Castle Roland

Forever 1 - Beginnings

by Jack Schaeffer


Chapter 18

Posted: 2 Apr 15

FOREVER 1 - Beginnings
By Jack Schaeffer
Copyright © 2014 - 2015. All rights reserved.

_"A beginning is a very delicate time."_
from Dune (1984) by Frank Herbert, David Lynch

Sam's studio apartment was up three flights of creaky, wooden steps. He started out fine, having rested his bruised and twisted ankle for most of the evening, but now as we climbed the stairs together, he leaned on me for a little support for the last flight up. Sam looked exhausted as he opened his front door and flipped a switch on the wall, illuminating the interior. He stepped back to invite me in, then shut the door behind me.

The first thing that struck me was the space was so…Sam. It was efficient, simple, and straightforward. Functional without a lot of fluff or decoration. It was essentially a single large room, 15 by 30, with a vaulted ceiling peaking in the middle at about 12 feet high. The space was bisected by a wall system which did not quite reach the ceiling, supporting a galley kitchen on the front room side, where we were standing. I could see a narrow "hallway" at the left end of this "wall" which I assumed was used to get around to the bedroom area.

I turned to look at Sam, who appeared apprehensive, his eyes searching mine for…what…approval? "It's great, Sam. I love it. It's so you. It reminds me of my place in Chicago. Thanks for bringing me here." I leaned in and kissed him softly. I wanted him to relax.

"I know it's not what you're used to, Jack, but it's home to me," he said.

"If this is where you are, then it's home to me, too," I replied. He smiled at me, but I wasn't quite sure he was convinced I was sincere. I could tell he still thought he wasn't good enough for me because of my money. The whole drive over here from the rental house, Sam was holding my hand and oohing and aahing over the BMW, wishing he could have driven it, save for his bum ankle, while I was wishing we were in his work truck with its bench seat so I could have slid over right next to him and put my head on his shoulder as he drove. But as we got closer and closer to his apartment near the airport and the Paradise Pools workshop, I could feel him slowly mentally pulling away from me.

"I'll give you the penny tour. It's not worth a nickel," Sam said.

"Alright, Sam, enough! No more pity party. I am not a rich, high and mighty stuck up snob who thinks so little of you as to be offended by your apartment. I like it. In fact, I like it better than the rental house. This feels like home. It feels like you." I softened my voice. "And since I belong to you…this is where I belong." I pulled him to me before he could object and get mad at me for speaking up. Thankfully he put his arms around me and held me tightly, exactly what I needed him to do. There was something about him hugging me that stabilized us both.

"You're right, Jack. I'm sorry. I just…no, you love me. That's all that matters."

"Damn right, mister. Now, show me the rest of your place…please?" I looked up into his eyes, and the sparkle was back. He leaned down a little and kissed me like he meant it.

When he broke off the scorching kiss, I was a little shaky on my legs, as he said, "We're standing in the kitchen, as you can see. Stove, fridge, double sinks. No dishwasher, but I don't really need it. Over here is the living room. It came furnished, thank God, but you get what you get. The manager said this was the newest furniture in the whole building, so it's pretty decent. Works for me anyway."

There was a single, three-cushion sofa in a modern design of dark brown synthetic material - it would probably last 20 years. An armchair upholstered in a neutral, beige-patterned matching material completed the seating in the front room. The two end tables with the lamps matched the small, two-person dining table and chairs in the kitchen area. Sam had a medium sized flat screen TV sitting on a low credenza up against the wall opposite the couch. I could see a gaming console and two remote controls thrown haphazardly on a low shelf in the credenza. Great…he'd probably want to annihilate me in some battle game. I sucked at those things.

"Bring your stuff back here to the bedroom," said Sam. I followed him around the dividing wall to the bedroom area behind it, pulling my carry-on luggage. I also had my charcoal gray sports coat on a hanger - Sam had insisted I bring it when he saw it in my closet while I was packing up a few things to "visit" his apartment.

Back here, he had a full size bed with a black, brown and beige comforter set in a modern design. There was a single nightstand with a small lamp, all matching similar items in the front room. A tall and narrow chest of drawers in the same style completed the room.

Sam sat on the bed, patting it with his hand. I sat down next to him, looking into his beautiful blue eyes. He started to say something, but stopped himself and instead just looked into my eyes with his trademark intensity. I was comfortable with it now. It was a way we connected on some level I didn't really understand. As he looked at me, a single tear escaped his right eye. No, no, no. No more tears.

"Sam," I started, but he stopped me with a finger to my lips.

"No. Just wait." He kept looking at me, searching for an answer to something…I think. Finally, he nodded once, and I let go of the breath I didn't realize I had been holding.

"I'm sorry for doubting you, Jack. The money is still throwing me off a little. I try not to let it bother me, but…anyway, I promise you, I will do everything I can not to let it come between us. I love you, Jack, and if it means I have to suffer having a boyfriend with hundreds of millions of dollars, then…so be it." Now he had a smart ass grin going, and I knew we had crossed over the money hurdle, hopefully once and for all.

"You just called me your boyfriend," I said with my own goofy grin plastered on my face.

"Yeah, that's what you are. Are you okay with that?"

"More than okay. It got me hard instantly. Wanna feel it?" I said, laughing.

"You are such a horn dog, Jack. And I like you like that." He laughed back with me.

I pushed him back on the bed and he didn't resist when I climbed up and laid down on top of him, kissing him passionately, our tongues intertwined and probing each other's mouths. Man, I loved kissing this guy, and he was crazy for it. Sam was writhing around under me now, his body obviously relishing the sensations our kissing was producing. I pushed my leaking dick down hard on his thigh so he knew I wasn't kidding about my hardon. It really did go rock hard when he called me his boyfriend. Who knew such a thing could be so much of a turn on?

Just when I thought I might pass out from lack of oxygen, Sam pulled away from my lips and hugged me to him in the way I loved to be held. I rested my head sideways on his chest, relaxing and letting my breathing return to normal. With my right hand, I played with his underarm hair sticking out from his t-shirt sleeve.

Sam giggled. "That tickles," he said.

"Sorry," I said, stopping. "You're just so sexy. I can't help it. I love touching you and playing with you. All of you." He sighed deeply, content and happy. It made me very happy, too.

I lifted my head to look at his handsome face. "Forever, Sam."

"Forever, Jack."

We laid there for maybe 15 minutes more, just enjoying the moment and the togetherness. Sam yawned, and I followed up a few seconds later with my own yawns. I was tired, too. It must have been later than I thought - and I was worn out from all the love making.

I was excited to be sleeping in Sam's bed. When we had discussed it, I was pretty insistent we come here and spend the night. I said it was because I didn't want to have to make the trip back up and over the mountain, but I really just wanted to be in his bed. It was a head thing for me - I wanted to be in his space, his domain. It heightened my sense of belonging to him.

Sam's cell phone rang in the front room, so I got up and headed for the bathroom while Sam went to answer it. I heard him say, "Hey, Tommy," right before I shut the door. I did my business, and then started the shower before dropping my clothes on the floor. I still had Sam's dried cum on me from earlier - the hot tub had not quite washed it all off. When the water temperature was just right, I stepped in and shut the door behind me.

There was a bar of soap on a small shelf on the wall and I used it to lather up my whole body, paying special attention to my nether regions. I had always liked to be clean, but now I wanted to be clean for someone else. You never knew what might transpire when you had a boyfriend.

I was toweling off when Sam knocked quietly on the bathroom door. "Come in," I said. I kept drying myself, totally not self-conscious anymore with being naked in Sam's presence. I actually liked it - and I think he did too, judging from his goofy smile.

"Damn, Jack. I'm exhausted, and you're standing there looking all hot and sexy. Geez, you're gonna kill me, aren't you? That's your plan…do me in with non-stop sex." He had his arms around my waist and I was smiling, enjoying his attention.

"You're too young to die from a sex overdose. And besides, I want forever, Sam, not a few days. So pace yourself, big guy. I want to be making love to you when we're in our nineties."

"Sounds like a great plan. Speaking of plans…I was just talking to Tommy. About tomorrow…are you up to helping me out again with a couple of pools?"

"Sure, but are you really ready to work again so soon? How's your ankle holding up? For real, Sam." I answered.

"I think it will be in pretty good shape by morning - if you don't attack me in the middle of the night to have your way with me."

"Don't even think about it. My dick hurts as it is. Besides, I want you walking strong tomorrow. I can help you, but you're still the leader of this cleaning crew."

"We're a good team, Jack, you and me. I think we can handle it together. Plus, I have a surprise for tomorrow night. It's gonna be a lot of fun!"

"What's gonna be a lot of fun? Tell me, Sam."

"No way, you just pay attention tomorrow and do what I ask and I promise you we will have a very pleasant and enjoyable evening as your reward." He was smiling, obviously very excited about his surprise. I trusted him implicitly, so I wasn't worried. I was getting kind of excited myself. Sam made life fun.

I brushed my teeth while Sam took a fast shower. I kept stealing glances at his awesome ass so it took quite a bit longer to get my teeth clean than usual. He kept catching me staring at him and I would blush and he would smile. He loved me lusting after him and I loved doing it. He even let me dry his back and butt.

Back in the bedroom, I saw Sam set an alarm clock as I was getting into the bed. I laid down and stretched out, feeling his sheets against my naked body. "Mmmmm…the sheets smell like you," I said.

"Sorry about that. I need to wash them."

"Don't you dare. I love it…I love the smell of you, Sam. Hold me, will you?"

Sam turned out the light next to the bed and snuggled up behind me. Our legs were intertwined and his thick muscled arm was holding me tightly against his hairy chest. I sighed in total contentment, and I heard him giggle.

"You like this, don't you," Sam said.

"More than I dreamed possible. Life is perfect in your arms, Sam. Just…perfect. Night, big guy," I said, fading fast.

"Night, little man." We slept.

When the alarm went off I was immediately aware of Sam's warm body rolling away from me as he reached to hit the snooze button, leaving me shivering. "Come back," I said, reaching for him behind me in the dark. He snuggled back up against me and we both fell back to sleep instantly.

The alarm went off two more times before we both were awake enough to face the day fully conscious. I dragged myself reluctantly to the bathroom, peed, and splashed hot water on my face, trying to fully wake up when Sam walked in, stood in front of the toilet and let loose. Interesting. I had never peed in front of another guy before - well…not since I was very young. Sam acted like it was no big deal, so I decided it wasn't for me, either. Part of being together. At least he wasn't limping anymore.

We got dressed quickly in our cargo shorts and Paradise Pools t-shirts, and Sam told me to bring all my other clothes with us. "Aren't we coming back here, tonight?" I asked.

"Nope. Part of the surprise. Now hurry up, we have a ride to catch," he said.

I grabbed my toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant and threw them in my Dopp kit - I skipped shaving since Sam did as well - and got my clothes back in the small suitcase. Sam took my sports coat and added it to a hanging garment bag with his clothes and we left.

I offered my shoulder to Sam to lean on as we went down the creaky steps outside his place, but he waved me off. His ankle looked totally normal, save for a little light bruising on the one side. At the bottom of the wooden stairs, a Paradise Pools pickup truck was idling, with JP at the wheel. He didn't look so good.

"Hey, JP. How you doin' this morning?" asked Sam.

"Don't ask. Ugh! That cousin of mine is gonna kill me. I take him out twice and he drinks me under the table. How's he do that?" JP put his head down on the steering wheel as Sam stowed my suitcase in the truck bed and the garment bag behind the seat in the cab. He got in and I slid in after him.

Despite his obvious hangover, J.P. was awake enough to drive us over towards the airport. "You guys working together over at the Garden Isle today?" he asked.

"Yeah…Tommy suggested it, since Stubbs is out. Jack here is pretty good with the skimmers and scrubbers, so I think between us we can knock out the two pools with no trouble. What you got goin' on today?"

"Three chem checks and one clean and check. They're all little jobs, light work. Good thing…my head is splitting."

"JP, I know it's none of my business, but don't you think you should take a break from the hooch? I mean, dude, this is like three, four times a week with you now." Sam said it gently, and it was obvious to me he really cared about JP.

"Yeah…I think after this weekend, after Robbie leaves, I'm gonna lay off for a while. I'm gettin' too old for this shit every night of the week. Makes work a real bitch the next day." He looked at Sam, and Sam looked at JP with those laser eyes of his. I saw him nod just once. I had no doubt Sam would do what he could to hold JP to his word.

We arrived just a few minutes later at the airport - or I should say at a hangar near the airport. I still had no idea what was going on or where we were going, but I would be with Sam so I didn't really care too much. Until we rounded the corner of the building with our luggage and I saw the big black helicopter, blades slowly rotating, tail rotor spinning.

"Uh…Sam…what's going on? Are we flying in that thing?" I asked.

"Yep. Welcome to our very own island taxi service, courtesy of Island Hoppers." He was grinning ear to ear. This was his surprise? Was he serious?

"Uh…Sam…is it safe? I mean…I've never flown in a helicopter before. And where exactly are we going?"

"Relax. We're just making a quick 30 minute jump over to Kauai. This is how we get to the other islands for work. Tommy's dad has some kind of sweet deal with the guy who owns Island Hoppers - I think he also owns the two hotels we're working at today. Anyway, just think of it as your morning commute to the office."

"Okay…if you say so." I was doing my best to stay with the program, but this was way outside my comfort zone, and I think Sam picked up on my apprehension. He stopped me and gently pulled me to him.

"Hey…I love you, little man. I won't let anything bad happen to you, I promise. We do this all the time. A few minutes after we're up in the air, you're gonna love this. Trust me." And then he kissed me, right out in the open. For sure the pilot saw him do it. I could see him smiling from a distance.

"I do trust you, Sam. Let's do this." I grabbed my bag and started for the helicopter. My stomach was already flipping around inside - good thing we skipped breakfast. The pilot, Jeffrey, smiled at me as he helped get our luggage stowed, and then Sam and I hopped in the passenger area and strapped in. With the doors shut it was much quieter, but still louder than an airplane. Sam handed me a set of headphones to put on.

"Straight over the airport this morning, or the scenic route Sam?" asked Jeffrey. I could hear Sam and him very clearly in my headphones. Cool.

"Scenic route. Let's show Jack here the true beauty of the Garden Isle."

"Okay. Here we go." I felt the engines rev up and the noise intensified, along with the vibrations. I grabbed Sam's hand and he squeezed mine back. He smiled at me reassuringly and the helicopter gently rose straight up, like an elevator. My stomach was holding, so far. We were cleared to navigate around the airport, and Jeffrey moved his stick forward and we headed west.

We were soon over the ocean, and I settled down a bit, still holding on to Sam's hand, now just because I liked doing it.

"How you doin' back there, Jack?" asked Jeffrey.

"I'm good. Thanks."

"I've been flying Sam to the islands for quite a while now. You must be someone very special to him." Uh oh. Now what? I had no idea how to respond. I didn't need to.

"That's right, Jeff. Jack's my boyfriend. And my co-worker on this trip. He's been helpin' out this week, seein' as how we've been shorthanded."

"Cool. Well, welcome aboard Jack. If you're with Sam, you must be a great guy."

"Thanks, Jeff." I replied. Sam squeezed my hand again and I relaxed even more. It felt so good to be able to be with Sam and acknowledge we were in love with each other and just be a couple. I knew it wouldn't always be possible, but for our short flight, it was wonderful.

I could see nothing but water now as we had left Oahu behind. I alternated between looking out at the beautiful blue ocean and the beautiful man sitting next to me. They were both breath taking, if you ask me. Jeffrey announced "Land ho" a few minutes later, as the island of Kauai came into view. Instead of going right to the airport, he got clearance to head further west along the southern coast of the island. He slowly descended to give us a better view.

"Right below is where we will be working today," said Sam. "We've got two pools at two resorts right next to each other. Shouldn't be too hard today. Hey, Jeff, can you show him the canyon?"

"Sure. Coming right up." We continued along the coast for a couple of minutes, then the helicopter banked right and we sort of slid over the island and were suddenly flying right above one of the most magnificent things I had ever seen - a huge canyon cut deep into the mountains.

"Waimea Canyon - The Grand Canyon of the Pacific," said Jeffrey, as he flew slowly over the middle of it. It was awe inspiring from directly above. Then Jeffrey slowly descended almost to the ground so we could get a sense of how high the cliffs were on each side. Amazing!

I could see other helicopters in the sky around us, as well as a road which ran along the western lip of the canyon. I had to believe the view from the helicopter was better than from a car. We continued straight north and then turned eastward as Jeffrey again descended and flew low across the water along the cliffs rising straight from the ocean. The blue green waters were stunning, as were the emerald green mountains towering over them, with the many waterfalls cascading down the mountain sides.

"Like it?" Sam asked me, smiling.

"Yes! It's amazing. So beautiful. Thank you…for…for everything, Sam." I held his hand tighter and just looked into his deep blue eyes. Their color reminded me of the ocean we had just flown over.

"Okay then…guess the tour is over," said Jeffrey, chuckling at us. "Next stop, Lihue Airport." Sam smiled at me and we sat back to enjoy the last few minutes of our flight, holding hands. My stomach only rebelled at the last part of our descent to the ground, but I held on, barely. Once I exited the helicopter and took a few steps, I settled down and knew I was going to be okay.

Sam was talking to Jeffrey while I carried our luggage over to the side of the hangar where we had landed on the outskirts of the main airport. Sam rejoined me a minute later. "We have a truck parked in a lot nearby. Here, I'll carry the garment bag if you've got the rest," said Sam.

"I'm good. So…wow…you get to do this every week?"

"Yep. I fly here on Fridays and Maui on Saturdays, unless Tommy has one of the other guys do it. Stubbs usually comes with me to Kauai, but he's out for the week. Spending a few days of vacation in Alaska with his brother, I think. Tommy does Maui with me. We usually take JP as well, but lately…" Sam trailed off.

"Is he okay? You seem very concerned about him."

