Castle Roland

A Special Place

by Sequoyah


Chapter 22

Posted: N/A

A Special Place--Part Twenty-two--Luke

I was so absorbed in what I was doing I let the time slip by and before I knew it, it was 7:00. I quickly got my projects where I could leave them, dashed out to Matt's Jeep and headed toward home. I slowed down when I got to Matt's, thinking I would go in, but then remembered I had told him at St. Mary's we were doing what we wanted to do, not what we needed to do. I knew I really needed to get home and shower since I was covered with clay and if I stopped, I would not be ready by 7:30 because I knew Matt and I would end up in the shower together and time would stand still.

When I arrived, Mom and Yong Jin were in the kitchen, Mary Kathryn was setting the table--Mom had added another small table to the dining room--and Dad was putting out wine glasses and wine in the den. "Thought I was going to have to send someone to get you," Mom said.

"You almost did. I just happened to look at my watch and was surprised at how late it was. I'm going to grab a quick shower to get the clay off and I'll be right down." As I showered I dreamed of Matt. We had spent more time together today than I was afraid we would get, but I also knew that the pace of both our work was going to pick up and we were not going to have the time we wanted together. As his face floated before my eyes, I found myself smiling, overjoyed that he loved me. It had been only a few short weeks since I had decided I couldn't live without him and couldn't live without endangering my beautiful Korean Indian. What a difference these few weeks had made! Ordinarily I didn't sing in the shower. I'm an artist, not a musician! But without thinking I realized I was singing at the top of my lungs, "More than the greatest love the world has known...." I guess the rest of the family had showered and Mom was using hot water in the kitchen so the water started turning cold. Before I could get out, the "potty flushing downstairs" syndrome struck and I went from a very cool shower to a very warm one in a flash. Sometimes you need a reminder I guess, so I jumped out of the shower, dried myself--I liked it a lot better when Matt dried me--and went to my room.

Tonight was another very special celebration and I dressed accordingly. Matt really was turning me into something of a sharp dresser these days. I carefully chose shirt and pants to accent my coloring and made sure I was "showing some ass." For Millie, yes, but also for the one who would be showing some ass for me!

When I went down, Mille and Larry had arrived with Paula and Linda. I guess all of the Select Few were going to be here. Great! "Paula, Linda, sure glad you could make it. Linda, I guess you missed out on the excitement by going on a field trip today."

"Well, I may have missed out on some excitement, but the field trip had its own. Orie was along and tried to get fresh with Debbie Hamilton. She finally had enough and was forced to hit him upside the head with a soda can. Fortunately, she hadn't opened it so she got in a good lick. Ms. Whitfield was all upset--she's a part of the Concord social climbers' set--and started screaming at Debbie. SHE was SCREAMING at Debbie. Debbie had it so she told Ms. Whitfield, 'If you want Orie pinching a teat, bring yours back here!' Needless to say, Ms. Whitfield was furious and dragged Debbie to the office when we got back. I'm much afraid she regrets that because Allison Smithfield and I went with Debbie and Ms. Whitfield. We told Ms. Jones what Orie had been doing. He'll be spending a couple days at home this week and Ms. Whitfield was ordered to apologize to Debbie. It was like a little kid's apology. I'm sure her fingers were crossed behind her back. After she left, Ms. Jones said, 'Debbie, what you said to Ms. Whitfield was not a very lady-like thing to say, but I'm glad you didn't think Orie had the right to fondle you. Lot of girls would never have complained.' Debbie told her she was not one of them and I added, 'Neither am I! A guy just better be sure he has permission to touch me before he does. And if Orie touches me, my dad will have his butt thrown in jail.' Ms. Jones laughed and told us to go to class because school was about out. 'Think you may have a party to attend tonight so get home on time,' she added as we walked out the door. 'Course when I got home, Mom just said Millie would be picking me up for a celebration and dinner at 7:30. Mom was all excited that Millie Willingham was picking up HER daughter. Only after Millie came did I get the news."

"Glad you could come," I said and added under my breath, "Glad you ran down." Man, that woman can talk! But Orie really was pushing it. I kinda worried about where it might end.

Just as Linda finished, the front door burst open and Eugene ran in, arms spread wide, and in a little baby voice cried, "Mommy" and ran toward Millie, enveloping her in a bear hug.

"You know folks, that lawyer of mine suggested Eugene and I might want to write a "change my mind" clause in Eugene's adoption papers. I sometimes think it was a mistake not to do so. If this kid keeps it up, I'll be changing his diapers before the week is out!" and laughed a real Millie belly laugh as she embraced Eugene. "How's the back SON?"

"Much better, I think. David wanted to leave the bandages off so the wounds could get air. I think I'll be ok. I took a pain pill when I got to David's and promptly fell asleep. When Matt waked me, I went with him to help Michael get their gym ready and the time with Michael and Matt sure helped. I think I'll be ok--out of real pain anyway--by tomorrow."

