Castle Roland

Somerset Farm

by Jamie Haze

In Progress

Chapter 45

Posted: 6 Apr 15


Jamie Haze

Harm and Spencer were in a daze. They just completed a self guided tour of Evan's Boeing 747 after he invited them to look around. Both flopped in comfortable chairs in the main lounge avoiding the more delicate appearing authentic period pieces of furniture; the chairs, settees and sofas. "Why didn't you just use reproductions?" Harm wondered directing his question to Evan when he served them drinks personally as a nervous host while usurping the nearby hovering steward's duties."

"You never met Grandfather," Evan shrugged, "or you wouldn't ask. It took longer to decorate the interior than it did Boeing to build the damn plane."

"Yeah but nobody drills holes in stuff this good to attach everything to the floor." Harm shook his head in dismay.

Evan misunderstood, "Yeah it is a bummer when you try to move a chair and just about break your arms. I keep forgetting, but everything has to be glued down so it doesn't go flying if we hit some turbulence. Even the whatnot junk in the display cabinets are glued to the shelves." He giggled, "I always check out the small portable stuff, you know, old habit even though I wouldn't have ripped off Grandfather and now there's no point in ripping off myself."

Spencer took Evan's hand suddenly after he was served. He pulled Evan's thumb straight to study his signet ring, "Damn I wish I had a loop so I could see the detailing on that stone. I'd sure like to meet the master craftsman who made it, carved it. It must have taken years to do. That emerald had to be flawless and maybe eight or ten carats or he would have ended up with chips and dust." He yanked Evan's arm over to under his brother's nose so he could see the stone, "Check this out Harm. He must have sacrificed two carats anyway to get that kind of high relief and look how much is left."

"Hey," Evan giggled, "you two are worse than I ever was. Do you mind if I take it off before you pocket it unless you put it in your pants pocket, a front one of course including my whole hand and still attached to the rest of me?" His look at Spencer was both suggestive and hopeful. "I'm sorry I missed the party last night, Douggie and I got busy in my room talking business and stuff then we celebrated until we fell asleep." He scratched his head in wonder and grinned at Doug, "You know we must be getting old already. Did you tell anyone yet?" he asked cryptically.

"Just Buck and I asked Bucky about stuff. There hasn't been a lot of time. Should I tell them now?"

Evan shrugged, "If you want to, it's your island." Marc was stretched out on the carpet rolling and moving spastically taking pictures of everyone when they were talking and laughing together and ignoring him and his camera. Evan grinned, "You know you could ban cameras if you wanted to."

The magic word, cameras, combined with ban got Marc's attention, "Say what?" He looked from Evan to Doug, "Ban cameras from where?"

Doug ignored the question at first along with the questioner, "Hey you know I could couldn't I, I'll have to think that over."

"Come on guys what the fuck are you talking about?"

Doug answered that one, "Anton left me Dagger Cay and some money to pay the bills."

Bucky covered his mouth to hide his laugh at Doug's depreciating the amount of the fortune Anton actually bequeathed the boy. He alone knew that Anton also left a short list of individuals he was most concerned about never ever going broke so he left a huge secret reserve to prevent that from happening. Doug's name was on that list but Bucky already knew that Doug's fortune would never require bolstering because he immediately asked if Bucky would invest his inheritance as he thought best in any Trenton ventures most likely to yield the highest return with minimal risk.

Doug grinned evilly down at Marc, "Which means motherfucker, that I can ban cameras from my island if I want to. Hey, speaking of cheapos, did you ever pay Spencer his modeling fee?"

Dylan frowned, "If you didn't and we can't use his and Harm's pics together in the next edition, you're FIRED!" he had to shout the last word to be sure Marc heard him as he ran down the corridor toward the back of the plane to find his travel bag and checkbook while everyone congratulated Doug on his good fortune.

Doug looked sad, "Thanks guys, but I'd rather have old Anton around still." He looked at his Tag Heuer watch, a gift from Anton, "Actually I think of him whenever I check the time."

Toby and Terry looked at each other, nodded and stood up walking toward Harm and Spencer. Each held out a closed fist. "We started giving these out a while back. Everyone else has one, in the group that is, these are for you." They spoke in unison after a mental argument about who was going to be the spokesman went unresolved. The twins opened their hands revealing a pair of diamond ear studs. Everyone else fingered their ear lobes and grinned at the Golden brothers' expressions of pleased surprise.

Spencer couldn't resist studying the stone close up until Harm slapped his hand, "Damn that is so rude, appraising a gift in front of the giver and in front of them yet," he scolded with a grin.

Spencer reddened before he retaliated, "Hey you should talk. Like you never check anything out, I'll bet you a million bucks you know what kind of china we ate off of last night because you looked." It was Harm's turn to blush while he enviously watched his brother replace the simple gold bead he wore in one ear with his diamond. Harm didn't have a pierced ear. "How's it look?" he asked and extended his hand palm up continuing the argument. "That's what I thought. Pay up motherfucker."

Evan giggled, "You know you guys better be real careful who you bet big bucks with around here, if I was betting you and won, you'd have to pay me in cash, or," he paused to think of an alternative, "you'd pay me in trade." He stared at the two crotches, "You wanna bet me on something? I wouldn't mind having one of those on demand for the rest of my life."

Spencer grabbed himself and giggled, "If you won Spencer the Great you'd get him one night and you'd owe me money besides."

Doug interrupted by sitting up suddenly looking hopeful at Bucky, "I know what I said this morning Bucky, but I just thought of something, now that I can afford it I'm going to buy that big beautiful cat that Josh is working on. I'll keep it moored at Dagger. Could you free up enough money?"

A frown descended on Buck's face that could result in terminal consequences if his father wore it. Bucky was hard pressed to keep from laughing out loud but he managed by covering his mouth in a thoughtful manner. Doug looked excited and hopeful. Bucky ignored his son's hateful stare, "Sure Doug, I told you whatever you need, but isn't that boat already sold? I thought I heard you say something about that."

Buck nodded slightly but Doug was nonplused by that barrier, his grin was huge, "It is but I thought maybe I could buy it from whoever is having it built. You always say money talks; maybe I'll need to do some shouting."

Bill Henderson leaned toward Bucky, he was still in shock from his son's announcement and 'some money to pay the bills' didn't sound like it was going to be enough to manage an extensive offshore estate like Dagger Cay. He whispered his question and Bucky answered in kind. Bill flopped back in his chair, turned pale and looked like he was having a seizure, "A HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS?" he gasped.

Doug laughed, "Damn Dad, why not take out a newspaper ad? Don't you know it's rude to ask how much money someone has and then start screaming it to the world from thirty thousand feet?" His father began stuttering an apology, Doug stopped him, "That's okay Dad, I would have told you anyway when I told you that you can retire now, all expenses paid."

Bill looked surprised at first, then he saw the incongruity in Doug's offer and started laughing, "Thank you very much Douggie, I never heard of a son offering his parents an allowance before. It's such a good idea, I may just put that in a newspaper, but I think I'll just muddle along like I have been. After all I have a whole university to build and that's going to take about five years."