"JP is an alcoholic. It's a shame a guy at 24 is so addicted to the stuff, but I'm pretty sure it's that bad. He can hardly go a night without getting totally wasted. Having his cousin around has been a disaster. Robbie's nice and all, but young and stupid. JP's not much better. Thing is, he's a good guy. A really good guy. He just doesn't think so. So he drinks. A lot."

"Do you think he will really stop drinking next week, when Robbie leaves, like he told you?"

"Don't know. I hope so, but…alcoholics aren't always able to do what they say they will do."

"You're tellin' me. My father is a major alcoholic. So's my brother Terry. Total loser." Sam was quiet, so I stopped talking. I could see the Paradise Pools truck up ahead.

We stowed our luggage and were soon on our way to the first stop. This truck had a bed covered with a locking canopy. I could see various containers and buckets of pool chemicals back there through the little window in the back of the cab.

"You never told me about your father, or your brother. What's the story?" asked Sam as we drove out of the airport. I had been dreading this conversation almost as much as the one about money.

"The story is, my father left my mom when I was about 8, and then he left entirely when I was around 12. I haven't seen him since. He was supposed to have us for a month in the summers, but he never contacted us after we were sort of cold to him when he left. He also got married to his mistress, so she probably had something to do with his ignoring us completely."

"Do you know where he went?"

"Montana, he said. For a job on a pipeline project of some kind. I don't know really. I was just glad he went."

"Oh…I'm sorry, Jack. Why, if you don't mind my asking."

"You can ask me anything, Sam. I have no secrets - not from you. I guess I was glad because…he just caused a lot of trouble for us. He and my mom were always fighting after the divorce, and he drank all the time. I can't tell you how many bars he dragged us to on weekends. All day Saturday just watching him get more and more soused. And he was a mean drunk, too. He would snap and back hand me if I was smart with him, which was hard not to be. I just…I didn't like him, Sam. And I certainly didn't want to be like him. Not in any way."

"Damn. That's rough. I take it your brother didn't handle it well."

"Terry is an asshole, through and through. He cares for nothing and no one, not even himself, I don't think. It's tragic, really. He was a straight A student, good looking, had it all, and then got mixed up with the drug addicts and losers at school. We lost him. My mom tried but she didn't stand a chance. I think he believed some of my father's crap about my mother being the reason for the divorce. She was just too demanding and difficult to live with, according to my sainted father. So Terry copped an attitude towards her - and me, as well - and just couldn't deal with us anymore. I haven't seen him in years. Only one time since I left home for college, and he was in no condition to hold a conversation. Totally wasted, laying on the front lawn. Pitiful. And embarrassing." I could tell my voice was starting to sound aggravated and upset. I hated talking about the two of them.

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked. We can drop it. I just…I want to know you, Jack. All of you…and it means knowing about your family, too. Sorry to pry."

I grabbed his hand and slid over closer to him, laying my head on his shoulder. "It's okay, Sam. I want you to know me, and I want to know all about you. It's just…there are parts of my life I'm not…particularly proud of, ya know?"

"Sure, I get it. But hey…you're not them. You're nothing like them. And we have each other now, so it doesn't matter. You've turned out okay, if you ask me. Sexy as hell, too!" He looked at me in the rearview mirror and grinned. I snuggled up closer to him.

He held me tightly with his non-steering arm until we entered the grounds of our first stop. The Ko'a Kea Hotel and Resort. It didn't look super huge but the grounds were gorgeous. Palm trees swaying in the ocean breezes, tropical plants of every color and variety outlining and edging every walkway and roadway in the place. Beautiful.

There was one main pool situated in the middle of the complex, an irregular kidney shaped affair with flagstone decking surrounding it. Landscaped pathways led off to the open beach maybe 25 yards away. More palm trees towered over the pool area, not throwing too much shade, but certainly adding to the tropical ambience of the place.

I followed Sam to the pool control area, and together we did the chemical checks. It was early in the day, but there were already swimmers in the pool, so he added the shock treatment powder we had carried from the truck to the pool system, setting the controls for distribution later in the night. I grabbed a skimmer with a long pole and was able to completely clean the surface of the pool while Sam cleaned out the various pumps and filters around the pool. He got the icky job, I was happy with mine.

We were there a little over two hours, so it was still early for lunch, but we were both hungry, having skipped breakfast. Sam said he knew where we could get a great sandwich, so we packed up, updated the resort grounds manager of the pool's status, and then departed.

The sun was up and warming things nicely. We had the windows down and were enjoying the island breeze flowing through the cab of the truck, me leaning up against Sam again, his right arm behind my back and around my waist, holding me next to him. He seemed very relaxed and comfortable with our seating arrangement. We'd come a long way since he first held my hand.

Maybe ten minutes down the road, Sam pulled off Poipu Road and into a small parking lot on the right. He backed the truck into a spot away from any other cars. "Meet me in back of the truck," he said as he hopped out. I shrugged my shoulders and got out on my side and stepped around to the tailgate. Sam gave several quick glances all around and then pulled me to him, and kissed me. Nothing too steamy, but I could feel his energy in it. He'd been holding it in for a while.

"You have me so horned up, Jack. Damn…I want you. You have any idea how hard it is - and how hard I am - working with you, knowing what's under those cargo shorts? Fuck…I've got it bad for you, little man." He had me giggling. I liked him like this. And I liked it took no real effort on my part.

"Sam. We need to eat - keep up our strength. And I sure hope your plans for later include some private us time. You aren't the only one who's hard up - or should say hard and up?" I got a cheeky grin for my remark. He kissed me once more, quickly, and then we stepped out from behind the truck.

I wanted to take his hand as we walked into the restaurant, but refrained, instead enjoying Sam's hand as it floated near the small of my back as we walked. There was something even more intimate about it than holding hands, I thought. I know I definitely loved when he did it.

We were seated by a lovely waitress, a young woman near our age named Ana, with red hair and freckles and an adorable smile. She radiated fun.

"What can I start you guys off with?" she asked.

Sam jumped in and ordered for us. "Ana, could you bring us some chips and salsa and some chunky guacamole. Oh…and two diet Cokes."

"You got it," she said, and departed with a grin.

"I think she likes you, Sam. What is it with you and waitresses? I can't take you anywhere." He was smiling at me, having never even really looked at her. I did - she was cute. But nothing compared to Sam. My Sam.

"You cool with me ordering for us?" Sam asked.

"Absolutely. I love it when you take charge, Sam. You can order lunch for me, too, if you want."

"You trust me to order for you?"

"Of course." He looked at me like he couldn't believe I was serious. "Sam…I trust you…completely. In everything. Food. Life. Us. Um…just pick out something I'll like, though, 'cause I'm hungry." He laughed along with me.

When Ana returned with our drinks and chips, salsa and guac, Sam ordered two Surfer burgers with fries. We devoured our chips as we kept stealing glances at each other and grinning like crazy. The sexual energy between us was pinging off the charts.

Ana returned to check on us. "You boys seem pretty happy today. Can I get you a refill on the chips or your drinks?"

"Yes, please," answered Sam, looking at me and blushing. Ana stayed for a second or two longer, studying us. I was instantly on edge, Sam was oblivious. Then the penny dropped.

"No. way. You guys…you…that's so awesome. No wonder the two of you can't stop grinning at each other. How long have you been together?"

Sam finally looked at her, a little sheepishly, embarrassed we had given ourselves away. "A few days. He's…well…he's the one." Now it was my turn to blush.

Ana smiled at me conspiratorially. "Man, I hope someday some guy looks at me the way he's looking at you right now."

I smiled back at her. "Are you kidding? You're cute as can be, and any guy would be nuts to not look at you like that. Well…any straight guy. Me…I'm stuck with this one. I think I'll keep him, though. He seems to like me." I shrugged my shoulders like I could take him or leave him, and Sam burst out laughing. Ana and I joined in. It was a great moment.

Our burgers were phenomenal. Grilled onions, melted Swiss cheese, and a teriyaki glaze of some kind put it over the top. "Mmmmm…you can order for me anytime," I said between mouthfuls. Sam just smiled and kept eating. I could tell he was enjoying himself as much as I was. Good food and good company.

I was stuffed after the chips and the burger, and Sam and I refused dessert. The double chocolate brownie was a temptation, but I wanted to be able to move later, and we still had another pool to clean. Sam paid the bill - said it was to be expensed to the company today, Tommy's orders, and we departed, but not before Ana thanked us several times for stopping by and wished us a happy future together.

Back in the truck, Sam leaned over and kissed me lightly on the lips. I was still grinning when he sat back. "I love you, little man. Lunch was fun. You sure you're okay with what happened in there?" Always looking out for me. Incredible.

"Yeah…I am. I got nervous at first - it could have gone either way, I guess. I want to be free to be with you, Sam, and be the real me. To look at you and laugh with you and even flirt with you. But I don't want to ever make other people uncomfortable."

"I hear ya. I don't want to make people uncomfortable either. I'll watch it - I just…damn…I just love you!" I laughed.

"I love you, too, Sam. It's all good. Whadda ya say we go get this other pool clean so we can relax for a while?" He nodded his agreement and we made quick time down the road to the Grand Hyatt Resort.

The place was gorgeous and massive. Sam drove onto the grounds and followed some discreet signs directing us to employee parking in a hidden area out of view of guests. We parked and Sam instructed me to pull all the buckets of chlorine and bags of pool shock out of the truck, while he went to find a ride. I shrugged and set to work. There weren't too many containers in the truck - four large buckets of chlorine tablets and six bags of shock. I also grabbed a handful of test strips in case we needed those.

Sam returned driving a large golf cart with a flatbed on the back. Together we loaded the supplies onto the cart and set off for the interior of the resort, winding our way along paved pathways under swaying palms. We pulled up to a metal door which was obviously a maintenance entrance to something. The signage said Anara Spa.

Sam entered a code on the electronic panel next to the door and the lock clicked open. Together we dragged the chemicals into the room and around a corner to a large system of pipes and pumps. Some of it looked like systems I had seen previously.

"This is the control room for the spa's pool. It's a little bigger than the pool at your rental house. We'll clean it like we usually do. Then we tackle the big kahuna. Ready?" I nodded, and Sam directed me to do the chemical testing, which indicated the pH was fine, but the chlorine levels were slightly lower than he thought they should be. He adjusted a couple of dial settings which he said would take care of it, as there was plenty of chlorine supply in the system waiting to be called upon. We stacked up the buckets and bags we had brought in against a wall for future use, I guess. Sam checked all the pumps and declared them in full working order."

"Okay, you're up, skimmer boy. Let's go topside." I smiled and followed him up a set of stairs and out a door opening directly onto the pool deck. There were three people wrapped in towels laying on lounge chairs by the pool, resting in the full sun. Peaceful, relaxing music was playing from hidden speakers in the planters scattered around the pool deck. Sam and I said very little as we quickly worked from one end of the pool to the other. The pool was sparkling clean already - like it was hardly used.

Our task completed, we returned to the golf cart down below, after storing the skimming equipment. "Okay, Jack. Now we head over to the main pool. Actually, we're done with the heavy lifting. The rest is just testing and monitoring. It's easy. Come on." I got on the cart with him and we took off even deeper into the resort.

We got up close to a maintenance entrance behind one of the main guest wings of the massive resort and had to abandon the cart. We travelled on foot then, a short walk through a maintenance hallway and out into the main pool area. The pool was huge! No way could two guys clean it in a week, let alone a day. Plus, there had to be 100+ people in the pool or laying around it. Part lazy river, part moat, part lagoon, it was not your traditional swimming pool. It meandered around clusters of craggy rocks and bent palm trees, some with flowing waterfalls strategically placed for maximum effect. It was a magical experience just walking around it.

Sam led us over to what looked like a small hill, but was in fact the entrance to a short water slide, currently occupied by a dozen or more screaming, happy children. I followed him around the hill and down a very narrow path through the overgrown foliage to a hidden doorway under the water slide hill. Entering the code to open the door, Sam pulled me inside and shut the door behind us. And then he kissed me.

This one I felt all the way to my toes. He pushed me up against the door we had just come through and his hands were everywhere at once. I certainly wasn't going to stop him. He squeezed my nipples through my t-shirt and I returned the favor, causing him to gasp and suck air through his teeth. My tongue moved to the side of his neck, under his jaw, a spot I knew drove him particularly wild. We continued this for maybe two minutes total, and we were both panting for air and overwhelmed. Sam pulled back and looked at me with his I-have-to-have-you-now look he gets, and I thought I was in for it. I wasn't opposed to getting it on in the control room, but it wouldn't have been my first choice.

Sam visibly tried to shake off the sexual tension, and I guessed it worked somewhat because his look softened and a goofy grin appeared. He was still panting a little, and enjoying the rush of our momentary surrender to baser desires. I stood there catching my breath, grinning back at him, hoping I could get another run at him later, albeit in a more conducive and comfortable location.

"Fuck, Jack. Sorry…I nearly lost my head for a minute. I'll get it in control, I promise."

"Don't worry about me, Sam. I'm not complaining, believe me. It was hot! Geez, man, you had me at the brink in like two seconds flat." My erection was only just now subsiding a little. I could tell he had the same condition happening in his shorts.

We walked around the room, not touching each other, trying to calm down. It all felt…animalistic and incredibly powerful and…I don't know…like freedom, in a way. Like I could be the raw, base me - a man, stripped to nothing but manhood and desire. Not how I wanted to be all the time, but here and there…it was hot! I had no idea sexual desire could be so…all consuming in the moment. All the more reason to be grateful I was in a relationship with a man I trusted completely.

After five minutes of pacing, we were both reasonably in control. Sam motioned me over to him. "Don't worry, I won't bite. For now anyway," he said, grinning. "Here's what we need to do. This pool is maintained by the staff here at the resort. It's way too big for our small crews to handle, but we are the watchdogs, to make sure they are doing it right, and by the book. So we do all the testing we usually do, and more, since it's a very big pool. I'll explain how in a minute. But we don't have to do any cleaning. They have several very powerful robots which run at night and clean the whole thing in about four hours. It's amazing to watch. So anyway, let's get started."

Sam showed me how to do the usual testing, but with a couple of changes for this particular pool, including how to chart the results in a binder for the purpose. He handed me one binder, and he took another, and we headed outside to the pool. I started at one end of the long and winding pool, and he started at the other, and we did tests by pulling pool water at regular intervals and dipping test strips into the water and recording the results. All of my tests except for one were within the acceptable range. I had one spot where the pH was out of spec. Sam had one, as well. He said it could have been caused by too much sunscreen in the pool.

We returned to the control room - no kissing this time - and he adjusted some of the controls on the main computer system running the whole apparatus. It was an amazing setup, as I realized all the effort needed to make a pool at a resort safe and clean for the guests. Testing completed, we were finished for the day.

"Great job, today, Jack. Too bad you're already loaded, you'd make an excellent pool boy," Sam said.

"Uh-uh. Pool boy's assistant. I have no higher aspirations than to work side- by-side with you. Maybe I should think about becoming a paralegal or something like that - so I can help you get to the bench faster."

"Don't sell yourself short, now. You can be anything you want to be, and you know it. The sky's the limit. And the kind of assistance I need from you, I don't think is in a paralegal's job description." He was smiling seductively at me. Like he could get my clothes off with just a smile. Okay…yeah…he probably could.

Was it getting hot in the control room again? Time to change the subject. "So Sam, what great surprises do you have in store since the work day is done?" I asked.

"Well, follow me, boyfriend, and let's find out." So I did. We walked back to the golf cart, and then rode it all the way back to the truck. On the way, Sam was talking on his cell phone to someone named Betty, I think. He got very excited at one point, like something really great had happened. He hung up just as we pulled next to the pickup.

I looked at him expectantly, and he suddenly looked nervous and shy. What gives? I decided to wait him out. This was his show. He kept looking at me and looking away, and then finally he locked in to my eyes and held, and I looked back. He immediately calmed down and smiled, then nodded once. This was going to be good.

"So…Jack…how would you like to stay here with me at this resort tonight?" He was back to looking nervous, like maybe I might say no. Are you kidding me?

"Absolutely, Sam. That's awesome! For real?"

He breathed out a sigh of relief. "Yeah, for real. I did a solid for the banquet manager, Betty Jerrick, a few months back. They had a major function one Friday when I was here, and they were seriously shorthanded for wait staff. I had done some table serving in high school and at my dad's country club, so I knew the drill. I volunteered to help. They found me a uniform and I stayed through the night to help get it all done. She told me anytime I wanted she'd set me up with a free room and meal here at the hotel. I…never had anyone to bring with me…until you." He actually blushed. He was so cute. And it was sweet he chose to share it with me. I wanted to cry, but I'd sworn off tears for at least a week. As if I could last that long. Ugh! Damn happy tears!

I wiped the corner of my eye with the back of my hand and smiled at Sam. Forget the hotel - was he for real? How did I ever get this amazing, sexy, romantic, passionate lover of a man to fall for me? No matter, he was mine now, and there was no way I was letting him go.

"So wait…that's why you had me bring my other clothes. For dinner and hanging out here."

"Yep. I think they require a jacket for dinner, but I'm not sure. Even if they don't, I thought it'd be cool to dress up and I could treat you to a very fancy dinner as a thank you for helping me out today. And then we can play in the pool or hang out in the room or…whatever." His deep blue eyes were sparkling with excitement. I had a pretty good idea what "whatever" entailed. The night was looking mighty promising for me.

"Come on. Betty said they have a key for us at the front desk. Grab your stuff and I'll return the cart. Be right back." I opened up the truck and retrieved our luggage from the back and the garment bag from the cab, then locked up again. Sam was back in a flash, obviously excited he could do this for us. I was happy for him, and proud of him. His character had won the day, once again.

At the front desk, I stood back while Sam checked in. I didn't want to jinx the plans by having some hotel employee take issue with a gay couple staying there, although I assumed it happened all the time. I saw the Front Desk Manager move over to Sam and the young lady who had been helping him. They were all smiling so I guess all was well. Sam was handed two room keys and another plastic card with the hotel's name and the words "Special Guest" on it.

