The Lernier Family
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved




Chapter 49: Clay’s Education

David sent Mark a text message, letting him know they were on their way home from St. Catharines.  It was 6 AM and he didn’t’ want to wake him.  He looked over at Purev, who was busily entering text on his cell phone.  He smiled, knowing Purev was sending messages to Gabriel.  David was happy Purev had a boyfriend.  As much as David liked Purev, he wasn’t the kind of guy David wanted as his boyfriend.  He thought of Mark and how he loved how Mark took control when they were having sex, yet was very sensitive and caring.  His thoughts went back to the conversation he had with his Dad yesterday. 

Rick walked into the family room and sat down on the couch to relax a few minutes, while his little ones were being entertained by their great aunt next door.  She had invited JJ and Josh to help make her famous sugar cookies.  She loved all of her nieces and nephews, but the twins held a special place in her heart.  The older children knew they were welcome to join the cookie-baking party, but also knew it was her time to be with the twins.  So, they had decided to play games here at the house.  He could hear them in the kitchen, enjoying each other’s company.    

He sighed with contentment as he stretched out his legs in front of him and his thoughts turned to his wonderful husband and their extremely active twin boys.  As Glenn helped the twins get ready to go, he invited Rick to join them; but he declined the invitation, electing to stay home and take some time out for himself.  Glenn had given him a knowing look and kissed him, before guiding the twins out the door and down the street to Aunt Hannah’s house.  Rick had lingered at the front door, watching them as they disappeared into her house a few doors down the street.  His heart was filled with the love he felt for his family, especially Glenn for understanding his need to spend some time alone. 

His thoughts returned to the present as he looked out the sliding glass doors and noticed David sitting on the patio all alone, apparently lost in his thoughts.  Rick watched his son for a few moments, wondering why he wasn’t playing card games in the kitchen with the rest of their teenagers.  His curiosity got the better of him and he decided to join him.  He got up and retrieved his jacket from the coat closet.  Putting it on, he returned to the family room.  He walked over to the sliding glass door, opened it and stepped outside. 

Rick approached David and asked, “May I join you?”

David looked up and smiled at his Dad.  “Sure.”

He pulled out a patio chair and turned it around, straddling it.  “What are you thinking about, son?”

David scrunched up his nose and tapped his fingertips on the table, trying to decide whether or not to tell his Dad what he was worrying about.  Rick waited in silence, knowing David would eventually open up, if he waited patiently.

After about five minutes of silence, David met his Dad’s gaze and asked, “Is it okay to be in a relationship with someone who likes to dominate you?”

Rick was more than a little surprised at the question, but quickly recovered his wits.  “Depends on the situation and the people involved.  Are you talking about gay relationships, or something else entirely?”

David clarified, “Gay relationships.  I’ve been researching gay sex on the internet.”

Hearing this, Rick frowned.  Their family had a strict policy of not viewing pornographic materials.  It was a rule the family had voted on and agreed to abide by as a family.  He and Glenn had implemented a family council as a way to actively include their children in the governance of their family.  They held weekly family meetings to talk about their schedules for the week, changes to family rules and any other issues anyone wanted to discuss with the family.  Each child had an equal voice to raise issues and concerns, as well as asking for family rules to be changed, or exceptions granted. 

Glenn had suggested the concept of a family council to Rick when they adopted the three older children as a way to engage with them, giving them a sense of empowerment and helping them to buy into their new family.  They knew the children already loved them and the twins, but sensed they needed to feel ownership in the well-being of their new family.  It had worked well, helping Kyle, David and Ashley to adjust to their new family and recover from the loss of their grandmother, their last remaining relative since their parents had been killed in a car accident a few years earlier.

Rick’s thoughts returned to the question at hand, remembering how the children policed themselves with regards to the family rules they had voted on and approved, wondering if they needed to be more vigilant where internet usage was concerned. 

David, seeing his Dad’s expression, quickly added, “I haven’t been looking at porn sites, Dad.  I promise I’m not breaking our family rules.”  He paused, looking away from his Dad before continuing, “Well, I didn’t ‘intentionally’ break our family rules.   Some of the links I clicked on took me to some porn sites, but I promise I didn’t stay on them very long, or go back to them.”

Rick smiled and said, “Okay, let’s just leave it at no harm, no foul.  So, what caused you to go searching for information about gay relationships?   You could’ve just asked me or your Daddy about the subject.” 

David hung his head and mumbled, “I know, but I didn’t want to upset you guys by asking too many questions about gay sex.” 

Rick laughed.  “We’re gay men, David, and we love having sex; so, talking to you about gay sex wouldn’t ever be a problem.”

David looked up and met his Dad’s eyes, wondering just how much information to divulge to him, and said, “I’m curious about how different types of gay relationships work.  I know you and Daddy have a closed relationship, but yet you still fool around with Uncle Zach and Uncle Todd.”

Rick had wondered when they would have to address their relationship with Zach and Todd with their children.  Now that it had happened, he decided to be completely honest with his son.  “David, your Daddy and I are in a monogamous relationship and we don’t have intercourse with anyone other than our spouse.”

David’s eyebrows shot up in astonishment.  He thought his uncles and his Dads were intimate with each other.  They certainly acted like they were much more than friends.  It was almost like the four of them were married to each other.

As if Rick could read David’s thoughts, he continued.  “We’re very close to Uncle Zach and Uncle Todd, much closer than being good friends, and we do fool around with them, kissing and making out.  You have to admit they are very good looking guys!”

David grinned and said, “I’d say they’re very hot!”

“Well, your Daddy and I think so, too.  We’ve slept with them, exchanged blow jobs and helped each other out in other ways; but, we’ve never given ourselves to them in the same way we do with each other, David.  You knew Uncle Todd wanted to take our relationship with him much further.”

David nodded his head.  “Yes, I know.  Things got extremely tense there for a while.  I was afraid to even mention Uncle Todd’s name in Daddy’s presence.”

“Your Daddy and Uncle Todd worked things out between them because they love each other very much, just not in the way Uncle Todd wanted it to be.  Uncle Todd knew your Daddy and I promised each other, when we first started dating, that neither of us would let anyone else fuck us.  We’ve kept that promise, David, and Uncle Todd needed to honor our wishes in that regard.”

David said, “I’m glad Daddy stood his ground and didn’t give in to Uncle Todd.  I heard Uncle Todd apologize to you guys for pushing the issue.”

Rick nodded his head.  “Yes, he did apologize; however, things haven’t returned to the way they were.  I think that’s why they’re looking to move here.”

David said, “I’m sure it is.  I’ve watched how Uncle Todd and Daddy interact and it’s still a little strained.”

Rick nodded his and said, “Through it all, I knew I could trust your Daddy to do the right thing and I know he trusts me to do the same.  That is why we can fool around with our friends and not worry about messing up the relationship between the two of us.”

David said, “It makes sense to me now.  I always thought the four of you had great sex together.”

Rick smiled.  “We do, but only with our husbands.”

David nodded his head.  Since his Dad was being so open with him, he decided to take the plunge and ask the question that had sent him in search of answers on the internet in the first place.  “I know you and Daddy are very loving and caring with each other; but, I’m curious about different types of relationships.  I’ve read about bondage sex play and other things.  The term on the internet shows up as the acronym BDSM.  Have you ever tried anything like that with Daddy?”

 “No, I haven’t and I never will.  We have a loving relationship because we respect each other, and I would NEVER disrespect him by trying bondage sex play with him, or try to treat him like my sex slave.  If I ever tried anything like that on your Daddy, he’d leave me in a heartbeat, and I wouldn’t blame him.”  Rick paused and looked directly into David’s eyes, as he said, “It would remind him too much of what happened to him when he was raped by his cousin and his friends.  It would completely undo everything he has done to overcome the trauma of that experience.  I could never do that to him.  It would destroy him, David.”

David nodded his head in understanding.  “I know Daddy can be very sensitive at times.  He’s a lot like me in that regard.”

Rick said, “Yes, he is.  However, I wouldn’t engage in bondage sex play, or any other types of sexual behaviors that demean and degrade my husband.  I love having sex with the man I love and showing that love doesn’t include treating him like a slave.”

