The Man from Swift Current
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved




Chapter 139: Martin and Rafael

Greg looked into his husband’s eyes, and smiled.  “Good morning, Babe.”

Cory replied, “Good morning to you.”  He rubbed noses with Greg, and kissed him lightly on the lips.   “It’s finally spring break!”

“Yes, and we’re finally going to get some sun!” Greg said.  He stretched and yawned.   He rolled over to face his husband, pulling him close.  “I can’t wait to see my new nephews.” 

Joey had married Greg’s sister, Kathy.  They had two little girls, Rachel and Sarah; however, they were in the process of getting a divorce, when Kathy had been killed in a tragic car accident, leaving Joey a widower.  Fortunately, Joey had met Tyler by then, and the two were married shortly after that. 

“Tyler and Joey sound so very happy,” Cory said.

“I think Tyler’s Mom is even happier,” Greg said, laughing.

“Why do you say that?” Cory asked, running his hand lightly over his lover’s six-pack abs.

“Louise didn’t think she would ever have grandchildren, and now she has four,” Greg said.  “Two girls and two boys.”

“You know she’s going to spoil them rotten,” Cory said, smiling.

Greg shook his head.  “I disagree.  I think it’s going to be Sra. Nájera who will spoil them rotten.”

Cory thought for a moment, then nodded his head in agreement.  Sra. Nájera was Tyler and Joey’s housekeeper.  She and her husband considered Tyler and Joey to be part of their own family.

Greg said, “I’m glad Grandpa was able to arrange for all of us to stay at The Fountains Resort.”

Cory said, “I agree.  Staying at a resort is so much better than staying at a regular hotel.”

There was a knock on the door and Greg shouted, “Come in!”

The door opened and Peyton and Jonathan walked into the room.   They walked over and sat on the foot of the bed.  Peyton smiled, and said, “Are you guys ready for our vacation?”

Greg said, “Yes, I’m more than ready.  I can’t wait to see my new nephews.”

Cory said, “Tyler and Joey are such nice guys.  I’m very happy for them.”

Jonathan asked, “Since they live in Spain, why couldn’t they have found a surrogate there?”

Greg said, “Since Spanish law forbids surrogacy for gays, they had to come back to the United States.   They worked with an adoption agency in New York City to find a surrogate mother.   Tyler is their natural father, and the surrogate mother agreed to terminate her rights to the boys, so Joey could adopt them.”

Peyton said, “It just goes to show how much influence our enemies have.  They may have lost the gay marriage battle; but, they haven’t given up their persecution of gays.”

Greg said, “That’s so true.  There are many anti-gay laws on the books in many countries where gay marriage is legal.  We still have a long battle ahead of us to get those laws changed.”

Cory said, “That is why we have to keep working to raise awareness of the discrimination and persecution we suffer at the hands of supposedly religious people.”

Peyton nodded his head in agreement.  “I’m with you there.  There is just as much discrimination against ex-convicts.  It makes it very hard to return to a normal life.”

Jonathan said, “In order to fight against discrimination in all its forms, we need to know the laws and actively work to change them.”

Peyton added, “That is the reason I want to become a lawyer; so, I know my rights and can defend myself and my friends against the hatred of others.”

Greg said, “Do you know if they will let you become a lawyer?”

Peyton shrugged his shoulders.  “I don’t know.  We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Jonathan, hearing the tone of his husband’s voice, knew Peyton didn’t want to discuss it, anymore.  He changed the subject of the conversation.  “How did Tyler and Joey meet the Nájeras?”

Greg said, “When Tyler was studying at the Universidad Cumplutense de Madrid, the Nájeras took Tyler into their home.  Sra. Nájera nearly fainted, when she met Tyler for the first time, saying he looked so much like her deceased son.  She swore he had to be a long lost twin to her baby boy.  From that moment on, the Nájeras have treated him like he was a member of the family.  After Tyler married Joey, the Nájeras insisted on moving with them to their new home.  Tyler and Joey agreed; but only if they would agree to let them pay them.  As a result, the Nájeras take care of the domestic chores, including watching over Tyler and Joey and their little girls.”

Cory said, “They are like another set of grandparents for our nieces.”

Greg nodded his head in agreement.  “You’ll get to meet them, when we get to Orlando.   The Nájeras and Tyler’s parents are staying in the condo next door to them.”

Peyton smiled at his adopted brother.  “I’m sure we’ll love them, just like we love you and Cory.”

Greg laughed.   “I hope not, Peyton, because I want both of you in our bed, now!”

Jonathan looked over at his husband, and grinned.  “Clothes on, or off?”

Greg arched an eyebrow at his brother-in-law.  “Do you really have to ask?”

Jonathan laughed, and quickly stripped off his clothes.   Peyton followed suit and they climbed into bed with Greg and Cory.

Greg pulled Peyton into his arms and gave him a passionate kiss, while Cory did the same to Jonathan.  When they surfaced for air, Peyton looked over at his husband, and said, “This is why I love living here.”

Jonathan nodded his head.  “Yes, it’s one of the perks of living with other gay men.”

Greg frowned, and said, “I think you need to qualify that statement.”