Walking back to me, Sam said, "All set. Let's dump our stuff in the room and figure out what we want to do." I nodded and off we went in search of our evening's abode. Thankfully Sam had been given good directions, because we found it on the third floor in a nearby wing of the resort. And it was magnificent.

After keying into the room, Sam and I just stood in the little tiled foyer of the suite, not saying anything, just trying to take it all in. It was everything my room at the Ritz in Denver had been…and more. "Fuck. Me! Betty said she got me a room. She didn't say it was a fucking suite. Geez, it's huge!" Sam turned to me with a concerned look on his face. "Will this be okay, Jack?"

I burst out laughing. I couldn't help it. "Okay? You're asking me if this place is okay? Sam, it's incredible! And we get to stay here! Hell yes, it's okay!" I pulled him to me and kissed him, and he relaxed, putting his arms around me and hugging me tightly to his chest. I really couldn't care less where we stayed as long as I was in Sam's arms.

I looked up at him. "Sam…can I ask you a question?" He nodded. "Before…out at the truck…when you were trying to ask me if I wanted to stay here. Why did you hesitate?" He sighed heavily.

"Because I wasn't sure if it was good enough for you, Jack. I know, I know…you don't have to say it. Your reaction was all I needed to hear. You have no idea how happy it makes me to be able to do this for you - for us - tonight. I can't…afford…things like this, so it's doubly special to me I get to share it with you."

I smiled at him. "It makes me happy, too. I can't really tell you what it means that you want to share it…with me. I…I guess I struggle with feeling like I'm not good enough for you as much as you do for me…or…whatever. You know what I mean. I just…Sam…I'm crazy about you. I love you and want to spend my life with you. Every last minute of it, and I don't care what we do…or where we do it…I just want to be with you doing it. Forever, Sam."

"Forever, Jack."

He looked down at me with such a tenderness and deep love, I couldn't keep looking back at him for fearing of crying yet again. Instead, I rested my head against his chest and closed my eyes, just feeling the warmth and strength of him flowing into me. Can a person die of happiness? If so, I was a goner for sure.

We stood there together in the relative silence, just…being. But like all perfect moments in life, something always interrupts. This time it was Sam's stomach, followed immediately by my own making all kinds of rumbling noises. I was hungry.

"I don't know about you, big guy, but I'm famished. Think you could find me a decent meal in this dump?" I was trying out my own smart ass grin - see how it worked for me. What it got me was a slap on the ass, handed out with a smile. Guess I deserved it, hee hee.

"If by 'famished' you mean you would like some dinner, I think that can be arranged. Now march your ass into the bathroom and let's get cleaned up." He was smiling and pointing in the direction of the bedroom. I loved it when he got bossy.

In the shower, things got out of hand. Or should I say, things…two things in particular…got into hands. Just not the hands they usually shared a body with. There was a lot of kissing and rubbing and soaping and rinsing and gasping and shouting and…a couple of additional messes which needed cleaning up. That's what happens when I let the big guy take charge, I guess.

We both kept smiling at each other and nearly giggling as we stood at the bathroom sinks naked and trying to brush our teeth and shave. Sam had put all his toiletries in my Dopp kit when I wasn't looking this morning, so we had to sort them out on the counter. I liked that he did that - it made me feel good to share something so small and yet so practical with him.

Grooming complete, we got dressed in our finest. At least the finest we had with us. I was in my dark blue patterned dress slacks, button down light blue shirt, and charcoal gray blazer. My brown top siders would have to do for shoes. I had no others. Sam was in a tight pair of khakis, similar blue shirt, and simple navy sports blazer with gold buttons. He looked super sharp. And sexy as hell. Those pants were so tight, if he got a hardon, the whole world would see. I was still deciding whether it was my evening's mission - give Sam a hardon in public - or not, when he announced we were ready to go.

As we walked together through the hotel to the restaurant, Sam's hand was predictably hovering near the small of my back. It started a tingling in my spine - an electric charge almost - which went immediately to my dick. Great, now I was the one with the public hardon sprouting. I tried to will it to stay asleep for a while. Hard to do when walking next to the most gorgeous man on the island.

The restaurant was called Tidepools, and a poster on a dais in the lobby revealed it had been awarded Hawaii Magazine's "Best Resort Restaurant in the Islands" award. Sam presented the special guest card he had been given at the front desk, and wow, suddenly we had all kinds of attention. The restaurant manager came out from the back and personally escorted us to a preferred table, and offered us the wine of our choice. Sam politely declined, saying neither of us cared for wine. He nodded and excused himself. I took a moment to look around us.

We were sitting in essentially a large open-aired room made up of a collection of thatched-roofed bungalows smashed together and put down in the middle of a lagoon teeming with long, fat koi in a variety of colors. Our table was right near the edge of the deck, so I could easily watch the fish swimming around, as there was no wall between us - just a three foot drop into the water. An impressive waterfall flowed down a large rocky mountain into the lagoon, providing a very romantic backdrop to the amazing ambience of the place. It was beautiful.

"This is incredible. Have you ever eaten here before?" I asked.

"Me? No, never. I've never even been in here. My one stint with food service at the resort was in their ballroom. The front desk guy said this place was voted one of the most romantic restaurants in the U.S. so I figured it was the best for us. It certainly doesn't disappoint. 'Course, my dinner companion is hot." I blushed.

Our hunky Italian waiter introduced himself as Ricardo, and after we declined alcohol, he departed to get our iced teas. He returned with our drinks, a tray of sliced breads and flavored butters, and a card with today's specials printed on it. I grabbed a slice of dark pumpernickel and a little butter and bit into it. Fabulous! Why is it simple foods like bread and butter always taste better when you are surrounded by such beautiful environs?

When Ricardo returned to take our food order, Sam surprised me by requesting Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi, Kula baby greens salad, and Blackened Ahi Bruschetta as his appetizer. No steak. Interesting. I decided to switch to fish as well and ordered the Hawaiian Ono, same salad, and the crab cakes for my appetizer. When in Hawaii…

We spent the time waiting for our food saying very little, just looking around the restaurant, then looking at each other, watching the koi in the lagoon, more looking at each other. I think we both knew if we spent too much time concentrating on the other, dinner was gonna be rushed. At the moment I was torn between having the Coconut Crème Brulee or Sam for dessert.

The food was superb, as expected. My fish was cooked to perfection, and the spicy sauce which came with it was an excellent marriage to the tender flesh of my filet. Sam insisted his fish was the best he'd ever had - with the exception of the salmon I had made him. I smiled in gratitude, but no way was my cooking anywhere near what this chef was putting out of his kitchen. By the time we were finished with our main meal, we were both ready to skip dessert. Just as well. Sam was looking more delicious by the minute.

We declined after dinner coffees or liqueurs and when the waiter presented the bill to Sam, he put the hotel special guest card in the folio. Ricardo returned a short time later for Sam's signature and we were done. I excused myself to the restroom, did my business, rinsed my mouth, and washed my hands. As I was drying them, Ricardo entered and immediately smiled at me. Instead of heading to a urinal or stall, he stood there and looked at me, trying to decide whether or not to say something. I was getting uncomfortable.

"May I ask you a question?" he finally said. I nodded. "You and the other gentleman…are you two…um…?"

"Together…as a couple?" I asked, deciding to end this quickly. He didn't seem like a threat. He nodded, relieved I'd said it. "Yes, we are. Very much so."

He looked a little crestfallen. "Aye. I thought so. Oh well…"

"Ricardo, why are you asking?" I hadn't pegged him as gay when he was waiting on us at the table. Of course, my gaydar was non-existent, really.

"Oh…well…I…uh." He looked down at the floor and didn't continue. I was curious. I was used to girls flirting with Sam. I wanted to see if what I suspected was true - he was interested in Sam, too. I wouldn't blame him - Sam was hot stuff.

"It's okay, tell me." I said.

"Um…well…I thought…I think you're really cute, and if you weren't with the other guy, maybe…?" He shrugged his shoulders, and I smiled. That was unexpected. He was interested in me, not Sam.

"Thank you, Ricardo. It's sweet of you, and I appreciate it. But I am very much in love with the other guy. I'm sure the perfect guy's out there for you. I hope he finds you soon, for his sake." I smiled at him, hopefully encouraging him at the same time I was disappointing him. Nothing I could do about it. I put my hand briefly on his shoulder as a sign of comfort, he nodded and smiled, and I left to get back to Sam. I felt a little sad for Ricardo - I knew that pain, and I was grateful I didn't have it any more.

I thought Sam might want to walk around the resort grounds after dinner, but thankfully he steered us back in the direction of our room. His hand near my back had my nerves delightfully on edge by the time we reached the door to our suite. The hallway was clear, and I fondled his ass while he struggled with the key card, clearly distracted by my hands. He was smiling as we nearly fell into the room once he got the door open.

I attacked him. There is no other way to describe it. He counter attacked, and our tongues were doing battle in seconds. He pulled me in tight, his hands squeezing my ass, kneading it like bread dough. There was no mistaking his steel hard dick in those tight khakis, pressed up against my own. Sam pushed me back against the door, and his hands landed on my chest, clawing at the buttons of my shirt, his mouth never leaving mine.

Shirt undone, his fingers assaulted my nipples, pinching playfully, twisting slightly, each tweak causing my dick to lurch and the pre-cum to flow. Any minute I'd have a nice wet spot on my pants to match the one Sam was sporting. It was so hot!

Writhing under his touch, I had a hard time getting his shirt buttons undone, but once I did, I broke free from his mouth and dove for his left nipple, getting my tongue on it and flicking it rapidly. Sam started sucking air and fighting to stand still. I continued to suck on it and my hands now alternated between rubbing his hard cock through his pants, and trying unsuccessfully to get his damn belt undone.

Sam suddenly grabbed my head in two hands, pulled me off his tit, and said in a deep, hoarse voice, "Bedroom!" He fairly dragged me with him to the adjoining bedroom and backed up toward the bed. I reached up to his face with my hands and pulled him into a searing kiss and then I pushed him down backwards onto the bed and climbed on top of him. He didn't resist.

Somehow in the heat of all we were doing to each other, we got our shirts and pants off. I slowed things down then, just to look at Sam, laying underneath me as I straddled his waist, our cocks pressed against each other, still trapped in our underwear, our pre-cum mixing together now. I kissed him gently and he tried to continue it, but I pulled back again. I shook my head silently and grinned at him.

I knew what I wanted to do. I'd been thinking about it all day. Now was the time. And I was going to take my time, too, savoring the moment. I leaned down and kissed him again, this time sliding my lips and tongue down and around to the side of his neck, just under his jaw. It was the spot which got him on edge the fastest. He loved it and hated it at the same time, because he started to lose control when I did it. I played there for nearly a minute, slowly sliding my tongue all around, massaging his neck with it. Sam was moaning incoherent things, holding on to my head and rubbing my hair all around.

I moved down to his right nipple and licked with my tongue very slowly. Again and again I dragged my tongue lightly against the little nub of flesh, now rock hard and engorged. Sam was hissing with each pass, clearly enjoying the sensations. I dragged my tongue to the center of his chest and sucked on the hair for a second or two before moving straight down. I passed his navel and moved very slowly down to the top of his underwear.

I put my mouth on his dick, bulging against the soaked fabric, and allowed my tongue to taste the nectar of both our cocks. I instantly wanted more, much more. I reached out and pulled the underwear down from his waist, as Sam lifted his hips off the bed to help the removal process. Down and off and thrown who cares where, I was back in position, staring at his manhood and…literally drooling. I looked up at him, and he had a new face - one that said "I can't believe this is happening to me, please don't stop!" I had no intentions of stopping.

I buried my face in his dense, dark pubic hair. I was pleasantly surprised by how good he smelled. The aroma of this part of him tripped a switch in me and I was now struggling to maintain my own control. He was intoxicating, just the smell of him sending me into overdrive. But I was determined to make this part about him, so I breathed him in deeply and tried to calm down. I moved down a little and opened my mouth to gently suck in one of his balls, letting it rest against the warmth of my tongue. I rolled it around, enjoying the new sensations and what it was doing to me, let alone the incomprehensible mutterings Sam was now spewing. I had him going, there was no doubt. He was loving this.

I repeated my oral maneuvers on his other ball, with similar results, and then readied myself for the main event. Running my tongue up and down the side of his cock got Sam sucking air again. He kept doing half crunches, trying to watch what I was doing to him. I kept reaching up and pushing him back down. Relax, big man, and enjoy this. I continued dragging my tongue all over the sides of his dick until it was soaking wet, my saliva pooling on his scrotum. Using one hand I pulled Sam's dick away from his belly until it was sticking more or less straight up, concrete hard and oozing pre-cum every two or three seconds. I held it for a second, feeling it throb in my fingers. My own was just as hard and throbbing just as much.

I looked at his cock in my hand, then looked up at Sam, and he was slowly nodding his head, silently begging me to do it. I grinned and bent down, opened my mouth, and took him in. As he did me before, I let it just rest there, not moving, just feeling it against my mouth and tongue. The taste was exquisite, the feeling beyond anything I had imagined. The thought occurred to me, however silly it might seem, this was what my mouth was created for. I sighed deeply around his dick, and the vibrations of it made Sam gasp.

Tightening my hold a little, I pulled up and then slid back down. I didn't get too far before I felt the tip of it near the back of my throat. I didn't want to accidentally gag or throw up, so I took it slowly. Up and down, in and out, my tongue doing most of the work on his dick. Periodically I would pull it out and lick just the head, especially at the slit, drinking in the flowing pre-cum. Delicious.

After a few minutes I could tell Sam was getting close. He was writhing and his hips were starting to involuntarily thrust up and down. I timed my moves to his so we got a pretty good rhythm going, his breathing getting more ragged by the second. He reached down and gently put his hand on my head, not holding me down, but helping me maintain a steady position. As he plunged in and out of my mouth, I increased the suction on his dick, and he started getting very vocal.

"Jack…uh…oh, god…Jack. Close…so close…don't stop…Jack…I'm gonna cum, Jack…pull off, I'm gonna cum…oh, fuck!" He started shaking all over and I had to almost fight him to stay on his cock. I wanted this. I wanted to taste him, to drink him in. I wanted it more than anything. No way was I gonna pull off. At the last second he rose up from the bed and yelled out, and I could feel the cum spray my throat and tongue. It came in wave after wave. I swallowed what I could, the rest filling my mouth, but I stayed on him, not moving anymore, just letting him ride the orgasm to its finish.

He finally relaxed and laid back down, spent. His breathing was slowing down, and still my mouth stayed on him, enjoying the taste even more than I expected to. When I thought it wouldn't be too sensitive, I very gently moved my tongue around on his dick to clean it off, happy I had done it, and a little sad it was over. But there was always next time.

As Sam regained his composure, I slowly climbed up and laid down next to him, snuggling up against his side with my head on his chest, our legs intertwined. I ran my hand through his chest hair and listened to his heart beating, breathing in the smell of him. He put his arm around me and pulled me in tighter and with his other hand, grabbed mine and held it to his chest.

"Jack…oh man…it was incredible. Wow. I don't know what to say."

"You don't have to say anything. It was my pleasure to do it…and yours." We both chuckled.

"Well, gimme a minute and I'll return the favor," Sam said.

"If it's all the same to you, maybe later. Just relax. I'm great right now. I enjoyed that more than…well…more than I ever imagined. I can't explain it. It feels so good to make you feel so good."

"I know what you mean. I get it. You sure are an amazing man, Jack Schaeffer."

"Aww, thanks. You bring out the best in me, I guess. Seriously, so many of the things I have dreamt about for as long as I can remember are all coming true - with you." I looked up at him. "I wanna do the same for you - help you realize your hopes and dreams. Make your life everything you ever wanted it to be."

Sam looked at me and just started crying. No sounds, no words, just tears running down the side of his face, probably pooling in his ears. I propped myself up on an elbow and he held tight to my hand on his chest, and just looked at me with those intense, electric blue eyes, almost like he didn't even know the tears were there. At first I was worried I'd said something wrong, but the way he was looking at me, I didn't think that was it. I waited, trying very hard not to cry myself. I was about to lose the fight.

"Jack…" Sam started to speak but his voice cracked, and he paused. I saw him swallow and he tried again. "Jack, no one…no one…has ever loved me like you do. I…to tell you the truth…I didn't even realize until now what I never had with…I'm sorry, I shouldn't talk about him…" He stopped.

"No, it's okay. You can talk about Jeremy. You can tell me anything. Please…go on."

He took a big breath. "These past few days with you…well, from the very beginning really, even before I knew you were gay…I don't know. You look at me differently than anybody ever has. Like you're seeing more in me than anybody ever cared to see, including me. What you just said…about helping me, making my dreams come true…I…I believed you. You really want to do that, don't you? Even if I don't know what those are?"

"I do, Sam. I really do. Please let me. It would make me so happy to be able to help you be everything you ever wanted to be. If it wasn't for you, I'd still be hiding behind my big secret and wishing about my life instead of finally living it. I'm finally alive, Sam. I'm me. And I owe it all to you. You made it safe to be me. You make me feel safe all the time, Sam. I will always need that."

He reached up and pulled me down on top of him and hugged me. Oh yeah, he knew exactly what I needed. I sighed and relaxed, letting his love flow into me through his big strong arms. We were no longer looking right at each other, and Sam felt a little more comfortable to speak.

"Until I met you, I thought I was doing okay on my own. What happened with Jeremy hurt, but I was getting over it. He cared about me in his own way, and it was genuine. He did care. But…he didn't love me. He said as much. I think he even felt bad about it. But then you came along, out of the blue, and before I even really knew you, I just…I just knew there was something different. A depth to you, a heart and soul…more than I'd ever seen before. I have no idea how I knew, I just did. And I also knew I needed you in my life. I need you, Jack. I love you and I need you, too. Maybe not the same way you need me, but I do need you. And you already help me, Jack. Just by being here in my life. By knowing you are by my side, believing in me. It's so…empowering. That's how you make me feel - powerful. When I'm with you, I feel like there's nothing I can't do. It's an incredible feeling. You do that for me."

