxed; open and ready for what came next. The KY was laid out and handy. David liberally lubed his cock and Tom’s hole, making sure he worked the KY in deep. He then put Tom’s muscular legs over his shoulders. Slowly he leaned forward until his dick touched Tom’s hole! Gently, David pushed his dick in until it penetrated. He hesitated momentarily for Tom to adjust to its presence and then kept going until his dick was fully in. As David let Tom adjust to having his dick in him, David started to kiss him. He didn’t start to pull back until he got the all clear from Tom. Tom lightly tapped David’s butt, letting him know that he was ready. Not breaking the kiss, David started to pull out and just as the tip of his dick was about to come out, he pushed back into Tom. They both wanted to be with each other as long as they could, so they didn’t rush. David slowly went in and out of Tom, not breaking the kiss the entire time. Their sweaty bodies kept hitting as David went in, making a low slapping sound as their wet skin touched. But no matter how hard they tried to keep themselves from shooting, they couldn’t resist it when they hit their climax. Every time David went in, his dick hit Tom’s magic button, causing Tom to get closer and closer to shooting his load. When David started to feel that he was close himself, he wanted to pull out, but knew he wouldn’t make it. He pushed his dick into Tom’s tight hole and just as he reached Tom’s prostate, he started to shoot. With the force that David was shooting and hitting Tom’s prostate, Tom started to shoot his load. The first shots flew over his head and then the shots started to make their way down Tom’s face, chest and finally the last shots hit his stomach. The entire time while Tom shot his load, David unloaded inside Tom’s butt. When David finished shooting, he fell onto Tom’s chest. His dick started to soften and slipped out of Tom’s butt. Not saying a word, they just laid there on the bed, kissing each other as if there was no tomorrow. Not caring if they ran out of oxygen, they just want to be with each other, so neither of them came up for air for several minutes. Finally, Tom broke the kiss, needing to catch his breath. David rolled off of him and started to scoop up the cum that was now on his chest and stomach. After getting all the cum that was on his chest and stomach, David licked the remaining cum off of Tom’s body, causing Tom’s dick to get hard when David licked around his chest. Looking down at the hardened member, Tom begged him not to. Against his better judgment, David didn’t go down on Tom. Instead, he moved back up to Tom’s face and lay at his side. They pressed their naked, sweaty bodies together and just held on to each other. Not moving, they went to sleep in each other's arms. Their naked bodies were there on display for anyone to see should they would walk into the room. The next morning, Jacob ran all over his room trying to put together his uniform. He and Dewayne had fallen asleep the night before and he didn’t put his uniform together. That was unlike Jacob and now he was paying the price! Dewayne felt bad for Jacob and helped him the best he could by shinning Jacob’s shoes for him. To Jacob’s surprise, Dewayne shined his shoes better than he did. Once he put his uniform back together, he pulled Dewayne into the shower where they could at least shower together. Jacob wanted to do more, but they just didn’t have the time. So Jacob and Dewayne had to stick their hard members into their underwear and wait until they would have another chance to really be together. Before leaving, Jacob checked with Dewayne to see if he needed the truck. Dewayne felt good when Jacob asked him if he needed to use ‘our’ truck instead of saying ‘my’ truck. He said no, and kissed Jacob good bye as he grabbed the keys to the car. Just as Jacob and the guys drove out of the driveway, Dewayne pulled out as well. He needed to be in the office early, because yesterday he and Joe didn’t get much done outside the office. Between packing up the stuff in the old office and moving it into the new one, they didn’t have time to do anything else. In fact, they didn’t have time to really put things away in the new office yesterday and by five, they let the staff go to avoid paying the overtime. As Dewayne drove up, Joe had already parked and was getting out of his car. Joe waited for Dewayne so they could go up together. After getting out of his car, Joe and Dewayne greeted each other as they went into the building. “Dewayne, on my way home yesterday I visited several of the stores. I don’t even know where to begin because I don’t know what to be looking for. One thing is for sure, we need to work on the customer service and speed. There were two on duty, but only one was running the register in both stores. That led me to believe that this is the procedure in this company.” “You, Tony and I will be rewriting the store procedures. Whatever the procedures were under the old ownership will no longer be the standing rules. We will look at the franchise rules as we make up the procedures in order to make sure we are not breaking any company rules. Beyond that, we won’t base our procedures off of the old ownership.” Joe agreed with Dewayne and separated from him once they got off on their floor. They agreed to meet up again at eight and head out to visit stores. In the meantime, they want to try and set up their own offices. The quicker they got themselves settled in, the more time they could spend out in the stores. Dewayne knew they he couldn’t set up his office like he did his room when he lived at home. No matter how much he wanted to put posters on the wall, he needed to keep it professional looking. Even in Jacob's and his room, they didn't have posters on the walls. For one thing, they liked different music and the other reason was that they were hardly ever in the room. When they did spend time in there, besides sleeping, was when they were having sex. It seemed to Dewayne, that every five minutes someone would walk in and ask him a question. He didn’t show his frustration, but he couldn’t help but think that they should know where things basically went. Yes, it was a new office, but set it up like the old office. When the secretary walked in, Dewayne had had enough. “In the old office, didn’t you guys have an office manager? I am sure that the old owners were not there all day and there had to be someone you guys could go to when you had questions.” Dewayne put down the hammer he was using to nail pictures to the wall. “Yes sir we did, but since we are under new ownership we figured you were going to bring in your own office manager.” “Who was the office manager under the old ownership?” “I was sir, but I am not here to ask for that position.” The secretary looked at Dewayne nervously waiting for his answer. “Sit down please and let's talk for a few minutes. The next couples of weeks are going to be bumpy as it is, and without leadership in the office it will be worse. The other owner and I are going to be busy; we don’t have time to run the office. In fact, the other owner will only be here in the evenings, meaning that everything falls on my shoulders or the shoulders of the vice president of operations. With that said, Tony, Joe and I have no plans to remove anyone from the positions they had under the old ownership. The only way that is going to happen will be if a person shows us they should not be in that position. You need to go out there and be the office manager, because that is who you are.” Just then, Joe walked into Dewayne’s office. “I agree with Dewayne on everything he just said. You are in charge of the office just as you were before. Make everything run smoothly so Dewayne, Tom or I don't have to micromanage everything. If there is something we want to change as far as how you are running things, we will tell you. Other than that, just do what you normally do.” “Okay, my main concern is the employee files. I didn’t like having them in the lobby behind me in the old office and that was where they were placing them here. Anyone can walk in and take a look at anyone’s files. To make matters worse, the filing cabinets don’t lock anymore so I can’t secure the files when I leave at night.” Joe walked around Dewayne’s desk to look at the floor plan of their floor. He agreed with the secretary that those files shouldn't be in the open and in unlocked filing cabinets. There was way too much personal information in them and if they fell into other peoples hands, the company could be sued. Dewayne got up and walked out of the office. Joe and the secretary followed him down the hall to a room that was locked. After trying a few keys, Dewayne found the key that unlocked the door and they walked in. It was a perfect size for a filing room. It was secure and only a few would have access to the room. “For now, move the filing cabinets into this room. I will get you a key and the only other people that will have a key to this room will be me, Joe and Tony. Before the week is out, I will make sure we buy new filing cabinets that lock. Employee files need to be secure no matter if they work for us right now or not.” Joe made sure the door was unlocked as they walked out. He instructed the secretary to lock up the room once the employee files were moved in there. She agreed as she made her way back to the front of the office. Dewayne and Joe grabbed their coats and headed out to visit as many stores as possible before the morning was up. Ethan’s father watched his son as he waited patiently for his friends to pick him up. He really didn’t like the idea of his son being picked up in a fancy truck, but he was glad that his son was making friends finally. It started to worry him when his son would come home every day after school and just sit in his seat in the living room all evening long, not having friends to hang out with. The change he had seen in his son since he started making friends had made Mr. Critchfield happy. Out of all his kids, Ethan worried Mr. Critchfield the most. He could see that Ethan was different. In fact, he had already figured out that his son may not like girls and that was really fine with him. As long as his son was happy was all that mattered to him. Two of his sons were married already, as was one of his daughters. They had happiness in their lives and that was what he wanted in Ethan’s life. Happiness that only a wife or husband could give the other. Mr. Critchfield didn't want his son to marry a woman and live an unhappy life or to grow old alone. All the way to school, Ethan tried to see if Chase was looking at him, like he caught Chase doing yesterday. Trying his best not to get caught himself made it even harder! He couldn't move his head to look over at Chase, so he was only left with looking out the corner of his eye. By doing that, he really couldn't see much of what was going on. “Hey Ethan, Chase was telling me that your father's looking for a job. Why don’t you tell him to go to this address?” Jacob handed Ethan a paper. “Have him go to the top floor and ask for Alfred Serna, my grandfather. I already told him about you and your father and he is waiting for a visit from him. There is no doubt in my mind that we can find something for your father to do in the company.” “That's really nice of you Jacob! Thank you! I know that my father will want to thank you as well. Now we only have to worry about my brothers and me, getting a job. It's hard finding a job here since we only have experience working on a family farm. That really doesn’t help us much. Plus, me being in school and all, I'm thinking about dropping out to help my family money wise.” “Don’t do that; just do what we are all doing. Matt and I own a print shop and we go down and work there after school. We need several more workers in the evening shift. Why don’t you just come down and work with us? That way you can stay in school, get a diploma and go places once you get out of high school.” “Man I really don’t know what to say to you guys, I really don’t.” Ethan stuttered as he tried to convey his thoughts. “Just tell me when and where and I'll be there. I will do whatever needs to be done. As long as I have a way to bring money into the house to help out my family, that's all that matters to me.” Alex explained to Ethan where to meet after school as they drove into the parking lot. On the way to the cafeteria, Alex finished telling Ethan he didn't have to worry about a ride to and from work or not getting his full forty hours. He also told Ethan to send his brothers down to the same address, but to go to the basement and ask for Ron. They would get a job the minute they walk in the doors. While they talked about the jobs, Ethan forgot all about trying to catch Chase looking at him. If he wouldn't have forgotten, he would have caught Chase several times, sneaking peeks at him. Chase knew it wasn't right, so he told himself the minute he got a chance; he was going to go out and ask the very first girl that gave him the time of day. The minute they finished breakfast and walked out to the field, Chase saw a girl looking at him. It was a girl he knew had been asking around about him. Chase excused himself from the group and headed over to the group of girls. The rest of the guys continued talking as if Chase was still with them. Every so often Ethan looked over where Chase was at and realized that he was wrong about him. Chase wasn't the guy that Jacob was talking about yesterday. In fact, Chase was straight and by the looks of it, was only interested in girls. As Ethan turned his attention back to the others, he thanked his lucky stars that he didn’t make a move on him. “I know you don’t know much about us, but Chase is between girlfriends. Maybe you two can get together and find girlfriends together.” Tom leaned in and whispered in Ethan’s ear. “You being new here and Chase losing a baby, you both would help each other out with getting girlfriends. You know, kinda be each other’s wingman when it came down to getting the babes to go out with you.” “Chase got his girlfriend pregnant?” Ethan didn’t mean to yell, but he was surprised with what Tom just had just said. “I'm sorry; I didn’t know that Chase was going to be a father. What happened to the baby, if you don’t mind me asking? He has never mentioned anything about a baby or his girlfriend.” “No, of course not. Everyone knows the story, it isn’t a secret. The long and short of it is Chase and his last girlfriend, Linda, got pregnant. She didn’t believe in abortion, but neither of them could take care of a child. So Jacob and his ex were going to adopt the baby, but she had a miscarriage. They were very close to having the baby and I think that is why it is taking Chase a lot longer to get back into things in the dating world.” “Wow, I would have never thought that of Chase. I mean Chase strikes me as a person with everything together. Never in a million years would I have thought that Chase not only lost his baby, but at the same time his girlfriend. Losing the baby must have taken a lot out of them since they aren't together anymore.” “No they were broken up way before they lost the baby. She was a control freak and didn’t like the fact that Chase’s best friend was gay. At first it looked like she was okay with it, but over time she told Chase she didn’t like Jacob. It got to the point it was either her or Jacob. Chase wasn’t about to lose a friendship like Jacob's so he left her.” Ethan just stood there listening to Tom as he told him the story about Chase and Linda. As he listened, it got confirmed to him that Chase wasn't gay. In fact, he was as straight as they come. The same thought kept going through his mind, that he was lucky that he didn’t act on what he thought he saw in Chase. Now he wanted to know more than ever, who Jacob was talking about. Ethan rejoined the group with Tom and started looking around. For sure, it couldn't be Tom, David or Chase. It also couldn't be Jacob, because he was really happy with Dewayne. The only one left was Tony, but it couldn't be him. He was way too young and weird because of the fact he was Jacob’s uncle. Maybe not by blood, but he was still the son of Jacob’s grandfather! After looking everyone over several times, Ethan gave up. There was no way any of them could be the one that Jacob was talking about. Then it dawned on Ethan, there were a few guys missing right now, Alex, Matt, Carlos, Steven and Robert. But it couldn't be any of them because four of them are couples and the other had a girlfriend. Just then, Chase walked up with a defeated look on his face. “It looks like you had no luck with the girls you were just talking to. Maybe you'll have better luck next time.” Ethan swallowed nervously, hoping he didn’t over step with Chase. “I waited too long to ask her out. For months, she has been giving me hints that she liked me, but I never acted on them. Now that I did, I come to find out that she is dating someone. To top it off, they just barely started dating. That really maked it worse because if I went to her last week, it would have been a different story.” “Hey don’t worry about things like that. Maybe she isn’t the right girl for you. There was something you saw or felt that kept you from asking her out. So don’t beat yourself up on it, just move on. There's always a reason why things don’t work out.” Chase smiled at Ethan as he slapped him on the back. The bell rang cutting their conversation short. Because of that, they decided to pick up their conversation during lunch. Both Chase and Ethan walked into the building chatting about other things except about what they were talking about before the bell. The minute Ethan broke off from the group, instead of going straight to first period class; he went to the pay phones. He called home to give his father and brother the information that Jacob and Alex told him this morning. Due to the time, Ethan cut the conversation short with his father in order to get to class on time. The day flew by and before Jacob knew it, he was making his way to his truck. He found Ethan nervously waiting for Alex and the others. By the way he stood there looking straight out to nowhere. Jacob’s heart went out to Ethan. This guy was lost and he couldn't even hide that fact. Jacob really wanted to help Ethan more than he was. Jacob walked up to Ethan. “Hey what are you around, six two?” Ethan nodded his head. “The reason I'm asking is, you and I are almost the same size. The only difference is that it looks like you have more muscle on you than I do.” “By the looks of it, we are both the same size as far as muscle. I got like this by working on my family farm every day. Now if I want to keep it, I will need to get some weights to work out with. I hear that it looks ugly when muscle turns to fat.” Jacob laughed as he laid his book bag down. “You can come down any time you want and use the brand new weight room we just built at the house. I would also like to give you something before you go off with Alex and the guys. I have boxes of clothes that I had planned to give to the church, but if you want them, you can have them.” “Why are you guys being so nice to me? I mean I've never been treated this way by anyone, more so a group of people. There's nothing my family or I could offer you guys. You guys have everything that you will probably ever need. You have a nice huge house, nice cars and businesses that you own. They aren’t your parents; you guys own them.” “I have been where you are now and in many ways, I’m still there. Look around you. We aren't part of the popular groups in this school. We are more the outsiders, than insiders, if you really look at it. The group of friends you are part of, have more gay couples than any other group here. That makes our group more toxic than any other group out there. We not only live in Texas, but in the Bible belt to boot. I've been lucky in so many ways Ethan; I want to help those that I can. You are not a charity case and never think that. You are part of a group that looks out for each other. Whenever one of us needs a helping hand, the entire group comes out to help without the need to ask. Your family just moved here, had a run of bad luck and I just want to help where I can. Those clothes are going to go to someone so why not to you?” “It seems that all I have been saying to you today is thank you, but thank you again Jacob. I will take whatever you give me. What I don’t use, my brothers might be able to use. It's great being part of this group. Out of all the group of friends I could have fallen into, I am glad it was this one. I belong here because of who I am.” “Good, it looks like the guys are coming finally.” Jacob pointed to Alex and the others as they made their way to them. “It is about time you showed up. I know you are the bosses, but come on; you need to set the example. Don’t show up to work too late, or you might have to fire yourselves; especially if it becomes an ongoing thing.” Everyone laughed as they looked at Alex and Matt. “Hey since you are running late, let me at least take you guys home. That way it will save you at least the walking time you would have used walking home.” No one objected to Jacob’s offer. They all walked over to the truck and got in. As soon as they got home, Ethan went up to Jacob’s room while the others put away their book bags and got whatever they need for work. Jacob noticed, on the way up to his room, that Ethan looked even more nervous than he was before at school. Not looking back to see if Ethan came in the room, Jacob went to his closet and started to pull out the boxes he was telling Ethan about. When he took the first box out to the bed, He noticed Ethan standing at the door. Jacob waved Ethan in and started to pull out jeans and shirts from the box. Jacob handed Ethan a couple pairs of jeans and shirts as he pointed to the bathroom. Ethan quickly changed into the jeans and walked out of the bathroom. No surprise to Jacob, the jeans fit Ethan just fine. Although Ethan was taller than he was, Jacob bought his jeans longer than he should, because he always worried that he might not be done growing yet. The only problem Jacob saw was that the jeans fit Ethan a little snug in certain areas, but not tight to the point that a person could see his package or think the jeans were painted on. “What do you think Ethan? Lengthwise they fit perfectly, but at the waist, they look like they might be a little tight. Don’t worry about saying that you won’t be able to use them.” “No Jacob they are just fine. Believe it or not, they're not tight on my waist at all. In fact, they fit me perfectly all away around. If you still want to give me the clothes that you don’t want, I'll take them and use them. These are very nice jeans and there isn’t a thing wrong with them. I would be a fool to say no to clothes that are this good.” “Good, why don’t you take this box own to Alex’s SUV while I pull out the other two boxes? That way, when Alex drops you off at your house, you can take them in.” Ethan smiled as he put on one of the shirts Jacob had in the box. “Look at me not even asking if you are planning to go with Alex and the others. Are you going to start working with the guys tonight or were you planning to go home?” “No I plan to go with Alex and the others. I already told my dad that I planned to start working tonight, and he gave me permission. So don’t worry, you didn’t assume anything incorrectly. And again Jacob, thank you so much for everything you and the others are doing for me and my family. It is a lot of help now that we truly need.” As politely as he could, Jacob told Ethan that there was no need to keep thanking him and the guys. It was the least they could do for all the good they have right now in their lives. Still no matter what Jacob said Ethan felt that it was right for him to thank them for everything. It’s just how he was brought up. After helping Ethan load the boxes in Alex’s car, Jacob headed back upstairs to get out of his uniform. He felt lucky that he didn’t get inspected today. If he had, there was no way he would have passed, at least not at his standards for wearing the uniform. Plus, Colonel Pigeon was way too busy with his first inspection day; he didn’t bother with his battalion staff. He was more interested in making sure the companies could pass inspection. As soon as Tony arrived at the office, he asked Dewayne if they could stop in at some of their stores instead of working in the office. Dewayne had no problem with that. In fact, he wanted to use this chance to show what he had learned from Joe. That way, Tony knew the same things he knew so far about running things. Their first store they stopped at, Dewayne got gas. He didn’t like the idea that the cashier opened the pump without asking for payment. By doing that, the cashier was running a high chance of having someone pump their gas and take off without paying. So Dewayne decided to pump his gas and pull away from the pump and park behind the building to see how the cashier reacted to that happening. Both Dewayne and Tony couldn’t believe that the cashier didn’t even notice that a customer had pumped and drove off. They made a note to check out the loss this store was reporting on gas runs. By the looks of it, it had to be a huge amount. They walked in and acted like customers to see how the cashier treated them and how fast they got out of the store once they got in line. Just like Joe told Dewayne this morning, there were two on duty, but only one was running a register. Because of that, it was taking way too long to get customers out the door. While being rung up, Dewayne decided to test the cashier. “I might be wrong on this, but I saw someone speed out of here from your gas pumps. Did they fuel up and take off without paying for their gas?” The cashier looked over to another machine and realized what has happened. “No, everyone has paid for their gas, but thank you for letting me know. There have been gas runs in the past and it happens a lot, during our rushes most of the time.” After paying for his stuff, Dewayne looked at the cashier to see what he did. Once he rang up everyone in the store, he pulled the other employee to the side. By the looks of it, the other employee was a manager because he wasn’t happy with the cashier. Instead of pulling him to the back to talk with his employee, he talked with him on the floor. To make it worse, he talked loud enough for everyone to hear in the store. Dewayne and Tony approached the two employees. “Hello, my name is Dewayne Sheppard and this is Tony L. Serna. We are the new owners of the Seven-Elevens and I was the one that was fueling up at the pump and didn’t pay. Can we go to the back where we can talk out of ear shot of the customers?” “With all due respect, you guys are just kids. There is no way you are the new owners of this store. No there is no way I am going to let you guys go anywhere except with the police. What you did is against the law and I'm calling the police on you guys for trying to steal gas from this store.” Before Dewayne or Tony could say anything to the manager, he walked up front and picked up the phone. The next thing they heard was the guy telling whoever was on the other line to send cops down because they had robbers in the store and hung of the phone. He walked back over with a big smile across his face. This is one thing he hadn't run into yet. When he and Joe went out to the stores earlier and did the same thing, the managers didn’t question them when they came in and confronted them. Not only did this guy not believe Dewayne and Tony, he had just called the police on them. Dewayne turned to Tony and told him to go out to the pay phone and call Al to come down here. “You better think twice before you continue doing what you are doing. When the police come, they won’t be leaving with me or Tony. The main office sent out a memo to all stores letting you guys know who your new owners were. You need to go back to where ever you keep your memos and read that memo.” “Anyone could have found out the new names of the new owners and come in here pretending to be them. Just to get us to the back of the store and rob us. I won’t allow little kids to come in here and trick me into a robbery. When the police come, try to sell your story to them and see what happens. You should not have come back after getting away with stealing the gas.” Dewayne decided not to try and talk with this guy anymore. No matter what he said, the manager refused to hear what he was saying. Dewayne headed back to the front of the store to wait for whoever arrived first. No matter what happened, he will need Al to be here in order for the police not to take him and Tony in for stealing gas. Just as a police cruiser pulled up, Joe arrived as well. He got out of his car and walked up to where Dewayne and Tony were standing. After getting the full story, Joe couldn’t help but laugh. It wasn’t out of disrespect to the guys, but because they were looked at as kids trying to rob the store. The officers and manager walked up Dewayne, Tony and Joe. “The store manager of this store told us that you pumped gas and tried to take off without paying. Then you tried to say that you own the store and you wanted to talk with them in the back out of the view of the customers. I have to agree with the manager, you are kids trying to get away with stealing and when you got caught you tried to lie your way out of it.” “Officer, my name is Joe R. Moore, the Vice President of Operations of the Seven-Elevens.” Joe pulled out paper work from his briefcase and handed it to the officers. “As you can see I am telling the truth and these two are the owners of the Seven-Elevens. First I want you to apologize to these two for calling them thieves.” The officer handed Joe back his paperwork. “I am sorry Mr. Serna and Mr. Sheppard. This is the first time we have ever met teenagers as owners of a company like this.” The officers turned towards the manager. “Since they are actually the owners, there is no need for us to be here. In the future, ask for proof before calling us out here like this.” “Now you have a problem for trying to have the new owners arrested. If you would have done what Dewayne told you to do, you would not look as bad as you do. The memo that was sent out not only gives you the names of the new owners and higher ups, but it has our pictures on it as well! We have given ourselves away, but still you guys seem to make stupid mistakes when we visit the stores.” “I, um, I, I really don’t know what to say. You are right I should have gone back and looked at the memo to see if you were telling the truth. I know it is no excuse, but I really thought you were trying to pull my leg and rob my store.” “This won’t be talked about in the parking lot of this store. Tomorrow morning you will need to report to the main office and speak with either Mr. Sheppard or Mr. Moore. I won’t be in the office, but they will let me know what they did to make sure that a message is sent loud and clear to the other stores to read their memos. If you had just read your memo, you would not be in this spot that you are in now.” Tony looked at Dewayne and Joe. They both agreed with Tony and headed back to their cars. The store manager walked back into his store not knowing what to expect tomorrow from the new owners. He just tried to get them arrested, that doesn’t bode well for him no matter how you slice the cake. Before leaving, the guys thanked Joe for coming down and pulling their butts out of the fire. Joe just laughed as he told him no problem. He explained that he was leaving the office when Al was running out the door. Since he was the vice president, it was his job to come down whenever there is a problem. Still Dewayne and Tony thanked him before they parted ways. All the way home, Dewayne thought about what had just happened. They are young and managers of these stores were not going to believe them when they walked in and say that they were the new owners. Hopefully this wouldn't happen again, but they needed to be prepared just in case they were questioned again in the future. Joe was not always going to be with them when they visited their own stores like today. TO BE CONTINUED………… WRITER’S CORNER: {What a chapter full of suspense and intrigue. It only covered a couple of days, nothing new for this story, but a lot did happen in this chapter. I have laid down a lot of ground work for the chapters to come. Don’t think something a plot is going one direction, because I will throw something in there that will change the direction of a plot. Let’s start out where we should, the beginning of the chapter. Now in the last couple of chapters we found out that Major Moore retired, but got hired by Jacob. At first he got hired as the trainer, but Al sees Joe in a different role and placed him there. I agree with Al this position he gave Joe suits him a lot better than trainer. You learned a lot about Ethan in this chapter. From the talk he had with Jacob to the next morning in the view of his father. First let’s talk a little about the talk that happened between Jacob and Ethan. Jacob went into that talk because he figured out something about Chase that Chase himself hasn’t told anyone. In fact Chase is fighting it every step of the way. Why? Who knows, but we will find out in the chapters to come. Now in that talk, Jacob did find out a lot about Ethan. He has a huge family in a small house. Also they are really struggling to make ends meet. That is nothing new right now in the US. And the most important thing we found out about Ethan is the fact he believes that he is gay. The only reason he hasn’t acted on it is because of the small community where he came from. Everyone knows what everyone is doing at all times. Also we found out that Ethan’s father and mother have pretty much figured out their son and they don’t care. All they care about is that he is happy. Too many times kids try to be what their parents want them to be no matter if it makes them unhappy. This is not what Ethan’s parents want from their kids. They just want all their kids to be happy. Finally in this chapter we got to read about Tom and David. These two love each other; just look how they made love. In all my other love scenes, I just had them go right into the act of love making. Never before have had I written out a scene like the one in this chapter. Tom has learned from his mistakes and doesn’t want to ever lose David again. Chase might lose what might be his true love if he doesn’t stop fighting what he is feeling. I don’t know yet if this is going to be true love for either of the two, but one thing is certain is if Chase doesn’t stop throwing mixed signals he won’t only lose the girl he was setting for but Ethan as well. This is assuming that is if Chase is bi or gay. That will be answered in the chapters to come. Poor Al, he is so busy he can’t get the time to help out Dewayne and Tony. I know that Al wants to, but he has already too many balls in the air. But don’t think if Dewayne and Tony run into a problem Al won’t be there. Just look at the end of the chapter. The minute Tony called him; he was running out to help them out when he found Joe. As always I can go on and on about the open plots in the story! If I do that, I can actually write several more chapters. There are so many plots that can take a turn at anytime. You might think it is going to go one way, but is lands up going another. Do not miss out on anything, or you will be kicking yourself for it. I keep saying over and over again don’t forget about Chase. He will be spending time between two of my stories. I am giving that away, but look for him in Beneath the Mask. He is going to come back full and what is happening in his life will stun you. There is a so much to answer in the chapters to come. Stick around and keep reading the future chapters, and enjoy! Please email me and let me know how I am doing at jacobmillertex@aol.com, Thanks!} EDITOR’S CORNER: This chapter was loaded, as Jacob stated in his comments. Yes it only covered a short time, but it was filled with events. Chase is going through a personal hell right now. He’s torn between what he feels and what he thinks and believes. At this point he can’t grasp his attraction to Ethan and what it means. He’s in denial, but the denial isn’t real deep. Both Chase and Ethan are “good souls” and would find they would make an excellent couple if they both get off the hump. I’m sure our esteemed author has it all mapped out in his mind! Jacob has it right. When you are a “have” it is your moral obligation to give back. I honestly don’t know many wealthy people that believe that yet I know there are some because of the philanthropic organizations and foundations. I’ve just not been in contact with them personally. I’m definitely not a “have”! David and Tom made love the way it should be when two people are in love. It wasn’t rushed, yet it was filled with passion. It was paced to make sure it didn’t end too fast. I’m glad that those two finally got it going the right direction. They are so good for each other that it would have been totally sad had they not successfully worked through their issues. It seems that Joe Moore is adjusting well to being a civilian. I hope that his experience will help Dewayne and Tony get their Seven-Elevens headed in the right direction and that they will become very profitable. I often wondered what the reaction of the staff in the stores would be to their very young bosses. Now we saw a glimpse of it. This isn’t too different than when Jacob first started walking into the McDonalds as a new owner. The word will get around. Yes, they are going to have to make examples of some idiot employees to get the focus and attention of the employees as a whole. I see a lot of openings for a great deal of fun and excitement coming in future chapters of all the stories. As Jacob said, keep those e-mails coming and let him know your thoughts and ideas for plot lines. You never know when YOUR idea will be used! “Daddy” Rick
  8. Harold wanted to get into the office early due to the fact that Dominic had a court hearing set first thing in the morning. He isn’t the judge on the case; he just wants to make sure the ball isn’t dropped again. So in order for him to sit in that hearing, he scheduled his hearing to start two hours earlier than normal. As soon as he walked into the doors of his office, he knew this wasn’t going to be a good day. The look on his secretary’s face told him. Before he could even put his coat on the coat rack, she started out negative. Harold asked her to let him at least get his coffee before she delivers him any news, no matter good or bad. Once he got his coffee, he let his secretary gave him the news. “As I was saying sir, before I left last night I got a call from the zoning board. They wanted to talk with you, but you had already left for the day. They needed to tell you that your permits to join two houses didn’t go through. They quoted these laws before hanging up.” The secretary handed Harold a paper with the law numbers that doesn’t allow Joey to join the houses together. He walked over to the law books and pulled them out. As he looked each of them up, he saw they were right. There is no way Joey can join the houses in that neighborhood together. The main reason, it is set for historical buildings. When that happens, the owners of the houses or buildings cannot change them at all. Now he has to figure out a way to tell Joey. He walked over to his desk, looked at the clock and picked up the phone. It rang a couple of times before Helen picked up. They talked for a few minutes before Harold asked for Joey. As she called him to the phone, Harold tried to put together an easy way to tell him that he needs to find somewhere else to put his shelter or do it for fewer kids. Joey got on the line all chipper, which changed. “Joey I have no other way to say this than to just say it. I had a message waiting for me when I walked into the office. The message is from the zoning committee. They are not going to allow you to join the houses together. Their main issue is that you live in an historical community. That alone doesn’t allow you to change one thing to the houses.” “I don’t understand what you are saying Harold. I thought if the person owns the house or houses, he can do what ever he wanted to do with them. But here you are telling me that I cannot even paint my house without talking to the city. That is wrong and shouldn’t be allowed.” “I will not lie to you Joey, I was for this plan. Yes you have to get permission to do any changes to a house or business that is part of the historical part of a neighborhood. The reason for that is that the properties need to look the same as they did when they were first built. That hurts you for what you want to do, but the others in the neighborhood, the value of their homes are a lot more because of this law.” “I wish I knew that this law was in place for the neighborhood where I bought my house. Now I own two houses in the same neighborhood. What am I going to do with two damn houses? I have no need for two houses. I needed them to be one house for what I have planned. By themselves, they are worthless to me.” “I understand your frustration. We will figure out something, I promise. For now you need to get to school and I need to start my hearings. When I get home, we will talk some more. Until then, don’t say or do anything that you cannot correct or take back.” Joey promised, and thanked Harold for the call. As soon as he got off the phone, Caleb grabbed his hand. Joey leaned against the wall, as Caleb talked in a soft soothing voice. Just the way Caleb talked put Joey at ease. After a few minutes of talking, Joey settled down and was ready to head out. The breakfast bunch grew from the normal six to eleven. They are now taking the entire table, which it didn’t bother anyone since no one sat at the table with them. As they sat there talking, Joey looked at Angelo, trying to figure out if he should tell him and the others about the bad news he just got. When they started laughing, Joey decided not to. He figured his day was messed up, so why should he mess up theirs. They seem happy and at ease for the first time since he met them. Plus if he tells them, it is something he cannot take back. After all he did promise Harold that he will not do or say something that he cannot take back, at least until they talk again this evening. Out of no where, a young kid appeared in front of the table. It pulled Joey out of his thoughts because he didn’t see him walking up. All the other guys at the table also stopped talking and just starred at the kid. “Um, Joey, the colonel needs to see you.” That was the only thing the kid said before walking off. Joey looked at the guys and then back to his tray. He has never been summoned before to the SAI’S office, not until now. He got up and told Caleb he will see him at the lockers before first period, and then walked off. When he arrived at the ROTC room, Joey walked over to Colonel Chandler’s office. He passed the young kid on the way and took a double look at him. He looks like a junior high school kid, not one that goes to high school. He has no facial hair, peach fuzz on his arms and when he talked to him in the cafeteria, his voice cracked. Once he reached the colonel’s office he knocked. He heard Colonel Chandler call him in. Slowly he opened the door and walked in. The colonel waived him over to the seat in front of his desk. Not saying a word, Joey walked over and sat down. Since he was the one that was called in, he will wait for Colonel Chandler to speak first. “Good morning Joey, how are you?” Joey replied fine. “The reason I called you over is to tell you that starting tomorrow you will be wearing the lieutenant colonel rank instead of your major rank.” Colonel Chandler handed Joey the two diamonds. Joey, not understanding what is going on, took them anyways. “I do this every year at this time. The out going battalion commander starts to introduce the incoming battalion commander. In order for the other cadets to know it is not a prank, the battalion staff gets promoted. Now that doesn’t mean though you take over the positions. You will still run the same positions you are running now.” Joey looked down at his new rank, lost for words. “Look Joey, I know this is a lot to lay at your door step with you just coming back and all. But you are my battalion commander next year; you need to get use to that. Plus the returning cadets need to get use to that as well. Again I don’t want you to worry that this adds more duties on you, because it doesn’t. All it does is ensures your placement for next year.” “Well, this is different to say the least. At my old school we had no idea if we were going to be promoted to officers until the next year. We all knew who was going to be the battalion staff, but the promotions didn’t take affect until the next year. The only time that changed is, well never. I think what happened this year at my old school is rare.” Colonel Chandler asked Joey what he meant. He went into detail on what had happened to Jacob. At the beginning of the year, he wasn’t the battalion commander. The battalion commander got brigade commander then the XO got promoted. He went on to tell the story what had happened. Colonel Chandler couldn’t believe it, but he has heard it happening to other schools. They talked a little longer before Colonel Chandler let him go. All the way to his and Caleb’s locker, Joey was very chipper. He couldn’t believe the day started out with bad news, but then this. It kind of makes everything better for now. He knows he still has to worry about the house mess, but for now he is going to enjoy this moment. Harold hated days like today that are filled with pleas. A lot of these guys he knows he will see here again. So at times he feels that he is talking to a wall when he warns them. Still he does it anyways, hoping that he is wrong. He was going through his cases at a steady speed until several police offices busted through his doors with several people. Harold was angry that they were as noisy as they came crashing through. When the officers didn’t settle down and wait their turn, Harold had enough and slammed down his gabble. “Officers I do not like it when people come barging into my court making all kinds of noise like you guys are doing. The court is in session and you will respect that. Do I make myself clear or should I hold you in contempt of court?” “No sir, you do make yourself clear. We were instructed to bring these individuals up to your court room. They are some of the remaining parents that abandoned their kids that we didn’t find the first time. All we need is you to sign off on the warrants and set bail so we can book them down in county.” Harold looked at the three couples standing before him. One couple was nicely dressed, looking like they just came back from a vacation on a beach some where. The other couple looks as if they were pulled out of bed. And the final couple, they look like they were found in a bar passed out in their own vomit. “Ladies and gentlemen, do you understand why you are before me today?” The couples shook their heads no. “You are being arrested under child neglect laws of this state. By you putting your child into the camp you put them in, you are as much guilty as the ones that were running that camp. Everything they did to your kid, you will be charged with also. You knew what was going on, because you signed off on it to be done.” One by one they stood before Harold and explained why they did what they did. None of their excuses made any head way with Harold. In fact the more they talked, the worse they are making it for themselves. Even those in the courtroom were stunned by their reasons for doing what they did. When the last one talked, Harold threw the book at them. He gave them the highest bond he could by the law under the charges they are being charged with. As he gave out his ruling, they started begging Harold to reconsider his decision. They tried to explain even if they get bond, they cannot afford the ten percent. “None of you thought twice when you put your kids in that place. You put them in there to rot or be killed. It didn’t matter to you which it was. All that did matter is when your kid was returned to you, he or she was regular. Well I am here to tell you, your children are regular and there is nothing wrong with that. You didn’t show mercy to them; I will not show mercy to you.” Harold ordered the officer to take them away. They went out screaming, but Harold didn’t care. He continued with the scheduled cases. Once they were done, he adjourned his court room and headed to his chambers. As he was taking off his robe, his secretary walked in with the same look on her face she had when the day started. “What is wrong now? You have a message to let me know that I cannot do work on my house like I plan to do?” “No sir, the governor’s office is on the line for you.” Harold looked at his secretary with a stunned look. He tried to think why the governor wants to talk to him. Then it dawned on him, which governor. He works in the state of New Mexico, but lately he has been dealing with things from Texas. Maybe it is news about Beth. Harold walked over to his desk and picked up the phone. He informed the older lady on the other line who he was and was asked to hold. As he was holding, he sat down and pulled out Beth’s files. He wants to be ready for any question that might be asked of him. “Your honor, thank you for taking my call, this is Governor Bruce King.” Harold closed the folder, now more confused than before. “The reason I am calling you is to ask you a question. The governor of Texas, Governor Lopez, called me up and asked if I could release you to him to serve in a new court he has created. He has several pilot programs going on not too far from you, in El Paso Texas. To complete the pilot programs, he has created a new district court that will only deal with gang members. It seems they are having a lot of problems with gangs up there and he needs to get it under control before it becomes another LA. It is an appointed position for life. Unlike the other district courts in El Paso, you don’t have to run for it. He wants to bring in a person that has no ties to anyone and one he knows will get the job done. He likes what you are doing on holding every person accountable for that camp. He feels you are stern but just. I didn’t give him an answer anyway. Before I do that, I wanted to speak with you. I know you have a family and ties to your community. So I wanted to let you know and see what you think about it. If you don’t want it, please don’t worry about turning it down. I am pretty sure Governor Lopez has a list and he will just go to the next one on it.” “Governor King, I really do not know what to say here. I know if I accept the position, I will have to move my family to El Paso. That I don’t see a problem, but I think I should let the wife know and then the family. If it is okay with you, I would like to talk it over with my family before giving you the answer.” “I have no problem with that. In fact I suspected that is what you were going to ask. So I told Governor Lopez I will have an answer for him on Monday morning. I need your answer before I make that phone call so I will call you up on Monday morning to see what your answer is before calling Governor Lopez. How does that sound to you?” “That sounds really good sir. I will talk with my family tonight and over the weekend. By Monday morning I will have an answer for you.” They talked a little longer before hanging up. He jumped out of his seat and walked to the court room where Dominic is appearing in. On his way, Harold thought about the offer he is getting. It would be good to be a judge and not have to run for the position every four years. He can do the job without worrying what is popular at the time and what isn’t. During lunch, Lonnie and the guys kept asking Joey if had made up his mind yet about joining the football team. No matter how he answered the question, they kept asking it. Finally he was blunt and said no and doesn’t think he will know his answer for a while. His main concern, and he let the guys know that, is getting healthy again. If he doesn’t get there, it wouldn’t matter because he wouldn’t be able to play. The rest of the day dragged, Joey kept looking up at the clock. The news Harold told him in the morning has come back and over shadowed the promotion he got earlier in the morning. Even during ROTC class, he stayed quiet, prompting Colonel Chandler to ask why he was so quiet. He explained what was weighing on his mind. The advice he got was things work out at the end. Caleb saw that Joey was bothered, but again he decided to wait to for him to come out and talk. Still though, he was worried for him. Keeping things in doesn’t help. He feels that he needs to talk about it just like he is talking to Jacob about the nightmares. Before clocking in, the boys went to the bathroom and changed their clothes. They carry their work clothes in the truck when they have to work after school. Neither of them wants to wear their Albertsons uniform to school. They are already the brunt of so many jokes. Wearing their uniforms would just feed the joke machine. Harold knew that the boys were working, so he went home early to talk with Helen before talking with the others. When he walked into the door, Helen popped her head into the hall way surprised to see her husband home as early a he is. They greeted each other with a kiss on the lips as they made their way to the kitchen. “Helen, there are couple of things I need to talk with you about.” He started speaking as he sat down at the tale. Helen started cooking as he told her what had happened with the houses. Once he finished, that explained a lot to Helen on why Joey got off the phone in the morning in a sad mood. “There is nothing you can do to make it happen for Joey?” Harold said no. “Then we need to help him find a place for the shelter. Then we have to help him get the houses off his hands. There is no need for him to have the houses since he is going to move in here with us. It is a waste of money and time to keep-up those houses.” “The houses may not be the biggest problem we have right now. Joey might end up moving back into his house.” She looked over at Harold with a confused look on her face. “It all depends what you and I decide on this next piece of news. Then it will depend on what Joey wants to do if we decide on a direction that will change everything.” He went into detail about the conversation he had with Governor King. While he talked, Helen stopped cooking and sat down at the table. This kind of news, she felt she needed to give it her complete attention. She doesn’t want to miss one thing he said. When he finished, she stayed quite for a few minutes. “I really do not know what to say to that news. On one hand, it is good for you and the family. You don’t have worry about running anymore. The courtroom would be yours until you decide to leave it. You and I still have at least thirty years ahead of us before we can even retire so where we can live comfortably. But on the other hand, we have given our word to Joey, Fran and Allen just recently. Now here we are about to tell them that you got this offer, and we might move to the city he moved away from. Yes he has his own house! And yes Joey is grown up and pretty much can take care of himself, Fran and Alan. But he isn’t safe here with his mother still on the loose and god knows what is going to happen with his uncle. Plus we cannot stop thinking about our own kids. They have their friends and lives here. Valerie is a senior and it wouldn’t be fair to pull her out of school and away from her friends at this point. Then Caleb, beside his friends and being a junior, we have to worry about Joey’s ex. Them being this far away from each other helps from them getting back together. If that would happen, Caleb would be broken.” Harold sat there going over in his mind what Helen said. She is right on several of the points, but at the same time he feels that with a little more talking they will be able to find the solution to many if not all of her concerns. He started to write them down in order to go through it like a check list. “Okay I agree with you on many of your concerns. If we sit here and talk them out, maybe we can come to a solution. I am not saying that I have made up my mind yet. It takes both of us to run this house, so I cannot make a move like this without you. If you are against it, I will turn the offer down.” Helen got up to finish cooking dinner while she and Harold spoke about all the concerns she brought up. By the time she finished cooking, they had settled them all except two, Joey’s ex and their daughter being a senior. The daughter part they have a solution, but they still need to talk it over with her and then the other party involved. Just like Joey wanted, the shift went by quickly. Normally from Thursday on, the shifts do go by fast, at least until Sunday. Caleb told Joey when he first started the reason for that is people start to rent the movies on Thursday in hopes to beat the weekend rush. They have no problem paying the extra money to keep them over the weekend, versus one day rental. Joey always thought it was a waste of money to pay those extra fees. Throughout the shift, Joey tried to steal moments with Caleb. He started to think that maybe Joey was in heat, his time of the month by the way he was acting. He kept pinching Caleb’s butt when ever he passed him. When ever there were no customers in the video store, he would go up and kiss Caleb at the same time fondle his dick through his jeans. By the third or fourth time, Caleb had a noticeable hard on. At one point, close to closing, Caleb didn’t want to leave the counter area. The counter hid his lower body and hard on showing through his jeans. Just as it started to go down, Joey went up and got it hard again. He didn’t mind, because he loved the sight of Caleb’s dick being as noticeable as it is. Even if that means he has to clean the entire store, to him it is worth it. When Joey went up to Caleb right at closing, he stopped in his tracks because the evening manager walked in to collect their drawers. He followed the manager around the counter, but instead of standing on the side that Caleb wasn’t standing on, he chose to stand behind him. As they stood there watching the manager count their drawers out, he kept pinching ever so lightly Caleb’s butt. Caleb smiled and didn’t want him to stop. After the drawers were counted, they walked out of the video department with manager. As the manager locked up the department, the boys went to clock out. All the way to the time clock, Joey would whistle at Caleb. A few times he would run up to him and whisper in his ear what a handsome boyfriend he has. All the way home, the boys held hands. They both have homework to do, so they decided to make tomorrow night an evening of making love, because after they eat, get ready for the next day and do homework, they have no time to have sex--at least not the kind of sex they wanted to make, long and hot. So reluctantly Joey agreed with Caleb to hold off until tomorrow. As they walked into the door of the house, Joey knew something was up. When he saw Fran’s face, it spoke volumes. Before he could ask her what was going on, Harold stepped out and asked the boys to come in and eat their dinner. He looked at his sister, trying to read her lips, as he walked to the kitchen, but couldn’t. Before they could put the first bite in their mouths, Harold started talking. “I need you guys to listen to me before saying a word. After I am done, you guys can say your reactions and then we can talk about it. If you guys jump in as I am talking, I will never get through it and nothing will be resolved.” They both looked at each other as Harold went on. Just like Helen, he explained the conversation he had with Governor King. Out of respect to Joey and his son, Harold didn’t leave a thing out. He felt he is going to ask them for a lot, the least he could do is tell them everything that was said. When Harold finished, the kitchen was quiet. Everyone just stared at each other, not saying a word. “I know what I just said is a lot to take in all at once. Caleb you have your friends, school and football. You have lived your whole life here and now I am asking what you think about up rooting your life. You Joey, you are barely getting back to your normal life. Even before what had happened, you were barley getting settled in here. Heck, you have barely moved here and now I am here saying move back to the town you moved away from. That is a lot to deal with all at once. With that said Joey, I fear for you the most. We have your uncle, but not your mother. You mother is now on the run and when people are on the run they do things they normally wouldn’t do. She already showed how far she would go to get to you and your money. Now she has nothing to loose, so she will go even further.” “I understand where you are coming form on all your points sir, but my mother will know where to find me if I move back to El Paso.” He looked straight into Harold’s face with as serious look as he can give. “If I would to move back to El Paso, I would go back and live in the house my aunt and uncle left me. Don’t you think knowing that, she can find me as easily there as here? If she wants to get to me, she will do it.” “That I agree with and that is one of the main things Helen and I have been discussing. We already own this house, so if we move, we will simply close it off. Governor King told me that the state of Texas will pay for my move to El Paso and will pay a portion of a new home since I am being asked to move. Of course not all of it, I don’t even think half of it, but with the market the way it is, well I can get a very good home for penny’s on the dollar. We are not fancy people, so a simple home will do. The reason I am telling you this is because I would be buying a home in El Paso. So you, your sister and Allen are more than welcome to live in our home up there as well. In fact if you decide to move with us, I can make sure to get a home that fits all of us.” “That will save on you and I paying for add ons to this house.” Harold shook his head to Joey. “I am still willing to give you my half of that cost. So instead of you using that money to build onto this house, use it towards the new house. Now of course that still depends on me and Fran on moving up with you guys.” For the next twenty or so minutes, they talked about that! Harold and Helen really want to adopt Fran and Allen, but understand that it is all up in the air right now because of the chances of them moving. They don’t want to pull Fran away from her brother that she loves and will do anything for. As far as Allen, they know if Joey stays, he will as well. “Let’s say we even agree on moving with you, I cannot. Not with the shelter issue all a mess like it is. I will not start something and just abandon it. These poor guys have had a bad run of it lately and now they think they have a good place to live. They don’t even know that the city denied me to join the houses. I still have to find a place for them.” “I have given that some thought as well. This is where the house that your aunt and uncle left you comes into play. I can pull strings here to get the kids moved into the system in Texas. In fact I know if I tell the governor that is one of the things that need to be done in order for me to do the move, he will get it done. Now the only problem I see right now is we need to get someone in El Paso, social worker or someone in the system to help us get everything done. I don’t know anyone in El Paso or anywhere in Texas. But let’s say we get over the hump, you can use your home in El Paso as the shelter and build onto that one.” “As far as someone in the system, I think I might have someone. Jacob’s grandfather just adopted a son out of foster care. He had a…….” Joey went on and explained to Harold about Tony. From his parents being in prison, his adopted parents and grandparents passing away. How he ended up in the system and who they assigned to speak on his behalf, take care of his interest and ensure he wasn’t taken advantage of. “Look I know this is going to take a couple of days to get started. If we decide to do this, we will need to get a lot of things in order.” Harold looked over to Helen and grabbed her hand. “Every single one of us is going to end up having to make changes that we didn’t suspect to make at this time in our lives. From changing schools, jobs and leaving our friends and family behind, there are going to be major changes.” For the next hour they sat in the kitchen talking about what it would take to do the move. Fran, Allen and Valerie joined them. Joey got out of the conversation when Valerie chirped in that she isn’t going. Because it is her senior year in high school, Harold and Helen feel it isn’t right to pull her and send her to a school where she has no friends. So she will be staying with Helen’s parents until she graduates from high school. Then she will move either off to college or to El Paso. Both Fran and Allen made it clear that the only way they will move is if Joey moves as well. If that doesn’t happen, they will stay with Joey. That put a damper on the spirit of the conversation since Harold and Helen are really looking forward to adopting them. If they choose Harold’s appointment to a court in Texas, they might loose the chance on bringing two new members in their family. Before calling it a night, Harold agreed with Joey that he needed to miss school tomorrow. Not because of the chances of moving, but because of the shelter issue. No matter what happens Joey needs to put together the shelter. He already gave his promise to all the kids that are already there, he needs to fulfill the promise. As Joey and Caleb got ready for bed, Joey was no longer in his playful mood as he was earlier. In fact he was very quiet. When he crawled into bed, Caleb knew better then to try and talk with him. Instead he wrapped his arms around him, pulled him into him and laid his head right beside his. Soon they were both asleep and didn’t wake up again till the next morning. The first thing Helen did when she walked into the office is call her boss. She needed to know if she could put in a transfer for her, her son and Joey. As they discussed what was going on, her boss told Helen that the store will not be the same if she leaves it. There is no one in the store that can fill her shoes. If she would leave, he would have to bring someone else in from another store to run her store. It didn’t take long for Helen’s boss to get back to her. As far as Joey and her son, the transfer will be easy to do. But her on the other hand, well that is a different story all together. He talked with a supervisor from the El Paso stores and he has a store on the east side that is being run by the assistant manager right now. He has been looking high and low for a store manager, but hasn’t found one that he has been happy with. “I know that El Paso is big, but I cannot be too choosy on where to get transferred to. If the supervisor over there is willing to take me on and give me the store, I will be willing to run the store of course. This move is coming out of left field and I want my husband to take advantage of this opportunity that is being given to him.” “Helen I have already faxed over the parts of your employment files that matter on transferring and he loves what he sees. He wants to offer you the store, so can I go ahead and let him know to stop looking?” “Yes please tell him to stop looking, I will take the store. Just give me the addresses and I will make time on my day off to go down and take a look at the store. That way I know what I am heading into as far as the store issues.” Helen and her supervisor talked a little more. Before hanging up with him, he gave Helen the address and directions to get to the store. As soon as she got off the phone, she called Harold, but he was in court. So she left a message with his secretary to have him call her when ever he has a free moment. As Helen got her stuff in order, Joey was working on the problems with the shelter. He first stopped at his old house to speak with Gary and Janet. As he gave them the bad news, he saw disappointment in their faces. More on Gary’s face than on Janet’s! He knew why it hit Gary more because he moved his life here to run the shelter. “Before deciding on buying the house next door and joining it to your house, didn’t you want to buy an old building and transfer it into a shelter for gay teens?” Gary looked squarely into Joey’s eyes as he asked the question. “Yes, but the cost to buy the building was lot more and then to bring it up to code for people to live in was way more then I had to spend on this. I am willing to spend money, but I am not willing to spend all my money to get it done. I am not trying to sound mean here, but if I am in the hole before the doors even open, there is no way the shelter will be able to keep its doors open.” Joey understood where Gary was coming from, but Gary needs to look at all points of view here. Yes Joey, with the help from Al, got donors, but that money is to be used to keep the shelter running. Pay for everything for the kids in the shelter, to the salary for those that work for the shelter and what ever else falls in between all that. “Put aside the problem with the building, something else has come up. Harold has been offered an appointed judgeship in El Paso, and by the looks of it, he is going to take it. That leaves me with only two choices. I either move to back to El Paso with Caleb and his family or stay here. If I stay here, me, my sister and Allen are going to have to move back into the house, leaving less room for the others we want to help.” Both Janet and Gary looked straight at him, not able to say a word. Their jaws fell to the ground halfway through what he was telling them. They just got hit with two pieces of news that changes everything they thought was not going to change. Even if they keep the houses, they will not have the room for everyone that is currently staying due to not being able to do the construction they wanted to do. “There is another avenue we can take here you guys.” Joey