Castle Roland

Forever 2 - Changes

by Jack Schaeffer

In Progress

Chapter 6

Posted: 14 May 15

FOREVER 2 - Changes
By Jack Schaeffer
Copyright © 2015. All rights reserved.

"Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation." - Robert F. Kennedy, Senator and U.S. Attorney General

I couldn't find my underwear. I was standing by the completely disheveled bed, naked from the waist down. Sam was smiling at my predicament. "Sam! It's not funny. Charles and Maggie have been home for ten minutes and we're still hiding out here in the bedroom. They're gonna know we just had sex. We are so busted!"

"You're cute when you're flustered, you know that?" he said, smiling. It wasn't fair. He had his underwear - I was the one standing there bare assed naked.

"Wipe the stupid grin off your face and help me find my underwear, Sam," I said seriously, feeling the beginnings of real anger toward him, and it shocked me. I think it shocked him, too, as there was now a real edge to my voice.

"Okay, Jack. Simmer down. I'll help. Where were you when you lost them?" he asked, and then cracked up in laughter. He knew perfectly well where I had been, the image of which popped into my head, striking me as funny, too, and I had to smile, my mounting anger and frustration fading quickly.

"I seem to remember you threw me over your shoulder when you carried me across the deck and ripped them off of me as we came into the room."

"Oh yeah, I remember now. Check over by those chairs. I think I threw them in that direction." I went over and looked behind one of the chairs sitting up against the bay windows overlooking the deck outside. I saw a bit of black fabric sticking out from underneath the heavy drapes and bent down to retrieve my underwear, giving Sam an explicit view of my ass in the process.

"Whoa, Jack. You keep bending over naked like that and Charles and Maggie are gonna be waiting even longer for us to come out and greet them. Damn, you're hot!" I smiled at him, pulling up my boxer briefs, feeling instantly less exposed. Normally I liked being naked with Sam - a lot. But knowing Maggie was in the house made me wildly uncomfortable.

I pulled up my shorts, then sat down on the bed to put on my socks. Now that I was fully dressed I didn't feel so...guilty. Sam sat down next to me and put his arm around my shoulders, pulling me in tightly next to him. Being in physical contact always calmed me down, a secret he was using to his advantage.

"I'm sorry, Jack. I didn't realize you were so wigged out about the Smyths knowing we were having sex in here."

"I'm sorry, too, Sam, for being such a ninny. I know we can't possibly live here without them knowing we're having sex, it's just...weird for me. It's all still so new and...I don't know. I don't want them to not like us. Ugh! Just love me, Sam. Please?" I said, looking up at him.

"Forever, Jack."

"Thank you. I'm sorry I got mad at you. Forgive me?" I asked.

"Forgiven...and totally understandable. Come on, let's get out of here and see if they need help with anything. You think if we go out on the deck and around to the kitchen they won't suspect?" he asked, smiling.

"The fact your shirt is on inside-out might give them a clue," I said with a grin.

"Shit! For real?" he asked, now seeing the exposed seams on his shirt sleeves. He shrugged, quickly changing it around, smiling the whole time. "Fuck it, let's just go down the hall. They'll know soon enough you can't control yourself against my manly charms. You know you want me, Jack."

"Not even a little bit, you jerk," I said, but pulled him into a scorching kiss, determined to drive my tongue into his throat. He groaned and grabbed my ass and pulled me tightly into him, our hardening cocks bumping together. After a few seconds, I broke off the kiss, my chest heaving for air. Damn, I did want him. Again.

"Fuck, Jack. Your kisses...I can't...too much. Oh, man." Sam was pushing his cock down in his shorts, trying to regain his composure. I was doing the same, hoping I didn't have any embarrassing wet spots on my shorts. Sam was looking at me with his blue eyes buzzing with excitement. He wanted me, too, which only turned me on more. Sam must have seen something in my eyes, because he smiled and then shook his head.

"Oh no, I've seen that look before. Come on, Jack. Let's just go now before we never get out of this room tonight." We giggled together and I let him lead me by the hand out the door and down the hallway toward the kitchen and the sounds of bags of groceries being unloaded and put away.

"There you are," said Maggie sweetly as we came in. "You boys have a nice time?" I could swear there was a twinkle in her eye. Was she teasing us? Oh crap. I could feel the heat rising on my face and neck.

Charles had a barely contained smile himself, and I caught Sam and him looking at each other knowingly. Great! They're in cahoots to embarrass the crap out of me. Ugh! Thankfully Charles was not a mean-spirited guy, and he changed the subject.

"Sam, why don't you come with me to the pool deck. I'll show you the outdoor kitchen setup. Maybe Jack can help Maggie here get the meat ready."

"There's a pool?" I asked. I hadn't seen one.

"Oh yeah, Jack," said Sam excitedly. "It's so cool. You can't see it from the deck on this side of the house. It's behind the garage. Wait'll you see it."

Maggie looked up from cutting her chicken and said, "But...surely...I thought you boys were outside and..."

"Never mind, dear," interrupted Charles, saving us from more embarrassment. "Let's get this dinner on the table. I'm starving, and I bet these guys could each eat a whole chicken." He winked at me as he and Sam exited the kitchen to the back deck and disappeared around the corner.

I sighed to myself, watching Sam's ass as he went, feeling conflicted. I was all kinds of horny and craving more of him, but I was also extremely uncomfortable with the idea of having sex while the Smyths were around. I was okay with Todd and Billy, and Tommy, too, all knowing I was gay and having sex with Sam. Was it because they were guys, too? I didn't think it was a gay/straight thing - Tommy and Todd were straight and they had no issue with me being gay. No, it was something else.

Maggie was busy mixing up her own secret recipe for barbeque sauce in a pan on the stove. I didn't see everything she put in it, but it sure smelled heavenly. I cleaned the pieces of chicken she had cut up, removing the excess fat and lightly coating them in olive oil and salt and pepper, per Maggie's instructions. When all was ready, she put the platter of meat and the pan of sauce on a carrying tray and pointed me to the door.

"Go. You men grill, I'll finish up everything else." I nodded, picked up the tray and Maggie held open the deck door for me. I followed the smell of a fired up grill about ten feet around the corner to the left and three steps down leading to a second deck which spanned the distance behind the garage, extending outward at least 16 feet from the wall. The garage roof also extended out over half the deck.

Sam and Charles were standing under the roof in a galley kitchen of sorts. There were upper and lower cabinets and a granite countertop matching the color of the deck. In addition to a large grill, which rivaled the one I had had in Hawaii, there was a small refrigerator, freezer, ice maker, four-burner stovetop, and a dishwasher. Truly an outdoor kitchen. Sam was waving me over, obviously very excited.

"Jack, come over here. You gotta see...this baby has it all," he said, pointing to the grill. I set the tray with chicken and sauce down on the counter and turned as Sam opened up the grill cover. It was huge, with at least ten burners. You could practically roast a small pig in there. In fact, it looked like there were attachments for a roasting spit to span the length of the grill.

"Look! You can actually set the temperature, and it will adjust the flames for you. How cool is that! And this probe - you stick it in your steak and tell it rare, medium, or whatever, and it beeps when it's done."

"Awesome, Sam," I said, smiling. I loved the kid in Sam. He had such a simple excitement to life. I envied his ease and contentment. Having him by my side would hopefully keep rubbing off on me. I could stand with being a little less uptight, if the morning had been any proof. Thank goodness my stomach was feeling better. I was looking forward to Maggie's barbeque chicken.