Bucky's eyes widened at that announcement, "FIVE YEARS, whatever happened to three shifts and portable lights? Hire every contractor in the state if you need to. I was thinking more like two years tops." He grinned, "And then you can retire to the President's office."

David came halfway down the circular staircase from the flight deck lounge that Evan referred to as the bar where the three security contingents were congregated. He caught Spencer's eye and nodded that he should join them. Spencer turned serious, "OOPS, I forgot to tell you, I've got a job and I'm going to the prep school that the guys go to my senior year. Wait until Dad finds out about this," he told his brother.

"What job?" Harm wondered in surprise.

"That's it, just going to school. I'm the undercover student security force, later," he said importantly before he stood and followed David up the staircase.

Evan took Spence's seat, "We're going shopping tonight, want to go along?"

Harm shrugged, "Sure, what are we shopping for?"

"We're looking for new recruits for the Marine Academy and maybe put the hurt on some bad guys along the way."

"Huh, how do we find them and what bad guys?" Harm asked.

Evan looked down at Harm's bulge, "You could help us find bad guys. Do you think you could wear a pair of my shorts?"

"Maybe, they'd be awful tight."

"Yeah, my shorts and a cut off muscle shirt," Evan was thinking out loud, "a newbie pretty boy like you on a street corner, you'd draw them like flies even if you are so old." He giggled, "Shit, they'd probably help us out by killing each other just to add you to their stable." Evan looked around and snapped his fingers, "I know, we'll put Tommy with you and give you both big fat backpacks, so you look like you just got into town and are too stupid or haven't had time to find a place to crash and stash your stuff, it's the right time of the year. Guys will be heading south for the warm weather and rich gay tourists."

Doug and Tommy joined Evan and Harm by sitting down on the carpet in front of them, "Can I be in on this too?" Doug asked. "At night, even under a street light we'd look like three brothers down on their luck. They'd really kill to get a threesome."

Evan frowned, "How'd you know what we were talking about?"

"DUH, if I can read Tommy's lips, you figure it out." Tommy giggled silently and said something to Doug. "Yeah," Doug agreed, "this time I was interpreting for Tommy. He says we need to look a little dirty and a lot desperate."

"Wait just a fucking minute!" Harm declared from frustration. "What are WE talking about here? Are we supposed to pick up guys or what?"

"Man you are a newbie, but you won't be after tonight," Evan giggled until he started to remember how he spent two years of his life, "You'll understand after I tell you what its like to live on the street."

Evan began telling his story from the time he was first molested by his stepfather, although he admitted, not unwillingly at first. Billy joined him in adding parts and gradually Doug spoke Tommy's words, his experiences, some of them. When the seatbelt lights blinked on accompanied by a chime the pleasant sound was like a claxon in the silent main cabin, everyone was listening. Patrick wiped his eyes while the other men, Bucky, John and Bill looked at their sons in the group of boys, then at each other, then away, embarrassed by their communal thought; all were glad that it wasn't one of their children telling such horror stories.

"How many boys can the island hold?" Bucky asked with a grating voice. All eyes went to him.

Evan shrugged after a moment in thought, "I don't know exactly, with all the rooms in the house, the old hotel," he smiled briefly, "we are kind of groupies when it comes to sleeping, a couple of hundred, probably more."

John nodded and looked to Bucky, "I'll add as much staff as I need to get them legal as fast as possible if Will can give me some creative computer help." John's face flushed because he was implying that his procedures might not be entirely legal.

"I'll have him find you a young geek, a real hacker like Billie."

"What can I do?" Bill asked while he looked at his only son and thanked God that if it wasn't for Bucky and John's intervention, that Doug could have easily found his way into the life and possibly death of a street kid, a hustler selling his body to survive all because of his prejudice.

Bucky grinned, "You can get started on building us another school."

"Done," Bill nodded emphatically. "Is there a budget?" Bucky rolled his eyes and smiled. Bill giggled, "Sorry that was a dumb question wasn't it."

Bucky turned to Evan, "Have you any idea how many street kids there are in Ft. Lauderdale alone?"

"Nope, there's no place to sign in or out, they, we, come and go. There are probably always a hundred or so, more starting about now as they drift in from the north for the winter. I was thinking about flying Kyle and Mark over from Dagger for the night, they're both older and knew more guys."

"Good," Bucky looked pleased. "We'll all take a ride just after dark to scope out the territory,"

"SCOPE?" Buck asked interrupting his father, "Where'd you come up with that word?"

Bucky grinned, "Hey, chill out, if we're going to be hanging out together, learning your language is mandatory." Everyone erupted in laughter as the big jets' wheels touched the runway at Ft. Lauderdale International Airport.

Spencer's cheeks felt stretched from practicing with a Slurppie straw shooting dummy darts at a living moving target in the flight deck lounge. The target was one of Vincent's men, young and eager to earn Vincent's favor and keep his relatively easy job of body guarding the twins but that wasn't easy. While Vincent looked and talked like a ruthless Mafia hit man that he once was, he was also intelligent and a perfectionist; the smallest fuck up would result in summary dismissal. Vincent had already worked his way through a dozen hopeful trainees for the three high salaried positions he wanted to fill and the young man had no wish to become number thirteen especially flying in a private aircraft at thirty thousand feet and filled with equally ruthless men and apparently some of the kids. His head was completely swathed in Ace bandage except for eye slits and space under his nose. He walked the length of the cabin or sat in a chair or on a bar stool waiting for the kid to fire his darts from any angle or position except straight at his face. He couldn't feel the darts that hit the bandage and the three that penetrated his shirt felt like mosquito bites.

When the seat belt lights blinked Joe ended practice with a pleased smile, "Okay, I'm satisfied. Spence, you and I will travel together, I'll do the shooting, and you'll be my backup." Spencer frowned. Joe was pleased to see the boy's eagerness, "Unless there's more than one target, these guys have bodyguards of their own, we could get busy," he added quickly to see Spencer's handsome smile return.

"How does this stuff work?" Spencer asked looking at the small hard case that lay open on the bar where twenty of the tiny color coded lethal glass darts rested in foam. Joe shrugged and explained what little he knew, that the poison was similar to curare, except it worked by interrupting nervous system functions progressively so that strange things happened to the circulatory system. Depending on the concentration, the heart might gradually slow and finally stop over twenty-four hours, or if one wanted a quick demise, a red dart would cause near instant massive hemorrhaging in the brain.

Rod and Jon whispered together, "I say Joseph old chap I wonder if we could obtain a supply of these?" Rod asked. He explained the need, "We're having a bit of a go with three of the Master's more aggressive business competitors just now." He didn't need to explain further. Joe nodded.

Unseen hands pushed the volunteer pincushion into a chair and began to remove the bandage after carefully pulling the accumulated darts. The young guard looked back to thank whoever was providing the service, he was surprised to see Vincent smiling down on him, "Good job, what's your name again?"