I lay there thinking about all he had said. It was incredible to think I really made him feel powerful, just by being me. And yet, it was definitely true he made me feel safe and protected and free to be me. And loved. So very much loved.

"So…you make me feel safe, and I make you feel powerful."

"Yeah. Plus you're fucking hot, which is a nice bonus." He chuckled, until I twisted his nipple. Then he yelped.

"Owwww. What was that for?" he asked, rubbing his chest.

I looked up at him and grinned. "For fun. This conversation is getting way too serious. And besides, didn't you say you'd return a certain favor. I'd like to collect now." That put a smile on his face. And I did collect, with interest.

We slept in the next day. No alarm, no work. It was nearly 10 when I finally dragged myself to the bathroom to pee and start the shower. I needed to get the remnants of Sam's last orgasm out of my hair. That was my reward for giving him the best blow job of his life, or so he said. I found it hard to believe my second time out of the gate would garner such praise, but hey, if he was happy, I was happy. I couldn't deep throat him like he did me - my one attempt had me gagging and sputtering and Sam had to reassure me it was all okay. I was embarrassed, but like in everything else, he made me feel safe, even in my attempts at lovemaking. My confidence restored in part, I enjoyed bringing him to the brink two or three times before letting him finally have the release he was literally begging me for.

I was leaning face forward against the shower wall, my eyes closed, the hot water cascading down my back, when I felt a hairy chest press up against me and Sam's arms reach around to hug me.

"Mmmmm…mornin', big guy," I moaned contentedly.

"You left me all alone in the bed. I had to come find you."

"Well…you managed to do it without a map or signs or anything."

"Yep, I just let my dick lead the way to its happy place."

"I can tell. Very happy, from the feel of it." I sighed, shifting my weight to lean back on him, knowing he could and would hold me up. "How'd you sleep, Sam?"

"Like a rock. Been a while since I've slept this late though. Feels weird."

"Who's working with Tommy in Maui today?" I asked, reaching for the soap on the little shelf on the wall. As soap goes it was okay, but I was missing my Bvlgari shower gel.

"JP…if he survived the night out with Robbie. My guess is at the very least he's hurtin' this morning." Sam's hands took over the job of washing my hair - it was so luxurious to feel his strong fingers massaging my scalp. He continued soaping my body all over, paying a great deal of welcome attention to my genitals and ass, resulting in my own very hard dick to match his. I turned to face him and our cocks collided, causing us to jump and then giggle.

I was pretty satisfied from last night's lovemaking, but the look on Sam's face told me he wanted me - now. Before I could even react, he was on his knees and swallowing me to the root. I gasped and held on to his head for balance, his hands holding mine tightly to his scalp. It took me a few seconds to realize he wanted me to slowly fuck his mouth. At first I didn't want to do it - in my mind it seemed like I would be hurting him. But he looked up at me with his blue eyes smiling, grinning around my cock in his mouth, and I could tell he was enjoying what he was doing as much as I was. So I let him guide me with his hands and in less than 30 seconds I was spilling my seed into his throat.

As I was catching my breath, he stood up slowly and leaned in to kiss me. We had water running down our faces and into our open mouths. We continued kissing, until we were in danger of drowning standing up, before Sam finally pulled back. "Fuck, Jack. I can't take anymore. I'm about to cum just from kissing you. God…how do you do that to me? I can't…oh, fuck, what are you doing?"

I was on my knees, his cock now more than halfway into my mouth. He was facing the shower head, so the spray was hitting him and running down his abdomen and into his pubes. It didn't slow me down. I kept a steady pace, in and out, and after a minute or so, as Sam's moans and words became more pronounced, I could feel my throat relax, perhaps because of the heat of the shower, I don't know, but his cock just slid slowly into my throat. My lips were at the root of it before I even realized it was happening. I stayed as still as I could, letting his dick remain where it was - thankfully I didn't gag.

"Oh my god, Jack. Oh, fuck. How did…oh fuck." I tried to rub my tongue on the underside of his cock very slowly, knowing I loved it when Sam did it to me. It was all it took. In three seconds his dick swelled even more and I could feel every pulse of his orgasm against the walls of my throat. I held on to his ass with both hands and tried desperately not to move lest I gag and ruin it for him. I hoped the walls were insulated because Sam made an awful lot of noise right about then.

I wasn't sure what to do at this point, so I stayed still, until I realized I couldn't breathe with his huge cock so far into my mouth and throat. So I very slowly pulled back, trying not to scrape his sensitive dick with my teeth on the way out. We both remained stationary, our breathing slowly returning to normal. Sam reached down under my arms and pulled me up to a gentle kiss, his face a study in wonderment.

He pulled me into a hug against his chest. We were both now having a hard time standing up, our muscles screaming in protest at the intensity of all we had put them through. I reached behind me to turn the water off, and Sam reluctantly let me go so we could dry off. We helped each other with the task, sharing no words. I could feel it - nothing tangible, nothing audible - just a knowing, a certainty - Sam and I were forever.

We walked naked, hand in hand back into the bedroom. The sun was pouring in through a crack in the window drapes, warming the air nicely, casting shadows around the room. Sam stopped and turned to face me, grabbing my other hand. I was acutely aware of how relaxed I was standing face to face with him totally nude.

"Jack…I really don't know what to say or how to say it, or even if I should say it, but…you…you're amazing! I can't believe how good this part of things is between us…the sex part. Everything, really." I blushed and looked down at the floor, suddenly embarrassed for some reason. I didn't want him to think I was easy or a wanton slut. But the fact was, I really, really liked sex with him. Not that I didn't expect to, to some extent. I mean, he's Sam - he's hot!

"Sam," I started. "I don't know what gets into me. I mean…you start to touch me…and we kiss…and…other stuff…and I just…sort of lose control, maybe? In the moment I'm only thinking one thing, and it's making you feel good. I'm sorry if I get carried away. I warned you it might happen, remember? You have to help me keep it in check, if anything I do makes you uncomfortable."

He smiled gently. "No, Jack. You're missing my point. I love what you do - what we do together. Everything has been…well, for lack of a better word, perfect. I wouldn't change anything. Would you? I know you weren't sure about what I was asking you to do in there, but I really enjoyed it…what you did when I had you in my mouth…"

"Really? I didn't want to hurt you."

"No way, Jack. I loved it. And I really loved what you did to me. Wow! That's never happened to me before."

"Never? Not even with…?" I asked.

"Nope, never. Not that I cared, but now that I know what it's like…oh, man!" he said.

Cool! I had something he wanted now. This could be fun. "I think you're gonna have to play your cards right, big guy, if you want a repeat performance," I said, smiling big.

Sam flashed a concerned look. "What do I have to do?" Oh yeah, he wanted me to do it again. I hoped I could.

"Well, for starters I'm hungry. Let's get some lunch. We can figure it out from there." He smiled, nodded, and let go of my hands, turning to find clothes to put on, like some young boy who was just promised a trip to the ice cream shop if he cleaned up his room. It was so adorable.

After we were dressed in shorts and Hawaiian shirts and top siders, Sam led us to a poolside cafe called Hale Nalu, where he ordered BBQ pork sandwiches with onion rings. The iced tea was raspberry flavored. Delicious. He'd laughed when I said he better order very carefully. Our meals devoured, we split a toll house cookie ice cream sandwich. Yum! Sam asked our waiter for the check, and he smiled and said it had already been charged to our room. Sam looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and we left.

It was now after 12 and we needed to check out, so we walked back to our room and started throwing clothes into the small suitcase and garment bag. I could tell Sam was getting a little down since his special surprise was ending. I grabbed him as he walked past me with our dirty underwear in hand and pulled him close.

"Sam…this was a wonderful treat, getting to stay here. Thanks for sharing it with me. You take very good care of me, you know that, right?" He grinned and nodded, holding up my underwear which had been thrown across the room last night in the throes of our passionate lovemaking.

"In and out of your clothes, right little man?" He laughed, and I had to laugh, too. He did take care of me, in every way.

We finished packing up and I waited in the lobby while Sam turned in the keys and completed the checkout process at the front desk. The same gentlemen who had assisted him the evening before was talking with him now, and they appeared to be having a polite argument. Sam slumped his shoulders and looked from the back like he had just surrendered to something. The other guy was smiling.

Sam returned to me with a frustrated look on his face. As he reached to take the garment bag from me, he said, "I don't understand. My deal with Betty was she was taking care of the room. I don't get it." He was obviously upset, but it was unclear as to why.

"Oh no, what happened, Sam? Did you have to pay for the room?" I asked.

He shook his head. "No…I didn't have to pay for anything! That's the problem. I can understand the hotel covering the room. It would have been empty anyway, so other than cleaning it up today, it didn't really cost them anything. But they insisted on paying for all our meals, including lunch today. The front desk manager said the Resort Director had been told by Betty what I did to help out when they were in a jam, and he is the one who authorized the special guest card they gave me. Apparently the card automatically covers anything a guest does here in the resort. They didn't have to do all that, Jack. It's too much."

Sam turned in a bit of a huff and started moving towards the exit. I followed him silently, pondering what was really going on inside in his mind. I think I knew, but I wanted to give him a minute to calm down before I said anything. Our walk to the truck was quick, as Sam was moving pretty fast in his current state. I wasn't upset he was upset - I just wanted to help him if I could. This was not his normal, relaxed attitude.

As Sam was opening the back of the truck to stow our luggage, I decided to chance it. "Sam…can I ask you a question?"

"Sure, what?"

"Is the resort paying to give you a special night as a thank you for helping them really such a bad thing?" The look I got was not what I would call a pleasant demeanor.

"Jack…look, you don't understand. They didn't have to do it. I didn't ask for it and I certainly didn't expect it. I feel like I took advantage of them somehow, and I don't like it." This was not going in the right direction, but it confirmed what I thought was his real problem.

"Okay…I know you don't like what happened. But hear me out, please. I get it…you want to earn your own way in the world, and take care of your responsibilities. And I love you want to take care of me. But…don't you think sometimes people are just going to want to do something nice for you after you help them out? Is that really a bad thing? I mean…it seems to me like this is a case of what your dad said…character wins. You had the character to stay and help out Betty and her team when they were in a jam. You didn't have to, but it's who you are, Sam. You take care of things, and people, even when they aren't your responsibility. I know you'd never expect it, but I think it's wonderful the Resort Director would take care of you like he did. If you go through life being the man of integrity and honor and character you are, Sam, people are going to recognize it. And sometimes, when you least expect it, they are going to honor you for it. To not receive their honor…well…isn't it kind of disrespectful?" I held my breath, hoping I hadn't just pushed him over the edge.

He looked at me, his deep blue eyes dark and brooding, and started to respond, but then stopped, his mouth hanging open. His expression morphed several times from frustration to puzzlement to questioning to finally his normal, happy countenance. Then he grinned.

"I screwed up, Jack. How the fuck did you get to be so smart? I've been a fool, haven't I?" He was smiling now.

"You're no fool, Sam."

"Yeah, but I made this whole thing about my needing to be independent and totally missed why they actually wanted to do it for me. You're right you know, my dad would have said the same thing to me. And it was disrespectful to not be gracious and just accept it. Ugh! Do you think I need to go back and apologize?"

"No, not really. They probably thought your frustration at the front desk was just you trying to be a nice guy and not take advantage, which is who you are. Don't be frustrated by it, Sam. I know you value independence, but think of it this way: you may not have had the cash in your wallet to pay the bill, but you had already pre-paid it with your character. So it was you in a very real sense who paid the bill. And it was you who shared it with me. So I got to enjoy the fruit of your character once again."

"You're right. I see it now. I'm sorry, Jack, for my…funk…about it." He stepped over to me, looked around quickly, and then kissed me lightly. "I had a great time, too. The best, actually. Thank you." My happy Sam was back.

As we turned out of the resort onto Poipu Road, I noticed we were headed back towards our first stop, in the opposite direction of the airport. "Where are we headed, Sam?" I asked, snuggling up against him as he drove. The windows were down so he had to talk louder to be heard above the breezes flowing through the cab.

"We have a few hours before Jeff will pick us up, and there's a national garden I've been wanting to see. You up for touring a tropical garden?"

"Absolutely. More time with you is time well spent." I smiled at him in the rearview mirror. I wasn't a plant buff, and I certainly couldn't tell one flower from another, but I liked how they looked. Landscaping and gardening on a professional scale I could always appreciate.

We were parking in the main visitor's lot for the Allerton National Tropical Botanical Garden less than 15 minutes later. The parking lot attendant said there were some spots open in the next tour leaving in 10 minutes if we were interested. I could tell Sam was, so I just looked at him and nodded. We were given directions to the ticket office, and we locked up and headed over towards the visitor center. I excused myself to use the restroom while Sam went to see about tickets.

I came out of the restroom a minute or two later and Sam was standing there looking very upset. "What's wrong, Sam? No more spots open?"

"No, there's space available. They want 40 bucks a ticket! 40 bucks! I can't do it, Jack. It's too much." Oh, man. Here we were again. I understood how he felt. I could have never bought the tickets either, before Amanda and…all the rest. I sighed.

"Well, Sam. We have to choose. We can skip the tour and save our pride, or…we can buy the tickets, take the tour, and enjoy ourselves, thankful we have the resources to pay exorbitant prices to look at things growing in the dirt." He wasn't buying my attempt to make light of the situation.

"You have the resources, Jack, I don't," said Sam bitterly. "I can't even buy my own ticket, let alone yours, too." He sat down on a bench and put his head in his hands. "I'm trying, Jack, I promise." He looked so sad as I sat down next to him. I reached out to hold his hand, not caring who saw us. Right now it was all about just the two of us.

"Sam, I understand. I do. Your independence and self-confidence are some of the things I admire the most about you. Your desire to take care of me and provide everything I need…it's a real turn on. But I have a part to play in this relationship, too. I promise I will never, ever try to push the money on you, or try to change you or take away your sense of who you are and what you need to be with it. But I don't want you to miss out on opportunities like this tour today because of money, either.

"You're right, I have the resources - now - but I didn't always. Two months ago I couldn't have bought one ticket, either, let alone pay for a vacation to Hawaii. But I can now, and I did. And because I did, I found you, Sam. Would you really rather I had not accepted the money and then have never come here?"

He looked up at me, startled. "Of course not, Jack. You know I love you. You're everything to me now."

"And you're everything to me. But don't you see, Sam? The money I have now - money I didn't earn and didn't deserve, but was given to me - was the tool which brought me to you. Without it…this…you and me…could have never happened. Our paths would have never crossed. At first I didn't want it - I told you that. But then my mother - my birth mother - convinced me it was a tool for good, to be used to make people's lives better. Can't you understand why the life I would want to make better the most is yours? I love you, Sam."

He stared at me, tears welling up, as he started to understand what I was saying. He kept looking at me with those deep blue pleading eyes, wanting to convey something to me beyond words. I shut up and just let him look. It took a while, but then he finally nodded.

"I get it - I think. I want you in my life, and with you comes the money. I don't want you to give it away, Jack, just for me. I know you would - you said so, and I believe you. But that doesn't make sense any more than I've been making with my own selfish pride. I like the idea of using it to help people have better lives. You can do an awful lot with your kind of money. I'm just not comfortable - yet - with being one of the people it will help. I guess my pride doesn't want to accept I need the help."

"We all need help, of one kind or another. I needed the kind of help only you could give me. You made me feel safe so I could come out of hiding and be me. Money could not buy my security, Sam. Only you made that possible. But your charms, good looks, and winning personality are not going to buy us a seat on that rickety tram over there. So whadda ya say - let's buy two tickets and go risk our lives to see what's so special in this garden. Probably get hit in the head with a coconut for our troubles." Sam laughed, and squeezed my hand.

"Thanks, Jack, for understanding and not being mad at me. I'm sorry I make it hard sometimes. I'll get better, I promise."

"I love you, Sam Wainwright."

"I love you back, Jack."

I bought two tickets and we assembled near the tram with about 30 other park visitors. A few of them were grumbling about the cost of the tickets. Sam and I just looked at each other and said nothing. After taking our seats and listening to the introductions of our driver and tour guide, I realized we were in the last row of the tram, with an empty row in front of us. I reached for Sam's hand and held it tightly, glad I could do so without fear of offending anyone else. He smiled back at me. As the tram lurched forward out of the parking lot, the tractor in front spewing toxic smoke I had to assume was harmful to tropical plants, I leaned over against him and sighed contentedly. I loved this man I was sitting next to, no doubt about it.

The tour itself turned out to be a pleasant surprise - for both of us. It lasted nearly two hours, and was very informative and interesting instead of pedantic as those things often were. I of course knew nothing about the specifics of the various plant life, nor did I care, but Sam paid close attention when they talked about how Robert Allerton, a Mayflower descendant and extremely wealthy business man from Chicago bought the land and painstakingly built the foundations for the gardens we were walking in and riding through today. What I found interesting was the very garden we were enjoying was made possible by the philanthropy of an extremely wealthy man. The parallels of my earlier conversation with Sam were not lost on either of us.

At one point the tour guide told us how Robert Allerton had adopted a son, John Gregg, an architectural student at the University of Illinois, my alma mater, and together they had lived on the land now owned by the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. I started putting two and two together, and boldly raised my hand to ask a question.

"Didn't Robert Allerton also build a significant garden in Illinois, which he later donated to the University?"

"Yes," said the tour guide. "He brought statues from all over the world to his father's estate in Monticello, Illinois - called 'The Farms' - and he and John created beautiful gardens around those statues."

