Castle Roland

On The Web

by Jack Scribe, of Honored Memory


Chapter 15

Posted: N/A

Port In A Storm

by Jack Scribe

Early Saturday, just after midnight

The drive from the bar to Caldern's house took less than 10 minutes. Not much time for Rory to consider the recent turn of events. 'This dude must be a big player in drug trafficking,' he thought as he drove, 'but clean enough to freely travel in and out of the U.S. of A., and he's obviously into porn.' He could use the thousand dollars to replenish his cache of funds but couldn't help but feel there was risk involved.

Rory followed the hulking black Hummer through the quiet Palm Springs streets and west past the old Racquet Club - now only a tattered landmark of an earlier time. The two vehicles finally slowed down and came to a stop in front of a high stucco wall with solid metal gates and two large lanterns mounted on either side of the entrance. Rory was only vaguely familiar with this area: an established neighborhood of rambling mid-century homes. Several, like this mini-estate, were completely hidden behind the security perimeter walls and lush landscaping. 'Looks like Ral has quite a spread,' he thought as the gates automatically opened. The Hummer and Rory's rental Chevy crept forward in tandem - like a curious obedient boy following a compelling stranger - into a large courtyard. Soft floodlights highlighted the large, clean-angled, one-story structure and the grounds. A tall stainless steel main entry door broke up the symmetry of the structure.

One of the bodyguards that he had seen in the bar got out of the monstrous SUV and walked back to Rory's car. "Go ahead and park next to that little car, over there," the man said with a noticeable accent. He pointed to an area on the side of the courtyard and added, "We're putting ours in the garage for the night."

"Will do," Rory replied, and drove over to a black Miata coupe, with its top down. He shut off the engine and watched as the Hummer eased into a three-car garage, in between a Bentley coupe and a golf cart. It reminded him of a motorized version of Papa Bear, Momma Bear and Baby Bear, 'And I'm the one who's getting the porridge,' he thought as he took off his cap and glasses and put them on the passenger seat. 'So much for this bullshit least for a little while. Like it actually fooled anyone anyway.' He got out of his compact car and walked into the garage, stopped by the Hummer and waited for Ral to emerge from the back seat. As the hunky South American swung his legs out of the SUV, Rory decided to go with the flow and put his worries on hold.

"Rory, welcome to Casa Caldern. If you don't mind, we'll go in through the kitchen." Ral put his arm around Rory's shoulders and added, "I can't tell you how happy I am to have run into you, and I promise that you won't regret your visit."

"Then it's fifty-fifty...and I'll hold up my part of the deal," Rory replied with a sly smile. 'This guy is really a fan,' he decided, 'and for the bucks, I'll make sure he doesn't forget our being together.'

"I consider this the highlight of my visit. Usually we come up for just a few rounds of golf at the club and check out the action at the bars. My brother, Ricky, and I don't get to Palm Springs very often."

"Brother?" Rory asked as he purposely leaned into his host. 'Hmmm, this guy feels like he must work out,' he thought as he passed his hand across Ral's hard abs, 'Wonder if the brother looks anything like Ral?'

"Younger, by a couple of years. We flew up here a few days ago to celebrate his 30th birthday in style. Gay style, that is. Even though Bogot and Medellin have gay bars and discos, it's better if Ricky and I play elsewhere." Ral opened the door to the artfully lit kitchen and they entered. He went to the refrigerator, opened it and retrieved two bottles of beer. "Cerveza Aguila is a marvelous beer from my country. Enjoy." He said, after he popped off the caps.

"Thanks." Rory took a sip and looked around the large open kitchen - a designer's wet dream of granite, stainless steel and cherry wood. The appliances were tagged with brand names he had seen only in magazines. Subzero, Gaggenau and Bosch led the parade. Beyond the dining area was a wide wall-to-wall opening that delineated where the house ended and the lush, landscaped patio began. Around a large lap pool - with underwater lights that reflected a cooling, greenish-blue color onto the area - were several chaise lounges. At the end of the pool was a tiled wall with a cascading waterfall spilling into a separate natural-looking pond. 'Whoa, what do we have here?' He noticed two men, both nude, sitting on the ledge of the nearby Jacuzzi. One man had a dark complexion; the other one was young and very blond. Both appeared, from a distance, to be in good shape. "That must be your brother with a friend, out by the pool?"