"Thanks, its Jeff."

"Well Jeff that took a pair of balls to let the new kid shoot at ya like that."

Jeff shrugged, "Someone had to do it, and they were dummy darts." He was overjoyed with the vocal compliment when a silent nod from Vincent was normally extremely high praise.

Vincent laughed, "Yeah but you see most of us never seen this stuff work or ever knew it existed, so you just let us know how you're feelin' as the day goes by okay?"

Vincent slapped Jeff on the back where one of the darts landed. Jeff turned pale, "You mean?" he couldn't finish asking his question.

Vincent laughed harder, "Naw, I wouldn't do that to my number one man. I was just jokin' with ya."

Jeff wiped the sudden sweat from his forehead, "How'd I get to be number one, just from being a target for blanks?"

"Nope, you already was. Remember last week when the bosses were horsin' around on the pool deck and ones' elbow connected with the other's temple?"

"Yeah, Terry got Toby." Jeff supplied the names helpfully.

Vincent blinked, "Say how'd you know who was who?"

Jeff hunched his shoulders, "I just knew Toby was the one I caught, so it was Terry's elbow."

"Yeah well, he, Toby started to fall back on to the deck and would've really cracked his head, but you was there in a flash an' caught him. That was when you got to number one. Now after this morning's work you're permanent. Those bosses are sure hard on each other."

Jeff agreed, "Yeah they are. You'd think they'd be more careful especially since they feel each other's pain, shit even I felt that wallop just holding him up. Then it was strange you know, after I put him back on his feet he thanked me, or I thought he did but he didn't say anything and then the three of us just stood there rubbing our temples where Toby took the shot."

Vincent hoisted an eyebrow, "Are you queer, I mean gay?" he asked bluntly, he equated telepathy with homosexuality, then without waiting for a response, "Where'd you come from anyway, I mean where'd I find you?"

Jeff's face turned an appropriate color to answer the first question. He rushed an answer to the second, "I worked in uniform for Trenton. I was at the gate one morning when you were leaving. You stopped, looked me up and down and gave me your card before you offered me twice what I was making."

"Oh yeah, I remember now, you talk educated, you a college kid? You look too young to graduate already." Vincent began looking between Spencer and Jeff.

"I fucked up my first semester and got tossed."

Vincent pressed the issue, "Fucked up how?"

Jeff sighed "I come from a strict family. I was never allowed to be myself you know? Like go to a movie or have a beer not to mention anything worse. They'd never understand about the way I am and they'd have me praying twenty-four hours a day until I saw the true path, whatever that is. When I got away from home I had a lot of catching up to do party wise. I didn't study, I flunked out. When I went home I discovered that flunking ranks just above being gay, so I split, found a furnished room and finally found that job with Trenton."

The big jet shuddered when the engines were reversed and Vincent fell into a seat. He looked surprised, "Damn here we are already." He shrugged and continued with a frown, "You ain't been eyein' up the bosses have ya?"

Jeff felt a chill run up his spine and thought the truth would be best, "No sir, absolutely not, although I think they're certainly good to look at; I don't believe in shitting in my own nest."

"Good answer," Vincent grinned, "But what if they want you to?"

Jeff shrugged and smiled, "Well, I am human and they are the bosses as you say."

Vincent got to his feet and pulled Jeff to his, "Stand over there by the bean shooter kid, I want to see somethin'. Hey Joe look at these two boys together. The shooter is in school but this kid graduated a year ago yet they both look the same age. Only mine here," he slammed Jeff on the shoulder proudly, "don't have to go to no classes so he could drift around the whole school all day lookin' for trouble AND he can go around packin'."

Joe nodded, "Okay by me. Do you have a specialty?"

Jeff looked blank, "Huh, I mean what kind of specialty?"

"He means like weapons; guns, the garrote, knives, martial arts, shit like that," Vincent patted his suit coat in various lumpy places.

Jeff grinned although he tried not to, he couldn't resist, "Yeah, I do, if the gate doesn't open when I push the button I know how to do it manually. Actually I did get a license to pack concealed, just don't expect me to hit anything with it if I had to use it."

Everyone in the lounge laughed while Vincent grinned, "A smart ass, I got me a wise guy and just five minutes ago I had him convinced we offed him with a real dart. He wasn't laughin' then was you smart ass? Tell you what, time is short, when we get to this island don't make no dates because you're gonna be busy learnin' everything." David and Noah shook both boys' hands as they filed down the stairs and told them that they'd be classmates on the island too.

The parade of limos and accompanying SUV's from the plane to the docks and Sea Song was suitably impressive and so was the welcome they received from the Sea Songs' crew. Gregor permitted them to line the dockside rails, proudly dressed in starched whites. Ragged informal cheering broke out as the boys and men emerged from the line of vehicles and it was quickly apparent that Gregor strongly influenced their group efforts to learn English. Harm and Spencer were unsure if they were being welcomed or cursed and told to fuck off as the crew imitated their Capitan's loud exuberant welcome.

Gregor stood at the head of the gangway with Meesha at his side, "FUCKING WELOME TO SEA SONG, FUCKING YES!" Gregor repeatedly boomed over the docks.

Meesha punched his shoulder, giggled and scolded in English, "No, no, ignorant dolt, you must stop saying fuck every other word. What if ladies were present?"

Gregor looked down to the dock; "None are except those who wish to be this evening!" he called invitingly and laughed. Then laughed harder when he saw Evan whisper to the closest guys, and then he, Billy, Tommy, Doug and Buck all turned and bent over wiggling their butts seductively. "It is a conspiracy to kill me but I accept!" he shouted through cupped hands.

Harm and Spencer once again suffered a bout of culture shock, Harm spoke for them both, "Christ Evan, this is a yacht, your yacht? It's a fucking cruise ship."

Evan giggled and pointed, "Nope, he was Grandfather's now he's theirs. The only boats I own now are a fleet of super tankers."

"A fleet?" Spence was almost breathless.

Evan nodded, "Yeah about three hundred. I was going to make Gregor my Commodore after he gets his papers but he and Meesha are having too much fun with Sea Song, so I'm making Sea Song's real captain the Commodore. The old one is retiring shortly. Since owners don't need to be licensed to run their own boat, the Captain is just treading water. He'll be happier moving oil; Grandfather had him all nervous and jerky by being around so much."

"Three hundred supertankers?" Harm sounded sick.

"Yes we build them at our yards in Germany. Grandfather used to sell some of them to competitors, but I can't see helping them out so from now on we'll just add the new ones to the fleet. Hey, do you want to see them? I'll show them to you after we get on board."

