Jeremy woke up the next morning and took care of his morning business. He worked hard to keep the watchers from realizing that he knew about the camera. He also had a hard time keeping himself calm. He was anxious about a few things. Did Cameron tell anybody about the attack? What was going to happen during the ceremony? Would Jake and the others get here in time to rescue him? He finally quit with the internal debate and turned on the TV to watch some cartoons.
A little while later Cameron appeared with his breakfast. As usual Greg let him in and then left, closing the door behind him. Jeremy studied Cameron as he set the food and plates on the table. Jeremy sat down and started to eat. Cameron looked at him and noticed that Jeremy had a worried look. After a moment he realized why, and got Jeremy's attention and gave him a small shake of his head. Jeremy breathed a sigh of relief. Cameron had not said anything. Jeremy gave a little grin, which was answered by Cameron. They ate in silence. When they were finished, Cameron took everything out and returned a few minutes later to spend the morning with Jeremy. They played some video games and then watched a movie until lunch time. Cameron went out and got lunch for them and brought it back into the room. After they finished, Cameron cleaned up.
"Jeremy, I have some duties to perform this afternoon, so I won't see you until later."
"Will you eat dinner with me?"
"No, I'll be busy until'... you know."
"Oh, well thanks, Cam. See you later."
Cameron nodded and pushed the trolley out the door. When it closed, Jeremy started to get a little nervous. The next time he saw anybody would be when they did the ceremony. He lay on the bed and tried to get interested in a movie, but he got bored and dozed off.
That afternoon Ian, William, Kevin, Greg and Cameron were in the pool house. Ian was telling them where to place the candles that he needed for tonight's ceremony. Once all of the candles were set where he wanted them, he began drawing the circle where the ceremony would take place. Kevin and Greg carried in a polished table-like object and placed it in the center of the circle. It was a simple item about two feet wide by four feet long. The legs at either end were solid planks of wood, wider at the bottom than at the top. At one end of the table were two leather straps, and at the bottom of the legs of the other end were two more straps. Ian had them adjust its position until he was sure it was in the correct position. Once there he had them move back and he inspected everything. Once he was satisfied, he turned to his son.
"I think everything's ready for this evening, son. In just a few more hours, hopefully you will have your companion."
"Thanks, Father, for everything."
"There is still a chance that the boy will not suitable and may die during the ceremony. I had three die before I finally became too old to acquire a companion. If this boy doesn't work out, then we will look for another and try again next year. So this is not the end of it, but let's hope it works out."
"I agree. With my power increased, few will be able to interfere with us."
"Yes, that is my expectation. Let's enjoy the rest of the afternoon. Cameron, after Jeremy finishes dinner, make sure he cleans up, so he is ready for tonight. You be sure to help him."
Cameron nodded. "Yes Sir, Mr. Stanhope."
They left the pool house. William had Cameron come with him up to his bedroom. Cameron followed with his head down, knowing what was in store, and prayed silently once again that the people coming tonight would take him away from all of this. He didn't care if he went back into the care of CPS. Anything to get away from here. As William started to remove Cameron's clothes, he tried to block the shame out once again, as he had nearly every night for the last three years.
Later in the afternoon, Jeremy watched as Cameron came into the room with his dinner. They sat and ate. Jeremy noticed Cameron didn't say much.
"Are you okay, Cam?"
Cameron glanced surreptitiously toward the camera and nodded, but he didn't say anything. Jeremy frowned a little at his silence. Once they were both done. Cameron cleaned everything up and wheeled the trolley back outside, still not saying a word. The door stayed open and Greg stood in front of it, facing Jeremy. Cameron came back into the room, carrying some long shimmery item of cloth. He laid it on the chest at the end of the bed.
"Jeremy, I've been told to help you get all cleaned up for tonight's ceremony. I'm to make sure that you're perfectly clean, so I have to take a shower with you and make sure."
"O... okay. I guess I don't have much choice."
"That's correct, kid, you don't have a choice. The sooner you realize that, the better it will be for all of us."
Jeremy looked at Greg, who stood there with his arms folded across his chest. A smirk was on his face as he looked at Jeremy.
"Cameron, when you two are finished, just wait here. I'll come and get you when it's time."
Cameron nodded as both boys watched him leave the room. Cameron sat down on one of the chairs and started removing his shoes and socks. Jeremy watched him for a few moments before he did the same. Within moments, all of their clothes were either draped on a chair or laying on the table. Cameron motioned for Jeremy to follow him to the shower cubicle. He reached inside and turned the water on. Once it was just right, he looked at Jeremy and then stepped in and closed the curtain behind him. Jeremy sighed and followed Cameron. The shower was big enough for both of them to move around easily. Cameron surprised Jeremy by going to him and giving him a hug. Jeremy pulled back and looked at him. There were tears in his eyes.
Cameron put his hand on Jeremy's mouth and then held a finger to his lips.
"Shhh. If you talk quietly, they can't hear over the sound of the shower."
Jeremy nodded his understanding and Cameron removed his hand.
"Jeremy, are you certain that your family will be here?"
"As sure as I'm standing here, I know it."
"Will they take me with them?"
"I asked them, and Trevor said they would."
"Cool. I've been with them for three years now and I just want to get away. I hate them."
"You don't look like any of them, so how did you end up with them?"
"I was in a group home. My parents were sent to prison for making ice, you know, crystal meth; I became a ward of the state of Nevada. One day William came with a lady that he said was his wife. They said that they were interested in adopting a boy, but not a baby, an older one around ten or so. They laid it on thick about how they had read something about how hard it was to place an older boy and felt that they would like to help out. They acted like the perfect couple and snowed CPS easily..."
Cameron was called into the office of the administrator for the group home. The home had seven bedrooms, with two boys in each room. Cameron shared his room with a boy about his age named Mike. Mike's mom was in rehab and due to get out soon. He and his mom had kept in touch, and he told Cameron that he thought that he would be able to go live with her again, because she wrote in her letters how the center had really helped her get straightened out, Cameron was happy for Mike. He knew that he would probably be an adult by the time his parents got out of prison, because they had sold some meth to a guy who died of it, and they had been charged with involuntary manslaughter, and that along with the drug charges and their previous criminal record had gotten them a fifteen-year sentence. Cameron didn't want to go back to live with them anyway. That life sucked. He was out in the back throwing a baseball with Mike and a couple of the other kids, when he heard Chuck calling him. He turned around and saw Chuck smiling at him and waving for him to come over.
"I have some people that I want you to meet."
Chuck smiled at the enthusiasm in Cameron's voice. He reached out and squeezed his shoulder and nodded, adding his smile to Cameron's.
Chuck Woodridge and his wife Donna had been the administrators for the house for eight years, and he was always happy when he could get a boy matched with a family, so that they got a chance for a good life with a real family. He did his best to make the place a home for the boys who ended up there, but it just couldn't replace a family.
He put his arm around Cameron as he directed him to his office. When they walked in, there was a man and a woman sitting comfortably on the couch in the office, sipping cups of coffee. They looked up and smiled as Chuck and Cameron came in.
"Mr. and Mrs. Standish. This is Cameron, the boy I was telling you about. Cameron, this is William and Colleen Standish."
Cameron looked at them as they stood up. They looked pretty young. She was pretty, with auburn hair and green eyes. They both smiled as they walked over to shake his hand. He shyly shook hands.
"Why don't we sit down?"
The couple returned to the couch, and Cameron sat in a chair nearby, setting his baseball glove on the chair arm.
"Cameron, Mr. an'..."
"Will and Colleen are fine."
"Very well. They contacted us and expressed their interest in taking a boy about your age into their family. I told them about you, and they liked what they heard. So if you like, they would like to get to know you, and see if you could become a member of their family. They would like to start today and take you out for a little while, maybe go out to eat, and talk. What do you think?"