Sam and Charles had the chicken on the hot grill quickly, the pan of barbeque sauce simmering on the stovetop. Sam was smiling, long-handled tongs in his right hand and a cold water bottle in his left. Charles gave me a bottle of water from the mini-fridge under the counter.

"Here you go, Jack. You look like you could use a little refreshment after an afternoon of...exertion." He was grinning. I was mortified. I'm sure the searing heat of shame on my face left no doubt as to what Sam and I had been up to for the last two hours. Why was I so embarrassed in front of the Smyths?

Sam could sense my discomfort, put his tongs down and came over to hug me. "'s okay. Relax. And breathe, man." I looked up at him, pleading for help. I was emotionally floundering again, and I didn't know why.

"What is my problem, Sam?" I whispered. But it was Charles who answered.

"It's no big deal, son. Young guys like you get a little randy every now and then, it's normal. This is your home now, so just go for it. No shame in it. You ask me, that's how it's supposed to be." I looked at Sam to see what he thought, but all I saw was his beautiful blue eyes beaming at me. He apparently was just fine with complete strangers knowing we just had sex. Oh how I envied his self confidence.

"I'm sorry for teasing, Jack," said Charles softly, finally realizing I was upset by the situation. Now I felt bad for him. I knew he meant no real harm.

I swallowed and stepped back from Sam's embrace. "It's okay, Charles. I know you didn't mean anything. It's not you - or Maggie. It's me. I just...this is all so new to me. I haven't ever been in a relationship before so...well...I'm not totally comfortable know."

"Sex? Or people knowing you're doing it?" he asked, but with kindness, not teasing this time.

"People knowing, I guess. I'll get over it...eventually."

"Well...don't you worry about Maggie and me. We used to work in hotels. Believe me, we've both seen it all and then some. The things people get up to in those places. But enough of that. Sam, can you smear some of this sauce on the chicken as I turn 'em." Sam put his hand on my shoulder and looked into my eyes. I was better now, and he nodded once, then stepped over to the grill.

I took the opportunity to walk over to the edge of the deck and peer over the railing. Something had caught my eye. It turned out to be sunlight reflecting from a large swimming pool down below. Irregular in shape, it extended a good thirty feet out from the house, edged by beautiful flat natural stones, giving it the look of having been carved right out of a rock quarry. The pool itself was finished in a dark blue tile, so it was impossible to determine how deep it was from where I was standing.

Suddenly a waterfall started cascading down from the top of a small stone mountain in the far corner of the pool. It looked so real, like it had always been there on the mountainside, with tall pine trees growing just behind it. I turned to see Charles smiling, holding a remote control pad.

"Like it?" he asked.

"Yeah! It's so cool."

"The pool was Phillip's design. He wanted it to look like a part of nature, as if it was always here and the house was built around it. The guy loved the water. He was in the pool everyday if at all possible."

Sam spoke up. "But what about the winter time? Surely it's too cold to swim out here then."

"Ahh...but that's where you're wrong. See those little rock formations every 10 feet or so on along the pool edges?" Sam walked over to the railing with me to look.

"Yeah. What are they?" Sam asked.

"That's where the support beams go in to hold up the portable roofing system. When it gets cold, this deck and the entire pool area gets a portable, two-story glass enclosed wall and roof system put over it. It all attaches to this garage roof. Turns this whole space into an indoor deck and pool. There are space heaters to keep it all heated. Cost Phillip a fortune to have it custom built, but it was his play room. Some guys want a man cave...Phillip wanted his year round pool. It's amazing when it's all set up."

"Oh man, I can't wait to see it. When did you take it down?" asked Sam.

"Well...with Amanda being sick last year and no one here for the winter, we never had it put up this past season. But we can if you think it's too cold yet to swim."

"No, I'm assuming the pool itself is heated, right?"

"Yes, and there's a heated spa underneath the deck as well. This control pad runs everything, including the lighting. Check it out...but after we get this chicken cooked. Come on, I'm starvin'." I had to smile at Sam. He was torn between grilling and the pool gadgets.

I pretty much just watched Sam and Charles finish grilling the chicken, which smelled amazing, smothered in Maggie's barbeque sauce. When the last of the chicken was off the grill, Charles shut it all down, retrieved the almost empty pot of sauce from the side-burner, and together the three of us returned to the kitchen. There were more mouth-watering smells wafting through the air.

The four of us enjoyed a scrumptious dinner of grilled barbeque chicken, roasted potatoes with herbs of some kind, sauteed green beans, and corn bread, one of my favorites. Maggie's recipe was so moist, and it had whole pieces of corn in it, something I had never seen before. I ate so much I couldn't move. Sam looked equally stuffed.

"Oh man, Maggie, you can't cook for us like this every day. I'll be as big as this house and Jack'll throw me back for sure," said Sam, patting his distended stomach.

"Fat chance, Sam. You're stuck with me. Forever," I said, grinning at him.

"Forever, Jack."

" see, Charles? Isn't love a wonderful thing?" said Maggie, smiling at us. He just nodded, smiling back at his wife. He looked like he was feeling a little love himself at the moment. "I'm so happy you boys decided to stay on here. We'll have to figure out just what you need me to do and when and how much, but once we get a schedule worked out, you won't hardly know I'm around. Now, who wants dessert?"

Sam and I groaned in unison. I know he had wanted some of Maggie's chocolate chip cookies, but we were both stuffed. I could not have eaten another bite. "Can we save it for later?" I asked.

"Of course. The cookies are in the tin on the counter by the stove, and the ice cream's in the freezer. There are bowls in the cabinet by the sink, and the spoons are in the drawer at the end of the island. Help yourself whenever you like. Come on, Charles. Help me with the dishes and we can clear out, give these boys their house back."

She got up and Charles followed her into the kitchen carrying dirty plates and things. I felt guilty not helping - I wasn't used to people waiting on me, except in a restaurant. I looked at Sam and he answered my question by standing up and grabbing more plates and pots and together we carried the rest of the dirty dishes to the sink area.

"What do you think you're doing?" asked Maggie.

"Helping," I answered. She smiled at me and nodded.

"Very thoughtful, but it's not necessary. The cleaning up is my job. Go on now, you can clean up any messes you make on your own. We've got this." I looked at Sam and shrugged. I guess we'd been dismissed. I was suddenly at a loss for what to do. It felt weird having someone else clean up after me.

Before I could get too flustered, Sam grabbed my hand and led me out in the hallway and toward the front door. "Let's put our bags in the bedroom since we're staying, and you can call Todd and give him the good news. And then, little man, I have plans for you this evening." He had the same lustful look from before dinner, and I was immediately hot for him. But I was also feeling almost sick from eating too much good food.

"Okay by me, big guy. But you have to give me a little while to digest dinner. I can hardly move." He rubbed his own stomach then, still sticking out a little under his t-shirt.

"Me, too. Man, that was good food, wasn't it?"

"Yeah...too good. Whadda ya want to do after I call Todd?" I asked.

"Let's go downstairs and check it out. And maybe we can sit in the hot tub later if you want. Might help us relax." I nodded and we took the bags to the master bedroom. Sam put them all in the biggest closet while I called Todd.

"This is Todd," he said when he answered.

"Hey, Todd. It's Jack. What's doin'?"

"On my way home. I made some progress on our to do list today. And I just left the hospital. Larry's doin' much better. They're actually talkin' about movin' him to a regular room tomorrow if he keeps progressing. What about you two? Did you decide about the house?"

