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    R. Eric
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North Meets South, Worlds Collide - 74. Chapter 74

Daniel, you will never be forgotten. I love you, husband.

We enjoyed our time at the restaurant and we found Ivan more of a character than expected. I got the feeling, it wasn’t an act. He was a big man, and I’m not just talking about his physical size. He was that, but he had a big personality. That was why he was so popular.

“Okay, Ivan.” I grinned after he devoured his steak and wiped his mouth on the cloth napkin with a look of near satisfaction on his face. “I’m asking. How big are you?”

Ivan chuckled. “About two hundred and three centimeters and I weigh just over one hundred and forty seven kilograms.”

I hated the metric system. I didn’t like the metric system like I didn’t like the Cyrillic alphabet. I never used it that much, but I calculated as fast as I could. “That makes you six feet and eight inches about and three hundred and twenty pounds!” I shook my head as I reached the numbers in my head. “That’s big.” I marveled, knowing muscle was heavier than fat and he had more muscle than fat. Next to him was his wife, who…and a Southern gentleman would never dream of asking a lady how old she was or how much she weighed. You just didn’t do that! My guess was five feet and five or six inches and maybe a hundred and ten to a hundred and twenty pounds. A very drastic difference. He was a handsome man…when he smiled. Hair cut close to the top of his head was dark. I had a feeling when he went into the ring or whatever…his Raging or Raging Russian Bull character was…to scare? All for show, I suspected. I was going to make it a point to look him up on the web. Russia’s version of the United States’ WWF, Raw or whatever was probably exciting. The only ones I knew in the United States was The Rock because he was acting now and John Cena. I got to see a portion of his Raging Bull when he hit Lottery Guy. Ivan claimed to have been holding back! Ivan probably could have killed him easily.

“He works out constantly.” Katya said.

Ivan shrugged. “If I don’t, I will become fat and flabby.”

“He works out six to eight hours a day.” Katya stressed.

Ivan nodded. “I have an image to keep up.” He said logically and he looked at his wife. “I am sorry, but let us talk a little business now a little, okay?”

Katya smiled and nodded. “Sure.”

“Before we do, that is just…big...” Tony grinned said to Ivan. “That’s all.”

I nodded. “A really big man, with a huge personality…” I smiled and said softer, “…and we’re finding out…has a really huge heart capable of a lot of love.”

Ivan blushed and lowered his eyes, then looked at me. “The Beetles said it in that song…” he grinned and then said in very accented English, “…love is all we need.”

Tony shook his head taking my hand. “I accused Mitch of wanting to take you both home.” He grinned. “Now, I do.”

I squeezed Tony’s hand. “He said I have an affection for Russians, but what I really have strong affection for is genuinely nice people. Regardless of what country they’re from. That’s you two.”

Katya smiled. “Maybe we want to take you two home with us.”

“I was told by Sasha, that we…” I looked at Tony, “…homosexuals, weren’t thought of well in Russia.”

“The opinion is changing, and more gays are showing themselves in Russia…” Ivan shook his head. “I don’t see the problem many people have with it. You and others are everywhere! Love is the best emotion a person could hope to have.” He shook his head again as he disagreed with that philosophy. “I love Katya. How is that wrong?” He leaned over kissing her quickly and waved at Tony and me. “You two are very much in love, which you don’t hide. How is this a bad thing!?” He asked incredibly. “It’s all good emotion!”

“One day…” Tony nodded, “perhaps the world will understand that.”

“A quick change back to this wonderful translator…” Ivan looked at the translator again. “This is a good investment, Tony. I wish to…diversify my investments.” Ivan said, now his personality was back to seriousness. “I make good money as the Raging Bull, however, just having the money…it should work for me. Right?”

Tony smiled. “I agree.”

“I would like to buy in with this…” Ivan held up the translator, “…wonderful translation device. I would need to know how much is needed…some history on the men who are building and assembling…”

Tony was nodding more. “A good practice, always. I wouldn’t take your money without providing a complete history and information before you put in a single ruble.”

I smiled. I didn’t often see Tony working directly with clients on business. I know he did and I knew he had an office. “He’s very good at what he does, Ivan. He only makes money if you make money. He’s honest and he’s proven he can do it.”

Tony smiled at me. “I often have contracts with strangers. I work for them as well, but I promise you, Ivan. We’re friends now. I will guard any decision and investment like it was my own.” He waved at the solid evidence in Ivan’s hand. “You can see this isn’t a…” Tony looked at me and asked in English. “What’s the word for scam or conjob?”