Jonathan looked into Greg’s eyes, and smiled, “Okay, we love living with two hot studs such as yourself and your husband.”

Greg grinned broadly.  “That’s better!”

Jonathan said, “You two are the best brothers-in-law!”

Peyton said, “Not only that, I’m very grateful for what you and the other guys did for me, while I recovered from my injuries.”

Greg cupped Peyton’s cheek in the palm of his hand, holding his gaze.  “You would do the same for us.”

Peyton covered Greg’s hand with his own.  “I hope I would; but, you guys are my guardian angels.”

Cory said, “We might be your guardian angels; but I’m so horny I need some relief.”

Jonathan said, “I think that can be arranged.  Let’s get showered at the same time.”

Cory agreed, “Yes, I like that idea.”

A while later, four very satisfied men left the shower!

Earlier the same morning Joey awoke to the sound of a baby crying, then a second one joined the first.  He gently shook Tyler’s shoulder.  “Babe, the boys need feeding.”

Tyler opened his eyes, and said, groggily, “How long did Dr. Calder say it would be before they start sleeping through the night?”  

Joey smiled, tiredly, and replied, “When they’re three to four months old.”

Tyler groaned, “Why didn’t you warn me we would be sleep deprived for months?”  He ran his fingers through his curly, sandy blond hair.

Joey laughed.  “I did warn you.  You were so excited to have two little guys of your own it didn’t sink in.”

Tyler pulled Joey closer to him, kissing him.  “You were just as excited as I was,” he said, accusingly.

“Yes, I was; and I’m still very excited to have two little baby boys who look just like their father,” Joey said, getting to his feet and turning to help his husband out of bed.   “Let’s go feed the two starving boys.”

Joey walked out of their room and through the sitting room and kitchen of the three bedroom condo to the boys’ room, while Tyler stopped in the kitchen to begin warming the baby formula.  Joey opened the door and flipped on the light.  The twin infant boys were exercising their lungs to their full capacity! 

He bent over the crib and said, soothingly, “Daddy’s right here.”  

At the sound of his voice, Rafael stopped crying; however, Martin continued to express his need for food.   Joey knew it was Rafael only by the small birthmark behind his left ear.  The boys were fraternal twins; but, they looked like identical twins.

He reached into the crib and picked up Martin’s tiny body, his face red from crying.  “There, there, little one.  Daddy’s going to feed you.”

Martin stopped crying and looked up into his dad’s face.  Joey felt the strong connection between them, his heart reaching out to this little human, as he wrapped his tiny hand around Joey’s finger.  The adoption of his lover’s twin boys had been completed a couple of weeks earlier, and he already felt a strong bond of love for them.

Tyler came up behind him, wrapping his arms around his waist.  He said, “I see Martin got what he wanted.”

Joey turned his head to meet Tyler’s lips.  They kissed, briefly.  “What do you mean?”

Tyler smiled, and said, “He wanted you to hold him; so, he screamed until you did what he wanted.  Rafael never does that.”

“Maybe…I think he just likes being held by his Dads,” he responded.

“You mean he’s just like you – you like me to hold you close, too,” Tyler replied, smiling, as he released his husband and reached into the crib to retrieve Rafael.

Joey said, “Yes, I love being in your arms, Babe.”

Tyler brushed his lips against Joey’s in a tender kiss, and said, “I like holding you.”  He looked down into Rafael’s eyes, and continued, “Rafael likes to be held in my arms, too; but, he’s much more patient than his brother.”

“I agree with you.  Martin is not very patient and doesn’t like to be kept waiting for his baby formula,” Joey said.  “Are their bottles ready?”

“Yes, they’re in the kitchen,” Tyler said.

The two men carried their precious bundles of joy out of their room.  Each of them grabbed a bottle of baby formula, as they passed through the kitchen.  They each claimed a rocking chair and began to feed the hungry boys.

It wasn’t long before the boys had drained their bottles.  They burped the infants, before changing their diapers.  Joey and Tyler burped them a second time, to make sure they didn’t have any air in their stomachs, then rocked them to sleep.  Tyler looked over at his husband, with loving eyes.  He was glad he had married Joey.  He was a wonderful father to their girls, and he knew he would be just as wonderful to their two boys.  He loved watching Joey gently rocking Martin to sleep.  He knew exactly what to do to comfort him.

When the boys were asleep, they returned them to their crib.  The two men stood, looking down at the sleeping baby boys.  Tyler slipped his arm around Joey’s waist, pulling him close. 

He leaned over to whisper in his ear, “They’re so beautiful.”

Joey whispered back, “Yes, they are, just like their father.”  He turned his head to meet Tyler’s lips in a gentle kiss.

They left the room, quietly closing the door behind them.  Joey crossed the hall to open the door and peeked into the bedroom where their two little girls were peacefully sleeping.  The two girls were cuddled together in the center of the bed, with Rachel holding her little sister, Sarah, in her arms.   Joey smiled and closed the door, reassured they were okay.

He turned to Tyler, and said, “Let’s go back to bed, Babe.  The children will be up early.   The girls are so excited to be here; they will want to go swimming as soon as they can.”