And Eugene then looked over at Larry, a huge smile covered his face as Larry crossed the room. It was obvious that Larry had started to kiss Eugene, then stopped, looked up, blushed and cleared his throat.

When he looked up, he couldn't help but see Michael was on the receiving end of a Mary Kathryn special. As soon as she broke the kiss, Mary Kathryn explained, "The rule at the Greywolfs' is we are free to show affection as Yong Jin and Greywolf do in the public areas of the house. Now that's an ok rule there. However, fool Michael and Luke agreed to a similar rule at our house. You guys may be able to live with a peck on the cheek, but I want to be kissed! Since I didn't agreed to the rule, I have appointed myself a role model for Mom and Dad. They're learning, but I sometimes have to remind them."

Dad had walked out of the den when Eugene, David and Margaret arrived and was looking very amused at the whole situation. He very calmly walked over to Mom, swept her off her feet and planted a real kiss on her. When he finally put her down, she blushed and said, "Jens, your tongue!" The whole place broke up. Larry completed what he started, more sedately than my parents, I might add. What was the world coming to?

"Gabrielle, I have been convinced for some time that someone kidnapped Jens and substituted his identical twin. I'm more convinced than ever now," Millie laughed.

"Could be, but I can't say that I miss the old Jens a whole lot and the new one is something!" Mom said.

"Pretty sorry fellow that can't learn a little from his kids," Jens laughed.

Just as I started to ask about Matt and Greywolf, they came in the front door. Matt came straight to me and, for the first time in forever it seemed, gave me a real, no-holds-barred kiss. When we got ourselves untangled, his face was covered with a Matt special smile as he looked at Jens, laughed and said, "I think I'm allowed extra privileges since I have been kinda on a low-kiss diet."

"Well, if you're following the house rules, you just missed out on the newest revision I think," Millie laughed.

"Yea, Dad just taught Mary Kathryn a few tricks a minute ago," I said. "Man, I don't know what we're going to do with these parents. They are getting all out of control."

"Luke, it's a good thing I remember being young and in love or I might have thought Matt had tossed you overboard. Weren't you supposed to run a little errand for Luke this afternoon, Matt?" Matt started shaking his head "no" and had a puzzled look on his face. Then his expression changed to one of alarm. "I...."

Millie laughed and handed me a fat envelop. "I expect to see some results from my small investment in your art, Luke. Matt, who did you have your mind on instead of Luke?" Millie asked, looking at Matt sternly. Matt stuttered a few times before Millie slapped him on the back and said, "Gotta move your mind upward young man."

The celebration had obviously started. "Linda, Paula, Eugene, Larry, our children have had wine at celebrations since they were toddlers almost. I think that was a wise decision on our part because they see it as something special and not a way to prove they are grown up. However, I know other parents feel differently and I certainly don't want to go against their wishes."

"I know Eugene's parents would never have permitted it," David said, "but he's got a new Mom now."

"He giveth wine to gladden the heart of man--old ladies, middle aged women and young folks--Eugene, that's the way your Mom feels about it."

"Well, I am Jewish, so that certainly speaks for my parents," Paula said.

"I guess it has never been a question at my house," Larry said. "My Mom told me all she would ever expect out of me was I be responsible and thoughtful."

"All that sounds so good," Linda said. "All my Mom would want to know was whether or not it was accepted in the best circles."

"That is bullshit," Millie said. "I've never been in the 'better circles' in Concord because my backbiting skills are kinda weak, but if she's concerned about that, I could have the 'better circles' doing my dishes, so on with the wine, Jens. I hope it's good stuff."

"Well, as an Aussie friend I met in Germany used to say, 'It's a good drop.' It has a fruity main bouquet hinting of blackberry and apricot with a mid-taste of toast and oak with a smooth finish of old tennis shoes!" When we were all in the den, Jens poured the wine and did the first toast, "Here's to an old lady who is as crusty as they come on the outside and pure heart inside, and to the sons, old and new, whom she loves."

As glasses were being raised, Eugene added, "And who love her!"

It was a good drop.

Millie had the second toast which was short and to the point, "Here's to resurrections and new beginnings!"

I was a bit surprised when Paula did the third toast, "Here's to love and the many, many forms it takes."

By this time we were all getting a bit misty eyed and I noticed that Eugene and Larry were standing on each side of Millie with an arm around her waist. "Well, for those of you new to the Larsen household, Mom is not the second best cook in the world, she's first and the food's waiting," I said after we had finished our wine. I was hungry. The meal, of course, was perfect. Linda and Paula sat at the table with Mom and Dad, Millie, Eugene and Larry, David and Margaret. They carried on an animated conversation, getting to know Paula and Linda. Matt and I, Michael and Mary Kathryn, Greywolf and Yong Jin sat at the small table.

It was difficult to talk from one table to the other, so our conversations were pretty much separate until there was an outraged cry from Millie, "What in the world is going on? That is an outrage!"

"Ok, who's in for hell this time, Millie," Dad asked.