“Афера and конжоб.” I replied.

Tony switched back to English astonished I knew these words? “How did you learn all these words!?”

I nodded pointedly. “I said I had trouble with their alphabet, but I can read the Russian newspapers and magazines Sasha gets and books he has. I read!” I said simply. “I have more time now!”

Ivan smiled big again, back to the happy Russian we’d gotten to know and fell in love…friendship wise…with him and Katya. He slapped Tony on the back again, making Tony let out a surprised little grunt and his eyes widen at the power behind the slap. “No, Tony…we are not just friends now! We are good, good friends! I trust you!” Then he grabbed Tony’s head and kissed him hard against his temple. “I feel that soon,” Ivan’s tone changed, “we will be best friends.” At first, I wasn’t sure what that meant.

I glanced at my watch. “Ooh!” I said reaching over to get the ticket. “We sail in an hour and a half!” I smiled. “I’m never late.”

Suddenly we are all in a bit of a hurry to get the bill paid and get back to the Queen Mary.

The ship wasn’t too far away so we headed back leisurely. Ivan and Tony were busy talking, so I walked with Katya. We’d spoken about Ivan a lot, but not really to her about her.

She laughed at her husband as he was animatedly talking with Tony as we walked slowly. “Ivan needed this vacation very badly.” She told me, but took my hand as we walked.

I smiled at her, but I was concerned about what and how she said it. She was hinting there was something… “Is he okay?” I asked looking back at Tony and Ivan as Ivan again was laughing at whatever Tony said. “He seems happy.”

Katya nodded. “Oh, he’s fine that way. His time is so demanding and well…” she added reluctantly, “the schedule doesn’t allow much time to develop real friendships. Meeting you two just seemed…” she shrugged. “…I agree with Ivan when he said it was something like destiny that was involved for us to meet. It was a very welcomed thing meeting you. He really likes you two.” She leaned in kissing me on the cheek. “I do, too.” There were no sexual overtones or anything like that. She really meant what she said. Who was safer than a gay man as just a close friend?

“He’s a nice man. He does have a big heart.” I said smiling. “You’re both good people. We really do like both of you.”

“Yes, but those demands and someone always wanting things from him…his manager, the fans and all because of what he is, not who he is.” She smiled. “Add in the fact you didn’t even know who he is only made it nicer for him and me. You were just genuinely nice people that treated us…as just people,” she looked again at Ivan. “That made it so much nicer…especially for Ivan.”

“Who wouldn’t?” I smiled. “So, what…other than being the wife of the Raging Bull, do you do? Or is that a job as well?”

She chuckled putting her head against my shoulder briefly. “That is a big job, certainly.” She looked at me. “Some think I should do my own…life, but I try to keep him focused and happy. Not because I’m expected to as his wife and that is my expected place, but I love him and I want to because I love him.” She looked at me. “Do you understand?”

I nodded. “Absolutely.” I shrugged. “Tony is the main breadwinner for us and I do all I can to support him. That’s wonderful.” I said sincerely.

She smiled. “I was training to become a nurse before I got with Ivan. Those plans were sort of sidelined.”

“Do I say I’m sorry?” I asked carefully. “Do you regret that?”

Katya smiled and shook her head. “No, don’t be sorry. I’m fine with it.” She smiled as she was remembering something. “Ivan and I have been together for almost eighteen years!”

I smiled at hearing that. “Wow, that’s great. You’re still very much in love. I can see it.”

She chuckled. “When we first met, he knocked me down.” She explained further. “I was finishing school…money was hard to come by for expenses as the Soviet Union broke up. I was looking for a job to help make expenses.”

I nodded. “Sasha told me a little about that. Ivan knocked you down?”

She laughed. “Oh, yes…he was nearly as big then as he is now and well…he bumped into me and knocked me down.” But she was smiling fondly at the memory. “He was a brick wall even then!”

“Love at first sight?” I grinned.

She shook her head. “Oh, no…not for me.” She laughed again. “But it was for him, he says. He found out my name and where I lived and he pursued me relentlessly for about three months! I was scared at first, thinking he was a stalker or something, but he proved to be nice and finally, I consented to go out with him and then…it just happened. He was rare for me. A real nice, gentle and kind man.” She looked at me. “What about you and Tony?”

I told her about the not giving up the pew at church when we first met and some of the highlights making her laugh.

She hugged me again. “It seems like it was meant to be for both you and Tony as it was for me and Ivan!” She smiled again. “He was so handsome and so…thoughtful…we’ve been together ever since our first date.” Katya got a little sad a little. “I don’t know if you…” she sighed. “We tried to start a family. We even were expecting about two years ago.” She sniffed and wiped her face.