got up and explained to Janet and Gary about moving the shelter to El Paso. With Harold having friends in the court, they could transfer everyone that lives here to El Paso. The only question left to be answered is if Gary and Janet would want to do the move as well. “I have no problem moving to El Paso.” Gary spoke up with excitement in his voice, surprising Joey. “That will get me a lot closer to Las Cruces where my family and friends are at. I did the move here because the job was too good to pass up.” Joey looked over to Janet to see her response. “The only family I have here is my sister, and if Harold is going to go, I am sure he will ask her to go with him. If that happens, she will. If she moves to El Paso, I will follow because she is my family. At least the family I am the closest to.” Confused on what Janet just said, Joey had to ask what he was thinking. “I thought your parents lived here. Don’t they, or didn’t they, take care of your baby a coupe of times when you had to take me to appointments? I might be wrong! I might have missed understood what you said, but that is why I am asking.” “No you are right, but again that is why I said my sister and I are very close. The other parts of our family, well we get together on the major holidays or when we need a favor from each other. Other than that, we pretty much live our lives without talking with each other for weeks at a time.” After clearing that up, they talked a little more before Joey took his leave to call Al. He went to the kitchen to have a little privacy. It is not that he doesn’t want Janet and Gary to hear what he is talking about, but doesn’t want them to jump the gun on anything. He barely got them to promise not to tell the guys until he had all his ducks in a row. It didn’t ring more than twice before the secretary answered the phone. Joey asked to speak with Al, and she put him on hold. A couple minutes later, Al came on the line. They got through the pleasantries and went right down to business. Joey told him what was going on from the house issue to Harold being offered the appointment. “Let me start this off by saying Joey and please do not take what I am about to say the wrong way. If you are going to move back to El Paso, are you going to be going to the same high school that Jacob is going to? When you left my grandson, you hurt him a lot. The only reason I think you guys are able to begin a friendship right now is because you guys are in two different states. If you see each other every day, I think there will be a problem.” “To tell you the truth, I really do not know. I thought the same thing and if things fall into place for me to move, I will push Harold to buy a house on the central side of town. That way I would be going to Austin High School, not Newman. It wouldn’t be right for me to pop back up in Jacob’s every day life. Not the way I left his life.” “Again do not take me wrong, I cannot ban you from anything here in El Paso. All I am asking is that you take everything into account when and if you move back. Since you and Jacob are talking almost every evening, you need to let him know also what is going on. That is just so he isn’t caught off guard when you pop up at places that you two may take your boyfriends to.” “I agree and will tell Jacob tonight when we talk. I am pretty sure if I attend another high school we can make it work. Plus I know Austin, not as much as Newman, but I still know it. I have no problem with one thing you are saying, not a single problem.” “Okay let’s move to the issue of your shelter. That is a twist of bad luck you ended up buying homes in a historical neighborhood. We have them here and they have the same rules. But as far as your house is concern, it isn’t in one of those neighborhoods. Still though you are looking at a nightmare to change anything to that house because of how old it is. It will cost you more to bring it up to code than to add rooms to it. With that said, I have another option for you. When I bought my office building, I got a hotel that was taken away from the owners. The bank has been trying to get it off of their hands for over a year, and because of that I got it for a quarter of its price. It is valued a lot higher, I mean a lot higher than I paid for it. I am willing to donate it to you and the shelter to use, so I can write it off at the end of the year.” Joey couldn’t believe the news he just got. He and Al talked about it and came to an agreement on the hotel. Al will donate the building for it to be used as the shelter for gay teens. But Joey has to name it after him since it is his idea. The shelter will be called The Joey Alvarez Shelter for Gay Teens. When they came to that agreement, Al promised to pull what ever strings he can to bring the eight kids in the New Mexico system to the Texas system. That way Joey doesn’t end up abandoning them when they need him the most. Both agreed that they will have no problem moving to El Paso since their parent’s had pretty-well disowned them. Before getting off the phone with Al, Joey thanked him for everything he is willing to do. On his way out, he talked with Gary and Janet again. Joey told them that he has a hotel in El Paso that can be transferred to a shelter and that is what he is going to use. They both were pleased with the news they just got from Joey. Gary once again confirmed with him he will do the move. Janet on the other hand said she will get back with Joey. Having no other option, he took both of their answers for now. The minute that Caleb sat down at the table without Joey, everyone started asking questions. Caleb couldn’t get a word in edge-wise for the first couple minutes. Once they stopped asking the questions, Caleb started to explain to them what was going as far as the move. Caleb’s friends started throwing more questions at Caleb. “Look you guys right now everything is up in the air. My father still hasn’t accepted the job, but if he does. Well let me just say I will have no other choice but to move. Trust me when I say I don’t want to. All you guys are here.” Caleb pointed to his friends. “Plus I have grown up here and I want to live here after college.” “No you trust me Caleb….” Lonnie spoke before the others. “We cannot loose you from the team. Next year we have a real shot on going all the way. More with Joey, but with you gone, we are done for. Not to sound mean, I hope either your father decides against the position or they pull the offer from him.” Everyone looked at Lonnie stunned at what he just said. “I don’t wish anything like that Caleb to you or your family.” Ivan broke the uncomfortable silence. “All of us grew up together and always thought we would graduate together and then head off to the same college. We do need you for next year, but more importantly I want to keep you around for the friendship we have. I hope your dad takes the position, but let’s you stay.” Caleb explained that might be a possibility since his sister is being allowed to stay. It wouldn’t be much of a sell to his parents if he asks them to let him stay as well. Then he started thinking about Joey. If Joey would to move back to El Paso, he cannot be without him anymore. That felt weird because he didn’t think he had gotten that close to Joey already, but now he can see he has. Angelo and the others from the shelter kept asking questions of Caleb that either he didn’t know the answer to or didn’t want to say. He felt that the shelter business is Joey’s and they should be talking to him. Since he has nothing to do with it, he really cannot answer their concerns. He actually feared he might speak out of turn. It took Kurt to change the subject in order to free him from the questions he has no answers to. When the bell rang for first period, he did feel bad for Angelo and the others, but felt he did the right thing on not answering the questions. As he walked to class, he kept looking over to his side suspecting to see Joey walking along side him. Every time he looked over and didn’t see him there, his heart felt heavy. Both boys found someone to cover their shift so they could be home for the family meeting. Harold wanted another sit down talk with everyone in order to see where each of them stood after they had a chance to think about what was said the night before. Plus Helen and he should know more what direction they are leaning towards. Caleb arrived home before Joey. The only reason for that is that Joey went over to visit with Harold about getting the ball rolling on getting those in the halfway house transferred to the state of Texas. He thought it was going to be an in and out thing, but Harold sent him to another judge. Since he has some ties into the issue, he cannot rule on anything dealing with the shelter and the kids in there. Still he called a fellow judge and asked him to rule on the issues, his friend gladly said yes. Once Joey went to the other judge’s chambers, things moved pretty quickly. Basically Harold’s fellow judge signed off on everything thinking that Harold looked at it already and it was on the up and up, which it was. By the time Joey walked out of the court house, he had everything signed off on. Now of course it still is up to each of the kids in the shelter to decide if they want to go. If they decide to stay here, Joey wouldn’t say no to that. Just as long as they understand that they will more than likely not get placed and end back up where they were when he opened his shelter here. He doesn’t want to scare them to go, but he wants them to understand. On his way home, he stopped by his house to let Janet and Gary know what he has done so far. Before leaving the house, Joey sat with the Angelo and the others and told them what was going on. He told them about his concerns and what he was thinking on his way over. As he got up to leave, he told the guys not to answer him yet, sleep on it and let him know in the morning. As soon as Joey walked into the house, he found everyone else had already gotten home, including Harold. He found the family waiting in the living room for him. As soon as he walked into the living room, he went to sit by Caleb. Right away Caleb reached over and grabbed his hand and held it tight. Harold went over what he said yesterday, and everyone listened. No one popped in and disturbed him as he spoke. Once he was done, he started going around the room for comments. Everyone was on Harold’s side, telling him that he should take the position. Then he went around the room once again and asked everyone if they started working on their things to get the move on the way. If so, where did they stand? Helen spoke up first. “I spoke with my supervisor and he already found me a store in El Paso. If we move, I will take over that store and be the store manager. The great thing about all this is that I am not coming in and pushing anyone out of the way. The supervisor over there has been looking for a store manager for a while.” She handed Joey the address and as he looked at it, he smiled. “Believe it or not, this store is easy to get to. It is right off of Chelsea Street and Montana. Maybe five miles away from the hotel that Al owns and is willing to donate to me to make into the shelter in El Paso.” Everyone looked at him with a surprised looks on their faces. He went into detail about the phone call he had with Al in the morning. Harold asked him a couple of questions, questions he had already asked in his office, but he wanted the family to hear the answer. Joey answered all of his questions, but then said something that he hadn’t told Harold yet. “Al told me this is a big hotel. It isn’t spread out, instead it is twelve floors. On the twelfth flour are two penthouses. Each of them has a separate elevator that goes up to them that you must have either a card or a key to get the elevator to go to the penthouse. They are not just a room with a bathroom. Each penthouse is a three bedroom, living room, dinning room, with a full kitchen….” “You got to be kidding me. In order to rent something like that, you would be spending a lot of money per night. How in the world did Al get the hotel?” “I really do not know how Al got the hotel Harold or why it was foreclosed on by the bank. All I know is that he got a good price for it when he bought his office building. He told me that he paid something like a quarter of what it was actually worth. He was going to turn it into an office building and rent it to people that need offices. What I was thinking on doing is to have us live in the two penthouses. Pay for the construction to have the wall that is separating them torn down and turned into one big six bedroom penthouse. That should be big enough for all of us to live in. As well you do not have to spend a lot of money to buy another house.” Everyone at the same time started speaking. They all thought it was a good idea and wanted to do it. Harold got everyone to settle down and asked him more detail about the hotel. Where it is actually located, what schools are near it and how far away is it from the downtown area. Joey answered every question that Harold threw at him. “I told Al that I will be in El Paso mid morning tomorrow. I want to take a look at the hotel and make sure it is suitable for what I need it for. You know, the shelter and then for us to live in. I already got someone to cover my shift over the weekend, as well yours Caleb.” He looked over to him. “If it is okay with you guys, I would like it if Caleb could go with me to El Paso tomorrow and stay the night.” Caleb jumped up almost begging his parents to go. “Hold on, son, sit down and let’s talk about this. Why don’t we all go up to El Paso so we all can see the hotel? That way we all can decide for ourselves. Who knows how much work it will need? Or if we can actually start living in it right away.” Harold sat down in the chair and everyone started talking about what Joey said. They decided they all should go. Joey told them that he had planned on leaving at three in the morning, and Harold agreed. Once the time was set, the family meeting was over. They all went to the rooms, while Harold ordered pizzas for dinner. Knowing that he had a long drive ahead of him, Joey stayed up to nine and headed off to bed. He thought it was weird how tired he was considering that he didn’t really do anything through the day. Still he is more tired then he gets going to school and work. Once he crawled into bed, he was out. He had no idea what time Caleb went to bed. The next thing he heard was the alarm clock going off. He reached over and pushed the snooze button. Just as he started to doze off again, the alarm clock went off. This time he got up and turned off the alarm. As soon as he finished getting ready, he woke up Caleb. He wanted to give as much time he can to him to get more sleep. As soon as he knew Caleb was up, Joey went out to load up the truck. When he walked out to the hallway, he was surprised to see that everyone had already made their way down stairs and was doing the same thing. By the time Caleb was ready, he had the truck loaded. Everyone used the bathroom one last time, grabbed something to drink and headed out to the cars. Just as they were getting into the cars, Gary drove up with Janet and the others. Joey looked over and saw that they were still all half asleep, except Gary. They talked a few minutes before hitting the road. Joey was told that all the boys decided to move to El Paso without a discussion. The only one that he is waiting for the answer from is Janet. Just like the last time he did this trip with, Caleb went to sleep the minute they got on the freeway, as well did Fran and Allen. He didn’t mind, he turned on the radio and listened to it as he drove down the dark freeway. He is the lead vehicle, Harold and Gary decided to drive behind him since he was the one that knew where the hotel was located. They pulled over in Truth or Consequences that he felt was the halfway point between El Paso and Alamogordo. After eating breakfast, stretching, they all piled back into the cars and got back in the freeway. By the time they reached Las Cruces, the freeway was pretty much empty all the way through. Once the freeway switched from I25 to I10, Joey knew the trip was done. As he crossed over the state line, he started to shake. At first he didn’t know why he was shaking, but as he started to recognize where he was at, he knew. The shaking got worse when he passed the turn off to the camp where he was held against his will. The weirdest thing to him was that he never saw the building from the freeway before, not until now at least. He tried to hide the shaking from Caleb, but he saw. He reached over to Joey and grabbed his free hand. He didn’t say a word, he just held onto his hand as tight as he could. Just that little thing got him to stop shaking. Not much later, they drove into the city limits of El Paso. Caleb woke up Fran and Allen so they could see that they were already on the out skirts of El Paso. Soon the two lane freeway turned into three and then into four as they reached the west side of town. Joey passed the exit that he would have taken if he was going to Jacob’s house. Instead he kept going until he passed downtown El Paso. Once he reached the exit he needed to take, he turned off. Instead of staying on the lane that goes to the lights, Joey got on the lane that did the turn around. They used the turn around to get onto gateway east. Right away Joey got on the far right lane and turned off into an empty parking lot to an empty hotel. Joey parked in front of the front doors of the hotel, Harold and Gary parked on Joey’s right side. Everyone got out and started to stretch. He looked around and saw the pay phone bank that Al told him was on the side of the building. While he called, everyone else looked around the outside of the hotel. It didn’t take Al long to get there. When he drove up and parked, Joey opened the door for him. As soon as he got out of the car, Joey hugged him, and Al returned the hug. Before they could say anything to each other, Harold and the others walked up and greeted him. After they shook hands, Al, followed by everyone else, walked to the front door and unlocked the hotel. As Al held open the door, he explained a few things to everyone. “The electricity is on due to the alarm system and some other things. So you can turn on the lights any where in the building and they will work. Just be careful on where you go because a lot of the furniture is covered. You don’t want to bump into anything and break it or hurt yourselves.” The only response he got from everyone was them shaking there heads in agreement. While the others looked around the hotel, Al and Joey talked at the front door. Al thanked him for telling Jacob about him moving back here to El Paso. To Al’s surprise he took it very well. In fact the news just rolled off Jacob’s back. “I had to respect him. Both of us know that I didn’t have to tell Jacob, but at the same time we both know it was the right thing to do. Especially how I left things with him! I will never forgive myself for how I ended things, but I cannot turn back the clock and fix that. I only wish I could go back and slap some sense into me that day.” “Joey you and Jacob had to grow up way too fast. Neither of you had a chance to be teenagers. So don’t beat yourself up for the past. Like you said, you cannot turn back time and fix what you did that day. All you can do is learn from it and move on. Both you and Jacob have found a new love; treat your new love as if he is the only person in the world for you. The best that you and Jacob can hope for is a friendship.” “You are right on that sir, you are right. I really do hope that Jacob and I do become friends, something we never have really been. But I will do it on his time table since I am the one that did the hurting. I promise you sir that I will not do anything that will make you, Jacob or the family uncomfortable.” Al sees that Joey has grown up some since he left. Just like he told him, both he and Jacob had to grow up way too fast, but Joey was behind Jacob. Now he is getting there and sees what he had done. Many have their opinion on who did what in that relationship, but it was Joey that ended it. Al knows that some people do not stay together, he has gone through a couple marriages himself, but to leave the way he did was wrong. Before letting him go, Al handed him the keys to the place and the alarm codes. “All the locks on the exterior door, the penthouses and elevators have been changed. The only locks I didn’t have changed are the rooms. I figured they were going to be turned into offices so I would wait and see how many of the rooms were actually going to join together. Now that you are going to use it for a shelter, there is no need for locks on those doors. Teenage kids do not need locks, just doors to shut for privacy.” As Joey took the keys from Al, Harold and Helen walked up. He looked down to his watch and realized he needed to go now in order to make it to his office for the conference call with the governor. He said his goodbye to Harold and Helen in the lobby, and then said his goodbyes to Joey in the parking lot. Joey walked him out to thank him once again. He didn’t go back into the building until he saw Al drive away. The first thing he did when he walked back into the building was walk to the elevator. By the time the door opened, everyone joined him. They got on and Joey swiped the badge for penthouse one. The door closed and the elevator started going up. It didn’t stop until it reached the twelfth floor. Everyone got off and walked into a hallway. As you turn to your right, you can actually see into the penthouse through windows. When you look straight ahead, you can see at the end of the hall a white wall, which they know separates the two walk ways between the penthouses. Right there and then Joey got an idea of knocking that wall down, not the wall inside the penthouses that separate them. But before he could mention to the others, they had walked in already. Joey was the last to walk into the penthouse, and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He had walked into a huge room, which has furniture that is covered up. You looked to your left, there is as room there and then to the right is a hallway that leads to three other rooms. Confused on the set up, Joey walked into the room to the left. Once he walked in, he knew what this room is because of the television on the far side of the room. He turned to his right and saw a door, which he walked through. He ended up in a full size kitchen, with a large table that sits eight, three on one side, and three on the other and one on each foot of the table. It has everything a kitchen in a home has, including all the appliances. He walked out and took a quick tour of the other rooms in the penthouse. There are two pretty good size bedrooms on each side of the hall. On the left side of the hall is a full bathroom and on the right hand side of the hall, right across from the bathroom, is a full laundry room. Then at the end of the hall is the largest room of them all with a walk in closet and a huge bathroom with a garden tub that makes bubbles. After looking at the first penthouse, everyone got on the elevator and went down one floor and over to the other elevator that goes back up to penthouse two. When they walked into the second penthouse, it was no surprise it was set up the same way, exactly the same way. After looking around the second penthouse, everyone went down to the lobby. “Okay this place is huge!” Joey said looking around to everyone shaking their head. “Let me tell you what I am thinking and then you all weigh in. First I say we lock down all the halls we are not using. Let’s start filling the halls from the eleventh floor and make our way down. What do you all think about that idea?” “I don’t see a problem with that, do you Janet?” Gary looked over to Janet and shook her head no. “The only problem is can we actually shut off the other halls. I am still young and want to explore this place. These guys are younger than me and I am pretty sure they would want to do the same thing.” Joey shrugged his shoulders as Harold walked over to the elevators and then back to the group. “Just like I thought, the elevators are like the ones in the courthouse. We can shut the floors down by not letting the elevators open up to the floors we don’t want to be in use. As far as the stairs, we lock the doors to the halls as well. So that way when you get on the elevator, it will only let you go to the floors we open up.” Everyone started talking and at the end agreed. The main question that Angelo and the other guys asked were departed. First part do all the rooms have a television and if they will get their own key to their rooms. “As far as everyone having their own television, I am not sure. I am surprised that the rooms that we have seen still have the furniture and the televisions. If they have it, I am sure the others do as well. Maybe not new ones, but they should have it. Now as far as keys to your rooms, I leave that up to Gary and Janet to decide.” Right away Janet answered their concern. “As soon as we get the keys to every room in this building, we will separate them and give you the key that belongs to your room. But Gary and I will have the master key and will go into your room when we think we need to. I understand the desire to lock up your stuff, but we need to trust each other. I say you will have the key, but don’t lock your doors.” “Janet and I will discuss that a little more before we do actually decide about the locks on the doors.” Gary got up from the seat and looked over at Janet. “Like Janet said, we need to trust each other. We are a family, maybe not by blood, but we are still a family. Families do not lock up their rooms from each other. In the house in Alamogordo, you guys don’t have locks, so why should you have them here?” Harold took over the conversation at that point. “I will recommend that not only you guys do not get the keys to the rooms, but the door knobs are changed to no locks. As both Janet and Gary said, and I will repeat, you all are a family. Families do not lock up their rooms from each other. If things start to disappear from your rooms or any other need for locks to be used on the doors, Gary and Janet should revisit that issue, but not until then.” All the boys agreed with Harold as they headed to the elevator to choose their room, but they turned around when the elevator opened. They remembered that none of the rooms were unlocked for them to choose their rooms. Joey pulled out the master key and handed it to Angelo and they headed up stairs. Janet and Gary went with them, leaving the Alvarez’s and Evan’s only in the lobby. They started talking about the penthouses and how different they were than they thought they would be. One by one agreed it was like a house and they would have no problem living in the penthouses. They also agreed with Joey that the wall they should knock down is the one in the hallway. The only other one would be the one that separates the two kitchens so they can join them. For the next few minutes they went over the construction plans. When it was all said and done, not many changes will be done to the penthouses, also the cost would be low. The family waited for the Angelo and the other guys to come back down before heading off to grab something to eat and a few things form the grocery store. As Joey waited for the light to turn green, he couldn’t stop thinking how good it will be living back here in El Paso. Nothing against Alamogordo, he grew up here in El Paso. He cannot wait until they move back so he could show Caleb around his home town. At least the parts of town he knows his way around. TO BE CONTINUED………………… WRITER’S CORNER: {Let me say, what a chapter! I threw in a lot of twist and turns into this chapter; your heads are turning in all directions. I gave this chapter a lot of thought before writing it and decided on this being the direction I wanted to go with this story. I know it didn’t cover a lot of time, but I needed to cover each plot in detail to show how it is going to be moved to El Paso. The next chapter will be the same way, but once the move starts, the story will start moving at a faster speed. If you are keeping up with “Jacob Finding His Way” and Beneath the Mask”, a lot of the things that were talked about in this chapter you will know about it. So when Harold was offered the new court room for the pilot program, it shouldn’t have been a surprise to any of you. It also shouldn’t have been a surprise that Governor Lopez went out side the state to get the judge for the new court room. Not after what a sitting judge did with his ex-wife’s case. After getting burnt like that, no one would trust anyone of the judges there. Poor Joey got hit with two pieces of bad news. But between the two pieces of bad news, he got a piece of good news. Let’s start with the first bad news he got from Harold before school on Thursday. He actually bought his house in a historical community and then he goes and buys another in the same community. In those communities, you cannot change the houses or businesses in anyway from its original form. By the looks of it, he is going to move, so what is he going to do with the two houses he already has? More than likely he will sell them because one of the houses is actually owned through the money that was raised for the shelter. Knowing Joey, he would want to put that money back into the account to be used for the shelter as where it will soon be. Joey got promoted to battalion commander, but now again it looks like he is going to move. His new rank will follow him to his new school, but what if anything, will the new school do. I am pretty sure they have their battalion commander already, so there is no way he will get that position. Now again he doesn’t have that position yet at his current school, just the rank to the position. It looks like Helen was able to move quickly to transfer to El Paso. If they do move, will the boys work in her store or just finish the year without working? Talking about Caleb, he seems all for the move, but what about the thing he has planned with his friends for spring vacation. Is he still going to go or by his move, are their plans are canceled? It really looked like he was looking forward to what ever they had planned. I really hope the move doesn’t cancel the vacation he put together. Now moving the foster kids to El Paso is going to need a lot of work on both sides of the border. What I mean is after Joey, Janet and Gary get the approval to move them to El Paso; they need to get someone in the system in El Paso willing to take them over. I will not be surprised to see Al again pop in here and help. He knows the system and people in them since he adopted Tony. Let’s talk a little about who is going and who isn’t. Gary is willing to move, but Janet is still up in the air. None of the foster kids objected, so we know that is going to happen. We also know that Valerie is going to stay with her grandparents. Fran and Allen are going to go where Joey is going to go. Since it looks like Joey is going to move back, those two are moving as well. Caleb is moving with his parents. I believe I have covered everyone involved in the move. And finally let’s talk about the ending. First Al helping Joey out as far as giving him a hotel that he got for peanuts on the dollar! It is a good write off at the end of the year for Al and Jacob. I am glad Al made it clear to Joey what he should do about Jacob. I do agree with Al because Jacob hurt a lot when he left, and is barely able to start the friendship with Joey. With Joey coming back, it is best that he goes to another high school. These two will run into each other, but not everyday. I am also glad to see that Joey realized he was in the wrong and agreed with Al. He called Jacob and gave him heads up. By the sounds of it, he didn’t care one way or another. He has gone on with his life, just like Joey has. There is so much going on in this saga. I can keep writing, but I won’t. You guys are going to need to tune in to the next chapter to see what is going on. More plots are going to open and old ones will be closed. This story, like my others, will keep you on your toes. Don’t miss what is coming up in the chapters to come. I do not want to say too much more and spoil the future chapters to come, so I won’t. I warn you though! Do not skip a chapter, or you will be lost. There is a so much to answer in the chapters to come. Keep reading the future chapters, and enjoy! Please email me and let me know how I am doing at jacobmillertex@aol.com, Thanks!} EDITOR’S CORNER: This was a powerful chapter for sure. Major changes in the lives and plans of our story’s “family" of people are being made. This produces both excitement and anticipation, but also some fear and uneasiness as well. Coping with both the positive and negative elements can be very stressful. How will they deal with such stress? What new and unexpected challenges will enter into their lives? Can the old hotel become more of a real home rather than a nice, but still a type of warehouse for rejects place? There is so much yet to come with Joey and friends. He will soon be physically closer to Jacob. How will that work out? Will Caleb and Dewayne be able to deal with these two former lovers being in the same city with each other? I have become 'attached' to ALL of these young men and I want the best for each of them. BUT I do worry about them. Perhaps my 52+ years as an educator still working with youth in their teens and early twenties makes me cautious. Now I have to wonder how this big move to El Paso will work out. Will the boys' NM friends be supportive or angry? With the Judge who has all the cases of the parents who sent their boys to the 'camp' now leaving the city, how will those cases be handled and will those parents face justice? Can Joey and Caleb maintain their relationship with all of these changes taking place in their lives? BOTTOM LINE---we all need to stay tuned if we want to find answers to such questions!!!!! The four stories that our energetic author shares with us are separate, yet they are also inter-twined as the characters interact with each other and the various plots within each story. I urge all of our readers to read the other three stories as well. Do let our author 'hear' from you via emails. Long before I became the editor for this story, I was reading the others and sending him my reactions and thoughts. He 'listened' and several times he actually liked and used a suggestion I made. Just as he and his other editor, Daddy Rick, have never met in person, neither have Jacob nor I ever met except via phone and email. But we have communicated and you can join our 'relationship' by using the email system! --Kent D. (sw Ohio area)
  9. After school, Carlos needed to report to his probation officer. He walked into the probation office, signed in and sat down in the lobby. His appointment is at four thirty, but he didn’t get seen till five minutes after five. His probation officer came to get him from the lobby and escorted him to his office. They sat down and the probation officer went through the same questions that he always asks. After asking the questions he finally looked up at Carlos. “I know that you were still in high school, but you need to start paying your probation fees and fines. If you fall behind, you can be revoked and sent back. You know as well as I do you don’t want to go back to the detention facility. There is no way, you will make it out of there alive, and you know that.” Carlos just sat there stunned by what his probation officer just said. “I go to school all day long, and I have to be back in my house by no later than seven or my monitor will go off and you will revoke me. My grandmother or my mother can’t afford any extra bills than they already have right now.” “Look at me Carlos so you can see that I am very serious about what I'm telling you.” Carlos looked straight into his probation officers face. “Your personal issues aren’t my problem. What my problem is that you aren’t paying your probation fees or fines. The State doesn’t care about your family personal finances. Maybe what you need to do is getting off your lazy butt and go to work in the evenings and weekends. If you show me a schedule of your work hours or your boss calls me I will go ahead and change the time on the monitor for you to work. But when you come in here next time, you better make payment on your fines and probation fees.” Carlos nodded his head in agreement with his probation officer. He got up and walked out of the office. On the bus home, he couldn't stop thinking about what his probation officer just said. If he doesn’t come in next month with his payments he might be revoked and be sent back. There is no way he will make it out of there if he goes back. Although his mother has remarried, they are barely making a from payday to payday paying the bills. His grandparents are living on Social Security and that is not even supporting them and the savings his mother and stepfather have are being spent on the move from the central part of town to the west side. There is no money for them to give him for his probation fees and fines. Carlos didn't sleep at all through the night. He couldn't stop thinking that this might be the last month that he is in the free. The next morning when he got to school he could barely look anyone in the face. Finally, Alex pulled Carlos to the side as they were putting away their trays. “I know there is something bothering you this morning Carlos. You aren’t acting like yourself at all. What is it that's on your mind and maybe I can help you through it. You have helped me through a lot of crap in my life. Now it's time for me to try and return the favors that you have done for me.” At first Carlos tried to not involve Alex in his problems but Alex won’t let him go until he spilled the beans. Carlos finally broke down and told Alex everything that had happened to him yesterday. He told Alex everything that his probation officer told him and that he basically threatened him if he doesn't pay his probation fees or fines. “That son of a bitch thinks he can fuck with us. He looks at you like you are some piece of shit that walked off the street. By the sounds of it he didn't like the idea of you getting out in the first place. Now he's looking for any reason to send you back and he doesn't care if your life is in danger or not. He is not going to get away with this and let me tell you why. You will go speak with Mr. Baird after school today. Tell him what you told me and he will give you a job at the new print shop. He will work or around your school schedule. He will give you the hours that you need to not only pay your fees but to have money in your pocket.” “Alex I really don't know all what to say. You don't have to do this for me. I was thinking about going to fast food restaurants and putting in applications. Someone out there will hire me and give me enough hours that I need have in order to pay my probation officer.” “Screw that Carlos! You are my friend. You have been there at my side since we were kids. I won’t abandon you now when you need my help. Just do what I told you and you will have a job without question.” Carlos couldn't help but smile, because he felt relief. Now he can think straight and stop thinking about his probation officer’s threats. Alex and he joined the others and quickly got back into the conversation that the others are having. He looked around at the group of friends that they have now. It confirmed to him by having Alex as friend, he will be okay. Still not knowing their way around the school yet, Alex and Matt left earlier than the others in order to get to class on time. When they reached their first period classroom, they just stood outside the door talking with each other. They really want to hold hands, but they don’t want others to know that they are boyfriends yet. The first bell rang, but they stood outside watching the others walked in. They don't want to be the first ones in the classroom, because they might get a rep they don't want. When the warning bell rang, they finally walked in and took their seats. Their teacher had each student go in front of the class and read the report they did the night before. Alex just looked at Matt as the teacher called student after student up to the front. When the teacher finally called on Alex. Instead of going up front. He told the teacher he didn’t complete his assignments. That got Alex off the hook from going in front of the class to read his assignment. When the class ended, the teacher held Alex back as the rest the students walked out. Once the final student walked out the teacher walked around his desk and sat in the desk next to Alex. He just sat there for a few seconds and than finally spoke. “Your transcripts is telling me that you are a very smart student. Smart students don’t forget their homework. They always do their homework and hand it in when due. I believe that you have your assignment done. I just don't think you wanted to get up and read in front of the class. Am I right on that assumption?” “I didn't know that you are going to have us read our assignments in front of the class. I really don't like speaking in front of large groups of people that I don't know. So yes you are right on your assumption, but I rather take an F. I won’t talk in front of the class.” “I don't want to give you an F Alex. If you completed your assignment, please hand it in. You need to get going so you aren’t late for your second period. You and I will figure out another way to get you used to talking in front of large groups.” Alex ripped his assignment out of his notebook and handed it to his teacher. He got up, thanked his teacher and walked out. Just as he got out into the hallway, he ran right into Matt. They walked together to the next class and barely made it as the tardy bell rang. At lunchtime Alex explained to Matt what happened between him and their first period teacher. It actually made Matt laughed a little because he didn't know that Alex is actually afraid of speaking in front of large groups of people. He always thought that since he’s a gang leader nothing bothered him. Alex quickly changed the conversation away from what had happened in the morning to why they are eating in the cafeteria. He didn’t know that Dewayne is off today and that’s the reason they are eating at school. He looked over at Jacob and noticed that he looked a little down. He can tell that Jacob is really missing Dewayne when he is away from him. That is love; a love that you rarely find between a couples. As soon as they finished eating they left the cafeteria. Jacob left a little bit earlier than they did because he needed to go to the ROTC building. So Alex, Matt, the new group of friends and the old group of friends all headed out to the football field. Tom got a hold of a football, and they started to pass the ball back and forth. Within a few minutes of just passing the ball back and forth, another group of students walked up and challenged them to a game of touch football. Of course Tom, Alex and the others didn’t back down from the challenge. Without a challenge everyone agreed that Tom should be the quarterback. The others filled in the other open positions before lining up. The minute the ball got hiked, it became obvious that the other team has no plans on playing touch football. They immediately went after, and tackled Tom as he released the ball. Robert turned around just in time as the ball came flying at him. He caught it and ran another ten yards before getting tackled himself. As he got up and wiped himself off, he ran back over to the huddle. “Listen, it looks like these guys aren’t going to play touch football. If they choose to play that way, fine. If they come at you and you tackle them. Make it loud and clear not to fuck with us.” Tom slapped his hands and gave the next play. They hiked the ball, and this time they are prepared for getting tackled. They opened a hole in the defense line so huge, a herd of buffalo could run through it. But instead of a herd of buffalo, only Alex needed to run through it. There’s no one there to stop Alex once he ran through the defense line and Alex ran untouched to the end zone. Quickly, Tom and his gang got the ball back and scored again. Alex started to hear cheering from the stadium. He looked up and noticed a crowd of students watching them as they finished up their lunches. He couldn't help but smile at what he is seeing. About five minutes before the bell, the other team called it quits. The final score at the end was four touchdowns to none. The other team can’t use as an excuse that everyone on Tom's team is on the football team since the only one that is on the football team is Tom, and nobody else. After washing up in the bathroom, they headed over to their lockers to get the afternoon books. Alex is really not into his afternoon classes because one of them is the class that he really never wanted to take. The only reason he is taking ROTC is to get rid of his PE requirements. He would've taken PE instead of ROTC, but he couldn't due to the monitor. Alex walked into his fifth period with Matt; he noticed that Jacob looked frustrated. That is why he doesn't like the class. The pressure alone is put on the student would scare anybody away from this class. Alex thinks the class could be a lot more fun if the instructors would lighten up or if they had different instructors altogether. As the afternoon wore on, Alex started to think about his appointment with his probation officer after school. He and Matt have to report in just like Carlos did the day before. Although they have different probation officers they have to follow the same rules when it comes down to paying their fees. He got brought out of thought when Jacob approached him. “After school, you guys meet me at my truck so I can take you to report in. Your mother asked me this morning if I would take you so you guys don't have to take the bus. It completely escaped my mind until I saw you sitting here in space.” “Thanks Jacob! We really do appreciate it.” Jacob got up and walked off. Matt turned to Alex and asked him the very thing that is bothering him. He just stared at Matt with his mouth wide open. Alex started to feel that Matt could read what is going on in his mind. “I really don't know how to answer your question. One thing is for sure, if our probation officer is anything like Carlos’, we are going to get a mouthful. Poor Carlos got his head ripped off by his probation officer yesterday when he reported in.” Just then their Sergeant approached them. “I don't know what you guys are talking about, but one thing is for sure it isn't the assignment. Stop your talking and study the ranks. You will get quizzed on Friday on what you're supposed to be studying right now.” Alex and Matt looked down at the desk and started going through their notes. They didn’t speak again to each other the rest of the period. On their way to their final class. They didn't speak to each other. They are both stuck in thought about what might be coming to them in just a couple of hours. The minute they got dismissed from their final class, Alex and Matt walked as fast as they could to the locker, got their books and walked to the parking lot. As they walked up to the truck, Jacob and the others are already sitting inside waiting for them. Matt got in trying to figure out how the others can get out of the school so quickly. As he sat there in thought, Alex explained to Jacob and the others that they do have an appointment at four, but more than likely that they won’t be seen at that time. None of them has a problem waiting for them. Jacob drove up and parked as close as he could to the probation office. Alex and Matt got down looking nervous as hell. Alex started to walk away from the truck. When Jacob called him and Matt back over. Jacob pulled out a couple hundred dollar bills from his wallet. “Here take this and pay your probation fees and any other fines that you’ve got to pay.” Alex didn't take the money, nor did Matt. “Look guys, this isn't something am giving to you; it's a loan. When your printing company gets going, you will pay me back any money that I'm loaning you. So just take this and get in there before you’re late.” Alex took the two hundred dollar bills from Jacob. He handed one to Matt as they walked into the office. Unlike Carlos’ experience the day before with his probation officer, Alex and Matt are surprised and pleased their officer didn't ride them or make them wait. In fact he came out to get them right on schedule, and got them out quickly. They wanted to go down to the office after meeting with the probation officer, but decided against it because of time. They just headed straight home instead. The first thing they did when they walked in to the house is do their homework. After they completed their homework they started fooling around. Right when Matt fell to his knees between Alex’s legs, some one started knocking on the bedroom door. Alex looked at the nightstand to see what time it is. He realized without even having to ask that it is one of his brothers coming to get them for dinner. Alex pulled Matt up from the floor and gave him a kiss on the lips before they walked out. To no surprise to neither of them they ran right into Lorenzo at the bedroom door. Alex grabbed him and tossed him on his shoulders. Trying not to be noticed, Alex and Matt ate as quickly as they could. The minute they finished eating, they got up and put their plates and silverware in the dishwasher. When they thought they got out of there scot free, they got stopped at the back door. “Hey Alex, can you and Matt come up to my room for a minute?” Alex turned around to see Jacob standing behind him. He nodded his head and followed Jacob up the stairs. He hopes whatever that Jacob needs to speak with him about can be done fast. He wants to get back to his house and be with Matt before his little brothers, called them over to play in the game room. They walked into Jacob's room to find Dewayne sitting on the bed. Alex and Matt stood at the door, and didn’t step completely into the room. Jacob didn't notice it until he turned around. He looked at Alex and Matt not understanding why they don't want to come into the room. “Okay, this is very strange of you guys. We aren’t going to jump you. Please, come in. There something we would like to discuss with you.” Alex and Matt walked in and they didn't stop until they stood in the middle of the room in front of Jacob. “Good we can’t now get down to business. I would like to offer you something and before you say anything, hear me out. I know you are a very proud man Alex and you don’t like to accept anything that you consider a handout. Now with that said I would like to explain to you first why I need to do this. This bedroom set I bought when I was together with Joey. In fact, Joey and I bought this bedroom set together. By the looks in your faces you are seeing where I'm going with this. In this very bed Joey and I shared our moments together. The mattresses aren’t dirty they are still pretty much brand-new. But I don't feel right sleeping in this bed with Dewayne even after I have changed the sheets over and over again. So after talking it over with Dewayne, we have decided to buy a new bedroom set. We don’t want to sell this one. Instead we would like you guys to have it. Again let me emphasize what I said at the beginning of this conversation. I know you are a proud man, Alex and you don’t accept handouts. This isn't a handout. If you will take this bedroom set off my hands you would be doing me a favor.” Alex really didn't know what to say. He just stood there in silence trying to gather his thoughts. The way the Jacob explained it, it does sound like he will be doing Jacob a favor at the same time that Jacob is doing him a favor. “I do understand why you want to get rid of this bedroom set. I believe you when you say that the mattresses are basically brand-new. Also as I look at the bedroom set it looks like there is no wear and tear on any piece of this set. So yes I will take this set off your and Dewayne’s hands.” Alex walked up to shake Jacob’s hand. “But I will pay you for it. It seems that you have opened me a charge account with you. Give me a price and I will pay it.” Jacob pulled a piece of paper from his pocket. It is the original receipt to the bedroom set. This receipt is attached to another piece of paper. As Alex wrote down the second piece of paper he noticed that Jacob knocked discounted the original price. Such as wear and tear, how long he has owned it and a family discount. The final price written on the bottom of the second piece of paper is five hundred dollars. Alex looked up to Jacob and smiled. “You really do know me in only a few months of friendship. I agree with the price, and I will pay it in full. Maybe not all at once, but it will get paid in full.” “Alex, there is no doubt in my mind that you will pay me back any money that I loan you. We are hoping to go out after school tomorrow to look at bedroom sets. If we find one tomorrow it will probably be delivered on Friday. If that’s the case, on Friday, we will help you and Matt move this set to your house.” Alex once again agreed with Jacob and shook his hand, bidding him goodnight. Alex and Matt tried to escape, but once again got caught at the back door. This time it's Lorenzo and Ismail asking Alex and Matt to join them in the game room. “Why don’t you let your brother and Matt go back to their room? They look exhausted and they might not be up to playing with you guys.” Franseca tried to help Alex and Matt get away. Alex looked at his little brothers, and could see that they really want him and Matt to join them. He looked over to Matt and Matt knew that they are going to go down to the game room. Alex doesn't like to say no to his little brothers. It didn't bother Matt at all because he likes to hang with the younger versions of Alex. By the time they finally got to their room. They only have time to shower and get ready for bed. They could stay up and have sex if they want to not get nearly enough sleep. They opted to get sleep over having sex. Matt crawled into the bed, followed by Alex. They cuddled up against each other as they tried to get comfortable in the small bed. Matt wrapped his arms around Alex and rested his head right next to the back of Alex's head. “The good thing, we only have a couple nights left sleeping in this small bed. Hopefully by Saturday, we will have a queen size bed.” Matt whispered into Alex's ear as he nibbled on Alex's neck. “Can you imagine having sex on a queen size bed? When we got together at the center we both had twin beds. When we came here same thing. The only way we are able to have sex is by doing it on the floor.” “You know, I really didn't give it much thought until you just said this Alex. You are right we really haven't had sex in a bed. Why don't we hold off on having sex until we get our new bedroom set? That way we can have sex all night long on our new bed.” “I can have sex with you all night long, and all day long, seven days a week. Every time I look at you, I get so horny that I can barely restrain myself. There has been so many times I wanted to rip your clothes off and have my way with you.” Alex turned his head as Matt leaned over to kiss him. As they kissed, Matt ran his hand down Alex's chest and stomach and didn't stop until he reached Alex’s dick. Matt didn't have to search for his boyfriend's dick because it is hard and leaking pre-cum through the underwear. He wanted so badly to help out and relieve the pressure that is building in Alex's balls. But he knows if they get started, they won’t stop. They made out for a while, and finally went to sleep. When they woke up the next morning they both had a huge erections. He crawled out of bed with their dicks pointing straight out. Even after getting dressed their Levi's couldn't hide their erections. Once they walked into Jacob's house, their erections finally went down. They sat down at the table as Franseca finished up cooking breakfast. Just like the mornings before, they ate at the house and ate again at school. Carlos told Alex that he spoke with Mr. Baird yesterday and he got a job. When he reports next month he can pay not only the current amount, but he can also pay what he couldn’t pay this month. That should shut his probation officers mouth for a while. “The next time you guys play football during lunch, I would like to be invited to play in the game. You don’t know how weird it felt hearing that you guys played from other people.” Jacob looked at Tom as he spoke. “Sorry Jacob, we went out to toss the pig skin around. Another group of guys walked up and dared us to a game. You know me and a dare. I can’t turn it down.” Everyone nodded their heads to what Tom just said except Alex, Matt and their group of friends. Jacob let the subject drop and moved on to another. Alex started to talk with Matt about doing something over this weekend. “I didn’t mean to eaves drop, but I have a question. Don’t you guys have to be in your house by seven in the evening like we do? That doesn’t give you enough time to go to the movies and eat.” Alex looked over at Steve to see a angry look in his face. “I don’t know what your probation officer set up for you guys, but Matt and I don’t have to be in our house until ten. That gives a plenty of time to catch a movie and eat.” Alex wanted to tell Steve to mind his own business, but he bit his tongue. Steve couldn’t believe that they get to say out a lot longer. Matt maybe deserves a later time, but Alex ran the gang and shouldn’t be trusted to stay out late. Steve got lucky when the bell rang. Alex could see disgust in Steve’s face and was about to invite him outside to discuss it in more detail but Steve got save by the bell. Alex dropped it and walked away. “Alex, I am proud of you for not doing what you wanted to do to Steve. If I can see it in your face and trust me, Steve saw it as well. You looked like you wanted to grab Steve and just knock the living shit out of him,” Matt observed. “The only reason I didn’t do what I wanted to do to Steve is because of you Matt. I want to be with you and I kept thinking if I hit this guy, I would not only get suspended, but I could get revoked as well. You are the reason I want to stay out of trouble.” “Me and your family of course.” Matt jabbed Alex in the arm. “Of course my family as well. They mean as much to me as you do.” They reached their locker and Alex turned to face Matt. “Look, you helped me keep a level head in that place we were in. You help me keep a level head while we are at school. I don’t want to embarrass you because I feel I need to fight someone to get my point across. I don’t care what Steve thinks of me. I care what you think of me.” At that moment they both wanted to kiss each other. They looked around and saw way too many people around. They held off and just grabbed their books out of the locker. They headed to class tapping each others hands as they walked to class. The minute the bell rang, the teacher handed back the assignments that they handed in the day before. Not saying a word, he filled out the attendance sheet. The students just watched the teacher walk to the door, put his attendance sheet in the box and walk back. He just stood in front of the class looking out at them. “When I asked you guys to read your assignments in front of the class yesterday I didn't give you permission to ad-lib. I sat at home reading your assignments and couldn't believe the differences between what you wrote in what you said. You will see three different grades on your assignments I handed back to you. The first one is the grade I gave you for speaking up front of the class. The second one is the grade that you got on the written part. The third is the final grade that went into my grade book. That is the average of the two.” Alex looked down at his paper and saw a zero for the first grade, a hundred for the second and his average is a failing grade of a fifty. He looked over to Matt's desk to see his assignment in his final grade is an eighty-five. He slid his assignment into his notebook and didn't bother to look at it anymore. Once again when the bell rang, the teacher kept Alex and let the other students go. Alex already angry with what occurred during breakfast with Steve, and now this! He is boiling over, and it is taking a lot to keep control of his anger. “I can see that you aren’t happy with your grade. I explained to you yesterday Alex that you needed to get up in front of the class and read your assignment. That was basically half of your grade for this assignment. Maybe next time, you will think twice before you lie and say that you didn’t do your assignment.” “This is not a debate class or a class that requires you to speak in front of the other students. This sheet of requirements you handed to the class the first day of the semester.” Alex pulled out the sheet of requirements for this class. “Nowhere in here is stated that, whenever YOU feel like it, we have to come up in front of the class and read our assignments. It does go into complete detail on how your grading system works and again, it doesn’t state the grading method that you used for this assignment.” Alex got up to leave, but stopped. “Although I don't think it's fair, but I will take a failing grade you gave me. If you are going to start using this grading system for our assignments, you need to put it on this sheet or not hand out this sheet at all.” He turned and walked out the door. Matt met him in the hallway and new by the look on his face that it’s best to leave him alone for now. At the end of third period, Alex had settled down from earlier. Although Alex is okay right now, Matt knows that anything small could actually set him off. Instead of going to the cafeteria for lunch, they met the guys at Jacob's truck. Since Dewayne is working today they are going to go to Taco Bell for lunch. They found a long line when they walked into the restaurant. This is the first time that they walked in and found the restaurant slammed with customers. It seemed as if the customers never stopped coming. Because of that Dewayne could not join them for lunch. That didn't stop Jacob and Dewayne stealing looks of each other. Alex could see that Jacob really wanted to eat lunch with Dewayne, but they couldn’t. After lunch, the rest the afternoon went by really fast. Before Alex knew it, he found himself walking with Matt to Jacob’s truck. He is still a little frustrated about his morning. He tried his best to just let it go. He still has a long evening ahead of him, because he is going to go to work. Since Jacob is going to go out with Dewayne searching for a new bedroom set, Alex and the guys are going to have to go to work in Tom's car. So as soon as they drove up to the house, they all got down. Alex, Matt, Chase and David waited for Tom outside by his car, as he ran in to get his car keys. They know if they go inside, they won’t be able to get out without being asked to eat something. All the way to work, everyone couldn't stop talking about how excited they are. This is going to be their first job and they're going to have fun doing it. It is not often that friends can get a job with each other and on the same shift. Even Alex got into a better mood than he started out with as he talked with the guys. This time as they drove up to the building, Al told them where to park so where they don’t have to pay. Tom parked and everyone jumped out of the car. They walked over to the building talking with each other about what to suspect on their first day of work. Taking the elevator down to the basement, they got off and walked into the print shop to find some of the machines going already. Alex and Matt went looking for Mr. Baird, while Tom and the others looked for their time cards and clocked in. Alex found Ron walking Carlos through the plant. He and Matt caught up to Ron and just listened to him as he gave the tour. The tour ended at the time clock, and that is where they ran into Tom, Chase and David. “Good, I am glad to see you all here on time for your first day. Since you three have already walked around the plant there is no need for me to give you a tour of it. Let me say this is here, before anything else. Give yourselves time to learn what each machine does and what they are called. If I ask you to go to a certain machine and you have no idea what I'm talking about, ask me, and I will walk you through the machines. Also I need to let you know, there are certain things that you can’t do because of your age. We have plenty of work here that you can do and still get your hours in. As we get going. I will let you guys know what you can’t do by law.” Ron walked everybody over to pallets of merchandise. He split everybody into groups of two except Alex and Matt. He then told them what to do with the material on the pallets. As soon as they understood which machines got what, Ron, Alex and Matt walked over to Ron’s office. “It looks like we're getting the complete crew for the evening shift. We are getting a lot of work, and there is no time to spare. In order to keep the customers we have I want to get their orders out ahead of schedule. We are a brand-new company and we need to build not only a customer base, but trust and confidence with our customers.” Alex sat down and looked around Ron's office. Ron hasn't made it personal yet, and Alex is starting to wonder why. He turned his attention back to what Ron is saying. He understands everything and agrees with it. “In the everyday running of this company is yours. We are busy with school and can’t give it the time it requires like you can. I just have a few concerns I believe you can clear up. The first one is where are we getting the money to not only buy the needed materials to get the print shop going but to pay everyone. I don't want anyone to put in time and we don't have the money to pay them or we give them paychecks and they just bounce.” “Remember that you and Matt have forty-nine percent of the business. The other fifty-one percent is owned by Jacob. He and I have spoken and he is fronting all the money to get this company going. Once it's on its feet, and we start getting paid. He is going to pull out his funding and we have to make it on what we are getting.” “Okay I understand that. I know that Jacob made a very big investment and he wants it to succeed. Once we are on our feet, are we going to be able to afford everything without the financial subsidy from Jacob? He is a great guy, but I would like him to start receiving money and not spending it.” “I agree with you on that Alex and I believe within ninety days we will be independent of Jacob for operating capital. Once the word got around what we are charging, we have more customers than we can handle. That is why you're going to have a day and evening crew in order to keep up with all the orders we are getting.” Ron pulled out contracts that have been signed by every school in the school in El Paso, Ysleta, Socorro and Fabens school districts. He also has contracts from the ROTC programs, car companies, local restaurants and other local companies. Alex couldn't help but smile at the amount of work that they already have. “So as you can see, there is nothing to worry about. As long as we keep these customers happy, there will be a lot more to come. That is where I come in at, and I promise you, these customers will be so happy. They aren’t going to go anywhere else,” Ron said with a wry smile. All the other questions that Alex had were answered! Everything came down to a customer base. As long as they have a customer base their business will succeed. “I have a weird question for you, but I have to ask. What do you want Matt and me to do to earn our pay? As you said earlier, we are young. There are certain things that we can’t do because our government says we can't do it.” “You guys are the owners and owners just show up. Come in and learn the company from the ground up. That way when you do come of age, you will know every bit of this company. I don't see this company going anywhere in my lifespan or yours. If you have kids, you will be able to pass this company to them. And so on and so on.” Alex, Matt and Ron walked out of the office so Ron can start showing them every machine in the print shop. He repeated the same thing he told them earlier not to worry about learning each machine right now. In time, they will learn everything they need to know all about running this business. By eight, everyone started to clock out. Ron has them scheduled from four to eight every evening and ten hours on Saturday and ten hours on Sunday. That gives them their complete forty hours a week and still enough time to get home, do their homework and get ready for their next day of school. Before leaving, Al stopped Alex and Matt and got them on the phone with the security company. They selected their codes before the security company walked them through setting the alarm and turning the alarm off. The last thing, the security company explained to them is that their codes only give them access to the lobby and the basement. After the main alarm is set, they can’t go up past the first floor or the alarm will go off. Alex got off the phone and walked over to Al. “Thank you Sir for trusting us. I promise that we won’t compromise your trust in us. We have been given an opportunity here that no one in our shoes would ever get.” “Alex, you guys have shown me that I can trust you. Just like I learned from my grandson, you guys will also learn. When he says that you can trust someone he is always right. Make your company succeed and you guys will never have to worry about anything. If you run into a problem, please don't hesitate to ask me or Jacob for help. You guys are now part of our extended family.” Instead of shaking Al’s hand, Alex hugged him instead. This is the kind of grandfather that he wishes he could have. He can’t remember his grandparents on his mother's side, but he can on his father's. They were even worse than what his father was and that's being generous to them. Al set the alarm and locked up the building. Alex and the others headed to Tom’s car more excited than they were when