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    sojourn
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Change of Heart - 22. Chapter twenty-two

I have decided, thanks to some posted comments, to write what I feel as I write it. I don't pretend to be a great writer. I am certainly not one who enjoys posting something that supports concepts I don't really endorse in my own life. Perhaps, I will someday edit it to make it more generically appealing. Until then, I hope you enjoy my efforts and "like" and post your "comments"

Jim

When Daniel's alarm chirped he sat up, wide awake. He was never one to ease into the day. He went from a sound sleep to full alert in an instant. He completed his morning ablutions and dressed in nice slacks and a button-down shirt. Daniel donned black boots, a matching belt with a black leather blazer and decided he looked better than usual.

He was mildly surprised to find both his parents at the kitchen table having coffee. His Dad greeted him while his Mother smiled warmly and placed a mug of coffee at his usual place.

“Thanks, Mom, why are y'all up so early? I figured you'd want to sleep in. I was gonna grab some gas station coffee on my way out to the Adams’.”

His Dad chuckled, “You haven't let us sleep in on Christmas morning since you was knee-high to a grasshopper. This is just like old times, except I didn't spend all last night putting your toys together. I don’t recall a Christmas morning that I didn't feel wore out and half asleep. We just figured if we was gonna have some time with you today, it’d most likely be this morning. Besides, your Mother would be fretting all day if she let you get away without feeding you. Plus she has to get some stuff fixed before we go to share Christmas dinner with Fred and Betty.”

Like all his Christmas memories, outside those spent in the Corps, he shared food and memories with his family. Before he could head out, his mother presented him with his Christmas present, a hand-stitched king sized quilt. He had received several quilts his Mother made him through the years, but none compared to this. It was navy blue with silver moons and stars with a silver border. If there had been swirls it would have reminded him of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”. The backside was the same design except it had a deep maroon background with silver moons and stars. He had been around his Mother’s quilting friends enough that he knew to check the stitching for that too perfect pattern that denoted machine quilting. What he saw was fine quality, but definitely, hand stitching. The quilt was made up of countless small blocks, hand stitched together. Daniel was really touched by all the work and love that went into this piece of art. After effusively praising his Mother’s gift he added, “Mom, I don't know yet if I’m gonna use it, store it in my cedar chest or hang it on my wall.” He pulled his Mom in close and kissed the side of her head.

“Oh, for goodness sake, Daniel. I Suwannee if you ain't as bad as your Daddy. He wanted to hang it on the wall in the den. Betty says I should've entered it in competition. She insists it’s my best work. I insist you use it. Your cedar chest is good for summer storage. But I think it's a waste of a good quilt to see them hanging on a wall. No award could ever come close to the joy I feel right now, seeing how much you really like it. To think this quilt can bring you and yours some warmth and comfort long after I’m gone, means so much more to me than any silly award ever could”. Daniel made a mental note to talk to Betty about those competitions. “Merry Christmas, son.”

His Father’s gift for him was a new soft carry pouch for his hunting rifles. It had been monogrammed with his full name. It had patches showing his Eagle Scout award, the Marine Corps emblem as well a Staff Sergeant patch, the county Sheriff’s personal patch. “I knew your old sleeve was the one I gave you for your first rifle. I remembered you said the zipper broke back in the fall. I got your Mother to stitch that Sheriff’s patch on just yesterday.” With a wink, he added, “Don’t ask me how I got it, you might have to arrest me…” His father smiled knowingly. “I figured you needed one and knowing how you’d just keep using the old one till it fell apart… well, I reckoned this would be a good a time as any. Merry Christmas, Danny Boy.”

His Mother moved to clear the table and his Dad went back to sipping his coffee. Daniel withdrew an envelope from his jacket pocket. “Mom, Dad, I figure you two deserve a little vacation. I don't think you two have been away together since I left for boot camp. I got you a weeks stay at a nice bed and breakfast down in Galveston. One of the owners is a friend of a friend, Wylie Keyes, he set me up with some passes for stuff you should both enjoy. Dad, I got you a private charter blue water, deep sea fishing. You can take up to five or just go by yourself.” Daniel suddenly felt like an announcer on a tv game show. “Mom you're set up for a day spa visit. Then a trip to a beauty salon that does a custom makeover. Wylie says they'll make you look ten years younger. For the two of you, he’s arranged for a night on the town. You’ll be chauffeured to dinner at an exclusive restaurant followed by a special evening he promised you won't soon forget. The details will be provided once you make your reservations for his BnB. Oh, and he said if you want to invite another couple along, he would be glad to give them a special rate and arrange similar amenities also at a discounted rate. I thought you might want to invite Fred and Aunt Betty. So I asked, just in case.”