"Ricky is obviously the one with black hair, and the kid is one of my birthday presents - some associates of mine in L.A. arranged for him to visit us out here. He's a little on the young side, but that's what Ricky is into."

"Arranged?" Rory wanted to confirm what he suspected. 'That boy probably didn't come cheap,' he calculated, 'but, then, neither am I.'

"He comes from a service called VIP, something or the other. I'll get a bill next month from my associates for landscaping services." Ral leaned in, kissed Rory lightly on his left cheek and added, "But I prefer men, and you fill that bill in spades. How about you?"

"M.E.N. and over 21, thank you," Rory said with a grin. "Believe it or not, this really is the first time I've been contracted to, know..."

"Entertain? To be nmero uno with Rory Reed is quite an accomplishment, then." Ral held Rory's jaw and kissed his other cheek.

"Since I got out of the Marine Corps last year, my job has been in adult entertainment. So I'm hardly a virgin." Rory turned his head and lightly pecked Raul's lips with his.

"Mmmm, I like," Ral growled. He raised one eyebrow and winked. "Think of this visit as a date with benefits."

"Being it's our first 'date', what do you want to do?" Rory decided that the first thing he wanted to do was dispose of his over-sized tee. He pulled it off and tucked it under his belt in the small of his back.

"To continue what you're doing...getting undressed. There's no reason to be modest around here," Ral replied as he unbuttoned his shirt. "Besides Ricky, the guards are also clued into my lifestyle. Let's adjourn to my bedroom, stash our clothes and go out to the pool for a while." He gestured with his head and started walking down a hallway. "I'm honored to have you as a guest in my home and I want to show you off."

"I can do that," Rory said as he followed Ral down the hall. "But is it wise for me to be seen out there...with this blond dude?" The last thing he wanted was exposure to strangers who might turn him in.

"Relax. Chad has been hired for the evening and has no choice but to be...discrete. When you both leave in the morning, nothing more will be said by anyone about your presence. Or his, for that matter." Ral stood aside, and let Rory walk into a massive master bedroom - lit only by spotlighting on the paintings and sculpture. "As I said, my brother likes young men on the muscular but twinkish side, and Chad fits that bill to a tee. He's also not quite of a legal age in California and therefore has everything to lose if anything about this weekend is mentioned. And if it's warranted, I'll make sure he gets a friendly reminder."

"Fair enough," Rory replied as he toed off his sneakers and dropped his jeans. "Just for the record," he added as he lowered his briefs, "I really think you're pretty hot and sexy." He stepped out of the puddle of clothes and tugged lightly at his resting cock. 'Ral might have a way to help me get out of the country,' he thought, 'if I work this just right.' He looked down for a moment at his darker body hair and added, "Do I look too goofy with blond hair on my head and brown hair everywhere else?"

"Half the guys in L.A. don't have their - how do you say - drapes matching the carpet. Forget about it." Ral smiled as he walked over to the closet. He hung up his shirt, pulled off his sandals and removed his shorts. "We've got plenty of towels outside and more beer. And if you're hungry, I can get one of the guys to grill some steaks."

"I'm good for right now. Maybe we'll work up a good appetite and have breakfast before I leave in the morning." Rory was pleased at the magnificence of the male image before him. 'A little shorter than me, but very trim,' he thought, as he gazed over the hairy chest and hard nipples, 'and with a nice uncut prize.'

"As much as I love your videos, the real thing is so much better." Ral pulled Rory close and whispered, "I want a little taste before we go out." He put his hands around Rory's buns and ground their crotches together. After nibbling on Rory's earlobe, Ral moved in for a kiss, in a wet, full-tongue attack.

The kiss was received and returned with equal force. Rory savored the attention and pushed his growing erection into Ral's groin. The trimmed pubes were sensual to the touch as Ral's bush scraped Rory's cock. He reached down, tenderly took both hard-ons in his hand, and adjusted them to a more comfortable vertical position. "Hmmm," Rory said in a low tone as he squeezed a little firmer, "a matched set." He was pleased that Ral had grown to such an impressive length and girth.