"Yeah, I wouldn't mind at all."
"Good. Why don't you go clean up and return here? We have some paperwork to fill out."
"Okay, Chuck, I'll be right back."
Cameron hurried to his room to grab some clothes. He took a quick shower and went back to the office with his hair still a little damp. The couple was just shaking hands with Chuck. William turned to the door when Cameron came in.
"Well, are you ready to go, Cameron?"
"You can call me Will and her Colleen. We don't need to be so formal."
"Let's go, buddy."
The three of them left the home and got into a big Lexus. Sitting in the front seat were two tough-looking guys. They made Cameron a little nervous. William noticed it and patted Cameron on the shoulder.
"Don't worry about those guys; these are our driver and bodyguard. Because of the business that my father and I are in, we have to have security guys with us."
"Okay, s... Will."
"Now what would you like to eat?"
"Great. Greg, go to that Italian restaurant we saw the other night."
"Sure, Mr. Standish."
They talked during the ride, getting to know what Cameron liked to do. Ten minutes later they pulled up in front of a restaurant that said Picarelli's. The place wasn't crowded so they were able to get a couple of tables quickly. They looked at the menus and William told Cameron he could have whatever he wanted. He chose spaghetti with Italian sausage. During the meal, the three of them talked. William told him that they had a nice house and swimming pool. They had a bedroom for him, and if he decided that he wanted to come and live with them, they would let him decorate it any way he wanted. Cameron liked them; he especially liked William, because he sometimes acted like a kid and they had fun. After dinner, they went to a park and walked around for a little while. Cameron felt really good by the time they had to go back. They were greeted at the door by Chuck's wife Donna and shown to his office.
"Well, what do you think?"
"He's a good kid, we had a great time. What do say, do you want to give it a try?"
"Yeah, I do."
"Great. Give me a couple of days to get the paperwork filed and you should be able to pick him up on Saturday."
"That sounds good."
William turned to Cameron and squatted down in front of him, placing his hands on Cameron's shoulders.
"So, Cameron, I guess we'll see you on Saturday."
"I can't wait."
"Me neither. We really like you and we're looking forward to having you live with us."
Cameron moved forward and hugged William, and then he went over to Colleen and did the same to her. They left and Cameron went up to his bedroom. Mike was in there.
"Mike, guess what? I'm getting a family."
"Cool. I'll be going back to my Mom soon, and you have a family."
"Their names are William and Colleen Standish, and I think they're rich. They came here in a Lexus with two bodyguards. Their house is supposed to be big with a pool and everything."
"That's cool. I'm happy for you, Cam."
"Yeah, finally I can have a real life."
On Saturday, Cameron was waiting downstairs with all his stuff packed and ready. The Standishes arrived and Cameron said goodbye to everyone and followed them out to the car. The bodyguards had already taken his bags and put them in the trunk. When they pulled up to the house, all Cameron could do was look at everything with a wide grin. They showed him around the house and took him outside to look at the pool. It had been designed to look natural like it was a pond surrounded by rocks. There was even a waterfall that splashed into the pool. The whole backyard looked kind of like a jungle with trees and plants everywhere. Cameron couldn't believe his good luck in landing here. They showed him to his bedroom and it was huge. It was bigger than the living room in his parents' old house.
Over the next couple of months, Cameron had more fun that he had ever done in his life. They did a lot of things together. They even went down to Las Vegas a couple of times and saw some shows, and went on some of the rides at New York New York and Stratosphere. Sometimes Colleen had to go on business trips and was gone for a few days. On those days, Cameron and William would do guy things. They went riding ATVs out on some Bureau of Land Management land nearby. One time they flew to San Francisco to watch the Giants play baseball. Cameron was very happy on the day they had to go to court. He was glad to walk out of the court that day with a new name, Cameron Standish. A week later when Colleen had to go out of town on business, William told him that they were flying to California, to meet William's father. Cameron couldn't wait. They flew into San Francisco and took a helicopter ride to his father's house just outside of Napa. Cameron's face was pressed against the window as he looked out over the countryside. From time to time, William would point something out and Cameron would lean over him to look out of his side of the helicopter. When he did, William would gently rub his back and it made Cameron feel good. They landed near the big house. When they got inside, Cameron was introduced to Ian Stanhope, William's father. After they shook hands Ian looked at his son and gave a slight shake of his head. William shrugged and took Cameron on a tour of the grounds. There was a barn with horses and there were ATVs to ride, a big pool and tennis courts. William told him he'd teach him how to play later. He also took him on a tour of the vineyards in a Hummer. That night, Cameron was in the bedroom that he had been given when William came in. He had just changed into his pajamas and was sitting on the bed reading a book.
"Hey, buddy, how are you doing?"
"Great, Will. Your dad's house is cool."
"It's late, so time for bed."
"Okay, I guess I'm not really sleepy. I'm still excited about being here."
"I've got an idea to help you relax. My dad used to do this when I was about your age. I'll give you a back rub and it will relax you and you'll be able to fall asleep."
"Good. Take your pajama top off and lay on your stomach."
Cameron sat up and William helped him take the top off and threw it on the bed. Cameron flipped onto his stomach and rested his head on his hands. William got up behind him and, starting at his shoulders, he started gently working Cameron's muscles. Cameron moaned in pleasure as William's sure hands worked the muscles as he moved down. He was almost asleep when William told him to flip onto this back. Cameron complied. William started by gently massaging his head and neck and then moved to his chest. When he rubbed his chest, Cameron started to feel kind of funny. It was nice, but different. William moved down to his waist, gently kneading his belly and sides. Cameron was nearly asleep when he felt William's hand slip into the sides of his pajama bottoms and start pulling them off. His eyes snapped open and he looked at William with shock as his hand shot down to grab William's hands. William just looked up at him and smiled.
"I'm just going to take a look at what I spent my time and money on."
"I picked you out of a lot of other boys to be my companion. But my dad told me today that you weren't suitable for that. I like you, Cameron. You're very cute, and since I can't have you as that kind of a companion, then I'll have you as the other kind that I like. You're going to be my boy toy, until I can find a companion."
"What do you mean? What about Colleen, your wife?"
"She's just a friend. She pretended to be my wife so that I could get you. She's already left for her home. You may see her from time to time as we are allies in business and other things. You'll learn more of that later. But for now, you're mine."
"No, please don't."
"I own you, and the sooner you understand that, the better. No one knows you are here, and except for the people at this house, no one will. So you better get used to it. Either that or I'll have to get rid of you. I'd hate to do that, but that's your choice. Now move your hands out of the way. I've waited long enough for this, and I don't want to wait anymore."
Tears filled Cameron's eyes as he reluctantly let go of William's hands. William slipped his bottoms off and threw them to the side. He got off the bed and started to undress. He rejoined Cameron on the bed and the beginning of Cameron's three year nightmare began.
End of Cameron's Story
Jeremy held Cameron as he told the story. The water washed over them.
"And that's how it's been since then. I have to sleep with him nearly every night. Sometimes he just holds me, but most of the time, he has sex with me. I hate it and I hate him. So I'll do whatever I can to help you and your family get you out of here."
"Thanks, Cam. Is there anything you can tell me... about tonight, I mean?"
"Yeah, but... it's not going to be good and it's scary. Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I want to know whatever you can tell me. The more I know, the better I can help my family prepare."
"Okay then. I'll start by telling you that you are the fourth boy that has been brought here to be William's Companion."
"What happened to the others?"
"They... uh, died during the ceremony or shortly after."
"What, I could die?"
"Shh, keep your voice down; you want them to hear you? Yes, they died. I've seen the ceremony each time. I don't know what they died of, but two of them died during the ceremony and the other died the next day."