"Jens, did you know this beautiful child's father died months ago and the insurance company hasn't paid off a cent? Has your mom talked to a lawyer, Paula?"

"She did several months ago and he told her since it was a big insurance company there would be a crew of lawyers and the only way he would take the case was for seventy-five percent of the settlement. She decided she'd just keep struggling on rather than give whatever she might get to a lawyer."

"Paula, give me your mom's home and work number--and name--before we leave tonight. I think I have a couple of lawyers sitting around drinking coffee and drawing a salary who need to be at work." 'Don't get Millie riled' was the clear message being sent out.

After dinner, we all sat around and talked about first this and then that until Millie said, "David, I'm gonna leave the boy with you tonight just in case. Paula, Linda, guess it's time for us to go."

Eugene looked at Larry kinda puzzled and a huge grin spread across Larry's face.

"Oh, I forgot, hope it's ok, but I'm leaving another of the grand kids with you tonight, David."

"That's ok, Millie. He can sleep downstairs on the sofa," David said, as serious as he could be. I could see the grin fade from Larry's face just as David said, "That is unless he wants to share the invalid's bed." The grin returned.

Larry and Eugene pitched in as the kids cleared the tables. When we finished, Mary Kathryn said, "Well, it looked like rain all day today, but it seems to have cleared off. Think we might make a moonlight stroll to the falls? The moon's pretty bright."

"Sounds like a winner to me," I said. "I got so much work done today I think I can stand a little playtime."

I went to my room for a blanket while Matt and Michael snagged the two out of the jeep and soon the six of us--Michael and Mary Kathryn, Larry and Eugene and Matt and I--were walking toward the falls. We had hardly left the yard when we started singing: "More than the greatest love the world has known...."

The moon had only four or five days until it was full and the sky was perfectly clear so the night was bright. When we reached the falls, each couple found their own place and it was as if Matt and I were all alone. We lay on the blanket facing each other. "Matt, I have missed you so much today! Sometimes I don't see much of you during the day and it's almost ok, but today I really missed you even though we spent time together with Margaret. I guess after our talk with her, I wanted to talk to you and we were both busy. I needed more than anything to tell you I loved you and I never wanted to hurt you. I got frightened when Margaret talked about our playing around, about being unfaithful. On the one hand, that seems so silly and impossible. But on the other hand, I don't know what it is going to be like to be separated from you this summer."

"I know, Luke, Babe. I was having some of the same thoughts. Dad once said that having sex was like taking olives out of a jar. The first one comes hard and after that, it's easy. I promise you one thing, Luke, if you are ever unfaithful, I will never stop loving you. I know that. From the very bottom of my heart, I know that. But what else would be true, I don't know. I don't want to think about even the possibility."

"Sarang Hanun Pomul, I don't think I could live with myself if I were ever unfaithful. And I know there is nothing you can do to make me stop loving you. And, God, Matt, I love you. I can just think about you and I feel like I can't hold all the love I have for you. You are, truly, my very life." Matt and I continued looking into each other's eyes. He was so beautiful. His gaze never left my eyes as he slowly covered my body with his. He touched my lips with an angel kiss which gradually became more and more passionate. His tongue entered my mouth and I could taste his beauty, his love. As his kiss became more passionate, I felt his manhood harden and grow against my own which was becoming equally hard. Matt had braided his hair which made it more difficult to undo than when he just had it in bands, but my fingers now knew how to release that rain of blackness which fell, surrounding my face and creating a place which was truly our own world. Matt lifted his lips from mine and started kissing my face, my neck, my eyes as his fingers loosened the buttons of my shirt. Soon my chest was exposed to his lips and he kissed it, paying particular attention to my nipples. When he started sucking on one, I could feel the wetness in my boxers from the stream of precum his loving was causing.

I took Matt's shirt off so his bare chest was against mine, making me even hotter.

Matt was grinding his hips against mine, our hardness pressing together as he continued licking and sucking my nips, occasionally dragging his teeth across them. "Yonghon Tongmu, I want to make love to you--to your body, to all of you without limits," Matt said after he had lifted his head and gazed into my eyes. "I am so hot. I think lust has just about consumed me!"

"I know, Love, I know. I feel the same way. But I don't think lust can ever drive out my love for you. Maybe it is lust, but I don't think so--well, not all of it! It's just that I want to make love to you the way I love you, no limits, no restraints, just... just love you all the way." Matt's lips locked on mine, our tongues started dueling, which was a win-win situation if there ever was one. Matt's hips started grinding and humping mine more rapidly as I raised my butt off the blanket to press my manhood against his and his hard body. I knew where this would end and I eagerly awaited the release his love making would bring. Matt's breath was coming in quicker and quicker gasps and his grinding and humping became faster and faster. I knew he was rapidly pushing me to the edge. As I passed the point of no return, I bit Matt's lip and cried softly, "Sarang Hanun Pomul, I love yoooooou!" My climax shook my entire body. In response, Matt pressed his hips hard against mine and I could feel the spasms as he shot charge after charge of man's seed between us.