"God only knows what trouble they'll get into tonight," Ral replied. "If you want, I've got a private stash of coke you can use to loosen up."

"Thanks for the offer, but that's a taste I've never acquired." Rory shrugged and added, "But go ahead, if ya want." He wasn't sure exactly what had been inferred by the 'loosen up' remark, but guessed he was going to be taking a big Colombian 'chorizo' up his ass, later on.

"Neither Ricky nor I use it because, in our business, it's for the best. Now let's go out and be friendly." Ral walked over to the sliding glass door and opened it.

"One favor, if you don't mind. Just to be on the safe side, please introduce me as Henry...from Chicago. I'd feel much more comfortable." He looked into Ral's eyes and silently communicated that this was a very important detail.

"Very well, Henry. That's the way we'll play it," Ral replied as he motioned for Rory to walk out onto the patio.

The two men, their appendages now swinging at a respectable half-mast, strolled over to the Jacuzzi - hand-in-hand. Ricky smiled, waved and said something to Chad. The young guy watched as Ral and Rory approached, and didn't try to disguise his obvious lingering glances at Rory's equipment. He glanced up at Rory and with an expression somewhere between a grin and a smirk.

Rory looked at Chad and flashed a quick wink. He scanned the blond - he wasn't sure if the hair had been professionally highlighted or was naturally sun-streaked - and was impressed. 'That kid is going to make Ricky very happy,' he decided, 'and very sore.' It was amusing to Rory that Chad was hard as a rock and wasn't shy about showing his wares. 'That dick makes me think of sausage and mushroom soup.'

"Gentlemen, allow me to introduce my guest...Henry," Ral said as he stepped into the hot water. "Henry, meet my brother, Ricky, and Chad." He sat down in the water and motioned for Rory to join him.

"Hi," Rory replied as he slid in next to Ral. He guessed that Jacuzzi protocol was not to shake hands. 'Or whatever else there is to shake,' he thought as he smiled at Ricky and Chad. "This water feels great."

"Good evening, Henry. I'm happy that my brother found a companion." Ricky eased down from the edge and into the water.

"Me, too," Rory replied. "By the way, happy birthday. Sorry I didn't bring a gift."

"Thank you. But don't worry...I've already got a nice gift." Ricky grinned and glanced at Chad for a moment.

"You from L.A., too?" Chad asked as he joined Ricky in the water.

"Naw, I'm from Chicago. Took off some time from work to play and meet new friends in the desert." Rory purposely put his hand on Ral's shoulder and squeezed it. Although he had been told that Chad was a birthday present for Ricky, Rory wanted to visually stake his own territory. 'My guy's off-limits,' he thought as he smiled at Chad, 'and don't even think about trespassing.' The dog sniffing had begun.

"Hmmm, thought you looked familiar," Chad replied as he scooted down deeper into the water. "Hope you have a good vacation."

"Things are looking up." Rory took a deep sigh and crossed his fingers under the water. 'The last thing I need is to look familiar,' he thought.

The genial atmosphere between the four men - or three men and a young 'un, to be precise - continued for the next ten minutes, with conversation that focused on the Calderns' travels and Palm Springs' varied gay activities. Almost telepathically linked, the brothers got up and announced they were going to take a quick plunge and cool off.

"Nice guys," Rory said after he watched Ral and Ricky jump into the pool.

"Have you dated Ral before?" Chad asked with a softer smile. "I guess you know why I'm here, but I don't remember you being part of our service." More dog sniffing.

"Cuz I'm not working...exactly. I was told why you're here - aside from you being a great looking guy, of course," Rory replied in a matter of fact, but not haughty tone. "Between us kids, I was minding my business at Hunter's earlier this evening when I met Ral. We got friendly I am. Guess you and I'll get screwed, tattooed and shown out the door in the morning." He moved around the seat until he was closer to Chad. "Ral's hung like a bull and I think he's goin' to give me a good ride," Rory added with a laugh.

"Henry, you're a cool dude," Chad said as he joined the laughter. "As long as you can handle something that big, go for it. With me, it's the other way around - Ricky has already told me that I'm doing him. Speaking of tattoos, your spider is wicked."