they arrived. They can’t wait until tomorrow to go to work again. They really liked what they were doing and can’t wait to actually do what they are going to do every day when they go to work. They got home in fifteen minutes with the scarce traffic on the roads. The minute they walked into the door, Franseca called them over to the kitchen to eat. She explained to Alex and the others that everyone one had already eaten except them and Jacob’s grandfather. After dinner, Alex and Matt went to their house to do their homework. As they finished their homework, Alex headed back over to Jacob’s to spend time with Lorenzo and Ismail. He knows his little brothers are waiting for him to play video games. Somehow they went from playing video games to wrestling with each other. Of course Alex let his little brothers win every time. After they won, they ran around the game room yelling that they can’t be beaten. Alex just laid there on the ground letting his little brothers enjoy themselves. He finally left his little brothers close to ten. Alex showered, laid out his clothes for the next day before getting into bed. He looked at the clock on the nightstand to make sure the alarm clock is on and when he saw the time. He couldn’t believe that it is already eleven fifteen. He flipped over to look at Matt as he sleeps. He just laid there in the bed looking at his boyfriend. Alex moved the few hair strands that had fallen into Matt’s face. He leaned and kissed Matt on the lips before he fell to sleep. At one thirty in the morning, Alex jolted awake from a bad dream. He pulled himself up and leaned his back against the wall in a cold sweat. As he sat there trying to calm down, he realized that he didn’t need to set the alarm for the morning. It is Saturday and they don’t need to get up so early in the morning. Alex turned off the alarm before he crawled under the covers. As he pulled the covers over him, Matt reached out and wrapped his arms around him. Alex moved as close as he could to Matt. He grabbed a hold of Matt’s hand and held it tight. It didn’t take long before Alex fell back to sleep again. He didn’t wake again until he felt Matt kissing him. Alex opened his eyes and looked up to see Matt smiling down at him. He reached out and pulled Matt down to him where he could return the kiss that Matt had woken him up with. Alex reached between Matt's legs and placed his hand on his thigh. Slowly he moved his hand up Matt’s thigh until felt Matt’s balls. Alex squeezed Matt’s balls gently a couple of times before he moved towards Matt’s dick. Matt knows what Alex is doing so he stepped back from the bed, breaking the kiss. “Oh no you don’t, you gangster of mine! You know if we get started we won’t be able to stop. We need to get up, get ready for work and go over for breakfast. When we get home tonight, I want your gangster muscular body all over me!” Matt kissed Alex on the lips before he pulled Alex out of the bed. Alex didn’t know that Matt was going to pull him out of bed. He landed up ended up falling to the floor, smashing his hard dick between him and the floor. He looked up to see Matt laughing as Matt walked to the closet. Alex got up and pulled down his underwear. His hard dick sprung straight out. Matt walked out of the closet to find his boyfriend standing in the middle of their room flexing at him with his underwear at his ankles. “You know that you want this body all over you right now.” Alex stopped flexing and grabbed a hold of his hard dick. “He wants your warm mouth all over him. He and I have been missing your warm mouth all week.” Matt stood their looking at Alex as he talked about his dick in a second person. He thought that was hot. It took every ounce of will power for Matt to not drop the clothes in his hand and run over to Alex, fall to his knees and grab Alex’s dick. Matt walked over and kissed Alex on the lips, tugged on Alex’s dick a couple as he whispered into Alex’s ear. “You and him….” Matt tugged once more on Alex’s dick. “…are going to have to wait until tonight to get my sweet, warm lips around him! You or him won’t regret it if you wait until tonight. Damn the big bed! We are going to have sex no matter if we have the bigger bed or not!” Matt let go of Alex’s dick and walked out of the room leaving the door open. Alex quickly pulled up his underwear before anyone could see him standing there naked. Alex ran over to the chair where he laid his clothes, he got dressed and headed out. Just like last night, Alex and the guys hitched a ride with Tom and David. Jacob and Dewayne are staying at the house for the delivery of the new bedroom set. Alex tried to stay in order to help Jacob moved out his old bedroom set into his room. But Jacob refused to let Alex stay. Jacob promised that he and Dewayne will move the furniture around. By the time they get home this afternoon, both rooms will be set up. With hesitation Alex agreed and headed out. They got to work to find the building locked still. Alex is surprised to find the building that still locked up. He suspected to run into either Ron or Al as they got to work. Alex reached down his pockets and realized that he didn’t bring his keys to the building. Matt pulled out his keys and unlocked the building. Before heading down to the print shop, Alex turned off the alarm system. Once they got downstairs and unlocked the print shop neither Alex nor Matt knew what to do from there. Tom, David and Chase went to clock in before doing anything else. As they clocked in, Alex and Matt turned on the lights to the main floor. They walked over to their offices and found that Ron or somebody had moved in furniture. The other three guys joined Alex and Matt in Alex's office. “So dude, what are we going to do today to earn our paycheck?” Tom asked as he walked into the office and leaned against the wall. “Right now all we can do is wait for Ron to show up. He knows what machines need to be turned on and what we need to be running right now. So just relax and enjoy this time, because we will be working very soon.” Everyone found a spot in the office and sat down. Not even ten minutes passed when Ron, Carlos and a couple other guys walked in. Before Ron did anything he went over to the break area and put on a pot of coffee. Once he got his coffee made and drank a couple slurps of it, he is ready to go and called the guys out to the floor. “Today we are going to run only four machines. I want to try to get two print jobs done before the day is over. Follow me over to the machines we are going to run. I will show you what each of you will be doing today.” After Ron started up the machines he showed each person what they are going to do for the day. At first he had no plans on putting the Alex or Matt on a machine. But they asked to work like the others in order to learn. Ron agreed and put Alex and Matt together on one of the machines. Each group tried to talk to each other, but none of them could hear the other over the machines. They finally gave up and just paid attention to their tasks at hand. Before they knew it, Ron walked out and called lunch. Since none of them brought lunch, they decided to go down the street to the McDonald's. Alex stopped at Ron's office and asked him to join them, but Ron declined. Alex didn't try to talk him into going with them. He just left and joined the other guys at the elevator. As soon as they returned back from lunch, Ron had the machines ready to go. Alex and Matt walked over to the machine that they were working on before lunch, but it was still turned off. Just as they turned to see what's going on, they found Ron standing behind them waiting for them. They walked over to the office in order to hear each other. “I love it that you guys want to get your hands dirty, but you need to learn other parts of the company such as a management area. You will be running this company very soon by yourselves. I don't plan to go anywhere, but this part you need to learn as well.” “Okay, we agree with you on that we need to learn all parts of the company. Why don't Matt and I spend half the day on the machines Saturday and Sunday in the other half with you learning the management part? We then split the week evenly between working on the machines and working by your side for you to teach us.” “That I can live with, and you can learn every part of the business. What I need to show you today is what printing jobs were going to do for the day. Just in case you get here again and I'm not here. You can come to the office and know what machines to turn on. I will never have my office locked.” The rest the afternoon, Alex and Matt sat with Ron and learned how to read the schedule of printing jobs. Once they got a hang of doing that, Ron took them out to the floor. Using the other machines that aren’t on he showed Alex and Matt how to turn them on. “Now, you guys can turn on the machines, but you can’t run them. That is why I have these other guys here. They will be running the machines and you, Matt and the other boys will be doing everything else.” Alex and Matt nodded their heads in agreement to what Ron is saying. Ron let Alex and Matt practice on turning on and off the machines before heading back to the office. They rested may be fifteen minutes before Ron got up and called it a day. Ron, Alex and Matt walked around and turned off the machines. As Ron took a look out the printing they did during the day. Carlos pulled Alex to the side. They walked over to Alex’s office and closed the door. “I am very grateful that Mr. Baird gave me a job. Last night when I got home my grandmother reminded me about my community service hours. With me working here every evening and Saturday and Sunday, I don't have any time to do my community service hours. You know I have an ass for a probation officer. He wants to find a reason to revoke me and send me back. I don't want to give them any reason to do so.” “I can cut you hours back, but that means you won’t be making your forty hours a week. You can only have one or the other Carlos. You won’t lose your job if you need fewer hours, just tell me what you want to do and we would do it.” Carlos moved around in his seat. “I need my hours here in order to not only pay for my fees but to help out at the house. My grandparents can’t make it on the money that they are getting on their Social Security checks. I'm what you call stuck between a rock and a hard place. I'm damned if I do and I am damned if I don't!” “Let me see if we can double dip in your hours. I know when we originally set this company up it was for people to complete their community service hours. Let me speak with Jacob and find out if we are still registered for people to do their community service hours. If we are, we will find a way to get you your forty hours and your community service hours.” Alex got up and walked over to Carlos. Carlos got up and walked out of the office with Alex. Carlos clocked out as he walked to the elevator. Ron locked the print shop and joined the boys at the elevator. Everyone walked out of the building as Ron tried to set the alarm. He couldn’t set it because it kept giving him several errors. Alex walked in to read the panel and didn’t understand what it meant. He walked over and called Jacob’s house to speak with Al. Al explained that there are several doors in the building that aren’t closed right. Alex, Matt and Ron checked every door on the first floor and basement. They found two doors on the first floor cracked open. After they made sure that all the doors are closed and secured. They walked back to the front of the building. This time when Ron set the alarm, it activated. Everyone said their good byes and headed home. On the way home Alex can’t stop thinking why those doors on the first floor were cracked open. Once everyone that was scheduled to work showed up, they didn’t go up to the lobby. They used the door in the basement that lead to street. Matt noticed once again Alex in deep thought. He debated with himself on whether or not to ask Alex what he is thinking about. He finally gave in and decided to ask. He leaned over to Alex and whispered in his ear. “You seem to be in deep thought a lot lately. When we were in the center and you were likes this it was something to do with the gang. Now we are out of the center and you are still keeping things from me. What is on your mind?” “Matt please forgive me! I don’t mean to shut you out. Yesterday is was what our teacher did with our grades. Ever since I found that I really liked school, I aimed to get the highest marks on all of my assignments. He goes and gives me a failing grade because I didn’t want to get up and speak in front of the class.” “You can’t let things like that bother you Alex. If you do that, you will fold under the pressure. I know it is easier said than done, but just let yesterday go. You will bring that grade up. Don’t tell me that is all that is bothering you right now.” “No, that isn’t what is bothering me right now. The thing that is bothering me today is the open doors on the first floor. Those doors should not have been opened. Al and Jacob are trusting us with a lot. Now look on our first day being without them, this happens.” “This I see where you are coming from. There is an easy fix to this problem as well. Now on during the weekend or in the evenings after Al and his staff goes home, we have our staff use the exit to the street from the basement. The only ones allowed in lobby will be you, me and Ron.” Alex looked over to Matt and smiled. “That is a good idea. Also we lock down the elevator and stairs so that anyone that doesn’t have the keys can’t use them either. They can only be in the area where they should be. Very good idea Matt!” Matt didn’t say anything else. He leaned in and kissed Alex instead. He loves it when he sees Alex not worried about anything. Matt knows there is going to be times that Alex is going to worry, but he needs Alex to start talking with him. Matt decided to shelve that discussion for another day. Alex is back in a good mood again. Alex and Matt walked into Jacob’s house and said hello and good bye to everyone they ran into as they made their way to their house. As they walked into their room, they fell right into their new bed. They forgot that Jacob and Dewayne moved their new bedroom set into their room while they were out. Both of them looked at each other and started to laugh. Matt pushed Alex back on the bed on his back and got on top of Alex. Matt started to kiss Alex, not giving Alex a chance to even get comfortable. When Matt broke the kiss it was for him to pull off his shirt. He pulled Alex up from the bed and pulled off his shirt as well. Pushing Alex back onto his back, Alex started to kiss down Alex’s neck, to his chest and back to his neck. “I want to make love with my gangster boyfriend. I want your gun in my mouth so bad, I can’t wait another minute!” Matt whispered in Alex’s ear. He crawled between Alex’s legs. Unbuttoning Alex’s pants, pulling down the zipper, Matt separated the flaps of Alex’s jeans to get to what he wants. As Matt put his hand into Alex’s boxers, he immediately found Alex’s hard dick leaking pre-cum. Matt struggled trying to get Alex’s dick out. Alex is so hard; Matt can’t get it out of the fly of Alex’s boxers. Matt gave up and got up from the bed. He pulled off Alex’s shoes and socks and then pulled off Alex’s jeans with his underwear at the same time. He lay back down between Alex’s legs and grabbed Alex’s dick. All at once, Matt put Alex’s dick into his mouth. Alex started to moan as Matt sucked his dick. With his eyes squeezed shut, Alex reached out and wrapped his hands around the back of Matt’s head. He didn’t do it to control the speed Matt is going. It was just reflex for Alex to do that. As Alex felt the urge to cum, he pulled Matt off of his dick. He rolled Matt onto his back as Alex got up from the bed. After he pulled off Matt’s shoes, he unbuttoned Matt’s jeans and pulled them off along with Matt’s underwear. Just like Matt, Alex crawled between Matt’s legs. He put Matt’s dick into his mouth and quickly deep throated it. As he sucked Matt’s dick, Alex played with Matt’s balls one at a time. That threw Matt into another gear that he never knew that he had. Between moans, he half whispered and yelled to Alex. He didn’t even know that he started to yell. “Please, I want my gangster to fuck me! Bury your cock in my ass and make love to me! I need to feel you meat in my ass now!” Alex let Matt’s dick slip out of his mouth as he looked up to Matt. “I want to make sweet love to you. I don’t want to rush one second of us being together. I want to be inside you and I want you inside me as well.” Matt couldn’t speak, he just shook his head. Alex helped Matt move all the way to the head of the bed. Once Matt got settled, Alex lifted Matt’s legs. He threw them over his shoulders. Alex wanted this love making to be long and meaningful. Pre cum wasn’t going to be enough lubrication to make it just right. Reaching over to the nightstand, Alex got the KY and generously lubed Matt’s hole, working the lube into the opening. He then lubed his cock. Gently Alex pushed his cock against Matt’s hole and didn’t stop until his dick broke through. Once Alex’s dick penetrated, he slowly sank it in completely. With the KY, it went easily and smoothly for both of the lovers. As Alex started to get into his rhythm, Matt kept grabbing at Alex’s arms and chest. Not scratching at them, just cresting any part of Alex’s body that Matt could touch. Matt rested his hands on Alex’s nipples. Matt squeezed Alex’s hardened nipples as Alex fucked him. Alex stopped himself before he exploded. He pulled his dick out and lay on his back. Matt put Alex’s legs over his shoulder just like Alex did to him. Matt loved the sensations that lube provided, so he grabbed the KY and lubed Alex’s love chute the same way Alex had done for him. He also generously lubed the full length of his cock ensuring that he would give Alex the same awesome experience Alex had given him. Matt slowly pushed his dick into Alex until his entire dick was buried to his pubes. It didn’t take long for Matt to reach climax. “Man you are so tight Alex and I am about to cum! Do you want me to cum in your ass or in your face? Please, I am about to cum in your very tight ass, tell me what you want.” “No, pull out and cum on me Matt! Don’t cum in my ass, cum on me!” Alex looked into Matt’s face with a pleading look. Matt pulled out his dick and quickly moved up to Alex’s face. Alex opened his mouth as Matt knelt above him stroking his still well lubed cock. As Matt was stroking, Alex slipped his middle finger into Matt’s hole and found that sweet spot and massaged it to heighten Matt’s passions. Within seconds, Matt started to shoot. Almost every shot of cum landed in Alex’s mouth. The ones that didn’t either landed on Alex’s forehead or cheek. One shot actually landed on Alex’s shoulder. Matt didn’t rest after shooting his last shot of cum. He fell to the bed and started to jerk Alex off. Alex already got close to exploding twice today, so it didn’t take long for him to shoot. When Alex started to shooting, Matt leaned over until his mouth got directly above Alex’s dick. Every shot of cum Alex shot landed in Matt’s mouth. While Matt ate down below, Alex scooped up the cum on his forehead, cheek and even the one that landed on his shoulder and ate it. Once they both felt they got all the cum the other shot, they fell side by side onto the mattress. Covered in sweat and still breathing hard, they just lay there on the bed slowly coming down from their highs. Not needing to say a word, Alex and Matt knew what the other is feeling. Matt crawled up to Alex and lay by his side. They kissed each other for a long time before falling asleep at each other side. Alex woke up first, but didn’t get up. He moved to his side and just lay there looking at Matt sleep. He looked Matt up and down his naked body. He can’t believe how happy that Matt makes him feel. Alex kept thinking to himself that he is in a dream that he hasn’t woken up from. When he does wake up, he will be in jail still and not have ever met Matt at all; the love of his life is nothing but his mind playing tricks on him. He lay back down at Matt’s side wrapping his arms around Matt. Alex thought as he dozed off to sleep that, if this is a dream, he doesn’t want to wake up. He wants to live the rest of his life in this happy dream with his boyfriend at his side. TO BE CONTINUED……………. WRITER’S CORNER: {I like to welcome you back readers to another chapter of “Beneath the Mask”. This story is starting to roll along at a good pace. The time line is not going so fast anymore nor has it slowed down to the point I think you guys will get bored. This is the first time that I left a chapter barely ending a sex scene. Many times I find myself in a position that I can’t find a breaking point. Some of the chapters all of a sudden end when I bring a plot to a conclusion faster than I would like from simply needing to find a breaking point to move onto the other chapters! Can you imagine had I left you guys in a cliff hanger in the middle of a sex scene? Aren’t you glad there are no more cliff hangers? Alex and Matt I keep saying are getting closer and closer. You can see it in their love making and in the way they are with each other. I wish they could just drop the act and hold each other’s hand at school. If they want to kiss each other, they should. But keep in mind this story is back in 1992. Things like that were not seen in public. In this chapter we see two different probation officers. One that is a really big prick and the other is okay. I used to work at a job that we use to hire from halfway houses. I used to talk with some them during lunch and they told me stories. That is where I get the probation and halfway house plots from. So if there are any readers out there that have been in these places and feel I have miss-stated or didn’t do justice to these plots, remember it is just fiction. Please let me know what you have gone through in places like this or on probation. I might write it into my stories. As you see in this chapter I didn’t write that much about Jacob. He appeared here and there, but I didn’t write a huge amount involving him. Now that Alex and Mat are away from the center and on their own, I feel they have a set of good plots of their own. Jacob will appear and at times and I will open plots in this story and finish them off in Jacob’s or the other way around. Also I am using characters from Jacob story such as Chase, Tom and David. They aren’t getting a lot of playing time in Jacob’s story and I want to get them back involved in the stories. But they will remain main characters in Jacob and appear quite a bit in this story as well. Keep an eye on their plots as well. The print shop is up and running. Mr. Baird is running the everyday stuff, but wants Alex and Matt to learn every aspect of the business. I agree with Mr. Baird and Alex and Matt should. They need to get their hands dirty with manual work, but they also need to learn the everyday management of the business. They can’t depend on Mr. Baird forever for that. Alex has a problem speaking in front of his classmates! I think the main issue there is that he doesn’t want to be up front in every student’s eye. He wants to keep a low profile and just get through high school. Remember there is the lingering fact that his former gang is looking for him. If he starts to get into the spot light, that makes it even easier for his former gang to find him. Carlos I think is going to come around and be a good person. He wants to work and get money to help his grandparents out. He also has to worry about his probation officer. I really do hope that he can keep his forty hours and get community service hours done at the same time. He doesn’t need to give his probation officer any reason to revoke him. What is up with Steve do you think? I really hope he doesn’t cause Alex and Matt trouble. He was cool in the center, but upset about finding out that Alex and Matt have a different time to be in their house than he does. Let’s just hope he lets it fall to the side and leaves it alone. The one I think that will be able to settle him down on that is Robert. We haven’t heard much about Steve and Robert since they got out of the center. We will in the next few chapters. How are they handling being out of the center with each other? Are they still together? Is their relationship getting stronger? You know love making is a lot better when you don’t have to rush it like they had to do in the center. Since this story received a makeover in the last four or so chapters, it is going to be very exciting in the chapters to come, trust me on that. Right now, so many of the old plots in this story I keep bringing in, probably has you wondering on what is going on. As the chapters finish, you can’t wait for the next posting of the new chapter. I really thank you guys for coming back week after week, and reading my postings. I hope I will never let you guys down as far as the drama in the storylines is concerned. I don’t want to say too much more and spoil the future chapters to come, so I won’t. I warn you though! Don’t skip a chapter, or you will be lost. There is a so much to answer in the chapters to come. Keep reading the future chapters, and enjoy! Please email me and let me know how I am doing at jacobmillertex@aol.com, Thanks!} EDITOR’S CORNER: Jacob, GREAT love scene with Alex and Matt! Their lovemaking is maturing and becoming more emotionally driven making the physical more passionate. I like it that both Alex and Matt focus on giving their counterpart pleasure. Sex coupled with deep love is the glue that will hold any good relationship together. The print shop is taking off at Warp Speed. With the team of Jacob and Mr. Baird and Al in the background, coupled with the dedication of the friends being employed in the business, I expect that the business will thrive, grow and will be profitable. I agree with Alex that the teacher that rated him at 50% for his assignment was outside his agreement with the students in doing so. Any aspect of grading a student’s performance must be contained within the syllabus for the class. The syllabus is a form of contract outlining the expectations and policies for a class. It should be adhered to and if there are any changes, such changes must be outlined before being implemented. I am a teacher in an adult education environment and that is the bar to which both my students and I are held accountable. I hope that Alex will find a way to appeal the grade to preserve his grade average. It would be a great life lesson for Alex if he can find a way to appeal the grade relying on new ways to resolve a conflict rather than the ways he used in the past. I hope that Steve has enough maturity to work though his feeling of unfairness regarding his curfew time. I hope that his P.O. will gain trust in him and that the curfew will be extended with evidence that Steve is going to be reliable and trustworthy. I suspect, like Jacob said, that Carlos has turned his life around and is taking the right path along with Alex and Matt. I worry that the gang will find him and threaten him into revealing where Alex is and how to get to him. What is the deal with those doors in the office building on the first floor being unsecured? Was someone lurking in the building? Just how did those doors get opened? If I were Alex and Matt, I would report that to Jacob and Al to cover their butts! I hope you all enjoying the story as much as I am. Jacob weaves a tale that I find addictive. I can’t get enough of his work. I so admire someone that has the ability to weave tales of this caliber. Until next time, “Daddy” Rick
  10. Johnny Walker IV looked over his letter one last time. He really didn't think it would work, but by this point he couldn't think of anything else to do. He was only thirteen years old, and he needed help. Once he was sure the letter was ready, he stuffed it in an envelope, wrote the address on it, and ran downstairs so he could mail it. "Johnny?" A deep male voice said from the kitchen as the boy was getting his shoes on to go out the door. "Yeah dad?" Johnny said as he walked into the kitchen, and had to stop himself from cringing. Sitting in a wheelchair was a man that he almost didn't recognize. His dad had always been very big on his appearance, now though, the man hadn't shaved in days, his hair was long and stringy, and the light that Johnny had always remembered being in his dad's eyes was gone. "I know its summer, but your mom's working tonight. I need you home by six." The man couldn't even meet his son's gaze. Trying to stay as upbeat as possible, Johnny walked over, leaned down and gave his dad a hug. A hug the man couldn't or wouldn't even participate in. Turning around quickly so his dad wouldn't see the tears that started to well up in his eyes, Johnny shouted back. "Sure thing dad... see you then." On his way out of the house, he didn’t slow down. Once out of the door, he ran all the way down to the corner mail box. As reached it, Johnny pulled down the little tray, said a brief prayer before dropping his letter in the box. He hoped that the prayer he just made might actually do some good. At this point, he'd all but given up hope. The hustle and bustle of a normal Saturday at the Governor’s mansion was ten times magnified this Saturday due to the concert. Everyone woke up earlier than usual and helped out. Even the Governor didn’t go into his office like he normally does because he wanted to be there for Josh in case his son needed him. They had a quick breakfast before breaking off into teams. Daniel Jr., Carlos and Patrick headed out to the stadium to make sure things were being set up without a problem. Although they have never given a concert before, they have heard how things could fall apart fast. So they want to identify anything that arises and fix it immediately before it becomes a huge issue that would affect the overall concert. Josh, Cesar and Brandon went off to the hotel where they booked several rooms for the performers. They aren’t staying the night, but Josh felt that maybe they would want to clean up before heading to the stadium. Plus one of the local hotels gave Josh five rooms at no charge as long as he put them on the list as being a donor and supporter of the concert. The first to arrive at the airport was Kenny Rogers. Today will be the first time Josh will actually speak with Kenny Rogers in person. He has spoken with him several times over the phone, but never in person. So as he waited for him, Josh was nervous and Cesar saw that. He tried to clam Josh down, but didn’t have enough time. Just as Josh was settling down, Kenny’s private plane landed. The boys got out of limousine and walked over to the metal stair case that had been pushed up to the plane already. Several people that the boys didn’t know got off first and then Kenny appeared at the door of the plane! On his way down the long metal staircase, he waved at the screaming fans that were behind a rope line. Josh introduced himself, then Cesar and Brandon before showing Kenny to the car. At first Josh thought that Kenny didn’t like him because he didn’t say much, but once they were in the car, Kenny started to talk as if they were old friends. “Josh thank you for inviting me to be part of such a good cause. It is rare to find a young kid your age already wanting to do so much for their local community like you’re doing here. This is going to help out so many people that really need the help.” “I should be the one thanking you since you’re giving your talent for free. This concert would not have worked if you or Dolly or George wouldn’t have signed on to do it free of charge. People only donate now of days if they get something in return. That return has to be very worthwhile to get their donations to make matters worse.” “There is no need to explain anything to me. I have seen what you’re talking about. I understand that the entire stadium is sold out. Is that true?” Josh nodded his head. “Damn! That’s great to hear! It has been a while that I have performed in front of such a huge crowd. I been meaning to get back on tour, but one thing or another has come up.” “Well you then can call this your kick off concert to a new tour.” Kenny laughed and agreed with Josh. They reached the hotel moment later. As they headed in, they had to push by screaming fans that some how got through the rope line that was set up at the entrance of the driveway of the hotel. Once they were in, they went straight up to the rooms where Josh left Kenny. On his way back down, a young lady stopped him in the lobby. At first he thought it was a fan that hid as they cleared out the lobby, but she wasn’t. Nancy Wilson is the owner of the local NBC station and wanted to be the only station to broadcast the concert. Josh said no at first, but she threw something that Josh couldn’t walk away from. “Look Mr. Lopez to show you how serious I am that I want to be the only channel to broadcast your concert, I can guarantee that it will go national.” Josh stopped and looked at Nancy stunned. “Yes you heard me right, national. I have already spoken with the people at the network and they told me they will take the concert national if I can get you to make us the only channel and network to carry it.” “To be completely honest with you Nancy, I had no plans to let any channel inside the concert and broadcast it live, but you’re dangling a huge carrot here. If you would add one thing to this, I will do it. I know it might not be possible since we are on the day of the concert, but I am going to try and ask anyways.” “Go ahead and ask and if I can get it done, I will.” “Put in an eight hundred number on the screen for people to call in and donate whatever they can for the cause the concert is being held for. I know this is late notice and you might not be able to get a phone bank up and running to take the calls.” “We have several phone banks that we use and are ready at a moment notice whenever we need them. I can get all that together within a couple of hours as long as they aren’t selling anything. If they are just taking donations, it won’t be hard to do at all.” “That is all they will be doing. I don’t want them to try and up sell anything to the callers. All I want is the callers to call in and say I want to donate this amount, give their payment method and then hang up. That is all the operators are going to do in the phone call.” Josh and Nancy went over how the operators should answer the phone calls and then moved onto to the concert. He promised her that they will have full access to the back stage and of course the concert. The dressing rooms and anywhere else the performers don’t want the cameras, her station can’t put them there. Once they agreed on all the details, they went their separate ways. Nancy has a lot of work to do before the concert. Her main concern is getting the word out that they will be broadcasting the concert live. With such a small window to get that message out, she has no time to waste. Josh had the limousine driver hurry as fast as he could back to the airport. Just as he, his brother and boyfriend pulled on the tarmac, Dolly Parton’s plane was coming to a stop. They jumped out of the limousine before it came to a complete stop. Josh wanted Dolly to see him as soon as she gets off the plane as Kenny did. They are giving their time for free and should be treated with the highest respect possible. Unlike Kenny, once the door opened, Dolly walked out. She stood on the top of the stairs looking over to the fans that have gathered to greet her. Not skipping a beat, she smiled and waved at the fans as she made her way towards Josh, Cesar and Brandon. They greeted each other with hugs before heading to the car. “Sweetie, it is nice to be here and have another chance to do a duet with you.” Josh looked at Dolly as if she was out of her mind since he had no plans to sing. “Don’t tell me don’t plan to perform this evening. There is no way we are going to let the night go without you performing, Josh. This is your baby and you need to open the show.” “But I don’t…..” Dolly interrupted Josh. “I don’t want to hear any butts. You’re going to perform, end of conversation sweetie. Don’t make me get Kenny and George to gang up on you. You know you don’t want to get George upset. He and I came to a conclusion that you were going to sing.” “If you put it that way, I guess I have no other choice.” Josh tired to get out of it by giving Dolly his wounded look, but it didn’t work. “You’re going to open the show and then introduce me by singing a duet with me. Just tell me the song you want and I will sing it with you. Just make sure if it isn’t one of mine, I get the sheet music and it is in my ear piece several hours before the concert.” Josh agreed with Dolly before falling into his own thoughts. Not only does he now have to worry about getting his performers from point A to B, he now needs to put together a set list for this evening. There is never a dull moment in his life and Josh is realizing that more and more as he gets involved in different things. Since George wasn’t due to arrive for another couple hours, Josh went to one of the other rooms that aren’t being used by Dolly or Kenny to get working on the song set. The first one he wanted to pick is the duet song so Dolly could get familiar with it in time. He looked at all her duets she had out and saw a few he liked, but not one really caught his eye that he wanted to sing. Just as he was about to settle for one of the easy duets that Dolly has out, Cesar walked in and kissed Josh on the forehead before sitting down on the bed. As he looked into his boyfriend’s eyes, he sees the love that Cesar has for him. At that very moment a song that has been playing on the radio a lot lately hit Josh. He jumped up from the bed, kissed Cesar on the lips before running out of the room thanking Cesar. Cesar watched as Josh ran out of the room trying to figure out what he said or did that moved Josh so quickly. He lowered his head and lifted his arm to see if by any chance that was the problem, but it wasn’t. Just as he lowered his arm, Josh came running in with a paper, pen and his walkman. After finding the song he was looking for, Josh played it over and over again until he had the lyrics written down right. He got back up and walked over to Dolly’s room, knocked on the door and waited until he was invited in. Not even a minute past before he heard Dolly’s voice piercing through the door inviting him in. “Dolly I have the duet I would like to sing with you. It isn’t one of yours and I hope that won’t be a problem.” Josh handed Dolly the lyrics he wrote down. “Not a problem at all sweetie!” Dolly took a quick glance at the lyrics and then handed the paper back to Josh. “I love this song and wished I had recorded it. I know it very well and can sing either part of it, but I am pretty sure you want me to sing the second part since it comes in later.” Dolly laughed her high pitch laugh that she does. “Yes ma’am unless you have no problem with that. Since I am going to be on the stage I think I should start off the song and then you come in with the part that his wife actually sings in the song.” Josh had a concerned look on his face. “That is not a problem as I said before. This is a great song and I am honored to sing the song with you. I know you still have to pick a few more songs for this evening. Do you have any in mind that won’t be much of a problem for you to have ready?” “Yes ma’am I pretty much know which songs I will be singing tonight already. Two of them I sang as my solo part in the Show Chorus at my school at the end of the year. The third one I have been working on for awhile. I wanted to sing it when I sang with George the last time he was here, but I wasn’t comfortable with it yet.” “That is great sweetie.” Dolly walked over to her suitcases and put them on the bed. “Now I need to start getting ready for tonight. Unlike you guys, we women need to have a little more time in front of the mirror before we go out on stage.” Josh thanked her once again for doing the concert and started to leave when she spoke again. “I know who you’re singing that song for and he is going to fall deeper in love with you tonight.” Not able to help himself, Josh turned all shades of red. He quickly turned, thanked Dolly and left her room as fast as he could without being disrespectful. When he closed the door to her room, he hoped that she didn’t think he was being disrespectful with the way he left. He just didn’t want her to see him blush like he was doing. Meanwhile back at the stadium, Daniel, Carlos and Patrick didn’t run into any problems at first, but that changed very fast once the first two bands arrived. They started to fight over everything it seemed to the boys. At first were the boys weren’t going to step in, but when it looked like they were going to start throwing their instruments at each other, Daniel settled the disputes as they came up. The first dispute that he handled was where they were going to set up their equipment. Since there wasn’t going to be a lot of time between each performer, Daniel told them that they could set up their guitars and small instruments like that on the stage. As far as the big instruments like the drums and piano, they will all have to use the same ones that are already sitting on the stage. Once they agreed with that, Daniel and the other two thought things were going to be easy, but it wasn’t long before they started fighting about dressing rooms. This time Carlos settled the problem, which was easy to settle since the dressing rooms were already assigned. He told them that and no one is going to be moved from their assigned dressing room. Not able to argue with that, they grunted as they went their separate ways. Just as the boys relaxed, several camera crews showed up from the NBC studios. They were turning them away since they thought that there wasn’t going to be any camera crews allowed in the concert. One of the producers asked Daniel to call his brother to confirm that he has given permission for their station to be there. Giving the producer the benefit of the doubt, Daniel called the hotel and caught Josh as he was about to leave to pick up George. Josh confirmed what the producer told him and hung up the phone with his brother. He grabbed Cesar and Brandon on his way to the elevator. On their way down, Josh told them that he was going to sing tonight. “I was wondering when you were going to finally get over the idea of not singing. This is your thing Josh and you should have never thought differently than you were going to perform tonight. You might not sing as long as the other three, but you have to do a few songs.” “You’re right Brandon, you’re right I should have never thought anything less than me performing tonight. Now I am in a rush putting together a duet to sing with Dolly. I feel bad that I am not going to sing one of her songs with her tonight, but she doesn’t mind that. She was so nice when I handed her the lyrics and she took a look at them. I thought that she was going to crumble the paper up and toss in the wastebasket.” “I don’t know Dolly like you do Josh, but she never did strike me as a person that would do something like that.” Cesar pinched Josh’s butt right before the elevator door opened. Josh gave him a dirty look as they walked out to the lobby. They talked about Josh performing all the way back to the airport to pick up George. No matter how many times Cesar and Brandon asked Josh what songs he was going to perform tonight, he didn’t give it up. Two of the songs were for sure, but the third was still up in the air. Josh still doesn’t feel comfortable with the song yet since it is rock, but slow rock. The song would be perfect for tonight and that is why he is leaning toward doing it. “Josh, come on tell us what you’re going to sing tonight.” Brandon kicked his brother’s foot to pull him out of his thoughts. “Earth to Josh. Do your read me? What songs are you going to sing tonight?” Josh looked at his brother and started to shake his head. “I am not going to tell you guys no matter how many times you ask me. What I will do is give you a hint on what I am going to sing.” Both Cesar and Brandon grunted. “I already performed these songs once in the Show Chorus so they won’t be new ones. The only reason I am singing songs that I have already sang is because of time.” The limousine arrived right at the airport as Josh gave his hint. Not giving his brother or boyfriend a chance to come back at him with another question, Josh jumped out of the car and walked over to the front of it. Cesar and Brandon joined him and started throwing out guesses. Josh acted as if he couldn’t hear them with all the noise around them, but he could and everyone knew it. George Strait’s private jet came into view catching the boy’s attention. They watched as the plane landed and the ground crew moved the staircase up to it. The door opened and George’s band came out first and then George. Just like Kenny and Dolly before him, he waved at the huge crowd that gathered to welcome him back to Austin. When he got to the last step, he greeted Josh, Cesar and Brandon. They shook hands and then George walked over to the crowd instead of going to the limousine. Being caught off guard, the boys had to run up to George in order to catch up to him. They had already started walking to the limousine in order to open the door for George. He spent a few minutes shaking as many hands and signing as many autographs as he could. When the crowd started to get to pushy, George thanked them for coming out and headed back to the limousine. He didn’t want the crowd to get to riled up and end up trampling over each other in order to get an autograph or a handshake from him. Once they settled in and the limousine pulled out of the airport, Josh gave George an update on how everything was moving along. He saved the live NBC telecast to the end so if George had an issue with it, they could have time to talk about it. “I like the idea of the eight hundred numbers across the screen to donate to the cause we are raising money for. A very good idea. The only thing I see wrong there is that since the money is going to be coming in from all over the United States with that eight hundred number is that you give that money to the national office to use. That is if there is one.” “I don’t know if there is one or not, but I will find out. I agree with you on that point and will find a way that the money that is brought in through the eight hundred will be used everywhere in the US. As far as the money that is being brought in through ticket sales and anything at the stadium will be donated to the local office here.” George agreed with Josh before he switched subjects on him. “What is this that I am hearing that you have no plans to perform tonight? The other night when I spoke with the Governor, he told me he asked you to perform, but you said you weren’t planning on it. You’re a performer and should always take any opportunity that you can to show case your talent.” “I already had this conversation with Ms. Dolly. She wasn’t taking no for an answer and added that she wanted to do a duet with me tonight. So between picking her up and the time for us to meet you, I found a song to do the duet with her and put together a set for me to do from the songs I have performed with my Show Chorus at school.” Understanding that Josh had no other choice but to sing songs that he has already performed in the past, but George would have enjoyed seeing him perform songs that he hasn’t performed before. The more songs a performer performs, he feels it makes the person stronger. Here in Josh’s case he is trying to stay safe George thought to himself. “As long as you’re going to open the show I am okay with whatever you’re going to sing. I know the fans that are coming out to see us are going to enjoy your performance as much as I will.” George leaned forward and patted Josh on the knee. The rest of the way to the hotel, they talked about several other things, none of which was about the concert. George wanted to make sure that Josh was going to call on him to do a show in El Paso with the Show Chorus when he returns to school. Also he wanted to see if Josh has tried his hand writing his own songs yet. “I have tried between doing so many other things, but I just can’t seem to get anything going. I might not be good at that and so I will never have my own songs. Yeah I can pay someone to write my songs, but that isn’t the same as me writing them? I want to put down on paper what I am feeling, not sing what someone else is feeling.” “I see where you’re coming from and I agree with you. Even if you tell them what you want in the song, it won’t be the same. What you need to do is escape from the world when you write. Don’t do it between doing other things. Your mind is not completely on writing so you will never write anything. Take time out of the day and just lock yourself up in your own little private part of your house and write. You will be surprised at what comes out of you. Some not so good but some you will be able to put together a song.” Josh knows that George knows what he is talking about when he comes down to writing. Heck he has a lot of number one hits to back up what he is saying so Josh is going to take his advice. Really Josh would like any advice that George or any performer that he knows is willing to give him. They have the experience that Josh needs to listen to. When they arrived at the hotel, George went over to the fans and did what he did at the airport. This time he stayed a little longer with them since they weren’t pushing at each other to get to the front. It took a member of his band informing him that he needs to get ready for him to stop signing autographs. As soon as George was settled in, Josh went and checked on Kenny and Dolly before heading back to the mansion. He found them in Dolly’s room and saw they were okay. Before leaving he did inform them that the limousines are available to take them to the stadium when ever they are ready to go. They thanked him for everything he has done and went back to their conversation. All the way back home Josh thought about what George had told him about writing, Then his mind wandered to what he had planned to sing. As he thought more and more about the third song he wanted to sing, the more he felt uncomfortable doing it. By the time the car pulled up to the Governor’s mansion, Josh had decided against singing that song and replaced it with one he has done before. They ran in to get ready for the concert. Since it was already after twelve, they didn’t have much time to spare. Josh and Cesar took their shower first. When they walked out of the shower ten minutes after going in, it surprised Brandon. He thought that they would have taken some time to be with each, but he was wrong. After taking his shower, Brandon found Josh walking up and down the hall talking to himself. At first he thought Josh was talking to himself but the more he listened he was able to make out that Josh was practicing a song. He wanted to tease Josh that he knows one of the songs Josh was going to sing, but he decided to leave his big brother alone. There is no doubt in his mind his big brother is nervous by the way he is walking around. Soon after Brandon had gotten out of the shower, Daniel Jr., Carlos and Patrick came running up the stairs. Josh stopped what he was doing when they walked up to him and started to tell him how their day was. As they took turns telling Josh what they went through, he couldn’t help laughing. It wasn’t that he was laughing at his brothers. He was picturing the bands pulling at each others instruments trying to beat each other on the stage. His mind even went further to what it would have looked like if they did get into blows with each other. That cracked Josh up even more, which got Daniel, Carlos and Patrick angry with him. Josh stopped laughing and explained to them why he was laughing. “You guys I am not laughing at you. I am imagining these grown men hitting each other over the head with their cases and drum set. That would be a funny site to see.” Josh started laughing again and this time his brothers and Patrick laughed with him. Between laughs Josh told them what he was imagining. “Can you picture one guy hitting the other guy with their guitar and then he returns by hitting him with the piano. Then the drummers jump in and take one of their drums and smash it over the head of one of the other band members. Man it would be even funnier if that guy would stumble on the stage with the drum around his waist.” He stopped talking because he was laughing so hard. Josh almost fell to the ground with the visions of these two bands fighting. All of them were laughing so loud, Brandon, Cesar, Barbara and the Governor walked out to the hallway to see what was going on. None of them were able to say a word because they were laughing so hard. Daniel Sr. enjoyed seeing his kids having so much fun. He turned and walked into his room, followed by Barbara. It is already getting late and they hadn’t even started to get ready. Since his boys had to get to the stadium or the hotel before they did, Daniel let them shower first. The mansion has more than one bathroom, but when ever there two showers is going at the same time, the pressure is low. Neither of them asked each other what they thought was going on in the hallway. They figured if the boys wanted to let them in, they would. Daniel let Barbara take her shower first and then he jumped in. When he walked out to the bedroom, he found a suit already laid out for him, including his tie, socks and shoes. Once he was dressed and ready to go, he went down to join the family that was pretty much all ready. Josh and Cesar were the only two that hadn’t come down yet. Everyone knew what was taking them so long. Twenty minutes later they came running down the stairs teasing each other. Daniel Sr. walked over to the bottom of the staircase right when Josh and Cesar reached it. “Boys I am glad to see that you’re in such a playful mood, but there is a lot to do still.” Their faces immediately got serious. “I don’t want you boys looking like that either. Have fun but don’t forget that you guys are running the show tonight. A show I know is going to be wonderful and can’t wait to see.” Josh nodded his head, smiled as he walked passed his father. Daniel Sr. turned around and couldn’t help but smile himself. He started to think to himself how much his boys have grown up. Not only in the last year, but in general! A lot of those years he lost being a military man, but the next few years he plans to be around for everything his kids do. As before, the boys split up into the same groups and went back either to the hotel or the stadium. When Daniel Jr., Carlos and Patrick arrived back at the stadium everything was done. There was nothing left to set up. Even NBC had put up the cameras in the areas they were given access to. The other three weren’t so lucky. When Josh, Cesar and Brandon got to the hotel, the crowd had tripled in size. It was hard for the driver to get through with so many screaming fans pounding on their car thinking that they were one of the singers. They stopped screaming when the fans saw it was just Josh, Cesar and Brandon getting out of the car. When they got off the elevator, they found all three stars in George Strait’s room talking about tonight’s performance. They are all mega stars and none of them felt they were above the other. So they were knocking out how much time each of them would have on the stage, which they agreed that each of them was going to get equal time. “Good you’re here Josh! We have a couple of questions for you.” George turned around and waved Josh over to him and the other two. “How long is the concert tonight? Most concerts are around two hours, but I was thinking since NBC is going to carry it live we might not have that much time.” “I told the local NBC affiliate that the concert is going to be kicked off right at seven and will go for three hours for sure. I want to make sure the fans that paid to see you guys get their money’s worth. Plus I am going to take up maybe fifteen minutes of that time with the three songs I am going to do tonight.” “That I am still not happy with, but at least you’re going to perform.” Dolly and Kenny agreed with George. “Okay if we are going to have basically two hours and forty five minutes to fill, we need to evenly split that time. Don’t forget we need to put aside time to switch out the bands on the stage.” It didn’t take long for the three mega country stars to agree on how much time each of them are going to have to perform. Once they got that out of the way, they asked Josh a few more questions and then were ready to go. “Okay I have a car for each of you. Since Cesar, Brandon and I aren’t the stars of this show, we will go last. The first limousine should be……” Dolly politely stopped Josh. “Sweetie there is no need for that many cars. We all can drive in one limousine over to the stadium.” George and Kenny agreed with Dolly. “So why don’t we make things easy and just jump into the first limousine and all head down to the stadium together?” There was no objection from Josh or anyone else in the room. They gathered whatever they didn’t have delivered to the stadium as they headed to the elevator. On the ride down, they talked as if they were just going out to eat, which surprised Josh. He is nervous as hell because of the amount of people that are going to be watching the show. When they walked out of the elevator, the three stars walked over to the fans and signed autographs. The fans went wild. They spent as long as they could with the fans talking, shaking hands and signing autographs on all sorts of stuff. Some of the items the fans asked the singers to sign were new, but didn’t surprise Josh. All the way to the stadium, cars would pull over and honk their horns as the convoy passed by them. Some of them even got out of their cars and held up signs with the three performers’ names on them. Josh, Cesar and Brandon took it all in as the scene unfolded before their eyes, they were enjoying every minute of it. Just like at the hotel, when the convoy arrived at the stadium, it slowed down to a crawl. It took longer than suspected to get through. Once they drove in, the boys got down first, then the stars. They were met by Daniel Jr., Carlos and Brandon. They showed George, Dolly and Kenny to their dressing rooms before joining Josh, Cesar and Brandon. Soon after all the boys got together, the Governor, Barbara and Rose joined them. “I know it is getting close to show time and I need to be in my seat, but I wanted to come back and wish the stars good luck.” Daniel patted Josh on the shoulder. “I know you’re going to do great this evening Josh. Go out there and own that stage.” “Like your father said Josh, go out there and own the stage but have fun as well. You’re a natural performer and you’re going to do great.” Barbara kissed Josh on the cheek and then wiped her lipstick off. “I can’t wait to see and hear what you have in store for us tonight.” Rose echoed almost the same thing to Josh before they headed over to Kenny’s dressing room. About five minutes later they walked out and went to Dolly’s and the George’s dressing rooms. After they finished talking to George, they walked out and talked a little with Josh before they headed to their seats. All the boys went with Daniel Sr. except Cesar. He stayed back to talk with Josh for a few minutes in private. “Josh, breathe! Come on just relax and breathe.” Cesar rubbed Josh’s back. “I can’t imagine what you’re thinking right now, but you need to breathe. When you go out there don’t look at the audience, look at me, sing to me and you will see there’s nothing to be nervous about.” Josh pulled Cesar into a hug and thanked him for being there for him. They held each other until George walked out of his dressing room. Cesar could see that George wanted to talk with Josh before he went on, so he broke the hug, kissed him and wished him good luck as he left to go to his seat. He looked back several times to make sure Josh didn’t start to panic. “There is nothing to worry about there Josh. You have already have performed in front of people a lot and tonight is no different than it was when you performed with your Show Chorus. Go out there, don’t think about everyone in the audience and just have fun. As long as you’re having fun, the singing will just flow right out of you because you’re a natural.” Nodding his head in agreement, George told Josh that his band will be backing him up once again. The only thing that came to Josh’s Josh mind to say is thank you, which he said several times. George walked with Josh to the right side of the stage. They both looked out to see a packed stadium. Knowing that he didn’t have a lot of time, Josh turned and started talking. “Thank you for doing this for me. It is because of you, Dolly and Kenny that they are all here tonight and buying everything they are buying. All that money is going to go to people that really need it to fix up their houses.” Before George could respond to Josh, the stadium lights were turned off. Josh looked once more at George Strait before he started his way onto the stage. The band started to play “Holding Out For a Hero” made famous by Bonnie Tyler. The lights didn’t go on at first until Josh started to sing. Once the audience realized what song was being sung, they were on their feet singing along with Josh. Even his family got up and joined in. As the song came to an end, the audience stayed on their feet applauding. Josh walked over and grabbed his guitar that George Strait gave him and walked back to the center of the stage. The audience started to quiet down as they sat back down in their seats. “Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen to what I hope is the first of many of these concerts every year.” The audience started to applaud again. “Boy do we have a great show for you here tonight. Waiting to perform for you is mega country stars Dolly Patron, Kenny Rogers and of course the great George Strait.” Once again the audience was on their feet. “I am going to slow thing down a little here on the next song to sing a song that was gold for the late Elvis Presley, “The Ghetto”. We are here tonight to raise money for Habitat for Humanity. This group does a lot great work around our country and they need help to continue doing that work. So remember everything you buy here tonight will help them out. Those at home please call in and donate what you can to help out this group as well.” All the lights in the stadium went off and then a spot light was turned on over Josh. He started to play his guitar, without the band. Josh has such a long range with his voice; he was able to go all the way down and sound just like Elvis Presley. By the middle of the song, the audience was humming along with Josh. Back in El Paso Bernice, Father Gomez and Eric were sitting in their living room with tears rolling down their eyes. The way Josh is singing that song, it tore right through them. At the same time Chris was watching in California in his living room. Just like Bernice, Eric and Father Gomez, it caused him to tear up. The spot light went off just as Josh finished. The crowd was back on their feet as the lights went on. Not wasting any time, Josh looked over to his father. “This song is for all you old timers.” The crowd started to laugh as the band started to play “Old Time Rock ‘n Roll”. Immediately the crowd was on their feet singing along. No matter their age, young and old were dancing and singing along with Josh as he played it on the piano. The lights flashed all different colors around the stadium as the song went on. Everyone could see that Josh is having the time of his life on the stage. He took the advice from his family and George, having fun and letting everything else just come to him. When the song ended, the audience applause got louder and louder. The lights once again were turned off and the spot light was turned on over Josh. The audience couldn’t wait to see what Josh was going to sing next. The minute the music started to play, they couldn’t believe he was taking this song on, “It’s Your Love”, By Tim McGraw. Yeah, yeah Dancin' in the dark, middle of the night Takin' your heart and holdin' it tight Emotional touch, touchin' my skin And asking you to do What you've been doin' all over again Oh, it's a beautiful thing Don't think I can keep it all in I just gotta let you know What it is that won't let me go? It's your love The audience jumped on their feet when Dolly Patron walked on the stage singing along with Josh. She walked up to Josh and they faced each other at first, before turning out to the audience. Josh wrapped his arm around Dolly as they sang. It just does something to me It sends a shock right through me I can't get enough And if you wonder About the spell I'm under Oh, it's your love Better than I was, more than I am And all of this happened by taking your hand And who I am now is who I wanted to be And now that we're together I'm stronger than ever, I'm happy and free Oh, it's a beautiful thing Don't think I can keep it all in If you asked me why I've changed All I gotta do is say your sweet name Just like every concert Josh has given so far, he has pulled his audience to tears. It didn’t matter the gender, they were all touched one way or another by this song. If they were there with their wives, husbands, boyfriends or girlfriends, they grabbed their hand and sang along with Dolly and Josh. It's your love It just does something to me It sends a shock right through me I can't get enough And if you wonder About the spell I'm under Oh, it's your love Oh, oh, oh, baby Josh looked over at Cesar and broke away from the song. “I love you so much Cesar, you’re everything I have ever wanted. Thank you for being there every time I have every needed someone to lean on or talk to!” Oh, it's a beautiful thing Don't think I can keep it all in I just gotta let you know What it is that won't let me go? It's your love It just does something to me It sends a shock right through me I can't get enough Josh put it all out there for everyone to see the love he has for his boyfriend. The way he is belting out the song, there is no question in anyone’s mind that he really does love Cesar. He got so into the emotion of the song, Josh walked off the stage and finished the last few versus on his knees in front of Cesar. Bernice and everyone watching it with her as well as Chris in California were stunned seeing what Josh is doing. Not only did he say he loved Cesar on stage, live in front of all those people and those watching at home, but now he is on his knees singing directly to him. It made them fear for Josh and Cesar, but at the same time they loved it! Without question you could see the love they both have for each other as clear as day. They couldn’t hide it anymore, their tears was now a steady stream coming down their cheeks. And if you wonder About the spell I'm under Oh, it's your love It's your love It's your love As the song came to a close, the audience stayed on their feet applauding Josh and Dolly. Josh gave Cesar a cheek kiss and hug before running back on the stage to join Dolly. When he joined Dolly on stage, Josh gave her hug before turning his attention to the audience that was still on their feet. He cleared his throat. “Ladies and gentlemen it is the greatest honor to not only sing with this wonderful woman, but to introduce her to you! Please give it up for the great Dolly Parton!” Dolly went right into her song set starting with one of her number one hits, “Nine to Five” as Josh made his way off the stage. He was greeted by Kenny Rogers and George Strait. They patted him on the back and went a little further than that. “Whenever you’re ready to go on the road, I want you as my opening star.” George said as he walked with Josh to the dressing rooms. Kenny Rogers spoke up. “If you ever do decide this is what you want to do, please call me up, I would love to tour with you Josh anytime! Man, not only can you sing, but you really get the emotions going with your audience. That is something that is very rare to see a young man your age able to do right off the bat on stage.” “Thank you both I really do appreciate all your advice and help you have been giving me. I don’t know if I would have been able to do what I did this evening without you guys back here having my back. Thank you!” They talked for another twenty or so minutes before Kenny had to get ready to join Dolly on the stage for their duets. After Kenny left, Josh and George talked a little longer as Josh changed into a suit from his jeans. The only reason Josh felt he needed to change is because, knowing the press, they are going to show his family several times throughout the rest of the concert, and he wanted to be dressed like a Governor’s son should be. “I really do mean what I said to you earlier about you writing your own stuff. You need to take some time out and put pen to paper. Once you have enough songs put together to make an album, call me up and I will get you in a recording studio. With the people I know I can get your album out on the shelves.” “As soon as things settle down after tonight I am going to sit down and do what you have told me to do as far as writing. I am hoping if I just lock the door and just write, I will be able to write. Once I do have enough songs to make an album I will turn to you sir, since you’re the only one I really know in the business.” “First don’t call me sir, call me George. And second of all, call me any time. No matter if it is just to talk, call me. I want you to benefit from my experience so you don’t make the same mistakes I did. There is going to be bumps in the road as you get started, but you need to stick with it. If you do that, it will pay off.” Josh thanked George for everything as George left the dressing to go to his part of the show. Josh finished changing and then headed out to sit with his family. He wanted to see Dolly perform and of course Kenny Rogers and George Strait. When he made his way to his seat, some of the audience, the ones that were sitting close to his family, noticed him. They congratulated him as he Josh passed them. By the time Josh got to his seat, his mouth was sore. Not from singing, but from saying thank you so many times to the audience, Dolly, Kenny and George. Cesar leaned over towards Josh as he sat down. “I will never forget what you did. I love you babe and nothing will ever change that. Tonight makes the second time you showed me your love through song and I haven’t even paid you back for the first time you did it. Rest assured that every inch of me is yours. I love you with all my heart.” Josh knew that and didn’t need Cesar to tell him and that he told that to Cesar before kissing him. They didn’t hold the kiss for long because they didn’t want everyone in the stadium and in the nation to see them kissing. They faced the front and watched Dolly finish her performance with Kenny Rogers with the song that she and Josh sang together the evening Josh’s father got married, “Islands in The Stream”. When the song ended, Dolly left the stage as Kenny started to sing “Coward of the County”. Not resting between songs, he went right into “Jolene”, “The Gambler” and then when he started to sing “Love Will Turn You Around”, Josh sat up in his seat. He loved the song and wants to sing it as one of his solos when he returns to school with the Show Chorus. Kenny Rogers, just like Dolly Patron before him, wowed the audience. He kept the audience on their feet dancing and singing along. There was not a dull moment through his concert. Josh kept taking mental notes on how he stood on the stage, sang, and went from one song to another and how he kept the audience with him the whole time. Before Josh knew it, Kenny ended his set and was introducing George Strait. Unlike Dolly and Kenny, George Strait walked through down the main aisle with his guitar strapped on. The fans rushed to the aisle seats trying to shake hands with George. As he made it to the front row, George talked a little with the Governor before walking on the stage. He smiled at the audience as he adjusted his guitar. “Thank you very much! What an audience we have here tonight! Are you all having fun out there?” All out once the stadium broke out saying yeah. “Good because I have been enjoying myself as well.” George looked over at the first family of Texas. “Mr. and Mrs. Governor, I am honored to have you in the audience tonight. And your son Governor, I am honored to share the stage with him!” He looked out to the audience. “Wasn’t Josh Lopez great this evening? Put your hands together for him once again.” The audience jumped on their feet and started to applaud. The cameras switched from George over to Josh and Cesar. “Also give it up for Dolly Patron and Kenny Rogers ladies and gentlemen! They were great out here tonight.” George’s band started to play “Famous Last Words of a Fool”. He went through his number one hits he had to his name like “Overnight Success”, “Baby’s Gotten Good at Goodbye”, “Ace in the Hole” and many more. He slowed things down when he sang “Love Without End Amen” towards the middle of his set. Everyone knew when his part of the concert was about to come to close, because he always ended his concerts with the same song, “Baby Blue”. The audience were on their feet chanting for some more. George looked down at Josh, and then he out to the stadium. “Josh, if you have one more song I want you to close of the show tonight!” George looked back down at Josh. Josh tried to hide, but there was nowhere for him to hide. He looked at his father, and then Cesar before looking back up a George. He shook his head as he got up and made his way back onto the stage. “I feel it is just right for Josh here to close off the show since it was his hard work that brought all of us together here tonight. So please give it up once again for Josh Lopez!” George walked over to Josh and helped him get his guitar on. He leaned in and told Josh he could do it, just have fun before walking off the stage. Bernice had gotten up to get something to drink thinking the concert was over when George Strait finished his last song. Eric yelled for her to come back when Josh was asked to close of the concert. She dropped the ice tray in the sink and went running back to the living room. She got back just as Josh started to sing. All the lights were turned off in the stadium except the spotlight on Josh. A blue spot light shined down on Josh as he settled in his seat. He looked out to a dark stadium as he started to play the song he has been working on, but has taken it out of his set twice because he wasn’t comfortable yet with it. Closing his eyes, he let his heart lead him, not his head as he started to sing “When the Children Cry”, by White Lion. little child dry your crying eyes how can I explain the fear you feel inside cause you were born into this evil world where man is killing man and no one knows just why what we have become just look what we have done all that we destroyed you must build again when the children cry let them know we tried cause when the children sing then the new world begins The stadium didn’t stay in the dark for long. Fans started to light their lighters and raise them into the air as Josh sang. At first it started out slow, but it didn’t take long before the entire stadium was lightened up in a glow of burning blue and red flames. It didn’t take long before the song hit the audience emotionally. The way Josh was singing the song the audience felt everything the song was meant to make the person feel. Many of them actually started to tear up for the second time this evening with the songs that Josh chose to sing. little child you must show the way to a better day for all the young cause you were born for all the world to see that we all can live with love and peace no more presidents and all the wars will end one united world under god when the children cry let them know we tried cause when the children sing then the new world begins Dolly, Kenny, George, really everyone backstage had made their way to the side of the stage or out to the seating area to see Josh singing. They heard him, but they wanted to actually to see him performing because it was hitting them hard. what we have become just look what we have done all that we destroyed you must build again no more presidents and all the wars will end one united world under god when the children cry let them know we tried when the children fight let them know it ain't right when the children pray let them know the way cause when the children sing then the new world begins As soon as Josh finished he thought that he screwed up somewhere with the song. The Stadium was completely quiet. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Then all of a sudden it broke out in applause. The lights were turned back on and Josh saw for the first time everyone on their feet applauding. He looked at his family and saw that each of them hard watery eyes. His attention was pulled away from his family when he saw George, Dolly and Kenny standing in the front row applauding as well. He got up, unstrapped his guitar and took a bow. The audience got louder and louder. Josh didn’t think they would ever stop applauding. He waved George, Kenny and Dolly onto the stage with him. As they walked on the stage, the audience seemed to get a second wind because their applause and chanting got even louder than before. Josh has never had anything like this happen to him before until now. All four of them stood in the middle of the stage and bowed several times. They didn’t leave until the crowd started to get up and leave. The four performers made their way off the stage and to the dressing rooms once the audience started to leave. Shortly after they walked into George’s dressing room, the rest of Josh’s family and friends joined them. The Governor went straight to his son and congratulated him on such a great performance. One after another of Josh’s family and friends went up and did the same once the Governor finished. They all told him that he brought them to tears, not once, not twice but three times in his performance this evening. Josh didn’t like all the attention he was getting. Yeah he feels that he did do a good job, but he also feels that he wouldn’t have been able to perform tonight if it wasn’t for the three stars that signed on to do the concert. Just as he was wishing that, it came true. Everyone turned their attention to Dolly, Kenny and George. “You guys really gave the fans a great show this evening.” Daniel Sr. started to speak as he shook Kenny’s hand. “People are going to be talking about this concert for a very long time. I don’t think they are going to stop talking about this concert until you all give them another one next year. What you say, same time, same place?” “I will mark it in my calendar for next year.” Kenny said with a smile. “But there should be a few changes for next year. Instead of a one night event, it should be several nights. Have things to do during the day and then the concert during the night. Not only will you make more money for Habitat for Humanity, but the city will come out like thieves in the night.” The Governor chuckled. “We have plenty of time to put next year’s show together. From now until then I can promise you there is going to be many ideas floating back and forth, some good, but some bad. When it is all said and done, we will have a great concert for the fans to enjoy.” George and Dolly joined into the conversation, but eventually they agreed to leave it alone for now. They just finished what they hoped was the first concert of many more to come. So for now they are going to table the conversation and see what the eight hundred numbers brought in before discussing the size of next year’s concert. Meanwhile out side the stadium, NBC reporters interviewed fans as they were leaving the stadium. Many of them said the same thing that the concert was awesome and they won’t forget this night. Some though gave a little more in their answer. “Ma’am, how did you enjoy he concert? Do you feel there were too many mega stars for one night? And what did you think about the Governor’s son’s performance?” “I loved everything this evening. There wasn’t too many mega stars on the stage tonight because not one of them tried to out do the other. They respected each other and gave a great show. As far as the Governor’s son, he can sing. He made me cry several times this evening. I can’t wait until he makes an album because I will be one of the first to buy it.” When she walked away, the reporter stopped several more fans that saw the show and asked them the same questions. “Dolly Patron was great.” The younger guy looked straight into the camera saying; “If you need a place to stay tonight Dolly, you’re more than welcome to stay at my place.” The guy’s friends pushed him along laughing as they walked away from the reporter. The next several fans the reporter stopped pretty much gave her the same answer as the first person did or said something dumb like the second person said. When the reporter was about to wrap it up and send it back to the studio, the last fan stunned her with his answer to the questions. “As far as the three actual performers, I love them. They are the ones I paid to see, not that you know what kid. He needs to stop singing because he doesn’t know how to sing. Stop riding his father coat tail and just disappear. No one would really miss him if he would to just fall off the face of the earth.” The reporter tried to interrupt the fan since they were live, but the fan wouldn’t stop talking. She was thankful when she thought he was done. But he turned around and walked back over to her to say one more thing that stunned the reporter that he actually had no problem saying it. “And you know what we need to do with people like the Governor’s son?” The guy looked at the reporter waiting for answer and when he didn’t get one, he answered his own question. “They should be all gathered up and stuck in camps like Hitler made for the Jews. Once the camps are filled up, they should be walked down to the oven rooms and burnt alive. That kind of shit he did on stage isn’t tolerated here in Texas and we must send him that message loud and clear.” This time the reporter took the microphone back and sent it back to the studios before he threatened the Governor’s son even more. Once she signed off, she walked as fast as she could away from the fan. When she looked back to see if the fan was following her, she saw him being swooped up by local police officers. The Governor, his family, George, Dolly or Kenny didn’t leave the stadium until the majority of the fans had left. The Governor invited George, Dolly and Kenny to the Governor’s mansion. He felt it was too early to call it a night and especially after a night like this one. They agreed with the Governor. On their way home, Lloyd told the Governor about the fan that threatened Josh. Lucky for Josh, he, his brothers, Cesar and Patrick drove in the limousine with George Strait and the other two because Daniel lost it. A scene unfolded in the Governor’s limousine no person should ever witness, no matter their age. By the time they reached the Governor’s mansion, Lloyd had his marching orders. He will increase Josh’s security detail for awhile. At the same time he was put in charge of making sure that the guy that made the threats gets the book thrown at him. He understood at the end of the day all the Governor wanted was his sons to be kept safe at any cost from those that what to do them harm. TO BE CONTINUED………….. WRITER’S CORNER: {Welcome back one and all to another exciting chapter of “Shadow of My Father”. I hope you enjoyed this chapter as much as I wrote it. I really enjoyed how this chapter unfolded. Although it only covered one day, it was a packed day. I didn’t want a chapter like this, but I couldn’t see any other way on writing it. First let me say something before I start to get the emails. I try to stay true to the time line with this story, but in this chapter I cheated a little with one of Josh’s songs. The one he sang of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill was not out in 1991. It wasn’t out until six years later in 1997, but it fit this chapter like a glove. The new plot I started at the beginning of the chapter came from one of my readers. He is a writer as well and has his own story site. I have had the honor to get to know him and he came up with this plot about Johnny Walker. I want to give credit where credit is due and here this plot was thought up by Roland. If you want to read any of his stories, you can find them on his own site at: http://castleroland.net/. Now since this chapter didn’t cover a lot of time or events so this corner is going to be small this time. The new plot that was brought in at the beginning of this chapter is going to be a great plot. There is so much in the background that you haven’t had a chance to read yet. In the next chapter this plot will unfold even more and trust me you don’t want to miss it. Once we rejoined Josh and the regular cast of this story, they woke up and pretty much went to work. They split up into two groups to make sure things would run smoothly. I like the way they did it because they were able to nip any problem that came up in the bud, which Daniel Jr., Carlos and Patrick had to do. I don’t know if that happens behind the scenes at a concert where there is several big stars performing on the same night. It was written to put some comedy into the story and also show that Daniel, Carlos and Patrick can take care of issues like Josh. They did a very good job handling everything that came up. When Josh was told what had happened I loved the way he reacted to the news. He reminded us that he is still a teenager in high school. He has an imagination that does get away from him here and there. It was funny what he was imagining the fight would have looked like if it wasn’t stopped. It was great how the stars were treated by Josh, his family and friends. They were greeted in person by Josh and taken down to the hotel by him. Then it didn’t stop there, he went back and picked them up. Josh really showed them respect; the respect they have earned. I liked it when Dolly Patron came in and told Josh there is no way he is going to sit this concert out. Because of her making that clear to him, we got another great show from Josh. I wonder if Josh is going to take a shot at performing as a singer. Or will he follow in his father’s footsteps and go into politics? Only time will give us those answers. The songs that Josh sang were great. He actually moved away from his comfort zone and sang a little rock and a little blues. I love how he mixed all them together and gave the audience a great show. The song he sang with Dolly and the one at the end brought tears to even my eyes as I wrote out the chapter. Let me hear what you think about the songs. What do you think about the fan at the end? I think the guy is crazy. There are things that we all don’t agree with, but we filter our thoughts before we speak. This guy didn’t and as a result, he got arrested. I wonder if anything is going to come out of this in the future. The Governor reacted the way we all knew he would. He had Lloyd double the security detail and make sure the guys get what he deserves in court. But still Josh, Cesar and everyone that walks in their shoes will always have people like that guy in their lives. Until everyone stops hating and believing in mistruths, things won’t change. I could stay here all day long, with all the open plots already in this story, but I won’t. I warn you though! Don’t skip a chapter, or you will be lost. There is a so much to answer in the chapters to come. Keep reading the future chapters, and enjoy! Please email me and let me know how I am doing at jacobmillertex@aol.com, Thanks!} EDITOR’S CORNER: What an exciting chapter! As JPG said, there’s not much to say with the main topic of the chapter being the concert. In the next installment I hope to hear how much money was raised and hear about the reactions from the HFH hierarchy! I have no doubt that the amount raised will exceed any other single line of income. Josh once again showed his talents and his ability to not just entertain, but for his performance to deeply touch the spirits of those hearing and seeing him. Well, almost all; there was the one vocal exception. There just has to be one bigoted jerk in any crowd. I do hope that the three mega stars that appeared in this chapter are truly the golden souls as JPG portrayed them. The very few celebrities I have come in contact with have been good people, I’m glad to be able to report. Okay, JPG…Johnny Walk IV….you’ve teased us twice now. When are you going to let us in on his story? What’s this business of the reverse cliffhanger? Putting a plot hook at the beginning of the chapter; unique! Until next time. “Daddy” Rick
  11. It seemed like a revolving door of people coming in and out of Jacob’s room. As soon as Officer Jackson left, Dr. Whitmore walked in. Dewayne sat up in his seat thinking that Dr. Whitmore was coming to deliver bad news, because of the look on his face. After greeting Jacob and Dewayne, the doctor got down to the reason he was there. “Jacob the normal stay in the hospital for a transplant is between four to seven days. It all depends on how quickly the new kidney starts to produce urine and how often it does. The kidney you got started to produce urine the evening of the transplant, which is very good. So all we have been looking at is if the kidney is producing the urine on regular intervals, which again, it is. So I will be releasing you from the hospital tomorrow morning as long as there are no complications through the night, which I don’t see that happening. I also have been wrestling with myself on what to give you as far as medicine. I have several to choose from, but many are a cocktail of sorts and that’s what worries me. You are already on medicine that you will more than likely be taking for the rest of your life. After giving it some thought and seeing how good you are on taking the other medicine, I am going to put you on a cocktail. This cocktail will involve three pills, taken daily, which are tacrolimus, mycophenolate and prednisone. As long as you take these meds, I don’t think you'll have any problems in the future.” “Wow, I can’t believe that I am leaving the hospital so soon! I thought I was going to be stuck in here at least two weeks, if not more. Thank you for everything Dr. Whitmore, I really do mean it. There is no way I am going to ever be able to repay you for everything you have done for me.” “Jacob you should know by now there is nothing I wouldn’t do to make sure you stay healthy. We have gone through a lot in these last couple of years. Not to sound mean, I do hope this is the last time I have to deal with you under the knife. It just bothers me when I see such a strong young man sick. Keep in mind though, I will be seeing you at least once a month until we are sure that there are no problems with your new kidney. You are strong guy Jacob, but not invincible. So take this and learn that you can’t get into fights or miss use your body in any way. You take very good care of yourself and you will live to be a very old man.” Dr. Whitmore shook Dewayne’s and Jacob’s hand as he left. Neither of the boys said a word at first. They sat there thinking of the good news that Dr. Whitmore just delivered. Without a doubt, Jacob knew that he would be going home tomorrow morning and back to school on Monday; back to a normal life. The rest of the day, Jacob and Dewayne talked about what they would like to do when Jacob gets home. They ended up not deciding on anything for now. When Jacob gets home, they would play the wait and see game. If he was up to doing stuff, they would do whatever Jacob was able to do strength wise. Before Jacob new it, Al, Gloria, Andy and Marie showed up. Once they settled down, Jacob told them the news they received earlier in the afternoon. Just like Jacob and Dewayne, no one could believe that Jacob was getting out as soon as he was. Putting that aside, they made plans on how tomorrow morning was going to happen. Since Dewayne was going to stay the night, he would bring him home. Later in the afternoon, they would gather at the house and celebrate Tony becoming part of the family and Jacob’s coming home. Soon after Gloria, Andy and Marie left, the gang walked in. This time Jacob let Dewayne deliver the news to the guys. Once they heard, they jumped up high fiving Jacob. When Chase high fived Jacob, he could see that there was something weighing on Chase’s mind. For now, Jacob decided to leave it alone. Once he was home, he would talk with Chase and see if he could help his best friend with whatever was bothering him. Knowing that they didn't have that much time, they planned for tomorrow’s party. Jacob could see that Tony looked uncomfortable about the whole thing. As he glanced at Tony and Chase, Jacob couldn’t help but wonder if there is something in the water at the house or school, that was making these two think too much, about whatever was bothering them. “Tony, this party tomorrow is long overdue. First, we had the trip up to see Joey, then me being in the hospital. The party tomorrow isn’t for me; it is to welcome you into the family. You know that we have wanted to do this since you officially became part of the family. So UNCLE Tony, cheer up and tell us what you’d like in your party.” Everyone started laughing and calling Tony, Uncle Tony. That not only got Tony in a happy mood, but got Chase talking and fooling around with the guys too. When they left to go home, Jacob could hear them talking all the way down the hall. Even when they were at the elevators, Jacob could hear them playing around. After the guys left, Jacob and Dewayne watched television for an hour or so before turning it off for the night. The moment Dewayne crawled into bed with Jacob he fell asleep. Since all that Jacob had been doing all day long, for three days, was sleep, he didn’t feel tired at all. He only turned off the television because he saw Dewayne was nodding off to sleep as they watched it. Trying to force himself to sleep, Jacob gave up and got out of bed as slowly and as quietly as was possible. As he walked out into the hallway, Jacob made sure nothing of his backside was showing. He walked over to the elevator and pushed the down button. While waiting for the elevator, Jacob looked around to see where the nurses were, but couldn't see them. He got on the elevator and pushed floor three as the doors shut. Less than a minute later, the doors opened again and Jacob got out of the elevator. Just like on his floor, the nurses were nowhere to be found! Jacob looked on the wall to see what direction he needed to go, to get to Alex’s room. Jacob thought that Matt or Franseca would be there, but he found Alex alone. As he walked in, Jacob could hear Alex snoring softly. Since he had come this far, Jacob decided to at least sit with his friend for a while; at least until he got tired enough that he could fall asleep in his own bed. Taking a seat, Jacob noticed that Alex’s blanket had fallen on the floor. Confused as to why Alex wasn't awake trying to cover himself with the blanket in this cold room, Jacob bent down and grabbed the blanket. As he covered Alex, he could see Alex’s chest and stomach since he was sleeping in his boxers only. Jacob just stared at the area where the bandage was. Lifting his shirt, Jacob compared both areas. Leaving no doubt in his mind, Alex had been cut in the same area that he had. Jacob dropped his shirt and covered Alex just as the nurse walked in to check on Alex. Jacob looked over at the nurse and hoped that she wouldn't send him back to his room. “Young man you shouldn’t be here, visiting hours are over. So you need to leave so my patient can get some rest.” The nurse saw Jacob pull up his shirt and saw that Jacob was the one that got the kidney. “Oh I am sorry; I didn’t know that you were the one who got his kidney. You can stay, but not too long. Just like my patient, you need to get back to your room to get some rest.” Jacob nodded his head in agreement, as he sat down. He looked at Alex as he slept, not understanding why Alex never told him that he was the one who donated the kidney. If it wasn’t for Alex, he would more than likely have been waiting for a kidney right now, not going home. Jacob grabbed a hold of Alex’s hand and held it tight. With Jacob holding onto his hand, Alex woke up. At first Alex thought it is already morning and that Matt had returned. But when he focused on the figure sitting in the chair next to his bed, he knew it wasn’t morning or Matt. The room was way too dark and the figure was taller and thinner than Matt. Finally, after a few seconds of looking, Alex realized that it was Jacob. “Hey there Jacob, I didn’t know it was you sitting there. I thought it was Matt, because he and my mother are the only ones that hold my hand like that.” He looked at Jacob’s face and saw the tears rolling down his cheeks. “You shouldn’t worry about me Jacob, I'm fine, it's you, that we need to worry about. You just went through major surgery.” “I understand you went through major surgery as well.” Jacob trying to get control of himself, but couldn’t. “Why didn’t you tell me you were the one donating the kidney? I had to hear it from a nurse I didn't even know. I would have liked the chance to talk you out of taking such a big risk. If I failed at that, I would have liked to have shared a room with the guy giving me another chance at life. We could have gotten well together and gone home together. “That is exactly why I didn’t tell you Jacob. I didn’t want you to try and talk me out of it or think that you owed me anything for it. In fact, no matter what I do for you Jacob, I will never be able to repay you for all that you have done for me. So please stop crying, I am fine and will be going home, hopefully tomorrow, as long as I don’t open my stitches again.” Jacob leaned in a little closer to Alex. “Listen Alex, there isn’t a thing that you owe me. What happened in the past is just that, the past. We didn’t know each other back then and over time, we have gotten to know each other. Everything you have right now, from your freedom, to the business, is there because you have earned it. So I don’t want to hear anymore that you owe me! We are FAMILY, and family does things for each other.” “Thank you Jacob and no matter what you think now, I was a complete ass when we didn’t know each other. I'm grateful that you are a bigger man than I was and came to my defense when things looked gloomy. From now on, I won’t say that I owe you anymore, but between you and me, I do. I love you Jacob, because you are the brother that I never had.” Jacob and Alex hugged each other. After getting over the emotional part of their talk, Alex made Jacob promise him that he wouldn't tell the other guys that it was him that donated the kidney. He did let Jacob know who knew, but no one else was to know. “By the way, I think somehow your grandfather found out. He came down several times to visit with me when he thought I was asleep. One of the times, I could hear him whisper to me, but couldn’t catch what he was saying. He also talked with me days before the surgery. He let me know in his own subtle way how thankful he was.” “That's my grandfather for you. Some that know him, but don’t really know him, they think he's a no nonsense kind of guy. He is totally no nonsense when it comes to running the business and the work that he does for the Governor. But he is fair and will always give people a chance and a second chance and a third chance before he gives up on them. So if he knows, he will be there for you. You will know that, when things that don’t look too good all of a sudden do.” They sat there talking until the nurse from Jacob’s floor came down to get him. When she walked in angry with Jacob, Jacob and Alex started to laugh. Not to be mean to the nurse, they just thought it was funny that she was this angry for Jacob being down there. Never before had either of them seen a nurse this angry! Jacob got up and hugged Alex and kissed him on the cheek before leaving his room. All the way up to Jacob’s room, Jacob tried to tell the nurse that he was visiting the guy that donated the kidney to him. No matter what Jacob said, the nurse wouldn’t smile. She didn’t leave Jacob’s room until she saw him in bed. The whole time that Jacob was gone, Dewayne didn’t wake up. Jacob felt bad that his boyfriend was so beat that he didn’t even move once. He settled in, wrapped his arms around his Dewayne, kissed him on the lips and went to sleep. Jacob didn’t wake up again until he felt someone shaking him. It took a while for Jacob to focus, but he saw Dewayne smiling back down at him as he held several bags from McDonalds. Jacob jumped up, rubbed his hands together as he smiled at Dewayne. He was already tired of hospital food. “You read my mind handsome! Ever since I woke up from the surgery, I’ve had this hunger I couldn't seem to satisfy. I was glad when Dr. Whitmore moved me off of the liquid diet, but still, the food they serve here isn't enough. So I hope you brought enough food to feed an army.” Dewayne laughed as he pulled out two breakfasts deluxe from the bags. Taking the top off of one, he placed it in front of Jacob and then he took the top off of his. In no time flat, Jacob ate the entire deluxe. Dewayne thought that Jacob was going to eat the packaging that the meal came in! Right when Dewayne opened his mouth to talk, Dr. Whitmore walked in. Both of them looked at Dr. Whitmore and couldn’t figure out what was going on. Normally you could read Dr. Whitmore, but not this morning. There was nothing the boys could read from Dr. Whitmore’s face, nothing. “Jacob I've had a complaint from the evening staff about you. When I got it, I thought they had the wrong patient, but they said the complaint was about you. I understand you went out for a little walk last night.” Jacob nodded his head up and down. “I don’t see anything wrong with that. Those nurses need to get a life if they are complaining about that. Everything is still a go as far as getting you out of here this morning. Your vitals are really good and I don’t see any reason to keep you here. So, let me get your paperwork done and Alex’s as well. That way you two can leave together. I can also go home and have a weekend with my wife!” Dr. Whitmore winked at Jacob as he put the clipboard back on the foot of the bed. As he walked out, Jacob looked at Dewayne with a big smile on his face. Then it hit him. Where were the clothes that he was wearing when he came in here on Wednesday? Since he has woken up from the surgery, he hadn't thought about his clothes.” “Um, Dewayne….” Dewayne interrupted Jacob. “I know what you are going to ask me Jacob and I have it covered. When you went into surgery, I took your clothes. Not really knowing when you were coming home, I carried a set of clothes for you in the truck. I brought the clothes up when I went out to get us breakfast. Now, I would like to know where you went last night. I didn’t even know that you left. That means I must have been dead to the world when you got out of the bed. Or you were just that sneaky, that I didn’t feel you getting out of bed.” “All I was doing was tossing and turning when we went to bed last night. I didn’t want to wake you up, so I decided to go and visit with Alex. He has been here the entire time that I have and not once have I gone down there to say hello. So I went down and we talked until the nurse came down there to drag me back up to my room.” Dewayne couldn’t help himself; he started laughing. In his mind, he saw Jacob sitting in Alex’s room and the nurse walking in grabbing him by the ear and dragging him all the way back to his room. It would have been a funny sight if that actually happened. “Well I hope Alex was given the good news when Franseca or Matt was here. That way he has some clothes to put on. If not, he will be riding with us, naked, all the way home Jacob. Every now and then, I have wondered how Alex looks without clothes. Not that I like him, but I have never seen a cholo naked before. The tattoos they have should be a site to see.” It didn’t bother Jacob at all that Dewayne has wondered how Alex looked naked. He has wondered that as well and got some of the answer last night when he saw Alex in bed without the covers. Jacob also knew that he has Dewayne and there was no one on this green earth that could take Dewayne away from him. The nurse brought Jacob out of his thoughts when she came in and started to unhook the IV lines. When she pulled the IV out of his arm, Jacob knew for sure he was going home. After she left, Jacob got up, got dressed and sat back down on the bed. Dewayne crawled beside Jacob and they sat there on the bed together watching television. Alex walked in dressed in street clothes and joined Jacob and Dewayne watching TV. “Hey, I heard that you slipped getting an x-ray the other day and pulled out your stitches. I hope they stitched you back up good, because we don’t want you to get that wound infected again. One time is one too many to come back into the hospital for that.” “Yeah they stitched me back up okay, Dewayne. I thought I could be independent, but the drugs from the surgery hadn’t left my body yet. To be honest with you I am glad that is all that I did. When I fell, I could have hit my head on the machine or really hard on the floor. Of course, Dr. Whitmore rushed in and took care of me.” “I knew someone was talking about me because my ears are ringing.” Dr. Whitmore walked in with a nurse. “Well I have you guys all ready to go and I don’t want to see you guys back here in the hospital for ANY reason again! Here you go, your prescriptions, you both need to fill them today so you can start taking the meds.” Dr. Whitmore handed the prescriptions to Jacob and Alex while the nurse asked Alex for his insurance. Alex looked embarrassed when he told her that he didn’t have any. Then the nurse didn’t make things better when she kept asking Alex how he planned to pay for his stay there in the hospital. “If he needs to pay for it now, I will take care of the bill.” Jacob interrupted the nurse as she pressed Alex for an answer. “There is no need to give my friend the third degree like that. So give me the bill and tell me where to go and pay it!” “Well the cashier’s office is closed on the weekends, so we will need to send you the bill. Once you receive the bill, please submit payment as soon as you can. That way we can mark this young man’s account paid.” “You know I don’t understand you accounting people at all. When you walked in here, you knew he didn’t have insurance. I think you did what you did because you love belittling people because you have the power to do so. Send the damn bill in the mail and it will get paid the minute I get it.” The nurse asked for Jacob’s information, but Jacob directed her to his paper work. All the information she needs is on that. Dr. Whitmore stepped up and asked the nurse to leave the room. He wasn’t happy with the way she handled things, but didn’t deal with her in front of Jacob, Dewayne and Alex. “You guys are all set, so get on out of here and enjoy your weekend. Don’t worry about the bill; I will get everything handled over here Jacob. Just go home, relax and don’t do anything that will pull out your stitches. Either of you!” Dr. Whitmore looked at Alex. “Mainly you Alex, you know what I am talking about young man. You behave yourself and I shouldn’t see you again before your normal visits.” The boys thanked Dr. Whitmore and shook his hand before walking to the elevator. When they got out of the hospital, they headed over to Walgreens to get their prescriptions filled and then home. Dewayne kept Alex looking at magazines while Jacob paid for Alex’s meds. Jacob made a mental note to get Alex on his company insurance so he was covered. As a matter of fact, he extended that thought to Franseca and Alex’s brothers. They should be covered as employees. That was an oversight, that Jacob would correct. When they got home, Al, Virginia, Tony, Franseca and Alex’s little brothers were waiting at the door to greet them. After hugging and greeting each other, they walked into the kitchen where Franseca had a small snack prepared for them. As they ate, Jacob and Alex talked about how good it was to be out of the hospital. Immediately after they finished eating, it seemed that everyone was back to business as usual. Al asked to speak with Jacob in the study while the others went to get ready for the party. Pretty much everything had been set up, so there was no need for them to help in that area. Tony tried to hide his excitement about the party, but everyone could see right through him. He could barely keep himself from jumping around. “Jacob I know you just got home, but I need to talk with you about a couple of things before everyone gets here.” Al sat down in the chair next to Jacob. “I understand you offered the training position to your instructor that just retired from teaching ROTC. I have no problem with that, but are you sure? You and he didn’t see eye to eye on things while he was your instructor. If you guys can’t get along, it will be hard.” “Grandpa, he is very good guy that needs something to do. It isn’t that hard to train people to work in our stores. While we set up the training floor with cash registers, grills and everything else, Major Moore can be at the stores learning first hand. He will get trained by the store managers before he trains new employees.” “Again, I have no problem with that at all Jacob, but I understand he will be doing all the training for our company as well as Dewayne’s and Tony’s. He has never worked this kind of job before and we are asking him to train others to do so. It's kind of like the blind leading the blind here. I hope you see where I am coming from Jacob.” “I do grandpa and I did give it thought before asking him. No matter who we put in this position, they won’t know everything about our stores. That is why we will send him off to train in the stores before he trains new employees. He will get certified to train in the area of training others to sell alcohol and cigarettes. I know that the trainer for the company needs to be certified in that area in order to certify others to sell that stuff. But no matter who we chose for this position, they would need to go through the same thing. Also, you and I both know we are having problems with the management staff already. We can’t take one of them and put them into this position. As far as the Seven Elevens are concerned, they don’t have a person for that position. So having everything on one floor and using one trainer will save both companies money. His salary will be split between the two companies and any other trainers we hire.” “Don’t get me wrong, it is very cost efficient doing it this way. Since you got Dewayne on board with this and I got Tony, the training department will be run by Major Moore. I just wanted to get your thinking on why you went this way with that position. Good job and you keep showing me that you won’t have a problem taking over when you do. Let’s talk about the visit you got from Officer Jackson yesterday. First, I'm sorry that he talked with you before I had a chance to tell you what’s going on. He told me that at first, you didn’t like the idea, but eventually you saw the reasoning behind it. You have to understand after what happened in the last couple of weeks why I am doing what I am doing. There are crazy people out there that will do whatever they can to make quick money. That includes kidnapping you and holding you for ransom. Also, those places like where Joey was at are in business and out there still. There’s so much evil in this world I want to make sure you and the rest of my family are protected from it.” “Grandpa there is no need to explain why you did what you did as far as the security goes. I know when you do things; it's for the right reasons. So again, don’t worry grandpa. I will help as much as I can to make sure things run smoothly. I know at times I can be a hassle and more than likely you are getting all your white hair because of me!” “No these white hairs are your mother’s fault! You're a great kid Jacob. Every chance I get, I tell people about the great grandson I have. They all think I'm lying, because there couldn't be a person like you, but I don’t care what they think. I know you are the person I tell everyone you are.” Al got choked up as he talked. “Let’s stop this talking and get out there and get ready for the party.” Jacob looked in on Jeremy as he headed up to his room. He found Jeremy sitting in the middle of his room, on the floor, playing with Cupid. Although Cupid was Jacob’s dog, Jacob didn't mind that Jeremy had her all the time. With Cupid with Jeremy, it kept both of them from getting lonely. Before leaving, Jacob popped in and greeted his brother. Jeremy jumped up from the floor and ran to Jacob. Not knowing his own strength, Jeremy pushed Jacob down to the floor as he grabbed hold of him in a hug. Jacob hugged Jeremy back and didn’t mind landing on the floor. He knew that Jeremy didn't know any better. Jeremy, in his own way, was showing Jacob how much he missed him and he loved him. After spending time with Jeremy, Jacob headed to his room. He liked the fact that now when he lies down beside Dewayne, he didn't have to worry about connecting himself to any machines. In fact, the machine was no longer on the bedside table. Jacob looked around but gave up, figuring that the hospital came down and picked it up already. There were so many other people out there that need the machine as much as he did. Gloria, Andy Sr. and Marie arrived before anyone else. They walked in without knocking and called out for anyone. No one answered, so Gloria and Andy decided to go and see how far the construction had gone. They were hoping that it was close to being done so that they could move into the new house. As they walked to the back door, they couldn’t believe that the back door was gone. In its place was a long hallway leading to Franseca’s part of the house. Gloria walked down the hall and stopped halfway to look out the windows. Across the yard was another long hallway like this, which meant that the hallway must lead to her part of the house. She turned around and pulled Andy back down to the kitchen. “What's going on Gloria? I thought you wanted to go and see how our house was?” Andy felt like an idiot chasing after his soon to be wife. “That hallway more than likely goes to Franseca’s part of the house. Didn’t you see the hallway on the other side of the yard? I think that hallway is connected to dad’s kitchen. Like the hallway we were just walking down is connected to Jacob’s kitchen. Since there's no map of this place, we're just guessing where we are going.” Andy looked closer at the kitchen and realized that he must have been blind when he walked through it before. The kitchen was double the size than it was before. The construction workers joined the two kitchens together to make one. All new appliances and a huge table where there once was the other kitchen. “Hold on Gloria, look they have joined the two kitchens together already. We don’t have to walk around the house to get to dad’s kitchen. All we have to do is walk across the kitchen to the other hallway. Man, what they have done in here is really nice. I like the island here in the middle and everything else. I don't know who created this but I can tell you, it's a one of a kind kitchen.” “I didn’t even notice that the work had gone this far. Now I am wondering what else they have done between the two main houses. Did they join the dining rooms and living rooms together? Since it is one house now, it does make sense to do that.” Before looking at the rest of the main house, Gloria and Andy walked down the hallway that connected the house they were going to be living in, to Al’s house. Just like the other hallway, it had windows all the way down to look into the yard, with a door in the middle of the hallway that lead into the yard. On the other side of the hall, there were not as many windows. Gloria figured they didn’t put as many windows on that side because this side of the hall is facing the neighbors. As they walked into their part of the house, they couldn’t believe how nice it looked. Everything had been redone from top to bottom. Brand new floors in the kitchen and bathroom, and brand new carpet in the rest of the house! It’s the exact carpet she chose and wanted in her other house. The kitchen counters and cabinets were brand new and in the living room were the built-in book cases that she had asked for, but didn’t think her dad was going to put in. All in all, the house was exactly as she wanted it! “I can’t believe my dad and son did this for us. They were listening to me when we sat down and I told them what I would like in the house. Every single thing I asked for, I got. There is no way I am going to move out of this house ever!” Gloria kept saying the same thing repeatedly as she walked from room to room. “Your son and dad really love you Gloria. It shouldn’t have taken this house to show you that. They have stood behind you no matter how much hell you put them through. Now that you see that Jake and Al don’t care about the past, you can leave the past in the past as well. We have a chance here to start out new, from marriage to a new house. I suggest we take this chance and make things completely work in our family.” Gloria walked up to Andy and hugged him. She started crying into his shoulders realizing that what Andy was saying was the truth. She had been a total bitch, and now she needed to show everyone that she wasn't that person. Not because of the house, but because no matter what she has done to her family in the past, they did stick by her. “Let’s head back to the main house and see what else has changed. This house is so huge now, I can actually get lost in it.” Gloria wiped her face as she laughed at what Andy just said. “There is no doubt that things are going to be a lot better from here on out. We are going to be living in a house that is full of love and a hell of a lot of energy.” “That is true and that will get some time to adjust to. Even when I had all of the kids at the house, it didn't compare to the amount of people that live in this house. At the same time Andy, I know I am going to love the hustle and bustle of this place. It will keep me young, not only at heart but on the outside as well.” Al looked up from the table to see his daughter and son walking in. “I see you guys took a look at your part of the house already. All the construction work is finally done and boy, let me tell you it's about time! I threatened to hold back payment to the damn contractor I hired to do the work because they were so far behind schedule. Not wanting to lose a huge payday they assigned several work crews to get them caught up and finish ahead of schedule for the bonus.” “Dad the house looks beautiful! The work you guys did will definitely, make this house one of a kind. Not just on this block, or this town, but I can say in this state. People from all around would love to have a house like this. Just don’t sell your blue prints to anyone to copy this beautiful place.” “Trust me sweetheart, there is no way the blue prints of this house will be sold. We will be living in a house that no one else lives in. All these new houses look exactly the same and I think that’s sad. Where is the imagination and creativity with our country today? Everything from houses, to stores and all the way to cars look like they come off of an assembly line. They build them as fast as they can and move on to the next project.” Just then, the doorbell rang and before anyone could get up to answer the door, they heard Marie yelling that she would get it. That caused everyone to wonder why she wanted to answer the door. So they got up and walked out to see who she had invited to the party. Gloria surprised Al and Andy when she didn’t react the way they thought she would when the young man walked in. Andy honestly thought that he was going to have to hold Gloria back when she saw Greg. Instead, Gloria walked down and greeted Greg as if there wasn't a past between them. As Marie closed the door, they door bell rang again. When Marie reopened it, she didn’t recognize the couple at the door. “Come on in Major Moore, it is so good to see that you were able to make it.” Al walked up and extended his hand for Major Moore to shake. “This beautiful young lady at your side must be your daughter. Hi, my name is Al, what is your name?” Major Moore’s wife laughed as Al paid her the complement. “You are so sweet, but you know that I and not so young as to be Joe’s daughter, I am his wife. It's nice to meet you Al and my name is Shanita Moore.” “Well it is an honor to meet you Mrs. Moore and I was not just saying that you look young, because you do. Welcome, both of you, to our house. You better grab a seat now before all the boys get back from work. Once they get here, there will be nowhere to sit.” “Please Al I keep asking you and Jacob to call me Joe and please call my wife Shanita.” Al nodded his head in agreement to Joe’s request. “We are honored to be here. Thank you for inviting us to this get together. I understand Jacob is doing well and he is actually out of the hospital already?” “Yes he is, but right now he is up stairs resting. Although everything went well, Jacob does need to rest after a surgery like he went through. No matter what he thinks, he isn’t superman. He needs to rest and get his strength back before returning to school on Monday. You know as well as I do that there's a lot of work for him to catch up on.” Joe agreed with Al as they walked into the den. As Joe talked with Al and Andy, Shanita joined Gloria and Franseca in the kitchen. Both groups talked about different things and that is why they went into different rooms. None of them wanted to talk over the others as they talked to each other. No matter what Jacob did, he couldn’t get himself to fall asleep. Right when he gave up, Dewayne woke up. Jacob looked at his handsome boyfriend, who was smiling back at him. Jacob turned to his side, as did Dewayne and they just laid there looking at each other. Dewayne moved his right hand and started to caress Jacob’s cheek. “You don’t know how badly I want to make love with you right now. You are so handsome I can barely keep my hands off of you anytime we are together.” Dewayne leaned and kissed Jacob on the lips. “It's good to have you back home. When you are healed, we are going to make love until we can’t do it anymore.” “We will make love all day and night long until our dicks fall off.” Both of them started to laugh. “Really we are going to be together like we have never been before. But in the mean time, we can cuddle and just be together with each other. Just having you beside me is enough to satisfy me for now.” They started to make out when someone started to knock on the door. Jacob begged Dewayne to ignore it, but the person at the door didn’t stop knocking. It got to the point; neither Jacob nor Dewayne could put the knocking out of their mind. They stopped making out and yelled at the same time. The door opened and Chase popped his head in. “Am I bothering you guys?” Jacob looked at Dewayne and back at Chase and shook his head no. “I am sorry for barging in like this, but I wanted to welcome Jacob back home. It hasn’t been the same with out my best friend around. I hope you never end back up in the hospital for any reason.” “Thank you my friend, that means a lot to me. Why don’t you come in and talk with me while I get ready for the party? I need to know what I missed since I have been gone. So sit and start talking. Don’t leave one single thing out Chase! You know that I know when you are not telling me the truth.” Chase laughed as he sat down in the chair. As Jacob got ready, Chase went through the days that Jacob missed. He told Jacob about what was been going on at school. Then he talked about Ethan. As Chase talked about Ethan, Jacob saw a look in his eyes that he hadn't seen in a long time. Not since he was dating Linda that is. “Chase, Ethan sounds like a really cool guy. I am glad that you invited him over today. If he comes, I want to meet him. It seems that he will fit right in with our group. Plus you need to remind me when I see Carlos again to thank him for helping Ethan out. He didn’t need to do what he did, but I am grateful that he did.” Jacob didn’t want to push Chase for anymore information. He saw something that Chase was trying really hard to hide, but he wouldn't call Chase on it. When Chase was ready to talk about it, Jacob knew that he would. Until then, he would be there for his best friend. While Jacob and Dewayne took a shower, Chase kept talking. Every so often, he peeked in to see how Jacob and Dewayne were together. The way he saw Jacob and Dewayne together, he realized they loved each other completely. This was something he’s never had with any woman, and that included Linda. “So Chase tell me what you think is going to happen downstairs. I know we discussed this party yesterday, but at the same time, I know you guys. You guys change plans every minute. So there is no way the party is anywhere close to what we had discussed.” “First, Major Moore and his wife are here along with Colonel May, I think that is his name, just got here. Those are guests that I didn’t even know were coming. I hope they don’t drag the party down because of their up tightness. From what I have seen of Major Moore, he looks like he's always up tight; like he had something stuck up his ass.” Jacob’s imagination got away from him when Chased said that. He thought of Major Moore walking around the school with a broomstick stuck up his ass. If that was true, it could explain a lot of how Major Moore was. But now Jacob knew the truth and that popped in his mind, causing him to stop laughing. “Give Major Moore a chance. If you do, you will see he is really a nice guy. Just like me, he has health issues. I won’t say anything because it's not my place to talk about it. So for me you guys, please treat him as part of our family.” “You have a deal Jacob!” Dewayne said trying to change the direction the conversation was heading as fast as he could. “Okay, well we found out the party had pretty much been put together by your grandpa so we had no chance to put our two cents in! As soon as we get down there, we'll all find out what kind of party it is.” Chase slapped Jacob on the shoulder as he walked out of the bedroom. Jacob and Dewayne followed Chase out and down to the den where it seemed all the guys were gathering. As Jacob went around the room shaking hands with everyone, he introduced Dewayne to those that had not met him yet. Every time Jacob introduced Dewayne to a person that hadn't met him, Jacob would say I would like you to meet my handsome boyfriend, which made Dewayne turn all shades of red. Soon after Jacob, Dewayne and Chase sat down, the man of he hour walked in, Tony. Al got up and introduced Tony with pride to everyone as his son, not adopted son, his son. Just like Dewayne, Tony turned all shades of red each time Al introduced him. Dewayne couldn’t help but think that Jacob’s family surely knew how to make people feel great. “Okay everyone, since most of the guests have arrived, I say we should move this party outside to our newly constructed inside pool. It is heated and it’s indoors unless we open the roof to let the sun in, but trust me I have no plans to open the roof. It's still winter out there and I don’t want anyone that decides to swim catch a cold.” At the same time, everyone got up and followed Al to the back yard. They walked out and sat down with whomever they came with. While everyone got comfortable, Al pushed a button and the floor started to open up, causing everyone to get up and look at the pool. At the same time, Al pushed another button which caused another area of the floor to open up and a grill rose into position. Joe and Jacob joined Al at the grill to help him get started. Franseca, Virginia and Gloria went back to the kitchen to put together everything for the guys to cook on the grill. It didn’t take long before everyone started to relax and have a good time. Besides Jacob and Alex, everyone else changed out of their clothes and into swimming suits and jumped into the pool. Jacob sat down on a lawn chair and watched the others fooling around in the pool. Even Dewayne joined the others, which Jacob didn’t mind. He wanted Dewayne to feel that he couldn't join the others because of him. It didn’t take long for the food to get done and for Al to bring the hungry teens to the table. Once they sat down with their plates full of food, they all looked over at Al. Al kept looking over at the phone as if he was expecting a phone call. Just when it looked liked Al was about to give up on the call, it rang. Grabbing the cordless, Al answered the phone, said a few words and then put the phone on speaker. “Here at this table are my family, extended family and close personal friends of our family. I would have liked it if all of my family could be here today, but one of my grandsons couldn’t make it. Although he isn’t around this table, he is with us on the phone right now. Everyone, say hello to Andy Jr.” All at once, everyone yelled out their greetings to Andy. “Andy we miss you and hope you can come home very soon. This place isn’t the same without you around. So do what you feel you need to do there in the Army, and then get back home safe to us.” “I love you grandpa and everyone at the table. Trust me; a day doesn’t pass without me thinking of everyone there. There are nights that I keep up my squad with stories of my crazy family and they think I am making it all up. They can’t believe there is a family like us that care so much about each other.” “This party has been in the making for weeks now. A couple things came up, causing me to delay the party. Now that there is nothing huge happening, I am glad that you all have made it. The young man sitting at my side is a very brilliant young man. When I first met him, I knew and still know he is going to do things in his life that will change the world, as we know it, and I am not just saying that. I am glad to now say he is part of this family, my youngest son, Tony.” The table broke into applause as Tony got up from his seat. “Now our family is one person bigger, it is also stronger with Tony part of it. So welcome son, and please enjoy this night because it’s yours to enjoy. The boys started to chant over and over again “Uncle Tony”, causing Tony to turn all shades of red again. Al picked up the phone to talk with Andy, which told everyone else that he was done with the speech. They all dug in, talking in their little groups. After Al finished talking with Andy, he handed the phone to Gloria, then Gloria handed the phone to Andy and then to Marie. As soon as Marie finished talking with her brother, she handed the phone to her other brother Jacob. “Hey little bro, I am glad to hear that you made it out of surgery okay and back home. When I heard that you were sick and then landed in the hospital I couldn’t think straight. When grandpa called me and told me that you came out of it okay, I was able to breathe again. Please stop making the hospital your second home.” “I have no plans to ever step foot back into any hospital. They had to drag me back over there to get the tests done. So you can see that I don’t want to make the hospital a home away from home. How is everything there for you Andy? Just like you, I really miss having my big brother around.” Andy told Jacob how basic training went and now how they were stationed at their temporary bases until they got assigned into their field. He made it clear that he didn’t think basic training was going to be that hard until he actually did. Jacob laughed and teased Andy, that when they saw him again he would be nothing but muscle. “Jacob do me a favor and please take care of yourself. Don’t get into anymore fights at school or anywhere else for that matter. Now that mom is moving in, your hands are going to be full with her around a lot more. I don’t know what was going through your mind, when you bought her a house so close to you. If I was in your shoes, I would have moved her to another town.” “I know that you and mom don’t see eye to eye, but she is good deep down inside. She is trying to change and maybe when you get home you will see a brand new mom. I love you Andy and you come back to us. Don’t you do anything crazy over there that will get you hurt or killed for that matter. Just come home so you can start working in the family business where you belong.” Andy and Jacob spoke for a couple more minutes before they hung up. Jacob rejoined the others at the table right when dessert was being served. That was the one thing you couldn't pull Jacob away from, dessert. He had a really bad sweet tooth and would eat anything that was made out of sugar if you put it in front of him. As the party returned back to the pool area, Jacob started to walk over to join the others, but he heard the doorbell. He walked over and answered the door trying to figure out who might be standing at the front door. The minute Jacob saw the kid standing there at his front door, he knew who he was. “You must be Ethan, Chase has told me all about you.” Jacob extended his hand and Ethan shook it. “We thought that maybe you got lost or decided not to come after all. Anyways that doesn’t matter, you're here now. So come on back, everyone is in the back yard around the pool.” Ethan didn’t say much of anything but yes or no as they walked to the back yard. First he couldn’t believe the size of the house and secondly he didn’t know that it was going to be a pool party. When they walked out, Chase jumped out of the pool and ran up to Ethan. “Ethan you made it, that's cool. I can see that you met Jacob already.” Ethan nodded his head in agreement. “Well let me introduce you to everyone you haven’t met yet. Everyone here is cool and you have nothing to worry about.” While Chase introduced Ethan to those that he hadn't met, Jacob took off his shoes and socks to sit at the side of the pool. Dewayne swam up between Jacob’s legs and placed a hand on each of Jacob’s legs. He reached up and pulled Jacob down so they could kiss each other. “You are as handsome as ever standing there with water all over your body. That is hot and causing me to have a problem below in my jeans.” Dewayne placed his right hand over Jacob’s dick and smiled. “Now you are not making anything better for me. There are guests here that don’t want to see me pop a boner!” “Trust me they will think it’s hot like I do.” Dewayne kept massaging Jacob’s dick through his jeans, making Jacob’s dick to start leaking pre-cum. “I really want to have you, but I will muster up all my energy to hold off until you get better. So you’d better get better really soon, or I can’t be held responsible for what I’ll do with you.” Jacob leaned down and kissed Dewayne. They stayed there in the pool in that position for over an hour. No matter how much Jacob asked Dewayne to join the others playing chicken or volleyball, he wouldn’t leave Jacob’s side. They watched the others play and kept score whenever they got into a game of volleyball. As it got late, people started to leave. By ten, the only ones left in the house were those that live there and Ethan. They got out of the pool and changed into dry clothes before going into the TV room. Just like the other rooms in the house, the TV room was remodeled. The wall between that room and study got knocked down to make a huge room, with a big screen TV with surround sound, of course. Those that had a significant others, sat together. Leaving Chase and Ethan as the odd men out, so they sat in chairs to watch the movie. By midnight, Jacob could barely keep his eyes open, Dewayne finally helped Jacob up to his feet and half carried him up the stairs to bed. When they got to their room, Jacob could barely keep himself awake to strip down to his boxers and fall into bed. Dewayne changed Jacob’s bandage before he crawled into bed with him. After pulling the covers over them, Dewayne moved as close as he could to Jacob and wrapped his arms around him. He kissed Jacob several times on the lips before falling asleep himself. Neither of them woke up until late morning on Sunday. The group just hung out at the house all day Sunday. They did help Franseca and Virginia clean up the mess from the party, but other than that, they pretty much plopped their butts in front of the television all day long. The only time they got up was to eat, use the bathroom or to get something to drink and snack on in between meals. Around one, Ethan stopped in and joined them. Jacob couldn’t help but wonder if Ethan was wearing the same clothes that he was wearing the day before. He couldn't see anyone owning more than one pair of overalls. But Jacob decided not to say anything for the fear it might run off their new friend if he did. Even Marie and Greg showed up. They sat together on the floor and from where Jacob sat, he could see that their relationship has blossomed since the last time he paid attention to them. They were doing more than just holding hands. They were making out more and more in front of others no matter who was around. By eight, Al walked in telling everyone they need to get ready for school. Marie tried to talk Jacob into letting her stay at the house and when she didn’t win with Jacob she tried Al. Just like Jacob, Al told her that it wasn't their decision to make. If Gloria says it was okay, then she could stay. Marie knew that their mother wasn't going to give her permission, so she gave up asking. Dewayne played taxi and took Marie, Greg and Ethan home. Chase went with Dewayne telling everyone to keep Dewayne company on his way dropping everyone off. But that wasn’t the real reason at all that he wanted to go. The whole time Chase talked with Ethan as they dropped everyone else off first. When they got to Ethan’s house, Chase got out and talked a little longer with him before shaking his hand. On the way back, Dewayne and Chase talked about Jacob returning to school. Dewayne’s main concern was to make sure that Loraine and her boyfriend were not going to make trouble for Jacob. When Chase promised Dewayne that he would keep an eye on Jacob no matter what, Dewayne dropped the subject. The next morning, every met in the kitchen for breakfast like normal. As they started to head to Jacob’s truck, Chase asked Jacob if they could stop and pick up Ethan on the way to school. Jacob didn’t object, but thought to himself that it would have been nice if Chase would have asked him the night before about this. He let it go when Dewayne walked up and kissed him goodbye. “No matter what Jacob, you promise me that you are going to be careful at school today. You can’t do anything that might reopen your stitches or get you hurt. Just go to class and stay away from the nasty bitch that has it out for you.” Jacob kissed Dewayne several times on the lips. “I love it when you worry about me like you do. There is no way I am going to go near trouble, no matter if it jumps in front of me. I am going to heal so I have some of this very soon.” Jacob grabbed Dewayne’s right butt cheek and held it as they kissed one last time. Not wanting to, Jacob let go of Dewayne’s nice butt. He joined the others and headed to school. As promised, they picked Ethan up on the way. More and more as Ethan hung out with Chase and the others, he was opening up to them. Getting back into the groove of things, as soon as Jacob finished eating, he headed to the ROTC building. Chase walked with Jacob as he promised and left Jacob when he walked into the building. Jacob felt weird about having an escort like that, but knew that they would stop worrying about him once they saw that there was no longer a threat. Not knowing what was in store for him, Jacob walked over to the outer office to see how much work he had fallen behind on. Although the XO took over some of his duties, most of what he did the XO had no idea how to do. He knew that his in box is going to be filled with work that would keep him busy for a couple of days. As he sat down in the desk