Jump to content
Still Time - Fall Anthology 2023 - Leap of Faith Due 10/1 ×
    Wayne Gray
  • Author
  • 1,910 Words
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. 

Guarded - 22. Epilogue

I'm posting this a bit early. I wanted to be closer to the holiday, but I don't know what my schedule will look like next week. So, here we go.

It was Christmas Eve in Hailey, Idaho. It wasn't currently snowing, but the ground was still crunchy with a four-inch layer of frozen, white snow that had turned to ice thanks to the low temperatures.

Paul stood outside of the fire station. He still wore his jumpsuit and waved goodbye to his relief. "I owe you, Joe." The time just approached six p.m., and thanks to Joe, Paul could put his plan into motion.

The man narrowed his eyes and shook a finger at Paul. His breath was visible in the crisp evening air. "You're damn right, Paul!" Then he laughed. "Though, you got me out of the house, away from my in-laws. So it's not all bad."

Joe had family visiting from out of town. So when Paul called him for help with his plot, it was a bit of a stretch. But they routinely stepped up for each other, and this was important.

Paul's lover and boyfriend, Corbin thought he was still working and had no idea what was coming. As the head of a slowly growing organization, Corbin had plenty on his mind already. Paul smiled as he thought about the plan and what he had set out to do.

Paul sat in his truck and texted. He stared down at the screen of the phone while he waited until the response came. Paul smiled, then he started on his way.

"Okay. Let's do this."


Corbin sat on the floor in front of his fireplace. He worked at wrapping a gift for Paul, and a little four-legged busybody made that far harder than it would have been otherwise. "Damn it, Oberon!" The young male lynx stood on the paper, punching holes with his sharp claws as he rubbed against Corbin's side.

Corbin laughed and finally sat back, his hands behind on the floor to hold himself up. The cat crawled up into Corbin's lap and flopped down, looking up at Corbin while his little body vibrated with a loud purr.

"Where is your mother?" Corbin smiled down at the insistent little beast and stroked the soft, thick fur of the kitten.

He knew that it was past time for the little cat to go and stake his own territory. Now that Oberon was a bit older, his mother, Zampa came down to Corbin's house less and less. Mostly, she stayed up at Paul's cottage, or nearby. Her two other kittens had already left, to go be proper lynx out in the woods and mountains of Idaho.

"Oberon's territory is probably centered around your cabin, while Zampa's includes my place." Paul had said once, while he scratched Oberon's ears. There was a little less than two miles between the two structures, and there were plenty of rodents, birds, and small mammals for a hungry bobcat to eat. Plus, the cats knew they could always get a meal if they visited the guys.

"Are you going to let me finish this?" Corbin grinned affectionately at Oberon. The growing creature continued to purr and blinked lazily up at Corbin. His fur seemed to absorb the heat from the fire, and Oberon was very warm to the touch. As Corbin stroked him, the bobcat's eyes slid closed, and his purr decreased until he lay asleep.

Corbin shook his head and sighed. Then he leaned over and awkwardly got on with wrapping Paul's gift while the lynx slept in his lap.

He finally finished and sat back. Corbin grimaced at his attempt. The paper was torn in places, crooked, and looked as if an excited eight-year-old had done the job. He sighed, shook his head and looked down at Oberon. "This is your fault."

Corbin put Oberon over his shoulder and stood with the sleepy cat. Depositing Oberon on the couch, he walked into the kitchen.

There was a dutch oven on the stove, bubbling away. He and Paul were expected to attend and even lead the Christmas celebration for all of their Family employees. At least, the ones who chose to stick around for the holiday in Hailey. A surprising amount of folks decided to stay, and Corbin was suddenly thankful his base of operation was a high-quality restaurant. It made preparing for the bulk of the event manageable. Corbin was in charge and called the shots, but there were certain expectations of him due to his position. Chief among them was that he would take care of his people.

Corbin wasn't the best cook in their extended group - considering who his restaurant employed, but he couldn't walk in empty-handed. It wasn't that what he made was terrible, but rather, the bar was so high when compared to their professional chefs in the restaurant. Still, he was going to make an attempt. His spicy Italian sausage, kale and potato soup certainly smelled as if it'd pass the test. It was one of the best things Corbin made, so that was to be his and Paul's contribution to the meal. The attempt itself was important. He had to have a part in the celebration; there was symbolism attached to his providing for them.

Paul was due off on Christmas Day. So, they'd celebrate a little on their own early in the day, after Paul was done with his shift at the fire station. Then, around two p.m. they'd head into town to get things kicked off for the Family. Corbin looked forward to it. Though it was an obligation, it also promised to be a fun time. He liked all of the people who worked for him, and the ones who chose to stay did so because they genuinely enjoyed the company of the others.

Corbin lifted the lid on his soup. "Mmmm." He smiled at the rich smell carried by the steam as it wafted into his face. He looked into the living room. "Oberon, doesn't this smell nice?"

The cat didn't move. Corbin snorted and replaced the lid.

Then he heard a noise.

There were engine sounds, and Corbin walked over to the window. He parted the curtains and saw a long trail of vehicles, snaking slowly along the road. It looked as if there were a dozen of them. He swallowed, and the old fear began to burn in his chest.

He patted his holster. His .38 was still in its spot, and he forced calm in his mind. If this were another Family, then they wouldn't approach this way. It would be a small, quiet team. It was far more likely that it was law enforcement. Though, Corbin's dealings within the Family were, thus far, completely legal.

'Why so many?' Corbin's mind whirled as he thought. He looked at Oberon. "Okay, baby. We're gonna take you someplace safe." He picked up the housecat-sized lynx and walked quickly back to the master bedroom. He placed Oberon inside then shut the door. He then returned to the front of the house.