"So whatever your family does, I hope they get here on time."
"They will, don't worry. They're like the cavalry in those old Westerns, they'll arrive just in time to save the day. You watch."
"Okay, I hope so. I think we've been in here pretty long; we should get out. There's one other thing before we go out there. During the ceremony William will force his dick in your butt; it's part of the ceremony; it has to be like rape for some reason. You will have no choice as they will have you strapped down on this table-like thing. Try to relax as much as you can and it won't hurt as much."
Although Jeremy was shocked at this last bit of information, he nodded and turned off the water. Before they left the cubicle he hugged Cameron and kissed him.
"Thanks for everything, I promise you that we'll get you out of here."
Cameron nodded and they stepped out and started getting dried off. Cameron led them naked over to the chest by the bed and picked up one of the silk robes and handed it to Jeremy. There were two in the pile and he put one on too. Jeremy put on the one Cameron handed to him, and they went to sit on the bed and watch the TV until it was time to go.
The caravan of three vehicles had pulled off to the side road once they got away from the town and were on Dry Creek Road. The team suited up and readied their weapons. Communications and night vision goggles were checked. Assault vests were put on and secured. Once everyone was ready, Jake gave the command to head out and the three SUVs continued to their destination. As they drew near to the spot, the drivers turned off their headlights and flipped the goggles down. They backed them up to the tree line, so that all they had to do was start the trucks and drive away. Jake gathered them just inside the tree line.
"Okay, we will travel the way we planned. The trail is narrow; keep six-foot intervals between everyone, except you boys; you guys stay tight behind me. Tom will be right behind you. Terry, if we do not contact you within one hour, call the police, because we will probably be in trouble. Let's go."
Terry watched as the team left. She went to sit in one of the trucks and listen to the tactical radio. They followed the GPS coordinates and soon were climbing up the ridge. Several times Trevor tripped on stuff and an idea came to him. He made some changes to his eyes and after a moment he found that he could see better. He smiled as he followed his dad. They looked down on the compound for a few minutes and did not see anything special going on. With the two on point leading the way, they made their way down to the fence line. They quickly cut the barbed wire and peeled it back. The point men moved out and came back a few minutes later with the all clear. They team moved forward slowly until Jake called a halt. He put his mouth next to Trevor's ear and whispered.
"See if you can contact Jeremy."
Trevor nodded and closed his eyes.
'Jeremy, can you hear me?'
Jeremy and Cameron sat on the bed watching TV in their silk robes. Jeremy had a strong grip on Cameron's hand while they waited. Finally the door opened and William and Greg came in. They were also wearing silk robes. William smiled at the two boys.
"It's time now, boys; let's go. Cameron, go out to the pool house; my father is waiting."
William waited until Cameron left the room before he motioned to Greg. Greg walked over to where Jeremy stood by the bed and took one of his arms. He pulled it behind Jeremy and put a handcuff on, grabbed the other and did the same. William stood and watched.
"Be careful, Greg. We wouldn't want to damage our new family member."
Greg gave William a smirk. He placed his hand on Jeremy's shoulder and guided him to the door. William stopped them with a hand on Jeremy's chest. He reached down and placed his hand on Jeremy's crotch and gave it a gentle squeeze. Jeremy tried to flinch away, but Greg held him still. William brought his hand up and stroked Jeremy's head. He got a good grip on his hair and pulled his head back, which forced Jeremy to look up at William.
"You see, my little companion, tonight is your initiation into so much more than you ever dreamed of. After tonight, you won't want to go anywhere else, but by my side. And that's where you'll be for the rest of our lives. I can't wait until tonight; you and I are going to have a lot of fun."
He chuckled as he let go of Jeremy's hair and led them from the room. Greg tightened his grip on Jeremy's shoulder and pushed him in William's wake. Jeremy looked at the ground to hide the tears that threatened to fall. Once he had them under control, he looked up and saw that they were walking through a storage area. They came to some stairs and climbed them, coming out in a room that was beautiful. He could see what was probably the front door in one direction. He was led in a different direction from the front.
They went through another room and then out into a yard surrounded by a wall. William led them through the yard and to a gate. Once through the gate they followed a path that led by the pool and then to another building nearby. A pair of doors stood open before them. William led them into a large room. The room was lit with candles and candelabras everywhere. Inside the room, Ian Stanhope stood dressed in long purple and black silk robes. Beside him Kevin stood nearby in a chain mail shirt with a two handed sword grounded in front of him and his hands resting on the pommel. Cameron was there, standing naked by a table-like contraption. In the background out of the way, Jeremy saw James Harvey. He gave Jeremy a little wave and a smirk. Jeremy looked at him with hate in his eyes, which only caused James to smile more.
Greg pushed Jeremy over to the table contraption. He stood him at one end of the table; the top of the table came to about his crotch. Cameron came around and knelt down behind Jeremy. He felt Cameron gently grab his ankle and pull it to the side a little. Jeremy tried to look down, but Greg kept him pushed against the table. He felt a leather strap attached to his ankle and then again on the other side so that both of his legs were secured. William came over as Greg unlocked the handcuffs. While Greg held his arms, William took the robe off, leaving Jeremy naked. The robe was given to Cameron to hang on a hook nearby. The two men brought his arms forward, and pulled on his arms until he was lying flat on the table. Cameron returned and with a apologetic glance at Jeremy, he secured his wrists with two more leather straps. Jeremy was now helplessly secured against the table. He put his head down as tears started to fall. He knew help was on the way, but he was scared anyway about what was about to happen. He looked over and saw that William and Greg had now removed their robes and were naked as well. They stood before Ian as he started to chant.
"I call upon the Dark Spirits to grant William the power that will bind this Companion to him until death so to enhance his power and make him one of your most powerful servants. I ask you to find this vessel worthy to bind with William. We ask this binding to be done in blood and pain."
Ian turned to Cameron.
"Boy, you know what to do."
Jeremy watched as Cameron knelt in front of William and took his penis in his mouth. In a short time William was hard and Cameron stopped. He then led William and Greg out of Jeremy's line of sight. A moment later, Jeremy felt Cameron's hands on his butt cheeks spreading them apart. Then he felt his breath and then something wet touched his hole and moved all around. He realized that it was Cameron's tongue. He started to get hard from the feeling, and gave out an involuntary moan. The tongue went away and he saw Cameron come into his view; his head was down as he moved in front of Jeremy. Jeremy could see matching tears in Cameron's eyes as he looked down at Jeremy with a sad look. Ian continued. "Dark Spirits, the vessel is ready to be joined, let the joining commence."
Jeremy gritted his teeth because he knew what came next. He felt the pressure against his hole as it built up until the head of William's penis popped in. Jeremy yelped. William stopped for a moment and then slowly entered Jeremy until he was all the way in. Jeremy was gritting his teeth from the pain.
"Dark Spirits, we give you this gift of pain, now we offer the gift of blood."
Jeremy heard the sound of metal sliding against metal. Then he felt a burning pain across his thighs, then the top of his butt, then five more time across his back, each time a little higher, until the last was across his shoulders. He twisted his head and saw Greg's sword come away with blood along the edge and he realized he had just been cut seven times by the sword. He put his head down on the table and sobbed.
"The gift of blood has been offered; we ask that you find it worthy."
There was a grunt behind him from William and Jeremy felt William pushing against him a little. He flinched when he felt the steel of the sword laid across his back.
'Jeremy, can you hear me?'
Jeremy jerked his head up for a second and looked around.
'Trev, uh... I... can hear... you. Where... are you?'
'We're nearby. Where are you?'
'We're in a building...near the... pool... The... poolhouse.'
'What's wrong; are you all right?'
Hurry, bro'... the... ceremony has... started and... it hurts, please... hurry.'