“But why do some people want to be tied up and raped?” David asked, his expression one of puzzlement.

Rick said, “I’ve never understood it; but, we have friends who enjoy bondage sex play.  It really turns them on.  Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it to you, David.  I believe your body is a gift from God and should be treated with respect by you and everyone else.  Allowing someone to torture and degrade your body for their own sexual pleasure is just wrong; and, as a parent, I would make sure whoever treated you that way ends up behind bars, especially since you’re underage.  So, I’d better not hear Mark has ever done any such thing to you.”

David shuddered at the thought of being subjected to some of the things he’d seen on the internet.  “You don’t have to worry, Dad.  I would never let anyone tie me up like that.  I would never consider bondage sex play, or anything like it.” David met Rick’s gaze and continued, “No, I only wanted to know about being dominated by your partner and how that worked in a gay relationship.  I read about some guys who like serving a dominant male.”

“There are guys who like to be the boss, or master, just like there are those who like to be treated like a slave or servant.  It’s the same with heterosexual couples.  There are those who like to be in control and feel insecure if they aren’t, just like there are those who want to be told what to do.  Whether it’s a gay or straight relationship, the dynamics of the relationship are dictated by the people in that relationship,” Rick said.

David looked way from his Dad, before saying, “I like Mark telling me what to do.  It makes me so horny.  I love it when he takes control.”

Rick’s eyes narrowed, as he processed what David had just told him.  “Are you and Mark having sex?”

David stared down at the patio table and mumbled, “Yes.”  Their family rules dictated they wait to have sex until they were over 18.  It was a subject the family had recently debated when Kyle began dating Catharine.

Rick barely heard his answer.  He reached over and raised David’s chin up until their eyes met.  “It’s okay, son.  Thank you for being honest with me.  I know we have a family rule about not having sex before you’re 18; but I’m also realistic in my expectations.  I know how hard it is to resist not having sex, when that is all you have on your mind.  I had sex with my girlfriend and got her pregnant when I was still in high school.  Your Daddy had sex with his boyfriend when he was a senior in high school.  So, you don’t have to be ashamed of it, David.  Your Daddy and I are the last ones to condemn you for having sex with your boyfriend.  We only ask you to practice safe sex.”

David sighed with relief.  He had dreaded telling his Dads about violating their family rule.  “We use condoms when we have sex.”

“Good.  So, you like being dominated by Mark in the bedroom, is that it?” Rick asked, grinning at his son.

The color rose in David’s cheeks, as he nodded his head.  “I love it when he gets rough with me.”

Rick smiled, and said, “Your Daddy likes it when I take control, and the rougher the sex, the better he likes it; but, don’t ever mention it to him.  That is something he feels should remain between us, but I think it’s important for you to know.”

David laughed.  “Somehow, I knew that about Daddy.”

Rick said, “Yes, your Daddy is very good in bed.  He knows how to keep me very happy.  I especially like it when we switch roles and he is the dominant one.”  He stopped and his expression became serious.  “However, I need to caution you about one thing.  Just because someone is the dominant one in the bedroom, doesn’t mean they are the dominant one in their relationship.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking sexual dominance translates into anything more than that.”

David nodded his head.  “I know.  Daddy has told us, repeatedly, about finding a mate who is our partner, our equal.  He’s always telling us to find someone to walk beside us, hand in hand, through life; just like you and Daddy do.”

“He’s right, David.  Your Daddy loves me very much and does everything possible to make me happy.  I do the same for him because he is the light of my life.”  Rick paused to meet David’s gaze, before continuing, “I know Mark loves you, David.  I’ve seen how he treats you when you two are together,” Rick said.

“He’s the best,” David said.  “He can be so aggressive sometimes, but mostly, he’s very kind and considerate.”

Rick said, “That’s good.  We like Mark and I’m sure you guys will figure things out as you go; but you can always come talk to me and Daddy if you have any questions, or just want to chat about things.”

David said, “I know, Dad.  You’re the best.” 

Rick asked, “Is Mark into bondage sex play?”

David shook his head.  “No, he’s not.  I’m the one who decided to look into it.”

Rick said, “So, have you satisfied your curiosity?”

David replied, “Yes, I’ve found out what I needed to know.  Thanks for talking to me about it, Dad.”  He stood up and walked over to give Rick a hug.

His attention was brought back to the present when Purev jabbed him in the ribs and said, “Stop daydreaming about Mark.”

“I’m not daydreaming about Mark,” David said, indignantly.

Purev smirked.  “Yeah, right!  I know better.  I just sent Gabriel a text message.  I miss him so much.”

David said, “I miss Mark, too.  Did you know Mark moved in with this Dad yesterday?”

Purev said, “Really?  I just can’t imagine that.  I thought his dad was extremely homophobic.”

“Mark said his dad is very supportive of him, now.  He even says it’s okay for us to be boyfriends,” David said.

Purev said, incredulously, “I don’t believe you!”

“It’s true,” David insisted.  “Here, read Mark’s text messages.”  David handed his phone to his friend.  Purev read down the list of text messages between David and Mark.  His eyes widened as he realized David hadn’t been joking.

He handed back the phone and said, “Wow!  Mr. Henderson has really changed.”

David smiled.  “Yes, for the better.  Mark’s mom has turned out to be the one who is homophobic.  She tried to get Mark to move to Texas so she could send him to some anti-gay camp to convert him.  She thinks Mark has been brainwashed into being gay.”

Purev snorted his derision.  “What planet is she from?  I didn’t choose to be gay and neither did you or Mark.  Why would we want to lose our families because of their anti-gay beliefs?  Why would anyone choose to be gay?”

David shrugged his shoulders.  “I don’t claim to understand straight people.  I think Daddy’s right, though.  It doesn’t matter how nice straight people seem, they really don’t understand gay people.  He says not to trust them, ever, because you don’t know when they’ll turn on you.”

Purev nodded his head in agreement.  “I get that…but you can’t go through life not trusting people.  There are a lot of straight people who genuinely care about us.”

“Yes, there are, as long as they see some advantage in pretending to be gay friendly,” David said.

Purev looked toward the front of the mini-van where David’s Dad was seated, and lowered his voice.  “That’s your Daddy talking, David.  Your Dad doesn’t feel that way.  I’ve heard him arguing with your Daddy.  Are you sure you feel that way?”

David said, “I think so.  Daddy’s arguments make sense and he’s the one who was raped by supposedly straight guys.  I’ve also seen him proven right with Mark’s mother.  She seemed gay friendly at first, but turned on Mark when it was her own son who was gay, not just some stranger she didn’t know.”

“But she lived with one of the most homophobic people I know – Mark’s dad,” Purev said.  “What about our straight family members?  Kyle and Ashley won’t turn on us.”

David looked at his siblings and nodded his agreement.  “You’re right.  Our family will always be there for us.  Both Kyle and Ashley are too super overprotective of me.”  This last statement was said in an annoyed tone.

Purev said, “You know they love you very much, David.”

He turned to his friend.  “Yes, I do.  I just wish they wouldn’t be so….”

He couldn’t think of the right term, so Purev supplied one, “Smothering?”

David shook his head.  “No, they treat me like I can’t do things on my own.”

Purev laughed. “Well, it’s true, David.  You can’t.  You have a fear of people sometimes that doesn’t make sense.  Remember last week when you needed to turn in a paper to your English teacher and couldn’t do it?  You had Mark do it for you.”

David blushed.  “I know.  I was afraid to talk to her.”

“Mark said you were frozen in place,” Purev said.

“I’m going to get Mark.  He wasn’t supposed to tell anyone,” David, heatedly.  He suffered from anxiety attacks and had a difficult time dealing with people he didn’t know well.

Purev said, “I know you don’t like meeting new people, David; but Mrs. Stephens isn’t someone new.  She’s your English teacher.”

David said, “I know; but I can’t control when a panic attack hits.   They just happen.”

Purev said, “You’ve told me that before, but it’s still hard to believe.”

David shrugged his shoulders, annoyed his friend couldn’t comprehend why he suffered from anxiety and fear.  What was worse, he was more frustrated with himself than with Purev, because he didn’t really understand it, either.  He was extremely intelligent and learned things quickly.  Added to that was the fact he always scored high on any tests he took; but, he couldn’t control or understand the illogical and completely debilitating fear and anxiety that overcame him at the most inconvenient times. 