Here it comes, I thought. Since she was telling me this, she may tell me more. “Don’t, if it’s painful.” I said to tell her she didn’t have to.

“It’s fine.” She smiled weakly. “I’m telling a friend.” She took a deep breath. “I was almost twenty weeks in the pregnancy and…I miscarried.”

“That’s half way through. I am so sorry.” I said. “I think you two would be great parents.”

She smiled again and laughed a little. “I know we will be.” Then she brightened. “That was another reason we came on this trip. We’re trying again.”

“That’s great!” I smiled. “I know you’ll be a terrific mother.” I looked back at Ivan. “He’ll be a great father.” I could imagine him with a small baby. “A little girl would never be able to date, but…”

Katya laughed at that.


We walked back on the ship, were logged back aboard as Katya and I were still together as Tony and Ivan were still talking. When we got into to the elegant area where we could take the elevators to our cabins. Katya kissed me on the cheek and hugged me, then did the same with Tony.

“It was a great evening.” She said smiling at us. “I know we’ll have others as this voyage is still ongoing.”

“Katya?” Ivan asked concerned there might be something wrong. It was in his voice. “It’s not even ten yet. Are you okay?”

Katya nodded. “I’m fine. I’m not tired or sick, but I’d like to go to our cabin.” She said simply. She put her arm around Ivan’s arm. “Stay and talk more with Tony or Mitch as long as you want.” Pulling him down the few inches and we saw her bring Ivan’s left earlobe in her mouth as she began working her charms on Ivan, who’s eyes widened a little and then let out some sounds as there were sensations shooting through him where I think his eyes would roll back in his head if she kept up. “It’s up to you.” She smiled kissing him lightly and ran her hand over his cheek and then turned to go.

Suddenly, Ivan said loud. “Katya!” He turned to us quickly. “Well, it was a great evening!” He was suddenly in a hurry. “We’ll do it again!” He almost was going to run after her, but now…his face took on a softer, more personal and sincere look as he walked over to Tony and me and brought us into a hug together. “My true, dear…good and now, best friends.” Now I got it. His tone was…it wasn’t just a greeting or something said when meeting or parting. He now felt we were his becoming good friends. True friends; becoming best friends. “We are. I truly feel we are.”

Tony’s arm went around me, but included Ivan. “We really are.” We watched as Ivan brought Katya to him as they walked toward the elevators. “Katya has him wrapped around her little finger.” Tony said to me.

I chuckled. “Of course, she does.” I agreed. “But what I also know. She really loves him and he most assuredly loves her!” I turned to Tony. “She knows what she wants. Ivan.” I grinned kissing Tony. “You know what I want.”

“You’ve got me wrapped around your finger.” Tony said quietly.

I smiled. “As you have with me. You know what I want from you right now.” I said pulling him toward the elevators to go to our cabin.

“Anything I have, you have it.” He said as I also led him to the elevators.


We arrived in Fremantle. I grinned at what I saw out our glass doors and the city. While there were no skyscrapers or anything, it was a city. It didn’t have the feel of a beach community, I didn’t see many buildings over five or six stories.

“I’m sure we’ll find something here you’d like.” I said to Tony as he came up behind me to see out, too.

Tony looked at me wanting to be fair, I could see it in his face. “I don’t really mind your fascination with nature, you know? I mostly joke around with you about that.”

I kissed him. “I know that.”

“Isn’t there a koala or kangaroo to see? I’m more than happy to do that with you.”

I nodded. “I know, but we did all that nature stuff in New Zealand, now we’re in Australia. We’ll do this…more city-like touring. It’s your turn.”

“Okay.” Tony shrugged a nod with a smile.


We showered and dressed, then went for Tony’s kawfee and breakfast. Then we went into Freemantle. It had…an almost New Orleans type of feel; even in appearance on one street, there was a building there that looked just like it on Bourbon Street! There were many arcticians here from musicians to art work. Paintings and sculptures were available to purchase, but soon we found what truly was almost Heaven on Earth for Tony. There were designers for clothes here! Not the Armani or Boss or whomever, this was a selection of locally designed, unique articles of clothing and I knew Tony wanted to go. I didn’t even have to ask him, I took him in a few stores. Then we made another delightful discovery on Wray Avenue and South Terrace…the Cappuccino Strip! I feared for only a second that Tony wouldn’t leave if he had their coffee. He really was in Heaven on Earth now, or viewed it like the Second Coming of Jesus Himself! He began grinning at the unique design stores, now he was smiling with delight as he began to decide which kawfee he was getting! I admit, the coffee was good, it rivaled Sir Samuels.