Harm thought Evan was joking until later when he was showing them through the ship, he took them to his suite and turned on snoopy and three hundred twinkling lights appeared on the seas of a world map. "Snoopy isn't its real name, Billie, not this Billy, the other Billie started that when he showed Grandfather how he hacked into the system just so he could take world tours sitting at his computer," he giggled and had them wave at the ceiling in the infrared mode, "pretty neat huh?" The Golden brothers nodded silently. "Now watch this," he switched back to the tankers, "see these three over in the South China Sea? We'll just see what they're up to so close together." The big screen turned fuzzy then cleared into roiling gray. Evan sat up suddenly. He backed snoopy out already back in the infrared mode until the distinctive shape of a well formed hurricane appeared. "Fuck me; they're just inside a typhoon. Look at that eye. I wonder why they don't just change course and sail out of it?" he wondered aloud.

Evan called the Sea Song's real Captain first, then attempted to talk to the fleet Commodore in Germany and quickly discovered that the man was away on holiday and couldn't be reached and that there was no second in command; he'd retired and hadn't been replaced. The Captain arrived with Meesha to interpret. Evan sat with his little butt on the edge of his grandfather's big chair. Meesha broke into a sweat dredging up English words he'd learned but rarely used. Evan appointed the Captain to Commodore then and there and charged him with the responsibility of getting the tankers and crews out of harm's way as quickly as possible. He watched the man's face pale as he talked directly with the first of the three captains involved. Meesha translated reluctantly; he knew how Anton, the old Master would have reacted and he could see the same rage building in Evan, his adopted grandson and the new Master. He whispered the word, racing, and stepped back.

"RACING," Evan exploded, "MY SHIPS?" He jumped to his feet, and then took a deep breath to calm down. Meesha flinched at his stare, "Be cool Meesha it's not your fault. Translate this exactly so he understands. Relieve those three assholes, promote the first mates and have them get those boats out of that storm if they have to sail back to Alaska, I don't care. Then I want them to put their captains in irons, chains or ropes, whatever. I don't want them hurt, feed them all they can eat and let them drink whatever they want then just don't let them go to the head for the rest of the trip. When they do reach port have the assholes hosed down, boxed and shipped to Germany by air freight. I'll deal with them personally; I have to go over there anyway."

Meesha cleared his throat after he translated the orders, and the new Commodore of Ships whispered a question. "Master, the Commodore asks what should be done with his predecessor. It seems they were racing for a bonus, the first in port wins. It was a system set up to encourage record times, transport more oil."

Evan's smile was more of a grimace as he picked up the phone, "Hans, this is Evan. Hey good English man, yeah loud and clear. Listen I have a problem, I need you to find someone." After Evan hung up, he returned to the area screen that showed tiny but distinct boat shapes in the GPS mode. They watched the three bows in the storm turn ninety degrees on a northerly course heading for more tranquil waters. He sighed again and looked at his watch, "Hey its lunchtime guys."

Meesha laughed, "Today we have an American picnic luncheon, hotdogs and hamburgers a crew favorite."

Evan got between the brothers and put his arms around their waists to guide them straight down the corridor to the dinning salon. He looked up at their faces, "Thanks guys, if you weren't aboard and I wasn't showing off my toys we could have lost those ships. Three crews and a gigantic oil spill." The brothers noted that Evan didn't seem concerned with the value of the ships or cargo. "I'm sorry you heard what the penalties are for fucking up like that, but mine are nothing to what Grandfather would have done to them."

The dining salon was empty, voices and laughter kept them moving to the aft deck. Evan giggled at seeing the chef sweating in front of a real charcoal grill turning burgers and rolling hotdogs in a makeshift kitchen area off to one side. He did a double take when he saw a crane parked on the dock opposite the stern. It was lowering a folded catamaran on to the open boat deck hatch. Everyone was leaning over the rail looking down. "Hey guys what are we doing?"

Buck answered between giggles, "You bought three catamarans for the school and they're getting them loaded I guess." He looked skyward as if he just had a brainstorm, "Hey good idea Evan, now we can have races. I'll be Doug's crew and you can be Spencer's."

Evan looked puzzled but finally shrugged and elbowed Spencer, "I'm really getting old I don't remember buying them," he whispered. Then he saw Buck watching him from the corner of his eye wearing a shit eating grin, "I get it, I got scammed," his eyes glittered. "Are you a really good sailor?" he didn't wait for Spence to answer, "You better be because we're going to win and Buck's going to end up paying for those boats. As soon as we get to Dagger we need to start practicing. You pick one out that will be ours. Fix it up any way you want so it's the fastest. Tell me what you need and I'll fly it in."

"What are you going to do?" Spencer asked naively.

"Remember I told you to be careful about betting with one of us? These races are going to be for high stakes." Evan saw Spence frown and added quickly, "Don't worry, I'll bank roll us and we'll split the winnings fifty-fifty how's that?"

Spencer sighed, "As much as I'd like to, nope. Doug's more experienced than me and he and I were just going to race for fun. He told me that he has the one that you have on board already rigged for single handing," Evan looked blank, "that means one guy to one boat. Let's rig the new ones the same way, so you two can race each other for big bucks all by yourselves. The rest of us, anyone who wants to, can race in heats until there's just four left and then those four can race for some kind of prize like a trophy or something."

"Yeah, like the America Cup and we could open it up to all the guys in the school too!" Jonathon was walking by with a full plate, "Hey Jon is there any chance of buying the America Cup?"

"Huh, do you mean fixing the next bloody race?" Jon was suitably shocked.

"No damn it the actual cup, the trophy."

Jon sighed in relief, "I very much doubt it but you could win it if you sponsored a boat."

Evan rolled his eyes, "I was thinking about sooner, like this week, we need a prize, a trophy for the winner of the races we're having sailing these cats."

"Ah, good fun then. May his Lordship and I compete? We've done a bit of sailing. In fact if I may, you could offer one of these boats as a prize, I wouldn't mind owning one of these."

Evan giggled, "Think you're pretty good huh? Sure everyone can sign up, a new boat will be the prize and I'll throw in a Rolex, I'll get it engraved. You know we could hold these races every year, like start a tradition."

Doug and Tommy walked out of the lounge wearing speed suits, toweling the sweat from their bodies and chatting amiably, "That was the last one," Doug announced to everyone happily. "Good thing too we couldn't take the smell of those burgers cooking." They told them about the planned races and the chosen prizes. "Yeah man, fantastic idea, I'll get a big silver bowl engraved, how's this sound, The Dagger Cay Multi-Hull Regatta?" He eyed Evan's Rolex with a grin, "I was going to buy one of those just to wear for good, but I'd rather win one of yours." Tommy punched Doug in the gut then thumped his chest. "Sure Tommy sign up, I'll teach you how." Tommy spoke at length. Doug's eyes lit up. "Oh wow, okay you're my first mate on the new one." The others looked to Doug, "Tommy suggested that we have an annual Regatta for the big guys, like the one I'm buying, cruising boats from all over the world."

"Ain't competition great?" Jon quipped.

Buck chewed his food slowly. He had to find some way to disabuse Doug of the idea that he could buy the big catamaran that Josh was building from the ultimate owner since he, Buck, was the temporary owner and Doug would be at Christmas. "You keep talking about that damn cat as if it was already yours, what if the guy won't sell at any price?" Buck plunged on, "If you were having it built would you sell it to someone just because you could make a huge profit and then have to sit around waiting until Josh built you another one?"