Tyler nodded his head in agreement.  “Yes, they’ll be up with the sun; however, I think it’s time I showed you how much I love you, Joey Damasiewicz.”

Joey took Tyler’s hand and led him back into the master bedroom.  They quickly shed their clothes, and climbed back into the bed they had vacated earlier.  Tyler began his sensual assault, leaving Joey no doubts about his love for him!

As they basked in the afterglow of their lovemaking, Joey caressed his husband’s sculpted chest.  He looked into Tyler’s eyes, and said, “Never, in my wildest dreams, did I ever imagine sex with a man would be so mind-blowing and fantastic!”  He brushed his lips tenderly against his lover’s.

Tyler put his hand over Joey’s.  “That’s because you hadn’t met me yet.”

Joey smiled, and replied, “That’s true.  I had to experience what it was like to be with Kathy to learn to appreciate how much happier I am with you.”

“I’m just sorry you had to endure so much with Kathy,” Tyler said, brushing his fingertips along Joey’s strong jawline.

Joey’s eyes blurred with unshed tears.   “But it was you who pulled me through those rough times, Babe.  Those last few months with Kathy were pure hell.”

Tyler pushed Joey’s long brown hair out of his beautiful blue eyes, and cupped his cheek in his palm.  “No, it was a joint effort, Joey.  It wasn’t all me, because you were just as much in the game as I was.  We make quite the team!”

Joey put his hand up to cover his lover’s.  “Yes, we’re a team; but I couldn’t have done it without you.”  Joey snuggled closer to Tyler, who wrapped his arms round his husband.  Joey laid his head on Tyler’s chest, listening to the steady beat of his heart.  Tyler nuzzled Joey’s hair, and said, “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Joey responded, sleepily, feeling warm and safe as he drifted off.

Greg and Cory were the first ones off of the plane.  They stood at the gate, waiting for the rest of the guys.

Robbie, Adam, Justin, Brian, Peyton and Jonathan soon joined them.  Robbie said, “I think we’re all here.   Let’s get our car.   I’m ready to party!”

Greg laughed, and said, “You’re always ready to party, Robbie!”

Robbie’s green eyes danced with mischief, as he placed his arm around his husband’s waist, slipping his hand into the back pocket of his jeans.  “I’m glad you finally recognized that, Greg!”

Cory looked over at Greg and said, “Don’t encourage him, Greg.  He’s already bad enough to deal with, without making things worse.”

Robbie placed his hand over his heart, giving Cory a look of indignation.  “You wound me with your words, sir!”

Cory burst out laughing.  “I’m sorry, if I injured your fragile ego, Robbie.   I hope I didn’t permanently damage your self-esteem.”

Adam kissed his husband, and said, “You don’t have to worry about damaging his self-esteem.  I fixed that problem with our first kiss.”

Robbie nodded his head.  “He kissed me on my second day at my new school.”

“You looked like a little lost puppy dog,” Adam said, laughing.

“I was kind of lost,” Robbie admitted, grinning.  “I was just waiting to see who would take pity on me.”

Adam said, “And I fell for it!”

Peyton said, “Hey, guys!   Let’s save the chitchat for later.   We need to get moving.”

Robbie stuck his tongue out at Peyton, who quickly grabbed him and kissed him on the lips.   “That will teach you to stick out your tongue at me.”

Robbie laughed, and said, “I got what I wanted – a kiss from one hot stud.”

Peyton swatted Robbie on the butt, and said, “Get moving!”  He turned to Adam and asked, “Can’t you control your husband?”

Adam shook his head.   “I’ve tried, but I haven’t been able to reform him.”

Robbie kissed Adam’s cheek.  “But you love me anyway.”

Adam responded, “Yes, I do; but let’s get going.   I want to get some sun.”

The guys walked down the concourse, following the signs to baggage claim.  It wasn’t long before they had retrieved their luggage, picked up two rental cars, and navigating their way to the resort.  

Greg pulled out his phone and called his brother-in-law.  “Hey, Joey!”

“Hey yourself!   Where are you guys?” Joey asked.

“We’re almost to the resort,” Greg answered.

“I’ll meet you at check-in,” Joey said.

“Cool!   We’ll see you in a few minutes then,” Greg said, ending the call.

Peyton turned to look over his shoulder at Greg in the back seat of the car.  “I’m a little nervous about meeting Joey.”

Greg met Peyton’s gaze.  “I wouldn’t worry, Peyton.  Everything will be okay.”

Jonathan, who was driving, reached over and squeezed his husband’s thigh.  “Just relax, Babe.  Joey already knows what you’ve been through and I’m sure he’ll accept you for who you are.  Remember he’s married to a guy, just like you are.”

Peyton covered Jonathan’s hand with his own.  “That isn’t what has me worried, Jonathan.  The last time I saw him was at our graduation, and we weren’t exactly friends.”

Jonathan said, “But that was a long time ago, and you both have changed a lot since then.”

Peyton nodded his head.  “Yes, I know I’ve changed for the better because of you, Babe.”

Jonathan smiled and said, “That’s true; but, we can’t forget the help you received from our band of brothers.  You know as well as I do how much they mean to us.”