Matt fell on my body, exhausted, breathing in short gasps. When he had recovered, he raised himself, looked into my eyes, smiled and placed the gentlest possible kiss on my lips. He rolled off of me and we lay by eah other's side, saying nothing, letting our eyes talk for us as we stroked each other's hair.

"I know we would all like to stay here forever," Michael called, "but I suspect we better get back. Tomorrow's a school day and I need a shower before bed. Four male voices responded, "Me too."

None of the five guys tried to conceal the wetness evident, even in the moonlight, on our fronts. "I guess we all took care of the problem of too much loving and not enough giving," Michael laughed. "No groans tonight!" We all laughed as we gathered up the blankets and walked toward the house. As we did, we started singing and almost at once, Michael, Larry, and Matt were walking backwards, holding hands with their respective lovers as we each sang to the center of our life.

When we got back to the house, we said goodnight to the adults and went on the porch to say our more personal goodnights. "Matt, you know where I want to be tonight and every night of my life...."

"Right where I want you to be, Luke," he responded. "But I know you need to be here and we need to get some sleep. I'm not sure we would if you were where you wanted to be and where I want you to be. I'll see you in my dreams, Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Larsen," Matt said and kissed me with a soft kiss.

"I'll be waiting for you, Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf." I returned Matt's kiss with one of my own, turned and went inside. As I did, Mary Kathryn said, "Michael, love you, Hunk," and came inside with me.

A Special Place--Part Twenty-two--Larry

When we reached David's, Margaret came inside with us. David said, "Since you don't have to take care of any strays tonight and I have two, think you might stay over?" I almost laughed at the pleading little boy look on the grown man's face.

"Yea, since I have agreed to share my bed with Larry, you can have the living room sofa," Eugene said.

"Well, I guess I'm just left out," Michael said. "Larry's not only taken my bed partner, but I bet he also takes my bath partner. Mommy, would you give me a bath and sleep with me tonight?" he whined.

"Well, I might have, but I just can't stand whining young'uns," Margaret laughed. "I guess I can stay."

"Door open rule in effect!" Michael said.

"What's this about bed and bath partners?" I asked. "Thought you'd get away with that didn't you?"

"We'll discuss that upstairs," he replied. "Let's go."

"No carrying on up there children," Margaret called as the three of us started upstairs.

"Guys, I think it's obvious we all need a bath. I'll get a quick shower first since it will take awhile for you to get Eugene cleaned up, especially if he gets the giggles," Michael said as he started stripping at the top of the stairs.

While Michael got his shower, Eugene told me about their adventure in the bathtub. I could just picture the two of them floundering around, trying to get out. I started laughing as Michael came out of the bathroom and said, "It's all yours, but, Eugene, I'm not sure Larry's in any shape to take on the job."

Eugene found towels Michael had put out for him and tossed me one as we started getting undressed. Undressed, we stood facing each other and I drank in the beauty of my beloved Eugene. We walked across the hall, hand in hand. "It's important that I try to keep my back dry," Eugene said when we got to the bathroom. He turned and started running water for our bath and I saw his back, which I had not seen before. I looked at it in horror. His Dad had beaten him so badly his back looked as if someone had used a cat-o'-nine-tails on it. Where the skin was not broken, it was bruised and covered with huge red welts. Suddenly I could hear him screaming as his dad beat him then, in my mind, it became his screaming when I had essentially raped him. I immediately became sick and started throwing up and crying. I collapsed on the floor in my own vomit, crying and beating my head on the floor. His father had beaten his back raw, but I was worse. I loved him and caused him as much pain. When I looked up, Eugene looked bewildered and reached out to touch me. I crawled away from him, sliding in my vomit as I continued to empty my stomach, crying in great sobs and looking at him. I was afraid to let him touch me for fear I would hurt him.

Eugene finally called out, "Michael! Michael, please help me!" I saw Michael rush into the bathroom as I cowered in a corner, filthy from my own sickness. Every time I looked at Eugene, I started throwing up and crying uncontrollably. I was shaking all over and thought I was going insane. Why not? Why did I deserve anything better?

Michael took one horrified look at me cowering in the corner of the bathroom and ran downstairs. When he reappeared, Margaret and David were with him. David picked me up and held me--I couldn't stand; I couldn't stop shaking or crying. Margaret wet a wash cloth and started cleaning me up. "Michael, my bag is downstairs, please get it for me. Eugene, are you all right?" she asked. I could see Eugene nodding and saw the tears streaming down his care-marked face. That set me off crying even more and I started throwing up again. When Michael got back upstairs, Margaret opened her bag, took out a syringe and filled it from a bottle. David held me so she could clean a spot on my butt and she gave me a shot. Michael had taken over her task of cleaning me up and I was soon free of my own filth. David carried me back to the guest room and gently laid me on the bed. I was feeling more and more relaxed, but was still very much conscious of what was going on. "Eugene, do you have any idea what is wrong?" Margaret asked. Eugene nodded, but couldn't speak for the tears.