His Dad looked concerned, “Son, all this has to cost an arm and a leg. We can't let you do this. You’ll be years paying for this one week that you won't even experience. No. We won't accept this. It's wonderful you thought enough of us to want to set this up. We couldn't enjoy this knowing how much it costs you.”

Daniel wasn't really surprised. When he saw his Mother nodding in agreement, he pulled out the big guns. “It's non-refundable and non-transferable. I already paid for it. There is nothing left to be paid on except if Fred and Aunt Betty go. The BnB, the fishing, the spa, even the dinner and the limo… except for tips. It's all been paid for. I have been planning this for almost a year. My credit cards have a near zero balance. So, if you refuse to go, that's up to you. Just know I got a really good deal and you two deserve a lot more. Please, just accept it.”

Daniel’s Father's gaze met his Mother’s. There may have been subtle cues that he missed, but moments later, his Father spoke, “Son, we have never doubted your love for us. Personally, I can't wait to see what I can catch in the gulf and get mounted for the den amongst the trophy bucks. We thank you Son, and Merry Christmas.”

It was a quarter to six by the time Daniel texted Raymond that he was on his way. His Mother insisted he take a thermos of coffee and a bag full of her pecan cinnamon rolls. She rarely made them, but they were a guaranteed Christmas staple. His mouth was watering at the thought of their spicy, sugary sweet, melt in your mouth, goodness. She had made him promise to wait and share with his “friend”. He pressed the accelerator a little harder. His phone rang displaying Raymond's name. Daniel answered through his truck radio. “Hey, there, you get my text?”

Raymond chuckled, “I was wet and naked when you texted. I’m only naked now.”

Daniel gasped as an image of Raymond's massive, dripping cock filled his brain. He adjusted himself to allow his suddenly trapped cock to swell without major discomfort. “You think you could just stand in that spot like you are until I get there?”

“I don't think anyone else is awake to let you in. Uncle Joe probably wouldn't object but I don't want to upset Aunt Mellie. Besides, the security team hasn't seen me without my clothes, they might apprehend me and insist on a full body cavity search. Besides, I’d rather wait until you’re ready and then we can practice on each other.”

“Well, I don't want you walking around naked and risk some guy thinking Santa is real and you're his present. I’m the only one who’ll be probing your cavities from now on, except the dentist.” Daniel winced at his own bold declaration. He could feel the flush of embarrassment heat his face. Their past encounters hadn't even broached the idea that Raymond would bottom for him.

There was a pregnant pause. Then Raymond responded, “I like that notion, as long as it goes both ways, Lawman. I don't like to think of you in those Dallas clubs, without me, looking for what you can easily get right here at home.”

Daniel wasn't certain, but it sounded like some level of commitment had been hinted at from both sides. They definitely needed to talk. “My Mother sent a bunch of her fantastic cinnamon rolls and some fresh coffee. Why don't you get dressed and open the door for me when I text you from the drive. Oh, and bring a travel mug. The coffee is strong with cream, no sugar. How do you take yours?”

“I prefer cream in my coffee, but, to be hospitable I can drink it black or sugary sweet. I am not fond of small cups or demitasse. I enjoy espresso, just in larger amounts than my nervous system can tolerate. So, I usually stick to regular coffee. My favorite coffee is what I make at home using my French press. I have had so much bad coffee, I could probably drink strained horse piss with a little cream and sugar and not complain.”

“I look forward to you making me a cup of good coffee. But, if it's all the same, I’ll pass on the horse piss, even strained.

“How about you meet me at the door with your travel mug and we can go look at your new ranch. That way we won't wake anybody. I got coffee, pastries and all day to spend with you… That is, uh, if you, I mean, uh, you don't have to spend all day with me.”

“Daniel I can think of nothing I would rather do with my Christmas than spend it with you. We do need to be back here in time to open gifts. I have asked both Paul and Jeff to text me, once they're on their way. That should give us enough time to hotfoot it back here before our Princess can tear into her Christmas bounty.”

“I have a feeling that little girl is going to be spoiled rotten. Jeff has a heart as big as Texas and his Uncle Joe and Aunt Mellie are right there with him.”

“I have seen some very rich, very spoiled brats in my day, Maria is definitely not going to be one of them. Her personality is so sweet, so loving, she could never be like some of those self-entitled, obnoxious bastards and bitches, I went to school with. When they found out I wasn't rich, most looked at me like they had just stepped in shit for the first time. Of course, not all were like that. Thankfully I soon learned to tell who the good guys were. Those, the good ones, I still call my friends today. I know they will like you right off the bat. They appreciate genuineness more than a man's bank balance.

“Maria is a special little girl. I’ve only seen her occasionally over the last couple of years, but she is one kid you can't easily forget. I pity any fool that breaks her heart. There’ll be a passel of cowboys waiting in line to break his bones.” Raymond chuckled, then added, “I just hope it isn't in kindergarten or first grade.”