 Greg said, “That’s right!  You had better not forget about us!”

Peyton blushed and laughed.  “I will never forget my band of brothers.”  He grew solemn.  “I hope Joey doesn’t hold a grudge.”

Cory asked, “Why?  What did you do to him?”

Peyton said, “We got into a fight over a girl during our junior year.  I gave him a black eye.”

“Who won the fight?” Greg asked, curiously.

“I’d like to say I did; but, that wouldn’t be the truth.  Before we had a chance to really see who was the best fighter, we were separated by a couple of the teachers.  We were both suspended for fighting on school grounds.”

“So who got the girl?” Greg asked.

“Mary Ann dumped both of us.  She said she didn’t date losers, especially guys who got kicked out of school,” Peyton said, laughing.

Greg said, “Rick told us you were in trouble a lot in high school.”

Peyton nodded his head.  “I was.  I’m not proud of what I did back then.  I was rebelling against anyone in authority, especially my dad.   I hung out with a bad crowd, and did a lot of things I shouldn’t have done.”

He paused for a moment, then continued, “I didn’t get along with Rick very well, either; in fact, I guess you could say we didn’t like each other at all.  Joey was Rick’s friend, and that made him my enemy, as well.  When Joey started dating Mary Ann, I saw red.  Mary Ann was supposed to be my girl, and I hated to see her date someone else.”

Jonathan pulled into The Fountains parking lot; and the guys got out and walked into the lobby to check-in.   They were standing in line for the next receptionist, when Joey entered the lobby.  He walked over to Greg and threw his arms around his brother-in-law.

“I’m so glad to see you,” Joey said, giving Greg a kiss on the lips.

He released Greg, turning to Cory.  “I’m glad you’re taking good care of Greg.”  He pulled Cory into his embrace and kissed him. 

Cory said, “I try to do what I can to make him happy.”

Greg said, “You’re looking good, too, Joey.”

Joey smiled.  “I’m very happy, Greg.  I thought I was happy when I married your sister, Greg; but, now, I know what true happiness is.  I can see you know what it is, as well.”

Greg put his arm around Cory’s shoulders.  “Yes, I do, and it’s being married to the most wonderful man in the world.”

Having checked-in, Jonathan and Peyton walked over to join Greg and Cory.  Seeing Peyton, Joey met his gaze and frowned.  Seeing his expression, Peyton looked away from him, not wanting to see the rejection in Joey’s eyes.

Joey walked over to him and pulled him into a warm embrace.  “It’s good to see you, Peyton.”

Peyton stood still, not responding for a moment, as Joey held him tight.  He was confused.  He saw Joey’s frown, and immediately assumed he didn’t want to see him.  Why was Joey giving him a hug?

Joey whispered into his ear, “Peyton, I forgave you a long time ago for what happened between us in high school.  That is all in the past and long forgotten.  What is important at this moment is you’re here with Jonathan.  Rick has told me everything that has happened to you.  You have suffered enough, Peyton.  I’d like us to start over as friends, especially since you’re part of our family – brother-in-law.”

Peyton responded by wrapping his arms around Joey’s waist, holding him close.  Tears blurred his vision and he had to clear his throat a couple of times before he could speak.  “Thank you, Joey, you don’t know how much it means to me, knowing you’re not still angry with me.”

Joey pulled back, looking deeply into Peyton’s eyes.  “I’m glad you’ve found happiness, Peyton.”

Peyton released his hold on Joey, turning toward his soul mate.  “Let me introduce you to the person responsible for making me happy.  This is my husband, Jonathan Smith.”

Joey enfolded Jonathan in a warm embrace.   “I’m glad to meet you, Jonathan.”  He looked over at Peyton.  “You sure managed to find the best looking guy around to be your husband.”

Jonathan blushed, and said, “No, I’m the one who found the best looking guy in the world.”  He put his arm around Peyton’s waist, giving him a quick kiss on the lips.

Robbie and Adam walked over to join them.  Joey greeted them with a hug and kiss, as well.  Justin and Brian joined them, handing key cards to Greg and Cory.  Justin said, “We’re ready to go.”

The guys piled back into their vehicles, with Joey joining Greg and Cory in the back seat.  Joey directed them to their building, where they found parking.   They made their way to their condos, which were side by side.

Joey said, “We’re staying in the condo next to you on the other side and Tyler’s parents and the Nájeras are on the other side of us.”

Greg smiled, and said, “Sweet!  I really like Sra. Nájera.   She is the best cook!”

Cory nodded his head in agreement.  “I hope she will make us some paella while we’re here.”

“You’ll have to ask her.  She’s on vacation, just like you guys are, so she hasn’t been doing much cooking,” Joey said.  “Why don’t you guys get settled, then come over to visit with us.”

Greg said, “Sounds good to me.”

Cory said, “We want to get some sun.”

“We can take the girls down to the pool, and you guys can soak up the rays, while they swim,” Joey said.

Cory said, “Okay, we’ll see you soon.”

Joey left them to unpack and returned to his condo to find the girls playing a game of Chutes and Ladders with Tyler.  Tyler looked up, smiling at his husband.  “I could use some help here, Babe.  The girls are winning!”