He shook his head, and asked, “Can we talk about something else?”

Purev grinned at his friend.  “Sure.”   Their conversation turned to what they planned to do with their boyfriends when they arrived home.

They got home just before dinner time.  Everyone was tired from the nine hours they had spent in the car.  Rick organized the boys to help bring in their gear, while I threw together a quick dinner of chicken, pasta, steamed broccoli, salad, and apple cobbler. 

After they ate, the children disappeared to their respective bedrooms, leaving us alone in the family room.  Rick pulled me into his arms and gave him a gentle, but lingering, kiss.  I could feel him growing as he tightened his embrace.  He deepened the kiss and I wrapped my arms around his neck.

We were interrupted by a wolf whistle.  “We leave you guys alone for a few minutes and see what you do!” Kyle exclaimed, entering the family room with a big grin on his face.  He had changed into white basketball shorts and a tight-fitting white mesh t-shirt and his hair was still wet from his recent shower.

Rick looked over to meet Kyle’s eyes and grinned.  “We’re just two dirty old men, after all, Kyle.”

Kyle laughed.  “You guys act just like teenagers.”

I turned toward him and said, “That’s right, because we’re still teenagers inside.”

Kyle walked over and threw himself down on the couch.  “Why can’t I find someone like you guys?” Kyle complained.

“What brought this on?  I thought you already had a new girlfriend.” Rick said, releasing me from his arms.  He took my hand and led me to the couch to sit next to our oldest teenage son.

Kyle shook his head.  “I have a lot of friends who are girls; but nobody special.”

“Kyle, you shouldn’t worry so much about having a steady girlfriend,” I said.

Kyle shrugged his shoulders, then said, “But all of my friends have girlfriends.”

Rick laughed.  “So, it’s a matter of pride then.”

Kyle blushed, but met his Dad’s gaze.  “Yes, and no.  I don’t want to be the only one without a steady date, but I don’t want to go out with just anyone.”

“Kyle, I think you’re overanalyzing things.  You need to relax and be yourself,” I said. “People are naturally attracted to you.  I’m sure one of the girls who seem to always be flocking around you will catch your eye.”

“Well, there is one, but I haven’t gotten up the courage to ask her out,” Kyle said.  “Her name is Alexa.”

“Didn’t you date a girl named Alex when we lived on Long Island?” Rick asked.

Kyle nodded his head.  “Yeah, she’s nice.”

“Why don’t you invite her down for a visit?” I asked.

He thought about it for a moment, but shook his head.  “No, I don’t think so.  I want to find someone here.  I don’t want to have to wait for long weekends or holidays to see my girlfriend.  The whole point of having a girlfriend is to show her off to my friends.”

I said, “That sounds pretty shallow, Kyle.”  I didn’t mean to sound like I was scolding him, but I did.  Seeing his hurt expression, I said, “I didn’t mean to sound so negative.  I was just surprised to hear the only reason you want a girlfriend is to show her off at school.”

Kyle said, “It’s okay, Daddy.  I shouldn’t have said it that way.  It’s just hard to maintain a long distance relationship.  I tried to stay in touch with Alex after we moved here, but I wasn’t very good at doing that, especially while I was dating Catharine.”

“So, how can we help you out, son?” Rick asked.

“I was wondering if we could host a party for my friends,” Kyle said.

Rick looked at me and I said, “I’m okay with that, as long as they understand I won’t tolerate homophobic comments, and there won’t be any drugs or alcohol.”

Kyle nodded his head, and said, “I’m sure my friends won’t mind those rules.  Most of them don’t drink or do drugs and they already know I won’t put up with any anti-gay stuff from them.”

Rick said, “I think you should consult your brothers and sister to get a list of their friends, as well.  If we’re going to host a party, they should be allowed to invite their friends.”

Kyle suggested, “Let’s rent Shadowlands for the night.  We all like to play laser tag.”

“That sounds like a plan,” I said. 

Kyle said, “I’ll call to make a group reservation for next Saturday.”

Rick nodded his approval.  “Okay.  But before you do that, go talk to your siblings about it.”

Kyle stood up and stretched, showing off his sculpted body.  He grinned at me, when he caught me looking him over from head to toe.  “Daddy, you’re such a pervert.”

I laughed.  “But you love me anyway!”

Kyle said, “Yes, I do.”  He turned and padded out of the room.  We heard him taking the stairs two at a time.

Rick stood up, turning to pull me up into his arms.  “It’s time for you to show me how much you love me.”

I grinned up at him.  “Let’s go.”  I took him by the hand and led him upstairs to our bedroom, where I, indeed, showed him how much I love him!

Nancy stood in her dad’s walk-in closet and looked around.  All of her dad’s clothes and shoes were gone.  She and her mother had been sorting through the various boxes of stuff her dad had stored in his closet.  There was one more box left on the shelf at the back.  She picked it up and carried it into the bedroom and sat it on the bed next to her mother. 

“Here’s the last of the boxes,” she said.

Eva looked up at her daughter and smiled.  “Thank you for staying to help me finish clearing out your dad’s things.  It will be so much easier to pack up what I want to take back to Swift Current with me, without having to sort through your father’s things.”

Nancy sat down on the bed next to mother.  She put her arm around her shoulders and said, “I wouldn’t have missed spending time with you, Mom.”

Eva smiled, and gave her daughter a quick kiss on the cheek, then turned to the last box and said, “Let’s see what’s in this one.”  She opened the box and picked up a stack of letters.  She took the top one and pulled the letter out of its envelope.  She unfolded it and began reading.  After a few moments, tears started rolling down her cheeks and she handed the letter to Nancy.

Nancy asked, “What’s wrong?”

“Just read the letter,” Eva said, choking back more tears.

Nancy read the letter and understood her mother’s stricken expression.  “He never stopped seeing Renata.”

“No, he didn’t,” Eva said, anger making her voice harsh.  “At least, that’s what is written there.  I wish I hadn’t invited her to the funeral.  I never thought he was still having sex with her.  He always told me he was meeting her at Uncle Allen’s house in Ottawa, when he went to pick up Johnny or return him to her.  I never thought to question him about whether or not he actually stayed with your Uncle Allen.”

Nancy asked, “What do you want to do with these letters?”

Eva replied, “Burn them.  I don’t want anyone else to ever read them.”  She paused and looked at her daughter.  “I want you to promise me you’ll never tell your brothers about these letters, or what we know your father did.  I don’t want to spoil their memories of him.”

Nancy said, “No, I won’t promise you any such thing.   They have a right to know what he did.”

Eva nodded her head.  “I’ll tell them when I’ve had some time to calm down.  I’m too angry to talk about it now.”  She felt betrayed all over again, just like when she first found out Don had an affair with Renata during their period of separation.  She had managed to overcome her feelings of hurt and anger enough to welcome Don’s child into her home.  From the beginning, Johnny had won her over with his sweet cherubic smile along with his warm and loving disposition.  Even now, despite the pain of the freshly opened wounds in her heart, she did not regret taking the child into her home.  However, those warm feelings did not extend to the child’s mother. 

Reading that letter shed light on Renata’s rather strange behavior when they first met.  Renata had expected Eva to be filled with hatred toward her and had been extremely surprised by Eva’s warm welcome.  Now, Eva knew why Renata acted so nervous around her, anticipating an explosion of pent up anger to erupt at any moment.  She had to give Renata credit for courage, or maybe it was pure stupidity, to show up at Don’s funeral, knowing she was still having sex with Eva’s husband right up until the month before he went into the nursing home.  According to Renata’s letter, Don had spent the night with her when he drove up to Allen’s home to spend time with Johnny during his break from school.

Her attention was brought back to her daughter when Nancy asked, “Mom, are you okay?”

Eva gave herself a mental shake and responded, “Yes, I’m fine.  I was just thinking how brazen Renata was to accept my invitation to Don’s funeral when she was still having sex with him.”

Nancy nodded her head in agreement.  “I agree, but I think you did the right thing.  I don’t think Johnny would’ve been able to handle attending Dad’s funeral without her.  I know he’s close to my brothers, but it’s not the same as being with his mother.”