An image of big strong cowboys encircling a terrified little boy flashed through Daniel's Imagination. It was not a feel-good image. Trouble was, he wasn't totally convinced Raymond was joking about breaking bones. He was sure he was joking about beating up a kindergartner… He was, wasn't he?

The discussion continued until Daniel pulled into the drive. Raymond told him to park beside the four-car garage. Raymond walked up to the garage dressed in boots, jeans and a tan Levi's cowboy shirt with snaps instead of buttons. His distressed leather jacket looked as comfortable and well fitted as the rest of his apparel. Daniel slowly looked him up and down and hungrily licked his lips just as he met Raymond's gaze.

“I might be overdressed. It never occurred to me to ask.” Daniel offered as he climbed out of his pickup.

Raymond had witnessed Daniel's casual perusal. That gave him license to carefully scrutinize the handsome hunk before him. Except his vision wanted to stop at the obvious trouser snake flexed alongside his left leg. He coughed lightly. “In my opinion, you are definitely overdressed. Everybody may not necessarily want you naked, at least I hope not. But, as a guest for Christmas dinner, you are dressed like I, and every other male guest. I’m not sure what we’ll find at the ranch so I figured boots and jeans were appropriate. I’ll try to make sure you don't get too dirty.”

Raymond almost choked on his own tongue as Daniel turned away and stretched across the front seat of his truck. Upright again Daniel displayed the coffee and cinnamon rolls. “I’m ready for that ride you promised me.”

Raymond bit his tongue to keep from addressing the double entendre. Instead, he just said, “Now’s the time, Lawman”.

“By the way, I like the way you look out of uniform. You clean up well. I think you should consider something like this for your everyday office wear. The lack of a uniform would set you apart and above the members of your staff. They're used to seeing you as one of them. This would send a subtle but clear message that things have changed. You're no longer Deputy Danny Lovan, you are now Sheriff Daniel Lovan. They need to realize that there is literally a new Sheriff in town.

“You should expect some resentment and some friction among your Deputies. I have been the peer who’s suddenly promoted above everybody else, several times. It has alienated people I considered to be at least potential friends. If in doubt, react firmly. You can always lighten up later. But, if you let anyone walk on you, you’ll soon become everyone's doormat. When you sense disrespect, insubordination or a lack of professionalism, nip it in the bud. I promise, it will pay off in the long run and you'll be rewarded with a more cohesive, more efficient, more professional staff. Don't look for friends at work, look for professionals and you’ll never be disappointed.”

Raymond was suddenly aware that Daniel was grinning at him. He realized he had been pontificating as if briefing a new, younger, member of management. He had talked down to Daniel before and had almost lost him forever. He stuttered trying to get out an apology before Daniel decided to walk away for good. “Sorry! sorry! I’m sorry! I didn't mean to talk to you like you worked for me. I’m sorry. I’ve got every confidence that you will do well, on your own, as Sheriff.”

Daniel, still smiling, set his goodies on the hood of his truck. He turned back to Raymond. “You know, you look so needy right now. You're not the hot shot lawyer or the fancy business executive. You're like a little boy on the playground afraid of being chosen last by either of the team captains.” Daniel stepped forward and took Raymond's face in his hands, “Scared little boy or big, important man, I’ll always choose you first.”

As their lips met Raymond wrapped his arms around Daniel, mindful of his own travel mug full of coffee. Tongues touched, caressed and tasted. In his effort to increase the intimacy and to pull his lover closer Raymond dropped the travel mug. When the stainless steel mug struck the concrete floor, Daniel broke the kiss and jumped back, instantly scanning the garage.

A disappointed Raymond retrieved his mug. “It was my fault. It slipped out of my hand. No worries though, it's spill proof.”

Daniel took a deep breath, “It's probably a good thing. I don't think either of us wants to be caught naked in anyone's garage on Christmas morning.” Another deep breath, “How about, we have a look at your Tesla.”

Daniel was surprised when the driver's side door opened as they approached. Raymond, recognizing the unasked question offered, “It senses the key fob in my pocket.” He pulled out the fob and opened both falcon wing doors. At 6’4” Daniel was duly impressed with the ease of entry into the second and third-row seats. Raymond disconnected the charging cable and they set off. He had seen YouTube videos but was still impressed that the seats and interior had been preheating while Raymond was making coffee. The eerie quiet made Daniel feel like they should be parked with the engine shut off instead of driving at almost 30 mph.

Once they were on the farm-to-market highway, He stopped the vehicle. Raymond chuckled as he made a few selections on the touchscreen. Daniel watched as the screen displayed a Star Trek-like “warp speed” simulation, complete with distorting starlight. With a shit eating grin, Raymond asked, “You ready to be impressed”?