"Yeah. We're gonna stay here. We like it, and Maggie and Charles are great. They want us to stay, I think. I offered to keep them on in their old jobs. Is that okay?"

" can do whatever you want. Yes, it's okay. I'm sure it made the Smyths very happy."

"I think so. I'm still trying to get used to the idea."

"Whadda ya mean?"

"Well...havin' people around, doin' things for us. Bein' in the house with us. Knowin'...stuff." He laughed.

"Jack, you're not embarrassed to have sex in your own house, are you?"

"Yeah, kinda. I mean...Maggie's like havin' my mother in here. It's weird."

"What does Sam say about it?"

"He's cool. He doesn't care if they know. I'm being silly, I know. I'll get over it. Hey, before I forget, what are we doin' tomorrow? Am I coming into the office to meet you there?"

"You mind? I could use your help. We have a lot of decisions to make about the new company and getting things set up. Plus you need to meet the rest of your team."

"Okay. What time you want me there?" I asked.

"Jack...what time do you want to be here?" he asked patiently. I was still getting our roles reversed a little. He knew so much more than me about everything, it felt wrong I should be in charge.

"Uh...let's say...9?"

"Fine. But if it changes, it's okay. Just call or text me to let me know. I'll see you then. And Jack?"


"Welcome home."

"Thanks, Todd. I appreciate it. I think it's gonna be good for us. And thank you...for everything."

"No problem. Now if I can ever get my boss off my ass today, I might try to get lucky with my wife tonight," he said, with a smile in his voice.

"Have a good night, Todd. See you tomorrow." We hung up and I turned to Sam, who was watching me with undisguised lust. Damn, he had it bad. So did I.

"I guess I'm goin' to work tomorrow, Sam. You okay with me being gone?"

"Well...I thought I'd help Charles around here if he'll let me. And maybe explore the mountain some. Right now, the only thing I want to explore is your body, Jack," he said, pulling me into a hug, his muscular arms tight around me. I leaned against his chest enjoying my favorite place in the whole world - being in Sam's arms. I put my head sideways on his chest and listened to his heart beating, feeling his love with every pulse.


"Yes, Jack?"

"Are those your hands exploring my ass?"

"Um...yes, I believe they are. Is that okay?"

"Explore away, Magellan." I felt his hands slip inside the back of my underwear and start kneading my ass, pulling me tightly up against his crotch. I loved everything Sam did with me sexually. Lately he had been venturing into playing with my ass more, which I liked. We hadn't progressed to actual fucking yet, but my mind was toying with the idea more and more. I know I loved it when he had his finger in me, something he did occasionally. Like everything else, I was nervous about trying it, though. What if I couldn't do it. Sam was big. And I had no experience. I sighed.

"You okay, Jack?" asked Sam, his fingers now playing in my crack. I was getting extremely excited and having a little trouble controlling my breathing.

"I'm fine, Sam. But...could we slow down just a little? I'm still really full from dinner and I want to be able to enjoy you. Maybe we could check out the hot tub like you said."

He leaned back and looked at me, with a big grin on his face. "Works for me. Come on." He turned to walk out of the room.

"Sam, wait. Don't we need to find our swim suits?"

"Why? You won't be wearing it for very long, Jack," he said with a glint in his eyes. I right away flashed to being naked in the hot tub with Sam and Maggie walking by. Oh crap! That killed the mood.

Seeing my expression change, Sam stepped back to me and pulled me in. "It's okay, Jack. I understand. You're still squeamish about Maggie and Charles. I get it. I'm not sayin' we should make a habit of walkin' around naked, but I don't really think you have anything to worry about. They're in their own apartment by now anyway."

"Where? They're not upstairs."

"There's another apartment over the second garage across the way. Charles told me about it. It's bigger than the one upstairs and I guess Phillip had it built to their specifications. Charles told me they love it there. Perfect size for two people, he said."

"So they aren't actually in the main house?" I asked.

"Nope. They have their own place. I guess Maggie will come over whenever we need her and do her thing."

"Oh...okay." I felt better knowing I wasn't likely to just run into them in the kitchen at night in my underwear. I reached my hand out to Sam and he smiled, pulling me out of the bedroom. We went a few steps down the hall and Sam started down the stairs on our left.

It was clearly a full, finished basement, and we found two more bedroom suites which were decorated much the same as the ones upstairs - tastefully neutral. The hallway to the left opened up into a room similar to the living room upstairs - in fact, it was a mirror image without the vaulted two-story ceiling. It even had a stone fireplace covering one whole wall. It was decorated informally, with leather couches and chairs and a gorgeous wooden billiard table under a rectangular Tiffany light fixture.

In the far corner two separate bathrooms served as shower/changing rooms for the pool area, one for each gender I guess. Each one had a shower stall, enclosed toilet for privacy, and a deep shelf running the length of one wall with clothing hooks fastened every foot or so underneath it. A built-in bench for seating completed the changing area. The pool and hot tub were just outside a set of sliding glass doors opening to the flagstone patio under the outdoor kitchen deck above.

I followed Sam out to the hot tub and he looked around for the remote control to get it running, but we couldn't find one.

"Didn't Charles use it to start the waterfall earlier?" I asked, looking out across the pool where the water was still cascading from the "mountain" into the far end of the pool.

"Oh, yeah, right. I'll go up and get it. Wait here." I smiled at him as he bounded up the wooden steps to the upper deck. It was a warm evening and the sun was beginning to set. This mountain retreat of a home was such a peaceful and tranquil place. I was excited to be living here with Sam and starting our family together. I was excited in other ways, too.

I ripped my t-shirt off and threw it towards the basement door. Shoes and socks flew the same direction in short order. Just as I heard Sam start down the stairs, I pulled off my shorts and underwear and I was standing there under the deck totally naked, my raging hardon revealing my excited state. Sam looked up at me as he hit the bottom step and just froze.

"Fuck...Jack. Oh are so hot!" he exclaimed, sucking in his breath. He walked over to me slowly, looking straight into my eyes with his own deep blues, smiling lustfully. I loved the look on his face. It was worth getting over my shyness to see that face. I wouldn't have thought it possible but I swear my dick got even harder as he reached out and pulled me in.

The kiss was off the charts. My knees buckled and I had to catch myself by grabbing on to his shoulders. He was moaning and his hands were roaming everywhere. Mine were on their own mission to get him naked. He helped out by getting his shoes and socks off while somehow never breaking connection to my lips. It was so hot!

Finally he had just his shorts on, and I reached to unfasten them, but he grabbed my hands and stopped me. I broke the kiss to lean back and look at him, wondering why he stopped. All I saw was intense love in his eyes. He just stared into mine with a look of wonder and amazement, almost like he was seeing me for the first time. I just looked back, equally amazed at this wonderful man who had given me his heart so completely. God knows he had mine.

"Jack," he whispered, now almost near tears it seemed. "I...I love you, man. More than I can say. I can' just...what did I ever do to deserve you?" I smiled, feeling exactly the same way about him.

"I love you, too, Sam. I can't believe any of this is happening, and yet here you are in my arms. I don't deserve you either, but I'm glad we have each other now." He nodded, swallowing an obvious lump in his throat. I leaned in and kissed him gently on the lips, never breaking eye contact. I then reached up with a finger and held it to his lips, still looking into his brilliant blue eyes.