“Yes, I know,” Eva said.  “That’s the reason I asked Renata to come with him.”

Nancy smiled at her mother, and said, “I’m glad you invited them.  It was good to see Johnny and to let him say his good-byes to our father.  You did the right thing, Mom.  Instead of burning these letters, you should send them back to Renata.”

Eva gave her daughter a hard stare.  “Why would I do that?”

Nancy raised her eyebrows and asked, “Really, Mom, you can’t think of a single reason?”

Eva thought for a moment, then smiled.  “Okay, I’ll send them back to her.  I certainly don’t want to keep them.”

Nancy said, “I’ll take care of mailing them, Mom.”

At that moment, Cory entered the room.  He looked from his wife to his mother-in-law and back.  “Is anything wrong?”

Nancy said, “Yes and no.”  She handed Renata’s letter to him.  “Just read that and you’ll understand.”

He swore under his breath as he read the contents of the letter.  He looked up and met Eva’s gaze.  “I’m so sorry, Mom.”

Eva managed to smile.  “It’s okay, Cory.  I’m not surprised.  There were a few times when Don’s behavior seemed a little off.  Now, I know why.  He was trying to hide his ongoing affair with Renata.  Up until now, I didn’t know for sure he was still having sex with her.”

Nancy said, “I’m going to mail the letters to Renata.”  She picked up the box and stood up.  “You can help me tape up the box and get it ready to go.”

Cory folded up Renata’s letter and put it back in its envelope.  He placed in the box with the other letters and took the box out of his wife’s hands. 

She glanced up at him and gave him a grateful smile.  “Thank you, dear.”  She put her arm through his, as he led her from the room.

After they disappeared into the hallway, Eva lay back on her bed and closed her eyes.  The shock of her discovery was wearing off and her anger at Don’s continued infidelity settled down to a low simmer.  She knew being angry at him wouldn’t do her any good, especially since he wasn’t around to receive the brunt of her ire.  She gave a long sigh and tried to relax.  Nancy found her sleeping when she returned from preparing the box of letters for the post.  She silently closed the bedroom door and rejoined her husband in the kitchen.

Cory looked up in surprise.  “What’s up?”

“I think we need to let Mom rest.  She’s asleep and I’m worn out, as well.  We can return after dinner to help Mom.”

Cory smiled and said, “Okay.  I’ll gather up the girls and we’ll go back to Rick and Glenn’s place.”  He gave Nancy a gentle kiss.  “We need to get ready for our flight to Washington, DC, tomorrow.  I’ll get our things packed while you rest.”

Nancy said, “Thank you for taking care of us, sweetheart.”

Cory said, “You’re welcome.”  He pulled her into his arms and kissed her again, letting her know how much he loved her.

Clay drove down the Fairfax County Parkway, following the directions Mark was giving him.  David had called just as they finished eating dinner to invite Mark over to spend the night.  Mark had handed the phone to him so he could speak to David’s Dad, who had invited him and Michaela to join them for dessert.  He was grateful for the invitation to socialize with them.  He didn’t have many friends, and despite having the children with him, he was very lonely.  He turned south on Route 1, still following Mark’s directions.  About 20 minutes later, he reached the Lernier residence and waited for the gate to open. 

A tall, handsome young man, with long blond hair and deep blue eyes, stepped out of the guard shack and approached the car.  He rolled down his window and smiled up at the blond Norse god who stood in front of him.  “I’m Clay Henderson.”

 “The guys are expecting you.  Park behind the mini-van,” Collin said, smiling.  “David is very excited to see Mark.”

Clay smiled back at him.  “I’m very aware of that fact.”  He rolled up the window and parked his car in the indicated spot.

After Collin closed the gate, he walked over to Clay and extended his hand.  “I’m Collin Knudsen, Mr. Henderson.  I’m one of the security guards the Lerniers employ to protect their family.”

Clay shook his hand.  It was a firm handshake and he returned it just as firmly.  “Nice to meet you, Collin.  You can call me Clay.”

Collin looked Clay over before he released his hand and grinned.  “You’re a good looking guy, Clay.”

Clay blushed.  He wasn’t used to guys paying him compliments.  “Thanks, Collin.  But, I’m straight and still married to a woman, at the moment.”

Collin laughed.  “Just thought I’d let you know I’m interested if you ever change your mind.”  He looked toward the house.  “Everyone’s inside.  I’ll see you later.”  He turned and walked back to the guard shack, leaving Clay to follow his children, both of whom had already gone ahead.

He caught up to them on the front step as they rang the doorbell.  The door opened immediately to reveal David standing there.  He took one look at Mark and threw himself into his arms.

Rick came up behind David and laughed.   “It looks like someone was missed!” 

Clay smiled and said, “Seeing David is all Mark could talk about all day!”

Rick looked at Clay and Michaela and said “Please come in.”

They stepped around the happy boys and entered the house.  Ashley ran up to Michaela and took her by the hand.  “Come with me, Michaela.  I want to show you my new drawings.”  The two girls disappeared upstairs, leaving Rick and Clay in the foyer.

Rick tapped David on the shoulder.  “David, you should move your happy reunion inside.”

Mark released David from his embrace, but captured his hand as they entered the house.  David said, “Let’s go to the family room.  Gabriel, Purev and Kyle are playing videos games.”

As the boys left them, Rick asked, “Would you like a cup of coffee or tea?”

“Sure,” Clay responded, and followed Rick into the kitchen.

I looked up and said, “Hello, Clay.  Thanks for bringing the children over.  Ashley and David have missed being with their friends.”

Rick poured a cup of coffee and handed it to Clay.  “There’s cream and sugar on the table.”

Clay pulled out a chair and sat down across from me.  Rick joined us with his cup of coffee in his hand.  Rick asked, “How are things going?”

Clay shook his head.  “Things are pretty tough, right now.  Janelle is having a difficult time accepting the fact Mark is gay.”

“David told us Mark and Michaela are living with you now,” Rick said.

Clay nodded his head.  “I used to be the most homophobic one in the family; but, Janelle has taken my place.  She was okay with anyone else being gay, but not her own son.”

I nodded my head in understanding.  “My father was the same.  He said he was okay with gays, but couldn’t come to terms with the fact his sons are gay.”

Rick said, “That’s not entirely true, Glenn.  He did come to accept us and learned to treat us with respect.”

“Yes, but only after we threatened to never speak to him again,” I said.

“True enough, but you have to acknowledge he hid his feelings pretty well,” Rick countered.

“Yes, and no,” I said, unwilling to go so far as to admit Dad had really changed his mind about us.  “I know Dad changed a lot over the years, but toward the end, be returned to some of his old habits.”

Rick said, “Unfortunately, he did.”  He turned back to Clay.  “I hope Janelle will let her love for her children help her to accept Mark for who he is.”

Clay responded, “I hope so, too.”

Rick asked, “How’s work going?”

Clay grinned.  “Things have worked out wonderfully.  Thank you for persuading Garth to take a chance on me.  I know I was a real dickhead, when I first met you guys, and didn’t deserve to be given a second chance.”

Rick met Clay’s eyes and said, “Everyone deserves a second chance, because everyone has the power to change.  That’s why you can’t give up on your wife.  She just needs some time to come to terms with Mark’s sexuality.”

Clay nodded his head.  “Just like I needed the time to get my head on straight.  They kept me in solitary confinement for a while to keep me from hurting myself or others.  I had so much anger bottled up inside of me, I had to find a way to release it.  I spent a lot of time working with the therapists and doctors to get things to a point I could cope with my emotions.”

I asked, “So, are you still going to your therapy sessions?”

“Yes, I go three times a week,” he responded.  “It feels good to be able to talk about what happened while I was deployed.”

Rick nodded his understanding.  “I had some pretty bad experiences myself.  Only it was my fellow Marines who inflicted the worst damage.  They murdered my best friend for being gay.”

Clay’s expression showed the shock he felt at hearing what had occurred.  “What happened to the guys who did it?”

“They’re in jail, convicted of murder, so justice has been served” Rick replied.  “But putting them behind bars won’t bring Sam back from the dead.”  The anger Rick felt toward them was evident in his tone of voice.