Corbin watched the door. There were the sounds of vehicles stopping, and then car and truck doors. It wasn't long before multiple pairs of feet were on the porch, and now Corbin heard voices murmuring to one another on the other side of the door.

'Italian.' He could clearly hear words in the language. Then his eyes widened. "Jenoah." He heard the young man in his employ talking on the other side of the door. 'What are you guys up to?'

His phone vibrated. And Corbin frowned. He pulled it out, while he kept his eyes on the door.

'Don't shoot us.' A message from Paul.

Corbin read it then heard a key inserted in the door lock. Then the door handle turned as it was unlocked. He stood in the middle of his living room and waited.

The door opened, and Paul stood there. All of the Family that had stayed local was behind him, Jenoah and Bruce both grinning like fools just at his back.

Corbin exhaled a breath he didn't know he had taken. "It's a good thing you texted me." He laughed, and Paul smiled at him. His tall, dark-haired lover entered, and then all of the Family behind him started filing in.

Corbin frowned, and he waved a hand over the scene. "What are you all doing here?" He narrowed his eyes at Paul. "Is this a coup?" Though, the smirk on Corbin's face told the story that he didn't honestly believe that.

"Hang on a minute. Let's get everybody inside." Paul waved the laggards in, and soon the living room, kitchen, and hallway were standing room only, as two dozen people crammed into Corbin's little home. All wore smiles, and Corbin heard little whispers among them here and there.

His eyes moved from face to face. "What are you all up to? What's going on?"

Paul shut the door, then he turned, his eyes an emerald fire. He approached Corbin, and all of the Family between them parted. Suddenly, the faces in the room shifted to severe, and the anticipation on them all was evident to Corbin.

Paul stopped before him, and the tall man looked down at Corbin. There was a change in his expression as now, he looked nervous. But he nodded, the movement unconscious, and one made to reassure himself.

"Corbin, of Family Reina." Paul's voice intoned, and he stared into Corbin's blue eyes, then he seamlessly switched to Italian. "Io, Paul Boyd, ho chiesto alla Famiglia di essere presente per questo momento. Perché la tua risposta influirà su di loro. (I, Paul Boyd, have requested the Family be present for this moment. For your answer will affect them.)" Though Paul spoke in accented Italian, he had obviously practiced, and the words were unmistakable.

Corbin felt chill bumps rise on his skin. He knew that phrase. Those specific, almost ceremonial words were never used lightly. They always meant something.

Paul reached, and he took both of Corbin's hands in his own. All of the Family watched and bore witness. "Qui, sotto gli occhi di tutti. Mi impegno a te. Se lo permetterò, rinuncio al mio nome, e invece sosterrò il tuo. (Here, under the eyes of all, I pledge myself to you and to Family Reina. If you allow it, I will give up my name, and I will bear yours instead)."

Corbin blinked at Paul. "Are … are you sure?" The entire Family watched, and Corbin struggled to stay in command of his emotions. "You really want to do this? With me?"

Paul nodded, and the big man's eyes were sure. "I want this." He smiled. "Will you marry me, Corbin?"

Corbin grinned, and looked around at those gathered in the room. Then he completed the intonation Paul had begun. "I, Corbin of Family Reina," his eyes locked with Paul's, "accept Paul Boyd's pledge, and in return offer to him my name."

The room erupted into a cheer, and voices raised in congratulations, acclaim, and happiness. Paul grinned down at Corbin, then he hugged the smaller man against his chest. "Ti amo, Corbin."

Corbin smiled against the warm, strong man, his eyes closed. "Ti amo, Paul."

As if by magic, bottles of wine appeared. And soon glasses were pressed into Corbin and Paul's hands.

Corbin didn't expect to ever have to host the entirety of the local population of Family Reina in his little cabin. Though, as he looked up into Paul's vibrant green eyes, he couldn't imagine a better way to spend Christmas Eve.

Happy Holidays.

And thank you for reading. 🙂

Copyright © 2019 Wayne Gray; All Rights Reserved.
  • Like 29
  • Love 54
  • Haha 1
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. 
You are not currently following this author. Be sure to follow to keep up to date with new stories they post.

Recommended Comments

Chapter Comments

I vaguely remembered a female actor with that name, I had to search to find that Merle Oberon was her stage name. It’s weird what odd tidbits of trivia float around in my head. I’m certain I’ve never seen any of her movies.

  • Like 1
Link to comment

I opened a tab with this chapter in it as well as a few other things that popped up in my Notifications. I went to check the Reactions in the other tabs first, but noticed ‘Epilogue’ as I passed the tab. I was thinking, it’s way too soon to have an epilogue when we still haven’t found out what Don Corbin intends to do with the Raven! And then I realized that I got the two stories mixed up in my often confused brain…

  • Like 1
Link to comment
On 12/17/2019 at 2:15 PM, Butcher56 said:

This was a fantastic story of friendship and then love between two men who started out as neighbors when Corbin moved to Hailey Idaho. As it went along Paul and Corbin became lovers and now it has come full circle as Paul just asked Corbin to marry him in front of the whole family. He even asked in Italian since Corbin is the new Don for the family, it turned out that the man he thought was after him was trying to protect him from the FBI agent assigned to protect him. The agent had lost his family due to a shooting by the Italian mob and he swore that he would kill the entire family who killed his wife and child. Thank you for the great story and I would love to read about what life is like for Paul and Corbin after they’re married. 

Thanks for the comment! I'm glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  • Like 1
  • Love 4
Link to comment

View Guidelines

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Newsletter

    Want to keep up to date with all our latest news and information?
    Sign Up
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here: Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..