"Sam...make love to me, please." He grinned then, and grabbed my hands and pulled them to his waist, clearly ready for me to finish undressing him. I wasted no time and bent my knees to unfasten and pull down his shorts and helped him step out of them. I was now eye level with his throbbing cock inside his underwear, sopping wet with pre-cum.

My tongue moved up and down the bulge in his underwear, savoring the sweet taste, and his moaning and heavy breathing grew louder. Within a few seconds he was so hard his dick was sticking up from his waistband, so I gently pulled his underwear back and down, revealing all his glory. I threw his underwear somewhere to get them out of the way.

"We better remember where those are later," he said, looking down at me with a grin. I returned his grin and then began licking his cock from the base to the tip and down again, each time applying more pressure, pushing his dick up and against his abdomen as I slurped all over it. When he was slippery wet, I moved down to his balls, and gently sucked first one and then the other in, letting them roll around in my mouth while I breathed in the smell of him.

Sam's smell always set me on edge immediately. It was intoxicating and threatened to turn me into a crazed animal. It was primal and masculine and overwhelming to my senses. I buried my nose into the crease between his balls and thigh and inhaled deeply, feeling the waves of desire flow through me.

When I couldn't stand it any longer, I reached up with a hand and guided his cock into my mouth. I swirled my tongue along the ridge around the head, rubbing it gently. Sam was already having trouble standing still, wanting to thrust, something I think all men instinctively start to do when they get that excited. I held my hands on the front of his thighs to steady him and continued sucking, going a little deeper every so often, then pulling back to work on the head, paying special attention to the spot just under his piss slit which drove him crazy.

Finally I was ready for what he really wanted - the special thing he loved for me to do. I looked up at him, my mouth open, his cock head resting on my tongue. With no words, just a lustful, pleading look, he begged me to do it. I grinned around his dick, then closed my mouth around it and started going down the shaft.

When it reached the back of my throat there was still at least an inch, if not two, to go to reach the base, my goal. I relaxed as much as I could, took a deep breath through my nose, and then pushed gently down. His cock squeezed through my throat ring and my nose was suddenly buried in his pubic hair. Then I started swallowing.

He immediately started hissing and sucking air and his hips started involuntarily gyrating. I grabbed him tightly to keep him still. As long as he was buried deep in my throat and not moving, I wouldn't gag. Aside from not being able to breathe, which limited how long I could do this for him, I truly enjoyed being able to drive him crazy. There was something about the feel of my throat and the swallowing around the head of his cock which sent him over the edge in a hurry. I could tell he was already there.

So I pulled off quickly. He gasped, frustrated at being so close and denied his release. As we both fought for breath, I looked up at him again with a smile. I wasn't trying to tease him, I just wanted to prolong his enjoyment. Once he was a little more in control, he looked down at me smiling and reached under my arms and pulled me up into a scorching kiss. I'm sure he could taste his pre-cum in my mouth as our tongues wrangled together.

"Mmmm. You like that, big guy?" I asked playfully.

"Fuck, Jack. You know I do. It's incredible. Will you do it again...please?" he asked sweetly.

"In a little while. But let's get the hot tub going. I'm feeling a little chilly." He looked at me with concern, his own desires instantly set aside, and immediately grabbed the remote, quickly turning the hot tub on and setting the temperature. While it bubbled away, he pulled me back into his arms and up against his warm body, enveloping me in his arms.

"Better?" he asked. I nodded against his chest. One of the things I loved the most about him was he wanted more than anything to take care of me. He instinctively acted to protect me and keep me safe all the time. This behavior - this attention to my needs - touched my heart in a way no words ever could. I knew he loved me, but more importantly, he cared for me. And he was extremely good at it.

"I need you, Sam. I feel so safe with you, here in your arms." I had to stop talking as I was close to tears, so in love with him it was almost painful. His response was to hold me tighter. We stood there together listening to the water gurgle and bubble until we started to see steam rise above the rolling waters. Sam reluctantly released me and led me by the hand into the hot tub, the hot water instantly chasing away my chill. When he sat down and slouched into the bubbling water, I leaned face-forward into him, essentially laying on top of him, my face in his chest. His arms immediately enclosed me again and I sighed, more content and at peace than ever.

"I love you, Jack Schaeffer. Forever," he said.

I mumbled into his chest, "Forever, Sam." He sighed contentedly himself.

As comfortable as it was to be up against him, the heat of the water and the heat of passion building inside me had my dick hard again, and Sam's tongue was caressing my ear and driving me wild with lust. I pulled myself up a little and kissed him fiercely, my tongue a pile-driver of need. He matched my ardor with his own, his hands now kneading my ass and pulling me into him.

His fingers started to wander closer and closer to my hole, and I involuntarily started to push my ass up and out to give him better access to it. When the first finger grazed my hole, I gasped and moaned, my eyes closed, my head and back arched. He continued to rub across my hole as he moved both hands up and down through my crack, making it difficult to stay still. Finally when I couldn't hardly stand it anymore, he released me and pushed me up to a standing position in the middle of the tub.

"Turn around, Jack," he said. I obeyed. I loved it when he took charge. He stepped up behind me, his engorged dick pressed up against my crack, his hands now all over my nipples, teasing and squeezing and flicking. I was writhing under his touch. When he played with my nipples I went a little crazy. At this point I didn't care what he did to me. I was his.

He started to inch me across the hot tub until I was facing the wall, my knees up against one of the seats underwater. I figured out he wanted me to kneel on the seat, and I was able to get myself positioned reasonably comfortably, my chest resting on the flagstone patio, my ass now up and out of the water.

I looked back over my shoulder and Sam was looking with lust at my ass, one cheek in each hand, and pulling them gently apart, making my hole feel the stretch and adding to my excitement. My cock was rock hard and pressed against my stomach. Sam grabbed my balls with one hand and started rolling them around, at the same time pressing on the area between the bottom of by balls and my hole. It was intense, and I was struggling to breathe and stay still again. My knees kept threatening to give way.

Then he licked me. I felt his tongue dive on my hole and he went crazy on it. I could feel his short beard tickle my ass as he slurped and probed my hole, his tongue exploring and invading and demanding entrance. I felt my hole relax and his tongue start to enter, just the tip I'm sure, but it soon started to feel like more. That's when I realized he now had a finger in me, slowly moving in and out, swirling around and teasing every surface in the entrance to my ass. As he pushed deeper, my hole relaxed even more, and I was pushing my ass up and out towards him, arching my back and practically begging him for more.

When he thought I was ready, Sam put a second finger next to the first and pressed in. This was new. He had never done two before. At first I tensed up when I mentally realized what was happening, but Sam stopped and held his fingers in about half way and gently used his other hand to rub all over my back and ass to calm me down.

"Relax, Jack. You're fine. I've got you," he said. And I trusted him. Trusted him to know what I needed and what to do. I did relax then, certain whatever he decided to do, he would protect me as well as make me feel good.

His fingers continued their exploration of my ass, probing in and out, and suddenly he bent them and touched something which sent a jolt through me. I gasped.

"Ah...there it is," he said, confident he had found what he was looking for in there. His other hand reached under me and started to stroke my rigid cock, now flowing with a constant stream of pre-cum. As he massaged the head of my dick and gently rubbed inside my hole, my body began to shake all over. The trembling increased as the speed of his stroking quickened, all the while never letting up on the relentless pushing and rubbing inside my ass.