in the outer office, the door leading into the inner office opened up, startling Jacob. He looked to see who the new senior instructor was. To his surprise, the sergeant that taught at Austin High School walked out. A first they looked at each other before the sergeant spoke up. “It's good to see you back Jacob. We heard that you got rushed into surgery last Wednesday. There was no question that you would be returning, but we didn’t think you would be back this soon.” Another voice yelled from the office, a voice that Jacob recognized. “Is Jacob out there? If so, tell him to come on in.” Jacob got up from the desk and walked into the office. When he saw Colonel Pigeon sitting behind Major Moore’s desk, it looked weird to him! His attention switched when he saw Loraine sitting there in the office as well. He froze, not knowing what he should do. Jacob thought that he was never going to see Loraine again, but there she was. “Jacob come on in please and take a seat. I am glad that you are here so where Loraine doesn’t have to wait for your decision. She is asking us to let her come back to the program after Major Moore removed her from it. As I was explaining to her that decision isn’t mine; it’s yours to make since you are the battalion commander.” “Sir with all do respect shouldn’t the decision be left to the battalion staff. Jacob and I have a history and that history isn’t good. Ever since he knocked me out as battalion commander, he has been after me. He got his way when he got the unarmed drill team taken away from me.” “Let me make this clear here and now to both of you. This is a program that is not a democracy. The higher classes get promoted into leadership positions because they have earned them. We, as instructors, give the cadets the tools to lead and once we hand those tools over, we stand back and let the cadets run the program. We never step in unless we see a wrong decision being made. With that said, Jacob here is the battalion commander. He makes the decisions like these, not his battalion staff. That staff is there to run their position and report to him. He doesn’t go to them for permission on anything. If I ever have a battalion commander or a leader in any position that asks for permission from their lower ranking officers, I will remove that cadet form that position. Again this is not a democracy! I don’t care about the personal problems you two have. Leave that baggage at the door. Jacob, Loraine wants top come back to the program and feels that she didn’t deserve the demotion that she got. I told her that you would make the decision and let me know. Do you need time or can you give me your answer now.” “Colonel Pigeon, Loraine got demoted to the rank because of her actions throughout the year. If I made the wrong decision on the demotion, Colonel May would have not signed off on the demotion. So as far as the demotion is concerned, it is a closed matter. Moving onto the subject of her being kicked out of the program, that decision was Major Moore’s, not mine. She got her boyfriend to jump me. He made it clear that he would not stop hitting me until I gave back Loraine her position. I agree with Major Moore’s decision when he removed her from the program. She went too far and broke several rules along the way.” “Loraine, I have your file and Major Moore wrote in detail why he removed you from the program. If Jacob would have disagreed with Major Moore, I would have gone with his decision. Since Jacob doesn’t disagree with Major Moore’s decision, I will go along with that decision. I know you don’t like it, but it is final. You might have once been a good cadet, but something went wrong along the way. Major Moore saw something in you and gave you more chances than he should have. I respect the man so much, but those days are gone. Rules and protocols are in place for a reason and no one should think they are allowed to break those rules. So Loraine, go down to your counselor and have him or her put you into another class.” Loraine got up and stomped out of the office. “I don’t think that is the last we are going to see of her. With what I have heard about her and seen right now in person, she is not going to go away quietly. Doesn’t she know that every instructor in the program knows what she did spying on other drill teams and recording them?” “To be honest with you I don’t think she actually cares. If she did, she would not have asked what she asked. Anyways she will let others know that I do not allow the rules to even be bent, much less broken.” Colonel Pigeon turned from Sergeant Byers and looked at Jacob. “If she comes around the building or you for that matter let me know. In my opinion, for what she did, she should have been expelled, not suspended.” “Yes sir, but I don’t see her bothering me or coming around the program anymore. Before she thought she had Major Moore in her pocket, and she wore that out. There is only so much a person can do for another before he or she has to cut ties with that person. She took advantage of Major Moore, and her luck ran out.” “Well I know you just got back to school and don’t want to hit you with all the changes I have done since I took over. You know how I run the program because you started out in my program. I am fair, but I won’t allow some of the things that have been going on here to continue. Like I said those days are over. It doesn’t matter to me if the cadet is on a team or not, if he or she is the right person for the position, that person will get the position. I want to win, but not at the cost of not teaching you guys the right way. We teach values and leadership so you can use that leadership and values in your life no matter if you go into the military or the private sector. Lead by example and if you can’t do that or get caught with your hand in the cookie jar, you're out.” Jacob just looked at Colonel Pigeon, not saying a word. “I know I don’t have to worry about you Jacob. I gave a bigger speech like this to my classes last Thursday. I just summed it up so if you are asked if I gave you the same speech, you can say yes without lying to who ever asks. So let’s move and you brief me on where we stand as far as the program here. I have seen a lot, but I like to hear it from those that are out there.” Jacob, Colonel Pigeon and Sergeant Byers sat in the office until the first bell rang going over where everything stood. As far as the classes were concern, they were exactly where all ROTC classes are supposed to be at this point in the year. But the other things that were different from battalion to battalion were what Colonel Pigeon wanted to get briefed on and Jacob took him through everything. “Jacob, it looks like I really don’t have my work cut out for me here. When Colonel May asked if I would take over this battalion, I knew that I wouldn’t. You instituted many of the things that we are now using brigade wide. Stuff we should have been using for a long time, but no one ever stood up and asked why things in the schools were not being run like the Army, like you did. As far as the teams are concern, I don’t plan to change a thing about them. The teams here have a tradition, a tradition I plan to keep. So you can inform the drill team commanders that they have nothing to worry about as far as changes. I still want to win state, Ysleta and the Final Drill Meet.” “Yeah, but there are a few more drill meets we are scheduled to attend between those three. I will get the schedule to you before lunch so you can see the kind of schedule Major Moore had for the teams here at this school. He loved this battalion and wanted the cadets in this battalion to show that they are the ones to beat. That included going to every drill meet we could throughout the year.” “There is nothing I am going to change as far the tradition of this battalion. If the teams attend twenty meets or fifty meets a year that will stay the same. You ensured that when you got each of the school sponsors to pay for all these extra items. There is still a lot we need to go over, but not now. Jacob, go and take it easy and I will see you here during lunch. You and I will look at the teams and see if they are where they should be.” “Thank you sir and I am glad that you are here. Although many would say that Major Moore was a dick, I got to know him. He had his moments, but I respect the man. He did a lot for this battalion while he was here. With that said, if anyone that can come in and take over this battalion I believe you are that one. I know I have not met the others out there, but I respect you sir without question. You are now our senior army instructor and I will follow your orders. Just like Major Moore, I will never question what you ask of me or anyone in this battalion.” Jacob got up and shook Colonel Pigeon’s hands. Unlike the first time he met Colonel Pigeon, Jacob was more confident in himself. That first day he found the Colonel behind his desk, in his office. Jacob felt that Colonel Pigeon was a giant. He still felt like a giant to Jacob, but at the same time Jacob felt he had grown a lot since their first meeting. Apart from what he had gone through in his private life, the other part had been under Major Moore. He learned all the good and bad aspects of being a leader from him. TO BE CONTINUED………… WRITER’S CORNER: {Another filled chapter of Jacob’s and I hope you all enjoyed reading it. This story is easy for me to write because of the characters in it. They are not one sided characters. It seems that everyone that has read this story knows them. Or at least has someone in their life that one of the characters reminds them of that person. Now I moved this chapter a long and got Jacob out of the hospital. To those that research if that is possible or are in the medical field, I made sure I didn’t make it unbelievable that Jacob could get out in four days after surgery. Since he had no complications and his new kidney is working just fine, he got out in the four days. Before leaving the hospital Jacob found out who his donor was. Although he didn’t go up to see Alex because he thought it was Alex that donated the kidney. He went up to be at a friend’s bed side. Also Jacob couldn’t sleep. Now the nurse screwed up by telling Jacob it was Alex that donated the kidney. It was an emotional moment between Jacob and Alex. I really do believe this seals their friendship for life. They were already going to be friends for life, but by what Alex did move him to the level of Chase in Jacob’s world. Chase is like a brother to Jacob and now Jacob feels the same about Alex. Now don’t think anything major is going to change between Jacob and Alex. Jacob is going to honor Alex’s request and not tell anyone. Alex did this out of the goodness of his heart, not expecting anything in return for it. The friendship will be really strong, but no money or special favors will come into play. Finally the party to welcome Tony into the family happened in this chapter. Just like Al said, so many things came up that caused them to keep postponing the party. I really believe that Tony needed this because of the kind of life he has had. With him now part of Al’s and Jacob’s family, things are going to be a lot better for Tony. Gloria and Andy Sr. looked around and saw that the house is ready for them to move in. As well it looks like Gloria finally is seeing what everyone has been telling her for a while now. Jacob and everyone in her family haven’t given up on her. They love her and no matter what she has done, they stand behind her. I really hope she can change and not make anymore trouble for Jacob and the others. Look at what she did when Greg showed up, which I believe is a positive step. I know it looked weird with Major Moore and Colonel May showing up for that party. Now that Major Moore is no longer Jacob’s instructor, you will see him around in the family functions. He is going to take the job and Jacob and he are going to build even a stronger friendship between them. Colonel Pigeon now in charge is a good thing for all concerned. Maybe things are going to run smoother. Although Major Moore was a dick at times, he had a reason for his madness. Under his leadership, Newman High School ROTC teams were unbeaten. They became the team to beat and that is something Colonel Pigeon is going to have to continue. Sometimes taking the laidback approach won’t work. Look at the Dallas Cowboys of the 2010 season. They have the talent, but no leadership to lead that talent. That is how they got to one and seven mid way in the season. I hope under Colonel May the teams at Newman don’t go that direction. I know I still haven’t cleared up what is going on with Chase. More than likely it will happen in the next chapter. We need to learn more about Ethan and where he stands as far as his sexual orientation. Who knows, he could be like Chase, straight. Those answers and more dealing with that plot will open and be answered in the next chapter. We finally got to hear from Andy Jr. in this chapter. Although we didn’t get to see him, we know he is doing well. In the chapters to come Andy will come home either for a visit or get stationed at Fort Bliss. I also felt a need to close off the construction work to the house plot. It is done and now that plot won’t be talked about again. As always I can go on and on about the open plots in the story! If I do that, I can actually write several more chapters. There are so many plots that can take a turn at anytime. You might think it is going to go one way, but is lands up going another. Do not miss out on anything, or you will be kicking yourself for it. I keep saying over and over again don’t forget about Chase. He will be spending time between two of my stories. I am giving that away, but look for him in “Beneath the Mask”. He is going to come back full and what is happening in his life will stun you. There is a so much to answer in the chapters to come. Stick around and keep reading the future chapters, and enjoy! Please email me and let me know how I am doing at jacobmillertex@aol.com, Thanks!} EDITOR’S CORNER: I’m so glad that Jacob had no complications with the transplant that that the donated kidney kicked in. I hope that in the next couple weeks and months that he starts to feel great, full of energy and he and Dewayne can “get to it” as far as their intimate life is concerned. I want to see their intimate life grow and enhance their relationship as it should. It’s high time that they have a normal love life! I’m glad that Jacob, by whatever means, found out that Alex was his kidney doner. With the situation, being so close in everyday life, Jacob needed to know. I think that the conversation about the subject between Alex and Jacob having been interrupted by the nurse will have to be completed at some future point. Jacob needs to hear, in detail, Alex’s mindset in having decided to donate his kidney. Yes, Alex’s selfless act will forge a bond between the two guys and their families that will be deep and lifelong. Ok…both Jacob and Dewayne are curious about seeing Alex in all his natural glory. No, it’s not sexual desire, but a deep curiosity. Now that the pool is done, there might come a time when the “boys” all skinny dip at some point. That would give (us the readers) a chance to get a full physical description of each of the guys. We could then form a better mental image of each character that would extend to enhance the perceptions during the love scenes. (OK..was that hint to the author subtle enough? ) I’m actually starting to believe that Gloria is beginning to “get it”. She has been on the receiving end of ‘unconditional love’ that she should have been giving to her kids and family all the way along. Perhaps she can learn the concept and apply it to her life. The benefits are so great when unconditional love is present. Andy Sr. is the focal point in her changing her ways and perceptions. I’m glad he is in her life and that he turned out to be a positive influence and that he had no hidden agendas. I’m glad Greg and Marie are still together and that their relationship is deepening. It’s encouraging to see a good result come from something that was evil in its intent in the beginning. I hooted with Tony getting flustered over being called “Uncle Tony”. That was positively hilarious ! Tony is still young and I will enjoy watching him grow into a strong personality of his own under Al and Jacob’s influence. I was pleased to hear from Andy Jr. I have been wondering how he’s getting along and what changes the military life has made to him. I know that his family was dead set against him joining up, but I suspect we are going to find him to be a much more solid and grounded man when he does get back with the family in everyday life. I’m anxious to see what role Ethan is going to play in the larger scheme of things. His family is, seemingly, poor. Perhaps his parents can find a job with one of the family businesses. They are going to need managers for both McDonalds and Seven-Eleven locations. I also wonder what Ethan’s sexual orientation is. I’ll be watching both stories to see how this plays out! Oh, and what a total hottie he sounds like. I want to “see” more! Until next time, “Daddy” Rick
  12. “Thank you Jacob I really need a friend right now, Things are going on……..” “Hold on for a minute Joey I need to go and tell Jeremy that I am on the phone. Give me a few minutes and I will be right back.” While Jacob went to talk to Jeremy, Joey started to think to himself that this might not have been a good idea. They are barely talking as it is and here he is calling him up as if they are still together. Jacob could be cruel and tell him to go to Caleb but then Joey thought that the Jacob he knows would never do that. “Sorry about that Joey, like I said I needed to let Jeremy and Alex’s little brothers know that I am on the phone. I try to spend time with Jeremy every evening after school. The poor guy is stuck in the house all day with out any friends his age.” “I understand that Jacob, and again thank you for talking with me. I just really need a friend that I can trust that will not judge me.” Joey stopped talking for a few seconds trying to figure out the easiest way to get into the conversation he called Jacob about. “You know about my past and what had happened to me the summer before high school. I thought I was over that, but when my mom and uncle did what they did to me, all those memories came back on top of the memories of that horrible place.” “What happened to you the summer before our freshman year was horrible. To be completely honest with you I do not know how you were able to deal with what had happened to you. I knew it was hard because you didn’t tell me anything about it when we first met. Now on top of that you have to deal with the memories of the place you were just at. Even my worst enemy, I don’t wish what you went through on them.” “The problem I am having right now is the fact that I’m not able to sleep at night anymore. At first, it wasn’t causing me problems, but now it’s getting to the point where I’m falling asleep at work. To make matters worse, the nightmares, I am having all the time now. It got so bad yesterday that I actually wet my pants. Jacob, I seriously do not know what to do anymore. I am so afraid to close my eyes because the images of those three days in that place keep coming back. It’s like I am reliving every moment over and over again. My doctor wants to send me to a therapist, but I told him no because it’s going to be on my permanent record. I am so lost right now, I don’t even know if I’m coming or going.” “Eventually Joey, you will need professional help. I know that is weird hearing that coming from me. Being that I am the worst person as far as asking for help. You need to be able to sit down and talk out your dreams. Until you are ready and comfortable enough to speak with a therapist, you know I am here for you. So why don’t we start off with you telling me about the dreams you’re having.” Joey started telling Jacob about the nightmare he has had for the last couple of days. How he didn’t fight back when the guy or guys came up behind him and kidnapped him. He couldn’t believe how easily it was for them to take him that way. If only he would have fought back he might not have landed up in that place. Trying to explain to Joey that there was really nothing he could have done to stop them from kidnapping him, Jacob reminded Joey about him trying to get free when he woke up and how they stopped the van and hit him over and over again. If he would’ve fought them in the school parking lot he would’ve ended up beaten then like he did when he tried to get free. There was really nothing he could have done to stop those guys from kidnapping him. So he needs to stop kicking himself for that. As the conversation went on Jacob explained to Joey how he handled his nightmares. First he told Joey that no medicine in the world will be able to get rid of the nightmares. Only talking with people he can trust and will listen to him is this way. Jacob went on explaining to Joey that he needs to stop keeping it from other people, and mainly Caleb. They are now together, and in order for their relationship to get stronger, they need to be able to talk to each other when something is bothering one another. “I hope that talking about our new boyfriends doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable Jacob. That is the last thing I wanted to do after everything that I have done to you. And I know you are right about talking to Caleb about this stuff. With his and your help, I really do believe I can work through this to get stronger.” They talked for about another thirty minutes about the nightmares before making a schedule. Until Joey stops having the nightmares, they decided to speak with each other three times a week after. Since Joey is no longer living in his own home, they decided that Jacob will make the call. That way Caleb’s parents don’t end up with a huge long distance phone bill. After hanging up the phone with Jacob Joey just sat in the living room thinking about how his life has changed so much in the last several months. Every change that has happened in his life is because of choices he knows that he has made previously. In order for his future to change for the better, Joey knows that he needs to stop being so hardheaded and ask for help when he needs it. Before heading off to bed, Joey went upstairs to speak with Helen and Harold. When he reached the top of the staircase he leaned against the wall thinking to himself that he has never before run out of breath climbing a set of stairs. Until now and that is telling him that the minute the cast is off his leg he needs to start exercising. Even if he isn’t going to join the football team next year, he cannot get lazy and fat. As soon as he got his breath Joey headed down the hall to Helen’s and Harold’s room. After knocking a few times Joey waited for them to invite him in. It didn’t take long to hear Harold yell out to come in. Joey cracked the door enough for his head could fit in in order for them to see that he is the one that’s knocking on the door. Harold looked up from the bed and waved Joey in. Helen walked out of the bathroom and joined Harold on the bed. They just looked at Joey as he paced back and forth trying to get his thoughts together on the best way to start the conversation. He is about to tell Helen that he plans to quit after giving her a promise when she hired him that he wouldn’t do that to her. “Until a couple days ago, I didn’t know that Caleb basically work part time before I started working. The only reason he is working all these hours right now is because he wants to be with me. Don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to use Caleb as an excuse for what I’m about to do. In fact, I should not have mentioned this part as my opener. Let me start over and tell you what I am honestly here to tell you. For several days now I have been thinking about this. After going back to school today, I realized that I don’t have the strength to do everything I would like to do. I feel really bad on coming in here and doing this to you, after promising you I wouldn’t do this Helen.” “Before you go any further Joey, why don’t you and Caleb come and see me in my office tomorrow. I don’t like the idea of my son working all the hours he has been working and still going to school. I had planned to talk with him to cut back on his hours for weeks now. Hopefully you can help me talk some sense into him to dial back on the hours.” “Ma’am I had planned to give you my two week notice. Not to ask you to cut back on my hours, but I agree with you about Caleb. From what I can gather from Caleb, the reason he started working is to save up for a trip he and his friends are taking during spring break. If that’s the case, then he doesn’t need to work forty hours a week. With that said, I don’t plan to be one of those boyfriends telling his significant other what he can and cannot do. I don’t want him working at all to be honest with you and I have told him that much. In fact, I have told him that he should quit and I will give him whatever money he needs for the trip and spending money, but he wouldn’t take that offer. Maybe he will at least settle on working fewer hours than he is right now.” Harold knows that Joey would take care of his son, but not spoil him. Paying for a trip that he’s not even invited to go on is not right in Harold’s mind. If his son does not wake up and see what he has soon, Harold fears that his son will probably lose one of the best things that has happened to him in his life. Having done what he came up here to do; Joey thanked Helen and Harold, bid them good night and headed back down to his and Caleb’s room. When he walked in he found Caleb already under the covers. Joey quickly undressed and joined Caleb under the covers. They lay awake for several more hours and Joey told Caleb what had happened to him that summer before his freshman year. Caleb did not say a word the entire time, while Joey told him about another part of his life that he doesn’t ever want to relive. On top of being kidnapped, tortured and what had happened to Joey that summer, Caleb is not surprised now that Joey is having all these nightmares. The only thing Caleb could do is pull Joey into him and hold him tight. There is not a thing he could say to Joey to make him feel better since he has not gone through anything near what he has already gone through. The best thing he can do is keep his mouth shut, so that he doesn’t say the wrong thing to make things worse. When Joey and Caleb walked into the cafeteria fewer eyes were on them than the day before. Still that didn’t stop the others looking at them and talking as if Joey didn’t know that they are talking about him. Joey made up his mind yesterday that he isn’t going to let this bother him anymore. If they are simpleminded back woods people that cannot stop gossiping, there is nothing Joey can do to stop them. Before Joey could sit down, Ivan, Kurt and Lonnie started talking all at once. It got to the point that Joey had to tell them to stop and only one speaks at a time. Even after Joey said that all three of them started talking all at once again! This time Caleb stopped them Caleb chose Kurt to talk on behalf of the others. “The coach asked us to speak with Joey and see if he would come down to his office after breakfast and speak with him. He is starting to put together the next year’s football team and asked if we could get Joey to join. We told him that we don’t know, he asked if we could get Joey to come down to speak with him today. So what about it Joey, will you go and see the coach this morning?” Joey just looked at the guys and couldn’t believe the coach actually is asking to speak with him. Just last night he was thinking about being out of shape and maybe joining the football team next year. Now here he is being asked to go down and speak with the head coach of the school’s football team. “Guys to be completely honest with you I do not know if I’m going to play football next year. I went through hell this last year, and I don’t plan to try to repeat that again. It took me weeks to get the team to even look at me, much less respect me seeingI am gay. I do not want to go through all that again here.” “Before making a decision Joey, why don’t you at least give the coach a chance to talk with you? If either of you guys don’t like what each of you had to say to each other, all you guy’s have to do is say thank you but no thank you. I will not sit here and lie to you that it’s going to be easy joining the team for your senior year. Not after all of us have been a part of this team since our freshman year and you might actually take one of our spots.” Agreeing with what Ivan said Joey figured there is nothing to lose on talking with the coach. At least he will know if the coach would want him on the team or not. Plus he will know if this is a team he wants to be part of. To go through all the hard work to get the respect of his fellow teammates it is going to take a lot out of Joey and he wants to make sure it is worth going through that hell again. As soon as they finished eating, Lonnie and the guys lead the way to the football coach’s office. Ivan stepped forward, knocked on the door and told the coach that Joey is here. The coach got up from his desk as Joey and the guys walked in. After saying hello to the guys, the coach introduced himself to Joey. “Why don’t you guys let Joey and me to talk in private for a few minutes? Once he is done, he will meet you guys in the hallway.” Knowing their coach the way they do, they knew that wasn’t a question, it was a request. They walked out, leaving Joey alone in the office with the coach. As Joey closed the door, the coach sat behind his desk as he pointed Joey to a chair. Once they got comfortable, the coach started to speak. “Before asking to speak with you Joey, I spoke with your former coach. He had nothing but good things to say about you. In fact he would do anything to get you back. That tells me a lot about a person when a coach would do anything to get a player back. He also sent me video of your games without me even asking him to. When I sat down to watch them, I thought maybe it would have a few highlights of you, but boy was I surprised on what I saw. You can play some football. With what I saw on the tapes, most of the wins your team had were because of your ability to break free and get the ball into the end zone or the yards that were needed to get the first down. I will not lie to you, I am weak in the position that you play. If you join the team, I can guarantee you the starting position. I also need to tell you that I have never had a gay student on my team. At least an open gay student that is. Some of the other players might not take to you right away. I want to be upfront with you from the beginning so you know what you are getting into if you choose to join the team.” “Thank you for being upfront with me. I worked very hard to earn the respect of the team I was on and that wasn’t an easy task. Just like you, I want to be upfront as well. I don’t want to go through that again my senior year. I believe it is going to be worse here with what I have seen since I have been back. There is no way I will get those that hate people like me to give me a chance.” “You might be right on that Joey, but again people do surprise you. No one will ever know unless someone actually tries it. I bet you that you were the first open gay person on your football team over there at Newman High School.” Joey shook his head. “You worked hard and got the respect of your fellow team members because you earned it. That is the same way here. You will get their respect because you have earned it.” Joey thought about what the coach just said quickly. He is right about how he got the respect from his last team. He earned it on the field and once he did that, they forgot or let go of the fact that he is gay. But once again Joey thought that he doesn’t want to go through all that again, not his senior year. “Look even if you were not gay, you would have a hard time coming in as a senior on this team. Most of these guys have been together since their freshman year. You are an outsider coming in. To make matters worse for them you are better than anyone I have that plays your position . Think about that as you weigh the idea of joining.” “I agree with you on that. Why don’t we do this first, let’s see what my leg looks like when the cast comes off. Also I don’t have all my eyesight back yet. The doctor thinks it will come back, but he doesn’t know. So this conversation might be for nothing if my leg doesn’t heal right or my eyesight doesn’t come completely back.” The coach agreed with Joey. As Joey got up to leave, the coach asked him the minute he gets the cast off and he hears about his eyesight, to come and see him. Even if he decides on not joining the team! That way he will know to look else where for another student to play that position. Joey agreed as he shook the coach’s hand and walked out. The coach watched Joey as he left and couldn’t stop hoping that Joey will be good health wise and he will decide to join the team. If he could get him on the team, he will have his first winning season in five years. Already the team he has for next year is going to be hard to beat, but with Joey it will make it a sure thing. For sure they will win the majority, if not all of their games next year--enough to get into the playoffs and go all the way! Joey found Caleb and the other guys standing at the end of the hall. Before Joey could say a word, Lonnie started asking how the meeting went, joined in by the other two. Joey waited for them all to stop talking so where he could answer the many questions they threw at him all at once. The first item Joey explained to them is the warning the coach gave him that he is going to have to earn the respect from the other guys. That is one of the things Joey said that he doesn’t want to go through again. He had enough of that the first time around. Being gay in a sport that normally looks down at gays, makes it even harder! Then him coming in and right away he has a chance to take a starting position. For sure that will anger some. “Look Joey I am not going to lie to you, there are some on the team that will never come around to accepting you. Still they want to win and they will accept you over time if that means we have a chance to win. The bottom line here is next year is our last chance to win state. After that, many of the guys are not going to do much more with their lives. That includes me. I already know after I graduate I am going to work for my dad.” “Lonnie I see where you are coming from, but I cannot be part of a team that will accept me only because I can give the team more of a chance to win. Once we are off the field, they don’t even give me the time of day. No I do not want that and I don’t think any of you would if the shoe were on the other foot.” The guys thought on what Joey just said. Each of them in their own way agreed on what Joey just said. Basically none of them want to be part of a group, team, club or what ever that doesn’t want to accept them as they are and only uses them to get what they want and once they get it, they toss them to the side of the road like a piece of trash. Throughout the day, it got better for Joey. Less and less of his fellow students starred at him and talked about him as he walked by. When he went to lunch, most of the students kept talking to who ever they were talking to at their table when Joey passed by. It didn’t take but another thing to happen to another person for the students to stop talking about Joey, after his coming back that first day. During ROTC, Joey sat down with the current battalion commander and she walked him through the duties of the position. This is something the out going battalion commander does with the incoming battalion commander once they are informed who is taking their spot for the falling year. This has been a tradition this battalion has had for over a decade now. To say that Joey is surprised is an under statement. He thought that he had lost out on getting that position the moment he got kidnapped. If he was still attending Newman High and this was Major Moore’s unit, he would have already looked for another and had him replaced the minute he was gone. But not here, they waited and when Joey came back, he came back to everything being the same. Just like the day before, as Joey drove out of the school parking lot, he froze where he was parked at that faithful day. When the others students started honking at him again, it dawned on Joey that he probably would never get over the haunting that parking spot gives him. From now on he needs to find a new parking spot away from this one so that he doesn’t even pass by it. All the way to work, Joey couldn’t stop thinking to himself that it was weird the parking spot where he was taken from is haunting him so much. When he got jumped at Austin High, he was able to walk in that area afterwards without freezing up the way he is freezing when he passes the parking spot. What is so different that is making him act the way he is acting? It’s not like it is going to happen again, Joey keeps telling himself. As soon as they drove up to work, Joey and Caleb clocked in and walked up to Helen’s office as she requested. They had to wait for her because she wasn’t there when they first arrived. Caleb started to get nervous that the day shift might get mad with him and Joey if they don’t show up in time, but Joey kept calming him down. After they waited another fifteen minutes, Joey pulled Caleb down the hall. Its a few minutes before the shift is to leave and they are to take over. Since they have no idea where Helen is, Joey doesn’t want to get the night manager angry with them. Already the manager despises him and Caleb because he feels they get away with a lot more than the other workers due to the fact that they are the sons of the store manager. A few minutes after taking over the video store, Helen walked in out of breath; apologizing to both Joey and Caleb. Neither of the boys is angry with Helen, they just didn’t want to get into trouble with the nightshift manager. “Okay we can talk here since Tuesdays are as slow as Mondays. If a customer comes in, we stop talking until the customer leaves. That way they don’t hear what we are talking about.” Helen sat down on a stool behind the counter. “I really don’t know what is going on here. Joey told me that you wanted to talk with us as soon as we got to work today. I didn’t ask why, I just said okay. What ever it is, you need to tell us that way we can say our piece.” “Caleb, I talked with Helen last night and informed her what I told you earlier in the day. I want to quit working and concentrate on school. I don’t plan to not help with bills around the house. It’s just I don’t need to work right now since Al is investing my money again. I can live off the earnings of the investments Al does for me.” Caleb reacted, “I thought it was just talk on what we were doing yesterday. I didn’t know you were serious. If I knew that, I would have talked with you more about it instead of leaving you in the living room like I did. Right now I have no plans on quitting my job or allow you to give me money like some kind of housewife.” Both Helen and Joey were surprised on how Caleb is taking the news. In Joey’s mind it wasn’t as if he sprung this on him. He did talk to him first before going to Helen. When Caleb walked away, Joey thought that he had said his piece on the subject. Since he didn’t object, he thought it was a green light. The only thing Joey thought was left in the air was Caleb quitting and now that has been answered. “Helen, could we go up to your office and speak? We already know where Caleb stands, but I still want to deal with what we discussed lat night concerning my employment.” Not needing to be asked twice, Helen agreed. They walked up to her office, leaving Caleb by himself to run the video department. Normally Joey is split between the video department and somewhere else in the store on Monday’s, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It isn’t busy enough to keep two employees in the department on the first three days of the week, but at the same time Helen wants to give both of them their hours. “Before making a rash decision that you cannot take back, why don’t you think about moving to part time work. Come in only on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. That way you have a little spending money in your pocket to do what ever.” Joey looked at Helen with a confused look on his face. “I know you don’t need the money, but you and Caleb work so well together I don’t want to break you two apart.” Joey thought about it for a few minutes. “Okay, move me to part time hours after this week. I don’t want to put you in a bad spot trying to find someone to fill my shifts. Just so you know I am not doing this so much for Caleb, but more for you. I promised you the day you hired me that I will not quit on you. I am a man of my word. You took a chance on me, its just right I don’t destroy the trust I have built with you.” Helen smiled at Joey and agreed to switch him to part time, starting next week. As Joey left, he thanked her for everything. She looked at him as he left and couldn’t believe how lucky her son is. She is going to move Joey to part time on the schedule, as promised, but not on his paperwork. Helen is going to keep Joey full time and list the reason he is only working part time hours right now is because of doctor’s orders. When Joey walked back into the video department, it is as empty as it was when he left. He thought to himself as he made his way to the counter on how much he hates the beginning of the week. It is so slow, the hours just drag on. At first he didn’t mind it, but now he does. In order to past the time, Joey brings his homework to do. For the first hour, Caleb kept himself busy on the floor. He even started dusting the shelves where he doesn’t have to talk with Joey. While Joey was up in Helen’s office, Caleb thought about the way he acted after Joey told him what he did. The more he ran that conversation over and over in his mind, the more he sees he was wrong. Once he ran out of work to do on the floor, Caleb walked up to the counter. To his surprise, Joey didn’t talk about what had happened. Instead Joey wanted Caleb’s opinion about joining the football team. Joey told Caleb in detail the conversation he had with the coach so he could have all the facts to give an opinion. “The decision is yours to make Joey. You know what you went through the first time when you joined the football team in your last high school. What I can tell you it isn’t going to be much easier here. But I can promise you that you will have me and my friends behind you. With what I understand you didn’t have that when you first joined your last football team. No matter what, I will always have your back.” “Thank you and that will weigh a lot in my decision. You are right about the fact that I didn’t have anyone on the team when I joined. The other gay guy on the team was too scared to come out. When he finally did, I already paved the road.” In between customers, Joey and Caleb talked about the football team. Joey saw that there are some differences between to two teams, but nothing major. Joey also realizes also if he joins he will be the only out gay player. Yes Caleb is out, but only to his friends. Joey doesn’t see Caleb coming out to the entire football team. The shift dragged on, but when it finally ended, Joey and Caleb couldn’t wait to go home. Once the manager counted their registers, locked up the video department, Joey and Caleb clocked out and almost ran out of the store. When they got in the truck, they sat almost on each others laps until the truck warmed up. Even when the truck warmed up, Joey kept his arms around Caleb, holding him until they got home. When they walked into the door, Fran handed Joey the phone with Jacob on the other end. While Helen prepared dinner for Joey and Caleb, Joey spoke with Jacob. Although it was a lot shorter call then the night before, Joey felt good when he hung up. Something about Jacob’s voice or the way he says things always soothes Joey. Keeps him from going crazy with the things that are bothering him in his life! After dinner, Joey and Caleb went to their room instead of watching television. They already had done their homework at work, but the others in the house don’t know that. Even if they did, they know that they have been together already several times. But this evening Joey and Caleb just cuddled with each other. They talked, but nothing serious. A lot was said the night before between them. They didn’t want another heavy night like that, not in a row. All they wanted with each other is to be with each other. Feel each other's breath, their warmth on each other's skin and them just being there holding one another. The next morning when Harold arrived at the court house, he saw several state trooper cars in the parking lot. Normally that isn’t weird, but these are state trooper cars from the state of Texas. Normally if a police officer from another state is in a court house in a state that the state trooper isn’t from, it is to either drop someone off or pick someone up. If they are here at the courthouse, it means they are here to pick someone up. If they were here to drop someone off, they would be at the county jail. The minute Harold walked into the building, he was proven wrong. Four state troopers walked up to Harold and asked to speak with him in his chambers. Not giving him any more information, they followed Harold. Like always, Harold is the first one in so he had to turn on all the lights, put on the coffee before sitting down with the state troopers. Once he got his coffee, a cup for each state trooper, Harold directed them into his chambers. Instead of sitting behind his desk, Harold sat down in a chair and the troopers sat in the other chairs or couch. “Your honor we were directed by our captain to speak with you directly once we got into town. We have been waiting for you for a couple of hours and are glad that you come in early.” The trooper drank some of his coffee. “Now the reason we came down here is to let you know about a break through Governor Lopez and his staff has gotten. The Mexico president has taken a positive step to end the stand off. He agreed to turn over Dominic Alvarez to us late last night. Once he was handed over we came straight here.” “You mean Dominic Alvarez is being booked in our county jail?” “No sir he is about twenty minutes away. Just in case the press got wind of what was going on, we used three different state trooper cars to confuse the press. The other state troopers are coming straight to the court house where Mr. Alvarez can get in front of a judge and get the warrant executed on him and bail set.” “Trust me when I say this guy isn’t going to get bail.” Harold picked up the phone and called in another judge before he continued talking with the state troopers. “I cannot have Mr. Alvarez in front of me since I am too close to this case. So I made sure there is a judge available to greet him--a judge who is aware of what is going on and will not allow this guy to get bail again.” Noticing that the state troopers didn’t like what they heard, Harold got up and walked behind his desk. Just as the state trooper that let Harold know the news was about to say something, Harold got on the phone. He woke up Detective Benson and told him to get down here as soon as he can after giving him the news. Once he got off the phone. Harold called over the state troopers. “By the looks of it, you guys don’t like what is going on down here. Either you don’t like what the guy is being arrested for or that it looks like the deck is stacked up against him. Let me tell you no matter what I think of this guy, he will get a fair trial. So let’s head on down to the courtroom where he will be going to and get him an attorney for the proceedings.” Harold directed the troopers to the private elevator as they headed to the other courtroom. As soon as they got off the elevator, Harold went in and did as he said he was going to do and that is get Dominic an attorney. Luck would have it; the attorney that got Dominic’s other case was in the courtroom and agreed to keep him as a client. After getting the attorney for Dominic, Harold flagged the state troopers down. They headed out to the front of the courtroom. When they walked out, they couldn’t believe that the news has traveled to the local news. Every local channel has already set up in front of the building hoping to get video of Dominic being walked into the court house. They were reporting that both of the fugitives are being turned over this morning. Just as Harold started to walk over to correct them, he saw the state trooper car arriving. They waited to pull Dominic out of the car for local police to show up. Once they showed up, they pushed the press and the crowd that gathered to see the fugitives being handed over back behind an invisible line. The Texas State Troopers helped Dominic out of the car and walked him into the court house. Detective Benson walked in right behind them, ready to take custody of Dominic, but the state troopers refused. They will not hand over the fugitive until a judge shows them the arrest warrant. That angered Detective Benson and Harold, but they agreed. All the way to the courtroom, Dominic didn’t stop smiling. Neither Harold nor Detective Benson could figure out why he is smiling. Harold thought it must be an inside joke between him and the state troopers, but what ever it is, the smile will be gone shortly. He will be theirs and this time they will not let him get away. The press got off the public elevator and ran into the courtroom just as Dominic walked off the private elevator. Harold saw the press down the hall so he directed the state troopers to the private halls that only court staff and judges use. Although he wants the city to see that one of the two has been turned over, he also doesn’t want to give Dominic or his defense attorney anything to use to over turn a verdict. When they arrived at the side entrance of the courtroom, Dominic’s attorney asked to speak with him in private. Detective Benson and the state troopers walked to a conference room and made sure it was clear before letting the two talk in private. Before letting the attorney go in, they made him empty his pockets and leave his briefcase on the desk outside of the conference room. Mean while the judge set down the ground rules for the press. He made it clear to them if they interrupt the proceedings, they will be removed from the courtroom. For now he will allow the press in the court proceedings, but no one else that is not directly involved in the case, like family and police. A few minutes later, Dominic and his attorney walked into the courtroom. The press started taking pictures as Dominic sat down at the defense table. Before settling in, the judge called the courtroom into session. The bailiff read off the charges and then the judge asked the state troopers to hand over custody of the prisoner. After handing over custody, the state troopers were directed to take a seat. “You are a very hard man to get Mr. Alvarez. Has your attorney informed you what you are being charged with? And has he told you why you are before me today?” Dominic stood up before speaking. “Yes your honor my attorney has explained everything to me.” “Let’s start with the first warrant of revoking you bail that was given to you when you were arrested for abusing the minor child Joey Alvarez. I here by revoke your bail and reset it at one million dollars, cash or bond.” “Your honor, can’t my client explain to the court why he did what he did?” “No your client cannot! When he was given the bail he was told not to leave the city of Alamogordo. Not only did he leave the city, the state but he ran clear across the border to Mexico, causing an international up roar. There is no way I am going to give your client another chance to take off across the border again. Let’s move on to the other charges before this court against your client. As my bailiff reads off the charge, Mr. Alvarez I need you to say either guilty or not guilty. Once you plea I will set your bail for each charge.” “Your honor we waive the reading, but not the rights. My client pleads not guilty to each and every one of the charges. I am asking this court to set bail low enough that my client could afford to make bail. He has the right to help with his defense and being locked up hinders him from doing that. As well he is not a threat to the community and will hand over his passport to the court to ensure that he will appear before you in the future.” “Nice try counselor, he can help with his defense behind bars like so many other defendants do. For each charge I am remanding your client without bail. He has shown this court that he is willing to run when he thinks things are not going good for him. Like I said before there is no way I am going to give your client another chance to run for the border where he can get across without a passport.” “Your honor, remanding my client on these charges when normally a defendant is given bail on the same charge is wrong. Bail, that the defendant can afford to make, is what I am asking your honor to reconsider and be fair with my client.” “I am being fair with your client. If he didn’t already jump bail I would have given him ROR on these charges as I normally do with cases like these. But since you client was out on ROR and jumped his bail. I cannot give him ROR again. You client has shown this court that he cannot be given bail.” The judge ordered Dominic to be taken into custody and booked at the county jail. Harold noticed when he was being handcuffed, the smile that he had on his face when they were on the elevator is gone. Now Harold cannot help but smile that Dominic has nothing to smile about anymore. He is now going to be locked away and not going to be given another chance to flee the country. As they walked to Harold’s chambers, Detective Benson and he talked. They feel good that they got one of the two, but they want both of them. Now they fear Governor Lopez will stop leaning on the Mexican government since they handed over one of the fugitives. If he does that, both of them know that they will never get their hands on Beth. Before Detective Benson left, Harold promised him that he will make a few calls and find out what is going on as far as Beth. If Governor Lopez is going to end the stand off to save face, both of them want to know. That way they could look at other avenues to get Beth out of Mexico and in front of a judge. Joey heard the news about Dominic being handed over on his way to school. He couldn’t believe this is happening to him. After going through two rough days, it is going to start all over again. Just when it seemed the other students are starting to move on, now shit is about to hit the fan again. For sure they will eat Joey alive when he arrives at school. Just as Joey thought, as he walked down the hall, every student stopped what they were doing and looked at him. And just like before they started whispering to their friends as they saw Joey pass them. There is no doubt in Joey’s mind on what or who they are whispering about, him and his uncle being brought back. Trying his best, Joey put on a happy face as if none of this is bothering him. Underneath is another story. Joey has no idea how he is going to be able to handle the kids here in this school talking about him. It is more difficult because they had started moving on and now they are back talking about him and pointing at him as he passes them. To make the moment a little better, Joey saw Angelo and several other guys from the foster home standing at the entrance of the cafeteria. With a big smile, Joey walked up and shook their hands. Now he has his owns friends, not Caleb’s, to hang out with. “What the hell is wrong with these guys here? They are acting as if they never saw or heard of someone being arrested before. What they need is a reality check. Someone needs to yell out to them that they need to mind their own fucking business. They need to look at their own lives, because I can promise you they have skeletons in their closets.” Joey laughed as he hit Angelo on the back. “You are a sight for sore eyes. Boy am I glad to see you guys. When I need friends in my corner, here you are. Just like at that place, you are saving me once again. Thank you and I hope you will join Caleb and me at our table.” “Of course we will! Hell you and Caleb are the only ones we know here. There is no way we are going to sit somewhere else when we have you guys to hang out with. Plus by the looks of it you need me to straighten up some of these kids. If they don’t stop starring, I am going to knock a few of them around to make them stop.” Angelo said it loud enough for the students in ear shot to hear and they did. They quickly turned away from Joey and the others and either started eating or talking to their friends. If they are talking about Joey, he doesn’t know and doesn’t care. All he cares about is for them to stop starring at him as he walks by. The minute they walked up to the table, Lonnie and the guys introduced themselves. Angelo and the guys from the foster home greeted Lonnie and his friends with a hand shake and their names. By the time the introductions were done, their breakfast was cold and Joey teased everyone about it. Caleb and his friends talked amongst themselves, leaving Joey and the guys from the foster home to talk. So Joey took this opportunity to see how everything is going. Making sure they had everything they need from food, to school supplies all the way to school clothes. Each of them said they have everything they need, but if they think of something they will make sure to let Joey know. Once business was done, Joey asked to see their schedules. Joey had hoped they had classes together, but they don’t. Not one class and that surprised Joey because this school is a smaller than Newman High. Since the school is smaller, Joey thought that they didn’t have that many teachers to teach the same class, but it wasn’t the case. “Hey Joey have you thought about joining the football team?” Ivan tossed a grape at Joey. “We talked with several guys on the team yesterday about you and they are excited that coach asked you to come out for try outs. They heard about you, from us of course, and they want you on the team.” “I have thought about it, but I still haven’t made up my mind. Like I told the coach yesterday we need to see what my leg looks like when the cast comes off in a couple of weeks. Plus I need to see if I can see!” Joey pointed at his eyes, causing the others to laugh. “Right now I got some of my eyesight back, but not all of it.” That started everyone to put in their two cents in about Joey going out for the football team. Even Angelo told Joey that he should try out and then asked if he could as well. Lonnie promised Angelo to check in on that for him and returned to trying to talk Joey into coming out for try outs. “I tried to move the subject away from you, but it looked like these guys really want an answer!” Angelo leaned over and whispered in Joey’s ear. When Angelo leaned over to whisper in Joey’s ear, Caleb caught it, but got the wrong idea. For the first time in his and Joey’s relationship, he is jealous. Here is a cute, gay guy leaning in and making his boyfriend laugh. A laugh that he normally gets from Joey when ever he says something to Joey that makes him feels good. The bell rang right when Caleb was about to say something. Instead he let it go and decided to talk with Joey in private later. If this kid Angelo makes him feel good, it is a problem, Caleb thought. A problem that needs to be taken care of immediately before it gets out of control. If only Caleb knew what Jacob went through as those two dated? It would give Caleb more reason to think Joey could be taken easier than he thinks. Hopefully Joey not only leaned from the past but is a man of his word. He stated that he has learned from his mistakes and will not commit to the same mistakes again. On the way to the class, Joey noticed that Caleb was either thinking about something or was angry. Either way he decided not to ask. Just in case Caleb is angry, he doesn’t want a scene in the middle of the hall. Not with his fellow students already looking at him, Joey knows he cannot afford anything else to go wrong. Impatiently Harold waited for his calls to be returned from the governor’s office. He doesn’t care who calls him back, just as long as someone does. He wants and needs to know what the status of Beth is. He is happy that Governor Lopez got Dominic turned over, but he wants the most evil of the two. In the middle of his thoughts, the phone started to ring, causing Harold to jump from his seat. He fumbled with the phone as he picked it up from the desk. He ended up dropping the phone on the floor. Trying to get control of his nerves, Harold picked the receiver up from the ground, sat down on his sit and answered it. “Your honor, this is Mr. Anderson, the state attorney general of Texas. I understand you have been trying to reach someone here about questions concerning Beth Alvarez, am I correct sir?” Mr. Anderson voice came across a little angry. “Yes I called to see what the situation with Beth Alvarez is. Don’t get me wrong, we wouldn’t have Dominic Alvarez without the help from Governor Lopez and his office. I just want to know if he made some kind of deal to get Dominic into our custody like not asking for Beth Alvarez and easing up on his stance.” “Not a problem, I believe I can answer your questions.” Harold could hear papers being moved around on the other end of the phone. “Governor Lopez didn’t make any deal with the Mexican government or President on getting Dominic Alvarez into your custody. They called us up and informed us that they are going to turn him over. We had no idea that was in the making, but we didn’t reject it either. Our thoughts on them turning Mr. Alvarez over are for one that he isn’t a citizen of Mexico, unlike Beth. Secondly they are trying to smooth the rough relationship between them and the Border States. We honestly believe that they are hoping that this will soften our resolve, but it has done the opposite.” “So what you are telling me is that you guys are still asking for the Mexican government to turn Beth over to us.” “Yes and we have no plans to change our course of action. To many times in the past, the Mexican government has pushed the Border States around. Either by threats or using the federal government to threaten to pull federal dollars from our states! After showing the other border stats how to make up the loss of federal dollars, they are standing on our side. The Mexican government is now feeling the pinch and it is only going to get worse. We still haven’t even executed everything that we plan to make the government of Mexico to see they need to turn over Beth Alvarez. When we put the full plan into action, they will fold and in return they will hand over Beth. Until that happens, we have no plans what so ever on easing up on Mexico.” “That is all I needed to know Mr. Anderson. To be honest with you I was thinking the worst of this governor. Truly he is a different politician, a politician that is a man of his word. Please thank him for us and let him know if there is anything he needs from us, just call. I promise it will get done.” “Not a problem and if you have any questions just give me a call.” Mr. Anderson gave Harold his private extension and home number. “We are hoping to end this soon, but again, we are in it for the long haul. You take care and remember that if you need anything, just call me up.” Harold thanked Mr. Anderson again before hanging up with him. He got up from his desk thinking how wrong he was about the governor of Texas. After this call, he will never again think the way he thought of the governor. Just like he told his kids weeks ago, this guy is putting his career on the line and that is something that cannot be taken lightly. Right when the lunch bell rang, Alan ran to Fran’s locker to try and catch her before she headed to the cafeteria. Just as he reached Fran’s locker, she was shutting the door and spinning her combination lock. She looked down at Alan as he put his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. Trying not to laugh, Fran helped Alan to the wall. “Why in the world did you run across the campus? You know that we always meet in the cafeteria for lunch. What ever you have to say, it could have waited until you saw me either in the line or at the table.” “That’s it right there; I didn’t want you to get your lunch. A couple of guys invited me and you to eat off campus. We need to hurry to meet them at their car in order to have a ride. That is if you want to eat off campus.” “You know how much I dislike eating the food here at school. Now with that said, neither of us has the money to go out to eat.” Alan started to shake his head no when Fran grabbed his chin. “We have the little bit of lunch money we are given each day, but it isn’t enough to eat off campus. I don’t want a dollar meal because it will not fill me up, sorry but I don’t want to be starving by fifth period.” “Okay we better get going to the cafeteria before the line gets too long. I just thought it was good to have a change once in a while. Plus we were invited by people outside the circle of friends that involve your brother and Caleb.” “I love you Alan and I see where you are coming from. We do need to make our own friends and we will--just not at the cost of you and me going hungry.” Alan grabbed Fran’s hand as they waited in line to get their lunch. Although Alan and Fran don’t sit with Joey and his group at school, Alan feels that the only friends they have are Joey’s. He wants to get his own group of friends so he and Fran are not always sitting alone during lunch and breakfast. He would like to able to go and hang off campus during lunch or just hang after school or during the weekends. Fran could see that Alan isn’t too happy not having friends. But he needs to understand that they are both new at this school. Neither of them has made friends, but they will. It will just take time. And when they do get their group of friends, they will be true friends. When Joey and Caleb reached the cafeteria, Lonnie and the guys asked to speak with Caleb alone. Joey didn’t argue with the guys, he headed into the cafeteria, leaving Caleb alone with Lonnie. Joey never liked to be controlled, so he isn’t about to control Caleb’s every move. If Caleb's friends want to talk with Caleb alone, Joey knows there is nothing to worry about. As Joey walked into the cafeteria, Caleb followed the guys to the bathroom. When they walked in, Ivan leaned against the door while Lonnie and Kurt checked the stalls. Once they made sure that there was no one else in the bathroom, they started speaking. “You know we have accepted the fact that you and Joey are a couple. It took a lot to do so, but we did.” Lonnie walked up to Caleb. “Now there are five other guys sitting at our table that are gay. We don’t want to be known as the table where gay guys come and hang out at. People might get the wrong idea about me, Ivan and Kurt.” “You know what, I don’t care what people think about me or the friends I choose to hang out with, neither should you. You guys are not gay, so that should be enough to keep others from thinking that you are. If you guys are not comfortable with yourselves, then it isn’t those that are sitting at the table, it is yourselves.” “Bullshit and you know what you just said is bullshit Caleb. We are comfortable in our own skin, but just look at what is going on right now. Everyone that attends this school looks at Joey and talks about him as he walks pass them. On top of that five other guys that are gay, that were in that place are now part of our group of friends. We will defend Joey, but now with these guys it makes it even harder.” “If you guys really want Joey on the team, prove it to him. Accept those guys as our friends to start out with. Then you need to get the rest of the football team to come in defense of Joey. If the other students here see that the football team is behind Joey, they will stop fucking with Joey. If you do these two things, I can assure that Joey will join the team like we all want him to.” Not needing to talk it over with the other two, Lonnie agreed with Caleb. They will accept the guys as their friends and get the football team to show their support for Joey. With that it should stop the other students once and for all on talking and looking at Joey. At the same time it might move Joey to say yes to join the team As they left the bathroom and headed to the cafeteria, Caleb made Lonnie, Kurt and Ivan promise to not ever tell Joey what they talked about. They agreed without hesitation with Caleb as they grabbed their lunch. When they reached their table, they joined into the conversation that Joey and the others are in. All through lunch Caleb kept wondering when Joey is going to confront him about what got discussed between him and the other guys, but Joey never did. That surprised Caleb because if it was him he would have asked. Since Joey never did ask, Caleb felt even worse that the conversation even had happened. When fifth period rolled around, Joey couldn’t wait for the school day to end. Put aside that everyone is looking and talking about him, he is just dead on his feet. Feeling the way he is feeling, Joey regrets pushing his doctor to let him get back to his normal schedule. He is now thinking that maybe he should have taken a little more time at home before coming back to school, work and now putting up the foster home. As soon as roll call was taken, the company commander ordered the platoon sergeants to take their platoons to the range to start marksmanship training. Just as Joey got up to follow the class into the range, Colonel Chandler called him over. Instead of going into his office, Colonel Chandler asked Joey to walk with him. “My battalion commander told me this morning that you seem to be somewhere else except here. I know that you are trying to get used to coming back to school and putting what had happened to you here behind you. If that happened to me, I don’t know if I could ever return to the place I was taken from. You are a better man than I am because not only have you come back here; you are kicking this places butt. Next year I have plans for you Joey. You came to us when we needed a battalion commander for next year. What ever you do, don’t give up now. I know that is easier than said, but I am saying it anyways.” While Colonel Chandler spoke to Joey, he also told Joey the history of the battalion. How much tradition is in it and that every battalion commander must carry on that tradition. At one point Colonel Chandler opened a huge book that lies in the back of the room. Joey has seen it, but never opened it because he feared that if he did he would get into trouble. The book had pictures of every battalion commander, his staff, the officers and then the companies. Just like Newman High School, it tells a story. As Joey looked at the pictures he understood exactly what the colonel was saying. The tradition of this battalion is passed down from one graduating class to the other. “Joey next year this battalion is going to be yours to run. Since you came late to the party, I need you to spend as much time as you can with the out going battalion commander. Then you and I will sit down and pick your battalion staff.” Joey looked at Colonel Chandler stunned on what he just said. “Don’t forget you will be going up for brigade staff next year. If you get a position on brigade staff, you need to have someone with whom you are comfortable to take over your position. Because of that, I have my incoming battalion commander sit with me and help pick his/her battalion staff.” Right then so many things started flooding into Joey’s mind. Things that Jacob put together and helped implement in the last couple of years. Not wanting to steal from Jacob, Joey told Colonel Chandler about the ideas and who originally came up with them. Ideas that he saw that worked at Newman and are not in effect here. “You see that is why I choose you to be the battalion commander, for ideas like that. Plus you didn’t take credit for the ideas, which you could have. Instead you told me the idea and also told me who came up with the ideas. That young man over there at Newman High is a very smart and not afraid to point out where the system is flawed.” For the rest of the period, Joey took Colonel Chandler step by step on how things were put in at his old battalion. Explaining that it takes time, it cannot happen over night. Colonel Chandler agreed with Joey, but wanted Joey to start working on several of the ideas. He wants to see if some of them could be put into place before the end of the year. During sixth period, Joey couldn’t stop writing about each program that he saw Jacob put together. Just when he thought he had them all down, another one popped into his mind. He would finish writing that one down and once again another one. Right before the bell rang, Joey made himself a note to talk with Jacob about this tonight in their phone call. Although it was another slow day again at work, Joey kept himself busy with his homework. When he finished up with his homework, he went back to the list to see if he forgot anything. Each time he looked at the list, he saw a mistake or remembered something that Jacob said that would have made the program better. Joey really wanted to show Caleb what he is working on, but he thought Caleb might not understand what he is talking about since he isn’t in ROTC. The last hour of shift, Caleb proved him wrong. Yes Caleb had no idea what Joey was talking about, but he did listen and help him come up with easier ways to do things in some of the programs. All the way home they talked about what Joey is working on. Caleb really got into it. By the time they drove up to the house, they stayed in the truck talking about the ideas. It took Alan to run out and tell Joey that he has a phone call to get them out of the truck and into the house. Even then, Caleb stayed with Joey as he discussed the ideas with Jacob. Both Joey and Caleb were surprised that not only was Jacob not mad that Joey presented his ideas to another school, but he helped Joey out. He explained where there were flaws in the programs and how they fixed those flaws. Jacob didn’t want Joey to go through the headaches trying to fix things when he had already done that. By the time Joey got off the phone with Jacob, he had a blue print on how to get things moving on each of the programs. Between Jacob and Caleb, he got what took Jacob almost two years to get done, done in one night. What the biggest surprise of the night was how Jacob and Caleb got along as they talked. They threw ideas out and they both came up with solutions. It felt like all three of them have known each other for years. For the first time in a long time when Joey and Caleb crawled into bed, Joey couldn’t wait to go to school tomorrow. He finally has something to look forward to and take his mind off of what is going on at school. As his head hit the pillow, Joey was out like a light. He didn’t wake up once through the night until morning. This was the first night that Joey slept through since he was taken. TO BE CONTINUED……………………. WRITER’S CORNER: {I hope you enjoyed this chapter as much as I did writing it. It only covered several days, but a lot happened in those days. More and more in each of my stories I am trying to bring in every character in every chapter. Even if it is only for a little bit, I will try to get all the characters in. That way you will know they are there and something is going on. I picked up where the last chapter left off on, the phone call to Jacob. Now in Jacob Finding His Way chapter sixty-two the same phone call was written in that chapter. It was just written in Jacob’s point of view. I spent a little more time with the call in this chapter than I did in Jacob’s, but I know you are reading both stories. Anyways let’s talk a little bit about what is going on in Joey’s life. He has a big problem with these nightmares. I agree with Jacob, he needs professional help. At the same time I am glad that Jacob didn’t turn his back on Joey. I hope in time Joey realizes that he needs help and goes and get the help he needs before the nightmares take over his life. While this is going on, Joey made a big decision concerning his job. He knows he is being pulled too thin and something had to give. I am glad he decided to cut back, but he ended up not doing what he wanted to do, that is quit. Instead he cut his hours back to part time. That really will not help when he gets fully back to school. The football team is really going after Joey to join the team. Even the coach had a sit down with Joey trying to talk him into joining the team. A blind mouse can see where Joey is coming from when he says he doesn’t want to go through what he went through in his last school. He has no problem earning respect as a new guy, but he knows the team will not accept him because he is gay. Let’s hope that Joey makes it through the days until the other students move on and stop talking and looking at him as he passes them at school. Eventually they will, but the stress it is putting on Joey is a lot. To be honest with you I think if any of us could go through what Joey is going through. We would tell them to mind their own fucking business. But Joey is a lot better than that and he will let them tire their selves out. Colonel Chandler has big plans for Joey in the coming year. Even more now since Joey told him about all the programs that were created at his old school. I am glad that both Caleb and Jacob were able to work with Joey on this. I am also glad that this gives Joey something to finally look forward to. We saw a little bit of Fran and Alan in this chapter. Alan has it right, but Fran does as well. They are both new at the school and it will take time for them to get their own group of friends. Don’t forget Joey’s group of friends is there because of Caleb. If he never became friends and then boyfriends to Caleb, Joey would not have the group of friends that he has now, at least the football players. In this chapter we also saw Angelo and several other boys from the foster home start school. I hope Joey and them become really good friends in the chapters to come. I also hope Lonnie and the other two don’t get any ideas. We know about the conversation that was held in private that Joey doesn’t know about. It is starting to look like Lonnie and the other two are not as accepting as they have shown about gays. Finally let’s talk a little bit about Dominic. I know there have been several chapters since we have heard about Dominic and Beth. I am glad that Dominic got turned over and that Governor Lopez isn’t pulling back until Beth is turned over. I hope that they get the justice they deserve and the only way that will happen is if their luck runs out. Up until now they have been lucky. That is the only logical explanation to how Beth and Dominic have gotten away with what they have gotten away with. There is so much going on in this saga. I can keep writing, but I won’t. You guys are going to need to tune in to the next chapter to see what is going on. More plots are going to open and old ones will be closed. This story, like my others, will keep you on your toes. Don’t miss what is coming up in the chapters to come. I do not want to say too much more and spoil the future chapters to come, so I won’t. I warn you though! Do not skip a chapter, or you will be lost. There is a so much to answer in the chapters to come. Keep reading the future chapters, and enjoy! Please email me and let me know how I am doing at jacobmillertex@aol.com, Thanks!