"Thank you," I replied. I knew it. I had been to those gardens when I was a student at the university. The rumor was Robert Allerton was more than just a father to young John. Though Robert was nearly 30 years older than John, they lived together for the rest of their lives. Though they presented themselves to polite society as father and son, the legal adoption of John only took place near Robert's death, while they lived in Kauai. I knew all this because I did some research on the pair. I was interested in real life gay couples at the time, and it was a way to investigate such things undercover. I was never able to confirm for sure they were gay, but it seemed likely.

It was almost 4:30 when we arrived back at the Visitor Center. Sam and I both shook the hands of the driver and tour guide, thanking them for the excellent tour, and after a pit stop to use the facilities, we were on our way back towards the airport.

"Thanks for pushing me a little about the tickets. I really enjoyed the tour. I hope you did, too," said Sam.

"I did. It was interesting. To be honest I thought it would be boring and a lot of this flower likes sun and water and this flower not so much. But it was cool." I told Sam about my research paper on Robert Allerton and John Gregg.

"Seriously, you think they were gay?"

"Maybe. Think about it, it was the 1920s when they met. No way could they just be two guys living together. So because of the big age difference, they become father and son. Problem solved. Robert's father had remarried a much younger woman when his mother died, so it wouldn't seem weird to Robert to have a lover who was a lot younger than him. Who knows? It was only a rumor, I couldn't find any real proof of it. But reporters hinted around at it. Thing is, they didn't want to talk about it even if it was true. But tell me, what did you like about the tour?"

"I've always loved landscaping and flowers and being outside. I did a vegetable garden in my backyard when I was in high school. Researched all the plants, what they needed, how to cultivate them, when to plant, all of it. Got a pretty good harvest, too. Problem was, I don't like vegetables. My mother kept trying to make me eat them. 'You grew it, don't let it go to waste'. Ugh! That was the end of gardening for me. But I'd like to try my hand at landscaping if and when I ever have my own place."

I sat next to Sam as we drove towards Lihue, thinking about having our own place together somewhere. The thing was, I had a place of my own already, though I'd yet to see it. Sam was headed for yet another dorm or crappy student apartment near his law school. Neither one seemed right for us. If we ever got to the stage of living together.

Sam was still struggling with the dichotomy of our resources. He saw us as coming from two different worlds because of my current bank balance. I saw us as equals, really, in nearly everything that mattered in life. I started to get some ideas of how to balance out the problem, but it was too soon for such things. Right now we had to figure out what we were going to do when I had to leave Hawaii and he had to go to school. I didn't want to think about it.

We arrived at the airport, locked up the truck, and together carried our luggage toward the hangar where I could see the Island Hopper helicopter waiting. Sam was quiet, and I was feeling pretty tired. It had been a great couple of days, but I was glad we were heading back to Sam's place. I was hoping he would feel more grounded in his familiar surroundings - namely an apartment he paid for himself every month.

Jeffrey, our pilot, was carrying boxes from a stack of them near the hangar door and putting them into the helicopter. "Hey, boys. Good to see ya. How was your stay on the Garden Isle?" he asked.

"Great," said Sam. "Do you need a hand with those?"

"Yeah, if you don't mind. The sooner we get these loaded, the sooner we are out of here." Between the three of us we had the helicopter loaded in minutes and Sam and I were strapped in with our helmets on. I wasn't nearly as nervous this trip, but I still grabbed on to Sam's hand. He looked at me with an expression of gratitude.

Our trip across the ocean to Honolulu was subdued. No sightseeing this time, just a utility flight to haul packages and a couple of human specimens from point A to point B. Sam explained to me and Jeff confirmed the primary business of Island Hoppers was same day transfers of packages, like the ones we loaded on the helicopter. Having passengers was a bonus, hence Tommy's dad was able to have his workers fly inter-island on the cheap. Made great business sense. Tommy had a smart father.

The sunset as we neared landing was breathtakingly beautiful, and very romantic. I wanted to kiss Sam so badly, but we had company. As it was, I kept looking at Sam and he would look at me, and we'd just stare at each other. I could tell he wanted to kiss me too. He was getting fidgety in his seat.

Jeff was apparently paying attention. "For crying out loud, Sam. Just kiss the guy, before you cause me to flip this thing over. Go ahead, I don't mind. It's cool."

Sam smiled hugely and leaned over and kissed me. At first I was shocked but then relaxed and let him. Well, I kissed back a little, too. Sam smiled at me with his lips still touching mine. I smiled back. It was cute. We then sat back for the last two minutes of the flight. Jeff was smiling, too.

Once on the ground, with my stomach thankfully not lurching all around, we helped Jeff offload his packages as a thank you for allowing us our personal moment. He laughed and said the whole world needed to stop being so uptight about crap like that. I liked Jeff a lot!

We were standing there for a couple of minutes when it dawned on me we had no vehicle to get us back to Sam's apartment. "Uh…Sam…how do we get back to your place? Is JP picking us up?"

"Somebody will. JP or Tommy, I guess. Stubbs is still out I think." Just then we saw a Paradise Pools white pickup speeding towards us. Someone seemed to be in a hurry. The tires screeched a little as the truck made a short stop in front of us. Tommy was driving.

"Get in. We got troubles." He looked very upset, and worried about something. Sam threw our stuff in the bed of the truck and we slid in next to Tommy.

"What's goin' on, Tommy?" asked Sam.

"It's that damn JP. He and Robbie were in an accident early this morning. He t-boned another car coming back from another bar crawl or some such shit. Robbie's pretty messed up. The truck is totaled."

"Shit! How's JP? Was he driving one of our trucks?"

"He's in KP Center. We're headed there now. And yeah, he had the old truck. I let him use it while his car is in the shop. Shit, when my dad hears about this…fuck! He'll probably make me buy a new one, just to say I told you so."

"Is JP okay?" I asked, realizing Tommy never actually said.

"He'll live, from what I understand. Until I get my hands on him. Dumb fuck. I've told him a thousand times to get off the sauce. He can't handle it. Now he's in the shit for sure."

Sam had a horrified look on his face - his complexion had gone ashen white under his usual golden tanned look. He was obviously concerned for JP. I couldn't help but remember their conversation from the day before. Tommy was driving like a maniac, swerving around cars and honking to get people out of the way.

"What happened with Maui then? Who helped you?" asked Sam.

"Stubbs went with me. He came back a day sooner than he planned. I called him when I got the news about JP and he agreed to jump back in. Remind me to give him a bonus or something. Guy saved my ass today, that's for sure. We got back not too long ago. I drove him home and swung back to get you guys."

We were silent as we made our way to the hospital. I thought it was interesting Tommy never even asked if we wanted to go with him. I realized two things: one, Tommy didn't want to go alone and wanted his best friend Sam with him, probably to keep him from doing something foolish, and two, Sam wouldn't have stayed away even if he'd been ordered to. He cared about JP, I knew this first hand. We arrived at Kaiser Pemanente Medical Center and Tommy parked in the visitor lot.

Like most hospitals, if it wasn't for the information desk, you'd never find what, or who, you were looking for. We were told JP was in Room 4118, and Tommy started moving before the nice information desk lady had even finished her directions. I guess if nothing else I was along to help them not get lost. Turned out Tommy knew enough to find the room just fine, but the door was closed, so we stood out in the hallway, looking at each other, feeling foolish and a little helpless. An older man was sitting in a chair against the wall across from JP's room.

"Excuse me, is one of you Tommy Barlow?" he asked. Tommy stepped up.

"Yeah, that's me," he replied.

Sticking out his hand to Tommy, he said, "I'm Robert Campbell. I'm the attorney John Paul's father arranged to work with him on this…mess. I only had a couple of minutes with…JP, is that it?" Tommy nodded. "Anyway, before the doctors came in just now, JP told me if a Tommy Barlow or Sam Wainwright showed up I was to let you know what was going on."

Sam stepped up and introduced himself. "And this is my boyfriend, Jack Schaeffer." Tommy looked at Sam and then at me, and smirked a little, but in a good way. "Tell me, Mr. Campbell, is JP gonna be alright?"

If the lawyer was fazed by Sam's introduction of me, I couldn't tell. "I think so, from what I was told. He has a mild concussion, a broken right wrist, and bruises and some scrapes, not much else. But that's just his physical injuries. His real problems are much worse."

"What do you mean, sir?" asked Tommy.

"JP was driving under the influence, his blood alcohol test results showed a level of .19, way above the legal limit, and he may have been on other narcotics as well. I'm waiting for the tox screen report. He will definitely be charged with something, because there were injuries to others involved. And the vehicles were both totaled from what I understand. I guess the other passenger, Robbie, was severely injured. I'm still waiting to find out about him. The car he hit, the driver thankfully got only a few scratches, but according to the police report he was screaming for blood at the scene. I guess his car was nearly brand new."

"Oh, man. Just how much trouble is he in? Can you tell us?" Sam was visibly worried now.

"Well, if he has good insurance, I think the financial part of the accident will be okay minus deductibles and the like. I gather the vehicle he was driving, a white pickup, was a company truck?" Tommy nodded.

"I can get you all the insurance info on the truck as soon as possible, just let me know where to send it," said Tommy.

"No problem. The real issue is the legal dilemma. JP's never been charged with DUI, as far as I can determine today. At least not here in Hawaii. I'll do a more thorough search on Monday. But with the damage and the injuries, I think JP is looking at a possible conviction. Could lose his license for a year, community service at a minimum, and if he gets a tough judge, he might even get some jail time. Month or two, at most. Depends on how lenient a judge or the DA might be for a first time offender, if indeed this is the first time."

"Why do say that, Mr. Campbell?" asked Sam.

"Well, I've been handling cases like this for a long time. And I can see the signs. JP is a troubled young man. This is not the first time he's been drunk, and probably not the first time he was driving under the influence. He needs help, before he or someone else gets killed. Do you know if his drinking to excess has been frequent or not?"

"Frequent!" Sam and Tommy said it together. Tommy's face was getting red as he thought about how bad JP had screwed up. Sam saw it and put his hand on his shoulder in an effort to calm him down.

I spoke up. "What kind of help, sir?"

"From the looks of him, an in-patient treatment program would be the best. Preferably a long term plan, like 60 or 90 days. Typically a young man like JP with a drinking or drug problem has got some inner issues which need to be addressed, otherwise he'll dry out and stay straight for a little while, but then whatever drove him to the bottle in the first place will do so again. I spoke to his father about it. He said there was no way he could afford an expensive treatment program. He's trying to scrape together enough money just to get here. Said he was trying for Monday or Tuesday."

Sam spoke up. "Tell me, Mr. Campbell, if JP was enrolled or admitted or whatever you call it, to one of those…in-patient programs, would it help keep him out of jail. Could you use the treatment program as leverage to get the DA to back off and let JP get the help he needs? Surely everybody knows jail won't do a damn thing for him, or get the other guy's car fixed."

"Well, young man, spoken like a lawyer in the making. Yes, if JP could be enrolled immediately in a program - preferably in California where we can say he will be unavailable to prosecution for several months - then I could definitely use his voluntary admittance to a treatment program to keep JP's legal troubles to the bare minimum. But…I said as much to his father, and those programs are not cheap. The last one I sent a client to was nearly $50,000 for the 90 day program."

Tommy whistled and Sam's expression tightened up. I just watched. My man was thinking something, and I wanted to see what he came up with. Despite the somber reason for our gathering together, it was cool to see Sam step into the role I knew he was born to play. He stared at the wall, concentrating on the problem at hand. He nodded once, and then looked at me.

"Jack, walk with me, will ya?" He turned to walk away and I followed. We found an empty waiting room down the hall about 50 feet and stepped in there for privacy. Sam grabbed both my hands, and looked intensely at me. But he had already made up his mind.

"I'm gonna ask you a question, and I want you to know you are free to say no. I mean it. It won't change anything between me and you, okay?"

"Yes, Sam. The answer is yes."

"But I haven't even asked…but…are you sure? I know I'm stepping way out of line here, but what you said today…about you being in my life…and money being a tool…" I nodded my head again.

"Yes, Sam. Whatever he needs, we do it. It's why we have it. And Sam…I mean that. It's what WE do. This was your idea, and it's the right thing to do. For JP, for his family. And while we're at it, we should get the other guy…the one JP hit… a new car, and a new truck for Paradise Pools, too."

"Jack! That's too much. We can't do all that! It's gonna be a huge investment just getting JP to California and in a program. I can't ask you to buy two vehicles as well."

"Sam Wainwright! You are not asking ME to do anything. I am asking you - are you willing to do whatever it takes to make this unfortunate situation right for all involved, yes or no?" He was shocked at my tone, but he nodded quickly.

"Okay then. We…you and me, together…have the financial resources to bring solutions to a lot of this mess. We can't do anything to fix Robbie - that's for the doctors to figure out. But right now, we can help get JP out of here and into the one thing which might help save him. He's your friend, Sam, and you care about him. I know you do, as sure as I know you. That means I'm on board with whatever we need to do to take care of him. As for the rest, it's just money. I know it doesn't make sense to you - it doesn't to me either - but seriously, two vehicles is not going to put a dent in our funds. I can make one phone call and it will happen. Let's do this, Sam. Do you agree?"

He looked at me, and the tears started flowing. I reached out and pulled him into a hug. I understood the tears, and now I wanted to join him, but there was no time. I wanted Mr. Campbell to know what we were planning to do so he could start the legal ball rolling before JP ran out of options. The longer he sat in the hospital the worse his situation got. By Monday morning, when the DA got this case, JP needed to have disappeared.

I leaned back and Sam dried his eyes. "I love you, Jack."

"I love you, too, Sam. Come on, let's go talk to Mr. Campbell and see if we can't keep the dumbass out of jail." He snickered and we retraced our steps back to JP's room.

The door was now open, and we could hear from outside in the hall Tommy giving JP a pretty strong tongue lashing. Stepping into the room, Mr. Campbell looked up and smiled faintly. He was waiting on Tommy's tirade to end. For his part, JP was taking it in respectful and humiliated silence, which was a wise course of action if you ask me. Finally Tommy was spent, and noticing we were back, went silent himself, throwing his hands up and letting them fall in disgust at the whole situation.

"Hey, JP," said Sam, walking up to his bedside. "How ya doin'?"

"Not so good, Sam. I fucked up bad this time." He couldn't stop his tears, and soon Sam was crying and then I started. We were a mess. I looked around for some Kleenex to blow my nose and Tommy was looking at us like we were nuts. I smiled sheepishly and he smiled faintly back. I knew he was hurting for JP, too. I could tell his anger was masking it, but it would fade soon. JP was lucky - he had two guys who really cared about him. Three if you counted me. I didn't know why, but JP was growing on me quickly. I definitely was on board with helping him.

I looked over at Sam and motioned with my head, indicating I was gonna talk to Mr. Campbell. He nodded and smiled. "Mr. Campbell, could I speak with you for a minute out in the hall? I have a question." Tommy looked at me with a few questions of his own. Before he could say anything I held up my hand in a silent request to hold his thoughts for a few minutes. I walked out into the hall with the lawyer following me.

I took him down to the waiting room Sam and I had used earlier and laid out our plan of attack. I explained how Sam and I were prepared to pay for all of his fees and any and all expenses to get JP into an inpatient program in California or wherever he thought best. He was shocked, and I don't think he believed we could do it. Given our ages, I didn't blame him.

"Look Mr. Campbell, I can't explain it all to you, but I…we…have the funds to do this. But we need your help. If we can get JP sprung from the hospital tomorrow, we can get him on a plane to wherever tomorrow, too. That way he 'disappears' for a good three months giving you time to do your part and help this not turn ugly."

"Well…Jack…I don't know what to say. You boys must care for JP a great deal to go to all this expense and trouble. You do realize he may refuse to go. Or go and then relapse later."

"I understand, Mr. Campbell. Believe me, more than you realize. But we have to do something, and JP is not a bad guy. He's clearly troubled by something deep on the inside, and if he can get the help he needs to figure it all out and learn to deal with it better, he might have a chance. We have to try."

"Very well, I will certainly do my part. How can I reach you tomorrow with details?" I went to put his cell number in mine when I realized my phone was dead. I had left my charger at Sam's apartment. Ugh! I wrote down Mr. Campbell's number on a hospital flyer and we shook hands.

"Oh, Mr. Campbell, can you also get in touch as soon as possible with the driver JP hit? Find out exactly what kind of car he was driving - model, features, everything."

"What are you planning, Jack?"

"Well…Sam and I figured if we got the guy a new car to replace his totaled one, then he doesn't have to wait for insurance to fight about it, Tommy's business insurance doesn't take the hit, and maybe…maybe you could suggest to the guy, since he's been made whole, he might not be interested in pushing for any prosecution, should he be asked. Would that be okay with you?"

He smiled. "Both of you should be lawyers. Yes, that will help out nicely. And I'm sure I can get the necessary information for you. How soon do you need it?"

"You get it to me tonight or tomorrow morning, I can maybe have a new car to him by Monday, if not sooner."


"Yeah, I think so. Have to make a few calls." Time to see what Todd could really do. We shook hands and he departed the hospital to start operation Rescue JP. I walked back towards JP's room, happy to be helping, and very happy it was Sam's idea first. We may have just turned a corner on the money thing for real, this time.

Tommy stepped into the hallway, talking on his cell, as I approached. He nodded to me and kept talking, to whom I had no idea. Sam was still standing up by JP's head, and looked at me with a questioning glance. I gave him a thumbs up, and he smiled.

"Hey, Jack. Sam here tells me you guys are getting pretty serious. That true?" asked JP.

"And then some, JP. I love him." Wow! I shocked myself by saying it out loud. Sam was beaming and JP suddenly had a sour expression on his face.

"Well, shit, there goes another 20 bucks down the crapper!"

"What are you talking about, JP?" asked Sam.

"Ugh! Stubbs bet me last Sunday on the beach the two of you would be in love with each other in less than a week. Fucker was right - again. Shit! He's gonna give me so much crap over all this, not that I don't deserve it." He looked away from us toward the darkened windows.

I looked at Sam, mouthing the question, "Should we tell him?" and he shrugged his shoulders. He looked at JP, then back and me, and nodded. I nodded back to him to suggest he be the one to do it. He gulped and turned back to JP.