I lost all control. "Sam...oh my god...what are you doing? Don't stop...oh, fuck. It good. Oh, man. How do you...oh...oh...fuck yeah, don't stop. I'm gonna cum. I'm gonna...FUCK!" The cum shot out from my dick harder than ever, each contraction squeezing Sam's fingers in my ass. I lost count of how many there were. I just knew with the final contraction, my muscles didn't release but held on tightly to Sam's fingers, unwilling to let them go.

Sam chuckled after I had calmed down a bit. "Uh...Jack? You wanna let me have my hand back?" I turned to look at him, blushing, and willed myself to relax my pelvic muscles. He slowly withdrew his fingers, and my ass suddenly felt empty and lonely. I was still twitching all over, my nerves over stimulated. I slowly sat down in the water and Sam sat next to me. I leaned my head on his shoulder and slumped against him.

"That...that was...amazing, Sam. Thank you." He put his arm around me and pulled me closer to his side, kissing the top of my head. Eventually my body stopped trembling and my one hand started to wander under the water, rubbing his thigh and moving higher. When I gently grabbed his balls and started rolling them around in my hand, he sucked in some air through clenched teeth. He was on edge already, apparently.

I looked up at his face, a picture of desire and need, and I pushed up onto my feet so I was now standing taller than him. I leaned in and buried my tongue deep in his open and willing mouth. Kissing always made him crazy, and he was writhing under the water, thrusting his hips against my hand, which now engulfed his engorged cock. The humidity and steam rising from the water together with our fierce lip lock made breathing nearly impossible and I finally had to pull back for a second. Sam's eyes were on fire, his need overwhelming him.

Without words he pushed himself up until he was sitting on the edge of the hot tub, his dick rock hard and sticking straight up, the veins literally pulsing visibly on the sides. I reached out and squeezed it at the base and he gasped, looking at me with an intensity which would have frightened me if I didn't understand its source.

He had waited long enough. I leaned over and swallowed him in one gulp, thankfully remembering to take a big breath first. As his cock settled in my throat and I started to rhythmically swallow against it, he started hissing and moving his hips wanting to thrust, but I held him down with my arms on his thighs. I kept it up for nearly a minute and then had to come up for air.

I went back down on him again, and he immediately started moaning, his hips again wanting to push against my face. "Jack...oh fuck. Don't idea...oh man...fuck." I pulled up, grabbed a quick breath and plunged back down again, swallowing even faster in an almost constant pace now. He started shouting, "Oh fuck, Jack. Oh my god. Oh shit....oh...oh...oh FUCK!" His whole body went rigid and stayed perfectly still as his cock pumped his load of cum straight into my throat. After the third pulse I pulled back to catch the rest on my tongue. I liked the taste of his cum. I held him still in my mouth until his pelvic contractions stopped, then I slowly used my tongue to bathe his cock clean.

When I pulled off and looked at him he was totally spent. I leaned into him, touching his forehead with mine, my hands on either side of his neck, and we stayed like that, looking into each other's eyes and basking in the love flowing between us without words.

I was beginning to understand love on so many different levels. Sex was physical, and between Sam and me, it was definitely an expression of our love for one another. While the need may have been partially hormonal at its base, the desire was much more emotional and mental. I needed Sam, and I needed sex with Sam - for much more than a few seconds of orgasmic release. When we shared our bodies and connected physically our souls were being tied together in a way maybe only sex could achieve. I didn't know how it all worked, I just know in that moment, looking into his eyes, I loved Sam more deeply than ever.

I watched Sam's eyes morph from intense and brooding and needy to relaxed and happy as a wide grin appeared on his face, making the corners of his eyes crinkle up a little bit. "Damn, Jack. That was intense," he said. I nodded with my own grin. "You okay, Jack? I know you were uncomfortable before with us having in the house." I realized what he was saying and I blushed.

"I guess I got over it, Sam." He chuckled.

"I'll say. That was hot! You're amazing, Jack. You keep surprising me. One minute you're nervous and scared about something, and the next your confidence rises to the occasion."

"It's you, Sam. You make me feel safe. I trust you, and maybe I'm learning to trust myself a little, too. And you make more than confidence rise in me," I said playfully. He gently kissed me then, and I closed my eyes and felt his arms wrap me up in a cocoon of his love. Sex was great, but this was even better, at least to me.

The sun was now completely down and there was only a faint blue tint in the skies above the pine trees. The night was buzzing with the sounds of nocturnal insects and other woodland creatures I wasn't sure I wanted to know anything about. I realized there was an awful lot of...nature...all around us. I shivered and Sam noticed.

"What is it, Jack?"

"Nothing. I just realized we live in the woods now."

"Isn't it great? I love it. I can't wait to go exploring." When I didn't respond in kind he looked at me with a funny face. "What's the matter...don't you like the woods?"

"I don't know, Sam. I mean...I've been in...woods...when I was a little kid. But it was with my dad and he and I...well, you know. If he liked it, I didn't. And he loved the woods. So...I don't know. Maybe I never gave the forest a fair chance. I can't say I'm excited to go exploring, but if you'll take me, I'll go."

"I'll protect you, Jack. You'll be safe, I promise," he said, as he hugged me tighter. I sighed, just happy to be in his arms. If he hugged me in the woods, I'd be fine. I hope.

"I don't know about you, but I'm ready for some cookies and ice cream," said Sam. I laughed. Of course he was.

"Come on then, big guy. Let's find your clothes and have some dessert." We crawled out of the hot tub and managed to find our clothes in the near dark. For a minute there I couldn't find my underwear again, but Sam located them under a lounge chair near the patio door. I was pulling my shorts on when he threw them at me.

"Missing something?" he said, chuckling.

"Very funny. Ha ha," I said, pulling up the zipper on my shorts. Sam was looking at me with lust in his eyes again.

"Damn, Jack. The thought of you all commando in those shorts has me goin' again. You're very know that, right?"

"I guess...if you say so."

"Oh, I say so, Jack. Most definitely," he said. Now fully dressed he pulled me into his arms again, and I certainly didn't resist. I laid my head on his chest and sighed.

"I love you, Sam."

"I love you back, Jack." I looked up at his face, which was now almost hidden in the darkness under the deck. It may have been my enamored imagination, but I swear I could see flickers of light in his eyes.

"Forever, Sam," I whispered.

"Forever, Jack," he replied.

We made our way to the kitchen where we found the bowls and spoons and I opened the tin of homemade chocolate chip cookies while Sam dished out some ice cream. I stopped at one scoop, he had two. We each had two cookies and I wanted a third but decided I'd better not. Too much of a very good thing. Maggie made awesome cookies. And barbeque sauce. And corn bread. Oh man, Sam was right. If she kept cooking for us we were both gonna get huge.

It had been a long and eventful day, like so many recently. The sugar in the dessert along with my overall muscle fatigue had me yawning like crazy. Sam yawned and stretched, too.

"Whadda ya say we hit the hay, Jack?" he asked.

"Yeah. I'm beat. I'll wash these dishes real quick and we can get to bed." Sam helped me and we had the kitchen back to looking like we were never there in a few minutes. I wondered what I was going to do for breakfast in the morning. Oh well, I was too tired to worry about it.

Sam practically dragged me down the hallway to our bedroom. I was smiling dreamily as Sam helped undress me. "What are you smiling about?" he asked as he unfastened my shorts and they fell to the floor, leaving me naked again.

"I was just thinking this is 'our' bedroom now. In 'our' house. I love that we have our own place, Sam. A place all our own, not a hotel, not someone else's apartment or house. Just...ours." Sam was now naked too, and he pulled me into his arms again.