"Thanks. You don't have any ink, do you?" Rory was enjoying his brief encounter with this young man and decided he would love to meet him another time - in three or four years. 'I hope he hasn't seen a video of me and my spider in action.'

"Check it out." Chad stood up and turned around. "Whaduya think?" He asked as he wiggled his butt.

"I think that snake tat looks good, but not as good as the snake that's hanging over your balls." Rory smiled as Chad laughed again and sat down. 'Can't say shaved balls cuz the kid doesn't have to do that...yet,' he thought as he studied the angelic face before him. "If you don't mind me asking, are you versatile in your bookings?" He was determined to keep the conversation focused on the young man.

"Yikes, you cut right to the chase, don't ya?" Chad rested his elbows on the ledge and looked over at the brothers talking in the pool. "I've found that flexibility is the name of the game, so I'm okay with that if the fee is right...and we play safe."

"Glad to hear that, bro," Rory replied. It was odd that he felt paternalistic towards this not-so-innocent guy. 'I wonder where he learned all this at his age?'

"I got a date with an older man tomorrow afternoon back in L.A. Repeat client. He takes the little blue pill...but knows the rule: always wear galoshes." Chad looked at Rory for a long moment and then blurted out, "Dude, I remember why you look familiar.'re the guy who the cops are hunting for..."

"Doing in a guy," Rory blurted out with a sudden edge in his voice. He glared at Chad and continued, "Yeah, that's me, but I think we should drop this subject - right now. It's a major problem that I'm trying to work out and it's best that nothing more is or in L.A. Ral said he doubted you'd kick up a fuss if you recognized me. It's in nobody's interests." He wanted to make sure the kid understood the implications of going against the older Caldern brother.

"Fuck, that is heavy..."

"Chad, relax. I'm not going to do anything to you, but we do need to drop this subject."

"I, ah...sure, it's something I can forget about - like right now. You do your thing and I'll earn my fee with Ricky. That'll be it. There's no beef with you and I've already forgotten that this conversation ever occurred."

"You've made a very wise decision." Rory's stomach was still in knots, and he purposely slowed down his breathing. "Just so ya know, my boss pushed me into a corner by wanting to make me do things I didn't want to do. Nasty things...probably with nasty people. Maybe it wasn't the best decision to handle it the way I did, but...." Rory looked over at the pool and noticed that the brothers were getting out of the water. "Let's relax, have a good time and let this play out. Can you do that?" he asked in a way that was a combination of pleading and an order.

"Okay," Chad replied with a recollected calmness. "By the way, now I remember why that spider tat of yours looks so familiar, too. I've seen some videos of yours. Pretty awesome."

"It was a great job until the asshole I worked for decided I was going into leather, tats, S and M...the whole nine yards. He didn't give me any choice. So..."

"Good luck...Henry...on working things out." Chad reached out and made a fist so they could bump each other.

"Thanks. I'll need all the luck I can muster." Rory bumped Chad's fist as the brothers returned.

"Looks like you two have gotten to know each other a little better," Ral said as he stood on the edge of the Jacuzzi.

"A regular chat fest," Rory replied with a smile as he stood up. "I'm going to jump in the pool for a fast cool down and then find a shower. He looked to Ral for guidance.

"I've got a great shower in my room." Ral winked and added, "I'll meet you there."

"Chad, if I don't see you later, have a safe trip back to L.A." Rory extended his hand and waited for the young guy to stand.

"Hope you enjoy your vacation." Chad shook hands and squeezed Rory's shoulder.

"I will...thanks," Rory replied as he turned and grinned at Ral. 'Time to make an exit,' he thought as he climbed out of the Jacuzzi and trotted over to the pool.

He dove in and swam underwater to the opposite side. The cool water seemed to clear the cobwebs in his mind and invigorated his body. Rory emerged from under the water, grabbed the ledge and used it to balance as he easily lifted himself out of the pool. He twisted himself around, sat on the edge and wiped the water from his face. He noticed Ral wave from the bedroom door as he got up and walked towards a stack of towels. While he was drying, Rory watched Ricky and Chad get into some serious grab-ass on the deck by the Jacuzzi. 'The meter's running,' he thought as he walked to Ral's bedroom, 'for both of us.' He paused at the opening to the bedroom and gave Chad a thumbs-up when their eyes met. Chad did the same and then playfully grabbed Ricky's low-hangers.