'On our way, the cavalry has arrived and it's ready to take scalps.'
Just inside the fence line, Trevor moved his head next to Jake's ear.
"The ceremony has started; they're in the building by the pool."
Jake nodded and turned to the point men, Kent and Jim. They silently moved off; the others waited anxiously until they returned and got the nod from the point men. The group moved forward. They skirted the tennis courts and made their way to the edge of the tree-covered area; before them was the building. They could see flickering lights coming from inside the building. Jake sent some of the men to the far side of the building and the others around the edge of the area. Jake led the boys and Tom to the double doors that led into the building. They heard a scream from inside the building. At that moment, a guard came around the edge of the building and saw them crouched a few feet from the doors.
"HEY, WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?"
The guard brought his submachine gun up from his side and pointed it at them. A suppressed burst from the trees spun him in a circle, but his finger clamped on the trigger spraying fire into the air as he went down.
"Shit, Trevor, get us in there."
Trevor concentrated and felt Zach feeding him power. He pushed his hands forward and a ball of fire streaked forward and hit the doors in the middle. They exploded inward and the family charged in behind the explosion.
William placed his hands on Greg's blade and gripped it tightly, causing it to cut his palms. He gritted his teeth as he pulled almost all the way out of Jeremy and had just slammed back into him, causing Jeremy to scream. There was a shout from outside, followed by a loud burst of gunfire. Ian looked over at Kevin. Kevin brought a radio out and yelled into it.
"WE ARE UNDER ATTACK, ALL UNITS CONVERGE ON THE POOLHOUSE!"
Just then the double doors exploded inward. Ian, Kevin and James were thrown back against the wall. A couple pieces of the door flew at Greg; one sharp piece struck him in the side, and the other slammed into his head and knocked him out. When he flew back, the joining of him and William was broken. William let out a loud yell as Greg's penis was ripped out of him. Cameron had the presence of mind to duck down when the gunfire sounded. He picked up a chunk of the door nearby and stood up. He heard William cry out and putting every bit of anger and hatred into his swing, he swung the hunk of wood at William's face. The force threw William back and out of Jeremy, causing another cry of pain from Jeremy. Cameron looked where the doors were and saw five people come in, two adult-sized and three about his size. The cavalry had arrived. Cameron dropped the wood and started to undo the straps on Jeremy's wrists. Ian and Kevin stood up and shook off the effects of the blast. Ian took in the scene. Greg was moaning on the ground and trying to pull the chunk of wood out of his side, William was on the ground completely out; his nose looked like it had been mashed flat, and his face was covered in blood. He looked dead. Ian saw Cameron working on the straps to get Jeremy free. He pointed his fingers at Cameron.
"You little bastard. I'll kill you."
Lightning flew out from his fingers and hit Cameron full on, throwing him back away from Jeremy. Jeremy was shocked as Cameron went flying from the lightning striking him. Cameron had loosened one of the straps enough that he was able to pull his hand free and went to work on the other. He saw Cameron struggle to get up groaning. Ian pointed his hands at Cameron again when suddenly he was interrupted by something striking him hard in the side, causing him to slam back against the wall. He saw the five intruders, two men and three boys. He shrugged off the attack and stood back up, throwing up a shield. He smiled as he looked at the men, trying to figure out which was the mage, then his mouth dropped open as he saw electricity dancing along the fingers of one of the boys. His eyes opened wide as he recognized him as the blond-haired boy in the pictures with Jeremy… the one that had intrigued him so many months ago. He chuckled as he stood up.
"So they've sent a boy to do a man's job. Well, boy mage, let's see what you've got."
Ian lashed out with more lightning. Trevor had already raised his shield and the lightning crackled against it. He poured more energy into it and he could feel the shield weakening as Trevor pushed more power into the shield. Suddenly when it seemed like the shield was about to collapse, a huge surge of power went into it and it regained its full strength and then some. His eyes opened wide in surprise as he looked beside the boy mage and shifted his sight a little, and he could see the powerful connection between the two boys and power flowed from one to the other. This boy mage had a Companion. Suddenly he felt the boy mage strike back. His shield was being attacked by small fast flying balls of fire. He shifted back his sight and poured power into his shield and renewed his attack on the boy mage. At this time Kevin finally shook the blast effects off and charged the group, swinging his two-handed sword high. Jake saw this and dropped his gun, reached to his side and performed a perfect iaijutsu move, drawing his katana out and, parrying the two-handed sword, redirected it to the side. Kevin smiled as he squared off against the Guardian Angel of the boy mage.
Tom pulled Jared over to where Jeremy lay on the table frantically trying to get the strap off his wrist. Jared took over and got him freed. Tom drew his knife and started to cut through the ankle straps. Ian saw what they were doing, and turned his attack toward them. Trevor and Zach moved forward and Trevor extended his shield around the table as well.
Ian snarled as he looked back over at the mage and poured more power into his attack. The boy mage clenched his teeth and fought back. His shield did not seem to weaken. Ian saw Greg pull himself up from the ground holding his side.
"Greg, get William out of here!"
Greg nodded and picked his friend up. He ran with him out a door that was behind Ian. Outside gunfire could be heard. Kevin and Jake were slashing back and forth. The big man could maneuver the two-hander as if it was a much lighter sword. Several times Jake just barely jumped back from a quick backswing. He got inside Kevin's swing and scored him across the thigh, but had to duck and roll away, as the sword came back at his head. He jumped up and rushed under an overhand swing and pushed Kevin back against the wall. Kevin braced his foot against the wall and pushed Jake back, causing him to fall. He charged forward, swinging the sword up for a downward stroke. Jake used the momentum of the fall to roll backwards and back up to his feet out of the way as the sword slammed into the ground where he had just been. His return stroke was deflected up and to the side. There was the constant ringing of the two swords as the men battled back and forth. Kevin's sword glowed with a dark purple light, like a blacklight. It bathed Kevin's snarling face with its glow. Jake's shone with a pure bluish-white light; it almost looked like lightsabers clashing against each other.
Jeremy was finally freed and Jared was pulling him away from the table. Ian scowled and sent a thought to Kevin. Kevin started moving the fight back toward Ian. Ian started to gather a large ball of fire into his hands. Trevor saw it and yelled.
He pushed his shield out in front of everyone as Ian threw the ball of fire.
"EAT THIS, BOY!"
The huge fireball impacted against Trevor's shield. The force was such that he and Zach were thrown back, but the shield held barely. Trevor and Zach were soaked with sweat. The room was in a shambles. There were little fires everywhere in the room. They looked up and Ian and Kevin were gone. There was a yell from the corner.
"YOU MOTHERFUCKERS. I'M GOING TO KILL ALL OF YOU!"
They saw James standing there with a Tech 9 in his hands. Before he could fire there were several shots from Trevor's right and James' body jerked several times. James looked down, surprised, and crumpled to the floor. Trevor looked and saw Tom and Jared in the kneeling position with their pistols pointed at James. Jared immediately dropped his and took a crying Jeremy into his arms.
Outside they could hear cries of pain and other explosions. Jake put his sword away and picked up his pistol. He and Tom moved to the blasted-open doors. They looked out and could see some crumpled shapes on the ground. They heard the whine of a helicopter taking off from the direction of the main house. Two people came running toward them in the dark; one of them was carrying a long item of some kind. They fired.
"Whoah, we're the good guys. Put your guns down."
As they drew nearer, the two men saw that the figures were older teenagers, and one of them was carrying a rapier. They continued to point their guns at the teens. One of them put his hands up, showing that he was unarmed. Then he began to glow with a white light. Jake dropped his hand to his side and stared. The two teens laughed as they walked forward. The young mage let his glow fade away and held out his hand. Jake holstered his gun and took it.