Rachel giggled and ran over to Joey.  “Dad doesn’t like losing.”

Joey scooped her up in his arms and walked over to sit down next to Tyler on the couch.  “Well, you and Sarah are experts at playing this game.”

Sarah said, “I win.”  She moved her token to the finish.

Tyler smiled and leaned over to pick her up.  “Yes, you won, Sarah.”  He kissed her cheek.  “What would you like to do now?”

“I want to swim,” she said looking up at him. 

“Okay,” Tyler said.  “You will need to get your swimsuit on.”

Rachel said, “I want to swim, too.”

Joey said, “You need to get your swimsuit on, too.  Please help Sarah.”

She jumped down from her father’s lap and took Sarah’s hand, leading her to their room. 

Tyler stood up, taking Joey by the hand, pulling him to his feet and into his arms.  Tyler gave him a deeply passionate kiss.  When they came up for air, Joey pulled back and asked, “Do you want to go swimming, as well?”

“Yes, but we need to get the boys ready to go out,” Tyler said.

Joey said, “Maybe Mom and Dad will be willing to come over to watch them for us while we swim.”

Tyler grinned and said, “Or we can ask them to take the girls swimming, while we stay in with the boys.”

Joey ran his hands through Tyler’s curly blond hair, then pulled him in for a kiss.  “I like the way you think.”

Tyler put his hands in the back pockets of Joey’s jeans, cupping his bubble butt and pulling him closer.

They were interrupted when the two little girls returned, dressed in their swimsuits.  “We’re ready to go, Daddy!”

Joey broke their kiss and said, “I’ll call Grandpa and Grandma to see if they will watch the boys.”

He pulled out his phone and rang Louise.   “Hi, Mom!”

Louise said, “Hello, Joey.”

“Would you and Dad mind watching the boys for us, while we take the girls down to the pool?”

Louise said, “We’ll be right over.   I know you’ll be wanting to catch up with the guys.”

Joey said, “Thanks, Mom.  Would you ask Sra. Najera if she would be willing to make paella for the guys tonight?”

Louise laughed, and said, “She’s already been cooking up a storm.  I’ve been helping her with the paella.  Dinner will be at 6 PM, so don’t be late.”

“You guys are the best!”   He ended the call and turned to Tyler.  “Let’s get our swimsuits on.”

Joey and Tyler quickly changed out of their t-shirts and jeans and into their swimsuits.   They wore their board shorts over their Speedos.   They slipped on their flip flops and grabbed their beach bag which contained sun screen, goggles, towels, and a couple of water bottles, just in case the girls got thirsty.

Joey said, “Let’s go see if Uncle Greg and Uncle Cory are ready to go swimming.”

Rachel jumped up and down with excitement.   “May I go get them?”

Joey said, “Sure.”  He walked to the door, opening it to let his daughters out.   He pointed to the door next to theirs.  “Knock on this one.”

Rachel made a fist and pounded on the door.  Greg shouted through the door, “Who is it?”

Rachel answered, “It’s me.”

Greg asked, “Who is me?”

Rachel replied, “It’s Rachel, Uncle Greg.”

He opened the door and knelt down, as she ran to him.  She threw her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek.

“How are my favorite nieces?” Greg asked, smiling at her.

“We’re fine, Uncle Greg.  We want to go swimming.   Are you going to go swimming with us?”

He smiled at Rachel and said, “Yes, we’re going swimming with you.”

While they talked, Louise and Henry opened their door and walked over to Joey.  Louise said, “Go and enjoy yourselves.  We’ll watch the twins.”

Tyler hugged his mother and said, “Thanks, Mom!”

He watched as his parents settled on the couch and switched on the television.  Henry looked over at his son.   “Go have fun with the girls.  We’ll be fine.”

He closed the door to the condo and entered Greg and Cory’s, joining Joey and the girls as they waited for the guys to change into their swimming trunks.  Jonathan and Peyton came out of their room ready to go swimming.

Joey said, “Rachel and Sarah, this is Uncle Peyton and Uncle Jonathan.”

Rachel stared up at Peyton and said, “You look like Uncle Rick.”

Peyton smiled and knelt down beside her.  “That’s because he’s my cousin.”

“Are you as fun as Uncle Rick?” she asked, looking him in the eye with her hands on her hips.

Peyton laughed and said, “I don’t know how to answer you, Rachel; but we could go swimming and you can tell me later if I’m as much fun as Uncle Rick.”

Rachel looked thoughtful for a moment, then said, “Okay.”            

Peyton stood up and smiled at Joey.  “It’s obvious Rick has set a pretty high standard.”

Joey grinned.  “That he has, Peyton; but, I think you’ll measure up.”

Peyton met Joey’s gaze, and said, “Thank you for letting me be a part of your family, Joey.”  He looked down at the two little girls and asked, “How old are Rachel and Sarah?”

Joey said, “Rachel, tell Uncle Peyton how old you are?”

“I’m 6 years old,” she responded, holding up six fingers. 

Sarah said, “I’m 4.”  She raised her hands above her head to show three fingers on each hand.