Doug pursed his lips; it was obvious to everyone within their hearing that he hadn't thought of that. He sighed, "No Goddamnit, I don't think I would. If I had three million to blow on a toy, it sure wouldn't be my last three. A cool million instant profit if someone offered me four might make me think about it, but I still wouldn't sell it. Damn it, I guess I'll have to get in line," he frowned then brightened, "as long as I'm next in line. If I wait I can tickle Josh's plans for this one and since the molds are already built, building mine won't take as long as this one."

"Tickle the plans?" Buck's voice squeaked a little in frustration.

"Yeah, you know like I can go through this first one while its still in the shed and make changes on the same plans for mine so I get it exactly the way I want it. Want to come along after lunch? I may as well get started today." Doug grinned happily.

Buck rolled his eyes so Doug couldn't see him, "Sure I'll make notes and I'll bet Josh will give you a set of plans to mark up too."

"Yeah and I'll give him a big deposit this afternoon so he can start getting the materials together. Come on Tommy my first mate buddy; let's grab a quick shower and dress." He stopped in front of David and Noah, "Whose turn is it in the barrel today?"

When Noah laughed and raised his hand, Spencer asked Doug, "Do you mind if I tag along? I have got to see what a ninety foot catamaran looks like."

"Sure, anyone else?" Doug asked the assemblage.

Evan shook his head, "I'm hosting the shopping trip tonight remember so I better stay here."

"Just remember I want to be in on the action this time," Doug warned.

Charlie Garcia rolled forward, "I would if I wouldn't be too much trouble," he looked pitifully hopeful. The look turned to one of total delight when Doug nodded, took the handles of his wheel chair and began running him through the lounge. Toby, Terry and Diego the three Fair brothers, soon to be the Del la Varga brothers after their name changes became final, ran to catch up. Vincent nodded to two of his experienced guards to follow and ignored Jeff's hopeful look.

If Doug happened to look back he would have seen Buck waving both middle fingers at him. "Damn Dad, he's unstoppable; now he wants changes, who knows how many or how complicated. We were on schedule too. He's worse than mom," Buck moaned. He reached for his phone, "One thing I better do is call that big mouth Josh and warn him again before we get there."

Bucky shrugged, "Whatever, but if Josh can't get it done without sacrificing his quality standards, don't push him. If it isn't finished at Christmas, fly down on Christmas Day and just give it to Doug then."

Buck grinned and parroted his father on the plane earlier, "Not finished? Whatever happened to portable lights and three shifts?" He took on a determined look, "It WILL be finished and anchored in the middle of the lagoon ready to sail on Christmas morning. We're spending the holidays on the island remember?" When Bucky looked blank, Buck added, "We are and we always were. Everyone's invited in case you weren't yet." He turned to Harm, "Would your family be offended if they were invited to spend Christmas with us? Everyone means everyone and no families should be separated."

Harm laughed, "Are you kidding? We've celebrated Christmas and Hanukkah every year since I was about five years old. Just try to explain to a little Jew kid why Santa Clause doesn't visit his house. My father gave up trying. Thanks Buck, I'm sure they'll be delighted to accept." He fingered his ear, "Is there a mall around here? I'd like to get my ear pierced before I lose this stone."

"Someone will drive you, just go down to the dock and take the next car in line. I'll find someone to send along with you." Bucky answered and looked around for a guard.

Vincent elbowed Jeff to his feet, "Here's one Boss, he's done eatin'." To Jeff with a grin, "Go earn your keep. Bring him back safe or don't come back, just go straight down to the city morgue and wait on me."

"Yes Sir!" Jeff saluted, and then bent to whisper, "That threat wasn't very confidence inspiring Boss, maybe you should work on your people skills."

Vincent's hand flashed to Jeff's throat, "You just worry about practicin' your bodyguardin' skills on someone else's kid, wise ass," he whispered back wearing a benign smile and squeezed until Jeff's eyes began to bulge before he pushed him away to accompany Harm.

Buck started running when he heard Doug shouting his name, "Shit, that shower didn't take long, they must have showered just to get clean. See you guys later!" he said over his shoulder.

Bucky watched his son until he disappeared before he turned to Evan and nodded to his right and left to John and Bill, "We want to help tonight."

Harm, Doug and Tommy stood on the sidewalk talking to someone sitting in the back of a garish purple Bentley parked at the curb when a super stretched Cadillac limousine pulled up behind the Bentley. Rodney played the part of chauffer while Jon acted as the footman. Jon approached the Bentley while he appraised the three boys, "I say are these stunning creatures in your service? My employer wishes to engage them as escorts for the balance of the evening and wonders if you've any others of equal quality, you see he has two business associates with him and wishes to provide them with something of a unique, ah touring experience." Jon unzipped a leather clutch purse to show the pimp that it was packed with currency.

The three boys sighed with relief when the pimp finally opened the door and climbed out of his car. So were Joe and Spencer who stood in the shadow of the building behind the trio blatantly making out with each other. "It's about fucking time," Joe whispered. The boys nodded imperceptibly and the men in the limo, Bucky, Bill and John agreed audibly. The Bentley's other three doors opened simultaneously. Three more men emerged, ignored their employer and went to menace the helpless boys to be certain they didn't run.

The pimp, a tall black man was dressed in an iridescent suit that matched his car except for overly wide lapels; they were white fir which matched the hatband of his purple fedora. The pimp turned with his back to the boys so they couldn't hear the negotiations for their services directly, "Yeah man dey mine, dey is brotha's an' mos' hard to fin'. Dey escort yo' boss an' his fren's real good for a grand."

Jon chose to misunderstand and counted out three thousand dollars without complaint, "Most reasonable." The pimp snatched the money and recounted it not quite believing his good fortune at finding such a stupid mark so late in the normal work day which ended at sunrise. Jon couldn't resist and lightly brushed the back of his hand down one lapel. "Smashing suit."

The pimp looked down, "Yeah, dis here fir is genuine arti-ficial er-mine," he explained, "dey is de mos' hardest to fin' little animules, dey rare, an' cos' more but dey worth it."

"Jonathon really," Rod hissed in his microphone with a giggle that joined the others listening to the conversation, "we really should be getting on."

Jon nodded, barely able to hold his own laughter in check, "Do you have others available? My master is a most impatient man, you understand."

The pimp suddenly realized where he was. He looked up and down Atlantic Avenue, "Yeah man I gots mo', yo waits here while I gives de word to dese t'ree." He scooted to the boys and magnanimously gave each a hundred dollar bill. "Here yo' go boys, yo jus' go git in that car an' yo' do whatever de gentlemens wants, when you all done yo meets Grape right back here an' yo gets another hunert each. How's dat soun', I tol' yo Grape treats yo right." Tommy studied his bill carefully wearing a huge delighted smile until Grape snatched it from his hands, "I keep dis fo' yo'. Yo's in trainin' an' yo might jus' lose it." If Tommy's look could kill Grape would already be a dead man.