"Hey, man. Listen. Jack and I want to do something for you. But let me get the whole thing out before you freak, okay?" JP turned his head to look at both of us, intrigued I guess. He nodded.

"Okay, here's the deal. According to your lawyer, you could be in some serious legal trouble…unless we can get you into an in-patient treatment program, probably in another state. If we can figure out how to get you in, will you go and get the help you need?"

Without hesitation, JP answered. "Hell, yes. I been lookin' at one here in Honolulu but I can't afford it. I got…I…I've got some stuff in my head I need to get fixed or something. I know you've been after me, Sam. And I appreciate it, I do. I been trying to deal with it by myself, but looks like it's not working, huh? But how…I mean…who's got that kind of dough, Sam? My old man can't, and I don't have squat. I…drank all mine." He was about to cry again, and I knew it would start another round of water works and I wanted to finish this before Tommy came back in.

"JP, it can be done. Just trust us, okay. We just need to know when the time comes for you to go, you'll go. It means you'll be away from here and in a program, probably California, for at least three months. You sure you're okay to do this?" I asked.

"Yeah, I'm in. But…how? When?"

Sam spoke up. "You let us worry about that. Right now, cooperate with the doctors and concentrate on getting out of here - tomorrow if you can, okay?"

"Guys, I don't know what to say. Is this for real? You mean it? I'm not hallucinatin' from the meds, am I?"

I laughed. "For real, JP. But keep quiet about it. Not a word to anyone, okay. We'll see you tomorrow and hopefully it will be to take you out of here. Get some rest."

Tommy walked in as Sam was fist bumping JP. "Just got off the phone with a nurse downstairs. It took a while, but she finally agreed to tell me about Robbie, seein' as how his only relative on the island is laid up in the bed here." He said the last part staring a few daggers at JP. I thought maybe he was laying in on a little thick, but we all wanted to know how Robbie was doing.

"I know, Tommy, I get it. How is he?" asked JP.

"Good news. He's gonna be okay. Actually, nothing broken, just some serious bumps on the head, but the swelling is down and they don't think there will be any lasting effects. They thought they might have to do surgery to relieve pressure on his brain but it seems to have fixed itself somehow, so he's out of danger and finally stabilized. Anyway, we can go down and see him if we want."

"Can I go?" asked JP. We all looked at each other, none of us qualified to make such a call.

"Get your nurse in here. Maybe she can tell you," said Tommy. JP pressed the button by his bed, and a male voice came on to a speaker attached to the railing.

"Can I help you, JP?"

"Yeah. My cousin is awake downstairs now. Can I go with my friends to see him?"

"Gimme a minute. I'll be right there." True to his word, the nurse showed up with a chart and a smile for all of us shortly thereafter. He checked JP's vitals, consulted the chart, and then turned to Sam.

"You look big and strong, think he can lean on you for the trip to the third floor?" I swear he almost reached out to squeeze Sam's bicep. Oh, hell no. I stepped in between them, asserting my place.

"I think we've got this. If you'll excuse us now." I had stepped just a tad too close to him so he had to step back. He looked at me and then back at Sam and must have gotten the picture, because he closed the chart and departed with a frown.

The second he was out the door Tommy and JP both burst out laughing. Sam was smiling.

"What?" I said.

"Dude…territorial much?" asked Tommy, still laughing.

"Well…he practically jumped on Sam. I was defending his honor. Besides, those muscles are mine to play with, not Nurse Ratchet face." I pretended to be all pouty, and the guys roared with laughter. It was a great moment to lighten the mood.

Sam shocked me and pulled me to him, leaned down, and kissed me. And it wasn't a granny peck - I got tongue and heat and cat calls from the guys. Breaking off the kiss before we lost total control, Sam looked at me with his radiant blue eyes and said, "I'm all yours, Jack. Forever."

"Forever, Sam."

"Fuck me, you are in love. I knew it!" said Tommy. "Congratulations, guys. Sam, great choice. Jack, even better one. Now…let's get this circus sideshow on the road. I gotta shit load of paperwork to still do tonight."

Together the four of us made it down to the third floor and Robbie's room. He was sitting up in bed, trying to work the remote for the TV. He looked better than JP, who stepped up to the bed. "Hey, cuz. How ya doin'?"

"Better'n you, from the looks of the cast on your arm. Got a wicked headache, though. Doc said it should go away overnight most likely. What happened to you?"

"Bump on the head, busted wrist, scrapes, bruises. That's the lot. Man, I'm so sorry about this."

"Dude, forget it. I'm the one should be sorry. If it wasn't for me pushin' you to go out, it woulda never happened. I think this is officially my last pub crawl ever."

"Mine, too." JP looked at Sam and me and nodded. Tommy caught the look but said nothing. We spent a few more minutes with Robbie before his nurse chased us out saying he needed to rest. JP looked like he could use some, too. We got him back to his room. As he was getting into the bed, his gown opened up in the back and we got a full shot of his naked skinny and very hairy butt.

"Hey, JP. Don't be flashin' your scrawny ass at Jack like that. He's mine, man, get your own." Sam and Tommy were laughing, I was looking at JP's face. He was embarrassed, as to be expected, but there was something else there. He saw me looking at him and gave me just the faintest shake of his head. I wasn't sure I even saw it, but the look on his face begged me to drop it. I smiled at him and nodded. Secrets.

Back in the truck, Tommy wasted no time. As we drove out of the hospital parking lot he said, "Okay, spill it, you two. What are you up to with the lawyer, and what was that look JP gave you in Robbie's room?" Sam looked at me and it was my turn to shrug my shoulders. I nodded to let him know I was okay with telling Tommy our plan. We might need his help, actually.

Sam laid it all out for him, except the part about buying a new truck for the company, which I was grateful for. I wanted to talk to Todd about it first. He did suggest Tommy wait until Monday to file the insurance claim, which he agreed to do.

"So, Jack…I'm assuming you're footing the bill for this plan you've cooked up? Are you sure about this? You hardly know JP and those programs are not cheap."

"It was Sam's idea, and yeah, I'm cool with it. JP needs the help and…well…I want to help Sam help his friend."

"Mighty big of you, Jack. Not too many people would go so far to help a virtual stranger. I told you he was a good guy, Sam. I was right, wasn't I?"

"Yes. He's the best. And he's hot!"

"Yeah yeah yeah. Down tiger, don't start humping him here in the truck. That kiss you gave him in the hospital damn near set the curtains on fire."

"I can't help it, Tommy. Look at him. I love him, man. I just do." Sam sounded almost like a forlorn little boy. It was sweet.

Tommy laughed again. "I know you do, Sam. I can tell. You guys talk about what's gonna happen when Jack here leaves in a week?" Oh man, did he have to go and ask that now? Crap! Now what do I say?

"I'm going with him."

I stopped breathing. Tommy spun his head to look at Sam and nearly ran us off the road before he remembered he was driving. Did I just hear him right? Sam's coming with me to Denver? When did that happen?

Sam turned to me, with the most tender and hopeful expression. "That is, if he'll have me. Whadda ya say, Jack. Can I come to Denver with you?"

I was speechless. I realized in a split second this was what I had wanted all along. I slowly nodded my head, and then predictably the tears started falling. I didn't even fight them. Sam's started, too. We were quite the pair. Thankfully Tommy said nothing for a couple of minutes, giving us the moment together.

I had a million questions for Sam, but so did Tommy. Mine could wait until we were alone. Tommy asked, "So…Sammy…you just spring this news on us like it's no big deal?"

"I'm sorry, Tommy. I just decided this afternoon. There was really only one thing holding me back, and Jack helped me figure it out today." I did? "And I hadn't had a chance to even talk to him, as you can see. I would have talked with you about it, you know I would."

"Yeah, I know. And I'm happy for you, Sam, don't get me wrong. For both of you. I mean that, Jack. You and Sam are perfect for each other. It's just…I mean…I knew you were leaving in August. It's not like I didn't know I would lose you eventually. I don't know…I got used to you bein' around, helping me with all the shit storms like today. Fuck, Sam, I'm gonna miss you, man." Tommy's voice cracked a little, and he shut up. We let him be as we all three sat there mentally digesting the impact of Sam's decision.

Tommy broke the silence as he pulled to the curb in front of Sam's apartment building. He turned towards Sam and said, "You know…I don't know why I'm sitting here upset about this. I would have been kicking your ass for being stupid if you weren't going with him."

"Yeah, I pretty much figured when you were the one telling me to go for it on the beach last weekend," said Sam.

"Man, you were gaga for him from the first day. He's all you've talked about. The only thing surprises me about the two of you is how fast you got to this point. Not that it should. I know you, Sam. This is how you do things. Just so you know, Jack…once Sam makes up his mind, he locks it in and rarely changes. It's why I can always count on him, and I suspect now you can, too."

"I know, Tommy. It's one of the many reasons I love him. That and he kisses good," I said, trying to lighten the mood.

Tommy laughed. "I'll take your word for it, Jack. Alright, get out. I've gotta go tell my old man the world fell apart today, but two guys were there to help save the day. I hope your plan works - for JP's sake. He needs the help, for sure. Let me know what I can do, if anything. I'll help you pack, Sam, when you get to that point. We still on for the beach tomorrow?"

"Probably. We'll see. I'll call you in the morning to confirm?" said Sam.

He and Sam fist bumped and I reached across Sam to do the same. It felt right with Tommy. He was a good guy, and we were supremely fortunate to have him on our side. I opened the door and slid out to stand on the sidewalk. Sam and Tommy were looking at each other and not saying anything. I stepped towards the back of the truck to retrieve our bags from the bed and give them a minute. It had to be very hard on Tommy to be losing Sam just when everything seemed to be falling apart. He was actually losing two of his best workers - JP and Sam. I felt bad for him, but he seemed genuinely happy for both of them in his own way.

Sam got out of the truck and shut the door. Tommy pulled away, and Sam turned to me. "Hell of a day, eh Jack?" He looked exhausted now as the emotional energy of hearing about JP drained away. I hugged him as tightly as I could. I knew inside he was hurting. It showed all over his face. He was even limping a little on his sore ankle as I followed him up the stairs to his apartment.

Once inside, he flopped on the couch, the garment bag thrown on a chair in the kitchen. I put the small suitcase on the floor and sat down next to him, leaning backwards as his arms wrapped me up in a reverse hug. Something about being in his arms reset us both, and the tension and stress of the last few hours drained away.

"I'm sorry to surprise you about coming to Denver, Jack. I was gonna talk to you about it tonight, but then JP and…"

"It's fine, Sam. Are you sure you want to come with me, though? It's so sudden."

"Don't you want me to come with you?" he asked, his voice slightly on edge.

"Of course, yes, I do…very much, believe me. I'm thrilled with the idea. But you do realize I've never even seen the house I have there, so it may be all wrong for us. And…it's…well…" I trailed off, not sure how to say what I was thinking. I didn't want to reopen a can of worms we had worked so hard to shut.

"Jack…sit up and look at me for a minute." I did, and turned to see him looking at me intensely with his blue eyes flashing.

"I've given this a lot of thought. We probably should have discussed it together before I just assumed you'd be okay with me coming, but here's the thing. There's no way I can let you go without me, Jack. I love you. I want…no… I need to be with you. The idea of being separated from you is too painful. I just found you, I'm not letting you get away so easily. You're stuck with me, little man." He said it with such finality, such certainty, my heart leapt in my chest. He was mine forever, if he had anything to say about it.

My hands started shaking, but he grabbed them tightly and continued. "I know what you're thinking. The money, right?" I nodded silently. "Please tell me you know this is not about you having money. I fell in love with you before I had any idea about your inheritance."

"I know, Sam. If anything, the money's been the problem, hasn't it?" It was his turn to nod.

"The thing is, at first I thought I'd just pretend it didn't exist, so it wasn't a big deal. That lasted not even a day, what with the hotel thing this morning. For a few minutes there I hated the fact you had all this money and I had none. It brought back every insecurity and frustration from high school. But you were so patient with me, Jack…and then you said those things about paying the bill with character and it started to make some sense.

But then…I lost it with the tour tickets. I wasn't just upset about not going on the tour - I felt like I was gonna lose you, too. Everything about us in that moment felt so lopsided and wrong in my mind. But…when you said those things…about not meeting me if you hadn't kept the money…Jack, it scared the shit out of me. There I was sitting next to the best thing to ever happen to me, and I flashed to what might have been if you didn't have the money and we never met. It hurt! And the idea of using it a tool to help people, that made a lot of sense too. I realized I was being stupid and in danger of losing you. The whole time we were driving around at the garden, I was thinking this through, and I knew I had to try to make this work. I still don't know what I am supposed to contribute to this relationship. I don't have any money, just what I've managed to save for law school. But I do have me, and I'm giving me to you, Jack. That's what I've got. Is it…am I…enough for you?"

I couldn't have stopped the tears if I had wanted to. I was nodding my head up and down, and trying to speak but all that came out were funny noises caught around the instant lump in my throat. So I threw myself across the couch, landing on top of him, and kissed him for all I was worth. He had just given me the greatest gift imaginable. He kissed me back and for a while we were lost in the moment. I couldn't tell if he was crying too, or if was just my happy tears all over his face. It didn't matter. All that mattered was he was mine.

I eventually sat back and became aware of how much of a mess my face was. I looked around for some Kleenex and suddenly Sam was handing me a box of them, from where I don't know. "Guess I'm gonna need a bigger supply of these with you around, little man," he said, smiling tenderly. "I take it your answer was a yes?"

"Yes, yes and triple yes! Sam…of course you're more than enough. So much more. You're priceless to me. I was nothing and nobody until you found me. Now I…I'm alive! I can't imagine not being with you, either. I didn't want to push, but I so hoped we could find a way to make it work…to be together. Are you really, really sure you want to do this? Leave Hawaii early and come to Denver with me?"

He grabbed my hands again. "Yeah, I'm sure. I have to figure out what to do with my apartment. It's leased through July. But I don't have a lot to pack…just clothes, really. I can have Tommy ship them to wherever we end up in Denver."

"And what about August and law school? You're going, Sam. There's no question about it. You have to go."

"I know. I'm excited about going, too. More than I expected to be. What we did today, you and me, helping JP. It's what I want to do. Becoming a lawyer can help with that, I think. Money doesn't solve everything, ya know?"

"You're so right. I love the idea of you being a lawyer. Now I just have to figure out what I'm gonna do."

"I thought you said you were staring a new job in Denver?"

"Well…it's mostly working with the financial team which is handling my trust. I figured I would need to learn at least the basics of finance and investing and all the work which goes into it if I'm gonna ever figure out how to use the money to really help people. But it's more they're working for me, not me working for them."

"Same difference, Jack. You'll be working together. I agree, you need to understand how it all works. I can't even comprehend the numbers you're talking about. Where do you even start?"

"Don't know, but that's what I have Todd and Larry for."

"Who are they?"

"Larry is the VP of the bank where the trust is managed. Todd is the guy I deal with mostly now. He's a little older than us, and way smarter about money than I ever hope to be. Larry said he's even better than him. I think he's grooming Todd to take over his role eventually."

"So those are your teammates, basically."

"I guess so. I think there are a few others, but I haven't met them yet. I was…a little overwhelmed by it all, and Larry agreed to take it slow. What do you mean by teammates, Sam?"

"Well…you're going to be joining the team, so they become your teammates. You'll have a role to play on the team. We just have to figure out what it is. Have you ever played team sports?"

"No. I was the last guy picked to be on a team in PE. No way would I be allowed on an actual, for real team. In any sport. So not my strength."

"Okay, no sports. What else did you do in school?"

"I was in the Drama Club and the Choir. I was actually elected President of the Drama Club my senior year."

"So you have been on a team. And you were even the leader, of sorts." I had never thought of drama club as a team. What was he driving at? He could tell by the look on my face I was confused.

"Look Jack, a team is just a group of people trying to accomplish a common goal. Win a championship, or in the case of the drama team, put on a great show. You have to figure out a way to work together, take advantage of each other's strengths, and minimize and cover for each other's weaknesses."

"You mean like how some guys can act and sing and others can't carry a tune, but can build beautiful scenery and run the lights and other backstage things like that?"

"Exactly. What did you do for the shows?"

"In some I acted. I can sing, so I won the male lead parts in the spring musicals my last two years. Can't dance though. Oh…I was the student director for three different productions."

"Great! That means you can lead, and you can direct. Every team needs a captain. The guy everybody else looks to for direction and encouragement, especially when the chips are down. You see what I mean?" I did, actually.

"Okay, yeah. But how does it all relate to my financial 'team'? I can't be the leader - I don't know the first thing about finance. What strength or ability do I bring?"

"Off the top of my head, I can think of two: encouragement in the face of adversity, and vision."

"What are you talking about, Sam? What do those have to do with finance?"

"Think about it, Jack. You did both today at the gardens. In the face of the adversity I was putting up because of my pride about the money, you didn't quit on me. Instead you patiently found a way to encourage me to accept the help, even appreciate it, and move on. And then you showed me the vision you have for using the money to help change people's lives. Shortly afterwards we designed a winning play, you and me, using the vision to guide us in trying to help JP and Tommy. At least, I hope it's a winning play. A lot is riding on Mr. Campbell to pull off his part. And Todd. See, we need other 'players' to execute their parts, but you and I together designed the play and are directing it now. That's great teamwork, Jack!"

He was really excited, and I knew he was trying to help me understand what my role could be with the trust and the team. I sort of understood what he was saying, but I really didn't see myself as the team leader type. Not yet, anyway. I didn't even know all the team members' names.

"Relax, Jack. I can see your wheels spinning. You'll figure it out once you get back there and can get plugged in to what's going on. Just remember, your team is going to be looking to you for direction and leadership, from the sound of it. You may not know the first thing about investing millions of dollars, but you do know what you want the end result to be. Keep everybody's eye on the goal, and you'll be great."