"Is it ok for me to tell Margaret what the problem is?" Michael asked. Eugene and I both nodded.

Michael told Margaret the whole story of how I had raped Eugene--he didn't call it rape, but I knew it was. Before Michael was finished, Eugene was nearly in as bad a shape as I was. I was becoming calmer--the shot I knew was taking effect, but Eugene was becoming more upset. Margaret looked at David and motioned toward her bag with her head. David brought it to her and she said, "Eugene, I'm going to give you a shot too. Not enough to put you out any more than what I gave Larry will put him out, but enough to help you regain control. We can't solve this problem tonight, but we can get a start on it." She gave Eugene the shot and in a few minutes we were both calm enough, maybe, to talk and listen.

"I'll go, if you like," Michael said.

"I, too," David said.

I still wasn't sure of my voice, so I shook my head. Eugene said, "Please stay."

"Then I think we need to go downstairs where we can all sit down," David said. He put his arms around me and Michael put his around Eugene and we went down. When we were all settled in the den, Margaret said, "I have heard Michael's version of what brought all this on, but I want to hear why tonight happened." Eugene told them how we were going to give him a bath and when we got to the bathroom and he started the water, I had started throwing up and crying.

"When Eugene turned to start the bath water, I saw his back for the first time. I knew it was bad, but I couldn't believe what I saw. I could hear him screaming as his father beat him. Then, just as I started to become enraged at his father, his screams became those I heard when I forced myself on him. I immediately started throwing up. I felt that I was filled with filth. I was full of loathing for myself and what I had done to my beautiful lover. I wanted to die. And the more I threw up, the more I hated myself. Eugene started to touch me, but I couldn't stand the thought of his touching me because I was dirty, filthy--not just from the vomit, but also from the horrible person I am." In spite of the shot, I started trembling and crying again.

Eugene got up and started toward me, but I drew away and he went back to his chair. Michael came over, put his arms around me and hugged me to himself. How could he stand to do that? I expected David or Margaret to do something or say something. They didn't. When Eugene started crying softly, Margaret went to him and held him close. "Larry, do you really, really love Eugene?" Michael asked.

"Of course I do! I love him more than my own life."

"Do you think Eugene is a good person?"

"Of course! Do you think I hate the man I love and think he's no good?"

"Well, do you think he would love a man who is no good?"

I had to stop and think about that. I wondered how Eugene could ever love me after what I did, but he did. I knew he did. There was no question in my mind about that. He certainly deserved someone better than me, but he loved me. "I'm confused. How can he love me? I am a terrible person who hurt him as bad as his father, worse. I took something from him he can never get back."

"I suspect you hurt him worse than his father because he loved you and you did indeed violate him. No question. But there's a real difference. Larry, how many times and in how many ways have you said, 'I'm sorry' to Eugene? How often and how many ways have you told and showed him you were sorry for what you did? How many ways have you shown and told him how much you love him; how much he means to you; how important it is and how you treasure his love for you? Yes, you did a really terrible thing--there's no question about that and no excuse for it--and the same is true of his father, but I haven't seen or heard of his father saying he was sorry or telling Eugene of his love for him or how important Eugene is to him. You are not the terrible person you think you are. Has Eugene forgiven you for what you did?" I nodded. "Do you doubt that he has?" I shook my head "no". "Then it seems to me you have a problem to work on here--forgiving yourself." Of course he made sense, but how could I forgive myself? I looked up at Michael and asked him, "How can I ever forgive myself? How can I?"

There was silence in the room for what seemed like forever, but couldn't have been a minute. "I said we couldn't solve this problem tonight and we are not going to. But it has to be solved, Larry, or you are going to destroy two wonderful young men, you and Eugene," Margaret said. "I don't think you and Eugene are ready for the kind of talk I had with Matt and Luke because I suspect that having sex is out for you two right now." We both nodded. "I want you to start seeing a therapist tomorrow. I know the very one and if you are agreeable, I'll see if she can see you...."

"She?" Eugene asked.

"She--and if you find you can't relate to her, I'll find another. Agreed?"

Both Eugene and I answered in a whispered, "Yes."

"What about tonight? Larry, you definitely need a shower and Eugene can use a bath. Do you want to sleep together or had you rather not?" David asked.

I looked at Eugene and he said, "Please."

"It's ok. We sleep together often. And I need a bath because we got each other off without, you know...." I could feel my face turning red, saw Eugene blushing and Michael grining.

"I'm afraid that was an ill-kept secret when you five guys got back from the falls," David said. "Larry, grab a shower and I will give Eugene his bath. I'm still pretty good at that. Old nurse's training kinda sticks with you."

When we got up to leave, Margaret hugged all three of us and said, "Larry, Eugene, if either of you need me tonight, come get me."

"Michael is sure lucky to be getting his new Mom," Eugene said.