Daniel had driven powerful cars before and competed in a few drag races. He had seen the videos, but nothing prepared him for the sudden launch of this rocket ship. “Holy Shit!” By the time he had shared that expletive they were approaching 80 mph. Raymond kept his foot in it until they passed 120 mph. He shamelessly bragged that It could do 0-60 mph in 2.6 seconds, a quarter mile time of 10.6 seconds and had a top speed of 155 mph. They discussed enhanced autopilot and self-driving capabilities. Raymond insisted it was the fastest and safest SUV in production. He used the rest of the ride to acquaint Daniel with the controls and features.

Daniel recognized the large wood frame house to be the style preferred when cotton sales brought big money into the area during and just after WWI. Unlike most, this one had a dormered roof with four curtained windows, indicating a more spacious living space on the second floor. Broad bricked steps bordered by iron handrails embedded in brick pedestals led to a deep front porch. The upper pedestals of the steps supported wood columns, those matched the other columns supporting the porch roof. The porch itself was tongue and groove flooring painted dark grey, while the tongue and groove ceiling was painted a light shade of blue. The furniture implied that people were expected to gather and socialize here. There gliders on either end of the porch, facing each other. There were rockers and benches and something Raymond would later identify as a “joggling board” that had come from Charleston, SC. Along with an antebellum bride as well as the “haint blue” ceiling. Daniel decided the overall impression was one of strength, permanence, and welcome. The fact that someone had left the porch lights on only enhanced the idea that he felt “welcomed”. He liked this house immensely and hadn't even been inside.

While Daniel had been admiring the porch, Raymond had been reading a note left in an envelope stuck between the double screen doors.

Even after having read the letter from Bill Slidesdale twice, Raymond stood unmoving. He felt Daniel's hand on his shoulder and flinched in surprise. Raymond snapped out of his reverie. He wanted to leave now and forego any further pain and disappointment. He hated the feeling he had felt when he realized his Father wasn't waiting in the drive. Then he wasn't on the porch. Just like he wouldn't be waiting in the house or on the sleeping porch or in the barn or stables or anywhere ever again. He recalled too clearly the pain of a young boy losing his hero, his mentor, his father. It was like he was waiting to attend the funeral all over again.

As Daniel looked on, a single tear slithered slowly down Raymond's cheek. Daniel pulled him into a comforting embrace, “I can't imagine how painful this is for you. Coming back here, for the first time, after all these years, it must be hell. You lost so much here. We don't have to be here right now. We can go spend the day together. We can have Christmas dinner with your family and come back here another day. I’ll come with you anytime you say. Come on, I’ll drive back.”

Raymond squeezed Daniel tighter, to make sure he couldn't get away, and stared him in the eyes. “I see your real motivation. You aren't really worried about me at all.” Raymond paused and began nibbling on Daniel's neck, even as his lover stiffened in his arms.

Daniel was pissed! To have Raymond accuse him of faking his concern was a slap in the face to his integrity. He was already mentally scrolling through his contacts to get a ride back to his truck.

Raymond whispered in his ear, “You’re ready to head back because it's your turn to pilot Chiron. Going fast makes your big old cock hard and you like that don't ya Lawman? You're probably thinking you could whip out your manroot and I would gladly suck out your sap, while you fly down the highway faster than a bat out of hell.”

Daniel was torn between being highly pissed and desperately aroused. When Raymond licked from the base of his neck to his earlobe and began biting and sucking, Daniel couldn't believe he had ever been upset with this god of a man who brought such sensual delight. At this moment he just needed to twist around Raymond's leg to get a little more friction when he humped…

A stranger cleared his throat. “I hate to interrupt, but I figure, if ya’ll are like me and Runt, it’d take god hisself to separate y’all in another minute or two.”

Daniel broke the embrace, moved to shield Raymond from this threat and went to draw his gun only to realize he was unarmed. Nevertheless, he challenged, “Who are you and what are you doing here? This is private property.”

“Deputy, you don't remember me, name’s Larry Saunders.” The lanky six-footer stepped onto the porch and offered his hand to Daniel with a welcoming smile. Daniel, noting the man appeared to be also unarmed, warily clasped the stranger's hand, at the same time mentally checking his features against the last wanted posters he had reviewed. Mid-thirties, brown shaggy hair. Worn, typical cowboy attire, including an equally worn cowboy hat. No distinguishing scars or tattoos visible. Still smiling he continued, “You stopped me four or five months ago for no working tail light. Then you and me learned I had an expired driver's license and no proof of insurance. I was in a world of shit. We talked a bit and you let me go with a promise that I would fix the tail light, renew my license and keep that insurance card in the truck. I done all that I said I would and I ain't never, in my life, forgot a debt I owed. I ain't never been in trouble with the law. Howsomeever, I been around enough fellars who have, to know that most cops would've laughed at me, had my truck towed and hauled me off to jail.”