"Thank you," he whispered.

"For what?"

"For loving me...and wanting to be a family with me. And for sharing...all of you...with me." He was near tears, his voice catching in his throat.

"Sam," I whispered back. "I'm nothing without you. Everything I am, everything I have, it's ours now. Before you...there was no me. Not really. I wasn't living until you...until you loved me first. I should be thanking you, Sam, for bringing me alive and setting me free. So thank you, Sam. From the bottom of my heart." I felt my own eyes well up with tears, but his were the first to fall. This time I pulled him into a hug and held him as we cried quietly together, overwhelmed by the collision of events and emotions and two lives desperate to love and be loved and finally finding that love in one another. They were tears of gratitude, love, and hope.

As Sam slid up behind me in bed a little while later, pulling me tightly to his chest, I grabbed on to the big strong arm holding me and vowed silently to never, ever let go. When I woke up eight hours later, Sam's arm was still tightly around me. I couldn't be sure, but I don't think he ever let go of me, either.

As much as I wanted to stay in bed with my warm and cuddly man, I needed to meet with Todd, so I dragged myself from Sam's grasping hands and his pleas for me to stay in bed and slipped into the smaller bathroom and started getting ready. My eyes were closed as I shampooed my hair when I heard, and then felt, Sam come into the shower with me. He leaned on my back and hugged me around my waist, his hands wandering across my dick and fondling my balls.

"You should leave these home for me to play with, Jack," he said.

"I would if I could, Sam."

"You could stay home with them, and I'd let you play with mine, too." I smiled, getting a tiny bit of shampoo in my mouth. I rinsed it out quickly.

"I can't, Sam. But I promise they're all yours when I bring them home later."

" cool. Well, don't be late, they might turn into pumpkins or something."

I turned around to face him, the water now rinsing off my back. My hardening dick slapped against his very hard cock. I smiled at him. "I think you're getting your nursery stories a little mixed up, Sam, but I'll be back home for dinner, okay?"

"Okay," he said, reaching for my balls again. "But take care of these for me, will ya? I wouldn't want anything to happen to 'em. I like 'em." He was grinning at me now.

"I will, Sam. I promise. Now help me get dressed." He actually helped dry me with a towel first, which was very sensual the way he did it. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear he was trying to seduce me and get me to play hooky from work on my first day.

Getting dressed was nearly impossible. "Sam! Stop it," I said, giggling as he untucked my dress shirt in the back while I was tucking the front into my suit pants. He spun me around and kissed me, and I just let go of my pants and grabbed his face and the pants fell around my ankles, my attention totally on Sam's tongue invading my mouth. I opened my eyes and his deep blues were full of mischief and merriment. He was enjoying messing with me, making me late.

His hands were back on my balls and my own hands found his rigid cock and twenty minutes later a satisfied Sam was lying on the bed smiling at me as I tried once again to get dressed. I could still taste his cum on my tongue, which made me smile to myself. He was playing with my own spilled seed, spreading it all over his abs with a finger. He was so hot! I willed my cock to stay down. I was so late.

"Jack, relax. You're the boss. You can get there whenever."

I sighed. "I know, Sam. I just want to make a good impression on my first day. I'm meeting the rest of the team today, too. Should I wear the tie and jacket, or just the shirt?" I only had the one dress outfit. I needed more work clothes if I was going into the office everyday.

"Leave the tie and coat. You don't need them, and besides, your ass is so hot in those pants, don't cover it up. On second thought, cover it up. That ass is mine. Nobody at the bank better get any ideas otherwise." He actually seemed concerned. I laughed.

"Yes, Sam, my ass is all yours, I promise." He smiled back at me. "Alright, I'm outta here. I'll see you tonight. You gonna be okay here today?"

"Yeah. I'll clean up and find Charles. I think we're gonna do some yardwork and then I may do a little hiking up the mountain. I need to get outside in the sun."

"Have fun, Sam. Don't get lost up there. And please be careful."

"Yes, dear."

"Ha ha. Very funny," I chuckled. "I love you, Sam."

"Forever, Jack," he said, his eyes beaming at me. I walked over and leaned down to kiss him, and he moaned softly into my mouth. No way was I not coming home to him as soon as possible. Damn, I had it bad for him. He knew it, too, judging by the smart ass grin on his face.

I walked to the kitchen and found Maggie mixing pancake batter in a big bowl. "Mornin', Jack. Pancakes for breakfast?"

"Oh man, they smell good, but I'm late. Sam'll be out in a little while. I'm sure he'll have some. Do you know where the keys are for the car?"

"Hanging on the key hooks by the garage door. You sure you don't want to eat something? Here...wait a minute. I know, I've got just the thing." A minute later I had two homemade blueberry muffins and a banana in my hands.

"Thanks, Maggie. I'll see you later."

"Bye, Jack. Have a good day."

I managed to get the car out of the garage without incident and figured out it was the first of three buttons on the bottom edge of the rearview mirror that worked the garage door opener. I proceeded slowly down the driveway, being careful in the turns. The car was big. At the bottom, I pressed the middle button on the mirror and the big gate opened towards me and I pulled through. I pressed the button again and the gate started closing behind me. Well, I managed to get out of the house. Now to find my way to the office.

I never really got lost...exactly. The GPS always knew where I was, even if I didn't. I did make two wrong turns but the system recalculated and I eventually managed to find a place on the street to park near the bank. My watch said it was 9:45 as I rode up to the 10th floor in the elevator. Not too late, I guess.

"Nice of you to show up to work today, boss," was my greeting from Todd with a big grin.

"I uh...uh..."

"Let me guess...Sam," said Todd, knowingly. I blushed. How does he know? He laughed at my instant embarrassment. "I'm just teasin', Jack. I didn't get a lot of sleep myself last night," he said with a grin. I just smiled back, not knowing what to say.

Todd's office door was open behind me and I heard someone approach and clear their throat. Todd's expression darkened noticeably.

"Hey, Todd. How's Larry doing?" asked the voice behind me. I stepped to my left and turned slightly to get out of the way of the mystery speaker.

"He's fine...Arnold," said Todd, looking quickly at me. I immediately tensed up, my breath frozen in time. I couldn't look at him - I just kept staring at Todd.

"If anything changes, you let me know right away, okay?" said Arnold, with a tone that indicated it wasn't a request.

"Sure thing, Arnold." I heard him walk away. I let out the breath I was holding and slowly sat down in one of the visitor chairs in front of Todd's desk.

"Fucker's been through here twenty times a day, like a shark who smells blood in the water. Disgusting. He doesn't give a shit about Larry. He just wants to know if he's coming back or not." The look on Todd's face was pure contempt. I could only imagine what he was feeling. I know intentional injury was uppermost in my own mind. I only had a sideways glance at his face, but it was enough to make my skin crawl. Not how Arnold Turner looked of course - he was just an average, 35 year old guy in a blue suit. It was what I knew was inside the man that creeped me out.

"Oh, man. I wasn't expecting to see him," I said.

"Yeah. According to my sources upstairs, he's been asking a lot of questions about what happened in the board meeting and why was the decision postponed. I hope Davis talks to him soon and calms him down."

"I can help with that," I said, reaching for my phone. I now had Davis' cell phone number - he had given it to Sam and me at the hospital. He answered on the first ring.

"Yes, Jack. How are you today?" Davis asked, recognizing my number on his phone, I guess.

"I'm good. Yourself?"

"Better. Anxious, worried. A little of both."