} EDITOR’S CORNER: [The last section of this chapter was powerful in that it gave us a major hint as to the “nightmare" problem's solution. Joey had just had a very busy and fulfilling day with his mind being used extensively. This involved him interacting constructively with others---adults and peers. Then came a full night of uninterrupted sleep! Can Joey benefit from meeting with a good therapist? My answer is "Absolutely" and I hope he moves in this direction soon. While I have been told that I am an excellent scholar, teacher, and leader, I am proud that I have sought a therapist's help to enable me to be a better spouse and that has resulted in 48+ years of marriage. Seeking/wanting help is the key element here and Joey must want such support! All couples regardless of age or gender combo who seek to have a positive and meaningful relationship need to work on their communications with each other. Such a 'duo-counseling' program might well enable Caleb to be even more effective in helping Joey to move forward in resolving his own issues. But yet we must remember that Joey is just a teenager and has almost a decade more of growth---especially to that part of the brain that helps us make good decisions. I am glad he does have some strong support systems in place. My fears center around the kinds of events that just seem to pop up out of nowhere with the potential for major problem making. Can he really turn his shelter dream into reality? Will he mother and uncle resurface to create trouble? Harold is a judge, but just how much power does he have? Joey and Caleb seem to have a solid relationship that is growing, but both are young and have not had a strong emotional foundation so essential for a good 'partnership'. I have the feeling that major changes may be in the works for our characters in this story. I am anxious to receive the next chapter so that I can answer at least some of my questions posed above. Stay tuned, and PLEASE EMAIL OUR AUTHOR so that he benefits from your reactions/predictions/perceptions!!!! --Kent D. (sw Ohio area)
  13. Alex looked at Jacob and Al as they walked through their house. He looked out the front door to see where they are going. To his surprise he saw them walking up to the house next door. Al unlocked the door and he and Jacob walked in. Alex closed the front door and sat down on the couch. “What’s up Alex? You look very worried about something. I know there has been something bothering you since lunch time. I have been meaning to touch base with you about it, but I wanted to do it at the right time.” Matt sat down next to Alex on the couch. “I feel very bad about something I found out today. You remember when I told the group at the center that Jacob got the school district to donate the printing machines.” Matt nodded his head in the positive grabbing Alex’s hand. “Well Jacob didn’t tell us the truth on that. I now feel really bad that he didn’t.” “Wait a minute Alex, what do you mean that he didn’t tell us the truth on that. He told us that the machines were donated and they arrived when he said they would. As far as I can see, Jacob didn’t lie to us in anyway.” “Matt he bought the machines; he paid them with his own money. Then he donated them to us, not the school district.” Matt let go of Alex’s hand as he fell against the couch. “Now the new director doesn’t want the machines anymore and is asking Jacob to take them back. What is he going to do with those huge machines? Also he is in hot water at school because the center is no longer going to run a print shop.” Matt leaned back forward and looked in Alex’s eyes. “You can’t blame yourself for this. None of this is your fault and you know that. Just like you, after hearing this, I feel really bad that Jacob is now stuck with these machines, but he’s smart. He will sell them and get his money back on that purchase if not more.” Before Alex could comment on what Matt said, he heard knocking at the back door. He got up and dragged himself to check who is knocking now. Looking through window of the door, Chase and the gang are standing on the back porch. Alex opened the door and invited them in. He can’t remember if they have been in this house since he moved home. “We are hearing rumors that Jacob bought the house next door for the wicked witch of the west. Please tell us anything you know Alex. Is that true?” Chase spoke as he walked over to the front door. “I don’t know anything about that. He and his grandfather walked through here about ten minutes ago, give or take. I know they went to the house next door. I didn’t even know that the house was empty to tell you the truth.” “We keep forgetting you have only been here for a couple of weeks. Several houses on this block are empty. If Jacob and Al want to buy out the entire block they can, but I don’t think they will. I keep telling Chase and my boyfriend Tom here that there is no way Jacob is going to move his mother so close to him.” Matt leaned over the couch to get into the conversation. “If Jacob did buy the house and wants his mother to move there. There has to be logical explanation why. You guys know Jacob a lot better than Alex and me. Think about it and you will come up with the answer all by yourselves, trust me!” Everyone looked at Matt and then the floor or the wall. “Let’s not jump to conclusions here. What we need to do is go over and pop our heads in and see what the house looks like. If Jacob is going to ask his mother to move into this house, like Matt said, there is a logical explanation why he wants to do that.” For being only thirteen, Toni is living up to his intelligence. All at once everyone tried to walk through Alex’s front door. As they squeezed out, they walked over to house next door. They didn’t even knock hard; Chase tapped and just opened the door. He popped his head in first before he completely walked in. Once everyone walked in, Jacob and his grandfather walked in from the back. They looked at the guys and walked back to where they were. Alex and Matt separated from the group and just walked around the house. They just walked from room to room looking at the little differences between this house and theirs. The floor plan is basically the same as their house, Alex and Matt made their way to the kitchen. Alex noticed that everything in the kitchen looks pretty new compared to his mother’s. Alex made his way to the backyard, followed by Matt. As they walked out of the house, they noticed Jacob and Al talking. They quickly turned around and tried to walk in before they were noticed, but they didn’t make it. Jacob called them over to him. Alex turned around thinking whatever they want to talk with him about can’t be good news. Maybe Al was okay with them visiting, but not staying. Al probably talked with Jacob and talked Jacob into asking them to leave. He just kept thinking that there can’t be anything good that can come out of this conversation. Matt walked behind Alex, but noticed that Alex doesn’t feel comfortable. The way he is walking is telling the entire story. Once Jacob started talking and letting Alex know why he wanted to speak with him, Matt noticed Alex relaxing just a little bit. At first Matt didn’t understand the subject, but then he heard Jacob mention the printing machines and the center. At that point Matt walked up even closer to Alex to give him support since this is the subject that has been bothering Alex since he was told about it earlier in the afternoon. Once Jacob explained his plans for the print shop, Alex tried to politely say ‘no’. Jacob won’t take ‘no’ for an answer from Alex. Matt stood there listening and when Alex turned to him. Matt couldn’t help but feel for his boyfriend. Tears are rolling down his face, causing Matt to tear up. Matt grabbed a hold of Alex’s hand when he stepped back and presented it to him. Alex then surprised Matt even more. Matt can’t believe his ears. Alex is telling Jacob he will accept if he can put Matt as part owner of his half. Matt tried to pull Alex back, but Alex continued talking. All that Matt can think is that this might hurt Alex if he puts demands on something that is being given to him. Once again, Matt grabbed a hold of Alex and pulled him back so they can talk. “Alex don’t do this, please don’t do this! Take the whole thing just the way they are presenting it to you. I don’t need my name on any paperwork letting me know that I have half of what you have. I only want you Alex and I know you will help me whenever I need help.” Alex leaned down and kissed Matt on his lips as he started whispering. “We are partners for life Matt. What I own you own and nothing will stop me from doing this. You helped me see the light while we were locked up. No amount of money or property will ever be able to repay that debt. Please, let me do this Matt, I love you so much!” Matt nodded his head in agreement. Jacob seemed pleased and told Alex so. He offered Alex an attorney to look over the contract before it gets signed, but Alex politely declined. Jacob then let Alex know that the contract will be ready to sign around midweek. Once everyone agreed, Alex pulled Matt as he walked to shake Jacob’s and Al’s hands. Matt, out of respect, did the same thing. After thanking them, Alex and Matt walked over to the wall the separated the two yards and jumped it. As soon as they got over the wall, Alex and Matt ran back into the house. Alex couldn’t believe what Jacob is doing for him. He wants to go to the highest mountain and just yell. No one, not even his father, has ever done something like this for Alex, without expecting something in return. That is what has Alex all excited. Alex finally settled down enough to sit down at the kitchen table. Matt joined him and they started talking about how they want to run the print shop. Just as they started to outline their plans, Franseca, Lorenzo and Ismail walked into the house. “Where have you two been? Lorenzo and Ismail came down here to get you guys to play video games and they came back saying that you guys weren’t here. I looked around Jacob’s house thinking you two were there, but no one is around. Where were you two and where in the world is everyone else at? You really had me worried Alex!” Alex stood up and asked his mother to sit down as he pulled a chair out for her. As Franseca sat down, she can’t stop herself from worrying. Alex related to his mother, word for word, what he and Jacob just talked about. As Alex told Franseca and his two little brothers, Franseca couldn’t believe what Alex is telling her. Several times Franseca interrupted Alex and told him not to take the offer. Alex explained to his mother that he tried to tell Jacob ‘no’, but Jacob wouldn’t take no for an answer. Finally, Alex said he folded and accepted the offer. Franseca just looked at her son trying to figure out what to say next to him. “Alex this is a big responsibility you are taking on. Are you sure you two can handle this? What I mean by that is just you guys barely got your freedom back. On top of that, you are starting a new school, a probation officer that seems to want you to mess up and you Alex fighting to stay free from the gang. I just worried that if you take too much on right now, that you might stumble. I don’t want to loose you once I got you back again.” “Mom I know that you are worried and I am too. I can’t say that I am not going to stumble along the way. I hope I don’t. Because of you, my brothers and Matt here, I am going to fight to stay out of trouble. I am going to fight to stay with my family. Most importantly I am going to show everyone that I am not my father’s son, I am YOUR son, mom. I have all your goodness inside of me and that is how I am going to live and survive.” Franseca started to cry as Alex talked. Alex grabbed a hold of his mother and just held her. No one in the kitchen said a word. They just sat there together as a family. Matt sees that there is nothing that is going to drag Alex back to his old life. He sees that Alex is going to fight to be here with him and his family. Alex let go of his mother just as the front door opened. Franseca went outside when Lorenzo and Ismail got out of their seats and waited for Jacob to walk to them. Once Jacob walked into the kitchen, Lorenzo and Ismail ran up to Jacob and grabbed a hold of him. They kept saying thank you to Jacob. When they let go of Jacob, Franseca walked in the back door. “Franseca, we are sorry for tracking through your house. We used your house to get to the other house quickly.” “Don’t you worry about that Jacob. This is your house, we only live in it. Thank you for doing what you are doing for my son once again. You have been a Heaven sent and my family and I will never forget it.” Before Jacob could say anything, Franseca hugged him. Alex noticed that Jacob has a funny look on his face. Not a disgusted look, but a look of surprise at first and quickly changed to comfort. Alex couldn’t help but wonder what is going through Jacob’s mind as his mother is hugging him. Franseca told Lorenzo and Ismail to go back and play their video games. She turned and kissed Alex on the forehead before leaving. Alex got up and followed her to Jacob’s house to make sure she is okay. They walked in the kitchen talking about school and that Alex needs to at least pass his classes this time. Alex promised Franseca that he is going to do more than just pass his classes. Alex helped his mother clean the kitchen, like he has done every night since he came home. Franseca had to kick Alex out of the kitchen so he could do his homework. Before he left, Dewayne came down to get something for Jacob to eat. He overheard his mother talking with Dewayne. As soon as Dewayne left, Alex followed him. He walked into Jeremy’s room to let Dewayne give Jacob his snack. Alex looked over to see Jeremy on the floor of his room drawing. He walked over and sat down next to him. Alex just looked at what Jeremy is doing when Jeremy looked up and looked straight into Alex’s eyes. Alex almost fell on his back as Jeremy looked at him. He couldn’t believe how much Jeremy looks like Jacob. If no one told him that these two or almost three years apart, he would have thought they were twins. The only difference between the two is Jeremy has kid’s eyes that reveal a soul undamaged from the world! When you look at Jacob’s eyes, you see a person that has been beaten up by life; a soul a lot older than what it should be! Alex got up, reached out to shake Jeremy’s hand. Jeremy actually shook Alex’s hand when he presented it. Alex smiled at Jeremy and walked out of his room. He walked over to Jacob’s, knocked on the door and walked in. Jacob turned to see who just walked in. “Hey Jacob, sorry for bothering, but I heard you are doing history homework. I like history and maybe I can help you with your homework. I learned a way to learn every date with a little trick. Maybe the trick I use might be able to help you. It couldn’t hurt to give it a shot.” Alex closed the door and stood there. Jacob invited him in. He walked over to the desk and sat down. He showed Jacob the trick that he uses to learn dates. Little by little Jacob picked it up. By the time he finished his history homework, Jacob had it. Jacob thanked Alex for his help and explained to him that he might have flunk or barely passed history. Now with this trick, Jacob feels that he will more than just pass the class! They stood talking awhile longer. Nothing really important was discussed between them, but they enjoyed talking. Alex looked up at the clock on Jacob’s nightstand. He jumped up from the bed and said his goodbyes. Alex found Matt watching television when he walked into the living room. He didn’t want to disturb Matt so Alex walked over to the couch and sat down. He placed his head on Matt’s leg as he turned to watch TV with him. Matt didn’t even take his eyes off of the television; he just started running his fingers through Alex’s hair. Alex started to doze off when he heard Ismail calling him. Alex opened his eyes to find Ismail right in his face. He thought by the sound of Ismail voice that he was on the other side of the room, not kneeling in front of him. “What is going on little bro? Don’t you think it is a little late for you to be up? We all have school tomorrow and need to get to bed.” “I know Alex, but I was wondering if you could help me get something from my closet. I need it for school tomorrow.” Alex got up from the couch without saying another word. Ismail started to walk in front of Alex when Alex picked him up and threw Ismail on his shoulders. Ismail pretended to be riding a horse all the way to his room and Alex played along. As soon as they got in Ismail’s room, Alex sat on the floor in order for Ismail to get off of his shoulders. “So what is it that you need me to get down for you little man?” Alex walked over to Ismail closet and opened the door. “Alex please don’t be mad with me, but I lied to you. I don’t need anything from my closet. I want to talk to you in private and I thought the only way I could do that is to lie. Please Alex don’t be mad with me!” Alex turned and smiled at his little brother. He closed the closet door as he walked door as he walked over to Ismail’s bed. As sat down and pulled his little brother to his side. Not needing to say a word to him, Ismail knew that Alex isn’t angry. “I know that you and Matt are in love with each other, but kids at my school are making fun of you. They say it is wrong and their moms and dads won’t let them play with me because you guys might do something to them. I don’t understand what is going on Alex. I know you will never do anything to my friends, so what are they talking about?” “Little bro, many times people are afraid of things they don’t understand. Everyone is told since they are little kids that it is wrong that two men love each other the way Matt and I do. Because of that teaching, they think the worst of me and Matt. You know me little bro and you know that I will not bring anyone into our lives that would hurt you or your friends. You are getting to know Matt more and more every day. You can see what your friends parents are saying is wrong. They shouldn’t be saying that, but I do understand why they are. They are afraid like I said.” “I don’t understand Alex when you say they are afraid. What are they afraid of? They don’t even know you and Matt. So how can they say that you guys are bad people when they don’t even know you or Matt?” “Because they THINK we are bad. The best way I think I can explain what I am trying to say to you is they are blinded. They are blinded from being taught stupid things from their parents. So what they got taught as kids they are teaching their kids who are your friends. They shouldn’t do that, but they do. They don’t know me or Matt and more than likely anyone like me and Matt. They think we are bad so they don’t even give us a chance to show them differently. I am very sorry what I am, is hurting you at school. I never meant for that to happen. Your friends will come around. If they like you, they will realize that, no matter what your brother does, they want you still as a friend. Just give it time and they will come around. I know you are confused right now but when you get older you will understand it more. You know I love you and I will do anything to protect you?” Ismail looked up at his brother. “I know that Alex and I love you too. The next time anyone talks bad about you I decided I am going to beat them up. They don’t want to mess with me because I can beat them up.” Ismail started to punch the air. “Ismail one thing I want you to learn from me is this: Violence doesn’t solve anything. In fact it makes it a lot worse. I want you to solve your problems not by fighting, but by talking. If the other person doesn’t want to talk, walk away. You will be the better person for doing that.” Alex lifted up Ismail’s face to look at him. “You need to understand and promise me that you will not fight. You don’t want you to end up where I have been. It is not a place for you or anyone. You are a lot smarter than me. Because of that, you will go places in your life that I will never be able to go.” Ismail promised Alex that he will not fight for any reason. They talked as Ismail got ready for bed. He crawled underneath his covers as Alex tucked him in. Once Alex finished tucking Ismail in, he knelt at the head of the bed. “I love you little bro and I will always love you no matter what. Remember that you promised me that you will not fight if some one gets you angry. If it gets bad, come and tell me and mom. We will fix it for you. I want you to have a better childhood than I did. The only way that is going to happen is if you don’t do the same things I did.” Alex kissed Ismail on the forehead as he got up. He walked over to the door and looked back at his little brother. Ismail laid there on the bed looking at Alex. Alex didn’t leave the room until he knew that Ismail had fallen asleep. Once he felt that he had, Alex turned off the light and left leaving a crack in the door in order for the light from the hallway to enter into Ismail’s room. Alex took a quick shower before going to his room. He noticed as he walked to his room that the lights are off. He opened the door to find Matt sound asleep. As Alex headed to bed, he tossed his dirty clothes in the laundry basket. As quietly and softly as possible, Alex crawled into bed. He didn’t want to disturb Matt. The next morning, Alex and Matt overslept and ended up walking to school. As they joined the others in the cafeteria, the group ragged on them for oversleeping. Alex and Matt took the teasing like good sports. Just as they settled down and started talking, some kid handed Jacob a note. He got up and left the table. “Hey Alex I really need to speak with you. It is urgent and we need to talk in private.” Alex looked over to Carlos trying to figure out what he needed to talk about. Alex gave up trying to read Carlos face and got up. Carlos followed him into the hall outside the cafeteria. Alex stopped and looked around to make sure there’s no teachers or students around that might overhear them talking. “What is so urgent that you needed to pull me away from the others?” Alex looked at Carlos showing his irritation at being asked to speak in private. “My mom called me last night to let me know that members of our old gang came looking for me and you last night at the house. They wanted to know where we are. My mom told them that she didn’t know, but of course they didn’t believe her.” “Carlos we knew this was going to happen. Your mom is going to get the brunt of the fallout until she moves from that side of town. When she does that, she needs to make sure that she isn’t being followed. I would suggest for her to rent the largest U-Haul to move her stuff. That way she doesn’t do more than one trip.” “I really didn’t think they would bother my mom. I knew they would stake out my mom’s house to see if I am dumb enough to go there, but nothing more than that. She can’t be put into this position. It isn’t right.” “Look Carlos I know where you are coming from. If she doesn’t have the money to rent the U-Haul, I will get it for her. But she can’t take several trips and think that she isn’t going to be followed. You know the gang is not dumb. For now we are safe and walk around without a worry, but that won’t last for long. Eventually they are going to come looking for us. They will go school by school until they find out where we are. When that day happens, we need to be ready. Until then Carlos, let’s not worry unless we really have to.” Carlos agreed with Alex before they headed back to join the others. Matt looked at Alex as he joined him at the table. The whole time that Alex was gone, he felt that there’s something wrong. Now the look on Alex’s face tells him that something is wrong. Matt decided to leave it for now. He will talk with Alex when they are at home. As soon as the bell rang, Alex and Matt headed off to first period class. This being the only class they are actually sitting up front, Matt didn't have a chance to speak with Alex about what he saw this morning. He knows that Carlos told Alex something. And whatever it is really bothered Alex, because of the expression on his face. In the class, Alex started acting like his normal self. As they headed to the next class Alex joked with Matt the entire way. At that point Matt decided to let it go. To this point, Alex has shown him that he will talk with him about everything eventually. He will just wait until Alex is ready to talk. Matt and Alex still haven't gotten used to the school yet and on the way to the third period class they got lost once again. Alex actually joked with Matt about getting lost. He asked Matt to make sure not to let the others know. They would never let them hear the end of getting lost once again going to class. Besides getting lost that one time, the rest of the day went by pretty fast for Alex and Matt. They had fun during lunch going with the guys to Taco Bell. The entire time Jacob would not keep his eyes off of Dewayne. Several times Dewayne would look back at Jacob and smiled at him. Everybody else at the table felt that Dewayne looking back and smiling at Jacob was adding fuel to the fire! When they all got up to leave and Jacob didn’t exit out of the building. They all knew that Dewayne must've met him at the door before he left. Alex turned to Matt, and grabbed a hold of his hand. They all stood there by the truck waiting for Jacob. As soon as Jacob walked up to the truck, everyone, including Alex, teased him. As soon as they got back to the school, Alex and Matt ran to their lockers, grabbed their books for the afternoon classes and ran to their fourth period class barely making it in the doors as the bell, rang, Alex and Matt sat down out of breath. After roll call, Matt leaned over to Alex. “How are we going to get to the retirement home afterschool? We don’t have a car and I forgot to ask anyone for a ride.” Alex looked straight ahead shrugging his shoulders. “Come on Alex, we need to go today. We didn’t go last week, or the week before that. If we don’t do our community service hours, they can send us back. I know that you don’t want to go back and I sure don’t want to go back.” “Let me talk with Jacob or Tom for a ride. One of them will give us a ride and if not, we will take the bus. One way or another we will get down there today and put in some hours.” Alex looked at Mat and winked at him. During ROTC class, Alex didn’t see Jacob anywhere. Before the bell rang, he saw Jacob walking to the office, but he didn’t come out to the parking with them. Alex still doesn’t understand the ranking system, but one thing he does know is that Jacob is high up there. Maybe that is why Jacob didn’t come down to the parking lot. He doesn’t form with them during the inspection. Between fifth and sixth period, Alex ran into Tom in the hallway. He walked up to play a joke on him, but Tom heard him before he got close enough. Alex laughed at getting caught as he started walking down the hall with Tom. “Hey Tom, I have a big favor to ask you.” “What’s up man, ask away and I will see if I can do it.” “I completely forgot that Matt and I have to go and do our community service hours today. We do them at this retirement home and I was wondering if I can hit you up for a ride. By the time we take the bus down there, we will have to turn right back around to get home on the bus. I know it is very short notice, but I forgot.” “I have nothing planned for tonight except homework. No problem buddy, I will take you and Matt as soon as Jacob drops us at the house after school. I think David would want to go, is that okay with you?” “I don’t see why not. I think the Colonel would enjoy having more young kids to talk to. You guys are going to really like the guy we keep company. He is telling us how it was growing up during the great depression. I am telling you, what you read in books or see on television isn’t near the truth. This guy lived it and isn’t afraid to talk about it.” Alex and Tom quickly made plans, and then headed to their classes. As soon as Alex sat down, he explained to Matt what he talked with Tom about. Matt agreed with Alex that the Colonel would enjoy more visitors. As soon as the last bell rang, Alex ran out to his locker to grab the books that he needs to do his homework. Matt did the same thing and as soon as they got what they needed, they headed out to Jacob’s truck. When they walked up to Jacob’s truck, they couldn’t believe that they are the last ones to arrive. Alex got in the truck and then Matt. Almost the minute they pulled out of the parking lot, Jacob looked over at Alex. “Alex my friend, I spoke with the journalism teacher about your print shop. He is going to go with you for all his printing needs. That includes the year book, the newspaper and anything else he does. He also promised me that he will help get you all the schools in the district to use your print shop. That should keep you busy for now. At the same time you and I will go and speak with the other clients that Tech High had and pull them over. I know they went to Tech High because that is the only place they could afford to go. You are keeping the prices the same, so they will go to you without much selling.” Alex sat there in disbelief on what Jacob is doing for him. Alex expected that once Jacob handed the business over to him and Jacob could just simply wash his hands of it but he's not. He is going out and helping him get business for the print shop! “I really don't know what to say Jacob. I guess I’d better start by saying thank you. Thank you for everything Jacob. You are really helping me and Matt start up this company. I will not let you down, and we will make this company succeed.” Jacob didn’t say anything else about the print shop. Alex went into his own little world; he didn’t even notice that the conversation had changed. He didn’t talk to anyone until they drove up to the house. He snapped out of it seeing Jacob jump out of the truck and almost run into his house. Just as Alex walked in with the others, Jacob started walking down the stairs. They teased Jacob as he passed them on the way to his grandfather. Alex turned to Tom to see if he is going to still give him and Matt a ride. Tom looked back and held up five fingers. Alex took that as Tom telling him that they are going to leave in five minutes. Alex and Matt went to their house to put away their book bags and get their community service cards. They walked back to the front of Jacob’s house and waited for Tom and David to arrive. When the front door opened and Alex sees Chase coming out with Tom and David, Alex didn’t know what to think. “I hope it is okay that Chase is going to go with us? Gloria is here talking with Jacob and Al. None of us wants to be here when Jacob tells her that she has to move out of the house she is living in and move into this house. She isn’t going to take it well.” “No problem, the more the merrier!” Alex got in Tom’s car in the back, joined by Matt and then Chase. Alex gave Tom directions to the retirement home as they drove off. The drive over didn’t take long; they got to the retirement home under thirty minutes. Tom found a parking spot in the visitors parking. They all got out and waited to get instructions from Alex on what he would like them to do. Alex and Matt started to walk towards the building and didn’t even notice Tom and the others aren’t with them. Alex turned around and waved Tom, David and Chase over to him and Matt. “I didn’t notice that you guys weren’t with us. I figured you would like to come in and visit with the Colonel. He is a very nice old man. At first he didn’t want anything to do with us, but he got used to us. Now he can’t wait until Sunday.” “If it is cool with you, the Colonel and this place, we would like to meet the guy. By the way you are talking about him; he seems to be a nice guy once he gets used to new faces.” Alex and the others walked into the building. To Alex’s surprise, the same cheerful lady greeted them. “Alex and Matt, what a pleasant surprise to see you two here today! We were told that you guys weren’t coming down here anymore to do your community service hours. When I gave Mr. Baird the news, he wasn’t too happy. He stopped coming out of his room as much after that.” “I am sorry to hear that about the Colonel. We are no longer in the center, but we do have community service hours to do. I hope it is okay that we still come down here and do our community service hours. I know that you are limited on who you let in to do their hours. We just made a promise to the Colonel to visit with him no matter what.” “It’s perfectly fine Alex. In fact I am happy you want to still come down here after being let out. In the past when someone gets released from that place, they don’t come back. They promise to, but they never do. That is why the residents don’t depend on you guys.” Alex introduced Tom, David and Tom as he and Matt walked to Mr. Baird’s room. Before they knocked, the chipper lady asked Alex and Matt for their cards so she could fill them out that they came down. Alex grabbed Matt’s and handed them to her before knocking on the door. Mr. Baird opened the door and smiled when he saw Alex and Matt standing there. “Boy’s it is good to see you! I thought that you had abandoned me! Come in; come on in and make yourself comfortable. Let me get you guys something to drink and eat before we sit down. I want you tell me what is going on in your lives!” Alex and Matt took their normal seats, David, Tom and Chase took sat in the other seats. None of them sat in the Colonel’s seat. With being told, they knew that seat is Mr. Baird’s. Just like most any older person, they have their Lazy-Boy chair they love to sit in. “Now Alex and Matt you need to introduce me to these new boys. Are they like you, needing to be here? They don’t look like they have been in trouble, but neither do you two. Looks can be deceiving as they say.” “No Colonel, these three are really good friends of ours. This is Tom, David, and Chase, Colonel!” Mr. Baird shook their hands as he set down the sodas and junk food. “They live in the house that my mother works at. We have become friends since Matt and I went home to my mom’s house for Christmas.” “It is good to meet you all. Any friends of Alex’s and Matt’s are welcome. I got worried when I got told that you guys were no longer in that place. I thought that something bad had happened because you guys didn’t come back. What about the others that use to come down with you and Matt? Are they free and okay?” “Yes Colonel, they are okay. They got out the same time we did. It is a very long story and I’d rather hear your story. Please Colonel, tell us more about being in the military. Matt and I are in ROTC class in our new school. We didn’t plan it that way, it just happened.” Alex pulled up his pant leg and showed Mr. Baird the monitor. Mr. Baird got up, put on his glasses and looked at the monitor on Alex’s leg. “I heard about these things, I just thought it was made up for the movies. They are real by the looks of it. You are telling me that they know where you are at all the time Alex?” “Yes sir they do. I really don’t think there is a person sitting in front of a computer keeping a log of what we are doing. They put it on us where we don’t take off on them. There is no way I am going to do that, because of Matt here and my family.” “I don’t believe that our government should have that much power over us. Even if we do something wrong, we should have some privacy. You two are better men than I, because it they told me to wear one of those things. I would tell them to put it up their ass. There is no way I am going to hand over my freedom like that!” “I hear you Colonel, but we really didn’t have any choice. Either….” “You mean you have one on you too Matt? Let me see yours!” The Colonel got up and looked at Matt’s monitor as he pulled up his pant leg. “We had only two choices Colonel. Either we took the monitor or go back in to the facility. If we would have chosen the facility, more than likely we would be dead right now. Plus my friend, Jacob, went out on the limb for us. His grandfather works for the Governor he got this for us.” Mr. Baird sat back into his seat. He looked at Alex, over to Matt and back to Alex. “I am glad that you guys aren’t dead. Believe it or not, I got used to you guys coming down every Sunday. The minute you left, I started to count down to your next visit. Being in this place is very lonely. Now tell me more about what you guys have been up to.” Alex tried to get the Colonel to tell them more about his life, but the Colonel wanted to hear about them. Finally Alex gave up and told the Colonel about him being in the gang, what he did in detail and what had happened to cause them to leave the facility. “I know you told me about being in the gang, but never in detail like you just told me. I am glad you saw the error of your ways. Now you are turning your life around. It is better to turn your life around when you are still young. If you had waited until you ended up in prison, there would not have been a chance for you to do it. Now I would like to meet this Jacob. He sounds like a very smart and nice guy. Not only has he forgiven you for what you did, he has invited you into his house to live and hired your mother. No one I know would have ever done that for you. He is one young man I would be honored to meet.” “I will talk with Jacob and see if he will come down with us the next time we come. I know you will like him. He is really nice. Just ask these guys. They have known him a lot longer than I have.” Chase spoke up first and told the Colonel how he met Jacob. Then Tom and David told the Colonel their story. At the same time they told the Colonel a little bit about themselves. The Colonel just sat there listening to the boys, hanging on every word. Chase, David and Tom could see in the Colonel’s eyes that he is really enjoying himself. “I know you were very excited about starting your printing company in the facility. Now that you are out Alex, are you going to be able to still run the printing company that you were setting up in the facility?” “Colonel you aren’t going to believe the answer to that question. The facility got a new director because the other director got promoted liked I said. Anyways, he is hard core, believing on locking the criminal away and throwing away the key. He called Jacob up and told him that he is not going to start any kind of business for the inmates to work in. In other words come and pick up YOUR machines! Like I said, Jacob is very cool guy. He and his grandfather bought an office building downtown for their main offices. He is giving me the basement of this building to use as a location to start the print shop. Tomorrow the machines should be picked up from the facility and delivered to the new office.” “That is something! I can’t even think of the words to say. So Jacob is going to hire you guys to work in the print shop. That guy does really trust you. A lot of people and companies would not do what he is doing.” “No I agree with you, but you got a little of it wrong. Jacob isn’t hiring us to work in the print shop. He is giving us part ownership of the print shop. He will own fifty one percent of the print shop and me and Matt here own the other forty nine percent. We only need to find someone that knows about printing to run the thing and show us.” Mr. Baird’s eyes brighten up even more when Alex said that they need top find someone to run the business. Although he is in a retirement home, it doesn’t mean that he can’t go out every day. The only reason he agreed to living here is because he needs help here and there when it comes down to cooking. “You remember when I told you I worked in a print shop in the military. I kind of down played what I did exactly. I did more than just work in the print shop. I help run the day to day operations of the print shop. You know Alex and Matt….” “Colonel there is no need to sell yourself to us. Matt and I discussed who we wanted to run the day to day operations of the print shop. The only one that we can think of is you. We thought that we would have to talk you into doing it for us. Don’t get me wrong, we will pay you a good salary. We will be there to learn the business from you. All you need to say is yes and the job is yours.” The Colonel smiled and took the job. They discussed his wages, but the Colonel didn’t need the money. He demanded a low salary for himself. Alex and Matt tried to fight him on it, but he put his foot down. So Alex and Matt folded and agreed on the low salary that he wanted. For the next hour they discussed what business they have right now and what to look forward to in the future. Mr. Baird made clear that he is going to be at the office tomorrow when they deliver the machines. He wants to make sure that they are set up right. Then he will look into hiring and try to keep that cost down. One thing they all agreed on is not to let others on probation do their community service hours there unless they are screened by Mr. Baird. They want to give them a second chance just like Alex and Matt got, but at the same time, this is a business and it needs to be run like one. They can’t worry about walking in one day and finding the place empty. This is the first time Alex and Matt stayed talking with Mr. Baird for more than a couple of hours. They finally said their goodbyes a little after nine. On their way home, Alex treated everyone dinner at McDonalds. He barely had enough money to pay for everyone, but he felt that is the least he could do. As soon as they got home, Alex and Matt headed over to their house. They needed to get their homework done, shower and get to bed at a distant hour. They don’t want to over sleep again and have to walk to school the next day. True top his word, Mr. Baird arrived at the office at nine sharp. He walked around the building to get familiar with it before going inside. He wanted to make sure that the machines can fit through the doors without damaging the building or the machines. He found two huge double doors in the rear of the building that are perfect. Just as he walked around to the front, he saw Al opening the door. Neither of the two knows each other, but Mr. Baird recognized him by the description that Alex had given him the night before. So he walked up and tapped Al on the shoulder. “Hello sir, my name is Ron Baird. I am here to help run the print shop.” Ron extended his hand for Al to shake. Al turned around and shook Ron’s hand. “Hello Mr. Baird, my name is Alfred Serna. Forgive me, but I didn’t know that you were coming down. May I ask who hired you and when did they hire you?” “That is typical of Alex and Matt. I am so sorry about that Mr. Serna. Alex and Matt came down to my retirement complex last night to do their community service hours. They have been doing their hours at my retirement complex ever since they were locked up in that detention facility. Anyways, they told me about their printing company and offered me the job. I do have experience on running a printing company.” “I am not saying you don’t have the experience, I just didn’t know that Alex and Matt had hired you. The company is basically theirs to run, but I hoped they would fill me in when they made these kinds of decisions. You said you know them from your retirement complex. May I ask you what you thought of the boys when you first met them?” Al unlocked the front door and let Ron in. He closed the door and locked it before showing Ron the basement. They didn’t talk until they got to the basement. Ron wants to say nice things about Alex and Matt, but at the same time he doesn’t want to lie to Al. So he gathered his thoughts in order to say what he needs to say in a nice way. “Al I am not going to lie to you about the boys. I am a grumpy old man, mad at the world. I don’t feel that I should be at that retirement home, but I did it because I needed help on cooking and things like that. Other than that, I can get along just fine. The day before the boys came down for their first visit, the young lady in charge of putting those kinds of things together explained to us about them. I told her straight out that I didn’t want anybody like them around me or my stuff. Still she ignored me and the next day I had a knock on my door. I was ugly to them and sent them off. They wouldn’t give up. They just walked in and sat down. Once they told me what they did, I could see in their eyes if they could take it back they would. We don’t get that chance, so we have to live with the mistakes we make. I gave in and let them into my life. I told them about me and where I came from. I spoke about growing up during the great depression and me going into the military. Just as I got there, they didn’t come back. I got really worried. I never thought I would get so worried about kids like Alex and Matt, but I did. They grew on me and I wanted to see them and make sure they were okay. When they knocked on my door last night, I tell you I was over very happy to see their faces.” As Ron told Al how he met them and how he felt about them, he looked over the basement. He agreed with Jacob and Al that this is a perfect place for the print shop. The roof is made out of concrete so the offices above will not hear the noise that the machines make. Has plenty of ventilation so it will not get hot at all in the room. Plus the walls are made out of concrete. That means the noise will not be heard outside either. “Ron,I didn’t know that Alex and Matt continued going down to do their community service hours over there. I am glad they are. That way their probation officer doesn’t give them a hard time about it. You know when my grandson told me that he went to court and helped Alex get out of going to prison, I was angry. I couldn’t believe Jacob would do that. But I remembered, it is Jacob we are talking about. Then he goes and hires his mother to work in our house. I was about to stroke out when he did that. But again, it is Jacob. I met Franseca and I loved her the minute I met her and her two younger boys. By the way they both look just like Alex. I thought it was over, but again I was wrong. Not only did I find out that my grandson is talking with Alex but he is helping him. Then they come home for Christmas, I wanted to throw them out in the street! Jacob asked me to give them a chance. The first night they were in my grandson’s kitchen, I told them I am going to give them a chance because Jacob asked me to. I didn’t regret that decision. Alex and Matt have proven to me that they are changing their lives. They don’t want to be the kids they were. They want to be kids that they know they can be. In return they will be very good adults. I am glad that Jacob gave them a chance. Now we got back two good kids that will amaze us on what they do in their lives.” Al and Ron sat in the basement talking with each other. Al took to Ron really quickly. Same thing with Ron; he took to Al. Before the machines arrived, Al left Ron in the basement to receive them. He told Ron if he needed anything to come up and ask. As Alex and Matt started their way down to the cafeteria, Chase caught up with them. “You guys, we are going out for lunch again. Jacob just old me and asked me to catch you guys before you go down to the cafeteria. Are you guys up to another lunch at Taco Bell? I think we need to get used to eating at Taco Bell for now.” Alex and Matt at the same time said yes. They headed out to the parking lot talking about how it looked between Jacob and Dewayne yesterday. Chase agreed with Alex that Jacob and Dewayne really do look like they are in love with each other. “Chase you can tell me something that is none of my business, but I been wondering about? I never knew Joey like I know Jacob and you guys. When they were together, did they love each other like Jacob loves Dewayne?” “To tell you the truth, I think Jacob actually is falling more for Dewayne than he did with Joey. Those two had a very difficult relationship to put it mildly. When Jacob met Joey, he wasn’t out. Joey was out, but only to his family. Those two had to fight those demons on top of dating each other! Then Jacob got sick, Joey moved, Jacob got sick again and between all that, they had broken up and got back together. We never thought that they would make it. Then they bought the house together and it looked as if they were going to beat the odds. But something happened. Everyone was keeping their eyes on Gloria when we should have been keeping our eye on Beth, Joey’s mom. So what Gloria tried to do for almost two years, in a couple of weeks Beth got it done. She broke Jacob and Joey apart. The short answer is, no they weren’t in love like Jacob and Dewayne are now. They had too much going on that Jacob doesn’t have to worry about now. I am really rooting for those two to make it. They are so strong together. Neither of them needs the other to prop them up because one of them is weaker than the other. They both are strong and enhance the other.” “Wow, I never knew all this before. Don’t you think that once Joey comes to his senses, he will come back? If that happens, what will Jacob do? Poor Dewayne is going to be caught in the middle of this and I am afraid he might end up losing the most.” Chase stopped and turned to look at Alex in the face. “Alex let me tell you this and you two can’t say a word to anyone else.” Alex and Matt nodded their heads in agreement. “Before Andy left, he pulled me to the side. He asked me to keep an eye on Jacob. Andy told me that Jacob met Joey at a gas station the week before we returned to school. Now Andy doesn’t know what happened there, but what he got from it is that Jacob finally told Joey off. Joey is not going to come back and if he does, Jacob will not choose him over Dewayne. He is finally moving on from Joey.” Chase turned around and ran to the truck followed by Alex and Matt. Just as they got there, Jacob and the others walked up. They all jumped in and headed over to see Dewayne at work. They ordered, but this time the manager let Dewayne out for his break. He and Jacob ate quickly and then left. “Hey I bet you if we go into the bathroom, we will find those two going at it with each other. I can see it in their eyes that they didn’t want the food they ordered. The only thing they want to eat is the hotdogs between each other’s legs!” Everyone cracked up in laughter at Alex. They never heard Alex joke around like that. At one point, Toni almost choked on his nacho supreme because he is laughing so hard. David helped Toni get the nachos down so he could breathe. Tom looked up at the clock on the wall and got up. Everyone else followed Tom. They threw their garbage away and started to head to the truck when Jacob and Dewayne walked out of the bathroom. Everyone looked at them and just broke out laughing again. They walked out of the store stumbling as they laughed all the way to the truck. Jacob walked out and asked what they are laughing at. No one answered him; they just got in the truck. Jacob gave up asking halfway to the school. That is when Alex remembered about Mr. Baird. “Jacob I think I screwed up? I forgot to tell you and your grandfather about a hire we did yesterday. I really hope that Mr. Serna isn’t going to be mad or turn away the person we hired” Alex leaned forward to talk into Jacob’s ears. “Listen Alex, the printing company is yours. You can hire anyone you would like to hire. You don’t need to clear it with me or my grandfather. By the way how many times do I have to tell you to call my grandfather Al, not Mr. Serna?” “Sorry, I will stop doing that. We hired an older gentleman that we got to know while we were locked up. He told us that he is going to go to the office at nine in the morning. I am sure that Al is going to freak out when he meets Mr. Baird.” “No my grandfather isn’t going to do that. He will talk with Mr. Baird and then he will trust his gut instincts if Mr. Baird is telling the truth. He will ask random questions to make sure that he does know you two. I plan to head down to the office after school. Why don’t you guys tag along with us?” Alex and Matt agreed to meet Jacob at his truck right after school. Chase asked if he could tag along and so did Tom and David. Jacob didn’t care nor did Alex or Matt. In fact they are getting used to having Chase around. They are becoming very good friends. Several times during fourth period, Alex kept dozing off. If it wasn’t for Matt, Alex would have been caught sleeping. On top on not getting enough sleep last night, Alex ate a lot during lunch. Now he is full and tired. So when the bell rang for fifth period, Alex didn’t hate going to ROTC. He knew they would be up and doing something, not sitting in their desks. As soon as roll call got taken, he was right. They got called to attention and they went out to learn to drill. The entire period they drilled up and down the parking lot. Alex marched off the food and the sleepiness. He knows there is no way he is going to fall asleep in sixth period now. Like the day before at the last bell, Alex and Matt went to their lockers and got their books before heading to parking lot to join the others. All the way downtown, Alex told Jacob about Mr. Baird. Jacob and the others listened and didn’t interrupt that much. The only time that Tom, David or Chase did interrupt is to agree with Alex about Mr. Baird. Not knowing where to park, Jacob pulled into a parking garage and got a ticket. After parking, they all headed for the office building that Al bought. They stood outside and just looked at it. They all thought how cool it is that they know someone that owns a building downtown. Jacob played it off by saying he doesn’t own it, his grandfather does. Jacob remembered that his grandfather told him that their offices are on the top floor. Toni and Jacob headed up to the elevator as the others went to look for the basement. Getting lost a couple of times, they decided to take the elevator to the basement, instead of looking for the stair case. When the elevator door opened, they walked into a hallway. Alex looked to his left and then to his right. He saw two double doors on both sides of the office. He decided to walk to the double doors to the right. Everyone else followed him down the hall. Alex couldn’t believe when he got to the doors, they are locked. He knocked several times on the door for someone to answer him. He knows that someone is in there because the lights are on. Matt pulled Alex away from the door and they went running down the long hallway to the other double doors. Matt pulled on the doors and they opened. They all walked in to find the machines already set up. Alex couldn’t believe that Jacob got the machines down here so quickly and set up. They started to walk around to look at the machines when they heard Mr. Baird yelling out at them. “Who is in here, show yourself. If you don’t show yourself in the next minute, I am going to call the police. They are just down the street and will get here really fast.” Alex followed Mr. Baird’s voice and found him standing at an entrance to a room. He walked towards Mr. Baird, when Mr. Baird saw Alex, he relaxed. The others stepped out and walked ran up to catch up with Alex. “You really do work fast Colonel. I didn’t suspect to see the machines set up yet. Are they ready to go?” Alex shook Ron’s hand as he reached him. “We test ran each and everyone of these machines once they got set up. They are all in working order and ready to go. All we need is a crew and we are off to the races.” Ron walked back into the office he selected for himself. “Nice office Colonel, I hope all the other offices are this big.” Alex walked in and looked around. “I am sorry about not telling Al about hiring you. I hope he didn’t give you a hard time when he saw you this morning.” “Not at all Alex, he didn’t give me a hard time at all. He and I walked down here together and talked a while He is a very nice guy. We had lunch together. He talks highly of you and Matt. That I was not surprised hearing. And about the offices, the two I think you two are going to like are bigger than this one.” Mr. Baird got up and showed Alex and Matt the offices he is talking about. Alex and Matt agreed with Ron, but tried to talk him into taking one of the offices, but again. Mr. Baird said no and Alex and Matt agreed in the end. Ron walked Alex and Matt through the print shop. He explained to them what each machine can do. As they started printing, he promised Alex and Matt that he will show them how to operate each machine. “Mr. Baird can we come down and work for you? We don’t want money; we just want to do something more than just staying at home and doing school.” Ron looked at Chase and over to Tom and David. All of them are nodding their heads up and down in agreement. “Boys I would like it if you guys come down and work here in the print shop. I will pay you for the work you do though. No one works for free; no one. Just let me know what days you want to work and I will put you on the schedule for a couple hours for those days. It will be good to have workers that are part of Alex’s and Matt’s family. When a company does that, it runs a lot smoother.” Chase, Tom and David went to talk with Ron. Alex and Matt went to their offices to look at them. They kept running back and forth from one office to the other. They still can’t believe that this is all theirs! At least half of it right now and eventually the entire thing! Alex grabbed a hold of Matt as he walked out of his office. “You know when we aren’t in such of a rush on getting out of here. We are going to have to have sex in each of our offices. We got to make them our own, like we will do when we buy our own house. We will have sex in each room when we move in.” Alex fell against Matt, pushing him against the wall. They started to kiss each other. At the same time, they couldn’t keep their hands off of each other’s body. They actually grabbed each others package at the same time noticing how hard the other is. “We haven’t had sex for a couple of days. When we get home I want to have you in our bed. I will not take ‘no’ for an answer Alex, I want you. By the feel of your hard dick, you want me as well. So let’s make each other happy and give each other what we want.” Alex pressed his lips against Matt’s. They didn’t even come up for breathe. They took turns on letting each other put their tongues in each other’s mouths. When they stopped kissing wasn’t because they wanted to come up for air. They got interrupted by Chase and the others. Once they saw what Alex and Matt are doing, they walked out to the hall to wait for them to finish up. They kissed one last time before walking out to join the others. They met Jacob on the first floor and headed out. Jacob met Mr. Baird, but didn’t talk with him much. They said their goodbyes and headed to the truck. On the way home, Alex and Matt kept kissing. No one minded them making out. In fact they paid no attention to them. They kept talking with each other as if Alex and Matt are listening. Even a couple of times, Alex or Matt got asked a question and they answered it, and went back kissing each other. They broke their kiss to momentarily join the conversation because they kept hearing their names. Alex grabbed a hold of Matt’s hand and held it tight. If he can’t feel Matt on his lips, he will hold his hand instead. Alex started to think to himself that everything is falling into place. He couldn’t believe the things he was worrying about just a couple of days ago are no longer weighing on his mind. The problems got resolved with not much work. Alex realized as he though of the last couple of days. Trust completely in Jacob and Al. They will find a way out of the problems that will benefit everyone. TO BE CONTINUED…………….. WRITER’S CORNER: {Welcome back everyone and thank you for reading another chapter of “Beneath the Mask”. I don’t know if you noticed in the last several chapters, that the time line has slowed down. I am no longer going through weeks in a chapter anymore. It works out well for several reasons. This story is really tied into “Jacob Finding His Way”. The timelines are running together. There are certain things are happening in the Jacob story that aren’t fully explained. It takes this story to fill in the blanks. If this story gets ahead of the timeline of Jacob, it will be confusing and give away plots to the next chapter of Jacob. The other reason for slowing down the timeline is because I don’t I have to skip postings of this story like I have several times in the past. This chapter covered several days in Alex’s life. We saw the reappearing of Mr. Baird. I know some of you have been asking me about him. He is back and at full strength. As you can see, he is going to be in this story a lot more than he has been. It was smart of Alex and Matt to ask Mr. Baird to run the day to day operations of the print shop. They are still I school and simply don’t have the time. Mr. Baird doesn’t like being in the retirement home all day so this works out for him as well. He can go to work every day and talk with other people. It looks like he and Al are going to become good friends. Another reason I think it was a good idea that Alex stepped away from the day to day operations of the business is he just got out. He is adjusting to a new life and trying to get away from his past so he doesn’t make the same mistakes again. He needs to follow all the rules that were set out for him by his probation officer and the court. If he takes too much on to quickly, he might slip and make a mistake. We got Carlos telling Alex that the gang is bothering his mother. We all know from the last chapter that Carlos parents are going to move to the Westside where he could live with them. I do really hope that they get out of that side of town without giving away Carlos’s and Alex’s ware bouts. Do you guys think that Carlos’s family will succeed in moving without being followed? It really looks like Chase and the others are taking Alex and Matt in as friends. They went with them to the retirement home to do their community service. They invite Alex and Matt with them when they go out to eat. They talk with those two as if nothing has happened. Since they live in the same house, these characters are going to appear in both Alex’s and Jacob’s stories. Ismail, poor Ismail, the kid doesn’t deserve what he friend’s parents are doing. I really don’t need to say much after what Alex said to Ismail. It sucks I know, but it happens. Parents tell their kids not to hang out with others for all different reasons. But to tell their kids not to hang out with another because their brother is gay! That is a no, no and what are they teaching their kids but hate and bigotry. Now there are several plots I opened up in this chapter with Jacob and Dewayne. Plus the other characters in the story. Those plots will be written in full in chapter fifty one of “Jacob Finding His Way”, for example when Jacob and Dewayne went into the bathroom the second time they went to Taco Bell for lunch. I know you guys want a ring side seat for that and you will get it in chapter fifty one. We are re-kicking off new old characters, but in different locations. Characters are slowly coming back, but the characters that I have brought back like Mr. Baird, Carlos, Steve and Robert are the only characters I am bringing back from the center. Here and there those will be mentioned, but not in a big part. I still believe this story received a makeover. It is going to be very exciting in the chapters to come, trust me on that. Right now, so many of the old plots in this story I keeping, has your head spinning on what is going on. As the chapters finish, you can’t wait for the next posting of the new chapter. I really thank you guys for coming back week after week, and reading my postings. I hope I will never let you guys downas far as drama in the storylines is concerned. I do not want to say too much more and spoil the future chapters to come, so I won’t. I warn you though! Don’t skip a chapter, or you will be lost. There is a so much to answer in the chapters to come. Keep reading the future chapters, and enjoy! Please email me and let me know how I am doing at jacobmillertex@aol.com, Thanks!} EDITOR’S CORNER: It is great seeing Alex and Matt’s lives moving in a good direction. I truly believe that they will make it thorough successfully. I fully expect there to be some tense and dramatic moments with the gang searching for Alex and Carlos. I have to chuckle; I don’t know who’s benefitting more with the new print shop; Alex and Matt or Jacob! Jacob’s butt was in a sling with everyone wanting their printing done at reasonable costs, so he’d have serious problem had a solution not been engineered. Jacob’s problem is now fixed and he’ll get his ‘hero’ status back. Of course, the benefits to Alex and Matt don’t even need to be mentioned! The Colonel is going to be a real player in the story in times to come. He’s a no-nonsense sort and won’t suffer any foolishness kindly. He’s going to be a sentry at the gates, so to speak. He’s going to fiercely protect his young charges. Chase is still a mystery to me. I don’t know what makes that guy tick. There’s something underneath that I sense, but can’t get a finger on. Something tells me he has a ‘curious’ streak running he might have to investigate. Ismail is going to be OK in the long haul. He’s a kid that is grappling with the adult parts of life beginning to hit him. He’s got a good head. He knows when to get help when he’s confused. Alex is hanging in there and giving him good advice. He pulled him back from using violence to resolve issues. As long as he keeps going the direction he is, he’ll weather the storms of adolescence and come out just fine. There’s not a lot I can add after Jacob’s summary and with the fact that there’s no high drama going at this point, so I’ll close out before I start rambling! Until next time, “Daddy” Rick