Turning to face Raymond, “Mr. Cargill, I can't tell how it pleased me and Runt was to learn you bought your Daddy's place back. You most likely don't remember me, but you might remember Runt. Me and Runt was two years behind you in school. You saved Runt from getting hurt bad by a couple of them Crowder boys, after school one day. Runt told me they had him cornered in that alley behind Johnson’s grocery store. They tried to make him suck their cocks and when he refused they laid into him. About that time, here you come screaming down the alley. Runt says you was like an avenging angel. You was a junior, me and Runt was both ninth-graders, but them Crowder boys was both seniors and either one bigger than you. They was cousins, and thicker than thieves. Which they both turned out be. Anyway, when you got through with ‘em they was both bruised, bloodied and bout knocked senseless. When Runt told you what they’d said and done, you jus’ asked if he wanted one or both of them to suck his cock. When one of them said he wasn't about to suck no cock, cause he wasn't queer, Runt says you just slapped him upside his head like a Momma would what heard her youngin talkin filthy. Hear him tell it, you asked him agin to pick one or both to give him a blowjob. Runt says he was scared they might've bit off his pecker, so he jes shook his head, thanked you a ho bunch and took off like a scalded dog. Runt don't talk much, but when he tells that tale, I pert near bust a gut ever damn time.” The broad grin made it clear that Larry himself got a kick out telling the tale.

Larry’s face grew a little more serious. Raymond would eventually realize that Larry always wore a smile just waiting to bust out. If things were less than intolerable Larry would, most likely, be smiling. It was like Larry had just heard a humorous story… all the time. Raymond would come to appreciate that quality more than having money in his pocket.

Larry swallowed. “Mr. Cargill, me and Runt don't have no family except us. We been here since we got out of school. We don't own much. We could clear out with less than a day’s notice. Still, Mr. Slidesdale did say he would give you a good reference about us. I don't want to… I mean… uh… well, sir…”

Raymond put the man out of his misery. “Larry, Bill said you were both good men, hard workers, and damned fine cowboys. Right now, I’m gonna need a couple of hands. So, how about you and Runt hang around with a twenty percent raise, effective immediately. There’ll be some changes, but none that won't include you two.”

Daniel could see the relief wash over Larry like a tsunami. His brown eyes glistened with tears as he pumped Raymond's hand like an old-timey Southern politician who just received a very large campaign contribution. “Thank you, Mr. Cargill, sir. I can't wait to tell Runt. I try to not wake him anytime I get out of bed. He says he can always tell cause the bed gets colder right away. We was planning on sleeping in this morning. Except I had to piss real bad and Molly, our cow dog, was acting all antsy, so I figured I’d have a look see. That's when I saw the strange car and figured it was you.” Larry finally realized he had been shaking Raymond's hand the whole time. He dropped it like it suddenly burned him. “Sorry. I better let you gentlemen get on with your day.” He started backing up but stopped when he backed into the porch railing. He turned and jumped off the porch like a teenager. As he ran around the corner of the house Daniel noticed a blue heeler giving him and the porch a wide berth as she followed her master behind the house. That, he figured was Molly. From somewhere behind the house they heard Larry yell out exuberantly, “WAKE UP RUNT! IT’S GONNA BE A MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS AFTER ALL!”

Both men chuckled at Larry’s unbridled enthusiasm. Raymond observed, “You know, Larry talks like old cowboys I remember listening to in the nursing home. My mother and the preacher would make me go with them when he’d preach there. I liked hearing the stories they’d tell rather than the bullshit he spouted.”

Raymond opened the big double doors and beckoned Daniel, “Welcome to my new old home. As Larry might say, ‘make yourself to home’. If I have my way, you'll be spending a lot of time here.”

The entryway was actually a massive hall, running the length of the house, with a twelve-foot ceiling. The first rooms on either side were accessed through pocket doors. At the opposite end of the hall was another set of double doors, just not as ornate as the stained glass panels in the front. There were benches, hat and coat racks at both ends as well as side tables interspersed along the walls. There was a very large, full-length mirror near the front door. Daniel figured that was so the lady of the house could have checked her bustles just before setting out.

Raymond pointed out the rooms as they passed the opened doors. He noted all had some furniture missing and at least one room was completely bare. The master bedroom seemed to be the only room untouched. Raymond pointed out that the Slidesdales had every intention of clearing it out, but when they knew Raymond was to be the new owner, they left it as they found it. He pointed out the massive, four-poster, rice bed with a ‘tatted lace’ canopy. The matching, hand carved, furniture included a huge armoire that barely cleared the ceiling. “The furniture in this room supposedly came from the same plantation as the joggling board. Traditionally, the bedroom ceilings have all been painted that light, “haint” blue.