"Hi, I'm Dakota and as you can guess I'm a light mage. This is my Guardian Angel, Hunter."
"Nice to meet you guys, but how did you happen to be in the neighborhood?"
"We live nearby. My parents are out there somewhere helping your men. We thought we'd come see if you could use a hand."
"But how did you know we were going to attack this place?"
"We followed you. We saw you yesterday and recognized the boy as a one of us, so we let my parents know, and we've been taking turns keeping watch since yesterday. Hunter was on watch when you guys arrived and he called us in. It took us a few minutes to get to where he was concealed. We already had an idea where you were going once we realized you had a mage that we didn't know about with you. So we followed. My parents have been tasked for the last few years to keep an eye on Stanhope, and once I gained my powers and Hunter and I bonded, we've been helping watch on his activities."
"Wow. How old are you guys?"
"We're seventeen. We're seniors in high school in Napa."
"Thanks for the assist. But the rat bastard got away."
"Yeah, we know; he'll get his someday. Anyway, is everyone okay?"
"Well, there's a boy over there who got hit by lightning from the older mage. You should check him out first. I'm going to go look after my son."
The teens hurried over to Cameron's side. Trevor was already by Jeremy's side and working on healing him. The worst was the tearing in his rectum, but Trevor poured healing energy into it and got the bleeding stopped and everything repaired. He then went to work on the cuts on his back. Jeremy almost purred with the healing warmth spreading through him.
Dakota leaned over Cameron and picked him up, enfolding him in his arms, and soon he was glowing as he poured healing energy into Cameron's body. When he was finished, Cameron opened his eyes and found himself being held by a teenager with sandy hair who was smiling at him.
"Good, you're back with us. I'm Dakota, this is Hunter. We're here to help you."
"Are you with Jeremy's family?"
"No, but we're friends of theirs and they asked us if we could help you."
"Thanks so much."
Cameron hugged the teenager tightly. Dakota helped him get up when he was ready. Both he and Dakota were a little woozy from the attack and the healing energy he had used, so they supported one another with Hunter's help, as they walked over to where the family was crowded around Jeremy. Jared had almost a death grip on Jeremy and didn't appear to want to let him go any time soon. Zach went and picked up all the silk robes that had been hanging on the hooks on the wall, but because of the attack were strewn on the ground. The two boys realized that they were still naked and with red faces quickly dug through the pile and found the robes that fit them. They were a little torn and stained now, but it was better than nothing. Dakota's cell phone rang; he took it out of his pocket and checked the caller ID before he answered.
"Hey, Dad... yeah, we're good... everybody looks to be fine here... well, at least the ones that matter... there's one of Stanhope's people dead in here... no... sure, I'll let them know... Okay, see you in a little bit."
He closed the phone and put it back in his pocket.
"That was my dad. He said that he would meet us in the main house. A couple of your men are hurt and he's tending to them in there. He wants me to bring you there if you don't mind. My mom and two of your men have headed back down to where the trucks are. They're going to drive them up here as soon as they can."
"Sounds good. Oh, wait a minute. Tom, give Terry a call and let her know everyone's all right, and tell her about the people coming down to her."
As they left the room, Jeremy took one last look at the body of James Harvey and a tear leaked out as he thought of his mom. He felt justice had been served. Jared pulled him along as they followed everyone out. As they walked to the main house, they could see the bodies of some of the guards who had been killed in the attack. They could also see scorch marks around the property, testament to the magical fighting that had accompanied the mundane fighting. As they neared the house, they saw Kent standing at the back door. He hurried over to them.
"Boss, it's Jed and Darryl, Darryl took a couple of bullets. I think he'll be okay, but we need to get him to a hospital. Jed's bad. That old guy in the purple robes hit him with some kind of fire ball or something, and he's burned real bad. Mr. McKendrick is helping him, but he said something about being tired after the fight. Maybe if we can get a medevac helicopter of some kind up here, we can save him."
Kent led the way into the living room in the front part of the house. They saw their two men. Darryl was holding a towel to his leg that was soaked in blood. He was looking anxiously at Jed who lay nearby. Jed's chest looked like it was partially melted. There was an older man with long sandy hair trying to get the vest off of him. Jed appeared to be unconscious as the man peeled the vest away. As they drew nearer they could see that his chest was blackened and bloody. The man cleared the vest away, tearing skin with it; luckily Jed was out, although he did groan and move a little when the skin was torn away. The man looked up as Trevor and Zach dropped down beside him. Trevor helped the man pull the shirt that Jed wore underneath so they could see how bad it was. Tom handed Zach his knife and they were able to quickly cut the shirt away.
Trevor put his hands down into the middle of the injured area, which seemed to cover his entire upper body, found the skin badly damaged and probably the underlying tissues and organs as well. Trevor bowed his head and Zach placed his hands over Trevor's. Slowly a white glow emanated from both boys. The man sat back and watched in awe as the glow covered Jed's torso. All of them in the room watched in awe as from the outside of the damaged area to the center, which was below Trevor's hands, the burned tissue slowly changed to smooth pink skin. He held the position for a few more minutes and then the glow faded and he and Zach slumped forward, lying on top of Jed. They saw Jed's eyes open, and as he felt the weight of the two boys laying on him, he looked down and gently lifted them both up as he sat up. Tears came to his eyes as he hugged the two boys to him. They were both out. The long-haired man stared at the boys and reached out to rub their backs. He looked to the others.
"My God, I've never seen anything like that before. The boy has a Companion. I've haven't seen a Mage Companion in many years. Let's get these two comfortable and let them rest."
Jake and Tom came over and took the two boys from Jed's arms and carried them over to a large couch nearby. When they laid them down, they instinctively turned until they were cuddled up holding each other and sleeping peacefully. Jed sat down near the head of the two boys and just looked in wonder at them, gently reaching out to smooth their sweat-soaked hair away from their faces; tears dripped gently down his face and he didn't bother to wipe them away. Darryl and Kent were shocked; they could not believe what they had just seen. Darryl was brought back to earth by someone kneeling down beside him and pulling the towel away to rip his pants leg open. He saw a sandy-haired teenager kneeling beside him and watched as he put his hands on the wound. A glow could be seen coming from the teenager's hands and the pain slowly went away. When the boy took his hands away, the skin of his leg was whole. The boy smiled at him and dropped something in his hand.
"A little souvenir."
The boy got up and staggered a little. The other boy who was with him helped him over to another couch and they sat down. The older man walked over to Jake and Tom.
"Hello, I'm Duncan McKendrick, Dakota's dad."
"Good to meet you both. I would like to add that I'm also very happy to see a light mage with a companion. We need more of them. What's his name?"
"He's my son, Trevor MacLaren, and his companion is Tom's son, Zachary." "And this is my other son, Zach's twin Jared, and his boyfriend Jeremy, Jake's other son. Jeremy, is the reason we came up here. He was kidnapped by a man named James Harvey… who hopefully is burning his nuts in hell right now. He was killed during the attack."
The man looked around and saw Cameron hanging back from everyone.
"And who is the other boy? We've seen him around here for the last few years, but never found out who he was."
"His name's Cameron. He was basically a slave to William."
"C'mon over here, Cameron."
Duncan waved his hand to Cameron and he hesitantly walked over toward the man. He looked at him nervously and the man smiled down at him. Cameron looked into his eyes and for the first time in years he saw what he had wanted to see, compassion, friendship and caring. Cameron rushed at the man and wrapped his arms tightly around Duncan's waist and let loose of three years of humiliation, hurt, anger, everything. His entire body shook as the sobs tore out of him. The man gently pried the boy back and then lifted him up into his arms. Cameron wrapped his arms around the man's neck and his legs around his waist as Duncan, with Jake and Tom's help, made his way to a chair. They repositioned his legs so that he now sat across Duncan's lap. He continued crying; the sound of it was so full of pain that the others in the room were moved by it. The man continued to hold him and rock him, doing everything that he could to soothe him. After ten minutes of crying, it slowly tapered off and he fell asleep in Duncan's arms. Duncan looked at them and smiled.