"You're pretty lucky with your new mom too, but I'm not really trying to replace Michael's mom. She was a wonderful lady and I am just lucky to be able to share what she had for too short a time, a wonderful man--two wonderful men."

I went upstairs and remembered the mess I had left in the bathroom and when I went in to clean it up, Michael had already started. "I'll clean up my mess," I said.

"Bro, I think you are going to have to learn that you sometimes need others to help you clean up your mess and they are ready to do it if you let them." I looked at him. What could I say? Nothing. He was right and I had been too proud and too self-hating and self-punishing to admit it. I guess I had started learning the language of this family for I felt the need to hug Michael and I did. It was a great feeling, especially when he hugged me back.

When we had finished, I took a quick shower and went back to the bedroom. David picked up Eugene as if he weighed nothing and took him to the bathroom. When they came back, David said, "Eugene, I think I need to dress your back so you won't hurt it in your sleep." He went downstairs and brought his bag back up. "Larry, you can wait in Michael's room if you like." I shook my head and watched as David gently cared for Eugene's back. "Eugene, your back is doing fine, but it really is much worse than either Margaret or I thought when we first saw it. You'll have scars, I'm afraid."

"I can live with scars on my back. What I'm worried about are the scars Larry has inside."

"I think both of you have scars inside and maybe open wounds that need healing. The scars inside you can also live with if the wounds heal," David said.

"Michael started the healing when he took us to the falls and he kept us moving tonight, now it's our time to work on healing each other--with help," I said.

"Sure you are all right?" David asked. Both Eugene and I said we were and David left.

As we got into bed, Eugene said, "Larry, what a day this has been," as he snuggled up to me and kissed me softly.

"Yes, what a day this has been." I snuggled closer to him and returned his kiss. As he put his arms around me, I realized I was very sleepy and started to say something, but realized my beloved Eugene was asleep. I looked into his peaceful, strong, handsome face and thought to myself, "You stupid asshole, you almost lost him and what good would life have been then?" I kissed him lightly on the tip of his nose which I adored, tucked my face under his chin where I could inhale the scent of the reason I wanted to live forever. In the comfort only he could give me, I relaxed and drifted into slumberland.

A Special Place--Part Twenty-two--David

As Margaret and I lay in bed, I thought about what she had said about Elizabeth and her genuine concern for Larry and Eugene. "Aside from your body, which I like a lot," I said, "you know what I love about you?"

Margaret laughed and said, "I thought it was just my young, lustful body."

"Well, I ain't saying nothing against that! But I really love you because you are so matter of fact in your love and concern for the kids--and we seem to have a growing number of them!"

"David, this bunch of kids is what I have always wanted and in recent years thought I would never have. They are like a fantastic Christmas present to me."

"Looks like you could have found a bunch without problems."

"Do teens come that way? I didn't? Did you?"

I laughed and said, "Well, to be honest, I had my problems. They just seem pretty minor compared with these. I guess Michael and Mary Kathryn have had few problems--at this point--except of course the problems they have faced as a result of the serious ones Matt and Luke have faced.

"You seem to be forgetting Michael had a serious problem before any of the others did. He lost his mom."

"You're right but I guess that was not a problem because I think of problems as something which can be solved, fixed."

"Well, hasn't it been? Of course his mom is still gone, but Michael had solved the problem of how he will deal with loss and I think, until recently, did a better job than his dad."

"Yea," was all I could say. Then I continued the thought I had started with, "They are all good kids, Margaret. They have loving families who care about them--even Jens couldn't reject Luke when it counted and as rigid as he has always been, he even surprised me, but those two poor guys upstairs.... Even with Millie adopting Eugene, there are deep scars there and I am not talking about physical abuse. And Larry.... I really feel sorry for him. What's going to happen to those two?"

"You never can tell, but I am very hopeful. Michael is an amazing kid, David. I think Elizabeth's death matured him far beyond his years. He has a genuine understanding of people and a compassion which is almost unheard of in a fifteen-year-old. Had I been dealing with Eugene and Larry tonight, I wouldn't have used the words he used--I don't trust pure logic as much as Michael does and would have dealt with feelings, but he just cut to the heart of the matter without stopping. I would have been scared to death to have pushed Larry the way Michael did, but it worked. I'm sure those two guys will be talking to Michael and maybe Luke and Matt more as time goes on. The therapist can do what she does, but she is going to have a lot of support she doesn't know about from the kids in this family. And I am so happy to be a part of it."

Margaret kissed me and snuggled close and I inhaled deeply the scent of woman, a delight I had missed so much for too long. In the warmth of our love, we drifted off to sleep.