I put my hand on his arm and said, soothingly, “It’s okay, Babe.”

He smiled at me and covered my hand with his.  “I’m good, Glenn.  Someday, I hope those men will recognize their acts as evil and will feel enough remorse to humble themselves to the point they can truly seek forgiveness for what they did.  A couple of them apologized to Sam’s family for what they did when they were sentenced, but the ringleaders showed no signs of remorse.  In fact, they only showed anger at the system for putting them in jail.  As I watched them in the courtroom, their hatred of me was almost palpable.”

Clay said, “That must have been hard for you.”

Rick looked directly into Clay’s eyes and said, “The hardest part for me was knowing those men were fellow Marines.  They were men I trusted with my life.  They violated that trust when they murdered my friend.  I don’t care how much they hated homosexuals, they had no right to violate the trust we have to have in each other to be successful as Marines.  Marines take care of their own, no matter what.”

Clay couldn’t hold Rick’s gaze.  He felt ashamed of his own behavior toward this man, a former Marine just like himself.  After a few moments of silence, he looked up to find Rick still looking him.  He cleared his throat and said, “I’m sorry I betrayed that trust Rick.  I shouldn’t have used my fear and hatred of gays to drive you away.  It was beneath me as a Marine and I was rightfully discharged.  I had no place being in the Marine Corps acting the way I did.”

Rick nodded his head.  “Apology accepted.  Now, you have to learn to forgive yourself.”

Clay glanced over at me and back to Rick.  “That’s much harder than it sounds, Rick.  I’ve tried to overcome the self-loathing I feel, not only for being a homophobic jerk, but for what I did to Janelle and my children when I attacked her.  You don’t know how much I hate myself for losing control and injuring the one person I love more than anyone else in the world.  I don’t blame her for not wanting me in her life.  I was the person she trusted with her happiness and I destroyed that happiness.”  A look of deep despair crossed his face.  “I’m afraid I will never be able to regain her trust.”

I stood up and walked around to him.  I took his hand in mine and pulled him to his feet, enfolding him in my arms.  I held him tight against my chest.  At first, he stiffened, then gradually relaxed and put his arms around me to hug me back.  After a few minutes, I pulled back and looked up into his eyes.  “Clay, you’re a beautiful human being.  We love you and want you to be happy.”

Clay’s eyes shone brightly with unshed tears.  He tried to speak, but couldn’t get his words past the lump in his throat.  Instead of talking, he leaned down and kissed me on the lips.  It was a chaste kiss, but it communicated his feelings well enough.  He leaned back and grinned.  “That was the first time I’ve ever kissed a guy.”

Rick said, with a low growl, “Watch it, Henderson, that’s my husband you’re kissing.”

Clay laughed, and said, “Don’t worry, Rick, I have no intentions of trying to steal your husband away from you.”  He glanced over at Rick, before continuing, “You’re one lucky man.”

Rick smiled and said, “I know.  Glenn is a real gem.  He has a big heart and isn’t shy about showing his affection toward those he considers part of his family.”

Clay looked back at me with an astonished expression on his face.  “Is it true?  You consider me part of your family?”

I nodded my head and replied, “Yes, I do because we’ve already adopted your children as our own.  So, I guess it means you have to get used to being around gay guys.”

Clay released me and I moved back to my seat next to Rick.  “I don’t have a choice about getting used to being around gay guys because my son is gay.”  He paused and gave us a serious look.  “How do you know if your sons are dating a guy they shouldn’t?  I mean like they just aren’t the right type of person for them?”

Rick responded, “The same way you would if they were dating your daughter.  If all they want is sex, they aren’t the right ones for Mark.  We’ve watched how David and Mark treat each other and we think they are good for each other.”

“However, we know young love doesn’t always last,” I said.  “My first boyfriend dumped me right after we graduated from high school.”

“The key is helping them to remain friends after they break up as a couple,” Rick said.  “I never was able to make that happen.  The girl I got pregnant when I was in high school sent her brothers to kill me.  She blamed me for getting her pregnant and ruining her life.”

Clay raised his eyebrows in surprise.  “You haven’t always been gay?”

Rick shook his head.  “In fact, I was quite the womanizer when I met Glenn.”

I laughed and added, “He had a different girl in his bed every weekend.”

Clay realized he had to re-evaluate his opinion of Rick.  Apparently, the man was as sex crazed as every other Marine he knew.  Before meeting Janelle, he had partied hard with his Marine buddies and always had his pick of women to bed.  Knowing Rick had done the same before meeting Glenn, caused him to ask, “So, what caused you to take an interest in having sex with a guy?”

I answered Clay’s question before Rick could respond, “It was lust at first sight.”

Rick laughed.  “That’s true, it was.  Glenn’s cousin was my roommate at the time and he invited Glenn to stay with us.  I had returned home late from partying all night and didn’t know he was there, until I came out of my bedroom that morning.”

I said, “He was completely naked and sporting a major hard on that had me completely mesmerized.”

Rick grinned.  “The look on Glenn’s face when he saw me was priceless.  He was so obviously stunned by my great looks and personality he couldn’t help but want me.”

I added, “You have to admit Rick is the best looking guy around.”

Clay grinned and asked, “Dare I ask how long it took to get him into your bed?”

Rick laughed.  “It took longer than I expected.  Glenn’s cousin and his wife, Kerry, tried to get Glenn to date her sister, Ruth Ann.  They thought he couldn’t be gay and were convinced they could get him interested in her.”

“Obviously, they didn’t succeed, but Rick was quite jealous of her for a while,” I said, taking his hand in mine.  “That’s before he realized I meant what I said about him being my Prince Charming; so, he didn’t have to worry about me running off with someone else.”

The doorbell rang and I stood to answer it.  While I was gone, Clay asked, “Are you still attracted to women?”

Rick nodded his head.  “Yes, I am; but, I’m in with love Glenn, and I’m extremely attracted to him, Clay, much more so than I’ve ever been to women.”

Before Clay could ask any additional questions about Rick’s sexuality, I returned with Jolene, Jeff’s oldest daughter.  Caroline and Marie had asked for our permission to have her visit with them earlier in the day, so I wasn’t surprised to see her on our doorstep. 

I introduced her to the guys, “Jolene, this is my husband, Rick, and our friend, Clay.”

Jolene smiled and said, “It’s nice to meet you both.”

I said, “Caroline and Marie are upstairs with Ashley and Michaela.”

Jolene said, “Thank you for letting me visit my sisters.”

At that moment, her sisters appeared in the kitchen.  Caroline and Marie gave her a hug.  Caroline smiled at her, and said, “Come upstairs with us.  We want you to meet Ashley and Michaela.”

Jolene looked over at us and said, “If you’ll excuse us.”

Rick smiled and said, “Sure, we’ll catch up to you later, after you’ve had time to visit with Caroline and Marie.”

The girls left us in the kitchen.  Clay watched them leave, then turned back to us.  “What can I do to make things better for Mark?”

I looked at Rick, before answering his question.  “Well, to start with, you must completely accept him for who he is, AND he needs to know that you’re sincere.  You can’t fake your acceptance of him.  He’ll know you’re lying to him and he won’t trust you.”

Clay nodded his head.  “I already figured that out when he asked to stay with me.  He told me Janelle faked her acceptance of gays while she was staying with the Campbells; but, as soon as they moved back home, her true feelings came out.  That’s why he called me and asked to live with me, instead of his mother.”

Rick asked, “Has Mark confronted you about your feelings?”

Clay gave a slight grimace.  “Yes, he did.”

I raised an eyebrow and asked, “And?”

Clay said, “I told him the truth.  I’m not homophobic, anymore.  I’ve come to realize I must accept people for who they are.”

Rick cocked an eyebrow and said, “But…”

Clay sighed.  “Yes, but I’m not completely comfortable with the idea of two guys being together.  I told him I didn’t hate gays and asked him to be patient with me.  Mark thanked me for being honest with him.”

I smiled and said, “Honesty is always the best policy where family is concerned.  We have a family rule about being honest with each other; but, being kind at the same time.  We’re never to say things to intentionally hurt someone.”