"He'll be okay now. It's going to be tough for a long while, but he'll be okay."
"What's going to happen to him?"
"For now, my wife and I will take care of him. You don't mind a little brother, do you, Dakota?"
"Not at all, Dad, that'll be cool."
"So what now?"
"Well let's wait until everyone gets up here and then we'll talk."
Tom looked around the room and turned to the boys.
"Jared, Jeremy, let's see if we can scrounge up some drinks, coffee, tea or something."
They nodded and went searching for the kitchen. They returned soon with a trolley that had a pot of coffee, a pot of hot water, tea, cups, cream and sugar. They also had several different cans of soda. Everyone helped themselves to the drinks. Duncan asked for a cup of tea, and Jed, who by now had maneuvered the two boys so that their heads rested on a pillow on his lap, asked for a coke. Duncan asked Jake about how they came to be here. Jake started with the first attack on Jeremy and Denise's death, his subsequent kidnapping and how they trailed him up to here. By the time he finished the story, they heard some cars pull up outside. Kent and Darryl grabbed their MP5s and looked outside. They relaxed when they saw who it was. Kent opened the door for Phil, Larry, Terry and Mrs. McKendrick. Terry rushed over to Jeremy when she saw him and crushed him in a hug.
"Aunt Terry, I can't breathe."
"Sorry, dear. I've just been so worried about you."
"I'm okay now."
She went over and hugged Tom and looked to where Zach was laying asleep with Trevor.
"Are Zach and Trevor okay?"
"I think they just wore themselves out. Trevor fought Stanhope to a standstill while doing his best to protect us as well, then he healed Jeremy, then when he got here to the main house, he healed Jed, saving his life. They both collapsed afterwards and they've been sleeping since then. I think they'll be okay once they've had some rest."
"Jake, Tom, this is my wife Kristen. Kristen, this is Jake MacLaren, and Tom Browning. The two boys asleep on the couch are their sons Trevor and Zach; they are a bonded Mage-Companion pair, and the other two boys who are also their sons, Jeremy and Jared. Jeremy was being held captive here and they came to free him. And this boy asleep in my lap is Cameron. He was William Stanhope's personal slave, you know what I mean."
"The poor boy."
"If you agree and he agrees and we don't find any family, I want to take him in. You and I can help him deal with all of this."
"If that's what you want, then yes, let's do it."
Duncan turned to the others.
"My wife is a child psychologist and I'm a psychiatrist, specializing in helping children who have been abused or neglected deal with what they have had to live with."
"It sounds like you are the perfect people to take care of him. I hope he takes you up on your offer."
Kristen nodded as she sat on the arm of the chair and caressed Cameron as he slept in Duncan's arms.
"We're all here now, so what do we do next? There are several dead here, and I'm sure the police will have some questions."
"We'll take care of the bodies. We have a lot of friends and they'll help us. This property is going to change hands to one of our people. So we don't start a war, we will be sending its fair market value to Stanhope along with most of what you see here in the house. But we are stopping him from ever come back here. If he wants to come back into California, he's going to have to go somewhere else. So what are your plans now?"
"We're going to go back home and try to get settled down. We're going to have to come up with a story about how we found him and all that."
"I have an idea. I saw your statement on the news, you know, when you threatened the kidnappers and told them to drop your son off somewhere and give him the money to call you to come pick him up. Why don't you say he called you from Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco? You immediately flew up there and picked him up. The next concern is your men. They know about us and I'm sure you have been told why that is dangerous."
"Yeah, but I trust them with my life. The six of them were SEALS...."
"You don't have to worry about us, sir. We'll say nothing."
Duncan looked over at Jed, still sitting by the two sleeping boys.
"After what these boys did for me, and what I've seen today, I would never betray them. I know that I owe them my life and as of this moment, if they needed my help, they've got it, no questions asked. All they have to do is call."
Jed looked around the room at each of the other team members, who nodded as he looked at them. Jed turned back to the others.
"So you see, sir, your secret is safe with us. You have our word of honor."
"Very well, that will have to do. So, Jake, what do you do that you have such men working for you, at least I assume they work for you?"
"Tom and I own a security consulting and private investigative service in the LA area."
"And these men are employed as private security?"
"Yes, we also have some former sheriffs and Green Berets as well."
"Ever thought of moving your business up this way? San Francisco's not far and neither is Sacramento. Or maybe even expand, have an office up here."
"I don't think so. It would impact a lot of people. I think we'll keep it how it is right now. Maybe somewhere down the line we'll think about expansion, but we're kept pretty busy down in LA."
"Well, if anything changes, contact me and I can put you in touch with the right people. We could use some people like you around."
"Why is that?"
"We work to thwart the machinations of the Dark Mages. Think of it like the Cold War. There are rarely direct confrontations like this, but when there are, it would be nice to have people like yourselves to call upon. Your men are obviously good, and they know about us, and they'll keep it quiet about us as well."
"I think we'll let things stand as they are for now. Maybe somewhere down the road we might want to expand and if that happens, then we'll see."
"Fair enough. For now, we ought to take it easy here for the night. Search the house and see what we can find. Tomorrow you can leave for San Francisco to make the story about your son look right. Your men can drive the trucks back south, and you and your families can enjoy a little time in San Francisco and then fly home. From San Francisco you should contact the police and tell them about Jeremy calling you. That of course will get out to the newspapers. It can't be helped, but just stick to the story and it should fade away. I know you would like to nail the Stanhopes, but we have to keep this quiet for the obvious reasons. There will be other chances to get him, but for now he walks."
"You said take it easy here, you mean stay?"
"Of course. I'm sure we'll be comfortable, and I've already called in some favors and we'll be fine for the night. There are guards on the grounds. For now let's take a look around the house."
Jake nodded and he looked around. Jared and Jeremy were asleep on one of the couches. Trevor and Zach were still sleeping. Dakota had gone over to his dad and lifted Cameron up so his Dad could stand up.
"The first thing is that we should find some beds for these four boys to sleep. They'll probably sleep until the morning."
They started their search and found several bedrooms. There was one that had a huge bed and they decided to put all of the boys in that one. Once they were settled, Jed volunteered to watch them while the other searched the house. They looked everywhere; Duncan noted in his head which items would be sent to one of Stanhope's estates and what they would be left here. In Stanhope's study they looked around and Duncan found a safe. Duncan enhanced his hearing and listened carefully as he worked the tumblers until he got it unlocked. Inside they found stacks of money. They counted it out and it came to about twenty million dollars. They found the basement room where Jeremy had been kept. They also found Jeremy's kilt and other clothes in a box downstairs near the cell. The computer in the study required a password, and they planned to have someone check it out later and see what they could find on it. There were also a couple of laptops in a couple of the rooms that would have to be checked out later. Everyone eventually found a room to crash in. Jed stayed in the boys' room, sleeping on a small couch that was in the room.
Early the next morning, Trevor opened his eyes and found himself cuddled up with Zach. He gave Zach a gentle hug, which caused him to stir. Zach turned around in Trevor's arms and smiled as he leaned forward to give Trevor a good morning kiss.
"Good morning, love."
"Yes, that was good. Want more."
"Your wish is my command."
The two boys kissed again for a few minutes until Zach was elbowed in the back.
He turned around and looked at his brother, who was grinning at him.
"Can't you guys keep it down? We're tryin' to sleep here."