The ensuite was up to date, complete with a multi-head, walk-in shower large enough for four. The fixtures had a style reminiscent of the 1920’s including a gigantic claw foot tub. Daniel observed, “Damn! Does that thing come with life preservers?”

Back in the hallway, Raymond pointed out the living room, library/den, dining room, three other bedrooms and a recently renovated kitchen. Through the back doors, they stepped onto what Raymond called the “sleeping porch’. The three outside walls each had their lower half finished in wood, while the upper half was screened. “Daddy told me that when he was a kid, his family would rent a beach house each summer. He used to love falling asleep on the screened in back porch, listening to the ocean. Before central air conditioning, folks sleeping on a screened in porch was a common practice around these parts. Daddy set up a couple of cots and he and I spent many nights out here. If a storm came up I’d get in bed with him and hide my head under the covers. He always smelled of sweat and Old Spice. He never had an offensive body odor. I tried to use Old Spice when I got older, but it didn't smell the same. I think they must have changed the formula.

“The summer I turned eleven just before he, uh. Anyway, this is where I had my first wet dream. I remember thinking, I must have broken pecker cause as I awoke it felt so hard and started gushing into my jockeys. I was crying, embarrassed and scared shitless. I woke Daddy up and he got me calmed down and told me I was growing up. He took me to the bathroom and cleaned me up and I remember it getting hard. Daddy just laughed and told me I was gonna be impressive once I was full grown. He put me to bed with him and I fell asleep listening to him tell me about my changing body, and that my pecker was going to become my favorite toy. It wasn't long after that he died”.

Daniel wasn't sure how to respond, part of him wanted to laugh and part wanted to share his lover’s pain. He compromised by simply rubbing Raymond's back in a consoling gesture. Raymond's smile told him it was the right choice.

Raymond took a deep breath. “You know, I was more excited about spending time alone with you than I was at seeing this place again. I don't think it was a good idea trying to combine the two.”

“It's cold out here. Why don't we go back inside where it's less chilly.” Daniel led Raymond back into the kitchen. “Take a seat and I’ll go get the coffee and the cinnamon rolls.”

Minutes later Raymond was praising the pastries as he began to eat his third. “My team assures me both houses are in really good condition. The newer, smaller house is move-in ready. I can get a decorator out of Dallas and move in there by the first of the year. This one needs a couple of floor joists replaced under the guest bath. Which means no running water for a couple of days. I may stay in the smaller house and have this one renovated. I plan on getting this set up so two bedrooms share a bath and the third has direct access to the guest bath. I want the upstairs expanded into a small apartment.

“There's something you should know about me. Daniel, I've been in contact with a friend in Arkansas. She...” The look of shock on Daniel's face made Raymond rush through his explanation. “No! No! She's not that kind of friend. Mary’s a doctor, a pediatrician. She has set me up with a surrogate mother. I, I want to have children. I don't see gay couples being favored with adoption in Texas anytime soon. And I, I’m ready to start a family of my own.

“Arkansas recognizes surrogacy contracts. Mary has set me up with a candidate who is already a mother of two. She has been thoroughly screened psychologically and has had every conceivable medical test and examination possible. Her genetic history is sound and we have Skyped enough for me to know I like her personality and how she deals with her family. I have spoken to her husband and he seems to be fine with the plan. He has a gay brother and hopes that when the time comes that, if not Mary, then some woman will give him a child. I fly out on Tuesday and will be back on Wednesday night. If all goes well, in about nine months I will be a father.

“Obviously, this has been in development for a while before we got reacquainted. I always wanted a family. I figured I would find a man, and we would either adopt or become foster parents, probably in a more liberal environment. As I explained, long-term relationships have eluded me. I decided being a single parent is a challenge I’m ready to meet. I was further encouraged by how well Paul has done with Maria. I’m even more confident now that I will have my extended family so close.

Daniel, you need to know that if things, uh, that is, if we get more involved there will be an infant in the picture before too long. “They can be loud, stinky, demanding, selfish and ungrateful. They can spoil the most intense, intimate moment with a sneeze. I know this because I have taken several parenting courses and never pass up an opportunity to talk to parents of infants and toddlers. This is not an impulsive decision. I have already talked to Aunt Mellie and her cook and housekeeper Rosa about finding a local woman as a live-in cook/nanny/housekeeper. That's who the apartment upstairs is going to be for.”

Raymond laughed at Daniel's expression. “Relax! I’m not asking you to help raise my children. I just want to be open and honest about my life. Right now, I just want to get to know you. I can understand if my life goals don’t mesh with yours. If you need to step back and put us on a more casual footing, I can understand.

“Daniel, you’re almost ten years younger than I. You are, and rightfully so, focused on your career. I worked hard to achieve my professional goals. I have a challenging and rewarding position, far exceeding my expectations. I see myself heading the Adams Family Trust until I retire.