Clay looked at me and asked, “Mark has talked about your family rules.  He’s mentioned you might be angry with him for breaking some of those rules.”

Rick looked at me and said, “The only family rule I think Mark may have broken with David is the one about not having sex with anyone until they’re 18 years old.”

Clay looked at us in surprise.  “You have a family rule requiring your children to refrain from having sex until they’re of age?”

“Yes, we did,” I said.  “The children are the ones who proposed the rule and the entire family agreed to it.  I was a little hesitant about it at first, because neither of us waited to have sex until we were out of high school.”

Rick said, “When they proposed it, we discussed all of the pros and cons of the rule and made sure everyone understood the consequences before we held a vote on it.”

Clay looked even more surprised.  “You held a vote on it?  I find it hard to believe.  Why would you do that?”

Rick said, “We believe in teaching correct principles and letting the children govern themselves.  What better way for them to learn to govern themselves than in a family environment, where it’s safe for them to do so?  We have a family council meeting once a week, where we discuss our activities for the week.  We also talk about the needs of each family member and make decisions as a family.”

Clay marveled at what he was hearing.  He had grown up with a military father who ruled his home with an iron first.  There was never any room for doubt or questions, because his father expected to be obeyed at all times.  “What if someone doesn’t agree with a family rule?”

“Any family member can bring up a change to a rule or ask for a rule to be thrown out.  We discuss it, just like when one is first proposed,” I responded.  I glanced over at Rick, before I continued.  “The latest change we discussed was the rule about no sex before age 18.”

Clay asked, “What happened?”

“We decided to repeal it,” Rick said.  “However, we left intact the requirement that our children must let us know who they’re dating and to let us know when they’ve decided to take their relationships to the next level.”

Clay looked at us in amazement.  “Did your teenagers agree to talk to you about their love lives?”

Rick laughed.  “No, they didn’t exactly want to do that; but, we insisted on it, as part of the repeal of the no sex rule.  We talked about it before they voted, so all of our cards were on the table.  One thing we’ve learned is we have to be completely upfront with our teens.  We expect complete honesty from them and we hold ourselves to the same standard.”

Clay said, “It makes sense to me, now that you’ve explained how it works.  Maybe I should try something similar with Mark and Michaela.  I think they would respond positively to the idea.”

Rick nodded his head in agreement.  “I think you’re right, Clay.”

Clay continued to quiz us about our experiences raising gay teenage boys as he tried to wrap his head around the fact he was the parent of a gay teen!

Jolene followed her sisters upstairs and into Ashley’s room.  Caroline said, “Jolene, these are my friends, Ashley and Michaela.”

Jolene smiled at the younger girls and said, “Hey!”

Ashley looked up from her place on the floor and said, “I’m glad you came.  Do you want to join us?  We’re playing Apples to Apples.”  The game was one of the few games she liked to play.  Board games bored her to tears, unlike her brothers who loved playing any kind of game.  She would rather read a book or surf the internet than play board games.

Jolene sat on the floor alongside her sisters.  “Sure, I love playing this game.”

As the girls played, Jolene observed how the girls interacted with each other.  She noted the closeness the four girls shared.  She wished she had friends she could pal around with like her sisters.

Later, Caroline and Marie took Jolene down the hall to the room they shared when they stayed with the Lernier family.  Jolene walked in and sat down at the computer desk, while her sisters sat on their beds.  She asked, “Doesn’t it bother you to hang out with the younger girls?”

Caroline said, “No, it doesn’t.  Ashley and Michaela are like little sisters to me.”

Marie said, “They’re super great girls, Jolene.  I like being around them.  We always have fun.”

Jolene said, “I’m glad you’ve made friends with them.  I was just surprised to find out how much younger they are than you two.”

Caroline said, “Age really doesn’t matter, mostly.  Of course, they can be rather silly sometimes; but, being silly can be a good thing.”

“Especially when things aren’t going well,” Marie added.  “Ashley and Michaela always make us laugh.  I know when I’m sad, they’ll cheer me up.”

Jolene smiled and asked, “I haven’t met the boys, yet.  Where are they?”

Caroline answered, “They’re downstairs playing video games.”

Jolene asked, “Are you going to introduce me to them?”

Caroline laughed.  “Sure.  You just want to check out Kyle.”

Jolene grinned.  “Of course!  I need to know if he’s the right one for you.”

Marie giggled.  “Let’s go.”  She stood up and raced out of the door and down the hallway to the stairs.

Caroline and Jolene followed at a much slower pace.  “She’s always running,” Caroline said to her sister.

Jolene laughed.  “She always did that when she was little.”

“She hasn’t changed,” Caroline said.  They went down the stairs and into the family room, where the boys were having their friendly competition.

Caroline said, “Guys, this is my sister, Jolene.”  She pointed to each of the boys in turn.  “This is Kyle, David, Mark, Gabriel, and Purev.  The twins are JJ and Josh.”

JJ stood up and walked over to Jolene.  He looked up at her and asked, “Are you the mean sister?”

Jolene was shocked at the question.  After taking a moment to recover, she answered, “No, I’m not.”

He wrinkled his brow and said, “Uncle Jeff said you were mean and vicious just like your mother.”

Her first reaction was to get angry.  Before she could reply, Caroline said, “JJ, Jolene has been mean to our father, just like my mother; but, she’s not like that, anymore.”

JJ gave Jolene a knowing look.  “I think she’s still mean.  Just look at her face.”

Caroline looked at her sister and laughed.  “Maybe you’re right, JJ.  But, she’s trying to change her ways.  She just needs a little help.”

Jolene started to protest, but Caroline cut her off.  “Don’t argue, Jolene.  You know I’m right.”

Jolene snapped her mouth shut, but gave her sister a blistering look.  Kyle came over to the girls.  He smiled at her and said, “I’m glad to meet you.”  He turned to JJ and said, “It’s your turn.”

JJ looked at Kyle and smiled.  “Thanks, Kyle.”  He turned and ran to take Kyle’s place on the game controller.

The girls sat down on the couch, while Kyle sat on the floor.  He wore white basketball shorts that hugged his body in all the right places and a tight fitting mesh t-shirt that showed off his big arms and his sculpted chest.  Jolene could see he had a fine physique.  She could see why Caroline had a crush on him. 

He grinned at her, as he noticed her looking him over.  “Do you like what you see?”

Jolene blushed.  She didn’t mean to be so obvious in her observation of him.  Caroline laughed, and said, “Yes, she likes you.  You know you’re too handsome for your own good.”

He laughed.  “Maybe, but I’m not complaining.”

Caroline said, “Be careful, Jolene, or he’ll try to seduce you.”

Jolene retorted, “I won’t let that happen, and I won’t be putting any moves on him.  You’re the one who needs to be careful.”

Caroline said, “No, I don’t have to worry.  Kyle wants to wait until he’s married before having sex.”

Jolene looked at Kyle and asked, “Is that true?”

“Yes, it is.  I want my first time to be with my wife after we’re married,” Kyle said.

“But how can you say you’ll wait, when all the girls are after you?” Jolene asked.

Kyle shrugged.  “It doesn’t matter what the girls want.  What counts is what I want, and I’ve decided I want to only have sex with my wife.”

Jolene said, “I’m surprised.  I thought the only thing guys want is to have sex with a girl.”

“Most guys are like that,” Kyle acknowledged.  “I have to admit it’s hard not to give in; but, I have more important things to do than waste my time messing around with a girl right now.  I need to get good grades, so I can go to the college of my choice.”

“Where do you want to go?” Jolene asked, surprised by Kyle’s maturity.

“I want to study international relations and work for some big international corporation,” Kyle said.  “I’ve always dreamed of travelling all over the world, and I intend to make that dream come true.”

Jolene said, “That’s really cool.”

Kyle grinned up at her.  “Most of my friends are pretty serious about their studies.  We keep each other going, even when the teachers give us such dumb assignments.”

Caroline laughed.  “That happens nearly every day.”

Marie said, “Yeah, my English teacher gave us a new book to read and analyze.”

They continued to discuss their different teachers and school in general.  Caroline and Marie watched their sister very carefully, as the evening wore on.  She seemed to relax and unbend. 