"I understand. We're working on it, I promise. Speaking of our little problem, your part of the equation is apparently making a lot of noise down here on the 10th floor about the meeting the other day. Have you had a chance to speak with him?"

"Not yet. I kept missing him yesterday. It's almost like he's avoiding me. I was looking for him earlier but he wasn't in his office. Is he down there now?"

"He just left after speaking with Todd for a few seconds. I know it's gonna be hard, but it would help if you could talk him down a little, maybe things can settle around here and we can focus on a real solution. You're his boss. Order him to come to you. He'll do it, especially if you do it through someone else. I know, what if I have Todd tell him that you're looking for him. He can't very well ignore you then."

"Works for me. If Todd sees him first, do that. I'll walk down to his office right now and try to find him. I'm pretty sure I can calm him down. He needs the merger to go through with MileHigh to make all this worthwhile. I'm gonna hint to him I have ways to make the deal more palatable to the bank. You and Sam gonna meet with Sully soon?"

"I think so. Todd's working on getting us a dinner meeting with him. Why?""When you meet with him, tell him whatever you need to. I mean it, Jack. Don't worry about me. All I care about now is my son first and the bank second. I could use his help in convincing Arnold the merger can still happen."

"I'll try. Let me know if and when you speak with Arnold. Thanks, Davis."

"Thank you, Jack...for everything." He hung up.

"Wow, Jack. Cell phone to the CEO on your first day. Impressive. I like it. And you're right, you know. Arnold can't ignore the request to meet with Davis if it's public knowledge. My turn." Todd picked up his phone, dialed a number, and waited.

"Arnold? This is Todd. Hey, I just got off the phone with the hospital. Thought you'd like to know Larry is doing much better. Looks like he's going to make a full recovery. Be back to work in a couple of weeks from what I understand," he said, smiling through his lie. He held the phone away from his ear as Arnold's response seemed a little heated. "Well...I don't know why they would say that. Oh, by the way...Davis Munroe was just through here looking for you. Said to tell you if I see you he needs to meet with you right away. Something about Monday's meeting." I could plainly hear Arnold's F-bomb as the connection was broken. Todd was smiling from ear to ear.

"You're good, Todd. You're very, very good," I said, glad he was on my team and not the opposition's.

"Thanks, Jack. You're not so bad yourself. That should get Arnold out of our hair for a while. Ready to meet your team? We have a lot to talk about with them. You still planning on moving ahead with starting a company and transitioning out of the bank?"

"Yes, for sure. But you know, you keep mentioning your sources in the bank. If you have sources, don't you think Arnold does, too? We can't have anyone here know our plans until we are ready to execute them. I'm not sure meeting here at the bank is such a good idea. What about having everybody meet somewhere for lunch, my treat? You can call it a client off-site meeting or something like that, if anybody asks." Todd was smiling at me. "What? Not a good idea?"

"No, it's a great idea, Jack. I should've thought of it. And I know just the place." He grabbed his phone and dialed.

"Hey, Nancy, it's Todd. I'm fine. She is too. How are you?" After the pleasantries he asked, "You have a suite I could use this afternoon? Yeah, I'll wait." He started making notes while he waited. It only took a minute. "You do? Excellent. Yes, and have the kitchen send up a tray of sandwiches and some drinks, maybe some cookies or something. Ummm...I'd say 11:30 would do it. Thanks, Nancy. You, too." He hung up.

"Okay, we have a meeting room at the Hotel Teatro. We can do lunch with the guys there and discuss the plans. If we do it there, they'll know we're serious. You and I can go over early and discuss a few things first. I agree, the less said here the better."

I was impressed once again. All I did was have an idea of moving the meeting off-site. Todd executed my idea in five minutes flat. We were going to make a great team. "Let's do it, Todd," I said. He nodded and stood up.

"Wait here. I'm gonna pass a note to the guys as quietly as I can to have them meet us over there at noon. When I get back, you and I will head out. Sit tight." I waited while he took a post-it note pad and made four sticky notes, one for each man on the team. Each one said "Mandatory PRIVATE team meeting at noon. Check your texts." He smiled at me and was gone. He was back in less than five minutes and sent a group text to the guys telling them where the meeting would take place.

"Alright, let's roll." He gathered up his IPad and other tools, put them all in his brief case, and we walked out to the elevators. I followed Todd to the parking garage. He walked up to an older model dark grey Toyota Camry and unlocked it with his key fob.

"Sorry, Jack. Not the Beemer you're used to, I'm sure."

"Actually, it's way nicer than the car I used to have in Chicago. If it works for you, I don't have a problem with it," I said, getting in on the passenger side.

"This is all Larry," he said, starting it up and buckling his seatbelt. I did likewise.

"Whadda you mean?"

"I asked him right after I started to recommend a car dealer he trusted in the area, and he asked what kind of car was I looking for. I wanted a Mustang or Charger. He just shook his head and said no. Just like that, 'No.' We talked about it and he told me the car I drive to work needed to be sensible and conservative, so as to reflect the 'attitude and character of a responsible and trustworthy financial planner'. He had a point - sort of. But hey, it gets me from point A to point B. So...Margie drives the Mustang." He sighed deeply.

The drive over to Hotel Teatro was quick. We parked in their underground garage and I followed Todd to the elevators and up to the hotel lobby. From there we walked down a long hallway and around a corner into the Conference and Catering Office.

"Hi, Nance," he said to the cute young woman at the desk. She looked up and smiled at him. Something about her looked vaguely familiar.

"Hi, yourself. You slummin' over here today?"

"Somethin' like that. Nancy, this is Jack Schaeffer. Jack, this is Nancy Newsome. She runs this hotel - well, the part that makes money anyway. Oh...and she's Margie's sister." Which explained why she looked familiar to me.

"Nice to meet you, Nancy."

"Likewise, I'm sure. You gentlemen headed up to the room?" she asked.

"Yeah. Can you send up a coffee service and some other beverages. The rest of the guys will be here around noon or a little after. Thanks, Nancy, for doing this last minute. I appreciate it."

"Don't sweat it. The room was empty. This way I get a little extra revenue for the books this week, so I'll look good. And'll get the special family discount," she said, smiling.

"Cool. Okay, follow me, Jack." And I did, to the eighth floor and a room called the Chancellor Suite. Inside was a large conference table with seating for twelve or more, with wood panelled walls and floor-to-ceiling windows on one wall looking out at the Rocky Mountains. Beautiful.

Todd was just getting all of his work gadgets and papers out of his briefcase when a knock on the door announced the arrival of the coffee service and water and soda, as well, all of which was set up on the matching wooden sideboard. I grabbed a water bottle and Todd put two sugars and some cream in a coffee cup and sat down.

"Before the guys get here, let's talk about this new company you want to start up. We're planning on doing the same investing and management activities as we do for you at the bank, correct?" he asked.


"Good. So what are we going to call this new enterprise?" I had actually been thinking about the name all morning while I was trying to make my way to the bank.

"Why not call it Schaeffer Associates? It's very close to the name of the trust so if anyone is paying attention, it shouldn't raise too many flags, but it's still fairly anonymous, I hope."

"I think it will work. I was talking with Larry this morning and he said we should set up a bunch of subsidiaries for the different functions. We could do Schaeffer Charities, Schaeffer Investments, Schaeffer Transportation, and Schaeffer Properties. At least to start. Whadda ya think?" My head was already swimming. He was up to five different companies and we only had two employees - him and me.