Rory tossed the towel on the deck, went into the master bedroom and heard water running. He padded around the corner of the four-poster king bed and ended up in a hallway that was flanked on both sides by large walk-in closets. Beyond was the bath was also seductively lighted. He continued his journey and his feet felt the change from carpet to cool stone as he entered the bathroom. 'Fabulous,' he thought as he visually scanned the layout. He walked in further and saw Ral standing under, and next to, several water heads in a granite-tiled shower room that could easily handle four adults. 'Adult men, I presume, in this shower,' he thought as he thought about the other brother's tastes.

"Come, come join me," Ral said when he saw Rory. "We'll shower together."

"Get the chlorine off, and everything else." Rory walked behind Ral and reached his arms around Ral's torso. "You really take care of yourself," he purred into Ral's ear. He moved his hand down over the furry treasure trail and gently grabbed Ral's hooded cock. "How do we play this? I assume that you want to take me?"

"I get the feeling that we'll want to explore each other." Ral turned around and leaned in for a brief kiss. "I suggest the best thing is for both of us to get clean...down there. I've got some special plumbing that'll do the trick."

"Really?" Rory looked over to the wall next to the valve and saw a variation of a hand shower hanging on a hook. The difference being the shape of the head: a long, dildo-shaped rubber douche device that was punctured with many little holes for water release. "Guess that explains the lube next to the soap," he added with a smile.

"Why don't you clean me and I'll do the same to you." Ral slicked the six-inch plumbing part with lube, handed it to Rory and smiled. "Just don't get too carried away."

"The only thing that I want to get carried away with is the real thing." Rory took the probe and slowly turned on the water and tested the temperature. 'Nice and tepid should do the trick,' he thought as he teased Ral's pucker.

"Whenever you're ready," Ral replied as he slightly bent forward.

Much later, as the two men lay on the bed, Rory thought about the past hour or so. He looked over and noticed Ral - lightly snoring - with a smile on his face. 'My Latin lover seems satisfied with our workout.' After the unique sensuous shower, they had adjourned to the bed and shared tender masculine foreplay. Each knew their roles to make the evening as pleasurable as possible.

In the bed, there were no toys...just tongues, fingers, lube, condoms and very firm erections. Tenderness ratcheted up a few levels as each took the other. They flipped around, changed positions and orally played with each other...everywhere. Ral was concerned about his size as he entered Rory...and became more forceful only when he was signaled 'all is well' from Rory. After energetic climaxes by both men, they tidied up and rested for a little while. When Ral started a kissing assault, Rory knew it was time to plunge in. He was restrained at the beginning and respected Ral's need to get used to his size. 'He's getting dick from somewhere,' Rory thought as he slipped in with no difficulty, 'and I don't think it's that thingamajig in the shower.'

Daylight - sunny and bright - illuminated the room. Rory moved slightly and opened his eyes. 'This is a much better place to wake up,' he thought as he realized that he was alone, 'than a Motel 6.' He felt the wrinkled sheet where Ral had been and discovered that it was still warm. 'The stud must be lurking about somewhere nearby.' A flush from the bathroom confirmed his suspicions. He lay sprawled on his back, put his hands behind his head and watched the hallway.

"Seor Rory - or, Henry if you prefer - a pleasant good morning," Ral said as he entered the room. He leaned down and kissed Rory on the forehead.

"Morning." Rory smiled at this tender gesture and stretched. "Have you been up long?" This was the first time he had seen the Colombian during daytime and thought the dark-complexioned man looked even more handsome...showing a tinge of mystery and danger.

"I got up about an hour ago and saw Ricky before he went out to keep a golf date," Ral replied as he sat down on the bed. "Then I returned and snuggled with you until just a few minutes ago."

"Wanna snuggle some more? I could do my thing in the bathroom and join you." Rory, for one of the few times recently, was sincere with his suggestion. 'There is something I like about this man,' he decided, 'and I don't mean the money.' His eyes looked into Ral's when the man's palm rested on his stomach. It felt warm and comforting.