The boys looked suitably astounded by their good fortune and rushed the limo's rear door after the guards stepped back. One slapped the back of his head forcefully, "We gots to get out o' dis light, de bugs sho' is out tonight," he complained. The other two agreed. One scratched at a bite on his neck and the other tried to reach a spot on his back. All three ran for their car doors.

A cooperative moth swooped down passed Grape's face as he turned back to Jon. He swatted at it violently with one hand and nearly broke his eardrum with the other when he slapped a dart that imbedded itself in the back of his ear. He dove into the Bentley's rear door and slammed it, "I hate mothafuckin' bugs," he explained to Jon through a one inch crack in the window. "Yo' jus cruise de street fo' tweny minutes, I be back wi' four mo afta I rounds 'em up."

The limo's rear door opened again and three backpacks landed on the sidewalk. Jon looked back, "I say, could you take care of the lads' luggage? Sorry, such a bother," he shrugged his indifference.

Grape elbowed the man sitting in the back seat with him. The man obediently got out of the car to retrieve the packs and throw them into the trunk. He staggered as he slammed the lid and barely had the strength to return to his seat. The Bentley sped away and turned inland at the next block, a Suburban parked across the street made a u-turn and followed slowly. Vincent reported that the tracking device in one of the packs was working perfectly while his protégé Jeff drove the truck.

The rear of the limo was packed with boys who had no roll to play in the adventure but wouldn't be left behind. They all congratulated Harm, Doug and Tommy on their excellent performances. Bucky shushed them when the men in the Bentley began to talk among themselves.

"Hey man, you sick?" There was no answer.

"O' course he sick, he done pass right out."

"He ain't, his eyes open."

"Turn on the mothafuckin' lights."

"Jus' look at da mothafucka's eyes dey blood red!"

"Da mothathfucka ain't sick, he slap daid!"

"What dat smell, yo fart? Oh man dat purely rank, crank de windows down."

"Nobody fart, dats dis mothafucka, he done shit his self."

There were some audible thunks, "Beatin' on the motha Grape ain't gonna make him be takin his shit back, yo' daid, yo daid."

"Fuckin' bugs, he got dat Wes' Nile bug, I heard tell it kill yo' like dat."

"Question is now, what we gonna do wid his shitty ass?"

"Pull over to dat dumpster. Dats good, nice 'n close. Now you two mothafucka's gets him in fas' like."

Someone balked, "I ain't touchin' 'im, I catch that bug too!"

There was a metallic click close to the microphone Jon planted in Grape's rabbit fur lapel, "If'n yo' don't yo be up an' dyin' o' lead poisonin' befo' de bug gits yo' chicken ass." Car doors opened; there were grunts, curses and more circumspect complaints. There was one louder protest when Grape ordered one of his men to use his shirt to wipe the leather car seat before the doors were slammed as a final rebellious statement.

The Suburban followed the Bentley to a nondescript ranch style home with a two car attached garage. The garage door was automatic. Vincent and Jeff saw a minivan parked in the garage before the door closed on the Bentley. The house remained dark.

"Momma, we here!" Grape announced. "You two get the boys into de van while I be talkin' wid Momma. Day all back? How'd we do?"

"Real good Junior, de young one still out, maybe he pullin' a all nighter, dat one a goldmine fo' tips."

"Here some more, put it wid the res' after we leave, I gots three mo' jus' now an' dey already workin'. Some rich honky in a limo wants 'em all so we takin' 'im back to de street. I done promised fo, but tree will have ta do."

"Bes' thing we ever did, to move de factory here afta' de competition got kilt off. We can sure use some new meat to keep up wit da demand." There was combined laughter.

"Got one tonight I think you be likin' Momma, 'pears he hung like a brotha, he older too so's he kin take the poundin' you give 'im more better."

Momma giggled, "Dat's jus' grand Junior, dees young one's got no spunk left fo' Momma after day done workin' an' beaten don't help one bit. Yo' jus' get him back here fas', I be waitin'," she promised.

Vincent and Jeff were ready when the garage door started to rise and were crouched in front of the Bentley when it closed. Vincent led the way into the well lit kitchen. They saw the reason that the house remained dark from the outside was that plywood covered the windows on the inside. Vincent stopped in the doorway into the living room. Jeff didn't he was staring over Vincent's shoulder at a small woman sitting in a battered upholstered chair leaning over an industrial size duffle bag on the floor. The bag was open and packed with cash. The woman was busy jamming the evening's earnings into the bag.

The first inkling she had that she was not alone was when Vincent's hand found her throat, lifted her to stand, then further until her feet dangled, "Make one sound unasked and you're a dead bitch, you got that?" Vincent asked conversationally with a smile. Grape's mother struggled to shake her head before he dropped her back into the chair. "You alone?" she nodded again with her hands busy massaging her throat. "Good," he turned to Jeff. "Lesson one; interrogation, scare them real bad and real sudden like I just did," he toed the duffle, "then the subject tells the truth after you promise to off 'em. Is this all?"

The terrified woman's eyes flicked at the sofa, a hide-a-bed and partially open. Avarice won and she nodded. Vincent's fist crashed against her forehead, snapping her head back painfully. The lesson continued, "My associate here is goin' to look at that sofa. There best not be anymore hidden under there if you know what I mean. One more chance; is there anymore money hidden anywhere else?" Jeff was busy tugging another duffle from the sofa innards. "OOPS, too late, you snooze you lose." Vincent's hand found the neck of the woman's baggy house dress. Buttons popped and material tore. Momma couldn't decide where to employ her hands; the swelling bump on her forehead, her bruised neck, her sagging dugs or her exposed crotch.

Jeff dropped the second duffle by the open one, "This is too heavy to be all cash." Vincent explained that paper money, if properly packed was indeed heavy. Jeff's attention went to the nearly naked woman with rapidly moving hands. He wrinkled his nose, "Shit, no wonder you have to beat them to get them up to fuck you. I wouldn't fuck you with his dick, I wouldn't fuck you with a baseball bat," he tilted his head, "of course from just looking you wouldn't even feel it."

Vincent agreed with a smile, "It does look a mite roomy. Tell you what, we might need to experiment. Look around and see what you can find." Jeff nodded and disappeared down a hallway, Vincent frowned and clucked his tongue, "Get your hands away from there, you can't be that modest. You didn't make all this money off a few boys did you?" He asked after opening the second duffle. He whistled, "Answer out loud please."

The woman's eyes widened in terror while she watched Vincent pull rubber gloves on his hands, "Boys is just a sideline," she said quickly and crossed her legs. "Junior, Grape likes 'em, I like 'em an' da boys like 'em too after tryin' one the first time."

"AND?" Vincent prodded verbally while took off his suit jacket revealing a custom made leather harness and the weapons in his personal arsenal. The obvious included the butts of a nine millimeter semiautomatic under one arm and a machine pistol in a clip style holster under the other. Holders for extra clips of ammo were appended to both weapon holsters along with two pairs of throwing knives. He rolled up one shirt sleeve first, and then cocked his head like Jeff did earlier, frowned and rolled the other as well.