Just then Sam's cell phone rang. "It's Stubbs. Probably wants to know how JP's doin'." He answered the call and proceeded to fill Stubbs in on the day's events. I remembered my phone hadn't been charged, so I moved to the bedroom and plugged it in - my charger was right where I left yesterday, still plugged into the wall by the bed. Then I hopped into the bathroom.

I came out a few minutes later to my phone making all kinds of dings and sounds. Sam was still talking with Stubbs in the front room. I reached for my cell and saw I had missed 10 messages from Todd, starting yesterday afternoon. Wonder what that was all about? I was sitting there on the bed, trying to decide if midnight Denver time was too late to call him back when the phone started ringing in my hand. Speak of the devil.

"Hey Todd, what's up?" I answered.

"Jack! Finally! Where ya been, man? I've been trying to reach you for two days. Shackin' up with Sam probably. Am I right?"

"Something like that." I said with a smile.

"So how's it goin' with you two? Did you tell him how you feel yet?"

"Yep. And the feeling is more than mutual," I said, sounding very self- satisfied.

"Awesome, man. That's fantastic. So…did you seal the deal, if you know what I mean?" I could hear the grin in his voice. I had to laugh. It was a highly personal comment, but somehow with Todd I didn't mind. It actually felt right to me.

"Yes, I know what you mean, and yes…we have sealed the deal…a number of times." He started laughing loudly at the other end.

"Way to go, Jack! Good for you. Happy for you, man."

"In fact, Todd, Sam is coming back to Denver with me next weekend. He'll stay with me until we figure out what happens in August when he has to go to St. Louis for school. So I'm gonna need you to get me another plane ticket for him on my return flight."

"Uh…yeah…about your return. Um…that's what I've been trying to call you about. There's been some trouble here, Jack. Larry's been after me to get a hold of you. We need you to come back sooner than you planned."

"Why? What kind of trouble? And why now? Why me?" I was asking him questions now rapid fire. My pulse was quickening by the second, and already I sensed doom about to descend.

"Apparently there's a power grab happening within the bank. Larry thinks he's gonna be squeezed out. The CEO has been pushing him to retire - he's certainly past the usual age for it - but Larry's been resisting. I guess a couple of days ago there was a board meeting and someone on there, maybe more than one, wants him gone. Larry thinks Arnold Turner, the VP of Corporate Trusts, is behind it. Wants to consolidate the two divisions. He and Larry don't see eye to eye on things."

"Okay…but what does it have to do with me? I mean, how can I help? What does Larry want me to do?"

"Well…I don't know if you realize this, but…you are the largest client here. So you have some influence."

"How so, Todd? I don't know anything about banking - you know I don't."

"Jack…you are the biggest client…for the entire bank. Including the corporate side. If you were to speak up for Larry to the CEO, this whole thing would be shut down in a heartbeat. But…and I know you aren't gonna wanna hear this…nobody can speak for you on this one, Jack. You'd have to talk to the board directly."

I breathed out a deep sigh. This is so not what I wanted for myself. I wanted anonymity, invisibility. Not be standing front and center in a board meeting. I wouldn't have any idea what to say or how to act. Ugh!

But then I flashed to how nice Larry was to me after our initial disastrous meeting. And Clyde's confidence and respect for Larry's abilities. Not to mention Todd and the rest of the team. They probably didn't want to switch quarterbacks any more than I did. And they had been successful at managing the trust so far. I definitely did not want someone else taking over. I needed to talk to Sam.

"Todd, I need to think about it. When would I need to be there?"

"Ideally you'd be here Monday morning. There's a board meeting scheduled for 10 am. The scuttlebutt around here is the CEO is going to call for a vote on the proposed department merger. If you showed up right before the meeting unannounced and demanded to speak to the board, you might be able to stop the vote. It's worth a shot anyway."

"But it would mean I have to leave tomorrow, right?"

"Yes. I can take care of arranging all your travel. You just need to let me know if and when you'd be ready to go."

"Okay…can I call you back in 30 minutes or so?" I was stalling for time. I needed to think.

"Yeah, no problem. This is kinda my top priority, if you know what I mean."

"Right. Okay, I'll call you in a few." I hung up. Sam was looking at me, leaning up against the closet opposite the bed, concern etched on his face.

"Sorry, couldn't help but overhear. It's a small space."

"It's fine. It concerns you anyway. We have a problem." I relayed to Sam what Todd had told me and his suggested plan for Monday. I expected him to be upset, but instead he got excited and his blue eyes started flashing.

"Jack…this is perfect. It's your chance to step up and establish your role in the team. It's exactly what we talked about before. You can do this. You don't have to know anything about finance or what Larry and Todd do for you. You just have to tell…no, demand…they be allowed to continue to do it. It makes perfect sense. I agree with Todd. This should work. And it's definitely in your best interest to make it work. These guys have done a great job from what you've said, and I doubt you want a whole new team coming in."

"What do you mean, whole new team?"

"I've seen this before in cases my father works on. They bring in a new leader to replace the guy at the top. He makes all kinds of promises to the lower level employees he won't make any major changes - business as usual. But then over time, slowly at first and then more rapidly, most of the current employees find themselves out of a job. Think about it - if this Turner guy wants to consolidate departments, he has to be thinking about consolidating workloads. Not only will you end up with new people handling your affairs, they might end up being distracted by other accounts as well. Didn't you say Todd only works on your account now?"

"I think so. I think the whole team only works on the Schaeffer trust. Not sure about Larry, but he leaves most of the day-to-day responsibilities to Todd. But what if I do it - meet with the board - and they still vote to consolidate? What then?"

"They won't. Not after you tell them if they do, you'll take your business elsewhere. It's a slam dunk, if your account is really the largest in the bank. The impact of losing the income off of managing your accounts would have to be more than what they hope to save by consolidating. At least I think so - I can't really fathom the numbers."

"Me either. But if I do this, Sam, we have a really big problem. I have to leave tomorrow. Todd says I have to be there Monday morning."

"You mean WE have to leave tomorrow."

"Sam, I can't ask you to up and leave in one day. What about Tommy? Won't he need help training your replacement? And JP's? And your apartment? What about that?"

"No way, Jack. Un uh. I'm not letting you face the giants alone. Not your first time out of the gate. I'm going with you, case closed. I'll call Tommy, you call Todd. We'll make it work."

I stood there looking at the man I loved, the man who just took charge and decided our next steps. He was right. And this is what I needed from him - his confidence and his certainty all would work out in the end. And the fact he was making it all about me right now. I took two steps towards him and he swallowed me up in his arms without a word. I rested my head on his chest, closed my eyes, and held on to him until my inner anxiety faded, replaced by my own growing confidence. With Sam at my side, I could do this. I had to - for my team. Our team.

A new wrinkle popped into Sam's head. "Fuck! What about JP? We still have to get him out of here. And the car for the other driver, and a truck for Tommy. Ugh! Can Todd handle all these things in one day?"

"I think so. I hope so. I need to call Mr. Campbell and find out where he's at on his part of things. You call Tommy - and please apologize to him for me, Sam. I feel bad about taking you away from him like this." Sam grabbed my head with two hands and gently kissed me, calming me down.

"Tommy will be fine, Jack. Call Mr. Campbell, then call Todd. Let's do this."

Thankfully my call to Robert Campbell was filled with good news. He had the name and address of the man who had been in the accident with JP, as well as the make and model of the car which was totaled. A Mercedes-Benz CLS AMG 4- door coupe with all the bells and whistles. He also had already spoken with the admissions people at the Betty Ford Treatment Center in California. They were ready to accept JP whenever he arrived, provided his treatment plan costs were covered up front.

I hung up with Mr. Campbell, letting him know I'd be in touch tomorrow with next steps, then dialed Todd. He answered on the first ring.

"Hey Jack, what's the good word?"

"Okay…I'm in. But Sam's coming too. I need you to arrange transportation for both of us. Actually, make it three…" I proceeded to fill him in on all of the plans underway to spirit JP away to the California desert before he landed in jail. When I was finished, Todd read back to me the notes he had obviously been making while I spoke.

"Let me see if I've got all this. You need a brand new Mercedes CLS to be delivered - preferably tomorrow - a Sunday, no less - to the guy this friend of Sam's - a John Paul Murphy - managed to hit and total his car while driving a white Paradise Pools pickup truck, also needing to be replaced ASAP. You need three seats on a flight out of there, including a stop in California to drop off JP at a substance abuse treatment clinic, which I also need to arrange payment for in advance, as well as arrange for Sam's personal belongings to be packed up and shipped to the Denver house or office here, depending on how things go. Do I have it all?"

"And pay for JP's lawyer. Here's his number," I said, reciting it from memory. "That'll cover it for now. Think you can you do it?" I asked, realizing I was asking the impossible.

"Well…it's not the easiest to-do list I've ever faced, but let me work on it. I'll call you in the morning with an update. Keep your phone on and near you, Jack. I may need to reach you at any time tomorrow, okay?"

"Yeah, yeah. For sure, I promise. Todd…thanks for everything. You pull this off and we'll talk about a little bonus when I get there."

"I pull this off and I want a title and corner office, man." He laughed, and we said goodbye. The ball was now in his court. Sam was just finishing up with Tommy.

"What did Tommy say?" I asked, as he walked back into the bedroom.

"He's cool. He's making some calls. Says he has a guy over on the big island who wants to move to Oahu. Tommy thinks he can talk him into subletting my apartment, too. He already knows the drill, so Tommy says he just needs to take him around to the various stops I service and introduce him to the clients. Hope he can handle ol' lady Richardson. As far as JP goes, Stubbs has a friend who's wanted a job for a long time, and Tommy's gonna give him a chance. Said Stubbs can train him and get him up to speed. So…that worked out better than I expected. Tommy wants to meet us for brunch tomorrow to talk about JP and how it's gonna go down. He's on board with anything we need him to do. I told him to loop Stubbs in just in case we need him, too."

I sat down on the bed, letting out a huge sigh of relief. I couldn't believe we had orchestrated so many things in such a short amount of time. Sam sat down next to me and put his arm around my shoulder.

"We're a good team, Jack. We're gonna change the world, you and me." I looked over to him and smiled thinly. I hoped he was right. There was a lot riding on everything coming together tomorrow.

"It's getting late and tomorrow is gonna be a bitch of a day. Let's take a shower and hit the sack. Whadda ya say?" asked Sam. I nodded and stood up to take off my clothes while Sam locked up and turned out the front room lights. I was naked when he returned.

He looked at me in the dim light coming from the bathroom, and just stood there, the look on his face and the growing bulge in his shorts giving away his obvious desire for me. I needed him, too. I watched as he slowly undressed, gasping a little as his underwear hit the floor revealing his stunning physique. He was so beautiful. I let him take my hand and lead me to the bathroom.

Later, after we had both released our tensions in the shower, we helped one another dry off and climbed into bed, totally spent physically and emotionally. Sam spooned up behind me, putting his strong arm across my chest and pulling me in tight, his warm breath on my neck comforting me. As I drifted off to sleep I remember thinking that with Sam, maybe I really could change the world.

The next morning I awoke to my phone ringing on the floor next to the bed. Sam had to poke me two or three times mumbling his grievances against the offending caller before I was awake enough to orient myself enough to answer. The time on the screen said 6:15 am. Surprise, it was Todd, sounding very chipper.

"Mornin', Jack. Rise and shine, busy day ahead of you. You with me, or do you need a minute?"

"I'm here. Just keep your merriment to a dull roar, please."

"Gotcha. Making a note: very grumpy first thing in the morning. Check."

"Whadda ya need, Todd?" I asked, now slightly amused and not offended at his irreverent references to his boss.

"Well, I've made pretty good progress on your little shopping list from last night. Can you get a pen and paper to make some notes? We don't have you set up yet for email, do we?"

"Nope. Didn't think I'd need it." I was up now and looking for a piece of paper and something to write with, coming up with nothing. Sam was sound asleep again, and I wasn't going to wake him for such a trivial thing.

Todd made an annoying buzzing sound in my ear. "Wrong. We'll fix that when you get here. In the meantime, your faithful servant, that would be me, has secured a spot for one John Paul Murphy in the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage. He'll have a single room and three squares a day. Current plan is for a 90 day stay, total length to be determined by his personal intake interview and overall treatment and recovery progression. The clinic administrator will keep me apprised of his financial needs, and I will augment his accounts as required. I also took the liberty of putting some money into his patient account for incidental purchases. I figured he would be arriving under the radar and without funds. Also, you never said, but I would suggest if JP has family who would like to visit him at whatever point it's allowed in his treatment, we could arrange to aid them in transportation and lodging if it would help. I understand it can be a big plus in the patient's overall progress."

"Wow, Todd. Great work. It's only 6 in the morning. How did you do all this so fast?"

"It's 6 where you are. Let's see, it's after 8 in California, 9 here. I've been at my desk since 5 AM putting things together, so some of us have got a half day under our belt already, while others of us haven't peed yet. Am I right?" Crap! Now I had to go, something I suspect he knew he just caused, judging by his laughter. "Don't worry, Jack. I'll hold, since you probably can't…hold it, that is." More laughter echoed from the phone as I threw it on the bed and trotted to the toilet, doing what needed to be done.

"Okay, Todd. I'm back. All better now. Anything else to report, oh great one?"

Todd chuckled. "Yes, there is, now you mention it. I made a call to the car rental outfit which provided your current car, Hawaiian Luxury Rentals. They buy higher end vehicles for their fleet, and I took a chance they might know a dealer in Honolulu who would be willing to sell us a car on a Sunday. We're in luck. Guy there named Aaron, says he remembers you by the way - said you were, and I quote, cute, end quote - gave me a number and I hit pay dirt. Fleet car salesman at Honolulu Mercedes Benz will have a car matching your requirements perfectly, right down to color and special features, by noon today. Just go to the service department and ask to speak to a Mike Kurasowa and he'll get you the keys. I'll have all the paperwork sewn up by then. When you drop the car off there will be one form the guy has to sign and it's all his."

"Thanks, Todd. I can't believe you pulled it off. This will help JP's case a ton, I hope."

"As far as the truck for Paradise Pools goes," continued Todd. "I didn't have enough to go on to get the ball rolling. Do you know what model or features they want? If you can get me the info, I can probably make the same thing happen today for the truck."

"You know what, Todd. Let me talk to Sam about that. He might have an idea of what Tommy might need. The truck JP totaled was old and Tommy might want something different. I'll have to call you back on that one."

"No problem. Last but not least, I couldn't get a direct, non-stop commercial flight from Honolulu to Palm Springs, California, so I'm sending the jet. It'll be at the Landview Aviation hangar at HNL by 4 PM your time. I'll call you with an update when they land and let you know where to go. The car rental guys will pick up your car from there, so if you need to use it get JP to the plane, do so."

"Wait. Hold up a minute. Did you say you were sending the jet? What jet?" I broke off, stunned.

"Your jet. Didn't Larry tell you about it? She's a beauty - a Gulfstream G550. You'll love it. Ron and Justin should have you airborne minutes after you get there."

"Hold on, damn it! Who the hell are Ron and Justin?" I fairly shouted it, and woke Sam up in the process.

"You okay, Jack?" he asked, sleepily.

"I'm fine, Sam. Go back to sleep. Sorry." I moved into the kitchen, harshly whispering to Todd now. "Start over from the beginning. Jet? Ron & Justin?"

Todd chuckled at me. "Relax, Jack. I'm not trying to shock you. I thought you knew about it. My bad. The trust owns and operates a private jet. The Franklins ended up with it after the merger with Merck a few years back. Merck didn't want it, and as majority stockholders, the Franklins got it by default. Now it's yours. Ron Albertson is the chief pilot, Justin Wilson is the co-pilot. They've been employed to take care of the plane and obviously to fly it wherever needed. You'll meet them tonight, they're great guys. And you can trust them, Jack. They're part of your team, okay?"

I let out a big sigh. "Sorry, Todd. It's just…this over the top crap still throws me. Okay…so we're taking…the jet…from Honolulu to California?"

"Yes. The closest airport to Rancho Mirage is Palm Springs. You'll drop JP there - I'll have a car and driver waiting to take him to Betty Ford's front door. It'd be best if someone he knew was there to check him in, according to the administrator I spoke with. Not necessary, but helpful. Does he have any family we could get there tonight?"

"I think Tommy said his father was trying to get here from California. Somebody should probably call him and tell him to not bother. Maybe we can help him get to JP tonight. I'll let you know. Any other wild and crazy things you wanna dump on me this morning?"

"Nope. That's it. Call me about the truck for the pool company. I'd love to get this all wrapped up today and get back to my real job. My boss is a major nut buster. He gets pissed off if I spend a Sunday working for someone else. Oh wait - you're my boss. So I guess my nuts are safe today…whew! That was close." The laughter on the other line was unmistakable. He cracked himself up.

"Hilarious, Todd," I said sarcastically. "Don't hurt yourself laughing at my expense. You've still got more to do today. I'll talk to Sam and get back to you in a little while. Seriously Todd…great job. I'm more than impressed. You can keep your job for another week, and I'll think about getting you a Starbucks gift card for your troubles. See you tomorrow." He was hysterical now. He was gonna be a lot of fun to work with. Total goofball, but wow, could he get it done!

I stepped back into the bedroom, only to find the bed empty. The bathroom door was closed and could hear Sam using the toilet. Small spaces, intimate places. He flushed, and I knocked on the door. "Can I come in?"

"Yeah. Hey…good morning," he said, putting his arms around me and pulling me into to his hairy chest. I buried my face in it and just breathed him in. He smelled wonderful. He smelled like Sam. "I take it that was Todd. Did he get anything done yet?"

"Try everything. Only thing missing is the truck for Tommy. Do you have any idea what he might want to replace the one that got trashed?"

"I have no idea. Why don't we ask him at brunch? Let's get him exactly what he wants. It's the least we can do after bailing on him."