"Time is not on my side - I promised Ricky that I'd join him for the back-nine at the club. However, I suggest that we take a real shower, get dressed and have some breakfast. I've got one of the boys ready to cook for us...maybe an omelet or waffles?"

"Whatever you're having will be fine." Rory pushed himself up into a sitting position. "I hope you enjoyed last night as much as I did." He wasn't used to being turned down so he decided to fish for a compliment.

"Enjoy? If you look in your pants pocket, you'll find out how much I enjoyed it. Amazing, even if I'm a little sore this morning."

"I know what you mean. But it's a good sore." Rory winked and slowly ran his tongue across his upper lip. "You were terrific, too."

Ral got up and offered his hands to Rory for an assist off the bed. Once they were both on their feet, Ral held Rory close and said, "I hope our arrangement didn't embarrass...offend you. I...I usually get what I want and when I offered money...I wasn't thinking...wasn't thinking how much different I'd feel after..."

"Don't worry. Although it was a first for me, I accepted the deal. Since my stream of money has abruptly ended, it didn't seem offensive. All I've got to say is 'thanks'." Rory kissed Ral on the cheek - he didn't want to go for the lips with his morning mouth. "You're helping me in an awkward time. By the way, I assume Chad left earlier?" He was still somewhat concerned about the young stud muffin keeping his mouth shut.

"He left just before Ricky. However, I made sure Ricky had a good talk with him. Trust me, there will be no problem." Ral reached down and tenderly moved his hands up and down Rory's buns. "Shower time?"

"Absolutely. And I assume that there's a spare toothbrush around here that I can use." Rory took Ral's hand as they walked to the bathroom together.

"I'm down to my last couple of dozen," Ral replied with a chuckle.

Once the water temperature was warm, the two men helped clean each other - they paid particular attention to the other's private areas - but not in a recklessly erotic manner. This was more about two strangers becoming familiar with the boundaries of a new friendship. For Rory, it was a few magical moments before he had to return to his 'running' mode. They joked while they shampooed and then dried each other with the plush terry towels. While Rory brushed his teeth, Ral went ahead to dress and get breakfast underway.

'I look a little different with the moustache growing in,' Rory thought as he checked himself in the mirror, 'but I feel like the old Henry of the days in the Corps...before all the Frat Loft and Harvey crap.' Back in the bedroom, he put on the clothes he had worn the previous evening. Once the jeans were in place, he felt a bulge in the pocket. Rory reached in and pulled out a neat fold of one hundred dollar bills. Several. He counted 50 and sighed as he stuffed the money back in his pocket. 'Five thousand bucks can take me far,' he thought as he put on his socks and sneakers. As he walked to the main part of the house, Rory decided not to talk about the money. Ral had already said enough.

"There's my friend," Ral said loudly when he saw Rory stroll into the kitchen. "Everything is good?"

"More than good," Rory replied with a nod. That was it...he knew that nothing else needed to be mentioned about the money.

"I decided eggs, sunny-side up, bacon and waffles would be suitable for us. Go ahead and sit down. I had freshly-squeezed orange juice made and a fresh pot of Colombian Supremo coffee."

Rory kissed Ral on the lips - lightly with no tongue - and sat down on the curved banquette of the breakfast nook. He smiled and observed that the bodyguard and cook paid no attention. "I'm famished," he said as he reached for the glass of juice.

"You should I am...after the workout we had last night," Ral whispered into Rory's ear after he sat down.

"As the old saying goes, 'all good things have to come to an end.' This has been a wonderful time for me and I only regret that the carriage has to turn into a pumpkin." He looked into Ral's eyes and added, "At least I don't have a gown or glass slipper to worry about."

"I've got some ideas about the glass slipper," Ral replied quietly. He watched as the bodyguard brought over two platters of breakfast. "Go ahead and eat while I suggest a few things that might happen."

"Okay." Rory was intrigued with the direction this conversation was going and decided to listen carefully. He poured warm syrup over part of the waffle and broke the yolks of the perfectly prepared eggs. "Ummm," he said after the first bite.