A Special Place--Part Twenty-two--Matt

I tumbled into bed, thinking how empty it seemed without Luke beside me. I knew that I wanted him beside me as long as I lived. I was really very sleepy for some reason, but I had to spend time giving thanks. I thought about all that had gone on during the past week and realized how many really caring and loving people there were surrounding me. I thought about Eugene and the trauma he had been through, no, the two traumas he had suffered. I wondered if I could ever have loved Luke had he forced himself on me. I thought about how, in a sense, I had almost done the same to him. Oh, I know I would not have had to force myself on him, but I wanted him so bad that I had almost made him do something he really didn't, in his heart of hearts, want to do. Well, of course he wanted to, but at the same time.... Then I realized what I would have felt like had he said "yes". Luke was a lot stronger than I was, I was sure of that. But as my thoughts continued, I realized what we had was so precious that I didn't want to change it at all. Well, I did, but I didn't. Finally I just turned my mind off and let my heart speak of my love for Luke and his for me. I thanked God for that and for all those who honored it. With thanksgiving in my heart, I was at peace and the angels carried me away to blissful sleep.

When Luke arrived for our morning run, I was ready. After a not-so-quick good morning kiss, I said, "Luke, you'll never know how good a kiss feels until you have been put off kissing for awhile."

"And just who do you think I was kissing while you were on your no-kiss diet?" he laughed, his eyes shining.

We climbed down the trellis and jogged to Michael's where Michael and Mary Kathryn had been joined by Larry and Eugene. "Think you're up to running, Eugene?" Luke asked.

"I doubt it and I don't think Larry's in good enough shape to run with you guys, but we thought we jog along. Maybe one day we'll get in shape."

"Well, let's be off," Michael cried and off we were. Luke and I were back in good form when it came to running. It was the body building part of our former exercising that we had to work on to get back our definition and hardness. Michael, having never missed a workout, was in superb shape. He was a damn handsome kid. well, he was a damn handsome man, he sure wasn't a kid any more even though he was only turning sixteen. When it came to bodies, Mary Kathryn was no slouch either. Of course, hers was definitely not a female body builder's body. It was soft and curvey in all the right places. Had I been straight, I thought as I watched her run in front of me for awhile, I would have definitely given Michael a run for the money.

Luke, Michael and I ran a mile after Mary Kathryn had dropped back to a jog and when we reached her on our return, she started running again until we caught up with Larry and Eugene. "I hope you didn't work up a sweat, Eugene," Michael said.

"I'm afraid I did and I can feel it. There are still places on my back that are raw. I thought all of them had scabbed over, but I found out they haven't. But the exercise sure felt good."

When we reached Michael's place, the three guys went inside after Michael took advantage of Mary Kathryn's kissing ability. I don't know how those two learned to kiss as they do since Mary Kathryn never had decent role models, but however they learned, they knew how to do it!

Luke and Mary Kathryn jogged on to their place after Luke had also proven the Larsens knew how to kiss. I went upstairs, got ready and went down for breakfast. And, I didn't know it, but before long that would be the pattern of our lives with few exceptions--sleep alone, shower alone, run with Luke, drive to school with Luke and seldom see him otherwise. We were both soon to be extremely busy.

Tuesday, we did see each other for a good time. Michael, Larry, Luke and I had helped Eugene get his things together and move to Millie's. Man, he had a suite! His bedroom was as large as mine and it, too, had a king size bed. In addition he had his own bath complete with a jacuzza and a study/living room. Millie had seen that he had a top-of-the-line computer all set up and a neat desk for studying and comfortable seating for a least half a dozen people. His eyes really bugged out when he saw it. "Eugene, this was Jason's room. I told you I wanted you to have a good education. This is my part of making that happen for the short time you'll still be in high school. You can put your horn over there by the music stand. I also told you I wanted you to have time for your music. Do you play piano?"

"Some. I mean I can, but I am no pianist."

"Would an electronic piano be a help with your music?"

"Sure. I mean I'm not going to give a recital, but a piano is a real help when I am working on orchestration."

"We'll look into that tomorrow when you finish at St. Mary's if you have time; if not, as soon as possible."

"The third thing I told you I wanted you to have was some time for fun--and friends--this is your place. I expect you to keep it reasonably clean, decorate any way you like, and have your friends over when you wish. My place is in the other wing and before you disturb me, the police will be here with complaints from the neighbors. I guess that covers it."

"Well, there is one....I mean, Millie, it looks as if I have died and gone to heaven, but.... well, I mean heaven would be kinda not heaven if...." I could see Millie was about to bust her corset trying to hold back a belly laugh while Eugene stammered around, turning redder all the time. Luke, Michael and I were about to pop as well while Larry just stood there, looking at Eugene, a goofy grin on his face. "Millie, I mean...."

"Eugene, I told you this had been Jason's place and that what I had given Jason, I would give you. Now I'll admit that Jason was in his second year of college before anyone--at least to my knowledge--shared that bed with him. But, so far as I am concerned, if you want to share a bed with Larry and it's ok with Larry, that's your business. Doesn't that complete your heaven? But I guess I need to ask, Larry does your mom know about you and Eugene?"

"Yes, ma'am, she knows all about us, the bad and the ugly as well as the good. Millie, I think it is only right that you know the bad and ugly as well."

"It's none of my business, but I am always--most of the time--ready to listen."