Jeremy's smiling face peeked over Jared's head. Then everything that had happened rushed back in. The boys started to look around the well-appointed room and realized they were not in their beds at home. They started to sit up and as Jeremy looked to his left, he saw Cameron fast asleep. He looked at the boy and saw that he seemed different. He leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek and hugged him gently. Cameron's eyes fluttered open and he found himself looking into Jeremy's face and smiled. Then he noticed three more boys sitting up in the bed behind Jeremy. That was when his eyes shot open and he sat up quick. He kept looking at the four boys who were in bed with him; his head kept moving between the four boys, like an audience at a tennis match watching the ball. That was when a huge grin appeared on his face and tears of joy sprang up.
"OH MY GOD! IT'S NOT A DREAM! YOU GUYS ARE REALLY HERE!"
He reached forward tentatively for a moment before he touched Jeremy. Jeremy just smiled back at him.
"I told you the cavalry was on the way, Cam. These are my brothers. This one right next to me is Jared, my boyfriend, the next one is his twin brother Zach and the blond one over there is Trevor, my brother and Zach's boyfriend. He's the magic guy."
"Oh, I can't believe it after so long, you're here and... but what about Ian and William?"
"They are long gone from here. They got away, but you're safe and protected from them."
Trevor looked at Cameron closely for a moment and then his eyes opened wide.
"I know you. In all the excitement and everything, I forgot, but I've seen you before."
"What do you mean, I don't ever remember meeting you before."
"No, remember guys, the sweat lodge. Remember how I told you all about what I had seen during it about a red-haired boy, who looked lost and Grandfather said that the boy in my vision was asking for my help and I would help him someday. This is him, Cameron is the boy in my vision."
"Yeah, you said in your vision you were a young wolf... "
"A wolf? I... I had a dream a few months ago about sitting in the den downstairs and feeling something watching me from outside of the window. William and Greg were there talking about something, and I looked up and saw a small dog or wolf looking at me through the window, then it disappeared."
"Yeah, that's what I remember; two other guys were in the room."
"Wow, that is so cool."
"Yeah, Trev, maybe you'll get other visions like that and then we could go save them too."
"Maybe, anyway, I need to pee."
He looked at all of them and they were all dirty, and they could see blood and soot on each other.
"It looks like we need to get cleaned up too."
The other boys nodded and everyone started jumping out of bed. When they got out, they realized that all of them except Cameron and Jeremy were in their underwear. The other two boys were nude. Cameron blushed when he realized that, but the other boys just shrugged and started to look for a bathroom. They found a large bathroom through a connecting door; it was large enough for the five boys to fit inside easily. They took turns peeing and then turned their attention to the shower. It was big also and could easily fit them all as well. The boys shed their underwear, and after they got the temperature just right, they all jumped in and helped each other clean up. There was a lot of horseplay in there, but within a few minutes they were all clean. There was a stack of towels on a shelf and they all grabbed them and got dried off. They all walked into the room with the towels wrapped around their waists. The boys saw their bags sitting on the bed. They went over and started digging through them. Jared passed some clothes to Jeremy that would fit him. The four boys were soon dressed. They realized Cam didn't have any clothes to wear.
"Sorry, Cam, we didn't bring much with us."
"Don't worry, I just have to get to my room and I can get some of my clean clothes."
"Okay, we'll go with you."
"I know this is Ian's room, my room is a little farther down the hall, but I just have this towel and nothing else to wear until we get there."
"I have an idea, you stay in the middle of us and we'll walk you down there."
"I guess that'll work."
The boys looked outside the room and then in a small huddle they moved down the hall under Cameron's directions until they came to a door. Cameron moved forward and opened the door and went in. He stopped suddenly.
"Oh, uh'... sorry, I didn't know anyone was in here."
The other boys looked over his shoulder and saw the teenagers from last night looking at them from the bed in the room.
"Don't worry, bro, we were just getting up ourselves. Do you know where the nearest bathroom is?"
"Uh, yeah, just down the hall that way."
"Thanks, bud. C'mon Dak, let's go, I'm tired of little Dak poking me in the back."
Dakota chuckled as the two boys got out of bed. They grabbed their jeans that were on a chair nearby and put them on before leaving the room. They both ruffled Cameron's hair as they went by. Cameron went over to his dresser and got some clothes out. He grabbed some tennis shoes from the closet and just as the two teenagers came back in he was all dressed. The five boys said goodbye to the teenagers and with Cameron leading them, they went downstairs. A couple of Jake's men were setting up a large dining room table with place settings. The boys followed the smells of breakfast to the kitchen and saw Terry and Kristen working at the stove. Jake was buttering toast and Tom was getting milk and juice out of the fridge. Jake looked up at the boys' entrance and smiled.
"Morning guys, you look hungry."
At the word hungry a couple stomachs started to rumble a bit, causing everyone to laugh.
"Breakfast will be served in a few minutes; help us carry this stuff out there."
The boys started grabbing bowls and platters of food and brought it out to the dining room. The others started showing up as the food arrived in the dining room. Soon everyone was seated and there was a lively conversation around the table as breakfast was consumed. Kristen had Cameron sit next to her. Jed made sure that he sat near Trevor and Zach, still acting as their bodyguard. Jake noticed Jed's actions and just shook his head smiling. Once everyone was stuffed, the cleanup began, and with everyone helping it was soon finished. Duncan led them to the living room and they all found seats, with the couples sitting next to each other. Kristen had Cameron sit next to her. Duncan stood and looked at everyone.
"Well, a couple of last items and then you guys need to get over to San Francisco, so you can pick up Jeremy here."
There were several smiles and chuckles around the room.
"First, Cameron, I want to ask you something very important. Kristen and I, and of course the two boys have talked about it, and we want you to live with us. We'll adopt you and you will be our son forever. That is if you want that."
"You mean it, you want me, even after everything I... I've had to... uh do?"
"Without question or conditions. We want to be your family if you'll have us."
Cameron looked over at Dakota and Hunter, who both were smiling and nodding. He looked at Kristen and she nodded and hugged him. He grabbed tightly to her and started crying.
"I take that's a yes?"
Kristen could feel him nod his head against her shoulder. He was able to calm down in a few moments and smiled at everyone.
"I get a mom, dad and brothers?"
"Well, technically, you get one brother, to me you'll just be my boyfriend's bratty little brother, but I guess that's okay too. C'mere."
Cameron got up and went over to Dakota and Hunter, and both of the boys hugged him. Duncan wiped his eyes and turned to the others.
"Good, that's taken care of. Now for you guys, I think the best thing is for couple of your men to drive you to San Francisco, while the others take the rest of the vehicles back home. They should let you off near Fisherman's Wharf. From there you call the San Francisco Police and tell them that you have recovered Jeremy. Tell them the story that you talked about, that Jeremy was dropped off and called you to come and get him. Jeremy, they will ask you questions about what you can remember. I think the best thing to say is that you were kept blindfolded and tied up the whole time, except when you were in the building in Oxnard and saw Harvey. Other than that you never saw anyone. Do you think you can do that?"
"Yep, no problem."
"Good, there's another thing also. Jeremy, I want to you to talk to a colleague of mine down in LA about everything. You went through some tough times and I think it would be good for you to talk to someone about it, to help you deal with everything you've gone through in the last few months."
"But, what about... you know, the magic? I can't talk about that."
"With this guy, you can. He's one of us, a mage. He has agreed to help Jeremy. Jake, here's his number; give him a call when you get back."
Jake took the card and thanked Duncan.
"One last thing and then you folks need to get going. I have this for you."
He picked a gym bag up from the floor and handed it to Jake. Jake took it with a puzzled expression. He set it down on the table and opened it. Inside he saw stacks of bills. He took one of them out and looked at Duncan confused.
"That is most of the money we found in the safe, about fifteen million. You guys did the lion's share of the work in bringing part of Stanhope's operation here in California down, so this is yours. Most of the rest will be needed to take care of the bodies and things here."