"Junior's main business is drugs, but not here, down in Miami, an' jus' in our hood, the fuckin' spics got the rest of da city sowed up, 'cause dey got da supply." Once Momma Grape started talking she couldn't stop and by the time Jeff returned she was actually bragging about her son's success and half smiling.

The woman stopped talking when she saw Jeff's face and what he held; a stack of Polaroid pictures, a plastic wrapped white brick and an aluminum baseball bat. "Here man, use this or I will, save the gloves. Look at these," he handed over the snapshots and the brick. "One bedroom is a drug lab and there are two more of these duffle bags in the closet, one is just a bedroom, the floor of the third is covered with mattresses and there's a pile of the toys like this, you'll see in use in those pictures." He walked to the woman and backhanded her with a closed fist, "I never hit a soul in my entire life, do you believe that?" he asked Vincent while he looked at his hand in wonder.

Vincent caught Jeff's wrist in time to prevent him from damaging the woman further, he took the bat and then spoke to those listening, "Someone should make notes on what this bitch has to say between screams, just ignore them. She's gonna tell us all about Grape's organization and his contacts. How much time do we have before they start back here? Fifteen minutes is plenty." He turned to Jeff, "Son you just occupy yourself with cleanin' out this house, anything that might identify the boys, and anything personal that might belong to one of 'em. Leave the drugs but get all the cash." Jeff developed a stubborn look, "Just do it please, this ain't in the bodyguardin' lesson book and it ain't gonna be, you're a nice kid."

Jeff hurried his chores so that he could at least watch, but each time he walked through the living room the scene changed like a stop action film. The woman was moved from the chair to the floor on her face. Her wrists were secured with an electrical tie like those used by the police for mass arrests. Then a floor lamp was tipped over and Vincent was busy stripping the insulation from the lamp cords' cut end. There was a scream while he collected scattered boys clothing, pack packs and personal items. He saw the reason when he carried those to the truck; the ball bat was lying on the floor between the old harridan's legs, the butt end wasn't visible. Vincent wrapped one side of the shinning newly exposed copper wire to the bat. He held the other near the woman's face so she could see it. Jeff couldn't hear Vincent's questions, but each time he didn't think the woman was entirely forthcoming, he touched her with the wire. He only touched her twice, the first was a quick demonstration and the second was when she was slow to answer the first question. The other screams were when she thought the wire was too close. Vincent finished and was standing holding the two duffle bags waiting when Jeff returned from the truck for those bags.

"Shouldn't there be a set of books or a computer somewhere?" Jeff asked.

Vincent toed the whimpering woman, "This here old sack of shit is the books. Come on we got to roll." He paused to look around the garage and grinned at the hot water heater in the corner in front of the Bentley. "Why this is our lucky day," he handed Jeff the duffle he was carrying, "here I'll be along shortly, stay out there."

Jeff turned when the big car started. Vincent turned the steering wheel and stamped the accelerator. The Bentley lurched forward smashing the water heater. Water under pressure fountained over the car from the supply pipe and the flexible gas pipe pulled free from the tank. Jeff watched Vincent climb from the car, reach back to trigger the garage door and then nimbly jump the electric eye beam as the door began to roll down.

Vincent settled into the passenger seat with a sigh, "Now what?" Jeff asked.

Vincent offered him a delighted school boy grin, "Back up a hundred yards, I like fireworks." He checked the tracking monitor, "Mr. Grape and his motherfuckin' friends are almost here."

"They won't pull in; they'll see the mess you made."

"Yup but we might still get 'em and even if we don't they're all dead anyway, the darts remember."

Jeff frowned, "How are you going to set off the gas from here?"

Vincent giggled and handed Jeff a small electronic remote, "Here you can have the honor. One of them backpacks in the trunk of that car is wired with five pounds of plastic. You wanna make a bet on whether you get 'em or not?"

Jeff took the remote, "A dollar says I do."

"Done." They shook hands.

"What happens to all that cash?" Jeff wondered.

"You want to help yourself to some?" Vincent asked cautiously.

Jeff sounded offended, "Fuck no, but I was just thinking that it would be nice if the boys in those pictures got it. Maybe set up bank accounts for them and give it to them when they're eighteen. How much is there do you think?" He slapped his ear, "Something's wrong with my wire I didn't hear much of your interrogation," he laughed, "just enough to hope that you never have questions for me."

A mature gravelly voice crackling in Jeff's ear answered for Vincent, "Good idea that's what we'll do with the eight million." Then, "Vincent if you don't give your man a big raise and a bigger bonus, I will after I steal him from you."

Jeff sounded ill suddenly, "Mr. Trenton? Oh, wow, would you believe I forgot that the microphone might still be working."

Headlights interrupted them. The van turned into the driveway and the garage door went up. Three men climbed out in the driveway to look dumbfounded. "Now," Vincent ordered, "do it now! They'll jump in that van and get away."

He reached for the remote. Jeff switched hands and giggled, "Not yet, he's going to go in there for a closer look at his car. He loves that car. See, there he goes." He waited a moment, "Bye, bye motherfucker." The explosion shook the heavy truck. The minivan lifted front wheels first in slow motion. It did a perfect half back flip to land on its roof. The two men standing in front of it just disappeared to litter the street in dark pieces. The explosion grew from the garage to engulf the whole house. The roof jumped straight up, the cement block walls shattered and flopped on the lawn so the roof fell on the floor of the house. "HOLY SHIT!" Jeff yelled with a laugh and put out his hand palm up to receive Vincent's dollar.

Debris began to rain on the truck. Vincent got serious, "Get the fuck out of here; I think we were too close!" Both men ducked when a chunk of masonry shattered the windshield. "Oh shit, off the lights and turn around. Drive real slow so we don't attract attention."

Jeff backed into the next available driveway, shifted to drive and was about to pull into the street when there was a knock on his window. He didn't have time to look before Vincent nearly broke Jeff's nose by pointing his handgun at the face of the knocker. He pushed Vincent's arm aside a split second later. The muzzle was pointed at the forehead of a very frightened boy, but not so scared that he couldn't think, "Did you guys do that? Man I wish I could have; I've dreamed of doing that. Could you give me a lift, just a couple of blocks before the cops show up?" Vincent and Jeff were dumbfounded. "Please," the boy begged when they all heard sirens in the distance. Jeff tossed his thumb toward the backseat. The boy was seated and slammed the rear door in the blink of an eye. He looked back when they reached the end of the block, "Too bad about the others but at least they didn't hurt for long, I kind of wish I was with them."

"Huh?" Vincent asked then smiled, "Your buds wasn't in there. They're safe. You must be the one that was workin' late and gets real good tips."

The boy frowned before he shrugged, "Oh yeah, here," he handed Vincent a wad of money over the seat back.

Vincent pushed his hand away, "We don't want your money son, you can join your friends if you want to get out of the hustlin' business or we'll drop you off wherever you want, but either way you keep what you earned."