"Ummm...okay. Sounds like a plan...I guess."

"You don't sound so sure, Jack."

"It's just...I trust you, Todd. I don't know about all those companies and which one does what to whom. But you and Larry do, so it. It sounds fine, really. I'll catch up to you...eventually." I was trying hard to not get overwhelmed. I so wished Sam was with me at that moment. I could have used a hug.

"The biggest challenge is structuring everything so it doesn't add significantly to the cost of managing your assets over what the bank fees have traditionally been."

"Explain, please."

"Well...the trust pays a little over two percent of the value of the trust to the bank every year to cover the cost of employees and services, as well as provide a nice profit on the account. Of course, we realize a much greater return than two percent, so the trust makes much more money. You with me?" I nodded. "So, by moving away from the bank, we no longer pay the two percent to them, but...we incur all of the expenses of running a business and the related overhead, which we don't have to deal with now. Ideally we make this happen for no more than the two percent value. Hopefully less."

I did the math quickly in my head. Two percent of 600 million was 12 million dollars! Crap! That was a lot of money. Surely we could run a handful of companies on less than that. The little company I worked at before did only 2 million in revenue and managed to make money, even with 20 employees.

I stood up and moved to the window and looked out at the city stretching out before me towards the mountains in the distance. There were a lot of buildings out there. An idea popped into my head.

"Todd? Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure, what?" He was busy writing notes to himself on a pad of paper.

"We obviously need to move the team out of the bank and into some kind of office space somewhere, right?"

"Uh...yes, we do. I haven't thought it through as to where yet."

"I have an idea. You mentioned Schaeffer Properties as a subsidiary. What would it do?"

"It would be used to manage your real estate and other physical assets, as well as taking care of the Smyths and any related expenses to running your homes." He said homes, plural. I decided not to go there.

"Okay. So...what if instead of just renting office space somewhere, we purchased the actual building and used the rents from the existing tenants to pay for our use of space. If we find the right property for the right price, we get free rent and maybe make a decent profit. Think it would work?" Todd put his pencil down and sat back in his chair, just staring at me with a strange look on his face.

"What? It's a stupid idea, isn't it?" I sighed. I was so far in over my head I was drowning on day one.

", Jack. It's not a stupid idea. It's a fucking brilliant idea. Two of the biggest expenses to running a business are salaries and overhead, the biggest part of which is the cost of the work space. We will definitely need more people because we have to do everything that the support staff at the bank took care of. We need an accounting team and a human resources team and...well, you get the idea. But...if we do what you're suggesting, we just took the office space expense off the books and turned it into an asset. And...we have Simon Lawson on the team. He's an expert in commercial real estate investments. My guess is he already knows of a dozen properties in the Denver area just perfect for your plan. I can't wait to get him started on it. He's been after Larry and me to look at deals like what you're suggesting for months now."

I turned to look out the window again, my mind racing. Todd thought my idea was a good one! I had others, but maybe I should quit while I was ahead.

"Don't do it, Jack," said Todd.

"Do what?" I asked, turning back to face him.

"Hold back. Come on, I can tell your brain is going a million miles an hour. Your eyes give it away. What else?"

I swallowed, feeling trapped, and yet I trusted Todd. So I decided to divulge my one other big idea. "The only thing I really know about business first hand is manufacturing. I did bookkeeping for a very small manufacturer of telecommunications equipment. We did less than 2 million a year in revenue, so small potatoes, but I understand the concept of a business, even a small one, making a profit. The thing is, this business needed startup capital and investment to operate for the first two years. The man who provided the resources took nothing the first year, and a share of the profits every year afterwards. If I'm right, he received triple his initial investment over the first five years the company was in business."

"What you're describing is venture capital investment. We find a promising business venture with people we believe in and invest in them to make a successful company, and we reap some of the rewards in return. It's a great idea, Jack. Though the opportunities are not always easy to find, and the risks are pretty great. But the returns, when it works, can be very substantial as well. We couldn't do it at the bank. It was considered too risky. But we can certainly try it now, if you want to."

"Well, the thing is, Todd, all this money is really for one purpose - to help people. That's why Amanda gave it to me - to use it as a tool to change the world for people. I have to believe we are going to run into people from time to time who need a little financial help to get an idea off the ground or make a fresh start. They have a good idea but no way to make it happen. I don't want to just give people money, because then it's used up and gone. But if we can help them build something self sustaining which generates an income for their families and hopefully many others, we would be doing what Amanda wanted. And it's what I want. I want to help people, Todd, and not just with charity. We'll do some of that, but mostly I want to help people help themselves and others."

Todd was back to looking at me like I had a third eye or something. "What now?" I asked, getting frustrated. My outburst startled him.

"Nothing, Jack. It's listen to you talk, really believe you can do it, don't you...make a difference?"

"Of course. Amanda and Phillip did it every day of their lives with their research in the lab. They created new drugs which saved lives and extended outcomes, changing whole families' futures in the process. Why can't we do the same, but in our own way? It's not an option, Todd. It's what I have to do. And I need you and the rest of the team to help me do it."

"Oh man, you have no idea how long I've waited to work with someone who wasn't just in it for himself. Larry was are the real deal. You and Sam...and me and the guys...we're gonna change the world, aren't we?"

"We sure as hell are gonna try, Todd. I have no idea exactly how, but Sam tells me all the time if you have a vision and a plan, the play will come to you. We just have to figure out how to work as a team and when the plays come, execute them." Todd's cell phone started beeping with incoming text messages.

"Looks like the guys are pulling in. When they get here, tell them exactly what you just told me - about wanting to change the world - and you'll have every one of them on board by dinner time, guaranteed."

"You think they're the right guys for this? I mean, they came on board to work at a bank. You think they'll want to take the risk and jump ship to an unknown entity and a guy they don't know at all?"

"Yes. They are the right guys, each in his own way. I can already see how each one of them can help us achieve the Schaeffer vision."

"Do you trust them?"

"Yes, I do. And Larry does, too. These guys are the best and the brightest at what they do. I think we have a strong core to build on with this team."

"Okay. Then let's run with it. It's your job to build the team, so if these are your guys, so be it." He nodded to me just as there was a knock on the door.

"Come on in guys, grab some coffee or whatever. This guy here is Jack Schaeffer. You've all heard his name, now's the time to introduce yourselves. He'll say a few words in a minute," he said, looking at me and seeing I was getting overwhelmed again. Oh why didn't I have Sam with me today? He's so much better with meeting new people than I am. Ugh!

Nancy was at the door and motioned for Todd to come out in the hallway, I guess to discuss the lunch which was hopefully on its way up. I was very hungry. All four guys poured a coffee and found a seat at the table, not sure which one should go first. I suddenly realized they were as nervous to meet me as I was to meet them. After all, I was their boss in a way, and I could understand their apprehension.

"Hey, guys. It's just me. I'm just Jack, okay. Relax. Which one of you is Mason?" I asked, figuring I'd start with the one I had talked to on the phone.

Just as Mason raised his hand and was about to speak, Todd popped back into the room and slammed the door shut, making everyone jump. All heads turned to see a very red faced Todd glaring at us.

"Which one of you is the stupid, ignorant fool who told Arnold Turner we were meeting here today?"

To be continued...

Author's Note: If you are enjoying this story, please take a moment to comment in the Forum on CastleRoland – you can click the link labelled "Forum Discussion" just under the story synopsis at the top of this page. Or, if you prefer, send me an email to I would love to hear your thoughts about the story.

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