We sat together enjoying our coffees and eating something quickly at a sidewalk table covered with an umbrella to shade us from the direct sunlight. It was summer here.

“I invited Ivan to Charleston.” Tony grinned, suddenly told me.

“And you were worried I was going to be the one wanting to take them home?” I asked sipping my latte.

“Well…” he said looking sheepish, “he is a very busy man. He might not have the time.” Tony shrugged, “…and there’s no telling about the future for me…” His tone told me what he was afraid of.

I sat forward. “Listen to me.” I said gently, but firmly making him look me in the eye. “No one knows the future. We could go down in a plane crash going home! I was in a car accident that could have killed me New Years’ Eve. I survived. You were in those towers when the planes hit. No one knows what’s going to happen.” I reached over and took his hand, but emphasized each of the following words. “You do not throw in the towel!”

Tony chuckled and nodded. “Sorry.”

I brought him over and kissed him. “Don’t be sorry.” I said. “We promised to be honest and talk about what we feel about this. I know it plays on your mind. It does with me.”

Tony nodded. “I know there will be treatments…chemo and radiation. I’ll get sick during those treatments.”

“There are new treatments coming out all the time.” I said. “If it’s pre-cancer, it might not be that bad. If it is…we’ll just deal with it.” I bumped our foreheads together gently. “I’m in this with you. I’m not going away.” I kept his hand and sat back. “Depending on how intensely you go through this…you said you still want to keep working and going forward with our plans.”

Tony nodded. “Nothing changes.”

I grinned. “Inviting Ivan and Katya is a good thing. We even made future plans to sail on the Queen Mary again. That shows we’re pressing forward planning for a future.” Then I thought a change of subject was needed. “So, what did you and Ivan discuss at such length last night?”

Tony chuckled. “He really is a smart man.” He said appreciatively. “He understands that he’s making good money now, but he also understands that money should be put to work for the future.”

I gave a shrugging nod. “That’s good.” I smiled. “I don’t think it’s a secret…so I’ll tell you…Katya and Ivan are trying to start a family. A good financial background would secure the future for the family.”

Tony chuckled. “He told me.” He nodded. “We didn’t just talk investments. I think she had things well in hand for the baby making last night getting up back to their cabin.”

I grinned. “Don’t take this the wrong way…Ivan’s a handsome guy, but he’s so…BIG! He’d crush her!”

Tony laughed harder. “He told me a lot more than I asked about…let’s just say…she spends a lot of time…on top.” He waggled his eyebrows at me.

Gay or straight, guys love sex and more than willing to talk to other guys about it. Often times it was just bragging about their great sexual encounter and how good they were which often were lies, but… I had a little of my father’s views on talking about it so openly, but we all have sex or want to! Why not talk about it? Ivan was doing it, too and he was a friend, right?

I frowned a little. “We were together about three hours!? How’d that subject come up?”

Tony shrugged, but grinned. “It just did.”

“And what did you tell him about us?” I sort of demanded.

“That you also liked to be on top and top me.” Tony smiled and hurried on. “It was all good. I didn’t give any descriptions or anything. I simply told him you were very passionate. I didn’t tell him about your thing about my pheromones in my pubic hair or like that, but I also said I liked when you and I did very much.”

“That’s more than I tell David!” I groaned. “When he asked me, I didn’t even tell him if you were circumcised or not. I was thinking you were talking about investments, stock options and like that.”

“We did, but you and Katya were getting pretty chummy and well…” Tony said smiling, not ashamed of anything. “We just got around to it after he told me about this cruise and why. It was Ivan!”

I grimaced realizing… “I’m as bad as Dad.” I shook my head. “You’re right. We have sex, so why shouldn’t we talk about it?”

“That’s right.” Tony looked at me cautiously. “You’re not mad at me, are you?”

I smiled and shook my head. “Surprised, that’s all. Alan would bug me for details. I just didn’t talk about us. It’s fine. It’s fine.” I smiled. “It’s not like you told the whole ship, just Ivan.”

“The McKenzies are uneasy with what we all do. Mostly what we do.” Tony between us. “Ivan is not a McKenzie!” Tony nodded. “He told me Katya was an animal sometimes. He said she was a wildcat sometimes.” He grinned again. “I told Ivan, you were often an animal often, as well.” He leaned in kissing me…again…the kiss was pretty intense and we didn’t care one bit if we offended anyone who saw us do it. They weren’t involved with the kiss! “I told him I liked that.” Tony practically growled.