"Yeah right," the boy scoffed, "I also believe in the tooth fairy and Santa Clause. I know the score you know. You may as well take it now and cut all the bullshit." A hint of worry entered the boy's voice, "One thing though, I could kind of use a little pick me upper if you've got anything handy."

"What's that mean?" Jeff asked naively.

"It means he's hooked on somethin'." Vincent turned and really looked at the boy for the first time, "What is it son? What do you use?"

The boy shrugged, "Whatever they feel like givin' out after work and we hand over our take for the night. The more we make, the better the stuff. Oh I get it, we get to keep everything we make and then you charge us everything for the junk. Okay here's four hundred bucks." He again offered Vincent his money.

Vincent grinned, "Yup, we'll get you all happy and out of it as soon as we catch up with your friends on the boat."

"Boat, that's different. Hey what did the niggers do to upset you guys enough to fucking bomb them off the world?" The boy asked with a yawn. Once he was assured that he could get a fix he relaxed, put his head back and dozed off after Vincent fabricated a vague story about a territorial dispute.

Joe waited for them on the dock. The trip back took far longer because they had to use every dark street they could find that went in the general direction of the port because of the smashed windshield and all the debris and dust on the trucks' roof, and a quick visit to a car wash was not an option. Willing hands emptied the truck while Vincent woke the boy, "We're here son, come on we're leaving as soon as we get on board."

The boy's reaction to seeing the Sea Song was predictable, "Holy shit, I wish I'd run into you a couple of years ago!"

Vincent really looked at the boy standing on the brightly lighted dock, "A couple of years ago? You looked like maybe you're twelve or thirteen in the truck but now you look a little older."

The boy grinned through a sheen of sweat, a symptom of withdrawal, "It's hard to tell isn't it. I'm actually eighteen. Since I still look like a kid I act that way with tricks. They can't believe how good I am. I play a great virgin if they want one; I do tears and everything. Say Mister we talked about getting me all fixed up, about now would be a good time." He again pressed his money into Vincent's hand, "And after, if you or your buddy wants I'll show you guys a really good time, whatever you want me to do."

Joe turned away from the conversation and used his microphone, "Get him on board Vincent, there's a doctor and two nurses. They've already got the other three in bed and sleeping like babies for the trip. We'll get them straightened out on the island."

Vincent nodded and looked around quickly for Jeff; he found him three steps up on the gangway looking down on the kid wearing a kind of wistful expression and the kid was staring back. He grinned; it was time for Jeff to have a reward if he wanted one, "Yo Jeff, instead of standin' there like a statue, how about takin' our friend on board and if you wouldn't mind, let him bunk in with you for the trip. There's nearly fifty others going so it'll be crowded. I'll be along with some picker upper."

Jeff grinned and nodded. The boy almost ran to the stairs. Jeff offered his hand, "Jeff, ah Jefferson Franklin," he shrugged off the boy's grin, "Before you ask, my parents are patriots and religious fanatics but not in that order."

"Hey cool Jefferson, mine's Eric," he hesitated, "Eric Slate, that's my real name if you're interested."

"I don't know why, but actually I am." Jeff shook himself, "Come on Eric, there's a buffet if you're hungry."

Eric wasn't hungry until he saw the array of food in the dinning salon. There was a constant stream of boys in and out while they ate. Eric was impressed, "Damn, you guys have the biggest and best stable in the world. You must charge up the ass to finance this operation unless running hustlers is a hobby for the guy that owns this tub."

Jeff giggled, "It's too complicated to explain tonight." He pointed to the twins, Diego and Charlie piling plates, "I work for them. I'm a bodyguard."

"Get outta town! No way! Really? Hustlers have bodyguards? Fuck me; they must do something I haven't thought of to rate personal protection." Jeff nearly fell off his chair while he laughed.

Later, Jeff sat in a chair watching Eric sleep after Vincent and a nurse visited their stateroom and the nurse carried an empty syringe away and enough of Eric's blood he complained, to qualify as a donation. Eric was still dressed, even his gym shoes and still held his four hundred dollars in a limp hand while he hugged a fat bed pillow. The faint whine of the turbines driving the Sea Song at cruising speed was relaxing. Jeff stood up and undressed slowly. He decided that he'd replace the damn pillow with his body. He removed Eric's shoes first, he checked the size; size seven, small feet, but then Eric was only about five feet six or seven inches tall and he was small boned. He ran his finger tips lightly up Eric's leg to the knee, the hairs were soft and silky, a light brown, they stopped at the knee, from there to the hem of his shorts.

Jeff gently removed Eric's money from his hand, smoothed the bills and put them on the night table where he'd see them when he woke from his drug induced sleep. Next he pulled the pillow away from the boys' unresisting arms. "Correction," Jeff thought, "he's not a boy, he's eighteen, too old for the marine academy and only two years younger than me. He's a man, but he sure doesn't look like one." He pushed on Eric's shoulder until he rolled from his side to his back.

Jeff took a deep breath. His religious upbringing castigated his mind for allowing his hand to travel over the bulge in the material covering Eric's crotch on its way to the waist button and zipper. He shook off the guilt and tugged. The shorts resisted until the back was free of Eric's small butt, they slipped easily down his legs. He tossed them, already forgotten. He stared at the revealed manhood disguised as boyhood by being completely shaved baby bald, baby bald and beautiful, baby bald and entrancing, a magnet. Not big, not small, just average, just right, probably a mouthful or fulfilling, satisfying elsewhere. "But not tonight, not while he's out of it and not if he doesn't want to, we'll just sleep tonight but in the morning? I need to be awake before him, I'll pretend, see what he does. If he doesn't want to he'll just get up and dress. God, if there is one, please don't let him do that."

Jeff knelt on the bed and carefully worked Eric's shirt up his chest and back to his armpits over a long ten minutes. He frowned, he was stumped, there was no easy way the get the damned shirt off over Eric's head and arms without waking him. He looked down and blushed. "He's going to wake up and see me wearing a hard on and just know that I was planning to fuck him, or suck him or both while he's out of it." He took a deep breath, "So be it you retard, get it over with; just sit him up and pull that fucking shirt off. DO IT!" his mind raged at his ingrained sense of morality.

The shirt came off in seconds. Eric flopped back on the bed without waking just like a rag doll, a naked boy rag doll. Jeff was torn with just kneeling there and feasting his eyes or shutting off the lights and lying down and just moving the unresisting body the way he wanted; to wrap his arms around warm breathing flesh, male flesh. Looking didn't cut it. He chose option number two. He shut off the lights and stretched out. He was about to manhandle Eric into position when Eric sensed his presence and beat him to it. Eric unconsciously rolled Jeff to his side and then snuggled up behind him. One arm wormed its way under Jeff's body and the other crept over his thigh. Eric's hand sought and found his cock and held it. "That sure took long enough." Eric whispered in Jeff's hair before he resumed his slow shallow breathing of relaxed contented sleep.

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