Rachel reached over to push one arm down, and to lift up one more finger on the remaining hand.   “Sarah, this is four.”  Sarah laughed, and pulled her hand away from her sister.  Rachel said, “You’re just being silly.”

Greg and Cory joined them.  Greg said, “I called the rest of the guys.  They’ll be here in a few minutes.  He looked around the room and asked, “Are we ready to go?”

Rachel said, “Yes, Uncle Greg.”

There was a light tap on the door.  Tyler opened it to find Robbie, Adam, Justin and Brian standing there in their board shorts and beach towels in their hands.

Robbie grinned and said, “We’re ready to go swimming.  Is there anyone here, who wants to go swimming?”

Sarah and Rachel responded, in unison, “We do!”

The guys stepped inside the condo.  Tyler and Joey greeted their friends with a hug and kiss.  Robbie said, “I’ve missed you guys.”

Joey said, “We’ve missed you guys, as well.  You guys need to make another trip to Spain to visit us.”

Adam grinned broadly, and said, “Definitely!”

Justin echoed Adam’s sentiment.  “Yes, we absolutely need to take another vacation, to visit with you two.”

Brian took Justin’s hand in his.  “Yes, we need to do that again.  Justin needs a break from running his business, and going to Spain would be just the thing.”

Greg said, “Either Spain, or Cancun.  I wouldn’t mind a repeat of our last trip there.”  He winked at Cory, who blushed.

Joey said, “We’ve heard about that trip.  If your visit to Spain was anything like it, it must have been super fantastic.  Maybe we’ll have to make a point to be there when you do it again.”

Robbie added, “We want to be there, too, since we missed out on the last trip to Cancun.”

Greg said, “Zach and Glenn planned the last trip.”

Adam said, “I don’t think Zach and Todd will be able to get away to go with us, given Zach’s schedule.”

Peyton said, “Glenn might be willing to help plan it, but I wouldn’t count on Rick and Glenn going.”

Greg looked curiously at Peyton.  “Is there something you aren’t telling us, Peyton?”

Peyton looked at Jonathan for support.  Jonathan cleared his throat and said, “Guys, you all know Glenn wants to be married, right?”

Cory said, “Yes, we know.  We’ve witnessed some of the discussions they’ve had about the subject of Rick’s insistence on finishing his time in the Marine Corps.”

Peyton said, “Well, they had a huge argument a few days ago, and Glenn has moved into the spare bedroom.  Rick called to ask my advice about what to do.  He hasn’t spoken to Glenn in two days and he left for his weekend warrior duties this morning.”

Justin said, “This sounds pretty serious, guys.  Has anyone spoken to Glenn?”

Greg said, “I called him a couple of days ago, but I got his voice mail.”

“Same here,” Peyton said.

Cory asked, “Has anyone called Duane and Mason?  I’ll be they know more about what’s happening, since Glenn works with them.”

Joey asked, “Do you think Glenn would drive down to join us here?  Maybe some time away from Atlanta would help him.”

Peyton shrugged.  “I don’t know if he would come; but, it wouldn’t hurt to ask.”

Greg said, “I hate to interrupt this conversation; but there’s a pool waiting for me outside.   We can talk about future vacations later.  As for calling Glenn, I’ll call him after we’re done swimming.  Maybe he’ll listen to me.”  He took Rachel’s hand in his, and said, “Let’s go, crew.” 

Greg led the way out the door and around the balcony to the elevators.  Cory reached down to scoop Sarah into his arms.  “Let’s catch up to Rachel and Uncle Greg.”

She giggled, and said, “I’ll hold on tight.”  She wrapped her arms around his neck and shouted, “Wait for us!”

Cory sprinted to catch up with his husband.  Rachel clapped her hands with excitement.   “We’re going swimming!”

Joey said, “I’m glad you guys were able to meet us here.”

Greg kissed Rachel on the cheek.  “So am I.”

The rest of the guys joined them as the elevator doors opened, and they moved inside.  They made their way outside and walked down to the swimming pools.

They found an empty table and piled their towels on it.  Greg turned to his brothers-in-law and said, “You guys go have fun on the waterslides, while Cory and I play with the girls in the pool.”

Joey said, “Okay.  We’ll meet you back here to switch off.”

Tyler looked at the girls and asked, “Rachel and Sarah, is it okay for me and Daddy to go down the waterslide while you stay here with Uncle Greg and Uncle Cory?”

Rachel said, “Yes, Dad.”

Sarah nodded her head.  “I have Uncle Cory.”  She laid her head on his shoulder, as she held on to him. 

Cory smiled.  “Go have fun.”

Joey and Tyler followed the rest of the guys to the waterslide.  When they caught up to Peyton and Jonathan, Jonathan turned to Joey and said, “Your girls are so cute.   They will break a lot of hearts when they grow up.”

Joey grinned.  “I’m counting on it, because I’m very protective of my daughters.  The guys are going to have to pass my inspection before they can date them.”

Peyton laughed.  “Don’t tell me you and Tyler will stand at the door with a shotgun and ask the guys what their intentions are with your daughters!”

Tyler took Joey’s hand in his, and said, “Absolutely!  The guys will think twice before they cross us!”

Peyton said, “I feel for the guys, already!”