“I don't know that I was ready to be someone’s Daddy ten years ago, but I know I am now. I hope you decide to hang around and get to know me better. If you need time or if this is more than you bargained for… I can take you back to Uncle Joe's, we can hang out there, have Christmas dinner and still be friendly, professional acquaintances.” Raymond's eyes hungrily searched Daniel's face for any clue as to what he was thinking.

Daniel felt gobsmacked! He had expected to see the house and maybe, just maybe one of them would make use of the lube and condoms in his pocket. But this! Raymond becoming a Daddy! What did this mean for them? Could he see himself in a long-term relationship with Raymond… raising kids? Could he see himself coaching little league or attending ballet recitals?

Raymond gave up on trying to read Daniel's expressions. ‘Patience, Patience’, he thought to himself. ‘He rode here with me. He can't just walk back to town. He has to talk to me... eventually.’ Raymond resigned himself to enjoying the good coffee and damn good cinnamon rolls. They might be the highlight of his Christmas Day. He focused on meeting the mother of his child at the fertility clinic. He refused to think about Daniel not being part of his life.

After what seemed like a lifetime of staring at his coffee mug, Daniel meet Raymond's fearful gaze. “I hope you know, this doesn't mean I’m going to call you ‘Daddy’ when we have sex.”

Raymond's smile was like the sun coming out from behind a dark cloud after a summer storm. To Daniel, it made everything fresh and clean and new. “I think we should take a closer look at that rice bed. Then we could maybe talk about baby names. Unless you’ve already chosen them. In either case, I think I could get used to being called ‘Uncle Danny’.”

As they headed toward the bedroom Raymond became convinced that there was a greater likelihood of Daniel being called ‘Daddy’ than ‘Uncle’.

Oh well. I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Let me know by your "likes" and "comments".

Jim

Copyright © 2017 sojourn; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Chapter Comments



Another great chapter (of course I'm partial to Raymond and Danny!), things are definitely moving quickly for the guys. I'm looking forward to more soon. 

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Raymond surprised Danny and Danny's slightly delayed comeback about not calling him Daddy was priceless!

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2 hours ago, Wesley8890 said:

God I love teslas! Raymond surprised me with the surrogacy. I loved the interaction with Daniel and his parents. This a great chapter

Thank you so much! I was tempted to let time rather than events drive this chapter.

I am so glad and grateful you took the time to post your comments.

Jim

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2 hours ago, jtpawlik said:

I absolutely love this story. I hope that it goes on for many many more chapters!

With encouragement such as yours, it will definitely go on for some time.

Thanks for posting your comments.

Jim

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1 hour ago, phoenix_0826 said:

Another great chapter (of course I'm partial to Raymond and Danny!), things are definitely moving quickly for the guys. I'm looking forward to more soon. 

After all, what did you expect from Daniel? He couldn't very well walk back to Joe's place, he's the Sheriff now you know.😜

Thanks for posting your comments, they keep me motivated.

Jim

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10 minutes ago, Daddydavek said:

Raymond surprised Danny and Danny's slightly delayed comeback about not calling him Daddy was priceless!

It's feels good to hear positive comments regarding the characters dialogue. Thanks for posting your comments. They are always interesting although occasionally they do get my goat.

Jim

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 I love the exchanging of presents with Danny's family. It wasn't the gifts exchanged, but the heartfelt words. A wonderful blessing to have a loving family. 
 Danny seems to have had enough play time in his life. Accept everything Raymond is offering you and don't look back. 
 Raymond is the perfect choice for a life partner. He has already achieved business success, played the field. Now all he wants is the Holy Grail.. A family and someone to grow old with. 

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So enjoyed this chapter; I really liked how Daniel and his family handled their Christmas morning; the way it should be in my opinion when there are not small children involved.  The rest was good as well; I can actually see Daniel as a father more than Raymond.  Raymond just never gave off that vibe to me; will have to go back and reread his chapters...  Good job as usual.

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I enjoyed this time with Daniel and Raymond. The "won't call you daddy" line was hysterical! I am really enjoying this story you've created. More good writing! Thanks. Jeff

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1 hour ago, BlindAmbition said:

 I love the exchanging of presents with Danny's family. It wasn't the gifts exchanged, but the heartfelt words. A wonderful blessing to have a loving family. 
 Danny seems to have had enough play time in his life. Accept everything Raymond is offering you and don't look back. 
 Raymond is the perfect choice for a life partner. He has already achieved business success, played the field. Now all he wants is the Holy Grail.. A family and someone to grow old with. 

I think Raymond is exactly where he wants to be and he, very much, wants Daniel to be there with him.

Thanks for posting your comments.