"But how can we take this?"
"To the victors go the spoils. Finders Keepers. Stanhope knows this sort of thing happens all the time. Trust me; this is pocket change to him. He won't miss it; he is reputed to be worth a couple of billion, so a few million is nothing. Use it however you want. Maybe you could use it to help other kids, whatever you want. It's yours."
Jake dropped the bundle back in the bag and zipped it up. He nodded and picked the bag up.
"Fair enough. Anything else?"
"No, I think that's it. You guys get going; we'll finish up here. Everyone remember your stories for the police and the media of course. Cameron, why don't you and the boys go upstairs and get everything you want to take with you, and we'll get out of here as well for now."
Cameron got up from the couch where he was sitting between Dakota and Hunter and walked to Jeremy and hugged him tightly. Then he moved to each of the adults and the boys, ending with Trevor. He stood back.
"Thanks for saving me. I think you came in the nick of time. You saved my life and I'll never forget you. Now I have a real family. I hope we see you again."
"Cam, we'll stay in touch. Besides, we have a lot of friends to visit up here."
"Yeah, besides we might want to come up and do some wine tasting."
"Anytime, Jake, give us a call and we'll direct you to the best places. You of course will have a place to stay, so don't be a stranger."
"Bye all, thanks for everything; we'll talk to you later."
There were handshakes and hugs all around. The family went outside and got in Tom's Suburban. Jed and Phil were their drivers and bodyguards. Jake and Tom said goodbye to the others and said they would talk to them in a few days.
An hour later, Jed and Phil dropped them off near Fisherman's wharf. The family looked for a phone booth at the wharf. Jake took out his cellphone and called the SFPD. Within minutes a couple of squad cars and a detective car pulled up next to them. A crowd started to gather wondering what was going on. They saw the officers and detectives talking to the group of people. A police van pulled up and the four adults and four boys got in and the police left.
That evening on a cattle ranch in Canada, four men were watching CNN.
"... An incredible end to a kidnapping from last weekend. We are at Santa Monica Airport. Behind me you can see the family and friends of Jeremy MacLaren coming off the plane. Governor Schwarzenegger, when he heard the news about the happy ending of this terrible affair, has graciously given the family a ride back home aboard his personal jet."
"Many of you may remember this news clip from last week."
The interview with Jake by the Channel seven reporter was played.
"As you see, it appears the kidnappers heard what Mr. MacLaren said and decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and dropped Jeremy off at Fisherman's Wharf with the money to call his family. The family took an early morning flight and found Jeremy waiting for him. The police are withholding any further information concerning who the kidnappers are, saying that as it is an ongoing investigation that they can't comment on any further. The Governor and his wife are leading them to where several SUVs are parked, and it appears that he is giving them a ride home. We will try to get an interview at a later time with the MacLarens. This is CNN Headline News...."
Kevin muted the TV. Ian looked at William and Greg. William was still pretty banged up. Ian had done what he could, but he was not strong in healing. He had asked another Dark Mage who had a stronger gift of healing to come and see what he could do to fix William's face. That little red-headed bastard had done quite a number on him.
"They have won this battle, but the war is far from over. William, we'll start the search again for a Companion for you. We don't have much time, only one more shot at it; hopefully we will have better luck. I'll have our contacts here in Canada start poking around and see what we can find."
"As for the boy mage and his family, we will keep our distance... for now. Let them get complacent. When we strike I want us to have the advantage. Their attack caught us by surprise, but it won't happen again. Make sure the rest of our operations in California are under the radar, Kevin. We don't want to attract any unnecessary attention.
The others nodded.
As the family drove up to their home, they saw a lot of people standing in the street cheering as they drove up. They saw friends from school, their little league team, their neighbors and their scout troop were there. They saw the four girls and their parents were there holding a banner saying 'Welcome Home Jeremy'. So were Jeremy's grandparents. There was also several news trucks parked on the street. Several State Troopers got out of the SUVs first and moved the crowd back. The family got out and was escorted to the front door. They waved to all of their friends. The Governor and his wife got out and waved to everyone in the crowd. He walked partway up the walkway to the house before he turned.
"I have a short statement on behalf of the MacLaren and Browning families. They ask that you give them some peace for a few days. Any interview requests should be made through Spirit Wolf Security. I was happy to play a small part in helping this wonderful family get home quickly. Now if you will excuse us, Maria and I are going to visit with the families for a few moments before we leave, and we hope that you will give them the peace that they have requested. Thank you."
He turned away from the camera's, ignoring the shouted questions. Once inside, he talked with the family for a few minutes and then wished them well and left. Outside, Mr. Phillips' cell phone rang. He answered it and smiled nodding his head and then hung up. Ben Davis' phone also rang and he nodded before hanging up. Slowly the people started to move away. Several of the reporters were doing a wrap up before getting back in their trucks. The Davises and the families of the girls and Luke and Gary started walking back to their cars. Mr. Phillips walked quickly over to each of the families and whispered something to the parents. Each of the parents nodded and got in their cars and drove off.
Later that evening several cars pulled up in front of the MacLaren house. The girls and their families got out. Next the Davises pulled into the driveway and finally Luke and Gary and their families drove up. The street was quiet as they went up to the house and were let in. There was a fine party that evening at the house.
The next day in the Press Telegram a news story caught Jake's eye as he, Terry and Tom were sitting at the table drinking coffee. The boys were still upstairs sleeping.
Kidnapping Suspect Found
San Francisco Police found a bloody scene last night on a boat at the Pier 38 Marina. The bodies of several men were found inside a large luxury boat including a man tentatively identified as James Harvey, a suspect in the kidnapping of Jeremy MacLaren last weekend. Police sources say it appeared to be a drug deal gone wrong as an undisclosed quantity of cocaine was also found on the boat. Harvey was also the prime suspect in the murder of Denise Davis, Jeremy's mother, a few months ago. After her death, Jeremy was adopted by the parents of his close friend Trevor, Jake and Sandra MacLaren. This family then suffered a further loss a short time later when during a home invasion robbery, Trevor and Sandra MacLaren were shot. Sadly Sandra succumbed to her wounds. We at the Press Telegram hope the family of the victims of James Harvey can now breathe easier, knowing he is no longer out there.
Jake pushed the paper over to Tom and pointed at the article. He read it and smiled.
"Those guys are good."
"Yep, they are. No one will know what really happened to him but us. Well, shall we get those eating machines up?"
"Yeah, it's been nice and relaxing this morning, but at least we're all back together, and we don't have to worry about Harvey anymore."
"Yeah, I'll go get 'em."
Jake stood up and walked upstairs to get the boys up. He agreed with Tom about Harvey, but he knew somewhere out there was Ian Stanhope and his son. He doubted they would forget what had happened. Jake would have to be on his guard, as would Trevor. He doubted that this was the last that they would see of Ian Stanhope.
Author's Note: I hope that you have enjoyed reading the story of Jake and Trevor or I guess it could be Zach and Trevor or the MacLarens and the Brownings, or whatever. Anyway it went in some slightly different directions from my original ideas, but I liked the direction it went and I'm satisfied with the final product. It took about 2 ½ years to write. Although in fairness, there were a couple interruptions. One was called Devon's Choice. The other was a short story called They Weren't Alone. Both can be read on AC's Corner Café. I do believe there will be more adventures of Jake and Trevor as there are some ideas floating around in my head that just need to coalesce. So stay tuned. There are plenty of other stories by other writers out there that are better, but I like it and hope that some of you at least get a little bit of enjoyment out of it. I have some other stories that are in my head that I want to write, so I want to give it a try and see if they work out and go somewhere. Catch y'all later.
Eric aka Wolfhighlander