They joined the queue for the waterslide.  The line moved quickly and they were soon hurtling down the slide toward the pool at the bottom.

The afternoon passed quickly with the guys switching off playing with the girls, while the others swam and went down the waterslides or sunbathed.  Joey sat next to Tyler, enjoying the warmth of the afternoon sun, when Rachel ran up to him.

“Daddy, I’m hungry,” she said.

Greg and Cory sat down in the chairs opposite Joey and Tyler.  Greg said, “I’m with Rachel.  I’m hungry, too!”

Joey looked over at Tyler.  “Are you ready to go back inside?”

Tyler said, “Yes, I’m ready.”

Greg looked appreciatively over his brothers-in-law’s bodies.  Both were well muscled from their regular workout routines and had beautifully tanned skin. 

Joey caught his look and grinned.  “Do you like what you see?”

Greg nodded his head.  “Yes, you guys have managed to keep in good shape for old people!”

Tyler laughed and pointed to his husband.  “He must be talking about you, because I’m much younger than you are!”

Joey grinned, as he leaped up from the lounge chair, putting Greg in a headlock.   “Now, what were you saying about being old?”

Greg, laughing, replied, “Nothing!  I take it back!”

Joey released him.  “That’s better.  You need to learn to respect your elders.”

Greg said, “I had my fingers crossed, so everything I said about you being ancient is still true.”  He jumped away from Joey, avoiding his attempt to put him in a headlock again.  “See, you’re just getting too slow in your old age!”

Joey grinned at his brother-in-law.  “I know where you’re sleeping tonight, so I wouldn’t be so cocky, if I were you!”

Greg responded, “So, does this mean you’ll come tuck me into bed and say prayers with me?”

Joey grinned and said, “If you want me to, I will.”

Rachel said, “Daddy always says prayers with us before we go to bed, Uncle Greg.  I know he’ll say them with you and Uncle Cory, because he loves you, too.”

Greg looked down at his nieces, and said, “I think me and Uncle Cory will say prayers with you, tonight.  Is that okay with you?”

The girls both nodded their heads.  Sarah said, “I want Uncle Cory to say prayers with me.”  She took his hand in hers.  “Will you say prayers with me when we go to bed?”

Cory looked into her baby blue eyes, and said, “Yes, I’ll say prayers with you, tonight.”

Robbie, Adam, Justin and Brian joined them.  Robbie said, “Hey, guys!  I’m starving.”  His stomach rumbled, causing the guys to laugh. 

Adam grinned, putting his arm around his husband’s shoulders.  “There is never any doubt about Robbie’s hunger pangs!”

Robbie gave him a friendly jab in the side, with his elbow.  “Don’t be giving away all of my secrets!”

Joey said, “Sra. Nájera told me she was making paella for dinner, tonight, and to invite all of you to come enjoy the food.”

Justin rubbed his stomach with the palm of his hand.  “I love Sra. Nájera’s cooking.  Count us in.”

The rest of the guys echoed Justin’s acceptance of the invitation to dinner.

Brian asked, “Is there anything we need to bring?”

Tyler replied, “Just yourselves.”

The guys toweled themselves dry, and slipped on their flip-flops.  Joey and Tyler gathered up their gear, each of them taking one of the girls in their arms.  They returned to their condos to get showered and cleaned up for dinner.

Finished with their shower, Greg sat down on their king-sized bed and picked up his cell phone.  Cory looked at him and asked, “Are you going to call Glenn?”

Greg nodded his head and said, “I think I should.”

Cory agreed, “Yes, I’m worried about him.”  Cory stretched out on the king-sized bed, and put his hands behind his head.

Greg leaned back against the headboard and placed his call.  It rang several times.

“Hello, Greg,” Duane said.

“Hey, Duane,” Greg responded, recognizing Duane’s voice.  “Is Glenn with you?”

“Yes, he’s been with us for the last couple of days,” Duane confirmed.

Greg asked, “May I speak with him?”

Duane turned to me and said, “You need to stop hiding from your friends, Glenn.”

I took the phone from him and said, “Hello, Greg.”

“Glenn, Peyton said Rick called him about what happened between you two,” Greg said.

“I figured he would call his cousin,” I said, derisively.

“What did you guys argue about that’s caused such a big rift between you?” Greg asked, already knowing the answer.

I replied, with a little heat in my voice, “Seriously, Greg, do you have to ask?”

“You argued with Rick about his military service,” Greg stated.

“Yes, he had the audacity to tell me he was thinking of re-enlisting for another six years.  I told him, in no uncertain terms, what I thought about that.  He said he was going to do what he wanted, so I told him we’re through, if that is what he really wanted to do with his life.”

“What did he say to that?” Greg asked, dreading the response.

“I didn’t give him time to respond.  I stormed out of our condo and I have not spoken to him since,” I said.  “I’ve been sleeping in the spare bedroom and I’ve made sure to stay away when he’s home.”

Greg said, “Are you sure Rick really means to re-enlist?”

“It sure sounded like to me.  He said he needed to make his decision soon.  His commanding officer has been pushing him about it,” I said.