  14. Not to upset their father, the boys told them that everything went good for their first day on the job. Governor Lopez knows his kids and knows that they are holding back, but decided not to press them any further. If anything isn’t right, he trusts Lloyd to put a stop to it before it gets anywhere close to out of hand. When the boys headed up to get ready for work the next day, the Governor pulled Lloyd into his personal office in the residence. Although he decided during dinner not to press the boys, that didn’t mean that he wasn’t going to press the head of security for the boys. The minute Lloyd was summoned by the Governor he knew why. He knew he had to answer the Governor’s questions, but at the same time he didn’t want to give up too much information. By doing so he knows he will lose the trust the boys have in him. That trust a security detail needs to have with those he or she is guarding or they won’t be able to guard the person to the fullest if the person doesn’t trust them. “Lloyd I need to know honestly what happened with the kids today.” The Governor shut the door as he walked in. “I know my kids and they are keeping something from me. I need to know if what they are keeping from is something I need to worry about not only as a father, but as the Governor!” “Governor Lopez I promise you if something comes up that you need to know I will inform you immediately. For now there isn’t a thing to worry about that your sons can’t handle.” The Governor looked at Lloyd with a questioning look. “There are several reasons why I said that sir. First you did a great job raising them. They know what they need to do in every situation they are in. If a problem comes up, they know how to handle things just like their father. These boys, including Cesar and Patrick, aren’t dumb. They hold their tongues when it is appropriate and they speak their mind when that is what’s right. The other reason I said what I said is trust. If I come over here and speak with you every time something pops up in them. You didn’t want that when your sons’ lives, they won’t trust me. The teams and I can’t do the job if your kids don’t trust us. They will hide things from us in fear that we will come running to you and report on you first became Governor. At least that is what Jonathan has told me through our talks.” The Governor nodded his head in agreement. “You told Jonathan that you didn’t want him or his staff to report to you everything that is going on in your kids’ lives. You only want the important stuff that might result in harm to them, you or the family. That is what I plan to do; obey your request you made to Jonathan.” “Lloyd that’s fair and I respect that. I forgot all about the talk I had with Jonathan when I first hired him as the head of security for Josh. He is a very smart guy and that is why I felt bad removing him from his position. The guy tried so hard to walk that thin line, but because of Elizabeth, he fell off the line.” “Jonathan is going to be a great security agent once he learns everything of the job. He is to green right now. I truly believe when he does learn everything, he will be better than me. So much so I am glad you kept him on so if I retire or move on, I would be comfortable leaving everything in his hands.” The Governor and Lloyd talked for a few more minutes before Lloyd left. The Governor started on the work he brought home form the office like he always does. The boys had already taken their showers and set everything out that they needed for the next day of work. After they got ready, one by one they made their way to watch TV. But that didn’t last long because they were all dozing off in front of the TV within an hour. == The next three weeks seem to be a blur to the boys. They fell into a routine pretty quickly. Unlike going to school, the boy’s lives went from just lazing around and playing sports to work. Their days became wake up, go to work, come home, have dinner, shower, watch an hour or so of TV and then to bed like an old person. When they returned to work the second day the foreman was surprised to see them. He actually had a team standing by just in case they didn’t show back up. He kept doing that everyday their first week, which was making the boys angier and angier until Josh finally had enough of it. On Friday he demanded to speak with the foreman and once again the foreman thought Josh wanted to talk to him to inform him that they are quitting. He found out very quickly how far off base he was. “Mr. Owens with all do respect, you are an asshole!” The foreman looked at Josh as if he wanted to slap him across the face. “You think we are spoiled rotten kids that were born with a silver spoon in our mouths. How far you are from the truth on that! We aren’t what you think we are and we have proven that to you this week. None of us were born with a silver spoon in our mouths. My father is a blue collar working man. His choice of work was the military, but it is as equally hard if not harder than the work you do. There were days my father walked into the office and knew he might not make it home that evening. He put his life on the line so you could have the right to misjudge people like me, my brothers and friends. Instead showing my father contempt, you should actually be thanking him for what he did for you and this country.” Mr. Owens lowered his head as Josh told him what his father did every day before he was the Governor. He knew Governor Lopez was in the military and he also knew that he was wounded on the battlefield. But he didn’t know that he stayed on the battlefield many times when he could have had a plain ticket home. “We are no where near being rich sir. Just recently my father has been able to do a little more for his family like build us a new house. If he could have stayed in the house we have right now, he would have. But he has no other choice than to build a new house in order to shield his family from people either equally like you or worse.” That got Mr. Owens attention. He didn’t want to ever come off as a threat to the first family of Texas. All he was doing is going off of the lessons he has learned in the past. Politicians’ kids and rich kids come down and want to look like they care, but when they see how much they have to work, they high tail it out to the nearest spa. He got burnt to many times in the past with kids like Josh, his brothers and friends. So when he saw he had them as a crew, he thought history was going to repeat itself. “We are here to stay sir and there isn’t a thing you can do to change that. So you better stop bringing in a crew every morning to replace us because you are wasting their time. They could be working on another house that needs to be rebuilt instead of coming down here and being sent home the minute we arrive.” “I won’t have another work crew show up again.” Mr. Owens spoke up. “All of you have proven that you are here to complete the job. That is very rare to find in politicians’ kids, but again the Governor we have is a rare breed. Why shouldn’t his kids be as rare as he is?” Mr. Owens extended his hand and Josh took it. “I am glad that we had this talk Josh. The rumors about you are right on.” Now it was Josh’s turn to look at Mr. Owens with an inquisitive look on his face. “What I mean is that you are just like your father. You guys speak your mind when you see something going on that shouldn’t be. Don’t lose that because it will get you places, Josh.” Nothing more needed to be spoken between them. Josh joined up with his brothers, Cesar and Patrick. On their ride home, they didn’t bother to ask Josh what he and Mr. Owens talked about; they knew. They knew because how Mr. Owens talked with them as they were wishing each other goodbye. He actually said he will see them on Monday, which surprised them. == While the kids were working, the Governor and Father Gomez were doing everything they could to make sure that Patrick’s parents didn’t get their hands on him. Since the Governor couldn’t get away from Austin, Father Gomez appeared in court. Finally by Thursday, they made a decision regarding who should be Patrick’s foster parents. Although Governor Lopez wanted to take Patrick in, he knew he couldn’t. It’s not because who Patrick was, but because he already had a house full of kids. It was a lot simpler than that. Patrick would be better off in another house, but not any house. A house with a family that understands what he has gone through and still going through right now! That is why he felt Father Gomez was the best place for Patrick. Before asking Father Gomez if he would be Patrick’s foster parent the Governor sat down with Patrick and discussed it. He wanted Patrick to have a say in where he is going since Patrick is almost an adult; just a few years off. Plus he wanted to make sure Patrick was comfortable with whoever would be his foster parents. Patrick had no problem with Father Gomez being his foster father. In fact he loved the idea. He gets along really well with the father and Bernice and doesn’t see that changing in any way. The only thing he did ask is to still be in Austin with Josh for the rest of the summer, which the Governor had no problem with. Once he got Patrick’s decision, the Governor informed Father Gomez. Father Gomez went to court and filed the proper paperwork to become Patrick’s foster parent. He was granted it until he went in front of the judge assigned the case. The father knew he was going to get custody full time because there is no way a judge is going to put Patrick back into that house with parents that abuse him. Patrick’s parents were successful getting bail and did everything they could to try and stop Father Gomez on getting their son. They even tried to go to the local TV channels and get them to do a story on how the Governor and a local priest are conspiring together to take away their son. They painted themselves out as the victims, and at first the news channels were falling for their story hook, line and sinker. They all thought that they finally had something on their squeaky-clean Governor. He finally slipped and has been caught using the power of his office for all the wrong reason, like every politician does. They didn’t think though it would have happened so fast. Then they got back the results of their investigation. Not only were Patrick’s parents not the victims here, they were the ones doing wrong. After reading the complete report, they couldn’t believe that they even were let out of jail on bond. They almost ran with a story that would have killed them once the truth came out. When they informed Patrick’s parents of their findings, they got angry. They actually threatened to sue each television station when they didn’t get their way. So they promised to run the story in order to stay out of court, but they are going to run the truth. When Patrick’s parents were told that, they stopped their threats, but it was too late. That Friday evening the story aired on every local channel, which helped the Governor and Father Gomez. But at the same time it had it casualties. Since the story was in detail on what was going on in Patrick’s home between him and his parents, he immediately became the topic that everyone was talking about. That means when he and his friends return to school, he will be the topic that every student is talking about. Soon after it aired, Father Gomez reached out to the Governor. They decided the best thing for Patrick now is for him to stay in Austin. If he were to return to El Paso, it would set back his therapy months. Everyone wherever he would go will be pointing to him and making him very uncomfortable. Neither the Governor nor Father Gomez wanted that. So when Monday did roll around, only Barbara and Isaac headed back to El Paso, leaving Patrick in Austin. Barbara and Isaac were returning to El Paso for several reasons, one of which one was to make sure Patrick wasn’t alone on his plane ride back. The other reasons were to check on the progress of the house and start going through everything at the old house. The Governor is leaving the decision making in Barbara’s hands dealing with how the new house is set up. Everything from the furniture to what appliances and dishes are in the kitchen will be all up to Barbara. If she decides that nothing from the old house is going to go, the Governor is fine with that. The only thing he asked of Barbara is to stay within a budget. Isaac returned with Barbara to also see where things were at as far as the building of the new house. The only difference between him and her, he won’t be returning with her on Thursday. The Governor and he decided that someone from the immediate family needs to be there when things start to get moved into the new house. The boys wanted to be with their father when he took Barbara to the airport, but they had to work. They said their goodbyes to their step mother and uncle as they headed out. When they arrived at the job site, the foreman was true to his word. He didn’t bring another crew like he did all week last week, It was only him and the three other workers that wok along side Josh and others there. Seeing that the foreman was true to his word, it put Josh, his brother, Cesar and Patrick at ease. As they worked through the day, Josh noticed more and more the houses around him. He understands that Habitat for Humanity just doesn’t have the work force or the money to rebuild every house on a block, but this block and several blocks over need it. It didn’t make sense to Josh to build a nice house in the middle of all the rundown homes. He didn’t ask Mr. Owens why they did this building this because he knew the answer. At the same time he thought it made more sense to rebuild entire community at once than to build a house here and there in each community. The more Josh thought of it, the more he wanted to help out this community, but he asked himself how. Then the light bulb went off in his head, a concert on the block. Nothing huge that will run more money to get off the ground than they actually bring in. Something small, but at the same time something they can bring in enough money to do what Josh wants. The other challenge he knows he has is getting performers to give their time for free. He doesn’t know anyone that will sell tickets. He barely knows George Strait and he doesn’t feel right to call him right off the bat asking him for a favor. He doesn’t know for sure if George was being nice to him because he is the Governor’s son or because he was just giving him respect that he gives any person he performs with. Then he answered his own concern. If George was just being nice to him for the reasons he had already thought of, and then why did he give him a signed guitar and his number. Before dinner that evening, Josh threw caution to the wind and called the number George Strait gave him. George didn’t answer the phone, a lady that sounded like she could be his wife. Waiting for only a few minutes, George got on the line. When Josh heard George’s voice, he froze. He thought the number wasn’t his real number, but it is. “Um, sir, um, this, um……” “Is this the young man I performed with several weeks ago, Josh Lopez, the Governor of Texas’ son?” Josh answered yes. “It is good to hear from you Josh. To be completely honest with you I thought that you threw my card away. What can I do for a rising star in country music? At least I hope you are going to go into country music.” “Um, I, um, really haven’t decided what type of music I am going to sing yet. I am leaning more to, um, you know, um, country music. It is something I, um, like, um, to sing more of. I would like to thank you again for the guitar you gave me. I still can’t believe you gave me one of your guitars.” “I never give out something like that to a performer I first meet. In fact I don’t give my guitars away to anyone I haven’t known for years. But something about you says you are going places, where, who knows. Maybe you do, but again maybe you don’t. Who knows? You are still too young to have your mind made up on what you want to do with your life.” “I think I know what I want to do but it does change every so often to something different, but it always goes back to the original thing.” Josh went quiet for a few seconds. “Sir I know you really don’t know me and I understand if you say no to what I am going to ask you. Its just you are the only one I really know in the entertainment industry that will bring in a huge audience.” “Don’t worry about asking me anything Josh. If I can’t do it or won’t do it I will tell you straight out. I am not the type of guy that beats around the bush, leading people on.” Before asking George what he called him to ask for, he told him what he was doing along side his brothers, Cesar and Patrick. He went into detail about how the neighborhood looks and how much more he wants to help. As he explained everything to George, he knew he was listening because he was asking questions. “Josh let me say this first, what you, your brothers and friends are doing is great. More and more in this country I have seen our youth get lazier and lazier. It seems they want everything given to them instead of working for it. You don’t see too often people giving their free time up the way you guys are doing to help others. With that said I am more than happy to give you my time for a concert. You just let me know the day and I will be there. As long as it is within the next month because after that I am back on the road! It is impossible for me to change concert dates since they are sold out once the tickets go on sale most of the time.” “Thank you sir I really appreciate you giving me some of your time. It will be within the next couple of weeks I am sure of that. Our job should be done by the end of next week and I would like to try and have this concert that weekend. After that we are going with my father on the second half around Texas with the President.” “Just call me a couple of days before so I have enough time getting my band together. As soon as I get off the phone with you Josh I am going to call the members and let them know that we are going to do a benefit concert in the next two weeks. That way they don’t plan anything with their family that they can’t get away from.” Before getting off the phone with George, Josh got a few pointer from him how to do he benefit concert. He understands why he wanted to do it alike a block party, but there is no control there. He got him to see that if they do it like a block party, too many people will get into the concert without paying. Even though he didn’t like the idea, he agreed with George it is best to do in a stadium. That means he has to talk with his father and soon. That way his father can help him out on either getting a stadium at a very low rental cost or free, which Josh is hoping for the latter. That way all the money that is made in ticket sales will go into a fund that will help out Habitat for Humanity build more homes for people that need it. After getting off the phone with George, he headed over to his father’s office in the residence. Knowing time is against him, he has to get the location taken care of within the next couple of days so they can then inform the public of the concert in order to sell the tickets. It wouldn’t work if they get everything in place, but only a couple of days of promoting the concert. He knows that that isn’t enough time to sell out every seat or at least enough of the seats that this concert would be a success. Knocking a couple of times on the door, Josh heard his father ask him to come in. When he walked in, his father looked up from his desk and smiled. He put down his pen and closed the file he was working. He walked over to his father’s desk and sat down in one of the seats in front of the desk. “Josh you are awfully quiet, which means whatever is on your mind is important. So why don’t you just come on out with it.” The same thing he told George, he told his father, almost word by word. Just like George, his father asked him questions as he explained what he would like to do. The only thing this time he had an ace in his pocket, George Strait. When he told his father that he already had George Strait giving his time for the benefit concert, Daniel smiled. “It sounds like you have thought of everything son. I agree with George that a block party sounds good but isn’t the right format for the show. If you were giving the show for free, then do the block party, but you aren’t. So you do need to get a stadium, preferably a large one. That way you can raise a lot more money in ticket sales.” Daniel got up from his desk and walked around rubbing his chin. “I believe I can get you that stadium.” Josh looked up at his father with a concern look on his face. “I know that look Josh. Don’t worry, leave it up to me and you will have a stadium to hold your concert by mid week. Now you have to think of lining up at least two more performers to get people’s attention. George will sell out your concert, but people like to get a lot for their dollar. In your case dealing with this concert, you need more than just one performer.” “Dad you know I don’t know anyone else that I can ask to give their time up like I did with Mr. Strait. I was very hesitant on even asking him since I only met him once.” “George is a great man and a man of his word. He has taken a liking to you, but he isn’t the only one.” Daniel reached over to his rolodex on his desk. “You are forgetting another performer that has also taken a liking to you. You performed with her as well for my wedding. You should give her a call and see if she is available for your concert.” Daniel Sr. handed his son a paper with Dolly Parton’s phone number on it. Josh did forget all about her. It wasn’t that she is an easy person to forget about, it was just they didn’t talk like he and George Strait did. But his father is right, again! When they talked after they performed together, she did tell Josh to call her if he needed anything. “Why don’t you use my office to make this call while I go and fix a snack?” Daniel got up and started walking to the door. “While I am out, do you want me to get you a soda or something for the kitchen?” Josh nodded his head no. “Okay then, make your call and let me know what she told you. Okay?” Once gain Josh nodded his head. After his father left the office, Josh picked up the phone and dialed the number his father gave him. Several rings later Dolly Patron’s voice came over the line. Josh lost the ability to talk for a few seconds, causing Dolly to say hello several more times. By the third or fourth time that Dolly said hello, Josh lost count, Josh spoke. “I don’t know if you remember me, um, but you and I performed for my father and step mother on their wedding night. My name is Josh Lopez, one of the sons of the Governor of Texas.” Josh stuttered as he spoke with the famous Dolly Patron. “Of course honey I remember you. Anyone that meets you can’t forget you! What can I do for you this evening?” Dolly answered in chipper voice. For the third time he explained to Dolly what he wants to do. Each time he talks with someone else about the benefit concert, he has more pieces to the puzzled put together. Dolly, just like his father and George, asked Josh questions as he went through his plans for the concert. He was able to answer every question she asked. Not only did she say yes, but she promised Josh that she will get her dear friend Kenny Roger’s to perform as well. That made Josh’s evening compete. He now has three mega stars giving their time for free! There is no way once the public sees who is in concert that the stadium won’t be sold out. When his father returned, he told him the good news. “There you go son now you have a concert that people will pay good money for. You can get at least twenty to twenty five dollars for the nose bleed seats and more for the closer seats to the stage. Boy are you going to make a lot of money for your Habitat for Humanity!” Daniel took a bite of his sandwich. “I know I keep saying this to you, but you keep doing things that make me a very proud father. I am very proud of you Josh. You have grown up so fast in the last year. Just don’t grow up too fast. There is plenty of time to be an adult and you are going to get there faster than you realize.” Josh got up to leave his father’s office when his father called out to him. “Maybe if I go for another term you can help me get the money I would need to run for this office.” Josh turned and with a big grin on his face he said yes. “Good Josh now I know I will have enough money in the war chest if I run again.” Daniel looked down to his desk, but remembered one last thing. “Son, maybe you should think about having a concert like this every year for a charity. Since you are doing it for Habitat for Humanity this year, you might be tied into doing it for them every year, which I am sure they would be very thankful. There is no doubt that they will accept any donations that they can get. Building a house isn’t cheap.” “I was thinking the same thing dad. Not to get out of helping building house, but to help them also on getting more funding. Maybe at the concerts we put up booths for people to sign up to also volunteer their time to build a house. Habitat for Humanity needs funds, but they need bodies to build the houses, people that will give their time without wanting to get paid or anything for that matter in return.” Daniel agreed with his son and thanked him for volunteering on helping to raise funds for his reelection if he runs for another four years. Josh left his father’s office feeling like he accomplished a lot, which he had. He went over everything he did as he made his way to his room. He realized that he pretty much has what he needs to pull off this concert. The only things left to do are easy and won’t take that much time to get done. The several days, he worked during the day with his brothers, Cesar and Patrick on the house and in the evening he worked on the concert. By Wednesday he had everyone helping him out on the concert. They rushed home to the mansion to make calls Wednesday evening to local stations to see if they would broadcast the benefit concert to the public, which they all said yes without any hesitation. == In the mean time back in El Paso, Barbara and Isaac arrived late Monday afternoon and went straight to the old house to drop off their luggage. Once they unloaded everything they brought with them from Austin, they headed to the new house. As they drove up to what used to be an empty lot, they couldn’t believe the amount of work that has already been done. Although it doesn’t look like the drawings of the house when it is done, it is getting there. The foundation has been completely laid down and the frame of the house is up. Some of the walls are already up as well. Barbara knew that the construction company promised Daniel Sr. that they will have the house done by the time the kids return from summer break, but by the looks of it they may be done sooner than that. She walked around the house, trying not to get into the construction workers way. As she started walking to the back of the house, Jonathan ran up to her. He apologized for not being at the airport when they arrived. Something had come up at the site that needed his attention. Barbara told him that he could make it up to her if he would walk her through what has been done with the house. “Well ma’am as you can see a lot of work has been done already. Basically they are at the easy parts now. The plumbing, gas and electric wires and pipes have been run and ready to go. The foundation is down and the entire basement of the house is done. You can’t see it from here because you need to go in where the stairs are that lead down to the basement rooms. But I wouldn’t go down there right now since it is empty. Now they are putting up the walls. Once they get the walls up they are going to work their way down. So that means the rooms upstairs will be done before the rooms downstairs are done. When all that is done, they are going to work on the outside walls, the grounds and then turn her on to see if it all came together right.” “By the amount of work they have gotten done, they must be working long hours and the weekend.” Barbara walked into the house and down the stairs that lead into the basement area. “Don’t get me wrong John, I love it that they are this far, but are they doing the job right. If they are rushing it, they might miss things.” “That was my worry as well. Watch out ma’am…” Jonathan guided Barbara away from the wet paint. “Then I talked with the owner of the construction company he told me he has two crews working on this job. The next worry I had is if the second crew was clear to work on the house. I called up Lloyd and Lloyd had cleared them, but forgot to tell me about doubling the personal.” “I guess that happens when there are several hands in the cookie jar, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing sometimes. But let me say things are working out very well here. I never expected that the house was going to be this far in the building stages when I decided to come in. I thought foundation yes, but nothing like this.” Barbara looked around the rooms in the basement. She sees what Jonathan was saying about nothing being moved in yet, but she can imagine what he rooms will look like once the furniture has been moved in. So far with what she can see it is exactly what they want for their basement rooms to be. She and John made their way back up and out of the house. When they got back to the front of the house they found Isaac talking with the foreman of the work crews. They walked over to see what the conversation was all about. Isaac was worried about the same thing that Barbara was, but instead of going to John on his concerns, he went to the foreman. The poor foreman looked confused on why Isaac is angry with how fast the house is going up. When he stopped talking, the foreman asked Isaac if he had a problem with the speed they were working. “It isn’t that I have a problem with the speed, it is just if you go to fast you might miss things that you shouldn’t. This is going to be the house in which the Governor of Texas and his family are going to live in. They shouldn’t have to worry about things like the house falling apart in a couple of years. That is exactly what will happen if you guys go too fast on getting the house up.” Jonathan apologized to the foreman and asked Isaac if he could speak with him in private. Isaac agreed and walked off with Jonathan. When they returned, Isaac apologized as well to the foreman. Just like Barbara he had no idea that there were two crews working on the house. Now of course Isaac didn’t admit to the foreman that he was out of the loop as far as who is working and who isn’t. Once the confusion about the work crews was settled, they both took one last look around before heading home. They rested the rest of the day. The next morning Barbara got up bright and early, seven or so, and started going through the house. She started to throw things that they aren’t going to take to the new house in a box for Goodwill. The things that were not good at all, she tossed in trash bags. By the time Isaac got up, Barbara had already finished with the living room and most of the kitchen. She was in the den looking at all the family photos when Isaac walked in. She really had no idea which ones Daniel would want to hang up in the new house and which ones he would like to put into a photo album. This part she feared the most because if she would to pick the wrong pictures to put in the photo albums, it might upset Daniel even though he told her over and over again that decorating the new house will be all up to her! That included which family photos are going up on the wall and which ones aren’t. “Barbara it looks like you are thinking too much into all this.” Isaac spoke for the first time causing her to jump. “Sorry I didn’t mean to startle you.” He walked over to his sister in law and put his hand on her shoulder. “My brother gave this duty to you because he wants you to make the new house you guy’s house. If that includes getting rid of every picture that Martha is in it, I know he won’t mind.” “He might not mind, but I will Isaac. I am not kidding myself when it comes to Daniel and his life before me. He had one and that included Martha. I have said this time in and time again I am not here to replace her. She is the boys’ mother and that will never change. I want her pictures around so the boys could remember their mom during the time they were a happy family. By the looks of some of these photos, they were.” Isaac walked over to the wall and pulled down an old family portrait. Anyone looking at the picture could tell it is old just by the ages of the boys. Daniel Jr. couldn’t be more than fourteen in the picture, which means the other boys were at least a year younger than him down the line. That means that if this was the last family photo taking that shows them happy. They have been living unhappy together for several years. “The boys look very handsome in that picture. In fact they are turning out to be very handsome boys, just like their father. They are lady and men killers.” Barbara took the photo that Isaac was holding. “This is what I want the boys to remember. Their mother was not always the way she has been in the last year.” He looked at her as if she was going out of her mind. “I know that sounds weird and more so coming from me, the second wife. Don’t forget I have known Daniel for many years. In that time period I did meet Martha several times. I never thought she could be the woman she became. She was always nice and courteous. But again she never said more than two words to me at a time.” “That is the woman I know. From day one she was a bitch to me. Excuse my language, but that is what she was. She always had hate in her heart and showed me how hateful she could be. I know Daniel tried to tell her to lay off me and leave things alone, but he and her just got together when she forbid me to come around. That is the woman I know and always will remember no matter if she lives or dies.” Isaac took down from the wall a picture of just Martha and threw it to the ground. The glass shattered all over the floor as it bounced several times. Barbara just looked at Isaac as he walked out of the den. Once he was out of site, Barbara bent down and picked up the picture as gently as she could, but it didn’t matter. The glass from the frame had already ripped through picture. By mid afternoon Barbara had the den done. She felt she found the right balance on the pictures. Isaac returned to the den shortly after he threw the picture on the ground and cleaned up all the broken glass, but didn’t look to see if the picture was damaged. That is the only picture from the wall that won’t make the trip to the new house. Most of Wednesday Barbara worked on the rest of the rooms on the first floor. She spoke with the boys before coming up here and they agreed that they will pack their own rooms. It wasn’t because they were hiding anything. It was just isn’t fair to her to be packing up their room when they should be the ones doing the work. The only time she got a break from packing was when Father Gomez stopped by. They sat in the kitchen talking about Patrick and how things are going to work out once summer is over. For now everything is easy since the kids are out of school, but that will end in a couple months. Neither of them wants to make things harder for him than they already are. “There is no doubt in my mind father, Patrick still needs to be going to therapy and Daniel agrees with me. He already lined up a therapist for Patrick up in Austin, but we need to think about here. There is no way when the boys return that he will be okay if he stops therapy. In fact I think that is when he will need it the most.” “Mrs. Lopez I agree with you on that one hundred percent. That is why I have spoken with his old therapist and he agreed to keep treating Patrick. The only difference this time around is going to be where they meet. That has to be changed since his parents will figure out that he is seeing the same therapist.” “So where did you guys agree on as far as where they are going to hold their sessions. It has to be somewhere Patrick is comfortable.” “Again Mrs. Lopez….” Barbara interrupted Father Gomez and asked him to call her Barbara. “Sorry I know you keep asking me to call you by your first name, it’s just a little hard for me to do that with anyone, but I will try. So where was I, oh yeah, you are right again and that is why we decided on my house.” Barbara had concerns about that since anyone can walk in and hear what they are talking about. If Patrick gets the same feeling, he might not open up to his therapist. Father Gomez saw the flaw in having the sessions in his house and came up with another idea; the church. He has a private office in his church that he uses for his members to talk with him in private. No one can walk by and hear what is being said in that office. Once they got that out of the way, they moved on to sleeping arrangements. The father put Barbara’s concerns to rest when he explained that the rectory the church provides him as a home has several unused bedroom suites complete with private bathrooms. The rectory is a stately older home that was built for the church by a wealthy family that felt that those that were called to serve the church should live comfortably. Father Gomez finished by stating that providing a nice rectory has long been a tradition in the Roman Catholic Church in America. “Well father I think everything is going to be a lot better for Patrick when he returns to El Paso this time around. The only thing I see that we have to do is keep a watchful eye out for his parents. They are going to try everything they can to get him back.” “I am not afraid of that when Patrick is around Josh due to all the security, but whenever he isn’t around Josh is when I am going to be worried. Those are the times that we have to be vigilant. Just like you are thinking, I am thinking the same thing. His parents will do anything they can to get their son back.” They talked a little longer about Patrick and his parents before Father Gomez had to go. She walked him to the door and thanked him for coming down. They agreed to meet a couple more times before she returns to Austin to take care of anything else that they might think of. They agreed due to the fact they are uprooting a fifteen year old life from what he’s gotten used to as his routine. == The rest of the week flew by fast for Josh. By the time Saturday rolled around, he had everything in place for the benefit concert. There are three mega stars, the stadium where it’s going to be held, vendors to sell food and drinks and advertisement. Things just fell in place when he got George Strait. Josh couldn’t be any happier. When Josh got the vendors to come on board, he was able to talk them into donating half of the money they are going to make selling their stuff to Habitat for Humanity. At first Josh wasn’t going to ask for that, but when he talked with Coke and they offered, he decided to ask all vendors for the same commitment. Not one had to be talked into doing it. They all agreed the minute he asked. == On the other side of his charity work, the house that he, his brothers, Cesar and Patrick are working on is going well. They are ahead of schedule. Unlike back home they only have one work crew, but the work is going fast. If they stay on track, the project might actually get done Wednesday or Thursday, instead of Friday. Although they hated waking up early in the morning on their summer vacation, all the boys were feeling bad that their house was almost done. After the talk Josh had with Mr. Owens, the days at the site were fun. Even Mr. Owens played around sometime with the boys. When he jumped into the fun, it made all the tension between them disappear. Josh noticed a change in Patrick in the last two weeks. He started to open up again and be the guy Josh knew and really liked being around. Josh knows Patrick has gone through a lot and didn’t want to push him. At the same time he knows if Patrick is allowed to dwell on his thoughts he will eat himself alive with anger, hate and sadness. That’s something no teenager should go through and he knew that already at a very young age. By walking a thin line, he was able to get Patrick to open up. It was never about the beatings at the hands of his parents or the death of Frank. He stayed far from those subjects. Instead he got him to talk about the new guy he met and what he would like to see come from their friendship. Josh got Patrick to be himself. He was once again the out going, funny, joker kind of guy he is known to be. Patrick’s new therapist liked seeing how fast he was moving along. He knew it wasn’t his work that got him to loosen up and finally start talking about the demons that are haunting him. No, he knew it was Josh and all of his friends here in Austin and in El Paso that is getting the work done. He totally believes friendships and a loving family are the best medicine for a person in his place. The therapist in Austin and the therapist in El Paso kept in touch almost daily. They received permission from Father Gomez to share their files they have on Patrick with each other. That way when he returns to El Paso, his therapist there won’t have to play catch up. The same holds with the therapist in Austin since Patrick will more than likely be going back and forth between the two cities. All in all things in Josh’s life were just falling into place. On the personal side of Josh’s life, his relationship with Cesar was getting stronger by the day. They haven’t been making love with each other every day, even though they’ve really wanted to. It’s just by the time they get home from the site, they are too tired. So instead of love making, they cuddle with each other until they fall asleep in each others arms. No matter who wakes up first, the person waits in bed for the other one to wake up. They try to steal as much intimate time with each other as they can through out the day. That includes taking their showers together and sneaking off for about fifteen minutes during their one hour lunch break at work to make out. Their relationship has evolved to the point that they are able to finish each other’s sentences and order each other’s meals when they go out. They even can tell what the other is feeling or thinking by the look on each other’s face. Plain and simple they are madly in love with each other and everyone sees it. After breakfast on Saturday, the boys went to the mall to spend their allowance. It didn’t take the long to realize that they can get a lot more bang for their buck if they go to Wal-Mart and spend their money. So they hung out at the mall for a couple of hours before going to Wal-Mart to spend some of their allowance. Like they have done before, each of them pitched in equal amount of their allowance to buy the video games for their system. This time it was a little less for each of them, since Patrick actually pitched in a share from his allowance that Daniel Sr. gave him. None of them asked him to pitch in his money, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. During breakfast that morning when Daniel Sr. was handing out the allowances, Patrick didn’t expect to get anything. The weekend before when he got an allowance from Daniel Sr. he thought it was one time deal. So when he was handed an allowance again, he was surprised. He can’t remember the last time that he has been treated as good as he is being treated by Josh’s family. When everyone left the dining area, Patrick went back to try and give back the allowance to Daniel Sr., but he refused to take it. He asked why he was being nice, which got Daniel upset. He simply put it to him that he is part of the family and every one of his sons get allowance on Saturday, sometimes Sunday, if they didn’t get in trouble. It didn’t surprise him when Daniel Sr. said that. He already did feel like part of the family way before he came up here. That is the main reason when things fell apart with his parents he chose to come here instead of any of his other friends. He knew that he was going to be treated with respect and accepted no matter what happened. Since Patrick was pitching in on the games, the boys were able to buy one extra game if they wanted to. As they looked through the games, none of them found one they liked. In fact the one they decided to buy is one they put back the week before. == Instead of buying another game, they bought several movies they have wanted to see. When they got home, they put on one of the movies they bought instead of playing the new game. When Daniel Sr. walked by, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. His kids were watching TV, talking and just having fun spending time with each other. Daniel Sr. pulled Josh aside after dinner that evening. “I have a question about the concert son.” He was little confused on his fathers tone. He didn’t sound mad, maybe a little concerned, but not completely. The tone of his voice he has never heard his father speak in. “You have all these great stars coming in to sing in concert you put together, but I haven’t heard you talk about singing. Are you going to sing that night?” “Dad people aren’t going to pay a dollar to see me in concert! I want to raise money to help build more houses next year. For me to do that I need to stay off the stage and let the three mega stars that are coming to be on stage. Those are the ones the people are buying the tickets want to see perform.” “Don’t sell yourself short Josh, don’t you ever sell yourself short!” This tone Josh is hearing he knows is anger. “You should know by now that you can be on the stage with those performers. You are as good as any of them, if not better!” “Come on dad I am not even close to their level. They sing for a living where I am still a high school student and just barely that.” Josh chuckled. “Like I told you the other night I want to try and do a concert like this every year. If the performers think I am doing it to get my name in lights, they might not volunteer their talent. Without their talent, I won’t have a concert. I want to do what I can to help out people that need help.” “I know you want to help out people Josh. That heart of yours I truly believe is way too big for your chest, but I wouldn’t want you any other way. It’s just that I like seeing you happy and when you sing you look very happy on a stage. Somehow are able to spread the happiness you are feeling with everyone that is watching. You are able to make the audience feel what you are feeling when you sing, which is hard to do. So don’t keep saying that no one will spend a dollar to see you, because you are wrong. It is your decision if you want to perform or not, but I would love to see you up there on that stage where you belong. I am pretty sure George, Dolly and even Kenny would agree with me on that. They wouldn’t mind sharing the spotlight with you that night or any other night for that matter. Just do me a favor and think about it please.” “I promise dad I will think about it.” Josh walked over to his dad and hugged him. “You know dad I really do love you very much. No matter what I do or become I know you will always be there for me. That is one of many things I learned this year. Thank you for being there for me dad and helping me be who I am.” “Josh there isn’t anything any of you kids can do that will ever make me turn my back on you guys. I know I haven’t always been there for you guys in past. I put my job first, but that will never happen again. You guys are my world and nothing will ever get in the way of me being the father I should be.” Daniel placed his hand under Josh’s chin and moved his face up to his eye level. “Don’t you ever be ashamed of who you are. Never look down when someone is talking with you, and that includes me. You are going to do a lot in your life Josh. There is no reason for you to ever look down and hide this handsome face of yours. You got your looks; well all my sons got their looks, from me.” That lightened the mood and got both of them laughing. “You get on out of here and join your boyfriend and brothers. Just think about what we talked about you performing, okay?” Josh promised his dad that he will think about performing as he left. The guys waited for Josh to join them before they started the second movie they had bought. The rest of the evening he spent cuddled up to Cesar watching TV with him, his brothers and Patrick. All day Sunday everyone just lazed around. They didn’t even bother to change into jeans since they never went outside and Barbara wasn’t there. They ran around in their sweatpants, a t-shirt and socks. That’s something they haven’t been able to do since they got there. They didn’t want to disrespect Barbara by not getting out of their sleepwear. As the day wore on, the boys started to get ready for work the next day. When they got home on Friday they threw their tools and work boots in the corner of their rooms. Now they are going through their work belt and making sure everything is where it should be on the belt. Once they had their tools in order, one at a time, except for Josh and Cesar hit the shower before sitting back in front of the TV where they spent the rest of the evening. When Josh headed up to bed, he felt someone behind him. Every time he turned around to see if there was anyone, there wasn’t. By the time he reached his and Cesar’s room, he was freaking out. He is now being haunted by the story he told Patrick the first night he was here, the noises and someone or thing haunting the place. Josh tried to calm his nerves down before joining Cesar in bed, but Cesar knew something wasn’t just right with his boyfriend. The look on Josh’s face gave him away. He knew he wasn’t going to get any answers from him if he didn’t say something first. So he didn’t ask him anything. Instead he pulled Josh as close as he could to him to make him feel safe when he crawled into bed. Just as Josh dozed off to sleep, he was woken up by someone or something touching his right leg. He looked over at the foot of his bed and was barely able to see his and Cesar’s feet under the covers with the light coming in from the crack in the curtains. He looked over to Cesar to see if he was awake and was the one that touched him, but he wasn’t. Not wanting to come off like an actor in a bad horror film, he didn’t wake up Cesar. He moved onto his side and pulled the covers over his head. No matter how hard he tried to fall sleep, he couldn’t. After thirty or so minutes trying, Josh gave up and crawled out bed. He didn’t want Cesar to wake up and find him hiding under the blankets from the shadow coming in from their bedroom window. He walked out of their room to try and get himself tired enough to fall asleep. His imagination is getting away from him with the thoughts of the place being haunted. No matter what he did he couldn’t ignore the thoughts that were going through his mind. He turned around and ran back into the room as fast as he could. The minute he got into the room, he closed the door and jumped into bed. This time he woke up Cesar. Half a sleep Cesar asked him if he was okay. Josh didn’t answer him. He just got under the blankets and cuddled up as close as he could to his boy friend. It didn’t take Cesar long to fall back sleep. Josh on the other hand didn’t fall asleep for another hour. Once he did, he was out until the alarm clock went off the next morning. == Barbara spent the rest of the week and the weekend organizing everything to be moved. She knows that she won’t return back to El Paso until she returns with the boys. By then the new house will be done and they will be moved in, hopefully. So this is the only chance she has to get things the way she wants them. Even though Isaac is staying for the rest of the summer, it doesn’t help Barbara. He is only staying to supervise the move and make sure everything is going to get done on schedule. The only packing he will be doing is his room. The rest of the house he is staying away from since it isn’t his stuff. When Saturday arrived, Barbara double checked that she completed everything on her check list. Once she confirmed that she finished everything that Daniel and she discussed, she felt more at ease to leave on Monday. She really misses Daniel and the boys and can’t wait to get back to them. On Sunday Barbara decided to go to church at Father Gomez’s church. With a lot of pleading, she got Isaac to go with her. When they arrived at the church, they were treated like a king and queen. People moved to make room for them to sit in the front row. Everyone in one way or another said hi to them. It really made both of them feel out of place yet welcome. Thankfully Father Gomez started the service and didn’t point them out, which made them more comfortable. By the time the service was over, everyone in the church stopped looking at Isaac and Barbara as if they were lepers or something. Bernice pulled Barbara to the side to introduce Immanuel to her and Isaac. Right off the bat Barbara liked him. Isaac on the other hand was waiting to get to know the new guy before deciding if he liked him or not. But as far as first impressions go, Immanuel made a very good one on him and his sister in law. “When you meet the Governor, young man, be on your toes like you are right now.” Isaac spoke right as Barbara was about to talk. “He is very picky on who he let’s hang around his kids now. With the events of the past, he has learned his lesson throwing caution to the wind. He really gets involved in who are his sons’ friends.” Isaac grinned an evil grin at Immanuel and then started to laugh. “You almost had me there sir. I know the Governor is going to really look at me when he first meets me, but I am not afraid of that. All I want to do is hang around with Patrick and if passing the Governor’s muster is what I have to do, I say bring it on.” “That is the attitude Immanuel, very good. Now don’t you feel foolish on what you said to this young man Isaac?” Barbara looked over at her bother in law. “My husband isn’t as bad as his brother is making him out to be. Yes he is stricter now when it comes down to new faces around his sons, but you have to know the whole story. So much has happened in the past year and my husband has no choice but to be wary regarding his sons.” “Ma’am I have been able to piece together everything that has happened around Patrick and his friends. Most of it is by reading the news articles in the past newspapers since Bernice here won’t give me any details.” He bumped against Bernice with his shoulder, causing her to lose her balance. “Well I feel and believe that it isn’t my place to say anything even if it is just confirming what is written in news articles or on TV.” Bernice pushed him back and laughed as he struggled to stay on his feet. “It is up to Josh and Patrick to confirm things that have to deal with them, and knowing them the way I do they will in good time.” “You’re right on that Bernice, Josh or Patrick won’t shy away from any question that is asked.” Barbara extended her hand to Immanuel. “It was great to meet you and please don’t be a stranger to the house when the boys are back in town. By then you should be cleared by security.” “Mrs. Lopez please wait, I wanted to talk with you about another thing.” Bernice pleaded with Barbara and Isaac. “Thank you I will make this quick. I was wondering how Patrick is doing. I really miss him and still very worried about him. The last time I saw him, well just let me say that isn’t the last thing anyone should remember about someone they love. I know he is safe with you guys and I am glad that he went up there, but….” “There is no need for you to explain your concerns to me. If I was in your shoes and saw what you saw, I would be wondering the same things you are.” Barbara pulled Bernice to her and hugged her. “Patrick is doing to great. He is returning to his old self, which is a miracle in itself with everything he has gone through. No one, no matter their age, should ever go through what he went through at the hands of his parents.” “Thank you for telling me that. Now I can rest a little better at night. Can you do me a favor when you return to Austin?” Barbara nodded her head. “Can you tell Patrick for Immanuel and me that we miss him and can’t wait to see him again? Things aren’t the same here without him. Please tell him that and tell Josh and Cesar that I miss them too.” Barbara promised to pass the message on to the boys first thing when she gets back. This time when she extended her hand for Immanuel to shake, Bernice didn’t ask her to stay. After shaking hands with him, Barbara hugged Bernice and told her to take care of herself, while Isaac shook Immanuel’s hand and told him he had nothing to worry about. == The week went by faster than Josh wanted. Before he knew it, it was Wednesday already. He couldn’t stop thinking about the message that Barbara passed on to him from Bernice. It made him feel homesick being in Austin without his friends around, leading him to ask his father if his friends could come up for a week at the end of the summer. The Governor understood where his son was coming from, but had to say no. There was just not enough room to put up that many people for that long a period of time. Plus they will be getting set to start the move to the new house and so many other things. After his father explained why he said no, Josh understood and thanked him for considering his request. Thursday was their last day working. In fact they finished the last part of the house by noon so Mr. Owens let the entire crew go home early. He thanked them for their hard work and hoped to work with them again next year if they volunteer. This time when he talked he didn’t have any malice in his voice. Mr. Owens was sincere and he showed it. Josh didn’t mind getting off early, in fact none of the boys did. Once they got home, they changed and went to a public pool to swim. When they returned home, Barbara was putting dinner on the table. Knowing the routine, they quickly went up to their rooms, changed, washed up and got right back to the dinner table. The next day Josh spent the morning making sure that everything was still on track for the concert the next day. He couldn’t believe that the day he has been planning for weeks is already here. When he first put his plan into motion, the concert day seemed so far away, but the Saturday has arrived. Now he is going through his check list to make sure that nothing has fallen through the cracks. Once he talked with all the vendors and got confirmation that everything was going along as planned, Josh was able to relax a little more. He thought of calling George, Dolly and Kenny to confirm with them, but decided against it. They gave their word and that is all he needed. Plus they were more excited than he was when he called them up to inform them that the stadium was sold out. Josh loved hearing their excitement over the news. The rest of the day Josh lazed around the house. He went with his brothers, Cesar and Patrick to the pool in the afternoon to get his mind off of what is coming. He didn’t think about the concert again until he was sitting with Cesar in front of the TV after dinner. For some reason he started to go through check list in his mind as if his mind is trying to tell him that he missed something when he went through the list in the morning. Once he went through the list several times, he knew he didn’t miss anything. Just like the other night, his mind is just getting away from him. He looked over to Cesar, pulled his boyfriends arm around his neck and turned his attention to the movie. With help from Cesar, he didn’t think about the concert again the rest of evening. Even when they went to bed, Cesar made sure to keep Josh from thinking by a little love making. TO BE CONTINUED……………. WRITER’S CORNER: {Hey everyone welcome back to another filled chapter of Shadow of My Father. This chapter covered almost a month in time, three weeks to be precise. In case you don’t know or have forgotten, I am trying to catch up this story with my other three. For several reasons, but main reason I am doing this is so plots here aren’t given away in my other stories. Let’s talk a little about the chapter. At the beginning of the chapter we saw that the Governor got haunted by his words. He pulled Lloyd in to find out what his kids aren’t telling him. I liked it when Lloyd told the Governor that he won’t come running to him every time he hears or sees something. He is following the Governor’s request given to Jonathan way back when he first got elected. I bet you guys that you thought I had forgotten some of the little things. Now you see I don’t, LOL! I agree with Lloyd when he told the Governor that he would lose the trust from his sons if he does going running to him on everything. Again Lloyd was right when he also told the Governor that without the respect and trust from the boys, it will make his job even harder than it is already. I also liked it when the Governor agreed and let the subject drop. The talk finally came in this chapter. How many of you knew it was going to be Josh to be the one to pull Mr. Owens to the side and give him a piece of his mind? It was between Josh, Carlos and Daniel Jr., but in the end Josh was the best suited for the job. With that said the foreman saw a side of Josh he didn’t realize was there. When it was all said and done, the foreman saw the error of his ways and started treating the boy’s right. It is sad people act the way the foreman does, but I really don’t blame him for how he acted after finding out why he acting the way he did. What he said is true about rich kids and politicians’ kids. They had everything handed to them their entire life, so why work? As my editor said in his corner in the last chapter he has no idea what is in the next chapter of each story. He edits as you guys read. What I mean is that he edits the chapters as they cone in, he doesn’t read ahead. We do talk about plots, but it is general talk. Rick has no idea how the final product looks until he gets the chapter and starts editing it. The reason I said that is because of one of the plots that unfolded in this chapter, the one about Patrick and who is going to be his legal guardian was Rick’s idea. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone when you read that Father Gomez is going to be Patrick’s foster parent. He is the right person for Patrick since he can give Patrick the time he needs. There is going to be a lot going on in this plot, so stick around and see how it unfolds. The house looks like it is going to be ready on time. They put two work crews on the job to make sure they meet the deadline. I liked it when Barbara and Isaac returned to El Paso to check up on things. Barbara really is a down to earth person. A person that really knows her place and what to expect from her new family! The scene in the den with pictures shows us how both she and Isaac think. I don’t blame the way Isaac feels toward Martha. Heck if I was in his shoes and got the same treatment he got from her, I would be feeling the same way. Wait a minute I have been treated that way and feel that way about the person that treated me wrong. A lot of what I write comes out of my life so I hope you guys are enjoying it. What is going on with the feelings Josh is getting about the mansion. He teased Patrick about the ghost the first night Patrick arrived, but that was the first time we heard about it since Josh’s stay when his father was sworn in. I wonder if that old mansion is haunted. After all the mansion was fired bombed and rebuilt recently, but that doesn’t matter. If there is a ghost or ghosts that haunt that place, I don’t think they would have gone anywhere when the mansion burned. At least that is what I think since I don’t know anything about ghosts because I don’t believe in them. The concert is here and I know you guys might be angry with me on leaving the chapter off the day before the concert. I just want to do the concert justice and knew I couldn’t since the chapter was already long when I got to the plot. So I am sorry to say you guys are going to have to wait another week to see what George Strait, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers sing. Plus you guys are going to have to wait and see if Josh is going to sing. I have a surprise there for you guys, so check back next week and see. I know once again I might not have touched on every plot in this chapter. The house is done so the boys have the rest of the summer to themselves. We saw a little bit of Bernice, Immanuel and Father Gomez in this chapter. We still haven’t seen the other guys, but they will make an appearance before the summer is over. So buckle up everyone because I am about to put the story on super speed and move it along to the new year and hopefully really soon on the same time line as the other stories. I could go on all day long, with all the open plots already in this story, but I won’t. I warn you though! Don’t skip a chapter, or you will be lost. There is a so much to answer in the chapters to come. Keep reading the future chapters, and enjoy! Please email me and let me know how I am doing at jacobmillertex@aol.com, Thanks!} EDITOR’S CORNER: I’m delighted to see Patrick coming back to his usual self; the delightful guy he was before the horrid events of the night he lost Frank. I think we all realize that Patrick is a long way from being healed deep down, but at least he’s able to be able to savor life again and find himself enjoying life. There was a time he doubted he could ever do that again and I wondered if he’d make it. I am hopeful that Fr. Gomez being Patrick’s foster parent will net some good results for Patrick. Both Fr. Gomez and Bernice truly and deeply care for Patrick and I am hopeful that they will be more therapeutic than the therapist in helping Patrick back to being fully healed emotionally and mentally. Immanuel seems to be a solid and quality guy. He wasn’t the least bit intimidated when Isaac tested his character. He also appears to be very intelligent in that he sized up the situation with Isaac and came back with a wonderfully crafted response. He is certainly fast on his feet in a potentially touchy situation. He makes a very good first impression. I hope that we’ll see him become a real influence in the story. He could be a great politician with as fast as he is! I sense that he and Josh could become not only good friends but compatriots in dealing with the ‘political’ side of life. Unlike JPG, I do believe in what people commonly call ghosts. I have had personal experience with a couple of ‘spirits’. I will find it very interesting to see how Josh’s ‘ghost’ manifests itself. Barbara has really gained my complete admiration. She is a warm and caring spirit with tons of love in her heart to give. She is without any hint of insecurity and openly and freely acknowledges her reality as a second wife and stepmother. Her balance in her role is flawless. I do wonder how she’s feeling now that she’s pregnant. She doesn’t seem to have slowed down a bit. I’d like to know a bit more about the workings of her relationship with Daniel Sr. I sense and see the effects she has on all around her, but I am curious about some of the interactions in the marriage. Isaac sure holds deep animosity toward Martha. It’s probably good that he was able to vent some of the anger he harbors and that it didn’t adversely affect his standing with Barbara. I think that it would be good for him to have a good friend to talk to about his feelings and get all the ‘trash’ taken out. Josh once again shows his drive to serve the world he lives in. His volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity was only going to serve one family and for him, that was just not adequate. Now he has organized a benefit mega concert event to raise funds for the most deserving and worthwhile charitable organization. I am anxious for the next chapter to arrive to ‘experience’ the concert and see if Josh will perform as his dad has suggested. I anticipate that George and Dolly will see to it that he does. Until next time, “Daddy” Rick