"The other guys already know and, in fact, Michael has been a special help to me." We all sat down and Larry poured out his story once more. This time there were no tears and he held Eugene rather than Eugene holding him. "That's the reason Eugene needed you to pick us up after school today. Margaret arranged for us to get professional help and we started today, but what these guys, and especially Michael, have done for us is doing as much to help us--me--get over hating myself and not forgiving myself as the therapist is."

"Larry, I said that was none of my business. I take that back. Anything which concerns my grand children--and I am claiming you too--is my business. Whatever you need to heal the wounds that I can provide, ask. That's what friends are for and especially what grandmothers are for. Sometimes it's hard to admit you need help and even harder to accept it."

"Not if Michael's around!" Larry smiled. "He set me straight on that last night when I objected to his cleaning up my mess--my vomit--in the bathroom."

"I'm having a hard time deciding whether Michael is going to end up a lawyer, a politician or a priest," Millie chuckled.

"I'm pretty sure Mary Kathryn would vote against the priest option," Luke laughed.

"Not our kind," Mille said. "A good woman often makes a man a good priest. And a good woman can make a good priest. Or I guess, Michael, should that be where you land, you would have to say a priest may be lucky enough to make.... well, let's let it go at that." Michael is sharp and Millie didn't miss watching his blush start at his toes and work its way up to a glorious climax on his face.

"I forgot," Luke said, "Fr. Tom was married, wasn't he?"

"Sure was and the death of his wife devastated him and because of the effect on him, it was also a real blow to those of us who are his parishioners. I don't think he has ever really gotten over it, at least not as David has. I guess some men just can't think about another partner when one is gone. Well, how'd the ensemble like the music?" Millie said as she switched horses.

"Well, today we just worked on known pieces, that is, I haven't shown them any of Matt's two compositions yet, but they were all very excited and pleased. They knew they were being given an opportunity to really show their stuff, and they appreciated it. Tomorrow we'll be at St. Mary's and I think that will really blow their socks off."

"Matt, how's the music for Sunday going? You know I put those trumpets in there so even St. Mary's can get a taste of resurrection. Some of the folks have been asleep since last Easter and I want you to raise them from the dead!"

"Millie, if they forget to buckle their seat belts, you may have to peel them off the ceiling!" I laughed.

"Larry, I didn't get in touch with you after all the excitement, but I have an engineer who wants to meet you tomorrow afternoon immediately after school. Can you arrange that?"

"So long as Eugene and I can make our 4:30 appointment."

"Shouldn't be a problem. Eugene will be at St. Mary's and I'll come out to the school with the engineer. I'll bring you back in time for your appointment. We can pick up Eugene after practice. When is it supposed to be over?"

"The buses are scheduled to leave St. Mary's at 4:30, but I had planned to leave just before that to make the appointment."

"Luke, how's your work going?"

"Great, I think. I'll know more after tomorrow."

"Do you think you could squeeze a bit of work in for me? I need a design for the posters and program and catalog. Think you might have time to design one? Keep it fairly simple, but definitely distinctive."

"I'll try to have you something by the weekend."

"Great. Well, looks like we're going to have some busy kids the next few weeks."

"Sure does," Eugene acknowledged. "But it keeps us off the streets."

"Anything else we need to talk about guys?"

We all shook our heads and Luke said, "Guess not. Larry do you want us to drop you off?"

"No. It's not a long walk home and I think Eugene and I need to have some time to talk about last night and today."

"Later, guys, Millie," I said, and Michael and Luke echoed, "Later."

"Michael a priest. Father Michael. Father Andrews. Sounds kinda natural, don't you think, Luke?"

"Sure does, but I think maybe Brother Michael sounds better, you know, a member of a religious order--poverty, obedience and CHASTITY," Luke laughed.

"Poverty I know about--you've seen Dad give me my allowance. Obedience I know about--Mary Kathryn is my woman. Chastity--you better believe it, otherwise Mary Kathryn would use a squirrel grip on me--grab the nuts and run. But when the church talks about chastity, it really means celibacy and, I'm telling you, that will never be a part of my working vocabulary!"

"Father Michael--I think it really sounds right."

"Luke, I don't mind us kidding around among ourselves. Hell, we've known enough on each other to be hauled off to jail, but please don't say anything like that at school. Even if I had even thought about the idea--and believe me I haven't--I would never want it known at school. The kids would make my life hell."

"Gotcha, Michael, and you're right. But you want to know a secret? I bet you can't not think about it occasionally from now on."

I guess that left us all thinking because the few remaining miles home were spent in silence. When we reached my place, I kissed Luke goodnight--man, I was glad I could kiss again because Luke is SO kissable!

Sometime during the night I dreamed Luke and I were having our commitment ceremony and when I took my eyes off Luke and looked at the priest, it was Michael in full vestments. When I looked around, Mary Kathryn was breast feeding a baby who looked exactly like Michael. In my dream, I turned to Luke and said, "I will" and he smiled a Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Larsen smile and my world was complete.

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