Greg asked, “Since Rick is gone for the weekend, why don’t you join us here in Orlando for a couple of days?  You can bring Duane and Mason with you, if you want to invite them.”

I looked at Duane and Mason, who were sitting across from me.  “Do you guys want to drive down to Orlando for the weekend?”

Duane said, “That’s about 6 ½ hours from here.  I guess we could make it before midnight if we left in the next hour or so.”

Mason said, “Let’s do it.  We could leave there on Sunday night and make it back before it gets too late.”

I said, “Okay, we’re coming.  Where are you guys staying?”

Greg gave him the address and directions.  “We’ll see you in a few hours then.”

He ended the call and looked over at Cory.  “They’re on their way.”

Cory said, “I hope we can convince Glenn to give Rick another chance.  I don’t think Rick was really serious about re-enlisting.”

Greg shrugged his shoulders.  “Only time will tell.”

They got up and walked into the sitting room to join the rest of the guys.  Justin looked up from his book, and asked, “Well?”

Greg said, “Duane and Mason are driving down with Glenn, tonight.  They’ll be here around midnight.”

Justin said, “Thanks for calling him, Greg.  I was worried this split was going to be permanent.  I think we can persuade Glenn to wait and see what Rick’s decision is about signing up for another six years with the military.”

Greg agreed, “I told him to give Rick a second chance.  He’s pretty upset with Rick right now.  He told Glenn he was thinking of staying in the military for another six years.”

Peyton said, “I know.  Rick told me.  He also said he wasn’t sure he was going to do it.  He was pretty shaken up.  I don’t think he expected Glenn to blow up like he did.”  He paused, and then asked, “Should I tell Rick Glenn is coming here?”

Jonathan said, “I think you should.  It will give him some peace of mind, knowing Glenn is here with us.”

Peyton pulled his phone from the pocket of his cargo shorts and dialed his cousin.

Rick picked up on the first ring.  “Hey!”

“Hey, yourself!” Peyton responded.  “I’ve got some good news.  Glenn is joining us here, in Orlando for the weekend.”

“I’m glad to know where he is.  I was beginning to think he was going to move out on me,” Rick said.

“He still might,” Peyton said.  “He’s not happy with you, at all.”

“I know.  He made his position very clear.  He gave me an ultimatum – leave the military, or he would leave me,” Rick said.  “He wouldn’t even listen to me.  He stormed out of the place and that is the last time I spoke to him.”

“We’ll do our best to get him to talk to you and give you a chance to explain yourself,” Peyton said.  “But, you had better have a good explanation, because I can see his side of things very well, and I agree with him, cousin.”

Rick said, “I’ll try to call him on Sunday to give you guys enough time to work on him.”

Peyton said, “Okay, boss.  Talk to you then.”  He ended the call and looked around the room.  “I think we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us this weekend.”

Later that evening, the guys enjoyed dinner with the Nájeras.  Sr. Nájera asked Peyton, “What are your plans, now that you’re in college?”

Peyton said, “I want to become a lawyer, so I can help those people who are in jail.  They are treated very poorly while they are incarcerated and are treated even worse when they get out.  There is a lot of prejudice against ex-cons.  It makes it very hard for us to make something of our lives after prison.”

Sr. Nájera asked, “What are the prisons like here?”

Peyton launched into a very graphic description of the very poor conditions of many prisons, the overcrowding, the beatings and mistreatment at the hands of prison staff. 

When he stopped for breath, Sr. Nájera said, “I’m shocked such conditions exist here.  We have always held this country in such high esteem.  It saddens me to hear such things happen.  What was done to you by those who had power over you is beyond immoral.  It shows a level of depravity so unimaginable.  How can such behavior continue to exist?”

Peyton said, “It continues, because there is no accountability for the acts of violence and rape prison staff inflict on a captive population.  Inmates are the last people to have any rights, let alone be believed when they complain of such atrocities.  Most people on the outside think whatever happens to us on the inside is just treatment and we deserve it.  They don’t see us as human beings.”

Sra. Nájera said, “I wish you well in your endeavor to make things better.  I, like my husband, am appalled to hear of the horrors you suffered in prison, Peyton.  I can’t tell you how sorry I am you were raped and beaten.”

Hearing her words, Peyton’s eyes filled with tears.  “I still have nightmares about what happened.”

Jonathan took Peyton’s hand in his.  “It’s okay, Babe.”

Sra. Nájera smiled at them.  “You are very fortunate to have such a wonderful husband, Peyton.”

Peyton smiled, and leaned over to kiss Jonathan on the lips.  “I’m the happiest man alive, thanks to Jonathan.”

Sra. Nájera stood up and asked, “Is there anyone who wants dessert?”

Rachel and Sarah chorused, “We do!”

Sra. Nájera said, “Then let’s eat.”   She walked into the kitchen and began serving a variety of Spanish desserts to the hungry crowd of men and children.

Prev To be continued . . .

A Note from Russ:

This chapter previously published as Our Band of Brothers Chapter Four

Blue Green Resort -

Prison Conditions -

More Accountability for our Prisons -

Prison writer’s ghastly treatment -

Words of Hope for Prison Rape Survivors -

Spanish Dessert Recipes -