I stood up quickly. “We need to go back to the ship! Right now!” I nearly drug him back to the ship as Tony chuckled.


We had a pretty great afternoon! While Tony was napping, I pulled out our computer and did a web search. At last I found the website that had the Russian celebrity wrestlers on it. It didn’t take long for me to find the Raging Russian Bull! He was the draw for this sport…show…whatever. I was never really into the pro-wrestling shows or even the sport. The only thing to catch my eye was the men in skimpy outfits showing most of their physique. This site showed the elaborate ring and wrestlers in action. Great costumes and there were confrontations broadcasted. Seeing Ivan as the Raging Bull…well, he was a raging bull. I’d seen Ivan at the pool and I knew he was very muscular, but here…he must have pumped up his muscles right before, he was even bigger! There was even a scene where his angry face was distorted in rage and…I kid you not…the advertisement said who he was as the bull and I promise you, there was steam or smoke coming out of his nose and as he literally roared! A Raging Bull! I was having such a good time watching it; I didn’t even notice that Tony was now looking over my shoulder.

“We saw that a little the day Lottery Guy assaulted Katya.” He said smiling at the image as Ivan roared again and Ivan telling another wrestler…his opponent, he was going down! “If Lottery Guy had seen this before…”

“I bet Lottery Guy has a record.” I said. “He was clearly unbalanced and not smart.” I waved at the screen. “Ivan is pretty terrifying here.” I closed the computer. “But we got to know and befriended Ivan. Not any raging bull.”

Tony kissed me. “That is why he’s our friend. We see him as a human being.” He grinned. “Alik will be insane when he hears the Raging Bull might come to our house.” He chuckled. “I was going to see if Ivan would want to invest in the future restaurant for Sasha with us. He needs to meet Sasha.”

“I think Alik and Sasha will have a hard time going to bed that when we tell them.”

Copyright © 2017 R. Eric; All Rights Reserved.
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Great read , very much enjoying their journey.

One small slip up; not even the Queen Mary could get from Brisbane to Fremantle overnight, 5 to 7 nights yes, overnight, no way!

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19 minutes ago, Canuk said:

Great read , very much enjoying their journey.

One small slip up; not even the Queen Mary could get from Brisbane to Fremantle overnight, 5 to 7 nights yes, overnight, no way!

Actually, our history we arrived in Brisbane February the 11 in reality and in Fremantle the 12th.  You're right.  It was May the 12th.  Sorry.

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Another great chapter. I think the friendship that has arisen between Tony and Mitch and Ivan and Katya is going to continue to grow and become a stronger one. I hope that Tony will be able to invest money for Ivan and Katya, I think the first investment will be for the translator device, the second one will be for Sasha's restaurant. I have a feeling that the baby making between Ivan and Katya is going to be successful and they'll find out before the cruise is over. I can't wait to see if Ivan and Katya will come to Charleston to meet Sasha and Alik as well as David. I'm enjoying this story very much and hoping that the next chapter or two are only a few days away. :worship:


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For a while I thought this would be a ‘shipboard affair’ and we’d never really hear about Ivan & Katya after the trip, but it sounds like they’ve become part of the MacKenzie-Del Vecchio family!  ;-)

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2 hours ago, Canuk said:

Great read , very much enjoying their journey.

One small slip up; not even the Queen Mary could get from Brisbane to Fremantle overnight, 5 to 7 nights yes, overnight, no way!

Maybe they were on the spaceship Queen Mary, the sister ship to the Titanic from the Doctor Who Season 4 episode! (The one that featured the actor who played ‘Richard Bucket’ from Keeping Up Appearances.)

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I like Ivan and Katia a lot! I am hopeful there will be a "reunion" of the two couples after the cruise. Thanks for this most enjoyable chapter.

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5 hours ago, droughtquake said:

Maybe they were on the spaceship Queen Mary, the sister ship to the Titanic from the Doctor Who Season 4 episode! (The one that featured the actor who played ‘Richard Bucket’ from Keeping Up Appearances.)

It was a slip.  I combined three trips we really did go on and I got lost in the story myself.  They were separate trips.  I'm getting old.  I'll call it a senior moment, but the story was done about Fremantle.  Too late to change it now.

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On 9/13/2018 at 10:37 AM, Will Hawkins said:

There were many arcticians - There were many artisans

Are those people from the Arctic – you know, like Canadians, North Dakotans, Norwegians, and Finns?  ;–)

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