Later, as they walked her out to her car, Jolene turned to them and said, “Thank you for inviting me over, tonight.  I had a good time.”

Caroline and Marie hugged her.  Caroline said, “We’re glad you came, too.”  The girls watched as Jolene drove her car through the gate and turned onto the street.

Marie looked at her sister.  “Do you think she’ll ever get over our parents’ divorce?”

Caroline said, “Maybe.  I think when our dads get home, we’ll have to invite her over for a game night.”

Marie agreed.  “That sounds like a great idea.  I wonder how Dad and Daddy are doing.”

“I’m sure they’re having a nice time,” Caroline said, smiling at her sister as they returned to the house.

The girls entered the kitchen and sat down at the table with us.  Caroline looked at us and asked, “Have you heard from our dads?”

Rick said, “No, we haven’t heard from them since yesterday.  I’m sure they’re having a great time on their honeymoon.”  Seeing Clay’s expression, Rick elaborated, “Caroline’s father is our chief of security.  He married his sweetheart while we were in St. Catharines and they left on their honeymoon from there.”

Clay asked, “Are all of your friends gay?”

“Mostly,” I said.  “We have straight friends, but we’re most comfortable with our gay friends.  Straight people tend to be very judgmental.  We never know when they’ll turn on us.”

Clay thought about what I said, before he asked, “So, what you’re telling me is you don’t trust straight people.”

“That’s right.  We’ve been burned too many times by co-workers, neighbors and family members who told us they were okay with us being together; but, then they tried to remove our children from our home, put us in jail, or harass us on the job.  Our experiences with straight people have made us extremely wary of them and their intentions.  The way I look at it is this - if I expect to be harassed, persecuted, physically assaulted, or worse, then I’m not shocked or surprised when it happens,” I answered.

Rick said, “Glenn doesn’t trust straight people at all, where I tend to give people the chance to prove themselves, first.”

I said, “Do you blame me, Rick.  You were there when they took the twins from us.  You were also there when they detained us at the border as wanted men because of lies and falsehoods.  It was your family that tried to have us killed.  You can’t tell me you haven’t been impacted by the actions of the straight people in your life who wanted to do you harm.”

Rick tried to placate me by saying, “I don’t deny those things happened.”

I glared at him.  But before I could continue my tirade against straight people, Clay looked at me and said, “Unfortunately, I added to those bad experiences.  I can’t blame you for being cautious.”

I leaned back in my chair and said, “It’s kind of hard to ignore the threats of physical violence against gays that keep appearing in the media.  I have to protect my family, Clay, because I don’t know which one of those threats may happen here.  That is why we have a security team guarding our home and escorting our children to school and who is always on standby, just in case something goes wrong at school.  We can’t go to the police for help, because it’s not a specific threat against us.  There is nothing stopping those who hate us from hurting us because most law enforcement officials are all show, and some are outright hostile, when it comes to protecting gays and lesbians.”

Caroline looked at Clay and said, “Uncle Rick hired my dads to protect them.  It’s been a good job for Dad.  They’ve helped him a lot.”

Marie said, “Yes, Dad told us he owes everything to you guys and Uncle Todd and Uncle Zach.”

Caroline said, “Uncle Rick, the kids at our school used to bully the gay kids, but they don’t do it, anymore, because Kyle and his teammates protect the gay kids and won’t let anyone harass them.”

Rick said, “I’m glad to hear Kyle is having a positive influence on his classmates.  Hopefully, they’ll learn to treat everyone with respect.”

Kyle entered the kitchen and asked, “What was that about me and my classmates.”

Caroline said, “I was just telling your Dads about you and your friends.”

Kyle grinned and asked, cockily, “Are you telling them how wonderful we are?”

Marie laughed.  “Yes, she is!”

Caroline blushed, but managed to say, “I told them how you and your friends are protecting gay kids at school.”

Kyle’s expression grew solemn.  “Yeah, we’ve had a few run-ins with guys who think it’s okay to bully the gay kids at school.  Robert and I talked to our teammates about it and we decided, as a team, to put a stop to the bullying.”

Clay raised an eyebrow and asked, “So, how has that worked?”

“We’ve assigned bodyguards to each gay kid we know.  The guys walk each gay kid to class and meet them after class.  In some cases, we walk them home after school to make sure nobody messes with them,” Kyle said.

Rick asked, “How long have you guys been doing this?”

“We started it two weeks ago.  Robert and I made up a roster of all the gay kids and asked our teammates to choose someone to watch over.  Most kids have at least two football players who are helping them out,” Kyle said.

“How have the gay kids reacted to having football players protecting them?” I asked.

“Most of them were very happy to have someone looking out of them.  A couple of them were totally suspicious of us.  We had to get Purev to talk to them about it, before they would believe we weren’t up to something,” Kyle replied.

Purev walked into the kitchen with Gabriel, followed by Mark and David.  Rick looked at the guys and asked, “Do I get the sense there is a need for some snacks?”

Mark grinned and said, “Dad, we’re starving!”  Clay looked startled.  He hadn’t expected his son to call someone else DAD.  Seeing his father’s look, Mark explained, “I’ve been calling David’s dads, Dad and Daddy, since I came over here the first time.”

I said, “We asked him to call us Dad and Daddy.  He is dating our son, after all.”

Comprehension flickered in Clay’s eyes and he relaxed.  “I understand.  I was just a little surprised that’s all.”

I stood up from the table and asked, “Who want’s pizza?”  The teens all indicated their willingness to eat pizza.  I pulled out the pizza kits from the pantry and placed them on the table with all the toppings – pepperoni, sausage, ham, pineapple, onions, peppers, black olives and mushrooms.  “Everyone has to make their own pizza.” 

Rick said, “Kyle, please tell the twins to come make their pizzas.”

Kyle said, “Sure, Dad.”  He left the kitchen and soon returned with two very excited little boys!

JJ climbed on a chair and asked, “Do I get to make a ham and pineapple one?”

“Yes, JJ, you may make your favorite pizza,” I said.  I turned to Josh and said, “Josh, you may put double cheese on yours.”

Josh clapped his hands and bounced up and down with his excitement.  “I love cheese!”

Ashley said, “I’ll help you make your pizza, Josh.”

He ran over to her and they quickly assembled his pizza with the required pizza sauce and lots of cheese.  Watching the twins put the finishing touches on their creations, I said, “Okay, the oven’s ready.  Bring your pizzas over and we’ll put them in the oven to bake.”

The teens brought their pizzas over and we put as many in the oven as we could.  About 15 minutes later, the pies were done and we pulled them out of the oven.  We put in the next batch of pizzas.  The make-your-own pizzas were a real hit with everyone. 

After everyone ate their pizzas, Clay stood up from the table and said, “Thank you for feeding us.”

I said, “You’re welcome, Clay.” 

“I had better head home.  I have to be to work early in the morning,” Clay said.

“Thank you for bringing Mark and Michaela over,” Rick said.  “I know David was particularly excited to see Mark.”

Clay smiled and said, “I’m glad I got to know you guys better and thank you for the pointers about raising a gay son.”

Rick said, “You’re welcome.  Just remember, every child is unique and has individual needs.”

Clay nodded his head.  “I know you’re right; but, it helps to know I’m not the only parent who is dealing with raising a gay son.”

I said, “You can call us anytime.”

Clay smiled and said, “Thanks, Glenn.  That means a lot to me.”  Clay made his way to the front door, where Mark was waiting with David to say good-bye to his dad.  “It’s time to go, Michaela.”  Michaela followed her father outside.  Clay gave Mark a quick hug and said, “I’ll see you tomorrow, son.”  He put his arm around Michaela’s shoulders.  “Are you sure you don’t want to stay?”

“I’m sure, Dad.  I want some one-on-one time with you,” Michaela said, smiling up at him.

He grinned.  “Okay, we’ll have some Daddy-Daughter time.  Do you want to stop by Dairy Queen for an ice cream cone?”

Michaela nodded her head.  “Yes, but I want an ice cream sundae with lots of whipped cream.”

Clay said, “Okay, it’s a date then.”

Mark gave his sister a hug.  “Have a good time with Dad.”

She smiled.  “I will.”