  15. Still feeling the after effects of the drugs they gave him during the surgery, Jacob tried to stay awake but he kept dozing off. When he his family and friends walked in, he tried his best to stay awake but again, he just couldn’t. The drugs are still working through his system and no matter what he does Jacob won’t be himself at least until morning Dr. Whitmore told everyone. Jacob’s grandparents, parents and sister kissed Jacob on the forehead the minute they walked in. His friends shook his hand and sat down on the floor. Dewayne came in last, walked up to Jacob and kissed him firmly on the lips. He didn’t care what the others thought this is his boyfriend and he is glad that he has made it through the surgery. After a few minutes of kissing, Dewayne broke the kiss and sat down in the seat nearest Jacob, grabbing Jacob’s hand as he settled in. Just as they started talking about how better it will be now that Jacob doesn’t need to deal with that machine anymore, Dr. Whitmore walked in. The look on his face, everyone knew it was bad news. At first they thought that the bad news is going to be about Jacob, but when Dr. Whitmore started talking, they got another shock of their lives. “I just came down from another one of my patients. Some of you might know, and some of you might not know, Jacob asked me to take care of Alex when he got stabbed in the center. Not to give detail away on that, we thought that we dealt with that injury without it coming back at us. Alex healed faster than we even thought he would, and maybe that is how we missed this. Alex got rushed into the hospital with an infection from the wound that we thought had closed and healed itself. Being the type of person Alex is, just like Jacob here, he didn’t think it was serious enough to let anyone know. I should have caught it when he came to me complaining about a cold but all I looked at is a cold and told Alex he is okay. Because none of us caught it in time, it spread. I think we got it all, but only time will tell us if we did. During surgery though, there were complications. At the time I was involved with the surgery with Jacob, I asked another doctor to take care of Alex. After closing and finishing with Jacob and went into the other OR to see what was going on. We did everything we could, but he fell into a coma. The next twenty four hours are going to tell us if Alex is going to come out of this okay. He is a strong young man, like Jacob, and I believe he will come out of this just fine. If you want to see him, he is on the floor above us, room 406. I am sure he and his family would appreciate you guys popping your head in to see how he is doing.” No one needed to be asked if they wanted to visit Alex, they all are going. Things have changed over the last couple months. Alex and Matt have become part of the extended family. Any of Jacob’s main or extended family is in trouble in anyway; everyone always will pull behind that person and support them. Dewayne stayed back with Gloria and Andy Sr., while the others left to visit with Alex. Al asked the boys to wait for him at the elevator while he talks with Virginia. They nodded their heads and walked over to the elevator. Al asked his wife to take Jeremy home and take care of him, Lorenzo and Ismail. Both of them agreed that Franseca isn’t going to leave Alex’s bedside until she knows for sure that Alex is going to be okay. In the mean time they are going to help out with her two young boys. They don’t want Franseca to worry about anything while she is here in the hospital. After agreeing on what needs to be done, Al and Virginia walked to the elevator. While the others went to visit with Alex, Andy and Gloria stepped out of Jacob’s room to give Jacob and Dewayne some alone time! They could see that they wanted to talk to each other without the others around, but didn’t want to be rude. At the same time Gloria wanted to get some fresh air, so it worked out for everyone. Neither of them talked to each other on the way down, but Gloria couldn’t help but think that she didn’t want to be here. She hates hospitals just as much as Jacob and had hoped that they wouldn’t be in a hospital again, at least not for something major like this. The last time around that Jacob was in, they almost lost him. When they stepped out, they stood a ways off from the smokers that are in their little group. Andy Sr. decided to take this time to talk with Gloria about what had happened earlier and a few other things before they start to move to the new house. “I know you’re having a hard time with everything that is going on right now with Jacob. Still that doesn’t give you the right to do what you did with Jeremy. I know I don’t have to right to say much on how you brought up Andy, Jacob and Marie, but I do with Jeremy. We both gave up on him and you sent him to a state school. By the looks of it, dealing with Jeremy is going to be hard, but we can do it. You can’t yell out him or grab him like you did. He needs to be treated with kid gloves by the looks of it. We both will learn together how we can be better parents for Jeremy. At the same time though, you can’t do what you did earlier again.” “Your right and I know there isn’t any excuse for what I did. I really don’t know how my dad and Jacob deal with Jeremy. By the looks of it, they have it down so well and Jeremy loves living with them. You and I will figure it out as we learn to live in a home with a lot of teenagers around.” “Yeah, we will have to learn fast that is for sure. Talking about that, we need to see eye to eye on a few things before we actually get married again.” Gloria looked at Andy with a confused look on her face. “The main thing I am talking about is the same thing that seems to be coming up over and over again; Jacob being gay. You need to find it in yourself to live with the fact that your son is gay. I can see that your words are hollow when you have said you’re accepting it. Your actions betray what you have told me. Too many times I have had to settle you down and keep you from saying something or doing something that you can’t take back. Your son respects you and loves you, no matter how much you have done to him. Where he picked that up, I don’t know, because it wasn’t from you. He has a heart that cares about his family and friends no matter how many times they disappoint him. No matter what, he will never abandon those that he cares about. You have to show him the same respect he has shown you. Without your son, there is no doubt you won’t have what you have today. You would still be living in the apartments that you have told me you hated. You’d be buried in debt you wouldn’t have been able to find your way out of. I can go on and on, but I will stop there. I made my point without Jacob helping you with what he has; your life would be a lot different. You need to, once and for all, get rid of this hatred you have about your son being gay. That young man has accomplished more so far in his life than most people will accomplish I their entire lifetime. He is a great kid. You did a great job bringing them all up. Now it is time for you to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Don’t run off our kids after doing the hard work of bringing them up.” As Andy spoke, Gloria knew he was telling her the truth. Jacob deserves a lot better mom than she has been the last couple of years. No matter what she has done, Jacob has never turned his back on her. Others would have and never looked back. Not Jacob. She now needs to be the mother that she should have been all along. When it came time to go, there is no question in anyone’s mind that Dewayne is going to stay with Jacob. One at a time everyone shook Jacob’s hand as they left the room. Jacob couldn’t stay awake while they said their goodbyes so the guys don’t know if he heard when they promised Jacob that they will back late tomorrow night after work. Major Moore looked up from his desk when he heard a knock on the door. At first he thought it was Jacob coming in, but it is his good friend Colonel May. Colonel May walked in without a response from Major Moore. He handed Major Moore a cup of coffee and apple pie from McDonalds as he sat down with his own coffee and apple pie. “I didn’t know that we had a meeting on the books this morning. What do I owe the honor of your visit this morning? We settled everything on Tuesday; at least I think we did.” Major Moore didn’t look at Colonel May, he just poured in his sugar and creamer into the coffee. “The reason I came down this morning to talk with you as friend and as your superior officer. I am very concerned about you my old friend. Never before have I had any problems with my flagship battalion. I never had to worry about this battalion because I have the best man in charge of it. The other battalions are a different story.” Colonel May ate his pie and drank his coffee as he spoke. He can see that Major Moore has no idea where he is going with this. This is something he has put off way too long and now it is even harder. It is just hard being good friends with someone when you’re their boss as well. If the time ever comes that you have to crack the whip, it’s hard to do to a friend. “When you got diagnosed with cancer, it ripped me apart in side Joe, it really did. Here we are, two men that went through two conflicts in our time in the military and made it home alive. Now this disease is going to rob us of you way too early. That is just not fair; I am telling it is just not fair. No one deserves to get sick like that, more so those who were willing to give their lives for a just cause and their country.” “I am one of the lucky ones to tell you the truth! I should have been gone already, but I am still here. I am here because of the support from my family and friends. Without you guys behind me, I don’t know where I would be today.” “That is why what I am about to ask you is the hardest thing I will ever do in my life. You know I believe in you Joe. I believe you in you so much, I never asked you to dial it back when you were told about having cancer. If anyone can juggle all the balls this program has and have cancer, it’s you. But lately I think the disease is beating you. Never before in the past would you ever have done what you’re doing with Jacob. You and I think exactly the same and that is why I am so confused on why you’re doing what you’re doing. One day you support this guy and next day you’re after him. That is not right for this student or any student and you know that. Then you said something in our meeting on Monday that left me with no other course to take. You and I have known gay men. In fact we served with them in the military. Never did you mind the fact that they were gay. You had the same belief I did that they should have the right to serve in our military openly, but what you said on Tuesday blew me away. It scares me that you’re thinking the way you’re thinking now. Your cancer is getting worse and you know it. So why don’t you spend the rest of your time on this earth with those that love you and care for you. This job is so stressful; it is taking you away from us a lot sooner. My friend, I want you with us as long as we can. You can’t keep going like this; you just can’t. Please my friend, I am asking you to retire now. That way you can go out on top with no one looking back at your last years in the program and say you were not on the top of your game. Don’t let your legacy be that people have to ignore the last couple years of this great man because what he did wasn’t him, but the cancer. Don’t do that to yourself my friend; retire.” “I hear where you’re coming from, but I believe I have a few more good years in me. I can move on from what I have been doing with Jacob. Since our meeting, I have given a great deal of thought on what we talked about. I came to the conclusion that I have been treating Jacob wrong and I need to make amends for that.” “It is good you see you heard what I was trying to get through to you earlier this week, but this keeps coming up. You have to be tired of the same old conversation we have been having. Every time I am down here or you’re at my office, we are always talking about Loraine, Jacob or the Governor’s kids. It is just gotten too much and I fear if we continue this way, I will lose you as a friend. I am asking you as a friend to retire now on your own. If you don’t retire, you will leave me no other choice but to force you into your retirement. If you choose to retire, you will get your full pension and everything else you normally would get if you made it to retirement age. If you force me to go the other direction, it will be out of my hands. The board will put you out and leave you with a partial pension.” Major Moore couldn’t believe his ears. He knows that he has gone a little too far on certain things, but to be asked to retire, that is over kill. At the same time Major Moore knows his friend is a man of his word. What he is doing right now is hurting him more than any one could imagine. Major Moore knows that his friend doesn’t want to be here asking him to do this. “Do I get until the end of the school year?” “No, the retirement has to happen immediately. The reason for that is if the board hears what I did, they will try to stop it. If you retire immediately, the papers will be signed and filed and there is nothing the board can do once that happens.” “Okay, if you don’t mind me asking, why now? What I mean is you fought for me when the board demanded me to retire when I first was diagnosed with this. You stood alone with me and said no. We won, now you’re asking me to retire. It is going to send a clear message that the board was right when they wanted me to retire.” “No, it will send the opposite message. The board believed that you would never retire, no matter how bad you got. Just like you said, we stood there and argued that you would know when it is time to go. You will never stay in the position when you were no longer able to perform the duties of the position.” Major Moore looked down at his schedule he was working on when Colonel May walked in. He slid it aside and pulled out a picture of him and the Colonel; a picture they took while they were stationed in Vietnam. After looking at it for a few minutes, he passed it over to Colonel May to look at. “Those were the days! I can’t believe we were ever that young and stupid!” Both of them started laughing. “We thought that we would never make it out of there alive, but we did. Here we are, old men, training the youth of our nation to go into the military. Never in a million years would I have thought back then I would be doing this.” Major stopped talking to gather himself. “Who will be taking my place? You’re always a man with a plan. So when you walked in here, you already knew who is going to take over this battalion.” “I spoke with Colonel Pigeon over at Austin High School. He runs the second battalion; it is just right to give him the first battalion. Plus he has three instructors down there. Major Thomson will take over as the senior army instructor, so there will be no need to hire anyone to replace anyone in the battalions.” “If I had a choice to who would be taking my spot, I would choose him. He is great and knows Jacob from his freshman year. Those two get along very well. I better clear out my stuff, I am sure he is going to take over as of today.” “There is no hurry for you to get out. I don’t want you to feel you’re being run out of town. Colonel Pigeon will be here today, but you can take as long as you want. He will take whatever desk is open for now until you have moved out. Just do me a favor and do a smooth transition. I know I don’t have to ask that of you.” “No, I will give him his desk and office the minute he gets here.” Major Moore walked Colonel May to the door of his office. “Why don’t you and your lovely wife come down on Sunday like we used to. I miss when we used to put out feet up on Sunday no matter what was going on in our lives.” “You can count us in, my friend. I will bring my famous cheese dip and you can cook your famous chili. It has been awhile since I have had my system cleaned out!” They both laughed as they finished making plans. On his way out, Colonel May walked over to the range to talk with Sergeant Haney. When he walked in, the rifle team was already putting away their rifles. Colonel May waited maybe ten minutes before he and Sergeant Haney walked out to the parking lot. “Sergeant Haney I want to cover a couple of things with you before I leave. First I had to accept my best friend’s retirement papers. He wants to spend what time he has with his family. I love that guy like a brother and things here won’t be the same without him running things.” Sergeant Haney’s jaw dropped with the news. “The replacement for Major Moore is Colonel Pigeon and I know you and he don’t get along at all. I like you and Major Moore asked me to take care of you no matter what. So with that said I would like is to give you a choice on two positions. You can come with me to the DAI’s office or you can work at Austin under Major Thomson. I understand you two know each other from way back.” “Well, if it is up to me, I would like to stay with the students on daily basis. Austin High School is close to my house, so I would like to teach there. And you’re right about me and Major Thomson, we go way back. I was one of his platoon sergeants when he was the company commander. We got along really well and I know we can work well together now.” “Good; that is settled then. You will report to Austin High School ROTC building on Monday. That should give you enough time to do what you need to do here. In the mean time you need to get along with Colonel Pigeon. He will be taking over as of today. Major Moore is still here, but the battalion and the program here is Colonel Pigeon’s as of this morning when Major Moore retired.” Sergeant Haney promised Colonel May that he won’t give Colonel Pigeon any trouble. Until he reports on Monday to Austin, Colonel Pigeon is his boss. That was enough for Colonel May, he shook Sergeant Haney’s hand and left. As he drove out of the parking lot, he looked over to see his friend greeting Colonel Pigeon as he walked into the building. Being the man that he is, Major Moore looked in charge of everything. Jacob woke up to find Dewayne asleep in the small chair near his bed. He felt bad for Dewayne because he is way too big to be in that chair asleep. He got up from his bed, walked over to Dewayne and kneeled down. It took every bit of energy that Jacob has to do that, but he wanted to kiss his boyfriend awake. At first Jacob didn’t get any response from Dewayne. Then he felt Dewayne’s tongue entering into his mouth. Jacob didn’t fight Dewayne; he let his tongue slip in. All of a sudden, Dewayne broke the kiss, pulled Jacob gently into him and whispered another guy’s name into his ear. Jacob got angry and pushed away from Dewayne. He looked down as his boyfriend totally cracked up laughing! “You mother fucker! You’re an asshole I hope you know that! I honestly thought you were thinking that another guy was kissing you!” Jacob hit Dewayne a couple of times lightly on the top of his head. “Don’t ever play that game on me again like that!” “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.” Dewayne trying to stop laughing in order to explain himself to Jacob! “You know you’re the only guy that will ever be in my life. There will never be another guy, I don’t care who they are, that could ever take me away from you! I love you Jacob and I will always be yours!” By the time he said his last words, he had moved from the chair over to the bed. Dewayne sat down and picked up where they were before he played the joke on Jacob. They got into the kiss, they didn’t hear Matt walk into the room. Matt saw that Jacob is in high spirits in more ways than one so he walked back out. Soon after Matt left, a nurse walked in with Jacob’s breakfast. “Okay boys, if you break the bed, you bought it. So why don’t you let our patient eat his breakfast so he can get his strength back up.” Looking over at Dewayne, she continued. “You want your man to have his strength back up as soon as possible, don’t you?” Dewayne just nodded his head in enthusiastic agreement to the nurse. She moved the table over Jacob’s lap and put the trey of food down. She made sure that the IV machines are working right and then took his vitals. “Plus you don’t want to roughhouse and tear the stitches out. It would be ugly if this young man made it through the surgery with no complications, then get complications because he ripped his stitches out.” The nurse turned and started to walk out the door of the room. “But I can see that our patient is ready to go, down below!” The nurse turned and winked at Jacob and Dewayne. Dewayne looked at Jacob and broke out laughing again. He reached under the table and found that Jacob is hard as a rock. To make matters worse for Jacob, he isn’t wearing any underwear so his hard dick is pointing straight out for the world to see. “After you eat, I will take care of this for you if you want.” Dewayne tugged on Jacob’s hard dick a couple of times. “By the looks of it, junior wants to come out and play. Don’t punish him because you can’t move your upper body.” Jacob turned all shades of red. He reached over to Dewayne’s lap and found that his dick is as hard as his. The only reason he didn’t spot it is because Dewayne is wearing Dockers. Still his mouth watered for Dewayne’s sausage for breakfast, not the one that the nurse brought in. At least with Dewayne’s, he gets a free milkshake with it. Just then, the door opened again, but this time Al walked in. Both Jacob and Dewayne pulled their hands away from the others dick. They both hoped that Al didn’t see what they were doing, but Jacob knows that his grandfather sees everything. “Good to see that you’re awake Jacob and in good spirits this morning!” Al handed Dewayne a bag from McDonalds. “Here Dewayne, you have to be hungry this morning. I know hospital food is not that good Jacob, but until the doctor gives me permission to bring you in food, you’re stuck with it.” “That is okay grandpa, I understand. It will be hard, but I will deal with it.” Jacob looked over to Dewayne to see him pull out several items from the bag, including two egg mc-muffins, his favorite. “When I get out of here, I am going to stuff my self with all the fast food I can get my hands on. When I woke up this morning, I was very hungry.” “That is very positive sign Jacob.” Everyone looked at the door to see Dr. Whitmore walking in with a smile. “So far this morning, I am two for two in good news. You boys are giving me a run for my money, I’ll tell you that. All this white hair is caused by the worries I have for you and my other patient upstairs.” “Did I imagine that I heard you saying that Alex was in the hospital to last night?” Jacob scratched his head trying to figure if he dreamed it or not. “I could swear you came in and told us that Alex is here and not doing great. If he is, can I go and see him?” “Jacob he is here, but no you can’t move around a lot right now. I want you to stay in bed for the next couple of days. You just went through a major surgery. Put aside the possibility of ripping your stitches out, but you can do a lot more. For one you just had a new organ put into you. You don’t want to do anything that will make your body reject it. So just sit tight and if anything happens with Alex upstairs, I’ll let you know.” “If he doesn’t let you know I will!” Dewayne sat up with a mouth full of breakfast. “Alex has become part of our family. So I will be going up to check on Alex and letting Jacob know what I see. Not that I don’t trust you Dr. Whitmore, it’s just you’re a busy man. You have more patients than just Jacob and Alex.” “Thank you Dewayne, I really appreciate. You’re right and I need to get back to my other patients, so I leave it up to you to keep Jacob informed on what is going on with Alex. Again though, if anything major else happens with Alex, I will be here to get him through it. For now, we all have to keep our fingers crossed for both of you to recover completely from your separate surgeries.” No one said a word; they just shook their heads in agreement. While Dr. Whitmore looked at the clip board at the foot of Jacob’s bed, Jacob couldn’t help but think about how Alex is doing. He hopes that Alex knows that if he could be there, he would. As soon as he can get permission to go and visit, he will do so. “With what I can see Jacob, you’re doing really well. So far there are no signs of you rejecting the kidney. Normally if a body rejects a transplant, it starts to show signs within the first twenty four hours. You’re not, but we always have to be watchful in the future. No matter a day, a month, a year or ten years from now, we have to be watching what your body does. A simple spike in your temperature needs to be looked at closely.” “Thank you for everything you have done Dr. Whitmore. I know I keep saying it, but I will always be thankful for the things you have done for my grandson. Before you leave I would like to know if I can bring Jacob food from the outside.” “I know the food here isn’t that great, but for now he will have to eat it. I will look at it again tomorrow. If everything is as good as it is today, I don’t see why not. For now, let’s move him slowly into hard food. Again he just got a new kidney. We need to make sure not to put anything in his body that might cause the body to reject it. With us controlling the food that he eats, we can ensure that doesn’t happen.” That was all the questions that Al and Dewayne had for Dr. Whitmore. After he had left, Jacob’s grandfather sat down and started to do work from the office while Jacob and Dewayne finished their breakfast. The minute Jacob pushed the table away from his bed, he asked his grandfather for some work to do. “Jacob as far as work, you better forget it. I want to talk with you about a couple of things, but nothing that will stress you out. I will keep you in the loop, let you help me with decision making on some things, other than that, you will relax, watch some TV or play board games with Dewayne.” “Okay grandpa, okay I will relax like you say. What are the things you want to speak with me about? Maybe we can talk it out since you’re here already. I know you can’t stay here all day or come day every day like this. You have the business to run, plus your other job for the Governor.” “Well there are a couple of things I want to go over with you before I leave. First, I would like to talk with you about your mother. Right now I have a position in the company that suits her very well. It pays more than the job that she has right now and I will have her in the office to deal with her more closely. No matter what you think, your mother is a great person. She has a few screws lose, but it is nothing I can’t fix. With the help from your father, I think we can fix her way of thinking on certain things. Somewhere down the line she was taught to hate gays and that didn’t come from me. I dropped the ball and I want to pick it up to fix that.” “Grandpa, I love my mother no matter what she has done. I know that her behavior in the past is not her. Put aside the last couple of years, she has been and still is a great mom. So if you have a position in the company that will make her more money I say give it to her. I want her to get everything she has ever wanted in life.” “That’s good to hear that, Jacob; very good! Now the other item I want to run by you is moving Martha into a higher position faster than we originally planned. I need her help and to tell you the truth she is the only one I can trust. You picked well when you brought her in. It is now time to put her in a position that is better for her.” “You see grandpa that is why I keep telling you I want to work at the company in the evening. That way I can take some of the pressure off of you. This company is both mine and yours. It isn’t fair that I get paid for not working while you get the equal amount of pay, but do all the work.” “Jacob, what I need her to do, neither you nor I know how to do. This is where her experience comes in. She has been around this type of business for years so she knows what to look for when she deals with the stores. Trust me when you get out, you will be going into the stores also to see how things are going.” “Grandpa you’re there on the front line every day seeing what is going on. If you see something that needs to change or a hire that needs to happen, then do it. There is no need to come to me and ask me what I think. Just let me know what changes are being made, that’s all. I don’t want to walk into a meeting one day with my pants down.” That satisfied Al. So instead of asking, he told Jacob what he planned to do in the weeks to come. After going over everything with Jacob, Al explained to him why he wanted Jacob in the decision making process. He agreed with Jacob when he said that he is on the front lines, but disagreed with him about the money. He went on telling Jacob that he is doing this to get Jacob used to making the hard decisions, because soon those decisions are going to be his responsibility to make. Chase broke away from the group at lunch. No one thought anything of it when Chase excused himself from the group. Maybe they believed the excuse that he gave that he needed to get some extra credit done for one of his classes that he is having trouble in. What the guys don’t know, he is passing all his classes with straight A’s. The real reason he needed to be alone is to think about what has been going on deep down inside of him. Ever since he and Linda broke up, he hasn’t been the same. No matter how hard he has tried, he can’t seem to get himself to go and ask another girl out. There have been several chances that he could have gotten a date, he just couldn’t bring himself to ask the girl out. After leaving the guys, he walked down the main hall, to the main entrance of the school. No guys ever come down here, at least during lunch. Chase sat down near the double doors, looking out to the street. He got stuck in his mind trying to figure out what is going on with him, when something caught his attention through the corner of his eyes. He looked up to see a large group of kids teasing someone. At first he couldn’t make out who they are picking on due to the group completely surrounding the kid. At first Chase decided to ignore it, but ignoring something isn’t in his nature. Several minutes passed when he decided to go and see what is going on. He got up and walked over to the group to see what has gotten them all riled up. When he looked over the shoulder of one kid and he couldn’t believe his eyes. He turned to see if the school security is going to come and do something. He looked around and didn’t see a security officer anywhere in the area. Chase looked back over the shoulder of the kid he is standing behind of. Still not able to believe his eyes, the kid that they are picking on looks like he could easily take on everyone around him. At the same time, he can see why they are picking on him. The kid is dressed like he lives on a farm. He looks like he stands over six feet, with blond hair, blue eyes and a chiseled face. That is not what the others are giving the hard time for. They are making fun of him because he is wearing bib overalls! The overalls are the type you see the farmers from Minnesota and places like that wear! They aren’t something anyone would wear here in El Paso at home and even more so at school! When one of the kids stepped up to the kid in the middle of the circle and hit him over the head, Chase had enough. He squeezed through the crowd and walked up to the kid that is being picked on. Taking a closer look at the guy, he looks scared out of his mind. This guy doesn’t belong here that is for sure. “Why don’t you guys leave this kid alone? Even if he did something to one of you guys, this isn’t fair!” Chase pointed around the circle. “There is way too many of you ganging up on one kid. He looks like he is new here and doesn’t know what is going on.” Chase pulled the kid through the crowd before anyone could say a word back to him. They walked into the main building and didn’t stop until they reached the men’s restroom. The entire way, the kid didn’t say a word to Chase, he just followed him. Once in the restroom, Chase walked over to the sink, while the new kid just stood by the door. Chase looked behind him to see the kid just standing there as scared as he was in the middle of the circle. “By what I saw, you probably don’t trust anyone at this school, but I am going to ask you to trust me. My name is Chase Watkins, I am a junior. I know you’re new because I would have seen you around if you weren’t.” The kid just stood there, not moving. Chase walked over to the kid to look him straight in the eye. “There is blood rolling down the side of your face from where the kid hit you on the head. Let me take a look to see if you need to go and see the nurse.” The kid still not saying a word, he knelt down where Chase could take a closer look at his head. Since he wears his hair buzzed cut on the sides and the back, it makes it a lot easier to see without a lot of hair in the way. The only thing he could see is a couple of scratches, nothing that big enough to take to the nurse’s office. “It doesn’t look like more than a scratch. Let me wash the dry blood away to make sure there is nothing to worry about.” They walked over to the sink. As soon as they got there, the kid knelt down again to give Chase a clear view at the area of the head. After wetting a couple of paper towels, Chase started to wipe away the dry blood from his head. As he worked on that, he took a closer look at the kid. When he first saw him, Chase thought he might be on the chunky side, but now that he has a closer look and he doesn’t have that much fat on him. It had to be the overalls that he is wearing that makes him look fat. The kid cleared his throat, bringing Chase back to reality. Chase looked into the mirror to see the kid looking back at him. See the piercing blue eyes looking back at him, Chase felt a weird feeling that he never felt being around a guy before. It’s the type feeling that he normally gets when ever he was around Linda or any other girl but never a guy. He pulled his hands away from the kids head, letting him stand up. “I was right; there is nothing to worry about. It is only a few scratches; that’s all. More than likely you got it when that stupid fuck hit you on the head. For that I am sorry. I know it wasn’t me, but no one should be treated like that for any reason.” The kid turned around and glanced down at Chase’s mid section. Chase caught the guy taking a quick glance at his midsection, making him feel even more uncomfortable. For some weird reason, he is dick is half hard. This is something that has never happened to him being around another guy! Again this has only happened to him whenever he is around a girl that he likes and wants to be with. “Thank you for everything you have done for me. It is nice to meet someone here that is nice for once. So far everyone I have met has been a jerk in one way or another to me. Maybe it is my accent or the way I dress, but whatever it is they have treated me like crap. You haven’t and I am thankful for that.” “Like I said, they should not have done what they did to you. Not everyone in this school is a jerk. Still there is a few that are. You just had the bad luck to run into all the jerks we have in the school. I hope that doesn’t make you think the worst of us here.” “After meeting you, I see there are friendly people here. By the way my name is Ethan Critchfield. It is nice to meet you Chase and I hope we hang sometime. Maybe you can tell me what I can do to get these guys to leave me alone.” “It is nice to meet you Ethan. You’re more than welcome to join me and my friends when ever you want. There is no need for you to not have any friends here. As far as what you’re doing wrong; nothing. Everyone has their own style and no one should tell another how to dress. Maybe as time goes on, I can show you the difference in style of clothing, but don’t change what you’re doing unless YOU want to.” “That would be nice if I could bum around with you. That way the other kids at this school will see that I have a friend and will stop picking on me. And yes if you could show me the style that is worn here, I would like that. Like you said, over time I could change my clothes. For now I am stuck with what I have because, well you know.” “No need to explain anything to me Ethan. I think I know where you’re coming from. I have been there and still there now to some degree. So there’s nothing you can say that I probably haven’t been though or going through right now. Why don’t we get out of this restroom and talk a little more before the bell rings?” Ethan agreed and they walked out and over to the lockers. They took this time to get to know each other. Ethan told Chase that he and his family just moved here from Montana where his father owned a farm, but had to sell it. Now they live here in the house that his father’s parents owned. Since they had no other choice but to sell their farm, they don’t have two cents to rub together at this point. They certainly don’t have the money to go out and buy new clothes because the ones that he has are not in style here! Chase could see that Ethan doesn’t like being the center of attention the way he has been. It looks like he wants to crawl under a rock. As Ethan went on telling Chase about his family and how things have been rough since they lost the farm, Chase couldn’t stop looking at him like he looks at woman. He doesn’t understand what is going on with him. He knows he likes women because he has only had sex with women. He’s never looked at a guy in the way he is looking at Ethan right now. The more that he looks at Ethan, the harder his dick is getting! You can tell this kid grew up on a farm. He did chores in the morning before school and as soon as he got home from school. He stands well over six feet tall. In fact he stands six feet four from head to toe. He is white; with blonde buzzed hair cut that looks like his mother did the cut. He has these beautiful blue eyes that once you look into them, you can’t look away. His chiseled face is like a god, ending with lips that you would want to press yours against his and never want to let them go. The way that he dresses can be improved, but why, Chase asked himself. It makes him who he is. The overalls fit him just right where it counts. You can see a nice bubble butt and some of his package in the front. When Chase caught himself looking at Ethan’s package, he knew there’s something wrong. He looked back up to Ethan and hoped that he didn’t see Chase looking where he shouldn’t have been. “Ethan, you seem to be a very cool guy and I want you to join my group of friends. I know that the guys will take to you like I have. There’s is no need for you to hang by yourself at a new school, in a new town.” Just as the bell rang, Chase told Ethan where to meet him in the cafeteria in the morning. Before heading their different directions, they traded numbers. Chase couldn’t stop thinking about the way he was acting around Ethan. There is no doubt in his mind, there is something going on with him that he needs to get an understanding of. Dewayne didn’t leave Jacob’s side the entire day. Even when lunch and dinner got served, Dewayne sat there watching Jacob eat. Jacob felt really bad eating in front of Dewayne, so he gave half of his plate to Dewayne. It took a lot of back and forth to get Dewayne to accept it, but he finally did. Just like the guys promised they popped in to see Jacob a little after eight. They talked about what Jacob had missed in school that day. Two at a time left Jacob’s room and went up to visit a little with Alex and Matt. They only have forty five minutes before visiting hours are over, so they wanted to make sure they visit both of them. Ten minutes before nine, Jacob and the guys tried to talk Dewayne into going home for the night. No matter what they said, Dewayne wouldn’t budge from his decision on staying with Jacob. He made it clear that he will go home when Jacob goes home; not a minute sooner. Finally the guys gave up and said their goodbyes with the same promise they made the night before, they will be back after work tomorrow. Jacob and Dewayne stayed up talking for another couple of hours. Jacob noticed that Dewayne is nervous about starting his new business. He is afraid of letting Al down since he is the one fronting the money for the business. Jacob assured him that there is nothing to worry about. Al will be there every step of the way. That way they won’t fail in any which way shape or form. When they got tired, Dewayne tried to get comfortable in the chair. “Hey handsome come over here and sleep with me. There is no way I am going to let you sleep like that. You will screw something up and I won’t forgive myself if anything of your awesome body gets messed up. I love every inch of your body too much to have to get tarnished.” Dewayne got up from his seat red in the face. He crawled into bed, on the side that doesn’t have the IV. Jacob covered them up with the blanket before wrapping his arms around him. He kissed Dewayne up and down his neck, breathing in Dewayne’s scent; the scent he must smell now every night so where he can fall to sleep. “I love you handsome and I always will!” Dewayne tilted his head to his left in order to face Jacob. “I love you with all my heart Jacob. With you in my life, I don’t need anything else!” They kissed each other until they heard the door open. Quickly they broke the kiss and pretended to sleep while the nurse came in to check Jacob’s vitals. Both of them thought that maybe if she thinks that they are asleep, she wouldn’t ask Dewayne to get out of the bed. They were right, she left without disturbing them. The next morning, Jacob found himself alone in the bed. He looked around the room and as he turned to look at the seat where Dewayne has been sitting, he didn’t find him, but he did find someone he didn’t expect. Jacob moved into the sitting position, trying to comb his hair with his hand. “Good morning Jacob, I am sorry for just walking in like this. When I found that you were rushed into the hospital on Wednesday, I needed to come and see how you were doing. I knew you were not feeling good in the last couple of weeks, but I never thought you were this bad off. Why didn’t you say anything to me? I would have tried to ease the work load on you!” Never before Jacob has seen Major Moore in Levis, a polo shirt and sneakers! He thought that Major Moore came out of his mother in a uniform! Now that he sees that Major Moore is as regular as he is and Jacob sees him in a different light. “Thank you for coming to see me, Sir. I know you’re a very busy man. You should have woken me the minute you came in. How long have you been sitting there anyways? And where is Dewayne at by the way?” “The young man that was here when I arrived was heading out to get some breakfast before you woke up. He told me to make myself at home. You always wake up early no matter what. That is one of the reasons I didn’t wake you and the other is because you looked so calm and happy as you slept. I couldn’t bear to wake you from your dreams.” “Thank you sir, I just feel bad that you had to wait. I should be back to school in a week or so. Don’t worry though; I made sure I was ahead on the newsletter and the other items I am in charge of. The only thing I didn’t take care of is uniform day this coming week. I am sorry for leaving you in such a bad position on Tuesday.” Major Moore leaned forward as if he thought that someone is listening. “Don’t you worry about any of that Jacob. All you worry about is getting well. The program needs you in the long term, not the short term. As far as Tuesday is concerned, your XO will run things. That is why you have a chain of command. They take over when needed.” There is something wrong, Jacob can feel it. One thing Jacob is good at doing is reading people’s faces. Major Moore’s face is telling him that there is something that he is not telling him; something that isn’t good news. Add to that Major Moore being in street clothes, which is a dead give away that something is at the very least, out of the ordinary. “Is everything okay with you sir? I have never seen you in civilian clothes before today. Are you feeling well?” Jacob looked at Major Moore with a worried look. “For what I have, I am doing great Jacob. There are two reasons I came down to see you this morning. The first is to make sure you were doing fine. That is the most important thing that has been on my mind since I heard you were in the hospital. The other reason I came down is to tell you know something before you hear it from someone else. Yesterday I medically retired from teaching. I have been battling with cancer for several years now and I should have retired a while back. I just don’t want to give up, so I keep fighting this thing. Walking into the building everyday helped me fight this cancer, but lately I noticed that I haven’t been the instructor that I once was.” “Major Moore, what are we going to do without you? I have learned so much from you, I don’t understand it when you say you’re not the instructor that you once were. In my eyes and so many others you’re the best instructor in the school. When I transferred in, you made me love the program that I was only in for the PE credits. You showed me how to be a leader, not a follow anyone. ” “Jacob, you of all people I have wronged a lot. I wouldn’t have treated you the way I have the last couple of years if I was the instructor I was when I started. I am supposed to teach you to lead no matter what you decide to do with your life. Instead I have showed you how to beat up the people under you. That is not the way to do things. I know it and now I am telling you. You said it right one time in my office when you said that there are two ways to lead; a right way and a wrong way. You need to earn the respect of those that you lead, not have them fear you. You have earned the respect of those in the battalion and that is why you can lead so effectively. I went from earning the respect of my cadets to making them fear me. I have lead wrong and you have opened my eyes to that.” “Major Moore, I don’t want to see you leave. I have always thought that I would return on my ten year reunion and find you still teaching. You’re that good of an instructor. What am I going to do with you gone now? Who is going to yell at me when I get lazy? I do that a lot and you keep me on my toes.” “To this day I have never seen you get lazy on anything, but thank you. Please Jacob; I am retired so call me Joe. As far as me being gone, I won’t be. I won’t be at school every day, but I will be here if you need me. You can call me or come down whenever you want to. In fact if you would, please stop by every now and then and let me know how things are going. The energy you bring to projects makes everyone involved feel alive.” Major Moore handed Jacob a paper with his address and phone number. Jacob took it and as he looked at it he started to think about the past. Yeah he knows that Major Moore at times was a major jerk, but he also had as many good if not more times that he was great. Major Moore in Jacob’s mind is a great instructor, no matter what others think. “I would be honored to come and visit with you. Since you’re retired, I am wondering something. You’re a great teacher and that talent should not go to waste. My grandfather and I are going to open a training program for our stores. Every new hire will come to our main office and get trained there before going on the floor in a store. You would be great in running that part of our company. It certainly won’t be the pressure it was as running a ROTC program. Over the years I have gotten to know you really well. If you retire and just sit at home, you might give up. I don’t want to lose you anytime soon, Major Moore. Would you at least think about the offer and let me know. You don’t have to worry about me being your boss. You will be your own boss only reporting to my Grandfather.” “There is always someone to report to when you work for a company. As far as you being my boss, that wouldn’t bother me at all. Let me talk it over with my wife. I will let you know in a couple of days. But I want you to understand I didn’t come down here hoping to leave with a job. I came down to make sure you’re okay and you heard it from me that I retired and why.” “I know that sir and still the offer stands. One of the things I learned about you is that you love to work. To all of a sudden stop might actually do more harm than good. Since you love what you did, if you take me up on my offer, you will also be running the program that donates the money to the ROTC programs. At least you will still be involved with the thing you gave your entire adult life to.” Major Moore and Jacob got to know each other more in the hour they spoke than they learned about each other in the last two years. After Major Moore left, Jacob had more respect for him than he did when he walked in. He knew that Major Moore is sick, he just didn’t know how bad off he is. The last thing Jacob promised Major Moore before he left is to get him an appointment with his doctor. His doctor worked miracles for him; maybe he could do the same thing for Major Moore. A couple minutes after Major Moore left, Dewayne walked in. While Major Moore visited with Jacob, Dewayne went up and sat with Alex. He gave Franseca a little break while he sat with Alex. At the least he could do something instead of hanging out in the hallway waiting for Major Moore to leave. He also wanted to check on how Alex is doing. Jacob told Dewayne what Major Moore had told him. “I know you have some bad run-ins with him, but I could see you respected the guy. That is why you did what you did for him. I am sorry to hear that he is sick and it has gotten to the point for him to retire. For your sake, and his, I hope he takes you up on the offer.” “I don’t see him retiring no matter how much others are telling him to do so. He needs to work in order to make it from one day to the next. If he does take the position, can he train your employees as well? I am afraid that we will only have enough hires to have him around on a part time bases.” “If he is looking for a full time gig, no problem he can train those new employees we hire for our stores as well. There is nothing I won’t do for you.” Dewayne leaned in and kissed Jacob. “As far as Tom, I don’t see him objecting to this either. The less we have to know right off the bat, the better for us.” Jacob couldn’t help himself as he pulled Dewayne into him. All Jacob wants to do is crawl into Dewayne and stay there. He makes Jacob feel like a king! Something he has never felt in his last relationship. Dewayne lay down on the bed, making sure that he is careful on not tangling himself in Jacob’s wires and IV. Also he didn’t want to get near the area where they opened him up. He has seen them take off the bandages, clean the area and put new bandages on; it isn’t a pretty sight to see. The boys actually dozed off in each other’s arms. They didn’t wake up again until they heard someone clearing their throat. Jacob opened his eyes to see Dr. Whitmore looking down at him and Dewayne. All that Jacob could do is smile up at Dr. Whitmore. He can tell that he isn’t that happy with him. As soon as Chase walked into the cafeteria for breakfast, he started to look for Ethan. He found Ethan standing where he asked him to be. As Chase walked up to him, he couldn’t stop checking him out. Just like the day before, Ethan is wearing overalls, but they are different pair because these pair has a small tear in the knee. Put aside the overalls, Chase see Ethan is built, maybe a little fat, built mostly built. “Hey buddy, how are you doing this morning?” Chase reached Ethan extending his hand out for Ethan to shake. “I hope you haven’t been waiting too long for me. When there is a big group like us leaving the house, sometimes we run behind.” “No I haven’t been waiting that long at all, maybe ten minutes or so.” Ethan shook Chase’s hand, but looked very nervous. “Are you sure your friends are not going to have a problem with me hanging with you? I don’t want you to go out on the limb for me.” “They are cool bunch of guys! You will see once you meet them. When I got home last night, I told them all about you and they are excited to meet you. So as you can see, there is nothing for you to worry about with my friends. After this morning, they will be your friends as well, I promise!” Ethan didn’t say anything; he just followed Chase to the line to get breakfast. Chase noticed as he picked up his tray, Ethan didn’t pick one up. For a moment Chase debated with himself about asking him what is going on. He doesn’t want to embarrass him right now since he knows somewhat Ethan’s story but he threw caution to the wind. “Grab yourself a tray and whatever you’re hungry for. It is on me this morning because I am celebrating my first paycheck.” Ethan looked at Chase funny. “I just got paid from my job yesterday. I didn’t know that I have to work almost three weeks, before getting my first paycheck, something about keeping a week back. Anyways I got paid yesterday and that makes me happy that I have my own money. So breakfast is on me for now!” Chase almost dropped his plate of pancakes when Ethan smiled at him. When he saw Ethan’s smile, it threw shock waves through his body that he hasn’t felt for awhile. Instantly Chase turned away from Ethan to get his body to settle down. As he walked through the line, getting what he wanted to eat, Chase cursed at himself to stop feeling this way about a guy. There’s nothing wrong with it; it’s just not him. Once they got to the cashier, Chase showed her his school discount card and paid for both meals. He an Ethan walked over to the table and sat down. The guys looked at Chase for him to introduce the new kid. Chase didn’t even look up at first, and when he did, he realized why the table was so quiet. “Sorry guys; my head is somewhere else right now. I would like you to meet a nice guy his name is Ethan.” Chase pointed to Ethan and than pointed to the others as he said their names. “Ethan I want you to meet a great group of guys and a girl you will ever have the honor to call friends. This is Tom, David, Tony……” As soon as the introductions were made, they all started to ask Ethan question after question. Never before Ethan has been the center of attention, at least in the positive way. He took it all in, loving every moment of it, taking his time to answer every question that the guys and Heather asked him. Even when they headed outside, they kept talking with Ethan about the farm and the differences between Montana and Texas. When the bell rang for first period, they walked back into the building in a group. As they walked past the group of students they were teasing him the day before, Ethan didn’t pay them any attention. But they weren’t going to let it slide, so they started calling him names. Everyone stopped, turned and walked up to those yelling out names at Ethan. “What is your problem, you stupid fucks?” Carlos walked up to the student that did most of the yelling. “From now on you will leave this guy alone. If you mess with him in any way, call him names or even look wrong in his direction, you will have to answer to us. Trust me when I say that you don’t want to answer to us.” As Carlos turned to walk away, he pushed the student that looked like he is the ringleader of the group. When Carlos pushed the student, he fell back into his friends, but he didn’t come back at Carlos. Carlos didn’t look back once as he rejoined his friends. For the first time he used his muscle for good and that made him feel good. He has never been the one standing up for the one being picked on because he was normally the one doing the bullying. Ethan looked at Chase with a surprised look on his face. Chase knew by the surprised look that he never had anyone stand up for him, as if he needed that kind of help Chase thought. He stands six feet four, all muscle by the looks of it. He doesn’t need any help to defend himself. Chase thinks he just has never had to fight someone before. Dr. Whitmore gave permission for Jacob to eat food from the outside, just asked him to drink at between eight to ten cups of water throughout the day. That way it flushes everything out of his kidney that is not supposed to be there. Of course Jacob didn’t object since he wanted to eat normal food. So at lunch, Dewayne went out and got him and Jacob lunch at the Burger King across the street from the hospital. Instead of getting Jacob a soda to drink, he got him bottled water instead. When he handed Jacob his lunch and water, Jacob wasn’t too happy about not getting a soda to drink, but he didn’t say a word about it. As soon as they finished eating lunch, Officer Jackson walked in. Jacob looked up and recognized him for the Detention Center. The only question he has is why he is here in the hospital visiting him. If anyone that he should be visiting should be Alex since he is the one that Officer Jackson knows. “Hello Officer Jackson, what a surprise to see you here. To what do I owe this visit from you this afternoon?” Jacob slid up in his bed as Officer Jackson walked up to him. “Good afternoon to you young man, it is good to see you’re good spirits. Since I am retired, there is no need to call me Officer. In fact since you’re my employer now, you can call me by my first name if you want, which is Tustin or Mr. I am fine with both. The reason I came down is by your grandfather’s request. He is worried that people might want to do you harm or kidnap you if they know what you’re worth. There are crazy people out there that see you as a quick ransom payday. So your grandfather and I have discussed that over the last couple of days and decided to put a guard detail together.” “Oh no you guys don’t! No way will I have a group of people following me everywhere I go! I see what Josh, a kid at our school, is going through. His father is the Governor and the poor kid has a security detail that doesn’t let him breathe. At times he looks like he is suffocating with all the people around him. I am not about to become another Josh!” “I certainly understand where you’re coming from Jacob, but the detail you will have will be different than your friend’s at school. The school is already secure because of the governor’s kid attending it. There is no need to have a huge group around you there. Maybe a few will stand in the halls to make sure you’re safe when you leave the school grounds for lunch or outside in the open. But yours won’t be near as big as your friends at school have. They have already done all the hard work. The only time you will have a complete detail around you is when you go out and about by yourself to places like the mall and stores, away from the house. While you’re at the house, you won’t see them. They will be around, but not in your private life. They will be there to secure the house and make sure no one can get in.” “I understand why my grandfather is doing this. If I have the freedoms that I have now, and I mean EVERY single thing, I am fine with it. I won’t change my life in any way, shape or form. So if you or the guard detail plan to limit me on going places, seeing my friends, getting into my personal life or anything else I am doing now, you better forget it. I rather take my chances with the crazy people like you said.” Tustin, Jacob and Dewayne sat for little half an hour putting together Jacob’s detail. When Tustin left, Jacob felt good with the outcome. One thing is for sure is that his life won’t change in anyway with the addition of having a guard detail around him. The only thing that he has to deal with is the kids at school when they see another student walking around with a security detail. Dewayne was glad that Jacob accepted the guard detail. At least now he doesn’t have to worry as much anymore when Jacob is away from him during the day. Ever since the other day when the crazy woman had her boyfriend beat up Jacob, he hasn’t been able to sleep! Now with Jacob having a guard detail around him, Dewayne knows he can relax just little more than he has been. TO BE CONTINUED………….. WRITER’S CORNER: {Welcome back one and all and I hope you enjoyed this chapter as much as I did writing it. It had a lot going on in it; he had you and me on our toes. Although Jacob was in the hospital, it didn’t slow down the excitement in the story. In fact I think it had more excitement in it than you probably thought it would have. Let’s start at the beginning of the chapter. It picked up where I left off in chapter 57, Jacob coming out of surgery. Now if you guys wanted an answer on what is going on with Alex, sorry you will need to read “Beneath the Mask” to get your answers. I dropped a few nuggets, but nothing to give away what has happened to Alex. We all know what is going on at the hospital dealing with Jacob and Alex, so I won’t go into a lot of detail on that. What I would like to start out with is Andy Sr. laying down the law with Gloria. He took her to the side and told her what’s up. He doesn’t want to get married with her thinking that she can continue doing what she has been doing with Jacob and Jeremy. Basically he told her that she has to change her tune or she will lose more than anyone else. Now anyone that has been paying close attention to this story, you can’t be surprised when Colonel May asked his friend to retire. It was hard for Colonel May to ask his friend to retire; after all they have known each other for years. They were in the same company and same wars together. Major Moore couldn’t balance his personal life with his professional life anymore. He is sick and needs to focus on getting better. It took a lot for Colonel May to finally ask his friend to retire. But when the dust settles on that, Major Moore will see that his friend is actually looking out for him. At least he got his full retirement. If he was forced out, he would have lost a chunk of his retirement that no one deserves to lose. Then Colonel May goes and has Sergeant Haney removed from the school as well. That I believe was the right decision to make. Sergeant Haney couldn’t tell Major Moore no. Because of that, he doesn’t have his own personality. Basically he is a yes sir, no sir type of person. Not a leader but a follower when it comes down to it. I threw in a surprise in this chapter. I know none of you guys aw this coming with Chase. If you did, well I say to you, you saw something that I had not planned to do. Now there are hints where I am going to take Chase, but I can still change it. We know for sure Chase loves girls and has had sex with girls. There is no way he is going to leave that part of his life behind. Still he is feeling things for this new guy that he has never felt before about another guy. Let’s see what Chase does in the chapters to come. What is going on with Officer Jackson appearing on the scene? I know you guys are saying ‘not another main character with security detail’. The difference in this story to “Shadow of My Father” is going to be the security detail won’t be written a lot in the story. We will know they are there, but nothing like what is happening with Josh’s. Final thought; Major Moore is not going anywhere. He will be in the story, but in a different position. He and Jacob are going to become very close and good friends. I am going to give away a part of the chapters to come by telling you Major Moore will take Jacob up on his offer. So he will be around and you learn and see a different part of Major Moore, the human part that I got to know when I was in high school. As always I can go on and on about the open plots in the story! If I do that, I can actually write several more chapters. There are so many plots that can take a turn at anytime. You might think it is going to go one way, but is lands up going another. Don’t miss out on anything, or you will be kicking yourself for it. I keep saying over and over again don’t forget about Chase. He will be spending time between two of my stories. I am giving that away, but look for him in “Beneath the Mask”. He is going to come back full and what is happening in his life will stun you. There is a so much to answer in the chapters to come. Stick around and keep reading the future chapters, and enjoy! Please email me and let me know how I am doing at jacobmillertex@aol.com, Thanks!} EDITOR’S CORNER: As our author said, this was a busy chapter with lots going on. I’m glad to see that Jacob is coming out of the transplant in good shape. Perhaps this will be the final bout he will have with the health issues. We can hope. Of course we have to keep an eye out in “Beneath…” to see how Alex fares in the long haul. Karma says that he should come out alright in that he did something good for someone else with no hint of a selfish motive. Andy Sr. laid it all out to Gloria in a way that left her no wiggle room whatsoever. I hope that his talk got her to snap to reality and how much she has to lose by holding on to her hatred and bigotry. Of course the issue of her dealing with Jeremy is vitally important too with her and Andy Sr. moving into the “compound”. I so respect Colonel May for keeping his objectivity when it comes to Major Moore. He is guilty of being a bit slow on the draw, but he ultimately did the right thing for both his long time friend and the ROTC program. I remember having a few teachers that were past retirement age. They had “lost it” and were no longer truly effective educators. As an educator myself and at age 59, I will keep tabs on myself to ensure I don’t extend working past the time when I truly benefit my students. Now Jacob offering Major Moore a training position with the company was a twist I didn’t see coming. When a business has multiple locations and as many staff with significant turnover, a training center is a good idea that will reap benefits. My only question is what experience in fast food and convenience store operations can Major Moore bring to the table? I absolutely HOWLED when Dewayne played the joke on Jacob whispering another guy’s name in his ear! Jacob’s reaction was priceless! I really enjoyed seeing some playful humor between the guys. They need more of that kind of thing in their lives. Chase meeting Ethan and his internal reactions are curious, to say the least. Ethan is a quiet guy, so it seems, but he’s appearing to be keenly observant. Did he actually catch and understand Chase’s reactions to him? What is Ethan’s sexuality? Chase, once again, shows he’s an ethically centered person and acts on his convictions. Carlos stepping up in Ethan’s defense was true to his form too. Jake’s security detail; I wonder what twist our author has in mind. I sense that there’s more to this than meets the eye at the moment. Until next time, “Daddy” Rick
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