"I like how you're thinking, Sam. We are doing this together, aren't we?" He nodded. "Are you feeling a little guilty this morning about leaving with me today and Tommy has to train replacements? It's okay if you need to stay - I'd understand."

"No way. Don't go there, Jack. It's not that - he said he had it covered and Tommy doesn't say shit that's not true. No, it's just…I'm gonna miss him, Jack. He's been my friend for a long time, and he and I…he's been the one to pick up the pieces, ya know? Now that I have you, I don't want him to feel like I'm dumping my friendship with him. I still want to be there for him."

"Absolutely, Sam. Tommy is a great friend, and you'll always be there for him. I will, too. And we can have him over to visit any time he wants. Apparently transportation will not be a problem."

"What are you talking about, Jack?"

"Nothing, I'll tell you later. Right now, I want some Sam and Jack time. Would that be okay with you? After we leave here today, we probably won't be back for a long time and I want to have something wonderful to remember this bed by." Sam smiled wide and pushed me backwards onto the bed. I was laughing hysterically when he kissed me, his hand holding onto my balls.

I awoke two hours later, satiated and deeply content. I would definitely have fond memories of this bed, for sure. Sam outdid himself in the lovemaking department, and I think he had a few new memories of his own to take with him today. I rolled over and kissed him, deliberately waking him up. He grabbed me and rolled over onto his back, pulling me with him until I was laying on top of him, just where I wanted to be. I sighed and rested my cheek against his chest hair. The smell of him threatened to get my motor going again. I could feel my dick start to harden.

"Jack, if that's what I think it is, keep it to yourself. I can't do anything more for at least a few hours. Or until you feed me, anyway."

I laughed. "Aww. Did I wear the big guy out?" I kissed him playfully, and he laughed around my mouth. He was so much fun! We rolled around, giggling and just being happy together. It was a great way to mark the end of our time here in this apartment and this bed.

"Alright, Jack. We need to get a move on. We're meeting Tommy and Stubbs for brunch, then we have to figure out how to spring JP from the hospital. We also need to check on Robbie. Maybe we can get him out, too. He's supposed to go home tomorrow morning, I thought."

"Right. I'll call Mr. Campbell and see if he can meet us later at the car dealership to pick up the car. I figure he would be the best person to deliver the car to the guy JP hit. What do you think?"

"Sounds right to me. Let's ask him." He slapped my naked ass lightly. "Move it, hot stuff. We need a shower." I jumped a little and headed for the bathroom, Sam pushing me slightly, his hands all over my ass. I loved it when he got all over me and in my space. It turned me on.

We survived the shower without incident or any more frivolities, much to my chagrin, and finished our grooming regimens as quickly as we could. Sam seemed like he was in a hurry. It was just brunch, what was the big deal?

"Come on, Jack. We don't want to keep them waiting."

"Keep who waiting? What's the rush?"

"Tommy's family. One Sunday a month Uncle Thomas treats us guys to Sunday brunch at Orchids. It's a great restaurant in the Halekulani hotel on Waikiki. They expect us there at 11. We gotta hustle."

I called Mr. Campbell from the car, and he agreed to pick up and deliver the new Mercedes to the accident victim. He was fairly sure he could get the guy to agree to not cooperate fully with any prosecution of JP. I mentally crossed one task off the list.

We made it across town and to the hotel with 10 minutes to spare. I decided to valet park. Sam looked at me like I was being wasteful, I just rolled my eyes at him, and he laughed. He was starting to adjust. Baby steps. He was worried about paying for valet parking. I was thinking we should buy the whole freaking hotel. It was gorgeous!

The restaurant was an open air affair with white linens and fresh flowers everywhere. Tommy introduced us to his parents, who actually were sitting at a separate table with their friends. But as we approached, led by Tommy, Mr. Barlow - Uncle Thomas - stood to shake our hands.

"So Sam, Tommy says you are leaving us today. I am sad to see you go. You have been a great asset to our little enterprise, and a very good friend to my son. I wish you all the best. And you, young man," he said, turning his attention to me. "You be sure to take good care of our Sam. He is a very special person to my family."

"I will, I promise. He's pretty special to me, too." Uncle Thomas smiled, and we politely departed for our table. Stubbs was waiting for us with a smile, muscles bulging in his tight shirt. As usual, he seemed to be running in place while sitting there, his fingers drumming to a song in his head against the edge of the table. Always in motion, that one. We all headed for the buffet tables and ended up gorging ourselves on exquisite cuisine. As we sat quietly digesting our food an hour later, none of us able to move, I thought it might be a good time to ask Tommy about his truck replacement.

"Tommy, about the truck JP wrecked yesterday," I started, but he interrupted me immediately.

"Don't remind me, Jack. My father is still trying to decide how he wants to handle it. Insurance or my savings account? It's fifty-fifty right now. Ugh!"

"Well…there's a third option, maybe. Sam and I, we would like to…"

"No way, Jack. I'm not gonna take charity from the likes of the two of you mooks. I can handle it."

Sam spoke up. "Hey, Tommy, I get it…believe me. But this is not charity. It's Jack and me bein' your friends, and doin' what we can to make you whole. You'd do the same for me, right?" Tommy thought a second and nodded, wary of a trap of some kind.

"So today we are running a blue light special on white pickup trucks. For today and today only. You tell us what you want in the perfect truck for the business, and we go and get it for you." Sam was like a kid, so eager to do this for his friend. But he was getting a taste of reluctance from the one he wanted to bless.

"Sam…it's too much. I appreciate it, I do. But I can't accept it. Insurance will cover it, that's what it's for." Sam's face clouded over. He started to turn red, and I feared an explosion. Even Stubbs, who normally barely paid attention to the conversation, was sliding his chair back a little just in case. Sam focused his laser beam eyes onto to Tommy's and Tommy started to look a little nervous.

"Of all the pig-headed, stupid, brainless, idiotic, ungrateful…dammit, Tommy. I love you, man. You're my best friend. I want to do this for you. So does Jack. So we're going to do it, whether you like it or not. Now you can either tell us what you want and go with us to get it, or you can take what we pick out. And right now I'm thinking fuchsia interior and a purple truck bed. Maybe with some rainbows on the side. Whadda ya think, Jack? Should the gay guys go out and buy Tommy Barlow a gay mobile?" I was nearly peeing my pants trying not to laugh too loudly. Stubbs had nearly swallowed his napkin trying to hide his amusement. And Tommy just matched hard stare to hard stare with Sam. It was such a macho standoff, and it was hot, at least to me. Almost at the same time the corners of their mouths started to crack, and finally they were both smiling at each other, good natures restored.

"Okay, fine. You win, Sam. I'll go with you to pick out a truck. I'll consider it your penance for ditching me to chase after lover boy here. And you, Mr. Schaeffer, are a pain in my ass. Take care of my best friend, will ya? I need him to be okay, like we said. Agreed?" I nodded, deeply moved. Tommy was entrusting Sam into my care. That was something not to be taken lightly.

"Stubbs and I will follow you two. Where are we going?"

"Let me make a call. Is there a particular model you want, Tommy?" He shook his head. I stepped over to the side of the lobby and called Todd. He'd already been working on the problem, and told me the name of a dealership which had white pickups in stock and would deal with him over the phone. All we had to do was pick it out.

"Will a Ford work, Tommy?" I asked him.

"Sure, same as the one dumbass JP totaled. Which dealership we hittin'?"

"Honolulu Ford. They're expecting us." We all traipsed to the hotel's front exit, and Tommy and Stubbs went out to get his car from the lot while Sam and I waited for the valet to retrieve my rental. Tommy led the way to the dealership, where we waited for a guy to open the gate so we could enter the lot. He locked it up behind us again, and waved us up towards the showroom entrance. Inside, Tommy wasted no time picking out a fully loaded F-150. He told the sales guy, a round faced man name Harvey, he wanted a white one with a black interior. Otherwise, he was good. Harvey knew his business, and he knew he was going to get paid top dollar for selling to us on a Sunday. Tommy got much more truck than he had lost the day before. We were told it would be ready by 6, but Tommy asked to pick it up the next day. He wanted to bring his father along so he could enjoy the surprise as well. It made Sam and me really happy to be doing this simple thing for them.

From there we all headed back to Sam's apartment. He only had clothes he wanted to bring with us, so we helped him pack up two large suitcases he had stashed in a storage unit under the stairs outside. I got my things packed up in my small carry-on. We still needed to go back to the house to get the rest of my things. Tommy and Stubbs agreed to meet at the hospital at 3 to see if JP was ready to go.

Sam and I headed back up over the mountains to the rental place. Everything was just as we had left it. Sam started dumping food and trash into the proper receptacles while I quickly packed. A couple of times I passed through the lanai with a wistful look on my face as I glanced at the hot tub. It had been a very special moment for me with Sam. I'd had a lot of special moments with him over the past few days. And tonight I was leaving with him to start a new life together in a new city.

I made four passes through every room to make sure I had not forgotten anything. Finally I stood still on the lanai, looking around, committing it all to memory.

"What are you thinkin', Jack?" asked Sam, watching me by my side.

"Just…how we met for the first time, here on the lanai. It changed everything, didn't it."

He pulled me into a hug. "Everything for the better. For both of us." He kissed me and I thought about asking Sam for one more tryst in the hot tub, but in the end it seemed unnecessary. I was looking forward now, not backward. My life was gaining momentum, and both Sam and I were forging ahead with a new hope and a new excitement for what lay ahead.

I locked up the house and we rode back to Honolulu in heavy traffic. At the rental property management office, which was closed, I put a note thanking them for my stay and letting them know I had departed early, along with the keys, through the mail slot in the door. It would have to suffice. I was glad to have dodged Madge - not to be unkind, but one meeting with her was enough.

We got to the hospital nearly an hour later than we planned. Sam and I were waiting for the elevator to go up to JP's floor when Mr. Campbell came running up to us, out of breath. "Glad I found you two. Can we talk? Privately?" We followed him to a deserted waiting room away from prying eyes and ears.

"Alright boys. I just got a call from a friend of mine at city hall. He asked if I knew of a guy who'd been involved in a DUI and described the accident that JP and Robbie were in. He said an assistant DA was looking to score some points with this one and wanted the driver, JP, brought to the station house for questioning just as soon as he was able to leave the hospital. I don't know when they'll put out the pickup order. They usually wait until Monday, but you might not want to take any chances."

Sam took charge. "Okay, thanks for the heads up, Mr. Campbell. Is JP gonna be in any trouble if he just leaves the island for a while?"

"No, as long as he is not aware he is wanted for questioning, which at this point he is not, and you shouldn't tell him either. Just get him on a plane and on his way and I'll run interference with the local authorities. With JP in a treatment program, no judge in his or her right mind will bring him back here for prosecution, especially since the victim is suddenly not interested in being involved in the investigation. He loved the car by the way. Apparently the new one has more gadgets and a better engine. He took one look at it and couldn't seem to remember he'd been in an accident at all. It was a brilliant move guys. Well played."

"What if the police or the DA's office told the hospital staff their plan already? Won't they just call the cops when JP tells them he wants to leave?" asked Sam.

"Tell JP to just walk out. I'll stick around and wander up there in an hour or so and let the nurse on duty know JP has checked himself out against the advice of his physician. It's all they care about, really - the liability. He isn't handcuffed to the bed or being watched by a guard, so he's free to leave. I'll try to dissuade them from making any calls downtown." He shook our hands and bid us good luck.

We got up to JP's room and Tommy, Stubbs, and Robbie were all in there. They all looked a little bored, especially Robbie and JP. Sam shut the room door and pulled the guys together away from JP's hearing and let them know what JP's lawyer had shared with us. Together we fashioned a plan to get JP out of the hospital without hindrance. It was a short run to the airport from there.

JP changed into street clothes. Tommy and Stubbs had stopped by JP's apartment and packed a suitcase with a few things he might need. Robbie exchanged places with JP in his bed. The plan was he would say he came up to say goodbye to JP and got a little light headed and needed to lay down. From the hall it would look like JP was still in his bed. They hugged each other, and apologized yet again to each other, prompting Tommy to say, "Let's get a move on, dumbass, before somebody throws your scrawny ass in jail. Robbie, keep your head down. See you tomorrow."

Stubbs went out in the hall with JP's suitcase to scope it out and gave us the all clear. We headed out into the hall and made our way toward the bank of elevators just before the nurses' station. We all tried to shield JP from view, but he was taller than everyone but Sam. Just as the elevator pinged its arrival and the doors opened, JP's nurse - the guy who tried to come on to Sam the night before, stepped off and right into us. He looked up from the chart he had his nose in and paused to take in the four guys crowded in front of the elevator. Stubbs had nonchalantly walked to the stairwell and departed the floor with JP's suitcase. Way to go, Stubbs!

"Hey, JP. You should be in your bed. Where do you think you're going?" The nurse clearly looked at me with an attitude which said he was in charge now and would not be put off. Tommy saved the day.

"We're all headed down to his cousin Robbie's room to play cards. The kid's goin' crazy down there all alone. He was askin' for JP here, and the nurse said it was okay as long as he didn't overdo it, so…"

"Well…be sure you're back up here to eat your dinner. The doctor was not happy you didn't eat lunch." JP made a face and Sam kicked his leg before he said something stupid. We piled into the elevator and held our breath all the way to the lobby. Just outside, it was time for all of us say our quick goodbyes.

I felt bad for Sam - it was all so rushed. These guys had been his buddies for nearly a year now. JP and Stubbs exchanged hugs awkwardly with uncomfortable looks on their faces. JP looked at me and again gave me the silent "please drop it" look. More secrets? I shook hands with everyone and went to fetch the car, which was thankfully parked close by.

When I pulled up, Stubbs helped JP get in the back seat, his suitcase next to him. It was a convertible, so the back was very tight, especially for a tall guy like JP. But he looked happy to be out of the hospital. Sam and Tommy were just staring at each other, neither one really wanting to say goodbye. I felt for them, I really did. And I wasn't jealous of Tommy. Sam needed him in his life, and I would never stand in the way of their friendship.

Tommy ended the silence. "Take care of yourself, Sam. And take care of Jack. He's damn near perfection for you, you know that right?" Sam nodded, tears threatening to fall.

"Be good, Tommy. Stay out of trouble. I'll call you soon, and we'll figure out how to get together. I…I love you, man." He pulled Tommy into a quick hug, and Tommy surprised me by hugging him back. When they separated, they both had tears in their eyes. Sam looked at him one more time, then nodded. Tommy nodded back.

Sam turned then and said to me, "Let's roll, Jack." I hopped in, threw it in gear and we were off. Sam gave me directions to the general aviation hangars. Turns out it was near where we had met the helicopter the day before. We found the right location and parked the car. I locked up after we had extracted JP from the back. JP carried his suitcase and one of mine so I could help Sam with his. We slowly made our way into the lobby of the hangar office and I looked around for who was in charge. A tall lanky man in his late 50's with graying hair and a nice smile stepped over and introduced himself as Ron Albertson.

Looking at me, he said, "You must be Jack Schaeffer. Nice to finally meet the boss. Who do you have with you?" he asked. I made introductions, and then asked if we were ready to go.

"Yes. Preflight check is complete. Need clearance from the tower and we are out of here. I take it you're in a hurry?" I nodded, not sure why, it was just a feeling. He grabbed two of the bags and we followed him out a door and onto the tarmac.

The noise was shocking to the ears. In front of us was a gleaming white corporate jet with bold, blue gradient lines running down the length of the fuselage, engines running. The forward stairs were down and a familiar face was standing just inside the doorway, waving his hands beckoning us to get a move on.

He shouted, "Hurry up you guys, we've got trouble coming. Let's go." JP and I scrambled up the steps while Ron and Sam stowed the bags in what I guessed was the baggage hold in the lower rear section of the aircraft.

"Todd, what are you doing here? I thought…"

He interrupted me. "No time, Jack. The police are right behind you. Apparently a nurse alerted them JP left without saying a proper goodbye. Right now according to Mr. Campbell, who just called me, they have no idea where you are, but they are mighty pissed you gave them the slip. They are looking for your car. I take it you left it here in the lot like I said?" I nodded.

"Okay. They'll find it eventually. So be it. Oh, he also said your two other chums were last seen leading another young man in a hospital gown to a white pickup truck. I guess they got away. Apparently the hospital can't hold on to its patients today." Good, Robbie was out of the soup, too. Tommy would take care of getting him home to his family.

Sam entered the plane, and Ron pulled up the stairs behind them and secured the door. "Okay, everyone, we'll get acquainted later. Right now find a seat anywhere and strap in. Let's get out of here." said Ron. He entered the cockpit and shut the door behind him.

I looked at Sam standing by the door, a huge smile on his face as he looked around the plane's cabin and took it all in. Then he looked at me, his blue eyes dancing with excitement.

"Fuck me! Jack…we are definitely keepin' this thing!" Todd, JP and I burst out laughing and Sam joined in. We all found seats as the plane started rolling across the tarmac, heading for the runway.

A few minutes later, Captain Ron came on the PA system and said we were cleared for takeoff. Sam was seated next to me, and I grabbed his hand and squeezed it tightly. He looked at me with his blazing blue eyes and I saw his love and the commitment shining in them. I could only hope he saw the same in mine. As we hurtled down the runway, engines screaming, we kept looking at one another, and silently we each shed a single tear. A tear of happiness and a tear of hope, as together we took one step closer to forever.

Author's Note: This is the end of Forever - Book One. Book Two will continue the adventures of Jack and Sam as they embark on a new life together in Denver and the challenges awaiting them in St. Louis.

My steadfast editors worked tirelessly on this long, long chapter, and their efforts are appreciated by one and all. Thank you Mark, Harry and Josh for your diligence and support and the gift of your special talents.

Book One has been a joy to write, and the responses from readers all over the world have been wonderful and encouraging. I am excited to bring you all more of Jack and Sam's adventures in the coming months. If you have enjoyed Forever, please consider sending me an email and letting me know what you liked about it, or maybe your suggestions on what Jack and Sam should do with all their money…grin! Email:

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