She turned and followed her father to his car.  She climbed into the front seat, then waved as they pulled out of the driveway.

Mark and David quickly disappeared inside the house, as Rick and I walked hand in hand behind them.  Rick closed the front door and pulled me into his arms.

“I love you,” he said, smiling down at me.

“I love you, too,” I said, holding him tight and giving him a passionate kiss.

Rick pulled back and said, “I think it’s time I took you to bed.”

I laughed and said, “Let’s get the twins in bed first, then I’m all yours.”

We walked down the hallway to the family room.  When we entered, Josh immediately ran over to us with a big grin on his face and said, “I’m winning, Daddy.”  He grabbed my hand and pulled me over to sit next to him. 

Rick walked over and sat down next to JJ and asked, “How’s it going?”

JJ’s frown said it all.  His arms were folded and his lower lip was sticking out.  He said, “I’m losing.  David and Purev won’t let me win.”  He glared at the two young guys in question.

Rick looked over at them and asked, “Is that true?”

David said, defensively, “No, it’s not.  JJ just won’t accept the fact we’re better at this game than he is.”

Purev said, “I offered to help him; but, JJ won’t let me.  He says he can play all by himself and beat us.”

Rick lifted his son up on his lap and hugged him.  “JJ, did Purev offer to help you beat David?”  JJ lifted his arms up and slammed them down against his chest and scowled at Rick.  After a few moments of sullen silence, Rick prompted him, “Well, did Purev ask to help you?”

JJ mumbled, “Yes.”

“So what’s the problem, then?” Rick asked.

“I wanted to beat David all by myself.  I don’t need Purev’s help,” JJ responded.

“Do you think Purev could teach you how to beat David at this game?” Rick asked, patiently.

JJ thought about it, then answered, “Yes.”

Rick asked, “Do you think you could let Purev teach you how to win against David?”

JJ looked up at Purev and nodded his head.  “Yes.”

Purev grinned and said, “I promise you I’ll teach you all the tricks of this game so you can beat David next time.”

JJ’s expression cleared and he smiled.  “Okay.”

Rick said, “I think it’s time for bed.”

Josh said, “Okay, Dad.”

JJ asked, “May we stay up just a little longer?”

Rick answered, “Only for as long as it takes for you to get into your PJs and get into bed.”

JJ started to protest, when Purev said, “I’ll help you guys get your pajamas on.  Is that okay?”

JJ smiled and jumped down from his father’s lap.  “Race you!”

He took off at a dead run, followed by Purev who let him win the race up the stairs to the twin’s bedroom.

I picked up Josh and walked over to take Rick’s hand.  We made our way upstairs to find JJ was already in his pajamas.  I put Josh down and handed him his pajamas.  I said, “Here’s your pajamas.”

He quickly disrobed and put on his pajamas.  He knelt down beside his bed with Josh and Purev.  We joined them on our knees and listened as each of the boys said their prayers.  We tucked them into their beds, kissed each of them on the cheek and told them good night.

Purev left the room and we followed him out into the hallway.  Rick said, “Thank you for your help, Purev.”  Rick pulled him into a tight embrace.

Purev hugged him back and said, “I like helping with the twins.”

Rick said, “I know you do.  We appreciate all you do to help out around the house.”

Purev smiled and said, “I love you, Dad.  Thank you for letting Gabriel stay overnight with us.”

“You’re welcome, son.  Gabriel is always welcome in our home,” Rick said.

Purev met Rick’s gaze and said, “I know.  That’s one of the reasons I love you and Daddy so much.  You guys are always there for me and my friends.  Gabriel thinks I have the best dads in the entire world, and I agree with him.”

Rick gave him another hug.  “We think you’re pretty awesome yourself, Purev.”  He released him and Purev bounded down the stairs to rejoin Gabriel.

Rick laughed, “I wish I had his energy.”

I grinned and said, “I believe you have plenty of energy, Babe.  I just think you need the proper motivation to show it.”  I put my arm around his waist and pulled him close.

Rick nodded his head and asked, “You mean like having a handsome lover who needs my attention?”  He gave me a lecherous look and took me by the hand and led me to our bedroom, closing the door behind us.  “I need you naked, right now,” he growled as he captured my lips in a fierce kiss. 

As if by magic, my clothes disappeared from my body as did his.  He picked me up and I wrapped my arms around his neck.  The fire in his eyes practically seared my skin with its intensity.  A thrill of anticipation ran down my spine, as he lowered me to the mattress!

Later, as we lay in each other arms, Rick nibbled on my ear and whispered, “I love you.”

I turned my head to meet his lips, giving him a tender kiss.  I whispered against his lips, “I love you, too, Babe.”

Rick rubbed noses with me, then he rolled onto his back, pulling me close to him.  I leaned up and looked down into his eyes and said, “I’m glad we’re back.  It’s been a stressful week.”

“Yes, it has,” he agreed.  “But you have to admit things went smoothly, both for your father’s funeral and for Jeff and Cole’s wedding.”

“Yes, things did go okay…even with Renata coming to the funeral.  I’m glad Mom thought to give Johnny a chance to say his good-byes to our father.  She could’ve given them the cold shoulder,” I said.

“I have to really admire your mother.  She has shown us how to do things right, even when we don’t feel like it or have hard feelings toward a particular person,” Rick said.  “Speaking of doing the right thing, I think we’re making progress with Clay.”

I nodded my head in agreement, as I ran my hand over my lover’s sculpted chest and abs.  “I think Clay has come a long ways since he ran you and Phil off of his project.”

Rick grinned.  “You could say he has had an epiphany!”

I smacked his chest with the flat of my hand.  “Don’t be a smart ass!”

Rick laughed and grabbed my hand, bringing it to his lips and placing a kiss in the center of my palm.  A serious expression came to his face, and he said, “I really do think Clay has had a change of heart about gays.”

“I do, too, and it’s a good thing for Mark, especially since Janelle seems to have gone off the deep end,” I said.

“I’m glad Clay had the courage to speak to us about raising a gay son,” Rick said.

“Well, we are raising two gay sons,” I said.  “So, we have some first-hand knowledge about the subject.”

Rick smiled and lifted his hand to push my hair back out of my eyes.  “Not to mention you’ve been gay all of your life,” he said.

“Well, not quite all of my life.  I was 11 or 12 years old when I started to fantasize about having sex with a guy.  Then, I was raped by my cousin and his friends.  The experience was very traumatic for me and you know how I’ve suffered psychologically from that attack.  However, that experience also forced me to realize I like having sex with a guy.  Looking back on it, now that I’ve overcome the fear and anger I carried around with me all those years, I can say that event in my life pushed me firmly toward the gay side,” I said.

Rick looked at me and asked, “Are you saying you’re glad John raped you?”

I shook my head vehemently.  “No, I’m not saying that at all!  I’m just saying I learned I like being fucked that day.  But, I would’ve learned I like being fucked by a guy sooner or later, anyway.  It didn’t have to happen the way it did.”  I paused for a moment to think about my recent encounter with John, before continuing, “Seeing John at Dad’s funeral didn’t bother me.  I wasn’t sure how I would react to seeing him again and I’m glad it didn’t cause me any problems.”

“I was worried you’d have a relapse after being in the same room with him,” Rick said.

I said, “I know you were worried about me, but I’m okay.”

“Well, I’m glad you’re doing much better than you we’re when we were first married,” Rick said.

“So am I!  I was in pretty bad shape for a while there,” I acknowledged.  “But, you’ve been by my side the entire time and I’m grateful you’ve stuck with me through it all.”  I leaned over and kissed him.  “You’re still my Prince Charming.”

Rick grinned.  “I’m glad I’m still good for something.”

I laughed and reached down to take his hardening cock in my hand.  “I think someone needs some one-on-one attention.”

Rick rolled me onto my back and said, “There’ll be time to talk more, later.  Right now, I think it’s time for round two.”  His passionate lovemaking quickly took us both to new heights, igniting a raging inferno between us!

Prev To be continued . . .

A Note from Russ:

Family Finances -

Injustice in the USA Justice System -

We need a fairer justice system -

Shadowlands Laser Tag -

Music for this chapter:

Disney/Pixar short - Lava -

Prince Royce – Nada -