Jim

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52 minutes ago, centexhairysub said:

So enjoyed this chapter; I really liked how Daniel and his family handled their Christmas morning; the way it should be in my opinion when there are not small children involved.  The rest was good as well; I can actually see Daniel as a father more than Raymond.  Raymond just never gave off that vibe to me; will have to go back and reread his chapters...  Good job as usual.

Raymond keeps his cards close to his vest. Like most men he would rather always appear strong. He equates openness with vulnerability and weakness. Not that's bad, just typically male. In the next couple of chapters Raymond will get to shine like a new penny. So if you don't find what your looking for in past chapters, keep reading as new ones are written/posted. I have plans for Raymond.

Thanks for posting your comments. 

Jim

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58 minutes ago, JeffreyL said:

I enjoyed this time with Daniel and Raymond. The "won't call you daddy" line was hysterical! I am really enjoying this story you've created. More good writing! Thanks. Jeff

Jeff, I sometimes think it a disappointment that my story moves so slowly. Then, I read posts like yours and I am reinvigorated.

Thanks for your consistently positive comments.

Jim

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37 minutes ago, Hlasota said:

The best chapter so far imho.

WOW!

If you knew how close I came to keeping only a small portion of this post. I considered, just before posting, cutting everything except driving to the house and the walk through, leading to the bedroom and sex. No parents, no Tesla, no Larry, no childhood memories, no baby for Raymond... just look at the house and have sex then back to Joe's. All to be cut because I felt the story should move faster through time. I was going to put Christmas to rest with this chapter. Now, I am definitely glad I didn't.

 

An especially big thank you for your comment.

Jim

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Loved this chapter! I loved the interactions between fathers and sons. I  really loved how those relationships lead into, and brought full circle ( and possible influences) into a discussion of family and fatherhood. With these great role models/relationships , any man would feel more intuited to emulating their father to a new generation. Does the rest of the Adams family know Raymond's decision yet? These guys could be butt ass broke and I would still be honored to be reincarnated as their son as I know that I would never lack for being loved. Speaking of loved. You can tell how much love you have for these characters. I was once told that there is family you are borne into, and family you make over your life. Through this medium your "family " has become ours. Thank you. -Brian 

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10 minutes ago, Tazzle001 said:

Loved this chapter! I loved the interactions between fathers and sons. I  really loved how those relationships lead into, and brought full circle ( and possible influences) into a discussion of family and fatherhood. With these great role models/relationships , any man would feel more intuited to emulating their father to a new generation. Does the rest of the Adams family know Raymond's decision yet? These guys could be butt ass broke and I would still be honored to be reincarnated as their son as I know that I would never lack for being loved. Speaking of loved. You can tell how much love you have for these characters. I was once told that there is family you are borne into, and family you make over your life. Through this medium your "family " has become ours. Thank you. -Brian 

Thank you so much for saying such niec things about the characters and the story.

It really does motivate me to keep telling their story.

Jim

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Raymond and Danny sitting in a tree.....................here comes Danny pushing a baby carriage!!!!  Loved it!!!  Glad they ended up by going to look at the bed, bet Danny will call him Daddy plus a lot of other things...........................

 

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1 hour ago, ott said:

Raymond and Danny sitting in a tree.....................here comes Danny pushing a baby carriage!!!!  Loved it!!!  Glad they ended up by going to look at the bed, bet Danny will call him Daddy plus a lot of other things...........................

 

I think you may have a dirty mind... just like mine.

Thanks for posting your comments, you know I appreciate them.

Jim

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1 hour ago, ott said:

Raymond and Danny sitting in a tree.....................here comes Danny pushing a baby carriage!!!!  Loved it!!!  Glad they ended up by going to look at the bed, bet Danny will call him Daddy plus a lot of other things...........................

 

I think you may have a dirty mind... just like mine.

Thanks for posting your comments, you know I appreciate them.

Jim

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I love this story and its characters. I really like how this is going so far. The baby thing threw me for a loop wasn't expecting that. But it wouldn't be a great story if there weren't loops,turns and twist. I hope there are many chapters to come.

Edited by Crazyd1965
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14 minutes ago, Crazyd1965 said:

I love this story and its characters. I really like how this is going so far. The baby thing threw me for a loop wasn't expecting that. But it wouldn't be a great story if there weren't loops,turns and twist. I hope there are many chapters to come.

Honestly, I am a fan of an Aussie writer, Maxieplus, who posts on another venue. He has 53 chapters already written, of the story he is currently posting. I get would get confused if I had a single chapter written ahead. So, yeah the baby thing surprised me too.

Thanks for posting your comments.

Jim

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2 hours ago, Crazyd1965 said:

Yeah I've read everything maxieplus has written. He's a great writer and so are you.

I feel honored to be mentioned in the same paragraph. Please remember me to him in your next email. Just don't tell him I mentioned the 51 chapters.😳

Thanks for posting your comments.

Jim

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