"What I'm about to say is a very rational conclusion to my thoughts. First, although you know I was - am - very attracted to you and your video performances, this has nothing to do with being star-struck. Something's happened, Rory, to me and I feel very...attracted to you. Sexually, yes. But there's another element that I haven't felt before...ever." Ral cut into his eggs, took a bite and swallowed. "Here's a question for you that can be answered with a simple 'yes' or 'no'." He sipped some coffee and continued, "Could you see yourself living with me in Colombia, as a a partner?"

Rory stopped chewing and swallowed hard. He turned to Ral and quietly asked, "You're offering me a job?" He decided that it was best to move cautiously and replying with a question allowed him time to think. 'What's the angle...what's the catch?'

"Not work - except for helping me build a home for two. You and me as a couple. My other half."

"Wow, you really move fast, Ral. I...yes...I could do that. That's your answer." Rory took a deep breath and sighed as he considered the impact of his 'yes'. He looked into Ral's eyes and searched for some cross signal. There was only an expression of contentment and love.

"You feel something special, also?"

"I admit there's something stirring that I can't explain." Rory sat still but his heart was rumbling and pounding. 'I'm fibbing a little because what he's proposing solves my problem,' he thought, 'of getting out of Dodge. And the idea of being his partner is very appealing...on several levels.' He opened his mouth to speak, but Ral put his finger over Rory's lips.

"Remember the old Robin Williams movie, Dead Poets Society, where his character says, 'Carpe diem - seize the day'?" Ral asked.

"Vaguely...but I also know the expression from the Marine Corps. One of our gunny sergeants used to scream that at us during boot camp."

"That's what I propose we do. Seize, or more accurately, make use of and enjoy this opportunity. Rory..."

"Can I ask a favor? My real name actually is Henry and I think it's time to be honest." He reached down and squeezed Ral's thigh.

"Henry," Ral said with emphasis, "would you travel with me tonight, to Bogot? Our pilot is picking up Ricky and me at the Palm Springs airport at 10:00 p.m. The Gulfstream will have us home in time for an early breakfast."

"What about Customs?" Rory - now Henry - thought he knew the answer but decided to get everything out in the open.

"Something we don't have to worry about. We go directly from the plane to my personal car with no interference."

"We hardly know each other and..."

"Shhh," Ral replied. "There will be time for us to understand each other. Last night, you saw the real me...and I think that I saw the same of you. Is that true?"

"True to my heart." Henry turned to Ral and put his hand on Ral's shoulder. "Pinch me so I know this is real."

Where would you like to be pinched?" Ral replied with a laugh. "I think a kiss will do."

They leaned into each other and kissed with passion, with intensity, with feeling. Henry knew love was heavily involved in Ral's proposal. But if Rory Reed could be discarded - forever - then he would gladly be part of this conspiracy. 'It wouldn't be hard to love this guy for time.'

"Here's what I suggest. Why don't you relax around the pool while I join my brother at the golf club? I'll tell him the good news and we'll return for a light lunch. Then, I'd like to have a little siesta time with you. Sound alright?"

"Very alright. The only things I need to do are pick up my stuff, check out of the Motel 6 and return the rental car to Alamo. Is that do-able?" Henry asked. "No one has tracked me here and I'd just as soon make my alias name vanish without a trace."

"We'll do that tonight. We can take your bags and follow you to the Alamo drop-off place...if you're sure no one is monitoring the Alamo computers."

"It's cool. I have a credit card with good fake I.D."

"Just to be on the safe side, we'll pay for the room and the car in cash," Ral said. "It's less messy that way."

"I can't thank you enough. You've made me a very happy man." Henry thought this was one of the few truths he had uttered in the last several months. 'However,' he thought, 'no reason to tell him that I'm primarily happy because I'm getting away, but I think that Ral has that figured out. And he's willing to take a gamble with me.'

"In the meantime, we've got the whole day ahead of us. Relax out by the pool while I'm playing golf and I'll send the boys to the mall. You probably could use a few changes of clothes."

"Ral, you have no idea how light I've been traveling."

"Well, make up a list and write down your sizes. Just enough to tide you over until we get settled in our Bogot home."

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